Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 6: "Bringing Down the House"Reviewed by: Scotty V
This episode begins with the new opening sequence, which I must say if I haven't already, is an incredible improvement over the original flying over Florida sequence. No teaser here before the theme so I guess we now know they're just taking it as they go - flying by the seat of their pants, if you will, when it comes to an opening scene before the credits or not. After the credits, we open on a baseball field, shown the title and then we read that Leif Garrett is the guest star. Clark and Jimmy - aww jeez, sorry I'm a little rusty after the hiatus - Clark and T.J. are up in the broadcast booth when Clark spots that the mascot, whom T.J. observes only "holds up the action," is about to get down to some no good action of his own.
Just after Clark notices the mascot switching baseballs, an announcement is made over the loudspeaker that a bomb is in the stadium and everybody should leave. As the crowd begins to panic, T.J. suggests that they should leave as well. Andy, the park manager in the booth with them (Don Sheldon), insists the game should go on and that no freak who's "bluffing" is gonna stop him from doing his job. The mascot runs off and we see a shady looking fellow, later to be named Charles (Antonio Fabrizio), emerge from beneath the costume. He looks around shiftily and hops into a getaway car. Clark is shown listening to the squeaky car driving away before he decides to focus on the baseball the pitcher was given by the mascot before he exited stage left. X-Ray vision shows us the announced bomb is inside the baseball about to be pitched. The ball has a countdown timer inside and we're shown 15 seconds left, then 14...13...12...11 before we go to the commercial break.
Clark strides onto the field in full Eagles regalia, as that's the team up to bat, and says the coach wants him to pinch hit for the guy in the box. Without question or protest, the guy batting simply walks off and lets Clark take over. T.J. recognizes Clark, who then swats the ball out of the park, where it explodes in the sky. In the next scene we're introduced to Judd Faust (Leif Garrett), who Clark tells us is in town to perform a concert for the student body and accept his honorary degree in music. Judd meets a group of girls, Lana included, and then proceeds with a sound check while Lana makes eyes at him, obviously infatuated. Clark and T.J. then interview the park manager about the previous day's incident. The manager tells them that some people came to see him and wanted to buy the park and that, after he told the buyers the park's owners weren't interested, strange things began to happen. The freezers were sabotaged, the water pumps stopped working and now there was the bomb.
Later, while Clark and T.J. are checking out the park "as reporters," we're treated to Clark showing jealousy because Lana is there on a date with Judd. The four decide to go on the Ferris wheel and Judd tells Lana all about the beautiful matchbook covers that he collects from "all over the world." As the wheel goes round, an announcement through the park tells everyone it's time for lights out and that everybody's in danger and the rides shut down. Charles, the guy who wore the mascot suit, then accosts Andy, the park manager, in his office. Mascot man tells Andy that he's a senile old fool and that he should have accepted the offer to buy the park. The scene ends with Charles throwing Andy over the desk and then leaving.
Next, the kids are taking a tour of Judd's mansion, where Clark hears the squeaky car from the baseball game pull up. Charles emerges from the vehicle and Clark decides to follow. In the back of a garage area, Clark discovers a cassette that contains the announcements that played in the park threatening people. Charles comes in from behind Clark and holds a gun to his head before Judd arrives and pushes him away. Judd tells Clark that Charles is his manager and that he didn't know anything about the guy's schemes. Judd then asks Clark to join the others in the house while he's presumably dialing and speaking to the police. As soon as Clark leaves though, Judd gives a smirk and, in mid-conversation, hangs up the phone.
Later, while the concert is going on, Charles arrives again at Andy's office and beats him up. Charles then pours alcohol all over Andy, drinks some himself, and then says it will be easy to buy the park once the owners see how poorly it's being run by a stumbling drunk putting everyone in danger. Charles takes Andy and deposits him on the tracks of the roller coaster, with an oncoming train filled with riders on the way. Clark goes to Andy's office where, according to T.J., he's going to tell Andy that Charles is in jail, but then changes to Superboy when he sees the office in shambles and Andy not there. Superboy flies to Andy's rescue by landing on the tracks and slowing the train to a stop. Then, once he makes sure everyone's ok, he goes after Charles, lifts up the car and takes him to jail.
