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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member
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    Apr 2014

    Default Superman on TV: who's you favorite Lois/Lex/Clark?

    My buddy and I recorded a podcast on the various Superman Tv shows and what we liked or didn't like about various Superman shows, and what we'd like in future versions of the franchise:

    I'm thinking about doing som follow up stuff using short videos on YouTube.

    How do you guys rank the Tv versions of Clark, Lois or Lex? I presume that STAS versions may have an advantage since they're the only straight adaption of the mythos without any twists or handicaps, but is that solidly true? And if it is, who's you're favorite live action version of the character?

    Personally, for me:

    Lex goes to Clancy Brown as Lex in STAS, since he manages to be a good combination of supporting character, series anatagonist, and eventual big bad of Justice League, all with a good range of businessman Lex and mad scientist Lex along the way. Then I'd go Michael Rosenbaum in Smallville, since he's arguably the best part of the show for the first half, but has a few too many weird stories to beat Brown's take, than Shea in L&C, since as good as he is, he is kind of stuck as a romance villain, instead of pure supervillain. All three are still great though.

    Clark goes to Tim Daly/George Newburn in the DCAU as well, mostly for the sake of consistency, but there's not quite as much clear disparity here. I think that Tom Welling and Dean Cain both do a great job with what they're given, particularly Cain in the "Casual Clark" aspects of L&C, while Welling has a ball doing different versions of Clark in other realities or under the effect of kryptonite. Cain's maybe limited again by L&C's romance first nature and cheesy 90's style, while Welling had to deal with a lot of inconsistent writing for Clark in Smallville.

    Lois is maybe the only one where I'll break from STAS. I personally like Erica Durrance more, but that's probably because she had more oppurtunities to carry Smallville a bit in later seasons; Delaney is great, but I like Durrance-Lois's ability to flit between action hero to rom-com lead depending on the situation, and as insane as her stories were, her characterization was actually among the more consistent on the show, and as long as that held true, I actually found myself enjoying the he insanity; it kind of proves there's some value in those Silver Age stories of Lois getting into whacky hijinks. Teri Hatcher does a good job in L&C, but the character's kind of written as a bit of an idiot at times.

    Who's yours, and why?
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  2. #2
    Death becomes you Osiris-Rex's Avatar
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    Dec 2015


    Never really paid that much to the cartoons so all I have to go on is the live action versions on TV.

    Favorite Lois - Teri Hatcher - Maybe not the best reporter but so adorkable. Runner up - Noel Neill
    Favorite Lex - Michael Rosenbaum - Nailed the essence of evil so well - never felt he was being camp, unlike the vibe I got from John Shea at times.
    Favorite Clark - George Reeves - Hard boiled, no nonsense reporter. Even when he acted the oaf to Lois, he was winking at the audience, "If she only knew."
    Favorite Jimmy - Jack Larson - Defined Jimmy Olsen as to what people expected Jimmy to act like. People complain about Mechad Brooks being too mature, but compare him to the Jimmy in Smallville
    or the first Jimmy in Lois & Clark, and Mechad's Jimmy is actually a more fun loving, goofball Jimmy that more closely parallels what an older Larson's Jimmy would be like.

  3. #3
    Amazing Member Lucky's Avatar
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    May 2014


    For most of the characters I have to go with the Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman versions. Dean Cain portrayed Clark the way I always felt he should. Teri Hatcher was an amazing Lois. Lane Smith was utter perfection as Perry (seriously, he will always be Perry for me).

    For Lex though, I'll have to go with Smallville. Michael Rosenbaum gave him so many layers.

    For Jimmy, it is hard to have a preference, since all of them I think did a good job (I don't watch Supergirl though, so I'm not counting that version).

    As for Superman apart from Clark, yeah TAS did it the best.

  4. #4
    All-New Member TaliaJoy's Avatar
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    May 2017


    I haven't watched Smallville yet, so for me I'm really just comparing The Adventures of Superman (1950s), Lois & Clark, and Superman: The Animated Series.


