Lois & Clark & Chris & Ronnie: “I Now Pronounce You…”/”Double Jeopardy”

Ronnie: We’re here! We’re finally here! (Or are we? More on that later…) Ever since Lois found out Clark’s secret, and their will they/won’t they settled into “will they”, it’s been inevitable that the two be married off, if only for the show’s strange and juvenile approach to sexual politics. They can’t live in sin, so they have to be married. We’re probably having them sleep in separate beds when they do tie the knot. There hasn’t been too much setup to the wedding, but the show has definitely been treading water for a while, going down pointless storytelling avenues and otherwise killing time. Here’s hoping that Lois & Clark approaches something of a gameplan with this out of the way.

We won’t get to find out, of course, because this isn’t the wedding. “I Now Pronounce You…” is a fakeout, and not a particularly good one at that. Within the first 10 minutes we know something is up, and that something is clones. As a pet store owner explains to us, a kind of frog (Doppelbufo) can clone another species exactly and you know what, I’m not going into more detail because I can feel myself losing brain cells as I type. Tony Curtis as Dr. Mamba has cloned President Fred Willard and the agent in charge of his security for nefarious purposes. They’re exact physical matches, only they do not possess the originals’ intellect and they have to ingest frogs on a regular basis.


How is this guy not a cartoon? He belongs in Who Framed Roger Rabbit!

By the time we get to Brad Garrett as a reverend with a “routine” I’m ready to pull the plug and tell Chris I buckled. It’s all too much. Now, Dr. Mamba is on the phone with a boss figure constantly, and it’s mildly surprising who it is. You guessed it: Toyman. No, not really. It’s Lex Luthor. Given he’s been out of the picture, by and large, since the end of Season 1 I think the show does deserve some credit for luring John Shea back for such a momentous occasion. Well, presumably he’ll be back; in this episode Lex’s only appearance is as a still on television. But really, couldn’t they have thought of a better way to stall the wedding than “frog clone”? It’s just undignified for everyone involved. John Shea deserves better.

Speaking of which, I’d also argue Tony Curtis deserves better. He gets some fun things to do in the episode but it’s still in service of something really, really dumb. There’s a dance he’s doing with a frog that’s interrupted by Lois knocking on his hotel room door. Fred Willard gets a couple of dumb guy moments but he too is squandered. “I Now Pronounce You…” has a lot of moving parts, lotta ins, lotta outs, but it ends up being less than the sum of those parts. It’s, well, stupid.

Chris: It’s a generational thing, Ronnie. Just like people who were alive in the 60’s talk about where they were when we landed on the moon or when JFK was killed, and 21st century Americans might reminisce about 9.11 or Obama’s election, if you were alive in the 90’s you’ll never forget where you were when Clark Kent married a frog. For me it was like it was yesterday, because it was. I was on my couch in the middle of the day, wearing my Star Wars pajama pants and drinking iced tea straight from the bottle. Oh of course I’d heard about how Clark married a clone of Lois, everyone knew. Perhaps my friend Dan who watched the show all the way through because he thought Teri Hatcher was pretty told me. Or maybe I read it in an issue of Entertainment Weekly, a magazine every serious film and television connoisseur read religiously at the time. Or it’s possible I actually watched the show through the third season and just forgot because Lois & Clark is so banal that it’s hard to remember even a day later to say nothing of decades afterwards. Whatever the answer, this bit is tired and I don’t know how to get out of it gracefully so I’m just gonna move on and pretend it never happened.


The most embarrassing thing Fred Willard did until, you know, that other thing.

I actually thought that “I Now Pronounce You” started fairly promisingly. The opening scenes of Lois and Clark struggling to nail down the last details and squash any problems were grimly foreboding in ways that the rest of the episode absolutely failed to deliver on. But yeah, it’s night in those first couple of scenes, and there’s a thunderstorm raging, the DP actually turned the lights down so there were lots of rich shadows everywhere that gave the characters and sets depth they often lack. And the crowd scenes in the overbooked hotel actually felt, like, crowded. I suppose it’s appropriate that this is (sort of) a Lex episode because I was thinking there at the beginning that the show had an ominous, electric atmosphere not seen since last season’s series high “Phoenix”, but soon enough any good feelings I had were buried under a pile of gaffes and bad puns.

