REVIEWS FOR YOUZE!
THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN; THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON FIVE-DVD SET (Warner Brothers)
Lemme start this one off with a funny story (well, you may not think it's funny if you're one of those stuck-up alternative blog types, but real people might gedda kick outta it!)...it all started when I was six years old and guess what..., local tee-vee station WYTV, channel 33 was gonna start running THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN during the afternoon hours right around the time all of us homebody kidz were front and center for some real life fun and games after a hard day of being pushed around by teachers and bullies and junk. Anyway, Yours Truly was naturally intrigued that this new to me show was hitting the airwaves...I mean, I did have some vague notions about this Man of Steel guy who flew around wearing a cape, and I remember my one cousin (who obviously was more familiar w/the guy than I) telling me over and over about this dream he had where he was wearing nothing but a Superman cape taking a bath in the Shenango River, but still, I was a bit inna dark as to what this whole Superman concept/thingie was about. But I was gonna find out soon, and boy I could hardly wait!
Well, I happened to be over at my cousin who took a bath inna river's house a few days before THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN's grand return to the local airwaves and besides myself and my aforementioned cousin discussing this and that in the kitchen were another cousin who was three years older than us and my uncle (father to the Superman caped one). Anyway, the subject of SUPERMAN just hadda pop up, and after being given a brief rundown about the guy and his super powers and things along those kiddie-level lines, my cape-draped cousin just hadda blurt out this (I guess) undeniable fact that THE GUY WHO PLAYED SUPERMAN SHOT HIMSELF INNA HEAD!!! Naturally, six-year-old me was taken aback by all this...after all, at that age I was being shielded from a lotta "real life" stuff by the grownups around me and things like people shooting themselves inna head seemed pretty much beyond-the-pale, or at least beyond the ken of whatever a kiddie's mind can comprehend! "Oh yeah" piped in my uncle, "the guy couldn't get any roles after SUPERMAN went off the air so he got a revolver and blew out his brains!" To which my older cousin responded, in a typically Eddie Haskell-ish fashion wrought with melodrama (and with index finger placed to temple and thumb straight up to represent the imaginary gun's hammer) "I don't want to LIVE anymore!" before making a huge "BLAMMM!!!!" complete with contorted facial expression.
Needless to say this affected my entire SUPERMAN viewing perception to the proverbial FULLEST...I mean, in no way could I watch the show without thinking that the guy who was playing Superman actually killed himself! Now, I did watch SUPERMAN pretty religiously (at first) and even recall trying (along with some other doofs) to climb the side of the school by placing my fingers and edge of shoes between the mortar, but everytime I'd tune into THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN this blinking neon light in my brain would go on and off saying "HE SHOT HIMSELF INNA HEAD!!!!" and that really did put a damper of sorts at least on my youthful inner-sense. And y'know what, I don't think I continued watching the show for long because for some reason it just was too grown-up and believe-it-or-not mature for my single-digit tastes...even the later color episodes that were geared towards a youthful audience and not as hard-edged as the earlier, Phyllis Coates as Lois period were more or less for the "Big Kids." But then again at that time the only things that appealed to me tee-vee-wize were cartoons and sitcoms and call me a sissy if you will, but I just didn't give a hoot about alla the action and adventure shows the other boys in school were gobbling up w/masculine gusto!
Thankfully, by the time I was mature enough to be able to enjoy such a program as THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, 33 began airing it on weekends at noon and although I woulda preferred they ran the thing weekday afternoons like they usedta I was still glad that the program was on and you can bet I was front-and-center for it as often as I could be! By this time I could understand and enjoy it all (though I still preferred Noel Neill as Lois because she seemed friendlier than Phyllis Coates plus warmer and downright sexy...not that Coates wasn't sexy, but she just gave me the creeps!), though I do remember that "Truth, Justice and the American Way" line not going down well with me perhaps because of the fact that I was listening to a lotta Frank Zappa then. Still, it was great seeing this classic show once again, and if you ask me I'd tell you that the seventies were yet another fine time for television viewing not only because of the prime-time fare (which wasn't that hot except for a smattering of watchable programs like WHEN THINGS WERE ROTTEN and the early WELCOME BACK KOTTER, not forgetting HAPPY DAYS before Henry Winkler took over that show for good!) but for the classic reruns like THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN as well as a bevy more which kept the truly intelligent kids (the ones attuned to class Amerigan culture, not those straight-C students!) glued to their sets during one of the best times to be a kiddo extant!
