Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 12: "All Shook Up"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: January 2, 1994
Directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá
Written by Bryce Zabel (teleplay) and Jackson Gillis (Story)
J.A. Preston as General Zeitlin
Richard Belzer as Inspector Henderson
Richard Roat as Professor Stephen Daitch
David Sage as John Cosgrove
Matt Clark as Homeless Man
Jenifer Lewis as Mystique
Suanne Spoke as Dr. Jerri McCorkle
Lois and Clark are going through a lull story-wise one morning, when suddenly the sky goes completely black. During the short eclipse, Clark is hit by a car and pretends to be injured.
EPRAD announce that the eclipse was caused by a giant asteroid named 'Nightfall', which is heading on a collision course with Earth. While EPRAD are confident they have a tactical method of disposing of the asteroid, a scientist approaches Clark and asks him to contact Superman so that he might help, just in case.
When Superman arrives at EPRAD later that evening, he learns that 'Nightfall' could destroy everything on planet Earth. The next day at a press conference, Lois kisses Superman for luck as he heads into space with a small breathing apparatus and a communication device. Superman crashes into the asteroid, only managing to disable a chunk of it, and crashes to Earth, his communication device destroyed.
A homeless man finds the crashed Superman, whose costume has been destroyed. Superman has lost his memory and borrows some clothes and glasses from the homeless man. Inspector Henderson recognizes the amnesiac Clark at a homeless shelter and brings him to Lois. Lois re-introduces him to the Daily Planet staff, including Cat who tries to take advantage of the situation by claiming that she and Clark shared a passionate affair that no one else knew about.
In an effort to jog Clark's memory, Perry decides to send him with Lois to the EPRAD news conference that is being held in the wake of Superman's disappearance. Here, the reporters learn that the asteroid has not been destroyed and that no one is looking for Superman at this time. Jimmy suggests that Superman may have been the shooting-star that was spotted in Hob's Bay.
Lois brings Clark to his apartment and Clark asks her what their relationship was before. Lois tells him that they were just friends.
Perry drives Jimmy to the spot in Hob's Bay to follow up on Jimmy's theory and sure enough, Jimmy finds a smoldering fragment of Superman's S-shield. They deduce that Superman must have made it back to Earth.
Jonathan and Martha arrive in Metropolis and due to the clogged phone lines and the heavy traffic, they decide to walk to Clark's apartment.
Because his first long-shot paid off, Perry allows Jimmy to try any other ideas he has. Jimmy and Clark go to a psychic to help them look for Superman. The psychic senses Superman in the room, but neither Jimmy and Clark realize that she is correct.
Lex Luthor shows Lois his secret bunker that will enable him and a select few to survive the oncoming armageddon. He invites Lois to stay with him and reveals a complete facsimile of her apartment. Lois tells him that she needs time to think.
Even though Jimmy failed to gather any further clues as to Superman's whereabouts, Perry allows Jimmy to write the story about the Man of Steel's return to Earth. Perry even gives Jimmy the typewriter on which Perry wrote his very first story for the Daily Planet.
Clark's parents quickly realize that Clark is not aware of the fact that he IS Superman and go about convincing him, by showing him the Superman costumes. When he still won't believe them, Jonathan smacks him across the chest with a baseball bat, which breaks in half upon impact, without even phasing Clark.
Jimmy writes the story, quickly realizing his lack of talent. Rather than take the story away from him, Perry teams Lois up with Jimmy to polish the story.
Cat confesses to a minister about all of her personality flaws, opening up about why she finds meaning in meaningless relationships. She then tries and fails to seduce him.
Clark desperately tries to remember how to BE Superman. Jonathan and Martha try to remind him of how he always described his technique for flying, to no avail. Eventually, Martha pushes Clark off the rooftop of his apartment building, hoping that he'll remember on the way down. Instead, Clark crashes into a dumpster, where Lois finds him. Clark pretends to be looking for clues as to where Superman might be. Lois laughs this off and they begin talking. Lois re-instills faith in Clark, reminding him of the wonder of their friendship and all of the things that make Superman great. From this conversation, Clark Kent's memory begins to return. Clark becomes Superman once more and Superman saves the world.
Review Rating - 5 (out of 5): You heard me. This episode is not quite flawless (like every episode, there's a smattering of weak acting and plot holes, which we'll get to), but by and large it stands with what I consider to be the Gold Standard of this series. Not only that, but I believe it to be one of the finest Superman stories ever told.
