Thursday, August 20, 2015
The Death of Superboy - The Reality Behind the Demise of the Series
Article by Rennie Cowan
Back in the early 2000's it was speculated, based on articles that appeared in two magazines, that the Producers of Superboy the TV Series were going to kill off Superboy (Gerard Christopher) with a cliffhanger ending for the 4th season and then resolve the death in TV movies. This scenario may be speculation based on the articles and Ilya Salkind himself stated at Wizard Con 2010 that they never planned a series of Superboy TV movies. However, I wrote a letter to Viacom in the Fall of 1991 and received an answer from their Vice President of Public Relations, Betsy Vorce on September 3rd 1991 that "occasional" Superboy movies were possible within the following few years. This doesn't necessarily confimr a "Death of Superboy" string of TV movies, but it does prove that the Salkinds and Viacom were tossing around the idea (and had the desire to make Superboy TV movies based the Superboy TV Series). In fact, in the book "Superman vs. Hollywood" by Jake Rossen the author states that Viacom promised the fans Superboy telemovies.
The actual letter I received from Viacom Vice President of Public relations about the cancellation of the Superboy TV Series can be viewed here (just click this link). I was able to clear up this "Death of Superboy" possiblity with Gerard Christopher during a lunch with him in Los Angeles. He was never personally planning or writing a string of Superboy TV movies, or anything called "The Death of Superboy". To him, it was probably all Viacom. My letter from Viacom pretty confiirms this. Viacom had probably hoped to do a string of Superboy telemovies but the legal debacle between WB, the Salkinds and Viacom put a stop to anything further. Not to mention the fact that WB didn't want another Superman show on the air at the same time as "Lois and Clark". This may hurt their ratings, they speculated, so DC comics stood with WB and simply would not approve furture Superboy televsion scripts. The Superboy series was stopped after season 4
The Viacom promises for telemovies featuring "The Death of Superboy" was published in the 9/13/91 issue of Comic Buyers Guide (in Darren McNeil's Animation News column). This is what the article stated:
[Spoiler Warning: This item gives away something about the episode you may not wish to know]. The last episode (#100) of the Syndicated Adventures of Superboy finished filming recently. How does the series end? Oh, Lex Luthor just kills Superboy, that's all. It's called "Obituary for a Superhero" and its meant to be a cliffhanger series ending. Unlike Alf though, this will be resolved in the first of a series of Superboy two-hour TV movies (a la Perry Mason) that'll be made for 92-92.
USA Today reported the same thing in 1992. An article stated that the series would end with Superboy's death which would pave the way for several TV movies over which the death would be resolved. But this speculation was released before the 5th and 6th season of Superboy was blocked by Warner Brothers by influencing DC to simply not approve their scripts, making it hard for the show to continue. WB placed a lien on the series by 1993 once all the rights were in their paws. The initial idea for the 100th episode called "Obituary for Superhero" was meant to be the death of Superboy (according to this same speculation). But because of the sudden legal debacle against the series the idea had to be changed and instead of Superboy "officially" dying and coming back in a string of Superboy TV movies, Superboy merely used his smarts to beat Luthor by hoaxing his own death. To this day, no script for this speculative "The Death of Superboy" telemovies has emerged. They probably don't exist either. Viacom had high hopes, but WB wanted to produce and control their own character.
Based on that blurb above and the USA Today article the conclusion is simply that WB put a stop to all future plans Viacom or the Salkind may have had for the series. Betsy Vorce, their Public Relations VP mention Superboy TV movies in the letter that was mailed to me. Viacoms high ambitions and talks swarming around the set (creative ideas) somehow reached the ears of the media. We do know that the lien by Warner Brothers put the Superboy show to a complete stop; and it is only speculated that during filming the Producers came up with the hoax idea to finish off the "Obituary" episode at the last minute. But in the letter I received from Viacom, it states that 100 episodes were always in their business plan. So in the end, their business plan was successful.
The producers of Superboy did in fact have planned a season 5 and 6 before the legal debacle. Ilya Salkind himself stated, and confirmed this, at Wizard Con 2010 in Anaheim (you can find him saying this himself in the video section of this website under "Ilya Salkind and Aaron Smolinksi at Wizard Con Anaheim 2010"). Ilya also confirmed that there had been talks of Gerard Christopher playing the next Superman - BUT - they were only talks. Ilya put emphasis on the fact that their first and foremost choice had always been Christopher Reeve, and this was for "Superman V" which was also dubbed "Superman: The New Movie".
