Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lois & Clark, Episode 2: Strange Visitor (From Another Planet)

Netflix Synopsis: Lois and Clark become the targets of a military UFO investigator who is determined to destroy Superman.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. In this episode, Lois and Clark meet Mulder and Scully. Though I don't think Mulder was ever really out to destroy aliens. Maybe it's Doggett, not Mulder. Either way, this will hopefully be entertaining.

As the episode opens, Clark is in the office writing a story about adopted kids, and Lois mocks him, saying that it's all been done before. She doesn't say that she thinks orphans are stupid or anything, but you can tell she just thinks they're boring. Clark explains that his angle is that it must be hard for adopted kids to not know who their parents were or where they came from. It's obvious to anyone with eyes that Clark is talking about himself, but Lois completely misses it.

Suddenly, federal agents burst into the Daily Planet with a warrant to seize whatever they want, and to arrest Lois and Clark. The lead agent is looking for Superman. But Clark is Superman! How will he get out of this one?

That was the cold open, and now we have our first appearance of the actual credits to the series. They would be all well and good if they didn't include the absolutely awful green screen scene from the pilot of Clark saving Lois and Jimmy from the exploding warehouse. Honestly, that scene just looks terrible. There was a similar scene in the opening credits to Smallville for years that always annoyed the hell out of me. The effect is anything but seamless, they might as well have shown you the wires everyone is wearing. Ugh. Four seasons of seeing that scene in the credits might just drive me insane.

Yep. That's the one.

Back to live action, and Clark and Lois are debating letting the feds force them to take polygraph tests. Clark is worried about the polygraph because DUH he's Superman, and one of his super-powers is clearly not 'controlling my heart rate so that I can beat a lie detector'. Fun fact: the polygraph was co-created by William Moulton Marston, who also created Wonder Woman. Who carries a lasso of truth. WHOA. I just blew your mind. You're welcome.

Eventually they agree to submit to the test, and Lois goes first. In the course of the questioning, the feds discover that Lois is in love with Superman. That one time that they flew around the city together in the last episode was all it took, apparently. Next it's Clark's turn. While calibrating the machine, the lead federal investigator (who still does not have a name at this point, that's how completely generic a character he is) asks Clark if he is Superman. Superman Clark answers yes, and the needle doesn't move because he's telling the truth. The feds are baffled, so they ask the question again. Clark answers yes, and this time he uses his super-breath to make the needle move to indicate that he is lying. What follows is easily the most awkward interview between two people since Crispin Glover appeared on Letterman. Clark is so nervous about not lying that, at one point, he (and the chair he is sitting in) floats into the air. Luckily they crash to the floor before the feds notice, making these guys the worst investigators ever. Eventually they're called away, but not before the lead investigator tells Clark that he knows he's lying because he can see it in Clark's eyes. I'm sure the fidgeting, the sweating, and the accidental flight had nothing to do with it, either.

Perry advises Lois and Clark to avoid being subpoenaed to federal court, and the ever-ignorable Cat Grant, dressed smartly in a hideous floral-print pant...thing (is it a leotard? It's all one piece, I have no idea what it is) takes this as her opportunity to hit on Clark.

Seriously, what is this?

Clark must be the dumbest person ever because he agrees to go back to Cat's place with her. When they arrive, Cat changes into a sweatshirt and jeans and actually looks like a normal person for once in her life. She pours them both glasses of wine, then sets forth in seducing Clark with all the subtlety of a steamroller when his pager goes off. Perry is calling he and Lois back to the office. When he gets there, Lois gives Clark crap for having been at Cat's place (she's feisty, that Lois), and Perry reveals that the warrant that the feds brought them was a fake. Lois and Clark are tasked with finding out who these people are.

The next day, Lois and Clark are working in the office when Cat arrives, dressed again like a dime-store prostitute. She acts all innuendo-y with Clark, and after she walks away, Jimmy tells Clark that the news of he and Cat's tryst is all over the newsroom.

After catching a break on the story, Lois and Clark head out to interview George Thompson, who apparently works for the government. Before they arrive Thompson is on the phone yelling at a man called Trask. He tells Trask that he will take care of the problem with these two reporters. He tells Lois and Clark that he is investigating who the fake feds are, and Clark uses his x-ray vision on Thompson's briefcase and sees a file folder marked Smallville, Kansas, 1966 (presumably the year that Clark's ship landed). Lois and Clark then storm out of his office because Lois doesn't like the way he's talking to them. She's asking the questions around here, mister!