Anyway, it's more'n wild to actually have the entire first season of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN on Dee-Vee-Dee, and I gotta thank none other than LOU RONE for that because that's exactly what he gave me for the Holiday Season (in exchange for the entire run of SUPERCAR and AT LAST THE 1948 SHOW starring John Cleese and Marty Feldman!). Anyway, like I said, these early SUPERMANs are pretty boss and go beyond the "kiddie program" reputation that some TV GUIDE wizenheimer slapped on these shows way back when...and giving these early shows an eyeballing after all these years goes to show you that they certainly weren't meant for first-graders who just learned to wipe their langs one bit (leave that stuff to UNDERDOG, which'll only get the young'uns ready for SUPERMAN when the time comes). Believe you me, THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN is so hard-edged and tension-packed that I'm surprised I didn't try shooting MYSELF inna head after seeing the high-intensity one mere episode could pack! (And it's no wonder that the appeal of the program was so far-reaching...in fact, one of my World War II HEROES, mainly Emperor Hirohito wrote a fan letter to George Reeves saying how much he liked the show, and who am I to argue with greatness?)
And I gotta give the entire cast credit for being able to pull off this first season with such aplomb...I mean, not only is George Reeves tops whether playing Superman or Clark Kent (who's about as rough-and-tumble as they come here...none of this sissy faints-at-the-sight-of-a-turd Clark Kent like you see inna comix!), but Phyllis Coates is boss as Lois as well, so tough you'd think she could be a superheroine herself (and that isn't put past one badski who had the hunch that maybe Lois could disguise herself and turn into Superman somehow [in episode #10..."The Secret of Superman"]!). And of course there's Jack Larson as the "jeepers"-touting Jimmy Olsen (Superman's Best Friend, or at least his Gilligan to Superman's Skipper???) while John Hamilton plays it "gruff-but-loveable" as DAILY PLANET editor Perry White. And who could forget Robert Shayne as Inspector Henderson who really plays it good as the tough cop who's brave enough to take on everyone especially when the heat's on (though the infamous episode where he quits the police force when the heat is way on doesn't appear here...I believe we'll have to wait for Season Two to get an eyefulla that one!). Anyway, put 'em all together and you'll get more than an inkling as to why "Golden Age" television was so highly respected, and why afternoon rerun/indie television in the sixties/seventies is also held in regard, at least by me!
Anyway, here are just a few highlights from the first year that you'll want to know a li'l something about. Take episode five, "The Monkey Mystery," which features not only spies but a little monkey inna Superman suit. The coming attractions for this one showed the monkey popping in through a window and some bad guy pulling a gun on it ready to BLAST THE CRITTER AWAY, leaving way too many kids to think that if they tuned in next week they'd get to see either the bullets bouncing off the monkey's suit or (preferrably) the monkey getting blown to smithereens! (Actually, none of that happens which I'm sure upset a lotta gruesome-minded gore-obsessed grade schoolers!) "The Mind Machine" (#8) not only has classic baldie character actor Ben Welden in his first SUPERMAN appearance but the great premise of a machine that can force witnesses at a trial not to testify before dying due to the strain, and Lois is next on the stand! Personal faves include "The Stolen Costume" (#13) because its the one where it kinda maybe looks as if Superman LET those two crooks who discovered his identity die the way they did ON PURPOSE which is why this one was taken outta circulation for a few years, not to mention "Crime Wave" (#24) because of that scene where it looks like Superman is done for when he gets into that room with all that electricity zapping away at him. Also tops for Season #1's "The Human Bomb" (#21) which has Lois asking the dynamite-strapped gent "Is that spelled B-A-U-M?" albeit it's kinda ruined towards the end when Jimmy starts acting like a total ass and tries to rescue Lois from the madman on the window ledge! If I were Superman I woulda pushed Jimmy off...the idiot!!!!
