Superman: The Live Action TV Series

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by tomswift2002, Aug 11, 2014.

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Which Superman do you find the best?

  1. Adventures Of Superman (1951-1958)

    38.0%
  2. Superboy (1988-1992)

    4.0%
  3. Lois & Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman (1993-1997)

    38.0%
  4. Smallville (2001-2012)

    20.0%
  1. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's been 2 years since the last episode of "Smallville" aired, and the DVD's/Blu-Rays hit store shelves in November 2012.

    So with that out of the way, even though "Smallville" was the longest running live-action Superman series, was it the best in terms of story and look. Or do you find the 1950's "Adventures Of Superman" to still be the best live-action Superman TV series?

    This discussion and poll are about the live-action TV series that ran from 1951-2012. The 1940's theatrical serials are considered to be part of live-action Superman theatrical movie series, so they are not listed here. The Superpup and 1961 Superboy pilots are also not here as they never went to series.
     
  2. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

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    No contest, the George Reeves series is a classic...the other three range from mediocre to bad.
     
  3. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    I voted for Smallville. I'll probably be the only one. If anything, it just holds a special meaning for me. It's the only TV show I saw every episode live and will probably remain that way. (With the advent of DVRs and streaming.) I stuck with it even when it was at its worst. But it always held to (somewhat) decent standards in modern production value. And the stories were always entertaining, even if a big sluggish. And the JLA stuff was always fun and really made the current DCWU possible.

    AoS might be legendary and all that. But it's just too 50s for me. I admit, I've only seen about 2/3 or the series. But what I have just seemed overly simplistic and sometimes the acting felt like something out of the worst episodes of Stagecoach.

    I love L&C, but it was way too inconstant. The bad was really bad.

    I've tried to watch the Superboy show a few times, but can't past the first five minutes. It's kind of awful.
     
  4. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "Smallville" I found to be rather inconsistent, and then after Jonathan Kent died the series really tended to be stagnant. And even the finale I found did not succeed in paying off the build-up that Season 10 was leading upto. In the finale I was really hoping to see Tom Welling in the full Superman costume, and not just the head-to-shoulder medium green screen shots intercut with re-used "Superman Returns" flight shots. Overall I'd say the series was mediocre.

    "Adventures Of Superman", while it is very 50's, it is a very fun series to watch. It takes a lot of liberties in the later seasons, but that seems to stay consistent with the comics and theatrical shorts of the time, where the writers were suspending the concept of reality. I still remember that the night I saw "Superman Returns" at the theatre I rushed home and put an episode of this series on and found that it had a way better story than the movie, even though the effects were primitive to SR.

    "Superboy" I finally managed to see once the DVD's had all been released. The first two seasons interesting with the college setting, but then I found the agency setting in the 3rd and 4th seasons not that interesting (although I was surprised at how similar the set for the agency in Superboy and the Daily Planet set in Smallville were---it almost looked like the Superboy set had been in storage for 10 years, and then the Smallville producers just dragged it out and gave it a new coat of paint and added a few things to differentiate the two shows). And I was really sad when I watched the final episode, since it really ended on a cliff-hanger and I really wanted to find out whether Lana had figured out Clark's identity. I also really like Bizzarro on this series. The only major down side to the series was Michael Pollard as Mr. Myxyzptlk---he was really boring and annoying---his jokes really were really lame. And it would be interesting to see this series remastered in HD and put back into syndication, as the series final edit masters are on film (Warner's has confirmed that these still exist) so all the original effects are HD ready.

    "Lois & Clark" I grew up with and I still hope that Warner's will make a movie that will pick up where this series left off. Howard Mandel was a really great Mr. Myxyzptlk in the Season 4 Christmas episode, and I always watch the episode every Christmas. I also loved the alternate universe stories in this series were Lois was dead and HG Wells manages to bring the main Lois to help alt-Superman.
     
