Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 5: "Thirst"

Reviews:

Thirst

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • Naked vampires eat dudes and then turn Lana. Hilarity ensues.
  • Buffy "Saunders", the leader, tries to kill Clark. Lana kills her.
  • Milton Fine has really mean tentacles, and says he owns the ship.
  • Lex and Fine are now at odds.
  • Chloe got a job at the Planet from Leia for writing Vampires stories.

    REVIEW:

    I'm sure you're all expecting me to start turning red and explode right now. You're looking at these words and praying for me to have a heart attack and die mid-sentence of anger. Maybe run a hose from the exhaust of my car into my writing room.

    But I can't. You know why?

    I watched Spell. I survived season four.

    It's like an epigram I wrote a few years ago:

    "You think you've seen hell? I survived a Gordon Lightfoot concert!"

    I like Gordon Lightfoot, but that's not the point. My point is, I've seen some things from this show that would make a Nun kill a kitten. This is no Velocity.

    There are inconsistencies up out, beyond and around the yazoo, there are moments that made me openly weep at how horribly crappy they were, and there are times, watching that show, where I wondered why I even watch.

    But there was also Brainiac sticking his tentacles into someone, and Lex going buggy, and Daily Planet action. And Leia!

    Spell had a crummy subplot, no real forward motion, and a crappy main story. It was just an excuse to parade around the mains in S and M gear and show how cool it is when a girl goes nuts and hurts people, yet when a guy does it, it's something to guilt him about. Double standards.

    This had a lot of the same stuff, but then, half of the show was a decent subplot. That won't save you from a bad main story, and lo, there really was one, more notes than I've taken in quite a while, but yet, there was something redeeming about this show.

    So let's get to it.

    They start off with a cool reveal, the Daily Planet globe, and we cut to Chloe trying to get on the paper. Paulette, IE, Leia, sits there and says, "Lo, you are just 18. And plus, you have no ethics. You let Lionel Luthor squeeze you into a position you didn't work for. For this I don't like you. Sniff my buns."

    And Chloe is, of course, incredulous. "I'm perky, wonderful, talented, and I have chops!"

    So Paulette gives her the old Perry line. "Okay then. Get me a story and prove your worth."

    This is agony, and it resonates with me in two senses. The first being that I too was once that young kid who thought that everything I spit out was gold at 18, writing. I had people tell me, much as Paulette did, to suck eggs. No chance to prove myself, just suck eggs. So I know how much it hurts. I have less pity for Chloe given that she did take the corrupt position through Lionel (in the phase of Chloe's character where I said she was dead to me, longtime readers), but I know that pain. It also resonates with me because a year ago I applied for a newspaper, they told me no because I didn't have a Masters, and I said, "Hey, give me the Perry chance." I asked them to give me an assignment so I could prove myself. The editor, against his better judgment, no doubt, gave me an assignment. I did it, and I did it well.

    I got an anonymous rejection letter in the mail three days later.

    The fact is, the world does not just hand people like Chloe a job, no matter how good she is, at 18. Heck. I am 25, and I've made a sum total of maybe thirty dollars for 11 years of serious dedication to writing, and five years where I've been producing something that I believe to be of professional worth, including five novels (that's right, working on another, I never learn), a magazine, and four poetry books.

    So I loved this scene. It actually shows some of what it's like to be a writer, I mean, beyond that "plucking" phase. What I mean by that is that period of time that everyone on Earth has from 14 to 18 where they say, "Hey, I may want to be a writer! I've written three poems, and I'm going to show them to everyone on Earth and never edit! Woo hoo! My mom says I do well!"

    Much the same as someone who plays guitar as I do, where they play once or twice a year, know three chords, and enjoy plucking on the weekend sometimes because they want the rock star girlfriends.

    At any rate, I saw the point of this scene as the cold hard realization that we all have, that when you want to be an artist, it's not all whimsy and reflection. It's a lot of

    No no no no no you think that's writing no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no sorry we ain't interested kid no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no we're respectable no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no jump in a lake, amateur no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no dear writer, we're sorry this is so impersonal but life's rough no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no take that novel and stick it someplace naughty no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no

    NO.

    Great line from Leia: "Well, we all have to wake up sometime, Sullivan."

    And so it really hit me as something poignant. Of course, they went and ruined it in the end by rewarding Chloe with a job for doing the same thing that made her considered rank amateur in the past, speaking her mind. Can I relate to that? Well, all except the happy ending with the paying job on the biggest paper on Earth. But I'm not bitter! It kind of negates the poignancy.

    It also encourages people to believe that if you don't throw your heart, your soul, your left leg, and yes, your mortgage and any hopes for a prosperous future in the toilet, you can still instantly become a successful paid writer, which is why a lot of manuscripts flood into publishing houses and are immediately vetted, making editors calloused and hardened and unable to look at anything even slightly out of the profitability scale seriously. Can't blame one show, no. But you can blame many.

    She never woke up. I did, I had to, so it makes me mad to see such a storyline come to such poor fruition.

    Nonetheless, I still respect the first scene, quite a bit.

    Chloe snarks, "I didn't ask Lionel to do that!" as a defense.

    Problem is, she did. She took the deal to spy on Clark so that she could get that job. She did.

    She also says, "I'm not going to give up until I get the same chance!" (In reference to Paulette's first chance as a cub reporter.)

    I'm amazed that they didn't have her snark back, "Well, what do you call that assignment Lionel got you?" Which was, in fact, the chance of a lifetime, and she blew it.

    The "chief" and the attitude parallels were a little convenient, but they worked well. Honestly, I don't see why Perry isn't in there yet. He should be established by the time that Clark gets there... as it is now, he'll be a rookie editor, at best.

    Then I'm just completely thrown for a loop by the external non-main narrative from Chloe. I realized about halfway through that she was talking about her story, but it was still crazy. It's that feeling I got when watching Scrubs where they took the narrative out of JD's head and put it into another character's (they've done it twice now). Except Scrubs is exquisitely well written. This show, it kind of opened itself for a ton of flaws by doing that (which I'll explain, acourse). Nonetheless, it was interesting, once I figured out what was going on. It's also giving Chloe some character space, which I more than appreciate.