    The first two seasons of the Adventures of Superman are honestly my favorite piece of Superman media, and a big reason why is because I really love its portrayal of the characters, especially George Reeves' Clark/Superman. Osiris-Rex explained a big reason why. He's an utter thorn in criminals' sides just as much as Clark Kent as he is at Superman. No other piece of Superman media that I've seen hammers it home quite so clearly and undeniably that what's so great about him is not owed to his powers or alien nature, but just because he's an awesome all-around guy. Altogether, he just has a great personality - both a man of action who gets stuff done and who's really amicable and a great guy to be around. And on top of all this, I feel like this version of the character actually has a fair bit of subtle emotional complexity too.

    Dean Cain's Clark was quite nice and lovable too - that show had a pretty interesting take on the character that I think made him a bit more flawed, and also very fun and playful - really ramping up the humanity, even compared to other relatively "human" versions, while still not betraying what it means to be Superman. And overall, I really like it. Not that I think every depiction of Superman should be quite like that, but it worked really well for the show. Plus, he was really cute ;P

    I think S:TAS Superman and even Clark were pretty great early on in the series, but I feel like as they go on, they fail to really capitalize on the ground they laid, leaving us with a Clark that never appears and is usually boring even when he does, and a Superman who is fine but doesn't have a wide or deep enough emotional range. Don't get me wrong, S:TAS is excellent during its high points and its "low" points actually don't go nearly as low as those two other shows (even though I would say I ultimately prefer those other two shows overall for various reasons), but as it goes on I don't think it meets its potential or goes in interesting directions as much as I wish it did.

    Overall winner: George Reeves


    As far as the Adventures of Superman goes, Noel Neill is nice and all, but I really love Phyllis Coates, the first season Lois that seemingly no one talks about. Something about her Lois was just so...Lois-y, while also being a bit more balanced than some depictions. For example, she's clearly headstrong and sometimes yells at Clark or others, but she's doesn't come across as a brat or a jerk. I also like how she's so feisty but can be gentle and comforting when the situation calls for it too. Sometimes she gets in trouble because she's brave to the point of foolishness, and she wouldn't be the Lois we know and love if she didn't. Overall, to me she just captured the essence of Lois Lane extremely well.

    I would also rank Teri Hatcher very highly, however. Now, note that sometimes her Lois seems rather petty, doesn't trust others when she should, makes bad decisions, etc. - but strangely, that's actually part of the reason I like this depiction. They're not afraid to embrace Lois as a flawed and emotionally vulnerable person, which I honestly love. She feels much more down-to-earth than a lot of versions of Lois, with a substantial amount of depth and development. She doesn't fall into the trap of being too insanely self-confident and amazing, or into the trap of being a massive jerk. She's still an admirable person, but she can be mean at times, she can be stupid at times, but she's sorry for her mistakes and works to get better, and amidst her flaws she's still definitely someone you respect, someone you love, someone you root for, someone that's not too hard to believe Superman would fall in love with. Not every version of Lois has to be like her, because I actually think a meaner Lois has her place too (especially since Clark vs Lois rivalry antics can be quite amusing), but I think most versions of Lois can certainly learn something from her, and maybe gain something by being a bit more like her.

    S:TAS Lois is a solid depiction in almost every way. That said, though, I just don't think they did enough interesting things with her, so I can't place her as my favorite or anything like that.

    Overall winner: Honestly kind of a toss-up between Phyllis Coates and Teri Hatcher. I think Teri has the edge just because she's more emotionally complex with more backstory and development.


    After writing several paragraphs on the other characters, I don't feel like going on too long for Lex, so I'll just say John Shea - before season 3, at least. Later on, they ramped up the idea of him being a "romantic" villain too much, and he also had the misfortune of being connected to some truly STUPID plots at that time involving amnesia, clones and other garbage that belongs in a sci-fi soap opera. However, before that, he did an awesome job capturing Lex Luthor while also bringing a little more humanity to the character.

