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The New Adventures of Superman is a series of six-minute animated Superman adventures produced by Filmation that were broadcast on CBS from September 10, 1966, to September 5, 1970. The 68 segments appeared as part of three different programs during that time, packaged with similar shorts featuring The Adventures of Superboy and other DC Comics superheroes.
These adventures were the first time that Superman (and his guise of Clark Kent), Lois Lane and Perry White had been seen in animated form since the Fleischer brothers had immortalized them in the Superman short films of the 1940s.
The first TV series produced by Filmation Associates, The New Adventures of Superman was extremely popular in its Saturday morning time slot and, despite having obviously been developed for young children, employed the services of several DC Comics writers including George Kashdan. Many of the character designs (later based upon the artwork of Superman artist Curt Swan in the show's third season) stayed true to their comic book counterparts; iconic shirt-rip shots and related transformations from Clark Kent into Superman were incorporated into almost every episode, and such lines as "Up, up, and away!" and "This is a job for Superman!" were also borrowed from both the comics and the original Superman radio series. In addition, this series marked the animation debuts of Jimmy Olsen and classic Superman villains such as Lex Luthor, Brainiac, the Toyman, the Prankster, Titano, and Mister Mxyzptlk, as well as the inclusion of new villains like the Warlock and the Sorcerer. Due to a limited production budget, stock animation was often re-used for certain shots of Superman flying (or switching identities from Clark Kent into the Man of Steel), while character movement was often kept at a minimum; this would later become a trademark of Filmation's animated productions.
Producer Lou Scheimer also recruited Clayton "Bud" Collyer and Joan Alexander, veterans of the Superman radio show and the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, for the voices of Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane respectively. Jackson Beck, who had narrated, and provided the character voice of Perry White on, the radio show, reprised those same roles for the cartoon version, while Jack Grimes, who had played Jimmy Olsen in its later years, took that part here as well. For this series, Collyer returned to the same vocal technique he had perfected on the radio show to play the Man Of Steel. While in the identity of Clark Kent, Collyer would keep his voice lighter while projecting a sense of weakness. But whenever the mild-mannered reporter would change into his true identity of Superman, Collyer's voice would deepen dramatically into a heroic baritone. Alexander departed after the first season and was replaced by Julie Bennett in later seasons. The theme music for the show was composed by John Marion Gart.
Despite its success, the series sparked the anger of Action for Children's Television, a grassroots organization formed in 1968 and dedicated to improving the quality of television programming offered to children, due to Superman throwing punches and other action-related violence which the group found objectionable. As a result, the series was soon cancelled, and future cartoons would not allow for such comic book violence.
Superman subsequently appeared in ABC's long-running animated series Super Friends (1973), produced by Hanna-Barbera, whose rights to DC Comics characters were gradually transferred from Filmation.
Season 1 (1966–1967)
The series premiered on September 10, 1966 as a "30-minute" program titled The New Adventures of Superman, featuring two Superman segments with one The Adventures of Superboy short in between.
Thirty-six Superman segments were produced that season:
- "The Force Phantom" - An alien ship uses an energy creature to attack Earth.
- "The Mermen of Emor" - Scuba divers are captured for sport by malevolent fish beings led by Triton.
- "The Prehistoric Pterodactyls" - Two giant flying monsters are freed from frozen suspension. *
- "Merlin's Magic Marbles" - Lex Luthor uses a temporal communicator to discover magic powers.
- "The Threat of the Thrutans" – An alien space probe trapped in Earth orbit uses force to try to return to its home galaxy.
- "The Wicked Warlock" - A male witch called the Warlock must seize a rare gem that contains powerful magic.
- "The Chimp Who Made It Big" - The fusion of two irradiated pieces of space debris fatefully changes a chimpanzee named Toto on board a space craft. When the capsule containing the space craft lands on Earth, the chimpanzee ends up turning into Titano. Despite Titano causing destruction (and grabbing Lois), Superman must convince the military not to open fire as he thinks he can revert Titano to Toto. *
- "The Deadly Icebergs" - Saboteurs have rigged gigantic icebergs with explosives to rob a luxury liner.
- "Robot of Riga" - Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are kidnapped by alien hunters whose "zoo" is protected by a giant robot.
- "The Invisible Raiders" - The Sorcerer, a malevolent wizard, uses hirelings using an invisibility field to commit crimes.
