Every week, those words, "..it's a bird..it's a plane..it's Superman", trumpeted in another episode of one the earliest and still greatest superhero tv shows, The Adventures Of Superman.
Starring George Reeve in the lead role, this first black and white and then color program caught my attention immediately as a young child. All I wanted to do after that for years was be able to fly. And of course helping people at the same time wasn't bad either. But alas, I had to live out my fantasies thru Clark Kent and his super alter ego, Superman.
I had all the comics from the youngest age, and of course the costume at Halloween time. It only took a couple of leaps off of the sofa onto the hard floor to communicate the fact that I wasn't from the planet Krypton and I couldn't fly. But it was still fun to pretend.
As to the show, sure it seems amateurish today, but it sure seemed real back then. And of course everyone should already be familiar with the story line but just in case you've been living on another world for the past 50 years, here it is.
The planet Krypton is about to explode and that world's leading scientist, Jor-el, has predicted it for many years, only to have his research fall on deaf ears. In the meantime, Jor-el, knowing that their fate is sealed, builds a space ship to carry their young son, Kal-el, to a distant planet called Earth. His research also reveals that the boy will gain super powers. He prepares the boy with studies that will make him not only an intelligent man, but will instill morals and the want to help his fellow, and less super, inhabitants of Earth.
His craft crashes outside of a small farm town called Smallville and the Kents find him in a field. They take him in, raise him as their own and give him that good family upbringing that also helped instill the best of human qualities in "Clark".
The show starts with Kal-el streaming to earth, being found and raised by the Kents, and getting a job as Clark Kent at The Daily Planet newspaper. One of the endearing qualities of the original story, carried into the tv shows as well as the eventual movies with Christopher Reeves, is the bumbling, innocent nature of Clark, as opposed to the confident strength of Superman. George Reeve may be a little stiff in the role, but that lends itself to the times the show was made. And it actually works well.
Each week, The Adventures Of Superman presented it's morality play, usually the good guys fighting the evil doers. And there was always humor injected into the storyline. Probably the weakest element of the show was the localization of Superman to pretty much just Metropolis (a city that more than resembles New York City). Sure, that's where he lives and works, but the comic books showed Superman as a more universal character. I suspect that an extremely small budget is a main reason for keeping the super dude close to home.
The Adventures Of Superman in their original run and then in years of syndication, did a lot to hook this kid to the medium of television as one of my principal forms of occupation and entertainment of the 50s, 60s and even still to this day!