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DVD Review: The Adventures Of Superman – The Complete Third And Fourth Season

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In business, presentation is very important, and in the case of this set of DVDs, the first thing you notice is the presentation. Simple, colorful, comic book themed, and exciting. Excellent presentation.

The box cover contains simple side-by-side photos of George Reeves as Clark Kent and Superman. When you open the set, the insert unfolds to an exciting display of all five disks, each featuring a picture of the key characters of the series (Clark, Superman, Lois, Jimmy, and Perry White). You can’t help but be thrust into the classic era of comic books as the disks are flanked by a comic book themed layout that includes the title of each episode, the credits, and a brief synopsis.

The presentation of the show in the third and fourth seasons is wonderfully ahead of its time, as the producers had the foresight to film them in color. Though broadcast in black and white at the time, they were not actually televised in color until 10 years later. The story behind this and other interesting facts are revealed in one of the three special features: “Adventures of Superman: The Color Era.” Though this and the other major extra (“Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Special Effects of Adventures of Superman”) are quite brief (six minutes), they are full of interesting facts, extremely informative and entertaining, and certainly raises your anticipation of viewing the episodes. The third extra consists of excerpts from the new documentary by Bryan Singer and Kevin Burns: Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman.

When viewing the episodes in the set, you will again be amazed at how simple the production is, and yet how extremely effective it is. The color is great, and the special effects work well for the most part. George Reeves does a great job as Superman, but it was his confident Clark Kent that shows the range of this talented and underappreciated thespian. Reeves, who often looks more muscular in his classic suits than in his Superman garb, plays Kent with far more confidence and humor than recent incarnations, and it works.

Jack Larson sets the bar high as Jimmy Olsen, and no actor has come close since. His childlike innocence, subtle humor, and energy are an acting lesson in each appearance. He steals scenes, one after another. The rest of the cast, including Noel Neill as Lois Lane, also establish the institution that is Superman with excellent performances, which other actors have and should continue to strive toward.

If there is any weakness here, it is the stories. Even geared towards children, these stories can be considered weak. Often, the plots make little sense and the guests appear to be trying to figure them out. There are a few gems in the set, but for the most part, it is the acting of our leads and the special effects that are the highlights here.

Recommendation: This set is a novelty, and makes for some great fun. The stories will eventually wear thin, but worth the investment. Kids will love it because it compares well to more recent super efforts. A must have for the true fan. Watch the extras first.

Written by Hombre Divertido

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • http://www.bygonetv.com/shows/t/the_adventures_of_superman.htm Cassie Hardcastle

    Some nice background to this old tv show at http://www.bygonetv.com

  • Richard W. Haines

    The series is worth owning but the color episodes have quality control problems. While the live action footage from the 35mm Eastmancolor negative looks amazingly good for elements fifty years old with very unstable dyes. However, all of the optical effects (fades, dissolves, stock footage, head and tail credit sequences) look horrible and pretty deteriorated. Grainy, de-saturated and full of scratches and
    dirt. They could certainly use a digital clean up. What’s more annoying is that in Seasons Three and Four the entire shot is used for the grainy optical. In Seasons Five and Six, only part of the shot contains the optical. In other words, you’ll see a camera negative shot with good color then all of a sudden within the same shot the optical will pop on (like a fade or dissolve) and the image will get very grainy and de-saturated. It was less distracting in Three and Four when an entire shot looks bad rather than only a part of a shot.

    Perhaps when the series is released in HD, Warners will at least clean up one intro and make it look perfect without all the scratches and dust. Then they can insert it onto the head of every color episode.