Superman on Television
Superboy: Episode Reviews
Season 1 - Episode 23: "Black Flamingo"Reviewed by: Scotty V
"I'm trouble." - Chuck Norris look-a-like Superboy.
A political candidate is the target of assassination thwarted by Clark, who is there covering a rally for the man. The attempted killer is a punked out teenager listening to a strange voice through headphones. Via a pendant the kid carried, Superboy locates a club whose logo matches the pendant and infiltrates it disguised as a motorcycle riding tough. Not long into his arrival, Superboy witnesses a brainwashing technique, which causes all club goers to take orders from the terrorist who runs the club. Heading upstairs to the owner's private office, Superboy confronts the man, then uses his order for the kids to kill the hero against him by shielding himself with the bad guy, telling him that "they'll kill you to get to me." The man calls off the teens, telling them he's no longer the voice that guides them and Superboy prevails.
Rating - 2 (out of 5): What to say about this episode? When I got to the end and began realizing it was about to be over I thought, wow, this was a really short episode; so much so that I actually checked the time on my DVD player. It's actually about 21 minutes in length, which is a trifle short, but not as short as it seemed. What this says to me is that the show was constructed in such a way that watching it required time that flew by. This dosen't necessarily mean what I viewed was worth viewing, but it at least tells me that I wasn't so bored or horrified by what I was seeing that it seemed to take forever. I'm reminded of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Geordi (the Chief Engineer and Data's best friend) attempts to explain to Data (Science Officer and android who doesn't quite understand human colloquialisms) the saying: "A watched pot never boils." Data contends that it really doesn't matter what one is doing, but that time moves in exactly the same manner always. So in this case then, obviously, the time didn't move any faster with this episode but it really felt like it did, and that's a good thing.
Further, it's all a really well contained episode. By that I mean that, in an unusual way for this show, ninety percent of the story takes place in one location. It's also a fairly uncomplicated tale. Guy brainwashes punk rock kids into doing his bidding, Superboy finds him super-quickly and stops him. There's no unnecessary exposition, no jumping around to too many locations and not too much that needs explaining.
There are however, still a few things I'm not really happy with in so far as the choices made in the execution of the story. In order to progress to the club, which is where the majority of the story takes place and in fact, where we are for the rest of the show once we get there, we are shown T.J. and Lana, who have no knowledge of the punk rocker assassin, waiting in line to get in dressed in punk garb and discussing the story they'll produce about the world of punk. Their story again, has nothing to do with the attempted killing, because they don't know about it, but they're just there, because it's easy and puts the main characters in danger because that's where the writers want them and where the viewers would expect them to be. It would have been just as easy to have T.J. or Lana mention the logo and the attempted killing and justify their reason for being there as an investigation into the crime. That they don't is just silly and lazy and makes little sense, merely ending up a coincidence and I'm not fond of that.
Next we have Superboy arriving on scene dressed as a biker. There are a few problems here. Sure, our hero is dressed like a biker but he also has a motorcycle he bashes through the entrance of the club with and carries a snake around his neck. Firstly, this is way over the top and hard to swallow for anyone that would be at the club and for a viewer of the show. Why? Well for one thing, no one acts like this. For another, as soon as someone did act like this, skipping the line and bashing through the door causing damage and making a scene, they'd be escorted away or most likely, arrested. Thirdly, where did Clark get a motorcycle and a snake? I realize it's "cool" to portray Clark undercover in this manner but...c'mon! Furthermore, Clark has no particular reason for smashing into the club in this manner and he is a criminal here. I realize he's undercover but you can't just do that and get away with it plus I don't believe Clark would act that way.
Then, when Clark does get into the club, two security guys attempt to stop him and escort him out (which is their job and their perfectly justified in trying to do it) and Clark throws them around! That's right, Clark attacks and tosses two low wage earners who may or may not be part of some insidious plot that may or may not even exist at the club Clark has broken into for doing their job! He's wrong and I've actually just removed a point from the score I'd originally given due to its fast pace and well-contained story because Clark is completely out of character and is hurting people willy-nilly in this episode. Later, when the terrorist turns all the punk kids on Superboy, the hero starts tossing kids around, throws them off platforms and flips them over his back. All of this is unnecessary behavior for a super-human good-guy who can't be injured!
Finally, after possibly injuring 5-15 college age kids who couldn't have hurt or stopped him anyway, Superboy decides to fly above them, which he could have done at any moment, and grab the terrorist, who's in a wide open area alone, so he can threaten him by holding him in front of himself as a shield against the oncoming teenagers. This at least makes some sense, though it's a bit of a leap to assume that "they'll kill you to get to me," because the terrorist gave them an order to kill Superboy and now Superboy is holding the terrorist in front of him. When I say it makes sense, what I mean is that Superboy's plan makes sense assuming it would work that way because he doesn't really want to hurt anyone and needs to break the spell.
Another thing that bugs me, and I suppose it could be explained away by someone saying that no one really knows how powerful Superboy is, is that the terrorist tries to send the kids after Superboy in the first place. He has to know they can't hurt him. At least if he'd tried to flee the scene instead of standing there on stage right out in the open. One can only assume he was hoping to see the kids kill Superboy but he should know better and it makes little sense that he doesn't.
There's also a female Russian spy thrown into the mix and I can't really find any particularly good reason for her to be there. She just seems to be thrown in and isn't really integral to the plot. At one point she confronts the terrorist leader, telling him his methods endanger all countries and that she's been sent to stop him. So, even though she has a gun on him, she waits for him while he presses a switch that activates his "hypnotizing voice" and further waits while he then gives her instructions to hand over the gun and wait "over there" to die. She waits for all this, even though she explained to him that she knew what he was doing and that she had to stop him. Why would an international spy who knew the villain she was up against had mind control powers stand there and wait for him to activate and then use them?
So once again, upon breaking things down I realize the show I watched wasn't as good as my first impression. Not that I'd thought it was anything special but at least it seemed to move the time along. Regardless, we have another clunker of an episode and our end scene takes us back to camp, when Clark, who has apparently decided to adopt the biker's snake, acts uncomfortable handling it and T.J. and Lana laugh at him.
Tune in next time when we travel to Hollywood, circa 1939!
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