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The Second Season
by Mike Goldman and Jim Nolt



Fortunately for fans of the Adventures of Superman, the first season of the series is well documented. Cast sheets survive. These, along with other research, give us a detailed picture of how that first season came to be and the order in which Superman and the Mole-Men and the first 24 episodes were filmed.

The second season production schedule is less clear. Only a few cast sheets have been located. And so... we need to employ some deductive reasoning and observation to distinguish the second season broadcast order from the production order.

The Second Season Broadcast Order

#1 – “Five Minutes To Doom”
#2 – “The Big Squeeze”
#3 – “The Man Who Could Read Minds”
#4 – “Jet Ace”
#5 – “Shot In The Dark”
#6 – “The Defeat Of Superman”
#7 – “Superman In Exile”
#8 – “A Ghost For Scotland Yard”
#9 – “The Dog Who Knew Superman”
#10 – “The Face And The Voice”
#11 – “The Man In The Lead Mask”
#12 – “Panic In The Sky”
#13 – “The Machine That Could Plot Crimes”
#14 – “Jungle Devil”
#15 – “My Friend, Superman”
#16 – “The Clown Who Cried”
#17 – “The Boy Who Hated Superman”
#18 – “Semi-Private Eye”
#19 – “Perry White's Scoop”
#20 – “Beware The Wrecker”
#21 – “The Golden Vulture”
#22 – “Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor”
#23 – “Lady In Black”
#24 – “Star Of Fate”
#25 – “The Whistling Bird”
#26 – “Around The World With Superman”



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In his book Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio & TV's Adventures of Superman, author Michael J. Hayde outlines the following production schedule based on several factors. These include trade magazine blurbs about the booking of guest actors for the series, the production numbers on some of the scripts, three call sheets, similarity of various sets other than the Daily Planet, episodes featuring Inspector Henderson vs. those that did not, the gradual graying of George's hair, and other pieces of information gleaned from Superman: Serial to Cereal by Gary Grossman.

Based on all of the above, Hayde devised this production schedule.

Beginning June 15 – “The Man Who Could Read Minds,” “The Big Squeeze,” “The Defeat of Superman,” “Jet Ace,” “Superman In Exile,” and “Five Minutes To Doom.”

Beginning July 6 – “Shot In The Dark,” “A Ghost For Scotland Yard,” “The Face And The Voice,” and “The Man In The Lead Mask.”

Beginning July 20 – “The Dog Who Knew Superman,” “My Friend, Superman,” “Panic In The Sky,” “The Machine That Could Plot Crimes,” “Jungle Devil,” and “Stamp Day For Superman.”

Beginning August 10 – “Beware The Wrecker,” “Perry White's Scoop,” “The Boy Who Hated Superman,” “The Clown Who Cried,” and “Semi-Private Eye.”

Beginning August 31 – “Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor,” “The Whistling Bird,” “Lady In Black,” “Golden Vulture,” “Star Of Fate,” and “Around The World With Superman.”

The wrap party was held on September 24, 1953.



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And Michael Hayde may very well be correct. But in recent weeks Jim and I have taken yet another look at the second season episodes and have come up with a different possibility. Most importantly, we've concluded that “Panic In The Sky,” although it was the twelfth one broadcast, was most definitely one of the first six filmed.

Below is our suggested production grouping. And behind each episode is its broadcast number.

Beginning June 15 - "The Man Who Could Minds" (#3), "Panic In The Sky" (#12), "The Big Squeeze" (#2), "Jet Ace"(#4), "Five Minutes To Doom" (#1), "Shot In The Dark" (#5),

Beginning July 6 - "The Defeat Of Superman" (#6), "Superman In Exile" (#7), The Dog Who Knew Superman" (#9), "The Machine That Could Plot Crimes" (#13),

Beginning July 20
- "Jungle Devil" (#14), "The Clown Who Cried” (#16), “My Friend Superman” (#15) “The Face And The Voice" (#10), " A Ghost For Scotland Yard" (#8), "The Man In The Lead Mask" (#11),

Beginning August 10
- "Beware The Wrecker" (#20), "Perry White's Scoop" (#19), "The Boy Who Hated Superman" (#17), "Semi-Private Eye" (#18), "Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor" (#22)

Beginning August 31
- "The Whistling Bird" (#25), "Lady In Black" (#23), "The Golden Vulture" (#21), "Star Of Fate" (#24), "Around The World With Superman" (#26)...and "Stamp Day For Superman"


The Reasoning Behind Our Groupings

Examine these screen caps from six episodes arranged in the order we propose they were filmed. In the first five of this set, Clark's coat has the rounded shoulders and the handkerchief in the breast pocket is pointed... just as they were in the first season. Note too that Perry's suit is the same one we see in the 1951 season and that Noel's outfit is often similar to the type of suit Phyllis wore in the first twenty-six.




