The Secrets of Isis

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The Secrets of Isis
Isislogo.jpg
Title card
Also known as Isis
Genre Adventure
Drama
Fantasy
Created by Marc Richards
Starring JoAnna Cameron
Brian Cutler
Joanna Pang (Season 1)
Ronalda Douglas (Season 2)
Theme music composer Yvette Blais
Jeff Michael
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 22
Production
Executive producer(s) Norm Prescott
Lou Scheimer
Dick Rosenbloom
Production company(s) Filmation
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Original run September 6, 1975 (1975-09-06) – September 3, 1977 (1977-09-03)
Chronology
Related shows Shazam!

The Secrets of Isis is the title of the syndicated version of a live-action CBS television series produced by Filmation in the 1970s (originally titled Isis) that appeared during the network's Saturday morning cartoon lineup.[1] The series also aired in various countries other than the United States. As indicated on commentary in the 2007 DVD release of the series, and supported by examining broadcast premiere dates, The Secrets of Isis was the first weekly, American, live-action television series with a female superhero lead character (debuting September 6, 1975,predating the weekly debuts of both The Bionic Woman (January 14, 1976), and, Wonder Woman (April 21, 1976). In the series, Isis starts out as a seemingly normal, explorer/teacher, who transforms into (a variation on) the Egyptian goddess, when presented with crises that a mere mortal cannot resolve.

Premise[edit]

The Secrets of Isis (a.k.a. simply Isis) starred JoAnna Cameron as Andrea Thomas, a high-school science teacher who found an ancient mystical amulet on an archeological dig in Egypt. The amulet belonged to Hatshepsut, an ancient Egyptian Queen, and it gave the wearer the powers of the Egyptian goddess Isis. Whenever Isis was needed, Andrea would reveal the amulet (which she wore as an everyday necklace) and recite an incantation ("O Mighty Isis!"), transforming her into the goddess/superhero.

The show co-starred Brian Cutler as Rick Mason; Joanna Pang as Cindy Lee; and Albert Reed as Dr. Barnes, principal of Larkspur High School, where Andrea and Rick worked, and Cindy attended as a student. In Season 2, Ronalda Douglas joined the cast as Rennie Carol, replacing Pang/"Cindy". Guest stars on the show included Mike Lookinland, Debralee Scott, Leigh McCloskey, Phil Bruns, Mark Lambert, Steven Paul, Thomas Carter, Colleen Camp, Johnny Doran, William Engesser, Laurette Spang, Tommy Norden, Victor Sen Yung, Russ Marin and Christopher Norris.

Three episodes of the series featured crossover appearances by Captain Marvel (of the show's companion series, Shazam!); likewise, Cameron appeared as Isis in three episodes of Shazam!. (As of 2013, the complete Shazam! series is only available as a print-to-order DVD set, via the Warner Archive label, on WBshop.com.)[1]

Most storylines involved Isis coming to the rescue of high school students who found themselves endangered due to unwise choices. A notable exception was the two-part series finale, "Now You See It...", and, "...Now You Don't," which had an espionage-related plotline (revealing that Rick Mason has been working secretly for the U.S. government on a weather-making machine). This two-parter introduced a trio of crime-fighting teens dubbed "The Super-Sleuths;" according to the DVD notes, the double episode was intended as a backdoor pilot for a Super-Sleuths series, which never materialized. It's unknown whether this sudden change in direction from school-related plotlines, to more traditional superhero adventures, would have continued, had production not ended.

The Secrets of Isis often "broke the fourth wall", with Isis/Andrea winking at the camera or otherwise acknowledging the audience, at pertinent moments in a story. In signature Filmation fashion, each episode featured an epilogue with the lead character (Isis) directly addressing the camera/viewers, imparting a moral lesson derived from the preceding events of that episode.

History[edit]

Isis aired on CBS from September 6, 1975, to September 3, 1977 (15 episodes in first season, seven in the second, totaling 22 original episodes), as part of the Shazam/Isis Hour. The success of the show led to syndication of the series the following year as, The Secrets of Isis (i.e., "re-runs" of the 22 previously-produced-for-network episodes, sold to individual and groups of local TV stations). The character also appeared in three episodes of Shazam!. The character later appeared in animated form (voiced by Diane Pershing) on Filmation's Tarzan and the Super 7 show in 1980, as part of a segment called The Freedom Force, as well as a guest appearance on the cartoon Hero High (voiced by Linda Gary).

