Jan 6, 2020
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”
With Harvey Weinstein’s career still in ruins and the #MeToo movement now being targeted by Donald Trump (although I guess that was inevitable), I felt prompted to look at an interesting episode from Lois & Clark‘s fourth and final season, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”, that also centers on a celebrity involved in a scandal.
By this point in the show, the title characters are actually married and have their own place. Also, along with Clark’s parents Jonathan (Eddie Jones) and Martha (K Callan) Kent, they’re the only ones who know how super-unique Clark is. Anyone else who discovers this (on this show, at least) either dies or gets tossed in jail. Either that, or they’re a time traveler, as episodes featuring H.G. Wells demonstrated.
The episode begins with Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher) and Jimmy Olsen (Justin Whalin) among a group of reporters and fans awaiting Superman’s arrival at Metropolis’s Hall of Justice. Yes, this show had its share of inside jokes. It seems Superman has just won the International Peace Prize, which I guess is the Nobel without Alfred’s input. As Superman mostly works in Metropolis, the face that someone from his home city is receiving this honor is naturally a big deal, along with the fact that he’s the first extraterrestrial to get the prize. When Jimmy asks why Lois didn’t go to (yep!) Stockholm with Clark to cover the event itself, she brushes it off, saying that her hubby is closer to Superman than she is.
Superman flies in, apparently just back from Stockholm. He stands at a podium before all the news cameras, announcing that he’s graciously giving his award and the prize money to the people of Metropolis. As he praises them, one person who isn’t smiling is news tycoon Randy Goode (Jack Wagner), who’s watching this event from the TV in his office. Goode rants, wondering why Superman gets all the awards Goode thinks he deserves. When Goode asks his staff why he hasn’t gotten any such prizes, one of his aides, Johnson, makes a snide remark that Goode is the king of sleaze, giving the others a brief laugh. When Johnson quickly apologizes, Goode asks him to get a reporter named Samantha (Downtown Julie Brown) on the horn, because she’s at the event.
Samantha tells Goode that there’s nothing juicy they can use. But Goode orders her to get her ass back to work and then tells everybody in his office to do the same. However, he wants Johnson to stay (uh-oh!). He politely calls Johnson out on his crack, while clandestinely opening his elevator, revealing an empty shaft that Johnson has his back to. Goode offers to shake hands before pushing Johnson bye-bye. I guess Superman’s super-hearing is too far away to hear Johnson’s terrified screams.
At the event, Lois quietly tells Superman she’s missed him. He politely reminds her that Clark doesn’t officially return until midnight. But Lois obviously doesn’t want to wait that long, leading to her giving him a romantic rub on his arm. Alas, this touch is recorded with delight by Samantha, and cue title sequence.
We return to Goode watching a report on LNN (yes, Lex Luthor still has that damn network named after him, even though this was well after he was exposed as a murderous criminal). The report states that Superman’s next good deed is to negotiate peace talks between the fictitious countries of Ladislan and Padansk. As the Man of Steel greets their leaders President Kasparov (Tony Amendola) and General Navance (Alan Charof), Goode is annoyed once again. Samantha pops in and shows him the footage she got.
This perks Goode right up as they both deduce that Superman is getting his super-groove on with a married woman. But Goode quickly and reluctantly adds that, as this is Superman they’re dealing with, they need actual proof to back up their guess.
At the Daily Planet, Clark gives Lois an idea on how he can secretly destroy Ladislan and Padansk’s hidden nuclear arsenals once he sweet-talks their leaders into revealing their locations. Didn’t Superman IV already cover this ground? Lois likes the idea and then gives Clark an even better suggestion: spending a weekend together at the prestigious Chateau Roberge. Clark is impressed, as it apparently costs a lot to get into the place. When he asks Lois how she did it, she doesn’t say, while attempting to hide what Clark thinks is the hotel’s confirmation letter. Lois quickly and playfully takes the letter to a paper shredder, but is annoyed a moment later when Clark takes out the shreds and reconstructs them with his super-speed and some scotch tape.