So what you will read below is nothing but high hopes for Viacom and speculation based on published articles and the letter I received from Viacom. It is just a good fun read. Nothing more, nothing less.
The Teaser below was written by a young fan named Doug Randolph. But the full article is written by the webmaster. I am still placing it in this website (as I had it up on the old site called The Boy of Steel TV website) for the reading pleasure of anyone who wishes to speculate and read the fun fan stuff. Regardless, everything about the legal problems in the article is more or less true. The Death of Superboy TV movies are speculation, and Viacom's high hopes to the fans. Viacom never got to make their telemovies. But wouldn't it have been COOL.....
WHO KILLED SUPERBOY?
(The reality behind the demise of hit TV series)
Did you know that, near the end of the 3rd season of TV's 'Superboy' and with ratings at an all-time high, the Salkinds planned to exercise options for a 5th and 6th season of the hit series?
Did you know that, only months later, during the summer hiatus between the 3rd and 4th seasons, 'Superboy' suddenly and inexplicably had a legal lein against it?
Did you know there is a connection between 'Lois & Clark' and 'Superboy', a connection that would ensure 'Superboy' never to appear in syndication again?
Did you know that the Salkinds, blocked from renewing 'Superboy' for 2 more seasons, planned on doing an epic Superboy series finale titled 'The Death of Superboy'?
Did you know that Luthor would kill off Superboy in that series finale?
Did you know that the Salkinds planned to resolve Superboy's murder in 'The Death of Superboy', a TV mini-series of Superboy movies?
Did you know he would come back to life?
Did you know that the development on the 'The Death of Superboy' TV movies was suddenly abandoned just like the series was suddenly abandoned?
Did you know 'The Death of Superboy' was planned out a year and more before the epic ‘The Death of Superman’ comic book?
Did you know that before Nicolas Cage was slated to don the famous tights and cape in 'Superman Lives', Gerard Christopher was slated to don the tights and cape in 'Superman V'?
So, whatever happened to The Boy of Tomorrow?
Who killed Superboy? The answer may (or may not) surprise you....
END OF TEASER.
THE DEATH OF SUPERBOY
The final episode of the 'Superboy'TV Series was meant to be the death of Superboy. Luthor would finally get his wish--he would kill The Boy of Steel! The story would be resolved in the first of a string of Superboy TV movies, mirroring the 'Death of Superman' DC comic book story-line that appeared on the racks only a year after. This was reported as early as 09/91 in the now defunct Comics Buyer's Guide. It was, as such, planned even earlier. USA Today reported in early 92 that the Superboy series would end with the hero's death which would pave the way for several TV movies over which the death would be "resolved". But within days of filming the final Superboy episode in early 1992 (at that time it was "Obituary For A Superhero"), Warner Brothers filed a lien against the series. WB effectively blocked 'Superboy' from being rerun in North America, and from any further plans for occassional TV movies.
The lien, which applied mostly to Northern America, has been resolved to date and you can purchase the first season of the Superboy series at a retail store. Before it was resolved, some fans saw 'Superboy' reruns in Europe, Isreal and in Australia on their local channels during the middle/late 90s. Though it was reported that not all 100 episodes were rerun. In 1999, for example, only a few season 4 episodes were shown in Australia, and a few years back one season 2 episode was shown after the airing of the 'Superman: The Move' extended cut (and another season 2 episode after the airing of 'Superman II'). There were also reports of The Sci-Fi Channel showing interest in picking up the series, but merely declined because it didn't fit the criteria of their programing (a good excuse to stay clear of the legal issues). If and when it ever appears in syndication again, most fans see this as a bleak dream, taking into account the many, many legal issues surrounding the series and their producers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind. Of course, things are changing now that DVD collections are coming to light. For the most part, 'Superboy The TV series' was legally banned from future fans and viewers around the world which is why it has never been seen in syndication since. It cost the Salkinds a franchise, and the Superboy stars Gerard Christopher (Superboy) and Stacey Haiduk (Lana Lang) millions in royalties. Yet, despite this, the series is very much alive on the internet today and has spurned a loyal underground cult following.
