Debuting September 13, 1993, the ABC adventure-fantasy series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman brought a 1990s spin and sensibility to the classic Superman legend as set down in comic-book form by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster way back in 1938. Superficially, the premise is basically the same, with Dean Cain starring as Superman, "strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men," who in his human guise as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, worked for the "Daily Planet," the leading newspaper in Metropolis. Kent's co-workers included hard-driving female reporter Lois Lane (Teri Hatcher), who (in the early episodes at least) regarded country-boy Clark as a nuisance, reserving her affections for her frequent rescuer Superman, totally unaware that the two men were one and the same; blustery editor Perry White (Lane Smith); and callow cub reporter-photographer Jimmy Olsen (played first by Michael Landes, then by Justin Whalin). Occasionally, Clark made return visits to Smallville, where he had grown up after the spaceship carrying him from the doomed planet Krypton crashed near the farm of his adoptive parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent (K Callan, Eddie Jones). Also seen was Superman's great nemesis, the fabulously wealthy master villain Lex Luthor (John Shea).
But while all the "original" elements were present, there were a number of significant deviations from the Superman canon. For one thing, unlike his comic-book counterpart, Clark Kent had come to Metropolis knowing virtually nothing of his previous life on Krypton, nor was he in full possession of the facts behind his super-strength and his other unearthly skills. Additionally, it took several episodes before he became aware of the deleterious and potentially deadly effects that Kryptonite (a metal derived from his home planet) could have on his powers and himself. As for Lois, rather than persisting in her first impression of Clark Kent as a nerdy nobody, she gradually fell in love with him -- for himself, and not for his Superman-ly alter ego (even though she had managed to figure out his true identity on her own by the end of the series' third season). In fact, Lois and Clark eventually became man and wife -- though it took them forever to get to the altar, thanks to a wide variety of dangerous roadblocks. Also, Lex Luthor had not become a bad guy to avenge an accident caused by the young Clark Kent which rendered him bald (the "motivation" imposed on Luthor in the original comic books); Lex revelled in villainy for its own sake, all the while maintaining a veneer of respectability that no one (except for Superman) was able to see through. While Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman tended to be irreverent and tongue-in-cheek in its approach (for example, the choleric Perry White was revealed to be an inveterate Elvis Presley fan!), it never stooped to deriding its source material, and thus is more treasured by comic-book aficionados than the campy 1960s version of Batman. The series ended its successful ABC run on June 14, 1997. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi