Adventures of Superman managed to surprise in a few ways this week, though not necessarily in great ways.
1. Only minor racism
I instantly got nervous when I saw the title of this first episode (“The Riddle of the Chinese Jade”), because neither the decade of its production nor the show itself has a particularly good reputation for its even handed approach to non-white folks. But I must say, aside from some general orientalism, the show treated its Chinese-American characters with class. I know, I can’t believe it either!
Of course, this is Adventures of Superman, so one step forward, two steps back. Instead of a simple plot point – Lois and Clark were called to a store for an announcement of a donation of a piece of priceless jade to a museum – Lois and Clark just happen to already be hanging out in a curio store in Chinatown with their pal, who then reveals this to them. It’s sloppy storytelling, but at least it isn’t racist!
Oh wait, only one of the three Asian characters is played be an Asian actor? God damn it.
2. Have these people never explored anything?
This whole episode is predicated on the idea that Lu Song doesn’t realize there is a staircase that leads into the second story(?) of his store/apartment from a tunnel that goes under the street and into his manager’s apartment. First of all, the schematics looked like they were drawn by a 3rd grader, and make so little sense it was like they were though up by a 1st grader.
One of the first things I’ve done whenever I’ve moved anywhere is to check shit out. I once found 30 year old newspapers in the crawl space of an apartment I rented, not because I thought there was going to be treasure there, but just because that’s what you do. How did Lu Song never look deeper at his residence of sixteen years.
Though, again, giving credit to this episode, Lu Song at least attempts to give a reason why there may be a tunnel. That puts this in the highest echelon of logical episodes.
3. Worst eccentric millionaires ever
So, “The Human Bomb” begins with two guys hanging out in the ‘Metropolis City Club,’ when one wagers the other guy, after one the creepiest monologues ever captured on film, that he can control Superman for 30 minutes and, if he does it, the other guy should pay him $100,000. Here’s my question: Why are guys worth that much in that shitty club? The City Club appears to be two arm chairs and a coffee table. Is there that little in Metropolis that just having a couple of chairs is all it takes for the 1% to hang out at your establishment?
4. Someone actually testing Superman
Again, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this episode actually had a ‘villain’ with a plan. While his plan was stupid, at least he was playing with the conventions of the show in a way no one has really done up to now. “So Superman, you’re going to do what I say, or else I blow up your girlfriend.” And not in a “hand me the jewels” way, but in a “I want you to play into my scheme” type of way. It was a fun way to spend this time, especially when I hoped Jimmy Olsen wasn’t dumb enough to forget that the dynamite had to be real, because he saw some blow up. But no, he’s that dumb. Just because a company isn’t in the Metropolis phone book, Jim, it doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
5. Police brutality, hardy har har
It is bad enough that the cops let Lois slap the Human Bomb when he’s in custody, but then they essentially say “Ok, we’re off to beat the shit out of him in the car!” No one bats an eye.
Also, worst cops ever: they still have his dynamite vest on him. Wouldn’t you want to take that, you know, off?