Saturday, September 10, 2011

Geek TV #2: The Adventures of Superman!

advssuperman1Concept: Adaptation of the world's most famous comic book character for television on a low budget, while still remaining faithful to the characters (if not always to Superman's powers).
Total Episodes: 104
Original Air Dates: 1952-1958
Original Network: Syndicated
Geek Factor: 10
Superman/Clark Kent (George Reeves): The amazing Man of Steel and his alter ego, not quite so mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Reeves' Clark was much less of a milquetoast than Clark had been portrayed as in the comics, which always made a bit more sense... the TV Clark makes a more realistic reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, after all!
Lois Lane (Phyllis Coates, 24 episodes, 1952-1953; Noel Neill, 78 episodes, 1953-1958): Go-getting Daily Planet reporter who tends to get herself (and her fellow Planet employees) in trouble.
Jimmy Olsen (Jack Larson): Cub reporter and photographer for the Daily Planet, has a bad tendency to refer to his boss as “Chief” all the time. Due to the popularity of this version of Jimmy, DC Comics decided to give Jimmy Olsen his own comic book!
Perry White (John Hamilton): Editor of the Daily Planet, given to shouting “Great Caesar's Ghost!” when upset or surprised, and often yelling “Don't Call Me Chief!” to Jimmy Olsen. You'll notice that Perry's desk always has lots of papers on it – some of those papers are the script so that John Hamilton could read his lines off of them!
Inspector Henderson (Robert Shayne): Intrepid policeman, proved popular enough on TV that he was used in the comics (although not quite as much as one would've thought).
Professor Pepperwinkle (Phil Tead): Wacky inventor, always good for a change of pace episode!
Geek Guest-Stars: Ben Welden, who appeared in eight episodes (as eight different characters!), also appeared in two episodes of the 1966 Batman, four episodes of Mister Ed, six episodes of The Lone Ranger, and nine episodes of Space Patrol. Herb Vigran, who appeared in six episodes (as six different characters), also appeared in the movie “Amazon Women of the Moon,” an episode of Galactica 1980, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Bewitched, Nanny and the Professor, and provided a voice of a cop on three episodes of The Flintstones. Richard Reeves, who played five different characters in five different episodes, also appeared in episodes of Mr. Terrific, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I Dream of Jeannie, The Wild Wild West, The Addams Family, The Munsters, My Favorite Martian, Mister Ed, and the 1966 Batman series. Tristram Coffin, who appeared in four episodes, appeared in The Time Tunnel, Batman, The Lone Ranger, the movies “The Crawling Hand” and “Creature With the Atom Brain,” and played Jeff King in the serial “King of the Rocket Men”! Sterling Holloway played in three episodes of this show, and is best known for doing the voice of Winnie the Pooh, as well as voices for other Disney productions. John Doucette, who was in three episodes, also was in three episodes of Get Smart! playing Colonel Von Klaus, two episodes of The Wild Wild West, and 11 episodes of The Lone Ranger. George Khoury, who appeared in three episodes, played Habid in “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.”
Geek Pedigree: Whitney Ellsworth, producer of the show, was the editorial director at DC prior to producing the show. He also produced a pilot for The Adventures of Superboy and The Adventures of Superpup, neither of which were picked up. He also served as story editor for 26 episodes. Earlier, he'd written dialogue for the Congo Bill movie serial in 1948. Announcer Bill Kennedy also had parts on The Lone Ranger. Prior to being cast as Superman, George Reeves had appeared in episodes of Suspense. John Hamilton appeared in an episode of Captain Midnight during production of Superman, had a bit part in “Donovan's Brain,” appeared in the serials “The Invisible Monster,” “Zorro's Black Whip,” “Captain America,” and “Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe”! Jack Larson later reprised his role as Jimmy Olsen in an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman when Jimmy Olsen was artificially aged, and had cameos in The Adventures of Superboy and “Superman Returns.” Robert Shayne appeared in two episodes of The Flash as Reggie, and also appeared in episodes of Land of the Giants, Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, The Lone Ranger, and Space Patrol, as well as bit parts in a number of sci-fi movies, including “Invaders From Mars,” “Tobor the Great,” “Kronos,” “The Indestructible Man,” “The Giant Claw,” and “How to Make a Monster.” Noel Neill had earlier portrayed Lois Lane in the two Superman serials opposite Kirk Alyn, made cameo appearances in “Superman Returns,” The Adventures of Superboy, and “Superman The Movie” (playing Lois Lane's mother – a role she would revisit in the 1988 “Superman's 50th Anniversary” special). She also appeared in “Invasion USA,” and The Lone Ranger. Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane's mother in an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in one episode, being replaced by Beverly Garland after that one appearance, and also appeared in “I Was a Teenage Frankenstein,” The Lone Ranger, and “Invasion USA.”
DVD Release: Box sets of each season. I also recommend watching “Hollywoodland,” which dramatized the show's production and death of George Reeves.
Adventures of Superman: The Complete Third & Fourth Seasons

Websites: “The Adventures Continue” and at the Superman Homepage.
Notes: The first TV show based on a superhero, and in many ways, the best! Sure, there were some stinkers here and there, lapses in logic, new powers for Superman he never had in the comics, but it's still a fun show to watch!


  1. Sterling Holloway was the original voice of Winnie the Pooh, and made guest appearances on Advs. of Superman, not Sterling Morris.

  2. Well, that was a major brainfart on my part, mixing up the Earth-Prime actor with the Earth-S owner of WHIZ-Radio and WHIZ-TV! Thanks for pointing that out!


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