This past week as I watched the first six episodes of the Adventures of Superman on DVD a few things jumped out at me.
In the first episode, detailing the origin of the Man of Steel, there is a scene in the Smallville bus station as Ma Kent is bidding farewell to Clark on his way to Metropolis. She speaks of his “great powers” and the “great responsibility” he has. Was Stan Lee a closet Superman fan?
The stories are very Clark-centric with Superman only get a few minutes of screen time, usually at episodes end as he affects a rescue.
Surprisingly Clark flaunted his secret identity to his pals. Jimmy wonders how Clark knew it was him on the other side of a locked door and Clark tells him it’s because he has X-ray vision. “Oh sure, just like Superman” is Jimmy’s response. In another episode, when Clark talks about going after a criminal, Inspector Henderson says, “you’ll just take off those glasses and turn into Superman” and Clark replies in the affirmative.
Phyllis Coates may have been the best Lois Lane ever. Too bad she was unable to continue in the role.
I've always said that just because LCark Kent is mild-mannered, that doesn't mean he's a wimp.
Phyllis Coates is my favorite Lois, too.
Perhaps Clark keeps telling everyone he has super-powers because that was back when Superman never lied?
That, and the best place to hide is in plain sight. After all, if Superman was really pretending to be someone else, he couldn't possibly be the guy who keeps hinting that he really is Superman! Either that, or he figures that, if they're dumb enough to fall for the glasses disguise, he can drop all the figurative anvils around them as he wants.
I'm sure it was a wink to the audience. Come to think of it, George Reeves would literally do that!
Well, even if Superman couldn't actually break the Fourth Wall, he could use his X-Ray vision to see thru it, and acknowledge the audience that no one else knew was there.
One of the interpersonal aspects I enjoyed about Adventures of Superman was that Lois and Jimmy and others close to Clark Kent would find things odd or eccentric about Kent without immediately suspecting him of being Superman. One of my favourite exchanges of dialogue from the show illustrates this.
In "The Case of the Talkative Dummy", first aired on 03 October 1952, for purposes of the plot, Kent and Lois and Inspector Henderson are watching a stage ventriloquist's act from the mezzanine. Following the interaction between ventriloquist and his dummy, Clark discerns the critical clue to locating the gang behind a recent string of armoured-car robberies. He blurts a quick excuse to Lois and the inspector and then dashes out.
"Well, there he goes again, inspector," complains Lois. "Where does he disappear to all of the time?"
"Oh, I don't know," replies Henderson, then adds wryly, "Maybe he runs into an alley, takes off his glasses, and turns into Superman."
To which, Lois just rolls her eyes.
The worst case of him seeming to want them to figure it out is where Clark Kent is apparently drowning. He pals around with Lois and Jimmy, makes jokes, and only goes to save Clark when Lois cries she'll never forgive him if he doesn't.
The first episode ends with Lois asking how Clark managed to get an exclusive interview with the guy that Superman just rescued. "Maybe I'm a superman."
In a much later episode he tries to fool them by yelling "Where's Clark Kent?" "Hiding as usually, probably," Lois said. "Well I can't wait for him! You'll have to help me!"
There was also an episode where he runs off to change and says "Superman, where are you?" It might have been to fool anyone wondering where Superman came from, but he says it humorously.
Then of course there's the cheat episode where he actually changes in front of everyone, then sprays them with an experimental gas that makes them forget everything that happened in the last hour that just happened to have been invented in that episode. They end up thinking Jimmy somehow broke down a steel door to rescue them since he's the only one Superman untied.
We used to groan every week when Clark Kent closed with a witty comment that hinted at his secret identity. Why does he do it? What if they can put two and two together?
JIMMY: Gosh, Mister Kent, if only Superman knew how we got out of that fix!
CLARK: You know, Jimmy, [Cue the coda music] I suspect that he does!
LOIS: Wait, [Halt the music abruptly (i.e., sound of phonograph needle being lifted off record] just what do you mean, Clark?
CLARK: Uhh, nothing, Lois! Err, it’s just that Superman seems to know everything.
LOIS: Well, okay, I guess. It’s too bad that you don’t know everything, Clark.
CLARK: Naturally. But then again, [Cue music] maybe I do!
JIMMY: Holy cow, [Halt music] he did it again, Miss Lane!
LOIS: Yes he did!
CLARK: I did not!”
LOIS: Out with it, Clark! Just what do you mean by that?
CLARK: Uhh, nothing, nothing at all. Just having a little fun.
LOIS: Okay, okay. I suppose that you have to take fun where you can find it.
JIMMY: Yeah, jeepers, it’s not like you can … fly!”
CLARK: Oh, I wouldn’t say that, [Cue music] not exactly… .
PERRY: Great Caesar’s ghost! [Halt music] What’s going on in here?
CLARK: Oh, nothing, nothing … .
And so on …
Is this where the bizarre mind games of the Silver Age (like when he convinced Lois Bruce Wayne was Superman) originated?
George Reeves had the ability to make Clark Kent seem like an adult and a fully rounded individual, even in the silly later seasons of the show. Witness another one of my favourite exchanges from the show---specifically, "The Wedding of Superman", from the fourth season, originally airing on 12 May 1956. It takes place one morning, as Kent arrives at the office, to find that Lois Lane has been stuck filling in for the Planet's "letters to the lovelorn" columnist. Reading some of the mail sent to the columnist puts the intrepid newshen in a pensive mood.
"Clark, do you know this is springtime?" she says wistfully. "Does Spring mean anything to you?"
"Well . . . baseball."
"I thought so!" replies Lois indignantly, then, "Do you think Spring means anything to Superman?"
"I doubt if Superman has any time for baseball, Lois."