Retro Review: Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Long before Barry Allen ran super fast, long before Oliver Queen and his Green Arrows, before Matt Murdock and his Daredevilness and long before comic shows were churned out by the bucket load, there was Lois & Clark. The 90's series aired during a time when superheroes weren't in a billion dollar business, and liking heroes wasn't "cool". Lois & Clark though, was a show that for a while proved comic characters could still hold their own on screen.
Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman first flew onto our screens in 1993, with the pilot episode airing in September of that year.
The producer’s main objectives for the show were to update the hero for the 90's and to sex up the Man of Steel. Taking on the duel role of Clark Kent and Superman was newcomer Dean Cain, whilst Teri Hatcher was cast as the fiery Lois Lane. Their chemistry was instant from the very first episode and only grew as the seasons went along.
Cain played a likeable Clark Kent; in fact I would go as far to say, that his Clark has been arguably the best to date. His Superman was believable and worked well for the 90's. Hatcher’s Lois was a smart and strong lead, matching Cain’s presence as Clark.
The producers essentially made Superman a side character. As the title alludes, this is very much a Lois and Clark based show. We follow their rocky relationship in season 1 right up to their marriage in the fourth and final season.
This in turn, grounded the characters in a way that hadn't been seen previously on screen. Gone was the bumbling Clark of the Christopher Reeve films.
The promotional poster featured the leads cuddled up to one another with a simple Superman badge on their arms to signify that the show did in fact feature Superman.
The first season was a good starting point. There was a strong antagonist in Lex Luthor, played brilliantly by John Shea, who was so badass that when he's not battling the Man of Steel, he is staring down a cobra! We were also introduced to other iconic characters such as Lane Smith’s unbeaten take on Perry White.
The show was still finding its feet early on, and the budget was clearly tight as the same stock footage was used throughout. This is the one major sticking point for the show.
The first season had a list of memorable episodes, including the “Pilot” episode, “The Green, Green Glow of Home” which introduces Superman to Kryptonite and “Vatman”, which sees Superman cloned. Lex was the big bad throughout the series, which worked well for the overall arc of the show.
Moving on, season two was arguably the strongest of the four seasons. The budget grew, as did the characters chemistry. As the season started, the will they wont they relationship that kept viewers glued to their television screens intensified.
This season contained memorable episodes including “Season’s Greedings” which featured The Jefferson's star, Sherman Hemsley as The Toyman. There was also “Metallo”, “Tempus Fugitive” which introduced us to one of the best recurring villains throughout the show, Tempus, who jumps through time, and is set out to destroy Superman. This episode was also the first glimpse how Lois would react to finding out Clark's secret, as she has to prevent Tempus who tries to kill a baby Clark, after just crash landing in Kansas. The last episode of the season “And The Answer Is…”, finished it off strongly. This episode contains the two actors best performances, as Superman has to make a hard decision regarding his family and Lois.
We were also introduced to a new Jimmy Olson, bringing in Justin Whalin to take over the photography duties from Michael Landes. Landes was fine as Jimmy, but Whalin brought more charisma to the character and his chemistry bounced off of Smith’s Perry White, creating a fun duo who often added the laughs throughout the latter seasons.
Other supporting cast members such as Clark’s parents played by Eddie Jones and K Callan, worked well enough in providing the shows two leads with more credible and grounded storylines as well as letting its leads shine.
For many, the shows quality dipped after Lois and Clark got engaged at the end of the second season. The attraction of the show, other than being based on the Superman character was to see whether or not the two characters would get together. Having them get engaged after the second season, got rid of the curiosity for most people.
Season three saw the writers try to drag out the characters engagement, creating possibly the more bizarre storyline of the whole show, which saw Lois Lane cloned into a frog-eating replica that weds the Man of Steel. This sort of storyline highlights some of the shows downfalls, for all its great moments there were also moments like this, that didn't do the show any favours.
This season saw the couple finally wed. There was also the fun episode, “Soul Mates”, which features Lois and Clark jumping through time, battling a returning Tempus.
The fourth season also sadly marked the end of the show as it was cancelled after initial talks of a fifth season, ending the show on an annoying cliffhanger that was never resolved.
Lois and Clark often gets flack from Superman fans. Firstly for the tone of the show, it often fell into the comedy/campy department and secondly its often-silly story-lines, with the cloning storyline being one example mentioned earlier. But I will always have a soft spot for it, as it was one of my first introductions to Superman.
For all its faults, Lois & Clark was a lot of fun, something some comic shows and films these days seem to lack.