DirectorCharles A. Nichols
Release Date(s)1977-80 (July 23, 2013)
Studio(s)Hanna-Barbera (Warner Archive)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: F
Even as a kid, I wasn’t a big fan of Scooby-Doo. The characters weren’t all that appealing and the show’s formula quickly became repetitive and boring to me. I did, however, like that one series that paired the gang up with a seemingly random parade of bizarre guest stars like Sonny and Cher and Batman and Robin. That one was just weird.
And yet, I was a fan of a lot of the other members of Scooby’s extended TV family, like Dynomutt and Blue Falcon and Captain Caveman. I don’t suppose there’s any great, deep-seated reason behind that preference. Those characters were superheroes and superheroes were a lot more interesting to me than a bunch of meddling kids and an enormous, omnivorous Great Dane.
Cavey made his debut as part of the Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics cartoon block. It’s one of those shows whose entire premise is summed up in the opening credits narration. “Set free by the Teen Angels from his prehistoric block of glacier ice, comes the world’s first superhero, Captain Caveman! Now the constant companion to the Teen Angels – Brenda, Dee Dee and Taffy – in their hilarious and sometimes scary mystery missions!”
Like virtually every other Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the 70s, Captain Caveman establishes its formula and sticks to it. The Teen Angels (like Charlie’s Angels but, interestingly enough, more racially diverse) stumble onto a mystery that needs solving, usually involving monsters. Cavey aids and protects with his all-purpose club, unreliable power of flight, and ubiquitous battle cry.
It’s virtually impossible to review a title like this without the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia but the show holds up nicely. If you liked it as a kid, like I did, you’ll probably enjoy revisiting it, although the strict adherence to formula makes marathon viewing a challenge. If you’re introducing it to your kids for the first time, they’ll more than likely have fun, although some of the 70s references are going to go right past them. But Cavey is a fun, likable character and the Teen Angels are smart, resourceful and refreshingly free of annoying character tics.
Warner Archive’s Complete Series set collects all 40 adventures of the good Captain spread out over two discs. The episodes look surprisingly good with bright, vivid colors and remarkably clean source material. There aren’t any bonus features but that’s hardly a surprise.
There isn’t a lot of middle ground when it comes to Hanna-Barbera’s Saturday morning fare. You either love it or you hate it. For those of us who drove our parents nuts mimicking Cavey’s signature battle cry, Captain Caveman And The Teen Angels is a fun retro trip back to our childhood. I recommend watching it with a box of Cap’n Crunch in your lap.
- Dr. Adam Jahnke