A few weeks ago, LeVar Burton appeared on Community. Earlier on in the episode, it is established that Troy, ex-football player and current sophomore at Greendale Community College, loves LeVar. “I’d like to be bequeathed a drum kit or a signed photo of actor LeVar Burton,” he says. He tells the camera his third wish would be for a million more wishes, “But I’d just use them all on a million signed photos of actor LeVar Burton.”
After Pierce survives a drug overdose, he decides to give each member of the study group a gift (his way of fucking with them). He gives Annie a tiara, Britta a check to give to the charity of her choosing, and tells Jeff he’s found his long-lost father. But the best gift (for the viewer, anyway) is the one he gives to Troy: He gets LeVar Burton to show up at the hospital and talk to Troy. But the result isn’t exactly what LeVar was expecting:
Community has done a lot of great things thus far into its run. Paintball. Apollo 13. Zombies. Spot on Don Draper impressions. But this is by far my favorite. I was laughing for days after seeing this. And yes, it’s funny (Donald Glover is hilarious as a shell-shocked Troy), but I think the reason this resonated with me so much is because I totally get where Troy is coming from. There are several childhood/adolescent influences/idols I would never, EVER want to meet, no matter how much I still love them:
- Bono (obviously)
- Lauren Graham (no way do I want to wreck my love for Lorelai Gilmore)
- James Marsters (Fun fact: I actually DID meet him, sort of, at a convention back in college, and while I didn’t end up crying in the bathroom humming the theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I DID pretty much freak out. Ask my friend. He was there. He will tell you.)
- Dean Cain and/or Teri Hatcher
The last one requires an explanation, and is the topic of the rest of this post.
Young people reading this blog are probably asking themselves, “Who the hell is Dean Cain? And why is she afraid to meet Susan from Desperate Housewives?” Oh, youth. Y’all have no idea.
So way back in 1993, long before Wisteria Lane was even a thought in Marc Cherry’s brain, there was this little show called Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. It starred a young Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane, and the delicious Dean Cain as Clark Kent/Superman. I was 12 years old, and it was love at first sight. In fact, I still remember the first time I saw the show:
It was a spring Sunday night. My mom was working and my sister was out. My father and I were having dinner by ourselves (cheese omelets and thin French fries). Flipping channels, we settled on a Superman-themed show. “I’ve seen this once of twice before,” my dad said. “It’s not bad.” We watched, and I was transfixed. Clark Kent was stuck at the Daily Planet with his coworkers. They were being held hostage, and Clark had to play along or else risk giving away his identity. In the end, he saved them, even Lex Luthor, Lois Lane’s date for the evening. Luthor seemed like bad news. The moment in which I became absolutely smitten was when Superman saved Lois, and slowly flies her to freedom.
That episode is called “Fly Hard”* and it was the 20th episode of season 1. I was hooked. I spent the summer catching up on reruns. My room was transformed to a quasi Dean Cain/Lois and Clark shrine. Back then, TV shows advertised in the paper, ala movie ads today, and I cut out the advertisement every week. By the time season 2 rolled around, I was a full-fledged addict. I loved the way Dean gave Clark a quiet confidence – this was not the bumbling Clark Kent of the movies and comic books. He was a real person. And Teri Hatcher, well, I wanted to be her. I wanted to be an ace reporter and find my very own Clark Kent. I wanted her tossable hair and ability to be adorable yet tenacious. And those big brown doe eyes – man. Why couldn’t I have eyes like that? In hindsight, while pre-teen Sarah totally crushed on Dean Cain, I think I might have been a little bit in love with Teri Hatcher. She was just so…talented. I loved (and still love) the way she played Lois Lane.
* I totally just got that the title of the episode is a play on “Die Hard”. Only took me 18 years..
Regular readers know I have always been a bit if a fangirl, especially when it comes to TV. And while Cheers was my first TV love, Lois and Clark were the first couple I really rooted for. I lived and died with their romance and seemingly endless courtship. (Which in actuality happened pretty quick for a TV show – Clark asked Lois out midway through year two, and by the end of the season, they were a couple.)
Things only got worse at the end of the second season, when the most suspenseful cliffhanger EVER (second only to season 6 of Buffy) happened:
All summer long we wondered. My friend was convinced that Lois had finally figured out Clark’s secret identiy.”Did you see the way she slicked his hair back?” she asked during one phone conversation. But I was certain she was wrong; after all, Lois is never supposed to find out. That’s part of Superman lore. Boy was I wrong. Season 3 started, and Superman history was made:
In hindsight, I should have known. Not because there were pretty blatant clues in the season finale (which..yeah there were) but because this was a different kind of Superman story. The show wasn’t about Superman. It was about the relationship between Lois and Clark: A Kansas farm boy and a tough-as-nails reporter. One yearns for a normal life and family, the other puts up barriers and hides in her work. Superman is just another barrier they have to break down. And this is what makes the show interesting. The movies: Make them about Superman, absolutely. Take advantage of the special effects, put Superman up on the big screen with the inspirational music. But a TV show week-in and week-out? You need something else, something more.
