"Rocketed from a distant planet, to a bold new destiny on Earth, found by a Kansas family and raised as Clark Kent, he learned he possessed the strength of steel, the speed of light and the desire to help all mankind. He is… Superboy!"
Type of Series: Superhero, Action-Adventure.
Similar Shows: The animated shows of the 90's: Batman, Superman, Spider-Man. Or The Flash. Or the fourth season on Wonder Woman. Shows which do not take a tongue-in-cheek approach to Superheroes. In many, many ways Superboy functioned as a live-action comic-book.
Typical Episode: A typical episode would pit Superboy against a super-powered foe of some sort. During the first two seasons, Clark Kent was still in college, so when not playing super-hero he was a student with student woes. For season's three and four, he and Lana Lang were interns for a Government Bureau that investigated the paranormal, and some episodes started off with the two of them in some sort of X-Files-esque investigation. In episodes which didn't make use of costumed evil-doers, the plots tended to be fantasy-orientated: aliens, time-travel, doubles, etc. etc.
The Inner Light: I don't think there is one. What you see is what you get: A live-action superhero show.
Strengths: Stacy Haiduk; Gerard Christopher; some brilliant scripts; the dead serious approach to super-heroics; impressive stunts and flying sequences. You'll believe a man can fly.
Weaknesses: A dreadful first season; low budgets; a few too-many clip-shows towards the end.
Impressive Characters: Lex Luthor (as played by Sherman Howard) is probably the show's greatest character. Lex is larger than life. Mischievous. Undeniably evil. Yet likeable and charming.
Then, there's Superboy himself. As played by Gerard Christopher, he really is the perfect Superhero.
Stacy Haiduk as Lana Lang, Gerard Christopher as Superboy/Clark Kent;
Sherman Howard as Lex Luthor, Tracy Roberts as Darla;
Barry Meyers as Bizarro;
Michael Callan as Metallo;
Michael J. Pollard as Mr. Mxyzptlk;
Bill Mumy as Tommy Puck;
Stuart Whitman as Jonathan Kent, Salome Jens as Martha Kent;
Jim Calvert as T.J. White, Ilan Mitchell-Smith as Andy;
Peter Jay Fernandez as Matt, Robert Levine as Mr. Jackson.
George Chikaris as Dr. Peterson.
Notable Guest Stars:
Ron Ely as Superman;
Britt Ekland as Lara
George Lazenby as Jor-El
Ray Walston as Prof Gordon
Doug Barr as Williams
David Marciano as Stone
Pamela Bach as Veronica
Gary Lockwood as Linton
James McArthur as Hogan
Doug McClure as Prof Zugo
Sybil Danning as Succubus
Greg Morris as Damon
Kevin Berhardt as Shelley
Richard Kiel as Vikabok
George Maharis as McAlister
Keye Luke as Sensei
Phillip Michael Thomas as Brimstone
Allyce Beasley as Agent Harris
Michael Des Barres as Verrel
Jack Larson as Lou
Noel Neill as Alexis
Justina Vail as Dr. Vexman
Erin Gray as Dr. Meyers
Roddy Piper as Temple
Impressive Actors: Stacy Haiduk. Stacy dominated the show. From start to finish. Lana was always being possessed, or duplicated, or affected in some bizarre way, and Stacy got to play a variety of "characters" a variety of approaches to the role over the four seasons. And she excelled at everything. Her considerable range hasn't really been exploited since, but over four seasons on Superboy she proved that she's one of the very best actresses out there.
Sherman Howard joined the cast at the start of Season Two and was a scene-stealer for the remainder of the series. Like Haiduk, Howard has made many appearances on many shows (seaQuest, Raven, Next Gen, etc.) but he's never been given the chance to show off what he can do. And he can do a lot. Howard has Star Quality. And made a much larger, much more exciting Lex than John Shea did on Lois And Clark.
