Music Recommendation: “Weapon” by Matthew Good Band
Smallville is my favorite show. Hands down, without question. Many come close, but nothing competes with the memories spent watching this show (several times). I love Superman. He honestly gives me this [un]realistic hope that this world isn’t totally screwed up and doomed to destroy itself. There are actual writers out there who have created the ultimate hero. He believes in truth and justice. He fights for our safety. He’s from a world beyond ours, sent to correct our wrongs. He’s courageous and charismatic. He’s strong, but not a macho jerk – too difficult to connect with. He doesn’t let us get pushed around by bullies – including the government (#ARGUS #Checkmate #Cadmus). He’s some guy, to say the least. Plus, his cover is a journalist. Out of all things. He likes to be in the know and have a voice within this world that he’s saving on a reg. Did I mention that he’s easy on the eyes, too?
Ok, ok. Let’s talk Smallville.
I started watching Smallville during it’s fourth season. Flipping through the channels, I caught the episode, Devoted (on The WB), and I was hooked. Like I said, I love Superman and comics in general so automatically I was baited into being a fan of this show. To jump in on this episode was quite the experience. I had no idea who most of the characters were – but it was set in high school. From my previous posts, you know how much I love high school / teen dramas. Then, there was this guy with super strength saving his friends from being pummeled to death by jocks affected by a super gatorade-esque drink spiked with love potion from cheerleaders – WHAT!? Then, I realized the super strong guy’s name was Clark. Clark Kent. And one of the girls’ name was Lois.
Hold the phone. As in Superman ‘Clark and Lois’?? Let me just read up on the show… It’s called SMALLVILLE. Surely enough this was a show about the teen life of Superman and his journey to becoming Superman. I hurried up and found out what channels were airing the first few seasons and never looked back! Thanks ABC Family.
The show is what got me into my other favorite sci-fi dramas including Charmed, Buffy, Angel, Roswell, Supernatural, Heroes, and Firefly. The list certainly goes on. More than just a high school drama, the show was an interesting interpretation on the story that I thought I already I knew. A funny thing about my experience with this show is that I couldn’t exactly binge watch it like I can do now a days (except for ABC Family’s marathons). I watched a few episodes out of order, because I had to catch it when it was being syndicated on ABC Family. The first episode I watched after Devoted was Zero, from season one. I was also watching season four as it aired on The WB (0:26). Basically, I was all over the place with this show and when I finally circled back to the pilot episode – I wouldn’t let anything or anyone disturb me from catching on to every name, every Superman reference, every romantic moment between Clark and Lana, because I was trying to figure out what had happened with those two while watching the current fourth season. Because you know, Lois was there.
Then, after experiencing (watching) the rocky relationship between Clark and Lana during the three seasons, Lois’s entrance to the show was a breathe of fresh air. I mean, I love Clark and Lana’s drama and romance, but after a few seasons of Clark’s lies and Lana’s demands – Lois’s quirkiness and kick-ass attitude coupled with Clark’s awkwardness was amazing to watch.
Now that I have watched the entire series (several times over) and own all of the seasons on DVD – I am pretty much something of an expert on all things Smallville. Here are some of the things that I absolutely love about the show, along with things that annoy me as well. There were a few things that I thought I was entitled to seeing on the show and at times (later seasons) the show didn’t live up to my expectations in terms of character interpretations and connections to the comics (and the animated Superman and Justice League series). I mean it’s my favorite show, and I am not shy to talk about some of the crap that I had to put up with while watching it as the writers were really testing me in the later seasons. So, here we go…
My first impression of Clark was: Wow, he’s pretty. Seriously, Tom Welling is absolutely beautiful and back in 2001, he played the heck out of the high school freshman Clark Kent. From the comics, I expected the stereotypical terribly awkward and clumsy kind of a guy (even though Clark was faking it to mask his totally poised nature). And sure, Tom did ‘justice’ to Clark’s awkward and clumsy nature (see what I did there), but the stereotypical high school (outsider) was NOT an impression that Tom could even try to fake. I mean, the guy looked like a modern day prince charming. Gorgeous.
His eyes alone could pierce right through you (even without the heat vision)! Now, enough with my semi-objectifying of Tom Welling. His portrayal of how lonely Clark was and how strongly he just wanted to fit in and be a normal teenager in high school was believable, especially scenes where he would tower over everyone as they moved out and about their lives without him.