In a final twist, we see Lana, who is hoping for a romantic romp, led away by Judd. They arrive in a torture chamber of sorts where Judd, who also collects comic books that are "way cool," tells Lana of his greatest collection that only special girls get to see. He ties Lana down on a stretching rack, telling her that with her authentic tortured screams he'll be able to make the perfect album. Superboy arrives just in time to stop Judd from stretching Lana and he appears about to punch Judd hard enough to rattle his brains when Lana pleads with him to stop. The last scene shows Lana, T.J. and Clark discussing how the police psychiatrist said Judd wanted the park simply because "he couldn't have it" and that he was so obsessed he became a "weirdo." Lana lays her head on Clark's shoulder, kisses his cheek and smiles at him, just after she tells him how much she liked Judd and then we cue the credits.
Rating - 3 (out of 5): Well that was surely an adventure! I'm going to start out by saying that I raised this score a point simply because the scene at the end with the torture devices and Leif Garrett acting all freaky and weirdo-y was so reminiscent of the old time maniacal villains in the silver age that it actually made me smile. I mean, really, it made absolutely no sense that this guy Judd would do any of the stuff he does in this episode, beyond wooing girls and looking pretty on stage, but I pictured some of those mad-scientists from back in the day when all the baddies were mad scientists and I'm gonna give the producers the benefit of the doubt and say they meant for it to make me reminisce like that.
Leif's acting however, takes this whole thing down like half a notch. The whispery, come hither, effeminate voice he uses throughout the entire episode just grates on your nerves and you want him to just keep his mouth shut rather than speak the way he does. At one point, when the kids are touring his mansion, he tells them "Try not to touch anything," and his request is like a whimper. The acting is so wooden and the voice is so weak sounding and airy that I really can't enjoy it at all.
Early on in the show we're treated to the bomb at the baseball game. Clark and T.J. are up in the booth with Andy, whom we don't know yet, and they're watching the game. When the announcement is made Clark is already suspicious of the mascot, but rather than following with X-Ray vision when the mascot leaves suddenly (after switching baseballs), Clark simply waits. Then, after making sure we see him listen to the squeaky car in a bit of sloppy foreshadowing, Clark at least decides to X-Ray the baseball that he was already suspicious of! When he then sees that there is a bomb and that it's inside the baseball with a countdown of 15 seconds working, he...stands there. We are shown the countdown in the ball and it reaches 11 before we cut for commercial and when the show comes back, Clark is still standing there. He finally rushes off and grabs the ball quickly tossing it into space. No wait. That's what he should have done. Instead, he somehow gets an Eagles uniform that fits him and is left unquestioned walking onto the field to take over for the batter who just leaves as if it were expected. He then bats the ball out of the park. Unfortunately, it's a full 24 seconds longer than the 11 that were left in the baseball when we went to commercial. Oh well, I guess they had a negative number count to -24 before it was set to go off. I suppose it was cooler for Clark to do it the way he did but I simply can't buy that he would go about it that way, setting aside the fact that it took him way too long.
Last night my wife stumbled across the David Bowie gem: "The Man Who Fell to Earth." She mentioned to me that she had tried to watch the film on several occasions when she was younger but just couldn't get into it. Now my wife's a big David Bowie fan, but after seeing what we saw of bits and pieces of that movie, not to mention David's bits and pieces, both of us were able to see why his acting career never really took off. I bring this up because, if any of you have seen it, you'll remember that there were inexplicable shots of, I guess you'd call them "artful videography," just showing up everywhere adding nothing and actually detracting from whatever the scene was you were supposed to be watching. In this episode of Superboy, they had a montage in the middle when the kids were touring Judd's mansion that was just like that. Well maybe not just like that, but it was just as inexplicable. T.J.'s taking pictures when suddenly this 80's pop music comes on, the color of the show goes sepia or something and every few seconds the screen freezes when T.J. takes a picture. For 50 seconds this music plays and people take poses and are in pictures and nothing really happens. It ends when everyone else leaves and Clark is left behind to hear the squeaky car pull up and see Charles arrive. And how's this for sloppy? Right near the end of the montage, when everyone's leaving and Clark is strolling toward center, he must be moving too slowly for somebody's liking because on the right side of the screen a hand flashes by shooing him.