    Here's where the suck started creeping in and bludgeoning us over the head.

    Chloe's voice-over led to a guy walking up to the door of a sorority house where three women ask him in while wearing bikinis and little else. They proceed to take him to the pool and do him in, vampire style, turning the pool blood red.

    I had a visitor with me watching the show today, Sara Nielson, and I kind of turned to her and said, "What kind of note do you take for that?", referring to three women answering the door naked. I was thinking of something punny, poking fun at the sweeps, but I was just so flabbergasted that they were being so blatantly obvious about injecting rampant and pointless objectifying sexuality that all I wrote was, "What kind of note do you take for that?" And that's about it.

    On a show that demonizes the sexual (Luthor) and tries to make it seem bad when you have sex rampantly, they sure do show a culture of rampant and aggressive sexuality whenever they need to sell shows and get their highest ratings for sweeps.

    You know it's gratuitous and intentional, as well, because they could just as easily have grabbed him at the door, slaughtered him, and feasted. That would have the same gore factor.

    If you'll notice, there's even a moment where one of the girls, in the middle, ducks under the water before they start killing him. They're obviously intimating that she was going down under the water for sexual reasons you can likely figure out.

    That's as plainly and inoffensive as I can put it.

    So here's the deal. Sex with multiple women in this show is bad, unless it gets you ratings. Furthermore, a man contemplating suicide after a terminal cancer diagnosis requires a disclaimer, but a man sticking cat vomit in his mouth and a woman ducking her head under water for reasons unspecified but readily discernable is... family fun?

    Don't get me wrong. Just like with the Clark Kent and sex issue, this stuff doesn't bother me personally. I don't think it's necessary to the narrative, however, and I do think it presents a hypocritical set of show standards and turns off many viewers who ARE offended by that kind of thing. But hey, for all I know, it brings in just as many young men as it scares off. That's not my point. My point is that exploiting sexuality as opposed to a good story for ratings may sell advertising... but maybe it sells more than that, if you catch my drift. Like integrity.

    What DOES turn me off from a story, as opposed to rampant sexuality, is repeatedly showing snotty, rich kids in power and living it up. Particularly when I was very poor growing up, and my value system so starkly contrasts with such decadence.

    "But Neal, those sorority girls were the villains!"

    Actually, I was talking about Lana and Chloe.

    Chloe has a brand new computer, she's living it up in the dorm, she has new clothes, she's essentially pampered.

    She comes from a single parent household. It doesn't work that way.

    Lana, who we STILL don't know how she paid for her apartment, starts packing it up, and as she does, we see that she has more personal belongings at 18 than I do now, at 25, and they're in better condition than my stuff. This from another single-parent household that she pretty much emancipated herself from. She then, instead of moving into an apartment and struggling to manage a job with college (as I did), just applies at the last minute (which means little or no financial aid), gets in on a whim, and "decides" to go out for one of the elite sororities.

    Oh, and by the way, I don't like the vamp chicks living it up either. Call them villains all you want, they still portray their sadistic, self-absorbed, hedonistic crap life as something that's cool and interesting to watch, "'cuz they hot".

    And hey, how about another Lana lie for the crowd, huh?

    Clark: "Hey, Lana. Why didn't you tell me you were applying?"

    Lana: "Well, uh, I didn't think it was a big deal."

    Note that while Lana would have choked Clark to death and turned and walked out for a minor lie like that, Clark just takes it in stride and doesn't care. Lana still has a SECRET and a LIE. But now, eh. Why? Because it's Lana doing it, not a man. Clark is notably undisturbed.

    Lana: "Well, I'm not gonna try for a dorm. Just a sorority."

    Pop quiz: Where do people live, in a sorority?

    IN A DORM. A sorority is a BS elitist dorm.

    It speaks to her character that Lana would desire such a lifestyle. Prideful, surface people obsessed with wealth and terminal mediocrity gained through mindless searches for approval.

    What an artiste!

    Speaking of which, artist mature Lana says she doesn't want to go to Clark's school why? Because it doesn't offer the classes that she wants. So they'll have to have a long-distance relationship. In other words, Clark sacrifices the things that he wants, she gets to go and do whatever she wants and still use him for emotional outpouring. How grand. And she's doing it because she wants to study "ASTRONOMY."

    Wasn't astronomy Clark's gig? I thought it was. She was the artiste. (With an eeeeeeest and an upraised nose. And jangling earrings, apparently).

    This is what we call the "everything to everyone" theory, whereby Lana can suddenly have a clear educational direction immediately after not wanting to go to the college, so she can be the rebel who didn't want to go to college and didn't, the studious good girl who went to college, AND the girl who is focused on whatever makes sense and makes her seem intelligent without every having expressed an interest in it before. Astronomy. Yeah. She's pluckin' astronomy, but you can bet the writer thought she was solid in the endeavor. Oy.

    Lana: "Don't worry. Nothing's going to change!"

    Clark: "Of course, Lana! After all, I have a whole three months of precedent after four years of being treated like a leper with herpes. I believe you!"

    Dumb Clark.

    Enter the sorority hazing. "We are the best. We are the richest. We are the elite. Our poop smells like roses. My hair is made of solid gold. I just ate a poor person. My father is Jesus and Zeus is my butler. My face is made of solid plastic. Resistance is futile."

    Lana's response? "My god. Such shallow people. I don't know what I was thinking. Goodbye."

    Or...wait. Did she just stay there and try to be part of this group of people?

    Yeah. I think she did that, didn't she?

    This is essentially every part of the "Laters!" girl from last season, only surrounded with twenty other girls that look and act the same. And the funny thing? I had no reason, no doubt in my mind that Lana belonged in a crowd like this.

    There's also the fact that though shallow people exist, when they're exaggerated like this to a stupid, plain unviewable level, it becomes awful as opposed to commentary, particularly when it's a serious show and the person is laughable. They make like she's supposed to be laughable, but they also play her serious, and when she's laughable, she's not funny. It's just jilted and horrible all around, like ants crawling into your ear and beating on your corpus collosum until your receptors go numb and you lapse into a bored, uneducable coma of puerile tv filth. Poopie!

