Adventures of Superman

Season 1 Episode 1

Superman on Earth

Aired Friday 3:30 PM Sep 19, 1952 on
out of 10
User Rating
51 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

An infant is rocketed from the dying planet Krypton to Earth, where he is reared by a kindly couple. As a young man, Clark Kent gets a job at the Daily Planet newspaper. As Superman, he rescues a man from a dirigible.

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  • This was the first televised series of The Man of Steel. When the radio show ended, Robert Maxwell moved Superman from the air waves to the small screen. Tom Mankiewicz said that the origin story is a 3 act play,and this 3 act play was done in 30 minutes.moreless

    Act One

    In the far reaches of space, Krypton burned like a green star. Jor-el, a respected scientist, explained to the counsel that their planet was being pulled towards their sun and it would explode like a gigantic bomb. The elders of Krypton scoffed at Jor-E, even when he told them about Earth and its atmosphere. Jor-El went back to his laboratory to work more on his model rocket ship. This rocket was only a test to see if it would reach Earth. If it was successful, then Jor-El would work on a bigger craft to carry his wife Lara and his son Kal-El to safety. But before he was able to complete the ship, the sun continued to pull Krypton closer and closer, causing more urgency on Jor-El's part. Jor-El wanted Lara to go to Earth but she refused to leave him, telling him if only one could go, it should be the baby. Lara wrapped Kal-El in a blanket and Jor-El placed him gently in the ship and sent him to Earth. After the ship was safely in space, we witness Krypton explode.

    This scene is almost verbatim to that of the radio series, but it is slightly different from the 1948 movie serial with Kirk Alyn. In the serial, Krypton burned like a blue star rather than a green star. Jor-El was working on the space ship before approaching the counsel and last we see the destruction of Krypton. In the 1978 Christopher Reeve movie, Lara did not want her son to grow up on Earth (and because the movie had a bigger budget, the whole scene of Krypton and its destruction was much more lavish).

    In the radio show, Kal-El was already an adult when he landed on Earth. In both the movie serial and T.V. show he was a baby. But in the 1978 movie, he was a three year old toddler. In all the screen media, the Kent's found Kal-El, but the names were different. In the George Reeves' series, Ma and Pa Kent's names were Eben and Sara. In the Kirk Alyn serial, we learn only Eben's name so I am going to speculate that Mrs. Kent's name was Sara. In the Christopher Reeve movie, the Kent's names were Martha and Jonathan; as it was in Superboy, Lois and Clark and also in Smallville. In all the series, it was the Kent's who gave Clark his name and his sense of morality. This theme followed in the Superboy series and also in the Lois and Clark series.

    Act Two

    In this episode, we see Clark as a young boy asking his mother why he was different from the rest of the boys. We see the love and compassion of Sara when she explains to him how she and his father found him. Clark was twelve years old when his mother told him the story and the clock rolled by from 1926-1951. (I was under the impression that the Kent's found Clark in 1914, but Clark was twenty five when Sara was planning a celebration for him and that was in 1951 which means that the Kent's found him in 1926. The year that the Kent's found Clark was not defined in the 1948 serial or the 1978 movie, but it was 1966 in Lois and Clark and it was 1986 in Smallville.)

    Going back to this scene where Sara was planning Clark's party, we see Clark's father come in and Sara scolding him about tracking dirt into her just cleaned house. She told him to get cleaned up for the party and as he heads out of the room, he collapses. We then see the doctor telling them there was nothing he could do. Clark's father died of a heart attack and Clark and his mother console each other with the knowledge that he was a good man, a good husband and a good father. The scene changes to Clark and Sara at the Smallville bus depot where he departed to Metropolis with the costume that Sara made for him. Sara reminded him that it was meant for him to use his powers to help mankind. In the Kirk Alyn serial, it was Eben Kent who told Clark to use his powers to help others and his mother told him about the costume she made for him and Clark gave himself the name of Superman. Both of the Kent's died and Clark moved to Metropolis. The story is a little longer in the 1978 movie. When Jonathan died, Clark took a long trek north to have his Fortress of Solitude built. In his Fortress, Clark learned of his Kryptoian heritage from Jor-El and it was at the Fortress where Clark received his costume. Also in the 1978 movie, Lois gave him the name of Superman and the same in Lois and Clark.

    Act Three

    When Clark reached Metropolis we were introduced to Perry White, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson. In this episode, Clark waited two hours and forty minutes to see Perry White. I found it interesting in this scene that Clark was holding his hat when talking to the receptionist, but we see him taking off his hat running into the storeroom (where he usually changed into Superman) but he only went in there to walk out onto a ledge (wearing his hat) to enter Perry's office to ask for a job. Inside Perry's office, Jimmy barged in with a news wire that a man was hanging from a blimp a thousand feet in the air. Perry ordered Lois and Jimmy to go down to the air field and cover the story. Clark asked Perry if he got the exclusive would Perry give him a job. Perry agreed that he would hire Clark if he indeed got an exclusive. Clark changed into Superman, caught the man when he lost his grip from the blimp and got the exclusive. Perry kept his word and hired Clark, who then became known as the "Mild Manner Reporter." Lois wanted to know how Clark got the story when all the other experienced reporters were breaking their necks to get that story. Clark replied that maybe he was a Superman.

