Smallville

Smallville is the title of a television show supposedly about a young Clark Kent in the years before he becomes Superman.

Actually, Smallville would be awesome if it wasn't supposed to be about Superman

Just The Facts

  1. Smallville is the fictional small town (get it?) in the Superman mythology that was Clark Kent's hometown.
  2. In 2001, the WB launched a show called Smallville which was to be about Clark Kent's teenage years. Their star was twenty four.
  3. The show has a very loose grasp on Superman and what makes an intelligible TV show.
  4. It's one of the longest-running science fiction shows...and yet nobody really likes it.

The Cast and Characters

Smallville's cast normally runs the gamut from pretty young things, to fan favorites in the geek community, and on some occassions, to out of work actors from past Superman projects.

The core cast is made-up of Tom Welling as Clark Kent and Allison Mack as a girl named Chloe. I say core cast because they are the only two characters to have hung around since the first season. In the series, Clark is portrayed as a moody and distrustful young man who turns his back on everyone except when he has to save them from falling off a bridge or something. Chloe, who wasn't in the comics, was created for the show to be a sassy Lois Lane-type character in the early episodes... before Lois Lane was eventually brought on board anyway.

From Left to Right. Gone. Gone. Still there. Gone. Gone.Gone. Still there. Gone

From Left to Right. Gone. Gone. Still there. Gone. Gone.Gone. Gone. Gone

Other notable cast members include Bo Duke as Jonathan Kent (Supe's adoptive father from the comics), Michael Rosenbaum as a young Lex Luthor and John Glover as Lex's dad. These men were the best actors on the show and played routinely intriguing characters. This was unheard of for the CW, so the series' writers wrote Pa Kent out of the show as a 100th episode stunt, warped Lex's dad into a kooky mess of ideas until killing him off, and probably just drove Rosenbaum to quitting lest his character suffer a similar fate.

Smallville has featured a bevy (yes, a whole bevy) of babes in its regular cast throughout the years. Such as Kristen Kreuk as the annoying but nice to look at Lana Lang, Erica Durance as the bouncing, heaving Lois Lane, Laura Vandervoort as the skimpily dressed Supergirl and Cassidy Freeman as the Luthor prodigy with looks to kill. About once a season there'll be an episode where one of these girls goes under mind control or becomes enchanted with a spell and starts acting "bad." This involves them strutting around in stiletto heels, tight corsets and mini-skirts. These are usually the episodes best saved for sweeps weeks.

I like pink very much, Lois

I like pink very much, Lois

Lastly, the regular cast will sometimes consist of good-looking but ultimately uncessesary male characters to round out the cast. They are often meant to be foils for Clark throughout a given season, and in the history of the show, two of them have been forgettable boyfriends of Lana, and another two have been actual villains. The exceptions to this rule are Justin Hartley as Bruce Wayne if Smallville had the rights to use Bruce Wayne, and Sam Jones III as the only visible minority the show ever had in the opening credits. Sam played Clark's childhood friend and confidant Pete Ross, he also left the show near the end of the third season, back when the going was gettin' good. Some friend.

Notable guest stars have included Michael McKean, Pam Grier, Rutger Hauer, Jane Seymour, James Marsters, Michael Ironside, Terrence Stamp, Christopher Reeve and... um...Tori Spelling... Yeah.

The Seasons

Before Smallville began its attack on quality television, the show's creators pitched it to the network with a strict "No tights, no flights" rule. This was put in place to break down Superman into his bare essentials outside of his blue tights and flying, as well as open the door for stories that wouldn't rely on conventional Superman knowledge. By the fourth year they said "fuck it" to that clever rhyme and decided to start shoe-horning stuff from the comics. So basically, we got three years of Dawson's Creek with super strength followed by years of science fiction jargon they tried to avoid.

Season 1's stories focused on how crappy high school was for the kid who could see through the walls of the girls' locker rooms and withstand any punch laid on him by bullies. In the pilot episode, Clark saves the rich, bald, brilliant, egotistical new guy in town from drowning; thus dooming audiences to years of frustrating "We-know-but-they-don't-know-yet" banter like "We all have destinies, Lex" and "I'll always cherish our friendship, Clark." The season featured a new super villain every week for Clark to fight. Normally they were super powered high schoolers who went after the other high schoolers who wronged them (i.e. teased them).