Once again I find myself seriously not liking the type of girl they're portraying Lana as here. All throughout, she acts as though she's starved for sex, overly horny and real interested in hopping into bed with Judd. She doesn't know him and she's immediately making eyes at him, kissing him, and then leading him off to have sex with him not too long after that. Being as it was, there's only two things we can assume: Lana's either very interested in having sex with anybody or she's one of those girls who will give it up for pretty boy rock stars just because of their status. Either way, it's not particularly likeable. At the end of the show, when Superboy rescues her and then she's leaning on Clark for support, she's goes as far as telling Clark that she "really liked him" when referring to Judd. What was there really to like? That he whispers when he talks? That he can sing? He's pretty? He collects comic books and cars that are "really cool?" That's the exact quote one of the unnamed students gives when Judd takes them to his comic book collection. "Really cool." And it's a college girl who says it. Yep. That happens. Well maybe when you're a rock star it does.
Then we move onto Clark. His mood throughout the amusement park scene, when Lana was kissing and snuggling and laughing with Judd was just pathetic. Clark and Lana do not have a relationship beyond friendship. It's possible that Clark or Lana or both of them might want to have one, although they never express it unless one of them is working on someone else. Then they suddenly get all jealous and sulky. I understand they're young but they're supposed to be young adults. They're in college after all. It just bothers me when people act like petty, jealous high schoolers, especially when someone they're not even interested in is involved. And if there is interest, instead of pouting and bending the metal on someone else's property, as Clark does on the Ferris Wheel, how about just telling the person and pursuing the relationship? Clark shouldn't act like this. Newton does a fine job with what he's given and when he gets to be Super he's usually really spot on, but I definitely do not dig the jealous boyfriend thing. 1 - he's not her boyfriend and 2 - Clark Kent wouldn't be like that when one of his friends was happy.
Finally, I just have to recap all the silly things Clark does as Superboy in this one episode. First, instead of changing to Superboy and hurling the bombed baseball into space Clark waits around for a while and then takes the time, when he only had 11 seconds to begin with, to steal a baseball uniform and relieve the batter and then wait for the actual pitch before saving everyone's life. How did he know it wouldn't explode from impact with the bat? Then, especially since he had the chance before letting the mascot get away, after he bats the ball away why doesn't he go after Charles then? And when Andy is thrown on the roller coaster tracks, wouldn't it make more sense to just swoop down and grab the guy, instead of the round about harder work, more dangerous way that Clark chooses? He flies up and forcibly stops the roller coaster train from continuing its run instead of just moving the obstacle. Not only could someone have been hurt or the train likely been derailed, but he also got everyone else excited unnecessarily. That's at least a few park patrons that won't be coming back since they were witness and readily involved in attempted murder.
Overall I'd say this episode might have brought the dollhouse down, if that, but not much more. The dilemmas were often big but they didn't really make any sense. Judd could have whatever he wanted. It was clear he had the money to own the park, otherwise he couldn't have made an offer, so why didn't he just make another offer on another park, or build his own park or buy something else. Too many times in these shows a person who should be perfectly normal turns into a freak of the week, if you know what I mean, inexplicably. Then, by the end of the episode, he's a torture specialist as well, and one who's murdered at least three women, according to Clark. If you ask me it's just too much to swallow for anything more than entertainment on the basest level. I did enjoy some aspects as I've mentioned and if you put your mind away completely and just watch for the sake of watching, I think you'll enjoy it some too.
So it's a strange Superboy committing acts of crime next time. Is it Bizarro? Has Clark finally decided to use his powers for evil? Is it a nefarious clone created by Lex Luthor to control all of Florida? Is it even a reasonable facsimile? Nope, it's just a forty-year-old guy in a Superboy suit with a gut and longer, blonder hair but hey, good enough for us cops. Superboy, you're under arrest!
Back to the "Superboy - Episode Reviews" Contents page.