March 05, 2016


(CBS, September 10, 1966-September 5, 1970)

Filmation Associates

Bud CollyerSuperman/Clark Kent
Joan AlexanderLois Lane (season 1)
Julie Bennett – Lois Lane (season 2-3)
Jackson BeckPerry White (season 1), Lex Luthor, Beany Martin, Superman Narrator, Superboy Introduction Narrator
Ted Knight – Perry White (season 2-3), Superboy Narrator, Krypto
Bob HastingsSuperboy/Clark Kent
Janet WaldoLana Lang

For the history of Superman, check out the post here.

            Fred Silverman was appointed head of CBS’ daytime programming in 1964 and immediately set about running the same initiative that brought him success in his previous jobs: counter programming. He saw what the competition was putting out and was determined to find the counterbalance for those programs; especially in regards to CBS’ neglected Saturday morning line-up. CBS’s biggest competitor was ABC, and on Saturday the program to beat was The Beatles. ABC would ultimately provide the solution to combating their soaring ratings when in 1966 they debuted their live-action Batman program, which ignited a new consciousness towards superheroes.

Filmation founders Lou Scheimer, Hal Sutherland and Norm Prescott.

            Silverman wanted a super heroic lineup for Saturday and decided to shoot for the stars right out of the gate by landing the original superhero: Superman. In 1965, radio announcer Norm Prescott, Larry Harmon animation team member Lou Scheimer and Disney animator Hal Sutherland formed Filmation Associates and managed to convince National Periodicals (the precursor to DC Comics) to grant them the television rights for Superman. Silverman had CBS pick up the show, launching not only a new Saturday morning trend but the 20-year career of Filmation.

Superman takes flight.

            The series began several of the standard practices that allowed Filmation to produce as many programs as it had during its existence for a modest budget. In order to save time and money, characters had limited animation and each episode utilized a cache of stock footage; particularly when Superman flew or changed from Clark Kent. But, even with these limitations, the artwork was faithfully (if not inconsistently) adapted straight from the comic pages, eventually resembling artist Curt Swan’s style by the third season. Filmation further kept the comics feel intact by hiring several of the actual writers from the books to work on the show; including George Kashdan, Leo Dorfman, Mort Weisinger and Bob Haney

Perry White, Lois Lane and Clark Kent at the Daily Planet.

It also marked the animation debuts of Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen (Jack Grimes); Superman’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor (Jackson Beck); Brainiac (Cliff Owens), who was altered from his comic counterpart and made the creation of the alien Professor Hecla and given a shrink ray for a “cosmic Noah’s Ark”; Toyman, son of the original version from the comics that used lethal toys in his crimes; Prankster, a pranking villain given a different look than the comics; Titano, a giant ape created from a collision with a Kryptonite meteor; and the all-powerful fifth-dimensional imp Mr. Mxyzptlk (Gilbert Mack), amongst others. New villains were created for the show as well, including the magical beings The Wicked Warlock (Owens) and The Sorcerer.

"This looks like a job...for Superman!"

Filmation went back to an earlier Superman incarnation when casting for the series. Reprising the role of Superman was Bud Collyer, who had previously played him on both The Adventures of Superman radio show and in the Fleischer/Famous Studios theatrical shorts. Collyer’s performance was heralded for his ability to shift the tone of his voice in mid-sentence from the meek and timid Clark Kent to the powerful and heroic Superman; particularly during the sentence “This looks like a job…for Superman.” Joining Collyer from the radio show was Joan Alexander as Lois Lane (who was also in the Fleischer shorts), Jack Grimes as Jimmy Olsen, and Jackson Beck as Beany Martin, in addition to assuming the roles of Lex Luthor, Perry White and the show’s narrator. After the first season, Perry was taken over by Ted Knight for the rest of the show’s run and Julie Bennett, who had subbed for Alexander for several episodes, assumed the Lois role for season 2 until Alexander returned for the next season. Doing the show was a labor of love for Collyer as it meant working for a significantly smaller paycheck than what he was receiving as a notable television personality at the time.

A Superboy and his dog.

            Acknowledging the George Reeves series from the 1950s, the series was called The New Adventures of Superman and used a similar introductory narration by Beck. The show was broken up into three segments of 6 minutes each. The first and last segment were the standard Superman adventures. The middle segment was The Adventures of Superboy, which focused on Superman’s formative years in his hometown of Smallville, Kansas. Superboy was the creation of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel with Don Cameron. Siegel had originally pitched the concept to National twice and was rejected both times until the success of later teenaged superheroes revealed an appeal for such characters in the marketplace. National reversed its decision in 1944 in an effort to expand the Superman franchise with a character relatable to younger audiences. 

The early days of Superboy.