In Season 2, Clark learns from Christopher Reeve's character that he's from another planet and that somehow the Native Americans knew all about that. Pete learns that his buddy Clark has superpowers and Clark discovers that exposure to Red Kryptonite makes him a douchebag. But that's nothing compared to the episode where we find out Clark's heat vision kicks-in whenever he's horny. Seriously, that's messed up.

"Say my name, bitch!"

He's so into this

Anyway, Clark also starts talking to his biological father from beyond the grave, and it begins to sound like he was sent to Earth to conquer it. Not feeling that, Clark gets some Red Kryptonite and ends the season by spending the summer being an asshole in Vancouver Metropolis.

In the Season 3 opener, Clark's adoptive father is given superpowers from his real father so he can kick his son's ass in Metropolis and make him not evil again. Wait, it gets better. Lex has a psychological breakdown after being stranded on a deserted island and is committed to a mental institution, Pete and Lana leave Smallville (Lana, the town. Pete, the show) and Lex's dad goes to jail. Most fans consider this one of the better seasons of the series, probably because its the last time the show was coherent on a consistent basis.

In Season 4, Smallville stopped being the show that it was and started being something completely different. The season took off with Clark flying for the first time, thus breaking half of the "No tights, No flights" rule, a clear indication that the writers were running out of ideas. Lois Lane was also brought in as a semi-regular for some reason. Like Lex, she saw Clark all the time without glasses and made similar wink-wink jokes about their future. Clark also meets a youg man who would grow up to become The Flash, which set up the promising premise of future episodes where Clark encounters other soon-to-become superheroes. Future episodes of this concept quickly dispelled any promise that premise might have had. Also, we learn that Lana is the decendant of a witch and she becomes something of a villain. It's... it's pretty messed up.

At the start of Season 5, Clark sets-up the fortress of solitude, which is good because he'll need all the help he can get when famous Superman villain Brainiac comes to town!

...Posing as Clark's professor at college.

70% of you will not pass this semester...ALIVE!

70% of you will not pass this semester...ALIVE!

This season also featured an episode with a young Aquaman, which stirred such a surge in the ratings that it prompted the Smallville creators to start planning for a Smallville companion show about Aquaman. You know your show has just about run its course when the producers start thinking a goddman Aquaman series might have to start taking priority.

By Season 6, most people were really wishing this show would just fucking end. Lex gets posessed by the ghost of General Zod and manages to fight Clark mano-a-mano. I don't have a joke for that I just wanted to bring it up because it was a really weird episode. It also introduced audiences to two new regulars: Green Arrow, the show's answer to being unable to get Batman, and Jimmy Olsen, who according to Smallville rules, has seniority over Clark Kent and Lois Lane at the Daily Planet. Other highlights include Lex and Lana getting married, Chloe being identified as a person with super powers, Lana faking her death and a gimmick episode where everyone acted like they in the 1930s.

In Season 7, Clark fights a Bizarro version of Bizarro Superman, brings his dead mother back to life (biological mother that is.... not his adoptive one. She became a congresswoman back in season 5 after Jonathan died) and starts hanging out with his hot cousin, Supergirl. Lex's dad is revealed to be a member of a secret organization hell-bent on gaining control of Clark, who's like some chosen one or something, I dunno. It doesn't matter because Lex's dad dies halfway through the season anyway. By the end of this season, Lana leaves Clark for good, Lex is presumed dead and Supergirl gets lost in an alternate dimension. So basically, the producers could have ended the show, or they could have hired a slew of new actors for next season.

Fuck. They hired new actors.

In Season 8, Clark decides he's not going to be a whiny emo anymore and will instead start helping people (As the mysterious vigilante known as 'The Blur'... yeah, I really hope someone got fired for coming up with that name). Also, he gets a job at the Daily Planet and begins a flirtatious relationship with Lois. So after 3 wacky seasons the show starts looking like a young Superman show again. That didn't last, though. A new villain was introduced this season, he was kinda like Bruce Banner except instead of turning into the Hulk he turned into Doomsday. This meant that before he became Superman, Clark fought Doomsday on a regular basis, a character that was created in the comics for the sole purpose of killing him in their first battle. Eventually, Lana showed up again and sucked all the fun out of the room... but then she began radiating kryptonite to signyfy once and for all that she and Clark can never be together. So yeah.

Anyway, the season ended with the biggest "screw you, fans" in the history of ANY TV show: Not only did they get jipped on the Clark/ Doomsday fight they were hyping all year, but they killed off Jimmy Olsen and revealed that he wasn't THAT Jimmy Olsen, but his older brother... who also went by the same name.

