Lois & Clark & Chris & Ronnie: “Dead Lois Walking”/”Bob and Carol and Lois and Clark”
Ronnie: Previously on The Clark: Lois is going to jail for a crime she didn’t commit! Will it be realistic and gritty like Caged Heat or will it be a frothy bitch session like Orange is the New Black? Well, if you watch “Dead Lois Walking” you’ll find out. That’s a terrible idea; if there’s any lesson you ought to take from Lois & Clark & Chris & Ronnie it’s that under no circumstances do you have to, or should you, watch Lois & Clark. The one acceptable circumstance is “you’re writing a column about Lois & Clark”, and we’ve already filled that niche.
Conjugal visit part 1
So Perry and Clark are justifiably crestfallen that Lois faces the death penalty in part because of a fake Perry’s testimony. Now I find this a bit ridiculous, not just because Perry could just say he didn’t appear in court. The situation is contrived to put Clark/Superman in an impossible decision: he could break his wife out of jail, but it would violate the principles he’s spent his entire life fighting for. This dilemma would fuel drama…if Clark didn’t decide to do it five minutes into the episode. During their escape they discuss The Fugitive TV show, which is weird because you’d think they’d mention the Harrison Ford movie. It came out in 1993, months before Lois & Clark Season 1 premiered. Sadly, “Dead Lois Walking” is neither as exciting as the television program nor the film. According to Clark, Lois has sent like eight pages worth of scientists to prison, which really overestimates the utility of reporters, even in the mid-90s. Thank God Stephen Glass wasn’t in charge of incarcerating people…
Thankfully, the pair comes across the one rural diner owner who doesn’t want to hang journalists in effigy. Lou gives a speech about how he and others live small lives, and journalists such as Lois are fighting for the little guy. Oh fuck off. Who let Aaron Sorkin in the writers’ room? Anyway, someone starts bumping off everyone associated with the conspiracy to set up Lois for murder, so it’s clear ties cutting is happening. This isn’t a bad episode because it’s a combination of our heroes trying to prove something (Lois’ innocence) and stop something (the Hybrid Kyptonite from killing everyone). There’s little fat on this one, except for Superman/Klein doing an abbreviated, shitty version of Who’s On First. It falters in the end because this two parter ought not end with Lois kidnapped by the villain. Lois’ incarceration just doesn’t seem as important when otherwise facing annihilation from what is basically a neutron bomb. The show ends with them racing each other upstairs for SEX. They’re fucking at least twice in these 40 some minutes. Knock it off, you crazy kids!
The only thing better than conjugal visit sex…fugitive sex!
Chris: You forgot the best part of the shit with the diner guy who helps Lois and Clark. The newspaper he’s reading, the one that has Lois’s picture, is called The Rural Gazette. Because I guess Hillbilly Times was taken by the town just over yonder beyond the river. Fantastic. I agree that it’s always nice to see Lois and Clark doing their jobs. And I liked that Jimmy and Perry both knew that Clark was aiding and abetting Lois. I liked that they didn’t, like, get upset about it or do some comic business or insist on helping. It spoke to their trust and faith in their friends’ judgment and abilities.You said there wasn’t much in the way of fat on “Dead Lois Walking” and I agree, but I also thought it was kind of thin? Like, when Clark returns to the Planet he mentions getting grilled by the cops, and I might have wanted to see a little of that. Or maybe there could have been a scene or two where Clark spots and shakes tales. LIke he turns a corner and a couple of plain clothes do the same only to discover an empty alley.
We keep coming back to this, but there used to be a sense that Metropolis was an actual place filled with people. The newsroom was often busy and there were characters who showed up more than once like that snitch who ate a lot, or various Lex flunkies, or even Lois’s weird maybe psychic neighbor. L&C was never a great looking show, but it was pretty good at working with what it had to cheat a respectable sense of scope for a show about an omnipotent superhero in the biggest city in the world. Just the idea of Intergang had a kind of depth to it because it was a massive network of crooks and killers that had infiltrated deeply into all facets of society. You could have all these one off guest stars like Raquel Welch or Barry the Sniffing Accountant From Seinfeld and the fact that they were all working for one organization made everything feel a little bigger. And speaking of that, there was an episode of this show that had Raquel Welch and Robert Kulp! Bronson Pinchot appeared twice! They had Elliot Gould for some reason and J.T. Walsh! This episode’s villains were Someone-I-Didn’t-Recognize and Guy-Who-Was-One-of-the-Passengers-in-Speed-and-looks-a-little-like-Robert-Ben-Garrant. That dude doesn’t even have a picture on his IMDB profile!
Since when do you need a computer program to determine it’s Lois Lane wearing glasses?