    Buffy Saunders. Ah, yes. As if the fact that they were riffing and ripping off Buffy wasn't clear enough. Now we have to have a Buffy Saunders, so close to Buffy Summers that you could spit between the two and the flecks from the impact would smatter back into the other.

    Cut back to the external Chloe musings, where she explains that she's changed the name to Buffy Saunders to protect the innocent.

    Well, okay. Let's assume that makes sense and an editor wouldn't immediately identify and center on that as cliche and pathetic. Which they would. If that's a fictional name, then why, throughout the episode, do all of the main characters call her this fake name? Doesn't make much sense, does it? Unless the whole show is told from Chloe's perspective. But it's not. Many things happen that Chloe has no knowledge of. And I'm well aware that in 1st person omniscient it's okay to see things the "I" would never know, but it doesn't really make sense here, and I honestly don't think that's what they were trying to do.

    Brainiac's speech about the fall of the Roman Empire was great. Poignant, cool, and very full of in stuff for comic geeks. I studied the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of Nazi Germany for my fourth book, the rise and fall of nations, and found out all kinds of neat stuff, and I'm very much obsessed with that which he spoke about, the way that people don't see the end of civility coming, the way that they fight to hold onto their impressions despite logic dictating that they face the truth, even if that truth means doing the harder thing. Also a very nice exploration of why Superman does what he does, and how necessary he is in a failing society without heroes.

    Needed a fart joke, though. I keed. Got too serious there for a second.

    Juxtaposed with this speech is a creepy, downright awesome vision of Lex lurking in the background and listening. I'm not sure how they got such a incredible shot, but I'm not complaining. Later, when Fine and Luthor talk, it goes to the old standard bad cross show, where Lex's back is to the character but they're still talking, cross, look, then walk out (it's pretty formulaic), but the opening was flat out chilling, and strange in an episode like this.

    The Lex/Fine scene was really well acted. Almost in the vein of Lex and Lionel, only better, because they know the real score. Speaking of which, where IS Lionel? He's getting the Pete, I just know it.

    The buzzer that ended class reminded me again that it's either been a long time since the creators have been in college, and/or they're purposefully trying to keep it like a high school so they can keep their target demo alive or something.

    Cut to more of the rich elite gals saying how much better than everyone else they and their dorm are. They say, "Well, it's been a long rush week, but we've made our decision." Later, Lana says she's only been at the sorority for one day. So get this, not only do they pick Lana, they pick her instantly, without having to go through any of the trials.

    The three other girls are given the "Laters", and Lana steps forward, incredulous. "I'm in?" She seems immediately joyful, proud to be a part of these morons.

    The lead girl says, and this is a direct quote, "Lana, face it, you're amazing!"

    They know this from one day, one meeting, and because they recognize their own surface, selfish people who have no content of character and get by solely on good looks.

    Lana. You're incredible.

    Lana, how do you do it?

    Lana, you do not stink, you're so fragrant you don't even need Old Spice Red Zone.

    Lana, you're Athena.

    Lana, you're perfect!

    Every character seems to think and say this. No character ever really gives a reason why other than her looks. In a world where the intelligent are ignored, this is tantamount to character hare kare.

    I turned to Sara, who said, "Uh, how do they get that? She's wearing hobo clothes, she's in a dark getup, and she has a lazy pony tail."

    But by the time we finished that though, we clammed up. Why? Because, as we immediately noted, "Uh oh. Fatuous lesbo vampire kiss imminent!"

    And we were RIGHT!

    But hey, get this. They'll show a girl ducking under the water, but they won't show Lana getting a lesbian kiss in anything but relief, in shadow. You think that was the actress refusing to kiss a girl, or you think that's because they wanted to save cash on special effects? Not that they didn't save enough money with those horribly cheesy vampire teeth. Monkeys.

    Lana instantly changes into a vampire. Of course, changing into a vampire usually requires a little bit of time, but hey. And usually, becoming a vampire doesn't really change your personality. You're just the same person, only you can't die and you have an unquenchable thirst for blood.

    But if she didn't change personality, there would be no reason for her to run around half naked in leather and get away with treating Clark like garbage.

    For which, note, there is absolutely no later consequence, despite every single time Clark does something to save her life that causes a gap between fact and story, she turns, folds her arms, and walks away. And especially despite the fact that Lana essentially put herself into this situation by hanging out with vapid, evil women and wanting to be like them.

    We cut to the classic Lex pool scene, which used to be classic and now is tired, like the Lex backwards speech, where he's looking forward and talking to a person behind him. This scene was cool, because Brainiac pwns him at pool, doing some neat tricks, so it's a nice in-joke. The device is still tiring.

    Fine's way to stay on staff is in character and cool. I'm loving this sub-plot. He makes Lex look silly, and it's actually sensible. A living computer could do that, and well.

    Although this perfect machine messed up the pronounciation of LuthOR three more times. LuthER, LuthERcorp, and Mr. LuthER.

    Sheesh.

    Chloe finds her roommate ripping down her private property in her private area, and tells Chloe that she can't do anything about it. Chloe just lets it happen. Very in character. Chloe just idly sits by and lets injustice happen to her all the time. Kind of sad, but hey. Still, I mean, why not take a stand for the wall of weird. When I was in college, they tried to stop me from putting up my Star Wars figures. They said, "This is our house, too." My response? Okay. Look. You got the cops called to the house with drinking the FIRST DAY we were here. So you take down those fifty empty bottles of Corona, and we'll talk about moving Yoda here.

    Again, I relate to Chloe.

    Clark rushed to Met U to meet up with Lana at Chloe's place, because he called that morning and couldn't get ahold of her. No one ever questions how he traveled across half the state so quickly, of course. They never do. Lana treats him like garbage, says nasty things to him, and then storms out. Do we get to see him giving her a guilt trip later? Oh yeah. That's right. Clark doesn't do that when Lana does evil cruel things. Why?