So of course they would have Lois find out after two seasons. Not only for those reasons but because this Lois Lane is a smart cookie. Eventually she’d catch on.
September 17 1995, 8:03 p.m.: Season 3 opens, Lois makes the big reveal, credits roll. Somewhere in Maryland, a 14-year old girl FREAKS OUT. What were they going to do now? Was the show over? What did they just do??
But actually, once Lois knew, the show became a lot more fun. They were both in on the secret, and Clark finally had someone (other than his adorable parents, Jonathan and Martha) to confide in.
Plus, the scene directly after (approximately 8:07, September 17, 1995) is maybe the best one in the whole show.**
**Unfortunately the whole scene isn’t on the YouTube, but the conversation leads to my favorite quote of the series, when Clark flies off after their argument: “That is so unfair,” Lois shouts up to the sky. ”You know I can’t fly!” It’s all in the delivery, and Teri Hatcher says it perfectly.
In the mid-90s, my family didn’t yet have Internet. So I had no idea that Lois and Clark was an Internet sensation. And because of that, I had NO IDEA the controversy that is season 3 clone arc. It was only years later, after I got the DVDs and poked around on the interwebs, that I realized those 5 episodes are pretty much universally hated.
Except me. I love the clone arc. And yes, I am the exception, but hear me out: First of all, we get angst. And I am nothing if not a fangirl who loves some angst. Second, we get Lex Luthor, who we can all agree is pretty much awesome. (John Shea, I will love you forever for uttering the words, “If you double cross me, I will cut up your stomach and sew up a rat inside.” But that’s a different episode for a different day.)
Third, and I think people forget about this: Teri Hatcher plays no less than 3 different characters in those episodes (four if you count Lois with amnesia) and she knocks them all out of the fucking park.
Here she is as Wanda Detroit:
So, why am I writing a tribute to a show that aired almost 20 years ago? Well, folks, the truth is, I’ve never stopped loving it. Lois and Clark was my first real experience with fandom (though I had no idea what that was), and like many shows, represents a very specific time in my life. Not only is it symbolic of pre-teen Sarah, it’s also symbolic of time spent with my father. My poor Dad, little did he know what he was unleashing when he suggested we watch all those years ago. But to his credit, he stuck with it, and Sunday night became Lois and Clark night in our house. New episode or repeat, at 8 p.m. every Sunday, we’d be sitting in front of the TV with our omelets and French fries, waiting to see what trouble Lois and Clark got in that week. Now, as an adult, I know he just wanted to spend time with me. But I have to wonder how the episodes held up through adult eyes. I don’t know – and honestly will never know – because even now I still see them through the eyes of a 12-year old kid. Sure, I can recognize that something is cheesy or that a plotline makes no sense, but I don’t care, and it doesn’t make the show any less magical. Also, say what you will about some of the plots (even the clone arc, if you have to, though I still defend that), Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher had fantastic fucking chemistry.
But, back to the question posed earlier: Why a tribute now? Well, I’ve never stopped loving the show, and have been feeling nostalgic lately. In a few weeks I’m having somewhat of a milestone birthday (coughcoughthirtycoughcough) and to say I am freaking out over it a little wouldn’t be true. I am freaking out over it a LOT. Not really sure why, but I’m actually kind of..scared..for it to come. Which is ridiculous, because we can’t stop time from passing.
We CAN go back in time, in a manner of speaking, by revisiting things from our past. Such as TV shows. From 1993. So lately I’ve been going back to the ’90s and visiting with my friends Lois and Clark, and you know what? All these years later, the show still makes my heart flutter.
Don’t worry – I am not in denial. Change is coming, in the form of a new decade, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. But every once in a while, it’s fun to go back in time and remember what it felt like to be 13 years old with a crush on Dean Cain and a desire to be a reporter.***
***And yes, being on the paper in high school and college, and then working FOR a paper in my early 20s had everything to do with me wanting to be Teri Hatcher’s Lois Lane. It’s okay. I can admit these things. After all, I’m almost 30.
Video of the Day: So a few weeks ago I woke up with a desire to watch Lois and Clark. But instead of turning to my DVDs, I turned to YouTube. Don’t ask me why. Just be glad I did, because I remembered this little gem from a few years ago, which has fortunately been put back online. Watch this and tell me it is not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. And then go rent and/or watch the series. (Evidently it’s legally online like, everywhere. This is what I discovered whilst writing this post.)
Seriously, how adorable is that?