Sunday, January 9, 2011

Lois & Clark, Episode 4: I'm Looking Through You

Netflix Synopsis: Superman faces an unseen enemy when an invisible man terrorizes Metropolis, staging violent robberies and helping vicious criminals escape.

...I don't even have anything to add to the synopsis. That does not bode well for this episode being interesting at all.

DC Comics Editor Mike Carlin welcomes you to Superman Day!

It's Superman Day in Metropolis! Street vendors shill everything possible with the Superman logo on it. The crowd is made up mostly of DC Comics editors, which you would only know if you are a huge nerd like me, and now, thanks to me, you know it, too, thus making you a huge nerd. YOU'RE WELCOME. Superman swoops out of the sky, and Lois Lane, who is among the crowd, tries to get his attention, but to no avail. Don't worry, Lois, I'm sure he was just distracted by some kittens.

This is where Superman got the idea for the key
to the Fortress of Solitude.

Up on-stage (did I mention there's a stage? There's a stage), Lex Luthor (who wears the key to the city around his neck like an Olympic gold medal) introduces Superman, and the deputy mayor of Metroplis takes the key from Luthor and gives it to Superman. You can't see it, but Lex is crying on the inside about this. Superman makes a brief speech, but is overwhelmed by the amount of praise he's receiving. While the festivities continue, Lex slinks off, headed to the Everglades. "Just what the bootmaker ordered," he sneers. God, Lex, you are so fired from life for that lame-ass comment.

Having slipped away into a back alley, Superman composes himself, but begins to freak out and run away when a group of fangirls rush after him and trap him against the dead end of the alley. Could this be curtains for Superman? Felled by a throng of non-powered humans?

It's Bieber Fever! CATCH IT!

Apparently not, as when we return from the credits Clark and Lois are back at the Planet as if nothing happened. Lois is disappointed that Superman didn't notice her amid the crowd earlier that day. Continuing to ignore Lois, Clark looks out the window and spots a plane that is about to crash. He pretends to drop his pen, and while he's on the floor to pick it up he slips out of the room by crawling across the floor at superspeed. He couldn't have just excused himself to use the restroom or something? Honestly, Clark.

Jimmy has brought a copy of the National Whisper to the staff meeting. The cover story is about an "invisible Robin Hood" who has been robbing slum lords and distributing the cash to poor people. Lois and Perry mock the Whisper as being nothing but tabloid trash. Getting back to the meeting, a reporter named Friez is working on a story about the escape of an armed robber named Henry Barnes from prison. Gee, I wonder if this Barnes guy is somehow connected to the invisible Robin Hood. I'm sure they are entirely unrelated. After all, this is a complex universe that they're building here. Lois finally notices that Clark has crawled away, only to find him standing across the room, pen in hand. Clark smiles and looks out the window, where the crashing plane is now flying safely. After the meeting, a talent agent and obvious huckster named Murray Brown arrives at the Planet looking for Superman. He tells Lois he wants to represent Superman, and figures that Lois will know how to find him since she wrote about him. Naturally, because all journalists trade contact information with the subjects of their stories.

Although his wardrobe did appear in this episode,
Rodney Dangerfield was unavailable for this role.

Lois is mercifully called away to huddle around a TV with Clark and Jimmy, where they see footage of an invisible man hijacking a catering truck, which ends up at a homeless shelter. As they watch the footage, a strange woman comes up to Lois and tells her and Clark that she is the wife of the invisible man. Lois appears skeptical at first (Scully), but Clark says that he's fascinated by the paranormal (Mulder), and they decide to humor the woman.

Back at the woman's house, they find some sort of lab equipment. According to the woman, her husband is something of scientist who spent most of his time in his lab. A few weeks ago he left, having somehow turned himself invisible. The woman wants Lois & Clark to write an article about him and to find out if he's ever coming home. As they leave, Lois is still not convinced, and Clark questions whether everything has to have a logical explanation, and Lois says yes. Clark brings up Superman, a man who flies and is bulletproof. Before she can answer, Lois & Clark see a skywriting plane asking Superman to contact Murray Brown about representation. Lois is disgusted by it along with all of the other Superman publicity, and Clark questions her motives, to which Lois replies that she's afraid Superman is going to forget about her.

