Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 2 - Episode 10: "Metallo"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: January 1, 1995
Directed by James R. Bagdonas
Written by Tony Blake, Paul Jackson & James Crocker
Scott Valentine as John Corben/Metallo
Roxana Zal as Lucy Lane
Christian Clemenson as Rollie Vale
Mary Pat Gleason as Postal Inspector
Louis Mustillo as Det. Tuzzolino
Kehli O'Byrne as ATM Customer
Dee Dee Rescher as Mrs. Vale
Brian B. Richardson as Postal worker
John Rubinstein as Emmet Vale
Doug Toby as Angel
An expressionless man casually walks into a jewelry store, smashes the display cases and steals thousands of dollars worth of jewels. He even breaks the safe with his bare hands. When a policeman intervenes, the robber does not respond. The policeman shoots the robber at point blank range, but the bullets bounce off the robber, until finally he falls to his death. The policeman discovers that the robber has no pulse and is possibly not even human.
Detective Tuzzolino shows Lois and Clark the dead body and reveals that the robber's chest is a sheet of steel and that the criminal is a robot. Lois and Clark set out to discover who's behind the creation of these metallic criminals.
Lois and Clark rule out LexCorp and STAR Labs as neither of the struggling organizations have any of the facilities or resources at the moment. Lois suggests that perhaps a disgruntled employee is behind the scheme. While at the café where her sister Lucy works, Lois and Clark meet Lucy's new boyfriend Johnny Corben, of whom Lois strongly disapproves.
Jimmy tells Lois and Clark that the jewelry thief was powered by Uranium capsules.
Meanwhile, Emmett and Rollie Vale discuss how their previous robot was a failure and that for their next attempt, they'll need to use a human brain and a different power source.
Lois discovers that Johnny Corben has a criminal record. She goes to call Lucy and tell her, but Clark tells her that perhaps it's not such a good idea.
Clark learns that following the close of LexCorp, various LexLabs belonging to the corporation were consolidated or shut down. One of which reported a large theft of uranium.
Jimmy has to ask for a raise, but is afraid that if he does so, he will be fired. The news team learn of a robbery in progress across town. Superman goes into action, foiling one of the escaping cars.
Johnny Corben has been shot in the failed robbery and his friend Angel tells him that he has called two doctors he knows, to help.
Later, Clark Kent hacks into the LexLabs data-frame, at takes a look at the security records, learning that it was Emmett Vale who reported the theft of the Uranium capsules.
Johnny wakes up in a laboratory and sees Emmett and Rollie Vale. He quickly learns that he has been changed into a cyborg and has enhanced strength and speed. Rollie shows him the Kryptonite in his chest that gives him his power. Johnny proclaims himself to be stronger than Superman.
Lois invites Lucy to breakfast and they fight about Johnny. Lois and Clark track down Emmett Vale's ex, who gives them information on the two brothers. Rollie repeatedly attempted to write for a science magazine named "Futureplex".
Johnny hits on a woman at an ATM. When he comes on too strong, she bites his hand, ripping off a piece of fake skin, revealing his metallic hand underneath. After she escapes, Johnny rips a hole in the ATM and steals an entire tray of bank notes, which he hands to the Vale brothers who are sitting in a van nearby.
Lois and Clark interview Detective Tuzzolino at the scene of the ATM robbery, who hands them a photo of the robber. Lois identifies him as Johnny Corben.
Superman tracks down Corben as he is about to kill Angel. The man of steel instantly notices the effects of Kryptonite and is largely ineffectual in his fight against Corben. Superman does manage to break Corben's arm, but Corben retaliates with a massive blow that knocks Superman off his feet, defeating him. Jimmy goes to take photos of the fallen hero, but Lois tells him not to.
Corben is ordered by the Vales to destroy Superman, for while the cyborg criminal can hold his own against the Man of Steel, the two doctors can't and Corben needs them to keep him alive.
Perry scolds Jimmy for not taking photos of the defeated Superman. Lois defends Jimmy by telling Perry that it was by her request that he not take the photos, to which Perry is similarly disgusted.
Clark, suffering from a headache following his Kryptonite exposure, talks to Lois about why Superman hasn't spoken to her about his defeat.
Jimmy contacts Futureplex Magazine, and tracks down Rollie Vale's private PO box. While Clark states that such boxes are private for a reason, Lois suggests that they try and take a look anyway.
Corben visits Lucy at the café and reveals his metallic chest with the moebius-insignia to her, much to her disgust. Clark tells Lois that all he was able to get from the PO box was an address for "Infinity Labs". Corben kidnaps Clark as bait for Superman.
When Lois hears about the Moebius strip insignia from Lucy, she tracks down the address for Infinity Labs, suspecting that Clark will be hidden there. Lucy goes too, as a decoy while Jimmy and Lois rescue Clark. Clark transforms to Superman, who catches Corben off-guard, avoiding his blows by staying well away from him. Superman points out a major-flaw in Corben's design, to the Vale brothers by reminding them that metal melts. He uses his heat vision and melts Corben's legs. Rollie Vale frantically grabs the Kryptonite source from the incapacitated cyborg, who manages to crush Vale's arm in the process.