    "Lana, face it. You're amazing."

    Apparently, being a vampire turns you into a total nymph, too. No wait. That's sweeps. But anyway, Lana throws herself on Clark, and when he tells her she's not acting like herself, she says that he's constantly needy and walks out.

    I then ask, "How is this out of character? This is normal Lana."

    Yeah, okay, she's a vampire and not herself, but does that line even make any sense? How the heck has Clark ever been needy? Even a slight given when under the influence has to in some way make sense. It'd be like Clark, under red K, saying, "Lana, why are you always so BLONDE?" Sure, he has a reason for acting stupid, but it should still make some story sense.

    Then, utter coolness. Brainiac action. BOOYA. Tentacles, dead goons, and a smirking super-villain.

    Sign me up, baby! Whammy for the goon, Brainiac for the win.

    Cut back to the (sigh) vampire chicks drinking it up and talking about how wonderful they all are. Ah, the joys of watching the inane! Buffy, just for fun, smacks Lana across the room and down the stairs, killing her. That's a KO. She comes back from the dead, of course, amazingly happy that she'll live forever. Such extrapolation, I mean, I'm serious. No one would have known vampires live forever without that extrapolating dialogue. And funny, given that the living forever thing couldn't possibly be known, considering that the girl was Lana's age and had only been a vampire for a decade or so. Meaning, she may just die like everyone else. Little hole there.

    Still, I'm thinking, "Hey, that's what you get for smacking Lex and Clark when they're not being themselves on accident."

    Problem is, she didn't get any real hurt out of it, she insta-healed. Still, rewarding to see a completely vapid hedonic thrown around, male or female.

    Lana: "I'm feeling a bit dead."

    Me: "You're written a bit dead, too."

    Come back from the commercial, and here we have another bit of wasted summary. "If you're just joining us, Lana's a vampire and they're sucking face. Woot woot! Thanks for changing the channel after Everybody Hates Chris! We'll indulge your lack of dedication to our program by ingratiating you with a mindless summary."

    Chloe calls Clark because she's miraculously discerned somehow that Lana's a vampire. How? Who knows. It's an impossible conclusion from the evidence she has, but it's a Lois and Clark moment, we're just forced to roll with it. She probably got there with that nice, new computer that no one in her income bracket could possibly afford.

    Clark, on the phone, super-speeds right into the room to talk to her in person. Incredibly awesome, great little moment. Hilarious.

    They sneak into the party, and Clark dresses as Zorro, making a nice little joke about how the mask bugs him. Very nice homage to the comic geeks, who know that the reason Clark doesn't wear a mask is because it makes him feel dishonest. Of course, glasses? Open the floodgates. But anyway, it's still an endearing point.

    Chloe, on the other hand...Yossarian moan. Cathcart's wife. Kill me now, there is no hotter woman on the face of the planet.

    "Allison, face it. You're amazing."

    Road trip to Canada, I can't take it any more.

    Two people are now in paroxysms considering hanging themselves. Bruce Wayne, and me. Bruce, because he just saw Zorro, the movie character that preceded his parent's death, in his future partner, and me, because I just saw Chloe in the naughty schoolgirl outfit.

    Shoot me now, please. Put me out of my misery.

    Look! More cheesy suburban dancing rich kids?

    Shoot me now, please. Put me out of my misery. At least Clark didn't get his groove on.

    Then, one of the worst parts of the episode. Lana's munching face with another guy, Chloe sees it, and turns Clark away.

    Uh, why?

    Chloe's got every reason to be angry at Lana. She's pretentious. She's rude. She's doing the EXACT same thing that made Lana give Chloe the old mad-on when she made out with Clark when Lana and Clark were not together. I suppose this falls under the "Being a good friend" banner, but I don't buy it. Also, what's being a better friend? Hiding the truth, or showing it? Now Clark doesn't know that Lana made out with another dude. I think that's pretty important.

    Clark shows up in Buffy's bedroom, snooping around, and then just disappears. I suppose Buffy just doesn't really notice that fact. She's that vapid. But it's still him disappearing in front of other people, using his powers.

    Chloe pulls Lana to the side. "Lana, you wouldn't hurt Clark like this!"

    Uh, Chloe, you know better than that. She's been hurting him for four years now. Not by making out with other guys, but in much, much worse ways. Tearing his heart apart. Physical need? That's one thing. Belittling a man to the point of feeling so insecure that he can't find relief save by embracing his torturer? That's Lana.

    "Sweety, this isn't a movie!" No kidding. Even a B movie would have a more thought-out plot, it wouldn't waste time, and the characters, even if they were surface, would at least not flail.

    Chloe gets bit, gets the old KO, and goes out like a light. Clark saves her, Lana shows her blood gums, and we cut away to the mist and full moon outside, and a commercial. THAT'S masterful television, right there. Oy.

    AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY SHOES.

    So Chloe's on the respirator, dying, and Clark's there, upset, naturally. Chloe's father? Well, he couldn't be bothered, I guess. And who could blame him. He's probably working 16-hour shifts at the witness protection crap plant to keep Chloe in her boudoirs and Dells.

    No question about the bites on her neck, no cop involvement. Heck, she just fell down the stairs, doctor man.

    The doctor's dialogue was hilarious. "She'll either get better, or she won't. Sorry. I got things to do. Get bent." Exit, stage left.

    Now, when characters suddenly show up in strange situations, sometimes it makes sense. Like, when Clark is at the villain's lair, and Chloe shows up out of the blue, it makes no sense at all, even when Chloe says, "I used my computer and connected the dots."

    Here, Milton Fine showing up in the hospital is so far beyond the pale of even that, it's embarrassing.

    I had a good 60 college professors in my time at Western Washington University. Several invited me to dinner. A few are friends with me to this day.

    No matter how close we were, none of them would consider it professional or within their bounds to visit me when a loved one was hurt. Heck, how does he even find out? It's a ridiculous scene, and it's just a way to connect a to b that makes no sense.

    "Go check out project 1138, Clark!"

