Challenge of the Superfriends Episode 4: The Time Trap

This particular tale begins on a promising note, with Bizarro complaining about the Legion of Doom’s lack of results. “Am sick of failure!” he groans. “Me go back to Bizzaro world! There losing equal winning!”

OK, I’ll give it this, that may be the first genuinely funny line I’ve heard on this show. I mean, intentionally funny. It almost takes away from the fact that the animators can’t draw anyone’s eyes right — or even at all.

And like clockwork whenever any of the Legion members complain about last week’s failed escapade, Lex Luthor shouts “SILENCE!” and issues some sort of toothless threat against his own team. He’s a model leader, that one.

This week’s exciting plan comes from the mealy mouth of Gorilla Grodd, who — as all apes are wont to do — has created a time travel device. The fact that all of the members of the Legion of Doom seem capable of routinely jury-rigging devices that break science makes me wonder why they need the “smart” ones on the team like Lex and Brainiac. Anyway, Grodd’s plan is to go into the past, steal treasures, and get rid of the Superfriends in the process.

It’s… not a half-bad plan. I mean, if you can look past a gorilla cracking time travel with the greatest of ease, it makes a type of sense not normally seen from this group.

Soon after, Black Manta and Giganta raid a cargo ship, triggering a trouble alert at the Hall of Justice. Aquaman offers to go, as for once this takes place on his home court advantage, and he gives a lift on the two-person version of his dorky jet ski to Apache Chief.



Black Manta goes into “evasion plan six” (trust me, you are not grown up enough to handle evasion plans one through five) and leads the Superfriends right into a time portal. I’m completely convinced that nobody in this show has reflexes or 20/20 vision, because Aquaman blithely swims right through the giant suspicious glowing doorway that just appeared in the middle of the Atlantic.

They might not have reacted to the gate or turn around when they got to the other side, but Apache Chief and Aquaman have no problem instantly recognizing that they’ve just jumped 70 million years into the past. Hey look, a water dinosaur! That looks absolutely nothing like a real dinosaur, but that’s because Superfriends writers have sustained multiple heavy blows to the head.

Sure hope that Aquaman knows how to speak to water dinos, because that would come in real useful right about now. But no, he doesn’t even try. Guy’s probably filling up his underoos with yellow seawater in fear, if you get my drift.

“Oh wait, I can totally speak to fish!” Aquaman realizes. He dives into the water and is immediately grabbed by the water dinosaur — which, I want to note, has hands and opposable thumbs. But he calls a ton of “strange” prehistoric fish to swarm him and escapes in the confusion, leaving all of his new friends to get eaten one by one. And thus, Aquaman changed the past and brought about a future where dinosaurs ruled and humans are extinct.

Black Manta and Giganta are trying to grab all of the diamonds from the South African mines before they were discovered — or headed underground. Nevermind how diamonds are actually made, kids. Sometimes they just sprout on the sides of cliffs like rock candy.

“Or I could squeeze a little tighter and watch your head pop off.”

Anyway, Black Manta and Giganta make it back with the diamonds, and Apache Chief is stuck in the dinosaur age with (presumably) the headless corpse of Aquaman.

In the current era, Captain Cold and Sinestro freeze and lop off George Washington’s rock head from Mt. Rushmore. That’ll look really groovy in the Legion of Doom’s rumpus room, provided that the room is five stories tall.

As far as I can tell, this is Robin’s one and only contribution to the Superfriends. Something weird happens and he goes “Holy tomatoes, Batman! We’re about to become a fruit! Or a vegetable! I am never really sure where the consensus lies on that issue.” And then Robin takes the backseat in whatever vehicle Batman’s driving and literally rides the Caped Crusader’s coattails to success.

I know you’re dying to know where the Legion leads Samurai and Green Lantern to, time-wise, but I think you need to prepare yourself, because it’s about to get all sorts of stupid up in here.

Of course this just happened. Who needs actual history when you can just crib from storybooks? Might as well have them go back to voyage with Homer on his Odyssey and bump into Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. This is why testing scores in schools dipped so low in the late 1970s.

As expected, this ends up with a joust between Green Lantern and Sinestro. My theory is that they’re actually best friends who really love to play together, but they’ve taken jobs on opposite sides of this conflict to justify using their toys. Sinestro wins the joust, by the way, but that’s no surprise, since the Superfriends never win a fight before the final five minutes of an episode.

Batman and Robin go to ancient Rome, which means we’re about two scenes away from them fighting lions and gladiators in the Colosseum. Tell me you wouldn’t want a full episode of the Dynamic Duo fighting their way out of the slave pits and into the favor of the Emperor!

