Superman on Television
Lois & Clark: Episode Reviews
Season 4 - Episode 6: "The People v. Lois Lane"Reviewed by: Rob Ó Conchúir
Originally Aired: October 27, 1996
Directed by David Ginty
Written by Grant Rosenberg
Granville Van Dusen as D.A. Michael Clemmons
Maryedith Burrell as Veronica Stewart
David Kriegel as Wolcott
Kim Tavares as Sheila Danko
Julie Payne as Wanda
Jim Jansen as Judge J. Samuelson
Jasmine Guy as Angela Winters
Marianne Muellerleile as Matron
While decorating their new house, Lois and Clark receive a message from an ex-con Lois once used as a stool pigeon, named Sykes. Little does she know it's a setup designed to incriminate her for murder. A gun goes off in Lois' hands, killing Sykes. The gun is activated remotely by Professor Jefferson Cole.
D.A. Michael Clemmons takes on the case personally - it's suspected that he's only doing it to boost his campaign to be the next Governor.
Superman calls a press conference where he announces that he will assist the D.A. in the investigation into the Sykes murder. As part of the press conference, he insists that the D.A. release Lois to her own recognizance, so that she can investigate the murder. Lois and Clark learn that Sykes may have been paid off to incriminate Lois. The Kents arrive to offer support to Lois and Clark.
Using sophisticated hologram technology, Cole creates an illusion that Lois is trying to kill Sheila Danko - a woman who may have a videotape of her 'killing' Sykes. Lois is sent back to jail and is charged with murder.
Frustrated, Superman bends the bars of Lois' cell and considers breaking her out of prison. Lois talks him out of it as it would be wrong of Superman, a symbol of justice and fair play, to break the rules in that way.
Superman is called to the stand at Lois' trial. D.A. Clemmons implies that Superman hasn't been objective about Lois' trial due to his romantic feelings for her. Superman assures the court that it is Clark Kent who loves Lois Lane.
Cole's assistant creates the illusion of an asteroid bound for the United Kingdom. Superman is forced to leave the courtroom and tend to the supposed emergency. There he discovers hologram generators, which he deactivates. Unfortunately, Cole has employed another hologram - of Perry White, to discredit Lois in the courtroom.
Lois is found guilty of murder.
Review Rating - 3 (out of 5): A satisfying, well-written episode if a bit low-key. Outside of the soap opera "Lois has been FRAMED!" plot, the key goal of the episode was to show how marriage and family might temper Superman's devotion to truth and justice. In a crucial scene, Superman offers to break Lois out of prison where she has been trapped unfairly - as is typical in "Lois & Clark," Lois acts as the conscience, the unknowing custodian of the 'Superman idea' and insists that he obey due process rather than breaking her out. It's a wonderful little idea that humanizes Superman and is something that would drive the Internet crazy with disgust if it happened in a comic book in 2016.
"Lois & Clark" has mined interesting stories out of courtroom drama in the past - what happens when the law Superman respects so much fails him or someone he loves? Personally I feel like this new storyline is slightly less effective than "Individual Responsibility" which digs a little bit deeper and provides a more satisfying conclusion, but it's to be admired that the series still feels comfortable telling stories like these, rather than every episode needing to be an action-centric superhero showdown.
That being said, the series’ reliance on idiosyncratic ‘villains of the week’ is becoming tiresome and L.A. Law’s Alan Rachins as the as-yet-unnamed Jefferson Cole is no different. In addition to the usual employment of science fiction technology, Cole's other shtick is that he records memos for himself using a personal tape recorder. Remember when people did that? I often wonder if the "Lois & Clark" writers would sit around in the writers' room and list out amusing gimmicks they could give their villains. "Let's make a villain who loves golf and is constantly playing around with a Putting Pal!" "How about a guy who loves action figures?" "Let's make a villain who sucks at guitar!" I'd love to visit the mundane 1990s Arkham-like prison where these criminals are all sent. Would Bob Fences cease being a megalomaniac if his action figures were taken away from him?
It's these kind of formulaic elements that make Season 4 feel so stale. I'm beginning to wonder how many times Eddie Jones has had to say, "We took the first flight out when we heard." Again I wonder why the writers didn't just move the Kents to Metropolis. The wonderful Lane Smith once again has little to do in this episode other than shrug at Lois' capture and be conveniently dispatched by the villain in favor of a hologram doppelgänger. It's a shame that the Alice-subplot running throughout Season 3 has been quietly shelved for the time being (it does come back). Justin Whalin, as usual, doesn't really do anything of note.
A few notes:
- Superman travels to England to stop the supposed asteroid disaster - we get a cute-looking Buckingham Palace set and a suitably awful "'Ello, 'ello!" type English accent from an American actor. Nevertheless, I'm glad the scene happened: we almost never see Superman leave America in this show.
- Superman's impromptu press conference is covered by the Luthor News Network, whose news van still sports Luthor's name. Even in death, Luthor seems to own everything in the city - this confused me growing up: Did LexCorp not go under following Luthor's incarceration? Even if it hadn't, wouldn't the board of directors want to change the name of the company following such a public relations catastrophe?
- "The caped crusader!" "That's Batman." - I have to wonder if the showrunners ever planned on introducing the Dark Knight on their show, given the now-constant off-hand references to his existence. Given that this series was being produced simultaneously with the doomed 'Superman Lives' movie, WB probably didn't have a "Bat Embargo" that prevented Bruce from appearing on the small screen, the way they do nowadays. It would have been cool.
- The hologram butterflies that fly onto Jefferson Cole's hands are quite dreadful-looking.
- Lois & Clark have a secret revolving door where they keep the Superman costumes. Now that's cool. It's a shame they couldn't keep other Super-trophies there like his Kryptonian gladiator staff or the Globe from 'The Foundling'.
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