Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics [Blu-ray]
THE JOKER, LEX LUTHOR, CATWOMAN, DOOMSDAY, BANE. What makes them so thrillingly watchable? So terribly wonderful? So extremely vital to our super heroes and their worlds? This new feature-length documentary explores these questions across seven decades of DC Comics' hallowed Rogues' Gallery of infamous evildoers.
Box Art - 4: How do you describe anything that has a photograph of Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain on its cover as anything but very pretty? I like the alternating colors - blue for season one, and now red for season two. Let me guess - season three yellow? Or better yet, make it green for the frog that leaps right over the shark and into Lois Lane's mouth in the now infamous frog-eating clone storyline of season three? Or maybe it'll be psychedelic to reflect the heavy drugs that the show's writers must have started taking... OK so it'll probably be yellow.
There's only one curiosity on this season's box - what's up with the huge picture of John Shea on the back of the interior box? Shea only shows up as a guest star this season. Lane Smith (Perry White) and Justin Whalin (Jimmy Olsen, seasons two through four) should have had dibs on that prominent a spot.
Disc Art - 3: There are one sided discs so there's a pretty picture on each one. Discs 1 and 2 have the same photograph of Dean Cain as Clark Kent on them. Discs 3 and 4 have the same photograph of Dean (as Superman) and Teri Hatcher on them. Discs 5 and 6 have the same photograph of Teri Hatcher on them. I realize there were voices at Warner Home Video clamoring to put Dean and Teri on each of the discs comprising the set, but again they should have made the less obvious, more logical choice and put some of the series co-stars on the discs. This was an ensemble show.
Content - 4: This was the good season. You know what I mean.
There were a few cast changes in between season one and two. Tracy Scoggins and her Cat Grant character are out. Michael Landes is out and Justin Whalin is in as Jimmy. Behind the cameras, the show's creator, Deborah Joy Levine, left the program's day to day production. (At one point, Levine's name was attached to a "Wonder Woman" TV pilot).
The season begins strong. Season premiere "Madame Ex" has fun with the ramifications of Lex Luthor's death. Emma Samms and Denise Crosby begin a guest-star heavy season as an ex-Mrs. Luthor and Dr. Gretchen Kelly, respectively.
The special effects also improve with the sophomore season. In the season premiere, Superman stops a runaway truck and, while it isn't cinema-worthy, it's a noticeable boost in the quality of the effects from season one. The flying also gets better - in fact this is probably the strongest flying of the series as they tended to cut away too often in later seasons to the quick blur followed by the sonic boom rather than actually show Cain's Superman airborne.
My favorite episode on the set is "Tempus Fugitive". Certainly the introduction of time travel takes the show to a new level of something other than reality, but the story of Lois and Clark going back in time to save baby Kal-El's life in Smallville is irresistible.
Of course the most remembered moment of season two is that last second proposal followed by the one word answer "Clark...." and "To Be Continued" across the bottom of the screen. At that moment, everything on the show was working. Unfortunately, that changes.
Special Features - 3: This set is somewhat light on special features.
First is the featurette, "Lois & Clark: Secrets of Season 2". This short is a combination of scenes from the show and new interviews with Dean Cain and the writers (or perhaps "other writers" is more appropriate as Cain pens a Christmas episode this year). It's clear that those interviewed recognize that season two was the show's best and there's a lot of talk naturally about the aching fan-movement to bring the show leads together and how the writers had to resist that.
Second, there's "Marketing Metropolis: The Fans of Lois & Clark". Really this is an opportunity to credit the internet fan club, "Friends of Lois & Clark", for their role in the show's success. Hey Warner Home Video, I wasn't a member of the fan club but I want in on the season three special features - I was a personal friend of the frog.
Finally, Dean Cain provides an audio commentary on "Season's Greedings", the Christmas themed episode Cain wrote. It's a cute episode that's well stunt-casted with Weezie and George from 'The Jeffersons' as Mr. and Mrs. Toyman. Actually the episode has a Silver Age simplicity to it with the bad guy having a grinch-like change of heart at the end and Superman flying Santa's sleigh. For a more adult crowd, there was 'B' plot guest star Denise Richards.
Cain's commentary has moments but why didn't anybody stop him from talking about fake foam snow over and over? I think even the most naive of television viewers understands that TV snow is fake and Superman isn't real. OK, OK, I made up that last part - of course Superman is real.
Video - 4: Pretty people on pretty sets doing super pretty things. The video hasn't suffered any major degradation in the eons that have passed since the second season aired in 1994-95. I wish I could say the same thing for my own degradation over the past decade.
Sound - 4: This sounds like a job for Superman. What I said above about the video? Ditto.