LOIS AND CLARK:
Clark Kent/Superman -
Lois Lane -
Perry White -
Cat Grant -
Jimmy Olsen -
Lex Luthor -
OTHER LOIS & CLARK SEASONS
OTHER SUPERHERO SHOWS
Birds of Prey
Pilot - Part 1
Small town would be reporter clark Kent comes to Metropolis in the hope of finding a job on the Daily Planet newspaper. Things don't initially go as planned but one mood piece on a failed theatre later and he is assigned to cover an emerging story about sabotage in the space programme with investigative hot shot Lois Lane.
LOIS AND CLARK:THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (hereafter referred to as the THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN in the hope of partially saving our typing fingers) brings the world's favourite superhero to the TV screen in a slick, polished production. There's not that much in the way of super antics (one bus stopped, one generator blown up with heat vision, walking on the walls and ceilings, a bout of flying), but those kind of special effects cost money and it seems that this is going to be more about the characters than the costume, which doesn't even make an appearance in this opening episode.
Which brings us to the cast. Dean Cain makes for a very good Clark Kent. He is instantly likeable, charming and easy on the eye of the female viewers. For the men there's Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane, also easy on the eye, but scratchy, pushy and aggressive all layered over a soft centre of vulnerability. The supporting cast are all well-chosen for the parts and fit right in to the story. John Shea even makes Lex Luthor a very appealing villain.
Pilot - Part 2
The scientist who brought Lois the story of the sabotage to the space shuttles going up to the international space station is found dead and the story looks like going cold, but Lois didn't get to be a top reporter without making the breaks herself. That, of course, leads to trouble, but also to the story. A bigger story is going to follow, however, when the latest launch is also sabotaged and only the arrival of a man in a strange costume and the ability to fly makes the mission happen.
The conclusion of the two-part opener isn't as well put together as the opening half, but it is still slick and stylish. The romance between the two lead characters continues to falter and die horribly under Lois's harsh nature, but that's to the good and does mean that she gets all the good lines.
What Dean Cain gets is to appear only in a towel (an eyeful for the ladies) and the iconic blue and red suit. The sequence in which the outfit is run up on his mother's sewing machine is not without wit, but even Superman can't get away with the line 'My mother made it for me' without sounding lame.
The special effects are much more in evidence this time around, but prove to be steadily less impressive the more they appear.
Strange Visitor (From Another Planet)
Superman is a big story, but no-one has it. He has come to the notice of a team of alien hunters acting outside of the government and, as his closest contacts, Lois and Clark find themselves being thrown out of planes in flight.
Who, or what, is Superman? It's the question on everyone's lips, including his own. Clark learns that he was found in a UFO crash, but the evidence has been stolen. It shows up later in a warehouse of UFO stuff stolen by the alien hunters. The search for identity proves to be a background more worthy than the main story of the alien hunters deserves. In fact, the story just sort of peters out just as it starts to get interesting.
It has to be said that the special effects here are far from special and the flying sequence is very poorly acheived.
Lex Luthor isn't happy about the amount of press that Superman has been getting and so decides to learn a little more about his potential adversary. As a result, he sets up a series of tests for the superhero and even finds a way of making the caped one go into temporary retirement.
It's John Shea that makes this episode so much fun. As he sets the tests for Superman, he gets to talk about 'leaping tall buildings in a single bound', moving 'faster than a speeding bullet' etc and manages to do it with a witty aplomb. Apart from these moments, it's all light and entertaining, but hardly memorable.
I'm Looking Through You
An invisible man is causing chaos in Metropolis, but Clark himself is starting to feel invisible as Superman fever sweeps the city.
The agenda for this show has become quite clear by this episode. The great things that Superman can do are way too expensive to achieve and so Superman will be foiling the villains by coming up with clever wheezes liek covering their invisibility suits with phosphorous to make them visible again. Wouldn't a coating of simple dust have managed the same thing?
Each of the villain storylines will be matched by a more personal story strand. Invisibility as a tool for crime matched up alongside Clark's feeling of invisibility alongside Superman. There is also a worrying soft centre of sentimentality creeping in that the show can seriously do without.
Lois and Clark are teamed up by their editor Perry and put on the story of the ultimate street boxing competition. Before you know it, they are uncovering a story that centres around boxers with mechanical body parts who are probably strong enough to even beat Superman.
Lois Lane is a fraud, or at least in this show she is. What we were promised was a streetwise, hardbitten journalist with a cynical edge and what we're getting is a soft-centred bag of emotionalism, this time worrying over her estrangement with her father and his involvement in the scandal. Thanks heavens then for Lane Smith as Perry White who is having a great time chewing up the scenery.
The plot gives us some people who at least have the potential to hurt Superman and it is nice to see that Lex Luthor is able to turn setback into advantage and is out-thinking Superman at every turn.
