Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (often called Lois & Clark or The New Adventures Of Superman) was a live-action American television series based on the Superman comic books. Lois & Clark aired on ABC from September 12, 1993 to June 14, 1997, and starred Dean Cain as Superman/Clark Kent and Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane.
Developed for Television by Deborah Joy LeVine (based upon characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), the series loosely follows the comic philosophy of writer John Byrne with Clark Kent as the true personality, and Superman as a secondary disguise. As the show's title suggests, it focuses as much on the relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane as on the adventures of Clark's alter-ego.
The series spawned several short tie-in books aimed at young adults, as well as one full-length novel for adults, Lois & Clark: A Superman Novel (1996), written by C. J. Cherryh. The show was entirely shot in California.
On May 17, 1966, Jonathan and Martha Kent witness the crash-landing of a small spaceship in Shuster's Field outside of Smallville, Kansas. When they investigate the craft, they discover the baby Kal-El. The Kents decide to raise him as their own, naming him "Clark Jerome Kent". Unlike the Silver Age comic continuity in the comics, Jonathan and Martha (portrayed by Eddie Jones and K Callan) are alive in the TV show, and frequently visit Metropolis. Clark, throughout the series, proudly states that Martha made his Superman costume for him.
Twenty-seven years later, Clark moves to Metropolis and gets a job at the Daily Planet under the gruff editor Perry White (Lane Smith). Clark also becomes acquainted with co-workers Jimmy Olsen (Michael Landes in Season 1, Justin Whalin thereafter), a photographer, and gossip columnist Cat Grant (Tracy Scoggins). Soon after being hired, Clark is partnered with star reporter Lois Lane. Although Clark falls for Lois at first sight, she considers him little more than a pest. When Superman saves her however, Lois instantly becomes infatuated with Clark's alter-ego. Superman's first mission interferes with the illegal dealings of Lex Luthor (John Shea), a benefactor to Metropolis who is secretly evil. Luthor develops an interest in Lois Lane and tries to woo her for the majority of Season one; although Lois is receptive to his romantic advances, she remains infatuated with the Man of Steel. Luthor eventually proposes marriage, and Lois accepts. Luthor decides to coincide his nuptials with the death of Superman, trapping the hero within a kryptonite cage directly beneath the chapel where the wedding is about to take place. When Superman gets free and Luthor is exposed, the villain appears to take his own life rather than be arrested. Because his powers have been sapped by Luthor's kryptonite, Clark is unable to stop the villain from killing himself, however he returns from the dead in Season 2.
In Season 2, Clark and Lois begin to date, but are interrupted by Mayson Drake (Farrah Forke), a district attorney who takes an interest in Clark but has a total lack of regard for Superman. Meanwhile, a federal agent named Dan Scardino (Jim Pirri) becomes a rival for Lois' affections. In the season finale, Clark proposes to Lois. In the third season premiere, she replies "Who's asking, Clark or Superman?" It therefore becomes clear that Lois has discovered Superman's secret identity and resents that Clark never confessed it to her. After a tumultuous courtship, Lois finally accepts Clark's engagement ring. The marriage was timed to coincide with the corresponding event in the comic books, but coordination snafus resulted in the actual on-screen marriage being postponed for a full season.
An additional element that reflected the post-Byrne comics was the portrayal of Lex Luthor (at least initially) as a corrupt corporate tycoon, rather than the more traditional mad scientist. One main point in this series was with the exception of four villains: Mister Mxyzptlk, Diana Stride, Jason Mazik and Tempus, everyone else who has found out Superman's true identity have all been killed or had their memory erased.
The first season was a moderate success, garnering the cast, especially Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain, critical praise for their performances. Lane Smith was a huge success, breathing life and humor into the Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White. John Shea also met with rave reviews over his portrayal of Lex Luthor. Michael Landes' modern-day take on the Jimmy Olsen character gained a cult following, as did Tracy Scoggins' comedic take on Cat Grant, a more recent addition to the Superman mythos at the time. Lex Luthor was killed off in the season finale, after a falling-out between Shea and the producers over the actor's strenuous commute between New York and Los Angeles. No longer a regular cast member, he only reappeared sporadically; once in season two, twice in season three, and once in season four.
