Dean Cain, “Clark Kent/Superman” & John Shea, “Lex Luthor,” Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Coming to St. Louis Comic Con!
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|“Sometimes I feel like I’m out there fighting all alone. Sometimes I feel like giving up. But, then I remember that what I stand for is more important than anything else!”|
|Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (often called Lois & Clark or The New Adventures of Superman on the BBC) is a live-action American television series based on the Superman comic books. Lois & Clark aired on ABC from September 12, 1993 to June 14, 1997, and starred Dean Cain as Superman/Clark Kent and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane.|
Developed for Television by Deborah Joy LeVine (based upon characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), the series loosely follows the comic philosophy of writer John Byrne, with Clark Kent as the true personality, and Superman as a secondary disguise. As the show’s title suggests, it focuses as much on the relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane as on the adventures of Clark’s alter-ego.
The series spawned several short tie-in books aimed at young adults, as well as one full-length novel for adults, Lois & Clark: A Superman Novel (1996), written by C. J. Cherryh. The show was entirely shot in California.
On May 17, 1966, Jonathan and Martha Kent witness the crash-landing of a small spaceship in Shuster’s Field outside of Smallville, Kansas. When they investigate the craft, they discover the baby Kal-El. The Kents decide to raise him as their own, naming him “Clark Jerome Kent.” Unlike the Silver Age continuity in the comics, Jonathan and Martha (portrayed by Eddie Jones and K Callan) are alive in the TV show, and they frequently visit Metropolis. Clark, throughout the series, proudly states that his mother (Martha, although to maintain his secret identity, he does not identify her specifically) made his Superman costume for him. Clark often consults Jonathan and Martha, either by telephone or in person after impromptu Superman flights to Smallville, about personal and moral concerns and dilemmas.
Twenty-seven years later, Clark moves to Metropolis and gets a job at the Daily Planet under the gruff editor Perry White (Lane Smith). Clark also becomes acquainted with co-workers Jimmy Olsen (Michael Landes in Season 1, Justin Whalin thereafter), who is a photographer, and gossip columnist Cat Grant (Tracy Scoggins). Soon after being hired, Clark is partnered with star reporter Lois Lane. (They get put on the same assignment within minutes of Clark getting a job, but they do not become formally paired on a regular basis until a few episodes in.) Although Clark falls for Lois at first sight, she considers him little more than a pest. When Superman saves her however, Lois instantly becomes infatuated with Clark’s alter-ego.
Superman’s first mission interferes with the illegal dealings of Lex Luthor (John Shea), a Metropolis business giant and benefactor who is secretly evil. After Luthor’s plot has been stopped, as Superman, Clark makes a point of letting the evil genius know that he is watching him and will be there to stop his criminal plots, and the two become archenemies; Clark nonetheless respects Luthor’s life, even surreptitiously using his superpowers to save Lex from bleeding to death on one occasion. Luthor develops an interest in Lois Lane and tries to woo her for the majority of season one; although Lois is receptive to his romantic advances, she remains infatuated with the Man of Steel. It also comes out at times that Lois has developing feelings for Clark, although most of the time she inhibits or denies them.
Luthor eventually proposes marriage. Clark, seeing that he may lose Lois, and also knowing that Lex is evil but unable to convince Lois, tells Lois that he is in love with her; she replies that she does not feel the same way about him, but cares for him deeply as a friend. On the other hand, she asks Superman if there is any romantic chance for the two of them. In light of her response to him as Clark, Superman turns her down; Lois then accepts Luthor’s proposal. Luthor decides to coincide his nuptials with the death of Superman, trapping the hero within a kryptonite cage in the wine cellar of Luthor Tower, which also contains the chapel where the wedding will take place. As the wedding approaches, Lois realizes she really does love Clark, and she says no to Luthor at the altar. Clark had been working with Perry and Jimmy to expose Luthor before being captured, and they have enough evidence to get the police to barge in on Luthor’s wedding to arrest him. Luthor eludes the police and jumps from his penthouse office to his apparent death. Superman has escaped the cage, and as Clark he has rejoined Lois. However, his powers sapped by Luthor’s kryptonite, Clark is unable to stop the villain from falling to the pavement. However, newspapers report that Luthor’s body has been stolen from the morgue and hint that he may not be dead... or maybe he is surfing with Elvis?
Clark, fearing that his unrequited love for Lois may damage their relationship, lies and tells her that he is not really in love with her but only said so because he would have done anything to protect her from Luthor. Ironically, Lois was about to tell Clark what she had realized—that she loves him, too; now, she keeps it to herself, and their relationship reverts to friendship, as it was.