Having returned to the Planet, Lois & Clark arrive in time to see the invisible man's wife on television pleading for him to come home. As she speaks, we cut to another location, where a shadowy figure in a fedora and trenchcoat watches. Could this be the invisible man? Dun dun DUUUUUN. Back at the Planet, Lois still scoffs and says that there's no such thing as an invisible man. Later, at a jewelry store, the invisible man strikes! He pistolwhips people willy-nilly and steals most of the jewelry, and as he leaves he tells the people to say that the invisible man was here. Mwah hahahahahahaha! Seriously, he laughs like that. It's pretty awful.

Not a floating gun! I am paralyzed with fear!

At the crime scene later, Lois & Clark are still bickering like an old married couple about whether or not there is an invisible man when Lois receives a tip from one of the policemen, and they head off to investigate. They arrive at the invisible man's wife's house to find the lab trashed. She insists that her husband didn't do this, and afterward Lois & Clark bicker some more about multiple invisible men and about the secrets that couples keep from each other. Lois tells Clark that she has to get home, as she has a date with Superman, and Clark is surprised by this.

That evening, Lois and Cat Grant (did I ever mention that Cat Grant was in this episode? She is, but she's not ever really important) are attending a charity auction. Lex Luthor is up for bids first, and he sells for $10,000. Superman is next on the auction block, and Lois and Cat get into a bidding war over him. Eventually the price soars (like Superman!) out of their price range, selling for $50,000. Lois is crushed, and Lex can't help but notice. He's wearing new alligator-skin boots (the cad!), and he asks Lois to have lunch with him, and offer that she accepts. Way to pick up Superman's leftovers, Lex! Outside of the auction, Superman is flying off when Murray Brown, who has apparently been hanging around the auction, calls after him. The agent pushes him to sign a deal, and Superman flatly rejects him and flies away. Back inside, Clark finds Lois drowning her sorrows in champagne. She pines over Superman, and Clark tries to reassure her that he really does care about her. He being Superman, not he being Clark. Except Clark is Superman, so I suppose it's all semantics.

Cheer up, Lois. I'm sure he'd love you if you had more money.

Later that night, the invisible man breaks into some old guy's office, strangles the guy, and steals his rare gold coins. What a dick!

The next day at the Planet, Lois is working on the latest robbery story. Clark arrives with a sample of cloth from the invisible man's lab that he has had tested at STAR Labs. The cloth is designed to use flourescent light to make someone appear to be invisible, and Lois counts this as a victory in the "there's no such thing as an invisible man" argument because the guy isn't actually invisible, he just appears that way. What is it going to take to convince this broad? Does the guy's skin have to be invisible? Because, if I recall correctly, there's an episode of The X-Files about that, and the guy gets hit by a car because he can't ever turn visible again and he wanders out into traffic. And also because he's an idiot. Anyway.

That night, Lois and Jimmy are working late at the office, Jimmy having collected as much information as possible about armed robberies over the last 10 years. What they hope to prove with this information is beyond me. As they look through the info, someone dressed like Claude Rains approaches them and pronounces dramatically that he is the invisible man. Lois pulls the bandage off of his perfectly visible nose and tells him to get lost, and he scampers off in shame. Lois spies three more people waiting for her, all dressed exactly the same, and decides to go home, leaving Clark alone at his desk.

It's shit like this that makes Lois Lane a laughing stock.

Later, Clark has a nightmare in which he is taunted by Planet staffers dressed as Superman. They fly around, cackle, and are just generally meany poopheads to him.

Welcome to your nightmare, dear reader.

Meanwhile, at Lois's apartment, a knock comes at the door, rousing her from bed. She goes to the door to find no one there, but when she re-enters the apartment a disembodied head greets her. It's the invisible man! Lois screams and faints. I think I would probably do the same in that situation, so I can't mock her for this. And I applaud her for keeping control of her bladder.