    S:TAS Lex Luthor was great too, especially early on. I was sad that the show focused on him less as time went on. I haven't watched Justice League yet, but it's good to hear he becomes more prominent again.

    (Also, let me just say that I echo Osiris-Rex concerning Jack Larson's Jimmy Olsen. I love the entire cast of that show!)
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  5. #5
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    May 2014


    I don't really have a favorite over-all Superman because there are two actors who I think each got part of the character down perfectly but didn't come close to getting the other half down.

    My Favorite Clark is Dean Cain in that his Clark was the only one who was believable as a cover for Superman. He was quirky without being so over-the-top that you might think it was an act.

    George Reeves on the other hand was a perfect Superman. As Clark Kent, though he either acted too similar to Superman or did/said things that were give aways (I was just … I mean, Superman was just). At times I see his Clark as a logical version of a guy who forgets he is in disguise, but at others it just pulls me out of my suspended belief that no one on screen notices.

    Superman the Animated Series has the distinction of having the best Lois, which is a major disappointment to me as I think Dana Delaney would have done the role even better as live action. Phyllis Coates is a close second and another disappointment as she didn't last long enough in the role.

    The problem with the Lexes is that like Clark I see different actors doing great but distinctly different takes on Luthor. The 2nd actor to play Luthor on the Superboy TV series was great as mad scientist Luthor. John Shea has the charming businessman façade hiding a villain down better than the others. But Clancy Brown simply has the menacing feel of Lex - someone who was the smartest and deadliest man in the room (except maybe Batman).

  6. #6
    Mighty Member Adekis's Avatar
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    May 2014



    The best TV Clark, ultimately, is Dean Cain in my opinion. He plays Clark as a laid back but beleaguered everyman to both Hatcher's frantic Lois, and to the whole world. Cain's Clark is both highly compassionate, extremely heartfelt and sincere, and very sardonic and wry, which is just fun to watch. Plus, like Reeves' Clark before him, Cain's Clark contributes as much to helping others and crime busting as Superman does.

    The two other contenders are Tim Daly and George Reeves' Clark Kents. Reeves' Clark is incredibly charming, hard-boiled, badass and just generally fun to watch, and like Cains, he carries far more of the show than Superman does. Still, and I understand this might be a controversial take, as both Clark and Superman, Reeves is better than consensus-best Chris Reeve. He might not quite be my favorite TV Clark, but he's really phenomenal, a powerhouse of charm. Reeve also has two things that no other version of Superman really have at all. The whole world is played as cartoony and broad a lot of the time, even during the more serious season 1, but Reeves always plays Clark and Superman very straight and down-to-Earth. He's a kids' TV character, yes, but he's got lots and lots of hidden depths, and that keeps him compelling even to this day in a way few other characters on that show are. It's easier to be a kids' TV character with hidden depths that work for adults, than to be an adult TV character that also has to work for kids, and while Superman is good at doing the latter in a way few characters manage to nail, Reeves hits the former in a way I'm not sure the character ever did again. Second of all, the way he always winks at the camera, it's like he's a guide for the kids watching the show, protecting them, teaching them, entertaining them, letting them know that yes, he's in on the joke too. It's just a truly remarkable feat of charm.

    Daly is great too, and the strength of "The Late Mr. Kent" alone almost takes him to the top, being possibly the best Clark Kent story ever written. STAS, unlike Adventures or L&C, is largely dominated by Superman over Clark, but Clark still gets a lot of screen time to make his mark, and he's got a similar sense of sardonic wit to Cain, and occasionally, to Reeves. He's very grounded, like both the other two greats are.


    I want to make a distinction between Superman and Clark, even though I know it's not accurate.

