Since I’m in the mood to talk old time radio, let’s move on to what some of my favorite shows are. I was mostly a fan of comedies (and don’t kid yourself, OTR was a great era for comedy) but I strayed into action/adventure and mystery shows now and again.
This will be a short running feature on my blog because my list isn’t too long (Any bets on how long it will take me to finish this series?) so let’s start things off with the first show I ever heard…
The Adventures of Superman
One of the first shows to hook me on OTR, thanks to picking up a cassette at Cracker Barrel. The show was done initially in a 15 minute serial format (with stories running for as long as a month or two) and then switched over to 30 minutes in its final days. The show ran two, three or five days a week during its run.
I had a lot of love for this show just because it was Superman, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t initially a bit disappointed that Superman didn’t really make many appearances. There’s not a lot of action in this show, it was really built around Clark Kent as more of a mystery/adventure show (as ABC’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was). While it still doesn’t make much sense to me to have a TELEVISION show where Superman isn’t in action all that much, having grown older & wiser, I can totally see how an investigative reporter radio show works a lot better than an indestructible superhero radio show.
There was still tons of peril abound as Lois Lane and various people Clark would come across were constantly getting into all kinds of trouble with all kinds of evil people. To this day, it’s good campy fun. I can only imagine how thrilling it must have been for little boys at the time it was originally airing though.
Another really cool thing about this show is that even Batman & Robin made a number of appearances! In fact, sometimes they would completely take over the show (more vacation for Collyer, I assume). I wonder why they never used these episodes as a backdoor pilot for a show for Batman & Robin to call their own?
As for the legacy of the show, the effects are still being felt today. Kryptonite was introduced into the Superman mythos by this show. It was used as a way to explain when Bud Collyer (the wonderful voice of Superman/Clark Kent) went on vacation. Also, the characters of Perry White, Jimmy Olsen and Inspector Henderson were created for the show.
And who can forget this famous introduction that is a part of pop culture and has been used in the Max Fleischer Superman shorts, the TV-version of The Adventures of Superman and also 1988’s Superman cartoon:
- Faster than a speeding bullet!
More powerful than a locomotive!
Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!
Look! Up in the sky!
It’s a bird!
It’s a plane!
- “Yes, it’s Superman–strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman–defender of law and order, champion of equal rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of hate and prejudice, who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth and justice.”
My Adventures of Superman collection
Superman on Radio (1977, Nostalgia Lane – cassette)
Superman On Radio (1997, Radio Spirits- cassette box set)
Superman with Batman & Robin On Radio (1997, Radio Spirits – cassette box set)