Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Animated World of DC Comics: Superman (1988)

I was thinking of reprinting my original DVD review of this series, which I posted on my other blog, The Land of Whatever, around a year ago, but then, a fresh perspective makes more sense.

Superman returned to television in 1988 after 2 years away, following ABC's decision to end the Super Friends franchise after 13 seasons and almost as many format changes. Ruby-Spears, marking its 10th anniversary at the time, took over the license, and brought the man of steel back to the network where he'd made his Saturday morning debut 22 years earlier, CBS. There were changes aplenty, mostly coinciding with the rebooting of the iconic hero in the wake of DC's mid-80's event, Crisis on Infinite Earths. For one thing, Lex Luthor wasn't just a embittered criminal scientist anymore. Instead, he was repackaged as a smooth-talking millionaire industrialist whose philanthropic efforts on behalf of Metropolis were fronts for his criminal operations. Veteran voice actor Michael Bell gave Luthor the smooth con man charm, a total 180 degree turn from the bitter, eternally angry Luthor viewers had grown accustomed to in the past. Beau Weaver was the new voice of Superman, after Danny Dark had essayed the part on Super Friends throughout its run. If there was one thing the hero and his most famous nemesis had in common, it was a good taste in women. Supes, of course, has Lois Lane. Luthor's new moll was secretary/live-in girlfriend Jessica Morganberry, who was about as sharp as a dull razor blade, if you get my drift.

Despite appearing in the open, Titano, the Super-Ape, was never used. The producers might've hoped he would be used, but it never came to pass. What killed the series, in the opinion of some fans, was the inclusion of a back-up feature, the Superman Family Album, commissioned by then-head of children's programming Judy Price for educational purposes. The Family Album traced the development of young Kal-El from his arrival on Earth to his high school graduation. One of these days, I'll post one of those Family Album shorts, just for kicks. As it was, Superman's return to Saturdays was short-lived, as the series was cancelled after 1 season.

Here's the open, narrated by former Super Friends announcer Bill Woodson, to YouTube:

Rating: A-.

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