Gerard Christopher was fairly wooden as Clark when he joined the show in Season Two. His Superboy was pretty much dead-on from the start, but he was playing Clark for comedy. In a very obvious style. And it wasn't working. Luckily "Clark The Buffoon" vanished after Season Two, and Clark became a much more believable character. And Christopher's performance was perfect.
During Season One, Jim Calvert played Goofy Side-Kick #1. Calvert (who later starred in his own fantasy show, Deadly Games) was wonderful in the role and, together with Stacy Haiduk, managed to make the first season almost bearable.
During Season Two Ilan Mitchell-Smith played Goofy Side-Kick #2. He, too, was wonderful and the three leads had a wonderful chemistry that goes a long way toward making this season my favourite. With Clark and Lana out of college and into the work-place for the remaining seasons they had a different, non-playful, relationship with the show's new recurring characters. Which was a shame.
On several occasions, Barry Meyers appeared as Bizzaro, a warped duplicate of Superboy. Each appearance was emotive and enthralling.
Impressive Episodes: Too many to begin to list. Season Two, in particular, has a wealth of impressive episodes. But the vast majority of Season's Three and Four are also Grade A or A+.
I have a particular fondness for "Into The Mystery" by J. M. DeMatteis, in which Clark goes to see his aunt as she prepares to die. DeMatteis is one of my long-time favourite writers (from various comic-books) and this script is wonderful.
The Bizarro episodes are rather wonderful. All of them.
"Roads Not Taken" is a classic which presents Superboy with two parallel worlds. Worlds made very different by his actions.
"Microboy" is notable for having a superb bad-guy and top-notch fight scenes between the super-powered characters.
"The Kryptonite Kid" introduces a look-alike for Clark, a coward who Superboy enlists to help him.
Impressive Writers: The same names appear over and over, especially on the great episodes: Andrew Helfer and Mike Carlin; Toby Martin; Cary Bates; Denny O'Neill; Stan Berkowitz; J. M. DeMatteis; Sherman Howard wrote a couple of clever episodes; While Gerard Christopher himself wrote one of the best ones in Season Three. Unfortunately he contributed no stories to Season Four, but he is listed as an Executive Producer.
Less-Than-Impressive Characters: Season Three introduced two rather bland co-workers for Clark and Lana. Matt, a field agent at the Bureau, and Mr. Jackson, the crusty boss. Two stock characters with nothing to distinguish them, although the actors (particularly Robert Levine as Jackson) excelled whenever they were called upon to do something out of the ordinary.
Less-Than-Impressive Actors: I'm sure Scott Wells, the actor who originally played Lex Luthor, has an award lying somewhere. I hope he has. He really was "The Worst Ever Regular To Appear In An On-Going Series." Abysmal beyond belief. Whatever talents and attributes this man has, acting - most certainly - is not one of them. His performances in Superboy have got to be seen to be believed. And even then, you're not quite sure it could be that bad.
Unfortunately, Wells was fairly well matched in the acting stakes by the then-star of the show. John Haymes Newton. Newton didn't look right for the part. He was tall and gangly. He was passable enough as Clark Kent, but he was dire as Superboy. He looked like a nerd in silly pyjamas. How he got the role, at all, is a mystery to me.
Newton has gone to on to roles in The Untouchables and Models Inc. where, to be honest, he wasn't bad at all. In fact, he's seemingly had more of a TV career than Gerard Christopher, who is a much stronger actor. (I saw Christopher on a couple of episodes of Sunset Beach early in 1998.)
Side-by-side with Scott Wells (as Lex) was a guy called Michael Manno, playing his side-kick "Leo." I'm not sure, but Manno's function on the show may have been to make Wells looks adequate, by being worse than him.
As dreadful as Manno was, he still managed to be better than Wells.
In one first season episode of the show, there was a tree swaying in the breeze. It, too, managed to be better than Wells.