    "Why 1138?"

    "Because it's a Star Wars reference."

    "Oh. Should you be saying that in character?"

    "It's okay. No one's paying attention."

    "Why not?"

    "Clark, face it. You're amazing."

    "Gee, thanks! Let's...HEY!"

    And besides, it gives the supercomputer another chance to say LuthER.

    Back at Buffy's magical vampire room (live dancing girls), Buffy tells Lana what she MUST do. She has to get Clark, suck him mostly dry, and then bring him back so that they can all have a taste.

    Why? Well, so that we can deal with the villain, not because it makes any sense.

    Lana, meanwhile, despite being wholly not herself, suddenly feels pity for Clark and wants to save him. "Can't we convert him?"

    Buffy rolls her eyes. "No, silly. It's a sorority, not a fraternity!" Surprising she can make out the etymological difference. Surprising she can discern male from female. Surprising she can manage the complexity of breathing air, and likely only because there's so much flying between her character's vapid ears.

    Clark goes to Lex, and there's a moment's banter, and they're friends again.

    Two weeks ago, Clark punched Lex. One week ago, Lex tortured his friend nearly to death and killed all the fish in the lake. Now, they're hunky-dory again, with one line. "Lex, I know things haven't been easy between us lately, but please, help!"

    Lex doesn't say, "Uh, you beat the crap out of me a little while back, you're researching a book that's being written to tear my company down, and now you're accusing me of creating a vampire sorority."

    He simply says, "Oh, hey Clark. Here's the ready-made antidote I haven't been using for a long time for no apparent reason. Just stab it into her chest and she'll be fine. By the way, it only works around Kryptonite. Convenient, huh?"

    Clark, clutching at the table. "Excuse me...must have...drank...Lex-lax...er...ex-lax."

    Lex: "You're a Kryptonian, aren't you?"

    Clark: "Oh, no! Seriously...just some bad...picadillo, hombre. I gotta, er...YOINK!" He then takes the syringe and runs.

    Now that, at very least, would have been entertaining. Instead, the roof caves in, and Lana drops onto the balcony, giving the full-fledged, I-Am-Halle-Berry, Hear-Me-Suck hiss, then doing the Catwoman leap down into the main area, knocking Lex unconscious.

    That was one ATROCIOUSLY horrible hiss, let me tell you. I can just imagine the director. "With more feeling this time, Kristin!"

    Kristin gives him the thumbs up. "Rock on. Girl power."

    Welling turns to her, "Hey, what do you mean girl power? Isn't this denigrating and objectifying you for a-"

    "CUT CUT CUT! Can someone get Welling a pacifier?"

    "But I was just saying, you know, there's a dichotomy where a woman has to be both smart and pretty, and no one really cares when vapidity is celebrated and brains are-"

    "Oh boo hoo hoo. Cry me a river, Welling. I saw The Fog."

    Welling then runs crying to Michael's trailer for consolation.

    Lana: "Hiss!"

    Lana grabs Clark, sucks his blood, and suddenly...has HEAT VISION?

    WHAT?

    WHAT?

    WHAAAAAAAAAAT?

    WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?

    You know what this means? This means it's time for the whip again.

    Oh, you thought I forgot it, didn't you? You did? Well no. I was just holding onto it for when it was needed the most. And now, for you all, I have tied up and held hostage the writer of this episode.

    YOU

    *CRACK!*

    DON'T

    *CRACK!*

    BECOME

    *CRACK!*

    KRYPTONIAN

    *CRACK!*

    BY

    *CRACK!*

    DRINKING

    *CRACK!*

    KRYPTONIAN

    *CRACK!*

    BLOOD!

    *CRACK!*

    AND

    *CRACK!*

    EVEN

    *CRACK!*

    IF

    *CRACK!*

    YOU

    *CRACK!*

    DID,

    *CRACK!*

    YOU

    *CRACK!*

    COULDN'T

    *CRACK!*

    USE

    *CRACK!*

    HEAT

    *CRACK!*

    VISION

    *CRACK!*

    WHEN

    *CRACK!*

    THERE'S

    *CRACK!*

    KRYPTONITE

    *CRACK!*

    RIGHT

    *CRACK!*

    NEXT

    *CRACK!*

    TO

    *CRACK!*

    YOU

    *CRACK!*

    WEAKENING

    *CRACK!*

    THE

    *CRACK!*

    KRYPTONIAN

    *CRACK!*

    WHOSE

    *CRACK!*

    BLOOD

    *CRACK!*

    YOU

    *CRACK!*

    JUST

    *CRACK!*

    DRANK

    *CRACK!*

    YOU

    *CRACK!*

    MORON!

    *CRACK!* *CRACK!* *CRACK!* *CRACK!*

    SNAP!

    Great going. You broke the whip. Marvelous. Thanks, writers.

    Don't fret though, dear readers, because I still have the five-act plot bat, which only takes one THWUNK to get the point across when followed by the dragon kick, and I guarantee you, THWUNK is a better sound than CRACK when you're this guilty of inanity. And it doesn't take up most of a page.

    She takes Clark all the way back to the sorority, which is a long way to haul a body with no one noticing, especially given that Lex Luthor's security would find him and alert the police, assuming he even has security any more, the way people can just walk around his mansion.

    But she does. And when she does, she lays Clark out and immediately begins pleading for his life again, after nearly killing him and agreeing to suck him to death just beforehand.

    Buffy smacks her around again, and Lana responds by using heat vision on her, vaporizing her instantly. Clark stabs Lana in the chest, doses her, and all is well.

    Read that again. I'm gonna stop writing for a second, sit back, and take a look at that sentence myself.

    Okay. I'm back. Now, let's look at this.

    1) Lana's somehow got Clark's powers in a way that not only doesn't make sense, but lasts long enough for her to take him to the Buffy lair, but not a second longer than when she's not a Vampire, even if the only thing the antidote treats is her vampirism.

    2) She's been right next to Clark, who's hiding a Kryptonite laced syringe on his person, but somehow, she's unaffected despite having Kryptonian powers. She can even carry him around.

