Fantastic Four (1994 TV series)

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Fantastic Four
The cover for the DVD release.
The cover for the DVD release.
Genre Superhero
Action/Adventure
Science fiction
Created by Jack Kirby
Stan Lee
Voices of Beau Weaver
Lori Alan
Quinton Flynn
Chuck McCann
Stan Lee
Brian Austin Green
Simon Templeman
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 26 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 22 minutes
Production company(s) Philippine Animation Studios[1]
Marvel Entertainment Group
Saban Entertainment
Distributor New World Entertainment
Broadcast
Original channel First-run syndication
Original run September 24, 1994  – February 24, 1996
Chronology
Preceded by Fantastic Four (1978 TV series)
Followed by Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes

Fantastic Four, also known as Fantastic Four: The Animated Series, is the third animated television series based on Marvel's comic book series of the same name.[2] Airing began on September 24, 1994, until ending on February 24, 1996. The series ran for 2 seasons, with 13 episodes per season, making 26 episodes in total.

Overview[edit]

In the early-to-mid-1990s, Marvel Productions syndicated a new Fantastic Four animated series as part of The Marvel Action Hour. The first half of the hour was an episode of Iron Man; the second half an episode of Fantastic Four. During the first season, Stan Lee was featured speaking before each show about characters in the following episode and what had inspired him to create them.[citation needed]

The show most recently aired late night on weekends on Disney XD in the United States. Additionally, all 26 episodes can be accessed for streaming on Netflix as the second half of the Iron Man selection.

Season 1[edit]

The Season 1 title design.

The vast majority of episodes in the first season consisted of fairly accurate re-tellings and re-interpretations of classic 1960s FF comic book stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. For instance, this series stayed true to the original comic book story that recounted the Silver Surfer and Galactus' coming to Earth in a two-part episode as well as Doctor Doom's theft of Surfer's powers.[3][4] But the season's cost-effective animation (provided by Wang Film Productions and Kennedy Cartoons) and attempts to add humor through the inclusion of a fussy British landlady (portrayed by Stan Lee's wife Joan) for the FF were generally met with displeasure by fans - to say nothing of then-current FF comic book writer Tom DeFalco, who got in trouble for penning a scene in issue #396 of the series that featured Ant-Man watching and lambasting an episode of the cartoon.[5]

In "The Origin of the Fantastic Four", Puppet Master took control of the Thing and used him to capture Invisible Woman. Mister Fantastic freed the Thing from his control and defeated the Puppet Master. Upon returning to his apartment to reclaim his final doll, he ended up in a fight with Alicia Masters, and then he apparently fell to his death from the apartment window. The Fantastic Four weren't able to find his body and claimed that he "vanished from Earth."

In "The Silver Surfer & the Coming of Galactus", the Silver Surfer, Firelord, and Terrax fight the Fantastic Four while Galactus attempts to feed on Earth. By Season 2 however, all but the presence of Silver Surfer in that battle is ignored as Terrax is seen again and referred to as being the replacement for the Silver Surfer. In the episode "When Calls Galactus", Terrax is killed/turned into a worm and Nova (Frankie Raye) becomes the new herald of Galatcus.

In "Mask of Doom", Doctor Doom captured the Fantastic Four and forced Mister Fantastic, Human Torch, and the Thing to go back in time and obtain an object for him. In the aforementioned episode "Silver Surfer and the Return of Galactus", Doom steals the Silver Surfer's powers and tries to steal Galactus's powers, only to be thwarted by the planet devourer himself.

Season 2[edit]

The team poses at the end of the Season 2 intro.

Both the Fantastic Four and Iron Man series were radically retooled for the second seasons, sporting new opening sequences, improved animation (as previously mentioned, the animation for the first season was done by Wang Film Productions and Kennedy Cartoons, while the second season's animation was provided by Philippine Animation Studio, Inc.), and more mature writing (the first season was primarily written by Ron Friedman, while the second season was overseen by Tom Tataranowicz), though noticeably having fewer introductions by Stan Lee, with several of the new shorter intros being used more than once. Not only that, Four Freedoms Plaza replaced the Baxter Building as the Fantastic Four's home base in Season 2. The Season 2 episodes also drew upon John Byrne’s 1980s run on the Fantastic Four comic (as well as John Buscema's artwork), in addition to further Lee and Kirby adventures.

