Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1941: Metropolis Football Team PoisonedReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: September 01, 1941-October 03, 1941
"Metropolis Football Team Poisoned"
Clark Kent is covering an American football game for the Daily Planet. Metropolis University is playing against State College. Lois Lane has accompanied Clark to the game. Clark sees that something is wrong with the players during the game's third quarter. He notices that the team seems like they aren't putting up any competition. Team captain Bob Harris even fumbled a kickoff ball. This is something Harris has never done in his four years on the Metropolis University team. Harris also collapsed on the field without anyone touching him.
While Lois returns to the newspaper offices, Clark goes to the locker room to speak with team coach Spike Taylor. Coach Tayler seems nervous while Doctor Elliot Stone examines Bob Harris. The coach is suspicious. All the players were in prime condition and ready to play against State College earlier today, but now, they're playing in a dazed state.
The doctor finds nothing wrong with Harris, but he's taken a blood sample from the team captain to examine further. Harris then apologizes to Coach Taylor for his poor performance on the field. He tells Taylor that his legs felt heavy, and his head began to swim. The coach forgives him since Metropolis University won the game anyway. Bob, however, reveals that the other players on the team felt the same way he had. Some players even want to quit the team as a result of their mysterious illness. Coach Taylor, afterwords, orders that all the players to meet him in the Metropolis University gymnasium in one hour.
After Harris leaves the locker room, Coach Taylor reveals something. Everything depends Metropolis University being undefeated. Thousands of children depend on them to beat death. He says nothing further of this cryptic promise until he and Clark meet Professor Nelson, head of the university's medical school. Coach Taylor only tells Clark that Metropolis University has one more opponent to play - Southwest University. If they defeat Southwest, Met U. will go to the Rose Bowl. Both Professor Nelson and Coach Taylor explain further.
Professor Nelson is trying to study possible cures for infantile paralysis. The university needs more funds for this research. David Leslie Richards, a very rich member of the Metropolis University alumni who owned a gold mine, passed away and left three million dollars to the college. However, Met U. must raise an additional five hundred thousand dollars on their own within a year of Richards' death in order to get the inherited money. So far, Met U. has been able raise three hundred thousand dollars. They should be able to raise the rest from their share of ticket sales of the Southwest game and go to the Rose Bowl should they defeat their opponents. If Met U. is undefeated, they should get the three million dollars from Richards' estate without any problems.
At that moment, Doctor Stone enters to give Coach Taylor the results of Bob Harris' blood tests. Strangely enough, the doctor finds nothing out of the ordinary in the blood. Clark finds it hard to believe that nothing was wrong with the players after seeing their performance on the field. This leaves the reporter to wonder who benefits from Richards' estate if Met U. doesn't raise the five hundred thousand dollars.
Later, Clark is in the law offices of Quincy, Caldwell and Scott. John Quincy, David Leslie Richards' lawyer, tells the mild mannered reporter that three other beneficiaries will get the three million dollars should Metropolis University fail to raise the additional money. Clark wants to see Richards' will, but Quincy protests. The will, however, has not been filed with the probate court yet. Clark tries to explain that Met U. needs the three million dollars to help in the research for a cure for infantile paralysis. The reporter continues by saying that he believes that one of the three beneficiaries of Richards' money is trying to prevent Metropolis University from raising the five hundred thousand dollars in order to get the estate's three million for themselves.
Back at the Daily Planet offices, Clark explains to Perry White about Met U. and the money from David Leslie Richards' estate. White thinks Clark is going on a wild goose chase, but Clark believes there's more to all that's going on than meets the eye. His suspicions are confirmed when Jimmy Olsen gives message to Clark. The unsigned message threatens Clark's very life. Clark asks Jimmy who delivered the message. The copy boy tells him that it just a boy that was about his age. The messenger boy didn't wear a uniform.
Thinking that Professor Nelson can use his influence to get John Quincy to tell the names of the other three beneficiaries of Richards' will, Clark and Jimmy go to the Metropolis University Medical Building. Clark searches for Nelson in the laboratory while Jimmy goes to see the lab monkeys and Hercules the gorilla. Everything seems fine when Jimmy rounds the corner to go to Hercules' cage until Clark hears the copy boy call for help. The door to Hercules' cage is wide open, and the gorilla is out.
