My brief thoughts on some Superman shows

Superman in Superman: The Animated Series

For my first blog post, I think I’ll start simple and just give an introductory look at my opinions of three major Superman shows.

The Adventures of Superman (1950s TV show)

Superman standing in front of an American flag in the Adventures of Superman intro

The first thing you should know is that there’s a big disparity between the first two seasons (which happen to be in black-and-white) and the rest of the show (which happens to be in color). The first two seasons are my favorite piece of Superman media, honestly, while the rest of the show doesn’t interest me nearly as much. That’s not to say the colored seasons don’t have anything good in them, as that’s not the case at all. It’s just that it feels like the overall quality decreases, cheesiness increases, and the show stops attempting to appeal to anyone other than young children. And that’s not to say the first two seasons are perfect or free of cheesiness. Almost every episode of the show, colored or not, has major plot holes. And at the end of the day, it’s a very old, low-budget show, and you can tell.

And yet, despite all the flaws, I do indeed love the first two seasons of this show. A lot of that has to do with George Reeves’ Clark Kent/Superman. He’s just such an amiable, real-feeling character. I also love how the other characters are portrayed and their relationships with each other.

Plus, I have a fondness for the kind of plots and scenarios this show tends to portray. I enjoy the more grounded feel and the fact that Clark, and sometimes the rest of the Daily Planet staff, often have to use their heads to figure out the mysteries, as opposed to it being all about Superman beating up bad guys. Of course, this is especially subjective because there are obviously many people who prefer supervillains and more cosmic stories, and I’m not saying those are bad – I just have a strong affinity for the smaller, “realer” side of Superman.

Overall, I would definitely recommend checking out this show, especially the first two seasons. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find yourself liking it as much as I do, especially since I know tolerance for flawed, old and cheesy things varies from person to person. But it’s certainly worth a look.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Dean Cain as Clark Kent and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane in Lois & Clark

This show has its highs and lows, and some of the lows are honestly really rough…but at its best, it can be a truly excellent show. It explores the characters in compelling ways, has snappy dialogue, and is full of humor and heart. It is extremely cheesy and it is a rom-com at heart, and the Clark it portrays is slightly more flawed and (for lack of a better word) “worldly” than most versions, so it certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But I think it has some strengths that most Superman media don’t have.

For example, I personally think the Lois of this show is one of the best depictions of her I’ve seen. I like how they embrace her nature as a flawed human being and allow her to be emotionally vulnerable, and how they explore her past and develop her character. To me, this is a lot better than either putting Lois on a pedestal or making her a total jerk. I also like how Martha and Jonathan Kent are explored as characters and aren’t just “Clark’s parents” and that’s it.

So overall, a great show, though not perfect. There are a few awful episodes and moments, and even at its best, it’s not for everyone. But I’d still recommend giving it a chance – you might just find something you love.

Superman: The Animated Series

Superman in Superman: The Animated Series

Generally speaking, I think it’s much more likely that the “average nerd” has seen this show than the other two reviewed above. Out of the three shows covered in this post, it’s the most highly esteemed generally, but it’s also my least favorite.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m by no means saying that this show is bad or that I don’t like it at all. I do like it a fair bit, especially Season 1 and various excellent episodes throughout. But overall, I don’t think this show has a compelling or interesting vision for Superman’s character, especially compared to the two shows above, which definitely did. It’s a solid, competent Superman show, but I don’t get the impression that it’s striving to be anything more than that. And as a result, I find the show somewhat uninteresting.

Also, Superman’s emotional range on this show is pretty bad. I feel most of the time he’s either vaguely serious/angry or vaguely jocular. We don’t really get to see much more of him.

On the plus side, though, I do love the show’s aesthetics, both in terms of the art style and choice of voice actors. However, the animation quality decays somewhat in the later seasons.

Overall, it’s a good show with a few great episodes, but it just doesn’t seem to do much that is that interesting to me.

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