Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 21: "Mutant"Reviewed by: Scotty V
"I'm a mutant." - a mutant.
While covering a poetry recital with T.J., Clark witnesses the abduction of nuclear physicist Professor Craig Lipcott (Jack Swanson). Clark changes to Superboy and follows the kidnappers to the roof in time to see them enter a large box-like object. When the woman leading the kidnappers notices the hero, she attacks him with a beam that disorients him. After recovering, Superboy is shocked that the box they'd entered with the Professor has vanished.
In the office of the FBI, Clark tries to explain what he saw, calling the box he witnessed the kidnappers escape to a "ship," while a smarmy agent basically laughs in his face. Lt. Harris plays a small role in trying to convince the FBI agent that Clark is trustworthy and should be taken seriously, while T.J. makes things worse by cracking jokes and saying Clark's under a lot of pressure. Back at the paper, Clark discovers that Lipcott is an expert in the field of nuclear physics and Lana suggests the boys may be able to learn more if they investigate the nuclear plant that she has been invited to tour.
Inside the box, which is revealed to be a time machine, Lipcott awakens to see two strange looking humanoids and a woman. They tell him they need plutonium in order to fight their enemies in the future because no more exists in the 24th century where they are from. When the Professor refuses to help them, one of the humanoids tries causing him pain to convince him.
At the plant sans Lana, Clark and T.J. separate in order to cover more ground and T.J. is abducted because the kidnappers believe they can lure Superboy to his rescue and then convince the hero to get them plutonium. The woman, Vora (Schuyler Aubrey), tells Superboy that she is a mutant because in her time all people but her have been affected by the radiation from wars. In order to protect T.J. and the Professor, Superboy agrees to collect the Plutonium, but he clearly doesn't believe the visitors should proceed in this manner.
Superboy leads the two male visitors into the facility, scoops up the plutonium and then speeds away from them. The visitors fire their weapons at the hero but he deflects their beams back on them incapacitating them. Superboy then heads into the ship and confronts Vora. He tells her he believes her to be too much like he is, an outsider trying to do good for her people, to actually hurt T.J. and though she has a weapon to the photographer's head, Superboy believes she won't shoot. She ultimately lowers the weapon, agrees to let the professor and T.J. go and leave the plutonium behind. She tells Superboy she was glad to have met him and that she hopes, even though she's different, that her people will listen when she gets back to the future.
Rating - 2 (out of 5): This episode was a mish-mash of strange inconsistent happenings coupled with strange inconsistent characters. I like the premise in that so early on in a series again these creators were willing to actually have a comic book type premise in a fantasy sci-fi TV show and introduce a plot that centers on mutated time travelers from Earth's future. Too many shows based on comic characters are often unwilling to bring in actual supervillains or aliens or anything even resembling time travel because they're often afraid the general viewing public won't be able to grasp or accept it. That this series uses plot elements and characters like that on a regular basis is something it should be congratulated on.
That being said, in the manner with which they often use these elements within the horrendously sloppy framework of their stories, these or other elements are doomed to laughable failure. The first thing that stands out, and this is probably more a budget thing than anything else, is the "ship." The time machine the visitors disappear into in the opening scene really looks like a large cardboard box. How anyone would jump to the conclusion that they'd seen a "ship," as Superboy calls it is beyond me. The dubious FBI guy who acts as if Clark is crazy to say he'd seen a ship would actually be even more dubious if he himself had seen it. At least I know I would. I can just hear it now:
"Look Agent Dubious," says Clark. "It's a space ship!"
"That...box?!? You think that's a ship? Okay college boy."
Then the agent whispers to the other agents nearby to take ol' C.K. to the sanitarium.
In truth, making all of the ships in our favorite Sci-Fi shows and movies actually look like planes or be otherwise aerodynamic actually has no effect on space travel whatsoever. Since space is a vacuum I guess that look just serves for aesthetic value. That being said though, I would still have never thought the boxy object some weird kidnappers entered on a roof was a "ship." Also, when watching the opening, it seemed difficult to ascertain what Superboy was so shocked about. I first thought he was just surprised that the woman hit him with something that stunned him. It wasn't shot in such a way that suggested Superboy's awe stemmed from the ship vanishing. I didn't even know it had until they mentioned it when being interviewed.
Another plot point that made little sense to me was when Lana mentioned she had a standing invitation from someone in power to tour the nuclear plant whenever she wanted. So she tells the guys to simply go and use her contact's name. She didn't accompany them or even say she wanted to go. It was the weirdest most awkward use of a character I think I've ever seen. Stacy Haiduk must have had the week off per union rules or something so they shot a two second scene under the table just so we'd see her.
The mutated guys, who weren't actually the "Mutant" in the title, were just too silly for me. They acted like over the top circus clowns and the makeup didn't help. Again, as is usual for this show, all the guest stars were pretty horrid. The professor sounded as if he was reading his lines, as there was no emphasis or stress on any word anywhere and the FBI agent's entire character consisted of berating Clark and T.J. in a way that suggested he didn't actually care but that he was told to act that way. The only passable actor was the woman playing Vora and even that was bare minimum.
There was also no explanation given for how Superboy entered the plant. The visitors are surprised to see him on scene but then decide to use him since they've heard he so powerful. They actually say something like: "If Superboy is as powerful as we've heard, he would definitely be able to get us into the plant." My thinking was that they were right in that he could just break down the doors and take what he wanted. But then, the visitors had guns they could use to do that so how did they mean to use him I wondered? In the actual scene, Superboy walks up to the front door, which has a pass code entry pad outside it, and simply enters the code. Hmm. Wonder where he got it from?
Well that's it for this time. Next up, someone from Jonathan Kent's past feels the humble farmer needs punishment in The Phantom of the Third Division.
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