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The Freedom Force

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Episode Review
History of The Freedom Force
Quick Facts
Voice Cast

History of The Freedom Force

    The Freedom Force was another of Filmation's many attempts at having "in house" characters.  They had done so many cartoons for other properties like the DC superheroes, Star Trek, and so on that they wanted to make their own stuff they could own.

    Freedom Force was an awesome idea.  The superhero team was largely comprised of public domain characters they could retweak into their own interpretations:  Hercules, Merlin, and Sinbad.  The leader of the team, Isis, had previously been a live-action heroine in Filmation's own TV series, "The Secrets of Isis".  Super Samurai was a wholly original creation; a young boy named Toshi could transform himself into a giant.  This version of Hercules had previously been done in Filmation's "Space Sentinels" from the previous season.  The major difference between this Hercules and that from "Space Sentinels" is that when he was in the Space Sentinels team, he could fly.  In Freedom Force, he used the winged horse Pegasus for transportation.  No explanation was given for this change, but Space Sentinels was never acknowledged in this series, anyway.

    Filmation purposely sought out this cross-section of gender and race.  The company acknowledged the fact that those audiences were out there, and wanted to give them appealing heroes.  This was not the first time Filmation had set a multi-cultural cast, but it was a wider, more diverse cast than any show they had previously done.

    Isis is easily the most interesting character, and not just because she's sexy.  She does a lot more than the other characters.  Isis is also the most established personality.  I don't think the series was on long enough to flesh out the personalities of the other heroes.  As it stands, the second most-interesting character was Super Samurai.  He was a young Japanese boy who could magically transform himself into a samurai giant.  Really, he was little more than a Japanese interpretation of Shazam's Captain Marvel, but the character was cool.  Merlin was an alright character; the magic stuff made him watchable.  Hercules could have been done better.  He was really limited.  Hercules had great strength, but was always getting overpowered...even in "Space Sentinels"!  The character looked good, he sounded good, and Pegasus was neat.  Despite the aesthetics, he was a really bland character.  The biggest disappointment, and the least-used character in the series, was Sinbad.  Sinbad was shown only briefly in two of the five episodes.  In his first appearance, we see him sculpting Isis for a few seconds.  In his second and last appearance, we see Sinbad magically spring water from the ground for a few more seconds.  We see Sinbad's fat, diminutive sidekick Lamprey more than we see Sinbad, and even he is sparse!  The problem with Sinbad comes from the fact that he's a sailor character, and the show was set in the desert.  Not too thought out.

    The premise of the show is very ambiguous.  For some reason, all these heroes were in a magical desert and worked out of Isis' pyramid headquarters.  The time period is unclear.  It's not even certain this was on the planet Earth!

    "Freedom Force" is a fun, watchable cartoon with good animation, but the writing is very limited.  I believe this could have run a long time, but no one took the time to flesh out the concept.  It was quickly put together and, apparently, the creators lost interest and disbanded the project.  Little kids watching cartoons want to know what they're watching, and this was too up-in-the-air.  "Freedom Force" was a segment of the popular, one-hour show, "Tarzan & the Super 7", which ran from 1978-1980 on CBS.  From 1980-1981 on NBC, the segments were repeated on the one-hour show, "Batman & the Super 7".

    In 2006, BCI Eclipse released the complete series' of "Space Sentinels" and "Freedom Force" together on DVD.  It's an excellent set with loads of extras.  However, the company closed in 2009 and the DVD set is now out-of-print.

Quick Facts:
  •  Unlike the live-action version of Isis, this Isis has no secret identity.
  •  Isis, Hercules, and Super Samurai were the most used heroes of the team (in that order).  Merlin served little importance, and Sinbad was almost non-existent in the series!
  •  This cartoon version of Hercules had previously been seen in "Space Sentinels" (1977).  In "Space Sentinels", Hercules could fly.  In this series, he uses the winged horse Pegasus for transportation.
  •  The voice of Hercules is different than in "Space Sentinels".  In "Space Sentinels", he was voiced by George DiCenzo.  In "Freedom Force", he was voiced by Bob Denison.
  •  "The Freedom Force" was a segment on the hour-long cartoon series "Tarzan & the Super 7" (1978-1980, CBS).  Other segments were "Manta & Moray", "Superstretch & Microwoman", "Tarzan", "WebWoman", and the live-action "Jason of Star Command".
  •  When "Batman & the Super 7" ran on NBC from 1980-1981, "The Freedom Force" was shown with reruns of "The New Adventures of Batman".

"Tarzan & the Super 7" (1978-1980)
Studio: Filmation

Network Aired: CBS
"Batman & the Super 7" (1980-1981)
Studio: Filmation
Network Aired: NBC

Episode No.
Original Airdate
The Dragon Riders
September 9, 1978
The Scarlet Samurai
September 16, 1978
The Plant Soldiers
September 23, 1978
Morgana's Revenge [aka Pegasus' Odyssey]
September 30, 1978
The Robot
October 7, 1978

Episode Review:

1. The Dragon Riders:  The Freedom Force settles a feud between a troop of dragon riders and a squadron of plane fighters.

    This isn't a bad episode, but it's my least favorite of the five.  The ideas are a bit too loose.  I do like that it balances the four heroes pretty well (Isis, Hercules, Merlin, and Super Samurai).  Sinbad was never a legitimate member of the cast, anyway, so this is as close to a team-oriented story as it gets for this series.

2. The Scarlet Samurai: 
Toshi's new friend is jealous of his powers.  An evil wizard turns the jealous boy into Scarlet Samurai to exact his revenge against the boy's wizard father.

    Two giant samurais...awesome!  Super Samurai is the major character in this episode, although we do see a bit of all five.

    This is the first of only two Sinbad appearances in the series.  We see him at the beginning, making a sculpture of Isis.

3. The Plant Soldiers:  The Freedom Force stops an evil sorcerer named Toth from taking over the land with his army of plant soldiers.

    This is probably the best episode.  I like all of them, but this has the most worked out story and interesting action to boot!  Isis and Hercules are the major heroes, with assist from Super Samurai.

4. Morgana's Revenge:
  Hercules' spurned lover, the beautiful-but-evil sorceress Morgana, captures his beloved Pegasus and forces Hercules into slavery.  The team must save him!

    This is the second and last appearance of Sinbad.  Near the end, we see him magically spring water from the ground.  We actually see more of his sidekick, Lamprey, at the beginning.  And we never see the two together, except for in the opening credits!

    Another good episode, second only to 'The Plant Soldiers'.  For the first and only time, we're given an idea to Hercules' backstory.  Hercules DID have the potential to be an interesting character, but the series did the best with Isis.  'Morgana's Revenge' did show all five heroes of the team in action at some point, but Sinbad's contribution was token.  This is primarily a Hercules episode.

5. The Robot:  A scientist from the future, in his giant robot, challenges the Freedom Force for superiority.

    The heroes are Isis, Hercules, and Super Samurai...with a bit of Merlin thrown in for good measure.  Merlin could have been a great character, but they never did spotlight him in the series.  He did, however, get more respect than Sinbad.

Voice Cast:

Diane Pershing as Isis
Bob Denison as Hercules
Michael Bell as Merlin/Sinbad/Super Samurai