Upon reading it, Clark sees that it’s not a confirmation letter, but rather a thank-you letter from the hotel in response to Lois’s request to do a story on the place. Clark is a tad annoyed that Lois lied to get into such a place, but is still open to going there. He even reassures her that he can keep Kasparov and Navance quiet long enough for such a weekend.
Once Clark leaves, Samantha pops up, saying she works in research, and wastes no time gushing over Lois. When she asks her what Superman is like, Lois quickly bolts. This allows Samantha to look at the letter. Apparently, she’s so in the zone she doesn’t wonder how a shredded letter was put back together perfectly.
That night, Superman arrives at a second floor window of the Chateau Roberge, where Lois is waiting for him. They waste no time getting down to business, while Samantha is seen emerging from a bush on the ground floor. She carefully scales the snowy side of the building and reaches the lovebirds’ window. Her grin increases big time and she snaps away at the two making out. But one of her heels causes her to lose her footing and fall down with (presumably) the snow breaking her fall. Superman briefly pauses and uses his x-ray vision to scan for trouble, but he finds nothing, and he and Lois resume.
Samantha returns to Metropolis and calls Goode to inform him of the photos she took. But a passerby inadvertently knocks her bag off her shoulder. Samantha quickly picks it up, briefly exposing her camera’s film. She tells Goode that she’ll get the photos developed, and after hanging up, looks up Hank’s Photo Lab in her pocket book.
There’s a montage of tabloid magazines with a picture of Superman and Lois making out on the front page. We see news reports saying that Superman is not exactly super-heroic now, while merchandise related to him drops 75% in price.
But Lois and Clark obviously had a nice weekend, and they arrive at the Planet taken aback by the glares everyone is giving to Lois. Jimmy shows them the picture that two tabloids have published. Despite Jimmy voicing his support for them, the lovebirds are obviously horror-struck by this. Perry White (Lane Smith) calls them to his office and gives them his support as well. But he adds that the Planet will have to make some sort of statement about this, and is open to suggestions.
Meanwhile, Goode is laughing up a storm while every news outlet is smearing Superman, with Goode noting the internet is getting in on the action as well, which was a medium just beginning to rise in popularity at the time. He rewards Samantha with a promotion while saying that they have to keep up the anti-Superman momentum, which he predicts will lead to him winning those prizes.
Lois and Clark are at home watching tabloid reporter Barry Dunning (Archie Hahn) talking to a priest, wondering how children will view morality now that their one focal point in that regard has committed adultery. They also see some people denouncing Superman and Lois, although one guy says he’d get it on with the ladies if he had superpowers.
Lois understandably shuts this off and says she and Clark just need to work this mess out. But Clark understandably points out that there’s really no mess to sort out in this case. The truth is that Superman and Lois were making out in that hotel. Lois becomes suspicious that the photo itself isn’t credited, but Clark says that they can’t say this didn’t happen. When Lois suggest flat out denying it, Clark is taken aback at the suggestion that Superman should lie, which reminds Lois of the lie she told for them to get into the hotel, which led to this mess. When Clark says that they screwed up big time by failing to take into account that the rest of the world doesn’t include Superman in their marriage, Lois agrees to just say “no comment” if anyone asks about it.
But this matter turns out to have even more repercussions, as a news report says that the peace talks are off now.
At the Planet, Clark is trying to lift Lois’s spirits as she gets nothing but contempt from other employees. The fact that Clark himself is getting fudge as a condolence gift probably isn’t helping either. But Clark darts off when a news report comes in saying that the two countries have exchanged missile fire. As Superman takes care of this, Lois gives Jimmy a list of places to look into which could have potentially gotten a photo of her and Superman. Jimmy says that he’s doing the same and will get back to her as soon as he can.
Upon leaving, Lois runs into Dunning, who asks about the affair. She attempts to brush him off, but eventually becomes pissed enough to say it’s no one’s business but her own as she runs off.
