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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Monday, November 28, 2005
A Robot For Toler

Better yet, a "Runaway Robot", as in the title of this episode of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. A scatterbrained inventor named Horatio Hinkle (Lucien Littlefield) builds a robot that he can control using a large remote control device that contains a television screen. Why he builds it, I don't know, but he uses it to foil a jewelry store heist being carried out by a couple of mugs named Rocco and Mousie. How Hinkle knew about the heist, I don't know.

Inspector Henderson (Robert Shayne), never the sharpest mind among Metropolis' finest, jails Hinkle, even though it seems as though the jeweler who was held up would be able to vindicate him. Somehow, the real crooks, who escaped the robot's grasp, manage to steal the robot from the police garage (!) and take it to their boss, Chopper, who's played by Russell Johnson aka the Professor from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

Chopper decides to kidnap the Professor, now lounging on Clark Kent's couch, and force him to use the robot to break into a bank. Hinkle refuses, but that dumbass Lois Lane (Phyllis Coates) manages to get herself kidnapped as well, and Chopper threatens to go apeshit on Lois' face with a hammer unless Hinkle changes his tune.

Meanwhile, Kent (George Reeves), who appears to his friends to be sleeping during all this calamity, puts on his super-longjohns and flies to the crooks' hideout in time to beat the shit out of them and prevent the robot from smashing in the Professor's head (Professor Hinkle, not Gilligan's Professor).

This is not one of SUPERMAN's best episodes, although it provides a strong hint as to how future shows would play out. Under the supervision of producer Robert Maxwell, the black-and-white episodes of the first season were generally tougher and slightly more mature than the show would become. When Maxwell left the show, the series became more comical with Superman battling a bunch of idiot gangsters like the ones in "The Runaway Robot." It's hard to argue with the approach, as SUPERMAN stayed on the air for several more seasons, all in color, a total of 104 episodes from 1951-1957.

Posted by Marty at 7:15 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 29, 2005 - 11:36 PM CST

Name: Hal Horn

Now this brings back some memories. I might have to spring for the B/W episodes on DVD at some point. They are mostly terrific, especially considering the budget.

But, much like the later years of QUINCY M.E., the color SUPERMAN episodes have a "so bad it's good" charm for me.
My pick for arguably the worst episode of television ever is "Great Caesar's Ghost", from the color years. Yes, after calling him "one million times", Perry White finally finds himself face to face with the ghost of Julius Caesar.
And he goes insane, with all the cliches, i.e. cutting out paper dolls, hearing things, etc. Surely John Hamilton had to be a little embarrassed by that one. You seen it, Marty? I'm sure if you have you can never forget it. :)

Saturday, December 3, 2005 - 11:40 PM CST

Name: Marty McKee

I'm sure I have seen it. I used to watch SUPERMAN in afternoon reruns, when it often aired back-to-back with BATMAN.

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