The reasons for the lien are many. Some of these reasons, to be honest, are quite confusing...and some are not an easy pill to swallow, especially for the actors and everyone else associated with the series (not to mention the fans). It should be noted, however, that the 'Superboy' series was never cancelled because of low ratings. In fact, the series had been doing very well and the Salkinds were in the mist of successfully excising a renewal for a 5th and 6th season. What amazes critics to this day is that the show only got better and better with every new season. The writing, for one, was surperb and strikingly faithful to the pre-crisis Superboy era. After the initial run of the first 13 episodes (the Salkinds weren't exactly sure at that point if the 'Superboy' show was going to fly or not...pardon the pun), the writing staff predominately became top DC comic book writers like Cary Bates and Mike Carlin. That same writing staff eventually developed "Roads Not Taken" Part 1 and 2, easily the greatest Superman story ever told on television. Because of the show's inherent use of film noir (a dark and gothic filmmaking style) the feel of the last two season were similar to the movie 'Batman' or 'The Crow'. The FX were also quite impressive during the 3rd and 4th season, and soon they rivaled the earlier Christopher Reeve Superman movies. Even Gerard Christopher's Superboy costume has often been praised as being the best, and I mean, THE BEST version of the Superman costume to date (Gerard's "S" was smother and vertically longer and his cape was the John Byrne design). To add to all this, 'Superboy' had remained in the top ten mark of syndication up until the lien. Just before the show could become even more impressive, WB took the Salkinds to court and succuessfully blocked the 'Superboy' series from further development. The Boy of Steel would literally die on television, but not by Lex Luthor's hands.
The main problem could have been forseen from the beginning. WB was not affiliated with 'Superboy' and overall, they owned the rights to the Superman character though you could purchase an option/screen rights to produce Superman for film and television. The 'Superboy' series was distributed by Viacom, totally independent of WB. And WB owned DC. Alexander Salkind acquired the screen rights from DC to Superman in 1973 while making his "Three Musketeers" movies. The license also included the screen rights to 'Supergirl', 'Superboy' and 'Superpup'. Apparently, after the disappointing 'Superman III' and the box-office failure 'Supergirl', the Salkind's "sold" their screen rights to Cannon Films (Golan and Globus) which made Superman IV and had an option to make Superman V. According to Ilya Salkind, Cannon had to pick up their on-going option on Superman; Cannon did not own the screen rights to the series outright. The Salkinds retained rights to Supergirl as well as to Superboy and his share of DC Comics' Superman mythos created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (and expanded upon by many others). But it was in the grey whether or not holding the screen rights to Superman also included the rights to produce the other "super" characters, like Supergirl, Superboy, or Superpup. The Salkinds honestly believed, contractually speaking, that they still retained the rights to Supergirl as well as to Superboy and his share of DC Comics' Superman mythos created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The 'Superboy' TV series, in retrospect, could only be based on that specific Superboy portion of the mythos. In this sense, the 'Superboy' series would have it's own continuity, yet still be primarily based on the pre-crisis DC Superboy character/magazine. It would not follow the current Superman DC storyline.
The main question was...just who owned what? Should a line between the characters be drawn? This lack of resolution has kept 'Superboy' out of the public eye for many years. The rights issue didn't seem to bother anybody at first. WB had owned DC before the Salkinds even thought of purchasing the screen rights to Superman. They could have done a Superboy TV show at any time. Superman (or Superboy) on television just didn't appear lucrative. WB was content, in my honest opinion, with the Salkind's plans for 'Superboy' during the first season, enough to agree with the go-ahead to finish it's original contract with Viacom, which was for 100 episodes of 'Superboy' (and maybe on occasion a possible 'Superboy' TV movie. NOTE: This was before the development of 'The Death Of Superboy' TV mini-series by Viacom). Of course, it would have to be limited to only the Superboy portion of the mythos. 'Superboy' The TV Series would indeed continue and give WB the option to work with the Salkind's in the future. The Salkind's had plans to do 'Superman: The New Movie' (based on a screenplay written by Cary Bates and it would star Gerard Christopher) and WB would, of course, be the Distributor. And as mentioned earlier, according to Ilya Salkind, Cannon had to pick up their on-going option on Superman ('Superman V' was Cannon's project, not the Salkinds); Cannon did not own the rights to the series outright.