Locking Jimmy out of the lab, Clark introduces Hercules to Superman. The gargantuan Hercules throws a bottle at Superman, but it misses the target. The Man of Steel wrestles the gorilla and, shortly afterwards, locks him in the cage.
After Hercules is in his cage, Jimmy returns with a rescue party that consists of Doctor Stone, Professor Nelson and some students. The students leave the lab when they see that everything is fine. Professor Nelson examines the lock on Hercules' cage and finds nothing wrong. Clark asks if anyone else was in lab before Stone left to search for Professor Nelson. Only the training table cook and a student named McCoy were there. McCoy was working on a term paper, but the cook was sent by Coach Taylor. Taylor wanted a sample of canned salmon examined. He believes the salmon might have caused food poisoning in the team when it was served to them before the game with State College.
Showing the threatening message that was sent to him, Clark tells both Doctor Stone and Professor Nelson that he suspects one of the other beneficiaries of the three million dollars poisoned the Metropolis University football team. He urges Nelson and Stone to warn Coach Taylor to keep an eye on the team at least until the next football game. Clark and Jimmy then leave Met U. to go to John Quincy's office.
Leaving Jimmy in the car, Clark believes that Quincy will be more inclined to answer Superman's questions rather than Clark Kent's. The Man of Steel enters the office through the window. He finds the office dark and empty. He is about open the safe to search for David Leslie Richards' will when he hears the words, "Don't move, or I'll shoot."
John Quincy is pointing a gun at Superman. The lawyer's hand is trembling because he's never pointed his gun at anyone before this moment. Seeing that bullets and guns don't harm Superman, he shows our hero the will and its beneficiaries. They are Andrew C. Clark, Richards' half-brother in Montana, George Kane, Richards' nephew - who was last known to be working on an oil tanker and the Cedarcrest Sanatorium. Should Met U. not meet the will's requirements, each of the three beneficiaries gets one million dollars.
Suddenly, the police storm into the office while Quincy distracts Superman. He escapes the office and resumes his guise of Clark Kent. Clark and Jimmy go to see Coach Taylor. It is then that Jimmy says Doctor Stone said the football team was not poisoned. This makes Clark suspicious.
In Coach Taylor's office, Clark recounts all that has happened and what he learned from Richards' will. He also tells him that he believes someone deliberately let Hercules out of his cage. Jimmy suddenly storms into the office in a panic. The copy boy saw Sam Dorf, the training table cook, put some type of medicine-like substance in the milk that he was going to serve the football team. Clark asks Coach Taylor about Dorf. He says that Dorf started to be the team cook at the beginning of the football season. Dorf had worked on a boat before cooking for Met U.'s football team.
At that moment, Clark realizes that George Kane worked on a oil tanker. He believes that George Kane is Dorf. Clark, Jimmy and Coach Taylor run to the kitchen to confront Dorf. However, they find the kitchen empty when they arrive. Sam Dorf has disappeared. Clark and Coach Taylor now search for any information on Sam Dorf. They discover that Dorf lives in Sharon Heights, a town fifty miles away from Metropolis. Clark then calls about the train schedules to Sharon Heights.
As Superman, our hero flies over the train carrying Dorf to Sharon Heights. He meets the cook on the train as Clark Kent. Clark then grabs Dorf to take him back to Metropolis after they get to Sharon Heights. Dorf puts up a fight, but Clark knocks him out. Resuming his true identity of the Last Son of Krypton, Superman flies Sam Dorf back to Metropolis University.
At the college, Doctor Stone tells Clark that he's made a mistake. Dorf only put a vitamin supplement in the milk. Stone also reveals that Dorf was going to the Sharon Heights Children's Hospital. Dorf has a son there that is suffering from infantile paralysis.
Feeling bad about his fighting Dorf, Clark begins to have doubts about anything strange causing the football team any problems. However, a call from Perry White quells any misgivings that he may have had. White says that a message for Clark tells him to meet a Doctor Wilson at the Cedarcrest Sanatorium at midnight. The doctor will give Clark some important information.
