Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 13: "Revenge of the Alien - Part One"Reviewed by: Scotty V
This episode begins with a "Previously on an episode of Superboy" montage and we are shown footage from "The Alien Solution," where our Alien out for revenge first appears. Then, when the actual new episode begins, we open on the lab where Clark stored the fire extinguisher, containing the cloud that is the alien, in a cryogenic freezer. There is a burglar (Marc Macaulay) on the premises and he begins stealing various vials, jars and a mish-mash of other props on shelves. Our prowler then stumbles upon the cryogenic freezer, opens it and, when the alarm to the lab (apparently connected to the freezer?) goes off, the guy grabs the fire extinguisher, "Property of Dr. Kent, Do not remove," warning and all, and runs off. The crook makes his way to the highway, where he is coincidentally gunned down after he draws his gun and fires on two policemen in a van. During the firefight, the extinguisher is punctured (gasp) and the escaping alien, via his purple cloud-form, enters one of the cops. The unaffected officer announces he's gonna "call this in," but he is then told "No you won't," by his shotgun wielding partner, who shoots him dead.
In his office, Professor Peterson (George Chakiris) attempts to take a blood sample from Superboy in order to determine what he's made of. When the needle breaks after pressure of any kind on Superboy's skin, Superboy tells the Professor that's what he meant when he said "that's the way I am." The Professor is undeterred and tells Superboy that he managed to isolate some of the radiation from the meteor rocks Superboy threw into space and then uncovers a laser. Peterson thinks that, using the meteor infused beam from the laser, they may yet be able to get a sample from Superboy that they can then test. After several attempts at different power levels, the laser penetrates Superboy's invulnerability and the Professor scrapes off a skin sample. Superboy thanks Peterson for being one of the few "people like me" he can turn to. The Professor tells him he'll have the results by the next day and Superboy flies off. Just after the hero leaves, Peterson gets a telephone call telling him about the lab break-in.
Detective Harris (Roger Pretto), via radio, alerts other officers to the situation involving Sergeant Johnson (Glenn Sherer), the officer at large, and Lieutenant Williams (Alan Jordan), in critical condition after being shot with Johnson's gun. Harris warns that due to the high tech nature of the weapons stolen from the SWAT van the officers were in charge of, Johnson should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. During his communication, we are shown Johnson, who has gone through the weapons in the van and discarded what he doesn't need, driving off.
Meanwhile, in the press offices of the Shuster Herald, Dean Lockhardt (Dana Mark) chastises T.J. for not having the contact sheets she'd asked for ready. T.J. tells her that she wanted him to get pictures of the lab break-in and when she asks for those pictures he says he hasn't been able to go yet because she wanted him to gather a checklist of all the camera and dark room equipment. T.J. mumbles under his breath that he always wanted to be a standup comedian and as Lockhardt bears down on him again, Clark comes in and asks if he's needed. The Dean then tells Clark his lateness won't be tolerated but then flirts with Clark mentioning how great his reporting is and sends them off to the Agriculture Research Center. After Lockhardt leaves, Clark says that he'd love to hear one of T.J.'s great one-liners when it's needed.
On his way to the college, the alien, still within Johnson, grabs two students by their throats and demands they tell him where Clark Kent is. The students tell him where Clark's dorm is and he throws them to the ground sparing their lives and walks off. At the dorm hall, Lana ushers Jonathan Kent into Clark's room, telling him that Clark is on assignment at the Agricultural Center and thought Jonathan would like to meet him there. Lana goes to gas up the jeep, telling Jonathan she'll meet him in about ten minutes. Moments after she leaves, there's a knock at the door and Jonathan answers it only to come face to face with Johnson: the alien. Johnson asks where Clark Kent is, saying that he must find him, several times before Jonathan tells him Clark's not in and that he doesn't like the officer's tone. Mr. Kent demands the officer produce a legal document or back off and surprisingly, the officer backs away and leaves.
On the way to the Center, Lana and Jonathan pass through a police checkpoint on the lookout for Johnson. Lana's jeep is waved through, but following them at a slight distance, the alien speeds up in the SWAT van and fires at the cop manning the checkpoint killing him. Arriving at the Center moments before the alien, Jonathan embraces Clark, overjoyed to see his son. Lana leads T.J. away, saying that father and son need to be alone. Clark asks about his mother, to which Jonathan speaks of a terrible fall she took. She's okay, he says, but it slows her down, but the only pain she feels is that she couldn't come with Jonathan to see Clark.
