Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 2 - Episode 3: "The Source"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: October 2, 1994
Directed by John T. Kretchmer
Written by Tony Blake & Paul Jackson
Tim Grimm as Eric Thorpe
Barry Livingston as Sheldon Bender
Jeffrey Joseph as Oliver
Patrick Pankhurst as Daniel Hansen
Peter Scolari as Stuart Hofferman
At a Daily Planet carnival function taking place by Metropolis Harbor, Superman saves an out of control ferris wheel When Lois asks where Clark has disappeared to, Martha Kent tells her that he's phoning in the story. A businessman oversees the ferris wheel rescue from a limousine, stating that next time Superman won't be able to hear the screams.
A man named Stuart Hofferman comes to the Daily Planet newsroom looking for Lois. Meanwhile, Senator Daniel Hanson, a candidate for Governor, is sucking up to everyone in the newsroom, including Jonathan and Martha Kent (who are visiting Clark), whom he mistakenly believes to be from Metropolis.
Hofferman reveals to Lois that the ferris wheel mishap was no accident and that it was a result of defective switches. He claims to have written a report that he sent to head office, only to be ignored. Lois decides not to tell Clark about her huge scoop. Perry gives Clark the day off to spend with his parents, believing it to be a slow news day.
In Clark's apartment, Jonathan and his son play checkers. Jonathan is saddened by the recent death of his best friend. From the window, Clark spots a stack of newspapers with Lois' headline. He returns to the Daily Planet and scolds Lois for scooping him, but she retaliates by reminding him that he phoned in the story of the ferris wheel the previous day. Clark has no idea what she's talking about (as that was a cover story fabricated by Martha to enable him to become Superman).
Perry tells the news team that Eric Thorpe, head of Viologic Systems (the company responsible for the defective switches) is going to hold a press conference later that evening in response to Lois' story. Jimmy notes his jealousy of Eric Thorpe, a man who was a millionaire by the time he was Jimmy's age.
In Hofferman's office, Eric Thorpe lambasts one of his henchmen for not alerting him to Hofferman's report. The henchman didn't think it was important enough to warn Thorpe about, as they were going to sabotage the system anyway. When Hofferman returns to his office, Thorpe threatens him, forcing him to help him claim that the defective switches were a result of sabotage.
At the press conference, Lois is shocked when Stuart Hofferman states in front of the press that the defective switches were a result of sabotage and not negligence. He also claims the report mentioned in Lois' article does not exist. When the conference is over, he drops a note in the wastepaper basket asking Lois to meet him at the pier in an hour. There, he vows to distance himself from Lois and her story, angry that his identity was revealed so quickly. Goons arrive and place Lois and Hofferman into canisters and throw them into the sea to drown. Superman saves Lois and Hofferman and Lois takes Hofferman to Clark's apartment for safekeeping.
Lois and Clark go to Viologic disguised as copier-repair workers, in an attempt to find Stuart's report and save Lois' reputation. An office worker mistakes them for actual copier-repair workers and forces them to fix the photocopier. Clark opens the back panel and finds a blown wire, which he discreetly fixes with his heat vision.
Lois and Clark continue to search for the report. Clark uses his x-ray vision on a wall where he sees Daniel Hanson speaking to Eric Thorpe about how he will award him lucrative defense contracts once he is elected President (following his election as Governor).
Thorpe's henchman spots Lois leaving Viologic and warns an angry Thorpe that she is still alive.
Sheldon Bender, a lawyer who once worked for Lex Luthor now representing Viologic, sues the Daily Planet for $20 million dollars.
Clark returns to his apartment and finds Jonathan and Martha drugged, with bloodstains leading out the window, suggesting Stuart Hofferman has been killed. As a result of Hofferman's death, Lois gets suspended as the Daily Planet publishing team feel the paper needs to distance itself from her. Clark is briefly assigned to another partner.
Desperately trying to salvage her reputation, Lois calls in every source she has, all of whom turn their back on her. Superman arrives at her apartment and gives her an uplifting motivational talk.
Clark wakes in the middle of the night to find Lois knocking frantically on his door. When he lets her in, she tells him that she has deduced that Stuart has faked his own death. When they check Clark's bathroom, they confirm Lois' belief when they discover the excessive-compulsive Stuart has taken his toothbrush with him. Together, Lois and Clark track down Oliver Bartlett who has helped Stuart fake his own death.
Stuart reluctantly brings Lois and Clark to Viologic to a high-security room in an effort to find out what Viologic is up to. They discover that Viologic is planning to sabotage their new automated subway on its maiden journey. The Governor is aboard the subway and Clark suspects that they are trying to kill the Governor in an effort to ensure Daniel Hanson's victory.
