The legendary Man of Steel assumes the secret identity of Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet. And with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, he battles for truth and justice a... more »s Superman. The first ever Superman TV series! Originally aired in the 1950's, it features George Reeves as Superman and enjoyed tremendous success during its broadcast. The TV series premise was established a year before its broadcast via the theatrical release of "Superman and The Mole Men" in 1951.« less
Superman - what to expect from this classic series on DVD
Jim Kraizel | Euclid, OH United States | 07/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, I've never been "the first" to review a DVD on Amazon, so let me just say I'm thrilled. And, since today is July 7 and this DVD isn't even going to be released until October 18, I'm going to stick to some general thoughts on the show and share some information on what I have read pertaining to the bonus items to be included.
For those who don't know, this is the first season of the television program the Adventures of Superman which debuted in 1952. This season features Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane - she would be replaced by Noel Neill in the later seasons. (Neill played Lois in the Superman movie serials.) This first season is highly regarded among fans of the show, and was much more gritty or realistic than subsequent seasons. As for completeness, we'll all just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope the shows are released in their uncut versions - close to 27 minutes each!
Here's what I've seen printed elsewhere regarding the contents :
Disc 1 "Superman on Earth" "The Haunted Lighthouse" "The Case of the Talkative Dummy" "The Mystery of the Broken Statues" "The Monkey Mystery" "A Night of Terror"
Disc 2 "The Birthday Letter" "The Mind Machine" "Rescue" "The Secret of Superman" "No Holds Barred" "The Deserted Village"
Disc 3 "The Stolen Costume" "Treasure of the Incas" "Double Trouble" "Mystery in Wax" "The Runaway Robot" "Drums of Death"
Disc 4 "The Evil Three" "Riddle of the Chinese Jade" "The Human Bomb" "Czar of the Underworld" "The Ghost Wolf" "Crime Wave"
Disc 5 "Unknown People, Part 1" "Unknown People, Part 2"
And special features should be:
Superman and the Mole Men theatrical movie (Reeves and Coates' first team-up) Featurette: "From Inkwell to Backlot" retrospective Vintage George Reeves short Original Kellogg's Cereal TV spots Commentary Tracks by Super-Experts (details to be announced)
I'm giving the release 5 stars based strictly on the fact that the series is finally being released and the hope that the DVD set will surpass all our expectations."
A classic series, nice bonus features, a great low price....
A. Gammill | West Point, MS United States | 07/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a treat, both for Superman fans and people who just enjoy classic t.v. shows of the fifties. It's pretty much universally acknowledged that season one of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN is far and away the best of the series. George Reeves was a no-nonsense hero, and quite believable in the role. The series had plenty of action and the first-season scripts were usually solid.
And I'm pleasantly surprised to see the rare theatrical feature, SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN included here. Although it's essentially Superman on a b-movie budget, there's plenty to like about this forgotten piece of Superman history.
A common practice in the early days of television was to get a show's actors to endorse the advertisers' products. Perhaps the rarest and most unusual treat for fans of classic t.v. are the orignial Kellog's cereal commercials, featuring cast members from the show. Clark Kent sells Frosted Flakes!
There's an informative documentary, with comments from Superman experts and a VERY old Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen on the show. With all these extras and a first-rate presentation of the episodes, this is a classic t.v. lover's dream come true. Highly recommended."
Great Caesar's Ghost -- This DVD Set Is Super, Man!
David Von Pein | Mooresville, Indiana; USA | 10/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Adventures Of Superman" premiered in American living rooms on Friday, September 19th, 1952 (when the first episode aired on Chicago's WENR-TV), and continued for a total of six TV seasons. 104 episodes of the series were produced and aired (via syndication), with all 26 black-and-white episodes of the series' first season represented within this classy-looking 5-Disc DVD boxed set that was released by Warner Home Video on October 18, 2005.
The scripts for "Superman" offer up a rather fun blend of fantasy, suspense, action-adventure, and noir-like crime-drama. Plus quite a bit of comedy, to boot (both the intentional and unintentional varieties of humor).
