For my birthday, I got seasons two through six of “The Adventures of Superman.” I already had season one, which I loved, so this gave me the opportunity to finally watch the entire series.
Happy belated birthday
And thanks for a favorite subject of mine. I saw the reruns of the Adventures of Superman as a kid and watched the episodes again when I was older on Nick at Nite. Now, like you, I have the DVD sets.
I enjoyed the entire run of the show, but I will say that to me, the grittier black and white episodes were more fun to watch than the more kid-friendly color episodes. I think my favorite episode was probably “Human Bomb,” where Lois is handcuffed to a man with a bomb strapped to him. Other favorites of mine included “The Haunted Lighthouse,” “The Monkey Mystery,” “Night of Terror,” “The Stolen Costume,” “The Clown Who Cried,” “Clark Kent, Outlaw,” “The Wedding of Superman,” and “Disappearing Lois.”
You've named some of my favorites here.
The Human Bomb was a good showcase for all the characters. Jimmy came across as very brave. Okay, foolishly brave, but still, he had guts. Lois was more afraid of heights than the bomb and it was one of those occasions where the bad guy realized that Superman had feelings for Lois. Sort of like the bad guy in the L&C episode Wall of Sound.
The Haunted Lighthouse scared me as a kid. It was a Jimmy centric episode and as a child I identified with him and his misadventures. Though I think I realized it was a parrot saying "help me, I'm drowning" long before Jimmy did. In this episode Superman bends steel in his bare hands to get Jimmy out of the flooded cave. This was the only episode I can remember where Clark Kent did exposition narration.
Seeing Superman carry Jimmy reminded me that Dean's Superman also carried Jack Larson in the episode Brutal Youth. It was a really clever use of Jack as a guest star because he was still playing Jimmy Olsen, albeit 45 years after he played Jimmy Olsen in the Haunted Lighthouse episode.
I liked the Monkey Mystery episode as a kid, though I suspect that was because I wanted to have a pet monkey dressed in a superman costume. As a grownup I appreciated the clever plot. The organ-grinder would give little paper fortunes to the children who gave pennies to the monkey, but he also gave out information to villains. Unfortunately he gave one of the villain notes to Lois who realized right away that it could be a good story, one she wasn't going to share with Clark. That, of course, nearly got her killed.
Night of Terror had an interesting start. Pleasant lighthearted music was playing on the radio and a canary was singing as Lois entered a motel lobby carrying her suitcase. Yet, despite the radio playing and even a lit cigarette in the ashtray, the lobby seemed deserted. The panoramic view of the room finally finished and the mood changed abruptly when the camera focused on a woman face down behind the register counter.
Adventures of Superman had a real noir look and feel in its first season and I'd say that was mainly due to producer Robert Maxwell. The episodes were probably a shade too dark for young children and when Whitney Ellsworth took over with his kinder gentler episodes, it was much more kid friendly. I'm not saying that's a bad thing because Superman is a kid magnet. Some type of thought should be given to young viewers who want to tune in and see their favorite superhero. That said, yeah, I loved the dark stuff, but some of it scared the piss out of me when I was little.
Case in point ...
The Evil Three. Man, it was hard to go to sleep the night after I saw this episode. A crazy woman in a wheelchair, an old man called Colonel and a creepy looking innkeeper put Jimmy and Perry through hell... and any little kid peeking between their fingers suffered right along with them. And Superman was a real tough guy in this episode. He had to be with this bunch. He threatened the colonel and actually told the innkeeper that he would break every bone in his body if anything happened to Perry or Jimmy.
Speaking of noir, this episode borrowed a scene from the noir classic Kiss of Death (1947). In that movie Richard Widmark, a total psycho, pushed a wheelchair-bound woman down a flight of stairs. In this episode the psycho innkeeper smiled broadly as he pushed the old woman down a ramp and her wheelchair crashed and overturned in the basement. There was also the colonel putting on a sheet and some kind of chalk white makeup to scare Jimmy... and me.
On the lighter side, yes, there was a lighter side, the whole story started with Perry taking Jimmy on a fishing trip. As we all know Perry on L&C took Jimmy on a fishing trip in the episode Through a Glass, Darkly. I'm not sure it was a tribute, or just a big coincidence, but I liked the pairing of Jimmy and Perry in both cases.
The Stolen Costume presents an ethical, even moral question. How far could/should Superman go to protect his secret? In this episode a couple of small time crooks ended up with Superman's costume and as with the L&C episode Top Copy, it was found in Clark Kent's apartment. The thugs added up two and two and came up with blackmail. Clark wasn't having any of it and so he flew them to a mountaintop which had a sheer drop down all sides. There was a cabin there and Clark promised them he would bring them food and firewood until he figured out a more permanent solution to keep them from telling his secret.
