From The Morton Blog

Geek Out with Retro TV Favorites from Warner Archive: Superboy and Space Stars

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Fans of DC Comics TV adaptations have plenty to sink their teeth into of late with recent releases from the Warner Archive Collection. Earlier this month, the first season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold landed on Blu-ray. But the Man of Steel (or more specifically in this case, Boy of Steel) has been getting some attention, too. All four seasons of the cult favorite live-action series Superboy are now available via the Archive, with the third and fourth seasons having dropped on DVD (manufactured-on-demand) earlier this year.

There’s quite a fractious backstory to the series, which is now kind of a relatively obscure precursor to two later hit Superman series, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Smallville. Originally beginning its run in the fall of 1988, Superboy starred John Newton in dual role of Superboy/Clark Kent and Scott Wells as arch nemesis Lex Luthor. Superboy season 3 cover (196x280).jpgNeither actor would make it past the first season. Beginning with season two, Gerard Christopher stepped in as Clark, while Sherman Howard became Lex. These are the guys who would finish out the series, which concluded its run in the spring of 1992.

The story of bringing the series to home video is a pretty wild one, beginning in 1999 when Gerard Christopher began peddling VHS copies at conventions and through his website. Those days are long past, with Warner Archive making collectors happy by issuing the series with a far more economical price tag. It took quite a while (the first season was released back in 2006, with season two following in 2012), but now the hardcore can acquire the entire run. Season three saw the show rechristened as The Adventures of Superboy and all 26 episodes are now available.

The Complete Fourth Season, which was slightly shorter at 22 episodes total, is also available courtesy of Warner Archive. According to the WB Shop website listing, copies autographed by Gerard Christopher are still available, while supplies last.

An unrelated recent release, currently available from Warner Archive, is the animated Space Stars: The Complete Series. The short-lived cartoon show originally aired Saturday mornings on NBC from 1981-1982. There were only 11 episodes. According to a recent Warner Archive podcast, an animation strike prevented further episodes from being produced. Space Stars cover (196x280).jpgCertain episodes were difficult to locate, with some of the 35mm prints suffering from a malady known as “vinegar syndrome” (a bacterial issue that degrades film prints). It really raises the appreciation for the restoration process the folks at Warner Archive invest in these releases.

Originally presented as in oddly prolonged hour-long format, Space Stars was sort of an anthology series. Each episode included separate segments for Space Ghost, Teen Force, The Herculoids, and Astro (of The Jetsons) and the Space Mutts. For the first time, the various segments have been reconstructed in their original broadcast format, including (we’re told on the podcast) with bits that were never seen as part of the original broadcasts (such as the educational “Space Science” segments). It’s a goldmine for collectors of vintage Hanna-Barbera animation or for anyone nostalgic for the Saturday morning entertainment of their youth.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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