Adventures of Superman (TV Series 1952–1958) Poster

(1952–1958)

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6/10
Classic TV
Gerardrobertson6115 February 2018
I have been watching the original Superman series, Season 1-4, and although it was on TV 10 years before I was born, I do have vague memories of watching it as a kid in the 60's.

I really need to put into the context that it was made in, 1950's TV. Looking at it now, it is really quite funny. You can see Superman in certain episodes jumping onto the springboard, the gangsters are stereo typed as 1930's gangsters, even the episode The Last Warrior, there is the line "how" for when Jimmy meets an Indian, and the Indian Chief has gone to the "happy hunting ground".

But taking it all into consideration the series it self is enjoyable to watch. Clark Kent occasionally smiling straight at the camera and saying lines to indicate that only him and the audience know he is Superman, almost like he is sharing his secret directly with you. If you a Superman fan, then it's worth taking a look at these episodes, they are more realistic than the way Batman was portrayed in the late 60's, and the villains are more in lined with the Golden Age of Comics.
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8/10
Rather juvenile but still entertaining.
alexanderdavies-993828 August 2017
This series of the superhero Superman, was the first time viewers got to see the illusion of a man flying. Previous attempts had been restricted to animation of Superman flying, courtesy of those television serial shows. A 2 part story was commissioned in 1951, to see if a show would result. The 1951 instalment was a success. George Reeves is ideally cast in the dual role of mild mannered Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent and Superman. Due to the fact that the stories had to be fairly streamlined and the pace kept brisk, the actor didn't have much of a chance to give his performance a lot of shading. This doesn't matter though. I prefer Noel Neill as Lois Lane as she is more feisty! Jack Larson makes for an effective Jimmy Olson, with his boyish charm and his willing to do the right thing when his friends are in trouble. John Hamilton is excellent as editor Perry White, his gruff and stern exterior make him the perfect choice. The show's budget was about as tight as you could get. The actors usually wear the same costumes and the sets are non-descript. There was a bit more money spent on the show when it was produced in colour but everything else remained the same. There wasn't much in the way of location shooting but that isn't a problem with me. "The Adventures of Superman" ran for just over 100 episodes, lasting for 6 seasons and was broadcast from 1952 to 1957. There were definite plans to commission a further season before the untimely death of George Reeves. There is still some suspicion about how he deceased and it looks possible that foul play was involved. This show is mainly for the younger viewers but fans of Superman and D.C Comics might enjoy this also.
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My Top Eight Episodes
StuOz10 August 2015
My top eight episodes of the series are all from season one and here they are:

Superman On Earth. This opening episode does so much in the short space of 25 minutes and Kent's closing line is one of my favourite lines in the history of TV. There is no ugly violence or swearing of the type seen in more recent adventures of Superman, this is just good clean family entertainment.

The Haunted Lighthouse. Jimmy Olsen visits his relatives but all is not what it seems. Motion picture TV.

The Evil Three. Another Jimmy Olsen dominated episode and this one has what seem to be ghosts. Motion picture TV.

The Human Bomb. A guy with a bomb on him enters The Daily Planet with Lois with him at all times. Phyllis Coates is the best Lois Lane ever seen on the screen and this episode proves it.

The Ghost Wolf. Something of a pattern is beginning to form here, nearly all my favourite episodes involve the regular cast leaving The Daily Planet and getting out of town. Here we go again with Ghost Wolf...Lois once again shines in this one.

Crime Wave. The best action episode of the series...this is really pull-out-all-stops in regards to action in Superman...and the stock music playing over the adventure is loaded with just the right amount of energy. The acting from all is outstanding, this might even be my favourite episode of the series.

The Unknown People (two-parter). Aka Superman And The Mole Men. This and Superman On Earth are the only sci-fi adventures in my top eight. We never see Superman in flight but we get a great story with the same kind of energy charged music we heard in Crime Wave. The music really steals the early sections of part two.
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8/10
Excellent!!!
brabryant11 October 2014
I'm 65 and remember the Superman t.v. series and George Reeves' death

when I was only 10 years old. Great write up about the series' place in

history and the characters who put it there! Thanks!

I'm 65 and remember the Superman t.v. series and George Reeves' death

when I was only 10 years old. Great write up about the series' place in

history and the characters who put it there! Thanks! I'm 65 and remember the Superman t.v. series and George Reeves' death

when I was only 10 years old. Great write up about the series' place in

history and the characters who put it there! Thanks! I'm 65 and remember the Superman t.v. series and George Reeves' death

when I was only 10 years old. Great write up about the series' place in

history and the characters who put it there! Thanks!
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9/10
Great Caesar's Ghost!...
Mike Shore19 July 2014
So I'm on Amazon and i notice that there is now a DVD of the original Superman TV series that I loved as a kid. I went to the reviews, and they were resoundingly 5 Stars. And as i thought back, i remembered how much i loved George Reeves as Superman, and how much simpler things were back then. I thought about the changing room and him flying out of the Daily Planet. Then i remembered Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane and Perry White. There was a quiet strength in George Reeves that to me has always been the 'real' Superman though i was a big fan of Christopher Reeve as well. And when i realized i had a credit balance at Amazon, i ordered it.

