Adventures of Superboy, The: The Complete First Season (DVD)
From the producers of the Superman films comes the adventures of a young Man of Steel who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered journalism student at Shuster University, fights a never-ending battle for truth and justice against his archnemesis, Lex Luther, and other supervillains -- all while trying to sweep Lana Lang off her feet.
Produced by Alexander and Ilya Salkind, who revitalized Superman's movie career in the '70s with Christopher Reeve in the title role, the syndicated television series Superboy
(1988-92) was a flawed but likable attempt to put a youthful spin on the Man of Steel by placing him in college and ridding Metropolis of crime between classes John Haymes Newton (the "Cable Guy" on Desperate Housewives
) did a respectable job in both Clark Kent's oversized spectacles and in the cape and boots, and the series certainly made attempts to acknowledge its comic book origins by utilizing original characters, including Lana Lang (Stacy Haiduk), Lex Luthor (Scott Wells), and even villains like Mr. Mxyzptlk (a wonderfully eccentric performance by character actor Michael J. Pollard). Unfortunately, budget restraints and some woefully hackneyed scripts prevented the show from presenting Superboy's exploits in the grand style of the comics, and 20 years after its release, the first season is best appreciated as a camp exercise than a true action-adventure series. Still, there are some moments that approximate the high-flying style of the comics books ("The Alien Solution," which pits Superboy against a belligerent invisible alien, and Pollard's turn in "Mr. Mxyzpltk"), and guest stars like a youthful Joaquin Phoenix (billed here as "Leaf Phoenix) in "Little Hercules" provide some interesting turns (though Leif Garrett's appearance as a wealthy rock star who catches Lana's eye in "Bringing Down the House" pushes things back into camp waters). The extras include a making-of featurette, which covers the series' conception and casting, and commentary by Newton (who gets the show's camp appeal) and Ilya Salkind (who doesn't) on two episodes; Newton's screen test and an excerpt from Ken Burns and Bryan Singer's Superman documentary, Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman
, round out the supplemental features. --Paul Gaita