- "Neolithic Nightmare" - Jimmy Olsen falls into an underground pocket populated by malevolent creatures.
- "The Return of Brainiac" - An alien computer named Brainiac has been capturing different kinds of animals by shrinking them. Brainiac is taking the tiny animals to his dying homeworld on his spaceship a la Noah's Ark. When he also must find a man and woman for repopulation, Brainiac ends up shrinking and capturing Superman and Lois. *
- "The Magnetic Monster" - A magnetic device that melts metal objects is used by alien beings on Earth.
- "The Toys of Doom" - Phoning in an anonymous tip to lure Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to an abandoned factory on the outskirts of Metropolis, the Toyman captures Lois and Jimmy to help launch a wave of crime and keep Superman away.
- "The Iron Eater" - A shape-shifting alien creature that emerged from a fallen meteorite who devours metal structures raises havoc. *
- "The Ape Army of the Amazon" - In South America, an exiled military officer named Colonel Vasta and a disgraced scientist named Dr. Rucas control apes, with the transmitter on Dr. Rucas's back, in a plot to rob an underground treasure. Lois is caught, tied to a pillar and gagged, and Rucas activates an Inca Statue to crush her.
- "The Fire Phantom" - A living flame from Earth's core appears and sets off a mammoth forest fire.
- "The Deadly Dish" - Lex Luthor traps Lois, Jimmy, and Perry White so he can lure Superman into range of a Kryptonite transmitter. *
- "Insect Raiders" - Criminals who have perfected insect powers must stop Superman from foiling their wave of crime.
- "Return of Warlock" - The Warlock steals a magic gem to wreak havoc on Superman's friends.
- "The Abominable Iceman" - An ice being freezes tropical Hawaii where Lois Lane is having her vacation. *
- "The Men from A.P.E." - Lex Luthor, The Warlock, Toyman, and Prankster form the organization A.P.E. (Allied Perpetrators of Evil) and combine their powers to defeat Superman.
- "The Tree Man of Arbora" - A tree being brought to life near a meteor crater consumes enormous quantities of water.
- "The Image Maker" - A master criminal scientist named Luna (AKA Professor Leo Nula) captures Lois in order to send her into space within his 4D movie as part of his revenge on her for sending him to prison seven years ago. *
- "Superman's Double Trouble" - A mid-ocean earthquake releases a giant lobster and a giant alligator.
- "The Deadly Super-Doll" - The Sorcerer uses a voodoo doll to stop Superman.
- "Lava Men" - In Mexico, a volcano creates living beings of lava. *
- "Luthor Strikes Again" - Lex Luthor uses Jimmy Olsen as bait to use Kryptonite laser beam weapons against Superman in a paint factory.
- "Mission to Planet Peril" - Alien raiders forced to Earth recruit Superman to rescue hostages on their home world.
- "The Pernicious Parasite" - While breaking into a science lab, a petty criminal named I. C. Harris is exposed to a radioactive isotope and achieves power to drain physical strength from other men. With his new power, he aims to become a "Superman of Crime." But when he discovers the real Superman, Harris's unstoppable greed for physical power proves fatal. (Though the series pre-dated the "Crisis On Infinite Earths," Harris is NOT to be confused with the Parasite of the pre-Crisis DC Comics, whose origin story was essentially the same.)
- "The Two Faces of Superman" - The Toyman creates a robot doppelganger of The Man Of Steel.
- "The Imp-Practical Joker" - A carnival is raided by an extra-dimensional prankster known as Mister Mxyzptlk.
- "Superman Meets Brainiac" - Brainiac raids Earth to gather creatures to repopulate a planet devastated by atomic wars. *
- "Seeds of Disaster" - Alien seed pods grow plants that destroy other objects.
- "The Malevolent Mummy" - An Egyptian sorcerer in mummified form attacks Lois and Superman. *
- "The Birdmen from Lost Valley" - Avian beings must raid outside farmlands for survival because a gold raider named Trask and his henchmen hold their populace hostage.
Episodes marked with an asterisk - * - denote episodes in which Julie Bennett voices Lois Lane.
Season 2: The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure (1967–1968)
The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure was first broadcast on September 9, 1967. This 60-minute program included new Superman segments, and adventures featuring Aquaman and his sidekick Aqualad. It also comprised a rotating series of cartoons featuring the Flash and Kid Flash, the Green Lantern, the Hawkman, the Atom, the Justice League of America, and the Teen Titans (Speedy, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Aqualad), and new Superboy shorts.
Sixteen (16) Superman segments were produced that season:
- "A.P.E. Strikes Again" - Lex Luthor, Brainiac, and Warlock come together as A.P.E. in a plot to steal a crime-detecting computer.
- "The Lethal Lightning Bug" - A lighting storm irradiates a lightning bug to create a gigantic energy creature.
- "The Prankster" - A petty nuisance called the Prankster creates havoc until Superman uses tricks of his own.
- "The Saboteurs" - Lois and Clark are captured on a freighter by criminals dumping radioactive waste into Metropolis Harbor.
- "The Wisp of Wickedness" - The spiritual essence of an alien warlord snares innocent men on Earth.
- "Superman Meets His Match" - A Kryptonite meteor crashes into the ocean and releases a giant creature with the same powers as Superman.
- "Night of the Octopod" - An unmanned alien probe that resembles a metal octopus attacks Earth near the Niagara Falls.
- "Brainiac's Bubbles" - Doctor Heckla, the creator of Brainiac, creates powerful bubbles with which he can capture Earth creatures, including Lois Lane and Superman.
- "War of the Bee Battalion" - Criminals force a scientist who has created a growth ray for honeybees to use the device to attack Metropolis.
- "The Toyman's Super-Toy" - The Toyman and his henchman use a gigantic insect robot fitted with a Kryptonite beam weapon against Superman at a nuclear facility.
- "The Cage of Glass" - Brainiac shrinks Metropolis itself to minuscule size and imprisons the city in glass for return to Doctor Heckla's homeworld.
- "The Atomic Superman" - When Superman innocently tests a powerful liquid fuel by drinking it at the request of a scientist friend, the liquid creates an atomic fire raging inside his body that makes him blast out fire whenever he opens his mouth, forcing him to exile.
- "Luthor's Loco Looking Glass" - Lex Luthor invents a mirror that can transport people to his hideout at an abandoned amusement park and with such traps Jimmy Olsen.
- "The Warlock's Revenge" - The Warlock's sister frees him from prison and he launches an all-out campaign against Lois Lane.
- "The Halyah of the Himalayas" - A giant ice creature in Asia assaults the mountainous regions of India and Pakistan.
- "Luthor's Fatal Fireworks" - Lex Luthor captures Jimmy Olsen to lure Superman to the West Coast where he unleashes a bombardment of fireworks laced with Kryptonite.
Julie Bennett voices Lois Lane in three episodes - "The Prankster" "The Saboteurs" and "War Of The Bee Battalion"
Season 3: The Batman/Superman Hour (1968–1969)
The Batman/Superman Hour premiered on September 14, 1968, featuring new two-part Superman segments alongside new Superboy shorts and the adventures of Batman, Robin and Batgirl.
Sixteen Superman segments were produced that season:
- "Luthor's Lethal Laser" Pt. 1 - Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane discover a spacecraft in a nearby canyon, but are captured by Lex Luthor, who flies to the moon to set up a giant laser cannon to attack Earth.
- "Luthor's Lethal Laser" Pt. 2 - When Superman rescues Lois and Jimmy, Lex Luthor escapes and teams up with Brainiac to set a trap.
- "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?" Pt. 1 - To the disbelief of Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor has convinced Perry White that he has gone straight, and has thus become The Daily Planet's science editor with a huge experimental lab in the Planet building. Jimmy's disbelief leads him to try and catch Luthor in a deception, but his efforts lead to disasters.
- "Can a Luthor Change His Spots?" Pt. 2 - Thinking he catches Lex Luthor in a bank robbery, Jimmy Olsen jumps Luthor and closes a bank vault, trapping Perry White and the Metropolis Police Chief, before a bigger disaster strikes the Planet building itself.
- "The Team of Terror" Pt. 1 - The exiled Queen Satana from the planet Quanta flies to Earth to drain nuclear energy for use in plastic objects called Plasto whose molecular structure can be telepathically altered.
- "The Team of Terror" Pt. 2 - To shake off Superman after he thwarts her efforts, Queen Satana teams with the Warlock to destroy Superman while she unleashes nuclear warfare on Quanta.
