Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 2: "Ordinary People"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: September 24, 1995
Directed by Michael W. Watkins
Written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie-Ross Leming
David Leisure as Spencer Spencer
Carlos Lacamara as Dr. Pescado
Vincent Guastaferro as Belzer
Peter Kent as Klavel
Greta Blackburn as Heidi Reichstag
A story hits that a magazine known as "Love Fortress" is linked with organized crime. Jimmy chastises Lois for causing trouble for magazine magnate Spencer Spencer.
Spencer (a man paralyzed from the neck down who moves around using an electronic wheelchair) is disgusted when Lois dismisses him for not accepting to hear his side of the story. Lois and Clark continue to discuss the issue of marriage, but Lois is trying to avoid the subject. Clark tries to impress her with camembert from France. Lois buries herself in work to avoid the subject.
A suspicious looking man tries to kill Lois by dropping a flagpole on her, but Superman rushes to her rescue.
Spencer hears of a breakthrough procedure that can give him a working body. He explains that he wants Superman's body.
Lois tells Clark to stop showering her with gifts as Superman - that she loves him just as he is, as Clark, a normal person. Unfortunately, midway through the conversation, he has to leave to save someone once again.
Spencer reveals his plot to lure Superman to his secret island hideaway - he plans to have Lois and Clark sent there in the hopes that Superman will follow once he learns that they've been kidnapped. He sends a bouquet of flowers and an invitation to his resort to the Daily Planet, which Perry is delighted to allow Lois and Clark to go on.
Clark bets Lois that he can quit using his powers if she can turn off from work and allow herself to relax while on their vacation. When they arrive at the destination, Lois begins to panic as there is no sign of the resort. She requests that Clark investigate as Superman, but he refuses as per the terms of their bet.
Spencer watches via camera and releases a tiger to make the two reporters panic in a way that will force them to get Superman. Lois continues to panic while Clark laughs and enjoys himself. Spencer contaminates the drinking water, but once again thanks to Clark's powers he's able to spot the bacteria and stop Lois from drinking it.
Lois and Clark are finally captured by armed guards and brought to a prison. Lois asks Clark to break them out, but he doesn't want to do it immediately, for fear that they're being watched. The guards return and one of them injects Lois with a lethal serum that will kill her in minutes unless she gets the antidote, leaving Clark powerless to help her. They bring her up to Spencer's office where she is injected with the antidote. He tells her that he's waiting for Superman to arrive.
Clark learns that Spencer is waiting for Superman. Spencer tells Lois that he's planning on taking Superman's body for himself. Clark tells Spencer that he's Superman. He tries to use his heat vision, but he has difficulty using it, and suspects there may be Kryptonite in the room. Indeed there is, as Spencer's assistant brings it in and neutralizes Clark.
Spencer's physician initiates the operation. Lois breaks out of her cell and manages to remove the Kryptonite from the operating room. Clark regains some of his strength, managing to escape and freeze Spencer and his goons. Unfortunately, armed thugs break into the room and attempt to shoot Clark - the bullets bounce off and shatter the ice containing Spencer Spencer, his physician and his assistant.
Lois and Clark fly away to safety. Superman brings Lois flowers from down the street that he paid for with cash.
Review Rating - 2 (out of 5): Every live-action Superman series had had its fair share of good and bad episodes. Then there are those completely bizarre, off-the-wall episodes that come by just once or twice over the course of the entire series.
"Flight to the North" from the George Reeves is the ultimate example of this, or "Fortune" from the Smallville series (you know, that one where they all have a hangover, Lois dresses up as Elvis and Ollie dresses up like a woman). The Superboy show's entire second season (the one that recently, finally got released to DVD) was completely off-the-wall (ask someone about the Lex Luthor episode or the Red K episode...), as if it was written by a four-year old. Well in typical Season Three style, "Ordinary People" is Lois & Clark's foray into the bizarre and the absurd.
This is a 'bad' episode to be sure, but it's anything but forgettable - it's so relentlessly appalling and utterly stupid as an idea that it becomes one of the most noteworthy and thought-provoking episodes so far and thus I am unable to give it a 1 out of 5 and have to give it a 2 - it at least deserves to be watched just so you can see how crazy it is. What were the writers thinking?
It contains a villain so aggressively campy that at long last I'm going to have to make a comparison to the Adam West Batman series. I once read a dismissal of Lois & Clark that stated that "The villains of this show make King Tut look like Hannibal Lecter". If that dissenter had only watched this episode they would be forgiven for making that criticism - Spencer Spencer is just a ridiculous, horrible villain. They clearly started off by trying to make some sort of Hugh Hefner-a-like, only to drift into something completely insane and unrecognizable. He's "Power Rangers" level of bonkers. But not only that - he drifts between traditional, colorful kid-friendly villainy and R-rated insanity where he claims he'll keep Lois as his sex slave (his actual words) or pump her full of cobra venom. Who was this guy supposed to appeal to?
There's also just generic writing issues that annoy me - Clark's super-senses kick in on the mystery island when the plot demands it, but he never does manage to notice the video camera that's watching them the whole time. Once again, Lois Lane's life is put in danger by a hitman who fails because of trying to make her death too elaborate (this time by way of the awkward, time-consuming, ridiculously implausible concept of dropping a flagpole on her) instead of just shooting her, and we also have the strangely convenient idea that Spencer Spencer is able to predict that Perry will whisk his two favorite reporters away on a fake holiday at a moment's notice (yes, I realize they set it up by having one of Spencer's spies mosey around the newsroom - it's still not enough for me).
I can't pretend like the writers weren't at least trying to inject some humanity into the episode - Lois and Clark have more than a few pleasant exchanges, but it's all filler - like the writers have found a winning formula for sweet dialogue between the leads and they know when to just plug it into an episode to ensure emotional involvement. For the first time in the series, I felt like the interaction between the characters was shallow.
David Leisure as Spencer Spencer is the worst villain the series has had to date. In his defense, he's not forgettable or throwaway, but he is aggressively, obnoxiously corny and bad - the kind of villain who'd make me embarrassed to show the episode to my friends. To me, that's worse than being forgettable. His assistant, Dr. Pescado (played by Carlos Lacamara, the dad from the tepid family comedy series 'The Brothers Garcia') is much in the same vain.
Special effects-wise, we get some admittedly nice stuff - Clark zipping back and forth from various countries to get Lois elaborate country-specific gifts is nice (and reminiscent of when he did that in the pilot), there's some flying 'rig' shots (where Dean Cain is standing on a rig and is shot from the waist up, to mimic flight without the use of wires) that are at least shot quite nicely and I like that we get bullets bouncing off Superman's chest for the first time in a long time.
So all in all "Ordinary People" is a pretty kooky, crazy episode with little redeeming value outside of its sheer eccentricity. Looking at the episodes the next few episodes, I'm sad to say that things aren't going to get a lot better for a little while. Next week we get our dull, inevitable X-Files homage in 'Contact'.
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