The New Adventures of Superman – tape 1890

This tape opens with a trailer for Only Fools and Horses. Then a trailer for a season of science fiction films hosted by Craig Charles, Spaced Out.

Then, The New Adventures of Superman, and here’s St Elsewhere’s Eric Laneuville serving coffee to Lois and Clark.

Eric Laneuville

There’s an unexpected solar eclipse, caused by an asteroid – it’s amusing to see a gaggle of reporters rushing out of a press conference and fighting to get to the payphones.

The asteroid is huge, and due to hit the Earth in four days, so Superman is asked to prevent the collision. TV effects technology wasn’t quite there, was it?

Superman Flies

Superman deals with the asteroid by flying into it at super speed and making it break into lots of smaller pieces. It’s unclear why he couldn’t simply have deflected it just a little – even heating up one side of it might have been enough at long enough distances.

But an explosion makes a better visual, and so he pulverises it, then falls back to Earth, sans costume, and to nobody’s surprise, has lost his memory.

Rather unpleasantly, Cat Grant decides to tell the amnesiac Clark that the two of them were an item.

Tracy Scoggins

Even less surprisingly, the asteroid is still big enough to be dangerous, but of course, Clark doesn’t remember he’s Superman.

John Shea’s Lex Luthor is making his own plans to survive the collision, and wants Lois to join him.

John Shea

Jimmy Olsen and Perry White find a fragment of Superman’s costume, so Jimmy pursues his journalistic senses by taking it to… a psychic.

Perry tells Jimmy he can write the story about Superman being alive, but he tells him to write it on his old typewriter, for luck. So I guess he doesn’t mind it taking five times as long and be full of copy mistakes (and presumably need someone to retype it into their computer system.

Clark is with his parents, who haven’t twigged that he doesn’t know he’s Superman, until Clark asks them where Superman could be. Clark doesn’t believe them when they tell him, and they’re interrupted by the news broadcast covering the launch of the nucular (sic) missile launched to destroy what’s left of the asteroid.

It misses the asteroid.

It misses the asteroid.

This surely must be the most scientifically tone-deaf show of the era. Psychics? A NASA launched missile that misses an asteroid? I mean I know they needed to have a reason for Clark to go up and finish the job, just so he can hit his head an even number of times, and thus cure his amnesia, but to have it miss the asteroid? NASA can launch a probe into the depths of the Solar System, which flies for nine years, including a close approach to Jupiter to pick up speed with a gravity assist, and have it make a perfect approach past Pluto. Nine years of spaceflight, most of which was unpowered and unguided, just using celestial mechanics to get it there.

And they missed an asteroid that’s a day away from the Earth.

I guess that’s NASA’s weakness – they’re so used to doing flybys to get great pictures that they forgot they had to hit this one.

Well, Clark manages to recover his memory, and this time he pushes the asteroid away, rather than exploding it, since he didn’t want the amnesia to recur. And all’s happy again.

I kind of liked their attempt to have a bit of melancholy, as everyone prepared for impact, but to be honest, this was rather poor.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 9th April 1994 – 18:15

The next episode, The Ides of Metropolis, opens with a man being sentenced to life imprisonment. But when Lois goes to get a statement from him, he’s vanished.

Clark finds his father lurking around his apartment, and his dad tells him he thinks his mother is having an affair with a younger man, an artist – who has painted her in the nude.

Investigating the escaped prisoner is thirtysomething’s Melanie Mayron.

Melanie Mayron

The man hijacks Lois in her car. She already knows him, and thinks he’s innocent.

But everyone else thinks he’s guilty. He’s a software engineer, and it’s his boss he’s accused of killing. He says that his boss was working on something called the Ides of Metropolis, and got angry when he saw it.

It’s a computer virus, and soon it’s infecting every computer system in the world, threatening every technological system.

The murder victim (Paul Gleason) is, in fact, not dead, and it was all a cover up so he could launch his virus.

