Adventures of Superman: Season 1
DVD | Box Set
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Adventures of Superman, The Complete First Season (DVD)
Look! Up In the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! The classic "Adventures of Superman" episodes from the 1950s starring George Reeves set the tone for how many people still think of Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent works for the Metropolis Daily Planet. But with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, he also battles for truth and justice as Superman. In season one, Superman rescues Lois and Jimmy repeatedly while performing heroic deeds all over the country in these earnest, comic-inspired stories.]]>
In 1952 Superman flew right into the hearts and minds of the American TV audience faster than a speeding bullet. Though most people were already familiar with man of steel through his comic books, as well as the popular radio show, it was the new medium's Adventures of Superman that transformed our resident Kryptonian into a timeless icon. For many young baby boomers, Superman was the ultimate symbol of truth, justice and the American way. After watching this nostalgic trip back in time it is easy to see why: George Reeves. Reeves is the quintessential Superman. He is kind, confident, smart, always does the right thing and can literally do anything physically. Even Reeves' Clark Kent is cool, even cocky without any of the trademarked shy, clumsy and hickish traits the character has developed over the years. And then there's Phyllis Coates as the Lois Lane. Coates portrayal of Lois is surprisingly one of the stronger female roles in '50s television. She is one tough cookie able to stand her ground against criminals, fight off bad guys and is not afraid to outwardly express herself. Sadly, Phyllis Coates would be replaced by Noel Neill in subsequent seasons.
Adventures of Superman also stands the test of time well as one of the best shows from the early days of television. A lot of it has to do with how the writers, producers and actors approached the making of the show. This first season, as well as the second, were made as if they were making a serious show suitable for kids and adults. Instead of being a kids' comic book show, the episodes have a strong "mini-serial-crime-movie" feel, are very story driven and include loads of elements from the popular film noir style of the 1950s. This is evident in such classic episodes such as the season opener "Superman on Earth," "The Stolen Costume" where Superman has his costume stolen by a burglar, and the tense horror-noir "The Haunted Lighthouse." Also included on this DVD set is the 1951 theatrical release Superman and The Mole Men which later became the televised two-part episode "The Unknown People." --Rob Bracco
- 26 episodes on five discs
- Commentary by Superman chroniclers Gary H. Grossman and Chuck Harter on four episodes
- The 1951 theatrical feature film Superman and the Mole Men
- Retrospective documentary: Adventures of Superman: From Inkwell to Backlot
- Pony Express Days: vintage Warner Bros. historical short starring George Reeves
- Original Kellogg's cereal commercials
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As you'll find from most reviews of this B&W season, the episodes have a grittier tone then the ensuing seasons. George Reeves is great at bringing the classic American hero to life from the comic pages. He's more forceful in this season, facing off mostly against crime leaders & hoods, with the occasional sci-fi device (robot, etc) thrown in. While the Superman character appears to become more light hearted in following seasons, it is interesting to note that Clark Kent remains a tough, risk taking reporter throughout and not a feeble excuse at a secret identity. Phylls Coates' Lois Lane is an equally hard as nails reporter. This was Coates sole season as the lovely Lois Lane. The rest of the cast - Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, Neil Hamilton as Perry White, & familiar film face Robert Shayne as Inspector Henderson - would remain throughout the show's run.
The black and white episodes are beautifully presented and the extras are nice treats. I'm not a huge fan of commentaries, but the ones presented on several of these episodes made me smile as film historians pointed out interesting production facts and recalled first viewing the series when it aired as youngsters. While I may have watched it as a youngster of a different generation, my experience in front of the TV set was similiar. Also included in the package is a DVD of a George Reeves western short, the origonal release of Superman and the Mole Men and a 30 minute or so documentary. The documentary is rather routine. There's no big surprises for fans of the show but small treats like comic writers revealing their fondness for the show led them to incoporate the Inspector Henderson character into the hero's comic pages for the first time in the 80s.
Of the episodes, my favorites were Superman On Earth, revealing the man of steel origin with what must have been fabulous effects for the era and The Evil Three in which White and Olsen find themselves immeresed in some mad men's hunt for buried treasure! The latter episode includes commentary.