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The World's Finest Presents

The Late Mr. Kent

Episode #32 - The Late Mr. Kent
Original Airdate - November 1st, 1997.

As Clark Kent rushes to save an innocent man from dying in the gas chamber, he is involved in an auto accident and thought to be dead.But the eyewitness is unreliable, allowing Clark to emerge and find the man who should truly be in the gas chamber -- Detective Kurt Bowman.

Media by Bird Boy
Review by Barry Allen
Written by Stan Berkowitz
Directed by Kenji Hachizaki
Music by Kristopher Carter
Animation by TMS-Kyokuichi Corporation

Tim Daly as Superman/Clark Kent
Dana Delany as Lois Lane
Shelley Fabares as Martha Kent
Mike Farrell as Jonathan Kent
Joely Fisher as Lana Lang
David Kaufman as Jimmy Olsen
Eddie Barth as Detective Kurt Bowman
Paul Colbert as Ernest Walker
Peter Renaday as Clerk
Gregg Berger as Manager

Screen Grabs


If I had to choose my single favorite episode of all time, "The Late Mr. Kent" would win by a landslide. (This excludes, of course, the two two-part Darkseid stories. Even then, however, I would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite.) No other episode of Superman has such a moody atmosphere, as great a story, or is as well-written.

WHAT WORKED: What struck me immediately upon from the first second of the episode was the fantastic music. Not being any kind of music major, or having any ability to talk about music intelligently, I can't describe what the music was like. It's a score that you need to hear for yourself. (Then maybe you music people can send me a line and explain the beats and tempo or whatever the hell. :-P ) Whatever the case, the score fit the mood of the episode extremely well. It's some of the best musical work ever done on the series. Bravo!

Also very well done was the animation. There are some episodes of this series that do not do justice to Superman himself or other characters, (most notably, SUPERMAN'S PAL, which was a very poorly-done episode,) but in this one, everything went together nicely. Superman's spit curl looked natural, (his face in general looked very detailed,) and his chest "S" insignia was expertly drawn in all of the scenes—a rarity. The colors also helped reflect the moody, somber nature of the story.

The story itself made for the most unique episode of all the Superman episodes. It would seem an obvious idea to me, being that Clark Kent is a "reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper," that we would eventually get to see him actually working on a story. It was a great relief to find that Clark is capable of doing more than following Lois around silently and leaving to change into Superman. Here, we see his journalistic, investigative abilities shine on his own, even as the fabled Lois Lane dismisses his story as a lost cause. (Later, it was fun to hear that Lois admit to Superman that she does, in fact, have respect for Clark, even through all her teasing.)

The focus on Clark Kent as opposed to Superman is always a welcome change, and makes things that much more interesting. We know that Superman can fly around and use his super-strength to beat up Metallo and other brainless adversaries, but here we see Martha and Jonathan's boy struggling with a moral dilemma and can hear him work everything out in his head. And right there is probably my single favorite aspect of this episode: the narration by the great Tim Daly. Anyone who is enamored with George Newbern's Superman from JUSTICE LEAGUE needs only to watch this episode to show them how wrong they are; Tim Daly will always be the definitive Superman and nobody could dare compare. Without the narration, this episode would have been ranked among the forgettable... not hearing Clark reason out his predicament and his reactions to the goings-on would have made for a nearly-silent episode. Innovative as it would have been, it would have bored me to sleep.

The ending of this episode was insanely cool. Bowman's "He's SUPERMAN!" followed by the officer pushing the lever... I'm a fan of powerful or emotional endings in books and TV/movies and this was easily the greatest ending of an Superman episode ever.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK: In Bowman's final attempt to stop Superman and escape, he shoots Superman with bullets, and Superman is rendered helpless. Whatever happened to the concept of bullets bouncing off Superman's chest? Man, that was cheap. He couldn't even fly right... he kept stumbling all over the place. But that was really a minor gripe in the whole scheme of the episode, which should have won some of award for an achievement of excellence.

CLARK: Luck. That's what it all boils down to, doesn't it? The smallest break one way or another. It can change a life or destroy it. And you can't fight it. No matter how strong you are.

CLARK: Dinner was hard to pass up. I hadn't eaten all day—not that I needed to.

CLARK: I suppose I could've flown to the governer as Superman and given him the disk, but that could've raised some awkward questions. Maybe there was some ego to it too. I wanted this to be Clark's victory. Not Superman's.

MARTHA: Yes, Detective Bowman, I understand. My son's car blew up and went into the ocean.

JONATHAN: It's not like he's really dead, Martha. He just can't be Clark anymore.
CLARK: But I am Clark. I need to be Clark. I'd go crazy if I had to be Superman all the time!

CLARK: So after I swam to shore, I guess I must've found a phone and called Lana.
LOIS: I don't believe it.. You're sitting here in the lap of luxury while I'm out there risking my neck!
LANA: He was recuperating. Poor thing, when I found him, he could barely remember his own name.
LOIS: But he certainly remembered yours. AND your telephone number.
LANA: Clark and I go back a long way. Are you... jealous?
LOIS: Yeah. Jealous of his endless luck.

BOWMAN: How did he survive that car bomb? How? HE'S SUPERMAN!

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