Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 3 - Episode 11: "Home is Where the Hurt Is"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: December 17, 1995
Directed by Geoffrey Nottage
Written by William M. Akers and Brad Buckner
Beverly Garland as Ellen Lane
Harve Presnell as Dr. Sam Lane
Jessica Collins as Mindy Church
Joel Swetow as Henchman
Kathy Trageser as Baby Gunderson
Anthony Powers as Crime House
E.J. Callahan as Snitch
Barney Burman as Mugger
Breck White as Cop #1
Ben McCain as TV Anchorman (as Ben McCain)
It's Christmas time in Metropolis and Lois is trying to avoid spending time with her parents. On television, Mindy Church announces plans to feed the homeless over the Holidays. Later in her secret boardroom, she negotiates with mobsters to restart InterGang. When they refuse her offer, she kills them with poison gas.
Mindy enlists the help of Joey Bermuda, an assassin who employs elaborate high-tech explosives and technology to take out his targets. She suggests creating a Kryptonian flu-like virus that can kill Superman by isolating germs from his Kryptonian spaceship (which she has stolen from Bureau 39).
Clark and his parents go to Lois' apartment for dinner. Lois' estranged parents arrive unannounced and unknown to one another, much to the surprise of the Kents. Mr. Lane introduces everyone to his cyborg creation Baby Gundersen.
Lois gets a tip regarding the mob killings from a street prostitute. Her mother insists on joining her. However, when they arrive, they discovers the woman dead. A shadowy figure mistakes Ellen for a prostitute and instructs her to stay away from this street. Mindy coaxes Superman into rescuing her from a supposed suicide attempt - unbeknownst to him she poisons him with the Kryptonian Flu.
Martha and Ellen are mugged while shopping. Martha chases after the mugger but he's kidnapped by the shadowy man. Mindy instructs Joey Bermuda to kill Lois and Clark because of their speculatory articles regarding the return of InterGang. He concocts a scheme to tamper with their microwave oven so that it will emit a high-frequency signal that will shatter their eardrums.
Clark begins to exhibit signs of extreme illness. With some difficulty, he attends a charity event for the Metropolis Orphanage as Superman. The event ends up being interrupted by Mindy Church who gives out presents to the children. Superman uses the opportunity to leave, and he ends up collapsing in the street. Lois begs Sam to try and help Superman, which he agrees to do.
Joey Bermuda sets up the microwave oven signal. Unbeknownst to him, he's being monitored by Baby Gundersen the cyborg. Meanwhile, an InterGang crime wave grips the city.
Sam Lane recognizes the viral symptoms and suggests a controversial chemotherapy-like treatment by using Kryptonite to bring Superman's body to the point of death, after which his body will no longer be able to support the virus. Lois gets the STAR Labs supply of Kryptonite from Dr. Klein and exposes Superman to it over a prolonged period of time. When Superman slips into a coma, they remove the Kryptonite and he begins to improve.
When Superman finally wakes up from his coma he whispers Lois' name and she senses his improvement. Before leaving Clark's apartment, Martha makes Lois a cup of coffee, accidentally setting off the hypersonic signal in the microwave. Superman arrives just in time to save everyone. Baby Gundersen relays the recording she made and from this, Lois and Clark decide to go after the Handyman - Joey Bermuda. Bermuda is framed by Mindy Church to make it look as though he is the head of InterGang.
Lois, Clark, the Lanes and the Kents share Christmas together.
Review Rating - 2 (out of 5): After a stream of surprisingly solid filler episodes, here's an arc-building turkey just in time for Christmas (coincidentally this episode aired exactly 18 years ago from the time I'm writing this review). The point of the episode is clearly to reintroduce Lois' parents and show the dichotomy of their turbulent relationship when juxtaposed with the peaceful, blissful matrimony of Jonathan and Martha. Some elements of this work well, but the episode is hampered once again by a poor plot, rubbish villains and needless camp.