Due to his burgeoning super powers, early on in the series he had to miss out on being a part of sports (football), being totally honest about this whereabouts (when he was saving people), and dating. He actually only wanted to date one girl in particular, Lana Lang, but she wore a meteor rock (kryptonite) necklace – so she literally made Clark weak to his knees when she was around him. But, he couldn’t take his eyes off of her and I loved seeing their longing stares.
Other than his love for Lana, Clark had to deal with obeying his father’s wishes (Jonathan Kent) to just blend in and try his best not to get caught using his powers, while at the same time accepting that he is different from everyone else.
A lot to put on a teenager’s shoulders, huh? Since Clark had the superhero mentality from the beginning, he couldn’t just sit and watch when danger loomed over his town. He was always at the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time – depending on how you look at it. So when the time came for questions to be asked, Clark had to lie about his whereabouts or his connection to anything beyond the normal. Most of the time he tried to prove his innocence to his best friend (soon-to-be-arch-nenemis)…
Some of the best scenes in Smallville come from Clark trying to convince Lex that he’s totally a normal teen and the fact that he was always at the scene of something out of the normal happening was totally a coincidence. I got to give it to Lex, he does try his best to believe Clark in the beginning and just wants a normal friendship. Clark was like the brother that he didn’t get the chance to have (re: Julian and all of the other bros/siblings (Tess) that popped up later on). He even protects Clark on a number occasions when his money could do the talking.
But, Lex always had something dark inside of him and I think all of the lies and deceit (coming from his end too) just caught up with him and blurred the lines between good and evil. His distrust of Clark after he knew for sure that Clark was lying to his face (Lex’s got resources, so it was only a matter of time when he could buy the truth) ate away at his soul and he couldn’t and wouldn’t take it any more. The same with Clark. Season five’s Mortal allowed both Clark and Lex to punch it out on an even playing field when Clark became mortal.
Clark knew that Lex was losing his soul (figuratively and literally) and there would be times when he knew Lex was definitely lying to his face. All of the back and forth – I’m your best friend – I would never lie to you – You can trust me – pretty much crumbled their friendship and Clark made it his mission to catch Lex in his wrong doings and Lex wanted to reveal Clark’s true powers (and take advantage of them).
There’s a perfect example in season four’s Transference. How could Clark explain this situation? Other than the fact that his body was possessed by the evil Lionel Luthor and Lionel was using Clark’s powers against Lex…
Of course, when Clark approached Lex again (having returned to his own body), Lex was prepared for some answers. Like right now!
Clark always had to play dumb and convince Lex to believe some story of how he “wasn’t himself” and that the strength was “adrenaline”or something. Slap to the forehead! Really? That wasn’t the only time this type of situation and even crazier situations have happened to prove that Clark and Lex’s relationship would be the stuff of legends. I think Lex’s final descent into darkness came in season four’s Onyx, when Lex is literally split into his two selves – good and evil.
Face / Off, I mean Transference
Season four’s Transference is one of my favorite episodes as it reminds me of one of one of my favorite films, Face / Off, starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. Basically, good guy’s identity is held hostage by his nemesis via face swapping. Hmm, I wonder if the writers knew what they were doing here. In any case, it’s a great episode, especially the prison fight scene with Jimmy Eat World’s Pain playing as the soundtrack. But look, am I wrong…
Chloe, The Wall of Weird, and Meteor Freaks
Back at Smallville High School, home of the Smallville Crows…Clark has this genius and adorable bestie named Chloe Sullivan. Chloe was one of the names I didn’t recognized when I first watched Devoted, so I didn’t catch on quick enough that I was watching a show about Superman. Chloe is a character made up specifically for the show as a “Lois Lane proto-type.” She’s the editor and chief at The Torch (high school paper) and the pioneer of the Wall of Weird.
She’s collected clippings and articles about the paranormal and ‘weirdness’ in Smallville after the first meteor shower (Clark’s plight to Earth from the planet Krypton). A mere notebook couldn’t contain all of the strange and questionable happenings, so she used a wall. Of course, she showed the wall to Clark to impress him, but little did she know that Clark is the sole reason that her wall even exists. The wall jumpstarts Clark’s mission to help those that he affected by coming to Earth and allowing people to be transformed by the infected meteors and thus becoming monsters of themselves and wreaking havoc in Smallville. Thanks, Chloe.
