Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 7: "The Beast and Beauty"Reviewed by: Scotty V
In this episode, directed by Superman: The Movie's Jackie Cooper, we are once again treated to the original theme where Superboy flies over the Florida area bridges, before the action begins. In our teaser scene after the credits, a guy in a Superboy suit burgles a jewelry store. As the crime is taking place, we hear a news report telling us how violent crimes are down greatly and that thanks should go out to the police. The faux Superboy beats up the security guard (Tom Nowicki), and then goes to his desk to watch the next story about the first ever Southeastern Beauty Pageant while several other burglars take all the jewels. On television, we are introduced to three beauty queens. When Jennifer Jenkins, Miss Florida (Lonnie Shaw) is announced, fake Superboy says aloud that he'll soon have the "million bucks" she told him to come back with and we fade out.
Later, at the police station, the security guard tells police that Superboy attacked him. He's sure it was Superboy because he's "never been hit so hard in his life," and because the guy who attacked him was "wearing Superboy's outfit!" Detective Harris (Roger Pretto), who appeared in the earlier episode A Kind of Princess, finds it so hard to believe Superboy would do something like this that the security guard gets offended. The guard asks who else could have melted open the vault and Harris puts out an APB on Superboy. Meanwhile, Clark and T.J. interview Miss Florida for the school paper because she went to Shuster. As the two friends are driving back from the interview, they hear on the radio that police are in pursuit of suspects in a high-speed chase.
T.J. joins in the chase and he and Clark follow the action, keeping up pretty well until Clark, feeling things have gone on long enough, uses his heat vision to give he and T.J.'s vehicle a blowout. Clark then pretends to drop the spare tire in a nearby pond and when T.J. wades in to get it, Clark speeds off to become Superboy and stop the chase. On route though, Superboy sees that the chase hasn't gone well, as the police have crashed and their car is on fire. Superboy lands and pulls the men from the police car and carries them from harm's way just as the car explodes. He tells the cops he must attend some "unfinished business" but they tell him he's under arrest and he's "not going anywhere."
At the station, Harris asks Superboy why he'd do such a thing and Superboy denies being involved. "If I were guilty," says Superboy. "Why would I let them bring me in?" The Lieutenant doesn't know, but asks that Superboy not break out of jail until everything is sorted out. Because bail is set at five hundred dollars and Superboy doesn't have any money, he calls T.J. T.J. and Lana arrive with the money and as soon as he's free, Harris asks Superboy for help. Harris sends Superboy out to find the vehicle the crooks used and T.J. and Lana go their separate ways. T.J., because he thinks Clark went to see Miss Florida again, heads off to the pageant where Miss Florida and two other girls have just been announced as finalists.
When Miss Florida goes back to her dressing room she's accosted by Hugo (David Marciano), our fake Superboy. Hugo reminds her that she had a crush on Superboy and that she promised Hugo she'd marry him when he had a million dollars. When she tells him she'd never marry him, even if he had "all the money in the world," he picks her up and carries her from the arena kicking and screaming. T.J., who's just arrived in the parking lot of the arena and called the police because he recognized the suspect's car, sees Hugo carrying the beauty queen and he attempts to intervene. Hugo K.O.s him with one punch, and drives away with Miss Florida as his hostage. Superboy arrives at the arena to see that T.J.'s being attended to after being punched. T.J. tells him that he overheard the fake Superboy say he was taking Jennifer somewhere over the river so Superboy takes off once again.
After arriving at their hideout, where one of his partners is counting the money, Hugo tells his friend to watch Jennifer while he goes and finds a minister. Hugo heads back out in the well-known criminal vehicle, but when he begins to cross a bridge, Superboy activates the machinery that separates it and Hug is trapped on the separated extension. Hugo tells Superboy that if they were to engage in a fair fight with no superpowers allowed, that Superboy would surely lose. Superboy promises not to use his powers and so Hugo takes off his disguise, revealing his Superboy suit and prepares to fight, one Superboy against another. Hugo first punches Superboy and hurts his fist. Then Hugo tries to kick Superboy in the shin and hurts his foot. Next Hugo charges and when Superboy steps easily aside, Hugo falls off the bridge and hurtles toward the water below. Superboy catches him, after making sure he's released from his promise of not using his powers, and takes him to the police.