Aboard the train, Jonathan tends to a man believed to be suffering from a heart attack, however it appears he has merely fainted. Superman successfully stops the train and Lois and Hofferman stop Thorpe from getting away.
Jonathan and Martha discover that the man they helped on the train is originally from Kansas and they quickly become good friends with him. Lois is reinstated with her job and her press pass. When Clark hears her talking over the phone about poison gas and how millions will die, he corners her, suspecting she's trying to scoop him again. It turns out to be her pest-exterminator.
Review Rating - 2 (out of 5): Before we start this review, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my condolences to the family and friends of Barry Freiman, a legendary contributor to the Superman Homepage since before I had ever even discovered the site (which for me, happened in 2003/2004). His work always exhibited the tireless attention to detail that I'm always trying to live up to with my reviews. He will be sorely missed.
As for this episode: Meh. The first not-good-not-bad episode of Season Two, which isn't nearly as fun as the wildly entertaining "Wall of Sound" or the arc-building "Madame Ex". Aside from Clark showing Jonathan and Martha around the "new offices" of the Daily Planet, this episode could have taken place at any time in the series and it wouldn't have made any difference. I originally awarded this episode a 3/5, but the more I think about it, the less accolades it deserves. I liked some of the Superman action (a staple of these early Season 2 episodes, which tried to revamp the series as more of a superhero action show), but the story is dead, dated and dull.
One of the biggest criticisms I have where this episode is concerned is how rushed and off-kilter the writing seems to be. There's something distinctly weak and unrealistic about how some of the dialogues and subplots are resolved. Jimmy's envy of Eric Thorpe is confusing...I understand where the writers were going with the idea of Jimmy feeling inadequate as he hasn't made millions, but it just seems forced and far-fetched that Jimmy would wish for the man to be guilty of corporate espionage. And Justin Whalin is at his most annoying in this early episode.
The idea of Lois harboring a fugitive is of course very similar to "The Ides of Metropolis". The difference being that Stuart Hofferman is excessive-compulsive. Again though, I feel as if the writers just didn't develop this idea enough. With so many dime-store gimmicks vying for attention in this episode, the idea that Lois would be able to deduce that Stuart was still alive simply by the idea that he had remembered to take his toothbrush with him is again a bit of a stretch. And how did she know where Philip even kept his toothbrush? She made the discovery of the missing toothbrush within seconds? I suppose that's the kind of thing you can forgive for the sake of narrative development, but it stood out to me as being odd that Lois would know the ins and outs of Clark's bathroom logistics so well that she'd be able to decide that a toothbrush was missing within seconds.
Would a company such as Viologic (cited by Lois as being the country's top electronics company) really be involved with something as tame as a local fairground? I suppose it would make sense if the ferris wheel was a permanent fixture of the pier/harbor, but the episode makes it appear to be more of a temporary fixture. It seems unlikely that such a supposedly esteemed company would waste its resources on something as tame as this.
What was the need to show us Eric Thorpe playing the guitar in that one scene? Again, a weird little off-handed inclusion that if is never explained again and seems to be just a lazy attempt at giving the character something remotely memorable to do in at least one scene. Thorpe is a Lex Luthor knock-off in every conceivable way. He's even worse than Ross Webster in "Superman III" (at least Robert Vaughn is a tremendous actor). Honestly, I think this episode would have been stronger had it been set in Season One, with Thorpe going head to head with Luthor and failing miserably.
This episode does have one really awesome moment. Clark jumping over a traffic barrier and ripping his shirt open, with nonsensical-but-awesome sonic boom sound-effect accompanying the ripping. This is typically the most iconic Dean Cain shirt-rip and it featured in this season's opening credits (as well as later ones as well, if I'm not mistaken). The other most notable shot in this episode is Justin Whalin holding his camera at the end, which if I'm not mistaken, was used in every episode's opening credits from here until the end of the series.
Special effects-wise, this episode gives us our most significant look at the show's newer, jazzed-up x-ray vision effect. In Season One, Clark's x-rays were simple expanding P.O.V. outlines that had a glowing blue outline around them. That was fine, but this newer effect is more exciting as it shows beams of rippling blue light actually shooting out from Clark's eyes and expanding into a circular shape when they reach the area Clark is X-raying. This effect has always stood out as being one of my favorite signature effects of the series. Curiously, none of the other characters can actually see the beams Clark is projecting (presumably because the beams operate on a wavelength only Clark can see), meaning that we the viewers are essentially the only ones capable of looking at this effect from outside of Clark's perspective. Perhaps other Kryptonians can see them as well?
One last thing, for anyone who might've watched this episode along with me: Did anyone else think the guy who played Senator Daniel Hanson looked and sounded eerily similar to Rick Santorum?
So that's about it, for another week. Next week we get a really interesting re-invention of one of the characters from the comics in "The Prankster".
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