Outside, Lois and Clark split up. Clarks changes into Superman and flies off, while Lois decides that it's a good idea to follow Thompson, who she spies outside of the building. She follows him to a warehouse, where he loses her trail. Inside, Thompson meets with the head federal investigator from the Planet, who is also the man he was talking to on the phone. Trask insists that Superman is the 'advance guard' for invading aliens, and the two men talk about something called Bureau 39 and how Trask is jeopardizing the operation. Thompson orders Trask to stop what he's doing, and Trask backhands Thompson insolently. He's going rogue, like Sarah Palin. Oh golly!

Meanwhile, back in Smallville, Clark has dinner with his parents, and they tell him about when they found him after his ship crashed. Clark doesn't seem to know if he's an alien or some sort of Russian experiment. Pa Kent reveals that he never destroyed the ship Clark arrived in, and he leads Ma and Clark out to where he buried the ship. Clark digs up the site at superspeed to discover that the ship is missing. Dun dun DUN.

After the commercial break and back at the Planet, Clark and Lois are looking at microfilm. In an old newspaper photo, Lois recognizes the person who stormed the Planet as Jason Trask, and they decide to follow up on this. At Clark's desk, Clark confronts Cat about the rumors that are going around, and is then called into Perry's office, presumably because Perry saw Clark talking to Cat. It is here that we are introduced to Perry's obsession with Elvis. He tells some story about some woman that Elvis was supposed to marry but he didn't because some colonel in the army told him not to. In this metaphor, Clark is Elvis and Perry is the colonel. It's really awful. Thankfully Lois interrupts with news that Thompson is dead. Yay!

Later, Lois and Clark are interviewing one of the men who was in the photo with Trask. The old man tells them about the advanced security measures that will surely be surrounding Trask and Bureau 39. He then gives them a key card to the building, pulls out a gun, and tells them to leave by the count of three. Presumably after he got to three and Lois and Clark were gone he shot himself with the gun. Not that they would ever have shown that on this show, but Jennie insists that, if this was the X-Files, that's definitely what would have happened.

Having gone back to the warehouse, Clark and Lois break in to Bureau 39. They wander around looking at photos and artifacts. Lois is skeptical that any of this is really from outer space (Scully), while Clark is more willing to accept the possibility (Mulder). After a few moments of wandering, Clark uncovers a ship that he identifies as the ship he came to Earth in, based on the giant Superman S-symbol that is engraved on the front of the ship. He pulls out some sort of an orb that begins to glow in the presence of the ship. This orb hasn't been seen before at all on the show, but presumably it came with Clark in the ship? No explanation for this whatsoever. Clark recognizes the orb as being a model of Krypton just in time for he and Lois to be discovered by Trask. Lois acts all smug about Superman coming to save them, and Trask tells them that he's counting on it. Remember that scene in Batman Forever when Nicole Kidman tells Jim Carrey that Batman is going to save her, and Jim Carrey says that he's counting on it? It's just exactly like that, except Trask isn't wearing question-mark-covered spandex, and Teri Hatcher is nowhere near as hot as Nicole Kidman.

Yes, Jim Carrey, that was over the top, and you can always tell.

Next we have an interlude between Jimmy Olsen and Lucy Lane, Lois's sister. A few times before in the episode Jimmy mentioned that he was thinking of asking Lucy out (I didn't mention this earlier because it clearly was not important to the overall plot of the episode at all). Jimmy tells Lucy that Lois hasn't checked in with the Planet, and Lucy shrugs it off. He then takes this opportunity to ask Lucy out on a date, and Lucy accepts, even though she's just met Jimmy and he basically wormed his way into the apartment so he could see her. I have to say, I take issue with the way the women on this show act. More on this later.

Aboard some sort of fighter jet, Lois and Clark are preparing for their imminent deaths. Lois says something about how she's afraid she'll never meet her true love, and it's a heartwarming moment except that it's not because why is she worrying about this right now? Lois Lane is a smart, headstrong woman. Shouldn't she be trying to figure out a way to get out of this situation? Luckily for her, Trask has a good idea. He's going to throw Clark and Lois out of the plane and hope that Superman arrives to rescue one or both of them. And if he doesn't, oh well, no big loss.

