Channel: Warner TV (Starhub Ch 515; Singtel Ch 306)
Premieres: 24 Feb, 9pm
Air Dates: Wednesdays 9.50pm (subsequent episodes)
Cast: Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Inde Navarrette, Dylan Walsh, and Emmanuelle Chriqui
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Superman & Lois is the latest television series to feature the Man of Steel, ten years after Smallville ended in 2011. Set in the Arrowverse family of DC superhero shows, it sees Tyler Hoechlin reprising his role as Superman after he first appeared on Supergirl, and Elizabeth Tulloch also reprising her role as Lois Lane. Unlike most other television adaptations of Superman, it starts with Superman and Lois already in a mature relationship with two teenage sons as they move back to Smallville for the benefit of their children. However, enemies old and new still plague Superman, even as he navigates the challenges of being a father and the world's greatest superhero.
Although we've seen Superman pop up on Supergirl every now and then, it wasn't quite the same as watching a full-fledged series devoted to the hero. It's a drastically different show from that of his younger cousin's, with more gravitas and angst, and less light-heartedness and colour. Superman & Lois's take on the Last Son of Krypton is both familiar and intriguing, in terms of story and tone.
The pilot episode focuses heavily on the adult angst of Clark Kent, much like Smallville did a decade ago, as he juggles the responsibility of a family thrust upon his shoulders. Hoechlin does a wonderful job of conveying both the doubt in his decisions, but the confidence of a man who has the power of a god. And in this new world which seems rife with jadedness, his angst fits in perfectly.
It's not just the situations themselves that are bleak. The colour palette of the show is rather desaturated, evoking the look and feel of the DCEU films and imbuing the show with a sense of cinematic gravitas. It's definitely a more mature Superman for a more complicated world, even as the show acknowledges the complexities of living in our modern society such as mental illness and bullying. It's difficult to have many things plague Clark though, so the show tends to hand these issues to the human characters around him, while Superman himself deals with the fallout.
As a result, there's a heavier focus on his sons, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alexander Garfin), as well as Sarah (Inde Navarrette), the daughter of Lana Lang, at least in the first episode. There's an in-story reason for this, however, but when the action shifts away from Superman and Lois, it does veer too much into the teenage soap territory.
But if you're wondering if there's any action in the show, the answer is a firm yes. The very first episode sees Superman facing a foe that gives him a physical challenge, even as their battle takes them across the globe. Our hero even gets wounded in the process, although being Superman, he clearly survives the fight. Superman also engages in other super-powered exploits in the show, but we're all really here to watch the fights and see him take down cosmic villains. The fight sets up a promising plot thread, one of many in the pilot episode.
In fact, the first episode spends a lot of time setting up numerous plot threads, with the promise that they will eventually pay off later in the series. Each character has his or her own threads to pursue, whether it be possible financial scams, emerging relationships, or scheming supervillains. It does so while still deftly telling its own self-contained story, that again sets up even more potential obstacles for the Kents to deal with down the road.
Nevertheless, the lack of colour and the sombre mood can get a little intense at times, especially when compared to Supergirl. But then Superman is meant to be a symbol of hope, so perhaps it is important that he starts in a place with little hope. How else would we be able to identify with the Man of Tomorrow, unless we also see him facing and overcoming challenges as well?
Superman & Lois brings something fresh to a well-known character by putting him in a relatable but challenging circumstances, without forgetting any of the elements that make Superman, well, Superman. It's a promising start, if a little too serious at times, and teases enough storylines to make you want to follow the series further. And by dealing with timely issues, this new chapter of Superman's adventures promises to be relevant to our current real world.
Superman & Lois premieres 24 February, 9pm in Singapore on Warner TV (Starhub Ch 515; Singtel Ch 306), and subsequently on Wednesdays at 9.50pm.