Last night my wife and i watched the pilot episode ( Jor-El being laughed out of the science hearings, and as Krypton explodes prematurely, off goes Kal-El), and we both kept saying how we remembered each moment as if it was yesterday ( which of course, it was far from...haha).

Superman is a great story as well as an exciting adventure. It was so well done considering it was over 60 years ago, and who would have thought back then how huge, i mean HUGE, the franchise would become as well as be culturally ground breaking in some ways like the Beatles. The Adventures of Superman changed everything about TV and ultimately, the movies.

Watching Pa Kent open the rocket brought me back in time and i reveled in the innocence, and was still so very happy for the Kents to have the child they always wanted. Seeing him grow up and question why he was different, and then fast forwarding to his adult hood was just so much fun, and yes, we were little kids again watching the show. One of the things we noticed was how this version does not take itself so seriously, and how there was frequent comic relief, usually in the form of Jimmy Olsen, or the frustrations of Perry White.

Of course we remembered the entire beginning, and as geeky as it is, we both recited the entire, "Look up in the air, it's a bird..." That episode was truly great, and the next one was a Jimmy Olsen one. As good as it was, there were times we were laughing at the campiness as well as how incredibly naive and well, stupid, Jimmy was. And that was part of the charm of the show.

No crazy super-villains from other galaxies, just normal bad guys and criminals that our hero Superman would first solve the crime, and then find and put the bad guys away. Very simple, very entertaining, and we had such a nice evening that we are ready to watch it two more episodes tonight.

Highly recommended to any fan of Superman who grew up in that time, or who didn't, as it is a whole new look at our number one Super Hero of all time. It also will give you a look at our society back then that no newspaper or book can show as well.

George Reeves is Superman, and this DVD is well, yeah, Super!
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8/10
The original Super Hero classic !
ebiros29 February 2014
Probably the first modern super hero TV series, and at the time it was first on air was more famous than the comic it was based on.

Every episode of this series is a classic. Nothing that came before it in super hero genre, was done with as much good acting, and class. I only knew the series as reruns, but I remember that this was the first super hero show I've ever seen in my life. It never failed to entertain every time I saw it as a kid. It combined humor, drama, and element of ridiculousness done with charm like no other programs of this type in the '50s had. It also didn't look cheesy, like all other series of this type in the '50s did.

The characters all left indelible impression on us. Especially Noel Nelle's Lois Lane is a classic that all future Lois Lane was compared against. She was the other "star" of this show.

The series aged well, and even today it provides entertainment like no other show. Without a doubt, this is the classic of all classic super hero TV series.
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7/10
"Look! Up In The Sky!"
Dalbert Pringle25 September 2013
"It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...(heck, you know the rest)!"

Bullets just bounce off him. Criminal masterminds can't outfox him. And even the deadly, destructive gizmos dreamed up by mad scientists can't blast him into smithereens.

With powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, Superman had the super-strength and super-endurance to defeat all of his many determined foes.

This highly-enjoyable, low-budget, action-packed, TV series from the fabulous 1950s is great fun for all ages. This was a show that was very representative of its time in American culture.

Containing surprisingly little gunfire (except at Superman) and a significantly toned-down approach to its violence (where Superman often resorted to banging the criminals' heads together), this lighthearted and often whimsical superhero show featured villains who were clearly caricatures of themselves, playing their parts in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion.

Featuring an excellent cast, The Adventures Of Superman was impressively headlined by actor George Reeves, as the Man of Steel. With his athletic build, square-jawed good looks and likable screen persona, Reeves was, undoubtedly, an ideal choice to play the ultimate superhero of the 20th Century.

As essential viewing for anyone interested in 1950's pop culture and the very beginnings of TV superheroes, The Adventures Of Superman is sure to please one and all with its fast-paced, half-hour episodes that come at you (faster than a speeding bullet) in living color (starting with the show's second seasons).
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10/10
I love this show
stevethrash195213 April 2012
I am 60 years old and grew up with this how. I love it, but one thing that always interested me in the first episode where Clarks mother was talking to him about his super suit and explained that it was indestructible and nothing could harm it but she somehow managed to sew it together, if the material was indestructible how could she have sewed it into a suit. But still, I love this show. I have all the episodes on DVD and love watching them over and over. I remember how sad I was when my mother told me the actor who played superman was dead, I responded with: But superman cannot die. I was very upset at the news. My hero was no more.He still lives in my heart even today. I like how Clark gives his character the name Superman when talking to Lois.
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6/10
Low Budget but High Fun !!!
mikelmike7726 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The Adventyres of Superman was a lot of fun for boys and girls of the 50s and 60s for sure .Although the acting was second rate , the special effects non- existent , and the writing terrible , it didn't have to be great , just great fun and that it was !!! George Reeves as Superman was good although there really was that much real acting involved in his part as Superman . For me Perry White always going off on Jimmy Olsen was very funny and one of the few parts of the show that you could count on to be funny and regularly present each episode . The shots of Reeves doing a super stunt were really 10th rate at best , I assume the budget was 100 dollars per episode if that , the quality was very low but I still love watching this fun , nostalgic series .
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10/10
A masterpiece
petersj-223 May 2010
I just purchased the whole series. Some things can look terrible with age and time is not very kind to some TV shows from the 50,s but I am pleased to say that Superman looks wonderful. Certainly some of the production values and effects look a bit stagy by today's standards but the stories and the acting is wonderful. Its true that people must have been really think not to recognize the fact that Kent was Superman but the show cleverly gets us to accept it. Both Phyllis Coates and Noell Neil were wonderful as Lois Lane. Coates was a more sophisticated and sexier Lane but Miss Neill is equally effective as a sweeter more humorous Lois. I loved them both. The real stand out for me is Jack Larson who is simply brilliant as Jimmy Olson. His subtle acting is beautiful today and works superbly. Of course John Hamilton as Perry and Robert Shane as the inspector are perfect in their roles. George Reeves is the definitive Superman. Sexy and noble. He is the best man of steel. I love the supporting performances, all these remarkable support players add so much to the show. I am so happy to find this old friend again.
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7/10
Lois in the sky with blinders
robertpball4 September 2009
It's always amazed me that Lois Lane, a woman who prided herself on being intelligent and observant, could work next to this guy for as long as she is supposed to have WITHOUT noticing that he is Superman. I realize that was always part of the continuity of both the comic and TV/Movie plot line, but still.... At least Batman covered most of his face!

