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The Museum of Television & Radio Presents Look! Up At the Screen! It’s Superheroes on Television

Thursday, May 13, 2004

New York, NY and Los Angeles, CAThis summer, The Museum of Television & Radio presents Look! Up at the Screen! It's Superheroes on Television, an entertaining look at our beloved heroes on television, from cartoon favorites to teenage vampire slayers to the ultimate anti-heroes. Look! Up at the Screen! It's Superheroes on Television opens on June 18, 2004, and runs through October 10, 2004, in both New York and Los Angeles. Screenings in New York will be Tuesdays to Sundays at 3:00 p.m. and in Los Angeles Wednesdays to Sundays at 3:00 p.m. The Museum will also be presenting Superfun for Families, bonus one-hour superhero family screenings each day from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and featuring such children's favorites as The Fantastic Four, Hong Kong Phooey, Goosebumps, among others; in New York, Saturday Morning Super Cels: Madison Avenue Meets the Superheroes (June 18 to November 28), a gallery exhibit featuring animation cels from various Saturday morning commercials from the 1960s, '70s, and '80s; and Listen! It's Superheroes on the Radio (June 22 to October 31), a radio listening series featuring some of the classic radio superheroes including The Shadow, The Green Hornet, and Superman.   

Superheroes—larger-than-life champions locked in eternal struggle against the forces of evil—are part and parcel of American popular culture. Ever since the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics established the comic book (traditionally a collection of repackaged newspaper strips) as a viable artistic entity in its own right, the spectacle of superpowered "long underwear" vigilantes has resonated with audiences of all ages and inspired debate and analysis in the halls of academe. Whether enjoyed as escapist fantasy or pondered as archetypes of modern myth, superheroes have become ubiquitous, transcending their pulpy origins to find expression in theater, pop music, films, and, inevitably, television. 

Look! Up at the Screen! It's Superheroes on Television

This Museum series will feature screenings of complete episodes of more than thirty superhero programs from 1953 to 2001. The series will be presented in five thematic packages: comic-book favorites, the mod crime fighters of the 1960s, empowered superheroines, cartoon characters in action, and the postmodern superhero. The schedule includes:

June 18–July 7, 2004—Comic-Book Classics

George Reeves wears the lamest disguise in the history of the genre when not fighting for truth, justice, and the American way in The Adventures of Superman (1953); Bill Bixby is a nuclear age Jean Valjean in The Incredible Hulk (1979), his world-weary gravitas regularly interrupted by a shirtless green monster wreaking havoc; and the phenomenally popular Batman of the 1960s introduces the concept of "camp" to mainstream audiences and dazzles the eye with its pop-art derived visuals—most surprising, considering the character's violent, grimly realistic origins in comic books.  

July 9–July 29, 2004—Mod and Swingin'

The Avengers (1965), while not superheroes in the traditional sense (no capes or strange powers), employed an iconic visual presentation, outlandish foes, and playful science fiction elements that placed agents John Steed and Emma Peel in a superheroic context, as this tussle with an ominous robot demonstrates; the well-heeled hero of The Green Hornet (1966), aided by his trusty aide Kato (Bruce Lee), faces off against a "silent gun"; and  ITV's The Champions (1968) were dapper British agents with paranormal powers (granted to them by a mysterious ancient race), who work for a shadowy organization (NEMESIS) against the backdrop of Swinging London. 

July 30–August 19, 2004—Girl Power

Wonder Woman, the first significant female superhero, was created in 1941 by psychiatrist William Moulton Marston in an effort to give girls an identification figure in the overwhelmingly male world of costumed crusaders. The New, Original Wonder Woman (1975), which recounts Wonder Woman's origin, was a great success, hewing faithfully to Marston's vision, down to the distinctive costume, mythological roots, and WWII setting. Like Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) struggles with an epic destiny and a sexually frustrated mother in this sly outing featuring a subversive turn from the late John Ritter.  

August 20–September 9, 2004—Junior Varsity

The Wally Cox–voiced Underdog (1966) saves the earth's water supply while declaiming in iambic pentameter; the decidedly unmighty members of Ralph Bakshi's satirical The Mighty Heroes (1967) display their signature ineptitude; Terrytoons stalwart Mighty Mouse (1967) saves the day without bragging about his 1945 Academy Award nomination; the earnest marionettes of Gerry Anderson's Supercar (1961) team turn their efforts from fighting evil to teaching a monkey to play jazz; The Powerpuff Girls (1999) offer the strangely satisfying spectacle of cute little moppets unleashing total mayhem; and ElectraWoman and DynaGirl (1976) pushes the concept of camp to terrifying extremes in this fondly remembered disaster from the Krofft stable.

September 10–October 10, 2004—I Never Meta Superhero I Didn't Like

Cosmic crusader Space Ghost gives up adventuring for the more cutthroat world of late-night talk shows in the absurdist Space Ghost Coast to Coast (1997); Seinfeld's Patrick Warburton is The Tick (2001), whose heroic spirit is matched only by his crushing stupidity; Robert Smigel gleefully warps 1970s superhero cartoon tropes in his eyebrow-raising X-Presidents (1998) and Ambiguously Gay Duo(1999) shorts; after Buck Henry spoofed James Bond with Get Smart, he took on the long underwear brigade with Captain Nice (1967), which concerned a meek, ineffectual police scientist (William Daniels) who transforms himself into the meek, ineffectual superhero Captain Nice; and director Ben Stiller presents Heat Vision & Jack (1999), a twisted amalgam of such fondly remembered science fiction/action TV series as The Six Million Dollar Man and Knight Rider, starring cult favorites Jack Black (The School of Rock) and Owen Wilson (Starsky & Hutch) as superintelligent astronaut Jack Austin and Heat Vision, his philosophical talking motorcycle.  

Admission to Look! Up at the Screen! It's Superheroes on Television is included with the Museum's suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. Each screening package runs 120 minutes. 

The Museum of Television & Radio, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, was founded by William S. Paley to collect and preserve television and radio programs and advertisements and to make them available to the public. Since opening in 1976, the Museum has organized exhibitions, screening and listening series, seminars, and education classes to showcase its preeminent collection of over 100,000 television and radio programs and advertisements. Programs in the Museum's collection are selected for their artistic, cultural, and historic significance. 

The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m. and until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The Museum of Television & Radio in California, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Both Museums are closed on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. The public areas in both Museums are accessible to wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices are available. Programs are subject to change. You may call the Museum in New York at (212) 621-6800, or in Los Angeles at (310) 786-1000. Visit the Museum's website at