All I’m saying is, even as L&C continues to right the ship and string together a few halfway decent episodes, you can feel the walls closing in. You would think Jonathan and Martha would be concerned about their daughter in law being on the lam after being sentenced to death, but I guess it just wasn’t in the budget. Looking ahead I can see a few potential bright spots, guest star wise, a Seinfeld vet or two, Mr. Howard Michael Mandell and… some weird Drew Carey Show stunt casting thing? Really? Well, whatever. The next episode get’s us to one third of the way through the fourth season and eighty five percent through the entire series. To quit now would be to concede that this project was somehow a bad idea, and I’ll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I do that. Sometimes in life you just have to suck it up and see something through. It’s not like any of us have anything better to do anyway. We’re all just meat sacks who have tricked ourselves into thinking we have free will killing time before death inevitably rears its head. There’s no God or heaven or anything like that, either. It’s just this. Until there’s nothing. We’re all of us alone.
Ronnie: I’m actually impressed the show didn’t bother to ever show us Lois adapting to prison life. That’s an automatic two scenes’ worth of time filled. You could throw a black cellmate in there to meet the Magical Negro quota, Lois could learn what it’s really like to be inside, it’d be great. Alas, we have what we have with “Dead Lois Walking”. I’d put it around a B; Lois & Clark “A” episodes need either Lex, the parents or both. It felt like shit was actually happening this time around, and ambition has been a problem for this show for as long as I’ve watched it. Most often Lois & Clark will take the cheapest avenue possible, so it’s nice to see multiple sets and some special effects, albeit crappy. I’m so worn down by the show I think I’ve developed Stockholm Syndrome.
The best headline since “Heroes Again: Tango & Cash Back On The Force”
Chris: Remember how an episode last season had the same name as the Bergman film Winter Light? That was a strange thing to do and we all had a laugh at my very funny jokes about it, but it also could have been a coincidence? Winter Light was a Swedish movie made over thirty years before “Winter Light” aired, and even though it’s director was extremely famous, Winter Light probably wasn’t among his five best known works. So, you know, maybe. Probably not, but maybe. Dead Man Walking on the other hand, was an Important Hollywood Movie released less than a year before this L&C that was nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor, and won Susan Sarandon Best Actress. There’s simply no chance that L&C’s producers didn’t know about that film and so must have thought “Referencing a well known extremely serious film asking people to consider the humanity of killers who have been sentenced to death in the title of an episode of our superhero show is a good idea. Also, let’s tweak it a little so it comes off as a cheeky little jape. Not really a joke, and not really a pun, people will just recognize the reference and have a good chuckle”
Seriously, what the fuck? Why would anyone do that? It’s baffling. Looking back I also just realized that “The People Vs. Lois Lane” was almost certainly a reference to Milos Foreman’s The People Vs Larry Flynt, a film that had gone into limited release earlier that same month. Why are they asking the audience to connect Lois Lane to a rapist/murderer and a pornographer best known for publishing the first picture of a woman exposing her vulva? The episode before that “Brutal Youth” may or may not be a reference to an Elvis Costello album from 1994. Looking ahead, there’s the Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice reference in our next ep, and after that they stop trying to be clever and just name the episodes directly after movies. There’s a Lethal Weapon, Sex Lies and Videotape, Meet John Doe, Shadow of a fucking Doubt, and Toy Story. It would be one thing if these were only names the writers knew because no one was streaming TV or collecting it or whatever, but L&C displays the episode’s name at the top of each show! I swear, this show is more confusing and mysterious than Twin Peaks.
Odds & Ends
-The guy who plays Professor Cole voiced Clock King on Batman: The Animated Series and Norman Osborn on Spectacular Spider-Man. Most famously Alan Rachins was on L.A. Law.
-Superman’s newest ability: SUPERDRAWING! He uses a reflection on a video and draws a perfect picture of the culprit.
-This episode must’ve been expensive. They had a wind machine and fake rain and everything.
Ronnie: So here we go, the Deathstroke episode. Well, in name only. Deathstroke is Bob, a guy who wears glasses normally and in his villain persona has a shitty jumpsuit and can give people heart attacks. He and his wife befriend Lois and Clark, and we’re meant to contrast them as couples. The problem is we immediately know they’re evil, so there’s no suspense or sense of betrayal. Who gives a shit? Other couples to compare with: Perry and his floozy, Jimmy and his child bride. I suppose the lesson is that all relationships are abnormal and not to be tolerated except for the main titular couple. Romances champion a couple; better romances champion a couple at the exclusion of everything else.
Better than Deathstroke’s “costume” on Smallville.
