The Impossibles (TV series)

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The Impossibles was a series of animated cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera in 1966 and broadcast on American television by CBS. The series of shorts (six minutes each) appeared as part of Frankenstein Jr. and The Impossibles.[1]

Setup[edit]

Posing as a trio of young rock 'n roll musicians, The Impossibles were actually crime fighters, with super powers, dedicated to battling evil super-villains of all shapes and sizes. When performing for their adoring fans (usually star-struck, screaming teenyboppers), the lads would play their mod, futuristic-looking guitars atop an equally futuristic bandstand (emblazoned with their "Impossibles" logo on the side, a la Ringo Starr's drumkit) that could convert into a car (the "Impossi-Mobile"), or a jet (the "Impossi-Jet"), a speedboat, or even a submarine. Their standard catch cry when called into action was "Rally ho!"

Their humorous dialogue was typically peppered with puns. As with many Hanna-Barbera characters, The Impossibles were topical and inspired by the times, in this case resembling the rock 'n roll groups of the mid-Sixties.

Heroes[edit]

Each member of The Impossibles had a specific and visual superpower:

  • Coil-Man (voiced by Hal Smith) - Short, barrel-chested and sporting a mod haircut, blond "Coily" could transform his arms and legs into impossibly stretchable or coiled springs, allowing him to bounce to avoid attacks, deliver long-range punches, or drill through walls. Coil-Man usually drove the Impossi-jet, and his guitar contained a small TV receiver through which "Big D" (voiced by Paul Frees, who also served as the voice-over narrator in almost every episode) could contact the group and deliver orders (Big D used Multi Man's guitar in "The Fiendish Dr Futuro," "Beamatron" and "The Diabolical Dauber"). Because of his presumably metal coils, Coily could be held in place by a super magnet, but could also conduct heat or electricity with his coils. He hid in a closet disguised as a wire coat hanger, further implying that he was at least partially made of metal. Coil-Man's costume was purple and blue and included a purple mask and a cowl crested by a triangular fin.
  • Fluid-Man (voiced by Paul Frees) - Dark-haired Fluid-Man, aka "Fluey", could morph parts (or all) of his body into a liquid form, allowing him to, for example, sneak up on an enemy though a water faucet. He could also vaporize himself into a cloud or storm, but could be soaked up and trapped by a sponge ("Televisatron" and "Return of the Spinner"), or frozen solid inside a block of ice ("Not So Nice Mr. Ice"). Fluid-Man's costume resembled a lime green wetsuit complete with diver's mask and swimfins. Fluey's speaking style indicated that he was the beatnik of the group.
  • Multi-Man (voiced by Don Messick) - Multi could create infinite duplicates of himself that were often destroyed, leaving only the original behind. His duplicates rarely, if ever, functioned independently, and were often used as camouflage, a bluff, for extra strength or transportation (he could fly by continuously creating replicas above himself). When duplicating himself, he could push tons of rocks out of the way or crack a block of solid concrete (in which he and the others were entombed). The character had shaggy orange hair that covered his eyes (his eyes, in fact, are never seen) and he usually holds a shield for apparently decorative reasons. Multi showed the ability to repel bullets with his bare hand ("Fero, the Fiendish Fiddler"). Multi-Man's angular, red and black costume resembled an stylized 'M', and included a short, triangular red cape. Favorite saying: "You got them all except the original." Multi bore a resemblance to the identical members of the singing group "The Way Outs" from The Flintstones.

Each episode usually began with the villain pulling off an improbable caper while The Impossibles were busy performing across town. The team is called into action by their chief "Big D" (voiced by Paul Frees) After a series of funny super powered forays, the Impossibles capture the villain and return to finish their concert.

Villains[edit]

The Impossibles faced many bizarre villains. All villains were defeated in a timely manner and justice was always served:

  • Spinner (voiced by Hal Smith) - Spider-based powers, specifically web spinning. He first appeared when he stole a million dollar tiara. Spinner later returned was when he stole a poodle by the name of "Little Miss Muffet".
  • Paper Doll Man (voiced by Don Messick) - Made of paper who has the ability to slip underneath locked doors, or fold himself into paper airplanes for a quick getaway. In his first appearance, Paper Doll Man stole most of the top secret plans from the Pentagon and had to return there to get Plan X. In the second appearance, Paper Doll Man was robbing hotels. This time, he was defeated where he accidentally flew into a linotype machine that was printing newspapers.
  • Professor Stretch (voiced by Paul Frees) - Super-stretchy with elasticity powers. He appeared twice. The first time was when he sabotaged a tank by using powder from a shaker that turns anything into rubber and in the end we see him used as a basketball. The second time was when he created a monster made of rubber cooking chowder.
  • Beamatron, the Laser Beam Man (voiced by Hal Smith) - Shoots laser beams from his fingers, although lasers had short battery lives.
  • Bubbler (voiced by Don Messick) - Kidnaps the young Shah of Shishkabob (voiced by Ginny Tyler) by sealing him in an unbreakable bubble. The Bubbler has an undersea hideout at the bottom of the ocean guarded by a giant attack octopus named Octavius. However, Multi ties Ocky into knots.
  • Burrower (voiced by Allan Melvin) - Burrows under banks to pilfer the money inside.
    • Muddy (Hal Smith) - Burrower's henchman who has a worm named Curly (voiced by Don Messick).
  • Timeatron (voiced by Keye Luke) - Brings villains from the past to help him. These villains include Captain Kid (voiced by Paul Frees), Jesse James (voiced by Don Messick), and Goliath (voiced by Hal Smith). Timeatron goes to bring back Alexander the Great (voiced by Don Messick), but ends up trapped when Multi Man destroys the time cabinet with an ax.
  • Smogula (voiced by Alan Reed) - Floats around in a rain cloud and wields a weather-controlling ray-gun.
  • Speck (voiced by Hal Smith) - Has a potion that lets him shrink and grow at will.
  • Mother Gruesome (voiced by June Foray) - A female criminal who uses a machine that can bring villainous storybook characters to life like a giant and a dragon. She has a pet crow named Cromwell (voiced by Don Messick). She was eventually trapped in the same book as the giant and the book was donated to a prison library.
  • Fero (voiced by Don Messick) - Caricature of Nero, he is a fiddler who can send people and objects to anywhere he wishes with a high-tech violin.
  • Dauber (voiced by Paul Winchell) - Artist who brings to life anything that he paints.
  • Televisitron (voiced by Hal Smith) - Uses a remote control to send his foes into various channels of the television to do them in. The Impossibles steal Televistatron's remote and transport him into a prison show.
  • Aquator (voiced by Paul Winchell) - Steals a formula for changing the size of organisms in an attempt to create an army of giant-sized micro-organisms.
  • Dragster (voiced by Paul Winchell impersonating Boris Karloff) - Speedy car thief with who steals a diamond-encrusted car.
  • Puzzler (voiced by Paul Frees) - Can change shape as a living puzzle. He is the only villain given an origin as he mentions having fallen into a jigsaw-making machine which gave him his abilities.
  • Surfer (voiced by Don Messick) - Surfs and uses a remote control ukulele.
  • Sculptor (voiced by Lennie Weinrib) - Carries a gun that fires quick-dry cement either turning people into statues or making instant rocks and walls.
  • Spraysol (voiced by Hal Smith) - Sports a helmet that sprays liquid or gas.
  • Diamond Dazzler (voiced by Alan Reed) - Steals a diamond that contains a genie (voiced by Hal Smith).
  • Twister (voiced by Don Messick) - Dresses like a top with a propeller beanie who steals by spinning like a twister.
  • Cronella Critch (voiced by Janet Waldo) - A witch who robbed a charity-for-orphans party. She was turned into a cat due to a spell reversal by Multi-Man.
  • Tapper (voiced by Hal Smith) - Can travel through telephone wires with his weapon, the Deciminator, which he uses to send Coil Man to Ackbar the Martian (voiced by Don Messick) in his flying saucer and Multi Man to Captain Cutlass (voiced by Alan Reed) on his smuggling ship, the Sea Serpent.
  • Angler (voiced by [Don Messick) - Wears a torpedo-shaped fish suit that steals with a fishing rod.
  • Ringmaster (voiced by Hal Smith) - Has circus performers as his henchmen.
  • Mr. Instant (voiced by Paul Frees) - Carries a gun that can create anything in an instant.
  • Dr. Futuro (voiced by Paul Frees) - Travels from the 40th century to the 1960s to steal a gold brick to finance his crimes. He accidentally runs into an age-reversing machine and is turned into a baby.
  • Clutcher (voiced by Don Messick) - Created remote-controlled gloves for clutching anything at a distance.
  • Mr. Ice (voiced by Hal Smith) - Plans to conquer the city by freezing it
  • Batter (voiced by Don Messick) - Bases his crimes on baseball.