In the season premiere episode "And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them" (guest starring Daredevil), Doctor Doom struck at a powerless FF and had his hand crushed by the Thing. Doom would next appear in "Nightmare in Green", where he directed the Hulk to attack the team.

The Wizard appeared in the episode "And the Wind Cries Medusa" (the first part of the three part "Inhumans Saga"). In his appearance, he assembled Medusa, Hydro-Man (on a related note, this episode aired one week from Hydro-Man's debut appearance in Spider-Man), and Trapster to form the Frightful Four. Wizard also used a device to control the Thing. Meanwhile, Crystal, along with the other Inhumans, also made their debut in the three-part "Inhumans Saga" episode. After escaping the Negative Barrier, Crystal went on to become the girlfriend of the Human Torch. Seeker appears in the episode "Inhumans Saga: Beware the Hidden Land". He was sent by Maximus the Mad to retrieve the Inhuman Royal Family. After saving the Fantastic Four from the explosion, Seeker briefly shared the history of the Inhumans to them before dropping them off somewhere.

Susan Richards as Malice appeared in the episode "Worlds Within Worlds". Malice's appearance was the result of Psycho-Man using his powers to make Susan turn against her Fantastic Four teammates. Eventually, Susan was freed of Psycho-Man's influence and defeated him.

The Black Panther appears in the "Prey of the Black Panther". He lures the Fantastic Four to Wakanda to see if they are worthy enough to help fight Klaw. Like the comics, Klaw's history of killing T'Chaka is included as well as T'Challa using Klaw's own weapon on his right hand.

In "To Battle the Living Planet," the Fantastic Four ask Galactus' help in confronting Ego the Living Planet. Thor meanwhile guest stars in two episodes. In "To Battle the Living Planet," the Fantastic Four help him fight Ego the Living Planet. In "When Comes Galactus," he and Ghost Rider (he used the penance stare so it is more likely it is the Daniel Ketch version) both help the Fantastic Four fight Galactus. Also in "When Calls Galactus", Nova (as previously mentioned) volunteers to replace the treacherous Terrax as Galactus' herald. Like the comics, Frankie Raye ends up getting her powers when she accidentally got doused in the chemicals that gave the android Human Torch his powers.

Franklin Storm appeared in the episode "Behold, A Distant Star". Just like the comics, Franklin Storm lost his wife in an accident and an altercation with a loan shark led to an accidental murder. When Invisible Woman had a shrapnel in the lower part of her brain after a recent Skrull attack (Lyja by the way, is shown as a commander to the Skrull army), he had to come out of hiding to perform the surgery. He turned himself over to the arriving cops. After being freed from his volcanic prison, Super-Skrull replaced him in prison and took on the guise of the Invincible Man who broke out of prison and went on a rampage on the city and ran afoul of the Fantastic Four. They soon realize that Franklin Storm is Super-Skrull in disguise. Warlord Morrat had a concussive energy beam projector attached to Dr. Storm's chest. The projector was set to go off the moment he saw the Fantastic Four. When Storm appeared, he warned the Fantastic Four to stay away and rolled over on the floor, taking the full force of the deadly concussive blast on himself.

In "Hopelessly Impossible", Lockjaw (who had previously appeared on the "Inhumans Saga") helps the Human Torch get the Impossible Man to The Great Refuge and away from the Super-Skrull.

In what turned out to be the series finale, "Doomsday", Doctor Doom acquired the Power Cosmic. He once again tries to go after Galactus only to hit the barrier that prevents the Silver Surfer from leaving Earth.