Even with that glaring - to me - discrepancy, I thoroughly enjoyed the TV series when I watched it as a kid, back in the prehistoric Fifties. I remember being a little disappointed that he wasn't fighting super villains as he did in the comic books, but at least he was flying. It would have been nice if the series had lasted long enough so that they could have added Supergirl when she came along.
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8/10
The Best Episodes of the Great First 'Noir' Season!
John W Chance20 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The first season was originally broadcast in the evenings, not in the afternoons for children. 1952 was not that far away from the 'film noir' style of film making from the 1940s that we love, even though much of it was developed in low budget films to save on costs.

What does this have to do with "The Adventures of Superman"? Most of the episodes of the first season are suggestively, or deliberately noir: darkly lit stories peppered with deviant characters and low life villains with dire situations for our heroes to be trapped in. Others have commented on how the series degenerated into silliness later on, but here in the first season we have well photographed, written and acted and often suspenseful episodes.

For me, the best episodes of the first season are: 'Superman on Earth', the noirish 'The Haunted Lighthouse', 'The Monkey Mystery' (many of these early episodes actually were mysteries), 'Night of Terror' with the feisty Phyllis Coates, the great science fictional 'The Mind Machine', 'Rescue' with Phyllis Coates in a kind of 'Ace in the Hole' (1951) episode, 'The Secret of Superman', 'The Stolen Costume', the two ultra-noirish episodes 'Mystery in Wax' (with a great performance by Myra McKinney) and 'The Evil Three' and finally 'Crime Wave'.

What is noteworthy about this first year is the demonstrated craft of the lead actors in taking their roles seriously. Of course, they had no idea of how actors in their far future would play the same and other comic book characters and be respected and lauded for their efforts --in the year 2009 Heath Ledger was nominated for an Academy Award for playing DC's 'The Joker,' and Christopher Reeve played Superman in four successful films that also featured Marlon Brando, Gene Hackett, Susanna York, Terence Stamp, Jackie Cooper, Robert Vaughn and Richard Pryor among many stars.

The first season has well done ensemble acting. The episodes featured different pairings of the four leads. You get Clark and Jimmy in 'The Haunted Lighthouse,' Perry and Jimmy in 'The Evil Three,' and other episodes featuring Clark, Lois and Jimmy, or Clark and Perry, Clark and Lois, Clark, Jimmy and Perry, and even Clark and Inspector Henderson. Although Noel Neill was fine in the two 'Superman' serials, Phyllis Coates is strong and feisty in this, her only year. Kudos to 'method' actor (and James Dean's friend) Jack Larson as Jimmy--an adult playing a teenager with such lines as "Jeepers!" "Golly! (he says it "Gah-lee"), "Gleeps!" and "Gosh, Mr. Kent!"

24 first season episodes in all, actually 26. The others were the two-part 'The Unknown People,' which was actually a short 1951 theatrical film, 'Superman and the Mole People,' which just features Lois and Clark. In it, George Reeves plays Clark Kent as not mild mannered, but a tough, two fisted fighter of small town prejudice directed against those who are different (in this case, mole men from inside the Earth). Clark even assists in a surgery to save a mole man's life! Reeves continues to play Clark as smart and tough throughout the series. (The feautre film is also highly recommended.)

A thoroughly enjoyable first year of a television series. I'll give it an 8.
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10/10
Best. Superman. Ever.
flapdoodle648 January 2008
'The Adventures of Superman' (TAS) was made under difficult circumstances: almost no time, almost no money, and no CGI. Yet three things make TAS a timeless classic:

1) The recurring cast members were all superb, especially George Reeves as Superman. Reeves played the part with just the right combination of intelligence, righteousness, manliness, and, when necessary, gentleness. A WWII vet and former boxer, Reeves had a physical presence that implied strength and power. Reeves never played Clark Kent as a sissy or klutz, and within the framework of the show this approach worked well. Reeves is to Superman as Errol Flynn is to Robin Hood, as Sean Connery is to 007. 2) Tight, disciplined stories. Every episode has some kind of hook early on, and each one has some element of suspense to keep you involved. 3) Good to excellent directing and cinematography. Every episode is at least competently done, and some work marvelously.

