Well, we have arrived at the end of Season 4 of Adventures of Superman. Each of these three episodes is absurd in the most fun way, and the best season of the show goes off with a bang. Let’s dig into two thoughts on each of these episodes.
1. Weird science
I love that as this show, at some point, decided that pseudo-science was the name of the game. Because of that, we’ve got so many bonkers premises that strain credulity but boost the fun aspect of the show. I wonder if, in real time, some people felt the show went too far, but from this perspective, it’s finally hitting its stride.
So, in “The Deadly Rock,” a scientist – with a telescope, as he tells us numerous times in his Latka from Taxi voice – sees Superman struggle after being exposed to a piece of a meteor, and so collects part of it and tries to sell it to a Metropolis gangster. OK, all of that makes enough sense, except that one of Clark Kent’s friends was on a plane that flew through the fragments of that meteor, and so he is also affected by it.
2. Mistaken identity
This friend of Clark’s leads to a case of mistaken identity when the thugs think that he is Superman. Since he is affected by an ambush with the rock in the Daily Planet’s offices when going to meet Clark, the crooks believe they’ve snagged Superman. This is furthered by the realization that, when he’s exposed to this metal, in addition to passing out, he also gains all of Superman’s powers. So, the bad guys can shoot him and he’s fine – but only when passed out from the rock. Sure, why not?
3. Pigeon or eagle?
“The Phantom Ring” is so incredibly bonkers, which I will get to in the second point, but perhaps the silliest thing about it is the poor use of stock footage. The first quarter of the episode is built around a homing pigeon, and so there’s a few scenes of the ‘pigeon’ flying around. Except that it is 100% an eagle or falcon or some other giant bird being shown, and not the small pigeon we see elsewhere. I know this is a small point, but how hard is it to find footage of a smaller bird, or just film a pigeon flying?
4. Invisibility coins
OK, so I mentioned before how much pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo is in each episode, but this one may take the cake. A gang of thieves have figured out how to turn themselves invisible, by holding coins and throwing a switch that makes light pass through them, instead of reflect off of them. It makes them invisible to the human eye as well as radar. This is a fun scheme, and sort of scientifically accurate (if they could find a way to make light pass through someone, they would appear invisible), but still preposterous. There’s a great sequence with four toughs fighting an invisible Superman, and it’s just guys flailing all over the place.
The most insane part of this episode is how two thugs throw Clark Kent out of an airplane to get rid of him! It’s amazing.
“The Jolly Roger” is based on the idea that the Navy is going to practice its artillery against a deserted island. The Daily Planet, for some reason, wants before and after photos, I guess to show how weak palm trees are? So, they send Clark, Lois, and Jimmy to this island to put together a story. Once there, they find a civilization that has been there for something like one hundred and eighty years, descended from pirates. There appear to be about 10 people there, and so you have to believe that these folks are inbred as fuck. Anyway, they refuse to believe that the Navy is going to be able to take them, and they kidnap the Planet crew. Meanwhile, there are other folks who washed up on shore, who want to steal the riches these pirates have and ride off in the Planet‘s seaplane.
All of this is fun, but everyone is super casual for folks who, one way or another, are going to die very shortly. The level of composure is seriously impressive.Continued below
6. Cutting corners
“The Jolly Roger” is a perfect example for how cheap this show was at times. This is clearly the same exact set from “Dagger Island,” as well as reusing three actors from that episode as well. Let’s not forget that these episodes are only 5 apart, so in the span of two months, taking into account a break for a holiday or live event, folks were seeing the same actors, in very similar outfits, on the same show.
This episode also uses a ton of stock footage, whether it is of Navy ships, or the self-created footage of Superman flying, which is shown backwards and forwards many times, or the unnecessary opening on a sign that reads “The Daily Planet Building,” followed by a sign that says “Perry White, Editor,” followed by a shot of Perry’s office from the inside, where we see the same sign when the door opens.
So, this episode used old footage, an old set, and the same set of actors. It’s a way to cut budget, but it is also pretty noticeable.
Since new TV shows aren’t coming back for awhile, I’ll be back next week with the start of season 5!