Sadly, the special effects are anything but and each one is telegraphed by a drastic change in picture quality. As a result it's hard to believe that a man can do anything let alone fly.
Lois and Clark go undercover in a club run by a gang in order to find out who has been torching the waterside area of Metropolis. The female gang leader takes a shine to Clark and Lois reveals a talent for the stage that endears her to Lex Luthor.
There is so much wrong with this episode that it's hard to think where to start. It tries so hard to be a mystery, but it's obvious from the start who is responsible and what their reasoning is. Clark's disguise is also so obvious that no self-respecting gangster would ever fall for it. As for the firebugs, there's only four of them but they think that they can take on the world.
The episode is saved, however, by Teri Hatcher getting up on stage and singing. Either she's got a great set of pipes or she's an excellent mime. It's easy to believe that Lex would be enamoured by her after that little number.
A quartet of kids with pharmaceutically enhanced intellects decide to make Metropolis their playground. Lois and Clark are on the story, but learn that the drug, if used too often, will wipe the kids' brains out.
Superman needs a threat, a danger, to make him work, but a bunch of kids playing pranks on a large scale present no kind of threat to the populace at large let alone to the man with the red cape. As a result, this epiosde is little more than annoying and tedious. As the kids are what Hollywood considers to be 'cute' they are also annoying and cloying.
Worst Episode so far.
A friend of Clark's father brings him a glowing green rock to keep because the authorities are after it and have taken over his farm. Lois and Clark fly out to Smallville to do the story, but encounter Traske, an alien hunter with a hatred of Superman and now armed with a rock that can kill his prey.
Kryptonite makes its bow in the series early on and proves to be as dangerous to this incarnation as any other. Armed with it, Traske, the alien hunter from Strange Visitor(From Another Planet) makes a credible foe, threatening not only the weakened Clark, but also his parents.
The fun comes in the form of Lois's encounter with Smallville and its people. She is a small town girl herself who has cast out everything other than the city and so sneers at everything. Her faux pas with the locals are quite amusing and make up for the routine resolution of the plot.
It's the middle of winter, but Metropolis is suffering a heatwave like no other and the suspected cause of all this is Superman. The use of his powers seems to exactly match the hitches in temperature. The locals turn on the Man of Steel and demand that he not use his powers. When he can't stand by and let innocents die, they banish him. That doesn't stop Lois looking into potential links to the Lexcorp Nuclear power plant, though.
This is a nice and original idea, using the idea of global warming and ecological concerns to put Superman in a difficult position. Unfortunately, the plot doesn't go much beyond the basic concept and the finale as Superman rushes into a reactor core to stop a meltdown is rushed and completely anticlimatic.
The story of the heatwave does give Tracy Scoggins an excuse to wear nothing but a series of bikinis throughout, which is not to complained about. The increasingly sugary edge, however, is to be complained about.
A perfume creator who has been spurned by Lex Luthor for not meeting his diabolical deadlines tests her new perfume on the staff of the Daily Planet, causing them to lose all inhibitions.
Using a love potion in a confined area isn't exactly epic in scale when it comes to criminal mayhem, but there is undeniable fun to be had watching Teri Hatcher's Lois throw herself at Clark in increasingly blatant ways that culminate in a dance of the two veils. Perry gets himself a lawsuit and a black eye whilst Jimmy gets a supermodel somehow. Cat spends time with the photocopier guy.
It's bright, breezy and fun in an utterly disposable fashion.
Lois checks into the honeymoon suite of a hotel for some R&R, but instead happens upon a corrupt senator receiving his pay in the office opposite. Clark and Lois are then required to pose as newlyweds to see what else they can learn and discover that a military test is about to be sabotaged in such a way that Metropolis will be submerged beneath a giant tidal wave.
It's only appropriate that after an episode where a love potions sends everyone mad with love there should be an episode set in a honeymoon suite. This riffs on the SUPERMAN 2 Niagara Falls scenario, but has enough fun in the script for the leads to play with and keep fresh. It also steals scenes from REAR WINDOW with much less success.
Where it really falls down, however, is in the denoument. The giant tidal wave is created and dealt with in scant seconds and with apparently nobody else noticing it ever existed. The show might be more about the relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but he is Superman after all and you can't just ignore that. A big finale that is such a (pardon the pun) damp squib only hurts the show.
A giant asteroid is heading for Earth and only Superman can save the day by flying into it at maximum speed. Unfortunately, the impact causes him to crash back to Earth with no memory of who he is. As Lois and his parents try to help him regain his memory, a fragment of the asteroid continues on its deadly trajectory.
