Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 8: "The Green, Green Glow of Home"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: November 14, 1993
Directed by Les Landau
Written by Bryce Zabel
L. Scott Caldwell as Carol Sherman
Jerry Hardin as Wayne Irig
Terence Knox as Jason Trask
Joleen Lutz as Sheriff Rachel Harris
The story opens with a recap of "Strange Visitor", showcasing the character of Jason Trask, his involvement with Bureau 39 and his distrust of Superman.
Presently, Superman is seen flying down onto the streets of Metropolis, where he succeeds in foiling an attempted car robbery. The would-be thief tries to shoot the Man of Steel, but he catches all of the bullets. When asked if anything can hurt him, Superman replies that so far, nothing can.
In Smallville, Jonathan answers the door to his friend Wayne Irig, who is very worried. Some days ago, Irig discovered a meteorite on his property. After sending a sample to the Government, Irig's property was shut down and taken over by Federal Agents. Irig decided to hide the meteorite at Jonathan's until he could figure out what all of this was about. The meteorite is revealed as a glowing green rock.
In the Daily Planet Newsroom, Jimmy shows off his new watch, a prototype from STAR Labs that can send out a hypersonic signal. It was developed to contact lost pilots, but Jimmy believes it can be used to contact Superman. Clark tells Perry about Wayne Irig (however, Clark is under the impression that Irig's property has been taken over by a private firm who bought it out) and Perry sends Lois and Clark to cover the story, believing it to be an interesting human interest piece. Clark is irritated by the hypersonic signal and instructs Jimmy to turn it off, and only to use it in emergencies.
Lois is extremely skeptical of going to such a quaint place as Smallville, but Clark informs his non-plussed partner that they are in luck, for the Smallville Corn Festival is taking place. When Lois and Clark arrive at Irig's property, they are met by Carol Sherman of the EPA, who informs them that they are simply performing studies on the property as Irig used many pesticides in the 1960s. Meanwhile, Irig is actually being held captive by Trask, who is grilling him for information on the meteorite, about which Irig is remaining tight-lipped.
In town, Lois and Clark relax at the corn festival. Clark spots his high school prom date Rachel Harris (now a sheriff), who is one of many people to mistakenly assume that Lois and Clark are a couple. When Clark suggests to Lois that she simply doesn't like places that are 'normal', Lois makes the point that what may seem normal may in fact be sinister and points at a man grilling burgers as a possible cross-dresser. It turns out to be Jonathan Kent, who (along with Martha) finds this hilarious.
Arriving at the Kent farm, Lois is shown to her room while Jonathan secretly shows Clark the meteorite sample. Upon sight of this, Clark experiences immense pain and faints on the spot. Clark is brought into the kitchen where Jonathan guesses that the rock must have come from Clark's home planet. Clark immediately notices that his powers have noticeably diminished.
Suspecting something peculiar about their conversation with the EPA, Lois discovers that Smallville is nowhere on the EPA's inspection list. The next day, Carol Sherman disproves this however, submitting documents to Lois which prove that they are in fact sanctioned by higher authority to be carrying out their investigation. After Lois and Clark have left, Trask shows Sherman Superman's starship. Guessing that the glowing green rock is from the same planet as Superman, Trask theorizes that it could be used to kill the Man of Steel.
Lois gets a call from Wayne Irig, who is being fed lines by Trask to tell Lois, to throw her and Clark off the trail. Lois and Clark suspect that something is up.
That evening, Lois finally starts enjoying herself at the Corn Festival, joining Clark in a session of line dancing, which she proves to be very good at, having had experience. Clark tries a strongman contest, and after multiple attempts, wins a prize. Between a Superman doll or a teddy bear, Lois chooses the bear.
The next day, Lois and Clark both call Perry at the same time. Clark tells Perry that he thinks the story is dead, however Lois says the opposite. Perry sides with Lois and sends Jimmy as a photographer.
The next day while staking out Irig's property, Lois and Clark are captured by Trask and Bureau 39 soldiers. Trask grills Clark, making the connection that Clark was born around the same time that Superman's ship landed in Smallville. Jimmy gets photos of Bureau 39 manhandling Clark and goes for help. Irig goes to the Kent farm, but is followed by Trask and Bureau 39, who ties Irig and the Kents up. Trask tells Clark that he will kill them unless Clark provides information on Superman. Clark reveals that he IS Superman. Trask pulls a gun and is about to shoot Clark, who screams in fear (as he is still powerless). Trask takes from this that there's no way Clark is really Superman.
Jimmy finds Rachel Harris and directs her to the Irig property. Carol Sherman is convinced by Lois that she should set her free. Lois uses an old radio transmitter to contact Rachel Harris. Upon hearing that Jimmy is in the car with her, she asks him to find a way to contact Superman. Jimmy presses the button on the watch, sending out the signal. Upon hearing the signal, Clark realizes that his powers have returned. He breaks out of his bonds and saves everyone. Trask sees him displaying his powers and unveils the green rock once more. Clark manages to throw the rock away, but is powerless once again. Trask and Clark end up in a fight, which Clark narrowly wins. Trask is about to shoot Clark in the back, when Rachel arrives and saves Clark's life, by shooting Trask in the chest, killing him instantly.
Later, Perry congratulates Lois and Clark on what is one of the most bizarre stories he has ever heard. While it is decided that there should be no mention of the green rock being anything more than a figment of Trask's imagination, Perry argues that the piece would be more effective if the rock was given a name. Lois considers 'kryptonium' as the name for the space rock, but Clark argues that it should be called 'kryptonite'.