  5. Saga

    Saga Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Adventures of Superman is a classic tv show. George Reeves is my Superman.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's really hard to choose, since they're all so inconsistent. The Reeves series was best in its first season but got increasingly silly later, and it suffered from focusing mainly on ordinary criminal antagonists that didn't pose much of a challenge for Superman. Superboy had a weak first season but got significantly stronger, although I only managed to catch its later seasons intermittently. Lois & Clark was essentially three different shows from three different creative teams: the first season was a pretty solid romantic comedy with underplayed action; the second was a more balanced action/comedy but suffered from the loss of Lex Luthor and the Michael Landes version of Jimmy Olsen; and the third and fourth were an increasingly campy mess made by producers with no respect for the subject matter.

    And Smallville... what a roller coaster. I'd say its first few seasons were generally quite strong despite the always-problematical "meteor freak of the week" approach (really, if kryptonite were that ubiquitous in Smallville, Clark would've already died of space leukemia from all the years of inhaling its dust in the air and drinking kryptonite-contaminated water). But then it started to go downhill and was downright terrible by season 6-7, to the point that I actually stopped watching for a while. It resurged somewhat under new showrunners in seasons 8-9, albeit as a totally different show than it had been before, and then largely fell apart again in season 10.

    So I can't really pick one as my favorite, because there isn't a single one that I have a consistent opinion of throughout. They all kind of run the gamut from good to bad within themselves.
     
  7. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    This is a qualified answered. George Reeves is my preferred version of Superman and Clark Kent. And I like Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. That said the overall execution in terms of production I give the nod to Smallville.

    In terms of overall depiction of Superman and his universe I'm partial to the mid '90s animated series.

    I've never cared for Lois & Clark.
     
  8. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I voted Smallville. It had some problems, especially while it was basically a high school drama, but it got pretty good. The last few seasons, where they started taking advantage of the DC Universe and he started meeting more heroes, were generally great. Most of the main cast was good (except Lana Lang, I never liked her), with Lex Luthor and Chloe being my favorite characters. I know it has a mixed reputation, and some of that is deserved, but I liked it.

    As for the other series, well, Lois & Clark wasn't even really a Superman show, and from what I've seen of Adventures of Superman, it seems kind of goofy, which is to be expected from that era. I've never seen any Superboy, so I can't comment on it, but I doubt it would beat Smallville for me.
     
  9. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If the 50s show had REAL supervillains it would have been perfect, but I don't think they had the budget or the technology to do that justice. And they didn't have the budget in Superboy for that either, so it came across as cheezy and borderline camp (intentionally or not).

    That's always been the problem with superhero stuff on TV. They give you the hero but the villains never measure up because if they did, then they'd have to have a big FX-laden slug-fest.
     
  10. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'll always have a soft spot for Lois & Clark that makes it my favorite of those shows, despite the weaknesses of the last two years. That said, I liked aspects of all of them, and own the complete series of all four of them on DVD.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    What's surprised me in listening to the '40s Superman radio series is that, despite its lack of budgetary restrictions, it usually tended to focus on down-to-earth gangsters and criminals as its villains as much as the '50s TV series did -- plus plenty of enemy spies during the WWII years. It occasionally did more fanciful things, though; in the early years, there were a number of stories about lost civilizations and the like, but any time there was something seemingly supernatural going on, it was always given a mundane explanation, and Superman never really went up against a threat that could match him physically. The first time that almost happened was when they did a mechanical-man plot that was clearly inspired by the second Fleischer cartoon which had only recently hit theaters, but both of Superman's confrontations with the robot were brief and underwhelming, since the radio writers had no experience writing that kind of action. The first surviving story in which Superman takes on a real supervillain that can match him physically is the Atom Man storyline from 1946, with a proto-Metallo villain who has kryptonite in his veins and can fire kryptonite radiation from his hands. That's just about the most comic-booky it ever got, although there were also a few storylines about Superman going to other planets and helping the people who lived on them. There was even a comic-relief alien called Poco who became Perry White's cook, but his alien origin was usually not mentioned. Other than that, the focus in the postwar years shifted largely to social issues, fighting racists and racketeering and government corruption.

