Superboy Season 1 Episode 1 The Jewel of the Techacal


The first episode of Superboy (later to be renamed The Adventures of Superboy) aired on October 8, 1988. Television was different then. To be blunt, the standards were much lower. Even with those lower standards though, I am shocked that this show made it past the first season after people saw this premier episode. Let me just say that I am a huge Superman fan. I will watch almost anything that is Superman related. I own a copy of the Supergirl movie, that's how far I take it. But even though this show was on the air when I was still a kid, somehow I completely missed it. I only found out about it recently and decided I had to watch it. I hunted down all 4 seasons.

Right from the start I knew this episode was going to be rough. The theme song is terrible, like a superhero theme parody. The special effects are cheap, although the shots where they superimpose (see what I did there?) Superboy over the shot to make it look like he's flying really aren't that bad for the time. The dialog is cornier than the old Superman t.v. series. The worst thing about this show is the acting. Oh, the acting! When Lana thinks she is about to see her estranged father die in a fiery plane crash, she looks mildly upset. Her father and his assistant go through their lines like they are reading them for the first time. The prize for horrible acting though, has to go to Sherman Howard, who plays Lex Luthor like he's playing a douchy rich kid in a spoof of Animal House or something. If they gave Emmy's for overacting, he would have been a shoe-in. All of this makes the young men playing Clark/Superboy and TJ (the Jimmy Olsen stand-in) look fantastic by comparison, simply by not being awful.

The story is kind of dumb, but pretty standard superhero fare, especially for the time. Lana's dad is an archeologist, who has neglected her and her mother in his pursuit of ancient treasures. He and his assistant have uncovered a fabled jewel and are bring it to Shuster College to display. Oh yeah, that's where the show takes place, because for some inexplicable reason the show runners decided to not go to Smallville or Metropolis. Anyway, Lana's dad is intent on repairing his relationship with his daughter. Lex is intent on stealing all the ancient loot. His sidekick is intent on making sure Jon Cryer isn't the most annoying character in a Superman vehicle. The twist comes when we find out that the jewel Lana's dad has recovered is cursed! This revelation comes after a storm brews up inside the room where the jewel is being stored, almost killing TJ, Lana's dad, his assistant, and Clark. When the assistant points out that they should return the jewel, Lana's dad says it was only a tornado, and it's the season for those so there is nothing to worry about.  Apparently this show is set in a world where indoor tornadoes are a regular phenomenon.


The jewel ends up causing Lana's dad to go into a coma or something, it's not very clear. While he is in the hospital, Clark decides he needs to take the jewel back to the temple where it was taken from. One problem though, Lex is there first, to steal the jewel and sell it to a fence. The jewel knocks Superboy unconscious and Lex takes off with it. The interaction between Lex and Superboy is kind of weird. It seems like this is the first time Lex has ever met Superboy, but Superboy seems as though he and Lex have a long history. As Superboy recovers to find that Lex has made his getaway, we see Lana's dad take a turn for the worse in the hospital. Lana calls for a doctor, who rushes in to lay his hand on Mr. Lang's arm and do nothing else to try to help him. With that kind of medical help it's obvious Mr. Lang is in deep trouble.


Superboy chases down Lex, and the one special effect in the show (Superboy's flying) is ruined by having Superboy telling Lex to pull his car over. He seems very uninterested in whether Lex complies or not. Somehow Lex's car is transported from a small road to a parking lot, and he is confronted by a line of small orange cones. Apparently deciding this is more of an obstacle than the car can handle, he turns around and drive back the other direction. Now magically back on the small road again, Superboy lands in front of the car, causing Lex to swerve off the road, through a fruit stand, and into a creek. Superboy let's the cops take care of Lex while he flies the jewel back to it's temple. Lana's dad is fully recovered, and Clark makes a dumb joke about how he contacts Superboy by looking him up in the yellow pages (a joke kids now probably wouldn't even get I realize). Clark then breaks the fourth wall by looking knowingly into the camera, and the episode is blessedly over. The best thing about it is that it's pretty short, clocking in at 21 minutes. The strange thing, even though this was really pretty bad, I still enjoyed it more than I did Lois and Clark. Since I will absolutely be finishing all 4 seasons (Superman fan, remember?) I can only hope this show gets better as it goes along.

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