I've been waiting now for Filmation/Warner Brothers to release the "Shazam!" DVD for a seeming eternity; it was my favorite Saturday morning program when I was young, and - as a result - Captain Marvel was my favorite superhero. I drew pictures of him at school and in my spare time, and owned the Mego action figure. (Remember those?) I preferred Jackson Bostwick (first season) as Marvel over the later John Davey, and recall being shocked at the sudden appearance, mid-season, of an entirely different-looking Marvel. Jackson Bostwick, in full costume, once came to my city for a Cerebral Palsy Telethon, and I was too shy to go see him or even call the station to speak with him.
Viewed now from a more cynical perspective, the show itself is the epitome of 70s cheese, and it doesn't hold up well in the new millenium. Still, it's good viewing for nostalgia's sake. Teenager Billy Batson and Mentor perpetually travel the "highways and by-ways" of America in a Winnebago, like Jack Kerouac with wanderlust, yet never seem to leave California. "The Elders" (six animated Greek gods whose initials provide Shazam with his name) deliver fortune cookie riddles to Billy, which then become clear later in the episode - after Billy has encountered a troubled youth of some kind. "In times of dire need," Billy turns into comic book hero Captain Marvel by uttering the word "Shazam" and being struck by a bolt of lightning... but the Captain Marvel of the show isn't your typical superhero: he never fist fights, he stops wrong-doers by lifting the rear wheels of their car off the ground or jamming their car between two trees, he brings in the cops when things get too intense, and he provides a brief moral lecture directly to us at each episode's closing. This Cap doesn't throw punches, he "develops understanding." Parents will love the lack of violence and the lessons in humanitarianism. Kids will love the cape. And if you were a fan of the show then, you'll love the 70s flashback now.
Oddly enough with this DVD transfer, the "moral" section of each episode is of much poorer film quality than the rest of the episode(s). I don't know why this should be so, but it is. (Did they film those segments independently of the rest of the episode, and on lesser film stock?) Warner is aware of the problem and apologetically notifies the DVD watcher before viewing; they also give you the choice of watching the episodes with or without the moral segments.