Money started to roll in for the Salkinds after the airing of the first initial 13 episodes in 1988. Likewise, the quality of the production started to slowly climb (this could be seen in the FX work alone on the later half of the 1st season). By the second season, there were some major cast changes. 22-year-old John Haymes Newton was replaced by Gerard Christopher, who was 8 years older than Newton and virtually, another unknown actor (for those of you who are old enough to remember, Gerard Christopher co-starred in the movie 'Tomboy' which was a theatrical release in 1984). It is interesting to note that Gerard was 30 years old when he was casted to play Superboy, who is a younger version of Superman. Yet, Christopher Reeve was much younger, only 24 when he was casted to play Superman! But--the average person watching the show didn't know that. Another young actor was replaced with an older one. Scott Wells, the young Lex Luthor, was replaced with 43 year-old Sherman Howard (formerly "Howard Sherman"; he had intensionally reversed his name). And Jim Calvert (T.J. White, Perry White's son) was replaced with a different character all together, Andy McAllister. He was Clark's roomate and was played by IIan Mitchell-Smith (the star of the 1985 movie hit "Weird Science"). Stacy Haiduk (Lana Lang) would remain on the series as the series veteran for all four seasons.
These changes were for the better. Hiring older actors certainly brought more experience to the set. When I met Ilya Salkind at the Wizard Con 2010 he confirmed that he believed Gerard had a bit more experience than Haymes at that time. Gerard Christopher had previously obtained a B.A. degree in Business from UCLA, so he added a certain kind of professionalism to the show and eventually became an executive producer and writer during the 3rd and 4th season. John Haymes Newton moved forward and began a career in major motion pictures like ('Alive' and 'Cool As Ice'), and this was a good career move for him. Newton also continued doing guest spots in television ('Tru Calling') as did Gerard Christopher (after the 4th season of Superboy). Gerard had a boyish kind of enthusiasm for the role, which made 'Superboy' a little more exciting to watch. At times, he was also rather cocky in role but brought it out with humor. In turn, along with the increased production value and Gerard's performance, a larger audience was pulled in. WB was in for an eye-openner, the ratings hit the top ten mark of syndication and 'Superboy' became an official hit. The executive offices at WB, of course, realized the potential for Superman on television. Not that this hadn't already been accomplished 30 years before by the George Reeves' series ('The Adventures of Superman'). But that had aired to a previous generation and to an audience not as fickle as the current "Generation X" who had the luxury of Cable TV and Nintendo. The question was...could Superman on television work today? Would "Generation X", the primary target audience at that time, buy into it? The success of 'Superboy' insured a potential cash cow for WB. Superman on modern day television, a market much more competitive than the previous generations, would work. Thus, WB actively began to pursue their own idea for a Superman series. The Salkinds were taken to court for a settlement on the rights issue. WB was able to legally convince that Superman also included "Superboy", "Supergirl" and "Superpup". A lien was placed against the competitive 'Superboy', which posed as unfair competition to WB's Superman chatacter. This lien put a permanent stop to future production, TV movies, and future syndication (re-runs). 'Superboy' was totally eradicated from the viewer's market as WB spurned Superman into development.
With 'Superboy' out of the way, WB embarked on a marketing plan to develop their own Superman series for television...'Lois and Clark'. Some believe that if 'Superboy' had not of been a success then there would have been little chance that 'Lois and Clark' could have aired when it did. Of course, one could argue that there was no blame on WB's part for eradicating a perfectly good TV show like 'Superboy'. They had "all" the legal rights to Superman, including "Supergirl", "Superboy" and "Superpup", and rather than work out a deal with the Salkinds and continue on where 'Superboy' left off (where Superboy later becomes Superman), they decided to pursue an entirely new idea, a Superman show that would focus on the Clark Kent character, rather than Superman. The Producers of 'Lois and Clark' would say this concept was fitting due to the fact that the John Byrne's Revamp occured before the production of the 'Superboy' series, and this revamp was the up-to-date version of Superman history; Clark Kent would be promoted to a higher status. No longer would he be in second place next to Superman, the one ignored by Lois Lane. No, Clark would be the one that Lois truely loved, eventhough she had an obvious infatuation with Superman. John Byrne erased the Superboy character entirely from Superman history in 'The Man of Steel' #1, setting it in stone that Superboy never existed. In this regard, 'Lois and Clark' would be faithful to the current DC storyline, rather than follow a continuity that was introduced in the 'Superboy' series.