The Incredible Hulk (1996 TV series) crossover[edit]

Simon Templeman reprised his role of Doctor Doom for guest appearances in two episodes, in which Doom held Washington, D.C. captive, only to be defeated by She-Hulk, whom he later attempted to claim revenge upon. With his appearance on this show, it can be assumed that Doom survived the fate he met on the Fantastic Four series, if both shows are to be considered within the same continuity.

Following Doctor Doom's first appearance (he would appear again in the second season episode "Hollywood Rocks"), came the episode "Fantastic Fortitude" featuring his arch nemesis, the Fantastic Four. The episode seems to place this show in the same continuity with the Fantastic Four cartoon of the same decade as this episode plays off the Hulk's appearance in the other show. More to the point, Beau Weaver (Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic) and Chuck McCann (Ben Grimm/The Thing) reprised their roles from the Fantastic Four series. In the episode, Mister Fantastic and the other Fantastic Four take their vacation prior to Hulk, She-Hulk, and Thing fighting Leader's Gamma Soldiers. Meanwhile, She-Hulk flirted with Thing, but Ben chose to rekindle his relationship with Alicia Masters. And while the Yancy Street Gang did not appear in the solo Fantastic Four cartoon itself, they did appear "Fantastic Fortitude", where they pull a prank on the Thing. After being defeated by the villain Ogress, the Gang, always off camera, distributes leaflets marked "The Thing Beat by a Woman!"

Season 3[edit]

According to Season 2 supervising producer Tom Tataranowicz, had there had been a third season of Fantastic Four, he would've wanted to go into the whole Sue Storm pregnancy story arc. In Tataranowicz's eyes, this would've given the production crew a chance to do their own take on the Sub-Mariner (who only appeared in Season 1), as he played into the arc in FF issues leading up to and around issue #100. Tataranowicz also wanted to bring Medusa and She-Hulk into the mix as part of the Fantastic Four.

Episode list[edit]

Cast[edit]

Guest cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

As with the case with its sister show on The Marvel Action Hour, Iron Man, the first season of Fantastic Four was poorly received by fans and critics. Many criticized the first season for its campy tone and silly acting in the show. And as previously mentioned, the show was revamped for a second season in 1995, with revamped characters, more complex stories, and a more mature tone. However, despite mixed-to-positive reviews from the critics and fans, ratings still dropped, which led to the show's cancellation.

DVD releases[edit]

Following the release of the 2005 live-action film, The Walt Disney Company (through Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) released the series on Region 1 DVD on July 5. The DVD set now featured new introductions by Stan Lee for all 26 episodes (replacing the original introductions, which had been removed for network broadcast). Additionally, pieces of footage from the episodes themselves had also been removed for network broadcast, and it is these cut episodes that comprise the DVD set.

The first Region 2 release received only a DVD comprising the first two episodes and the trilogy of the first appearance of Doctor Doom. The second release, now by Liberation Entertainment, features a double DVD Set with the complete first Season with remastered Video and Audio Footage. Due to Liberation's closure within the UK, the rights to all Marvel cartoons were brought by the company Lace International, but has since changed again to Clear Vision LTD.

Clear Vision LTD released Season 1 in two parts. Part one was released on May 4, 2009 with part two released on May 13, 2009. Season Two was also released in two parts with part one released on June 10, 2009 and part two released on June 17, 2009.[6]

In April 2009, a DVD box that collects both Seasons 1 and 2 have been released in European countries with Dutch subtitles under the Liberation Entertainment label.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Bedrock of U.S. Cartoon Production". Los Angeles Times (MANILA). AP. August 28, 1995. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Fantastic Four on TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-09-09. 
  3. ^ "Coming of Galactus episode on the 1994 Fantastic animated series". Retrieved 2007-03-05. 
  4. ^ "Return of Galactus episode on the 1994 Fantastic Four animated series". Retrieved 2007-03-05. 
  5. ^ "The Fantastic Four Comic Book Ridicules The Show". DRG4 Wario Company. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  6. ^ http://www.clearvision.co.uk/sub_group1.cfm?prog_id=370

External links[edit]