It was all just too much and none of it felt connected to anything else. Fred Willard is a great choice to play a dunderheaded Reagan-like president, but instead they make him competent so as to contrast with his idiot clone I guess. The problem is they don’t really do anything with that idea. It’s not like the clone makes some mistake that clues Lois and Clark into the fact that he’s an imposter. And they don’t have the real president fight for his freedom Air Force One style in order to emerge and set things right again either. He’s just an affable guy who comfortably jokes around with Lois and then gets replaced by a nitwit who cuts taxes for rich people. And the clone’s whole deal as an impulsive, frog eating moron has nothing in common with the darker, unsettling vibe of the early scenes. Add to that Tony Curtis doing his patented, campy, sexually confusing sleazebag character doesn’t sync up with Willard’s wide eyed super earnest style of comedy at all. To say nothing of the fact that Curtis’s character in no way vibes as a scientist, even a cracked one. You tell me that guy was a shiftless sax player who witnessed a mob hit and had to go on the lam dressed as a lady and I buy it, but you tell me he’s a brilliant mad scientist and I’ll tell you to get your fucking shinebox.



They don’t even really manage to get Lex’s plot straight. He’s planning on replacing the President of the United States with a frog-monster clone and ruin Lois’s wedding over the same weekend? Was it a happy coincidence that the president was gonna be in Metropolis at the same time as the wedding, or did he set it up? Why does a guy in prison for seven hundred years (According to Clark) care so much about cutting taxes anyway? Shouldn’t he be using his faux commander in chief to pardon him or start a war or something? It just doesn’t feel like buttfucking the poor is something you need to crack the human genome to get done. And yes, that doesn’t even begin to cover Reverend Brad Garrett or the weird plotline about how Lucy is stuck in an airport somewhere and can’t get a connecting flight (because of Lex, question mark) so Lois might have to make her heretofore unseen slutty cousin her Maid of Honor. It’s frankly astonishing that “I Now Pronounce You” ends with a To Be Continued because it already felt like I’d watched five different episodes in just that one.

Ronnie: You make a great point that Lex’s plan seems needlessly complex because of his twin desire to replace the President for nefarious ends and ruin Lois’ wedding. Pick one or the other, buddy. His aims are too diffuse, you know? The lack of John Shea means, really, you don’t need Lex at all for this plot. Dr. Mamba, incredulous as a mad scientist or doctor he may be, is enough, because we’re used to one-shot criminal geniuses with grandiose plans who never appear or are mentioned again, even though the news media would never stop talking about the time the President was replaced with a frog eating clone. It feels as though they had a “great” idea for a one-shot criminal conspiracy and the wedding episode and jammed them together, which explains why large swathes seem as though they’re written without an imminent wedding in mind.

I guess my issue is I just want the wedding to be over with so we can move on to the “new normal” of their relationship. Them as a couple has been so-so, them as an engaged couple has been so-so…I shouldn’t be expecting better from them as a married couple and yet I do. It should lead to different types of stories than the ones availed to us thus far. An impediment such as “Lois is replaced by a frog clone” will only be seen as loathsome wheel spinning by me. It’s not in service of telling more engagement stories; by all accounts we’re about to dive head first into some stupid clone saga. I already had enough of clones of one character in the 90s; I don’t need to experience it again.


Sometimes I wonder why they didn’t have John Shea go bald and then I remember why.

Chris: I will admit to being charmed by the pettiness of Lex’s plans regarding the wedding. This is a man who can apparently engineer the replacement of the leader of the free world with a frog eating clone. You’d think he’d try and have Lois or Clark killed, or, frame one of them for murder or pedophilia or something equably loathesome. He could make it seem like Clark was a fiend for prostitutes in an attempt to drive a permanent wedge between the two, or he could kidnap Lucy and demand that the two never marry as ransom. But he doesn’t do any of that, he just makes the wedding itself stressful. It has the ring, intentional or not, of old silver age books where Joker would steal everyone’s left shoe or something. This also assumes that he didn’t plan for Lois to be replaced by the clone of course, maybe that was the ultimate plan and everything else was just a set up to get to the place where the switch could occur. I guess we’ll find out with the next episode.

I’m with you in just wanting the whole engagement and wedding to be over and for a new phase in their relationship to begin. There was some legitimate narrative juice in the early episodes where Lois had learned Clark’s secret. Her struggling to accept the dimensions of his their new normal and how to balance her legitimate hurt over Clark deceiving her for as long as he did with compassion for how difficult it must have been to reveal himself at all. And Clark got to have second thoughts about allowing himself to get close to someone who could be put into more danger by being in a relationship with him, and just how committed he could be to any one person when his obligation to help as many people as he could would pretty much always be present. I also liked watching them learning how to work together as a team, with Lois learning how to utilize Clark’s abilities when they’re working as reporters and Clark suddenly having a partner in crime when it came time to cover for his many Superman related absences. It definitely feels like we’re in a different place with these two than where we started at the beginning of the season, but it also feels like they’ve been spinning their wheels for a while and it’s time to move on.