Anyway, if I were smart I'd ensure a happy and healthy future for the youth of Ameriga by taking over a tee-vee station, 33 perhaps, and run nothing but SUPERMAN and SUPERCAR and all those old shows that the station used to air inna old days when we didn't hafta worry about our kids (or ourselves) being exposed to ELLEN DEGENERES and THE VIEW and all that disgusting stuff seen these days. Just think...nothing but old shows and friendly announcers and just plain ol' FUN tee-vee and you don't hafta worry about whatever hip cause of the day getting stuck into a storyline either. But then again I dunno...after all, the kidz who DID grow up watching all those fantastic shows eventually did become the pampered progeny who ended up rioting on college campuses and pushing all those libber agendas that eventually RUINED life for us free-thinking types for good (they did not ALL turn out like Don Fellman, unfortunately!), so maybe my guerilla plans for a happy future would be for naught after all!
Les Rallizes Denudes-BLIND BABY HAS ITS MOTHERS EYES CD-R (no label)
For a group steeped in OBSCURITY, Les Rallizes Denudes sure have a hefty backlog of material coming out that not only clears up a lotta the mystery, but adds to it! Anyway, this CD has some relatively good quality performances (probably dating back to the late-seventies/early-eighties) including the title track (a creepy crawl spy movie repeato-riff monster) and "An Aweful (sic) Eternitie (sic again!)" (middle-eastern heavy metal market music!) not to mention the trad show closer "The Last One" which is as grating and head-throb as it ever was. Makes me hunger to read just what Julian Cope has to write up on these mysteriosos in his upcoming JAPROCKSAMPLER book. Weirdest liner notes ever too!
Paraphrase-PRE-EMPTIVE DENIAL CD (Screwgun)
I know that Dee Pop's Freestyle Series is continuing at Jimmy's Tavern, but I sure miss the days when I could tune it in when the shebang was going on at the CBGB Lounge and catch a whole lotta great, unknown and mind-twisting free jazz made better by the fact that it was all going down at the birthplace of underground rock, jazz, folk and whatnot! Anyway, Paraphrase were one of the groups that graced the original freestyle series, and although they are playing at Jimmy's soon it's not like I can tune 'em in...in fact I hear the place doesn't even have a sound system! Anyhow, for a great current avant trip you should try this CD, with Tim Berne's tenor playing somewhat like a more structured Shepp's w/o the gospel or communism for that matter, while Drew Gress is ample enough on bass and Tom Rainey plays forceful on drums. Two extended tracks tend to tell all, and although this ain't an epiphany within the realms of avant jazzdom I find it much better'n the smooth stuff that seems to get the accolades from what is left of a "jazz establishment" these days.
IN OTHER NEWS-I thought I'd link up a few sites I'm sure you reg'lar BLOG TO COMM-sters (all two of you!) would wanna tune into given there's more to life than just me. I've seemed to have lost the link to Lou Rone's site (of course he'll send it to me more sooner than later!), but fanzine editor and libertarian genius Brian Doherty has his own blog up and rolling (actually it's been around for quite some time, only I just discovered it) called SURRENDER #6 (this being in actuality the sixth issue of his fanzine, now "on line") and although it seems to be lacking in a musical content that is sorely needed (perhaps because politics has somehow supplanted rock & roll in Brian's mind?) I'll read anything Brian writes unless it's something nasty about me, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it! Not enough postings (he seems to toss out reviews every so often), but what is there is worth a perusal even if he hasn't done anything for it in almost a year. Also a must-see and hear for the average BLOG TO COMM reader is the Magic Tramps site which not only has new pix and writeups to entertain your eyeballs but a video where you can see clips of the REUNITED Tramps playing to an experimental collage of sorts, laying down this great music that on one hand comes off late-seventies New York City underground cool just like it was coming right off the stage of Max's Kansas City sometime in 1979...almost no wave in its deep repeato-riff leather-clad energy seep yet there's this kinda rural feeling extant thanks to Lary Chaplin's folk-y violin...maybe this is relatively close to what the early Velvet Underground sounded like when Henry Flynt was sitting in? You be the judge! For an unexpected New Year's treet, tune this one in!
Sunday, January 08, 2006
REVIEWS FOR YOUZE!