Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 6: "Don't Tug On Superman's Cape"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: November 5, 1995
Directed by Steve Dubin
Written by David Simkins
Jonathan Frakes as Tim Lake
Genie Francis as Amber Lake
Kenneth Kimmins as Dr. Bernard Klein
Michael Harris as Bad Brain Johnson
Joe Ochman as Staffer
Holly Schroeder as Police Woman
Clark dreams about domestic life with Lois as if it were an "I Love Lucy"-esque sitcom.
Lois calls Clark to tell him that Bad Brain Johnson, a criminal who swore revenge on Lois and Clark for sending him to prison, has broken out of jail.
Bad Brain Johnson has been assisted by wealthy socialite couple Tim and Amber Lake, a couple who steal and collect rare, unusual one-of-a-kind things (such as the arms of the Venus DeMilo, Jimmy Hoffa encased in cement, and the Batmobile).
They explain that they want to kidnap and 'collect' Superman. They show Bad Brain a weapon they've developed - a device that can electrify the human body to cinders.
Perry instructs Lois and Clark to wear bullet-proof vests. As of yet there is no leads as to how Bad Brain escaped. Clark super-hears a fire at STAR Labs and Lois demands to come with him.
Superman retrieves a note from the fire - it was Bad Brain and he stole the Labs' supply of Kryptonite. Lois is angry to hear that Clark allowed STAR Labs to keep a supply of Kryptonite. Clark explains that it was for scientific research - they were attempting to find a way to counteract its effects. Superman finds tyre-tracks that may lead to Bad Brain's whereabouts.
The Lakes gloat over their stolen Kryptonite, boasting that they will own Superman.
Lois daydreams that she's the love interest in a James Bond-style spy flick where Clark is the spy and he uses the ejector seat on her. Lois explains to Clark after the daydream that she's worried about becoming a 'hood ornament' like all of those Bond girls.
Lois and Clark interview the Lakes - as Clark found that the tyre tracks matched their rare Italian tyres. They pretend that they're simply interviewing them about their blissful relationship together and their propensity for collecting things. Clark slips in a question about the tyres and Tim Lake reacts strangely to the question.
Tim and Amber immediately plan to kill Lois and Clark.
Clark daydreams that he's being questioned as a criminal (an absentee husband and father) in a Dragnet-style police procedural program.
The Lakes make an attempt on Lois and Clark's life by way of a remote control helicopter. They make it look like it was Bad Brain Johnson once again. All of the Superman suits are destroyed. Clark explains that the suits are only indestructible when he's wearing them - due to an aura that extends a few millimeters from his skin.
Clark brings Lois to Smallville to try and keep her safe. The Kents push them on the marriage issue. Clark learns about an Earthquake in Beijing. Superman rushes to the scene leaving Lois and the Kents to watch the event unfold on television.
The Lakes prepare a faked audio message with recordings of Superman's voice. They plan to trick Lois.
Lois learns that the Lakes are on the board of STAR Labs - meaning they would know about the Kryptonite. She rushes back to Metropolis - the Lakes watch as she goes into the Daily Planet building. Lois meets Dr. Klein who informs her that the Lakes asked for confirmation that there was Kryptonite in STAR Labs so that they would donate a large sum of money to his research.
The Lakes send Lois the faked audio message - leading Lois out to an alleyway outside the Daily Planet. The Lakes cause her to walk straight into Bad Brain's electrocution device, supposedly killing her instantly.
However, it appears that rather than being disintegrated, Lois was simply teleported to the force-field trap created by the Lakes. They explain that they planned to trap her as a means of eventually trapping Superman.
Dr. Klein summons Superman to STAR Labs to inform him that Lois died immediately after their conversation - Superman realizes that the Lakes must be involved. He goes to their mansion where they reveal that Lois is still alive - and that Superman must remain trapped in a force-field trap beside her. They warn him that if he tries to escape in any way, it will trigger a bomb that will kill Lois immediately. Superman immediately complies.
Perry White is sent the tattered remains of a Superman costume and a Kryptonite rock, suggesting that Superman has been killed.
Superman devises a way to escape from his force-field chamber without setting off the bomb by vibrating his molecules at super-speed and passing through the force-field. He successfully accomplishes this, although it is immensely painful. He then instructs Lois to trip the bomb by touching the force-field, after which he correctly neutralizes the bomb.
Superman apprehends the Lakes and the Daily Planet newsroom throws a party in honor of Lois and Clark. Clark looks at the engagement ring once again and is reassured by Jimmy that there's no time like the right time.
