Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 4: "When Irish Eyes Are Killing"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: October 15, 1995
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Written by Grant Rosenberg
Julian Stone as Patrick Sullivan
Ilana Levine as Veronica Kipling
Sheelagh Cullen as Colleen Foley
Olivia Brown as Star
Tom Todoroff as Shamus/Robber
J. Patrick McCormack as Mr. McCarthy
Annie Gagen as Woman
Kelly Christian as Richie
Lois and Clark attend a charity bachelorette auction and argue over the reasons Clark broke up with her. Lois tells Clark to relax - that there isn't bombs going off everywhere she goes. In the distance, a man activates a gas bomb.
The bomb goes off shortly after Lois enters the room. Clark arrives and sucks up the gas. It appears a valuable artifact, the Scepter of Claudius has been stolen.
In a private chamber a man holds a ritual sacrifice of a young woman. At the Daily Planet, Perry reveals that yet another sacrifice has been found. Clark hears a cry for help from the museum and goes there as Superman just in time to find a criminal robbing another priceless artifact. The robber steals the item and then blows up another one, endangering his hostage, escaping again.
Perry continues the bachelorette auction in the newsroom. Frustrated with Clark, Lois agrees to be put up on auction. Clark bids an impressive $150 on Lois and it appears that he has won, but a mysterious bidder arrives and bids $10,000. It's Lois' old flame Patrick Sullivan from when she was an exchange student in Ireland. Lois introduces Clark as her 'colleague'. She agrees to join him for dinner later.
Later, Patrick chastises his subordinates for failing to secure more of the priceless jewels. Lois arrives soon after for their date. They discuss their romances - Lois states that Clark is not with her.
The eccentric woman Ms. Kipling, from the museum arrives at Clark's apartment with the photos and information of the artifacts that were stolen. Lois arrives and despite Clark's efforts to tell her that the investigation is purely platonic, she is nonetheless frustrated.
Patrick merges two of the stolen emeralds together, giving him the power of the ancient druids. His housemaid Colleen finds the gems and a shrine to Lois in Patrick's cabinet - suggesting that he wants to sacrifice Lois next.
Colleen warns Clark that he must keep Lois away from Patrick - as he's going to sacrifice Lois so that he'll retrieve all the power of his druid ancestors. Clark calls Lois' beeper and tracks her whereabouts with his super-hearing. When he gets her alone, he tells her of the warning Colleen gave him - but Lois won't believe him, as she justifiably believes Colleen to be confused and eccentric.
Patrick kills Colleen when he learns of her betrayal. Clark continues tracking down the location of the hospital for the criminally insane where Patrick's father is being kept. Veronica Kipling arrives with more information from the museum, once again exhibiting her infatuation for Clark which Jimmy finds hilarious. Clark finally finds the location of Patrick's father - proving his theory.
Clark invites Veronica to join him so that he can be present for Lois' date with Patrick at an Irish pub. While competing at a game of darts with Patrick, Clark hears a bank siren and is forced to leave as Superman. Lois demands that Clark bring her. Unfortunately Superman arrives too late and another emerald has been stolen from a safety deposit box. Lois manages to steal the information of who the box belonged to - Dennis O'Neil.
Lois goes on another date with Patrick, where she has a look around his office because of Clark's claims. She finds the mask of the ancient ones and Patrick tells her that he is behind the heists and that he is going to sacrifice her.
Clark and Jimmy learn the full story regarding the mask of the ancient ones, and they theorize that Patrick is obviously trying to reassemble the mask and restore its power. Perry learns that Colleen's body has been found in the river. Superman arrives to save Lois from Patrick - he interrupts the sacrifice, but Patrick puts on the mask and has enough power to do battle with Superman. Superman emerges victorious.
Clark stops by Lois' apartment to tell her that he has been foolish and that he wants to return to the way things were. Lois turns him down, as she can't face that rejection from him again.
Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): I really did want to hate this episode. But I can't - it's not that bad at all.
To anyone unaware, I AM Irish and no, I don't mean Irish-American or I'm half-Irish on my father's side or anything like that. I was born, raised and currently live in Dublin, Ireland, both sides of my family hail from there going back a century; I'm fluent in the Irish language (we do have one) and am well-versed in our history and culture.
Being so close to America, particularly Eastern American states, it's inevitable that some of our culture has drifted over there and become cartoonified. Leprechauns, paddy-wagons, the idea that we all have ginger hair and the thing that really makes my blood boil "St. Patty's Day" - it's St. Paddy's Day! It really annoys us when you spell it the other way...it's our patron saint day and it's named after the Irish-language spelling 'Pádraig'. If you take nothing else from this review, take my word for it - "St. Paddy's Day". Go tell all of your friends this as well.
Anyway, all of this Americanization has resulted in a long, difficult 20th Century full of the kind of awkward stereotyping from that side of the Atlantic. And a big part of that is how badly American actors do our accents. For all the moaning Internet commenters do when a British or Irish actor plays an American character (and remember - we often do it seamlessly - see any film with Colin Farrell or Daniel Day Lewis), Americans are mostly TERRIBLE at doing the reverse. Americans can sometimes be utterly useless at doing a credible Irish accent (the one exception being Brad Pitt in 'Snatch' and 'The Devil's Own') and the "Lois & Clark" episode "When Irish Eyes are Killing" is a fine example of that. So the episode (and episodes like it in other shows and movies) is a bit of a sore spot for me.
