Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 2: "A Kind of Princess"Reviewed by: Scotty V
The second episode in the syndicated adventures of Superboy finds Clark Kent dating the daughter of a major crime syndicate boss. Both Clark and Sara (Julie McCullough) are oblivious to the fact that Sara's dad is the syndicate boss and go about their courting expecting no complications. This changes rather quickly though when Clark, as Superboy, must rescue Sara's father from an attempted assassination. Two men have set a bomb in an abandoned car and plan to trigger it when the mob boss passes but Superboy arrives just in time to push the boss's limo out of harm's way.
Clark makes a quick change back to his reporter gear and attempts to interview the intended victim. The police tell Clark the man, Sara's father, is Matt Danner (Edward Winter) and Clark realizes that he too knows of the crime syndicate rumors that circulate around Danner. Later, at Sara's birthday party, Clark is rethinking his involvement with the girl and he brings up her father. Sara tells him she loves her father and that he shouldn't believe the rumors. The two students kiss and while Sara wants to go further, Clark tells her he has to go.
After Clark is gone, one of the men who attempted to blow up her father arrives and kidnaps Sara after apparently attacking her bodyguard. We find out the bodyguard was in on the kidnapping when Superboy, who uses his X-Ray vision to see the man's not really injured, flies him into the air and interrogates him by threatening to let him fall. Meanwhile, Mr. Casey (Harry Cup), the rival crime boss who's been trying to harm Danner and was ultimately behind the kidnapping, calls Danner and commands him to hand the Syndicate over unless he wants his daughter dead. Danner refuses, saying Casey won't kill Sara because she's his bargaining chip.
The bodyguard, under fear of bodily harm, leads Superboy to the yacht of Mr. Casey who is holding Sara strapped to a bomb. Superboy flies in to save the day, freezes the triggering device to Casey's hand before he can use it and rescues Sara. In the end however, all is not well at Shuster. Clark and Sara must part ways because Sara has decided she needs to get away to straighten out her head. Danner arrives, attempting to convince Sara to stay, but since he was unwilling to bargain with Casey for his daughter's life when she was in trouble, Sara no longer wants to see him. The final scene shows us a happy Lana who kisses and hugs Clark when he tells her he never slept with Sara.
Rating - 3 (out of 5): I feel kind of strange giving this episode a three out of five. I'm struggling because I've seen episodes of Smallville, which I feel is a much higher quality show, that I would rate a one or a two. I've decided however, that I must rate each show on its own design. Superboy has been off the air for many years. In my opinion, television wasn't as high quality back then as it often is now and Smallville set its own standard back in the first few seasons and had to continue to live up to that standard. That being said, A Kind of Princess is a leap over a tall building in improvement compared to the first episode, The Jewel of the Techacal.
First of all, because the plot involves crime bosses who are vying for each other's turf, it's very easy to believe, given the outstanding circumstance of a person having that type of life, that that could happen. It also makes sense, in that only on television sort of way that Sara, a crime boss's daughter, might get dragged into the conflict. It's very exciting to see Clark care so much for Sara that he resorts to threats and interrogation in order to find out where she is. However, since we're hardly introduced to her and yet it seems clear this relationship has been going on for some time, I feel like we've missed something or that this episode is, like the first episode, out of place or something. When the show opens on a scene of Clark and Sara being lovey-dovey and Lana skulking about it, I feel a bit out of the loop.
Next, I have to say that the people who cast this episode must have been a totally different team than those who cast the first. I'd say that perhaps the director had somehow been able to coax more out of his actors but since the director here, Reza S. Badiyi, is the same director as the pilot, I tend to doubt that. I think perhaps the powers that be were simply able to find better talent. Every person playing a character on this episode does at least a decent job. The guest stars are good and what we see of the main cast is good.
Newton continues his fine job as a much more self-assured Clark than we saw in the 70's-80's films and as a superb Superboy. There is a scene, when he changes to catch the lying bodyguard, where Newton stands upon a building with his arms crossed where I actually think: "This guy is Superman!" Clark first runs after the bodyguard, who's leaving in an elevator (though it's absurd that Clark couldn't have caught him if he'd really wanted to and yet acts as though he's angry he lost him), and he goes off to the roof. The music swells, the drums kick in and then Superboy is revealed in all his Superman-ish coolness. I've watched it a few times because I find it very exciting, even though the guy Supes grabs up isn't all that menacing.
Stacy Haiduk was once again handed a script that called for her to act, once again, unlikable, and yet by the end she manages to make us like her again. The problem is, the creators of this show haven't yet done a good enough job showing us there's anything besides friendship between Clark and Lana. There's a dance scene at Sara's party where Clark and Lana watch each other dancing with other partners and we kind of get the idea there that "oh ok, so these two like each other" and I expect they'll continue to build that as we go. Or they won't. But since we haven't yet been told that Lana and Clark want to have something going, Lana just seems like a jealous little girl who doesn't like Clark's rich love interest.
What makes it worse is that Sara is extremely likeable. Sara is played as a sweet and innocent, naive girl and it's obvious she really likes Clark and is oblivious to her father's indiscretions. She often smiles and hunches her shoulders in a cute impish, pixie-like manner that almost makes you understand why Clark crushes a doorknob after denying her sex. McCullough also does a fantastic job of being crushed and shocked when she overhears her dad say he won't give up the Syndicate to save her life. For Stacy's-sake, I'm glad they start to let up on the tantrum-prone, stubborn Lana as we go on.
The two guys who play Casey's henchman really do a great job here as believable hired men who are loyal to their boss. Jake (Antoni Corone), in fact, stands out so much that I can't imagine why he wasn't hired to play Lex Luthor in the first place. There's a scene where Jake comes out from behind a wall, indicating something bad's about to happen, and the look on his face is very menacing and Luthor-ish. I could definitely buy him as Luthor whereas Wells doesn't even come close. Even Artie (Steven Anthony), who is Jake's personal sidekick, would have been a much better way to go than the way they went with Leo for Lex. I think that, not just in this show, writers of Superman projects such as films and T.V. shows, often think they need to have an over the top, campy Lex who works with even more over the top campy sidekicks and I wish they'd stop that.
The effects in this episode are again nothing to crow about but some of them aren't too bad. The standouts are the landings and take-offs by Superboy from a standstill, as well as the use of Superbreath to freeze Casey's triggering device. It looks a little silly when Superboy blows a huge gale of frost right at Casey, but then when he stops only Casey's hand is frozen, but the effect still looks cool. Flying down the side of the building to capture the bodyguard doesn't look so good but hey, when you get the stance on top of the building just seconds before, with the music and all, even I can overlook that.
The writer's are very inconsistent as to where we are in Superboy's public life. Several characters say things like: "Who's that guy?" or "It's him, it's the guy in the red cape," and then go silly and leap off boats to get away. But then other characters, who a scene before were asking who Superboy was, are telling us they could use a guy like Superboy, even though no one answered and told them his name. I'd prefer a little clarity in how public Superboy really is, though dressing the way he does and performing Super-newsworthy feats, you'd think everyone would have heard about him by now. Overall though, I'm much more impressed with this episode than with the first, so perhaps the up slide will continue.
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