Rating - 1 (out of 5): Where do I start? Well, it seems to me when dismantling a beast of an episode like this you should start with beauty first. There wasn't much but here goes. What I did like about it was some of the humor they used. Unfortunately though, most of it centers around the absurdity of the plot in the first place so it's even hard to admire that. It's kind of cute when Clark and T.J. are at the arena the first time, interviewing Jennifer, and they are both so smitten they can barely speak. However, she's not that pretty and after all, Clark's Superboy! After Superboy's been arrested and needs to make a phone call, he searches his suit for pockets looking for change and has none. The look Newton gives Harris pleading with him for a dime for the phone is pretty funny, even if it is based in camp and silliness. I've always thought Superman would probably have a box or two on his belt to store important things, like cash.
At the end, when Superboy faces Hugo on the bridge, it's completely absurd that Hugo would act the way he does but we'll get to that in a minute. The funny part of it all though, and this is as much negative as positive because yes, I laughed, but not really in the way that the producers and writers would have wanted me to. First, that Hugo assumes he could take Superboy in any kind of fight, no superpowers or whatever, is just insane. They play Hugo off throughout the episode as being a really tough, pretty strong normal guy, but in reality he's this shrimpy, skinny, dorky looking guy who in no way could ever do any of the things he does. So yes, I score this one a 1 for the times I laughed and the sheer enjoyment I got out of it's unintentional hilarity, but there are no other points to be found.
Onto Hugo: in the first scene, he smashes through a door apparently just using his body. I've seen a lot of doors in my time, and this one's the entrance door to the main room of a jewelry store! My guess would be that even a giant muscleman wouldn't be able to break down a door like this. Hugo does in seconds flat without a struggle or hurting himself. Even the stunt man they use when Hugo does smash through the door and fight the security guard isn't large enough to break through a door like he does, although it's little more believable. I'm serious, check it out, Hugo is the skinniest most unlikely guy to ever be in a Superman outfit. I'm not even sure why they cast this guy at all. His acting is nothing to speak of. He doesn't look like Newton at all and he has not one muscle on his pencil necked body. In that first scene though, when he sits down to watch the television and after the stunt double finishes off the security guard, I'm almost positive they dub Newton's voice in when Hugo speaks. We don't really get a good look at the imposter so I'm guessing they were trying to make us think it might actually be the real Superboy.
Let's now look at the person I'm calling a stunt double for Hugo. The term stunt double implies that they hire a person who sort of looks like the actor they'll need to replace during production to do dangerous stunts or fights that require a different skill set then what the actor the stunt man looks like actually has. The similarities between Marciano, who plays Hugo, and the guy who stands in for him during stunts are so few they're not even worth mentioning, but just to be thorough I'll tell you. They're both men. Yep that's it. The stunt guy has darker hair, hair that actually looks somewhat similar to Newton's in fact. The double is actually a pretty big guy too. Marciano, by contrast, is skinny as a wire, has blondish hair and is kind of funny to look at. In the first scene we don't even see Marciano until after Hugo has busted through the door (stunt guy) and beaten up the security guard (stunt guy). Then, when Hugo is sitting watching the report on the pageant, it's so glaringly obvious it's not the same guy you want to laugh.
Later on, when T.J. tries to stop Hugo from taking Jennifer, they again use the stunt double and again it looks silly. And it's really glaring in both that scene and in the guard scene because Hugo takes both guys out really easily and when you see Hugo close up later you realize it just probably wouldn't go that way for him. Especially after he broke every bone in his body smashing through the door. In the climax scene, when Hugo faces off with Superboy, the double is used again when Hugo falls off the bridge and again it looks silly because the differences are so huge.