After some discussion in the Daily Planet offices, Perry and Clark go to the sanatorium. Once they get there, they are lead to Doctor Wilson's office by a fearsome looking nurse. However, Clark and Perry learn the truth when the nurse locks the office door. The office is actually an oxygen chamber that's used for treating severe cases of asthma, and Doctor Wilson, who is speaking through a loud speaker, has trapped the reporter and editor there. Wilson claims to be the one who caused Metropolis University's poor performance during the fourth quarter of their game against State College. He now tells Clark and Perry that they will be locked in the chamber until Met U's game against Southwest University ends on Saturday. Their meals will be given to them, and they can press a button to activate a bell should they need anything.
Meanwhile, Clark notes something familiar about Doctor Wilson's voice. Perry presses the bell button repeatedly. This causes gas to enter the room. Perry stops pushing the button, but Clark re-activates the bell. More gas enters the room, and Perry is knocked unconscious. This gives Clark a chance to become Superman. He makes Clark pretend to lose consciousness to give Doctor Wilson a chance to get out of earshot. The Man of Steel then breaks open the door of steel.
Just then, the nurse returns after hearing the noise of the door being broken. Superman resumes his guise of Clark Kent and questions the nurse. She refuses to answer with anything besides Doctor Wilson's name.
After Perry regains consciousness, both he and Clark hear someone knocking on the sanatorium's entry door. The person keeps called to Martha the nurse. Clark and Perry answer the door, and a car speeds away from the sanatorium. Taking Martha with them, Clark and Perry pursue the vehicle. The chase leads the automobile to hit a tree. Clark and Perry free the driver from the car. The driver is none other than Doctor Elliot Stone. It's later revealed that Stone owned Cedarcrest Sanatorium.
Near death because of the car crash, Doctor Stone makes a shocking revelation. He has given the Metropolis football team more poison. They will not be able to win the game against Southwest on Saturday without the poison's antidote. The cure for the poison can only be found in Central America, and it may be too late to get it. Stone is dead, and with him, goes the secret of helping the Met U. squad.
In Professor Nelson's office at Metropolis University, Police Commissioner Reynolds is questioning Clark, Nelson, the nurse Martha Hawkins and Lois Lane. They are recounting their parts of the events that have occurred as Clark tells the commissioner that Doctor Wilson is actually Doctor Elliot Stone. Ms. Hawkins is convinced by Lois to help in finding a cure for the white powder that Stone - who Hawkins reveals was really called Doctor Andrew Wilson - had given the Met U. football squad.
Wilson got the powder from the chief of a jungle tribe. The chief gave Wilson the white powder and some brown crystals. The crystals were a cure for the poison, but unfortunately, Wilson lost the crystals. The white powder is poison that acts on the body within seventy-two hours. Hawkins cannot remember where in Central America the cure is, but Doctor Wilson kept a journal. The journal reveals the location of the antidote.
At that moment, Hawkins agrees to go with Lois to get the journal from Wilson's office in Cedarcrest Sanatorium. Clark wants to go with them, but Commissioner Reynolds orders the reporter to not go. However, had Clark gone with Lois to the sanatorium, he would have learned the truth. Martha Hawkins is actually Martha Wilson, Doctor Wilson's sister. Martha and her brother planned the poisoning together, and she has no intention of giving Lois the doctor's journal. It will mean curing the Metropolis football team and prevent her from getting the one million dollars intended for Cedarcrest Sanatorium and herself. Martha Wilson will burn the journal in order to prevent Met U. winning the game Saturday, even if it means that millions of paralyzed children will never have a cure for their afflictions.
While Martha Wilson prepares the fire, the sanatorium's telephone rings. The call is from Clark Kent. He felt something was wrong, and it turns out that his instincts were correct when he hears Lois call for help over the phone. Using Superman's incredible speed, Clark gets to the Cedarcrest Sanatorium in no time to prevent most of Doctor Andrew Wilson's journal from burning. The diary is intact excluding the first four pages, which were burned by Martha Wilson.
Reading the diary, Clark learns that the white powder poisoning the Metropolis University team and its cure are in the Central American jungles of the Atava River. The native tribe of the Nawons gave the powder to Doctor Wilson. While Lois stays with the maddened Martha Wilson until the police arrive, Clark changes into Superman and takes the longest flight of his career to the rubber plantation settlement of Pernanuko in the jungles of Central America.
