Judge Brett Cullum thinks that fans of the Superman cartoon should hold out for the forthcoming full-season sets, instead of springing for this mini-collection.
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's SUPERMAN!
Superman: A Little Piece of Home is a collection of four episodes from the 1996 through 2000 seasons of the animated Superman series. What really irks me is that this set retails for about thirteen dollars, but in January all 18 episodes of the first season will be released for around twenty-six bucks. It seems like this might be a good purchase for kids or people who are not rabid fans of the series, but then they are also not the first few episodes of the series. Those origin episodes can be found on a set called Superman The Last Son of Krypton, and would seem to make more sense for the casual collector. Yet the label on this disc says it's from the "DC Comics Kids Collection," so I am guessing these are value-priced sets for parents who don't want to buy more than a handful of episodes for their children. So there you have it. This could be a great set for kids who might not need the full set, or for people who for some reason are just looking for these specific episodes. Either way it still doesn't make tons of sense, but then I recall that in my own library are a couple of South Park discs that only have three or four episodes I found funny, and not the entire seasons.
You get four episodes selected from the fifty-four:
• "A Little Piece of Home" (episode #5)
• "Speed Demons" (episode #17)
• "The Late Mr. Kent"(episode #35)
• "Where There's Smoke" (episode #42)
They are all quite solid stories which are well animated with top notch voice acting. Tim Daly (Wings) provides the voice of Superman, while Dana Delany (China Beach) is Lois Lane. Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, and extensive voice work including Spongebob Squarepants) plays Lex Luthor, who (surprisingly) resembles Telly Savalas in his animated form. This is the team of producers and animators who gave us the great Batman the Animated Series, as well as Batman Beyond, The Justice League, and The Teen Titans. But where Batman was dark and brooding, this series is more bright and wholesomely optimistic. Action hardly ever occurs at night, and Metropolis seems like a great place to live—as opposed to Gotham City, where crime seems to ooze from the sidewalks. This would seem to be a "greatest hits" compilation from the three seasons. You get some very impressive guest stars voicing the supporting characters. For example, Peter Gallagher (American Beauty), Dennis Haysbert (24), Peri Gilpin (Fraiser), and William H. Macy are all in "Where There's Smoke."
It's funny when you look at how many incarnations of Superman there really are out there. Since "The Man of Steel" debuted in 1938 he has been represented almost constantly in radio, television, and movies. As far as animation goes, it seems few can compete with the artistry of the 1940s Fleischer cartoons. Yet this series comes close to being as impressive with its '40s Art Deco look and celebrity stunt casting. It's a fun series, but I can't help but view this disc as just an appetizer for the season discs, which will be released starting in late January. The disc itself has some cute extras. The trivia track is really informative for "A Little Piece of Home," and I enjoyed the other features. You get a short piece on Metropolis itself, and an interactive game where you control Superman with your DVD remote as he fights some villains. The transfers of the episodes are a little above broadcast standards, but not by much. I love the score, but nothing could compete with the original Superman theme composed by John Williams.
In the end, if you can find this title on sale I would say it's great for kids and the casual fan who just wants four episodes to tide them over until the full seasons are released. Other than that, Superman: A Little Piece of Home is ironically named—it's a little collection of some good episodes that should wet your appetite for a more comprehensive set coming in the following months. Rabid fans are advised to wait for those releases.
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