Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 10: "Pheromone, My Lovely"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: November 28, 1993
Directed by Bill D'elia
Written by Deborah Joy LeVine
Morgan Fairchild as Miranda
Tony Jay as Nigel St. John
Sophia Santi as Rehalia
Courtney Taylor as April
In a short vignette, Clark gets up out of bed and uses his super-powers to make breakfast. He throws an empty plastic carton of milk out into the trash outside and while he is finishing eating his breakfast, he realizes that he should have put it in the recycling. As Superman, he stops the garbage truck, retrieves the milk carton and places it in the correct bin, reminding a young boy that it's not garbage anymore.
During a newsroom meeting, Perry asks Lois about her progress on her story about the malathion fruit-fly spraying that's going to take place throughout the city. During this discussion, groups of models and teams of photographers and various other types of people enter the Daily Planet Newsroom. Cat reminds Perry that the newsroom is being used for a photo shoot that will launch a new fragrance. Lois moans that she reckons the Planet team won't be able to get any work done.
Luthor is met by a Ms. Miranda, a perfumer who was working on a special substance, containing a pheromone that would enable people to lose their inhibitions. Luthor has cut her funding off, stating that it was a failure. Miranda begs Luthor to give him a chance to prove her substance to him once more, but Luthor won't allow it. Miranda goes to the Daily Planet and sprays her new formula all over the newsroom.
Later, Lois under the influence of the pheromone, tries to seduce Clark. In typical Superman-style, Clark is the only one in the newsroom not affected by this mind-altering substance. Perry, Jimmy and Cat all display the effects of the pheromone. Perry sits in his office listening to office while admiring the foreign cleaning lady who works in the office. Jimmy sleazily attempts to earn the affections of one of the models, failing miserably but remaining confident in his abilities. Cat seduces a photocopier repairman.
Clark, still completely unaffected, quickly realizes that something is very wrong, as he has to remind Perry that Elvis never cheated on Priscilla and spots Cat and the repairman with his x-ray vision in the copy room. When he arrives to work the next day, the entire newsroom has become completely lovesick. Lois refuses to leave him alone or focus on discovering what's going on. Rehalia (seemingly unaffected) threatens Perry with legal action. Lex arrives at the Planet and notices how bizarre it is.
While pursuing the model from earlier, a rejected Jimmy nearly gets run over by a truck before Superman saves him. Dressed as Elvis, Perry serenades Rehalia from outside her apartment, singing "Burning Love" before getting punched in the face by Rehalia's angry husband.
Lois arrives at Clark's apartment while he is researching Ms. Miranda and again tries to seduce Clark dressed in an exotic outfit. The next morning, Clark finally gives in and tries to take advantage of Lois. She has overcome the effects of the pheromone however, and pushes him away. After talking it out, Lois and Clark head to Ms Miranda's shop. Miranda plays mind-games with the two reporters, while Clark stealthily steals a sample of her perfume, titled 'Revenge'. Using his super-senses, he detects that Miranda is lying about not having had anything to do with the love-fueled madness at the Daily Planet.
Luthor delightedly rehires Miranda, but rejects her offer of something more than friendship. Later, Lex displays effects of the pheromone while on a dinner-date with Lois.
Using the sample that they retrieved earlier, Lois and Clark are able to prove that the pheromone was the cause of the love-sickness. With this knowledge, they are able to get the sexual harassment suit against Perry dropped. Lois gets a letter from Miranda instructing her to meet Miranda on an airstrip. Lois doesn't tell Clark about the note and goes without him. Jimmy apologizes to the supermodel for his inappropriate behavior and she kisses him in front of everyone.
Having passed out in his office, Lex realizes that Miranda must have sprayed him with the pheromone and that she could be up to something. Lex explains the plot to Clark and both realize that Miranda may have hijacked the fruit-fly spraying plane, with plans to spray all of Metropolis with a concentrated solution that will not expire after 48 hours. Superman saves Lois and easily stops Miranda before she can spray the entire city.
Later, Lex realizes that he is genuinely in love with Lois Lane and that this will be his downfall.
Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): Another episode that from an enjoyment factor deserves a hearty 4/5 but for various reasons, is relegated to a 3. Once again, you may consider this a 3.5. Maybe even a 3.8.
Yes, this episode was a delight from an entertainment and characterization point-of-view. The vignette at the beginning was Superman gold and considering its short length and its lack of relation to the plot of the episode, someone should definitely upload it (and the similar vignettes in other Season One episodes) onto YouTube.