The infected persons are dubbed ‘Meteor Freaks’ (basically meta-humans or mutants). The kryptonite-laced meteor fragments from the meteor shower somehow mixed into their system during some extraordinary event, like getting caught in frozen water littered with kryptonite meteor rocks for an extended period of time (Ice Man-type freak), or having a flock of insects attack you after crashing your car full of kryptonite infected insects (Bug Boy-type freak). After the freaks set their sights on destroying those who’ve wronged them while they were relatively normal teens – Clark comes in to save the day! With a little help from his friends…
Chloe (along with Pete Ross [who annoys me, so I’m not going to bother writing about him]) is unknowingly and knowingly Clark’s sidekick – filling him in on the freaks and giving him a head start on how to stop them from causing more damage. Once again, thanks Chloe. But of course, Clark has to lie about how and why he can even go toe to toe with the freaks to stop them.
Before long, it’s revealed that Chloe is in love with Clark (how could she not be) and just being his sidekick and best friend was not always enough. Clark did love Chloe (how could he not), albeit only as a friend.
Their bond grows deeper after she finds out that she was right all along about Clark being extraordinary. All of the lies and dumb excuses start to make sense and Clark can just tell Chloe that he’s going to save the day and she’s like, ‘I got your back’ and gladly embraces her sidekick status! THANKS. CHLOE.
I mentioned earlier that the early seasons of Smallville centered around Clark’s love for Lana Lang. And I admit, I rooted for them until I realized that Lois Lane would soon be gracing Smallville with her presence and SHE was Clark’s soulmate. But I was torn (still am) by which girl is rightfully Clark’s true love. I sometimes argue that Chloe is Clark’s true love by her wit and heroism from the earlier seasons – before the writers turned her into some sort of ‘computer wiz’ and living ‘brainiac’ in the later seasons. Seriously, after she leaves The Daily Planet, she loses her Chloe-ness that I grew to love over the years. I mean, she rightfully deserved to be at the Daily Planet and that’s more than I can say for Lois Lane (later on).
But Lois’s first few seasons (seasons four – five and some of six) were when I loved her the most. She was strong and quippy. Most of all, she ticked Clark off. Before Lois, Clark tried his best to get along with everyone and was always Mr. Likable until Lois came around to shake things up. There was actually someone to annoy Clark and to get him into ‘normal’ trouble with his folks like in season four’s Gone.
Lois drove Clark crazy…in an adorable way. The more she spoke up for herself and got herself into hot water, the more Clark had to step in and be HER sidekick. I think he liked that about her.
However, in later seasons, Lois becomes this whiney damsel, pining after The Blur (Clark’s first attempt of a Superhero name). I got so sick of her meeting in the telephone booth, calling after this mysterious shadow vigilante. I honestly think, their relationship was rushed into a romantic one anyway. Especially since the writers kind of weakened her character after she already dated two other superheroes in previous seasons (Aquaman and Green Arrow). I struggled taking her and Clark seriously. I never saw the romantic-chemistry between the two of them like I saw between Clark and Lana.
I feel like the writers were shoving Lois and Clark down our throats after Lana left the show. The earlier seasons took the time to show Clark falling in love with Lana, and she with him. Clark put Lana through so much crap, because she knew that he loved her and she let him pull her in. But he wasn’t honest with her and all of the lies pushed her away. The fact that she loved him made her forgive him on many occasions and Clark constantly had to try his best to be the best for her while at the same time keeping his responsibilities in check. His true identity could put her in more trouble than he already had by being close to him (re: season three’s Exile). When he did hurt her, it took him time to forgive himself to be close with her again. He had to push her away to keep her safe, but Lana didn’t understand that.
Even at some of Clark’s most vulnerable moments like in season five’s Reckoning, when Jonathan Kent dies. Lana tried to hold on to the threads of her love for Clark, even though he was hardening up and closing himself off. If she knew what he was really going through (Clark going back in time to save her from dying and instead Jonathan’s life is switched for hers), she probably wouldn’t have been so hard on him about the faults in their relationships.
Which is why Lana started to tick me off in later seasons. She treated Clark like he was this horrible person (mainly because he sometimes had to be to keep her safe) who lied and willingly hurt her feelings. I hated the both of them for treating each other terribly (especially Lana marrying Lex in season six’s Promise). I think Clark could have just told her the truth though instead of stringing her along all of those years. She found out eventually, though, and it’s excellent. But, being honest from the start would have saved them both a lot of heartache. However, Reckoning was a gift of an episode where Clark actually told Lana everything and proposed to her.
