Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
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Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (often called Lois & Clark or The New Adventures Of Superman) is a live-action American television series based on the Superman comic books. It was advertised simply as "The New Adventures of Superman" in the United Kingdom (with the episodes having altered opening credits when aired on the BBC, though not on later Sky One or ITV2 repeats); non-US audiences were not expected to understand the joking reference to Lewis and Clark. This should not be confused with the 1966 Filmation animated series The New Adventures of Superman.
Lois & Clark aired on ABC from September 12, 1993 to June 14, 1997, and starred Dean Cain as Superman/Clark Kent, Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane and John Shea as Lex Luthor. The series loosely followed the comic philosophy of writer John Byrne (who revamped the Superman mythos in 1986 with his six-issue series, The Man of Steel), with Clark Kent as the true personality, and Superman as a secondary disguise. As the show's title suggests, it focused 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. It was entirely shot in California.
On 17 May 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 comic continuity in the comics, in which they are deceased, Jonathan and Martha are very much alive in the TV show, and frequently visit Metropolis. Clark, throughout the series, has proudly stated several times that Martha made his Superman costume for him.
Twenty-seven years later, Clark moves to Metropolis and gets a job at the Daily Planet under the gruff editor Perry White. There, he is partnered with star reporter Lois Lane. 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, a benefactor to Metropolis who is secretly evil. 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. Luthor eventually proposes marriage, and Lois accepts. Luthor decides to coincide his nuptials with the death of Superman, trapping the hero within a kryptonite cage directly beneath the chapel where the wedding is about to take place. When Superman gets free and Luthor is exposed, the villain takes his own life rather than be arrested. Because his powers have been sapped by Luthor's kryptonite, Clark is unable to stop the villain from killing himself.
In Season two, Clark and Lois begin to date, but are interrupted by Mayson Drake, a District Attorney who takes an interest in Clark but has a total lack of regard for Superman. Meanwhile, a Federal Agent named Dan Scardino (Jim Pirri) becomes a rival for Lois' affections. In the season finale, Clark proposes to Lois. In the third season premiere, she replies "Who's asking, Clark or Superman?" It therefore becomes clear that Lois has discovered Superman's secret identity and resents that Clark never confessed it to her. After a tumultuous courtship, Lois finally accepts Clark's engagement ring. The marriage was timed 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.
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. 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 the superhero. Also of note are Clark Kent and Superman's traditional hairstyles, which are reversed; here it is Superman whose hair is slicked-back, and Clark whose fringe falls more naturally.
The first season (1993 - 1994) was a success, garnering the cast, especially Hatcher and Cain, critical praise for their performances. Lane Smith was a huge success, breathing life and humour into the Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White. This Perry was southernized and a huge fan of Elvis Presley. John Shea also met with rave reviews over his portrayal of Lex Luthor, while Landes gained a cult following for his more modern-day Jimmy Olsen character trying to uncover the truth and become a reporter. Lex Luthor was killed off in the season finale, after a falling-out between Shea and the producers over the actor's strenuous commute between New York and Los Angeles. No longer a regular cast member, he only reappeared sporadically; once in Season two and twice in Season three.
Season two (1994 - 1995) dropped the character of Cat Grant and replaced Michael Landes with Justin Whalin as Jimmy Olsen. The official reason, according to Landes, was that he looked too similar to Dean Cain (on the DVD commentary for the pilot of Lois & Clark, Dean Cain has admitted that he and Landes looked like they could be related). Series creator Deborah Joy LeVine and the entire first-season writing team were also dismissed. The new producer, Robert Singer, planned a stronger focus on "action".; the show also focused more on the budding romance of Lois and Clark.
Many villains began to appear from the comics, such as The Prankster, Metallo, the Toyman and the criminal group known as Intergang, and the show featured new love interests for the ace reporters: Dan Scardino (Jim Pirri), a government agent interested in Lois, and D. A. Mayson Drake (Farrah Forke). This season also featured the debut of fan-favorite villain Tempus (played by Lane Davies) and HG Wells, as a time-traveler. Wells' younger self was played by Terry Kiser, and the older Wells was played by Hamilton Camp. Season 2 ended with the cliffhanger of Clark proposing marriage to Lois.
In the premiere episode of Season three (1995 - 1996), Lois revealed that she had recently learned Clark's secret identity. Only later in the 7th episode of the season, "Ultra Woman", did Lois finally accept Clark's proposal. The long-anticipated wedding was put off to coincide with the characters' marriage in the comics, which led to many storylines designed to delay and interrupt the wedding on the TV series. Another controversy erupted when ABC announced that the wedding would actually take place Valentine's Day weekend, even sending out heart-shaped "wedding invitations" to ABC News staff, only to present viewers with a bogus wedding in which Clark unwittingly married a clone of Lois, developed by a mad scientist whose creations were required to ingest frogs periodically.
The fourth and final season (1996 - 1997) began with the resolution of a cliffhanger involving a previously unknown colony of Kryptonians. A villainous conqueror from New Krypton, Lord Nor, takes over Clark's hometown of Smallville. After the conclusion of this story arc, Lois and Clark finally wed in the 3rd episode of the season. The same week of the airing of this episode, DC Comics released "Superman, the Wedding Album," featuring the long awaited marriage of Lois Lane and Clark Kent, written and penciled by many of the writers and artists involved with Superman since the 1986 revamp, including some legends from the silver age, and an unpublished work of the late Curt Swan.
The series ended on a strange cliffhanger in which Lois and Clark find an infant on their doorstep, along with a note that claimed the child belonged to them. This mystery was never resolved in the TV series; however Brad Buckner (Executive producer and writer for seasons 3 and 4) later revealed in an interview that the infant was in fact Kryptonian royalty hidden with Lois and Clark so that they could protect him from assassins.
Earlier in the fourth season, ABC had announced and promised an additional fifth year of the show, so the show's producers and writers were caught unprepared when ABC later changed its mind and decided that no new episodes would be produced. The series had weakened in its Sunday 8:00 timeslot and had been shifted to 7:00 in January, and finally a last-ditch move to Saturdays in the spring. The ratings continued to drop. ABC made up for its commitment with Warner Bros. by ordering 13 episodes of a Debra Messing drama called Prey.
- Dean Cain as Clark Kent/Superman
- Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane
- Lane Smith as Perry White
- Tracy Scoggins as Cat Grant (Season 1)
- K Callan as Martha Kent
- Eddie Jones as Jonathan Kent
- John Shea as Lex Luthor (Season 1, Guest Appearance in Season 2, Two-Part Guest Appearance in Season 3, and an audio-only cameo in Season 4)
- Michael Landes as Jimmy Olsen (Season 1)
- Justin Whalin as Jimmy Olsen (Seasons 2-4)