ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN:
Along with cartoons, the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN was another staple of my afternoon television viewing during my early childhood. Looking back on the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, I can honestly say it was the perfect kid’s show: number one, it was fun; number two, it told a complete story in under a half an hour; number three, it painted the world in absolutes: the bad guys were always up to no good- and Superman was always there to stop them. Sure, the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN was low budget production and had cheesy special effects, but the little kid that I was never saw the show’s shortcomings- after all, getting to see Superman win out over the bad guys in episode after episode was more than enough for me. Having the opportunity to watch the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN again for the first time in decades, I can honestly say this show is still a whole heck of a lot of fun and really appeals to the little kid still inside of me.
Probably the biggest reason the show holds up so well is the terrific cast and its leading man in particular. George Reeves was a perfect Superman and an even better Clark Kent. As Superman, Reeves cut a heroic figure in his wool tights, plus he embodied everything good and noble. As Clark Kent, Reeves portrayed his alter ego as a smart no nonsense reporter who easily sidesteps any suspicions that he and the man of steel were one and the same. Season two of the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN marked a change in casting, as Noel Neill replaced for Phyllis Coates in the role of Lois Lane. Personally, I prefer Coates straight up portrayal of the ambitious lady reporter to Neill’s less authoritative spin. Jack Larson adds the perfect level of naiveté and aw shucks enthusiasm to cub reporter Jimmy Olsen. And great Caesars ghost! There is no one quite like John Hamilton gruff newspaper editor Perry White.
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON ($40) comes to DVD in a five-disc set that features the following twenty-six episodes that were aired during year two: Five Minutes To Doom, The Big Squeeze, The Man Who Could Read Minds, Jet Ace, Shot In The Dark, The Defeat Of Superman, Superman In Exile, A Ghost For Scotland Yard, The Dog Who Knew Superman, The Face And The Voice, The Man In The Lead Mask, Panic In The Sky, The Machine That Could Plot Crimes, Jungle Devil, My Friend Superman, The Clown Who Cried, The Boy Who Hated Superman, Semi-Private Eye, Perry White's Scoop, Beware The Wrecker, The Golden Vulture, Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor, Lady In Black, Star Of Fate, The Whistling Bird and Around The World With Superman.
Warner Home Video has made all twenty-six episodes that comprise ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. For the most part, the black and white episodes look pretty darn good. Image sharpness and detail are a bit variable, but is generally what one would expect from a syndicated television series produced during the early fifties. Most shots appear just fine, but there are those that are mildly soft. Blacks are pretty much on the money; whites appear crisp, plus the contrast and grayscale are typically good for this type of production. The film elements are also somewhat variable, some episodes appearing quite clean and other having their fair share of scratches and other blemishes. A noticeable grain structure is present, but never excessive. Digital compression artifacts are always nicely contained.
All of the episodes that constitute SUPERMAN ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON, come with Dolby Digital monaural soundtracks that sound quite good for their age. Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves everything fairly smooth sounding. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. Fidelity has the expected limitations, but the familiar theme music always sounds pretty good. No other language tracks are provided for the episodes, but English, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some supplemental materials. Jack Larson and Noel Neill are on hand to provide audio commentaries on the following two episodes: Panic In The Sky and Semi-Private Eye. First Lady Of Metropolis is a seven-minute program devoted the character of Lois Lane and her portrayers Noel Neill and Phyllis Coates. Also featured in the DVD collection is Stamp Day For Superman, a special episode of the series that was produced to encourage youngsters to become investors through collecting Savings Stamps, which could be redeemed for Savings Bonds.
Although I haven’t seen the show in decades, the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN retains all of its innocent charm and still proves to be an enjoyable viewing experience. Warner has done their typical fine job with the collection, offering solid presentation and a few cool extras. If you are a fan of the show or the characters, or just feeling nostalgic, the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is something you’ll want to add to your personal collection. Recommended.
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