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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $59.98 RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: Pilot – 90 minutes, Episodes – 46 minutes each
• Commentary on pilot episode by Dean Cain, Deborah Joy LeVine and Robert Butler
• Original pilot presentation introduced by Deborah Joy LeVine
• “From Rivals to Romance: The Making of Lois & Clark” documentary
• “Taking Flight: The Visual Effects of Lois & Clark” featurette
“Hey, you got your romantic comedy in my Superman!” “No, you got your Superman in my romantic comedy!” The title of Lois and Clark – The New Adventures of Superman says it all – Lois and Clark get top billing, Superman is an afterthought. The main focus of the series is the working and romantic relationship between Lois and Clark, both reporters for the Daily Planet newspaper and one of which happens to be a superhero (I won’t spoil that one for you). It’s a new take on live action Superman to say the least.
"Hmm…maybe if this was a Vertigo comic…"
The origin of Superman is widely known at this point and remains unchanged in the series. Superman’s parents on Krypton put him into a shuttle while he was a baby and sent him off to Earth before the planet exploded. There he was discovered by Martha and Jonathan Kent, an ordinary married couple in Kansas. The two took the child in and raised him as one of their own, naming him Clark. Later on in life Clark began to exhibit super powers that made him greater than any normal man. Lois and Clark doesn’t deal with any of this growing up period though. The show begins just as Clark (Dean Cain) arrives in Metropolis to try and get a job at the Daily Planet.
The star investigative reporter at the Daily Planet is Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher). She’s headstrong and always gets her story. She’s not too pleased at being partnered up with Clark Kent once he gets hired, seeing him as nothing more than a country bumpkin and a constant annoyance. Over the course of the show Clark and Lois naturally come to like each other and perhaps become something more that partners. The simplest way to describe it would be a cross between Moonlighting and Superman.
"A cyborg, a Kryptonian, a kid and a black guy, and NONE of them are the real Superman? BULLSHIT!"
The sexual tension between Lois and Clark is the main focus of the show, which works okay when viewing the show once a week as it originally aired. Watching numerous episodes in succession on DVD, however, is an exercise in patience. Almost every episode follows the same basic structure – an evil conspiracy is afoot in Metropolis (most likely masterminded by evil genius Lex Luthor) and Lois and Clark must get to the bottom of it. Along the way they will inevitably be put in a dangerous situation where Clark will have to use his Superman powers without Lois noticing. If you’re really lucky he might change into the Superman costume. The day is saved and Lois will talk about how great Superman was and how lame Clark is while Clark stands there and smirks.
As odd as it sounds, the problem with this Superman show is Superman himself. Lois and Clark are the focus of this show, and when Superman appears everything just drags to a halt as he takes out the bad guys with horrific visual effects. All Superman is doing is getting rid of the bad guy of the week. He’s not an important part of the story at all. The Superman sequences are made even worse because of the villains he’s facing. Don’t expect to see any gallery of rogues like Brainiac or Metallo here. Superman is too busy fighting off giant tidal waves and guys in silver suits with flamethrowers. The show occasionally throws in a nod or two to the comics. For example, STAR Labs are referred to in many of the episodes.
Cain and Hatcher perform well in the title roles, and there’s no denying that there’s a real chemistry between them. With Cain’s looks, it appears that he was cast with pulling off the look of Superman instead of Clark. It’s all the more surprising then when he looks and seems much more natural as the mild mannered reporter than the superhero. I never got tired of seeing his performance as Kent, but by the millionth time he crossed his arms and smirked as Superman I wanted to shoot him with a kryptonite bullet.
Superman – a well known Counter Strike wall hacker.
Hatcher embodies the rough exterior of Lois Lane well enough. It’s not a role that calls for any subtlety, as Lois is expected to act snide towards Clark but still make a jealous face each time another female dares to talk to him. The attraction the two feel for each other is so obvious that it’s amazing you could stretch this plot over so many episodes. The “will they/won’t they” factor doesn’t really work when the iconic characters have been together so long in the Superman movies and comics.
Since the Superman scenes are lackluster and the Lois and Clark drama is repetitive, it’s a good thing the supporting cast is fun. The supporting cast makes the newsroom scenes humorous and without a doubt the most refreshing parts of the show. The late Lane Smith as Daily Planet editor Perry White brings a lot of energy and southern charm to the role. The newsroom is rounded out by Tracy Scoggins as Cat Grant and Michael Landes as Jimmy Olsen. Both would be gone after season 1. Landes was replaced because the producers felt he looked too much like Dean Cain, a situation that could have easily been resolved with a new haircut. Scoggins probably had to leave to shoot "Dollman vs Ragdoll vs Blood Dolls vs Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys".
