More Fun Television
At last year’s Superman Celebration I made a promise to myself that I would finally watch the late 80s Salkind produced Superboy television series. It’s part of the Salkind/Christopher Reeve Superman legacy. If I was going to be a real contender on Superman Jeopardy
I don’t have much personal history with the show. Superboy originally aired from 1988-1992 which theoretically would have been perfect years for me; ages 5-9. But Lois & Clark in 1993 was my regular watch. During the Superboy years I was probably watching the Ruby Spears cartoons or my VHS copy of the Filmation series. I bought the DVD release of the first season when it came out during the Superman Returns DVD onslaught of 2006. I’ve even got a signed picture of first season star John Haymes Newton on my wall. I never bought the Warner Archives on demand versions of seasons 2-4, but I think the cover art for them is great because of Gerard’s improved costume.
Despite all of this, and my obvious huge fandom, I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch this show. Any attempts to watch the first season DVDs were thwarted by the low budget effects and frankly cheesy storylines. As campy as Lois & Clark gets I never lost interest—when those DVDs came out I binged the whole series. But Superboy has always been on a completely different level.
At the Superman Celebration in 2018 I went to a screening of the two-parter Revenge of The Alien. Billed as a more mature episode and a look into how the show would evolve in it’s later seasons I gave it a chance. The episode was co-written by Mike Carlin who would later become group editor on the Superman books during the Death of Superman era! Being two parts let it stretch out beyond the quick formula most episodes had, but it still didn’t fill me with the desire to watch all 558 minutes of this DVD box. Even with episodes directed by the chief Jackie Cooper!
I decided to try season two. By all accounts the show gets better as it goes on and the recasting of Newton with Gerard Christopher is a big change. In the 12 months since I’ve started on this endeavor I’ve made it through 14 episodes. Gerard is a good Superboy, but I find that he overplays the nerdiness of Clark and it is too cringe worthy. It’s rarely charming like Christopher Reeve or later Brandon Routh. Like most television shows of the era, it feels like it’s from another time. There is as much time between now and this show as between the two time periods in Back to the Future. I don’t find the show to be fun or interesting and it’s tough to get through each episode. It’s hard to recommend even for the nostalgia factor. Or even for a completionist like me.
I don’t want to end without saying at least one good thing. I think that Stacy Haiduk is actually really good in this show. She takes it seriously (even when it’s ridiculous) and puts in a good performance every time. When she is sidelined for another love interest it does the show a disservice. She’s never too 80s and frequently is above the outdated tropes the show often relies on.
I’m going to continue to push on; hopefully by Celebration 2021 I can have season two finished. For those with more interest the Superboy Legacy page is an awesome resource and I probably enjoy the site more than the show.