    Cain's Superman has a problem. He's great at times ("A Bolt From the Blue" is a personal favorite) but more often than not, Cain has channeled so much charm and personality into Clark that there's not much left for Superman except to be Clark in a particularly stern mood. It works very well for what L&C does, and by no means does it hurt the show, but there's still this like, less-than-totally stellar Superman there.

    Reeves' Superman has a similar thing, though the lack of differentiation between Clark and Superman basically mitigates the problem. Either way though, Superman is usually absent from the show and only shows up to save the day in the last five minutes with information that Clark acquired throughout the episode. All the awesome stuff I said about Reeves' Clark above still applies to Reeves' Superman, but ultimately I think the relative lack of screentime, plus the basic lack of special effects, make it hard to say he's the best Superman. He's definitely got his moments though. I think the Superman and the Mole Men movie is a great example of a story where Superman takes a relatively central role and kicks ass!

    Daly's Superman has a problem too. He's nearly perfect in personality, and unlike Cain and Reeves he generally reliably has a big role in the episode. Don't get me wrong, the action is great. There's basically two things that hold him back for me, the first being that he often displays the proportionate strength of a spider, and the second being that he eventually becomes the Newbern Superman.

    Newbern's Superman is self-righteous and arrogant, who not only takes hits and partially loses fights to make the villains seem more impressive, but to make his teammates seem more impressive too. It's a bad combo. He's not a bad character, but to me he's kind of the Game of Thrones Superman - you want him to win, but you also always want him to be his best self, and you know he'll never quite manage it. This critique also applies to the JLU Batman. Major exception of course is "Hereafter," a really awesome story where Superman thrives as a result of being cut off from the rest of the League, who basically spend the rest of the episode sitting around talking about how great he is, and later failing to deal with one of Superman's foes without him. It's really good stuff, but doesn't on its own make up for Superman's self-righteousness during the (truly stellar) Cadmus arc.

    Lowenthal's Superman from Legion of Super-Heroes is actually a pretty good contender for my favorite Superman - visibly extremely fast and strong compared to the JLU Superman, rarely jobs to another super-hero, clearly the main character despite being part of an ensemble cast, and still compassionate, vulnerable, and yeah to a certain extent mild-mannered. I really like this kid. He's probably technically the best TV Superman.

    But I'm still going to give "best Superman" to Jason J. Lewis from Justice League Action. His Superman exists to kick ass and make jokes. He's a little square sometimes, but even then he's always presented as highly competent, and in action he's kind of a whirling dervish of combat excellence. He's just extremely fun to watch.


    Listen, Phyllis Coates is phenomenal, one of the best, but she's unfortunately held back by writers not all being on the same page about how great Lois is supposed to be. Noel Neill too - there's absolutely episodes where she's on the total same level as Coates at her best! There's a reason Coates has a reputation as the serious one and Neill doesn't, but Neill has great moments too.

    Hatcher's phenomenal and really well-formed as a character, in a way probably no other version of Lois is. Frantic, self-motivated, but also with something of a charming vulnerability under her hard outer shell, and an almost childlike faith in Superman even as she puts down poor Clark - it's a great update of the classic formula into a character that actually works - the great strength of L&C was always the relationship between the two lead characters, and Hatcher's Lois and Cain's Clark are characters you can believe at every single turn, and delight in along the way.

    But I still think the best is Dana Delaney from STAS. She's tough-as-nails, like the best of Phyllis Coates' Lois revamped for the contemporary world and let loose. She has less of Hatcher's vulnerability, but she's still ultimately got a soft and compassionate center under all that sarcasm. She's a perfect adaptation of a Lois with all the best elements of the character in play. Fantastic!


    Let's not beat around the bush, it's absolutely Michael Rosenbaum. No other actor got the chance to play Luthor for as long, or in a show so determined to keep him likable. Brown and Shea both play a Luthor you love to hate, but Rosenbaum got to play a Luthor you love to love, and he absolutely shone in the role, overflowing with charm and smarm. I'm such a big fan of Lex as a self-made man that I think Lionel in general is kind of a bad idea, but it gives Rosenbaum's Luthor someone above him to oppose, and it works really well in the specific context of Smallville in a way that doesn't detract from Luthor much or at all.