The show's introduction began with the narrator's explanation of how Thomas found the amulet, saying:

"O My Queen," said the royal sorcerer to Hatshepsut, "with this amulet, you and your descendants are endowed by the goddess Isis with the powers of the animals and the elements. You will soar as the falcon soars, run with the speed of gazelles, and command the elements of sky and earth." Three thousand years later, a young science teacher dug up this lost treasure and found she was heir to The Secrets of Isis. And so unknown to even her closest friends, Rick Mason and Cindy Lee (later Rennie Carol), she became a dual person — Andrea Thomas, teacher, and Isis, dedicated foe of evil, defender of the weak, champion of Truth and Justice.

Although Isis is often cited as a DC Comics creation, the series is one of the very few Filmation originals (most of their creations were adaptations of previously existing source material). The character was created specifically for the television series and was only later adapted for comics. The TV character later appeared in animated form on other series. A considerably reworked version of the character (though still connected with Captain Marvel and given the name Adrianna Tomaz in honor of the television character's secret identity) was introduced in the 2006 comic series 52 and its novelization by Greg Cox. Although this version of the character started as a hero, she later became a villain following the events of DC's "New 52" (i.e., a reboot of 52 of the publisher's most important characters).

In 2006, BCI, an American distributor of DVDs, announced it had acquired the rights to release the series in North America, which occurred on July 24, 2007.[2] The episodes on the DVD release are presented in their "known original airdate order." Additionally, BCI was able to recover a number of segments from the original broadcasts in which Isis broke the fourth wall to deliver a moral relating to each episode; as noted on the DVD notes, these segments were removed from the prints for syndication, and the original footage has been lost. The visual quality of these segments is not as good as the episode footage because these "moral" segments were sourced from a variety of home-videotaped sources, including transfers of old 16mm prints and off-air Betamax and/or VHS recordings from the 1970s. Because BCI was unable to recover all of the moral segments—in addition to the quality concerns, and the fact that BCI policy was to leave their masters "as they are", without any additions/subtractions—they were not presented at the end of the episodes. Rather, the ones that were recovered were included as a bonus feature, instead. Conspicuous by her absence in the DVD commentaries and interviews is series star Joanna Cameron herself, although her participation was solicited by the bonus-content producers.

The DVD includes the first issue of The Legend of Isis, a comic book published by Bluewater Productions, that debuted in 2007. This version of the character was created by Bluewater's founder, Darren G. Davis, and previously appeared in Image Comics. In this version of the story, Isis is a warrior from Ancient Egypt who is transported through time to the 21st Century, where she befriends a police detective. Aside from similarities in costume, this version of Isis has little connection to the TV version.

Grammnet, actor/producer Kelsey Grammer's production company, has reportedly obtained the rights to produce a movie based on the character, to be called The Legend of Isis.

Isis appeared in the tenth and final season of the WB network's Superboy-based, teen drama/action series Smallville, in "Isis", the fifth episode. Portrayed by Smallville actress Erica Durance, this version saw the amulet take over the body of Lois Lane. However, there were nods to the Shazam!/Isis Hour and the modern character, in Durance's portrayal.

The rights to the Isis series are now held by DreamWorks Animation.

Powers and abilities[edit]

Isis displays a virtually unlimited array of superhuman powers and abilities. Usually she invokes these powers through incanting a rhyming couplet, for example, taking flight by reciting "Oh zephyr winds which blow on high / Lift me now so I can fly." Among her many powers, she exhibits superhuman strength, lifting large rocks and fallen trees. Isis can command the elements of earth, air, fire, and water, and control the weather. She can control the molecular density of her body and other matter, passing herself through walls, and in one instance, causing a car to pass unharmed through a road grader. She can divine the recent past, which is manifested for the viewer in the jewel of her diadem. Isis can cause living things, including trees and animals, to appear and disappear at will. She can increase local gravity, and stop and reverse the flow of time.

Isis' superhuman abilities are limited when in her Andrea Thomas form. She is still able to communicate telepathically with her pet bird, Tut; and in one instance, the reflection of light off of her amulet restored a forgotten memory to a person.