Nearly all of the above elements can be detected in the series right from the get-go in the debut episode "Superman On Earth" (which is one of my favorites from this batch of first-year episodes). "Superman On Earth" is a great pilot episode to launch the series, IMO. Within this single 26-minute program, the whole "Superman" backstory plays out -- beginning with planet Krypton's doomed fate, to Superman's arrival on Earth as an infant (via a prototype planet-hopping spaceship constructed by his father, Jor-El), and continuing with the story of mild-mannered Clark Kent's first exciting day on the job as a "Daily Planet" newspaper reporter.
When I watch the pilot episode, I'm always impressed by the amount of material and plot points that are covered in just this initial installment of the series. And it never really feels like the writers are "rushing" to tell us the story. It seems to evolve in a well-paced manner. I think it's an exemplary beginning to the series, and sets the tone just right for future "Superman" episodes.
There's a bit of unintended humor in that first episode as well, to be sure. It's difficult not to burst out laughing during a few portions of the "Krypton" scenes ... e.g.: when Jor-El states to Krypton's ruling Government leaders that he intends to build a fleet of spaceships to transport the entire planet's population off of the doomed planet -- and he, evidently, intends to accomplish this massive construction feat in just a matter of "days, or even perhaps hours" (which is the amount of time he says remains until the planet is likely to explode into millions of pieces). Holy Smokes! He'd better get a move-on then! LOL!
Plus: I kind of like the humorous angle provided in the pilot as a result of the real age of actor George Reeves ("Superman"). Reeves is supposed to be 25 years old during his "adult" scenes in the first episode (perhaps close to 26). Mr. Reeves' real age, however, was 37 at the time. :-)
But those parts of the pilot show, and other episodes in the series, that bring forth a chuckle or two are also part of the reason I like to watch "Superman". It's an entertaining TV show, unintended humor and all.
A First-Show "Did You Know?" Trivia Break --- Did you know that the actor who portrayed the very first person ever rescued by the amazing high-flying antics of "Superman" was Dabbs Greer? .... Yep, it was good ol' Dabbs alright. Dabbs, a veteran of literally hundreds of TV bit parts dating back to the early 1950s, was falling through the sky to a certain death in the final act of the pilot episode, when the caped super hero caught him in mid-air. For some reason, though, Greer doesn't get a screen credit for his part in the pilot show, despite the fact he has several lines to read at the tail-end of that program.
Another oddity re. that premiere episode's closing credits is the fact that Ross Elliott, another soon-to-be-veteran character actor who popped up in a great number of TV series in the '50s and '60s (like Greer), gets an on-screen credit for "Superman On Earth", even though his scenes were totally cut out of the show and he doesn't appear in the episode at all. It makes me wonder if Greer was a last-minute replacement for Elliott during the filming of the episode's last scene, but the end credits were never corrected. ~strokes chin and ponders~
It sure looks to me like some degree of restoration effort was put into these DVD transfers. For the most part, I think the video on these discs looks remarkably good, especially for a program that originally was made during the earliest days of television. These first-year Supermans were actually made an entire year before they were ever aired, being filmed between July 23 and October 13 of 1951. The back of the DVD box claims that these episodes were "digitally mastered from original film elements". Sounds good to me. :)
I was especially impressed by the clarity of the opening titles, which is a segment of many TV shows that oft-times looks much worse on DVD than the 'body' of the episodes. But in this set, the Main Titles look excellent. Just check out the close-up of the revolver when it turns sideways during the show opening (as we hear the famous voice-over, "Faster than a speeding bullet!"). The gun is crystal-clear here.
I think, however, that just a single (nicely cleaned-up) opening sequence was used for these DVDs and repeated for all of the episodes in this collection. This becomes quite noticeable in Episode #13, "The Stolen Costume", which features rather subpar video quality for the episode itself, with lots of dirt specks dancing around the screen (although it was quite possibly the best print WB had to work with when it came to transferring this ep. to DVD), but the opening titles still look very clean and clear.