Other supporting actors include Eddie Jones and Katherine Callan as Mr. and Mrs. Kent. Clark periodically flies back to Kansas when he needs some sage advice from his folks. The two actors do a great job of exhibiting the down to Earth values that define Clark Kent, further emphasizing the point that Superman is what Clark Kent can do, not who he is.
"Well, it’s bigger than Dollman’s, that’s for sure."
Superman’s chief nemesis is Lex Luthor, played by John Shea. Luthor happens to be the third richest man in the world and has his hand in everything that goes on in Metropolis. He’s a man who stares down cobras and makes them back down in the pilot. In case you didn’t catch the subtlety of this action I’ll point it out for you – he’s REALLY evil! He sees Superman as his only real equal and frequently clashes with the man of steel. Seeing as he’s a very interesting character and the only real foil for Superman, it’s makes perfect sense when he’s killed off.
Lois and Clark is basically a watered down romantic comedy mixed with a watered down Superman show. Fans of either element will be annoyed by the presence of the other one and the halfhearted execution of both. The Superman subplot feels forced and underdeveloped. Any affection felt towards the characters is a result of the iconic nature of them and how they’ve been developed in other mediums like comics and film. It’s a good thing the show is working with such already established characters or there would be no reason to watch at all. The show is a definite guilty pleasure, and I feel like I’m being manipulated when I enjoy it because it’s using my love of the comic characters against me. A decent show in small doses.
5.0 out of 10
These effects are so good they make ILM look like Full Moon Pictures.
It doesn’t take Superman’s vision to see that the transfer on this set is lackluster. The pilot episode seems to be transferred from the original master. It includes an opening that was removed from syndicated versions of the show. The transfer is full of grain and scratches all throughout. The remaining episodes are faded and washed out. They look like they were recorded onto a VHS tape from television reruns. There’s two ways to approach this transfer – you could be mad that such obviously bad quality video was pressed onto DVDs, or you could be thankful for anything that makes the show’s hideous green screen effects harder to see.
4.0 out of 10
This Detective John Munch crossover stuff has gone too far.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo. The audio tracks are all good sounding, but there’s never much more to hear except dialogue. You’d expect a Superman show to have a lot of fighting and explosions, but you’d be wrong.
7.0 out of 10
"With these superpowers I’ll show those Mutant X bastards a thing or two"
Disc one contains a feature length commentary on the pilot episode and the pilot presentation. The commentary consists of Dean Cain, executive producer Deborah Joy LeVine, and director Robert Butler. The three talk more about the show in general than the pilot episode itself, a wise decision since the pilot is so boring. LeVine talks about the casting process and dealing with the network executives and Cain reminisces about his experiences as Superman. It’s a very mediocre commentary that probably could have been made better if the studio could pay Teri Hatcher to contribute. Then again, any commentary would still involve watching the poor pilot episode again, so there’s probably no way to make it very good.
The pilot presentation is basically a series of clips from the pilot that were shown at the San Diego Comic-Con before the show aired. This early version of the show lacks music and some of the effects are unfinished. The other features are on disc six. “From Rivals to Romance: The Making of Lois and Clark” is a 30 minute feature that basically goes into the details of casting all the parts and the reception the show received. LeVine repeats many of the things she already said in the commentary and the stars basically gush about the experience in the same manner you’d expect from any fluff piece. They even manage to get a few words from Hatcher on the set of Desperate Housewives.
The giant Superman scales a building, eager to play a game of Rampage in real life.
The last feature is a five minute segment on the special effects. Why you’d want to give further attention to the awful effects in this show are beyond me. Thanks to this featurette you can learn the exciting secrets behind Superman flying. It’s called a green screen and a harness. There, I saved you five minutes. It would be too much to expect some interesting special features, perhaps something about Superman himself and the iconic nature of him throughout the decades. The set also includes a bonus disc with an episode of Smallville on it. Oh joy, after watching a Superman soap opera you can watch an episode of a Superman teen drama.
4.0 out of 10
Taking a break to remember the little people.
Lois and Clark comes in a shiny box that has a fold-out case inside of it. The artwork has the two title characters and a Daily Planet logo behind them. The episodes are listed on the inside flaps. This set continues the slightly annoying WB practice of overlapping DVDs. Having to take out two DVDs if I want to watch the one on the bottom is an inconvenience but I’m not going to act like it’s the end of the world. The interior contains promotional photos from the show. It’s a nice, clean presentation that serves its purpose.
7.0 out of 10