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The Adventures of Superman The Adventures
of Superman

No other show, except 'I Love Lucy', has had a longer shelf life than 'The Adventures of Superman'. Debuting in the Fall of 1952, the show has been a syndication and cable hit ever since. Pretty good investment for a cost of $15,000 an episode!

The first episode of the syndicated Superman TV series "Superman On Earth" is truly exciting sci-fi TV, with props, costumes and music left over from the movie serials of the forties. The origin of Superman is told (lifted directly from the comic books) with the action beginning on the doomed planet Krypton.

Superman There, scientist Jor-el (wearing Flash Gordon's old costume), warns the Science Council that their people are doomed unless rocket ships can be built to transport Krypton's population to Earth. The Council laughs, but the walls come tumbling down as Jor-el and his wife Lara bundle their baby into a rocket prototype and blast him off to Earth - just as quakes disintegrate the planet.

For the producers of 'The Adventures of Superman', it was clear from the start that the Clark Kent character was as important as his Man of Steel alter-ego. Superman himself only appears in the first episode in the last few minutes.

Superman Rather than offering the 'Adventures of Superman' series chonologically, Columbia House mixes up episodes in the collection for greater effect. The first tape release packs a super punch - the afformentioned 'Superman on Earth', 'Panic In The Sky', a suspenseful episode from the second season, and a whimsical color episode from year four, The Wedding of Superman.

'The Adventures of Superman' was one of the first television series ever shot in color (beginning with the third season).

There was a rumor in the Sixties (because local stations were showing worn out syndication prints) that the show wasn't shot in color at all, but used a dye process that similated color. Watching these videos from Columbia House, reproduced from the original masters, there is no doubt - the colors are rich and vivid.

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Super Heroes on TV : Wonder Woman, Superman & The Incredible Hulk
[ FAITHFUL ADAPTATIONS ]

We review the releases from the Columbia House Video Library
All of these series are available to order now!

The New Original
Wonder Woman

In 1967, 'Batman' was one of the top TV shows in the nation. Producer William Dozier put one of his best script writers (Stanley Ralph Ross) on a spec job - to come up with a way to bring Wonder Woman to the home screen. The script was written and a comedy pilot was shot just as the Batman "camp" bubble burst in 1968, and the series never made it on the air.

In 1974, Warner Bros. decided to mount a Wonder Woman project, and Stanley Ralph Ross pitched his (revised) approach: set the series in World War Two and stay true to the original character concept (created in 1938 by psychologist Charles Moulton).

Wonder Woman

Warners passed on this "radical" approach, instead producing a TV-movie pilot their way, updating the character for the Seventies (starring Cathryn Lee Crosby as the title character). The movie garnered high ratings, but was virtually unwatchable - and the character unidentifiable without the classic star-spangled costume. Warners knew they had the right idea (but wrong execution) so they went back to Stanley Ralph Ross.

Ross wrote and produced the 1975 TV-movie 'The Original Wonder Woman' his way, scoring high marks with both the home audience and (some) critics. Rather than the over-the-top camp of the 'Batman' series, Wonder Woman emphasized adventure with a humorous twist.

Wonder Woman

Set during World War II, Wonder Woman co-starred Carol Burnett vet Lyle Wagoner as Major Steve Trevor, a Nazi fighter who gets shot down over Paradise Island. Diana Prince (Lynda Carter) is chosen to be the first woman to leave the island, to use her Amazon powers help America fight the Axis threat (with the help of an invisible plane and magic lasso on loan from her Mom).

In some clever casting, the first film features Cloris Leachman and Fannie Flagg as the leaders of the Amazonian Island where no men have ever set foot.

Wonder Woman

With the various Bionic characters hot on ABC in 1975, programming VP Fred Silverman ordered up eleven 60-minute specials to shore up the weak spots in his schedule. And it worked, audiences loved former beauty queen Lynda Carter's portrayal of the mighty, magical woman from Paradise Island.

In December 1976, ABC experimented with running the show in a regular timeslot, and in the fall of 1977, The New Adventures of Wonder Woman moved to CBS to become a regular weekly, hour-long series. These new adventures took place in modern times, with the ageless Wonder Woman now working for Steve Trevor, Jr. (also played by Lyle Wagoner), the son of the Major she worked for during the war. During the 1976-77 season, a young Debra Winger appeared as Wonder Girl.

Wonder Woman

Hulk
The Incredible Hulk

This Universal production updated the Marvel Comics character for TV, but stayed remarkably true to the Stan Lee / Jack Kirby concept. Kenneth Johnson wrote, produced and directed the two hit 1977 made-for-TV films that led to the 1978 CBS series.

Hulk

'The Incredible Hulk' is basically a modern re-telling of the Frankenstein story with a twist - Dr. David Banner experiments with gamma Rays and finds himself morphing into a raging, green alter ego when he gets angry.

Hulk

In the comic books, the character's name was Dr. Bruce Banner - but 70's network execs thought the name Bruce had too strong of a homosexual conotation, so they changed it for TV.

Bixby was firm in his contention that Banner was the focus of the show, not the monster. The formula followed those of previous hit shows like 'The Fugitive', 'The Invaders', and others. Dr. Bruce Banner must stay on the run for a murder he didn't commit, looking for a cure and avoiding newspaperman Jack McGee (played by Jack Colvin) who follows him relentlessly from town to town.

Hulk

It wasn't long before Lou Ferrigno began to have a problem with his second banana status. After all, the show was called The Incredible Hulk and he played the title character - he deserved more airtime, and the Hulk should have some lines now and then, he reasoned. This led to backstage battles later in the series run.

Hulk

 


There have been several other Superheroes that made the transition from comic books to television. We'll look at others in the future.

 

Incredible Hulk on DVD


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