Superman may be the ultimate super-hero and a gleaming icon of all-American wholesomeness, but he’s been involved in all manner of dodgy projects over the years, from a fourth Superman movie for the schlock merchants over at Cannon to a famously ill-conceived, aborted 1990s attempt at a reboot that would have put Nicolas Cage in tights as a mulleted Superman for director Tim Burton and screenwriter Kevin Smith—the most natural, organic pairing since John Travolta and Lily Tomlin stole our hearts with Moment By Moment.
The Nicolas Cage/Tim Burton boondoggle would seem to set the bar prohibitively high for ill-conceived Superman projects, but that’s only because a 1958 pilot called The Adventures Of Super-Pup (from the makers of The Adventures Of Superman) was never aired and exists now on YouTube as a surreal cautionary warning against the dangers of taking a beloved property in unholy and nonsensical directions.
The live-action pilot follows the low-budget, low-rent adventures of Super-Pup, a super-heroic humanoid dog played, like all of the other characters on the pilot, by a wildly gesticulating little person in a hilariously inexpressive dog mask, as well as his mild-mannered journalistic alter-ego Bark Bent. To say much more would be to ruin some of the horror, but seldom has the phrase “You’ve got to see it to believe it” felt more apt. If nothing else, the pilot represents the most extreme possible test of the theory that kids will watch anything, especially if it involves dogs or superheroes or a singularly ill-conceived combination of the two.