Can we give the pre-1992 DCAU some love? Please?
With all due respect to Mr. Jim Harvey, the founding father of this forum, I submit that the DC Animated Universe as we know it has its roots well before 1992. Not only that, but IMPO, any animated series based on a DC title should rightfully qualify to be a part of the DCAU.
As we all know, the background designs used in Batman: The Animated Series were inspired by the legendary Superman theatrical shorts produced by the Fleischers for Paramount/Famous Studios in the 40's. We can then submit that those hallowed shorts are the beginning of the DCAU.
I don't quite know if there were any specific restrictions in those days, but Superman never fought any of his familiar enemies, like Luthor or Ultra-Humanite or Prankster, in the Fleischer series. We would have to wait until Filmation's New Adventures of Superman (1966-70) to see Luthor and Prankster, as well as Brainiac and the Warlock, whom I believe might've been a made-for-TV villain, since I never saw him in the comics.
That Superman series put Filmation on the map, of course, and started what amounts to the Silver Age of the DCAU. The current period, then, could be considered the Bronze Age. The complete timeline:
1940's: Max & Dave Fleischer's Superman shorts (Paramount/Famous)
1966: Filmation debuts with New Adventures of Superman on CBS.
1967: The Aquaman Show debuts as 1/2 of the Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. Where Superman had Superboy in between his adventures, Aquaman had a rotating series of "backup" segments: Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman, Atom, Teen Titans, & Justice League of America. Because 20th Century Fox owned the rights to Batman & Robin at the time, the Dynamic Duo couldn't be used for the latter two segments.
1968: With the live-action series ended, Batman made the switch to cartoons. Aquaman was moved to Sundays to make room.
1970: CBS cancels all of the Filmation DC series.
1972: Batman & Robin guest-star on 2 episodes of the New Scooby-Doo Movies, beginning DC's long association with Hanna-Barbera. Meanwhile, Superman & Wonder Woman guest star in separate episodes (I think) of Filmation's Brady Kids, which aired on ABC, as opposed to Scooby being on CBS.
1973: Superman, Aquaman, & Wonder Woman join the Caped Crusaders at H-B to launch Super Friends on ABC, which would become a network staple for most of the next 13 years. Due to anti-violence statutes created a few years earlier (leading to the demise of the Filmation series), the SF team doesn't face their normal foes, but rather a series of "misguided" foes, usually average folks trying to do good, but going about it all wrong. "Jr. Super Friends" Wendy & Marvin are added to give the kids someone to relate to.
1977: After reruns were brought back as mid-season replacements for 2 straight seasons, Super Friends goes back into production, with the Wonder Twins replacing Wendy & Marvin. However, the same rules were in place. 7 months earlier, in an unprecedented move, Filmation launches the New Adventures of Batman as a mid-season replacement on CBS.
1978: Challenge of the Super Friends brings the now-legendary battles with the Legion of Doom (Luthor, Sinestro, et al). ABC would keep changing the format every year, with only Luthor returning to bedevil the SF again, and only once at that.
1979: ABC launches the Plastic Man Super Comedy Adventure Show, a 90 minute anthology series from Ruby-Spears. Factoring in Spider-Woman, ABC had 2 1/2 hours of super-hero adventure on Saturdays that season.
1980: Plastic Man's show is shrunk to 30 minutes, and the Pliable Policeman was married off-camera to sidekick Penny, leading to "Baby Plas". Batman's solo series moves from CBS to NBC as part of the "Super 7" anthology series, with Tarzan remaining at CBS.
1981: "Batman & the Super 7" & Plastic Man are cancelled.
1984: Super Friends is revamped again, given the sub-title, "The Legendary Super Powers Show". Cyborg & Firestorm join the team, and we're treated (?) to the rebooted Brainiac.
1986: Under the title, Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, the Super Friends franchise comes to an end with ABC cancelling the series.
1988: Superman gets a new solo series, produced by Ruby-Spears this time, and returns to CBS. Unfortunately, the show lasts just one season.
1992: Fox debuts Batman: The Animated Series.
1996: Superman: The Animated Series debuts on WB.
1999: Batman Beyond debuts on WB.
2002: Justice League debuts on Cartoon Network (becomes Unlimited in 2004).
2003: Teen Titans debuts on Cartoon Network.
2004: The Batman, set early in the Dark Knight's career, debuts on WB.
2005: Krypto, the Superdog debuts on Cartoon Network. CN, seeing the early ratings numbers, plays the show into the ground during the summer.
2006: Production ceases on Teen Titans & JLU, and it's reported that the next series in the pipeline is Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes, due this fall.
Now, let me address likes & dislikes:
I don't have a problem with the early stuff. As time goes on, there's a natural change in the method of storytelling in both comics & cartoons. Plots become more complex and challenging. Krypto was designed for younger viewers and is a return to those simpler days of the 60's. I just wish CN would schedule JLU replays again, so I can catch up with what I've missed. Instead, they'd rather shove their overplayed "Cartoon Cartoons" down our throats. That's for another time, though.
I disagreed with the designs for Teen Titans. Why use anime? Because CN saw the numbers on the anime they'd imported, and decided to experiment on creating their own anime. It just looked wrong. Also, they decided to make all the Titans around the same age. As we know from the comics, this wasn't the case. The team wasn't really complete, but they couldn't use Flash since he was already in the JL.
As the show progressed, however, they decided to at least drop some hints of a romance between Starfire & Robin. Unfortunately, they never got to kiss, at least from what I've seen.
The problem I had with The Batman when it debuted was also in the designs. It took Duane Capizzi and staff a while to adjust to the WB house style. Capizzi and Jeff Matsuda came over from Sony's Jackie Chan Adventures, and early on it looked to me like Bruce Wayne was starting to facially resemble Chan. However, I do have a problem with the look of Joker, for one thing. He looks like a hippie (and being barefoot doesn't help), and that's not the right look. Matsuda's Image influences are still evident.
JLU's greatest strength has been in its storytelling. Since I don't get to watch the show regularly, it threw me for a loop that they actually ran with the ball for a bit pushing Wonder Woman & Batman as a potential couple, and briefly addressed the childhood relationship between the Dark Knight & Zatanna 1st explored in BTAS.
IMPO, the DCAU isn't dead, and won't be. Just because Bruce Timm is leaving WB doesn't mean the DCAU as we know it is finished. If Superboy & the Legion takes off, Warners will be convinced to come up with something else, like Green Lantern or Plastic Man (and Plas is waaaaaay overdue to return to TV). Have faith.
This has been debated before, I believe. The creators of the this board and the website it represents choose not to cover the Fleischer, Hanna-Barbera and Filmation works, and as such they are not included. They run things. It's their choice.
That was a really informative and enlightening post.
Use the other forums (Boomerang, General Animation) if you want to discuss pre-1992 shows. This forum is for the site The World's Finest and the content it covers.
If you have any issues with these rules, then please PM Jim Harvey about it. I'm sure he'll get back to you eventually if he feels it's worth his time.