Born on another planet, a son of Krypton, Kal-El is sent
as an infant, by his father Jor-El, to the planet Earth to
escape the destruction of his home. Found and adopted by Martha
and Jonathan Kent Kal-El must grow to manhood as Clark Kent
hiding his awesome powers...
a prejudicial point of view I was ready to hate this show,
I'd not seen much of the series on television, and the bits
I had seen made me want to turn the channel over. It looked
to me, on those little fragments, just like some awful teen
take on Superman's early years - all testosterone confusion
and staring off into space wondering about the meaning of
it all. A lot of good shows gets cancelled in their first
year and a lot of old tat seems to hang in there for no good
artistic reason, so you can understand my surprise to discover
that Smallville, in its forth year, not only wasn't
what I thought it was, but was in fact a very good show. Okay,
so there are some teen flick elements, after all these are
Clark's teen years, but those elements aren't allowed to get
out of hand.
of the performances are stunning, although the Kents role
as the moral voice of the show can get a bit gratingly preachy
at times. So, it was nice to see Martha, played by Annette
O'Toole, let her hair down and have something else to do in
Spirit when her body it taken over by a particularly
supporting cast of Allison Mack as Chloe, Erica Durance as
Lois and Kristen Kreuk as Lana, all do a great job at bringing
their characters to life and imbuing them with more than two
dimensional facets. Oddly enough the worst performance is
given by Tom Welling as Clark, who for the most part seems
to have attended the Keanu Reeves school of wooden acting.
Hell, even Roger Moore raised his eyebrow now and again. I
may be being over harsh here; this may have been the performance
that the makers were after, if so, they have done Tom an injustice.
He comes over less like the puzzled stranger in a strange
land, more like someone who's just a little bit 'special'.
He does break out of this occasionally, usually when he's
possessed, as in Transference and Spirit but
otherwise it's pretty much a one note performance.
prize for great performance and most intriguing character
has to go to Michael Rosenbaum who plays Alexander 'Lex' Luthor.
By far the most charismatic and complicated character in the
show, Lex is not your common or garden villain. Afraid of
his own ambition and the path he is travelling. In Scare
we see Lex's worse nightmare, when the attainment of absolute
power compels him to condemn the world to a nuclear holocaust.
In one of the best episodes, Onyx, a lab accident splits
Lex into his good and bad side. Okay, this has been done to
death since Captain Kirk did it, and the episode isn't as
good as Harlen Ellisons Shatterday, shown as part of
the Twilight Zone in the eighties, but it does give
us an insight to the turmoil that is Lex's psyche. I was particularly
pleased to see that the good Lex wasn't portrayed as weak
and ineffectual as is often the case in these stories. The
relationships he has with his father Lionel - another great
character played by John Glover - Lana and especially Clark
demonstrates just how complex a character he is. If Smallville
ever gets cancelled I'd love to see a Lex Luthor series.
The fourth season finds Clark in his final years at Smallville
High, so as you would expect the theme of change and transformation
plays a large part in the seasons overall arc. Holding the
narrative together throughout this season is Clark's search
for three artefacts left by his father, Jor-El, on earth.
When put together they represent a source of great power,
a power that must not fall into the hands of the humans. Clark
is not the only person looking for the crystals. Lex Luthor,
Clark's sometime friend, is also looking for them. Clark is
helped and sometimes hindered by his friends Lana Lang - love
interest for Clark and Lex - Chloe Sullivan, Jason Teague
and, introduced this season at last, Lois Lane.
The show has its own tone and neither slavishly adheres to
the comics or the previous films and television series. This
is as it should be, but it's nice to see some elements of
both being referenced in some of the minor characters.
In Run, Clark meets a super fast thief, one of whose
pseudonyms is Barry Allen the same real name of The Flash
in the DC comics and as an extra Warner Brothers have included
the very first episode of The Flash TV series.
Lucy we are introduced to Lucy Lane, Lois's younger
sister, but not for this show the saccharine sweetness of
the comics, this Lucy comes with a bite. Harder still, but
with a certain amount of success we are introduced to Krypto,
Kal-El's pet dog from the comics, but here depicted as an
escaped canine test subject.
this season up against Lost the makers appear to have
tried to grab some audiences from other shows, so this season
we have a whole Witchcraft storyline running through, I guess
they hoped that this would get some of the Charmed
crowd on board to maintain their audience share. Lana gets
a cool tattoo and a new boyfriend but things are not what
they seem. In Spell, Lana, Chloe and Lois are inhabited
by the spirits of three dead witches also intent on gaining
control of the stones, which they hope will bring them great
The show has a cinematic feel to it not often found in small
screen presentations, its not just the bits that have been
purloined from other films. The villain in Gone is
able to metal morph in the same was as the cop in Terminator
2 and there is a homage fight scene in Sacred that
is very reminiscent of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
No, there is a definite use of expensive crane shots and shots
that really use the expansive vista that stands in for Kansas
and the overall cinematography is far superior to other shows.
are some downsides to the show as a whole, the overuse of
various types of Kryptonite, and a sad lack of continuity
in some places. When Alicia's character returns to the show
and her final fate is determined (in Unsafe and Pariah)
nobody seems to either remember her or be affected by what
happened to her by the next episode. This holds true for the
various 'villain of the week' type stories, which don't really
add to the overall arc.
box set has a number of extras, twelve of the twenty-two episodes
have unaired scenes, often more than one, and three episodes
have a commentary track giving insight to the show. There
is a DVD-Rom link to the Smallville web site for extra
content, but that involves having to use the player provided.
Subtitles, should you need them, come in English, French and
Spanish flavours. The Free Flash episode, on a separate
disk, and the two small featurettes Being Lois Lane
and Behind Closed Doors - Inside the Writers Room complete
the package. The six disc set runs for an impressive 952 mins.
picture is matted to give a widescreen appearance, which adds
to its cinematic feel. In the sound department there is no
5.1 or DTS track which is a real shame as the show would really
benefit from it.
there you have it, WB and Smallville have made another
convert. The show still has its faults, including the world's
most annoying title track, but hey that's a matter of personal
choice. For the Smallville fan this is a good overall
package with some strong episodes. For those of you new to
Smallville I suggest you start watching them from the
beginning, I know I will be.
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