Furthermore, an examination of the closing credits to these episodes shows another common thread. All show the credits over an outer space background.


###


And now... what about “Shot In The Dark”? To Mike and me, it seems logical that if “Five Minutes To Doom” was the fifth episode filmed, then “Shot In The Dark” would follow because:

1) Clark's suit was torn to shreds in “Five Minutes To Doom,” and “Shot In The Dark” is the first to feature his new, tailored, suit coat with the “squared off” shoulders.

2) The end credits to “Shot In The Dark” follow the pattern of the first five... credits over view of outer space.

By coincidence, “Shot In The Dark” also features a new suit for Mr. White... perhaps to draw visual attention away from Clark's new duds. The Chief's new suit offers more of a contrast, but the difference in Clark's new suit is certainly noticeable.


“Jet Ace” (left) and “Shot In The Dark” (right)


###

The next thing to consider is the name placards that appear on the office doors. In the first season, the placard (not the name itself, but the placard) matched the finish of the door.



So another indication that “Panic In The Sky” was among the first episodes filmed in 1953 is that although the finish on the door is lighter, the placard blends in with that finish as it did in 1951. Also, again note the shoulders on Kent's coat and the handkerchief in his pocket.



In later episodes, the placards changed, and the names became easier to read. The placards evolved as shown below.

 



“Defeat of Superman” (which we think was filmed after “Panic In The Sky”) presents somewhat of an enigma because as the scene fades from Meldini to the establishment shot of Clark's office, we see, as expected, the placard from later in the series...




yet as Clark enters his office in that same episode (“Defeat of Superman”) the placard is of the earlier type that is difficult to read. Still, Clark's suit coat has the square shoulders and his handkerchief too is as it appears in the later episodes.



So for whatever reason, it appears that “Panic In The Sky” was filmed earlier in the season but withheld from broadcast until after “Defeat of Superman.”

The production order for the remaining episodes is less clear, but careful observation suggests which episodes were filmed in close proximity.

Here are some observations we've made regarding the remainder of the second season episodes. Some of these have direct bearing on the order. Others, such as those describing Noel's change of wardrobe, are just... observations.

Proceeding in the the production order we outlined above...

#7 – “The Defeat of Superman” Note the three placards below. The first two show that hard to read placards are still being used. Oddly, the transition from Meldini to Clark's door shows a placard that is easier to read. Perhaps this transition was added later, in post-production editing.











#8 – “Superman In Exile” Noel sports a new outfit and Clark's door sports the more easy to read placard on Clark's door.


but not on Lois'.


#9 – “The Dog Who Knew Superman” Clark's hair is newly-darkened, and the door placards are, as expected, easy to read. Noel once again wears her outfit from the earlier “Shot In The Dark.”







#10 – “The Machine That Could Plot Crimes” From the vidcaps below, it appears to us that this episode was filmed back to back with our #9, “The Dog Who Knew Superman”


(Left: “The Dog Who Knew Superman” Right: “The Machine That Could Plot Crimes”)


#11 and #12 – “Jungle Devil” and “The Clown Who Cried” Judging from George's hair, these two were filmed back to back. Notice that his hair style has changed. It is no longer combed straight but, but has a slight wave.




#13 – “My Friend Superman” George's hair looks much as it does in “Jungle Devil” and “The Clown Who Cried.”


#14, #15, and #16 – “The Man In The Lead Mask,” “The Face And The Voice,” and “A Ghost For Scotland Yard” George's hair is not as dark, and it's clear to see these episodes were filmed side-by-side. And in the second pair below, note George's, for lack of a better word, “cowlick.”

(l) “A Ghost For Scotland Yard” and (r) “The Face And The Voice”


(l) A Ghost For Scotland Yard” and (r) “The Face And The Voice”


Additional interesting note: In “The Man In The Lead Mask” Perry get's a new tie.








One thing to look for in the remaining episodes is the color of George's hair. We've done our best up to this point, but it gets more difficult for the remainder of the season. In fact, I doubt if even Superman could figure that many factors. After all, he's not Mr. Kelso.

But if you do spot anything new or find other clues, we'd be happy if you shared them with us.


Mike Goldman
Jim Nolt
November, 17, 2012



"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"