Upon arriving, the alien scopes out Clark and removes a rifle and rocket launcher from the van. Within moments, the alien uses the rifle; apparently to make sure Clark is really Superboy. Clark covers the bullet hole in his shirt, pushes his father to the ground and announces that everyone should get down because there's a sniper. Johnson the alien next fires a rocket at Clark and in the ensuing explosion Superboy stands tall. Superboy takes off, flying toward Johnson's position but the alien knocks him out of the air with another rocket blast. Supes crashes into the SWAT van, in obvious pain, and the alien advances as several police cars arrive on scene. Harris and company take aim at Johnson, ordering him to drop his weapon. The alien, however, fires one last rocket at the van, where Superboy cringes, still not recovered from the second attack, and the van explodes sending Superboy to the ground. The police open fire, killing Sergeant Johnson and unknowingly releasing the alien from his body. The alien cloud immediately tries to enter Superboy through the hero's ear and then his chest, but is unsuccessful.
Jonathan, concerned for Clark and not thinking clearly, runs over to the fallen Superboy and caresses his face, saying his name. Professor Peterson insists that Jonathan let him help since he's a doctor and Jonathan hesitantly agrees. Superboy awakens and though he's a bit shaky, the Professor leads him off toward his office. Jonathan winks at Superboy, seeming to say, "that was a close one," and then we're shown an angle above his head, where we hear the alien entity growling toward Mr. Kent. Harris intercepts the Professor, wondering if Superboy can answer a few questions, but Peterson tells the Detective his questions can wait because Superboy was unconscious and he doesn't want to take any risks with his health. Lana then approaches Mr. Kent, asking him if he thinks Superboy will be all right. Jonathan responds eerily, saying, "Superboy can take care of himself." Jonathan then puts his arm around Lana and says, "Why don't you let me take care of you?" The music swells and the camera pulls away, up, up and above the scene ominously as the font: "To be continued..." appears and we fade to black.
Rating - 3 (out of 5): The return of the alien from "The Alien Solution" is a somewhat interesting premise that succeeds on certain levels and yet fails on many others. Over the course of these reviews, I've learned that I need to judge this show based on what I know it is and hope that it at least lives up to the potential that it can possibly become. While it may not be a study in perfection, or often times even written well or compellingly, it is often fun to watch. This episode is one of the instances where both of the above are true.
In the beginning we have a crook stumbling around inside the lab at a University. I can't really think of any reason why a burglar would choose a school lab to break into. Though he does act a bit strung out, so it's possible he's looking for drugs to feed a habit, but it isn't clear. Then he inexplicably opens up a cryogenic freezer and grabs a fire extinguisher. This piece of equipment shouldn't interest him at all, surmised drug problem or not and yet he takes it. Why? Because the plot needs him to in order to get going. It's a very contrived way to have the alien released and it hurts the episode right from the get go. There's no way anyone could have known what was in the extinguisher so the guy wasn't hired by someone higher up and there's no reason a strung out criminal would want to take a fire extinguisher from a freezer. Plus, he's simply able to grab it without burning his hands.
Another problem with the extinguisher and the freezer is that in the previous episode, Clark seems to store the alien in a normal looking refrigerator. When he closes the door, it does look like a special freezer, but inside it looks like a regular fridge you'd have at home. In the first episode though, when Clark closes the door, it's a smaller unit and it's in a room with a brick wall behind it and seemingly, no other equipment. In this episode, they call the storage room "the Cryogenic Center" and the freezer is situated between other large pieces of equipment and there is a liquid nitrogen container off in the corner, seemingly connected to it all. If we're to assume that the LN is powering this freezer, there's definitely no way the punk could have grabbed it without freezing to it himself or at the very least freeze-burning his hands. Furthermore, are we to assume they moved the fridge and attached it to this other equipment in some other venue or is this just an editing/continuity error? There's no way to know for sure, so it just seems sloppy. And then there's the alarm that only sounds after he opens the freezer. It's not locked or anything, he just opens it up and the alarm goes off.
Why is it that they continuously hired over actors and just plain bad actors as guest stars on this show? The crook, while stealing whatever supplies he's stuffing into the bag, has this face on his mug that makes you laugh out loud for it's sheer goofiness. But the music in the background is played for drama and seriousness so him being a goofball really doesn't fit.
Then we have the alien taking over the cop. It's very much like it was previously, extremely campy and over the top. Once they shoot the crook and he falls, dropping the damaged canister (the crook can be seen breathing through the entire scene) the purple cloud is released and heads into Johnson. His line about not calling in the encounter is fine, but then after he shoots his partner, he addresses the camera, saying: "You're next, Superboy," and then we fade out. It's just a really campy corny thing to do and again, in a scene where you're supposed to feel this ominous foreboding, you instead laugh and that never helps.
This is another time when it seems like the show would benefit infinitely from having the theme placed here instead of before anything happens. It really dose seem like the episodes are set up that way with the teaser scene but for some reason they don't do it. It seems the theme has been amped up again or it's the first time I noticed the new changes. The extra orchestration playing repeat strains of certain phrases really feels right for a Superman theme. I like it a lot.