Less-Than-Impressive Episodes: I don't think there are any redeeming episodes in Season One. Particularly the first half of the season, which favoured ordinary dilemma's instead of super-villains. A mid-season re-vamp introduced fantasy and sci-fi to the mix, but it wasn't until the Second Season that the formula fell into place and the show took off. After that, less-than-impressive episodes were few and far between.
That said, I didn't much care for "Nick Knack" or it's sequel: "The Secrets Of Superboy", both guest-starring the highly-irritating Gilbert Gottfried.
Early Season Three fare "The Lair" and "Nelia" are nothing to get excited about.
"Rebirth" is one of those dumb super-hero tales where the hero doubts himself after apparently killing an innocent bystander. These things tend to be tedious and the Superboy one is no-exception.
Season Four opened with another tedious by-the-numbers effort. In this one, Lana is getting engaged. To a smarmy millionaire. Who is really…
…evil. [gasp! shock! horror! steps-back-in-amazement.]
Less-Than-Impressive Writers: Fred Frieberger not only wrote a lot of early episodes, he was in charge of the show. Luckily, for the show, his name vanished from the credits, but he is responsible for six tedious episodes.
Continuity: Zero. Except for direct sequels to earlier stories, the episodes could be watched in any order. Except for the last one. In the finale, it is hinted (strongly) that Lana finally has proof about Clark's dual identity.
I know of only two Superboy episode guides.
The September 1991 edition of Epi-Log (a superb magazine) devoted fourteen pages to the series, including 13 excellent b/w photos from both seasons and one more on the back cover. While the September 1992 edition gives the show no less than thirty-six pages, including 22 b/w photos. And the full-colour front cover, as well.
The show's first run over here lasted only 11 weeks. That first season was dreadful, and ratings on this side of the Atlantic didn't warrant continuation. Years later, the show appeared briefly in the wee small hours of the morning.
It wasn't until the mid-90's when Sky acquired the rights that I was (finally) able to see the revamped (and re-cast) show I had read about in Epi-Log. And I was really impressed with it.
And so, when each one aired, I immediately went and wrote down my brief thoughts on each episode into the margins of the first Epi-Log.
And here, basically, is what I wrote. Each comment, and rating, scribbled down immediately after watching each episode for the first time.
Not all episodes are covered. Most of Season Two is. The first half of Season Three. Around that time, I stored my Epi-Logs in my attic and I stopped recording my thoughts.
Reviews of Superboy
The Jewel Of Techacal
This episode is seriously bad. With the exception of Stacy Haiduk, nobody in it can act.
Meet Mr. Mxyzptlk
Funny story, good acting. Silly, but entertaining.
Birdwoman of the Swamps
A fairly good plot. Actually thought-provoking. Acting is good, action is logical. Rather entertaining really.
GOOD STORY. Two excellent guest stars and a few nifty stunts. Very ominous ending.
A SIMPLE DUMB STORY. Makes great use of the regular cast. Exploits Stacy Haiduk's body too much for my liking. Enjoyable and exciting. Simple action fare.
A+Bizarro… The Thing Of Steel
BRILLIANT STORY, with a very sad and likeable character. Meyers and Haiduk are superb.
A+The Battle With Bizarro
SUPERB CONCLUSION. Bizarro has really come alive, and the viewer cares. A lot. The scenes in the store are top notch. For once, Gerard Christopher's performance is excellent. As are the whole cast.
A+Mr. And Mrs. Superboy
IMMENSELY ENJOYABLE. The story is bizarre and absurd and the cast are having fun.
AProgrammed For Death
Nifty Little Tale. Nice directing. Great production values. Superb visuals. Not enough of the regular cast.
GREAT FUN. Visually impressive. Great acting from Howard. Funny.
AThe Power Of Evil
BLAND STORY. Great visual flair, with classic poses from comics. Great character development. Great action sequences. Fabulous acting from Haiduk and Michael Champlin as Seth. Shame about the story.
