"Superboy" has been a long-neglected chapter of the 'Superman' saga, due, in large part, to Warner Bros., who refused, with a few exceptions, to allow the four-season series to be re-syndicated or marketed for 14 years (after winning a court ruling against Alexander and Ilya Salkind, long-time 'Superman' franchise producers). Fortunately, the WB has finally released the first season on DVD (in conjunction with the release of "Superman Returns"), and, despite some obvious 'growing pains' in plot and execution, the series certainly is a worthy addition to any fan's library!
Filmed at the Disney/MGM Studios in Orlando, the first season of the half-hour series offered hunky John Haymes Newton, 22 (cast because of a resemblance to Christopher Reeve), as the Shuster University Journalism student/Superhero, with wholesomely sexy Stacy Haiduk, 20 (Newton's offscreen girlfriend) as his friend (who could be more), Lana Lang. Rounding out the 'regulars' was mop-topped Jim Calvert as 'Jimmy Olsen'-like T.J. White (nephew of Perry), who provided some welcome lightness and humor to the proceedings.
The first episodes appear rushed and routine (the introduction of occasional guest star Scott Wells as snobbish, evil 'frat boy' Lex Luthor is poorly-acted and disappointing), and, sadly, many critics who panned the series never looked beyond those episodes, to the later, more polished stories, penned by veteran 'Superman' comic book writers. Those episodes (particularly the introduction of impish Mr. Mxyzptlk, portrayed by a perfectly-cast Michael J. Pollard), show the promise of the VERY good series "Superboy" would become, in time.
"Superboy" would foreshadow "Smallville", highlighting the bonds of young Clark to his adopted parents (portrayed by the excellent Stuart Whitman and Salome Jens), his small-town roots and sense of integrity, and the frustration of an attraction to Lana that he cannot consummate, because of the secrets he keeps. Newton, while lacking the smoldering sex appeal of Tom Welling, is very likable, and is far closer in age and personality to the character he portrays than either Welling, or Gerard Christopher (who would assume the role in Season Two of "Superboy").
Sadly, a combination of publicized scrapes with the local police (he seemed to drive at super-speed!), and salary demands would cost Newton the role after the first season, and most fans prefer Christopher's 'take' on the character, but this, to me, makes this collection even more 'special'. Comparing actor portrayals is a lot of the fun of the various incarnations of 'Krypton's Last Son', and Newton is certainly worth watching...
Give this collection a chance, and I think you will like it, on its own merits, and as the introduction of a long-absent chapter in the 'Superman' story!