Julian Stone seems like a reasonably talented television actor and I'm told that he was actually born and raised in England, which makes him marginally more qualified to play an Irishman (emphasis on that thin margin). But his attempt at the accent is once again feeble at best. I'm assuming Stone has spent much of his career in the United Stated as his accent seems to drift between cockney English to American to some sort of mid-Atlantic ocean version of Irish. It's really quite dreadful.
The reason why I give this episode a 3 in spite of the 2 or even the 1 I was ready to give it before pressing 'play' is that outside the embarrassing plot it's a reasonably effective "Lois & Clark" episode, if a bit formulaic. Lois calls Clark out on how ridiculous it is that he has ended their romance for fear of her safety and an ex-boyfriend shows up to complicate matters further. In many ways it's sort of a reverse-Scardino episode (with Clark doing the dumping) but it works a lot better. The writing is really sharp in the opening of the episode, and throughout - even if Lois comes across as being a bit unlikeable at times.
I also really enjoyed the Veronica Kipling character and Ilaana Levine's comic timing was spot-on. It's a pity she didn't make any repeat appearances. It's also a pity that a bigger deal wasn't made of Clark's full on jerk-move of using Veronica to make Lois jealous. True, he did have a very good reason for doing this (Lois' life was in danger), but Veronica deserved a bigger moment of apology nonetheless. Veronica is a much more entertaining exposition character than Bobby Big Mouth. Unfortunately her career as a museum secretary kind of prevents her from being of any use to other episodes. Nonetheless, I would have liked to see her return.
And do you know what? While I personally find the whole American-Irishness of the plot distracting, in its own context, completely removed from my knowledge of my country, I can't deny that it's a compelling, entertaining plot - even if Ireland never was invaded by the Romans. It's certainly a lot more interesting than the tired yuppie-needs-microchips-to-build-weapon-and-destroy-competitor plot that's popping up with depressing regularity (remember Bob Fences last week? Ugh!). Patrick putting on the 'Mask of the Ancient Ones' (oh boy...) was very cheesy, but in a welcome, refreshing way. The ensuing fight between Patrick and Superman was low-key and fairly tame, but at least they tried. It's been a while since we've actually had anything that could be considered a supervillain face-off in this show (is 'Metallo' seriously the last time that happened?). There is the small issue of Superman supposedly having no control over magic - and yet he's able to counter Patrick's blasts with his heat vision, but that can be easily explained away (maybe the emeralds' power are cosmic in nature, etc) for those who care about that sort of thing.
One thing I felt could have been addressed is that this is the second time we've seen Lois and Clark bidding at a date auction. Early in the first season Lois bid for Superman and now Clark bids for Lois. This was an interesting switch that could have been addressed in the dialogue as a nod to continuity. Oh well...I often get the impression the writers don't particularly care for much of anything that happened prior to the second season premiere.
Star makes a fairly forgettable appearance once again - it's fine, but it's a glorified deleted scene. Once again, Lois has a character tell her to have patience with Clark and to love him, etc. I'd love to get all of these bit characters in one big scene together. It's a pity they couldn't all make it to Lois and Clark's wedding in Season 4.
Probably the biggest thing I didn't like about this episode was the awful teenagery 'shipping' dialogue in the final scene between Lois and Clark. The actors do their level best to hold up the chaotic yo-yo style of writing, but the scene just falls flat. The second season did a reasonably great job of keeping the tension going between Lois and Clark - ensuring that things were never quite right between them; but this is just gratuitous. I'm looking forward to when Lois and Clark can be happily relationshipped and we can move away from this nonsense.
I rarely talk about Jay Gruska's music - I love the main theme and a lot of the recurring motifs in the series, usually the minor episode-specific themes are serviceable but forgettable. This episode deals with mysticism and the supernatural and has an unfortunate amount of terrible synthesized choir music echoing throughout in an attempt to sound ominous. It sounds cheap and dated and it reminds me a lot of Kevin Kiner's fairly cringe-worthy work on the "Superboy" show which preceded "Lois & Clark". I don't like it.
Like a lot of the third season, this episode actually does have some pretty cool, imaginative special effects-work in it. All of the scenes featuring the mystic emeralds are done well, especially when Patrick places the stones into the rusty, battered old Mask of the Ancient Ones - a rippling wave of light spreads over the mask making it clean and pristine once again. It's an impressive, seamless piece of visual effects that the producers didn't absolutely have to put in there, but the fact that they did shows a level of care and production value that I appreciate. I also enjoyed the chroma-key shot of Lois and Superman arguing while he carries her to the scene of a bank robbery. All these years later it doesn't look perfect, but effort clearly went into it and I think they did a very good job for a TV series in 1995. The final battle between Superman and Patrick (I tried to think of a more interesting supervillain name for him...'Ancient One'?) is a little underwhelming, but Superman's heat vision clashing against Patrick's... Celtic-vision is cool.
One-last-thing-before-we-go: I liked Clark and Patrick's game of darts more than I liked Superman's superpowers-fight with Patrick. It recalled the kind of low-key characterization from Season One and I always like the idea that Superman has perfect hand-eye coordination. Finally, the owner of the safety deposit box is named 'Dennis O'Neil,' famed Batman-scribe and once-writer of Superman (although I don't really rate his run on the character). I have a feeling they only threw his name in there because it sounds Irish though. Nonetheless it was fun and it assures me that however little attention the writers of the show paid to the comics (despite little touches like 'The New Troy Cab Company'), they at least knew that they were there.
The high-concept plots continue next week with "Just Say Noah" and Lois and Clark get to go on another vacation where they can talk about their feelings.
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