Smallville: Finally giving us the hero that we deserve?

I am going to unapologetically write in the first person for this article because it is a subject close to my heart. Over the past nine years, Smallville has been the recipient of both my love and my hate. It is a strange hybrid show that isn’t exactly designed for comic book fans, but is also not quite designed to be a show for teenage girls. Though it seems counter intuitive at first, there is at least mild appeal for both demographics. Lets all be honest, what are comic books but printed soap operas with super powers? After some short reflection, the mix might be a little more natural than you think.

Regardless of these meditations on storytelling, Smallville was a strange creature. For nine years comic book fans have been “forced” to watch Clark Kent as he discovered his super powers and destiny, all while having the emotional maturity of a high school freshman. At every emotional molehill we braced ourselves for the inevitable Sisyphean moment where a grown-up Clark bypasses a normal adult reaction in favor of throwing a super hissy fit. Like clockwork, Clark would get upset with the very person that he would need help from, and there would be half a season of him sulking before he would make up with Chloe/Lex/Oliver/Lana/Lionel/Jor El. It was a complete exaggeration of the soap opera tropes that occasionally pop up in comic books.

Needless to say I was thrown through a loop when a mere four episodes into the new season, Brainiac 5 appears to chastise Clark for something that I have been complaining about for nearly seven seasons. Did the message finally get through that people were tired of Clark acting like a child? Had the writers finally learned from the mistakes of past seasons? Are we actually going to have more legitimate conflict than Emo stone throwing? Well, it sure seems that way.

Season 10 seems to be overrun with legitimate peril for our heroes to overcome, almost to a fault. Darkside and his minions are present, the Suicide Squad is making life hard for the Super Friends, Deathstroke has become a threat, and to top it all off, there is the lingering shadow of the possible return of Lex Luthor. The current season has been pulling it all out and even throws in some occasional “freak of the week” trouble to boot. With the confirmation that this is the last season of Smallville, it leaves you wondering how all of these loose ends will be resolved in only 12 episodes. Any one of these villains could easily warrant their own season. One can only hope that this all ends in a super powered battle-royale with the JSA, JLA, Suicide Squad and Darkside.

The writing for season 10 could easily be some of the best that the series has ever seen, although some may feel that’s like saying you’re the skinniest kid at fat-camp. For the first time in the series, all of the characters consistently seem to act like adults. Sure, they have their moments of emotionally charged stupidity, but that’s something that happens to all of us in real life.

There have been more superhero team ups and fun comic book nonsense than you can shake a stick at. Season 10 has even had multiple concept episodes that either involve Clark traveling in time or seeing an alternate universe. Still, they feel fresh and bring something unique to the Smallville mythos. It seems that the writers have finally given preference to the superhero side of the story, and it has been a lot of fun.

I have basically watched Smallville from the beginning. There have even been times that I stopped watching the show out of frustration, only to be pulled back by some big event like Geoff Johns writing an episode. Not once in the past nine years was I able to recommend this show to one of my friends without some sort of verbal asterisk:

“You should watch it, but…”

“It’s not bad if you can get past…”

For the first time in the show’s history, I could recommend this show to nearly any of my friends without smiling sheepishly. Unfortunately, all of this positive change is too little too late. This is the show that we should have had five years ago. Smallville is finally hitting a respectable stride only to begin the grind to its end. If you would have told me three years ago that I would be this disappointed about Smallville ending, I wouldn’t have believed you. Though, in the end, we should all be grateful that Clark Kent eventually became the hero we all knew he could be. Even if it was only for a year.

6 Comments

  1. Posted December 9, 2010 at 7:08 am | Permalink | Reply

    I watched Smallville way back in the beginning, but gave up after a season or so. This makes me want to start watching again!!

  2. StefNo Gravatar
    Posted December 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I gotta say I was always hesitant to get into this show for a lot of the reasons you listed. Reading this article makes me think season 10 might be worth a look though, thanks.

    • Carl WatkinsNo Gravatar
      Posted December 9, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

      After writing this article, I really feel like I should make a viewers guide to Smallville for adult comic book fans. Because the show had some great moments and some really original takes on some of the content. That being said, about 75% of any given season is crap filler.

      Smallville can really be the hot dog of television shows at times…

      • StefNo Gravatar
        Posted December 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I for one would totally dig that

        • Carl WatkinsNo Gravatar
          Posted December 11, 2010 at 12:03 am | Permalink | Reply

          I just might do it. It would give me a good excuse to rewatch the entire series lol.

  3. Posted December 21, 2010 at 1:59 am | Permalink | Reply

    Man, I have been a Smallville die hard since the beginning. It has gotten so tough over the years. This season has shown promise at times. Then the episode Harvest aired, and kicked fans in the nuts again. Why must they use so much filler garbage???

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