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Smallville - A Cup That Runneth Over
A Nearly Invulnerable TV Show
Rather like the make-it-up-as-you-go shows, e.g., "The X-Files," and "Lost," it's obvious that the "Smallville" creators never expected this series to last more than a couple of seasons at best.
By season 10 Smallville and the Kent farm were not much more than a place to feed the dog and stare out toward the heavens from the hay loft of the barn. From the beginning the series made the bold (and not necessarily wise) decision to discount the existing Superman myth and create a soap opera that would focus on entertaining young teens.
Once it was clear that this excursion would have little (or nothing) to do with the comic book character, I just went along for the ride, finding some episodes worthwhile and others close to embarrassing. We find strange, distorted personifications of the Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Supergirl, select members of the JLS, etc., all with frayed, generally disapointing stitching. I still cannot wrap my brain around the fact that Dr. Fate had more involvement in the series than The Flash, Green Lantern or especially Batman (a no show). The Green Arrow was often given center stage whereas in the comics, he barely existed as a peripheral character -- at least when the original Justice League of America was in its first bloom.
Like so many other successful programs, "Smallville" did its best to fill the unexpected void opened up to the producers, cast, crew and scriptwriters. Sometimes I really wanted to shame the writers for their staggering lack of imagination and reliance on older, staid sci-fi material. Since the series cowed away from turning Kal El into the ultimate superhero for years, we were always left with a kind of quasi-Superman, emotionally unbalanced, unfocused, and ignorant of his role as a self-sacrificing hero. On balance, I credit the cast -- that so often made the totally ridiculous into something palatable.
And the actors had a lot going against them in the various scripts, e.g., an abundance of kryptonite that instead of being inert to human beings, caused them to have a place on Chloe's Wall of the Weird. The non-eye-glass wearing Clark Kent in late adolescence had to face such bad guys as General Zod and even Doomsday.
Smallville took idea-points it desired from the DC series and used them as it wished -- for better or worse. WB and DC nurtured Tom Welling into becoming the ultimate Superman. What other actor played this role for ten years? He deserves a crack at a full-length movie -- perhaps the much rumored Justice League scenario. Even if it takes several years for a JL movie to reach production, Wellings' basic baby face will always allow him to look about twenty years old. One always hopes that studios don't discard their carefully nurtured talent because of a lack of vision, but they've done it over and over before.