Adventures of Superman Brainy Burro Television 

Six Thoughts on Adventures of Superman‘s “The Brainy Burro,” “The Perils of Superman,” and “All That Glitters”

By | December 22nd, 2020
Posted in Television | % Comments

Well, we’ve come to the end of our time with George Reeves, Noel Neill, Jack Larson, and the rest of the gang. These are the three final episodes of Adventures of Superman. They are also the only three episodes of the run directed by George Reeves, although there’s not really a ‘director’s technique’ you can notice through these relatively straightforwardly shot episodes.

That said, all of these are full of the weirdness and inherent silliness that we’ve come to expect from the last few seasons of the series. One last time: up, up and away!

1. A mind-reading donkey

The entirety of “The Brainy Burro” is set around the idea that there is a donkey in Mexico that can read minds. What I adore about this series is that never once does someone try to dig into why or how this burro can read minds. When it draws the Superman logo with its hoof, people just accept it as gospel. Other shows would spend the entire time trying to drill into how this is possible, and that’s not the point of this series. It’s refreshing that it just lets stupid shit be stupid shit.

2. Clark really is the worst

So Clark is almost instantly called out by the burro for a few things which would lead anyone with half a brain to deduce that he is Superman, but of course Lois and Jimmy in this series share a quarter of a brain, so they’re fine with his flimsy excuses. But Clark, both in his civvies and in his Superman suit, tries to essentially bribe the burro not revealing his secret identity. The question of why Clark cares so much about his secret identity on this show is never really established. The proximity to Superman already puts the people he cares about at risk because he can’t stop hanging around the Daily Planet whenever he can, so it’s not to protect them. He appears to have no life outside of work, so it’s not that either. I think he just likes to keep secrets.

3. Perils!

Many, including Jack Larson himself, consider “The Perils of Superman” to be among the best of the series. It is easy to see why that is, as it has a solid hook and more action than just about any of the early seasons offered. The episode is a clear homage to both The Perils of Pauline in particular, and movie serials more broadly. One of the masked villains even says it himself: “I’ve always liked these old fashioned, but imaginative, ways of getting rid of one’s enemies.” Of course, he could’ve just shot them with the gun he carried around, but instead puts each of the four Planet staffers on a collision course with death: Clark is lowered into a vat of acid, Lois is tied to train tracks, Perry is set to be chopped up in a sawmill, and Jimmy has had acid poured on his brakes and steering system.

The last ten minutes or so of this episode are legitimately thrilling and fun, even if there is a ton of silliness and sloppy technical elements. This episode reinforces the idea that a little excitement goes a long way with a series like this.

4. Inspector Henderson isn’t winning any police honors

So, Henderson knows that men in lead masks are threatening the lives of the Planet staff, but he refuses to round up the folks in iron masks until he knows, for sure, that all four have been kidnapped. Why wouldn’t he have done that initially? Isn’t threatening someone with a gun a crime already? Left to Henderson, all four would be dead. How do you sleep at night, Bill?

5. Welcome back Professor Pepperwinkle

The recurring scientist is back in the series’ finale, with Professor Pepperwinkle inventing a machine that can produce gold. The financial institutions of both the world and the county plead with him to not make more gold, as it would topple the world economy. I simply say, good.

Regardless, Jimmy can’t keep his fucking mouth shut, and leads to two crooks overhearing, and forcing Pepperwinkle to make them gold. This all turns into a farce at the end, when it turns out that Pepperwinkle has to use platinum to make the gold, and so he is losing money on every transaction. [Sad Trombone]Continued below

6. I love a dream sequence

The bulk of the episode takes place in a dream sequence of Jimmy’s, as he is bonked on the head by a sandbag in Pepperwinkle’s workshop. He dreams that he and Lois are able to take ‘positive Kryptonite’ pills that give them the powers of Superman. This leads Jimmy to busting through a wall, just because, and Jimmy and Lois flying all over, stopping crimes.

It becomes clear that it is a dream sequence once the bank manager basically offers Jimmy ten grand just because. Up until then, the show does a good job at least making it plausible that they have been gifted powers, at least temporarily. But once the sequence with the manager hits, it becomes obvious just how silly it is.

Well folks, that wraps up this series. Next week, I’m going to watch a bunch of miscellany associated with Adventures of Superman, including a government funded short feature, a couple of sequel pilots, and a guest spot on the most famous sitcom of the 1950s. See you then!

//TAGS | Adventures of Superman

Brian Salvatore

Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).


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