Superboy: The Complete Second Season
Cinelinx leaps over Superboy: The Complete Second Season on DVD in a single bound!
This Warner Archive release is a Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVD. It is made to be played in "play only" DVD devices, and may not play in some DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD set, however, played with no problems in the Toshiba DVD recorder used for this review, as well as on a Gateway PC. This title is available directly from WBShop.com by clicking here.
In this second season of the hit syndicated show, Clark Kent (Gerard Christopher) goes to college, but still has to contend with Lex Luthor and a number of classic comic villains. Also stars Stacy Heiduk, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, and Sherman Howard.
Executive producer: Ilya Salkind
This three-disc DVD-R set contains all 26 episodes of the second season, including “With This Ring, I Thee Kill,” “Lex Luthor, Sentenced to Death,” “Metallo,” “Young Dracula,” “Nightmare Island,” “Bizarro...The Thing of Steel,” “The Battle with Bizarro,” “Mr. and Mrs. Superboy,” “Programmed for Death,” “Superboy’s Deadly Touch,” “The Power of Evil,” “Superboy...Rest in Peace,” “Super Menace!” “Yellow Peri’s Spell of Doom,” “Mircoboy,” “Run, Dracula, Run,” “Brimstone,” “Abandon Earth,” “Escape to Earth,” “Superstar,” “Nick Knack,” “The Haunting of Andy McAlister,” “Revenge from the Deep,” “Secrets of Superboy,” “Johnny Casanova and the Case of the Case of the Secret Serum,” and “The Woman Called Tiger Eye.”
Season two of the syndicated hit Superboy, which aired in 1989 and 1990, saw a number of changes from the previous season. Gone was John Newton in the lead role, with relative newcomer Gerard Christopher donning the cape. Christopher does pretty well in the role of Superboy, although he is a bit too hammy as Clark. A few times, his New York accent slips through, which is a bit amusing, considering Clark's Kansas roots. Even so, Christopher’s performances grew stronger as the season, and the series, went on. It’s a shame the series overall doesn’t have the following or regard as other Superman incarnations, even if it was a bit campy and corny. It's entertaining in a nostalgic, Saturday morning way.
With a number of comic book writers providing scripts, season two took on a feel more aligned with the classic Superboy comics of the 1950s and 60s. That means stories that are a bit over-the-top, but manage to remain entertaining. The acting ranges from decent to embarrassing (particularly from some guest stars and supporting actors). Given the campy tone many of the episodes took, I cannot judge the acting in those episodes too harshly.
The season starts off with a bang - literally - with a two-part episode in which Lex Luthor (Sherman Howard) undergoes plastic surgery to impersonate the CEO of an arms manufacturer, just to use a powerful weapon against Superboy. It doesn’t kill him, but it does confine him to a wheelchair for a while, creating the odd image of Superboy (in full costume) wheeling himself around. At one point, Lex shoots Superboy with a rocket, sending him out of a window and down the side of a building, while still in his wheelchair. It shouldn’t be funny, but I laughed my head off.
A number of DC villains appear in season two in addition to Lex Luthor, although some aren’t exactly faithful to their comic versions. Metallo appears, but as a gangster in an armored suit, not a cyborg. A version of Toyman appears, but he is called Nick Knack and is played by Gilbert Gottfried. He actually appears in two episodes, with his second appearance as an excuse to create a clip show. Bizarro appears when Superboy accidently gets duplicated, and is one of the series’ better villains. Mr. Mxyzptlk appears in a pretty faithful likeness to his original comic character, and he is accompanied by a second imp from another dimension (played by James Bond villain Richard Kiel) out to get revenge on him for his pranks. We even get a couple of Dracula episodes.
Other notable guest stars include Mark Holton, better known as Francis from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, who appears in an episode as a non-DC Comics villain, but his appearance is worth recognition. Even James Bond himself, George Lazenby, appears in a two-part episode as Jor-El (or does he? You'll have to watch the episode).
One of the show’s bright spots is Stacy Haiduk as Lana Lang; her character is certainly more likeable than the Smallville version of Lana Lang, who was always a source of drama and frustration in Clark’s life. Here, Lana plays more of the Lois Lane role, a platonic friend who sympathized with Clark, pined after Superboy, and moved the plot along. She’s certainly the best-looking Lana Lang to ever grace the screen (sorry Kristin Kreuk), and she has gone on to have a prolific TV career, including stints on several daytime soaps and genre shows like SeaQuest 2032, Prison Break, Heroes, and True Blood.
For Superman/DC Comics fans, Superboy is an underrated gem worth checking out. The silliness often keeps it from being a classic show, but Christopher and Haiduk are a solid pairing, giving the show enough charm to make it worth watching.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The video transfer seems to use a videotape master, resulting in a soft image and some bleeding of colors. The detail is nearly VHS-quality, below what I expected for a DVD release. It isn’t terrible, but it could be much better. There is even some pixelation and noise due to the below-average quality of the video master. The images included with this review are screenshots taken from our review copy of the DVD set. The audio is a standard but effective Dolby Digital 2.0 mix of the original mono sound, and is mostly clear of distortion.
Release date: December 10, 2012
Rating: Not rated
Running time: 572 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
Special features: None
Label: Warner Archive
The Bottom Line: Superboy is campy and corny, but a lot of fun
Superboy the series is a lot like Superboy the comics of years ago. The plots are silly, but it is always a fun watch, and there's plenty of Superman action for kids and nostalgic adults. You cannot compare it to Man of Steel, but Gerard Christopher brings a lot of charm and charisma to the role, and the assorted DC villains that appear are nice nods to the comic books. Fans of classic Superman comics, and 80s and 90s kids, will enjoy this the most, but the quality of the video is severely lacking.