Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 18: "Terror From The Blue"Reviewed by: Scotty V
Lieutenant Harris, a long-time guest star on many episodes of the series since it began, is hospitalized when, after confronting one of his fellow officers named Slade (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), Slade shoots him three times in the back. Harris, out of sympathy, had agreed to give Slade a day to decide how best to turn himself in for running multiple illegal rackets on the side but as the Lieutenant was walking away, Slade struck. Slade and two others chase a witness to the event, Lana Lang through a tenement, but she is able to escape.
From a phone booth Lana calls both Clark and police headquarters. Before passing into unconsciousness, Harris told Lana she could trust an officer named Coyle and so Lana tries to contact him. Another cop, Stone, answers instead and claims to be Coyle, asking where she is and telling her to stay put. Clark tells her that he and T.J. will meet her at the police station. After Lana leaves the phone booth, dropping her wallet in the process, the dirty cops burst onto the scene in their Chevy Cavalier and machine gun the booth.
Clark tells T.J. to go meet Lana while he heads to be with Lt. Harris so the dirty cops won't "make a move" to finish Harris off. Arriving at the hospital just in time to stop a crooked officer from "pulling the plug" on Harris, Superboy tells the guard to have cops he can trust by Harris' side at all times.
Lana meanwhile, is staying with an ex-hippie named Oscar (Chase Randolf) who hit her with his truck before taking her to his trailer. Lana leaves a message on Clark's answering machine, which is intercepted by Slade, giving directions to where she is. Clark hears the message and knows the phone was bugged and that the bad guys are on the way to kill Lana, but before he goes to the rescue he takes time to seal the "buggers" out in a van they're parked in outside. Before Superboy arrives, Lana and Oscar have been assaulted and almost killed multiple times. When Superboy does show up, Slade has cornered Lana and for some inexplicable reason he's about to use a welding torch to attack her but Supes puts a stop to that.
Rating - 2 (out of 5): There are redeeming qualities to this episode. There really are. For instance, the final scene between a flirty, cute as pie Lana mocking Clark for not being around to take her to her interview with Harris earlier. Stacy Haiduk really looks fantastic here with her hair straightened and her playful, yet hopeful smile as Lana tells Clark he can come to the library with her: "As long as he's got nothing better to do." The problem is, that even though she's teasing him and you can tell by her smile she really wants him to come, she also really means it as she left Clark a note earlier in the show telling him he was someone she could never count on and that she was tired of him always letting her down. Now I understand the whole "romance is tough when you're a superhero leading a double life" thing, it's been done countless times and ways in different stories. But here it again just plays as Lana being a...well, witch, let's say. The biggest reason for that is probably that they haven't really played too much with Clark not being around for Lana. To my recollection he's almost always there.
It's always cool to see Superboy throttle somebody, like he does at the end of the episode when, instead of punching Slade in the face (like he really wants to), Superboy tosses the villain over a car by his belt. The issue here though is that Superboy really and almost purposefully took his sweet time getting there. Inside the dorm room, Superboy hears the message from Lana telling him where she's at. But then, almost immediately, he tells T.J. that the bad people have also heard the message and that they're probably on their way there now. So instead of immediately heading out the window at top speed when he realized this, Superboy first has a slow and boring talk with T.J. and then he goes out to the van where the guys are recording incoming calls. He stops, looks at the van, puts his hands on his hips and then very slowly melts the doors together using his heat vision. He then admires his handiwork for a minute before finally flying off to rescue Lana when he knew she was in real danger. Really stood out to me.
Once again pretty much all the guest-starring actors are terrible. The way they wince when something doesn't go right or when they slam a car door or hood because they discover Harris is still alive. It's just very cheesy and badly over-the-top-acted. The guard outside Harris' hospital room was so bad it was almost laughable. Bad cop comes in and asks: "How is he?" Guard responds: "Not good. He's still in a coma." When the bad guy suggest the guard take a break he agrees, stands up and then does the fakest stretch I think I've ever seen. A big part of the problem is the dialogue but this entire scene really fails. Plus, is that a hospital? Looks like an apartment hallway. I know, I know, they're on a budget.
One thing that was odd though was that I felt Jonathan Haymes Newton was really bad in this episode whereas usually he can hold his own. It seemed like maybe he didn't know the full script or the whole story when he filmed some of his parts. Like when he was on the phone with Lana. She was calling to tell him she had witnessed a murder, been chased and felt in fear for her life and Newton almost smiles telling her to breathe and calm down. I know they usually film each side of these phone conversations separately, but at least the actors usually appear to be having the same conversation. Then later, when he's telling T.J. they're splitting up so Clark can watch out for Harris, he doesn't play the scene as urgent. He just comes off really calm and almost sleepily, like "Oh well T.J., why don't you go (yawn) meet Lana while I take a slow walk over to make sure Harris is okay but first I think I'll take a nap."
Finally, and this was the thing that hit me as the most silly, is the completely and poorly contrived dilemma. The way this was put together, Lana should be dead and there's really no reason why there is a story, save for the fact that there has to be. First she just happens to walk by the scene where Harris gets shot. Then she runs over to him and he talks to her for a minute, all the while the guy who shot him just stands there watching. It's not like she stumbled upon Harris alone in an alley! So then Slade's boys show up at the other end of the street so now she's trapped. Slade is behind her, standing there doing nothing with a gun after he's already shot his boss and Slade's thugs are in front of her and they both have guns too. But no one shoots her. Plus, somehow she has the time to get Harris' message and run halfway down the alley to a door and inside an apartment complex and put pretty good distance - eventually two floors between herself and her pursuers!
So then, at the end, Slade still doesn't shoot her! Instead, after unexplainably not shooting her in the opening minutes of the show, which caused him all this trouble to begin with, he brandishes a...welding instrument? Not sure why he's carrying that around with him but I guess he's planning on torturing Lana now...for some reason. In addition, when Slade arrives on scene, he shows up with two Chevy Cavaliers! That's right. Don't ask me how they were able to afford two such great matching vehicles on a crooked cop salary but that's not my point anyway. The cars pull up, squealing tires on dirt and brush not withstanding, and slide to a halt. So now we should have 2 full cars worth - at least 4 men - added to the fight right? But no one else gets out of the cars. We only see Slade. By this point, several men have already been stopped by Lana and Oscar but now that the reinforcements have arrived shouldn't they have been in real peril? Nope. Well Lana kind of is. The reinforcements on her are Slade. And his welding torch.
The good news: Not since Andy Sipowitz has a police officer been shot so many times in so many lethal areas and survived. In fact, your betrayal came well before Andy's, Harris, so congrats big guy and here's hoping we live to see you shot another day. Well, in a manner of speaking.
Tune in next time when an Android comes knocking for a "War of the Species."
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