The Man Who Could Read Minds is a pretty typical for an episode in the first two seasons of Adventures of Superman: a crime story that is treated pretty seriously though it contains a gimmick that is a bit on the goofy side, with Superman thrown in. If you know anything about me, you know I don’t consider this a bad thing by any means. I absolutely love the first two seasons of Adventures of Superman – in fact, they constitute my favorite piece of Superman media ever.
This one in particular focuses on a supposed “Phantom Burglar”. Amusingly, the episode starts with Inspector Henderson (who is on the trail of the burglar) reading the riot act to the Daily Planet staff (Perry, Clark, Lois and Jimmy) because they published a story criticizing the police for their ineffectiveness in catching him. I always find it entertaining when Henderson clashes with the other characters. Maybe in part because, due to the way Superman has evolved over the years to become extremely cooperative with authority, it almost feels “edgy” to see him and his associates in disagreement with the cops, even if it’s in a mild way.
Jimmy convinces Lois that they should try to catch the Phantom Burglar themselves in order to get the story. Lois seems a bit reluctant, which may seem a bit surprising, but I think it just shows that, while she may be a risk-taker, she has enough sense to know Jimmy is being quite ambitious. And in general, this show’s version of Lois (particularly in season 2 and onward, when she was portrayed by Noel Neill) is not as extreme in terms of rushing into danger as some versions are. And anyway, she does end up agreeing to it in the end. Jimmy actually comes remarkably close to catching him, but predictably, he and Lois end up having to drive away while being shot at.
Clark and Perry realize the two have gone off and Clark ends up turning into Superman and saving them from trouble. Jimmy finds a clue the burglar left, which leads them to a cafe which Lois and Clark go to. The only noteworthy thing there is a magic show where a blindfolded man, who’s supposedly a swami with psychic powers, is sitting on the stage while his female assistant goes around to tables and has people hand her objects, such as keys or other small items, from their pockets. Then, the swami says what the item is. Because of his X-ray vision, Clark knows that they’re using a microphone and an earpiece. Overall, he doesn’t think it’s very suspicious.
In truth, though, when the female assistant gets a key from someone, she presses it into a piece of wax concealed in her handkerchief, and then her criminal associates use it to make a key to break into the owner’s house. A fun and somewhat clever gimmick, even if it is somewhat silly.
Perry is unhappy with Jimmy and Lois going off on their own and takes them off the story, but this doesn’t dissuade them, and Lois realizes there’s a connection between the magic act and the burglaries. She ends up giving Jimmy a makeup disguise so he can pretend to be a certain wealthy Spanish man who is staying in town, and the two return to the cafe to lure the burglars. Their plan succeeds, but not-so-shockingly, they end up in a lot of trouble. Luckily for them, though, Clark receives a tip meant for Lois, returns to the cafe, and begins to piece things together, meaning he is able to intervene as Superman to save his friends’ lives.
One thing that I found interesting here is the contrast in Clark’s journalism style when compared to Lois’ and Jimmy’s. Clark is more reserved and not as suspicious or ambitious. However, though they have the same trait of rushing into life-risking situations to get a scoop, there is a contrast between Lois and Jimmy too, in that Lois is more intelligent, which may make her seem less risk-taking, but she ends up pushing Jimmy to continue with the story in the end, so this may not really be the case.
Something that I thought was a little weird is that, during the scene where Clark is combing through the backstage room at the cafe and figuring out what’s going on, he opens a lot of drawers and compartments to look inside them. I’m confused as to why he had to do this instead of using his X-ray vision, especially since he was alone, so it’s not like he was doing it so that people watching wouldn’t become suspicious that he was just looking around and not opening anything. I suppose it could just be a habit or something, or maybe just an oversight.
Overall, this was a pretty good episode. The first half was strong, but I do feel that when it got to the point of Jimmy and Lois returning to the cafe, it began to slow down a bit. Part of this probably has to do with Clark having less screen time than usual, and I think they thought that Jimmy disguising as the random Spanish guy was more entertaining than it really was. The ending was also pretty weak, with Superman scolding Lois and Jimmy followed by a lame joke. However, it’s certainly still worth watching.