Hey, it's that guy's head!

The next day, Clark & Lois are talking to the invisible man, whose name is Alan. He explains that he became the invisible man in order to help people, but that whoever is committing crimes in his name is not him. He explains that someone must have stolen one of his backup suits, and asks Lois & Clark to help him stop whoever did it. Lois says that they really need Superman's help, but that he's probably getting ready to appear on his own TV show by now. "Superman on TV?" Clark says, "I don't think so." Meta! And, also, I agree, Clark. Clark and Alan leave Lois's apartment, but not before getting a glimpse of her Superman pajamas. So let me get this straight. Throughout the episode Lois has bitched and bitched about how Superman is selling out and going all commercial - she remembers his earlier work, back when he had standards, man - but, at the same time, she's supporting that commercialism by buying Superman pajamas? This just in: Lois Lane is a hypocrite.

This image = my boyhood fantasies.

That same night, a figure in a fedora and trenchcoat is walking down the rainy street. He passes a wanted poster for Henry Barnes, the escaped thief mentioned at the beginning of the episode, and as he steps into the light you can see that it's Barnes himself. How convenient for the viewer! Though it might have also helped if he was wearing prison stripes and a nametag. Back at Clark's apartment, Clark and Alan are chillin' like two cool dudes do. Alan says that Clark can't imagine having someone not see the part of him that he wants them to see, but Clark says that he understands. Then, rather abruptly, Clark has to leave, probably to do Superman stuff, leaving Alan alone.

He didn't have to do Superman stuff, though, he just had to go to Smallville to whine to his parents about how popular the Superman brand has become. He's afraid that he won't be able to keep up with it, and that he's losing himself to the Superman suit. Of course, his parents aren't helping, having collected a nice assortment of memorabilia themselves. It's nothing compared to my collection, but it's not a bad start. They assure him, though, that it's not the suit, but the man underneath it that counts.

I just...I don't even know.

The next day, Lois, Clark, Jimmy, and Perry see a news report about the invisible man having released a bunch of criminals. Lois worries that Superman won't be able to stop an army of invisible criminals. The invisible gang plans to rob a huge gold supply, and Lois and Clark determine where they plan to strike next: The Fort Metroplis Gold Repository! Fort Metropolis? Seriously? This show is insulting to my intelligence. I'm sure I thought that this was awesome when I was 10 and I saw this for the first time, but good lord, show, you are just awful.

Clark and Lois head back to Clark's apartment to find Invisible Alan asleep on Clark's couch. He's like their small child, except he's older than both of their ages combined. They share a cup of tea and muse about which powers they would rather have, invisibility or flight. Lois says she always wished she could be invisible, while Clark says he would rather be able to fly. Lois says that they have something in common: Superman (Clark wants to fly like him, she wants to fly with him). It's some awful dialogue, but I have to mention it because they're bonding and I guess that's the point of the show.

The next morning, Lois awakes on Clark's floor to find herself pregnant! Not really, but wouldn't that be a kick in the pants? And so much more interesting than the actual show. Anyway, she really just finds Superman standing before her, which I guess is exciting for Lois, at least. He says he ran into Clark at the courthouse, and that Clark told him they could use his help. He says that she doesn't need to bid for his attention, and that she will always be special to him. Alan wakes up on the couch, and the three set out to figure out a way to stop Barnes and the other inviso-crooks. Superman seems to have an idea of how to do it and he leaves without explaining it to them, and Lois talks Alan into letting her take one of the invisibility suits. Alan agrees, but only if he can go with her.

Dear Invisible Gang, it would help you if
you stayed all the way invisible while wearing
your invisibility suits. Best wishes, Joe.

Lois and Alan come upon the gang robbing the gold repository, where the gang captures them rather easily. Barnes locks Lois and Alan in an air-tight safe and leaves them for dead along with a few other hostages. The invisible men make their escape, opening fire on a bunch of police, when Superman arrives with a bag of phosphorous, which he pours on the invisible crooks, making them visible again.

