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STUDIO: Warner Bros.
RUNNING TIME: 1013 Minutes
• Commentary by actor and episode writer Dean Cain on Season’s Greedings
• Lois & Clark: Secrets of Season 2
• Marveling Metropolis: The Fans of Lois & Clark
I wonder: Is it cool to have watched and more importantly to have liked Lois & Clark? I mean, it’s Superman to be sure, but it’s chick-friendly Superman. The emphasis of this show wasn’t on Superman’s origins like Smallville nor on Supes’ grand solo and team adventures like Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League, nor on his regular villains like Luthor, Metallo or Bizarro. Rather, Lois & Clark was about taking the romance element between Clark Kent and Lois Lane and making an entire show about it, with Superman’s adventures merely as the backdrop. This incarnation of Superman could easily be looked at as the most romantic, and therein lies the basis for the question: Can you maintain your macho factor in your liking of Superman when he’s just as – if not more – concerned with his sloppy feelings for Lois than with bagging the bad guy and knocking down a few buildings?
"Ms. Kidder, I know this is going to sound ironic coming from me, but I’m afraid you got a bad case of the gold kryptonite…"
Premiering in the fall of 1993, Lois & Clark put its own distinctive twist on the franchise when it put the romance of the two Daily Planet staffers, the titular protagonists, to the forefront of the mythology and structured the show around that concept. Starring as the Man of Steel was Dean Cain who, to my knowledge, is the first non-white actor to slip on the red boots and cape. Cain, who is ¼ Japanese, was actually born Dean Tanaka. Considering that the current Lana Lang, of Smallville, the luscious Kristin Kreuk, is of Indonesian and Chinese heritage, it’s simultaneously cool and disturbing that we’ve begun outsourcing the Superman mythos to the Far East…but I digress. The other half of the billing was filled by former MacGyver regular and supposed Volkswagen tryst kitten, Teri Hatcher. Lois was portrayed initially as the career-minded news bloodhound she’s always been, but being that this was the Men Are From Mars, Women are from Venus generation, she was also a bastion of the big city career woman who longed for love but only found man trouble. Likewise, the take on Clark was that he was a former globe-hopping adventurer who hadn’t yet decided on how his super powers were going to form his destiny. He didn’t even have the red and blue tights made yet when the show premiered.
"Look Lex, I know that things have been hard since I crushed your criminal empire and ruined your dreams of world domination, but don’t you think you could have rebounded better than working in a gay bar?"
Rounding out the cast were the late, great Lane Smith as the gruff, Elvis-loving Planet editor-in-chief, Perry White. Michael Landes as the first season Jimmy Olsen, replaced in the second season by Wil Wheaton wannabe, the too-cute-for-his-own-good Justin Whalin. Scuttlebutt is that Landes was not asked back to the show due to the fact that he looked too much like Dean Cain. Weird. Anyway, the Kents (Eddie Jones and K Callan…K…what’s the deal with one letter first name by the way?) were a gentrified fiftysomething couple who seemed to make it to Metropolis way more than any Kansas farming salts should financially be able. Tracy Scoggins upped the cheesecake factor (among other things) in Season 1 as Planet society columnist, Cat Grant. Finally, John Shea was the megalomaniacal Metropolis corporate tycoon Lex Luthor for the first season and in a couple of subsequent appearances in later seasons; and perennial evil guy Tony Jay was his evil corporate sidekick, Nigel in Season 1.
"Damn, Clark! That was hot the way you beat the living shit out of Aquaman and took his Superhero of the Year Award…"
Most of Season 1 revolved around Lois & Clark getting to know each other as Clark was new to the Planet and also about Clark becoming Superman for the first time and finding out about his Kryptonian heritage, including a nasty little thing called kryptonite. Clark was immediately infatuated with Lois. But Lois only had eyes for his super alter-ego. But upon deciding that he was unattainable, she fell in with Luthor, and even accepted his marriage proposal. Luthor was also the chief bad guy for most of the season, clashing with Supes over everything, especially Lois. His “death” at the end of the season opened up the door for a plethora of new baddies to get their evil on in Season 2.
"(Sniff) Goddamn Lois! Was that you?"
Some of these villains included fellow MacGyver alum Michael Des Barres (Murdoc anyone?) Lenny Stroke, a musician who used sound as a weapon against Superman (The Wall of Sound). Another was the Prankster (Bronson Pinchot) who was a low rent version of the Joker who liked to pull pranks (duh) and had a revenge thing going against Lois (The Prankster, The Return of the Prankster). Al Capone, John Dillinger and Bonnie & Clyde came back from the dead and let loose an old school crime spree on Metropolis in That Old Gang of Mine; and Scott Valentine played probably his last straight (I mean that literally) role as Metallo/Johnny Corben in Metallo. There was also a ninja who acquired magical bracelets that let him stand up to Superman (Chi of Steel). Lex returns from the dead for one episode (The Phoenix) to take care of some unfinished business with Lois and Superman and a villain from the future, Tempus (Lane Davies), steals a time machine from H.G. Wells and goes back to 1966 to kill the infant Clark Kent and Lois and Clark have to stop him (Tempus Fugitive).
"I knew you’d come around, Penny. I’m much better in the sack than MacGyver…"
Lois & Clark frequently flirted with the revealing of Clark’s secret identity, most notably in Season 2’s Top Copy where Raquel Welch guest starred as a reporter who discovers Clark’s secret and tries to show it to the world. There was also the aforementioned Tempus Fugitive and the season finale, And the Answer is… when Clark is blackmailed by a man named Jace and Nigel who acquire Tempus’ diary and discover he’s Superman. They want him to kill Lois and commit crimes for them or they’ll kill his parents. There was also the Season 1 episode The Green Green Glow of Home when a government dude, Jason Trask (Terence Knox) goes to Smallville and discovers kryptonite and Clark’s identity and almost kills him.