First and foremost, this episode is a remake of the "Adventures of Superman" episode 'Panic in the Sky' (which itself was a loose adaptation of the comic book tale 'Menace from the Stars'). 'Panic' dealt with the similar plot of Superman going into space to tackle an asteroid that was going to destroy all life on planet Earth; only for Superman to lose his memory upon attempting to crash into the kryptonite-infested asteroid. In that episode, Clark suspects that he's not Superman at all and that the powers only come from the suit and that the REAL Superman is the only man fit for the job of tackling the asteroid (which never really made much sense to me. If amnesia-Clark thought that the suit gave the powers, why would he 1) assume that he WASN'T Superman and 2) assume that somehow this other person was going to be able to wield the abilities of the suit better than he?). Anyway, later in the episode when Clark isn't wearing the suit, he accidentally breaks the handle of his chair (I think) and realizes that he must in fact be the real Superman, and his memories quickly return.
I should probably mention about now that 'Superboy...Lost' pays homage to 'Panic in the Sky' as well, but it's a really forgettable use of the story; Superboy destroys the Kryptonite-infested asteroid in one-go and is rendered amnesiac in the woods, near where a woman and her son are living as hermits away from the woman's satanist husband...it's not as good as this "Lois & Clark" episode. A small contingent of fans like to believe that "Lois & Clark" plagiarized "Superboy" at every opportunity, and while these episodes certainly seem like evidence, I think it's pretty coincidental. And "All Shook Up" is far better television than "Superboy...Lost" in almost every regard ('...Lost' does have excellent wire-work, as is usually the case with the "Superboy" show, compared to "Lois & Clark"). "Smallville" even clearly referenced 'Panic in the Sky' in their controversial finale. As silly and disappointing as the finale of that show was for me, ultimately I thought it was kind of fun that they used this same scenario as a way for Superman to be able to save THE WORLD in his first appearance.
'Panic in the Sky' is generally regarded as being one of the best (if not the best) episodes of the original series, for good reason. It's an exciting story with a bigger threat than ever before and shows a rare moment of vulnerability in George Reeves' almost completely invulnerable Superman. However in 'All Shook Up', we have an already-unsure hero who isn't nearly as physically powerful as his Silver Age counterpart (there's never any mention of there being any Kryptonite in the asteroid this time around), and thanks to the greater interest in characterization and character-development, we get a far better resolution to how and why Clark regains his memory and the confidence to save the world. When Lois talks to Clark about their friendship and what Superman means to the world, it's probably the quintessential example in the series of how in "Lois & Clark", Lois Lane is just as much responsible for building the legend of Superman as Clark Kent himself is. It's Lois who rejuvenates the power within the Man of Steel, by reminding him just how much he means to her and to the world.
And that's not to say Jonathan and Martha Kent's roles are to go unnoticed either. One of the biggest problems in the original George Reeves series was how Superman was never able to vocalize any problems he had regarding the complexities of his super powers or his secret identity. This is particularly apparent in 'The Stolen Costume', 'Through the Time Barrier' and especially 'Panic in the Sky'. In fact, the only time we ever learn of what's going on in Clark's mind in 'Panic' is in one blink-and-you'll-miss-it line to Jimmy where Clark wonders if Superman's powers come from his costume. In 'All Shook Up' Jon and Martha prove invaluable in figuring out what's wrong with Clark and setting him back on the path to saving the day.
The father/son relationship between Jimmy and Perry hits an all-time high in this episode, the likes of which would remain unseen for pretty much the rest of the series. The characters are put in a situation where Jimmy is finally able to prove his ability to Perry. In episodes like 'Strange Visitor (From Another Planet)', 'The Green, Green Glow of Home' and even 'Smart Kids', we've seen Jimmy come forward with ideas that later proved to be correct, but the other characters never realize (or in the case of 'Smart Kids', they only realize when it's too late). Here, Jimmy stands up to Perry, offering him another long-shot, but finally managing to sell the idea to him. Perry's interactions with Jimmy throughout the episode are excellent and a long way from the tyrannical relationship he had with him in "Neverending Battle". I know I say things like this a lot, but I challenge anyone to show me a better exploration of the relationship between these two characters, in another medium. In the first season (and I stress, the first season) of "Lois & Clark" the dynamic between Jimmy Olsen and Perry White is second-to-none.