Review Rating - 4 (out of 5): A terrific episode of "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman". It effortlessly balances the characters, plots and mythos and stands proud as an example of what the show was at its best. There's more action than most episodes, and the episode pays homage to valuable parts of Superman history (kryptonite and Jimmy's signal watch, which sadly, was never used in the show ever again), but nevertheless, the real fun of the episode comes from Lois as the fish-out-of-water for once, skeptical of Clark's tiny hometown, only to have her defenses worn down by the cheerful friendliness and wholesome fun of the people there. What I always find great about this episode is that it almost completely resists the temptation to feature Superman-in-costume, instead focusing the plot entirely on Lois and Clark and the world in which they inhabit since the introduction of this man who can fly. Too often, we see excellent episodes marred by the confusing, often pointless inclusion of Superman simply to remind viewers that this is indeed a Superman show. In "Lois & Clark", Superman should only appear when the job is too big for the crusading reporting team of Lois Lane and Clark Kent and this episode understood this completely.
In most modern incarnations of Superman, we usually see Lois mocking Clark about his hometown for years, referring to him as 'Smallville' and generally poking fun at his middle-American heritage. Here, in one of the only examples in her history (with the conspicuous and obvious exception of the TV show "Smallville", which never really sold me on this idea), we see Lois really warm to the place and in doing so, grow closer to Clark and most importantly, actually develop as a character. In an important scene at the Corn Festival, Lois mentions that Clark seems to be more at ease than usual and that she loves seeing him as so. While she is blissfully unaware of the (literal) power-struggle taking place in Clark's world, perhaps it's all for the better, as their friendship is growing stronger. None of this development is ever seen in the too-often over-rated "Superman: The Animated Series".
Actually, on the subject of "The Animated Series", even the title of this episode is better than the title of its obligatory introduction-to-Kryptonite episode. This episode of "Lois & Clark" is entitled "The Green, Green Glow of Home", a catchy, funny reference to a song made famous by many artists including Porter Wagoner, Bobby Bare and Tom Jones. The "TAS" episode is boringly entitled "A Little Piece of Home". While I'm sure it's simply a coincidence, for me it's one of the many examples of how "The Animated Series" may have excelled in epic scenes of cosmic battles, but it severely lacked the charm, humor and personality of other Superman experiences such as "Lois & Clark", the Donner movies and even other Superman cartoons, instead opting for a soul-crushingly serious interpretation.
Jason Trask's return marks the first time in the series that an original villain makes an encore appearance. This would happen occasionally throughout the series (we'll get to the episodes involving 'Tempus' later on), but Trask's appearance is not wasted for a second. The same schemes and motivations that he displayed in "Strange Visitor" are brought back with a vengeance. It's almost a shame that Trask had to die at the end of the episode; there would have been so much potential for a final appearance from this character, after he had been cast-out by the Government for his involvement in kidnapping and entrapment. Nevertheless, every second he appears onscreen is a delight and Terrence Knox makes up for the conspicuous absence of Luthor in this episode (the only reason this episode didn't receive a '5').
I haven't spoken much of Eddie Jones and K Callan yet, but I have to say they do a stellar job in this episode. The scene where Clark collapses in the barn is a fine example of Eddie Jones' talent in the role. His face is visibly trembling with fear and he is on the verge of tears at the prospect of something being the matter with his boy. Martha is great too, especially when she plays the straight man role (straight woman?) to Lois' bemused reactions to small-town life. The scene with the fax machine is priceless and correctly shows Hatcher at her comic best as well. Dean Cain also gets to shine, when he repeats Lois' suggestion that Jonathan might be a cross-dresser to his mother, who luckily finds it to be hilarious.
Jimmy and Perry are hilarious in a way that is reminiscent of their masterful scene from "Neverending Battle". I always laugh out loud when I see Perry meditating to the sounds of nature in his office. As usual, the only character that is genuinely under-used is Cat Grant, who has yet to find her niche in the show beyond the occasional one-liner in the newsroom.
Rachel Harris is an interesting character. She looks like someone who couldn't be the same age as Dean Cain and watching the episode I can't help but feel that she was simply invented because the show did not have the rights to Lana Lang (possibly some sort of lingering legal trouble from the "Superboy" show?). The actress, Joleen Lutz does a fine job of this funny one-note character, but I feel as though this would have been a better opportunity to introduce Lana into the world of "Lois & Clark" than the way she was eventually depicted in the series (which we won't see for a looong while).
An interesting point to note about the presence of Kryptonite in this episode is that unlike many other appearances of the substance in this series (and in other Superman TV shows and movies), Kryptonite actually seems to have a prolonged effect on Clark, leaving him powerless for some time, as well as the typical effect of him experiencing intense agony in its presence. Nowadays (and indeed, in later episodes of "Lois & Clark") when we see Superman effected by Kryptonite, he usually experiences intense pain, followed by almost instant recovery as soon as the rock has been disposed of. There are even examples of Superman using his powers while under the influence of the rock (again seen in later episodes of this very show), so the way it effects Clark in this episode is certainly unusual. I like to believe however that in this episode, as Clark is experiencing the effects of Kryptonite for the first time, his body is acting in ways different to how it would act later on, when he had become more accustomed to its effects.
All in all, this stands out as one of the many really great episodes in Season One. The developing friendship between Lois & Clark is given some real exploration, Jonathan and Martha finally get some real screen time (and meet Lois for the first time) and we have a truly thrill-packed third act for the first time in weeks. It's a real winner.
Next week, the heat is on and Mayor Berkowitz has got you babe, in "The Man of Steel Bars".
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