Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 9: "Super Mann"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: November 26, 1995
Directed by James R. Bagdonas
Written by Chris Ruppenthal
Sean Kanan as Steve Law
Paul Kersey as Hank West
Sandra Hess as Lisa Rockford
Kenneth Kimmins as Dr. Bernard Klein
Linden Chiles as Senator Truman
Black Sean Whalen as Skip Wallace
The episode begins 2 years in the past, May 7, 1993. In a secret underground lab, a group of Nazis are awoken from cryogenic stasis chambers. On the street they see Superman save a little girl from a falling billboard (the episode "Never-ending Battle"). Senator Truman Black arrives and invites the Nazis into a limousine.
Lois is starting to worry about the finer details of her wedding with Clark. An elderly man crashes his car and Clark overhears him babbling about a bomb in Metropolis Trade Tower. Clark rushes there as Superman and finds nothing but coal dust.
One of the Nazis is posing as a football player named Steve Law and is enjoying a lot of success. Jimmy and a writer from Classifieds named Skip Wallace are being hounded by an increasingly irritable Perry. Wallace is growing ever more frustrated at the working conditions.
The Nazis are planning to take over the United States, Canada and Latin America.
One of the other Nazis poses as a Country and Western singer Hank West, he comes to the Daily Planet with Detective Carter claiming that he's researching a role as a detective for a movie. Clark is still puzzled at the cause of the old man's shooting. He learns the man's name was William Stockdale.
Another Nazi posing as a supermodel named Lisa Rockford makes an attempt on Lois and Clark's life. Superman stops her, but she swallows a cyanide capsule.
Steve Law executes Hank West for treason, leaving him in charge of the Neo Nazi followers. Lois and Clark discover that Lisa Rockford's real name was Lisl Schumann, a Nazi from World War II who took part in a cryogenic freezing experiment.
Superman learns about a coal mine disaster - when he arrives, he discovers a nuclear warhead that explodes in front of him.
Steve Law sends out a pirate broadcast announcing himself as a member of the National Society for a Better America with the swastika logo behind him. He warns that nuclear warheads have been hidden all over the country should the country not comply to his demands of domination, and that Superman has been eliminated.
Lois learns that Superman is in a STAR Labs containment chamber because he has become dangerously irradiated and will remain so for 30,000 years. Lois discovers that the ambulance that tended to Stockdale's gunshot injury were Nazi followers. Skip Wallace arrives in the newsroom with a troop of Nazis, stating they have taken over the building.
Lois suggests Superman fly to the Sun so that the radiation is neutralized, which turns out to be successful. Superman manages to find Lois and stops the Nazis.
Perry is heartbroken when he learns that his old friend Truman Black is one of the Nazis.
Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): Very much on the lower end of the three-out-of-five spectrum, this is fun take-it-or-leave-it filler with a bonkers story straight out of Golden Age comics, and lapses of logic and science straight out of Silver Age ones.
Lois' characterization upon reconciling her issues with Clark as a romantic partner and a superhero continue to trouble me. She began as such a progressive, go-getting character and at the opening of this episode she's obsessing over trivial details of a wedding that hasn't been planned yet, rather than celebrating a seemingly triumphant article exposing some kind of NIA controversy (nice blend of Central Intelligence and National Security there, guys). Later when Hank West arrives, she gets all doh-eyed about his presence, and laughs at his inappropriate joke regarding William Stockdale's death, leaving Clark to ask Detective Carter the important questions. It's just a filler episode, but it's worrying to see Lois lose her mojo as much as this.
Perry's post-separation irritability helps us remember a time early in the series when he was less of a cuddly, sage-like Papa bear and more of a hard-headed newsman. As always, Lane Smith turns fairly routine dialogue into something special, memorable and badass.
I'm not sure if this was intentional, but the idea of super soldier Nazis being frozen and awoken in the present day seems like a funny inversion of the Captain America story. There's no other indications to prove that this was the writers' intention, but I enjoyed it just the same. Bizarrely, the idea that the Nazis have superhuman strength is only indicated once at the beginning of the episode and then not referred to or displayed again in the episode. The actors playing the Terrible Trio of Nazis are mostly fine, especially Sean Kanan who plays Steve Law/Unnamed Nazi.
The Nazi's plot is hilariously daft - when and where did they procure all of those nuclear warheads?! Seemingly the fact that a United States Senator is involved with them would suggest that their influence is far-reaching into the Government... why then was their plan so easily neutralized by Superman using his heat vision on one TV monitor? Are their numbers so few that they weren't even going to be able to invade anywhere other than Metropolis?
Superman becoming irradiated and toxic to all life has likely come up in the comics at some point or another, but I mostly remember it as being the plot of the George Reeves "Adventures of Superman" episode 'Superman in Exile,' where the pseudo-scientific solution involved Superman flying into a lightning storm. Here, Superman flies into the gravitational pull of the Sun and the 'radioactive particles' of the bomb are sucked off of him. As a master of comic book science but a novice of actual science, this seems... more credible to me? Please let me know if I'm terribly mistaken and this is a horribly lazy solution to Superman's plight. I enjoyed it anyway.
Next week's episode is fun filler fluff, but when I was 6 years old it BLEW MY MIND. Years before anyone had heard of 'The Matrix,' Lois and Clark embarked on a virtual nightmare of their own, orchestrated by the mad genius of Lex Luthor's son 'X' and his artificial intelligence interface. The small matter of Clark's virginity (something that sailed over my six year old head) is brought into question as well in "Virtually Destroyed". Unless there's a glitch in the Matrix, join me next week.
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