There is, at least, a real sense of impending doom in this episode where the stakes are nothing less than the end of the world. The scenes where Perry lets Jimmy write his story knowing nobody will ever read it, or where he says goodbye to Lois without ever saying goodbye are actually quite touching even though the outcome is never once in doubt.
The special effects remain less than special in the flying area, but this is a TV budget after all and the crash back down in nicely handled.
Lois is witness to the murder of a prominent, but reclusive, scientist and becomes the target of Mr Makeup, an assassin who can make himself look like practically anyone. Both Clark and Superman are around to protect her, but how can you be protected against everyone?
A much smaller threat this time around, and a less fantastic one, but the main threat is to the character of Lois. Teri Hatcher goes from hard-bitten journalist to panicked kitted so many times it's a wonder she can remember what day of the week it was supposed to be. None of it proves to be believable and Superman lets the villain go a couple of times before he finally gets around to catching him. As for the special effects, there aren't any as Superman does practically nothing.
The children of the Metropolis rich are being kidnapped and ransomed for huge amounts. When a servant's child is taken, Lois and Clark pick up a lead that a magician might be involved and that leads them into a place where not everything is as it appears and even Superman can be hypnotised.
Penn Jillette of the magic duo Penn and Teller guests as the magician most likely, but there are a couple of other suspects to play with and the one most likely is always the one who didn't. Or are they? There's magic on display, but the plot is anything but. The script, however, has enough entertaining character interplay to get by on and Lois's intense dislike of magic is fun.
You also get to see Tracy Scoggins in possibly the shortest skirt known to mankind.
Lois hides a murderer who has escaped from his trial and whom she believes to be innocent. He worked for a computer genius and the search for the actual killer turns more serious when a computer virus is released that might wipe out human civilisation as we know it.
John Shea's Lex Luthor gets to do nothing in this episode other than muse on what he would do if civilisation fell and if he could survive. These are actually the more interesting parts of a plot that has to shoehorn in a potential marriage breakup for Clark's parents for no readily discernable reason.
Melanie Mayron's female detective is far too good a character for this and her bonding with Lois in the face of certain death is the high point.
Clark learns of a holographic globe containing a message from his Kryptonian father that reveals all about his alien origin, just in time for the globe to be stolen by a teenage thief.
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A rival newspaper starts a run of scoops on the Planet involving disasters, leading Lois and Clark to suspect that someone is causing the mishaps deliberately in order to report them.
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Superman is putting himself about all over the globe saving ships and planes, which is a bit of surprise to Clark since he's still safely esconced in Metropolis. Who is this imposter? He is as strong as Superman, looks exactly like him and can fly as well. The only way to find out is to challenge him one on one.
Straight from the plot of SUPERMAN III, this is a story of good Superman against evil Superman. It comes as no surprise that Lex Luthor is behind it all and it also doesn't come as any surprise that the face off between the two on a movie set turns out to be an almighty damp squib. The emotional impact of the eventual fate of the faux Superman is also a good deal more muted than we might have expected.
There really isn't enough plot here to fill up the running time and so a flashback to prohibition era Metropolis is thrown in to show how a vault load of money came to be in the offices of the Daily Planet. Whilst this is initially fun, seeing all the actors getting to play someone else, it soon palls. And, as usual , there's precious little of Superman to go around, though for once there is an excuse for that.
The Daily Planet has fallen on hard times and, just before it goes bankrupt, it is saved by Lex Luthor. Lex also surprises Lois by proposing to her. When Superman can't promise her a life, Lois accepts Luthor's proposal. A bomb goes off and the planet is destroyed. It seems like the end of an era.
Step forward John Shea as Lex Luthor and take a bow. The character brings together a bunch of schemes that lay the entire cast of heroes low and leaves them in a place where victory would appear to be his. Everyone gets to admit to their innermost feelings (well almost) and the romance side of the story is everything since Superman does pretty much nothing.
The cast, though, manage to pull it off as they have managed to be appealing enough over the length of the show to allow us to forgive its serious shortcomings in the superheroing department.
As the date for Lois Lane's wedding to Lex Luthor comes ever closer, Clark gathers together the old gang from the Daily Planet to see if they can find out what really happened to destroy the newspaper. Luthor is behind it all, of course, and the chunk of kryptonite that he has obtained means that his victory over Superman will be complete.
Kryptonite is, of course, the one thing that can truly hurt Superman, so Lex Luthor getting hold of a bunch of it is not a good thing. What is a good thing is that John Shea has managed to convince us that Lex Luthor's naturally cruel nature is such that he would want to keep Superman alive to torture rather than just kill him off as soon as possible, otherwise that part of the plot would be hard to swallow.
As it is, this is a satisfying conclusion to the series even without the presence of the ever reliable James Earl Jones whose scene with Lane Smith effortlessly steal the whole show. The popularity of the show will ensure that this story is far from over.
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