Some villains were made to serve a useful purpose and even went straight after their capture:

  • Archer (voiced by Paul Frees) - Dressed like Robin Hood. Decided to become a musician upon his arrest where the Impossibles even joined him in a performance in prison.
  • Billy the Kidder (voiced by Hal Smith) - A futuristic western outlaw that rides a robotic horse who wanted to rob the Mint. After serving his time, he becomes a rodeo clown where he is uncomfortable riding actual horses.
  • Inflator (voiced by Hal Smith) - Attacks places with giant balloons that he creates using a special ray-gun. He served his time and is now a balloon vendor selling his balloons to children.

An ad for the Saturday morning cartoon lineup in comic books of the time referred to "the Bubbler", "Bratfink", and "The Sponge".

The Impossibles episodes were written by Michael Maltese, who is known mostly for his work with director Chuck Jones.

Episodes[edit]

Title Air date
1a "The Bubbler" September 10, 1966 (1966-09-10)
The Bubbler kidnaps the Shah of Shish-Ka-Bob and it's up to the Impossibles to rescue him. Animation: Unknown.
Note: This episode marks the first time where the Narrator says "And so the singing Impossibles suddenly become Coil Man, Multi Man and Fluid Man, ready to do the impossible in the cause of justice."
1b "The Spinner" September 10, 1966 (1966-09-10)
Series premiere: The Spinner steals a $1,000,000 tiara. Animation: Dick Lundy, Kenneth Muse.
2a "The Perilous Paper Doll" September 17, 1966 (1966-09-17)
The Paper Doll Man steals a top secret plan and is out to steal the second part. Animation: William Keil.
2b "Beamatron" September 17, 1966 (1966-09-17)
Beamatron steals a priceless painting from a ship. Animation: Dick Lundy (Opening Scene), Kenneth Muse.
3a "The Burrower" September 24, 1966 (1966-09-24)
The Burrower uses his burrowing machine to steal half a million dollars from the bank and dig ten miles down to his lair. Animation: Bill Keil, (Other Animator Unknown).
Note: This is the first time that the Impossibles fly the Impossi-Jet into the sunset.
3b "Timeatron" September 24, 1966 (1966-09-24)
Timeatron uses his powers to bring villains from the past to pillage for him. Animation: Dick Lundy, Kenneth Muse.
Note: This is the second and final time where the Narrator says "And so the singing Impossibles suddenly become Coil Man, Multi Man and Fluid Man, ready to do the impossible in the cause of justice."
4a "Smogula" October 1, 1966 (1966-10-01)
Smogula freezes the Impossibles and seals them within a cave, so they will not interfere with his plans to conquer Empire City. Animation: Edwin Parks, Carlo Vinci.
4b "The Sinister Speck" October 1, 1966 (1966-10-01)
The Speck uses a formula to shrink himself in order to photograph top secret plans. Animation: Carlo Vinci, Hugh Fraser.
5a "Fero, the Fiendish Fiddler" October 8, 1966 (1966-10-08)
To get the Impossibles out of the way, Fero uses his fiddle to transport them to different planets. Animation: Carlo Vinci, Hugh Fraser
5b "Mother Gruesome" October 8, 1966 (1966-10-08)
Mother Gruesome invents a machine that brings villainous storybook characters out of their stories to help her with her crimes. Animation: Irv Spence, Ed Love.
6a "Televisatron" October 15, 1966 (1966-10-15)
Televisatron transports the Impossibles to different television shows. Animation: Carlo Vinci, Hugh Fraser, Irv Spence.
6b "The Diabolical Dauber" October 15, 1966 (1966-10-15)
The Dauber uses a special brush where anything he paints becomes real. Animation: Kenneth Muse.
7a "Aquator" October 22, 1966 (1966-10-22)
Aquator has stolen a secret formula and shrinks himself to microscopic size. Animation by Ed Love.
7b "The Wretched Professor Stretch" October 22, 1966 (1966-10-22)
Professor Stretch causes havoc with his elastic abilities. Animation: Edwin Parks.
Note: This is the only episode where Hal Smith provides the voice of the Narrator.
8a "The Devilish Dragster" October 29, 1966 (1966-10-29)
The Dragster has stolen a valuable item. Animation: Irv Spence.
8b "The Return of the Spinner" October 29, 1966 (1966-10-29)
The Spinner returns and steals a priceless pooch. Animation: Kenneth Muse, Jerry Hathcock.
9a "Satanic Surfer" November 5, 1966 (1966-11-05)
The Satanic Surfer takes pictures of a top secret submarine. Animation: Dick Lundy.
9b "The Puzzler" November 5, 1966 (1966-11-05)
The Puzzler steals top secret documents. Animation: Bill Keil.
10a "The Scheming Spraysol" November 12, 1966 (1966-11-12)
Spraysol steals top secret documents.
10b "The Scurrilous Sculptor" November 12, 1966 (1966-11-12)
The Sculptor turns people into statues.
11a "The Artful Archer" November 19, 1966 (1966-11-19)
The Archer steals a priceless violin and a million dollars.
11b "The Insidious Inflator" November 19, 1966 (1966-11-19)
The Inflator creates giant balloon monsters to help him commit crimes.
12a "The Dastardly Diamond Dazzler" November 26, 1966 (1966-11-26)
The Diamond Dazzler steals a precious diamond in order to awaken the genie within.
12b "The Return of the Perilous Paperman" November 26, 1966 (1966-11-26)
The Paper Doll Man returns and causes trouble.
13a "Cronella Critch the Tricky Witch" December 3, 1966 (1966-12-03)
Cronella Critch robs a charity for orphans party.
13b "The Terrible Twister" December 3, 1966 (1966-12-03)
The Twister is stealing precious jewels.
14a "Professor Stretch Bounces Back" December 10, 1966 (1966-12-10)
Professor Stretch returns and creates a rubber monster to help him.
14b "The Terrifying Tapper" December 10, 1966 (1966-12-10)
The Tapper transmits himself over phone lines.
15a "The Anxious Angler" December 17, 1966 (1966-12-17)
The Angler steals secret space research.
15b "The Rascally Ringmaster" December 17, 1966 (1966-12-17)
The Ringmaster puts on a circus and robs from those who attend.
16a "Billy the Kidder" December 24, 1966 (1966-12-24)
Billy the Kidder is a cowboy who rides a robotic horse and plans to rob the U.S. Mint.
16b "The Fiendish Dr. Futuro" December 24, 1966 (1966-12-24)
Comes from the fortieth century to the twentieth century to steal a million dollar gold brick.
17a "The Crafty Clutcher" December 31, 1966 (1966-12-31)
Uses an invention that brings his gloves to life.
17b "The Infamous Mr. Instant" December 31, 1966 (1966-12-31)
Mr. Instant uses his insta-gun that can make anything in an instant.
18a "The Bizarre Batter" January 7, 1967 (1967-01-07)
The Batter kidnaps a baseball star and holds him for ransom.
18b "The Not So Nice Mr. Ice" January 7, 1967 (1967-01-07)
Mr. Ice and his henchman Freezer Freezer freeze the city in order to take it over.