In Central America, Clark Kent is trying to hire a guide to get him to the Nawon tribe with the help of plantation owner John Carter. They find one in a shady character named Pango Pete, the only white man who knows the Nawons well. Pete says that the Nawons have moved from their previous location, and he doesn't know where they went. However, if Clark comes alone to Pango Pete's shack after dark, the guide will help Clark find the Nawon tribe. After much discussion, Pango Pete agrees to help Clark search for the Nawons at dawn for five hundred dollars despite the local government wanting to rid the Central American Jungles of the tribe of head hunters.
At that moment, John Carter comes to Pete's shack to warn Clark not to trust the guide. Had Clark used Superman's hearing after he and Carter left the shack, he would have learned of the man's true intentions. He overheard Clark and Carter talk about the three million dollars, and the shifty Pango Pete intends to learn how he can take the money for himself.
Later, while Clark and Carter are continuing to discuss Pango Pete and the Nawon natives, they hear one of Carter's native workers screaming in the jungle. Clark goes into the darkness to find the reason for the screams. Stone tipped darts nearly hit Clark, and the points are covered with a poison. Nawon drums and war chants increase as Clark asks for Pango Pete's assistance in talking to the natives. The guide learns that the tribe wants five heads. John Carter refuses the Nawons' request. This could prove fatal for Carter, Pete and the plantation. The natives are angry, and they're prepared to take the sacrifice they want no matter what it takes to get it.
Now, Pango Pete and John Carter are at each other's throats. Carter wants to send himself, Pete, Clark and two native plantation workers and trick the Nawons into thinking that they'll give them the five heads that they want. Pete wants nothing to do with Carter's plan despite being friends with Nawon Chief Sango. He's also trying to turn Clark against Carter while the plantation owner goes to get a rifle. Clark's response to Pete is a superhuman punch to the guide's jaw. He places Pete in the back of a truck before donning his Superman costume to confront the natives.
Just then, Superman sees Carter and four native workers going to confront the Nawon head hunters. Poison darts are about to hit the group, but the Man of Steel prevents them from hitting their targets. The five people are safe. However, when Superman returns to the plantation as Clark Kent, he finds John Carter white as sheet on his bed. A poison dart has struck the plantation owner, and Superman only has minutes to find a cure from the Nawon natives before Carter meets certain death.
Making use of his superhuman abilities, Superman goes to the Nawon tribe. The natives and their chief Sango believe that he is a great spirit. He asks for the antidotes for both the dart poison and the white powder as gifts from the tribe. Pango Pete, who has just arrived, doesn't believe Superman is a great spirit, but he sees a spear that he threw bounce off the Man of Steel's chest. Pete wants to use Superman's abilities for profit, but our hero wants nothing to do with the guide.
Later, Clark Kent is giving the antidote to the dart poison to John Carter. Clark plans to leave the dart's remedy with Carter in case he or his men ever need it in the future. He also wants to give Cater part of the brown crystals as Clark has enough to cure the Met U. squad.
Suddenly, a scream is heard outside the plantation. Clark goes to investigate. Pango Pete then enters Carter's room while Clark is gone. The greedy guide steals both poisons' cures in order to sell them for a bunch of money. In the meantime, the first quarter of Metropolis University's game against Southwest University has begun. Superman doesn't have much time to save the players from the white powder Doctor Wilson had given them.
Later, in Metropolis, Professor Nelson is discussing the poisoning of the American football team with Coach Taylor while the fourth quarter of the game has begun. Taylor is clearly nervous. Southwest is ahead of Metropolis by seventeen points. Seven minutes are left in the ball game. All hope seems lost.
Meanwhile, Superman is flying through the Central American jungles searching for Pango Pete. He finds him in the coils of a giant boa constrictor. Superman frees Pete, but it's too late for the shifty guide. He was crushed to death by the snake. Thinking this is a fitting end for Pete, Superman takes the antidote for the American football team's poisoning and flies at the fastest speed possible back to Metropolis.