There is a widespread concensus among fans that the 1st two seasons of TAS are the best, due to their being less whimsical than the remaining 4 seasons, and due to their being shot in crisp black and white, which lends a film noir aspect, making these shows seem somehow more realistic than the color episodes.

There is considerable debate as to whether the 1st season or the 2nd season is actually the best. In season 1, Lois Lane was played by Phyllis Coates, a good actress who somehow got stuck doing exclusively B movies. Her Lois is a little edgier and tougher than then Noel Niell, who played Lois in the rest of the 6 seasons, as well as playing Lois in the 2 Columbia pictures movie serials. Fans who prefer Phyllis Coates' Lois will give an edge to Season 1.

A deeper difference is that Season 1's stories are a little more hard-boiled, with more guns being fired and more people getting shot and/or killed. The decision to tone-down the violence probably had something to do with the fact that the Kelloggs cereal company had assumed sponsorship of the program, and due to the Senator Estes Kefauver crusade against violence in comic books.

Violence is a major element in the best Season 1 episode, 'The Stolen Costume.' This episode also provides the most ambivalent portrayal of Superman in the entire series. 'The Stolen Costume' is one of the two greatest episodes in the whole series, the other being 'Panic in the Sky' from Season 2.

Many episodes in Season 1 and Season 2 are almost as great. Even the weakest episodes of TAS are infinitely better than the 2006 film 'Superman Returns,' which cost all the money in the world and took 3 fricken years to make.

While many fans give the edge to Season 1, I have a slight preference to Season 2, although I've no complaints with Season 1. Season 2 still had the occasional death (of a villain, mind you, and never by Superman's hand!) but also introduced more science fictional elements and stories began to explore the question of Superman's invulnerability. In at least 3 episodes of Season 2, Superman is in some way weakened, injured, or otherwise taken out of action as a major plot point.

Also of note, Season 2 features the TV debut of Noel Niell as Lois Lane. Ms. Niell's portrayal of Lois is softer than Phyllis Coates', and perhaps somewhat more stereotypically female. Many fans of the show debate the 2 Lois' merits, but I will not, finding many appealing qualities to them both. Moreover, to think of them reminds of how woefully inadequate Kate Bosworth was in 'Superman Returns.'

Seasons 3-6 were filmed in color, and the current DVD collections have good prints of them. They are not quite as good as the first 2 seasons, but still tightly plotted and the cast never lets you down. There are, to be sure, many light-hearted or silly episodes. But seeing them now, I appreciate them more than I did as a kid. Bottom Line: Seasons 3-6 are still worth your while, and still stand head and shoulders above 'Superman Returns.'
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10/10
Superman, Superman, Superman!!
Zach Kucala26 May 2007
I grew up loving Christopher Reeve, I love Smallville, I hated Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and I hated Superman Returns! But, nothing can compare to George Reeve's Superman! (Ok, so Christopher Reeve is the one and ONLY Superman!!!!) After seeing only two episodes of the first season on DVD, I was blown away! The special effects aren't flashy, it's in black and white (duh!) The acting is far better than the acting was in Superman Returns (2006) sadly! He looked great as Clark and Superman! To be completely honest, he looked 100% better as Superman and Clark then Brandon Routh did! George stands right next to my favorite Superman...... CHRISTOPHER REEVE!!!! George Reeve's, even though he's dead, he blew me away! His scene's as Superman are short, but they are satisfying! Honestly, George Reeve's pummeled Brandon Routh! I didn't like Superman Returns!!! Bryan Singer ruined the legend that was Christopher Reeve, by casting some loser who bares no resemblance too him!!! George Reeve's was flawless!!! It might be an old show, it might be black and white, George might be dead, but one thing is for sure, George Reeve's and Christopher Reeve are...... SUPERMAN!! Tom Welling (Smallville) is definitely Christopher Reeve's heir too his movie's! First time I saw Tom, I thought I was looking at a young Christopher Reeve, I kid you not! He is Superman Returning!!! GEORGE REEVE'S, CHRISTOPHER REEVE, AND TOM WELLING....... ARE MY SUPERMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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7/10
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN {Season 1} (Various, 1951-3) (TV) ***
MARIO GAUCI19 May 2007
I had caught a few episodes of this popular show on Italian TV as a kid and, therefore, leapt at the chance of watching this seminal first series via Warners' R2 DVD. It's naïve (Clark Kent needing to go into an alley - which happens to be the same one, no matter where he happens to be at the time! - to turn into Superman, his coming through windows feet first, and the exact same flying sequences duplicated from one episode to the next) but undeniably great fun.

During the course of the series, we get some intriguing borderline horror/sci-fi ideas - while black-and-white allowed for plenty of low-budget (and often studio-bound) atmosphere; apparently, the following series jettisoned the relative violence of the first (several violent deaths occur throughout and, amazingly, Superman himself isn't above 'killing' two blackmailers who accidentally uncovered his identity, or manipulate a villain into an ambush meant for him!) and the show was gradually turned into pure kiddie fare! Thankfully, here, Clark Kent isn't the klutz depicted in both the Max Fleischer animated series of the 1940s (which I rented on DVD to go along with this set) and the Christopher Reeve films of the 1970s and 80s - with Clark and Lois Lane's banter being reminiscent, at times, of screwball comedies.