The thugs believed Superman had simply marooned them there and so they decided to try and climb down, but they fell to their deaths. I still have ambivalent feelings about this episode to this day. Even if the couple had not tried to climb down the mountain, Clark/Superman doesn't have the right to imprison people, and what if one of them got sick, or broke a leg? Would he refuse to take them to a hospital? I'm not sure what the writer was really driving at with his script, but it still sparks debate. On a trivia note, this episode starred only Clark Kent from the regular cast and it's one of the only episodes I can remember where the Superman flying theme music is played for Clark Kent running up a flight of stairs instead of Superman flying.
Now to much lighter things. The Wedding of Superman was one of my favorites too. Lois is a bit too sorry for herself and in a way her importance as a reporter is trivialized, but hey, most of it is a dream and she and Clark/Superman have some fun chemistry. There's also a hint that subconsciously Lois not only believes that Clark is Superman, she apparently loves Clark as much as she loves Superman.
As a bonus, what is it about Lois Lanes wanting to touch Superman's "S"? Don't say that out loud. Whatever the provocation, Superman seems to enjoy it.
Disappearing Lois is an episode that shows Lois using every trick in her handbook to get a story. A crook named Garret got out of prison, but never gives interviews. Perry offers Lois, Clark and Jimmy a shot at a month's salary if they can get an interview with Garret. Lois teams up with Jimmy to get the interview since she believes Clark often mysteriously scoops her. She has a pretty wild plan, even for Lois. She moves into a new apartment. Apartment number 13, no less. Clark drives her there, takes a look around and then leaves. Shortly after he arrives home, though, the phone rings. It's Lois saying she forgot her purse and asks if he'd be a good joe and bring it back. He says he will.
When Clark comes back and rings the bell, a different woman answers the door and claims she has lived in that apartment for three years. Clark looks inside and sure enough, even the furniture is different. Now he's really confused and tells the story to Inspector Henderson who thinks Clark might be working too hard. Well, we all know Lois switched apartments with her neighbor across the hall, but her plan is brilliant because it definitely keeps Clark from pursuing an interview with Garret because he's too worried about Lois.
So, where is Lois? Pretending to be a maid, of course, so she can clean up Garret's apartment and do a little eavesdropping and make smalltalk with the bad guy. Lois Lanes always look good in housekeeping garb. Anyway, as always happens, sooner or later the bad guy orders his henchman to do away with Lois and Jimmy. In this episode that meant taking them to an abandoned mine and arrange for a convenient cave-in. Lois, however, starts to sweet talk the goon (first picture) and she convinces him that he should be the boss and Jimmy could be his henchman and she could be his gun moll. He buys it, which isn't surprising since he's as sharp as a bowling ball.
I agree with you about Inspector Henderson. Bill was not only a good friend to Clark, he was a good friend to Superman. He's probably a character they should've let in on the secret so that Clark would have a confidant.
I also included a screen capture of Clark putting his fedora on a statue in his apartment. He tapped it on the cheek and said, "Hiya, Sam." It was a funny little character bit that underlined how Clark Kent was a real person. He was fun, never a bumbling dork and he was a really good reporter.
I've never seen it but I am curious. I might check it out when I have the chance. I have a fear that the show would be too campy and silly as it was made during the 60s and it won't translate well.
It's not a 60s show. Don't forget that George Reeves died in 1959. "Camp" is usually something deliberate, like the old Batman series, which really was from the 60s. It was deliberately done over the top. The Adventures of Superman, on the other hand, was working in the new medium of television and had such a small budget that as many as 4 episodes were filmed simultaneously. That's why Lois, Clark, Jimmy and Perry rarely had wardrobe changes.
The show, like any other show from 50 years ago, will look very dated and some of the dialogue will sound just as dated. I mean few people say "darling" anymore, for example, but it was a popular endearment back then and is used in Lois's romantic dream. When I'm watching something old I simply look for sincerity of the characters and the writing. Is it about tights wrinkled at the knee, or is it about who Superman is as a person? Is it about special effects, or is it about Superman keeping an innocent man from being executed in the nick of time?
Not everyone will warm up to the old series. That's fine. To each his own. It certainly has its share of clunker episodes, and the special effects are often far from special
, but I love how George Reeves played Clark Kent. It is such a precursor to Dean's Clark Kent that it's no surprise I loved Dean's Clark right off the bat. I'd suggest downloading some of the episodes, maybe the ones that Lois_Lane_Fan suggested. I'd also suggest The Death of Superman, The Mysterious Cube and Panic in the Sky.
Lastly, thanks again Lois_Lane_Fan for giving me the opportunity to rave about my first Superman