Series Review: CW Lays Firm Foundations with ‘Superman and Lois’ Season 1

  When the Arrow-verse started with Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow vigilante in 2012’s Arrow, DC fans trooped out with excitement to support the show. As the show turned into a series, owing to the Green Arrow meeting and mentoring another DC character, Barry Allen, a new series, The Flash, sprung out. Arrow and The Flash continued to meet other comic book characters, some of whom eventually had their own spin-off shows with some still in development. Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Black Lightning were other series that came to being because of Arrow. As the different TV shows progressed and The Flash continued to play with time, crossovers kicked off and they all ended in a multiversal episodic crossover— Elseworlds, and Crisis on Infinite Earths. The crossover event, which aired during the 2018-2019 TV season, marked the demise and end of the Arrow. During 2019’s Crisis On Infinite Earths, we met different Supermen including our latest CW sweetheart, Tyler Hoechlin (known as Derek on MTV’s Teen Wolf), who had previously made ‘caped’ guest appearances on Supergirl. Superman is DC’s most used character and it has at least one live-action series every 15 years, while other unpopular DC characters get occasional appearances in their animated movies. So, yes! When fans heard news of CW ordering a Superman and Lois TV show, most scoffed at how messy it would be, given the downhill slope most of CW’s DC shows had taken, especially The Flash. But this decision would be one of CW’s best in a while.

 With most of the season set in Smallville, what we see is a beautiful insight into Superman’s hometown, and we learn of Martha Kent being a support to the community until her demise. Martha’s death has prompted Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) to move back to Smallville with their two sons, Jonathan and Jordan, both interesting characters. Jonathan Kent (Jordan Elsass) is the athletic son who was named after Clark’s Earth father, while Jordan (Alex Garfin), the introverted son with social anxiety, is named after Clark’s Kryptonian father and has also come to inherit his father’s power, though not in the same capacity as Clark. After their return to Smallville, the quiet small town they know changes due to their presence and that of many other elements. The series also features Clark’s best friend, Lana Lang-Cushing (Emmanuelle Chriqui) who has found herself following Martha’s path of being the community support; no-nonsense General Sam Lane (Dylan Walsh); Morgan Edge/Tal Rho (Adam Rayner); Kyle Cushing (Erik Valdez); Sarah Cushing (Inde Navarrette) and the charismatic John Henry Irons/The Stranger (Wolé Parks) who has come from Earth Prime and is bent on destroying Superman because of the calamity he brought upon Earth Prime. While The Stranger’s plan to kill Superman gets sinister, another evil starts to brew right under their nose, one that would leave the current Earth in the same condition as Earth Prime.

Clark Kent and family. Via CW.

 Superman and Lois gives the audience a great insight into the Smallville community, something the earlier Superman teen series Smallville failed at. This new perspective is intentional, given how crucial it is to the story. We also receive a fresh perspective on the most represented comic book character of all time, as a family man. Clark Kent, now a father and husband, has more on his plate. On one end, Jordan has his mental health illness to deal with, on the other end Jonathan is still trying hard to adjust to life in Smallville after having to abandon his celebrity-like student status in Metropolis. Their lives make for good teenage drama as that has always been the main attraction for CW’s young audience. The drama gets better by showing us how conflicting it can be to be Superman and a family man. Though one of the strongest comic book characters, this time around he battles his newly found weakness, fears, consciousness, family and good old krypto. Also, villains’ beliefs and family members’ motives get a lot of screentime. I think building the series around family drama with a good amount of teenage ‘stuff’ was a very wise decision as the final episode brings about the arrival of a family member from another world,which might complicate things in the second season. Of course, Superman still has other super-powered individuals to trade frost breath and laser vision with, given that the turned soldiers are still at large. Moreover, watching this series doesn’t make you bothered about how the world might end (like other superhero shows), but makes you very anxious about the future of the families. That is a big plus on the writing and direction of the series.

However, the dialogues get boring at some points, but that is hard to see when you have characters who are doing great. Some of the cringe lines are quickly overpowered with the convictions of the characters, especially Lois Lane as we see her navigate a wide spectrum of emotions—being a journalist, mother, wife and daughter.  Humanizing moments for Clark are the many times he feels helpless. Not to be masochistic here, pain and helplessness really help the audience empathise with him and we have Tyler Hoechlin to thank for these performances. Tyler was a very wise decision for the role, which he ‘bodies’ and sells many times. After the writing of the series, another department that should be lauded is the casting team. Virtually every actor and actress delivers excellently and would want to be seen in subsequent seasons. The best performance in the series would be from Wolé Parks, either his faux identity or as John Henry Irons, he makes sure that the audience knows the emotions in which his actions are rooted, which are well layered.

John Henry Irons ( Wolé Parks) Via CW.

 CW shows  (after their debut season) suffer from myriads of problems, ranging from bad writing, limited shooting time, poor VFX, bad casting, unintelligent inclusion policy,cheesy political correctness to poor budgets. I hope this first season of Superman and Lois is not its best as a case can be argued that all CW shows have great first seasons, but as new seasons are produced, everything about them starts to go off the rails. E.g. Riverdale, The Flash, Arrow and so many others. Truth is most of these problems are still present in Superman and Lois but the show’s acting and story are currently its strengths. An example is  a VFX sequence that was not edited out of the frames. How the episode got greenlit is still a mystery as whether there was any prior previewing, which there probably was and they had to overlook because of time constraints.

 What CW stands to gain from the monstrosity of series they create is anything but money, because they constantly lose a lot of viewers. Despite fans’ outcry, they still don’t plan on stopping anytime soon as The Flash has been renewed for its 8th season. Seeing fans now detest the series with the Scarlet Speedster and plunging viewership should be a wake up call for CW. As much as CW wants to make these shows, they should put great conscious efforts to make them well, in the form of Superman and Lois. CW should take a cue from other superhero shows on Netflix, HBO, HBO Max, Hulu and Amazon. Anyways, if you have not had anything good to see on CW, you should check The Swamp Thing,  a DCU show that got moved to the CW. There are also many other DC series that are not tied to the CW and are very much awesome, which would make it look like the only support DC gives to CW would be their library of characters. 

Most noticeably, The CW often has a story problem and they were able to tackle that problem in the first season of Superman and Lois. Not to be pessimistic, but as previously mentioned, The Flash boasted the same strength and we can only hope they don’t mess Superman and Lois up when we see it return for a second season in 2022. 

Rating: 7.5/10

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Superman and Lois aired on CW and is currently available to stream on Apple TV+.

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