Lois is first, because Trask is a gentleman and ladies should always be thrown out of planes first. She makes one last request, though - she wants to kiss Clark goodbye. WHAT. PSYCH, it was totally a trick so that she and Clark could turn on their captors. A skirmish ensues, Trask throws Lois out of the plane, and Clark dives after her. He takes this opportunity to change into Superman and saves Lois. As he catches her, he STARES STRAIGHT AT THE CAMERA and uses his super-break-the-fourth-wall powers to freak me the fuck out. Seriously. The amount of time that he spends staring at the camera is totally creepy.

"Hi, my name is Superman, and I'm peering into your soul right now."

Meanwhile, on the fighter jet, Trask orders the firing of a missile - directly at Superman! Superman quickly puts Lois down (conveniently back at the Daily Planet), and manages to catch the missile. As he does so the missile explodes and Superman is caught in the blast. Trask and his cronies sneer with delight at having killed that Commie alien scum, and they make their escape onboard the fighter jet. Lois staggers into the Planet, where she reunites with Clark, who is apparently unscathed. Later, Lois and Clark lead Perry, Jimmy, and a bunch of federal stormtroopers agents to the warehouse where Bureau 39 had been set up, only to find the place empty. Lois cries cover-up and plans to write the story with Clark, but Perry puts the kibosh on it seeing as they have no evidence and nothing to corroborate their stories but each other.

That evening, Lois is working late at the Planet (read: she's throwing nuts into the air and catching them in her mouth) when Superman floats up to her desk. He promises to find Trask and the others, and Lois interviews Clark Superman about his origins and his motives. He explains that he's from another planet, and that he's here to help. As he answers her questions, he hears a kitten trapped in a tree, and tells Lois that he has to leave. Lois should really take this as a hint: kittens trapped in trees are a higher priority to Superman than she is. Still, she's left with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside as she sets out to write her story about Superman. Or maybe she just has to pee. That's probably more likely.

REVIEW: This episode was definitely...uh...shorter? Than the last one. Actually, it wasn't all terrible. The idea of government agents being after Superman is totally plausible, and would have been really entertaining if it had been carried out in a less boring manner. The antagonist, Trask, is so cookie-cutter that it's laughable. His dialogue is bad, his motives are boring, even his face is kind of bland. We also get some more whoring from Cat Grant, which I'm pretty sure we can expect to see all season (if memory serves, she is mercifully gone by season 2). She does manage to be a little less annoying in this episode than she was in the pilot, so that is somewhat refreshing.

My biggest complaint about the episode is that Lex Luthor was completely absent. He's Superman's #1 bad guy, and he makes not a single appearance in this episode. Instead he is replaced by lame thug #347. Things will surely improve once he returns. Overall, though, this wasn't as bad as the pilot, but it's still pretty rough. The show is in its infancy at this point. Hopefully the addition of a little more Luthor (and a little more Jimmy Olsen doing something useful) and the subtraction of one Cat Grant will help things along.


Jennie said...

I'm pretty sure the orb that Clark found was the Orb of Thesulah and Angel's soul was inside. I believe I made that point last night while you were watching this episode WHY DIDN'T YOU USE ANY OF MY AWESOME ZINGERS?


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this one more then the pilot the sooner they get rid of Cat the better she is very annoying!


ps Why she doesnt see Clark for who he is beyond me..
He doesnt even act differently..I think this venue was the only one where Clark didnt act like a complete idiot well maybe except for Smallville which isnt really Superman as we have known him..

Ashley said...

Lois is skeptical that any of this is really from outer space (Scully), while Clark is more willing to accept the possibility (Mulder).

Mulder WISHES he were an alien from the planet Krypton. I think it would give him life validation.

Question: How are you guys doing this? Are you alternating episodes? Are you writing it together? I'm curious.

Jennie: I'm dying from your comment. Angel's soul! The Orb of Thesulah! I can't believe Joe didn't use that.

Jennie said...

We wrote the first one together but Joe wrote this one on his own. We're alternating from now on. I watched part of this one with him and spent the whole time making sarcastic comments but he didn't think they were funny. BUT WHATEVER THEY WERE COMEDY GOLD.

Joe G. said...

I did think they were funny, but I was trying to concentrate on writing my own thoughts down and on watching the episode. GET OFF MY BACK.

Anonymous said...

For those who dont have Netflex you can watch it free online..

Dennis (Uncle D)

Eric Shonborn said...

Whatever. Nicole Kidman is not hotter than Terri Hatcher. Not then, not now.

Jennie said...

Teri Hatcher looks like a praying mantis now, so I'd give the edge to Nicole Kidman. But back then, I think Teri Hatcher was hotter.