I, myself, haven't really noticed any major edits or essential footage missing from these episodes. Run times that I've made a point to check clocked in at a healthy 25 to 26 minutes each. As an example, I checked every episode's precise running time on Disc #1, and here are the results of those "time checks":
"Superman On Earth" -- Run Time: 25:52. "The Haunted Lighthouse" -- 25:53. "The Case Of The Talkative Dummy" -- 25:49. "Mystery Of The Broken Statues" -- 25:23. "The Monkey Mystery" -- 25:24. "Night Of Terror" -- 25:55.
So, if any originally-aired footage has been cut out here, it's certainly not very much, that's for sure.
I really like the packaging for this first "Superman" DVD set, too. It's colorful, bright, and just plain fun to open up and look at. There's an attractive outer slipcase box that slides easily and smoothly over the interior case.
The five DVDs are placed in a Digipak type of folding case, with an overlapping disc-storing system that is growing in favor with this writer and DVD collector. Many people frown at the sight of the "stacked" type of DVD trays, but I'm beginning to like them better all the time. Stacking the discs in this overlapping arrangement within multi-disc sets cuts down on the bulkiness of the overall packaging, reducing the number of Digipak panels required to house all the software. And there's a certain "eye appeal" to this type of storage method, too (IMO). Plus, with a stacked arrangement, you don't need a table (or other surface) a half-mile wide in order to uncoil all the panels/flaps of the DVD case.
I've also noticed that the DVD sets I have purchased that feature the overlapping discs also seem to have more user-friendly disc hubs (fasteners), i.e.: it seems to me that the stacked trays feature hubs that will release the discs more easily (without the need of a crowbar, or a stick of dynamite, to pry the darn things free from their clutching plastic homes, as with some non-stacked designs). ;)
When all five discs are removed from their trays, a very pleasant visual packaging treat is revealed -- A picture of Superman (in cartoon form) comes into full view; plus the word "SUPERMAN" is spelled out grandly in large colorful letters across two of the Digipak panels (in the familiar "Superman" font/style). It's a nice artwork/packaging touch that gives this DVD set more of a "collectible" feel to it. It's almost a shame to have to cover up the cool underlying artwork on the case with the discs themselves. ;)
Some pretty nice artwork adorns each of the five DVDs too, with a picture of a cast member on each disc -- e.g.: George Reeves (who occupies space on two of the discs, due to his dual role as both "Superman" and "Clark Kent"), plus Phyllis Coates ("Lois Lane" during Season 1 of the series), Jack Larson ("Jimmy Olsen"), and John Hamilton ("Perry White").
Another nifty little packaging touch is located on each of the two spines of the DVD case -- The Warner Brothers' "WB" logo has been situated in such a way on the case's spines to make it appear as if the logo itself is serving as Superman's "belt buckle". (This could have merely been a coincidence, that the "WB" logo lined up to double as the buckle on Superman's belt in the spine photos, but I thought it was kind of cute nonetheless.)
OTHER VITAL STATS & INFO ABOUT THIS DVD COLLECTION.........
>> Video is Full-Frame (1.33:1), as originally seen in 1952 and 1953.
>> Audio is English only (in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono).
>> There's a "Play All" option attached to each disc.
>> Subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish.
>> No episode-guide booklet is included. Program info can be found on the inner DVD case.
>> The animated DVD Menus capture the fun spirit of the Superman series. Each disc's Main Menu is laid out in the guise of a Superman comic book. The Main Menu design is identical for all five discs. Menu items can be selected from a "page" of the comic book. Sub-Menu choices include "Play All Episodes", "Episode Index", "Special Features", and "Languages". ... No Scene Selection Menus are available for any of the shows (unfortunately, no Chapter Stops have been placed into any of the episodes, which is probably the biggest gripe I have with this DVD set).
>> No "forced" trailers or other ads are present on the DVDs, and the FBI Warnings and WB Logo that are seen upon initial disc load-up are able to be quickly bypassed. ~a big "thumbs-up" to this!~
BONUS DVD STUFF.........
Some fairly nice bonus supplements have been tacked on to Disc 5 of this Superman set, including Audio Commentary Tracks for 4 different episodes by two "Superman Chroniclers". These Superman experts/aficionados provide their Commentary in Dolby 2.0 Stereo.
