Lois & Clark & Chris & Ronnie: “Ghosts”/”Stop the Presses”

Chris: Hello, hi and welcome back to another installment of Lois & Clark & Chris & Ronnie, a series that, much like the show it chronicles, started with a shaky premise and just got worse. Today’s entry cover the ninth and tenth episodes of the fourth and final season, which is another way of saying we’ve watched seventy three out of eighty seven episodes, which is still another way of saying we’ve come too far to turn back now, and no, we’re unfamiliar with the sunk-cost fallacy, but we promise we’ll read up on it just as soon as we’re done writing about this wretched show. Let’s get it over with, shall we? First up we have “Ghosts”, a cromulent enough episode that, if nothing else, finally answers the age-old question of who would win a fight between Superman and Mimi from The Drew Carey Show.

Remember when Lois and Clark moved into their new house a few weeks ago? No? Fuck you, it happened. And it seems that their new neighborhood has a spookity ghost infestation that’s causing many of their neighbors to pull up stakes and move out. If you’re thinking wait a minute, ghosts? That’s not really this show’s lane, this is Lois & Clark, not The X-Files, or the second Baywatch Nights season when the producers decided that what the show needed was for Mitch the Lifeguard to start fighting Draculas! Hell, you’re thinking, this isn’t even the fourth season of Superboy, when the producers decided that what the show needed was for the Orlando Based Boy-of-Steel to start fighting Draculas! Well worry not, because the creatives behind the scenes haven’t taken leave of their senses; it turns out the ghosts were just elaborate hoaxes perpetrated by unscrupulous real estate developer and game show host Drew Carey in order to scoop up their properties on the cheap.  It’s a pretty good scam (not really), but the whole thing hits a snag when Carey accidentally conjures a real ghost.


The Drew Carey Show had ghosts in it by the final season I’m pretty sure.

The ghost in question is of housewife Katie Banks (Kathy Kinney, Mimi of The Drew Carey Show and woman who helps destroy Frank Costanza’s car) who was murdered in her apartment and is unable to return to the afterlife until her murder is solved. “Ghosts” is about on par with previous episode “Bob & Carol & Lois & Clark”. It similarly mines the domestic anxiety that comes with being newlyweds in a plot that literalizes Lois’s concerns about her lack of homemaking skills. Sort of. It’s not as neat as that episode where the bad guy is a lady who’s trying to restore her youth being a mirror for Lois’s fears that Clark will lose interest in her as she inevitably ages and he doesn’t. She’s upset that she’s not good at cooking and Katie was an excellent cook with a piece of shit husband who mistreated and eventually killed her. That doesn’t really translate all that well, but points for trying I guess? Either way, there’s a part where Katie possesses Lois and Teri Hatcher gets to do a full on Bruce Campbell possession scene and fucking nails it.

Ronnie: Lois can’t cook, but it’s all good because in other rooms in the house Lois rates “5 stars” according to Clark. He’s alluding to her abilities at putting penises in her mouth and vagina, folks. This is a show for adults who got neutered at some point in their lives so their only respite is Funko Pops, 90s cheese and Chuck Wendig novels. Anyway, this 45 minutes of pain is about Drew Carey as Herbie Saxe. This is back when he still looked like Drew Carey–the weight, the glasses, the works. Silver Age Drew Carey. The platonic ideal of Drew Carey. “Ghosts”, yeah it’s called “Ghosts”, is 1996 and his show was 1995. Therefore, the presence of Kathy Kinney aka Mimi Bobeck is a deliberate elbow nudge stunt casting and not a freak coincidence. Way to go, Lois & Clark, you really hit the jackpot with a casting crossover with a fledgling sitcom.


She’s appearing out of fat air!

Saxe/Carey wants to spook the Lane-Kents out of their house to fool Lloyd Braun, so he does so by invoking the black arts as opposed to just doing what those guys did in The Crow. NO I DON’T MEAN KILLING DEAN CAIN THAT WOULD BE… WELL NOT TERRIBLE BUT SOMETHING. Paranormal Activity (not Paranormal Activity) occurs in the hopes it drives out the house’s occupants and typing this I realize this is basically a Scooby-Doo episode. We do get some top notch Teri Hatcher acting in scenes of her being possessed by Mimi. Insubstantial but fun nonetheless. Less fun is the episode overall, a lumpy mess that feels like some Touched by an Angel nonsense. There’s some bullshit about unsolved murders resulting in restless spirits so it’s up to the gang to solve a murder from 98 years ago.

