June 22, 2006

DVD Review: Adventures of Superman - The Complete Third & Fourth Seasons

Before I got this DVD set I had never seen any episodes of the George Reeves version of The Man of Steel. I think I was long overdue for my introduction to this original television series to feature the hero. This set also marks the first time that Superman has ever been filmed in color. The first two seasons were shot in black and white, the third season forward were all shot in color, although they were not broadcast that way until 1965, ten years after they originally aired.

When you set out to watch a television series from fifty years in the past, you have to be prepared. The way shows were made, and the culture in which they were made, was vastly different and requires an adjusted perspective. That isn't to say that show doesn't hold up or isn't entertaining, because it is. I just bring it up because if viewed with a modern mindset it would be easy to dismiss it out of hand, and that would be a mistake.

This series is a lot of fun. Superman is faced with all types of bad guys and scenarios to escape from. I found myself not really caring about the villains, althought I enjoyed the gangster styled dialog they had to chew on. What really attracted me were the way Superman kept his identity secret, and the explanations for the mysterious disappearances of Clark and the subsequent appearance of Superman. The glasses have been a staple through all of Superman's incarnations, and I was always amused by how easy a disguise it was, how no one could see past the frames to the superhero beneath.

George Reeves is Clark/Superman. He is portrayed, not as the nerdy type, as later typified by Christopher Reeve, but as an intelligent, insightful reporter with very good deductive reasoning, and counterpoint to the strong willed Lois Lane, portrayed by Noel Neill. Whenever he is needed, he removes his glasses and switches into the red and blues. He is always there to thwart the bad guys and save his friends. Reeves may be a bit older than I tend to picture Superman, but that makes him no less effective. Neill is also very good as Lois. In the end, I have to say that I really took to Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen. I love the way he delivers the dialog, there is a child like innocence to him, and I really latched onto it.

Video. The show is presented in a ratio of 1.33:1, and looks good. Due to the age of the elements, there is print damage, particularly in the credit sequences and the stock footage. The episodes proper look very good, a little spotty, but very good.

Audio. Sound is the original mono. It sounds good, if a bit thin, but I suspect that is how it sounded originally. Nothing to complain about here.

Extras. There are a couple of brief featurettes included.
-Adventures of Superman: The Color Era. This runs about 6 minutes long and goes into how forward thinking the producers were when they chose to shoot color, despite the broadcast would still be black and white. They had to redo all the sets and clothes so they would look good both ways. It also showed Superman in all his colorful glory.
-Faster than a Speeding Bullet: The Special Effects of Adventures of Superman. Running 6 minutes, this goes into how the effects were accomplished, including how he flew and was able to turn. I liked the spring boards used to launch Reeves into the air.
-Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman. An excerpt from the upcoming documentary.

Bottomline. This series is a treasure. It is a time capsule tribute to the Man of Steel. I wish I had discovered this version earlier. Now I have to get the rest of the series. Great cast, fun stories all add up to a series that is not to be missed.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Post a Comment