What’s more inconspicuous than men in tights running all over Rome? A giant zombie and a talking gorilla making off with treasure in broad daylight. Somebody’s gonna look out of their window and be in for a lifetime of therapy as none of their friends or family will believe them.

Things that the Superfriends writers knew about ancient Rome:

  • There was some guy named Caesar
  • Everyone there spoke perfect English

Things that the Superfriends writers did not know about ancient Rome:

  • Everything else

Yes! Yes! YES! I am fist-pumping the air so hard right now! This is all I’ve ever wanted as a Christmas gift, and Superfriends just gave it to me!

By now I’ve watched enough episodes of Challenge of the Superfriends to come to a horrible understanding that the show writers think that outer space is maybe, at most, a block or two wide and deep. I mean, the Superfriends’ computer monitors the entire galaxy and can apparently pluck out individuals if they exist there, and Superman casually flies around the “perimeter of the Milky Way” to check if the missing heroes are, I dunno, floating out there somewhere.

Because I had to check on this, the actual perimeter of the Milky Way is a mere 300,000 light years. Superman’s max speed is somewhere around 2,000 miles per hour, although allegedly he can go faster than light (>669,600,000 mph) in outer space. That’s still going to take him 300,000 years to make this trip, so unless he’s got a time conveyor of his own, he’s going to come back to sun expanding to burn the earth and the Superfriends ancient history.

I have way, way overthought this particular quote.

I don’t know how dumb you have to be to casually hang out on the back of a giant “dinosaur,” but apparently you need to be Superfriends level.

And this has nothing to do with anything, but the episode just confirmed that Aquaman’s jet ski is called the “Aqua Scooter.” I didn’t think it was possible to hate him more, but, yeah, that did it.

So other than growing big once in a very long while, Apache Chief’s other contribution to the Superfriends is his amazing tracking skill. Because he’s a native American, you see. His tracking skill never makes sense, like here, where he uses it to track down the future site of the Hall of Justice in 70 million B.C. That’s, um, that’s not tracking. That’s Google Mapping a place that doesn’t really exist yet because of continental drift.

Flash has a plan to save their butts — and it’s a doozy. He figures his radio’s battery will last 100 million years, so he sets the communicator to go off and signal the Superfriends in the future, then buries the thing in a hole about one inch deep. Ignoring the fact that just because a battery may last that long it doesn’t mean all the rest of the radio’s components will (they won’t), this means that in at least one timeline, Apache Chief and Aquaman live out the rest of their years in prehistory to make this gambit work.

If this is all the wear and tear that happens on a Justice League communicator over the course of 70 million years, I will gladly buy into a Kickstarter to obtain one. Also, I would have loved for Superman to have dug up the skulls of Aquaman and Apache Chief alongside of it for a morbid twist. Instead, they use carbon dating to find an *exact* year it was buried.

Without pausing, Superman takes off to go faster than the speed of light, through a warp in time, and back to the past. I guess he can always do this? Would be pretty neat if he used time travel to thwart each and every Legion of Doom plot before it began, or lock Gorilla Grodd up in a zoo as a baby, or something.

“Great Scott! That gives me a perfect idea for a blockbuster movie about a kid named Martin MacFly who goes through history in an automobile gizmo created by his best friend, Doctor Immit Brawn!”

Superman technobabbles a way to find the other Superfriends using a geiger counter as he goes through the time barrier and… yeah… I don’t want to explain it. We’re in the final minutes of the episode and the writers are scrambling to get the good guys back to square one.


Once in a while — a very long while — this show comes up with an interesting visual or perspective. Then it goes back to being lazy as usual. I liked this shot.

People more familiar with modern-day Batman might find the Superfriends version very disconcerting. Superfriends Batman wasn’t that bright nor that talented; his entire reason for being was his utility belt, which held a gadget for any possible situation, no matter how ridiculous. But without that belt… he’s just lion food, and he knows it. So it’s a good thing that he’s got Superman for emergency predatory feline removal.

Of course, continuity being non-existent in this show, Batman has no utility belt (and makes a big deal out of that fact) in one shot, and in the very next, he’s shaking Superman’s hand and the belt is right there with him.

Racing against the clock, the show’s writers try to cram in one last time travel trip. For the sake of plot shorthand, the Justice League computer… somehow… predicts that the Legion of Doom is going to Sutter’s Mill in 1848 to steal all of the gold before the gold rush. Green Lantern, why not, also has the ability to travel in time with his power ring and takes all of the Superfriends to Sutter’s Mill to thwart the bad guys.

I’m… uh. I’m just going to present this picture without commentary or context and finish this episode. I’ve been traumatized enough for one day, I think.

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