Filmation's New Adventures of Superman - Season One!
Servo | Atlanta, GA USA | 05/02/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Superman! Rocketed to Earth as an infant when the distant planet Krypton exploded. And who disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet fights a neverending battle for truth, justice and freedom with super powers far beyond those of ordinary mortals!"
That's how announcer Jackson Beck opened this classic show from 1966. The opening scene showing Superman smashing meteorites to the show's very '60s jazz main title theme still looks cool.
Following the '40s Fleischer Superman (made for theatres) and the '50s Adventures of Superman (first done as a movie then a TV series), Filmation's New Adventures of Superman (1966) was the first Superman done specifically for television. Paid a sum of $36,000 per completed half-hour by CBS (who struck a deal with DC Comics to create the show), Superman also was the then-little studio's first major TV deal.
The legacy of the more revered Fleischer Superman shorts was not lost on Filmation. "The Fleischers did, as far as I'm concerned, the definitive one. So much so that we actually managed to hire some of them to work for us," producer Lou Scheimer said.
In additon to comics faithful character designs, and effective yet limited [compared to today] animation, The New Adventures of Superman also featured the voices of Fleischer Superman's Bud Collyer and Joan Alexander (alternating with Julie Bennett) as the animated Superman/Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
As a result, the series was a breakout hit. So much so Filmation was given a bonus and a 2nd season where the show expanded to "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" adding heroes Green Lantern, Hawkman, the Flash, the Atom, Teen Titans, and Justice League to the lineup.
Due to the ongoing Siegel/DC/Time Warner battle for Superboy copyrights, the Superboy episodes originally sandwiched between the Superman episodes are not included in this set. Despite this, I still recommend the set solely on the strength of the thirty-six 6 min. Superman eps that are included.
The New Adventures of Superman is a 2-disc set featuring all 36 Superman episodes from the show's first season; Full Frame (1.33:1) video; Dolby Surround Stereo English audio; Closed Captioning; plus the following Special Feature: "Superman in '66" - Featurette explores how the '60s era influenced the character of Superman and led to his Filmation debut on this groundbreaking show.
1. The Force Phantom
2. Mermen Of Emor
3. The Prehistoric Pterodactyls
4. Merlin's Magic Marbles
5. The Threat of the Thrutans
6. The Wicked Warlock
7. The Chimp Who Made It Big
8. The Deadly Icebergs
9. Robot of Riga
10. The Invisible Raiders
11. Neolithic Nightmare
12. The Return of Brainiac
13. The Magnetic Monster
14. The Toys of Doom
15. The Iron Eater
16. The Ape Army of the Amazon
17. The Fire Phantom
18. The Deadly Dish
19. Insect Raiders
20. Return of Warlock
21. The Abominable Ice-Man
22. The Men from A.P.E.
23. The Tree Man of Arbora
24. The Image Maker
25. Superman's Double Trouble
26. The Deadly Super-Doll
27. Lava Men
28. Luthor Strikes Again
29. Mission to Planet Peril
30. The Pernicious Parasite
31. The Two Faces of Superman
32. The Imp-Practical Joker
33. Superman Meets Brainiac
34. Seeds of Disaster
35. The Malevolent Mummy
36. The Bird-Men From Lost Valley
Superman Circa '66 -- Up, Up, and Almost Away
Joseph Torcivia | Westbury, NY USA | 01/02/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The New Adventures of Superman
(Released June 26, 2007 by Warner Home Video) DVD Review by Joe Torcivia
This, of course, is Filmation's trend setting series from 1966.
Up front, I must express an almost lifelong affection for the DC Comics Super Heroes, and a 15 year long love affair with the DC Animated Series BATMAN, SUPERMAN, BATMAN BEYOND, JUSTICE LEAGUE and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, produced by Bruce Timm for Warner Bros. I also enjoyed the 1960s DC cartoons from Filmation Studios.
This DVD set should have been a "lock" for me but, instead, it is a very mixed bag. Oh, there's plenty of great stuff -- especially when viewed through nostalgia-colored glasses, where Filmation's legendary shortcomings are minimized by the good feelings these shows originally created.
We know and accept Filmation's faults for what they were - and are! The source of my uncharacteristic displeasure is the dispensing with the usually high standards practiced by Warner Home Video, in the assembling of this package.