A+Rest In Peace
VERY GOOD. Great action. Funny. Surprising. Sad.
Simple solid story. Well put across. No surprises.
A+Yellow Peri's Spell Of Doom
Fast pace, good villain, great visuals, superb climax.
AWESOME! This is the best superhero series. And this flawless episode it's perfection. It's a great story. Very moving. Superbly acted. And the visuals are great. The stunt-work is breath-taking.
A+Run, Dracula, Run
EXCELLENT. Great guest star, great battle. Stacy Haiduk is superb.
ANOTHER TOP-NOTCH OUTING. Funny, exciting, action-packed. Great ending, great make-up, great guest star. On the downside this episode contains one seriously naff special effect.
NOT GREAT. The show suffers without Andy and Lana. The story is well told, but unexciting.
AEscape To Earth
Silly villains, but great episode. Much better than Last Week. Totally dominated by Haiduk and Christopher. And Haiduk is great. It develops into a wonderful story. Great ending. Sad. And marred only by crap villains.
PERFECT. A beautiful story. Top notch acting from Christopher and Amy Dolenz as Jessica. Great songs. Moving ending. Great stuntwork. Breath-taking.
STRANGE. A silly story. Great guests. Little use of the regulars. Christopher is great. The only flaw is the story.
A+Revenge From The Deep
ANOTHER EXCELLENT EPISODE OF THE STACY HAIDUK SHOW. As usual, she's in every scene. This outing highlights her considerable acting talent and her gorgeous looks. It is strange to find Superboy relegated to a cameo. There is no reason for this. So, for once, Christopher gets to show us lots of Clark Kent. These scenes are funny, but why does Clark behave like this? The ending to this tale is quite wonderful. Love saving Lana.
DThe Secrets of Superboy
NOW THIS IS AWFUL.
A+Johnny Cassanova and The Case Of The Secret Serum
BRILLIANT. A story with clever touches and great casting. Stacy Haiduk's never been so sexy. She almost steals the show from guest star Mark Holton as Johnny. The episode is funny, yes, but never silly or childish.
A+A Woman Called Tiger Eye
HUGELY ENJOYABLE. The three regulars are on top form. All three are hilarious. The villain is good. And the story works, even if Andy did arrive a bit too fast! I'd really love to watch this again.
WEAK AND HAPHAZARD. An unenjoyable episode. The story weaves all over the place. To no effect.
VERY CHILDISH STUFF. Embarrassing.
A+Roads Not Taken
TOP NOTCH. Great acting from Christopher and Howard. Superb directing. Moody. And cool. This is an excellent story, well told.
A+Roads Not Taken, Part Two
SUPERB. Another interesting world. Plus some super twists and turns. Moments to make you stand up and cheer.
A+The Son Of Icarus
LOW-KEY, BUT EXCELLENT. A compelling story, well-told.
A+The Test Of Time
Good story. Well told.
As usual, flawless execution of a fine story.
Other Info: Some of the pictures above come from the Superboy Homepage, and I forget where I got the rest.
Three Things I Really Like About This Series:
Gerard Christopher's Superboy. He was perfect for the role. In fact, he's the ideal Superman. He has the body, and the look, and the attitude for Superman.
The Season Two theme tune, and opening credits.
Three Things I Really Don't Like About This Series:
Clark being such a bumbling idiot through-out the otherwise excellent second season.
Too many cliff-hangers seemed to revolve around Superboy writing in agony while some baddie or other menaced him with Kryptonite. Eventually it grew to be a yawn, not a reason to tune in the following week.
Miscellaneous Comments: 19 April 1999
I wish there were more Superhero shows like this one. As a superhero show, this was far superior to Lois And Clark. And to everything else I've seen.
A real superhero. Against real Super-Villains. In live-action. With no wink-wink "isn't this silly?" grins to camera. No. "Superboy - The TV series" took itself seriously.
Which made for some top-notch stories.