Ironically, 'Lois and Clark' only faired critical acclaim for the Pilot episode and the 1st season run. After the Pilot episode, for the most part, the flying FX had been relegated to Superman merely flapping his cape in front of the camera, an inferior technique compared to the many spectacular wire shots done on the 'Superboy' series. 'Cape-Out' had been termed by the FX supervisor on 'Lois and Clark'. Budget restraints seemed to be the apparent reason for 'Cape-Out'. Yet this doesn't explain why the flying shots were more advanced (especially the landings and take-offs) on the 'Superboy' series which had a smaller budget and was produced years earlier. Dean Cain's performance in general was questioned. He performed a fairly likeable Clark kent, but some feel his Superman was weak. A matter of opinion. Granted, Dean Cain did have high expectations to live up to (Christopher Reeve). So to be fair, perhaps it would be just too hard to expect him to fill Reeve's shoes. The primary focus would be the development of the love-story between Lois and Clark. Most people will agree that Cain was a good Clark Kent, so without being too hard on the guy, perhaps the goals and intentions of the show were accomplished...via, Lois and Clark.
In an odd twist of fate, Gerard Christopher read for the role of Superman/Clark Kent during the casting sessions of 'Lois and Clark' and was originally cast (which is mentioned in an interview with him on his website. You can read it here )! The discovery of Gerard Christopher's past career as Superboy talent led to an abrupt dismiss. Gerard Christopher would not appear in 'Lois and Clark', nor would 'Lois and Clark' be affiliated with 'Superboy' or its' continuity. The producer's wanted a fresh start. 'Superboy' would remain a show that matched the richness and fullness of the pre-crisis history.
'Lois and Clark' dropped in ratings during it's 4th season and eventually was cancelled (as was it's plans for a 5th season renewal). Did the romance kill the show? Unlike the 'Superboy' series which opted to retain the sexual tension between Superboy/Clark and Lana (for the sole purpose of keeping that romantic interest firmly in place) it is possible 'Lois and Clark' gave up the pursuit too early in the game. However, it should be pointed out that despite the tremendous criticisms against this competitive adversary, 'Lois and Clark' did in fact gain a fan following. The 'Lois and Clark' cheering section can be found at this link . Who is the better Superman is a debate better left behind, but most critics will always hold Christopher Reeve in high regard.
It must be kept in mind that before the lien there were plans for a 5th and 6th season of 'Superboy', and the Salkinds had made arrangements to ensure this would happen. There were also plans for 'occasional' Superboy TV movies. The 'Superboy' TV movies was first hinted by John Haymes Newton in his earlier interview about a 'Young Superman' (but NOT a Superman movie). The idea didn't go any further than rumor until John Haymes Newton was replaced with Gerard Christopher. The Salkinds were sure to buy back their license to Superman from Cannon films (which in fact, they later did) then they began churning ideas for a new Superman movie which would follow the continuity of the 'Superboy' series. It was titled 'Superman: The New Movie'. Both Viacom and the Salkinds never really intended the series to finish with such an abrupt, solid end. Gerard Christopher and Stacy Haiduk had often been quoted as saying "the 'Superboy' series would continue forever." In an interview with Stacy Haiduk near the end of the 4th season (Spectacular Magazine, 1992), it is clear that all believed, with good reason, the series would continue. The article states as such: [Technically, at the end of their fourth year, Lana and Clark should receive their diplomas from Shuster University. Clark should then head to Metropolis for a job with the Daily Planet, and Superboy would have to start acting his age and consider changing his name. But if the show continues to be popular, the starlet (Stacy Haiduk) is well aware of what could eventually happen; her business being what it is. "Can you see us on television with our little canes and grey hair in rocking chairs?" Stacy Haiduk laughs, even as a chill runs up her spine. "Ohh, nnooo!"]
