The New Adventures of Superman – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Directed by
Hal Sutherland

Cast:
Joan Alexander … Lois Lane
Jackson Beck … Narrator
Bud Collyer … Clark Kent /Superman
Jack Grimes … Jimmy Olsen


The Show:

In the pantheon of animation, few superheroes have had the lasting legacy that Superman has. From Max Fleischer’s amazing Superman shorts from the 1940’s to Justice League’s epic conclusion, the Man of Steel has riveted audiences in the format for decades. The most peculiar example of the hero in animated form would without a doubt be the Filmation produced series The New Adventures of Superman from the 1960’s. Coming at a time when Superman stories began to really take advantage of more Science Fiction style elements, the show utilized these cosmic themes to make Superman more larger than life than he had ever been before.

Presented as a follow-up to the popular 1950’s live action show, The Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves, New Adventures sought to expand Superman’s world on Television. The Man of Steel would no longer just fight petty crooks, like he had done in the live action format, focusing instead on giant monsters and supervillains. It would even be the first time that members of Superman’s Rogues Gallery, Brainiac, Lex Luthor and Mister Mxyzptlk, would appear on TV.

Unfortunately, the series also shows why DC Comics decided to scale back Superman’s powers in the mid-80’s. Even taking in the fact that this was a Saturday morning cartoon in the 1960’s, and very similar to the problems with the live action series, Superman is so powerful on this show that it is difficult to take any sort of danger seriously. This in turn makes the show a bit boring.

Take for instance the episode “The Prehistoric Pterodactyls,” in which Supes has to face off against two gigantic (think 7-47 big) Pterodactyls. Unable to really hurt them, Superman flies them both to another planet where they can be free to terrorize whomever they want. As much as I love Superman, it’s hard for me to get past the fact that Superman doesn’t bother to recognize that space has no oxygen for him or the two gigantic dinosaurs as he flies them to this distant planet. It’s this total disregard for any rules whatsoever that seems to really take away from the enjoyment that could be had here. This isn’t even mentioning that the show is a far cry in the visual department compared Max Fleischer’s brilliant work done 20 years earlier.

Still, there’s some enjoyment to be had with this series. Episodes such as “Mermen of Emor,” in which Superman has to face the warriors of an Atlantis-like kingdom in order to save Jimmy Olsen, and “The Men from A.P.E.,” where Lex Luthor forms a Legion of Doom-type society, both demonstrate the nostalgic fun that New Adventures contains. Its not that this reckless type of storytelling cant’ be fun, it’s just that after 36 episodes, the formula begins to get a little stale.

We do get some nice voice work on the show, especially from Jackson Beck as the show’s thunderous Narrator, Joan Alexander as Lois Lane, and the legendary Bud Collyer as Clark Kent and his superhero alter ego. Collyer was already familiar with the Superman role after portraying the Man of Steel on the radio show, and his way of dropping his voice during “This looks like a job FOR SUPERMAN” is still very impressive to listen to. All the voice work done on the show lends it credibility and is solid throughout, accurately reflecting Superman’s dialogue within the Comic Books of the era.

The New Adventures of Superman is the product of an era that made few demands on its storytelling when it came to animated TV; but this reckless style also dates the series quite heavily. For what it is, the show is entertaining enough, but has no lasting quality, like Bruce Timm and Paul Dini would go on to do and like Max Fleischer was able to do in the 40’s. This series is not without charm, but not enough to really make a lasting impression.


The DVD:

The Video
The series hasn’t had a great deal of cleanup or restoration, but this is probably still the best it has ever looked. The colors are fairly bright and there is little debris on the picture. The show is presented in Fullscreen with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

The Audio
The Audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but is really closer to 1.0. The sound is fine, but nothing really special. Then again, considering the age of the show its about as a good as possible.


SPECIAL FEATURES:

Superman in 66 – This is a 15 minute Featurette on not only the show, but on Superman comics and how the character fit into society at this juncture in history. An interesting feature, it has people like Superman Writer Mark Waid, Mark Hamill and others.

Trailers – You also get trailers for the new Direct to DVD Superman/Doomsday and other WB DVD titles.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
The New Adventures of Superman
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

5.5
THE VIDEO

7.5
THE AUDIO

7
THE EXTRAS

3.5
REPLAY VALUE

5.5
OVERALL
5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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