Sunday, June 8, 2014

Review: Lois and Clark- The New Adventures of Superman

Another program I recently decided to revisit is the classic TV series “Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman” which ran on ABC for four seasons from 1993-1997.  I watched most of the episodes when they first aired and must say I also have enjoyed them the second time around!  For those of you who do not know, Lois and Clark told the story of Superman in a weekly format that concentrated on the characters and their interactions while they stopped some nefarious plot by some villain.  The special effects are rather primitive by today’s standards, which is one of the reason the plots are more character rather than action-driven.  However, this is done to a great success which I mostly contribute to the chemistry of the main characters, especially Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain as the title characters.

So let me discuss the characters first.  Lois is a strong and independent minded reporter, who tends to get in a lot of trouble.  A bit too much often, which gives Superman a chance to save her.  However, she does save herself from time to time, and never seems like Superman’s sidekick.  Teri Hatcher must be the best looking Lois ever, and I think she really nailed the part.  Truth is, I have a character in my Mutant Elf comic named after her!  Dean Cain does a good job as Clark and Superman.  He’s goofy when he’s trying to protect his secret identity, and strong and serious as Superman.  It can’t be easy to act in those tights, and to not make fun of the character, but Dean plays his dual roles very well.  My wife seems to especially like scenes when he’s shirtless.  I don’t understand that, since he’s out of costume, but whatever… The show took carries on the idea John Byrne started with his 1980’s Superman revamp in the comics and kept Clark’s parents alive, which works great as they give Clark people to talk to about his secret.  At the Daily Planet, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are the mainstays, and make some nice, though limited contributions.

Now, about the stories:  The show used Lex Luthor as the steady bad guy in the first season, then started a villain-of-the-week format from season 2 on, though Lex does come back for a few episodes.  According to the DVD commentary, the show was revamped to be more kid-friendly after season 1, and I do think some aspects got more campy as time went on, though nowhere close to the 60’s Batman series.  The main story arc is the will-they-or-won’t-they relationship between Lois and Clark, which is handled very well.  There are a lot of big name guest stars, which also reminds me of the old Batman series, and I think some of the actors ham it up a bit much.  Also, I think you can get distracted if you think too much about the special effects.  As I noted above, they are not super-cgi effects, and sometimes you can tell that Dean is being lifted on a platform or the green-screen is goofy, but I think you have to suspend your disbelief and go with it.  Nothing in the show is as ridiculous as the glasses disguise for Clark.  If you can accept the dual identity, you should be able to accept the rest.

In conclusion, I’d encourage anyone who has never seen this series to check it out, and those of us who watched it long ago to revisit it.  It’s good, clean fun!

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