In Goode’s office, he’s brought Kasparov and Navance together to thaw the ice. Despite their suspicions, they agree to the buffet that Goode has put together, and then Superman comes in demanding that they end their military actions. They reply that he must first explain the picture with Lois. Superman says that the photo isn’t what it looks like, but Kasparov says that everyone will need a more concrete explanation. Goode’s aide comes in and whispers something to him. This leads to Goode turning on his TV which is broadcasting Lois telling Dunning off. Goode gloats as Dunning says that Lois is indeed having an affair with Superman; she just can’t admit to it in so many words.
Kasparov and Navance pledge to resume their conflict, but Superman convinces them to wait until noon, when he’ll hold a press conference that will answer all their questions, and hopefully, convinced them to continue the talks.
After they leave, Samantha arrives with Goode, who’s angry that Superman may have found a way around this dilemma. But she says she has an idea that will ensure the talks fail and Superman takes the fall.
Lois arrives home, surprised to find Jonathan and Martha here. Clark says he brought them over to explain his plan, which is for Clark to reveal he’s Superman. Both his parents and wife are shocked by this news, with Jonathan and Martha pointing out that making such a revelation would ruin his and Lois’s lives. Lois takes their side, saying that Superman revealing that he has the same needs and desires as everyone else would destroy the unique appeal he has to the world. Clark says that this decision will assure Superman remains a symbol of integrity. Seeing there’s no changing Clark’s mind, Lois sets to work getting to the bottom of things before that press conference.
Working late at the Planet, Lois’s attempts to gain info go nowhere. But Jimmy arrives, saying that he’s discovered that Hank’s Photo Lab got a big payment the day before the picture was published. Lois is excited at the possibility that the picture could be a fake, which briefly confuses Jimmy before they head off to Hank’s. With the the lab’s door conveniently unlocked, Jimmy uses the computer skills—that, for some reason, Perry won’t let him use at the Planet—to flawlessly recreate the scandalous pic. At the same time, Lois finds the invoice with Goode’s name on it. She tells Jimmy to download their findings while she goes off to find Superman.
But once outside of Hank’s, men pull her into a car with Goode and Samantha inside. Goode spills the beans to her that he plans to tie her up to explosives that will also set off a bomb at his office that will kill both Navance and Kasparov, and then he knocks her out.
At the press conference, Goode excuses himself from his office and the two leaders, so he can secretly arm the explosives. Superman arrives, but before he can begin making his announcement, he’s given an envelope saying that Lois is tied to TNT at Chateau Roberge. He rushes off to the confusion of everyone. While Goode attempts to settle everyone down, Superman arrives at the Chateau but Lois, who’s gagged and tied to a bed, has to use charades to tell him that the explosives will also kill Navance and Kasparov.
He quickly frees her and hears the sonic signal the explosion emits. But Superman tosses a broken piece of a mirror into space and uses his heat vision to precisely hit the satellite dish on top of Goode’s building, saving the two leaders.
Goode and Samantha try to make a break for it, but Superman stops them while Jimmy arrives with the downloaded content. Police take them away, with Goode in shock that the picture was a fake. Superman stands at the podium and assures everyone that the picture isn’t real. When someone asks why Clark isn’t here, he replies that he is, via Lois’s wedding ring, and that their marriage is strong because of the trust between them. Everyone is all smiles as Superman flies off to resume the talks with the two leaders.
The episode ends with Lois and Clark back at the Chateau, promising to be more careful in the future just before they (that’s right) make out.
While Samantha ruining the real photo was a bit too convenient, this is actually one of the series’s most interesting episodes. This is because it tackles a subject I was wondering if the show would take on once the romance between the title characters took off. The looming prospect of war nicely adds to the dilemma of a secret that two people are keeping, and what if the only way to avert disaster was to reveal it? And how would society react in the aftermath of such a reveal?
Jack Wagner also makes a good, slimy villain, which isn’t surprising, as he had plenty of practice being one on Melrose Place by this time.
I plan to go more into this in a later recap, but this episode, as good as it is, suffered from bad timing, as by its air date, the bulk of Lois & Clark‘s fans had given up on the show.