24 October 2011

Crisis of Infinite Episodes - The New Adventures of Superman Recap

As was the case with the previous Superman series of theatrical shorts, before beginning this challenge I was aware of The New Adventures of Superman, but I had only actually seen a handful of episodes. Anyways, yes, I realize how important this series is historically. It was the first Superman / DC / animated television series. And yes, I realize that it isn't fair to hold the series up to today's standards; however, if I am watching them today they really don't hold up well. I don't know why the producers went for short 6 minute segments, but that format made the series seem awfully repetitive. Unfortunately, the double length episodes were actually worse because they meandered too much. I guess at the time character development and story arcs were just not heard of. Another thing that really drove me nuts was how Clark Kent would always break the 4th wall at the end of the episode by making fun of a friend and winking at the camera. Once or twice was OK, but 60 times was too many.

Having said all that, there were some episodes that did stand out from the rest. In fact some of them were just plain enjoyable. My biggest surprise was that the Warlock, a villain I had never heard of before who was created for this series, turned out to be one of my favorites. Sure, he was silly, but he fit the tone of the series perfectly and was always used creatively. I hope at some point he reappears in DC animation, but as of the time I am writing this, He has not been seen since this series ended. For the most part I also liked the Brainiac episodes. The episodes featuring aliens other than Brainac were usually awful. The monster episodes were usually pretty dull, though a couple of them were so absurd they were genius.

Essential Five:
1. The Imp-Practical Joker - Mxy's one and only appearance was so genuine and fun. This was not only a great episode for the series, but one all fans of Superman need to watch.

2. The Cage of Glass - Although there were a number of Brainiac episodes, the one where he shrunk Metropolis was the best.

3. The Men from APE - Aside from the odd acronym, this villain team-up was a great idea. Seeing some of the most charismatic villains working together was a lot of fun in the days that predated any sort of Legion of Doom.

4. The Pernicious Parasite - I am not actually sure why I liked this one so much, its not even the real Parasite, but I guess its close enough. Maybe I just liked the way Superman defeated the Parasite. It was a tad surprising.

5. Either The Chimp Who Made it Big or The Halyah of the Himalayas - These were two of the most absurd monster episodes. Good plots they lacked, but one had a giant monkey and the other a yeti. How can you go wrong?

Series Stinkers:
Planet Peril - I had blocked this one out of my memory until reviewing the episodes. Of the alien tales, this was easily the lamest.

The Mysterious Mr. Mist - Honestly, this one almost reached the threshold of being so bad its good. Plus it had a Superboyish appearance, but it made no sense. And that is relative to some of the other nonsensical episodes. It was like the story was being animated in real-time as someone came up with it without them being able to go back and make any edits. Very stream of consciousness.

The Prankster - Superman was just a jerk in this episode. It wasn't uncommon for his to be a tad on the self righteous side, but he was way over the top. "And that's why you never teach someone a lesson..."

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