All-Star

All-Star

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Smallville

As part of this study, I really should watch Smallville more. I watched the last two episodes, but I tend to agree with Chris Sims' assessment: it's not very good. But I liked it in the past. I didn't catch the first few episodes, but somewhere near the beginning I started watching. I sort of kept up with it, if I remembered, for a couple of years. Then, as I recall, it got really really bad. I avoided it like the plague, and then I watched the last two episodes, which did nothing to alter my opinion.

But for this project, I have just watched the first four episodes of Season 1, and I liked them a lot. They blend teen drama, superheroics, weird mystery, monsters (of a sort), and a dash of humor. I suppose that the "monster of the week" plots grew tiresome for the fans eventually, and that the overarching plot of Clark finding out about Krypton, Lex trying to figure out Clark's secret, and the romance took over. But then what happened?

So, now that the show's in its ninth season, Clark is living in Metropolis, working at the Daily Planet, flirting with Lois Lane (who, evidently, has been on the show for five years), has a Neo from the Matrix costume, and fights crime, he still can't fly and isn't called Superman. And I must wonder...why not? Oh, and he doesn't wear glasses.

Certainly I'm not the only one wondering about this.

At the Superman Celebration last summer, I talked to a man named Terry who was there with his grandchildren collecting autographs. He told me that they're all fans of Smallville and that they hunt through the internet to find out all sorts of information. According to Terry, the producers have left the costume decision to Tom Welling, who portrays Clark Kent. I have not found confirmation of this.

Others attribute the lack of the red and blue costume to network interference, because the executives fear that a costumed superman in the television would confuse people when a costumed Superman in a movie theater appears.

It's a curious thing. The show seems to have fallen victim to the same problem that plagues so many shows where the characters are high school students: they have to grow up sometime. For whatever reason, they've kept on with the mission statement--a superman show without superman. Some people are happy with this, some find it unbearable. Enough of both camps still watch it to keep it on the air.

I'm not sure of all the details of the story as it fills out in the subsequent seasons. I know that there's something about Jor-El being sort of a bad guy, and Clark must deal with that. My main interest in this comes because of the origin story. If you consider Superman's origin to be the part of the story from Jor-El placing Kal-El into the rocket to Superman's first public appearance in Metropolis (usually saving Lois Lane), then Smallville still isn't done telling that story. Smallville is the single longest version of Superman's origin out there. Siegel and Shuster's first published version, in Action Comics #1, was precisely one page long. So is Morrison and Quitely's All Star Superman origin. But then, neither of those versions aired on the WB, and needed teen drama to pull in an audience.

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