Superman apprehends Emmett Vale, but Rollie gets away. Jimmy photos the "dead" Johnny Corben.
Jimmy asks Perry for a raise following the use of his iconic photo of the defeated "Metallo". Perry happily obliges, reminding Jimmy that all he had to do was ask.
Lois tries to make a move on Superman when he visits her apartment later on. He reminds her of what she did for Clark and says that they are very lucky to have each other. After this, she decides to give Clark a call, but she only gets his answering machine.
Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): Very much in the "action" mold of episodes like "Wall of Sound" and "The Prankster" (which makes me think that it was probably filmed and conceived before episodes like "Operation Blackout"), once again character development is mostly put on the back-burner in favor of high-octane investigation and super-fights. That's not to say that "Metallo" isn't good, though. For obvious reasons, it's one of the episodes with which I'm more familiar, and I do like how they integrated some great human dialogue between Lois, Clark and even Jimmy amidst all of the cyborg silliness.
Dean Cain has some more fine moments of playful hijinks as he really comes into his own as a more natural version of Clark Kent. There's too many instances to note from this particular episode, but my favorites include when Clark (having returned from a Super-feat) is confronted by Lois for not bringing her any frozen yoghurt and he responds by saying, "Surprise! I didn't bring you anything." It's such a realistically pathetic cover-up and Cain really sells it. Another great moment is when Lois says to Clark "There's some oatmeal I made if you want some - although you probably don't believe I made it." Clark takes one look at the runny slop in the pot and replies "No...I believe it." Excellent writing and excellent comic timing from Dean Cain.
The use of Metallo himself is probably one of (if not the) closest example of a villain taken straight from the comics for this show. Little is changed or adapted from his classic origin (although it bore little resemblance to the more contemporary "Superman #1" origin by John Byrne). Certainly it's not as good or as memorable as the excellently reinvented Metallo of the animated series, but "Johnny" Corben is extremely fun every time he's on screen and actor Scott Valentine does a pretty good job at making Corben amusing and never too silly. It's cool when he compares himself to the Six Million Dollar Man and even though it's pretty dumb, it's hard not to laugh when he proclaims "Oh darn, I forgot my card!" before he smashes a hole in an ATM machine. It's another huge pity that the writers and producers never saw fit to resurrect him later on in the series (especially seeing as how Rollie Vale pops up a few more times in the show). Superman could definitely have used more physical enemies in future episodes.
The utterly forgettable Roxanna Zal replaces Elizabeth Barondes as Lucy Lane. Whereas Barondes was feisty, sexy and interesting; one of the few characters plausible enough to take Lois down a peg, Zal plays her as utterly hapless and very naive (although it's as much down to the writing of the episode than anything else). When Lois shows her sister Johnny Corben's rap sheet, Lucy flips her lid and starts bringing up all kinds of awkward arguments about Lois not respecting her taste in men. This would be fine if the guy had a few parking tickets, but he was jailed for grand theft auto! It seems like Lois had a little bit more of a point than Lucy was giving her credit for.
In terms of special effects, Superman wasn't given anything particularly interesting to do in this episode. Similar to "Madame Ex," there's a nice shot of him landing in front of a getaway car, successfully stopping it. Other than that, outside of some decent heat-vision and X-ray effects, the episode had used the "Cape-Out" effect more times than I'm comfortable with. I will commend the prop designers and practical effects technicians for all of the cool "robot" tech we see in the Vales' laboratory. The foley work is similarly excellent, as we hear gears and mechanical parts moving around inside of him while Metallo walks. Whoever had the idea to have Corben's voice get "stuck" on the word "I" was excellent as well (a reference to "I, Robot" perhaps?). All throughout the episode you really believe that Corben is actually a cyborg and not just an actor with a chunk of kryptonite pasted onto his chest (which was always the problem with the version of Metallo used in "Superboy" and "Smallville" never got it quite right either, even if I did like Bryan Austin Green in the role).
Another thing I noticed about this episode was how the showrunners obviously felt they could get away with Superman being more violent against Corben than we're used to seeing, as Corben is primarily robotic and not a human being. The shot of Superman breaking Metallo's arm really makes me wince every time I see it. Superman melting Metallo's legs is silly and lazy as an ending, though even if it is fairly shocking to see. "Batman: The Animated Series" had a similar episode with robotic characters meeting grislier fates than human characters were ever allowed to. It's this kind of thing that always made me wish the writers of the classic "Adventures of Superman" show would just have Superman go up against some mechano-men, like in the comics or the classic Fleischer cartoons. Nothing wrong with some old-fashioned fisticuffs, especially when there isn't really any consequences to take into account.
I haven't really got any interesting tidbits for this episode, other than the mention of "4th & Shuster" and "Kirby Park" at different points in the show. Using classic writers and artists as street names is a staple of DC Comics, particularly ones involving Batman and Superman, although I do think it's getting a bit out of control nowadays. One thing I would like to point out from a previous episode is that William Devane who plays Al Capone in "That Old Gang of Mine" recently popped up as the President of the United States in a little film called "The Dark Knight Rises" that some of you may have seen. Making the connection made me smile.
Next week the action (unfortunately) continues in one of the most forgettable episodes, "Chi of Steel". Some good ones are coming up after that, though.
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