Unfortunately, however, the special effects are extremely dated and Superman is very rarely called upon to showcase his extraordinary powers - most often, he just beats the villains up like any normal person would! Still, Reeves is a credible no-nonsense Superman, Phyllis Coates an attractive and tough Lois Lane, Jack Larson a geeky but likable Jimmy Olsen and John Hamilton an amusingly irascible Perry White. Supporting casts featured a few character actors familiar from Hollywood films of the time, who were often allowed to let rip with the villainy (especially in episodes such as THE EVIL THREE and MYSTERY IN WAX).

The last entry proper, CRIME WAVE, was basically a summation of the entire first series: Superman cleans up town from the underworld scourge in a number of rapid-fire montages culled from the highlights of several of the earlier episodes. THE UNKNOWN PEOPLE PARTS I & II, which officially closed the first season, are actually a two-part TV reduction of the 1951 film SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN (which, basically, had served as a pilot for the series)! The Audio Commentaries are, obviously, fan-boyish tracks by an expert on the subject who, at least, doesn't refrain from giving away technical blunders or illogical plot developments.
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10/10
love that redhead
tday-116 May 2007
I always had a crush on Noel,she was one neat lady. I loved her wardrobe and the way she filled it out,plus her nice speaking voice. For a tiny redhead,that was one real built lady. Does anyone know if she supplied her own clothes or were they purchased for her? I read in a Superman book that the cast generally wore the same outfits so they could use footage in different episodes. For such a popular show,the cast was really underpaid. They were paid by the week and the company would churn out two episodes a week,with no residuals or anything. I'm glad Noel is still around to see her fans. I was always surprised that she retired after the show ended but I suppose people linked her too strongly with the role of Lois Lane. I liked Phyllis Coates as Lois,too,by the way. Phyllis was a bit more physical and Noel was more feminine. Plus,Noel got to be in the show when they switched to color,now you could see her glorious red hair. The episode where she was mistaken as a long dead Eqyptian queen showcased her nice figure. Her followers dressed her in a Cleopactra type outfit and were planning to bury her alive in secret tomb. Luckily,Superman saved the day. I didn't like new version of Lois and Clark,she was portrayed as too business and no femininity at all,what a disappointment. I'm glad when they did the first Superman movie,they stuck to the classic image,
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8/10
The Life and Soul of a Series. What Makes Adventures of Superman So Unique.
John T. Ryan8 May 2007
Well now, Itis with great pride to be able to tell the world that it was over Channel 7, the ABC affiliate here in Chicago, that the ADVENTURES of SUPERMAN was first aired. Although it would be a lie to say that our household was viewing for what was unceremonious 'World Premier', we were viewers a short time thereafter.

It must be understood that this was much more than just another filmed television series. It was a catalyst to a whole other imaginary world. It opened our imagination to this other level of noble heroes doing super feats for the greater good of mankind.

There were 5 of us Ryan kids in our household and save for our older sister, the Late Joanne Ryan (1942-1990), none of us had any experience with Superman. Joanne had read some of the comic books (though never a regular reader) and was old enough to have followed the SUPERMAN Radio Progran over the Mutual Radio Network. The rest of us-one sister and three brothers-all got our original Super-contact with the television episodes.* And what a great relationship it was. Although we all knew we were watching a filmed, fictional story, just as we knew that HOWDY DOODY was make believe, puppetry & scenery, the Superman series provided something that was, and still is, much more.

Using our ability to own copies of the whole series, we can view and compare episode to episode, even season to season. If we were to rely on our memories, we would probably come out with a sort of somewhat blurred montage of overlapping shows and plots, all equaling an overview of our imaginations.

When viewed today in a relatively short span of time, we can readily see the differences between episodes of different seasons. We can say that one of the obvious changes to take place is the incidental music, or the musical ques that set the mood, underline the action. There is a steady evolution of themes, quite different from season to season.** There was seemingly a whole different set of themes for each succeeding year. But that would only constitute a most obvious and superficial set of differences.

Most people will tell you that they prefer the first two seasons, this writer would concur, making the second season my personal favourite. But recently, my admittedly slow moving gray matter came up with this observation and hypothesis.

Okay, we'll concede that seasons one and two are better made, have a lot more outdoor scenes and generally aimed at the whole family, and not just the juvenile trade. Season one in particular seems to be much more violent, with more killings, more sinister occurrences, and an almost Film Noir tone to much of the out put. Even Superman's behaviour is less restrained as he really throws punches, where in later episodes/seasons, a little tap would do.*** But one great difference, which we couldn't have noticed by hardly any body viewing the episodes in the one at a time, season after season. That is although seasons 1 & 2 are, generally better stories,made in a more overall family friendly, yet in such a manner as to invite viewing by all, not just the kiddies.

The 3rd and successive seasons saw some cutbacks in budgetary matters and some of the stories,while no more or less fantastic, were filmed in less different sets and with less outdoor scenes. Even so, they have a certain friendly feeling to them. This is so because, in the opinion of this writer, of a collective build-up of strong feelings for the characters of the series.

We boys all had recognized a deep seeded attraction for Lois (both of 'em!),just as the girls recognized Kent/Superman as a true gentleman, a latter day Sir Galahad. (more about Reeves later). We found that John Hamilton's characterization of Perry White as short tempered, blustery and so autocratic-whereas underneath it all, we knew Perry was a sweet tempered, old softie.

