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Thursday, March 05, 2015

TBT: Superman 50th Anniversary

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!


This post originally appeared on February 28, 2011.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

John Byrne would've been there to promote the then-new post-Crisis Superman, plus the artwork he did for Time's 50th anniversary segments in that week's issue.

But yes, things have changed, though at least they made a TV special---no such special for Supes' 75th anniversary in 2013.