Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 13: "Witness"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: January 9, 1994
Directed by Mel Damski
Written by Bradley Moore
Richard Belzer as Inspector Henderson
Charlie Dell as Dr. Hubert
Brian George as Mr. Tracewski
Elliott Gould as Vincent Winninger
William Mesnik as Sebastian Finn/Mr. Makeup (as William Mesnick)
Phil Mickelson as Himself
Barbara Travino as Barbara Travino
While practicing his swing at a golf course driving range, Clark is given tips on how to perfect his swing, by golf pro Phil Mickelson. Clark ends up hitting a golf ball into the upper atmosphere.
Dr Vincent Winninger, a scientist with a reputation as a ladies' man, requests that Lois Lane interview him. Meanwhile, a mysterious woman (who believes Winninger has incriminating information on her) requests that Winninger be killed, despite that they were lovers in the past.
Lois is shown around Winninger's office, noticing photos of Winninger with many famous personalities. Winninger shows Lois a photo of a man who appears to be Frank Sinatra, but is in fact a man by the name of Sebastian Finn, a master of makeup and disguise. In another photo, Lois sees Winninger with a woman named Barbara Travino, who is to be named Chairperson of the Rainforest Consortium in the next few days. However, Winninger claims he has information that will stop all of that. He claims that Barbara Travino will destroy mankind's chances for increased male potency. In an attempt to seduce Lois, Winninger spills some ice tea on her dress. When she goes to clean up, a man walks into the room and shoots Winninger. Lois is forced to wait for the man to clean up afterward, so that he doesn't notice she's there. She manages to retrieve one of Winninger's diaries.
Superman gives a talk to a local elementary school on his abilities.
Perry won't print Lois' story, because she doesn't have all of Winninger's diaries and also, because it endangers Lois' life. After she leaves work, Lois is almost killed when a skateboarder accidentally rams her into a truck. Clark saves her and questions the skateboarder, suspicious that he was sent to kill Lois; but it does not seem to be the case.
Lois and Clark return to the scene of the crime, where Lois recognizes a man as being the man who killed Dr Winninger. However, it is Winninger's associate Dr Hubert, who was in Washington D.C. when the murder took place.
When Lois' story goes to print, a man can be seen in a hotel room, disguising himself using prosthetics and make-up. That evening the man shoots at Lois from a wheelchair, as she is entering her apartment. Clark catches the bullets and tries to use his super-breath to immobilize the man, but he narrowly manages to escape. Because Lois didn't see Clark catch the bullets, she is convinced that the shot they heard was just a car backfiring. She forces Clark to leave and let her sleep.
Superman visits Lois and warns her that she's in danger and that she should allow Clark to protect her.
Jimmy finds info in the diary Lois found, as well as a map of the Brazilian rainforest.
The next morning, Lois awakens to find that her water is not working. She contacts the superintendent, Mrs. Tracewski who informs her that the problem is occurring all over the building. Sitting outside the building, Clark sees Mr. Tracewski, the building's caretaker, leaving as he grumbles about a faulty piece of piping. Meanwhile, upstairs Mr. Tracewski appears to be trying to murder Lois. Clark barges in just in time to get the doppelgänger to stop choking Lois. Clark administers mouth-to-mouth and saves Lois' life. Clark assures Lois that it wasn't the real Mr. Tracewski, and Lois requests that Clark stay with her.
Lois begins to suspect Sebastian Finn, the master of disguise that Winninger had told her about. At a press conference later that day, Finn tricks Lois into accompanying him to a rooftop where he tries to kill her. Superman intervenes, tricking Finn into shooting in every direction, by using Lois as bait. Superman then apprehends the hitman and leaves him for Lois and Clark to question.
Jimmy discovers that Finn has been a hitman for years. Lois discovers that Winninger and Travino were lovers, followed by Travino and Finn, who conspired against Winninger. Clark arranges an interview with Dr. Hubert, who will meet with them the next day.
That night, Lois asks if she may stay with Clark, as she is too scared to be alone.
During their talk with Hubert, Lois and Clark discover that Winninger discovered a plant that could radically increase male potency as well as countless other ecological wonders. Barbara Travino owns Hobs Mining and if she is made Chairperson of the Rainforest Consortium, she will stripmine all over the valuable finds.
Lois stays at the Daily Planet late again, while Clark looks for Travino. In disguise, Travino corners Lois and threatens to kill her. Lois and Jimmy manage to subdue her, just before Superman arrives. Lois tells Superman that the strip-mining is just about to begin and Superman travels to Brazil and puts a stop to the operation.
Cat asks Lois if she was scared that her life was in danger for so long. After a few moments of coyness, Cat gets frustrated with her, admitting that she's intimidated by Lois' success not only with her journalism, but also with her ability to attract men like Clark and Superman and never seem phased by any of it. Lois concedes that she was very scared.