With three minutes left in the game, Clark Kent gives the brown crystals needed to cure the Met U. team to Professor Nelson and Coach Taylor. The coach calls a time out and puts the reserve squad on the field while Professor Nelson gives the main team the cure. The cure seems to be taking effect. Metropolis is now making the necessary touchdowns and field goals to score a last minute win against Southwest U. Metropolis University can now go to the Rose Bowl and has earned the remaining money needed to inherit the three million dollars needed to continue their research in fighting infantile paralysis. Superman has saved the day yet again. However, "The Crooked Oil Association" lurks in the shadows to give our hero trouble. Tune in next week, boys and girls, to see how Superman will deal with this new nemesis in The Adventures of Superman.
I happened to notice something about this serial and "Doctor Roebling and the Voice Machine." Both stories have scenes that would later be done in a similar manner in episodes from the first season of The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. "Roebling" begins with Superman saving Jimmy from a bear's attack. The Hulk had to save a girl from a bear in the episode "A Death In The Family." Superman wrestled a gorilla back into his cage in "Metropolis Football Team Poisoned," and the Hulk did the same thing in "The Beast Within." Maybe Ken Johnson and the other writers of The Incredible Hulk were in some way influenced or inspired by The Adventures of Superman radio series. On a side note, Dabs Greer guest starred in the aforementioned "The Beast Within." Superman fans will most likely remember that George Reeves saved him from falling in "Superman On Earth."
I never really followed American football much even when I lived in the states. I was kind of afraid that this serial would have a lot of terms, plays etc. with which I am unfamiliar. I'm happy to say that "Metropolis Football Team Poisoned" is very listener friendly to those that know nothing about the sport of American football. I know that you folks outside of the USA call soccer football, and I call what other Americans call football American football out of respect for you. (Leave it to Americans to change names and words to confuse folks from other countries, but that's neither here nor there.) Superman may been an American comic book character, but he's known all over the world. I'd like to believe that Superman would love to think of the entire planet as a great community, much like that of the Superman Homepage, if he really existed. It is for this reason that I like to include everyone from every part of the globe in my wording of certain phrases.
Anyway, I said that "Metropolis Football Team Poisoned" went easy on the American football terminology for those that don't follow the sport. However, this serial is far from perfect. The story itself is good, and the message about fighting infantile paralysis works well into the serial. "Metropolis Football Team Poisoned" just should have been edited a bit because the arc seems to jump all over the place at various points in some of the chapters. The story does this in a way that distracts from the American football team and their plight. The serial works better if one listens to the entire story arc, but it often feels like the writers didn't give a fair enough warning to us listeners before introducing new plot points.
For example, the poison and the cure being in Central America is a nice touch, and it can really give the listener's imagination an idea of Superman's abilities. However, this serial would have worked just as well or better if Doctor Stone/Doctor Andrews had created the poison himself. Professor Nelson could have tried to create and/or find an antidote, but Martha and her mad brother kidnap Nelson before he can finish. The two must deal with Superman, who saves Professor Nelson. The scientist works on a vaccine while the Met U. American football team plays Southwest. Nelson finds the remedy just as there are three minutes left in the final quarter of the game.
Alas, I didn't write "Metropolis Football Team Poisoned," and we are left with chapters that take place in Central America. They aren't bad. They only feel like they should be either edited or part of another serial.
Pango Pete is another thing I really disliked about "Metropolis Football Team Poisoned." He goes onto my list of unnecessary characters with Tumbleweed Jones and Poco. He wasn't killed off soon enough in my opinion. I don't know what the writers were thinking when they came up with him. I'm only too glad he won't return in future serials. He seemed forced into this story.
Martha Andrews and the sanatorium were great elements to add some great character developments to Doctor Stone/Doctor Andrews' character. I wish more had been done with them. I also wish more had been done with Sam Dorf. He would have been the perfect henchman that was forced to work with Doctor Andrews and Martha. They could have made poor Dorf believe that Met U. wasn't even trying to find a cure for his son.
Despite its numerous problems, "Metropolis Football Team Poisoned" is worth listening to, and has its good points. I especially liked the fact that there was a possibility that some people believe that Superman was a thief or criminal. I wish the writers would have been explored more possibilities with that plot thread. Perhaps more will be said in future serials. I'll sure be listening to find out.
Next time, "The Crooked Oil Association" causes trouble for Superman. We'll see in a week or so what our hero will do to stop this new menace. Until then, Superfans, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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