Warner Archive's DVD release of the fourth (and final) season of the under-rated late '80s - early '90s syndicated series "The Adventures of Superboy" two weeks ago coincides nicely with Warner Prime's November 12, 2013 DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Man of Steel." "Steel" is notable for being one of the few audience and critic favorites of the 2013 summer film season.
Archive is making this release even more special by sending lucky customers who order a "Superboy" S4 set early enough a set autographed by star Gerard Christopher, who is the fanboy who arguably saved the show from being a one-and-a-half season wonder. (Unreal TV's review of the DVD release of "Superboy's" second season compares Christopher and first season star John Haymes Newton.)
The fourth season is the only one in the series without any major cast or format changes from the prior season. Superboy's alter-ego Clark Kent is continuing his surprisingly long college internship at the "The X Files" like Bureau for Extra-Normal Affairs alongside unrequited love interest Lana Lang.
Also like the third season, investigations related to that work trigger the action in some episodes. Other triggering events include threats from classic "Superboy" and "Superman" foes, such as Lex Luthor and Metallo. Further, Billy Mumy from the TV incarnation of "Lost in Space" makes two appearances as quasi-reformed mad scientist Tommy Puck.
An early fourth season episode titled "The Kryptonite Kid" is perhaps the best example of the wonderful equal parts camp/fanboy spirit of "Superboy." This one has a stereotypically brilliant young lab assistant who is working on a way to neutralize kryptonite's effect on Superboy experiencing a lab accident that infuses him with both kryptonite and a quasi-evil nature. The effects and '80s style and appearance of "Kid" portrayor '80s teen actor Jay Underwood are perfect for the show.
This episode also provides Christopher one of several chances during the fourth season to play a different character. This one, which is the best of the lot by far, is a hustler who exploits his identical appearance to Superboy by impersonating him for the purpose of selling souvenir photos. Hilarity, a towel-clad Christopher, and awesome mayhem separately ensue.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scene from "Kid" conveys the uber-fun spirit of both this episode and the series particularly well.
The series finale "Rites of Passage" easily would have made the list of top 100 series finale if "Superboy" had caught on more with the American public. This one has Clark Kent experiencing a Krypton-oriented ritual on his 21st birthday that makes the human custom of eagerly awaiting a bartender asking for your ID pale to albino levels in comparison.
Kent's final line "my powers; they're gone" at the end of "Passage's" first part ranks up there with "Hell Denver, we're going down" at the end of the third season of '80s prime time soap "Falcon Crest" on the list of memorable cliffhanger utterances.
The resolution of "Passage" nicely has Superboy well on his way to becoming Superman and truly benefits from not trying to work around the famous "no flights, no tights" decree from the creators of the equally awesome "Smallville" series.
The not-so-heroic conclusion to this analysis of "Superboy's" fourth season is that fanboys and lovers of good campy action-adventure alike will enjoy it.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Superboy" or Superman is welcome to email me. You can also follow me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.