We’re back, baby! Everyone’s favorite wishy washy Superman is back for season 2! Unlike last year, due to DC Universe, it is easy to stream along with me, and I’d encourage you to do so. Let’s dig right in.
1. New Lois
Noel Neill joins the show this season as Lois Lane, replacing Phyllis Coates, who played Lane in the first season. Neill had played Lois in the first two Superman serials, alongside Kirk Alyn. The two later cameo’d as Lois Lane’s parents in the 1978 Superman film, and Neill would pop up in guest roles in both a 1991 Superboy episode as well as in Superman Returns, playing Lex Luthor’s dying wife.
She is a slightly warmer presence on screen than Coates was, but not by much. Lois here is still the brassy, take charge woman she was in the first season.
2. Cold shit
“Five Minutes to Doom” sees Lois essentially belittle a man on death row because of her faultless belief in the judicial system. Like so many episodes of this show, Lois can be very tough, but then buckles like a belt with the smallest bit of evidence. In this case, that evidence is a man, called by the framer of the death row inmate, who manages to build a bomb, find Lois and Clark’s car while they are driving, hitchhike, be picked up by them, plant the bomb, and only survive because Clark throws himself out of the car to avoid the bomb. (Why couldn’t he just throw it?)
In “The Big Squeeze,” we get another story involving prison, this time with an ex-convict being blackmailed so his employer doesn’t find out he was in jail. This seems both a little irresponsible – didn’t you have to disclose a criminal past? – and also a little silly as to why he doesn’t just go to the police with this blackmail situation. But again, as soon as everyone finds out he’s an ex-con, aside from the Daily Planet staff, everyone spits on this guy and tells him he’s shit.
3. Surprisingly good acting
In “Five Minutes to Doom,” Dabbs Greer played Joe Winters, the convicted felon, and the guy has some pretty serious acting chops for Adventures of Superman. It turns out he was Reverend Robert Alden on Little House on the Prairie, so it is clear I wasn’t his only fan. He plays the role sadly, but with dignity, and never goes over the top, though it would be very, very easy to do so.
This episode also features the best acting thus far from Jack Larson, who plays Jimmy Olsen. For once, Jimmy has a good idea, and he plays a bumbling vacuum cleaner salesman to get ripped up files out of a trashcan. How he got a) the vacuum and b) such a plausibly delivered speech on the benefits of said vacuum so fast are a little puzzling, but hey, maybe Jimmy helped Del Close develop modern improv, and that’s why he was so quick on his feet. Who knows?
In “The Big Squeeze,” Dan Grayson, the ex-con, is played by Hugh Beaumont, aka Ward Cleaver on Leave It To Beaver. Again, there’s a very subtle, underplayed performance, which contrasts with how almost all the regulars on this show just shout back and forth to each other.
4. Wayne and Grayson
In “Five Minutes to Doom,” the evil businessman’s last name is Wayne. In “The Big Squeeze,” the ex-con’s last name is Grayson. Could it be coincidence? Sure, I guess so, but it’s interesting that two of the other DC heroes would have their last names included in these episodes. We’ll see if next week has Mr. Hall, Mr. Scott, or Mr. Garrick.
5. Superman sure asks for help a lot
I talked about this a lot last season, but it’s amazing how little Superman does in this show. He comes upon a knocked out night watchman, and instead of flying him to a hospital, he simply calls an ambulance. (And before you get on me about concussed folks shouldn’t fly, I know that, but Superman doesn’t have a pressurized cabin or flys at 30,000 feet) Throughout all of these episodes, Superman only really pushes himself to do anything close to maximum effort when it means breaking through a wall, which he does often, and with glee.