Their blissfulness led them down a dangerous path, though, as Lana (now knowing Clark’s secret) became a target to Lex’s crazed demand to be in on the truth as well…resulting in Lana dying. Clark (not having that) changes the past and this time around he doesn’t tell her the truth, thus further pushing Lana away, losing her anyway. She’s now the reason Jonathan is gone, Clark unintentionally weighing her life over his own father’s. The episode is beautiful though, especially the ending soundtracked with Peter Gabriel’s I Grieve. The episode is what I had been waiting to see happen between Clark and Lana FOR YEARS, but I also got to see how (why) Lana knowing Clark’s secret was a dangerous idea.
No matter how much in love Clark was with Lana, I don’t think Clark trusted her enough to be strong enough to handle whatever bad could happen to her if she knew his secret. At least, not in the beginning. It could be that he loved her too much to burden her with the task of keeping his secret. Though she found out eventually and we see how well that worked out (Clark ends up with Lois). All of their ups and downs made a relationship worth watching on television, though.
When the Comics Invade Smallville
I think Smallville finally became Superman’s story, when more other DC superheroes and villains made their way to town. Season four introduced a few comic characters like Myxlplyx in Jinx, Bart Allen (“Impulse” / The Flash) in Run, and of course Lois Lane in Crusade. Also, Clark (as Kal-El) actually flies in this episode and it’s amazing!
Season five introduces fan favorites like Brainiac (played by Buffy alum James Masters), Aquaman, and Cyborg. I think season six is where the series and comics smash-collide in a great way. Green Arrow becomes a re-occurring character, later to become a series regular, played by Justin Hartley.
His presence pushes Clark to finally see that he can’t do this whole saving the world thing alone and needs a little help from others like him – superheroes. You gotta love season six’s Justice. Seeing so many of DC’s finest in live action was something Smallville fans (DC fans in general) had been waiting on for a long time. Can you imagine how stoked I am for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad next year?
We get a full view of Martian Manhunter in season six’s Phantom (he’s introduced in season six’s Static). Season seven introduces Kara Kent (Supergirl) who’s a series regular that season. Clark basically gets to train her to get used to her abilities just as he had to do in earlier seasons. He became something of a big brother figure. His relationship with Kara was strong, because he had to protect her from those willing to exploit her (cough, Lex) and teach her about the importance of having a secret identity. The thing was, Kara wasn’t raised by humans and she didn’t like to think of her powers as a secret or burden. Well, until she meets Jimmy Olsen (introduced in season six). Then, she wants to be a relatively normal girl. Overall, Kara and Clark’s relationship on the show is a great nod to the comics.
In the case of other characters like Davis Bloome, Tess Mercer, and ‘Major’ Zod – I could have lived without on the show. Surely they tried to fill the void of the villain / anti-hero after Lex Luthor left in season seven. I mean, maybe if they had more time to develop and they started their origins in earlier seasons, I would have taken them more seriously. But honestly, after seeing Lex from season one to his last episode (not including his return in season ten’s series finale) and him developing as the villain, any other bad guy was just filler. Tess Mercer was forced on us and I grew annoyed by how she was supposedly bad, but also good. What made Lex’s villain status so amazing was his chemistry with Clark. Something the later villains lacked.
Characters like Hawkman, Black Canary, and Dr. Fate’s time on the show was just so rushed and I didn’t care about their characters other than the fact they were from the comics. That’s what pains me the most about the series – rushed storylines and empty-important characters. Yeah, sure it’s great to see the Justice League coming into fruition, but what about filling out the characters more? Major props to the costume department though. At least the characters looked great!
Anyway, I love the show and I’m sure that if I watch the series again (for the hundredth time), I’ll spot even more things that I love and hate about it. I grew with the show as a teen and now that I am an adult, my perspective of certain characters could possibly change. Maybe. In any case, I hold the show dear and there’s so much more that I could say about it. I mean season eight through ten deserve their own blog (Post-Lex Smallville). Then there’s my love/hate view of what the series did with The Daily Planet and how Lois and Clark somehow became journalists without finishing college. Or even, community college. Then I could rant about Chloe’s character evolution.
Plus, there’s all of the actors that started on Smallville and went into their own series or starred in other DC related films: Jensen Ackles (Supernatural), Adam Brody (The OC), Amy Adams (Man of Steel), Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries), and Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries). Then, there’s appearance from Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling (Beverly Hills, 90210), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman series), Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark), Carrie Fisher (Star Wars), and so on! Also, Smallville set the tone for new DC comic-centric shows on The CW like Arrow, The Flash, and even Gotham (on Fox). So much to discuss, and maybe I’ll do a part two. Maybe. Watch the series if you have enough time for ten seasons!
‘Til Next Time.
P.S. I do not own any of the photos (or videos) and I do not claim any credit for any of their edits. 🙂