    So I guess it wasn't just for budgetary reasons that the TV show focused on conventional criminals. That was certainly a large part of it, but maybe it was also just that that was what TV and radio audiences of the day expected in their adventure shows. I get the impression from things like the Superman and Gangbusters radio shows and the Green Hornet movie serials (also based on a radio series) that racketeering -- organized crime and corruption in business and government -- was running rampant in 1930s-40s America and was seen as a major, ongoing problem. So it's natural that people would've wanted to see their fictional heroes tackling those real problems. Maybe that continued into the '50s as well.
     
  12. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I take exception to this statement.

    Adventures of Superman ran six years, and George Reeves put on the suit every episode for that entire run. Superboy ran four years, and Gerard Christopher put on the suit every episode for that whole run. Lois and Clark lasted four years, and Dean Cain put on the suit every episode for that entire run.

    I contend that Smallville wasn't a Superman series at all, because its star was so busy preserving his potential rom-com career that he never really put on the suit except for the very last scene of the very last ep...and all we saw was the "S", so Smallville was only a Superman series for about 15 seconds. No way in hell does fifteen seconds count as "longest-running."

    As for my vote, it's split. Favorite series overall is AoS, but my favorite supes is Dean Cain. I've stated in other threads that he comes closest to matching the look of the comic book Superman.
     
  13. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    Welling's self preservation being the primary reason Clark never wore the super suit is internet apocrypha.
     
  14. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Frankly, I don't care why that was the policy. The suit for fifteen seconds at the end of the last ep does not make Smallville a Superman series.
     
  15. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    It turn, I would argue the suit doesn't make Superman, Superman. While they were few and far between, Smallville has some of the most Man of Steelesque moments of any TV series--disemboweling an ICBM in orbit, for example.
     
  16. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    George Reeves will always be Superman to me, because his show started the year I was born.

    The Kirk Alyn serials have a bit more sci-fi content, but the animated flying scenes are unfortunate, since they couldn't rig it convincingly as a special effect. Too bad they didn't steal the Lydecker brothers from Republic.
     
  17. Enterprise is Great

    Enterprise is Great Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I remember Welling once said that he was more interested in playing Clark Kent than playing Superman. So he really wasn't interest in donning the suit until the end. Plus the showrunners insisted on "no tights, no flights" rule throughout their run and their successors kept it up (though Clark did don some type of costume in the final couple seasons).
     
  18. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Smallville ended in in 2011 not 2012.

    He didn't put on the suit in the second episode. I'm guessing this was because they were trying to emphasize that this was more of a romantic comedy than a superhero show.

    For me, it's a toss-up between Lois & Clark and Smallville. L&C did great with its characterization of Clark Kent and Liked that he had a good family life free from tragedy. Smallville had its problems but it gave us a lot in its 10 years.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I liked the animation. It was dynamic and fluid. The Lydeckers would've just had a stiff mannequin going in a straight line. Sure, the cartoon Superman wasn't convincing as a real living entity, but then, neither is Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy or the Rhedosaur in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. It's just a matter of choosing to accept the hybrid of live action and animation.
     
  20. Admiral2

    Admiral2 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Bull. The whole point of the suit is to establish the identity of Superman. Always has been. Since 1938.

    Clark Kent puts on the suit and you know you're in the presence of Superman, a good man with god-like powers always willing to change the course of a mighty river or two to help someone in need, and when he's done he can streak off and leave people starstruck while he puts on his suit and glasses and Clark Kent can walk away and be left alone.

    The suit is Superman. Without it Clark is a really powerful guy who's always butting into people's problems. No suit, No Superman. No Superman, you don't have a Superman series. It's even arguable that Superboy isn't a Superman series, but it's still a hell of a lot closer than Smallville. I don't care how many super-feats Clark pulls off, he's not Superman if all he's wearing is a red windbreaker and blue jeans.