Superman on Television

Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews

Lois & Clark

Season 3 - Episode 8: "Chip Off the Old Clark"

Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir

Originally Aired: November 19, 1995
Directed by Michael W. Watkins
Written by Sivert Glarum and Michael Jamin

Guest Cast:
Susan Batten as Leigh-Anne Stipanovic
Joel Brooks as Donald Rafferty
Kenneth Kimmins as Dr. Bernard Klein
Alex D. Linz as Jesse Stipanovic
Michael Kagan as President
Dave Nemeth as Himself
Michael Burger as Himself
Maty Monfort as Herself
Dave Coulier as The Real Anonymous

Synopsis:

Lois admires her engagement ring and looks forward to her wedding with Clark. Jimmy phones and urgently tells them to turn on the television. A woman, Leigh-Anne Stipanovic is claiming to have had Superman's love child.

Clark dismisses the notion, assuring Lois that he's never met the woman. Lois is eager to expose the woman as a liar, but Clark doesn't want to give her credibility.

A master make-up artist known as Anonymous dresses up like a national security guard.

Lois and Clark visit the woman in question. They see the boy, Jesse using super powers.

A foreign President nearly gets assassinated, but Clark sees the event on television and rushes to his aid as Superman. The master criminal puts a transmitter on the President's car.

Leigh-Anne shows Lois a picture of her with Superman, supposedly proving their relationship. Clark dismisses it, explaining that he's posed for thousands of photos over the years.

The Kents arrive to support Clark - Jonathan suggests that Superman get a DNA test.

Anonymous meets Leigh-Anne and tells her that she has been Subpoena'd for the sake of obtaining a DNA test. She asks him to delay it as much as he can.

Superman and Lois appear at STAR Labs amidst a media frenzy. Leigh-Anne arrives with Jesse, who is wearing a Superman costume. Jesse blows away reporters with his super-breath.

Dr.Klein explains to Superman that due to the complexity of his molecular structure it will take as long as a year for the results.

Anonymous impersonates both Leigh-Anne and Superman to get them to meet one another. Leigh-Anne explains that she'll be filing a lawsuit - Superman pleads with her, explaining that he doesn't have money. They quickly realize that Jesse has been kidnapped by Rafferty/Anonymous.

Lois tells Clark that she's sorry she didn't believe him straight away.

They find evidence of a master make-up artist and suspect Anonymous. They also confirm that the picture of Leigh-Anne and Superman was taken after Superman saved a plane from crashing a year previous - an electrical storm resulted in the transfer of his powers.

Anonymous brings Jesse to a meet-and-greet with the visiting President of Fostonia. Jesse flies him away to Anonymous' lair.

Anonymous tries to get the President to give him the nuclear launch codes of his country, eventually resorting to truth serum. Lois and Clark hear Jesse refer to a 'big red choo choo' and Clark goes into action searching all train yards in Metropolis. Leigh-Anne reveals that 'choo choo' is also Jesse's word for smoke-stack, confusing them for old steam engines.

Lois confronts Anonymous and manages to subdue him, but Anonymous manages to convince Jesse to press the 'Launch' button - in the confusion, he traps Lois, Jesse and the Fostonian President. Superman hears Jesse's cries for help and rushes to save him, in the process finding Anonymous. Lois tells Superman about the nuclear bomb - Superman burrows under the planet all the way to Fostonia and stops the missile.

The story that exonerates Superman is relegated to page 53 of the paper.

3Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): It's an interesting and fun idea - but I can't help but think that in spite of Perry's dismissal of tabloid journalism, it's amusing how many of Season 3's plots (including many yet to come) resemble bizarre tabloid stories.

"Chip Off the Old Clark" is certainly a good episode of "Lois & Clark" with an interesting plot - it just feels a bit rushed, it doesn't take the concept down any interesting avenues, it sort of just lets the idea carry the episode, ticking all the appropriate boxes rather than injecting any real flavor to the characters or their reactions. The textbook definition of a filler episode. Lois is once again forced to be a little bit unlikable in order to make the interactions interesting - we empathize with her, and yet we still feel like maybe she's being a bit unreasonable in not being a little bit swifter in her belief of the man she's about to marry. I'm up in the air as to how I feel about how she reacted in this episode.

Susan Battne as Leigh-Anne is an impressive enough TV actress that it feels like something of a missed opportunity that she wasn't given more material to work with. In the early stages of the episode, she offers some fairly credible evidence for her claims and yet we never really believe her, because she's painted as such a redneck cartoon. The episode confirms this when we see Luann nervously react to the subpoena she'd been issued by Superman - we all know the kid isn't his, but we'd like the episode to play along a bit longer than it actually does. The scene she shares with Superman where she defends her actions with the logic of "Why can't I be rich and famous like all those other people?" is worryingly realistic nearly twenty years later and it proves how interesting an all-too-altruistic character like Superman can be in the face of modern greed. It recalls the episode "Whine, Whine, Whine" in some respects - pity this episode couldn't have been more like that one.

Alex D. Linz was decent and relatively inoffensive in this episode, as far as child actors go. Some people might remember him from "Home Alone 3," the one that inexplicably didn't star Macauley Culkin (as the Child Actor Kryptonite that is puberty had set in at that point). I've just discovered via his IMDb page that he's actually a few months older than me. That's bizarre - even as a child watching this for the first time, I remember feeling older than this kid.

I didn't like "Anonymous" or the actors that played him at all. A thoroughly unconvincing, uninteresting villain and pretty much a cardboard duplicate of "Mr. Makeup" in the Season 1 episode "Witness" - right down to the scene where he's applying his make-up being almost exactly the same (I wondered if they even reused footage). His villainous plot of turning two fictional countries against each other by casually hacking into their missile launch codes (by way of Super Kid) is outlandish and utterly ridiculous for someone who is supposed to be an international master criminal. It ironically feels very similar to the plot of a bad "Home Alone" sequel, rather than the James Bond feel it's attempting to homage.

While many elements of this episode were forgettable, I really liked the Super-Feat at the end of the episode. Superman burrowing through planet Earth and out the other end is admittedly silly, but it's also damn cool. I also appreciated that they showed him actually lowering a missile prop as well - instead of just the green-screen effect. Genuine effort was put into this. I could complain that Superman catching a nuclear missile should have presented a bit more of a difficulty for him... but that would be needless nitpicking.

A few small notes:

- Lane Smith kills it once again in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene. Perry tries to console Lois with his brand of sage-like wisdom after the worrying revelation that Leigh-Anne's story might be true: "Now Lois, you and I have worked in news long enough to know that if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and uh, *kisses forefinger and thumb* tastes real good with plum sauce - it IS a duck." He's outstanding. It's these little touches of hilarity that make him stand out so much.

- Jimmy has a tiny moment after he's just explained something to Clark who rushes off. He looks notably spurned, but it's never addressed. I really wish Perry and Jimmy could have had an entire episode to themselves where they quietly go through the motions of facilitating Lois and Clark's adventures. It would pay off these small moments of inadequacy.

- There are some subtle continuity links in this episode to LNN and Top Copy, both apparently still functioning despite the death or incarceration of their villainous founders. Touches like these (as well as 'New Troy Cabs' which I always love seeing) are what make Metropolis feel like a real city in this show.

Next week it's more craziness as the Captain America story is put in reverse - instead of one American superhero getting frozen in ice, it's a bunch of Nazis instead. "Super Mann" bitte.



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