Odds & Ends
-This episode is dedicated to the memory of Jerry Siegel, who passed away around the time this originally aired. What a “fuck you” to the co-creator of the character and mythos. “We made this frog eating clone garbage in honor of YOU, Jerry!”
-LUCY LANE DOES STILL EXIST! She doesn’t appear, but she is mentioned as Lois’ expected Maid of Honor.
-Lois’ mom is a real word I don’t feel comfortable using unless I were British or Australian.
-I know it was inevitable, but Jimmy being Clark’s best man is still depressing. Wither Pete Ross, you know?
-There’s a gratuitous swipe at the plot of Showgirls. Come on!
-Lois is surprised at Clark calling her “honey”, saying he’s never used such a term of endearment on her before. This show is so sexless it took him 59 episodes.
-Clark refers to an ATM as an ATM MACHINE at one point. I expect better of the Man of Steel.

Ronnie: So what does the show do with that frog eating cliffhanger? We get a “previously on”, which I’m not sure we’ve ever gotten before. Immediately after it’s Lois and Clark ready to have sex until Lois begs off, claiming exhaustion. We get a pretty good cliffhanger when a guy literally rips off his face to reveal Lex Luthor, who has the real Lois tied up in his basement. I’ve always said, in a paraphrase of the classic one-liner from Passenger 57, “always bet on John Shea”. I think it’s because all the non-Lex scenes are, uh, stupid? You’ve got Dean Cain moaning about not getting laid while Frog Lois spouts completely believable dialogue such as “would you like coffee? I know you like coffee. It’s one of the many things I know about you”. Lois & Clark only makes sense if more than one character is continuously suffering a head wound of some sort.

Fortunately, there’s a decent amount of John Shea. I’ll give the show credit: when they have him show up, it’s not for a bullshit cameo. I loved him bickering with the Lois clone over “her type”. “You don’t have a type. You’ve been alive for nine days.” In some alternate universe there’s a much better Lois & Clark that has John Shea appear in, say, six out of twenty two episodes a season. Meanwhile, Perry and Jimmy read Lois’ pulp novel. Not an exaggeration. Like Elaine writing spec scripts of Murphy Brown, Lois in the off-hours works on a book about a lounge singer named Wanda Detroit.


Wow… that is terrible writing.

“The two of you have more electricity than anyone I’ve ever seen” declares Ma Kent about the titular couple. Given the show’s sexlessness this seems absurd, but remember she comes from small town Kansas. Cain and Hatcher together is practically porno. Frog Lois finds out Clark is Superman and uses the knowledge to become Jim Goad’s idea of a gold digging tramp. She’ll interrupt him saving lives to ask for yogurt money, for example. It’s stupid. So, so stupid. I’ll let you recap some of the rest of inanity, Chris.

Chris: Let’s start with Lois’s book, we’ve obviously never heard of it before, and apparently Lois wrote and then “forgot” about it. Which, what? How is it possible to forget that you wrote an entire novel and how the hell would Jimmy know it? Maybe she just never brought it up to you, dickhead. Anyway, the book thing is important because after Lois escapes from Lex she gets hit by a car and develops an explosive case of amnesia that leads her to think she’s actually noir heroine Wanda Detroit. She gets a job singing torch songs at a bar down at the dock run by beloved Superman comics supporting character Bibbo Bibbowski. Clark flies over to his parents to complain about how his wife doesn’t want to have sex with him (as one does) and doesn’t put together the fact that she’s a clone despite Martha saying “it’s not like she became a different person”. Clark, buddy, you foiled a Luthor driven clone conspiracy yesterday, connect the fucking dots.


“Mom, dad, Lois won’t have sex with me! She’s supposed to! She’s my wife!”
“Son, have you been reading Dennis Prager again?”

So yeah, Clone Lois (or Clois, to those of us in the know) learns that Clark is Superman and somehow thinks this knowledge gives her the leverage to separate herself from Lex. Maybe she thinks she can get Clark to kill him or something, it’s never made clear, but the show has a lot of ground to cover and can’t get bogged down in details. Either way, she’s spending all her time shopping and hitting on Jimmy and Clark is forced to team up with Lex to try and find Lois together. I forget what Lex says to convince him, but whatever. And Lois, who thinks she’s the tough talkin’, hard livin’, nightclub singin’ dame Wanda Detroit, also believes that she’s in love with two men, the nefarious “Clark” and the virtuous “Kent.” This doesn’t sound like a very good book. Also, Clark also doesn’t know anything about this novel despite their being involved enough for Lois to write an entire book about him. I guess we all have our little secrets, don’t we Lois?