I guess, in short what it all comes down to the following premise. Whereas the 1st and 2nd seasons were a little more expensive budgetary, the subsequent seasons portrayed more empathy to and from the audience, mainly because of the depth of characterizations, built over the whole life of the series.

That certainly goes especially for Mr. Reeves, whose character was at once good, strong, decent, intelligent and kind to the nth degree. I guess that is why we all had that numb, hurt and empty feeling on that fateful day of June 16, 1959.

* At this time we did have comic books in the house, but no super hero types. They were generally the likes of DENNIS THE MENACE, LITTLE LULU and like all good little Catholic School Kids, TREASURE CHEST (remember?)!

** The music varied quite a bit from season to season. Of course other than the heroic opening/closing theme, the incidental music changed drastically over the years. This was subject of a detailed, well documented article in one of those comic journal type magazines several years ago.

*** It seemed that there weren't too many restrictions put on the Man of Steel in the first season. He really threw some hard punches at so many of those thugs! There were quite a few brutal killings (not by Superman) In what would be a completely unacceptable and totally politically incorrect moves, in the episode THE MISSING COSTUME, Superman kidnaps Gangster (Dan Seymour) and his Moll (Veda Ann Borg), confining up at the top of a snowy mountain because they've discovered his identity as Clark Kent!
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7/10
Better than you might remember
gatsby063 March 2007
If you watched these when you were a kid, especially if you did so back in the 50s or 60s, watching the episodes on DVD may surprise you.

The production values of the black and white episodes during the first two years were very good. The resolution of the images was sharp as a tack, and the black and white tonal gradation and lighting was very professional. Yet on the old black and white sets, much of that would have been lost.

On the other hand, they took some cheap shortcuts, such as inserting stock footage that was surprisingly out of date, sometimes it seems from the 30s or even 20s.

In the third season they moved to color, even though according to the commentary, the show was not actually broadcast in color until 1965. (Color broadcasting began in 1954, but most people could not afford the $1,000 color television sets in a time when cars cost about $2,000.) The old black and white episodes are more geared to adults than the later color versions, which go with a more comic book approach. Some BW episodes are more like Perry Mason mysteries, though the quality and type of approach varies all over the place in those early years.

This is also the beginning of television, and the producers were pioneering a new medium, not always quite sure what approach to take, or which would work. There is an obvious influence of the old radio dramas, seen especially in the announced opening. Some of the early episodes seem to follow the format of the old Hardy Boys boy's book series of mysteries, complete with hidden stairways to secret basements, haunted lighthouses, and secret tunnels to boathouses. I wonder if any of the Superman writers had been ghost writers for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which actually wrote the Hardy Boys books.

The commentaries are fairly interesting, though often redundant, and sometimes inaccurate. The commentator does not appear to be good with numbers. The consensus seems to be that the series began filming in 1951, but began airing in 1952. The commentator says that the show has been broadcast from every presidential administration since Eisenhower, yet Truman was president in 51, 52 and into early 53. He also keeps going on and on about how little boys would have been watching the shows on tiny 8 or 10 inch black and white TVs in 1951. Not if they weren't on the air. And he says Jack Larson was a very young 17 (or did he say 19?) when the series began, yet IMDb shows he was 23.

What would be more telling about those old TVs is that they cut off portions of the image, especially the corners, but also tops and bottoms. So the occasional moment when Superman's springboard is visible today, would not have shown up on anything but professional TV monitors.

The commentator also remarks on how it seems Clark Kent didn't have such a large office. I've got news for you, viewers, I have never seen a newspaper that had offices for reporters. The publisher gets an office, the managing editor gets an office, with windows onto the newsroom, but just about everyone else is in one big room. The writers show a certain amount of insight into newspaper work, many writers having been reporters at some point, but the show obviously didn't want to pay for extras standing around in a newsroom, I presume.

But the best part, in my opinion, of the first year, was Phyllis Coates, who played Lois Lane for one year. She was (is) a fine actress, who seemed to give the show a certain gravitas lacking in later episodes. And she was a babe!

The move to color was a stroke of genius. This enabled them to keep reselling the series many years down the line. And the color holds up quite well.
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8/10
A blast from the past
schappe113 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I made my reacquaintence with this icon of my youth, (I was born in 1953 and saw it on reruns), when I purchased the second season DVD in a local store. It was interesting seeing the old show after several decades. I watched the first two Christopher Reeve films but not much after that. I was into more "adult" stuff but it's interesting what value you can find in the things you watched as a kid.

I found the old show nearly as entertaining as I did in the old days. The positive lessons were rather muted by the comic nature of the villains. One episode was memorable in this regard, however- the only one with a death in it in the second season. Two clowns are dressed in the same costume – one is an imposter who has stolen some money from a telethon. They are having a fight on top of a roof. Which is which? One of the clowns gets the better of the other and pushes him off the roof. But he loses his balance as well. Superman can't catch both at once. He makes a choice and catches the "good" clown. The other, dying, wants to know how he knew. Because the good clown, even in his anger, would not have pushed his rival off the roof. Good stuff.

