I loves the superheroes. Lena (as it turned out) loves the Tom Welling. Thus it was a lock that we would end up both really digging the WB’s series, Smallville.
I really find myself enjoying the handling of this show. The writers seem simultaneously reverential and playful of and with the source material. They constantly drop little bits of trivia and foreshadowing into the dialog and story that rewards longtime fans, and seem to have a lot of fun spinning new twists of long-accepted Superman conventions. Both Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeves have been on the show, and there’s a steady (if slow) parade of other DC characters throughout.
Most of the casting is excellent, and even though the writing is extremely formulaic and predictable, there’s a big enough element of “let’s watch the pretty people” to make me not notice so much. (Besides, if they had both beautiful people and smart writing, the show would have been cancelled long ago. Firefly anyone?)
Somehow the popcorn adventure tone of this show is great to me. Because it absolutely refuses to take itself seriously Lena and I similarly feel completely free to heckle, jeer, and wail at the television set the entire time it’s on. We have enormous fun.
For instance: we both hate Lana. Smallville is in it’s sixth season now, and Lana is still trying to figure out “who she is.” Well guess what — none of us know either. Not only that, but after six years we don’t care either. We scream and shake our fists every time Clark (affectionately known as “Chowderhead”) rescues Lana (less affectionately known as “The Vapid Skeeze-Monkey”) from the villain’s clutches after conveniently falling unconscious so as to be unable to identify her savior. Kristin Kreuk (Lana) is pretty enough, I suppose, but she comes across as so bland and unidentified that she seems a waste of screen space. She’s like a blank spot on my TV that the other actors keep inexplicably talking to.
Chloe is my favorite, and is the major reason I keep coming back to the show. I tell Lena regularly that if they kill Chloe off, I’m canceling the show’s Season Pass on my Tivo. Smart, funny, and hip, she knows what Clark is and completely okay about it, which is a much-needed relief from Clark’s constant and much-bemoaned need to use subterfuge to protect his identity. Allison Mack (Chloe) is gorgeous, and her character has never suffered from a lack of direction or identity.
Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) is probably the primary lynchpin of the show, and seems to be used as the crux around which the other characters rotate. (You’d think this would be Clark himself, but Chowderhead is such a weak character Lex makes a much more believable pivot.) He’s sexier, cooler, and frankly a better actor than the “other” male lead, and much more compelling to watch. That he’s not written like a stupid oaf helps too. Lex lies constantly, but he’s silky smooth about it, and often even when you know better, it’s hard to pinpoint just where reality leaves off and fabrication begins.
Which brings us to Clark. I don’t hate him, in some ways I even like him. (Sort of how you like a friendly dog.) But Clark is a mess. He also lies constantly, but in a clunky, awkward, “hey, I can tell you’re lying to me” kind of way. When Chowderhead wants to lie to you, he stops and pauses — trying to decide exactly how much to say. You can practically smell> the gears in his head grinding up against one another. And he does it every time. To their credit, the writers have let many of the characters cotton on to Clark’s enfeebled intrigues. Even The Vapid Skeeze-Monkey has called him to the mat more than once by interrupting his reply with a “You know what? Don’t bother.” So of course Clark becomes lonely, tortured, morose, whiney, and aloof, all the while complaining about his own behavior which he is totally unwilling to change. Who ever knew Superman was such a nitwit as a kid?
Now some of this may sound bad, but trust me when I tell you it’s a recipe for success. I have cheered the hero of my favorite TV show before, but never with as much energy and excitement as I experience screaming for the villain of the week to please kill Lana and put her out of my misery. Of course they never do, so I get to come back again next week to see someone else try. It is never ending fun.
If you find yourself with an hour to waste, I highly recommend you watch an episode. And if while watching, you find yourself wondering why everyone keeps talking to that blank spot on the left, don’t worry about it. It’s not important. Just watch the pretty people and relax.