Thursday, October 27, 2011

TV Review: Superboy, Episodes 1 & 2

1988 saw the 50th anniversary of the creation of DC Comics' famous character Superman, and (not coincidentally) the first season of "Superboy" the TV series. I recently traded away some used DVDs including Ben Affleck's 'Daredevil' when, during an enjoyable Rifftrax evening with my wife and our friends, I discovered it was not worth re-watching 'Daredevil' as much as I already have.

The upshot of which is: I traded for various possible treasures, including "Superboy" Season 1.

Maybe I'm not sure how to use the term upshot. Then again... all it has to be, to be worth my time, is better than the wretched, long-running, inexplicably popular TV series 'Smallville'.

This it achieved- six seconds into the opening credits. The lead actor is IN costume, FLYING, and by gum: he's SMILING. It's the cocky smile of a guy thinking 'hur, hur, I'm Superboy, and you're not' but you know what? That's what I'd be doing if was him. So there.

It's goofy, it's cheap-ass, and it makes 'Miami Vice' look like fine classic cinema. But I'll tell you what it has: Superboy. This is both good and bad. But nowhere near as bad as "Smallville'.

Alexander Salkind (who previously brought me the 1984 'Supergirl' movie as well as some movies normal people liked) presents this series, with character creation credit (and little else) going to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. In this incarnation, young Clark Kent is attending the Siegel Journalism School at Shuster College in Shusterville, Florida. His classmates include T.J. White (Daily Planet's Perry White's nephew, duh!) and Lana Lang (Stacey Haiduk, whom I recall fondly from equally implausible adventures on "SeaQuest DSV" Season 1). Haiduk's performance is as far above the 'Smallville' Lana as the star Rao is above doomed planet Krypton. High nerd praise.

Also along for the ride is scheming bully Lex Luthor and his crony Leo. I have never seen Luthor portrayed as a golf-sweatered preppie douche canoe before, but it kind of works for him. (Actually, the actor's terrible so far but he might be the smarmiest Luthor I've ever seen. That should count for something, right?)

Finally, John Haymes Newton as Clark Kent/Superboy. Huh. So, it's possible to look surprisingly LIKE Tom Welling, while still possessing a modicum of talent. Good on you, sir!
Also, Newton and his wife earlier this year provided the voices of Clark Kent and Lois Lane in a minute-long cartoon I just enjoyed on youtube called 'Superman Classic'. Nice!

And that's my review. Nice. Call me crazy, but I like a Nice Superboy, not some perpetual mope. These early episodes were made Super-Cheap, so kidnapping crooks, a poorly-defined cursed jewel, leisurely car chases and a typically energetic '80's dance have to suffice instead of giant robot battles (which, face it, 'Smallville' never gave us either). The music, the dialog, both stories- were pretty darn hokey. It's a poor substitute for Supes in comic or cartoon form, where he shines best in my books. 'Superboy', at least the early episodes, is a warm, brightly coloured cheeselog. But it's got moxie in spades, chums!

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