Episodes[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Title Original air date Summary
The Lights of Mystery Mountain September 6, 1975 A rash of UFO sightings leads Isis to an unscrupulous real estate developer.
Fool's Dare September 13, 1975 Cindy Lee enters a scrap yard on a dare and stumbles into a ring of car thieves.
Spots of the Leopard September 21, 1975 Isis helps an innocent man wrongfully accused of a jewel robbery. Guest starring Debralee Scott.
The Sound of Silence September 28, 1975 To get money for a car, a student steals a dangerous force field generator.
Rockhound's Roost October 4, 1975 On a rock hunting expedition a student finds himself face to face with an angry bear.
Lucky October 11, 1975 The loss of his dog leads a boy into danger as he learns about life and death.
Bigfoot October 18, 1975 A student looking for the legendary Bigfoot instead finds a giant man who shuns humanity.
How to Find a Friend October 25, 1975 A boy tries to make a friend by giving an older boy his father's dangerous antique gun. Guest starring Mike Lookinland.
The Show Off November 1, 1975 An escaped gorilla menaces the Science Club's camping trip.
The Outsider November 8, 1975 A new student is framed for the theft of a rival school's mascot.
No Drums, No Trumpets November 15, 1975 Exploring a ghost town lands Andrea and her students in the clutches of a robbery gang.
Funny Gal November 22, 1975 An insecure overweight girl running for student council steals Mr. Mason's boat as a publicity stunt. Isis must call upon Captain Marvel to help with the rescue. Guest starring John Davey as Captain Marvel.
Girl Driver November 29, 1975 A girl competes with her male rival in a road rally for the presidency of the Car Club, but his cheating puts them in danger.
Scuba Duba December 6, 1975 A student in Mr. Mason's scuba diving class disregards safety rules and Isis must rescue him when he is trapped underwater.
Dreams of Flight December 13, 1975 A young Hispanic girl stands up to her brother when he opposes her competing in a model airplane competition.

Season 2[edit]

Title Original air date Summary
Seeing Eye Horse September 11, 1976 A boy blinded in a riding accident must learn to trust a new guide horse when his family farm is threatened by fire.
The Hitchhiker September 18, 1976 A girl learns a lesson about the dangers of hitchhiking when the boy she rides with loses control of his car. Guest starring Barry Miller.
The Class Clown September 25, 1976 A new student's practical jokes endanger his fellow students.
The Cheerleader October 2, 1976 A girl (Laurette Spang) cheats on her chemistry exam and frames a fellow cheerleader (Colleen Camp) in her desperation to become number one.
Year of the Dragon October 16, 1976 A Chinese-American girl learns to overcome her shame of her immigrant father's (Victor Sen Yung) adherence to traditional customs.
Now You See It... October 23, 1976 Rick is framed for the theft of part of a top-secret government device that can control the weather. Guest starring John Davey as Captain Marvel and Craig Wasson as "Feather".
...Now You Don't October 30, 1976 The weather machine thieves kidnap Rick to compel him to turn over the plans for the rest of the weather control machine. Guest starring John Davey as Captain Marvel and Craig Wasson as "Feather".

Chronological List of Crossover Episodes with Shazam![edit]

  • Shazam! - Season 2: "The Odd Couple" (10/18/75)
  • The Secrets of Isis - Season 1: "Funny Gal" (11/22/75)
  • Shazam! - Season 3: "Finders Keepers" (10/2/76)
  • Shazam! - Season 3: "Out of Focus" (10/16/76)
  • The Secrets of Isis - Season 2: "Now You See It..." (10/23/76)
  • The Secrets of Isis - Season 2: "...Now You Don't" (10/30/76)

DVD release[edit]

BCI Eclipse LLC (Under license from Entertainment Rights) released The Secrets of Isis: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 on July 24, 2007.[3] The 3 disc set includes many special features. As of 2009, this release has been discontinued and is out of print as BCI Eclipse ceased operations.[4] Beginning in the fall of 2010, the series could be seen on Netflix's "Watch Instantly" streaming service.[5] (Note: The streaming was discontinued in early 2011 and the individual DVD discs had to be placed in the customer's mailing queue. Of late, a search of Netflix for "The Secrets of Isis" yields no results, leading one to believe that Netflix has completely taken this series out of its line-up.)

The series was released once again on DVD as a single disc set from Classic Media on September 6, 2011.[6]

DVD Name Cover art Episodes Release date
The Secrets of Isis: The Complete Series SecretsOfIsis Complete.jpg 22 July 24, 2007
The Secrets of Isis 7 September 6, 2011

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The History of DC Comics on TV". IGN. Retrieved 2010-10-09. 
  2. ^ "The Secrets Of Isis". Andymangels.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  3. ^ "Isis DVD news: Press Release for The Secrets of Isis â€" The Complete Series". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  4. ^ "Site News DVD news: Navarre shutters BCI Eclipse division". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  5. ^ "The Secrets of Isis: Complete Series". InstantWatcher.com. Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  6. ^ "Classic Media Announces a New Single-DVD Release for Isis: Date, Cost, Box". 2011-06-16. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 

External links[edit]