Movie Cereal: Superman – Chapter 10: Between Two Fires

Well, everyone, we’re finally getting back to our episode-by-episode look at the 1948 serial, Superman. I apologize for the delays. My DVD drive stopped working and it took some time to replace it. Maybe the Spider-lady’s goons were responsible. I mean, if you remember from last time, they did set Dr. Graham’s reducer ray to self-destruct with Lois Lane tied up in the blast zone. Maybe they were messing with my equipment, too. Let’s find out if Superman gets there in time to save Lois in episode 10, Between Two Fires.

As we begin this episode, Superman zooms in for a landing at the university and rushes in to the building to save Lois. Rather than untying her, or flying her out the window to safety, he attempts to stop the machine from exploding. When this proves to be futile, he rushes over and shields Lois from the blast with his cape. When the machine blows, she is unscathed. So, apparently, we are to believe that the cape itself is super-strong, as well. Anyway, despite being safe, Lois is nonetheless unconscious. So, she doesn’t get to see the blue boy change back into Clark Kent and load her into a car to head back to the Daily Planet.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Olsen is at a service station waiting as the mechanic repairs his flat tire. As luck would have it, the Spider-lady’s goons pull in to fill up on gas. Jimmy pretends to work at the station and while filling up the car also takes the opportunity to start letting the air out of their tires. As the goons leave, he follows them to their hideout where the kidnapped Dr. Graham is being forced to work on parts for the Spider-lady’s version of the reducer ray.

When Jimmy shows up, though, the goons are waiting for him, and they quickly knock him out. Later, when Jimmy comes to, Graham reveals to him that he is actually working on a machine to transmit an SOS. Meanwhile, at the Daily Planet, Clark and Lois are sent by Perry White to investigate a power disturbance causing havoc with the city’s phone lines. Of course, the interference is being caused by Graham’s machine. Clark and Lois follow various leads and end up talking to some techies who give them a device to try and trace the source of the problem. Lois heads off with the device while Clark stays with the Geek Squad (which makes no sense). Meanwhile, the bad guys have learned of Graham’s deception. They escape with Jimmy and the doctor but set a trap for whoever is coming to save them. When Lois shows up at the hideout, everyone is gone, but everything quickly bursts into flames. Will Lois be saved? You know this works! We won’t know until next week.

As we’ve said many times before, serials can be very hit or miss. Some episodes are exciting and some just fill in the gaps. This is very much a fill-in-the-gaps type of chapter. It’s one I’d bet the kids in the theaters would’ve been disappointed in since Superman barely shows up again. He saves Lois at the beginning and that’s it for this episode. Now, there’s certainly the promise that he’ll show up early in the next chapter, since Lois has gotten herself into trouble, again. Still, the serial is called Superman, so give us more Superman.

Speaking of Lois being in trouble, this one has a really terrible setup for the cliffhanger. After talking with the phone company guys, Lois grabs the tracking device and heads off to find the source of the electronic disturbance. Clark warns her it might be dangerous, but she goes off anyway. Now I know Lois is a spunky, take-charge lady, but why does Clark have to stay behind with the guys from IT? Can’t he go with Lois? What on earth would Clark be able to contribute that would be helpful to the geeks from the phone company? “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” I think that would be the extent of Clark’s tech skills. I get it, we need to put Lois into a cliffhanger situation, but it makes no sense. Still, the cliffhanger is cool! We get huge flames that look dangerously close to actress Noel Neill. It’s one of the more thrilling moments we’ve had in this serial, so far.

This episode also continues the trend of having Jimmy Olsen be a bit more assertive and at least attempting to be heroic. He takes it upon himself to follow the bad guys, assist Dr. Graham with his secret machine, and during the escape later on, he jumps out of a moving car and rolls down a rocky hill. The dude’s clearly not content just being “Superman’s pal.” Who knows, maybe Jimmy’s going to be the one to dash back to the hideout and save Lois from the flames. I’m not placing any bets on that, but it could happen. We’ll find out for sure next time with episode 11 – Superman’s Dilemma.

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