- "Rain of Iron" Pt. 1 - Ostensibly on vacation, Lois Lane follows an associate of a fugitive scientist to the southwestern Pacific, while Metropolis is suddenly attacked by giant balls of solid iron plummeting from space.
- "Rain of Iron" Pt. 2 - The fugitive scientist has created a gigantic cannon to launch iron spheres onto Metropolis and has taken island natives hostage to thwart Superman.
- "The Mysterious Mr. Mist" Pt. 1 - A being made of mist-like substance emerges from an old water well on Perry White's farm, and can transform into a perfect duplicate of any human by absorbing into a person's abandoned clothing. He binds and gags Lois Lane, planning to take her through a well to the Underworld.
- "The Mysterious Mr. Mist" Pt. 2 - The mist being repeatedly attempts to kidnap Lois Lane to make her the queen of his underground society. He put her in a sack and again ties her up at the top of a building, but Superman uses a vacuum to catch him, then saves Lois from falling.
- "Luminians on the Loose" Pt. 1 - Lex Luthor has created a laser beam transmitter with which he transports two fire beings from a distant star to help him defeat Superman.
- "Luminians on the Loose" Pt. 2 - When the fire beings turn on him, Lex Luthor must team with Superman to stop them. Meanwhile, the Lumiaians use Lex's transmitter to get a battalion of Luminians to invade Earth.
- "The Ghost of Kilbane Castle" Pt. 1 - In Scotland, Lois and Jimmy run afoul of two twin brothers whose ancestors stole the castle in which they live, and the ghost of the castle's original ruler has emerged for revenge.
- "The Ghost of Kilbane Castle" Pt. 2 - Superman teams with the Kilbane ghost to defeat the two evil twins. They have Lois and Jimmy tied up and gagged above spikes on a tower wall, and threaten to cut them loose if Superman tries to stop them.
- "The Japanese Sandman" Pt. 1 - In Yokohama, a shipping magnate's businesses are sabotaged by an explosives factory owner and the man summons a Japanese god to help him defeat the magnate.
- "The Japanese Sandman" Pt. 2 - Superman must defeat the Japanese Sandman when he traps the shipping magnate and Jimmy Olsen.
Season 4 (1969–1970)
The New Adventures of Superman returned for one last time on CBS, beginning September 13, 1969. The format was the same as before - a "30-minute" program with two Superman segments and one Superboy segment. All episodes were reruns of those that had previously aired.
- Directed by Hal Sutherland
- Produced by Lou Scheimer and Norm Prescott
- Scripts by George Kashdan
- Based on Characters Created by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster
- Story Consultant: Mort Weisinger
- Storyboard Artists: Harvey Toombs, Bob Maxfield
- Layouts: Don Christensen, C.L. Hartman, Wes Herschensohn, Ken Hultgren, Raymond Jacobs, Dan Noonan
- Backgrounds: Erv Kaplan, Ted Littlefield, Lorraine Marue, Takashi Masunaga, Paul Xander
- Animators: Bill Hajee, Clarke Mallory, Jack Ozark, Virgil Raddatz, Morey Reden, Len Rogers, Don Schloat, Xenia DeMattia, Lou Zukor
- Animation Checking: Renee Henning, Ann Oliphant, Jane Philippi
- Ink and Paint Manager: Martha Buckley
- Camera: Gene Gropper
- Film Editor: Joseph Simon
- Sound Supervisor: Jim Bullock
- Music Composed and Conducted by John Gart
- Music Supervised by Gordon Zahler
- Assistant Director: Anatole Kirsanoff
- Production Coordinator: Joe Lynch
- Production Assistant: Jack Boasberg
- Executive Producer: Allen Ducovny
- Superman Comics are published monthly by DC Comics
- A Filmation Associates Production In Association With Ducovny, Inc.
- Copyright(c) Filmation Associates, Inc., 1966-1970.
DVD and video releases
In 1985, Warner Home Video released seven selected episodes of the series on VHS in the "Super Powers" video collection along with Aquaman, Batman, and Superboy. These videos were re-released in 1996 and are out of print.
On June 26, 2007, Warner Home Video released a two-disc DVD of The New Adventures of Superman featuring all 36 episodes from the first season.
On June 3, 2014, Warner Home Video released seasons 2 & 3 on DVD in Region 1. The 2-disc set features the remaining 32 episodes of the series.