Pilot Script Review of Superman & Lois
Although the show that started it all ended its eight-season run this winter, the Arrowverse is still very much alive on the CW, with six shows set in the DC comics universe on the air, and two in development for next year. The first is an Arrow backdoor spinoff tentatively titled Green Arrow and the Canaries, starring Katherine McNamara, Katie Cassidy and Juliana Harkavy, all reprising their Arrow roles. As of this writing, that series is still waiting for a decision on a series pickup. As for Superman & Lois, the series leap-frogged past the pilot stage and has already received a series pickup for the 2020-2021 season.
Based on the original DC characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman and Lois is executive produced by Arrowverse boss Greg Berlanti, alongside The Flash executive producer and former showrunner Todd Helbing. The show stars Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf) and Elizabeth Tulloch who have already appeared as these iconic characters in multiple Arrowverse shows, including Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash and Batwoman. The show is technically a Supergirl spinoff since that's where Superman appeared first in 2016, joined by Lois in 2018.
WRITTEN BY: Todd Helbing
DRAFT DATE: 1/13/20 Studio Draft
PAGE COUNT: 61 pages
SCRIPT SYNOPSIS: We open on a fast-paced flashback of events narrated by CLARK KENT himself, recounting the moment his pod crashed on Earth before JONATHAN & MARTHA KENT's very eyes, to the day his adopted father died when he was only sixteen. Then we leave Smallville for Metropolis where Clark is now the SUPERMAN the whole world admires and the handsome man LOIS LANE is madly falling in love with. As time goes on, they move in together, they marry, and Lois gives birth to twins: JONATHAN, the always happy, easy baby, and JORDAN, the crying and tormented one. As they get older, there's a stark physical difference between the two twins: at thirteen, Jonathan is stronger than the other boys and a star athlete, while Jordan is darker, diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, and always on his computer. The real identity of their father is unknown to them, but could it be that Jonathan got his powers and Jordan didn't?
In present day, we're thrown into chaos inside a nuclear power plant where a Fukushima-sized disaster has just begun. GENERAL SAMUEL LANE can only think of one solution: calling his son in law Superman to stop the disaster. That's exactly what Superman does, by freezing an adjacent lake, creating a massive iceberg that in turn cools down the heat in the reactor vessel. After saving the world again, he goes back to his family to kiss his boys goodnight. The next day, Clark gets fired from his long time job at the Daily Planet, which is downsizing now that the journal is part of a media conglomerate owned by billionaire MORGAN EDGE who doesn't care about real journalism or even facts. But Clark doesn't have much time to think about that before he hears a cry for help from his mother, asking him to "come home". When he arrives back at the farm, it's too late. She's dead.
A few days later at the funeral, he sees LANA LANG. She still lives in Smallvile, where she's a banker, married to KYLE CUSHING, a firefighter. Together they had two daughters: SARAH, who's fourteen and just as dark as Jordan, and SOPHIE, who's eight. Lana has something to tell Clark, something that'll make him rethink his whole life...
COMMENTS: Many who grew up in the 1990s have fond memories of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, which starred Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher as the iconic couple, and ran four seasons on ABC from 1993 to 1997. A much lighter show than those populating the CW's current DC comics universe, Lois & Clark struck a balance between focusing on the couple's relationship and Superman's various missions. The series famously ended on a cliffhanger when a baby suddenly showed up on their doorstep with a note saying he belonged to them. A fifth season was originally announced, only to be unceremoniously dumped, much to the dismay of the show's fans
Superman and Lois is probably best described as a spiritual follow-up to that old series, as it's definitely not a reboot. In this version, the titular couple is older and parents of teenage boys. We've never seen these characters as a family on television. Tonally, the show is definitely darker than Lois & Clark — there are deaths and grieving in the pilot, and the world is a much more dangerous place to live. At the same time, it would seem to be lighter than most of the CW's existing DC series, sharing more DNA with Black Lightning than any of the others. A mix between a family drama, a teen drama and a sci-fi show, there's a surprising sweetness to the pilot. So much so that reading it, I wondered if it might fare better on a larger network. Supergirl famously got its start on CBS, which was a strategic error at the time. Based on the pilot script, Superman & Lois might have fared better.
I enjoyed this pilot script much more than I expected. Superman may be a somewhat staid superhero at this point, but his relationships, whether with his parents, Lois, or Lana, always seem to sparkle. For those who were into Smallville, there's plenty here for you: most of the pilot happens there, and it would seem to be the primary setting of the series moving forward. There will be the adults stories on one side, with Lana still very much in the picture (whether Lois likes it or not), and the teenagers stories on the other side, with the boys discovering who they are and where they come from. A new triangle would seem to be on its way between Jonathan, Jordan and Sarah. Then there's the Superman mythology, which still figures prominently. Familiar characters return, and as in the comics, the pilot sets up sociopolitical issues that will be interesting and timely to explore. Smallville is not the paradise it once was — at least for Clark. Martha is no longer there to help the community, the shops are closing one by one, people are getting poorer, and vilainous societies (one in particular) hope to destroy what's left of it. Lois will have many investigations to pursue and Superman a lot of rescues to make. Kids will do more stupid things, and eventually — we assume — all will be right in the world again.
FINAL RECOMMENDATION: A spiritual successor to Lois and Clark with a sprinkling of Smallville for good measure, Superman & Lois has a lot of heart, and not all that much in common with the CW's other DC properties. Still, Superman is Superman, giving this series the potential to be a crossover hit that appeals to existing fans of the CW's Arrowverse and broader audiences alike.
OVERALL PROJECT SCORE:
[ ] PASS
[ ] CONSIDER
BEST FIT: Sundays at 8pm, leading into Supergirl at 9.