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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RATED: NOT RATED
RUNNING TIME: 252 Minutes
• ‘Superman in ‘66’ featurette
“See Superman fight a myriad of harrowing villains including giant apes, mad scientists, rabid apes, evil warlocks who crave magic rubies, and mind-controlled apes.”
Joan Alexander, Jackson Beck, Bud Collyer (brought over from the Fleischer short films and the radio serial decades earlier, in fact)
Lois knew Clark could never know about the fruit bore between herself and Gorilla Grodd.
Superman is still (underperforming and divisive* series continuation be damned) one of the most recognizable icons in the world today, one of those definitive symbols of America (like apple pie, or date rape) that will continue to be associated with us until we destroy all that moves at some point in the future; at which point I assume people’s opinions will shift over to a more Darkseidian interpretation of the American ideal. As it stands, this is a product of an era where the Superman comics were begining to fall in sales a bit and the Saturday morning cartoon business was just on the upswing. What better time to rejuvenate the market for everyone’s favorite immigrant (sorry Yakov Smirnoff) and to capitalize on a burgeoning industry then by transferring the Superhero’s plight to the small screen?
The Animated Adventures of Cory Lidle was short-lived.
There really isn’t a lot of intrinsic value to these Superman cartoons of this era: they’re almost indescribably silly and formulaic to the point where there’s only about thirty percent of originality utilized in every episode. The narration tells you exactly what you’re seeing on screen. The characters talk about exactly what’s happening or what they’re about to do, and in the end Superman/Kent winks after a pun or joke that may or may not make any sense at all. I don’t think most people would argue passionately that these are particularly good (if such a person does actually exist, God help us all), but they have a charm to them. Like watching retards play basketball, there is a beautiful disunity to the happenings on screen.
Take for instance the episode in which an earthquake unhouses not only a gigantic lobster from underneath the bottom of the sea, but also awakens a gigantic alligator that was dormant at the bottom of a volcano. It’s like some demented butterfly effect cross-pollinated with gigantism. Or the episode where Braniac is taking all of the animals on Earth and shrinking them down to fit inside his spaceship to repopulate his home planet. At the end of the episode, the ship explodes, thus killing all of the animals, a point which matters to absolutely no one.
Also notable is the episode where Lex Luthor is somehow able to communicate through time with Merlin the magician, who provides him ingredients (I shit you not, I imagine something like: ‘2 tsp. Dragon’s Tongue’) to turn himself into a child. There’s a looseness to the proceedings, a kind of Bush administration “fuck facts, let’s do this shit” vibe that permeates throughout the entire series. At first, I thought that the collection of episodes were chronological, as I thought I saw the animation style becoming a little less rigid and a little more articulated in some of the episodes. But by the time Braniac appeared for the second time and Superman didn’t have any idea as to who he was, I realize that one of two things were true:
He could try as hard as he could, but Superpenis was nothing more than a penny in the wishing well that was Jimmy’s amazing elastic anus.
1) This is just a smattering of episodes cobbled together. OR
2) There is no rhyme or reason to this series whatsoever, with a continuity that’s comparable to the comic material it’s based on
It’s telling to me that the show is so incessantly retarded that I would consider the second option just as valid as the first. This isn’t to say that the show doesn’t have some entertainment value packed within it, there are things to enjoy. There’s that batshit insane mentality that accompanies the Silver Age of comics, with bizarre space-travel concepts constantly being utilized throughout this show (the usual solution for Superman? Fly those motherfuckers back to their home planet). Some would refer to this as ‘sci-fi’ in its nature, but I have a hard time making that leap considering science rarely seems to be at home in this particular series. There’s about forty different drinking games that could be concocted from episodes of this show that would prove fatal to livers (“Great ____” being uttered, stationary shots of Superman flying in the same pose, etc.), and enough curious decisions to keep me if not entertained, then at least interested.
For instance, in every episode there’s the scene where as Clark Kent sheds his clothes to become Superman he utters the line “This looks like a job (sudden shift into deep baritone) FOR SUPERMAN”. I coupled this with the fact that he always says “up, up and away” and “down” after he starts making those movements and came to the conclusion that this incarnation of Superman has some pretty deep neuroses. He’s so desperately in need of positive reinforcement that he has to encourage himself to fly downwards or upwards as he’s doing it, and could possibly even suffer from a dissociative disorder the way his personality is so obviously tied into the clothes he’s wearing. Also, a warlock calls him ‘Superpoop’ and turns a billboard with a tube of toothpaste corporeal. These are pretty much the two poles one will bounce between while watching this show: half-baked analysis and stragithforward “what the fuck did I just see?”. I guess I could recommend it if you’re that heavily entrenched in nostalgia for the show you watched when you were younger or if you’re that obsessed with Superman-related product. However, don’t expect something good. Expect lots of apes.
You may be able to outrun exploding fighter jets, John McClane, but can you survive Die Hard in a Brain?
The cover art maintains the design that has informed all of the DC comics, with the comic book cover vibe showcasing the hero(es) contained within front and center. As such, I won’t bemoan it. The transfers are acceptable, but extremely spotty (almost makes you root for the show, though) and the audio is right there to match in terms of sheer okay-edness. In terms of extras, the only real feature is the ‘Superman in ‘66’ feature which worried me at the outset as a rose-colored-lens sort of look back, but rights itself and actually is an essential companion piece to the episodes themselves. It serves you up a nice hot slice of historical context, and argues for the series place in history as a harbinger of what Saturday mornings were about to become as well as the proliferation of animated comic book properties. Mark Hamill (!) even comes out and says the episodes aren’t particularly good, just important. Other than that, you get a handful of trailers pimping other animated/comic book adapted product from Warner Bros. and DC. Not an exhaustive amount of material, but the featurette is a welcome addition to a ‘must’nt own’ set.
And with a click of the mouse, a new generation of "I’d hit it" avatars were born.
5.7 out of 10
*I fall somewhere between the “a terrible piece of shit” and “decent movie” crowd. I think the characterization of Superman is completely incorrect and the movie is overlong, but there’s still some riveting filmmaking to be had within (the plane sequence is really fucking great).