TAC Table of Contents
The Adventures of Superman has aired for more than fifty years now. Its first broadcast was in a small Detroit market in late 1952. In February 1953 the show started airing nationwide weekly. It was an instant success. By the 1960's it landed into a highly successful syndicated market. The New York fan base will certainly remember WPIX, Channel 11 it's home for Superman. By the early 70's the Adventures of Superman was put on the shelf for what Noel Neill typically describes as a resting period. By the late 70's a new Superman was on the horizon, securing the Adventures of Superman for an even longer hiatus. Soon Christopher Reeve would be introduced as the new "Man of Steel." And to be sure the box office success of Superman: The Movie Warner Brothers would downplay any importance the Adventures of Superman had on pop culture. Nothing would put the rise of a new franchise at risk. What sense would it make to Alexander and Ilya Salkind to produce Superman: The Movie if audiences were being treated to daily doses of free Superman. And while the old 50's show would dwarf in special effects, it's popularity was still second to none with the exception of I Love Lucy. The Salkinds would be assured their investment would not be compromised by an old syndicated Superman market. If audiences wanted a dose of Superman they would be guided to the box office.
By 1987, Canon released the last Christopher Reeve Superman film. Based on a weak story line resulting in weak box office sales this Superman had seen better days. The following year would mark Superman's 50th anniversary in Action Comics. Across the country it was a celebration. Superman was revamped in the comic books by John Byrne and Dick Giordano. TIME magazine devoted an entire issue to the "Man of Steel." And CBS had a 50th anniversary special produced by Lorne Michael's featuring actors such as Dana Carvey and Hal Holbrook. And of course, the Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves was once again on television. Strange to New Yorkers was seeing the show aired on WWOR, channel 9. But who cared, "Old George" our good friend was back. Tuning in Saturday morning starting at 9:00am you got two back-to-back episodes, in chronological episode order. Most benefiting was the dawning of a new medium, Home Video Recording. Could it get any better that than? Many years earlier fans such as Jim Nolt painstakingly resorted to recording the shows on audio tape just to secure the magic for their future leisurely enjoyment.
Soon the Adventures of Superman was airing all across the country. It was a good period for TV Superman fans as the popularity gave way to not only it's Saturday schedule, but special Thanksgiving Day marathon's hosted by Mr. Jack Larson 1987 to 1990. Also in 1988 a new fanzine would find a readership all it's own. The Adventures Continue, created and published by Don Rhoden of Nebraska. Don would publish a second issue and turn the fanzine over to the very reliable Jim Nolt. While it never sort after a mainstream distributor, it was highly popular having at one time a readership of almost 500. Some readers urged Jim to produce one a month. It was all Jim could do to produce one a year, twice publishing back-to-back issues when he could. All in all Jim published 14 issues from 1989 to 2001.
By 1990, Superman was once again getting a rest period. But not for very long, when in September 1991, the cable network Nick-At-Nite kept the thrill alive when they began broadcasting the episodes. Most impressive were the Color episodes which appeared to be either restored or broadcast from pristine 35 mm prints, thought to be long locked up in a temperature controlled vault. On a special note, Nick had no idea what they'd just broadcast when the B&W episode The Evil Three aired uncut. While the episode ended in its usual climactic fashion, fans like me were marveling in what had just transpired. The scenes of George Taylor's ghost in the window or standing above a sleeping Jimmy Olsen and Elsa's disturbing decent down the ramp way to the basement were the standard cut from the episode. Back when the episode first aired in 1953, mother's of frightened children were calling stations to complain and certainly Kellogg's would have none of that. This was supposed to be a family show. But to Bob Maxwell's credit, all he tried to do over the course of the 1951 season was give audiences the same thrills he provided with his radio version of the Adventures of Superman. Mr. Maxwell would not return and was replaced with a more child friendly name, Mr.Whitney Ellsworth.
By 1995, Nick-At-Nite finished it's run with the show. It's sister station TV Land soon began airing the show. At first within a consistent time schedule, then sporadically. This too would come and go. By the new millennium, Goodlife/American Life, other cable channels would continue the adventures on the television.