Comic Books[edit]

A single issue of a Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles comic was released by Gold Key as a tie-in to the TV series, and the contents were reprinted in The Impossibles Annual in 1968. "The Impossibles" comic story was titled "The Impossibles vs. The Mirror-Man". A new text-based story, specially written for the annual was "The Impossibles Cure a Doctor", with the villainous Herr Doktor Adolf von Tischklautz. Big D is mistakenly called "Big B" in this story.

In 2016, the Impossibles appeared as part of the cast of the Future Quest comic book, where the origin of their powers is explored; having been exposed to a special radiation, as part of an experiment by F.E.A.R., they gained their powers and became agents for Big D. They are also joined by a fourth member, a girl called Esme Santos who has control over magnetic fields, who nicknamed herself Cobalt Blue.[2][3] Together, they fight against an alien being called Omnikron, who absorbs everything and everyone in its path.

Adaptations[edit]

For the 1979 series The Super Globetrotters, the Impossibles' super powers were reassigned, entirely intact, to three members of the Globetrotters team.[citation needed] Coil Man was redesigned and renamed Spaghetti Man. Fluid Man was renamed Liquid Man. Multi Man was unchanged.

The Super Globetrotter costumes of Fluid Man/Liquid Man and of Multi Man remained the same as their Impossible counterparts (including the unexplained "F" on Liquid Man's wetsuit), except the color palettes were changed to match the Globetrotters' uniforms. The transformation sequences and many of the signature "moves" from the 1966 series were re-drawn, frame by frame, to feature the superhero incarnations of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team instead of the guitar-toting Impossibles.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles, 1966-09-10, retrieved 2016-03-21 
  2. ^ Future Quest #4-5 (DC Comics, 2016)
  3. ^ Superhero rock group "The Impossibles" set for 'Future Quest' by Matthew Price, 16 Sep 2016

External links[edit]