    3) Clark somehow doesn't die from holding himself next to that Kryptonite for that long.

    4) Heat vision instantly vaporized someone. That alone...that alone. Oy. What, did she set it from stun to vaporize? I thought I was watching the campy Batman movie there for a second, and Buffy was turning to multi-colored dust.

    5) Lana just murdered a human being. MURDER. Buffy may be a dag nasty vampire, but someone's gonna look into this, and you think the vampire sisters are gonna stand up for Lana, or point at her and say, "Uh, she killed her!"

    6) Clark doesn't toss the K and try and stop her? He's not KOed, note. Just weak.

    7) Heat vision drains a Kryptonian quickly, makes them weak. It's like running a marathon, and it's the most draining of powers. A burst that hot would have to take more than a suck of blood.

    8) Wouldn't Clark's blood kill her? See Superman for that explanation. I buy it.

    9) Clark didn't try and stab her in the chest on the way why?

    10) The serum needed to be near K, and yet, when they took it away from the K, no problems?

    11) The complexity of adding Clark's blood to Lana's didn't change the effects of the antidote?

    I'm amazed at how easily Lana cuts her tongue with her fingernail. Incredible.

    Well, I guess that wraps it all up, Scoob.

    Except, why didn't Lex Luthor question Lana about what she did? Lana charged into his office when he looked at Clark's medical records. Don't you think Lana bursting through his skylight and rendering him unconscious might merit a talking to, at least?

    Except, they summarize that the Tri Psi fraternity was booted out of the college and all of the girls were forced to leave. Why? What did they do that was quantifiable that a college could use to boot someone? What was the rationale? "Uh, they're vampires!" Yeah. Parents would buy that.

    Except, why did Clark just let VAMPIRES, who MURDER PEOPLE, stay running around? You'd think he'd try and give them the syrum, at very least. I guess that's just not covered.

    Except Lana remembers nothing. Marvelous, and convenient. If she was not wholly herself, then why, at times, did she act like herself? And why is she not responsible for murder, property damage, making out with another dude, and trying to murder Clark?

    And hey, Chloe! Whups, forgot about her. How did she survive? Did someone give her the antidote straight to her heart? I think it'd be pretty hard to convince a doctor ethically to try some strange new medicine on her. And was Chloe angry at Lana for what she did at all? Guess not. Why?"

    "Lana, face it. You're amazing."

    THWUNK!

    Lex and Clark talk, and Lex warns Clark about Fine. Lex is right, Lex is being the good guy, and yet, Clark is supposed to be the hero. Decide, please, that I might actually be able to discern a character here, writers.

    Leia: "Buffy the Vampire."

    Headdesk. Headdesk. Headdesk. THWUNK! (That's me hitting myself).

    Chloe's final speech, though cheesy, was really well put next to the backward pan up to the image that started the episode. "Kings, presidents, future super-heroes, up, up, and away."

    Etcetera. I was like, "Ah, how could she know?", but then I thought about it, and it makes sense that she would know what Clark was headed for. I like it.

    The real question here being, "Uh, isn't this Lois?"

    And yeah. It is. And what's Lois in this show? "A snotty, irresponsible sex object who is conveniently around often for no apparent reason and has no interest in journalism."

    That's a problem.

    So here's what we have, comics to Smallville.

    In the comics, Lana pines for Clark.

    In Smallville, Chloe pines for Clark.

    In the comics, Lois is an ace reporter.

    In Smallville, Chloe is an ace reporter.

    In the comics, Pete is Clark's best friend.

    In Smallville, Chloe is Clark's best friend.

    Now what we draw from this is not that Smallville is wrong for altering continuity. Not at all. Not with me, anyway. I'm way past that. What I draw from this is a question:

    If Lana is a vapid, self-serving, hedonistic woman, and Lois is the same, only more vicious, and if neither are really there for Clark when he needs someone, why are THEY the main focus, when we have a character like Chloe on the sidelines? Why is Chloe being marginalized? And why would Clark, the Clark we know, not stick close to the one who's his friend, an ace reporter, and pining for him?

    My personal opinion? Because people think Lana and Lois are more pretty than Chloe. Do I? No. But how else can you explain Chloe being so sidelined by lesbian vampires and Lana acting like a moron? The show has circumstances to deal with, yes, but they decide their own circumstances and pick the focus.

    That says something.

    This show stank. It really did. But in between, there were some awesome subplot moments that I can't let go because of the abominable meat of this sandwich. I'm going to give this show a solid 2 of 5. None of that is for the main plot. That's a zero. Easy.

    At the end, we have two minutes of preview for the Metropolis Mix, the new Smallville soundtrack, featuring songs like (I kid you not, these are the real titles): "Almost Honest", "The Girl's Attractive", and "Forget it".

    I think I will.

    But not before I say one last, very important thing.

    Al Gough and Miles Millar, your show gave ten seconds to the Christopher Reeve foundation last week. This week, you gave fifteen seconds to a worthless summary, over two minutes to shilling your crappy soundtrack, and another twenty seconds to titillating footage of how you're going to turn Lois Lane from a model for female liberation into a pole dancer in an American flag bra. Not to mention a guarded vision of a woman bringing her mouth someplace where it shouldn't be on family television. You gave over four times the amount of time IN THIS EPISODE ALONE to shilling crap that makes you money than you've dedicated to honoring the memory of the man who informs your project, Christopher Reeve, after his tragic death, in a whole year.

    Have you no shame at all?

    TWO MINUTES to shill a soundtrack. And then, another ten seconds to shill the music used in the episode beforehand. Hell, put it in the STORY, if you can't honor Reeve. But shilling? Come on!

    We know, without question, what motivates this show. Money, titillation, and money made from titillation. I'm personally sick of it. I came on for the story. It's pretty much dedicated to an homage of what that story used to be.

    This story used to be driven by character. The kind of character that so agonizingly rears its head in a few grand moments of this episode.

    I openly challenge you both in your production to fix that.

    After seeing Thirst, I expect nothing. That's sad, coming from a diehard fan.

