Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Look, Up In The Sky...

Back when Superman Returns hit theaters, Warner Home Video released the first season of the Illya Salkind-produced Superboy syndicated television series from 1988 on DVD. Reportedly, it didn't sell very well, and that's probably because so few people even remembered the show existed.

Well, also because the first season (the show ended up running for a total of four) was pretty weak.

That first season starred John Haymes-Newton as the college student of steel, Clark Kent, attending Shuster University in Florida (where the show was shot as one of the first series filmed at the Orlando Disney/MGM Studios). Newton looked good in the classic red & blue union suit, but was, frankly, a wooden performer. It didn't help either that the scripts for that first season were generally pretty pedestrian and the shoestring budget was extremely obvious. Pretty Stacy Haiduk (later of Seaquest DSV) was a sexy and likable Lana Lang, though. I also liked the casting of Stuart Whitman as Pa Kent.

Somehow the show garnered good enough ratings (it aired on weekend afternoons in most markets) to get a second season, and things improved considerably. The writing - by a number of actual DC Comics veterans like Andy Helfer, Cary Bates, Denny O’Neil and Mike Carlin - got a lot better and more imaginative, and Newton was replaced by the more charismatic Gerard Christopher.

There were some cool guest stars in that second season, too, including George Lazenby (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Britt Ekland (The Man With the Golden Gun) as Clark's Kryptonian parents Jor-El and Lara; Philip Michael Thomas (Miami Vice) as Brimstone; Michael J. Pollard as Mr. Mxyzptik; as well as Keye Luke, Richard Kiel (The Spy Who Loved Me), and even Gilbert Gottfried.

The budget was still low, but the producers were a lot more creative with their money, and the show looked much better in the second season, too. The special effects were about what you'd expect in 1989-90; you may not have believed a boy could fly... but it could have been a lot worse.

I guess in anticipation of the new Man Of Steel movie due next Summer, Warners' manufacture-on-demand label, Warner Archive, will be releasing the second season of Superboy on DVD next Tuesday. Those multi-disc MOD sets can be pricey, but I'm hoping to pick it up soon. I really enjoyed the show back in the day, and would very much like to add it to my vast DVD library.

I mean, what the Hell - I bought the first season.....


BrittReid said...

"George Lazenby (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Britt Ekland (The Man With the Golden Gun) as Clark's Kryptonian parents Jor-El and Lara"

Actually, they were aliens (impersonating Jor-El and Lara and wearing Marlon Brando and Susanna York's costumes from Superman the Movie) who hoped to make Kal-El an exhibit in their interstellar zoo.
That said, the two-parter they appeared in was one of the better episodes.

Hopefully, Warner Archive will release the third season as well, with the "multi Kal-El" two-parter "Road to Hell"

El Vox said...

I don't know if you've heard of this guy's blog on comics, but I thought I'd share it because I think he does such a cool job. Check it out here:

Also speaking of super hero films and such I picked up the last Green Lantern movie. It got bad press, but I caught it on a paid TV movie channel and enjoyed it.

Chuck Patton said...

They had some pretty good stories for a show with a bare bone budget.

Sherman Howard made a funny but sinister Lex Luthor. But the winner was the 2 parter with Tarzan/Doc Savage Ron Ely playing an older alternative dimension Superman v.s. an evil version of Superboy!

Reminded me more of an old Dc Comic than Smallville ever did.