Soap Opera Weekly: Night Shift 10/31/08

LIFE ON MARS was actually…well, kinda…sweet last night. Sam ran into the 1973 version of his mother, Rose, played by Jennifer Ferrin (ex-Jennifer, AS THE WORLD TURNS). What an odd coincidence, that Ferrin should guest in prime time on the same day that ATWT was featuring flashbacks to Jennifer’s marriage and death, eh? Seems Rose got in trouble with a loan shark connected to a local gangster who was paying off cops, so Sam took it upon himself to investigate (and carefully avoid contact with his younger self). 

The best sequence of the night came when Sam put aside the police work to indulge his wish to just spend more time with his mother. He sat at her table, staring lovingly at her and gazing longingly at his old Tinkertoys. When he serenely asked her, “Howare you?” Jason O’Mara‘s face expressed Sam’s love and devotion beautifully. His eyes were filled with a sloppy mix of yearning, regret, pain and nostalgia. This was his mother the way she really was, not how he perceived her as a child. He was able to appreciate her as strong and determined to protect her family. Ferrin played “Rose Tyler” as earnest and sincere, but with rough edges that while clearly sanded down, were still evident (and not just in her Brooklyn accent). Policewoman Annie dismissed Sam’s mommy yammering as sublimated Oedipal yearnings to sleep with his mother — which predictably revolted him. But but when mobster moll Adrienne dosed Sam with LSD, he did hallucinate having sex with Rose. But then again, he also imagined little robots crawling out of his mouth. Later, when Sam and the boys busted the gangster club, he spotted his mother there, because she was intending to…uh, work off her debt.The disillusionment and embarrassment in Sam’s tear-filled eyes was utterly devastating. This was a great night for O’Mara. 

The episode also showed a willingness to wink at the audience, with cameo appearances by ’70s hipsters “Jim Croce” and “Joe Namath.” But even funnier,Michael Imperioli was allowed import one of Paulie Walnuts’ frequent lines from when he would spot Tony on THE SOPRANOS: “There he is!” When Ray saw Sam, he called out, “There he is, the man of the hour.” The night’s clue to Sam’s disposition in 2008 came via a glimpse of a dude wearing a Nirvana T-shirt while the sounds of a hospital respirator were heard. But those pesky little robots also appeared. 

I figured it was time to check in on SMALLVILLE once again, where intrepid news photographer Jimmy Olsen captured a blurry photo of the “Good Samaritan” who was rescuing people and vowed to put a face on the smudge. When Jimmy stopped by the Kent farm to share his theory that the Samaritan went to Smallville High, he realized that the hero’s career paralleled Clark’s movements — and that Clark himself had “hero potential.” And a tendency to wear red and blue, just like the blurry hero in his photo. Jimmy’s eyes grew wide and his mouth hung open as he realized, “It’s you.” Clark denied it and ran to Chloe. Jimmy soon followed, begging to be let in on the secret. “I guess I’ll have to prove it,” he resolved. This echoed a staple plotline of the comic books, especially Lois’ solo title, Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane, in which she spent much of the late 1950s-early ’60s attempting to suss out the Man of Steel’s secret identity, and prove that Clark was Superman. She would constantly dream up bizarre schemes to force Clark to act as Superman and blow his cover. But though there weer some close calls, he never did. On SMALLVILLE, Lois got to know the newest Planet reporter, Sebastian Kane, who immediately hit on her (then again, who wouldn’t?). Kane had the secret ability to steal memories, and was secretly sent by Tess Mercer to learn if Lois had stolen the Kryptonian crystal. Lois preparing for her date set up a scene in which Clark was embarrassed to zip the pneumatic Lois into her skintight red dress. The byplay between Tom Welling and Erica Durance this season has been fun to watch. 

I have also enjoyed watching the groundwork being layed for Clark to eventually adopt his costumed identity. Clark told Ollie that maybe his role is to “give people hope; someone to believe in.” After J’onn J’onzz — sorry, Martian Manhunter — lectured him about the need for secrecy last week, Chloe broached the subject of adopting an alias to protect his identity, like Oliver’s Green Arrow. Speaking of Oliver (played by PASSIONS’ ex-Fox, Justin Hartley), Clark berated him for drinking too much and tossing aside his GA leathers. Clark also lamented the fact that, “I can’t mindwipe the people who already know my secret” — an obvious reference to the recent Identity Crisis comic book series. Clark enlisted Oliver to protect his identity in a manner similar to the way Clark donned green leather to preserve Oliver’s secret. When Jimmy was conveniently mugged, Oliver saved him in an outfit with a cape. As Ollie perched on a ledge above an American flag with his cape flapping in the breeze, Clark noticed the way people were mesmerized by the image. Hopefully, that gave him an idea, LOL. Buying the ruse, Jimmy nevertheless suggested that Clark is the kind of guy people can count on, whether they are strangers or friends — he’s always there for them. Furthering the lessons, Lois claimed she didn’t tell Clark she was working Kane undercover in order to protect him. And, after being saved by the Samaritan twice, she’s a true believer, and vowed to track down the hero. “I won’t stop until I land the first worldwide exclusive interview,” she chirped. “Watch me.” Somehow, I think she’ll get it. 

Did you catch the joke lines?
• The “Faster than a speeding bullet” headline above the photo?
•Oliver mentioned going to a summit of friends in Europe who like to dress up and kick butts. (Justice League Europe, anyone?)
•And the coup de grace: Oliver snorting that he’s “not the party boy on lost rum-soaked weekends” or “a multinational corporate titan.” Take that, Tony Stark/Iron Man!

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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