Once again, I'm devoting the month of August to a countdown of those works of fiction I can't call good, but that I also can't help enjoying in at least mostly the intended way.
Lois and Clark is a nineties live action TV adaptation of Superman. If you haven't seen it, well, you already know how it goes.
Guy from a sweet adoptive family from Kansas is secretly a super powered alien, determined to use his differences for good. He moves to the big city to make it as a reporter, falls in love with fellow journalist Lois Lane,
There's kryptonite, universe-warping interdimensional beings, improbable glasses and hair-combing related disguises, the whole bit.
Why it's guilty:
This show is basically the lovechild of ‘80s comics of the wackier variety and nineties romantic sitcoms, so there's plenty of guilt to go around. You've got heavy-handed social justice messages bafflingly paired with embarrassing stereotypes, plotlines revolving around frog-eating clones, concussion-induced amnesia, even an episode ripped directly from another entry to come higher on this list, and enough excuses to prolong Clark and Lois's courtship to obliterate several relationships of saner people.
In fact, it feels about par for course by that time in season four when Lois is finally about to deflower Clark, after their wedding, which occurred in an episode fittingly titled “Swear To God, This Time We're Not Kidding,” and H.G Wells shows up to tell them to knock it off before they doom the world to evil and darkness.
Wait the Saturday morning cartoon has substance, and the adult live action show is on the guilty pleasures list? Yes. I stand by that.
The plotlines may border on silver age levels of crazy, especially after the first season, but never silver age callousness. The good guys and their relationships have an unfailing sweetness to them.
Clark turns to his parents for support and advice on everything from love to the responsibilities of superheroics to how to get bomb stains out of his clothes, and they're every bit the good-hearted people who could have raised Superman.
Even Perry White is likeable as an invested mentor to the pair of reporters, and the chemistry between Lois and Clark is strong enough to keep you from saying to hell with them at some point between the mistaken identity shenanigans and a detour to Sherwood Forest.
Most especially, the way both Dean Cain and the writers play Superman himself is, hands down, the most sympathetic interpretation I know. He's the big blue Boy Scout in the best sense of the phrase. He's naive and optimistic and idealistic, without being overly judgmental or condescending. He's the guy who wants to do the right thing just because it's the right thing. He's the guy who dreams of falling in love and having an affectionate, supportive family like the one he comes from.
“Thank you. My mom made it for me.”
He's got his vulnerabilities and insecurities too. He's romantically inexperienced and has never been sick or hurt before he encounters kryptonite, so over the course of the series, we see him take multiple brand new shocks to the system, but he never lets it make him insensitive to other people, because he’s spent his whole life loving people who are more fragile than he is, and that's shaped his priorities.
Could it be that I'm feeling a little extra nostalgic lately for an adaptation where fakeout wedding episodes were the price to be paid for a Superman who could actually be liked before he's tested?