Back to Smallville

This week the Warner Bros T.V. series, Smallville, finally came to an end. And it’s been a long ten years, believe me. Not all of it has been great T.V. Most long running shows, no matter how good, suffer from the odd episode or two that leaves the viewer feeling ‘meh?’ Unfortunately this feeling applied to more than a few episodes of Smallville. Entire seasons had that meh-ness about them.

I think Smallville suffered an identity crisis(there’s a DC comics link in there somewhere) mid way through its run. Starting off with Clark and the rest of the cast as high school teens was a fine premise. This was Smallville after all, the tale of the man before he became Super. But as the show went on, the cast grew noticeably older. The stories didn’t evolve with them and stagnation occurred. Heck, Clark, or Kal-El as he later liked to call himself, couldn’t even fly. There began a repetition to the plots with only the names being changed to protect the guilty. And don’t get me started about the Lana Lang debacle. That on again/off again affair was painful to watch.

And yet that’s just what I did. Watch every episode, every season and mostly against my better judgement.

But by season eight the tide had begun to turn. With the move to Metropolis, Smallville began to feel more like Superman lite. Still no flying on Clark’s part and still no red and blue long johns but pieces of the Superman mythos were beginning to creep into the writing. The Phantom Zone, The Legion of Super-heroes, J’onn J’onzz and Doomsday were all concepts and characters taken from the source material and made to fit, not always succesfully, into the Smallville formula. Series nine stepped this trend up with the inclusion of Zod, Metallo, Checkmate and the stroke of genius that was The Justice Society of America. The conscription of Superman comic book scribe Geoff Johns into the writing room proved to be a popular move.

I had hoped that Johns would have had more of a creative input with the announcement that season ten would see the arrival of Darkseid along with the news that this would be Smallville’s final year . Sadly this was not to be the case. An oversight which showed in some of the more cobbled together, going through the motions episodes of season ten and a finale in which a much anticipated Superman/Darkeid throw down failed to materialise.

Ten years, ten seasons and 217 episodes later Clark finally gets to fly and finally gets to put on the red and blue costume. Albeit in blury, half out of shot and at a distance, CGI’d sort of way. This wasn’t a totally satisfying ending to what was, lets be honest, a generally mediocre series peppered with highlights of greatness (a nod to Mr Johns) but that being said, I did watch all 217 episodes so there must have been something that kept my engaged enough to bring me back week after week.

I might be able to put this down to my innate geekiness, a quality for which I make no apology. Or it might have been the memory of the late, great Christopher Reeve’s unique portrayal of the Man of Steel. Or perhaps I just wanted to believe that a man could fly, just one more time.

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