Due to the budget, the effects are limited but they work for the most part. The science fiction angle is limited to a few episodes. It's mostly Superman vs. Damon Runyon gangsters. The two great villains of the comic books, Lex Luthor and Brainiac, never make an appearance. The comic aspect is entertaining, particularly when Clark Kent is assailed by the crew of a ship and has no chance to change into his costume and can't give himself away by winning the fight: he addresses the audience and says "Where is Superman when you need him?" I also like the episode where he has to keep swallowing an unstable explosive and having it blow up inside of him. He finally says "Not again!" George Reeves may or may not have been the best Superman but he was certainly the best Clark Kent. Kent here is not a nerdy beginner but an ace reporter who has earned everyone's respect. Reeve's comic talents and natural charm come to the fore and yet he can be an authoritative hero when the occasion demands. All the top heroes of the shows designed to appeal to children in those days had this combination of strength and gentleness in their manner- William Boyd, Clayton Moore, Kirby Grant, etc. What's really amazing is that it's well known that Reeves was ambivalent at best about playing this role- Jack Larson says in a commentary that he'd often storm off the set and stay in his dressing room for hours. But there isn't a hint of that in any scene.

One difference between the movies and the TV show is that the movies are about Superman- he's the identity character. We follow him from birth through childhood to the Fortess of Solitude to Metropolis where he's starting a career as a journalist. Lois Lane is already an accomplished professional who is dismissive of Clark but who idolizes Superman. Can he get Lois to love him- both of them? On the TV show, it seems to me the identity characters are Lois and Jimmy. They have more scenes than Clark and Superman. They create the action, because both are trying to prove they can "make it" in their profession. Clark and Superman are there to rescue them Most of Reeves' lines as Clark are exposition- figuring out what's going on. His Superman sequences are action scenes with minimal dialog. I think the series is really about Lois and Jimmy, who know Clark Kent and Superman, in the way that the Sherlock Holmes stories are really the story of Dr. John Watson and his adventures with his great friend.
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10/10
Classic 50's Television
bd18packer17 January 2007
It started the same way, every time...

"Faster than a speeding bullet!

More powerful than a locomotive!

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Superman!

Strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men!

Superman!

Who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper,fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!"

Does it get any better than this?

I think not.
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10/10
Exuberent, Exciting, High-Flying Entertainment For All Ages
Rich Drezen (Drezzilla)10 August 2006
This is one of the most entertaining television programs I've ever seen, and also one of the best. My father was born two days before the show first aired (9/19/1952, my dad was born 9/17), and watched it all through his boyhood in between collecting the comics and listening to the re-runs of the radio show. He called me upstairs about a year ago to see an episode, of all things, the pilot, and I sat down with him and treated myself to a page out of history. Although the show was filmed on a shoe-string budget and a rather tight schedule, it is important to see how the show's level of storytelling is firmly responsible for it's success.

George Reeves IS Superman. The Best. His Clark Kent is straight out of the comics both past and present, and it's interesting to see how much he added to both characters, especially with his sharp tenor voice, and razor-sharp smile. Phyllis Coates IS Lois Lane. She's sharp, she's impulsive, she's unbelievably sexy, and it's a shame she didn't return for the second season. Noel Neill is a milder version of Lois which is mirrored by the Fleischer's version. She's sneaky, she's smart, and she always gets her story. Being that she played Lois in both of the Kirk Alyn serials of 1948 & 1950 (which I have yet to see thanks to Warner Bros. marketing scams) she knows what she's doing, but I don't think her Lois really comes out until the 3rd season. From there on in, she's solid. Who could ask for a better Jimmy Olsen than the one played by Jack Larson? If anyone can, they better keep it to themselves! Larson is perfect in the role and shows that he did his research of both the character and how an office boy's days usually run. It's also cool to hear his reminiscences of his tenure on the show on the DVDs. John Hamilton plays Perry White the way any newspaper editor ought to be played; with vim and verve and razor sharp toughness. His reporters would not dare miss a deadline in this case! My favorite supporting cast member however has got to be Inspector Bill Henderson as played by Robert Shayne. WHAT A VOICE! Here's a cop that really knows his stuff and keeps a stiff upper lip in the most confusing of circumstances, such as in the episodes "The Mystery of The Broken Statues", "Blackmail", "Clark Kent, Outlaw", just to name a few. Every actor that plays a policeman of some kind should look to Robert Shayne for inspiration because of the way he portrays Inspector Henderson.

Those of you who have yet to treat yourselves to this miracle of entertainment, DO SO NOW! It's still in print and available, so grab a set and enjoy. I know I did! I have the first four seasons to prove it, and can't wait for the last two. HURRY UP WARNER BROS.!!!
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10/10
I love The Adventers of Superman
af622505 August 2006
The Adventers of Superman of 1952 is the only real Superman show. I believe George Reeves as being the best Superman, I still think the entire cast was well in place.

I have seen many of the other Superman movies and still I like The Adventers of Superman best because they did great work with what they had back then. No fancy computer graphics or hi tech tricks. Good old fashion acting and great plots from some great writers.

Television had some great shows after that I know, The Adventers of Superman is ranked up there as far as I'm concerned. 50 years from now I bet kids will still be watching The Adventers of Superman like they did in the 50's.
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6/10
"Faster than a speeding bullet......more powerful than a Locomotive"
bkoganbing20 June 2006
Seeing Superman as a kid I was pretty enthralled by it as most kids were. I mean, unless he got near some kryptonite there wasn't nothing he couldn't do.

