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Monday, February 28, 2011

Superman 50th Anniversary Special - 1988

The Superman 50th Anniversary Special aired on CBS in 1988 and was produced by, of all people, Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live.

As you might guess from that, the special takes a humorous approach to the life of the Man of Steel, using a mockumentary format and featuring a bizarre cross-section of people in different segments: Dana Carvey, Peter Boyle, John Byrne(!), Jimmy Breslin, Brian Doyle-Murray, Hal Holbrook, Kirk Alyn, future senator Al Franken, Jan Hooks, Noel Neill, Carol Leifer, Robert Smigel, and Lou Reed!

I remember watching this when it aired and enjoying it thoroughly, thinking it was pretty funny. The only problem I had with it was it was the only celebration of Superman's half-century mark outside of the world of comics, which seemed woefully inappropriate, and kind of only underscored the belief that comic books--and the characters that spring from them--aren't worthy of any sort of serious evaluation or reflection.

Having only seen it once, I didn't remember the Aqua-connection, but F.O.A.M.er Marc Tyler Nobleman did. There's a live-action scene featuring a big party for Superman, and several of his superhero pals show up:

...its Aquaman, making his live-action debut! Wow!

Unfortunately, this is all we see of the Sea King, and there is no credit listed on the show's IMDB page, so we have no idea who played him. Considering the fact he has no lines and is basically just background, I think its safe to assume it was not an actor but a model who would fill out the suit. My inquiries regarding this to Michaels' company, Broadway Video (who produced it), were unsurprisingly not returned.

And as silly as this segment was (that's The Amazing Kreskin holding the bullhorn, so you can guess at the level of silliness this thing was operating at), I still think its kinda cool they made the effort, trident and all.

Thanks for the flashback and screencaps Marc!


Wings1295 said...

Okay, I don't remember this at all. Where the hell was I??? Sounds like fun!

Earth 2 Chris said...

I thought you know about this Rob, or I would have brought it up long ago.

To say I was disappointed by this show is an understatement. I was expecting a serious salute to Superman, not Saturday Night Lite. The opening with clips of all of the various screen versions of Superman over the old George Reeves theme was awesome though. The clips really made it. It was nice to see Green Lantern and Flash (although GL kind of looked like Lyle Lovett in cosplay), and a brief glimpse of Aquaman.

By the way, this is out on official Warner Bros DVD, packed with the Superman Masterpiece set that was released when Superman Returns came out.


Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

I actually didn't see this first-run. And in fact I learned of it only when I saw it was on the DVD mentioned above. That was my favorite era of "SNL" and I thought some of this special was actually funny. (The Jan Hooks bit comes to mind.) They don't make specials like this anymore.