So what is the reason for this short history lesson? Well for many of these years and due to VHS and DVD recorders fans have been able to retain their favorite show and as a result have spot more bloopers than ever, log missing scenes and focus on any number of variables. Longtime friend to TAC, Mike Goldman, has done a compilation of the various opening title sequences gathered from years of recordings from the various broadcasts. He has studied the openings from the many broadcasts, to compare it to the recent Warners DVD release, which in most cases failed to restore the episodes to their original form.
Began airing September 1952, and was nationally
syndicated by Spring 1953.
All episodes had the ©MCMLI, or 1951 copyright on both the opening and closing credits.
Began airing September 1953, but still
used the ©MCMLI copyright on both the opening and closing
title card. The opening for the 1953-54 season, which has the
©MCMLIV, or 1954 copyright, wasn't filmed until either late
October, or early November 1953.
My own WWOR collection from 1987-88 has this correct opening on The Machine That Could Plot Crimes, which I think was the first episode actually broadcast in the 1954 calendar year. The vidcap above very clearly shows the "Kellogg's presents..." dissolving into the Adventures Of Superman title card, with the ©MCMLIV, or 1954 copyright. The graphics are slightly different, as compared to what was used in 1951. The end credits still used the ©MCMLI, or 1951 copyright title card for the entire 1953-54 season.
|But over the years the above was always used to cover up the "Kellogg's presents...":|
|These episodes began airing in the spring of 1955. I believe these episodes aired with the B&W ©MCMLIV opening, since there were only B&W prints being aired on TV. The closing credits had the ©MCMLV, or 1955 copyright.|
|These episodes began airing in early 1956. Again, the B&W ©MCMLIV opening was being used, and the closing credits had the ©MCMLVI, or 1956 copyright.|
|These episodes began airing in early 1957. Again, the B&W ©MCMLIV opening was being used, and the closing credits had the ©1957 copyright.|
|These episodes began airing in the spring of 1958. Again, the B&W ©MCMLIV opening was being used, and the closing credits had the ©MCMLVIII, or 1958 copyright.|
|There is some confusion over when the COLOR opening was actually filmed. Some believe it was filmed after the last 13 episodes had been produced in 1957. And it does have the ©1957 copyright.|
|But there are others who feel the opening was filmed in 1954, based on the "S" logo on the uniform, and George Reeve's hair color is more in line with the 1954 episodes. But it was not used, again probably due to no episodes being aired in color at the time. Color episodes were not aired until the fall of 1965. and that's when the color opening first saw the light of day.|
All of the end credits from the 1953-54, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957 seasons originally had the same audio when they were first broadcast.
What we're seeing on DVDs is not correct. Warners is not using the correct title card for the the second season episodes. That © MCMLIV title card that you saw on Stamp Day is actually the correct title card. That same title card is what appeared on Season 2 episodes broadcast from January 1954 on.
Why Warners chose not to correct that is a mystery to me. Well...maybe not so much a mystery. It exists out there, just like a better copy of The Stolen Costume and the missing footage from Around The World With Superman does. They probably did nothing with the 2nd season opening for the same reason they didn't do the right thing with these other episodes mentioned.
I grew up in New York. Late spring 1965, is when WPIX started promoting color broadcasts of TAoS starting that fall. The Daily News had a nice Sunday magazine layout about that, in June or July of 1965 (WPIX was owned by the Daily News at the time).
I was lucky enough to see the very first color broadcast in September 1965. Unforunately, the episode they chose was Mr. Zero. But the color was terrific to see, and the opening was the color opening that we all know - with the ©1957 title card.
But I do seem to recall seeing this opening (©1957) before, on color episodes that were being broadcast in B & W earlier in 1965. It was a complete color episode as we know, just without the color. Whether or not that ©1957 opening appeared before 1965 in any form, I'm not so sure.
TAC thanks Mike Goldman for his expertise and I hope you have enjoyed his contribution to The Adventures Continue.
Thanks for watching,