Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 15: "Stand Up and Get Knocked Down"Reviewed by: Scotty V
I realized some time during the last two-parter episode, right around the time when horrible actress Dana Mark, as Dean Lockhardt was chastising our boys for not finishing their writing assignments and Clark wished for one of T.J's "great one-liners" that was their way of setting us up for a sudden attempt at horrible T.J. stand-up. The result of that intermittent and out of nowhere decision to go on stage, when there had been no mention hide nor hare of that at all before this point, is the disappointing "Stand Up and Get Knocked Down." Especially after the "Revenge of the Alien" two part comic-booky story that came before and reminded us that Superboy could in fact be a show about our favorite superhero, "Stand Up..." just falls flat.
The episode opens with unknown comic Michael (Hayden Logston) seemingly running for his life from someone in a white limo. Michael calls T.J., who sports a stylin' new haircut, and tells him he needs help and that "They're after me!" T.J. laughs him off and tells Michael to calm down, that they can meet down at the club in ten minutes, but Michael swears he'll be dead in ten minutes, drops the phone and begins running again. Suddenly two goons (Jack Spirtos, Joe Hess) come from outta nowhere and begin pounding on Michael. They're stopped by a man the comic calls Mr. Dexter (Gary Lockwood) who places a Dramamine looking patch on Michael's neck and tells him that the comic "bought himself a one-way ticket to the fast-lane," and when Michael asks what the patch is Dexter says: "It's something that'll help ya' go bye-bye." T.J. shows up exactly where Michael has been assaulted and runs over to where his friend stands, propped up against a fence only to see the comic is dead.
Cue theme song...
Oh wait; they do the theme song before the teaser scene for some reason on this show.
Cue the scene after the teaser.
At Dexter's club, Dexter looks every bit the weasel as he creepily tells a waitress that smiling won't "crack her face." While in the university mini-van, Clark and T.J. discuss what happened to Michael. T.J. is determined to find out what happened to his friend and Clark wants to inform Detective Harris that something might be going on down at the club. T.J. claims that the police pathologist said Michael's heart attack was drug induced. "Investigative reporters" that they are, T.J. and Clark head to Bonkerz Comedy Club, where T.J. will pose as a comic and Clark will be, according to T.J., "the straight man." T.J. signs up to be an amateur night "contestant" and tells the waitress (Cindy Hamsey) that Michael called her an Angel. Meanwhile Clark calls Lana, telling her to come down because T.J.'s going on stage and requests she call Harris and ask him to send a squad car by the club. Seeing Angel talking to T.J., Dexter tells the waitress to keep working and when T.J. asks her "who's that creep think he is," she tells him to stay out of it because "Dexter can be life threatening."
Wait a minute, a life threatening Dexter? Is this Showtime? I digress...
Clark wanders around outside and stumbles upon the two goons and the white limo. Upon his X-ray of the trunk, we see that there are drugs in the limo. Clark asks the guys whom the car belongs to; noting how long and nice it is, and the goons rough him up, telling him to "blow." Inside, T.J. listens in to a door marked private while waiting back stage to be announced. Behind the door, Dexter and a business associate in a suit (Brett Rice) discuss what happened with Michael the night before. One of the goons catches T.J. listening at the door, rats him out to Dexter and as T.J.'s talked up by the emcee (Lester Bibbs), Dexter warns him "you better be funny!" Dexter then threatens Angel in the kitchen, telling her she'll give T.J. a Coke with a drug in it. Angel protests, saying the stuff packs twice the wallop of PCP and that T.J. will die before he finishes his act but Dexter tells her to do it, or he'll give her something she needs, pulling up her sleeve exposing injection wounds, which he says can kill her too, before lighting her sleeve on fire and pushing her toward the sink.
Angel gives T.J. the Coke just before the emcee calls him on stage. While trying to perform, T.J. begins sweating; muttering incoherently and hearing the voices of things he's heard throughout the episode in his head. Meanwhile Dexter accosts Angel, telling her T.J. should be dead by now. She insists she put the drug in the comic's drink but then drops the vial containing most of it. When she strokes Dexter's face and tells him she'll make it up to him, Dexter says "Not this time," and tells his man to lock her in the storage room so he can "take care of her later." There's nervous laughter from the crowd and Clark seems to think something's wrong so he heads up and ushers T.J. out of the spotlight. Backstage Clark tells his friend he needs to take him to a hospital, but Dexter and the goons show up and take them into the room with Angel.