But the show has had incredible power in syndication and I don't think it can be attributed to just nostalgia.

The first year of black and white episodes with Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane were done very seriously. But when they were done in color starting in 1954 and coincidentally enough with Noel Neill as the new Lois Lane, they became what would be described as camp. Like Batman was in the sixties only not advertised as such.

Some of the episodes were strictly comedy. The one where Jimmy Olsen runs afoul of gunslinger Myron Healey out west, the one where that hayseed Sylvester J. Superman played by Chuck Connors delivers a pie to the serviceman stationed in the Arctic only to be chased by Ben Welden up there. Funny to this day.

Of course some of the production values from the fifties were laughable. Superman is constantly flying out from that same storage room at the Daily Planet no matter where his location is. Or in that episode that took place in the UK, where they show people using the left handed drive in cars.

I saw another reviewer mentions that all John Hamilton did as Perry White was yell, but they calmed him down later on. Hamilton was very funny as the blustery editor of the Daily Planet. He had a lot of responsibility keeping his circulation because people were getting their news from television. But John Hamilton had some real health issues in his last years. That's why you always see him at his desk with minimal dialog later on. His lines were taped right to the desk. He died in fact before George Reeves did.

Today Jack Larson and Noel Neill are big hits at nostalgia conventions. I suspect George Reeves had he lived would have been as well. Possibly the biggest tragedy of his career was the featured role he had in From Here to Eternity. A lot of his performance was left on the cutting room floor. He mght have been able to do both Superman and other roles had he gotten acclaim from a major film like that.

The production values were from hunger, but the characters and their images live on.
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10/10
a wonderful series
comicbook-guy7 June 2006
This program fueled my youthful imagination and made me happy with it's warmth and it's continual positive spirit. The more kid friendly episodes were favorites of mine and they still are. I'm still a kid at heart and I still adore the series. Perils of Superman is my favorite episode and there are too many other favorites to mention here. I can't agree with the critics who take a purely "adult" or "logical" view of this program. Wearing glasses as a disguise was the biggest lapse of logic, but so what? That sort of thing didn't matter to me when I was young. I also didn't mind the different Lois Lanes. How can you not adore 'em both? The Adventures of Superman never failed to uplift me and make me happy. It's heart was always in the right place. It's positive spirit never faltered. It always radiated good will, fun, and decency. There will always be a special place in my heart for the Adventures of Superman. I'm thrilled that every episode is being released on DVD.
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9/10
A Great show in the beginning, but after that...
Scott351w200128 March 2006
Having just watched many of the series episodes again on DVD and video, I can honestly say that this show went through so many changes during its six year run, that its hard to believe that its the same show. Unlike most TV shows that get better as they go on, this was an exception. The "Adventures of Superman", which was first filmed in 1951, and shown in 1953, was an absolutely perfect show in its first season. Aiming for a family audience, and using the dark and moody tone of the radio series, the first season episodes featured a great looking George Reeves as a no-nonsense avenging angel, who would show up in the nick of time to round up the bad guys. In these episodes, the bad guys were actually menacing and sometimes died. The scripts were great (especially those of Ben Peter Freeman) as was the acting and dialogue. Mention should also be made of the great background music for the first season episodes, which added immeasurably to the mood of the episode.(Watch the original "Superman and the Mole-men", and then watch the Unknown People", and you'll see what I mean) Each of these episodes resembled a mini film noir movie. Most notably, too, was the performance of Phyllis Coates as a no-nonsense Lois Lane, who would stop at nothing to get her story(check out "Rescue")

Noel Neil may have brought some good qualities to the role later on, but Coates was the best Lois, including those who played her in the Superman movies. By the second season, the episodes were toned down, but there were still some great episodes like "The Clown who Cried", "The Face and the Voice", and "A Ghost for Scotland Yard" Reeves still looked great in these episodes, and the scripts were still solid enough to offset the sub-par acting of Noel Neil. The color episodes of seasons 3-6 were a whole different story. Unless you consider that the change to color was an "improvement", everything about the series got worse. The scripts were awful(with a few exceptions,like "Test of a warrior", and "Great Caesars Ghost") and as a result, Reeves lost much of his enthusiasm for the role (who could blame him?) Reeves also had put on weight, and looked somewhat bloated in these episodes. The special effects in these episodes were minimal...the same shot of Reeves flying was shown over and over (unlike in the B&Ws when flying shots were done for individual episodes) The bad guys were no longer menacing and there was the introduction of characters such as "Professor Pepperwinkle"...an unbelievably annoying character, who contributed to the feel that these episodes were cartoonish in nature. There were also many plot holes in these episodes, like in "Perils of Superman", which featured a group of cyborg-like crooks in lead masks. Why couldn't Superman just have ripped the lead masks off their heads? The reason given in the episode was that the masks were "locked on", and only the leader had the key (WHAT?????) Then there was the episode "The Big Freeze" in which Superman's powers were zapped by a contraption that froze him. Excuse me, but I thought the ONLY element Superman was vulnerable to was kryptonite.Watching the episode "Mr. Zero",(a low point for the whole series) it was hard to believe I was watching the same show that had produced such great episodes as "A Night of Terror", and "The Stolen Costume". Anyway, a truly great series for the first season, a very good series in the second, and a so-so to an awful show after that.
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