Another staple of the show was that they frequently got stars of varying degree to come in for guest roles, usually as the villain. There was the aforementioned Welch and Pinchot, and David “Joe Isuzu” Leisure as evil disembodied head Spencer Spencer (in Season 3’s Ordinary People), as well as Emma Samms as Lex’s ex-wife, Peter Scolari, William Devane as Capone, Denise Crosby as Lex’s Dr. Gretchen Kelly, Terry Kiser as H.G. Wells, and fanboy god Bruce Campbell as Intergang heavy Bill Church, Jr., to name a few from this season. Future Mrs. Ex-Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards even had a turn as the object of Jimmy’s affection in Season’s Greedings.
"It wasn’t pretty when Flash failed to look up to see what was coming out of the sky to turn him into a Speed Force grease smear for sleeping with Lois…"
Considering that the focus of the show was Lois and Clark’s ever-evolving relationship, it seems that one of the major trade-offs was that the villains on the show frequently, well, sucked. I mean, when the main heavy (and I mean that literally) of the show is Delta Burke as Myrtle Beech, the Wedding Destroyer (Season 4’s Swear to God, This Time We’re Not Kidding) or The Jeffersons (Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford) as The Toyman and his trusty secretary-of-evil-with-a -conscience, Miss Duffy, with a plot to ruin Christmas with toy rats that make everyone greedy (Seasons Greedings), these aren’t exactly going to be villains who are getting invitations to join the Legion of Doom. There were many others, but considering that at least they weren’t pulling Smallville’s riff of doing the krypto-freak of the week, that should count for something I suppose. Shea was easily the best of these villains as Lex, though, no doubt. He gave chrome dome an intense interpretation and I really did enjoy his work in the role. I’d say it was up there with Michael Rosenbaum’s, although very different to be sure.
I think this episode inspired that shitty Ja Rule and Ashanti carnival music video…
What really worked for the show though was the relationship and the two leads who made it happen. Hatcher has never looked as good as she did in this show and she brought a (gag) spunkiness to Lois that played well against Cain. As for the Supes himself, Cain’s interpretation of Superman was, at the time, fairly different than what had come before. If you think about it, in Reeve’s incarnation, Superman was the character’s true persona and Clark was the disguise, whereas Cain was really Clark, with Superman as the disguise. Clark/Supes in Superman:TAS seemed to go 50/50. Can’t comment on George Reeve’s Man of Steel ‘cause I haven’t seen the ‘50s Superman since I was knee high to Mxyzptlk. I didn’t bother watching Fox’s Superboy in the late ’80s either.
Since the end of the show in 1997, Hatcher has or course gone on to mega stardom, Round 2 as one of the Desperate Housewives. As for Cain, the supposed “Superman Curse” (hardships for Siegel and Shuster after selling their creation, the controversial death of George Reeves, the paralysis and untimely death of Christopher Reeve) could loosely be interpreted that maybe he hasn’t had the best of careers since the show ended. He’s frequented the genre circuit in films like Boa, Futuresport and Dragon Fighter, hosted the short-lived new Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and more recently starred as Scott Peterson in the TV movie, The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story. He’s also had several guest roles on TV, yet so far has not had another big star turn such as that in Lois & Clark. It remains to be seen if the curse truly catches up with him (not hoping that it will, mind you). So to answer my own question: Sure, it’s okay to like chick-friendly Superman…as long as you go do manly shit like frosting your hair and watching Oprah afterwards….
7.6 out of 10
I think Sho’s a little out of his league on this one…
The look of the show was basically good except for the dodgy effects on occasion and the fact that this is the most backlot-looking show ever shot. You can damn near see the craft service truck and the Warner Bros. lot security vehicles on the fringes in the exterior shots. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the extras were the studio’s employees walking to the commissary on their lunch breaks. And it’s in standard…. Still, Lois was frequently in something slinky or leather or both, which always ups the quality. And for the other team members out there, Cain was in tight blue spandex half the time.
7.2 out of 10
No big complaints here. The whooshes of Superman’s cape come across nicely in Dolby.
7.0 out of 10
"Perry, I just want you to know it’s always been you and not that breeder twig Lois…"
There’s a standard 10-minute featurette, Lois & Clark: the Secrets of Season 2, with comments by the production staff and cast, most notably Dean Cain, who discussed what the show meant to him and his experiences. Biggest disappointment of this piece though is that since Teri Hatcher was too busy being desperate these days, so they went with Denise Crosby – who was in a couple of episodes during the entire run of the show – to fill the void, probably because of her Star Trek cred. There’s another nine-minute companion featurette: Marketing Metropolis: The Fans of Lois & Clark, which gets comments from the self-confessed geeks in FOLC – Friends of Lois & Clark. Finally, Dean Cain gives commentary on an episode he wrote, the Christmas episode, Seasons Greedings. Not a great but not an altogether bad set of goodies, but Hatcher’s absence is as noticeable as a certain blue and red suit.
5.9 out of 10
Hatcher and Cain had a lot of good publicity shots for this show, and this one isn’t bad, but it’s not the best one they could have used. There’s a certain shot of a housewife in bed naked under a red cape that comes to mind…
6.7 out of 10