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ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN - THE COMPLETE FIFTH AND SIXTH SEASONS (1952)

 



Adventures of Superman - The Complete Fifth and Sixth Seasons (1952)
 

Actors: George Reeves, Noel Neill, Jack Larson, John Hamilton, Robert Shayne
Directors: George Blair, Philip Ford

Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
Language:
English
Region:
Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs:
5
Run Time:
676 minutes

DVD Features:

  • Available Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • 26 episodes on five discs
  • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen: interviews with Jack Larson, Noel Neill, and others
     

Movie:
Disc:

Long before Christopher Reeve there was George Reeves (no relation), who donned the familiar red and blue costume of Superman in a popular Black & White live action television series that ran six seasons in the 1950s. (Half-way through its lengthy run the show went full color. The episodes on these discs are all in full color.)

The show was immensely popular and Reeves (who doesn't really look like the cartoon Superman at all) found himself typecast and unable to find any acting work when the series finally ended in 1958. Seemingly despondent, the actor took his own life, events chronicled in the recent Hollywoodland movie starring Ben Affleck as Reeves.

(There are conspiracy theorists who maintain that Reeves was killed for some reason, but could never pinpoint the culprit or come up with any compelling evidence to prove their allegation. The idea of Superman killing himself probably proved too disturbing.)

Some pointless trivia: Noel Neill who plays fearless girl reporter Lois Lane, but doesn't look like her cartoon counterpart at all (for starters, Neill is a redhead) actually appeared in the recent Superman Returns as the rich heiress whom Lex Luthor cons out of a mansion and luxury cruiser.

The show is every bit as cheap as one would expect of a television show made in the 1950s aimed at children. The same stock footage of Superman flying is reused endlessly and the cardboard sets and backdrops are particularly cheesy. Daily Planet editor in chief Perry White seems to have only three people (namely the principals) on his staff. In fact the budget even seems too small to provide for a laundry allocation as Reeves' Superman costume are often blotchy with sweat stains!

Also, by this time Reeves with this thinning hairline was clearly getting on in the years and not even the obviously padded costume could disguise this fact. Actor Jack Larsen also seemed a bit old to pass as boy reporter Jimmy Olson anymore.

THE DISCS? Despite the show being almost half a century old, the mono sound is pretty audible. Image quality however takes an occasional dip as some film frames seem simply too bleached of color. What makes it particularly jarring is that the image would veer from DVD clarity to washed out colors several times in one episodes. Despite this, the discs are very watchable though.

WORTH IT? We found The Adventures of Superman to be more enjoyable than a lot of more contemporary children's shows such as Thundercats and Transformers which we recently endured. The cast is quite animated (Reeves seems to have a permanent slight smile hovering around the edges of his mouth in fact) and their high spirits make up for a lot of the show's deficiencies. However it is ultimately the show's very innocence - it is the 1950s after all! - that makes the show so charming and watchable.

RECOMMENDATION: Forget Bryan Singer's recent melancholic Superman or even the knowingness of the Richard Donner Superman, The Adventures of Superman is every bit the goodie two shoes its title character is and is recommended viewing for fans of the character . . .


 



 

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