Superboy made his debut in the anthology More Fun Comics with issue #101 in 1945, written by Cameron and drawn by Superman co-creator Joe Shuster. Siegel was off serving in WWII at the time and had no input or approval, although he did contribute stories during Superboy’s run. After seven issues, Superboy moved to be a feature in anthology series Adventure Comics for three years before becoming the sixth DC superhero to receive his own comic book series. While the earlier stories were more grounded, Superboy gradually evolved into a junior version of Superman complete with the costume and supervillains.

The Adventures of Superboy largely embodied the kind of storytelling found in the Silver Age of Comics, which was the era underway in the books at the time. Superboy (Bob Hastings) would often be pitted against extreme natural disasters, aliens of various types and temperaments, or science gone wrong. Along for his adventures was often his trusty sidekick, Krypto the Superdog (Knight). Krypto hailed from Krypton and was used by Superboy’s father Jor-El to test the rocket that sent Superboy to Earth, getting lost along the way and not landing until Superboy was already a teen (a somewhat similar origin to that of Supergirl). As a result of the yellow sun, Krypto shared Superboy’s powers. Also participating in some adventures was Superboy’s love-interest and classmate, Lana Lang (Janet Waldo).  Both characters made their debuts during Superboy’s stories before working their way into the regular Superman mythos. It was the first successful attempt to bring Superboy to television following an aborted live-action attempt from 1961 that didn’t get beyond a pilot episode.

Young Clark Kent and Lana Lang.

The New Adventures of Superman debuted on September 10th, 1966 and underwent a few transformations during its run. For the second season, it was combined with Filmation’s next DC program, Aquaman, to from The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure. The Superman/Superboy series continued as it was, but Superman also appeared in the three Justice League segments that aired as part of Aquaman’s half of the block. For the final season, Aquaman was broken off into its own separate program comprised of reruns while Superman was paired up with The Adventures of Batman for The Batman/Superman Hour.  For this incarnation, a single Superman story was told in two parts around the Superboy segment. The series’ theme was composed by John Marion.

Fisticuffs are hurting the children!

In 1968, Peggy Charren and Judy Chalfen founded Action for Children’s Television (ACT), a grassroots group designed to improve the quality of children’s programming. One area they targeted was the amount of violence found in cartoons, which included Superman. Networks felt the pressure from the group and soon set about revamping their programming to be more kid-friendly, resulting in a shift in focus in how studios approached their shows.  CBS itself would use the success of Filmation’s other program, The Archie Show, to create more programs centered around teenagers—particularly of the mystery-solving variety. As a result, Superman was cancelled despite its continued success at the end of its third season. It did run for an additional season of reruns in its original half-hour format before finally being taken off CBS’ schedule.

Despite Superman apparently being bad for children, that didn’t stop him from appearing on two episodes of Sesame Street. In the first of its five pilot episodes, they reused footage from the episode “The Chimp Who Made it Big” and worked in a line teaching “D for ‘door’.” In 1971, Filmation’s Superman made another appearance in a new segment describing words that began with “S.” This segment was voiced by Lennie Weinrib. In 1973, Superman would join his fellow Justice Leaguers on Hanna-Barbera’s long-running Super Friends franchise. Although Superboy did appear in two Super Friends flashback episodes, it would be another decade before he would return to a starring role. Ilya and Alexander Salkind, the producers behind the Superman movie franchise starring Christopher Reeve, finally brought the character to live-action in Superboy (later renamed the revived The Adventures of Superboy title), which aired from 1988-92. 

The DVD cover.

In 1985, Warner Home Video released seven episodes of both Superman and Superboy on VHS as part of the “Super Powers” video collection that were rereleased in 1996. In 2007, they released the complete first season to DVD, with the remaining episodes on another volume in 2014. The first season was re-released in 2018 as part of a double feature with the complete series of The New Adventures of Batman. However, none of these releases contained the Superboy portions of the program. Beginning in 1969, Siegel and Shuster entered into a legal dispute with DC to regain the rights to Superman and Superboy. The contention continued after the creators’ deaths through their families, although attempts had been made by DC to come to terms with them. In 2007, the legal troubles forced DC to come with creative ways to address or represent any of their Superboy characters in their media until 2008. After numerous rulings and appeals in regards to the case, in February of 2016, the 9th Circuit Court ultimately ruled in DC’s favor.

Season 1:
“The Force Phantom / The Spy From Outer Space (Part 1) / The Mermen of Emor” (9/10/66) – An alien ship unleashes an energy creature on Earth. / Superboy is told of a pending alien invasion as he’s captured on another world. / Scuba divers become the prey for malevolent fish beings.

