Sep 15, 2009

My Superman

1994 was a good year. I was cast in my school's musical in a highly-sought-after "speaking" role; Madonna released her Bedtime Stories album; Frontline began on Australian television; and I was eventually named Dux of Year Nine (oh yes, my friends, top marks for everything, even maths).

But nothing takes me back to '94 than a particular TV show. A TV show that would not only cement my love of all things "journalism", but fuel the fire of what would become a fairly geeky fangirl-ish nature.

That TV show?

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.

Forget your Smallville rubbish. The entire Superman crew, all growing up together? In Kansas? With Lex Luthor already pre-balded? Don't give me that rot.

No, Lois & Clark was the original re-invention of the Superman tale for chicks - a screwball romantic comedy set in the Metropolis offices of The Daily Planet. Look, look - click here to see the marvellously naff Season One title sequence! Oh, the green screen! Oh, the high-waisted pantsuits!

In Lois & Clark, it was the relationship between ace reporters Lois Lane and Clark Kent that mattered most - even though Dean Cain looked mighty fine when he donned the spandex and Supe'd up. Lois and Clark would throw barbs at each other like they'd just swallowed a book of Dorothy Parker quotes; Lois' impulsive and tempestous nature was an engaging contrast to Clark's polite and dependable manner. Together they fought villains, mad scientists, cryogenically-unfrozen 1930s gangsters and even an evil time-traveller that HG Wells dug up.

Teri Hatcher was a dream Lois Lane - all creamy skin and full lips; a far cry from the half-shrivelled spray-tanned beanstalk she appears to have morphed into in order to meet the stringent weight requirements on Desperate Housewives. Her Lois was human. She had a tendency to get frazzled or scared of failure; she suffered an unrequited love for Superman; but at the end of the day had razor-sharp instincts and wit; and wasn't above throwing herself in the path of danger to get the story. My 13-year-old self loved her.

Dean Cain was man candy as Clark/Cal-El - and he was a half-decent actor for the role. He did make my little heart melt every time he looked at Lois yearningly while she completely ignored him (he was almost pre-Colin-Firth-Darcy, in a way).  Lane Smith was a gem as editor Perry White; but the real megastar was John Shea as Lex Luthor. Shea was young, full of hair (hear that, Smallville, you chumps?), and loved an evil plot. He also loved Lois as it turns out, and Season 1 was built around this love quadrangle of Lois, Clark, Lex and The Big S himself.

It's no surprise to find out Lois & Clark was written by a woman; it's also sadly not much of a surprise to find out Deborah Joy LeVine and the rest of the Season 1 writers were given the arse after the totally awesome finale.

Season 2 started out badly when the original Jimmy Olsen was replaced by Justin Whalen - the actor who went on to star in the Dungeons & Dragons movie that sucked so much, it created its own black hole of suckness, into which Justin Whalen was sucked so he could never suck up a movie that bad again.

Jesus, that movie sucked.

Anyway, they also ditched Tracy Scoggins, who had played the man-eating gossip columnist Cat Grant. I always thought "Scoggins" should be a name for something, like a home-brewed ale or a mild genital itch. "I've got a case of the Scoggins!" would work well as a jingle for either.

Things got more and more ridiculous during Seasons 2 and 3 - there was a fairly dodgy episode where all of Supe's powers transferred into Lois and she became the saddest-ever-named superhero - "Ultra Woman". Sounds like a feminine hygiene product. But not even the odd appearance of Bruce Campbell could stop the silliness - culminating in a bizarre wedding/clone/frog storyline THAT I DO NOT CARE TO TALK ABOUT.

At some point before the end of Season 4 I believe I lost interest in the show - of course by then it was a few years' later and I had self-important high school wankery to be getting on with. It was treated fairly badly by US network ABC - they killed it off prematurely and buried the last few eps of the show. This was the Age Before Downloads (ABD), so I don't believe I ever got to see the final-ever bit of Lois & Clark.

In hindsight, I can't remember how many school chums also watched this show. I remember having heated discussions about the merits of L&C over the obviously inferior SeaQuest DSV, which used to screen at the same time (7:30pm Tuesdays!) on a different channel. Girls seemed to love Jonathan Brandis in some sort of futuristic yellow undersea wetsuit. "Ew, what a dork!" I'd respond. "He's such a boy; Dean Cain is a man!" Of course, Jonathan Brandis went on to hang himself in an LA motel room so perhaps I shouldn't have been so unkind.

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was awfully silly. But it was awfully good fun, and I'm glad it existed to inspire and delight my daggy teenage self.


  1. Agreed Teri 'They're real and they're spectacular' Hatcher was thermonuclear hot in L&C - as much as she's frankly terrifying to look at in Desperate Leftovers.