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    Vampire lesbian kisses imminent, never get in a spa with three women with elongated incisors. When Clark does it, he's a cruel butthead. When Lana does it, it's girl power. Chloe gets what she wants without effort, which will lead her to a period of learned helplessness before she starts blaming other people. Drinking Superman's blood makes you shoot fire from your eyes, apparently, and you can also get away with murder. Brainiac tentacles are the only things that saved me from clawing my eyes out. 2 of 5.

    BUSINESS:

    Quick note, please check out Jeff Bridges' "Smallville Ratings Analysis"! It's a new feature, and it's really neat to see how the show's performing in reference to its competition. It also had bearing on the show's continued existence, so git over there!

    LETTERS!

    I'm in bold and also continent. Get it? Poop joke. Think about it.

    Matt Ashbaugh wrote:

    I had just a few Superman related thoughts, that you might find interesting.

    Cool.

    On Smallville:

    You went on and on about how Lionel was speaking in a British accent ... but I was puzzled as to why you didn't notice the one thing that most Superman fans should. His mannerisms, his speech patterns, his line of logic... very Zod. That is Terrance Stamp Zod ala Superman II. He did everything but yell his catch phrase. Regardless of the fact that "Zod" is the voice of Jor-El in Smallville. I firmly think that the biggest "surprise twist" of this series will be that Clark has been dealing with Zod this whole time. Especially since that random Relic episode where we meet "Call me Joe ... r-El" And he isn't quite as, frankly evil. Been reading your reviews since day one and haven't happened upon your mention of it.

    I did catch the whole "Lionel was playing Jor-El" part, thus the accent, as I recall, and even complimented it. Do I think Jor-El is playing Zod? I really don't. I think Zod is in the ship.

    On Infinite Crisis/Villians United or ... A Tale of Two Luthors.

    I won't assume right off the bat that this new (old?) Luthor is the Earth-2 Luthor that is offed by 80's Brainiac in the last real Crisis. This could be the in continuity Luthor that Bryne made for us. A little overweight, faked his own death. Of course, if anybody remembers the crazy ride Luthor has gone on from '86 to today. He made his empire, faked his own death, had a clone made of him and came out looking very "Lionel", almost died of a clone virus, was able to become the younger sleeker Luthor thanks to DC's devil, Neuron, then president and blah blah blah. Who's to say that the major twist is that the Luthor that faked his death ... didn't actually die.

    I follow what you're saying, and I've read all those issues, but there's a really big, key flaw. The old, fat Luthor's brain, spine, and eyes were all extracted and put into the new Luthor. It's the same person, just in a differing body, make sense? So unless the other Luthor has a fake brain, spine, and eyes...

    That the entire thing was someone pulling a double cross on the L-man. Luthor wakes up to find his clone running the place. He bides his time and picks his moment. That moment is when he destroys Luthor's presidency by donning a suit and declaring that he's sided with Darksied. From then on out... clone Luthor builds his little society, while Bryne Luthor walks around in a battle suit(explaining that randomness in the Supergirl line). Which even if my theory is false and this really is Earth-2 Luthor... means that Calculator would have known of two Luthors. He is really too smart to have not figured that out. But seeing as how Infinite Crisis is being helmed by Dr. Continuity Geoff Johns ... I wouldn't be surprised at all if this is the case.

    I think it's Pre-Crisis...sounds more like Geoff's style. He loves the 70s/80s villains, from what I've read.

    Keep up the good work.

    Matt

    Thank you!

    Tom Allen wrote:

    Neil,

    Why is it that when two kryptonians land on earth they instanly know: a. how to control their powers, b. know they have powers??? Everytime Clark developed a new power, it takes one full episode to master and was a complete shock to him that he could do these amazing things in the first place!!

    I'm guessing because Kryptonians know what their powers can do from study on other planets, whereas Clark didn't even know he was Kryptonian before he sprouted powers...

    Joe wrote:

    Neal,

    Just two quick things, as I'm sure you always have a ton of e-mails to read.

    It's less that reading them is hard, I love it. It's more that to respond thoughtfully takes more time than I have. I read each letter as it comes in, pretty much, it only takes a few seconds. Composing a cogent reply after 15-25 pages days is like gargling glass.

    1: Lois is definitely NOT hotter than Chloe, IMO. Neither is anyone else on the show.

    A man after my own heart. This episode must have killed you too. See, ladies? Some men value brains out there. Not that I don't value bajongas, but then, there's NOTHING wrong with Chloe. If anything, Lana and Lois are far too perfect for my tastes. Smacks of high maintenance, vapidity, and material motivation.

    2: The LuthER thing bugs the crap out of me, too. A show with the production values of Smallville should be able to get that little detail right, especially when a half-hour cartoon like the Justice League Unlimited always seems to.

    Yeah. It's more about impression as opposed to accuracy in the show, of late.

    Joe

    Thanks.

    TRA wrote:

    Hey, Neal. Every week I tell myself that I will stop responding to your reviews and give you some peace, but I'm hooked. It's so nice to be able to share ideas in a forum like this. The fact that so many fans care so much about the show is one of the things that makes Smallville special.

    Agreed. Now if I could only transfer that energy into getting people to read my books. OY! Thank you, though.

    This week, I wanted to point out some things in Aqua that I thought were done really well. I liked Aqua a lot, and I read your review hoping you would touch on some of the quality things in this episode. I understand your criticisms but I think this episode had some fine moments that you did not mention. First, Clark's behavior toward Lex was much more "Superman-like." You have complained, rightly so, that Clark overreacts to Lex, accuses him without all of the facts, and applies a double standard in his dealings with Lex. In Aqua, for the first time in a long time, Clark was the good guy in his dealings with Lex. Clark defended Lex when Lex was attacked in class, he took A.C. to talk to Lex about A.C.'s accusations and tried to resolve the issues through communication, not force. He tried to find out from Lex what was going on. Clark only breaks into Luthorcorp to stop A.C. and to rescue A.C. As I recall, even Superman did some B and E to stop crime and/or effect a rescue. I also saw Clark's return to the mansion as his attempt to try to help Lex. I thought that they wrote Clark better in this episode than they have in a long time. I hope it continues.