Is Grant Grendell Donald Trump? Is he supposed to be Donald Trump, I mean. He kinda looks like him and it’s not impossible for him to be an influence on a character who otherwise draws from Howard Hughes. It’s something you have to consider in this hellscape of a reality. Bania pops up as Grant Grendell’s driver for some reason. It’s not as good as his appearance in The Prophecy or The X-Files. The episode hinges on the battle between Superman and Deathstroke and it is sub-Power Rangers. I felt embarrassed for all involved. I don’t know if I can keep watching this shit.
Chris: Oh, see, I’m actually going to disagree with you and say that I actually liked “Lois & Clark & Bob & Carol”. It’s light on its feet, doesn’t take itself too seriously, has some fun guest stars, and is actually about a real thing: how hard it can be to find couples to be friends with after you’re in a couple yourself. That’s, like, an actual problem that actual real adult people have, and is the kind of shit I think L&C should have focused on from jump. This show can really only work in a very narrow area of storytelling, we know the budget can’t handle anything remotely close to an actual sci-fi adventure show, and Dean Cain doesn’t have the chops to do any emotional heavy lifting acting-wise. The show’s strength has always been in comedic stories about Lois and Clark trying to figure out how to be a couple. This is that.It’s absolutely fine to have your own life and friends when you’re in a relationship,but it makes things a lot easier if there are people you both agree on. Like George and Jerry and Susan and Heidi in “The Friars Club”. This isn’t as good as that, obviously, but it’s a fair bit better than the dreck they’ve been serving up lately.
“Hey, didn’t you used to date my friend Jerry Seinfeld?”
I also thought the casting worked well too. Pairing Dean Cain with fellow real-life-thumb-head Antonio Sabato Jr works for me. They both have real dumbass energy, you could see them actually being friends over the course of the show. I honestly felt a little bad when Bob got taken away, it was like when two dogs make friends at the park and then one of them has to go home. Remember when they were playing basketball and Bob was gonna clang his shot off the rim until Clark used his super breath to nudge it in? He didn’t want his friend to be sad that he missed! And I actually liked Sydney Walsh as Carol? I thought she had a really fun, flat, nasty energy. She was like an evil, B- Mimi Rogers. And I thought she also worked well with Sabato, I bought that she cared about him. I thought they all cared about each other. I could see why Clark liked Bob, why Bob liked Clark, why Lois liked Carol and why Carol liked Lois. I also really liked the one Fed who was pouting about how budget cuts demanded that he give up his cool spy car. dunno, maybe my standards are too low. Actually, I’m pretty sure my standards are too low, but a bunch of things that I like and only a couple that I don’t are enough for me to give “Lois & Clark & Bob & Carol” a three out of five. Which,as we keep saying, is pretty much a rave in L&C terms.
I don’t appreciate Jimmy dating. This has “The Other Sister” written all over it.
Ronnie: I won’t say I liked the episode, but I didn’t hate it. I’m just criticizing because that’s what we’re here for. The premise is sound as you say. There’s just too much going on and thus the compelling elements of the plot are given short shrift. Deathstroke being a science accident gone wrong is one complication too many for the plot. I also cannot understate how absolutely shitty the effects look and…heh, I was going to use the phrase “fight choreography” but on this show that’s a cruel joke. At best Dean Cain and the other guy sort of push each other a bit. That said, I will defend the premise in principle; if Lois and Clark are going to be married, they ought to be serviced by plotlines that only really work if they’re married or at least in a serious relationship. Finding another couple to be friends with is just such a story. Fine idea, not so fine execution.
Chris: I agree completely with your last sentiment, but I will take fine ideas executed badly all day and twice on Sunday compared to some of the drivel this show has been churning out over the last season and a half. I mean, honestly, like I said before, I’m pretty easy to please in a lot of ways. I don’t go into a Superman show from the 90’s expecting, like, Loki level work, I just want the show to have a few decent jokes and a theme that somehow relates to Lois and Clark’s relationship. That or it can be completely unhinged, see Detroit, Wanda. Or all those cold opens where Clark humiliated random famous athletes, remember those? Remember when he was like Fuck you Bo Jackson. You may be one of the finest athletes ever to live, but you can’t fly, can you, bitch? Do you think Bo ever put it together that he was shooting hoops with Superman? And if so, how did that make him feel? Would he be proud that he was thoroughly housing the Man of Steel that he had to resort to cheating? Or would it infuriate him to realize that there was no way he was getting Supes’ best? Jackson probably hadn’t had someone take it easy on him for decades, or maybe even ever at all. How would he come to terms with that? Explain your answer.
Odds & Ends
“Hate has made my career possible” – Antonio Sabato Jr.’s most self-aware line ever
Seinfeld Alum Tracker: You’re kidding, right? BANIA!