Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 20: "Little Hercules"Reviewed by: Scotty V
River, Rainbow...and Leaf: what do these three words have in common? Well, that's easy. They're all the names that some hippy-ized parents came up with for their children. It's a sad story really, because one of the kids, the one named after a tree accessory, always felt slighted because his name wasn't as "special" as his brother and sister's. But now I know the truth. He didn't change his name to Jaoquin because his name wasn't special; he did it to make sure no one ever knew his true identity. That of the boy who appeared in quite possibly the most embarrassing role ever an actor played.
In "Little Hercules," Leaf Pheonix, whom you may know from more recent fare such as "Ladder 49" or "Signs" or his ill-advised rap career (nice beard!) the actor future-ly known as Jaoquin plays Billy Hercules, a lovelorn girly-boy who looks as out of place in his (high school?) class full of apparent 20-something's as I do in a Superboy costume. No wait, he has the costume covered too. In fact, he looks more out of place in the costume than...anyone I've ever seen. It's played for laughs, I think, but seriously, the poor actor must have been scarred for life after seeing his dailies. Back in this time of his life, little Leaf was a bit effeminate, had a slight little belly and he, rather than today's Tom Welling, should have been the one to rule: "No tights, no flights."
The story stems from Billy's wish that he could be the love of Amanda's (Elizabeth Marion) life, when in truth, she's more interested in dating jocks and, well, bigger men. Or at least that's what Billy thinks. Billy dreams of being Superboy, hence the aforementioned costume wearing, beating up bullies and winning the girl. Not dreaming though, he eventually, via his genius, hacks into a government computer system, where he plans on using it to show the girl of his dreams he really cares. Problem is, when Eddie implants a poem he wrote to the girl into the system, it ends up somehow locking out everyone else and therefore sabotages the nuclear test the military was planning.
The real Superboy comes to the rescue of course, but the computer has shut and sealed a door leading to the missles so that no one can reach it. Superboy can't break down the steel door because it's armed with explosives, but he believes he can burn through using his heat vision. He hopes to get through in time to stop the self-destruct in progress, but he's brought along a contingency plan just in case. Little Billy has come with him because he may be the only one able to break back into the computer and stop its relentless countdown. Billy, who certainly never meant to endanger any lives, is more than eager to help, and he sets to work as Superboy begins blasting at the door.
In the end, with time nearly run out, Billy manages to deactivate the door and Superboy bursts through it and shuts down the missles. The army seemingly drops any charges of wrongdoing against Billy since he helped saved the day and Amanda decides she really likes Billy after all. The lesson here of course, is that if you can hack into a government computer and almost blow everyone up but then stop it before it's too late, you get the girl and don't have to go to jail. Fun.
Rating - 3 (out of 5): I gave this show an extra point just for the glee it brought me to see Jaoquin sitting forlornly at his desk in the opening seconds of the episode. I recognized him almost immediately as his trademark lip scar was still very prominent even then. After a few moments though, once the school bell rings, things really get good. I think the scene directly after the classroom scene was the one that really sealed the extra point for me. Little Leafy heads outside and some over the top, badly acted bullies get all up in his grill and he actually melts one with heat vision. The effects, as usual, are pretty bad, but I still loved seeing a guy with a plastic chain for a weapon being burned to ash. But Billy's fantasy flight and his look in the costume are so bad I actually feel sorry for the now multi-millionaire. I'm an actor myself (albeit non-working), and I think for the first time I'm actually glad not to have a successful actor's career simply because it included that embarrassing scene. But hey, it's his presence and this scene alone that got the episode a 3 and that's pretty swell. Plus, he's a rapper now so what's he complaining about?
The rest of the episode really is actually much better than usual though, which is why it's a three with the extra point rather than a one. There was an emotional resonance with the outsider Billy, who just couldn't seem to fit in that meshed well with some of the feelings Clark has apparently had. Now it's never been covered that Clark feels like he doesn't belong on this particular show but we've all seen enough other incarnations of the character to get it and it works well here. T.J.'s bad as usual. I can really see why he was fired and new characters were brought on in subsequent seasons. He just has no chemistry with the other characters and he's not really a good actor at all.
To my memory, Lana doesn't even appear in the episode, which is unfortunate because she's much more fun to look at than is a young Jaoquin. At least without his mountain man rapper's beard. With the beard though, that silly music star reminds me of a Mutant, which reminds me to remind you to check out my next review of the episode by the same name next time!
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