Season two dropped the character of Cat Grant and replaced Michael Landes with Justin Whalin as Jimmy Olsen. The official reason, according to Landes, was that he looked too similar to Dean Cain (on the DVD commentary for the pilot of Lois & Clark, Dean Cain has admitted that he and Landes looked like they could be related). Series creator Deborah Joy LeVine and the entire first-season writing team were also dismissed. The new producer, Robert Singer, planned a stronger focus on "action"; the show also focused more on the beautiful budding romance of Lois and Clark.
Lex Luthor returned in one episode and many other villains began to appear from the comics, such as The Prankster, Metallo, the Toyman and the criminal group known as Intergang, and the show featured new love interests for the ace reporters: Dan Scardino (Jim Pirri), a government agent interested in Lois, and D. A. Mayson Drake (Farrah Forke). This season also featured the debut of fan-favorite villain Tempus (played by Lane Davies) and H. G. Wells, as a time-traveler. Wells' younger self was played by Terry Kiser, and the older Wells was played by Hamilton Camp. Season two started out rocky but became a success and garnered higher ratings in its initial airings, ending the season in 58th place. The season ended with the cliffhanger of Clark proposing marriage to Lois.
Season three would go on to be the most successful season of Lois & Clark in its run. The show averaged at least 15 million viewers per episode, and ranked 44th for the season. In the premiere episode, Lois revealed that she had recently learned Clark's secret identity. Only later in the seventh episode of the season, "Ultra Woman", did Lois finally accept Clark's proposal. The long-anticipated wedding was put off to coincide with the characters' marriage in the comics, which led to many storylines designed to delay and interrupt the wedding on the TV series. Another controversy erupted when ABC announced that the wedding would actually take place Valentine's Day weekend, even sending out heart-shaped "wedding invitations" to ABC News staff, only to present viewers with a bogus wedding in which Clark unwittingly married a clone of Lois, developed by a mad scientist whose creations were required to ingest frogs periodically which started a main thrilling climax of a special five-part story with Lois being kidnapped by Lex Luthor who had put the clone in her place and later after a sharp hit on the head had amnesia and needed to regain her memory.
The wedding of Lois and Clark was scheduled and prepared by DC's Superman comics team for release during what would have worked out to be third season of Lois and Clark. The ongoing Superman comics are not affiliated with television or movies and move in their own direction at their own pace. When the comic book wedding became known to the producers of the Lois and Clark television series, they asked the DC Comics team to postpone the wedding issue as they were planning to marry Lois and Clark in their fourth season and it would help them if the comic book wedding were to coincide with their television program. The DC comics team agreed to postpone their wedding issue, resulting in the storyline "The Death of Superman".
The fourth and final season had several two-part episodes. It began with the resolution of a cliffhanger involving a previously unknown colony of Kryptonians. A villainous conqueror from New Krypton, Lord Nor, takes over Clark's hometown of Smallville. After the conclusion of this story, Lois and Clark finally wed in the third episode of the season entitled "Swear To God, This Time We're Not Kidding". The same week of the airing of this episode, DC Comics released Superman: The Wedding Album, featuring the long-awaited marriage of Lois and Clark/Superman, written and penciled by many of the writers and artists involved with Superman since the 1986 revamp, including some legends from the Silver Age, and an unpublished work of the late Curt Swan.
The series ended on a strange cliffhanger in which Lois and Clark find an infant in Clark's old bassinet, along with a note that claimed the child belonged to them. This mystery was never resolved in the TV series; however Brad Buckner (executive producer and writer for seasons three and four) later revealed in an interview that the infant was in fact Kryptonian royalty hidden with Lois and Clark so that they could protect him from assassins.
Earlier in the fourth season, ABC had announced and promised an additional fifth year of the show, so the show's producers and writers were caught unprepared when ABC later changed its mind and decided that no new episodes would be produced. The series had weakened in its Sunday 8:00 timeslot and had been shifted to 7:00 in January, and finally a last-ditch move to Saturdays in the spring. The ratings dropped even further, and the show finished its last season at 104th place. ABC made up for its commitment with Warner Bros. by ordering three episodes of a Debra Messing drama called Prey.