There are some great moments of characterization throughout the episode, as is often the case with Season One. Now that we're a full ten episodes in, the character of Clark for this particular incarnation is established enough that we even see him doing and saying things that are not at all typical of Superman. We hear him talk of how he thinks "playing hooky" (skipping school or work, for those of you who, like me, aren't American and don't know what that expression means) can be a lot of fun, despite Lois' objections. Later still, in one of the most distinctly non-traditional moments in the entire series, Clark actually gives in to temptation and tries to take advantage of Lois in her love-drunk state. The writers would never have gotten away with something so blasphemous as this in earlier episodes, but since they've done such an impressive job of characterizing Clark as a human being, I think they should be allowed this moment of hilarity. And to Clark's credit, he does try and reason with Lois and help her understand that she's not herself. Dean Cain does a terrific job in this episode.
For Perry and Jimmy, these kinds of episodes are a goldmine. When Jimmy is cozying up to the supermodel, Michael Landes' delivery as a smooth-talking sleaze-bag is second-to-none. Having referred to her as "James," at one point he takes the model's compact from her hand and says "Call me Jimmy - LISTEN!" and it's laugh-out-loud funny. I don't think I can adequately do justice to how entertaining this scene is. Just go and watch it. Similarly, Perry's pursuit of the never-seen-again cleaning lady Rehalia is top-notch. Clark reminds Perry that Elvis never cheated on Priscilla. "He never met Rehalia!", says Perry. It's a delight to see Lane Smith dressed as Elvis, singing "Burning Love" later on, as well.
Cat gets ever-so-slightly more to do in this episode than usual, but given that it's an episode where love and infatuation play key roles, it should come as no surprise. Clark spots her and the copier guy going at it, with his x-ray vision and even though the wicked deed isn't shown to the viewers, Clark's face and Cat's sound effects are all we need to know what's going on. Never in a million years would something like this happen in the more family-friendly later seasons and really, that's not a bad thing. "Smallville" showed us what a Superman show could mutate into when it could get away with blatant sexy scenes. It's not the kind of stuff we need to see in a Superman series. It was funny here, though.
Morgan Fairchild plays the villainous Miss Miranda and is suitable enough in the role. Fairchild was quite famous throughout the 70s and 80s, most notably for "Flamingo Road" and various other bit-parts. I always recognize her as Chandler Bing's mother Nora, from "Friends". It's notable that along with Denise Crosby (who would appear later in the series), Fairchild is closer in age to John Shea. Most of Luthor's conquests throughout the show are considerably younger than he is. On the subject of Luthor's Girls, this episode is notable for cementing Lex's feelings for Lois. Prior to this, it was always just assumed that Lex was casually interested in her.
The plot is obviously ridiculous and while it never stops being entertaining, it does approach levels of outlandishness not yet seen on the show. I can't help but feel that if this plot had taken place in the second season, with a villain-of-the-week filling in for Luthor, this would have been an extremely campy and awkward episode. Again though, all of the elements were just right to make this one enjoyable, with all of the actors performing admirably and the characterizations fitting just right.
There are a few instances of poor special effects that detracted from my enjoyment. When Superman saves Jimmy and flies into the night sky with him, there is an instance of possibly the worst green-screen ever used on "Lois & Clark". The lighting on Jimmy and Superman is all wrong and it clearly appears as though the actors were shot during the day, even though the scene is taking place at night. The effects team also went with the ill-advised decision to use stock-footage of a distracting, shiny building in the background. It just makes for an uncomfortable, fake-looking visual; when "Lois & Clark" usually had fairly realistic-looking chroma-key effects (particularly compared to the horrendous-looking chroma-key shots in "Superboy").
In another realism-related problem, Clark has to explain to an oblivious Lois (who is supposed to be an educated, award-winning journalist) what pheromones are. This was obviously to explain to dumber viewers within the nature of the story, but they could have found a more plausible solution than this. Lois even asks Clark if he memorized the dictionary definition! This happens a couple of times throughout the series and it's always annoying. Luckily, the scene is saved with Clark's prize-winning answer to Lois' question as to why the spray didn't effect him "I don't know, Lois. I guess I'm just not attracted to you." Again, one of the Top Ten moments (at least from a comedy-standpoint) in the characterization of this Clark Kent.
Before we go, I'd just like to draw attention to how Superman breaks the fourth wall in this episode. After saving Lois from Miranda, he pretends to be affected by the pheromone spray, professes his love to her and kisses her passionately on the lips; but not before looking straight at the camera and raising his eyebrow. Again, the writers would never have gotten away with this in earlier episodes, but considering we're just about at the halfway point of the first season (and given the historical relevance of Superman winking at the audience), I thought it was wonderful. I do wish he'd actually winked and not just raised his eyebrows, though.
Join me here, next week for one of the best episodes of the entire series, "Honeymoon in Metropolis".
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