Superficially, the much-anticipated weekly adventure fantasy series Smallville resembled the many cartoon and live-action adaptations of DC’s old Superboy comic books, themselves spin-offs of the indomitable Siegel and Schuster creation, Superman. However, this new hour-long WB series went off on several new tangents, notably the Buffy the Vampire Slayer conceit that with special powers comes special responsibilities. The pilot episode, telecast on October 16, 2001, established the premise by showing a strange meteor crashing just outside the tiny Kansas community of Smallville in 1989. The meteor was actually a spaceship from the doomed planet Krypton, and its occupant was the planet’s sole survivor, the infant Kal-El. Discovered and “adopted” by farmer Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) and his wife, Martha (Annette O’Toole), Kal-El grew into his teen years with the newly minted name of Clark Kent, his extraterrestrial origins kept secret from the rest of the community. Advised by his adoptive parents never to utilize his awesome superpowers lest his true identity be revealed, 14-year-old Clark (played by 24-year-old Tom Welling) was forced to adopt a non-athletic persona while attending the local high school. Clark’s only allies were the lovely Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk), for whom our hero carried a secret torch, and aspiring entrepreneur Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), whose life Clark had saved. Just as the soon-to-be-villainous Luthor was essentially a comic character here, so too was the young Clark Kent, miles removed from his adult “Superman” alter ego. Indeed, the series’ executive producers, Michael Tollin and Brian Robbins, prided themselves on the fact that their version of Kent was never seen wearing the traditional Man of Steel cape and tights. Opening to excellent critical and audience response, Smallville ended up as one of the jewels in the WB Network’s crown during its first season on the air. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi.
Smallville has been frustrating to me to watch being and old Superman fan and comic book reader. The show resembled very little about the Superman legend I have come to know. A little like the John Byrne Superman re-write he developed his powers later in life after adolescents. But never became the Superboy in the comics, instead the writers developed his personal life and what it was like being raised with the small town, farm owning Kent family. He was Clark Kent adopted son of Martha and Jonathan Kent, simple people with a son who had outstanding abilities which complicated his life in high school and on the farm. A person who had the potential to move mountains was facing the relationship problems of teens and early adulthood, while working out his heritage of being Kal-El from Krypton and finding himself in all that. It was overwhelming to say the least.
Now we are involved in what they say is the last season of Smallville and we have not seen Clark in the Superman suit yet. And no one is calling him Superman yet. But we are promised that this is what will happen by the last episode. Well everything is in place Lois, Clark, and the supporting roles. We even met Perry White the future Chief Editor of the Daily Planet. Jimmy Olson Superman’s pal is not around but there is still time to work out all the details. And the arch nemesis of Superman and Clark Kent, Lex Luther is dead and all that remains is a young version of him as a clone. Like I said it is not exactly like the comic book version of Kal-El/Clark Kent. But isn’t that what the writers wanted to do bring the character in to the 21st century. The heart and soul of the Superman that we all know is being formed more with every episode. I think it will be the end of Smallville and the beginning of a new era of Clark Kent when he takes his place as Superman the greatest of superheroes.
I also think it will not stand well with fans and those who love the series. Like the early Star Trek series in the sixties I look for the producers to be pressured to bring a made for TV movie or continuing TV series. With the climax of the show finally over the pressure will start to revive the Smallville TV series with Clark Kent/Superman. We will see if it happens in time. What do you think? In the mean time give me some popcorn and a place in front of the TV to see the final chapters of Smallville. Stay tuned comic faithful for more. 🙂 Walt