“The Prehistoric Pterodactyls / The Spy From Outer Space (Part 2) Merlin’s Magic Marbles” (9/17/66) – Pterodactyls are freed from their frozen prison by an earthquake. / Krypto rescues Superboy and returns to Earth to stop the invasion. / Lex Luthor gains magical powers.

“The Threat of the Thrutans / Krypto’s Calamitous Capers / The Wicked Warlock” (9/24/66) – Alien astronauts threaten a rocket base if not provided a rocket home. / Superboy’s attempts to stop three villains are constantly thwarted by Krypto. / The Warlock seeks a gem that contains powerful magic.

“The Chimp Who Made it Big / The Man Who Knew Superboy’s Secret / The Deadly Icebergs” (10/1/66) – A chimp sent into space is irradiated by space debris and returns to Earth as the giant Titano. / An alien claiming to be Kryptonian knows Superboy’s identity. / Thieves use giant icebergs to rob a luxury liner.

“The Robot of Riga / The Deep Sea Dragon / The Invisible Raiders” (10/8/66) – Lois and Jimmy are kidnapped by aliens and held by a fire-breathing robot. / Superboy has to rescue a deep sea expedition and the dragon threatening them. / The Sorcerer renders his henchmen invisible to commit their crimes.

“The Neolithic Nightmare / Super Clown of Smallville / The Return of Brainiac” (10/15/66) – Jimmy ends up in a creature-filled underground world. / Superboy accepts a challenge to make an old man laugh. / Brainiac returns to Earth and shrinks Jimmy, Lois and Superman.

“The Magnetic Monster / The Visitor from the Earth Core / The Toys of Doom” (10/22/66) – Aliens try to conquer Earth with a magnetic weapon. / A crystalline creature from below follows Superboy back to retrieve the egg he mistakenly took. / Toyman unleashes deadly toys on Metropolis.

“The Iron Eater / The Beast that Went Berzerk / The Ape Army of the Amazon” (10/29/66) – An alien metal-eating monster causes chaos. / A solution turns a pygmy elephant into a rampaging mastodon. / A scientist uses apes to rob an archaeological dig.

“The Fire Phantom / Superboy’s Strangest Foe / The Deadly Dish” (11/5/66) – A fire creature emerges from a mining shaft. / Superboy stops two trouble-making aliens until he learns they’re just children playing with toys. / Luthor plans to use Superman’s friends to lure him into a deadly trap.

“Insect Raiders / The Capricious Crony / Return of Warlock” (11/12/66) – Flying insects steal around Metropolis. / Krypto babysits a trouble-causing creature from an underwater volcano. / Warlock attacks the Daily Planet to get revenge on Superman.

“The Abominable Ice-Man / Krypto, Super Seeing-Eye Dog / The Men from A.P.E.” (11/19/66) – An ice-man threatens to begin a new Ice Age in Hawaii. / A Kryptonian space probe accidentally blinds Superboy. / Luthor, Warlock, Toyman and Prankster team-up for revenge on Superman.

“The Tree Man of Arbora / The Black Knight / The Image Maker” (11/26/66) – An alien tree creature has an unquenchable thirst for water. / Clark’s friend finds a magician’s mantle that sends him back in time to Camelot. / Prof. Nula seeks revenge on Lois for imprisoning him.

“Superman’s Double Trouble / Operation Counter Invasion / The Deadly Super-Doll” (12/3/66) – Superman must stop a giant lobster and alligator. / Superboy tricks alien invaders into believing Earth is populated by metahumans. / A sorcerer uses a clay doll of Superman to control and distract him.

“Lava Men / The Jinxed Circus / Luthor Strikes Again” (12/10/66) – Stopping a lava flow leads to the formation of lava men. / Superboy must save a circus from a disgruntled former employee. / Luthor kidnaps Jimmy to lure Superman into a trap.

“Mission to Planet Peril / Hurricane Fighters / The Pernicious Parasite” (12/17/66) – Superman helps aliens free their planet from an overlord. / Superboy tries to stop a violent hurricane. / A man gains the powers of a parasite and drains Superman’s powers.

“The Two Faces of Superman / Superboy’s Super-Dilemma / The Imp-Practical Joker” (12/24/66) – Toyman builds a Superman robot. / Superboy is accidentally given a super plant-growth formula. / Mr. Mxyzptlk won’t return to his home dimension unless Superman can get him to say his name backwards.

“Superman Meets Brainiac / A Devil of a Time / Seeds of Disaster” (12/31/66) – Brainiac comes to Earth to collect two of every animal to repopulate a dying world. / Superboy plays Lucifer when he spots two crooks. / Alien pods release seeds that turn into destructive plants.

“The Malevolent Mummy / The Revolt of Robotville / The Birdmen from Lost Valley” (1/7/67) – Lois accidentally awakens a mummy in Egypt. / Superboy has to stop a futuristic robot city set on a rampage by an evil programmer. / Birdmen are blackmailed into robbing farms.