Newton is a pretty good-looking guy. He's fit, he's muscular and he really doesn't make you laugh when you look at him. Marciano by contrast, is none of those things. Like comparing him to his stunt double, Marciano's thin as anything, without one ounce of visible muscle and when you see him in the suit you simply want to giggle. He kinda looks like a goof. That anyone would be fooled into thinking this guy was the real Superboy is just absurd. And since that's the whole point to this plot the entirety of it falls apart as soon as you realize that's what they're going for right after the first scene. It's just really clear to me no one had any idea what they were doing when they cast this guy. I mean, did they have a directive to just get the worst possible actor ever that didn't even resemble Newton in any way to play someone who we could think was really Superboy? I know I'm beating a dead horse but, come on!
When Hugo is watching the introductions of the beauty queens, it's just far too convenient that the three who are announced are the three girls who will be the finalists at the end. Of course, one of which is also conveniently the girl Hugo's obsessed with. Not only is he obsessed; he's downright stupid. Listen guys, if some girl out there tells you she'll marry you if you become a millionaire, she doesn't really want to marry you. Not only that, but she's also probably not daring you to steal a million dollars. And anyway, if she were, would you really want to marry that girl anyway? Furthermore, if the girl tells you she's got a crush on Superboy, not Superboy's suit or any guys who wear red and blue, but specifically Superboy - don't go out and buy yourself a perfect replica of Superboy's suit because wearing it won't make you Superboy and if you're like Hugo you'll just look silly anyway.
So then our Hugo goes and kidnaps Miss Florida because he's now got the million and she promised to marry him. Wow look at that desire! The way she kicks her feet, screams: "let me go" and says she wouldn't marry him ever even if he had "all the money in the world," you can really tell she's in love. But Hugo doesn't care, he just grabs her and walks right out of the auditorium and no one notices. Well, except T.J. that is. It was a crowded auditorium and everyone knew she was there. There were people waling around everywhere. Camera guys, press, fans, stage crews, and yet no one noticed a guy dressed as Superboy breaking into her dressing room, waiting for her and then carrying her out of the place kicking and screaming? Okay.
When T.J. notices the van and calls the police, it's clear he's in a crammed parking lot filled with cars right next to the auditorium. But when he goes over to confront the badguy and is punched out he's laying on the ground in a big open space. When Hugo pulls the van out, and I've watched it several times, I keep thinking T.J. is gonna be run over. When they cut to T.J. awaking and watching them leave though, he's got plenty of space around him, even though he fell up against the van and down between it and another car when he was struck. Then when Superboy comes to the parking lot, he looks down on it from above and it looks totally different. There are like eight cars in the lot, which is behind a squarish, uninteresting building and T.J.'s sitting on the ground in a place that looks nothing like where he was before.
Finally, I've got to go back to the bridge scene because it just seemed so badly put together to me. The bridge is, at best, ten or fifteen feet from the water. You can clearly see how close the water is in every shot. Yet when Superboy steps out of the way and Hugo plummets off the bridge, he falls forever with no water in sight anywhere around him. Hugo has time to yell for help, release Superboy from his promise not to use superpowers and promise to tell Superboy where Jennifer is all before Superboy saves him. And all those lines from Hugo come after lines from Superboy too! Plus it's extra funny because they dub in the screaming for help before he even falls off the edge.
In trying to cut the show a break, I find myself imagining watching it at airtime in 1988, when there was no way to rewind, or recheck things. I think about how any older show was with effects and such. In that now when you rewatch you often laugh about how something looks and then you can go back and watch it over and over again to laugh at how badly put together it is. I'm really trying to give these guys the benefit of the doubt but in this case I just can't. Bad acting from almost all of the guest stars bogs it down. All of the police, except for Harris, sound like they were pulled in off the street. Fake Superboy is this dumb thug who bears no resemblance to Superboy or his own stunt double. Hugo doesn't even sound like Superboy, even though they dubbed Newton's voice over his first line of dialogue only, simply to try and fool us. There's just no way anyone would be fooled into thinking any of this could actually happen the way this episode is put together. The only people who might get unhindered, non-comical enjoyment from this episode will be the youngest children who don't care about quality or any sensible plot whatsoever.
Next time, Scott Wells returns as Lex Luthor so he can fix basketball games for his own nefarious schemes and rule the world. Wait...no. But we do get crooked basketball and the great Scott. Yay.
Back to the "Superboy - Episode Reviews" Contents page.