Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Smallville Smackdown

This week it was announced that DC entertainment will release a weekly digital comic called Smallville Season 11.
I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.
Be thankful I haven’t launched the Fanboy News Network video series yet, I would have been yelling.
So why would I be yelling about a continuation of Smallville? Well let’s go over the reasons.
First, while I assume that if you read this blog you know what Smallville is, just in case you don’t here is the quick recap. The show is about the Life of Clark Kent between his freshman year in high school and his assuming the identity of Superman. It lasted 10 seasons. The mantra of the show was “No Flight, No Tights.”  
Ok on to the ranting.
Frist thing that springs to mind: Smallville already lasted five seasons too long. Seriously the idea was to show the events that lead Clark on the road to becoming the greatest hero of all time. The four seasons were ok. It was never stellar Television. It was Superman as seen through the lens of Dawson’s Creek. It had two things going for it, a sense of destiny as we know how the two main characters would turn out, and the performance of Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor.
Of course those early seasons had their issues too. Chief amongst them was the miscasting of Kristen Kreuk as Lana Lang. She had no chemistry with series lead Tom Welling. This would not have been so bad except that they cast Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan, a character that had an unrequited crush on Clark. Mack had tons of chemistry with Welling, making Kreuk’s lack of it jarring.
The point here is that at the beginning you had an ok show that did surprisingly well in the ratings. And that may have been its curse. By season five the show had really run its course, but for CW it was doing great ratings so it was renewed. And they kept renewing it.
Maybe if the story had advanced it would not have been awful, but merely bad. But “No Flight, No Tights” meant they had to keep Clark as not quite Superman. What ended up happening was an amazing hack job of the Superman myth that made most fanboys rage. What was worst is that every now and then they actually had something good, like Geoff Johns love letter to the Golden Age with his JSA episodes. But mostly it was crap that went on five years past its expiration date.
The final season was particularly bad in that it started out like most Smallville seasons, but part way through someone in the writers’ room must have woken up.
“Oh crap, this is the last season, we should take the Clark Kent character we have developed and shoehorn him into personality from the comic books.”
I’m not kidding. It was the 9th episode of the 10th season that Clark Kent started wearing glasses. And was the 13th before he started with the mild mannered nerd persona. Like people who know him before would not figure out that the Clark Kent they knew for years was Superman.  I think it would ended up like being the Saturday Night Live Sketch with the Rock as Clark Kent where everyone know he was Superman and just humored him.
 A lot of this could have been forgiven, if they had nailed the series finale. If they gave us that rousing moment when Clark Kent became the Man of Steel and defeated the villain becoming the champion he was meant to be.
That would have been nice.
But Smallville had a history of unsatisfying season finales and I guess they saw no reason to make the series finally any different.
It was a two hour finale, and when Clark finally confronted the bad guy there were 14 minutes left in the episode. In that time the following happened:
·         He learned to fly
·         He defeated Darkseid, one of the most powerful entities in the DC Universe, by flying through him
·         He went to the Fortress of Solitude and got the Superman Costume.
·         He saved the airplane Lois Lane was on.
·         He flew in the sky and pushed a planet away from Earth.
·         Then there was an epilog.
And in none of that was there ever a clear shot of Tom Welling actually wearing the Superman costume. The rumor I keep hearing is that Welling, who was also a producer on the show, refused to wear it. I guess he felt that he should never fully been seen as Superman. What it did was leave the audience feeling cheated.
10 year build up with no pay off.
So now, I assume due to the success of the Buffy Season 8 and 9 comics DC feels they can give us this pay off.
I have an idea. If you want to see Clark Kent at the beginning of his career as Superman read the current run of Action Comics. At least they are going about it honestly.
For me the big mystery is why I watch that damn show for all ten seasons.
The only answer I can come up with is that I am such a comic fanboy that since It was something related to Superman thus I was obligated. 
Or maybe some part of me knew that one day I would write a geek culture blog and I would need to know the shows history to really tear into it.
I’m going with that last one. If makes me feel better.


  1. I was a hard core viewer for the 1st two seasons . . . Life interrupted weekly watching for the rest of the time. I'd catch the occasional episode or follow the occasional arch. I was sad when Michael Rosenbaum left. I was excited when he returned. I tuned in for the series finale and was satisfied with where they took it.

    I think not living the series as you did probably helped foster a fondness for the series to this day.

    But I have to agree, I don't see a point in a comic series and I'd be surprised if it gets 6 issues, if that's how it works.

    Also, how will it work within the New 52? Seem like too much license was taken to ever have it match up with anything but its own universe.

    I would like more Erica Durance in my life thought. Her turn as "Wonder Woman" on Harry's Law just isn't enough.

  2. The only reason I liked that show at all were the Luther's. Once the Luther's left, there was no reason to watch it, at all. The comics won't give the performance or nuances of either Lionel or Lex, so there's no point in reading it.