Cannon had currently held the option for Superman during the development of 'Superman V', until the Salkind's bought back the rights. During the filmming of the second season of 'Superboy', the Salkind's announced Gerard Christopher would be the one to take over the cape as the next Superman. In early 1989, Newton had problems with the Producers. He felt he wasn't being paid enough for the role and announced this in public (read it in his interview on this website). He refused to do a "geeky" Clark like the Salkinds wanted (that was Christopher Reeve's gig, he felt). And he wanted to be different, and likewise refused to act him as such. Rather, he protrayed Clark as a vunerable youth which many have praised him for. Yet, as rumor is a rumor, Newton was walking on thin ice when he accumulated several traffic tickets on the streets of Florida. So some will say that these circumstances paved the road for Newton being fired and replaced by Gerard Christopher for the second season. Christopher's performance was well received. Geeky Clark they wanted, eh? Well, Gerard gave it to them. Full on!! Gerard decided from the start that he wouldn't make the same mistakes as Newton did--he would do everything very "correctly" (which involved long and hot hours in the Florida sun, with his face against the steaming black pavement at 200 degree temperature). Was Gerard determined to succeed in the role? With undying devotion. And it shows on the screen and it very entertaining. The Salkinds immediately proposed that he star in the next Superman movie ('Superman: The New Movie') which, overall, became their primarly focus.
Originally, 'Superman: The New Movie' would have followed the continuity from the second season of 'Superboy'. This concoction of the Salkinds appeared to drag more feet than Luthor had Kryptonite, so Viacom and it's creative team began work on an entirely new concept...kill off Superboy entirely!!! In a way, it seemed that John Byrne's revamp of eradicating the character of Superboy was going to come around the corner for a second time...but not in the way that one would expect. Just put a mental picture in your mind: remember 'The Death of Superman' comic book (Superman #75) which was released in 1993? Well, years before the development of this best-selling comic book of all time, there was going to be a Viacom distributed TV mini-series that would be resolved in a string of TV movies called 'The Death of Superboy'. This was reported as early as 09/91 in the now defunct Comics Buyer's Guide, though the idea had been planned even earlier (at least two years before the release of the 'The Death of Superman' comic book). Here's a small blurb published from the 09/13/91 Comic Buyer's Guide in Darren McNeil's Animation News column:
"[Spoiler Warning: This item gives away something about the episode you may not wish to know]. The last episode (#100) of the syndicated Adventures of Superboy finished filming recently. How does the series end? Oh, Lex Luthor just kills Superboy, that's all. Its called "Obituary For A Superhero" and its meant to be a cliffhanger series ending. Unlike Alf though, this will be resolved in the first of a series of Superboy two-hour TV movies (a la Perry Mason) that'll be made for 92-93."
USA Today also reported in early 92 that the Superboy series would end with the hero's death which would pave the way for several TV movies over which the death would be "resolved". As mentioned earlier, the final episode (after the 5th and 6th season had been blocked by WB) of the initial 100 episodes of the 'Superboy' TV series was meant to be the death of Superboy ("Obituary for a Superhero"). The series, because it had been blocked from a 5th and 6th season, would officially end with his death. It would be the TV movies that would officially bring him back. Not much is really known about the story or the plot of the planned TV movies, or if there was even a screenplay for these films. All we really do know is that Superboy would surely die by the hands of Luthor, leaving Luthor more or less free to begin his conquest of the world. There would be a funeral. Lana would vow revenge against Luthor (hinted in the intial final episode 'Obituary For A Superhero' when Lana said, "If it takes my every last breathe"...). Superboy would indeed come back to life, however, mirroring 'The Death of Superman' best-selling comic book (which was written and plotted-out by several of 'Superboy' TV series writers, like Mike Carlin). It gained a lot of heated criticism in fandom, again mirroring the reaction of 'The Death Superman' comic book only a few years later. Though, maybe not on such a large scale. But the word did get around that the Salkinds merely planned to kill off The Boy of Steel! A hoax? Well, it would have been a good one because the average viewer clearly didn't realize that Superboy wasn't really going to die. There would be a resolution in several TV movies. But for all intents and purposes, season 4 of the 'Superboy' series would end with Superboy's death, as it was reported above.