Review Rating - 4 (out of 5): "Don't Tug on Superman's Cape" is the first really great third-season episode of "Lois & Clark". The writing is solid and charming, the guest villains (while admittedly campy) are interesting and memorable, there is a refreshing reverence for comic book lore and the chemistry between the two brilliant leads is at an all-time high. It's still considerably far from a perfect score, but the warmth and compassionate storytelling in this episode is a far cry from the cynical insanity of "Ordinary People" or "When Irish Eyes are Killing".
I'm a big fan of Star Trek and like many people, the series that really got me into the franchise was "Star Trek: The Next Generation". And while I didn't really get into the show until I was in my teens (it was about 2005 that I really got into it), I was still keenly aware of the show as a young kid in the 90s and I remember liking "the cool guy with the beard" (the only character whose name I actually knew on the series was Data). For this reason, Tim Lake always stood out among the cardboard villains that seemed to populate the majority of post-Luthor "Lois & Clark" episodes. Watching the episode now, he certainly is campier than the kinds of villains you'd see in the earlier seasons, and he and his wife are basically recycling an old Luthor trope - remember Lex Luthor's secret lair in "The Foundling"? The Lakes even own of the exact same items from that same location - the arms of the Venus DeMilo. It would have been a nice bit of continuity if the writers had suggested where the Lakes acquired the arms - especially since Lex even gets name-dropped in the inspired "I Love Lucy" dream sequence at the start of this episode.
Without further ado, I will attest that yes, it's really, really damn cool to see the BATMOBILE (specifically the one from the two Tim Burton/Michael Keaton movies) in a Superman show. Unfortunately, they shoot it from strange angles meaning you never really see it in all of its glory - it definitely is it, though - as evidenced from the little Bat-symbols within the hubcaps. Given that there was a 'Gotham City' reference in "We Have a Lot to Talk About" and there is an actual explicit reference to "Batman" by name in next week's episode, I wonder what had the writers in such a frenzy - it's possible that these episodes were being filmed around the same time as 'Batman Forever' (which was released in the Summer of 1995) and that Warner Bros wanted to drum up some excitement. There's a fun little rumor that when George Clooney was cast as Batman for "Batman & Robin" the following year, he and Dean Cain used to play basketball together on the court of the WB lot (remember - ER was being filmed on the same lot) and that people used to refer to the games as "Batman vs Superman". For all the DC heroes that showed up on "Smallville" (and they did a really great job with a lot of them - especially Green Arrow and Hawkman), this episode is the closest we've ever come to Superman and Batman appearing on screen together in live-action.
For the first time in this bold new season, the idea of Lois knowing Clark's dual identity is capitalized in a way that doesn't seem forced or excessively mined for comedic value. Lois and Clark have genuine human concerns about what their lives together might be, and how that might affect the legend of Superman - who is becoming increasingly more of an 'idea' strengthened by the collective ingenuity of Lois and Clark rather than a real identity in his own right (an idea I love - see Christopher Nolan's Batman movies for another example of this). One of my favorite scenes in the episode is when Clark brings Lois to Smallville for safekeeping (I wish we'd go to Smallville more often in this show - it makes far more sense than having Jonathan and Martha fly out to Metropolis all the time) and Jonathan argues in favor of Lois' independence. I don't talk enough about Eddie Jones as Jonathan in these reviews. Certainly he's a quieter, more soft-spoken version of the character than the likes of John Schneider (who has probably turned in the best overall performance to date), but he really holds his own in scenes like this. Anyway, to the episode's credit, it's never outright stated as such, but this is the first time Clark brings Lois back to meet his parents now that they're a couple and she's "in-the-know" regarding The Secret. The chemistry between the Kents and Lois is pitch perfect. And on a fanboy level, I like that this scene is one of those rare occasions where we see Superman with the traditional S-curl hairstyle (usually it's Clark who has that in this series; a subtle comment on how Clark is the 'true' identity in L&C).
This episode is the first we see of the new resident Mad Scientist Doctor Bernard Klein and Kenneth Kimmins actually gets to sink his teeth into the role. He has one short scene with Superman where he maintains that he's "truly, desperately sorry" for Lois' supposed death - it's enough to make him memorable. I still think it's a pity they couldn't keep Professor Hamilton, but Kimmins is a more charismatic actor than the guy who played Hamilton, so I don't mind too much.
The only thing I don't like about "Don't Tug" is that it introduced the rather forgettable "Bad Brain Johnson" who would tragically make a repeat non-appearance in a rather dreadful arc that would come about later in the season. Let's not think about the terribleness of those episodes and just bask in the pleasantness of this one.
By the way - don't forget to follow @loisandclarks5 - the parody "Lois & Clark Season 5" account run by myself and former legendary Superman Homepage forum poster Planet-Man.
Next week it's more Silver Age fun as Superman's powers are transferred to Lois Lane who becomes "Ultra Woman".
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