Paul Gleason

The framed man creates an ‘antidote’ to the virus, but the floppy has to be inserted into each of the computer centres across the country. This, at last, sounds like a job for Superman.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 16th April 1994 – 18:05

After this, the recording stops, and underneath there’s a man talking about being under surveillance, his face on a TV screen with a video camera pointed at the screen. Very strange. Then we get a close-up of the man, and he looks familiar.

Philip K Dick

It’s SF writer Philip K Dick, in an Arena documentary. There’s a lot of surreality, with contributions from, among others, Brian Aldiss. “Like many a good man, Philip K Dick went round the bend.”

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th April 1994 – 19:35

I can only surmise that I cocked up with recording this tape, and accidentally recorded over the PKD documentary with the previous Superman episode. What an idiot.

After this, back to Superman, and an episode which starts with Clark looking at a strange globe which changes when he touches it, and produces an image of his father, Jor-El, played in this version by David Warner.

David Warner as Jor-El

But Clark’s apartment is burgled, and the globe is stolen, by young Chris Demetral (from Dream On).

Chris Demetral

He sells it to Lex Luthor, who wants to keep it in his vault of unique treasures (like the arms of the Venus de Milo) but also to learn its secrets. He learns that Superman must have arrived as a baby, and grown up in a human family, and he vows to find his identity.

Superman recovers the globe, and also finally learns that he wasn’t abandoned by his real parents, he was saved by them.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 23rd April 1994 – 18:45

Before the next episode, a short piece of Jim’ll Fix It, featuring a young girl playing cornet with members of the brass section of the LSO.

There’s a trailer for the Last of the Summer Wine, a trailer for Blind Date, and a trailer for Morecambe and Wise: Bring Me Sunshine.

Then, more from Lois and Clark. Superman saves a plane from crashing in France – but it’s not Clark, who’s watching it on the newsroom TV.

He explains this to his parents in a phone call he’s taking while walking on the ceiling. I can’t think what reason he has for doing this. I mean, I know he can, because he’s Superman, but still. Sadly, I suspect he’s doing this so the writers can have him say that this has “turned his world upside down”.

Walking on the Ceiling

Superman makes a trip to Europe, passing through London on his way to Paris – I guess he’s sightseeing.

SuperBritannia

He can’t understand who the other Superman can be. Then he finds him, and we’re treated to Two Supes.

Two Supes

The fake superman sounds like an idiot, and talks about his father. It’s not long before we learn his father is Lex Luthor.

Father and Son

His plan is to destroy the original Superman. And the new Superman meets Lois, likes her, then gets all grabby. So this Superman is an abuser.

Then they decide he must be a clone, so they go and see scientist Michael McKean, an expert in cloning, who tells them it’s impossible, and grossly hits on Lois as he tells them this. He’s probably lying.

Michael McKean

Indeed, it is he who created the clone Superman. Eventually, the two Supermen clash on the Metro Brothers movie lot, leading to loads of western cliches. But the clone is dying, meaning Superman doesn’t have to destroy him or entrap him, just toss him into the sun.

The more of this show I watch, the more surprised I am at the frankly awful writing. I’m sure this used to be a smart, snappy show.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 14th May 1994 – 18:40

After this, recording continues with an Eastenders trailer proudly boasting three nights a week. Then one for Once Upon A Time In The North

Then Ben Elton introduces a programme of clips from classic Morcambe and Wise shows. Here’s the introdution, featuring Elton, John Thaw, Glenda Jackson and Diana Rigg.

Classic moments like ‘Not Now Arthur’

Not Now Arthur

There’s a Mutiny on the Bounty sketch with Arthur Lowe, and all the Dad’s Army cast turn up, including Ian Lavender, who I was just watching on Pointless less than an hour ago. Another of these weird coincidences, but this time thankfully not involving death.

Dad's Army Cast

(That was really early, as James Beck’s still there.)

BBC Genome: BBC One – 14th May 1994 – 19:30

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