It involves a ouija board and Kathy Kinney doing goblin voice. I felt bad for everybody. Mimi helps Lois learn to cook (possession is a two way street) and they realize it was the husband’s lover Colonel Mustard in the study with the candlestick. All’s well that ends well, no one learns anything and I’m still amazed I’m on Year 4 of a Superman show and this is what it is. Like, I dunno, I feel like Smallville was still TRYING in its fourth season.

Chris: Remember City of Angels, Brad Siberling’s worthless remake of Wings of Desire? It’s probably best known for that drippy Goo-Goo Girls song where the singer is in a lighthouse or something? It’s entirely possible that you don’t, those kinds of things are hard to remember. They were the cinema and musical equivalent of the piece of white bread with a glass of water on the side for dipping that Ned Flanders loved. Anyway, in City of Angels Nic Cage plays an actual literal angel who gives up his divinity to date Meg Ryan. So, before that happens, when Cage is pretending to be an average fella, they’re in her kitchen cutting up vegetables, and Cage accidentally slices his hand. Ryan is a doctor and she’s like that looked like a bad cut, let’s check it out, and Cage is all, no no, it’s fine, and Ryan goes, no seriously, and grabs his hand and see that there’s no cut because he’s a celestial creature and can’t be harmed by mortal tools. A baffled and shaken Ryan demands an explanation and Cage, seeing no other option, spills the beans. Ryan, devastated to learn that the new suitor in her life has been deceiving her, demands that he leave her house and never seek her out again.


You learn that there are actual-factual angels walking the earth, and your reaction is hurt and disappointment that your angel boyfriend didn’t tell you sooner? Lady, you’re now friends with someone who knows God. Literally. You have the definitive answer to the question that’s been haunting man-kind for millennia, as well as access to the infinite knowledge of the cosmos, and your first reaction was you lied to me? Putting aside the fact that I’m pretty sure he never specifically said he wasn’t an angel and you never thought to ask, aren’t there, like, more important things to focus on at the moment? Like, no one likes to feel like they’re on the outside of a secret, but let’s keep our eye on the ball, shall we?


“Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll have careers in 25 years. We surely won’t be right-wing cranks nobody wants to work with.”

I couldn’t help being reminded of that movie while watching “Ghosts”, the story of a man who accidentally conjures a spirit from the beyond, and decides to dupe her into taking part in a real-estate swindle. Look, this is, at best a B- L&C episode (so basically a C- for an actually competent television show), but like last week’s episode it’s about a little something. We kept saying we wanted shows about how L&C’s relationship changes and grows; well, this is that. Now that they’re married, Lois is concerned that her lack of skills in the traditional wife department will become a problem while also meeting a ghost who was very good at the traditional wife shit and got no respect. It’s better than time traveling so you can get laid.

Ronnie: I just don’t see why Lois would care, because nothing in her character suggests hangups about traditionalism. Like, my dad cooks the family meals. My mom can cook but generally does not. She seems to have no inner struggle about this. Lois shouldn’t either, especially because she’s married to fucking Superman. He’s Superman, ergo more likely than not he has the ability of supercooking. Heat vision alone can best any conventional oven. I like the subplot in theory more than I do in practice. (There’s a lot about Lois & Clark that works better in theory than in practice, because in practice the budget is about $90 and some pipe cleaners.)


“There is no Dana, only Zu–look, you know where we’re going with this.”

I like the main plot neither in theory nor in practice. Comics contain multitudes and Superman has met every possible kind of threat or disturbance in his history. You can put him in a ghost story and it’ll be fine. Lois & Clark is a different case in that it’s relatively grounded. Like, there’s very few individuals with superpowers, only two alien species (Kryptonian and that Roger Daltrey assassin character), so after four seasons we have an understanding of the confines of this universe. Introducing supernatural elements in Season 4 is not only a little late, it clashes tonally with the show. It reminds me of long running sitcoms that depart from reality through gimmicky storytelling because they’ve run out of other ideas. It’s understandable The Simpsons experiment, but what’s meant to be a lighthearted romantic comedy with adventure characteristics messes with the formula in service of what exactly? Cross-promotion with a sitcom? Beats me. It’s like if RoboCop 2 had Peter Weller fight Dracula. It just doesn’t fit together. I’m not saying I wouldn’t watch Peter Weller v. Dracula, but you know what I mean.