There are far too many "CONS" to allow me to enjoy this DVD collection to the extent that I had hoped. Yet, the "PROS", in many ways, still manage to make the package a worthwhile entertainment experience.
The series is NOT COMPLETE! I'm very disappointed in that! The Superboy segments (originally part of each half-hour episode) are omitted. Somehow, I can understand that, as SB remains in some sort of legal limbo between DC/WB and the heirs of Jerry Siegel. BUT, all the Superman episodes are not there either.
The box claims 36 episodes. What they don't tell you is that there were TWO Superman cartoons per show -- plus one Superboy -- and that those are counted as SEPARATE episodes... even though each "pair" of Superman shorts are framed by the show's original opening and closing credits -- indicating it to be ONE SHOW. So, in actuality you get 18 original shows - really TWO THIRDS of 18 shows - despite the box's claim of 36 "episodes". Not exactly trickery, but the feeling of it is there, nonetheless.
Later, there were a handful of TWO-PART SUPERMAN EPISODES that are also not in this set. Granted, these were made for the BATMAN/SUPERMAN HOUR show of 1968 -- but they were also shown as part of the SUPERMAN show after Batman split off into his own show. Perhaps they will be part of a possible BATMAN/SUPERMAN HOUR release -- though there were not nearly enough of them to give Supes a fair representation on such a set, as many of the earlier Superman shorts were mixed into that show as "extender".
Either way, I expected to see the two-parters here. Further research reveals that there are about 16 short Superman cartoons also absent from this set and, hopefully, all this missing material is being hoarded for a second volume. After all, this was never billed as "The Complete Series", so maybe I was expecting too much, having been accustomed to the general quality of other WHV releases... the also-incomplete NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES set, notwithstanding.
The transfers to DVD have got to be the worst I've ever seen from a major studio - with the possible exception of certain elements of WHV's "THE MAGILLA GORILLA SHOW" set! Yes, I know it's Filmation, and it's SUPPOSED TO look bad. But, it appears that little effort was made to clean these cartoons up. The Mr. Mxyzptlk episode, "The Imp-Practical Joker" (Which I remembered sort of fondly and especially wanted to see and contrast with Bruce Timm and Paul Dini's 1997 masterpiece "Mxyzpixilated" from SUPERMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES), is unbelievably bad with lines, streaking, and visual debris across the image! SHAME ON YOU WARNER HOME VIDEO!
In six minutes, the stories are often too brief and many of them are hokey, even by Silver Age comic book standards, but others are good. Besides, some very good Superman stories were done in eight pages or so, in the Silver Age comic books of legendary editor Mort Weisinger.
In addition to being incomplete, badly transferred, and sometimes hokey (though I can't really blame the "hokey" on WHV, can I?), there is NO PROPER ORDER to the presentation! We DVD enthusiasts like things organized, complete, uncut, and IN ORDER! None of that here!
"Superman Meets Brainiac" is on DISC TWO, while "The Return of Brainiac" is on DISC ONE! Um... all you have to do is READ THE TITLES to know this is the wrong thing to do, folks!
The PACKAGING is that slimmer, cheaper packaging that Warner Home Video has used since the latter part of 2005, where one disc rests upon another. You cannot handle or remove DISC TWO without first removing or handling DISC ONE. There is always potential, however slight, for damage with packaging of this sort.
It's Superman is as close to an accurate Mort Weisinger / Silver Age comic book interpretation as we could ever have hoped to get!
Bud Collyer and Joan Alexander, from the Max Fleschier theatrical days and radio series, are reunited as Superman/Clark, and Lois!
The character designs are as closely based on classic Silver Age Superman artist Curt Swan as was possible to do in such limited animation.
It is the first animated use of Jimmy Olsen. Though sans freckles, he looks just as he did in his own comic -- that is when he wasn't being transformed into a turtle, werewolf, or other monster.
DC Comics editor Mort Weisinger was a consultant to the series, and his name is in the end credits of every show.
Actual DC writers of the time did scripts: George Kashdan, William Woolfolk, Arnold Drake, Bill Finger (Considered by many to be the uncredited co-creator of Batman!), and someone who -- to my knowledge -- was never involved with DC, Oscar Bensol. As all the other writers were actual DC writers, I wonder if "Bensol" wasn't a pen name for someone else. (Jerry Siegel, perhaps?)