In season two, Clark and Lois begin to date, but are interrupted by Mayson Drake (Farrah Forke), a district attorney who takes a romantic interest in Clark but has a total lack of regard for Superman. Mayson’s death occurs in the same episode as Lois and Clark’s first official date. In the next episode, a federal agent named Dan Scardino (Jim Pirri) becomes a rival to Clark for Lois’ affections. Lois eventually decides that she likes Clark over Dan, and so they begin dating even more seriously. In the season finale Clark comes close to telling Lois that he is Superman, but between his own hesitancy about how she will react and interruptions by people plotting to expose his identity to the world, he fails at the last minute. At the end of the episode Clark proposes to Lois.
In the third season premiere, Lois replies, “Who’s asking, Clark or Superman?” It therefore becomes clear that Lois has discovered Superman’s secret identity, although apparently only in the course of the last episode of season two. Initially she resents that Clark never confessed it to her. Their tumultuous courtship involves Lois for a time dating a man who is plotting to kill her in a sacrificial ritual, and multiple assignments where they either pose as a married couple or are alone together for an entire weekend. Lois finally accepts Clark’s engagement ring, after one episode during most of which she has his powers, temporarily becoming a superhero named Ultra Woman. The wedding was supposed to coincide with the corresponding event in the comic books, but coordination snafus resulted in the actual on-screen marriage being postponed for a full season. The third-season marriage ends up not being for real, and to makes things worse Lois spends a few episodes dealing with amnesia. Once she recovers, Lois and Clark are back in the state of engagement when two other Kryptonians come to Earth, one of whom is Clark’s wife from birth. They insist that Clark go with them to save their world of New Krypton from domination by an evil tyrant, and the third season closes with Clark leaving Lois, but taking her wedding ring as a mark of remembering her and a promise to return as soon as possible. While committed to each other, they both have doubts that he will ever return.
The fourth season starts with Clark heading toward New Krypton. However the evil tyrant has instead invaded Earth, so Clark gets to come back. He even manages to be around Lois again, and by the end of the second episode they have neutralized the tyrant and convinced the New Kryptonians to let Clark stay on Earth. In the next episode Lois and Clark finally do actually get married, although only after yet another failed wedding ceremony. Afterward, evil forces continues to assault them, delaying their honeymoon, but eventually Clark and Lois move into a new home together. Throughout the season they demonstrate the strength of their personal bond, despite some fights, while various villains attempt to destroy them. Some villains try various methods to split Lois and Clark up, while others target them individually, sometimes out of a desire to avenge or emulate Lex Luthor. The newlywed star reporters also explore the question of whether they can have children, which gets answered in the negative, but at the end of the last episode a child mysteriously appears. Originally a fifth season was planned and committed, but it was cancelled by a late arrangement, so who the child is and where it came from is never revealed. (In an interview with KryptonSite, series writer and executive producer Brad Buckner said the planned story was that the child “was Kryptonian royalty, stashed by his mother to keep him safe from assassins.”)
After season one, series creator Deborah Joy LeVine left the show as a producer, and a new production team took over the show. Coinciding with this change of production authority, the episode plots gradually shifted from more realistic ones in which Lois, Clark, and Superman often only became involved with criminal elements or dangerous situations through their own initiative, usually through Clark and Lois’s investigations as Daily Planet reporters, to more fantastic plots often centered on comic-style villains who specifically targeted Lois, Superman, or Clark from the beginning, rather than endangering the protagonists as a reactionary measure when they became threats to other criminal plans. Whereas many of the stories of season one involved normal human criminals using advanced and powerful technology and/or involved in large and dangerous conspiracies—most, if not all, of the Lex Luthor stories of season one are examples—later plots, especially after season two, much more frequently revolved around villains with special super-human powers and abilities, sometimes drawn from beyond the realm of plausible real theoretical physics. As a result, fans of realistic adventure/drama with some science fiction elements would be likely to prefer the earlier seasons, whereas fans of comic book fantasy sci-fi adventure would be likely to prefer the later seasons.
Lois & Clark was the second medium (after the much ignored 1988 Superman animated series produced by Ruby-Spears for CBS) outside of comics to break tradition and mirror John Byrne’s retcon of Superman, which included making Clark Kent more assertive and less of a clumsy oaf. (George Reeves used to play Clark as competent and strong-willed, but officially he was still described as “mild-mannered.” This is actually used to describe Clark Kent in “Lois and Clark” as well.) Dean Cain’s Clark gradually becomes a well-regarded and highly competent reporter, even beating out Lois for a Kerth award (much to her consternation). A few episodes directly emphasized that Clark was the unequivocal “dominant” personality, not Superman. Following this theme, an innovation unique to the series was the depiction of Clark Kent and Superman’s traditional hairstyles being reversed – here it is Superman whose hair is slicked-back, and Clark whose fringe falls more naturally.
An additional element that reflected the post-Byrne comics was the portrayal of Lex Luthor (at least initially) as a corrupt corporate tycoon, rather than the more traditional mad scientist. In this series, with the exception of Lois, H.G. Wells and four villains (Mister Mxyzptlk, Diana Stride, Jason Mazik and Tempus), everyone who has found out Superman’s true identity has either been killed or had his/her memory erased.
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