Odds & Ends

-Hey, did you know there were more episodes of Superboy produced than L&C? I didn’t! Or if I did I forgot! Either way it’s pretty funny!
-One of Carey’s books is literally titled How to Raise the Dead. Little on the nose, don’t you think?
-”Would a ghost have a big interest in real estate?” – good dialogue
-Mimi calling Drew “master” is disgusting and unnecessary.



Chris: I was thinking earlier of a word that I think perfectly encapsulates what Lois & Clark has become: crummy. This show is crummy. Like, it’s not that it’s particularly offensive (other than the special effects which didn’t even manage to hurdle the fucking Virtuosity bar), or that it’s making wild choices that suggest blind panic behind the scenes, it just kinda sucks. “Stop the Presses” is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. This is the kind of episode that I kept saying I wanted to see. The main plot involves Perry accepting a promotion, promoting Lois to editor-in-chief, and the strain that puts on her and Clark’s relationship. It’s not that the promotion turns Lois into a dick or anything, it’s that her new responsibilities force her to think about the paper in ways that come into conflict with Clark’s method of working. What I’m saying is, she kills one of his stories because he doesn’t have enough information to write up and deadlines wait for no man.

Clark points out, correctly, that when she was a reporter Lois would never have just given up a story if her instincts were telling her there was something there. And Lois says, also correctly, that she’s not a reporter anymore, she’s an editor and it’s her job to think about the paper as a whole and not any one particular story. He’s her best writer and she needs him working on stuff that she can print tomorrow, not a week from now. They get into the best kind of argument, the one where no one is wrong so neither of them can back down. And because they can’t just punch out at the end of the day and go back to their respective homes to cool off, the bad feelings linger and grow as each one refuses to cave to the other.


I’d call this a special effects failure but I don’t think there was a chance the special effect could succeed.

We keep saying the fourth season of L&C should be about married life and the problems of young couples, and this is exactly that. You get to see a clash at work that spills out into their homelife and how difficult it is to resolve a conflict when you can’t just separate and let things cool down organically. It’s a good problem for a show about newlyweds to tackle. Cain and Hatcher both do a good job at playing all the stages of the conflict (best acting I’ve seen Cain do in a while). There’s even plots for Perry and Jimmy as well as the first appearance in a while of the Kents. But I just kind of didn’t care? I’m over it. The fact that this episode was okay pales in comparison to all the garbage that surrounds it. You need momentum for a TV show to work, a sense that there’s always something interesting around the corner. With L&C, too many of those corners have led straight to blind falls down open manholes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to make fun of the show when they do ludicrous things like doing a ghost story involving stunt-casting from a B level sitcom, and the show can still manage to put together some snappy dialogue here and there. But this is all running on fumes, it would be obvious even if we were watching it weekly in 1996.

Ronnie: All right, what do we got this time? Oh, it’s the 1990s trying to interrogate computer use. That never ends happily. Like a minute in Lois says “Jimmy, you’re a cyber guy” in the intonation your mother uses to suggest you can do anything because you know how to burn a CD. (That’s not the least of preposterous Jimmy material in this episode, by the by.) Eric Press the hacker has been kidnapped, hence the episode title “Stop The Presses” becomes worse the longer you think about it. Moreover, Perry has been promoted up the corporate ladder and there’s question as to who replaces him as editor. I would think Clark would immediately recuse himself on account of not necessarily being able to balance “newspaper editor” and “Superman”, but it’s academic anyway because Lois gets the job and does a “yes!” like Culkin after one of his traps gives the Wet Bandits irreversible brain damage.