    I thought L&C started in about 1992? Was chasing a girl with Loisesque qualities at the time. Failed miserably, but as Motorhead proposed many years ago, the chase is better than the catch.

    *EDIT* Have checked Wiki and you're much closer to right than I am. No idea how my memory has smushed the two concepts into one.

  2. OMG, we are the same age. This makes me happy! We really ARE separated from birth!

  3. It's Kal-El... not Cal-El

    His father, Jor-El, didn't save him from exploding Krypton so you could get his name wrong! ;)

  4. When fact checking geek stuff can be done by rolling over in bed, you really have no excuse :)

    And Jen, I can see how it is nice to find someone in your demographic, especially with the crew mainly being a tad older :)

  5. Dean Cain played a bloody awful 'Superman' and an awful 'Clark Kent' to boot. As Clark he kept being competent. As Superman he looked like a colour blind ballet dancer.

    It turns my skin green with anger.

  6. Dan, I refute that accusation. The whole point was Clark WAS just as good a reporter as Lois - he even outdid her on a number of occasions. It made the sparring more interesting to have them more equally balanced in skill level.

    Clumsy Clark Kent just gets boring. BORING.

  7. You won't find a bigger Superman fan than I and I have to say that Lois & Clark (for the first year or two) was great mid-90's telly.

    The show only really lost it when it got away from Lois & Clark and became too Superman-centric. It was fun, cheesy, and sexy.

  8. Whoa... Brandis hanged himself after you dissed him? Remind me to be polite to you. A lot.

  9. That's right, Flinthart. I'm like the chick from The Ring. :)

    I meant more that perhaps if I had joined the ranks of screaming fangirls, maybe Brandis would have felt more loved.

  10. Hey! Don't knock SeaQuest! It was cool to a young teenager. (Um, ok, I wasn't exactly a teenager then. I'm such a nerd.)

  11. I was a Brandis fangirl. I confess it. There was no joy like discovering that the latest issue of TV Hits contained a poster of him.

    He had a DOLPHIN. That's pretty cool.

  12. OMG, Lois & Clark. LOVED it. I was a rabid, avid fan - rabid! Avid! I was obsessed with Dean Cain - and just when I thought I'd never be the type of teen to wallpaper my room in posters like the Keanu Reeves/Johnathan Brandis/Christian Slater/Humphrey B Bear fans (okay, maybe for Humphrey).

    I revisited the series about a year ago, actually, and some of it is still gold. I loved the episode where a pheromone spray made them lose all inhibitions - and yet they still wore pants suits as loose as hessian bags. Ah the '90s indeed.

  13. PANTSUITS! It's all about pantsuits.

    I'm convinced our body image would be better if we saw more baggy clothes on TV. Teri Hatcher was always slim, but her figure wasn't the focus. Try saying that about female TV characters these days - it's all about tight outfits, short skirts, skintight stuff - I blame Ally McBeal for that!

  14. What's with all the side-taking, GC? First I hear you hate Buffy but love Xena, and now you're dissing on Seaquest to big-up L&C. CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG. I will not stand for DSV to be mocked. It was a GREAT show and the fact that I haven't watched it since primary school does not change that fact!

    Anyway, as an enormous geek, L&C was the shit. I agree that Hatcher was a great Lois Lane, but even as a kid I was never sold on Cain as Superman. I think it was the voice. Superman should have a deep, commanding, yet calming voice. Cain has a nasal whine.

    Still, it was 1993 and having Supes on the TV was awesome.

    And to further fact-correct your post (God, I assume the Wah is RIGHT THERE a quick "is any of this wrong?" would have killed you?) most of the stuff on Smallville is canon, or at least the parts about Lana and Clark and Lex all living in Smallville, and lex being bald cause of an accident, and a lot of the crazy stuff as well. I mean, I haven't watched Smallville in ages because, lets face it, it does suck, but we they haven't even got to stuff like Krypto the Superdog or Superbaby. Mind you, they are bringing in Doomsday for some retarded reason.

    I should point out that some of it is not now canon, because of various retcons, but much of it now is again because of other retcons. Comics are weird.

  15. Hey Hey Hey!

    I will have no dissing of Krypto the Super-Dog!

    He is Superman's best friend (sorry Jimmy Olsen... you cross dressing ways just don't stack up against the Pooch of Steel) and protects the Fortress of Solitude!

    mutter mumble.. next you will be dissing Ace the Bat-Hound!

  16. Ace the Bat Hound? Seriously, is that a euphemism?

    "Alfred, no dinner tonight, I have to ace the bat hound."

    And DiscoStu, I'm sorry, I never actually watched SeaQuest DSV, but I know deep in my heart that it was shit. ;)