Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Episode Nine: The Main Man - Part 1

The first part of our season finale opens with Superman working with STAR Labs to test retrofits made on the shuttle that brought him to Earth.  Meanwhile, a mysterious collector of alien species hires Lobo to track down Superman so that he can be added to his collection.  Lobo travels to Earth and battles with Superman in an attempt to get his attention.  He leaves the planet, causing Superman to give chase in his kryptonian shuttle, but it turns out to be a trap as the collector alien captures him in his intergalactic zoo.  And also Lobo, as he too is the last of his species.  To be continued...

Evan:  This series gave twenty-two minutes to Brainiac's return last episode...

Lobo arrives for a two-part finale and the show is forced to decline sharply into a slapstick parody of itself.  I hate Lobo.  I hated Lobo in the comics and now I hate him in this cartoon.  Superman: The Animated Series gave us a season of relatively character driven stories that asked us to consider the dynamics between our main cast as they established an animated status quo for the series to build on.  This is a show that has taken itself seriously, and in return I've had no problem treating it with that same level of interest.  I'm willing to care about these characters, and their struggles with and against each other.  In this episode, however, the series decided to jettison all of that.  This was a radically different show than the one that Kristin and I have been watching.

Was this a failed back-door pilot episode for a Lobo cartoon?  From his first appearance in a space bar, the cartoonish Lobo immediately clashed with the tone of the series.  His fake-swearing, rocket motorcycle and other 90s cliches drained any interest I had in this episode, and I found myself bored watching him brawl his way though a group of aliens.  When he arrived on Earth, character was superseded by easy, unfunny and obnoxious jokes.  Luthor's office was repeatedly damaged, which he found annoying!  Lois and Clark are trying to save each other, and both think they're succeeding!  Lobo forgot he's also the last of his kind! IT'S SO FUNNY!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

... I really, really didn't like this episode.  However, I will try and point out the things that I think will be important later on.  Superman is now fully working with STAR Labs, and has given them everything he has about Krypton.  This should open up the possibilities to more space sagas, technology run amok and alien intruder stories, although they will hopefully not feature Lobo.  I liked the frustrated Lois that was finding it difficult to understand how Clark was beating her to the punch and Clark's joking response that it was because he's Superman.  Unfortunately, that interplay simply came off as more broad "typical Superman jokes" that made fun of the conventions of Superman as a story that were in contrast to the reverence the show has generally had for these conventions up to this point.

I also noticed Starro in a jar in the zoo.  I would rather have had him as the villain in this episode.

I am not looking forward to the team-up to escape the space zoo next episode.  I'm looking forward to season two, but I just want this season to end.

Kristin: Let me start by saying that I am still under the heavy influence of a stubborn cold, so please forgive any additional rambling or haziness. Secondly, allow me to express the deep satisfaction I get from seeing how much Evan hated this episode.Where to start, where to start...

Well, why don't I start with the crazy 90s stereotype who looks like he's straight off my childhood bike helmet featuring characters from (I know you remember this!) Biker Mice from Mars.

From the 2006 "what-the-heck-we'll-do-it-again".
Yep, that horrible show that we all want to forget and that they apparently thought it would be fun to try to revamp in 2006. That one. I even recall one of them having an almost identical name to Lobo... perhaps it was Modo? In any case, I'm not sure what made the creative team of this show decide that injecting this bad biker trend into the series would be a good idea. I guess they were high on some pixie stix, because it completely throws off the rhythm of the entire story! We have a (nearly) sane series up until this point that appears to be attempting a serious crack at a fairly comprehensive telling of some Superman mythology. It would have to be the decision of a higher-up trying to ride the bike-craze to increase ratings, surely. From the start of the episode in the space bar called "Steaming Load", I'm not even certain that the writers can believe that they have to use this garbage material. Yet I can't decide if they are trying to do it seriously or completely undermining everything that they've built up until this point by succumbing to a bullshit trend and making a joke out of it. The music that plays every time Lobo is on screen is even worse than that strange jazz anthem from earlier in the season. It sounds like a bad Guitar Hero cover of a 90s rock ballad... but only about 3 bars of it on repeat. His character design even seems out of place with the entire cast. His 90s biker threads jar my already-nostalgic brain into overdrive, removing the essence of timelessness that I think the design of the show had up until this point. This loss is huge considering the longevity it lends to the series and the Superman story itself. Superman is a hero for all time and this ridiculous whoring that the creative team has done to the show cheapens not only their own work, but also the entire Superman canon.

But let's try to forget that it happened. Even just for tonight. I know he'll be back tomorrow, but maybe if we don't speak his name he'll leave our psyche for a brief repose.

There were elements of the show that I enjoyed. I liked the little bit of competition we got between Lois and Clark again. I particularly loved watching Lois try to beat He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named with a lead pipe. Priceless!

Final Thoughts: What the fuck.

Evan's Episode Rating: 0/10 (Lois Lane Ratio: WITHHELD.) - If they don't want to take crazy Lois Lane seriously, neither will I.

Kristin's Episode Rating: 1/10 - For Lois and her pipe.

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