I just don't like Mindy Church and her presence is the definite indicator that the camp-factor of "Lois & Clark" is beginning to get out of control. I realize that the intention of her character as a two-faced puppet-master who is secretly far more intelligent and conniving than she appears, but her Marilyn Monroe-esque voice is grating to the extreme, when she's supposed to appear sexy and charming. Either by coincidence or design, she recalls Lorelai Ambrosia from Superman III - a character that was also implied to be far more intelligent than the ditz she portrayed in front of others. Lorelai even tried to dupe Superman with a fake suicide attempt.
Joey Bermuda is another in a long-string of two-dimensional bad guys of the week; Lois and Clark have already heard of him, so there's no need for any extra exposition. His only interesting personality shtick is that in addition to being a career criminal, he's also a loving husband and father, which leads to his downfall, just in time for the closing credits.
I also take issue with the contrived conveniences that run rampant in this episode. I'll buy Superman showing up in the nick of time to save Lois and Mindy from a flying bomb (with no explanation as to how he knew the bomb was about to kill them). But Lois asking her father to help save Superman's life from the Kryptonian virus, when Superman already has a dedicated physician in Bernard Klein (who is even required to hand over the Kryptonite to Lois off-screen) is outlandish. It doesn't make sense and it's forcibly inserted as a means of helping Lois reconnect with her father (who shouldn't even be a doctor anyway). This is especially annoying as the Kryptonian Flu is actually a creative invention on the parts of the writers - for once absorbing the Sun's rays probably wouldn't help, as it would just make the virus stronger (a pity they didn't highlight this fact).
It's also bothersome that Lois' parents never wonder about Clark's whereabouts during the Krypto-Flu ordeal, nor do they opine on Lois' cuddly nature around the Man of Steel. Letting Lois' parents in on the secret would have been a far more interesting move, but instead the writers chose to play it irritatingly safe.
The most ridiculous moment in the episode is when Lois is excitedly getting up to leave Clark's apartment and Martha offers her reheated coffee from the microwave - a painfully contrived sequence of events that will enable the villain's plot to be fulfilled in time for Superman to save the day. Was Martha in on the scheme?!
Harve Presnell replaces the drab Michael Arndt as General Dr. Sam Lane, a retooled character for the more 'romcom' feel of the third season (as opposed to the more serious character drama of the first). Presnell's Lane is certainly more amusing and engaging than Arndt's and it's even credible when the tone of the episode takes a u-turn to reflect Clark's illness, but he's nonetheless a bit goofy. A greater success is TV legend Beverly Garland as Ellen Lane, who is far more effective than her stunt-casting predecessor Phyllis Coates. I particularly enjoyed the scene with her and Martha being mugged - those two should have received more screen time together.
A few things:
- This is the first instance where it's implied that Lois and Clark share some kind of deeper telepathic bond. He whispers her name when he awakens from his coma and she is somehow able to hear him from across the city in Clark's apartment. While it's possible that it was just throwaway schmaltz - it is revisited in later episodes. I actually have a greater pseudoscientific explanation for this that explains away a lot of the series' basic conceptual errors (namely Clark's flimsy disguise as a mild-mannered reporter). I'll get into this in greater detail when it becomes more relevant.
- The scene where Superman attends the charity orphanage event is great, but it's hampered by a distinct lack of extras - perhaps it's the generally low quality of the episode that caused me to notice, but it really bothered me when the camera sweeps down to show Mindy Church's limo being pulled by reindeer, and yet there's only a handful of people on the street. What makes matters worse is that the foley suggests that there's far more people there than there actually is. The scene would have been better served with trick shots and more effectively scattered extras. But hey, I'm not the director.
- Mindy's Goldfinger-esque dispatch of the cartoon mobsters at the start of the episode followed by her using an airline pressure mask (complete with recorded poison gas warning) was Adam West-levels of camp.
Next week, we have the obligatory 'Black Magic' episode that every superhero show seems to have at some point or another. Join me for 'Never on a Sunday' - and no, Solomon Grundy isn't in it. Just some guy with the similar-sounding name 'Baron Sunday'.
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