Bob Hastings (LT. Carpenter on sixties sit-com MC HALE'S NAVY) begins an over 30-year association with DC Comics characters by voicing Jimmy Olsen and the absent-due to-being-in court Superboy. Hastings essentially recreated Carpenter for a cameo in the Adam West Batman series (in a scene with Alan "Fred Flintstone" Reed, no less!), and became best known as the voice of Commissioner Gordon in the '90s BATMAN ANIMATED SERIES!
Gravely voiced Jackson Beck (...I can still hear him voicing commercials for Little Caesar's Pizza, and Thompson's Water Seal) is the Narrator and Perry White.
The first use (I believe), outside of comics, of Luthor, Brainiac, Mxyzptlk, Toyman, Prankster, Titano the Giant Ape, and a vastly different Parasite - who meets a bit of a shocking end for a mid-sixties Sat-AM cartoon. Ditto for the ending of the second Brainiac episode. No spoilers here!
And THIS justifies the price of admission... The extra feature: "Superman in '66"! Featured commentators include comic book writer Mark Waid, actor Mark Hamill, DC Publisher Paul Levitz, and Filmation's Lou Scheimer, among others. Waid is so vocal, he practically hosts the thing!
They discuss Superman, the times socially and politically, Curt Swan, Mort Weisinger, and many, many Silver Age Superman comic book panels and pages are shown throughout. Scheimer discusses the early days of Filmation, how they got the contract from DC to do Superman (...with more than a bit of bluffing and trickery -- that I'm surprised that he admits to here!), and how important Superman was to putting Filmation on the map, and its impact on Sat-AM TV for years to follow.
For any fan of TV animation, comic books, DC heroes, or the Silver Age in general, this is ONE GREAT FEATURE!
So, despite some serious flaws, I'd say buy The New Adventures of Superman DVD set... if you are a fan of any of the above categories. Sit back and enjoy the "title opening" to each classic cartoon, where Superman flies THROUGH a brick wall that (as drawn) he could just as easily have flown around!
...Sometimes it's great to just accept stuff like this for its own sake!
Like a comic book come to life
A. Gammill | West Point, MS United States | 07/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although I grew up watching (reruns of) the George Reeves t.v. series, I was always disappointed that they never included any comic-book villains. Filmation's terrific animated show, despite its flaws, definitely delivered on the comic-book action. AND those wonderful super-villains!
Each episode moves at a brisk pace (they're only about 6 minutes apiece), and contains enough colorful action to satifsy die-hard comic book fans. Plots involving alien invaders, giant chimps, etc. may seem "cheesy" to more jaded viewers of today, but the series was very much in-line with what was happening in the Superman comics of the era.
Fans of the seventies's "Challenge of the Superfriends" will probably like these, but they may seem pretty dated to folks whose primarily knowledge of the character comes from "Smallville" (I'm not knocking that show...I like it quite a bit, actually). The only real downside to "The New Adventures of Superman" is that the animation is a bit limited. But if you've seen ANY Filmation series, you know about what to expect.
I hope Super-fans will support this release so we can see the rest of the Filmation DC Comics shows from the sixites.
The Mysterious Traveler | USA | 10/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While the featurette is a tad more lame than usual( I loathe listening to people apologizing for something from the past--obviously insecurity on their part), that is not why we are buying this, is it?? The animation is, of course, 60s limitted animation but..
1) The stories are generally very good and VERY faithful to the 50s-early 60s Superman era.
2)These have the first dramatizations of such classic Superman villain as the Toyman, the Prankster, Titano, the Parasite and Brainiac among others.
3)The series reproduced very closely the style of the classic radio Superman series from the 40s and used many of the cast members of the same thus introducing later generations to something that they might not otherwise have experienced.
4)The voice work is excellent featuring the likes of Bud Collyer, Jackson Beck and Ted Knight.
5)The music is fantastic and deserves to be released on its own on CD. And the sound effects are superb. In some cases, the above have never quite been matched.
6) And the series--which can be enjoyed by both kids and adults without any sneaky underhanded tricks of inappropriate material is just great fun.
Let me repeat that. Remember when superheros were inspiring, unlifting and fun? Remember that? It has been so long....