Superman demonstrates his newest power: Super-Pouring.

As the air runs out in the vault, Superman bursts in and saves Lois, Alan, and the others. As Superman carries her out of the vault, Lois asks Superman how he stopped the crooks, and Superman explains that, in a flourescent light bulb, invisible light becomes visible when it passes through a coating of phosphorous. He stopped them with SCIENCE. Stay in school, kids! Lois swoons that it's the second time Superman has saved her life, and Superman doesn't really return her affection. He prepares to fly off when he is accosted by talent agent Murray Brown yet again. He finally agrees to allow his likeness to be licensed, and Lois is ready to berate him for being a TOTAL SELLOUT, MAN, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU, but Superman adds that all the proceeds have to go to charity, so Lois backs off.

The next day, Lois and Clark are with the newly reunited Alan and his wife, who it turns out is named Helene and not just 'invisible man's wife'. Lois & Clark are so happy to see them together again, and Helene whispers something in Lois's ear. The two giggle, and Helene says that Alan is back to his old self again. What did she whisper?! What could it have been?! Will this be like the end of Lost in Translation, and we're left to decide for ourselves what it was?! I can't take this! And no, it doesn't look like any explanation is coming. I will assume that it's something unbelievably dirty and sexual, since that's what Sex & The City has taught me that women talk about when they don't think that men can hear them. Alan says it's nice to be visible again, and Clark says that it's the man beneath the suit that always mattered. Hey, that's what his mom and dad told him! Awww, Clark learned a lesson in this episode. Isn't that special.

"He did what to your what in the where?"

Later at the Planet, Lois gloats over Clark that she was right all along about there being no such thing as an invisible man. She heads back to her desk, and Clark looks after her longingly. "Yes, there is, Lois. Yes, there is." OUCH.


Because Clark is invisible to her. Get it? It's pretty much the only somewhat subtle thing in this whole godforsaken episode, and it still can't help but hit you over the head like Buffy's purse with a brick in it. Try to keep up, please.

REVIEW: Ugh. No, this was just not good. It's not even so much that it was bad, it was just...boring. I couldn't get excited about this episode at all, and I think that, once again, it's because of a lack of Lex Luthor (and yes, I know he was the main baddie in the last episode, but I didn't get to review that one, so maybe it's just my bad luck). As I've said before, Lex is Superman's number one villain, but we spent this whole episode on invisible men and oh my god I just fell asleep because it's so boring. Why couldn't Alan be an employee at LexCorp when he develops the invisibility suit, and after he creates it Lex takes it from him and gives it to one of his goons so that the goon can take on Superman? Look what I did there? I just made the story better.

I can't go on anymore. It was just so dull. I really, really hope the next one is an improvement. And I just read the synopsis, and it looks like Superman boxes robots in the next episode. Because of fucking course he does.


Ashley said...

The X-Files episode you're thinking of is a season seven one called "Je Souhaite," and the man is Anson, who has been granted the ability to turn invisible at will by a genie, but forgets that cars can't see him and crosses the street and dies. Later he comes back to life. Anson is played by the guy who was Marshall on Alias.

I love that episode sooooooooo much.

Eric Shonborn said...

You have redeemed yourself in the comedy department, Joe.

Also I'm glad it's you watching these and not me.

Ashley said...

You guys are being really hard on this show. It's cheesy. EMBRACE THE CHEESE.

Jennie said...

I think what's disappointing to me about rewatching this is that when I watched it as a kid, I thought it was SO GOOD. It's way cheesier than I remember. Of course, I was 10 or 11 when the show started so that might explain a lot.

Joe G. said...

Ashley, I really like that episode of The X-Files, too.

Eric, I'm glad that this one was up to your high comedy standards.

eclectic said...

"It's Bieber Fever! CATCH IT!" I can't even tell you how hard that made me laugh, I can only thank you.