Dexter's goons tie up T.J. and Clark and then Dexter places one of the patches on Angel, Clark and T.J., saying that two minutes after skin contact the drug seeps into the bloodstream. The villains then light the room on fire and head out. Clark easily tears his restraints, puts out the fire and frees the others, removing the patches from their necks, but not without first changing to Superboy. As Superboy makes his way through the club, T.J. and Angel head outside. T.J., still reeling from the effects of whatever drug was in his soda, frolics in the street as Dexter, pulling away in his limo, tells his goon to "run him down." Superboy comes to the rescue, stopping the limo and tells the arriving police that the evidence they need is in the trunk. The final scene has T.J. performing his new routine as Lana and Superboy watch from the club.
Rating - 1 (out of 5): Well fortunately this show seems to really go back and forth in terms of the decent versus the bad. So whereas we might get several two's and even a few one's, at least they're tempered by some three's and even a couple four's. In this case, I just can't give a score better than the one you see above. Anyone who has been reading these reviews will know I'm not a fan of T.J. White. It think Jim Calvert got better as the season went on but overall he's a pretty poor actor and I find the character mostly annoying. The funny thing here is that in this episode, where T.J. is really the star, he seemed to be much more capable than usual. So it's unfortunate that the episode was just so bad that I still couldn't rate it well.
First of all, we open with a teaser scene that comes after the theme. I know they just haven't started doing it yet and that I've harped on this before, but it really just seems a wasted opportunity to me. Since they go to commercial after the scene anyway it's not as if they'd be breaking the tension too much by cutting to the theme and credits after the dramatic teaser. Ok so they don't though, but that aside, the introduction to the dilemma is handled fairly well, with the actor playing Michael not being anywhere near as bad as previous guest actors. But then we get to Dexter. Ah Dexter, Dexter, Dexter. It's really not the actor's fault - though he's not the best in the world - that this character is written so off the wall, so over the top and so unbelievably cliché that one simply can't enjoy the performance at all. His dialogue is some of the worst yet and his being evil in every scene even though he doesn't need to be just smirks of horribleness.
So Michael calls T.J., a person who later refers to Michael as his friend, but T.J. basically laughs at him over the phone when Michael begs for help. Michael is clearly frightened for his life and he's clearly turned to T.J. for help and T.J. plays it off as if he doesn't even hear the desperation in his friend's voice. While it's true T.J. does show up fairly quickly, though he inexplicably drives right to the exact spot Michael was killed, it still didn't sit right with me that he pretty much ignored Michael's panic.
Then we have the scene where Clark and T.J. drive to the club and T.J. refers to them as "Investigative Reporters." Since when are they investigative reporters? Don't they work for a college newspaper? I realize that this show is about a budding Clark Kent and his non-existing budding photographer buddy, but college newspapers don't have investigative reporters. So then T.J. convinces Clark that because they're investigative reporters, they should go in on their own and that they don't need the police. Clark still asks Lana to call Detective Harris though, but she doesn't show up until the end of the episode. What in the heck took her so long? Lana says she wouldn't miss T.J. on stage for the world, but then she doesn't show up, or bring the police as Clark suggested until the final moments of the show. It's certainly good timing, as the police arrive just as Superboy lifts the back of the limo to stop Dexter from running down T.J., but still, where's this club, Smallville? T.J. also says the police pathologist determined that the heart attack was drug induced. It took a police pathologist to determine the heart attack was drug induced? I wonder what tipped him off?
Hmm, maybe the patch on his neck?
Then we have the scene where the goons slam Clark against the wall and push him down. I get that they're trying to give us action in an episode where otherwise none would really exist but this is just ridiculous. From the beginning of this episode, the villains just act suspiciously and conspicuously when discretion would almost certainly have been the chosen path. There's no way I buy that these guys could pull off an underground drug ring when they act so over-the-top stupid. How many times do you think you could throw a college kid around or kill a guy in the dark street or threaten your waitresses by lighting their sleeves on fire before someone would start noticing and maybe, I don't know, report it? Then he tells his goon to run T.J. over. Right in front of the club where Lana stands watching but where there are other cars driving around and no doubt, more onlookers. Plus, at that point Dexter has no reason to be freaked out based on his prior actions, so I'm not sure why they play him here as losing his cool. He's killed before and being conspicuous is certainly his MO so I would think he'd stay calm here as well. Instead he seems to be escaping the club as if he knows Superboy's about to get him.