It has to be mentioned, to give due respect to the Superboy writing team, that DC had remained involved in the development of every story during all four seasons, including Mike Carlin, who, as we know, was the Editor at DC (and a focal instrument of the development of 'The Death of Superman' comic-book storyline). It is interesting to note, though there in no way is any concrete evidence, that DC could have gotten the idea, if many (and several plot elements) to kill off Superman from the earlier planned 'The Death of Superboy' TV mini-series. The coincidence is uncanny, when you think about it! WB in their wisdom had blocked the TV movies as they had months earlier blocked a renewal of the series for a 5th and 6th season. All to make way for 'Lois & Clark'. It is true that DC had talked, or even did imaginary "death" stories in the past. The official reason of course, was that it was done to delay the wedding in the comics which now had to be timed with the 'Lois & Clark' TV series wedding. Of course, DC could have gone with any number of in-between story arcs.
Interestingly enough, according to the small blurb above which was published from the 09/13/91 Comic Buyer's Guide in Darren McNeil's Animation News column, it sounds as if they actually filmed the originally planned death of Superboy episode before being forced to quash the movies! This makes perfect sense as the intended final episode "Obituary for a Superhero" is pretty cobbled together, weak and made up 60% of flashback scenes to previous episodes. Yet, the footage that would pave the road for the telemovies was indeed shot. Just where this footage is, that's the question. More than likely, it was destroyed as it was no longer necessary. In the end (as it was with "The Death of Superman" trilogy), we do know that Superboy would die but surely come back to life. The road for the next step in Superboy's life would be paved--to become Superman. Then hopefully, this would have led us into the previous planned 'Superman: The New Movie'. It is not hard to imagine just how such a TV mini-series would have flaired. If you go by the historical succes of the ground-breaking sales of "The death of Superman" comic-book, one can only predict such a series on TV could have been HUGE. If not, the longest running TV mini-series in television history. And now we see that WB is rigidly attached to the 'Death' storyline of Superman. I guess the reasoning can only be...there is always a bigger fish.
So, in retrospect, who knows how much bigger the 'Superboy' series could have been if all the supposed plans had gone through? On a humorous note, it would have been interesting to see Stacy and Gerard with "walking canes" as Stacy once joked. I do believe there is still a potential cash cow awaiting for anyone, or any network that attempts to get 'Superboy' back into syndication. 100 episodes of Superman history has been collecting dust for over 10 years! But you can always see John Haymes Newton wearing the cape in the season 1 DVD of 'Superboy', which is officially for sale in any retail store. And be sure to listen to the commentaries. Newton has a sense of humor too.
Now there is ... 'Smallville'. 'Smallville' is a whole new surging interest for the Boy of Steel. The 'Superboy' series started something on televion, that's for sure. Tom Welling has brought strength to the young Clark Kent role. A talented and charming actor, like most television, the first season had it's critical faults, mostly because of the "freaks" of Smallville. You got to love the wall of weird. Allison Mack, you can see her typing away down in the basement of the Daily Planet. And Lois Lane is young Clark's friend? Well, we get to see all of our favorite characters, some new ones and Annette O'toole (Lana Lang from 'Superman III'). Great set design, like the Luthor mansion. Great episodes, story-lines and arcs, 'Smallville' is a terrific TV show.
Brandon Routh is the new Superman. Cast as Superman in 'Superman Returns', in some respects, Routh reminds many fans of the late Christopher Reeve. Bryan Singer, the new Director holding the burning flame for the myth of Superman has done a sincere job at returning (pardon the pun) Superman to the big Screen. 'Superman Returns', a very expensive movie to make (about $200 million), proves once again that a character in tights will last longer than anyone had ever suspected. Though some will argue that SR is nothing more than a "nod" and remake of Richard Donner's 'Superman: The Movie', you can always argue that there are nods to the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics; an unncanny pose of Routh holding a leaning car, with it's front touching the ground...the classic pose of the first classic front cover...we can hope for a sequel with even more debate. One last mirror regarding the Death of Superboy, in SR, we get a touch of The Death of Superman. And yet, like the DC comic, he's back....