>> The complete 1951 theatrical feature film "Superman And The Mole Men" (which was later re-worked into the 2-part, first-season Superman TV episode "The Unknown People"). ... This is a terrific bonus add-on. Very glad to see this included in this set. "Mole Men" isn't exactly "Citizen Kane", but it did introduce the world to George Reeves as "The Man Of Steel". The B&W "Mole Men", which made its theatrical debut on November 23, 1951, is fairly short for a "feature-length" motion picture, just 58 minutes long (it took a mere 11 days to shoot). It's presented here in its original Full-Frame video format, with audio in 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono. Excellent picture quality too. I'm amazed at how good this film looks here, in fact. I've certainly never seen it looking as good as it does on this DVD. ... No chaptering or subtitle options are provided for the "Mole Men" feature.
>> A 17-minute retrospective documentary entitled "Adventures Of Superman: From Inkwell To Backlot". ... Some very good stuff here, including on-camera interviews with "Jimmy Olsen" himself (Jack Larson) and movie critic Leonard Maltin. This is a short featurette, but it's jam-packed with show clips and fun information about the Superman TV series and its cast members. ... Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
>> A vintage "WB short" called "Pony Express Days". ... This 20-minute short film, made in 1940 (and shot in Technicolor) stars a very youthful-looking George Reeves (who was 26 years old when he filmed this entertaining short subject). Reeves was a very busy actor in films early in his career, with his role as "Bill Cody" in "Pony Express Days" representing his 14th film appearance in less than a two-year period (1939-1940). Included among that 14 is George's role as "Stuart Tarleton" in the epic "Gone With The Wind". Reeves made appearances in 16 different movies in the year 1940 alone! (Gosh, maybe he really IS "Superman". LOL.) ... Tragically, George Reeves (who was born George Keefer Brewer in January 1914) died at a very young age (45), when an apparent suicide took the life of America's first TV "Superman", on June 16, 1959 (just a little more than one year after Reeves filmed the last "Superman" episode). ... A Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio track has been utilized for this "Pony Express" bonus. Video is 1.33:1 Full-Frame, and it looks outstanding too. Colors are very well-rendered. This is yet another excellent bonus item that makes this Superman set even a better bargain.
>> 3 Kellogg's cereal commercials that aired in the 1950s during the original run of the "Superman" series. ... This is actually kind of a mini-featurette, which includes a short history lesson about the Kellogg's "Superman" ads, followed by three complete B&W commercial spots, all for "Sugar Frosted Flakes". George Reeves stars in all these ads (as "Clark Kent", never as "Superman"). An early TV version of "Tony The Tiger" can be seen in these ads as well. ... Audio for this bonus is a mixture of DD 2.0 Stereo and DD 2.0 Mono (the latter for the actual ads). Picture quality for the commercials is a cut below all the other video on these discs, but still not all that bad. This is fun old-time (and hard-to-find) stuff. ... Total run time of this "commercial" bonus is 4:35.
So .... If you have a desire to re-live some of the earliest days in TV's history, then this 5-Disc DVD set of "Adventures Of Superman: The Complete First Season" should fill that requirement quite nicely. This show is just good, fun television -- brought back to vivid life once again thanks to this well-above-average collection of DVDs from Warner Home Video. A round of applause should go to WB for putting out a product that very nicely preserves and showcases the memories of this prized series from TV's Golden Era."
Terrific Debut of TV's First 'Man of Steel'!
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 11/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've always gotten razzed when I say that George Reeves was the greatest 'Superman'. After all, Christopher Reeve was closest to the comic book, Dean Cain introduced a level of sexiness to the character, and Tom Welling is the current teen heartthrob; the general impression of Reeves was as the chubby, aging, 'long johns'-clad Superman, from the silly color TV episodes of the late 50s, who "killed himself" when the series ended.
The new DVD "Adventures of Superman - Complete First Season" should put that impression to rest!