There are also more than a few editing errors in this episode. In the scene where T.J. and Clark drive to the club, the sound is just really distracting in the car. First, when they're shown with the camera on Clark's side, it's extremely quiet, as you can't even hear other traffic or wind, even though they have the windows down. But then, when they switch to T.J.'s side the wind is there and it seems overly loud, plus the radio is playing. It's really just a sloppy error and points are docked for it. Then, inside the club when T.J. is wandering around waiting to be announced, he is actually announced three times! By the end of the episode we've gotten to hear the emcee say four slightly different variations of almost the exact same line.
First while T.J. listening at the door:
"And now in a few moments," says the emcee. "Mr. T.J. White!" And that's the way he says it, with the exclamation at the end of the sentence. He doesn't say anything else and by the way he punches up T.J.'s name, it's definitely read like an announcement. Then Dexter says: "you're going to be on stage in a few minutes." This comes after the emcee says and now in a few moments. It's very repetitive and the dialogue is just clunky. It's as if they know it seems like they're having T.J. announced but that they can't have him go out on stage yet because Angel hasn't yet been told to poison him so they're hammering it home that T.J. will be onstage in a few minutes - or moments, depending on whom you ask. "You're gonna' be onstage in a few minutes kid." Dexter remarks. "You'd better be funny." Who talks like that? It's expository dialogue that doesn't even need to be said. We are aware already that T.J. is going on stage. Just don't have the emcee announce him and then you don't need to cover that T.J. can't go on for "another few minutes" because you haven't drugged him yet!
Then, seconds later and before he says anything else, the emcee says:
"Now folks coming up next Mr. T.J. White! He's hot, he's funny, he's hilarious." He again announces T.J.'s name like he's bringing him to the stage but then he doesn't. And this is the very next thing he says. After he just said T.J. White would be out in a few moments. So essentially he says: "And now in a few moments, Mr. T.J. White! Now folks coming up next Mr. T.J. White!"
Then we have the scene where Dexter shows us Angel is a druggie and threatens to kill her unless she drugs T.J. It's another weird sound editing job in the kitchen during that scene. The actors sound like they recorded their lines in a sewer or a high school bathroom. The voices echo and the echoes don't even match each other. There are points where Angel's voice has a very heavy echo and then times when Dexter has none or very little. I just thought it was a strange effect to put on the lines when none was really needed. Or if somehow that's the way the lines recorded when they were doing the scene, they should have been re-dubbed.
So then right after that scene we have the emcee actually announcing T.J. Though it doesn't sound too much different from the first two times. "And now T.J. White, the audience is ready, are you ready?" Asks the emcee. "Now how bout a nice round of applause for my man, Mr. T.J. White!"
It's really as if they had no written dialogue and didn't know what else to do so they decided to have the emcee say T.J.'s name ten thousand times. I had to keep going back to make sure I wasn't the one hallucinating from the drug that "packs twice the wallop as PCP," so I actually heard him say T.J.'s name double that amount, but at least I hadn't drunk a spiked cola.
Then at the end of the episode, when the bad guys have been stopped and everything is once again right with the world, the emcee gets to announce T.J. yet again. His read this time is really breathtaking. I mean, hearing someone say the same thing five times isn't enough. We want more! And why in the world is Superboy standing in the club watching T.J.? I know what happened. This show is called Superboy, so when the producers realized that what they had here was an episode starring T.J. with a guest appearance by Clark and a surprise visit from Superboy, they felt they needed to show Newton in the costume in another scene. The problem is it just doesn't fit and the corny thumbs-up our Boy of Steel gives T.J. is just the absolute last straw. Oh well, I guess it's the kind of thing the kids like.
But at least next time we get something else the kids like from the 5th Dimension when we "Meet Mr. Mxyzptlk."
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