Season 2:
 “A.P.E. Strikes Again / The Beast with Two Faces / The Lethal Lightning Bug” (9/9/67) – Luthor, Warlock and Brainiac team-up to destroy a crime warning system developed by Prof. Noble. / Criminals kidnap an alien to get control of his pet. / A lightning storm creates a giant lightning bug.

“The Prankster / The Gorilla Gang / The Saboteurs” (9/16/67) – Superman tries to out-prank the Prankster. / Superboy has to secretly rescue himself and Lana from the clutches of the Gorilla Gang. / Lois and Clark are captured on a government train carrying atomic waste.

“The Wisp of Wickedness / The Chameleon Creature / Superman Meets His Match” (9/23/67) – An evil alien is turned into mist that falls on a man’s hat and drives its wearers mad. / A shape-changing white ape kidnaps Lana on a safari. / A Kryptonite meteor crashes to Earth and opens to reveal a creature with Superman’s powers.

“Night of the Octopod / The Great Space Race / Brainiac’s Bubbles” (9/30/67) – Superman has to save a rocket base from a flying saucer. / Superboy and Krypto accidentally stop an alien cop from capturing his prey. / Dr. Heckler kidnaps Lois for his queen to repopulate the planet Meiga.

“War of the Bee Battalion / Finger of Doom / The Toyman’s Super-Toy” (10/7/67) – Crooks use a growth ray to create giant bees. / Cosmic rays alter an astronomer to give him powers and make him evil. / Toyman uses giant robotic insects in his latest crime spree.

“The Cage of Glass / Krypto, K-9 Detective / The Atomic Superman” (10/14/67) – Brainiac shrinks Metropolis and puts it under glass. / Krypto goes undercover to solve the theft of a circus dog. / A new explosive liquid leaves Superman unable to speak without spitting fire.

“Luthor’s Loco Looking Glass / The Neanderthal Caveman Caper / The Warlock’s Revenge” (10/21/67) – Jimmy ends up caught in a mirror trap set up by Luthor for Clark Kent. / Crooks trick a thawed caveman into fighting Superboy as a distraction. / The Warlock is freed by his sister and he sets out putting Lois in peril.

“The Halyah of the Himalayas / The Terrible Trio / Luthor’s Fatal Fireworks” (10/28/67) – A plane crash awakens an ancient beast. / Superboy teaches three school bullies a lesson. / Luthor kidnaps Jimmy to lure Superman into a trap full of Kryptonite fireworks.
Season 3:
“Luthor’s Lethal Laser / Forget Me Not, Superdog” (9/14/68) – Luthor kidnaps Jimmy and Lois and holds the Earth hostage from the moon with a laser. / Superboy and Krypto are hit by a Kryptonite meteor causing Krypto to lose his memory.

“Can a Luthor Change his Spots? / Superboy Meets Mighty Lad” (9/21/68) – Luthor claims to have reformed and convinces Perry, who gives him a job in the Daily Planet building. / Superboy meets the show-off Mighty Lad, who appears to have the same powers and origin.

“The Team of Terror / King Superboy” (9/28/68) – Superman foils Satana’s nuclear theft to attack her own planet, leading her to team-up with the Warlock against him. / Superboy and Krypto save an alien planet who believes him to be their god of legend.

“Rain of Iron / Double Trouble, Double Doom” (10/5/68) – Lois follows Vamore to a remote island where he launches iron spheres at the Earth. / Superboy and Krypto search for a trio of lost mountain explorers that were captured by alien criminals on the run.

“The Mysterious Mr. Mist / The Trap of the Super Spacemen” (10/12/68) – A mist being crashes the Daily Planet picnic and attempts to abduct Lois to make her his Queen. / Superboy and Krypto rescue a space capsule, but the astronaut inside is revealed to be an alien.

“Luminians of the Loose / The Space Refugees” (10/19/68) – Luthor teams up with two light-based Luminians to cause havoc until they turn on him. / The last surviving members of an alien race seek refuge on Earth but are harassed by three men.

“The Ghost of Killbane Castle / The Monster Molecule” (10/26/68) – In trying to hide the secret of their Scottish castle, a pair of twins accidentally unleash a ghost. / A scientist is accidentally exposed to a malfunctioning device, necessitating Superboy’s traveling to the future to save him.

“The Japanese Sandman / The Great Kryptonian Caper” (11/2/68) – A Japanese businessman is harassed by a saboteur who summons a supernatural sandman to aid him. / A crook plans to lure Superboy into a Kryptonite trap, but Lana stumbles into it instead.

Originally posted in 2016. Updated in 2018.

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