    In the Kirk Alyn serial, the situation was a little different. Clark used his super hearing to listen in on a mine disaster that was being reported to Perry over the phone. Clark asked Perry if he got the exclusive on that story would he get a job, Perry agreed. In the radio series, Clark heard of a character named the Wolfe who was sabotaging railroads and he asked Perry if he got that story would he get a job and, of course, Perry agreed. In the 1978 movie Perry hired Clark because he had a "snappy profile", knew how to treat his editor in chief with proper respect, and also because he was the fastest typist he had ever seen in forty years. With Lois and Clark, Perry did not want to hire Clark because he had no experience reporting for a "Great Metropolitan Newspaper" so Clark wrote a story of an older actress who wanted to say good-bye to a theater that was being demolished. This Perry hired Clark because he valued initiative over experience.

    Superman on Earth did a wonderful job portraying the origin of Superman in only thirty minutes. The special effects were not the greatest by today's standard, but the acting and the storytelling still stands the test of time and I hope no one will ever get tired watching this episode.moreless
  • The First was actually...Last

    What most people don't realize is that this was actually the last episode filmed for Serason 1 even though it was the first episode. It set the tone to what would be a fast paced thrilling series set in a film noir tone of the period. It's a shame they moved away from that in subsequent years, but standards and practices had come down hard on comic books and violence on television. George Reeves epitomized the character of Superman even to this day. Chris Reeve did well in his version, but fans will always draw on Reeve's low key, intelligent delivery as being spot on for the Man of Steel.moreless
  • The origins of the Man of Steel from his first time on Earth to his first job for the Daily Planet.

    This episode is by far a very superior story. In just under 30 minutes we see Superman start his existance from his original parents to his adopted parents to his first time at the Daily Planet. This episode is all wrapped up in a short time. It even set the tone for the interraction for continuing episodes between Lois and Clark.

    The only thing that kept me from scoring this a 10 was some of the tongue in cheek acting by minor roles.

    There are four women in this episode. One of course is Phyllis Coates, my favorite Lois. The other three are Aline Towne as Lara, Frances Morris as Sara Kent and Dani Nolan as Miss Bachrach. Aline appeared in another episode this season and also one more in another season. Frances and Dani did not appear again.

    Hope you enjoy this review. It is my first on this site.moreless
  • A Good Start To A Great Show

    This a very good episode and nice start to the show. Its cool to see the story just in a different way. I like how it starts off how Kal-El is sent to earth and is found by the Kents. Then goes to how the dad dies and Clark leaves for metroplis. Then tries to get a job a Daily Planet. Not much happens in this episode but its still interesting cause its basically the just starting the show. All that happens is Superman saves a guy from falling to death. Then shows up as Clark Kent to get the scoop and get the job at the Daily Planet. That is how its end but is a nice start to this great show.moreless
  • The Beggining

    Not being a comic book fan, I\'m unsure as to how close the script for the pilot episode compares with the stories the children had already been reading.

    The pilot is a bit comical in spots, but still riveting. The rocket that brings baby Clark (sorry, I can\'t remember what his Krypton name was) to Earth can withstand the ride through outerspace, but is easily kicked apart by farmer Kent.

    The scene of the superimposed background of Metropolis with Clark Kent walking in place is standard Hollywood from the 1930s.

    Like I said, it\'s all a bit laughable by todays standards and technology, but it works.

    My only gripe is the transition from the pilot episode to episode two. In the first episode no one actually meets Superman, but by the second, they are all old friends. I was convinced that a few episodes had been lost along the way, but if the episode guide listed here is correct, that\'s just how it was.moreless
Ross Elliott

Ross Elliott


Guest Star

Herbert Rawlinson

Herbert Rawlinson


Guest Star

Stuart Randall

Stuart Randall


Guest Star

Jack Larson

Jack Larson

Jimmy Olsen

Recurring Role

John Hamilton

John Hamilton

Perry White

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (8)

    • After Sarah tells Clark about finding him in the spaceship 25 years worth of dates flash across the screen, 1926-1951. After the dates Sarah says it was 25 years since they found him and the spaceship, but that's not true. Clark was already 12 years old when the dates started. It had actually been 37 years since they found the spaceship.

    • The costume worn by Robert Rockwell (Jor-El) was seen earlier, in Universal's "Flash Gordon's Trip To Mars", a 1938 serial.

    • Tom Fadden, who played Clark's foster father, Eben Kent, might be best known as the tollkeeper in the Christmas classic "It's A Wonderful Life." His character is present--and shocked--when Clarence (Henry Travers) tells George Bailey (James Stewart) that he is George's guardian angel.

    • The only use of the name Smallville in this version of the origin is on the bus depot sign as Clark bids goodbye to his mother and leaves for Metropolis.