Clark shows up at the bar Lois is singing at and when he identifies himself, Bibbo and a guy with 1996 hair who has a crush on her try to tune him up, because they assume he’s the no good rat “Clark” that Wanda has been talking about. But obviously because of Clark’s Superman they can’t really hurt him, so they keep slugging away while he stands there pleading with them to listen to reason. Lois slips out during the “beating” and runs smack dab into Lex who tells her that he is Kent and that they can run away together but only if she tells Superman that she never really wanted to marry him and she was leaving him forever. Why Wanda, who was never engaged to anyone would agree to say this to Superman (who she doesn’t know is Clark, and wasn’t engaged to anyway) is anyone’s guess. But she does, and it breaks Clark’s heart, because he is very stupid, and then she gets into the car with Lex and they drive away leaving Clark with Clois and another To Be Continued.


You don’t go in that van, not willingly.

Look, this little section is longer than it usually is, and it’s more recap than analysis, but it’s all vital context to understand the hysterical frenzy “Double Jeopardy” whips itself into in order to achieve the transcendent looniness it eventually reaches. None of the plotlines make any sense but they pile on top of and run through one another with a breathless intensity that I couldn’t help but marvel at. I’ve often felt like L&C manages to be bizarre without being particularly interesting and memorable. Like, I read our recaps and think the shows should be more entertaining than they actually are. The one two punch of “I Now Pronounce You” and “Double Jeopardy” on the other hand, just crash through twist after twist like Hulk chasing Black Widow in Avengers, to the point that I couldn’t help being dazzled.

Ronnie: You’re right.. What does it say that the glorious return of John Shea is actually one of the least ridiculous happenings? Like, I was all teed up to see him come back and yet he’s almost an afterthought amidst the double crossing, triple crossing double amnesia freakouts this episode is rife with. Don’t get me wrong, Shea is still great; there’s a moment that’s fantastic where he yells he’s hit a real rock bottom lately, which is true. But he pales in comparison to Lois slipping into a novel persona and working at a bar that seems cut off from the rest of Metropolis. I also like how famous Lois Lane is vacillates from episode to episode. Sometimes the President knows her by name and other times no one gives her a second thought at a dive. I like how the writers combined the amnesia/novel storyline into the botched wedding storyline, because you could easily do one without the other, but the feeling wouldn’t be insane.

Credit where credit is due: Lois & Clark is going for it. What is ‘it’? Beats me. But in this ill-fated decision to delay the wedding indefinitely through serialized storytelling they are showing drive and ingenuity I did not think these people were capable of. This is spinning about six plates in the air. Sure, most of those plates will in due course fall to the ground, but I think the effort is worth praising. For so long Lois & Clark has been a show of pretty low ambition, content to trot out inane episodes of racial stereotypes or whatever the hell any of those Jimmy centered episodes were. The closest things there were to arc were Lex’s return and Intergang’s internal power struggles. Now the powers that be have opened a number of insane story avenues that I’m sure will be exhausted next episode and in the future.

Chris: So Teri Hatcher is playing three people in this episode right? She’s Lois, Clois, and Wanda Detroit, and she manages to make them all distinct and individual from one another. Granted, Wanda Detroit is a ridiculous caricature, but that’s what it’s supposed to be, so I give her credit for hitting her mark. She’s a really good actress, isn’t she? Like, she was always good, but she’s improved by leaps and bounds as the years went on. As opposed to Dean Cain, who hit a wall a while ago and never quite got over it. I don’t think he’s strictly bad as Clark and Superman, but he’s not great either. There’s no Christopher Reeve “hey, look how he manages to be two different people by taking his glasses off, straightening his posture and putting a little bass in his voice” style acting anywhere to be found with him. Clark and Superman are so similar it’s a wonder that no one puts together the fact that they’re the same person.


The Bibbo adaptation from page to screen is…not great.

I bring this up, not just to shine a deserved light on how talented Teri Hatcher was twenty five years ago, or just to take another dump on Dean Cain, but to point out how the kind of schism of the show manifests even in its two leads. One half is growing and becoming more dynamic and interesting, while the other is just kind of stalled out and maybe getting a little annoyed. Watching Hatcher with Shea is so much more interesting than watching her with Cain, but watching Cain with Hatcher is more interesting than watching him with just about anyone else. I can see why the two were cast in the beginning, but now it sometimes seems like they’re in two different shows. What would have happened if they’d cast an actor who could keep up with her, I wonder? I would have liked to see it. I can’t think of a 90’s TV actor who could have pulled off the Superman/Clark dynamic. Billy Campbell maybe? He’s five years older than Hatcher, but they might have been able to pull it off. Oh well, I guess I’m just saying it makes sense why Hatcher went on to have a successful television show and Dean Cain just became puffier.

Odds & Ends
-Does Jimmy actually have computer skills or does Perry rely on him because he’s young?
-”My life is like the plot of a bad novel” -Wanda Detroit. Clever post commentary on Lois’s opinion of her own fiction writing or annoying self referential lamp shading, designed to make morons feel clever? YOU DECIDE!

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