Nightlife :: Special Events

Lois & Clark - The New Adventures of Superman - The Complete Third Season

by Mack Bates
Contributor
Tuesday Jun 20, 2006
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Available from Warner Home Video
Available from Warner Home Video  

The third season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman hinges on the aftermath following Clark Kent’s (Dean Cain) marriage proposal to Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher). Her response is as unexpected as it is jaw-dropping and serves as a metaphor for the intentionally topsy-turvy nature of the third season.

It just so happens that the show’s third season was the highest-rated of its entire four-year run on ABC and is considered by many as being its best, overall. The show may have jumped the shark by pairing Lois and Clark up a little too soon (after fans of the show practically threatened mutiny after enduring two full seasons of "will they or won’t they" moments) but the one constant throughout its run was the undeniable chemistry between stars Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher who were TV’s most photogenic couple, that is until Sela Ward and Billy Campbell of the much-missed Once and Again claimed the title.

The third year also marked the last season the show would air in its original Sunday night time slot (8pm EST/7pm CST). The fourth and final season of Lois & Clark did kick off in its original Sunday night berth only to be banished to Saturday nights (think: "television’s equivalent of purgatory") roughly halfway through its run thanks to the arrival of the ratings behemoth, Touched By An Angel.

But, I digress.

As a die-hard fan of the Lois & Clark, I’d have to say that the first two seasons were the best overall creatively, but it must be said that in the third season the show’s two indispensable leads, Cain and Hatcher, hit their respective strides. In fact, they both inhabited their characters’ underlying angst so well by then that they both co-wrote two of the third season’s best episodes. In "Virtually Destroyed" (written by Cain with Sean Brennan), Lois and Clark are lead on a death-defying tour of an evil computer wizard’s virtual-reality "fun park." And Hatcher shared writing credit with Pat Hazell on "It’s a Small World After All," which featured a former classmate of Lois’ planning to get revenge on everyone who made her high school years miserable by cutting them down to size (literally!) with a secret shrinking formula at the upcoming reunion. Of the two, Hatcher’s episode was the more entertaining, and in retrospect serves as a reminder of just how committed she is when it comes to staying true to the nature of whatever character she’s playing. Without knowing it, Hatcher was laying the groundwork for her inspired work as Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives with her liberated take on Lois Lane, easily the best and funniest interpretation of the iconic character to date.

Speaking of iconic characters, the late-Lane Smith’s Perry White was the show’s secret weapon. If you paid attention to the nuance he brought to the material, you were awarded with comic gold week in, week out. Smith gamely played opposite Cain and Hatcher as well as Justin Whalen who assumed the role of Jimmy Olsen at the beginning of the second season after Michael Landes (who played Olsen during the show’s first season) was released from the show by the producers because they felt he looked too much like Clark Kent’s younger brother. One could make the same argument about Whalen who resembles Cain’s Clark Kent far more than Landes. But since the transition was seamless and Whalen was better suited for the role, why bother?

As a child of the eighties and nineties, the late, great Christopher Reeve will always be the dopest Superman in my mind’s eye, but Cain captured the Man of Steel’s alter-ego, Clark Kent, best of all. Not as socially awkward or painfully self-aware at times as previous incarnations, Cain re-imagined Clark and took the character into realms of thought and being that no other actor has. Cain brought an assured masculinity to the role that made his Clark Kent every bit as appealing, if not more so, than his Superman.

Unlike the other actors who’ve played Lois and Clark over the years, Hatcher and Cain had the opportunity to flesh them out over four years and 87 high flying episodes; rarely missing a beat. Now thanks to these indispensable DVD box sets, people will get a chance to relive or discover what I still personally consider to be the best escapist television series ever.

Stars: Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, Lane Smith, Justin Whalen, K Callen, and Eddie Jones

All 22 Season Three episodes presented in Full Screen format; and three featurettes: Lois & Clark: A History of Romance, The Man of Steel Trivia Challenge, hosted by Dean Cain, and Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman (excerpts from the new documentary produced by Superman Returns director Bryan Singer and documentarian Kevin Burns that aired on A&E).

Notable guest stars during the show’s third season were: Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead II and The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.), Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond and Young Frankenstein), David Leisure (Empty Nest), Olivia Brown (Miami Vice and Designing Women), Ilana Levine (Tanner ’88), singer/actor Mac Davis, Sharon Thomas (Dean Cain’s mom), Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Genie Francis (General Hospital), Kenneth Kimmins (Coach), Mary Gross (Feds), Shelley Long (Cheers), Dave Coulier (Full House), Alex D. Linz (One Fine Day), Michael Burger (Mike and Maty), Sean Kanan (GH and B&B), comedienne Paula Poundstone, Robert Carradine (Lizzie McGuire), Harve Presnell (Fargo), Gary Dourdan (CSI), Cress Williams (Living Single), Lane Davies (Santa Barbara), Emily Proctor (CSI: Miami), Tony Curtis (Some Like It Hot), Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Fred Willard (Best in Show), John Shea (reprising his role of Lex Luthor), Timothy Busfield (thirtysomething), Larry Poindexter (S.W.A.T.), Daniel Roebuck (The Late Shift), Renee Taylor (The Nanny), San Francisco 49er Steve Young, Jon Tenney (The Closer), Justine Bateman (Family Ties and Out of Order), and Roger Daltrey (The Who’s Tommy)

Mack credits the 1991 Ridley Scott film "Thelma & Louise" with reconfirming his long-held desire to become a filmmaker in his own right. He attended the University of Wisconsin with a double major in Film and Film Studies and a minor in Journalism and Mass Communications. He’s the proud recipient of two consecutive awards for excellence in collegiate journalism from the Milwaukee (WI) Press Club, the country’s oldest press club.

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