    • Here the Kents are named respectively Eben and Sarah, as they were in the radio show and the 1948 serial. This follows the 1942 Adventures of Superman novel by radio screenwriter George Lowther, who introduced the characters of Clark's adoptive parents and recounted his rural childhood. (Lowther also changed the spelling of 'Jor-L' to 'Jor-El.') The now standard forms Jonathan and Martha were not introduced in the comics until 1951.

    • According to The Adventures Continues website, Season One was shot on the MGM backlot (now Sony Studios in Culver City) known as 40 Acres. 40 Acres urban backlot was used as Metropolis and then as Mayberry in "The Andy Griffith Show". It was also the home of Scarlett O'Hara's home Tara in "Gone With The Wind" where George Reeves appeared some 13 years earlier as one of the Tarelton twins. Little did he know that he would be at this same location as a kiddie superhero rather than the next great movie star he had hoped to be.

    • While it isn't shown/explained in the episode, in the comic book, Martha Kent unravelled the material that the blankets were made from, and "knitted" the costume together.

    • While Sarah Kent says she made the costume from the blankets he was wrapped in, she never said she cut or sewed it. In the comics, Clark's mother unraveled the material and knitted the costume. Clark 'cut' it using his heat vision.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Announcer: Come with us now on a far journey, a journey that takes us millions of miles from the earth, where many years ago, the planet Krypton burned like a green star in the endless heavens.

    • Jor-El: I warn you, the time will come—and that time is perhaps very near at hand when you will wish you'd heeded the words of Jor-El. When Krypton is shattered into a hundred million stars. When the glorious civilization is no more. When you and your families are swept from the face of this planet like dust.

    • Sarah Kent: But the baby, Eben. we can't be dreaming. The baby's real.
      Eben Kent: Real as rain, and just as pretty.

    • Young Clark: But Mom, why am I different? Why can I do things that nobody else can do? Why can I run faster, jump higher? Why am I stronger than anybody?

    • Announcer: And so the years went by, spring melting into summer and summer into fall and fall into winter. The boy Clark grew into tall young manhood while Eben and Sarah Kent grew older and grayer.

    • Lara: Here he is, Jor-El.
      Jor-El: You have him well wrapped?
      Lara: Yes. Oh, he's so good, not even a whimper.
      Jor-El: The model might carry both of you, Lara.
      Lara: No, I'm not going.
      Jor-El: You must.
      Lara: My place is here with you.
      Jor-El: Lara, please, there isn't time. The take-off pressure is building up and in a few seconds now...
      Lara: I'd be lost in a new world without you, Jor-El. If anyone is to survive let it be our son.
      (Jor-El puts baby Kal-El into the rocket, than launches it.)
      Jor-El: It's gone, Lara. Our son is on his way to Earth.

    • (After discovering one of his new abilities)
      Young Clark: We were playing baseball and the ball got lost. Nobody could find it. But all I had to do was look around and there it was behind a rock.
      Sarah Kent: You've got good eyes, that's all.
      Young Clark: No, mom, it's more than just good eyes. I didn't see the ball behind the rock, I saw the it right through the rock. Like my eyes were an x-ray machine. Like the rock wasn't even there.

  • NOTES (9)

    • This episode marked the only appearance from Robert Rockwell.

      This episode marked the only appearance from Herbert Rawlinson.

      This episode marked the only appearance from Stuart Randall.

      This episode marked the first of three unrelated appearances from Aline Towne.

      This episode marked the only appearance from Frances Morris.

      This episode marked the only appearance from Danni Sue Nolan.

      This episode marked the only appearance from Tom Fadden.

      This episode marked the first of two unrelated appearances from Sam Flint.

      This episode marked the first of three unrelated appearances from Dabbs Greer.

      This episode marked the first of three unrelated narrator (voice appearances) from Jack Narz.

      Young Clark Kent:

      This episode marked the only appearance from Joel Nester.

      This episode marked the only appearance, uncredited from Jeff Silver.

      Krypton Council Members:

      This episode marked the first of five unrelated and uncredited appearances from Carl Leviness.

      This episode marked the only appearance, uncredited, from Wheaton Chambers.

      This episode marked the only appearance, uncredited, from Hans Moebus.

      This episode marked the only appearance, uncredited, from Stuart Holmes.

      Ross Elliot although credited for an appearance, but never appeared in the episode.


    • Although Ross Elliott is credited at the end, he doesn't appear in the episode. He was original cast to play Jor-El but was dropped for unknown reasons. Robert Rockwell then plays the role, although he is uncredited.

    • Marlon Brando played Jor-El in the 1978 movie Superman.

    • Kate Bosworth played Lois Lane in the 2006 movie Superman Returns.

    • Margot Kidder played Lois Lane in the 1978 movie Superman.

    • Brandon Routh played Superman/Clark Kent in the 2006 movie Superman Returns.

    • Christopher Reeve played Superman/Clark Kent in the 1978 movie Superman.

    • Although this was the first episode in the series, it was the last to be shot in season one

    • Later Dabbs Greer played Reverend Robert Alden on "Little House on the Prairie." Stuart Randall later played Sheriff Mort Corey on "Laramie." Robert Rockwell later played Sam Logan on "The Man From Blackhawk."


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