    I gotta be honest, I've never been that sold on Jack Larson. Sure he's cute and fun to watch, but he also clearly plays Jimmy as a lovable idiot. He says as much in interviews, but you don't need to hear him say it to see it in the show.

    Landes and Whalin never made much of an impact on me. Landes is the better of the two in my opinion, but not for any particularly Jimmy-esque characteristic, and he's still got elements of the lovable idiot to him.

    The Kaufman Jimmy from STAS just always seemed underdeveloped to me. Never thought he earned the position of Superman's Pal, to the extent that when Huntress kidnaps him in JLU and Superman leaves him gagged while talking to her, it seems like a reasonable thing to do. Gotta be kidding me, honestly.

    I don't have a comprehensive knowledge of Smallville, but I at least don't like the idea of a Jimmy who dies only to be replaced with his brother Jimmy. Maybe watching the show in more depth will change my mind. I'm doing a casual rewatch now. It's possible Aaron Ashmore is the best Jimmy we've gotten yet, but I don't know it yet if he is. As for Brooks in Supergirl, they've taken a lot of effort to distance "James" from the classic Jimmy Olsen, so much so that I don't even really want to call them the same. He's too smooth, too cool for me. He's also an actual, literal super-hero, something Jimmy only did rarely and for brief periods in the comics. I'm not that impressed. He's not a bad character, honestly, not at all, but he's just not really Jimmy.

    I think I want to give the Best Jimmy title to Max Mittelton in Justice League Action once again. It's not really down to Max Mittelton, not to downplay his contributions or anything, but mostly I think the writing does a lot to establish Jimmy. He's very, very motivated to get footage and obtain fame. He's a little conceited, a little cowardly, but ultimately a good-hearted and highly fun character. I could see him being a more focal character alongside Superman in some episodes, maybe something that'd give him a little more depth to go with his solid foundational groundwork.

    Ultimately I don't think Jimmy's ever been nailed on TV or in movies that I've seen. Kind of a shame.
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  7. #7
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    Apr 2014


    Excluding animation and just going with live action television:

    For Clark Kent, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor and Mr. Mxyzptlk, I would go with Gerard Christopher, Stacy Haiduk, Sherman Howard and Michael J. Pollard, respectively, from SUPERBOY.

    For Superman and Jimmy Olsen, I'd pick George Reeves and Jack Larson from THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN.

    For Lois Lane and Perry White, I'd take Teri Hatcher and Lane Smith from LOIS AND CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN.

    For Jonathan and Martha Kent, I have to side with John Schneider and Annette O'Toole from SMALLVILLE.

    Kara Zor-El, I choose Melissa Benoist and begrudgingly, as Cat Grant, Calista Flockhart (over Tracy Scoggins), on SUPERGIRL.

    Robert Shayne and Damon Gupton are going to have to arm wrestle for who's the better Inspector Henderson. I just can't decide between ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and BLACK LIGHTNING on that question.
    sorry 🍁

  8. #8
    Legendary Member daBronzeBomma's Avatar
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    May 2014
    Usually at the End of Time


    Favorite TV (live-action OR animated show) Superman: Beau Weaver of the 1980s Ruby-Spears Superman cartoon

    Favorite TV (live-action OR animated show) Clark Kent: Dean Cain of the 1990s Lois & Clark show

    Favorite TV (live-action OR animated show) Lois Lane: Terri Hatcher of the 1990s Lois & Clark show

    Favorite TV (live-action OR animated show) Lex Luthor: Mark Rolston of the 2010s Young Justice cartoon

    Favorite TV (live-action OR animated show) Brainiac: Blake Ritson of the 2010s Krypton show

    Favorite TV (live-action OR animated show) Zod: Colin Salmon of the 2010s Krypton show

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