Picks and Pans Review: Adventures of Captain Marvel

updated 05/09/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/09/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Captain Marvel was always a road company Superman, though his transformation from wimpy radio reporter Billy Batson into flying do-gooder was so dramatic it took two actors: Frank Coghlan Jr., as Billy, and serial veteran Tom Tyler, as the Marv. This still entertaining 1941 serial has Billy acquiring his superpowers in a tomb in Siam (in comic book versions of the story, he got suped-up in a subway station). There he meets an old wizard who happens to be an expert in mythological history and he teaches Billy the secret word "Shazam!"—for the initials of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury—which gives him their strengths. Then he confronts a villain out to collect some magical lenses found in the tomb. The 12 episodes last 216 minutes. (Republic Pictures, $29.95)

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