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The New Adventures of Superman was a series of six-minute animated Superman adventures produced by Filmation that were broadcast on CBS between 1966 and 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 they were immortalized in the Superman short films of the 1940s.
The first TV series produced by Filmation, 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 comic book 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 comics and the old Superman radio show. In addition, this series marked the animation debut of Jimmy Olsen and classic Superman villains such as Lex Luthor, The Toyman, and Brainiac. 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.
Producer Lou Scheimer also recruited Bud Collyer and Joan Alexander, veterans from both the Superman radio show and the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, for the voices of Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane respectively. For this series, Collyer returned to the same vocal technique he'd 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 when 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 episodes.
Despite its success, the series raised the ire of a conservative organization called 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.
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.
Warner Home Video released a two-disc DVD containing the first 36 segments of The New Adventures of Superman on June 26, 2007. Due to the ongoing legal battle between Warner Bros. and the estate of Jerry Siegel over the rights to the "Superboy" name, it does not include the The Adventures of Superboy segments originally broadcast in between the Superman segments. However, the opening title sequence and bumpers for the Superboy episodes are included in the set.
- Bud Collyer as Superman / Clark Kent
- Joan Alexander as Lois Lane (Season 1)
- Julie Bennett as Lois Lane
- Jack Grimes as Jimmy Olsen
- Ted Knight as Perry White (Season 1)
- Jackson Beck as Perry White, Narrator
Season 1 (1966–1967)
The series premiered on September 10, 1966 as a 30-minute program named 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:
Season 2 (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 Garth. It also comprised a rotating series of cartoons featuring The Flash and Kid Flash, the Green Lantern, Hawkman, Ray Palmer, the Justice League of America, and the Teen Titans (Roy Harper, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Aqualad), and new Superboy shorts.
Sixteen Superman segments were produced that season:
Season 3 (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:
Season 4 (1969–1970)
The New Adventures of Superman returned for one last last season on CBS, beginning September 13, 1969. The format was the same as in Season One - a 30-minute program with two Superman segments and one Superboy segment. All season four episodes were reruns of those that had originally aired during the three previous seasons.