The Adventures of Superman – The Complete Second Season is the last of George Reeves’ Superman character. It’s also a loving tribute to a show that didn’t really deserve it. I respect television shows and movies from yesteryear – in many cases, I even prefer them – but it’s hard to justify the shallow plots and poor character development this show has to offer. I’m sure nostalgia buffs reading this are screaming “Blasphemy!” as we speak, but honestly… how can this show be justified on merits of good writing an… acting? It can’t. What I will give it is this – it reminds us of a simpler time, and sometimes, that warm fuzzy feeling is all a show needs to achieve for its recommendation. But Superman has been honored with much better incarnations than that of this short-lived series. Even the most recent cartoon puts our hero in more exciting scenarios, where a prevalent feeling of danger exists, and the different players all get a more sophisticated degree of characterization – all while appealing to children. So The Adventures of Superman can’t hide behind the idea of being a kids’ show… not for today’s audiences.
A viewer can appreciate it for what it is – in fact, I do. But appreciate or not, I find sitting through more than three episodes an arduous task – and there are 26 in this collection. By the time you lay it to rest, you’re tired of it, and that warm feeling of nostalgia has long since gone by the wayside. With that said, it’s an easy show to collect, and it will perhaps give anyone years of enjoyment, so long as it is taken in small doses. There is nothing beyond the quick feeling of days gone by to look forward to with this set, so even if you’re thinking marathon, you’ll be done with it after a couple of hours. One thing’s for sure – it isn’t like the “will they or won’t they” anticipation Lois and Clark or the Christopher Reeve films provide. Those incarnations were exciting and left you wanting more. With The Adventures of Superman, you’ll think, “All right, that’s enough” – dare I say it – faster than a speeding bullet.
The one strength of the 1.33:1 presentation lay in its sharpness. Gone is what I like to call the video fuzzies, which have plagued so many unauthorized prints of shows like this. It’s definitely the way to go if you choose to own this series. However, that’s not to say the image is perfect. There are many white spots and wrinkles throughout, indicative of the series’ increasing age.
The Dolby Digital mono soundtrack is also marred by the common side effects of age, but Warner’s work in the restoration can be heard nonetheless. The worst portions of the track come at the opening, where hissing and popping are present, though both seem to fade as the narrative begins. It’s once again an improvement for a series in dire need of transfer and preservation to a sturdier format.
The bonus materials are the most interesting aspect of the collection, offering a short, but interesting documentary entitled The First Lady of Metropolis, which reacquaints us with Noel Neill, the actress who played Lois Lane in this second season. She offers some amusing tidbits regarding the filming process of the show, and is joined for this stroll down memory lane by Jack Larson (Jimmy Olsen). Also, the two offer audio commentaries for two episodes. Rounding out the special features, Stamp Day for Superman rears its ugly head for the first time in years. Created in cooperation with the Treasury department, this (nearly) lost episode serves to remind us how valuable buying stamps can be… it also tells us what lengths our government will go to in creating propaganda (albeit harmless propaganda) by using some of popular culture’s most beloved characters.
Filmed before plots grew complicated and characters grew three-dimensional, The Adventures of Superman still offers some nostalgic warmth to its viewers… so long as said warmth is taken in small doses. But with an A/V presentation that represents the best the show has ever looked, some intriguing bonus content, and a relatively cheap price tag, it may just have what you’re looking for, especially if you’ve already purchased the first season. At least you can take comfort in the fact that, with the acquisition of season two, your collection will be complete.
Special Features List
- The First Lady of Metropolis
- Audio Commentaries
- Stamp Day for Superman – Lost Episode