Filmed in B&W, in 1951, the youthful, 37-year old Reeves offered a 'Man of Steel' of compassion, integrity, and honor, with a twinkle in his eye and a ready smile for the TV audiences who shared his 'secret'. Far more charismatic than his movie serial predecessor, Kirk Alyn, he was as quick to use his head and his fists as his "Powers and Abilities' to defend "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" against gangsters, spies, and evildoers. While some may quibble that his 'Clark Kent' was TOO heroic, and similar to his costumed alter ego, he was an unabashed role model for a generation of young viewers, and he never let us down, during the 'Superman' years, either on screen, or off.
The first season episodes are, perhaps, the best of the series, produced by veterans of the B-movie industry who knew how to make action-packed stories quickly, and cinematically. The plots are rich in film noir touches ("The Haunted Lighthouse" is so atmospheric that it could stand beside many of the noir dramas of the 40s), and offer, for the first time, believable flying effects (achieved, in large part, by double-exposing film of Reeves hanging by wire and harness, attached to a body-contoured 'flying pan', worn under his suit, with moving aerial shots). The episodes were never 'dumbed down' for kids; while some characters were played for laughs, the stories were serious, the violence real. These shows were not produced for children, they were made for the same audiences who loved adventure stories in movie theaters (it would take self-appointed committees to decide children weren't fit for such things, and force the series into complying, in later seasons).
Joining Reeves in the cast were 24-year-old Phyllis Coates as a spirited Lois Lane far ahead of her time; John Hamilton, 65, a veteran character actor for nearly 50 years, as crusty editor Perry White; B-movie vet Robert Shayne, 50, as Kent's friend, Police Inspector Henderson, and, best of all, 18-year old Jack Larson as a tousled-haired, naive Jimmy Olsen.
But, ultimately, the season (and the series) owed it's success to George Reeves, who appeared in every episode, and worked tirelessly to bring the Last Son of Krypton to life. As the syndicated series reached more and more markets (as TV stations began to spread across the nation), his performance, and the series, became national sensations, giving him the success that had eluded him in twelve years of acting, but also forever 'typing' him in a role that would cost him his career, and possibly his life.
"The Adventures of Superman" would be his legacy, and this fabulous collection might have you joining me in celebrating the BEST Superman of them all!"
The ORIGINAL First Season
Michael J. Hayde | Manassas, VA USA | 10/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first, gripping season of "The Adventures of Superman" has had possibly the most unusual history of any television film series, once production wrapped in October 1951. First the episodes were assembled and scored in late 1951. Then they were re-edited in early 1952 on orders from the sponsor, Kellogg's cereals. Then, when the negatives for these "Kellogg's edits" began to wear out over the years, the original versions began appearing in syndication.
So Captain Bijou is correct: for the most part, these ARE "syndication versions." However, they are also the ORIGINAL edits, and they include scenes that Kellogg's ordered cut. Among these: 1) The whipping of Jan Moleska in "The Monkey Mystery" 2) Greer knocking Lily Sung unconscious with two vicious punches in "Riddle of the Chinese Jade" 3) Elsa, one of "The Evil Three," getting shoved down a ramp into a cellar, to be left for dead.
There's nothing missing from these episodes except the commercial bumper ("We'll return to the 'Adventures of Superman' in just a moment") and the aforementioned Preview - both of which were added when Kellogg's ordered the re-edits. In fact, the version of "Crime Wave" included here has likely never been seen on television.
As for the Kellogg's commercials - the three included in the set were made to air with the first season. Later ads, which did include others in the cast, were produced alongside later seasons and hopefully will be included in future sets.
The 17-minute documentary certainly wasn't made for the hard-core fan: it's for the remaining 80% of total purchasers of this set! Actually, it sums up the history of the series quite nicely. Also the four episode commentaries are entertaining and informative.
The only flaw in the diamond is "The Stolen Costume." Apparently the original elements of this show have vanished (perhaps stolen by a rope burglar?), leaving a (much) less-than-pristine dupe behind. Fans of this particular episode (which features the only TV appearance of detective Candy Myers, a recurring character on the "Superman" radio show) will be disappointed that it doesn't sparkle like the other 25.
Nevertheless, it's still a 5-star release; long overdue and highly anticipated. Don't walk, don't run - FLY faster than a speeding bullet to buy this all-time classic!"