New Adventures of Superman, The

Tagged: TV

Animated tv series (1966-1969; vt The Superman/Aquaman Hour; vt The Batman/Superman Hour). Filmation Associates for CBS-TV. Produced by Lou Scheimer and Norm Prescott. Directed by Hal Sutherland. Writers included George Kashdan (1928-2006), Oscar Bensol, Dennis Marks (1932-2006), Jerry Robinson. Based on characters created by Jerome Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bob Kane, William Moulton Marston, others. Story consultant: Mort Weisinger. Superman cast includes Joan Alexander, Jackson Beck, Julie Bennett, Bud Collier, James Grimes and Ted Knight. Batman cast includes Bob Hastings, Casey Kasem, Olan Soule, Larry Storch and Jane Webb. 65 60-minute episodes overall, segments generally averaged 6 to 7 minutes in length. Colour.

Inspired by the popularity of the Television series Batman (1966-1968), this programme's first season starred Superman (Collier) only, retelling the classic origin story for the character, and how he comes to work for the newspaper The Daily Planet in the City of Metropolis. As Clark Kent he becomes friends with Lois Lane (Alexander, then Bennett) with whom he has an ongoing friendly rivalry, as well as young reporter Jimmy Olsen (Grimes); all work under general editor Perry White (Beck, then Knight). Superman faces both his usual Comics enemies and more science-fictional foes, including assorted Aliens, Mutants, Monsters and beings from Lost Worlds deep within the Hollow Earth. This programme marked the animated debut of Jimmy Olsen.

For the second season, the format changed to include not only Aquaman but many other DC Comics Superheroes such as The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the animated debut of the Teen Titans team. Younger heroes included Aqualad, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl (usually portrayed as Wonder Woman's younger sister) and others. Superman's foes include his old foes Brainiac and Lex Luthor plus more Aliens, Monsters and the like.

In the third season, the format was further reworked to include Batman (Soule), Robin, and the animated debut of Batgirl (Webb). This season included two-part Superman adventures, often pitting him against Lex Luthor, but also featuring various Monsters and some supernatural foes. The youthful Clark Kent appears in Superboy instalments. The Batman segments featured his usual rogue's gallery of enemies: the Joker, Mr Freeze, Catwoman, the Mad Hatter and the Scarecrow. Commissioner Gordon (Hastings) was made his first animated appearance in this season.

Various US parents' groups formed around 1968 to protest what they saw as excessive violence in children's programming. Pressure from such organizations led to the cancellation of this series among others, and to a toning-down of violence in both animated and live-action series throughout the 1970s. The Batman segments were later repackaged minus Superman and syndicated for a number of years under the title Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder. Original versions of all episodes have since been released to the home video market. The series is of historical importance as forerunner of the many animated superhero programs which followed on US television. [GSt]

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