If you don’t believe the episode ends with a return to status quo I don’t think you’re cognitively capable of watching this show, much less read these reviews. Clark doesn’t like how the job affects Lois and Lois is now being pressured by forces she could simply ignore as a reporter. Meanwhile, Jimmy’s preposterous workplace dilemma is a blonde in research is Fatal Attractioning him. His words. Look, the actor’s no gargoyle but the character as presented should be setting pins at a bowling alley as part of adult employment outreach, not dating and dumping attractive women. The actual plot of the episode is hacker Eric Press and his brother Ethan devising a way to sap Superman’s powers and put them in a position to kill him. They want to do so because they’re Lex Luthor fanboys, and upon watching this episode it dawns on me that these dorks talk about Lex like blue checkmarks talk about Elon Musk. I hate to compare John Shea to the South African Banana Slug who singlehandedly destroyed the Internet’s worst website, but if the shoe fits…

This episode does feel like the first time in a while Lois and Clark have had a legitimate argument, and it’s interesting to see. The performers acquit themselves and it ends with Clark ripping the editor’s office door off its hinges in full view of the bullpen, which really ought to give the game away as to who Superman is. Their frayed relationship is the only interesting part in the show, and it has to contend with the annoying Lex fanboys, a new reporter named Ralph who exists solely to be obnoxious, Jimmy’s bullshit…it’s basically a couple of decent scenes in service of stupid bullshit.


[sighs] “Looks like it’s super-wanking for me this morning.”

Chris: So we’ve been watching Newhart, the one from the 80’s where he runs an inn, and it’s pretty good so far but I’m told it gets much better down the road. What happened was, they started the show with five main characters: Newhart, his wife, the dim-but-lovable handyman, eccentric/unreliable/sexual predator neighbor, and big-hearted-rich-girl-trying-to-make-it-on-her-own-by-becoming-a-maid. They dropped the rich girl/maid at the end of the first season because, and this is what IMDB said, “the actress wasn’t funny enough”. Yikes. They couldn’t sugarcoat that a little? Maybe keep it to yourselves? Because even if that wasn’t what they told her at the time, it obviously got out. It reminds me a little of when Jason Alexander kind of shit talked the actress who played Susan. He didn’t mean to actually insult her, but he almost certainly did. Anyway, they dumped that character at the end of season one and replaced her with her flightier, more spoiled, boy crazy cousin. Then, they dumped the weirdo neighbor at the end of the second season and replaced him with ex-Bosom Buddy and future L&C all-star Peter Scolari as an uptight nerd who’s diametrically opposed (one assumes) to the irresponsible, proto-Kramer neighbor.  After that the show supposedly goes into warp speed.

I think the neighbor character is okay, though he’s definitely strange. He creeps/sexually harasses the sweet maid which is unpleasant for many reasons, least of which being the maid is often wearing long brown shorts and white knee socks, thereby giving off a girl scout vibe. But the character was also a freaked out pathological liar (no hyperbole, he says that in the first episode) who’s constantly trying to manipulate Newhart and his wife into helping him out and giving him money. I can see why audiences didn’t like him, but I kind of enjoy his sort of atonal presence. Minus the creeping. Why am I bringing this up? Well, one reason is I don’t want to talk about “Stop the Presses” anymore but still felt compelled to write something. And two, the guy who plays the neighbor has speech patterns and diction that reminded me a lot of Ace Ventura era Jim Carrey. He’d frequently hit punchlines in many ways, with that emphasis on the last couple words and maybe a little head tilt. This is significant because I really didn’t like one of the evil brothers in large part because he was doing what seemed to me like a terrible Jim Carrey impression and now feel the need to publicly apologize to Mr. Carrey and say that he’s doing a terrible Steven Kampman impression. There I connected the two thoughts, I can now give myself kudos for a job done.


Most of Cain’s duties in the Superman role are lifting props that look heavy.

Ronnie: I too am at a loss for words, in that I have little to say more about “Stop the Presses”. It functionally operates as an hour of television. It’s not embarrassing like a number of other episodes of Lois & Clark. But it’s also not good. Fanboys of Lex Luthor isn’t a terrible concept, yet it has to be implemented better than this. That’s the face of it: the Press brothers are pretty fucking annoying and do a disservice to the legacy of John Shea’s Lex. I know our standards for Superman stories is pretty fucking low in this context, but come on. “Two annoying brothers doing this in service of a better character they lost three seasons ago try to kill Superman with bullshit” is not going to past muster. Fuck this show.

Odds &  Ends

-One Press brother did 124 episodes of Nashville and appeared routinely on Whose Line Is It Anyway. The other is best known for playing “Flash” on Step by Step. Real Goofus and Gallant careers here.
-This episode is over 44 minutes long. Man, network TV used to be long.

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