As there is no actual villainous plot in this episode, Lex Luthor is relegated to a not-so-malevolent side-role where he displays a fairly plausible survival-of-the-fittest attitude to Lois, who once again he regards as being the object of his desires. I don't really have much to say regarding his motives in this episode; it makes sense that any cut-throat entrepreneur would try to weasel his why into survival like this, let alone a megalomaniac like Lex Luthor.
Cat Grant gets an unusually lengthy amount of screen-time in this episode and frankly, I more than welcome it. The way she tries to manipulate Clark is perfectly in-character, but even better is her attempt at spiritual redemption in the confession booth. It's even almost a pity that Cat doesn't actually develop beyond this scene, but it's still really funny.
I mentioned that there were flaws in this episode, didn't I? Let's see...Dean Cain's acting as Superman when he goes to EPRAD early on in the episode is bad. It's not 'not great' or 'not good', it's actually 'bad' in a way that it hasn't been since the awful interview scene in 'Strange Visitor'. What else? There are of course plot holes. Superman is given a flimsy breathing-apparatus/communication-device that's velcroed onto his uniform and we're supposed to believe it survived Earth's gravitational pull? Isn't it a bit convenient that the homeless man gave Clark a pair of glasses so that he wouldn't "look so dumb"? Couldn't the writers have gotten around this by Clark just instinctively knowing that he should put a pair of glasses on (CK instinctively puts on his ENTIRE 'mild mannered news-reporter' suit in 'Panic in the Sky')? Clark is put through a PHYSICAL after Henderson finds him and no one is able to deduce from this that he's not your average Joe?! And there's a bad chroma-key takeoff when Superman flies into space, and then another shot of him in space that's not so great. Honestly, though...No big deal, because...
- The scene in the beginning with Lois and Clark ordering coffee is one of the most funny and best-written exchanges in the series and it's the one I remember most fondly when I'm in Starbucks or wherever. I'm going to go ahead and repost the whole thing:
Coffee-Stall Guy: (To Lois) Short, non-fat mocha decaf, no foam, no sugar no whip. (To Clark, with a smile) Grande latte, full-caff, full-milk, THREE sugars! Clark: Life is short, Lois! Order what you want! Lois: Life is long, Clark and you are what you eat!
- Not only is there a general nod to the history of Superman in the entire structure of the episode, not only do we get the comic-book accurate inclusion of "Hob's Bay" and "Suicide Slum", BUT we also get a billboard for Metropolis Railway that has the slogan "Faster than a Speeding Bullet". Little touches like that are always appreciated.
- In spite of his one poor scene as Superman, Dean Cain shines WONDERFULLY as a memory-lacking Clark throughout the episode standing up to Cat for the way she objectifies him and confronting Lois about her feelings towards him.
- The episode is even shot really nicely, with some nice matte-enhanced shots of the Metropolis cityscape, helping us to believe that the series is taking place in a real city. I also liked the inclusion of the LexComm pay phone off of which Lois telephones Clark in one scene.
- Richard Belzer appears for the first time as Inspector Henderson, another nod to the George Reeves series and technically a nod to the comics as Henderson was at that point a comic book character. Belzer introduced a fine update of the character who didn't necessarily always see eye-to-eye with Lois and Clark. It will be a joy to see him return in future episodes over the course of this season.
Ultimately, this is nothing short of a grand episode. It has a few scant flaws that for arguments' sake bring it down to a 4.9, but in my heart of hearts, I can't let this episode get any less than an official 5. If the 'Pilot' episode deserved a 5/5, than this episode does as well. It pays homage to and enhances a classic plot of the original George Reeves Superman series on which "Lois & Clark" is ultimately based, it promotes the ideals of "Lois & Clark" by making it a human drama first and a superhero story a close-second and for the first time in the series, it gives Superman the great honor of Saving the World. Episodes like "All Shook Up" (have I really not mentioned how much I love the Elvis-referencing episode title?!) make me glad I plucked up the courage to ask Steve Younis if I could look back on this brilliant series.
In case you think I'm getting too generous with my reviews, join me next week when we come crashing back down to the doldrums of so-so above-average fare with "Witness". Oh well, at least Elliott Gould's in it!
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