The next thing I have to mention is the scene in the press office. Surprisingly enough, the few scenes between the above and then the press scene are actually pretty good. This scene however, needs to be addressed. First, we have the actress playing the Dean. This woman couldn't be more wooden if she was wearing oaken armor carrying a maple shield and had a peg leg. Plus she says the same exact line twice! It seems like an editing error as if they didn't realize they already had her say it.
She calls to T.J. and then says, "Where are those contact sheets I asked for? Get it together kiddo. We've got a paper to put to bed."
T.J. tells her she wanted photos of the mess down at the laboratory and she says she wants to see the photos. Then he tells her he didn't get them because she wanted a list of photography stuff.
She then says, "So where are those contact sheets I asked for? Get it together kiddo. We've got a paper to put to bed."
Seriously, the read is almost exactly the same. Her facial expressions are almost exactly the same and her tone (monotone really) is essentially the same. I really think they did multiple takes of the one line and then either took a wrong step in mixing or purposely used the same line twice. I had to watch it several times to see if I was missing something but no, it's just the same series of lines twice in a row and it's very off-putting. Then, when T.J. wishes that he'd become a stand-up comedian (cause he's just so hilarious), she counters him with, "Did you say something T.J. White?" I guess teachers and parents sometimes talk that way but I found it a bit false. So then Clark comes in and she flirts with him, as if she were a teenager! I don't know if the rules apply in college because everyone's of age, but it comes off as a little creepy since it seems like she's coming on to Clark here. Then, Clark tells T.J. he wishes they could have gotten one of T.J. White's great one-liners when they were really needed. All this I suppose to set up the next unrelated episode, which is after Revenge - Part 2 and is called "Stand Up and Get Knocked Down" and it's all about T.J.'s hidden talent. He has a hidden stand-up talent?
When Johnson, inhabited by the alien addresses people, they usually have the amplified voice on and it's really noticeable that he's not just a regular cop. Yet everyone he encounters and threatens continually calls him "officer," as if he were just a mean cop. Then, when he confronts Jonathan, for the first time ever, including the first episode, he's able to speak in normal Johnson speech. I suppose they do this so we don't question Jonathan thinking he's just a "city cop," as he calls him. The problem is, it already rings false when no one else seems to think it's strange. Heck, he assaults the students by lifting them up by their throats, one in each arm, and they still call him "officer." I guess you wouldn't want to be mouthy to a guy who's lifting two people up by their neck. Also, I'm not really sure based on what we've seen of this alien, that he's really that much of a thinker and a planner that he'd actually wait it out when Jonathan tells him to leave.
Finally, when Clark is first hit with the rocket launcher, he simply stands there, revealed as Superboy. Secret identity issues aside, why then when he's hit with the second rocket is he dazed and injured, unable to even move away from the van? Aside from that, why does a rocket or an explosion have any effect besides perhaps a slight daze for a couple of seconds? We've never been led to believe his powers are still developing on this show so there's really no reason he should be any more vulnerable now than he's ever been. In fact, and I can't even remember for sure, wasn't he deflecting blasts and catching rockets from a helicopter in "Countdown to Nowhere?" The dummy dressed as Superboy they use to fall away from the exploding van is also ridiculous looking. Then, when the alien cloud attempts to enter Superboy his dialogue is...well it's just unfortunate.
"Why can't I get inside you?" Screams the purple entity, "Let me in!!"
Then there's the whole secret identity thing. Because Clark is walking with his father amongst many people, it's not really his fault when he's shot in the shoulder right out in the open. Perhaps it's possible no one saw it, but they do all start running after the gunshot goes off. Then though, when he's hit with a rocket and disappears in the explosion leaving only Superboy behind, I can't buy that someone wouldn't have seen or at the very least, known Clark was there before and now there is only Superboy. Then, when Peterson interrupts Jonathan calling Superboy Clark, it seems like he'd be close enough to hear. But if he couldn't hear, wouldn't he at least think it's strange that Jonathan is caressing Superboy's cheek and then nearly attacks Peterson, screaming, "Get away! Get away!!" When Peterson tries to help? Plus, Peterson was in the class when he took out the Kryptonite last episode and Clark collapsed. Then Superboy tells Peterson that he'd definitely remember the rocks because he almost died any time he was near them. I don't remember, but I hope this Peterson at least becomes one of the people that are in on Clark's secret, because it seems too painfully obvious now for him not to know.
The ending is very effective, with Jonathan invaded by the alien walking off with Lana under his arm and Superboy going off for medical attention. It loses some of its impact because we can't really figure out why Superboy is so bad off but the music works and for once, the camera direction actually enhances the scene instead of making it look stupid. There's another point earlier when Clark first realizes there's a gunman that the camera is used very effectively. They do a slow motion, vertigo-type pull back thing that really looks cool.
So I'd say as the cliffhanger font pops up toward the end and we fade out that most viewers will be interested to see what happens next when we partake in "Revenge of the Alien - Part 2."
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