In Season 9, (Fuck, Buffy didn't even get 9 seasons...what the hell is this shit?) Clark starts wearing a Superman costume, except it's not the traditional looking one. The showrunner's excuse is that "It's because he's embracing his alien origins and ignoring his humanity" but we all know the real reason is because they still insist Smallville is a show where Superman doesn't exist yet. The season highlights included Clark destroying twin towers (not THE twin towers but it caused a stir), revealing his adoptive mom as the head of a shady black ops group, a TV movie where he met Hawkman that was considered awesome and a big reveal where his mom was dating his future boss and current washed-up journalist turned alcoholic, Perry White. Some would argue that season 9 saw a substantial boost in the show's ratings, but they were substantial in the "Would have been laughably bad on a real television network and routinely eclipsed by reruns of House on the same night" kind of way.

It's a bird...it's a plane...it's The Punisher!

"It's a bird...it's a plane...it's The Punisher!"

It was announced early in the 10th Season that it would also be the last (Thank you, merciful God). Normally, when a show is reaching the end the showrunners use the opportunity to tie-up all the loose ends and give their characters a satisfying conclusion. But in Smallville's case, I think the writers were told to fit-in as many goofy shenanigans while they still could. The two most promising themes of the season were the passing of a Mutant Vigilante Registration Act, and the inclusion of Darkseid (the most diabolical villain in the DC universe) and yet the writers still found it more important to dick around with alternate history episodes, brainwashed characters and a bizarre Clark/Lex clone. Former castmembers came out of the woodwork for no other reason than to say 'You aren't Superman yet? What the fuck is wrong with you?"

Influence from the comics

As a TV show, Smallville is chock-full of problems. Character motivations get changed each season, the dialogue is too pithy for it's own good, product placement abounds, they play god with their own continuity, they reuse the same gimick episodes at least once a year and I'm pretty sure they build one new set for each season and milk it dry.

But as a piece of fanservice, Smallville can at least be credited for digging deep when it comes to mining the comic books for ideas. Obscure DC characters like Silver Banshee and The Legion of Superheroes would probably never have gotten live-action treatment were it not for Smallville. The problem here is the show often gives these new characters the same shoddy treatment they give their regular ones. See, Smallville has a nasty habit of revisioning comic book characters to fit their story instead of building a story to justify their inclusion. So while fans might get to see Cyborg or Killer Frost on TV, it's sort of like asking for a mountain bike for your birthday and winding-up with a girl's bike instead.


It's like this, only every week

But at least a genre-soap opera like this is trying to appease fans of the comics...right? Well, here's the thing about that: there's some vague legal reasons why Smallville isn't allowed to use Batman, Wonder Woman or any other superhero you may have otherwise heard of on the show. So because there's never going to be a Dr. Fate or a Booster Gold movie in the works they use third and fourth-tier guys like those instead. Basically the characters most DC fans really care about are either too expensive or too important to waste on this show, and in the meantime we get to see poorly realized versions of characters fans were pretty meh about in the first place. It really says something when the only other prolific Justice League member on the show is Aquaman.

But hey, at least fans of the Wonder Twins were happy

Influence on the comics

In every new Superman TV or movie venture, the creator's often try to introduce new ideas to put their own creative stamp on the long running franchise. So far, everything Smallville has tried to add to the character has been terrible.

In 2006, the Chloe character from the show was briefly considered to be integrated into the comics. These plans were abandoned, however, presumably because the comic book people realized they already had Lois Lane, Pete Ross and Lana Lang-esque characters to work with in the form of Lois Lane, Pete Ross and Lana Lang.

She was finally integrated in a Jimmy Olsen comic in 2011, where she was a reporter and ex-girlfriend of Jimmy's. This was a stark contrast to her portrayal on the show, where she went from wannabe-journalist to superpowered healer to expert computer hacker to gun-fu assassin.

Also, one artist began drawing young Clark in the comics as the spitting image of Tom Welling, but this was later halted when the editors at DC felt using recognizeable celebrities as a stand-in for the comic art brought people out of the story and they wanted to discourage any such favoritism.

That was a damn lie.

It's pretty clear that the comicbook community wants nothing to do with Smallville. But the sad reality is that because there were hardly any Superman cartoons, movies or TV shows at the first half of the millenium, Smallville fans believed their crappy teen drama was the only thing keeping a widely-recognized, 70-year-old pop culture icon from falling out of public conciousness.