That evening, Lois asks Clark to walk her home, not as a bodyguard, but as her friend.
Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): Superman saves organic viagra?! Ultimately, that's what this episode is about. Given that the drug wasn't available to consumers before 1998, Clark's line about "Better sex through science," severely dates the episode.
After the triumph of "All Shook Up", we're really back into forgettable filler here. There are some nice moments of characterization, but ultimately this is more of a plot-driven episode. It's the kind of episode that remains enjoyable and watchable, however and all of the characters have some nice interaction.
The most annoying thing about this episode is that it brings Lois' necessary role as a damsel-in-distress for Superman to the point of exploitation. This series was all about moving the story forward and having Lois be more progressive, more of a heavy-hitter and more of her own person (just like the John Byrne reboot); and yet here we not only have Lois needing to be rescued by Clark/Superman (twice in each identity), but we also see her wearing a skimpy outfit and going as far as to admit that she is "Exploiting her femininity" to get a story. It's a bit shabby on the writers' part; it's not entirely with the Lois we've seen of previous episodes (particularly in the Pilot and in "Pheromone, My Lovely") and while it's clear in Winninger's office that Lois never had any intention of going particularly far in her sultry attempts, it's a shame that the show is being so sleazy after a string of quality, three-dimensional episodes.
In saying that, this is one of the few episodes we've seen where Lois views Clark as much of a savior as Superman himself. Lois really turns to Clark for protection here and Dean Cain relays his characters' satisfaction (as well as the initial frustration, when Lois won't listen to Clark, but he KNOWS she'll listen to Superman) well. The scene where Kent administers mouth-to-mouth and comforts Lois is one of those moments where Cain displays how sensitive his version of the character is, compared to other portrayals. The music by Jay Gruska is also really strong in this episode. The music grew to be very repetitive in later seasons, but in Season One there's some really memorable keys and uses of the signature themes, as well as original cues. The love theme when Clark rescues Lois (and again when Lois shows up at Clark's apartment) is really effective in this episode.
Elliott Gould is creepy and eccentric throughout his few minutes as Vincent Winninger, although maybe that was the point. Claudette Nevins was one of the most forgettable villains that has appeared yet, unfortunately, offering nothing different or interesting to her character (although every line of dialogue she spoke was achingly cliched). Finally there was William Mesnik who appeared in one scene as Mr. Makeup's true form (in the other scenes, 'he' appeared disguised as other actors). Mesnik is funny enough, but probably the funniest thing about him is that unlike the elaborate and impossibly realistic make-up his character was supposedly wearing in other scenes (the ones where he was played by the other actors), his final disguise consists of nothing more than a goatee and a toupee. I really hope television writers have learned in the intervening two decades (almost; has it really been that long?) that a goatee is not a suitable enough display of a mastery of disguise.
There's a scene where Superman confronts Mr. Makeup and a really bizarre set of special effects occur. Mr. Makeup is firing in every direction, because Superman is moving Lois around at super-speed and hoisting her up over crevices, as bait. Basically, it's as if Superman is getting the hitman to play a game of 'Whack-a-Mole', except now it's 'Shoot-a-Lois'. What was the point of all of that? Superman eventually uses his heat vision on the gun, anyway. Couldn't he have just done this in the first place? When he steps up to 'apprehend' Finn and bring him down to street-level, he approaches him and grabs him and looks at him for a second as though he's going to kiss him. It's one of the few times this season I've burst into laughter at an unintentional piece of bad staging.
There's one fun little thing I noticed in this episode. At the start, when Lois is standing at the curb and is nearly killed by a skateboarder who knocks her in front of a truck; take a look at the skateboarder. And then look at the director of the upcoming Superman movie. Okay, so it's not Zack Snyder, but man did I have to check the credits (and IMDb) a couple of times, before I'd believe it. It's comedian Hal Sparks in case anyone was wondering. This is particularly funny, given that Lois makes a reference to Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard" when Clark is going overboard with his protective duties in this episode. If any of you are fans of Hal Sparks, my apologies for mistaking him!
One last piece of fun is that when Lois wakes up in her apartment, the DJ playing on her clock-radio is "Harold Stein" (a play on shock-jock Howard Stern). The Byrne era comics were always dropping fun little plays like this and I like to think that that's where the idea came from. The actor voicing Stein sounds a lot like Richard Belzer (who had a short appearance as Henderson in this episode, once again), which makes me think it could be him.
So here we are, more than halfway through Season One and it's yet another 3/5. This one came extremely close to a 2, but given the moments of fun characterization and overall laid-back watchability, I figured I'd chalk it up to a 3. I never wasn't enjoying myself while watching this episode. For its weaknesses, let's say that's closer to a 2.8 or a 2.9 than a full 3.
Next week Superman grapples with the power of hypnosis and the Chief loves Jimmy's ideas in "Illusions of Grandeur".
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