Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Case for Salvation on the Small Screen

After 10 years, guilty pleasure Smallville has come to an end.

Why was it a guilty pleasure?  Because it was actually pretty terrible.  Season 10 in particular decided to go all “inspired by” and produced episodes that were pretty much rip offs of the Matrix, 300 and the Hangover.  No superhero or tweenage drama cliché was left unturned.  But still, I was addicted.

Why?  Well, that’s a good question.  I was always a huge fan of Chloe, played by Allison Mack, with her perky charm and unrequited love for Clark Kent (Tom Welling), and Michael Rosenbaum (as Lex Luthor) managed to match Michael (General Lane) Ironside’s ability to chew scenery – pity the two never met and had a chew-off, though in comic book logic, if two such powerful characters showed up together, the cosmos could have come to an end.  The series also had a general good charm and sense of fun, plus it played with the DC superhero Universe with which I have a bit of familiarity, and that got me through the first few seasons.  Then Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley) showed up, with their contracts stating that Durance had to appear in at least one bondage or skimpy outfit per season, while Hartley had to appear shirtless in at least one scene per episode, and the show took on a whole new level of campy insanity.

One thing Smallville got very right was casting and guest stars.  From the start, Terrance Stamp (who played General Zod in Superman II) was brought in as Kal El’s dad and Annette O’Toole, who played Lana Lang in the movies, came in as Martha Kent.  Of course, good old boy John Schneider was also on as Jonathan Kent, and the incredible John Glover brought in a mad sense of menace as Lionel Luthor, but there were other castings that harkened back to Super-series of earlier years.  As the series progressed, Christopher Reeve showed up as alien-admiring Dr Swan, upon the actor’s death Margot Kidder made an appearance as Dr Swan’s assistant, and even Teri Hatcher took a break from the Housewives to make a cameo as Lois Lane’s mother (and if you don’t know who they played in the movies and in Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman, well, shame on you).

And yes, through it all, it was fairly bad.  Still, it didn’t mind mocking itself and, if you could hang around long enough, it had a pretty good sense of humour.  Plus the nods to the rest of the DC Universe were pretty cool (Booster Gold…), especially for a bit of a fan like me, even if the final wrap up episode kind of just… ended.

Nonetheless, I will miss this indulgence.  I could dwell on the fact that a show like this survived 10 seasons when far superior fare like Firefly was brutally cut down with barely a season under its belt, but then that would just depress me.  More.

Fare thee well Smallville.  Superman, I will see you in the funny papers.

Verdict:  I can’t rate it terribly highly as it was pretty terrible.  But I loved (in a "I know its bad for me addiction" kind of way) Smallville nonetheless, and my Saturday night catch ups from the late night screening the night before will be missed.  6 seasons out of 10, for sentimental reasons.

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