    Actually, wholly agreed, and a point that I missed. Thank you. He is the good guy in that episode, isn't he?

    Second, Lana had only two short scenes. Third, Lana had only two short scenes. Fourth, Lois was in top form.

    Likewise agreed.

    I can't decide if they just write better lines for her or if Durance is an exceptional actress, but her lines always seem fresh. She surprises me more than any character on the show, even Lex.

    I personally think it's a little of both. Speaking as a writer (I hope), I find that writing a character I've done a bunch of times is harder to invigorate than a new one, and Lois is still fairly new. She's also a variable, whereas the other character roles are really defined. Also, Erica's a pretty good actress, I think.

    I know you didn't like the no means yes thing, but I can see that's part of Lois' "I'm the army brat, have to be in charge" mentality. At least, unlike other women in the show, she didn't go all psycho on A.C. when he said he had to leave.

    Actually, there's a nuance there. I know that no means no is a really big deal, but I also concede that there are times when no means, "Try harder", and that the difference is plainly obvious to anyone with common sense. The problem being, when a show is inconsistent about that, and offers violence to someone who thinks no means yes with a woman for whom sometimes no DOES mean yes, we run into bumps.

    Finally, the ending topped it all off for me. I literally got chills when Clark put his hand on Lois' shoulder at the end. That nod to the future wiped out all other failings in the episode for me. No matter what you think about Lois and her place in Smallville, she and Clark have got the spark!

    Very much so.

    In fact, their chemistry just keeps getting better, while Clark and Lana seem to be fading. In know this is inevitable given the future but I'm not sure the writers planned for it to happen this fast. If things keep going this way, I'll be ready for them to change "Smallville" to "Metropolis" and let Clark, Lois and Lex get on with it every week! Anyway, the glass half-full part of me couldn't resist pointing out some of the better things about Aqua. No pun intended.

    I wish that were the case. I just can't see this going to Superman. I really can't. I'd be very surprised.

    Jules Brice wrote:

    First off... I guess I'm a tool... you should have a subject line for this.

    Heh. Nice.

    Second... I haven't got through your site (I haven't read as much as I would like to lately).

    My site, or Superman Homepage? Big difference there. One's very informative, family friendly, and looks incredible. The other's full of poetry and novels that won't sell, family unfriendly, and looks incredible (Steve designed it). :)

    That said I believe we're all tools. [Further info on this below]

    I don't know. I tend to think I'm one of the more un-tooly people around, given that I sacrificed my livelihood prospects for the chance to never have a boss and live my dream, even if I fail. But then, there are times when we're all tools, I concede. Like, I mean, I bought that new double Foo Fighters album, knowing full well it wouldn't be what I expected. I had hope. I was a tool.

    Third... and I guess foremost.... (I sincerely hope this doesn't [DOES NOT] go to the letters section), I know a lot of people around the world (literally) that read your reviews... this is hard for me to write, mostly because I am both biased and inebriated...

    Mwu ha ha ha! You didn't buy my book by the time I wrote this, so I must press on! Remember, not my fault! The Lana defense!

    you have quite a bit (or a wholeheartedly lot) of talent, and I don't mean to say you're doing the wrong thing here; darn... mdash... I don't know where or why to say this.

    You're one heck of a talented writer. I vowed to not write back until I read everything on your site but common happenings (separation, divorce, meeting someone new) have distorted everything. [and that last one isn't a proclamation, just the facts].

    I keep straying, and I lose track, also I don't spellcheck often (real men don't do backups!!!!! what's that boss? a backup? sure let me make it upppp.... I mean let me look it up for you); much less a grammar check in the middle of speaking tongues (I'm almost a gremlin by the last check).

    DARN. Sidetracked again.

    This sounds like one of my reviews. ;)

    In short, I believe (BELIEVE, mind you) you're doing a heck of a job here, considering the limitations you've taken to write here, but I also tell myself from what I've read that your main BICHing is with what the show should be, and not what it is now.

    Very much so. I really do believe that's the central criticism to level at the show. It's good, but it's not what it COULD be. Like the Superman comics in 2003. Or 1975. As for limitations, eh, I can't curse, and I can't talk about graphic violence in detail or sexual acts, but Steve is remarkably patient with my antics. Mostly because I hold his sister Carol hostage until he sends monkeys. But anyway, I don't consider this site or this show a limitation at all. It's made me what I am, in more ways than one. I do lament that I can't transfer the popularity of these reviews to my book audience, but then, I understand that this review is more funny, while my books confront serious issues that make people uncomfortable, and I also realize that Superman is something everyone knows, and I'm just a schlub who's pushing to be part of that, not the man himself, the inspiration.

    Did it ever occur to you that (I think, no, I know I misspelled something or another) your reviews are influencing not only poor trolls such as I, but also The Powers That Be (Damn you Al and Miles, why do you have TPTB instead of your names before the decision board), and their petty This-show-can-go-on attitudes? Have you ever stopped to think that if you don't praise enough there won't be a Babylon-5-cum-Smallvile entrepreneur willing to risk life and limb for a good show to finish it's intended run?

    Actually, not at all. I never do. The reason being? I really don't think the people behind this show read this review or, even beyond that, really pay much attention to any fan consensus. Why? They know fans will watch even if they don't like the show. They pay attention to those people who could care less if they watch, and how to snare those people. As opposed to a good story, which is our problem.

    People have asked me, you think they listed Bailey as a potential name for Krypto as a slam? You think Al and Miles discuss your reviews? You think they're acknowledging your writing?

    I sincerely don't. And even if I did, if my works were able to influence a writer not to endeavor to take on a project simply because he didn't want to be part of a sinking ship, that writer ain't worth his salt. Promise. A good writer can take crap and turn it into quiche. Which, incidentally, is what I like to try and do with my reviews of bad episodes. Crap quiche!

    Praise enough? say you? yes, I do say..., last I wrote was to say that I thought you were only bitter with the show and it's stance.

    Who knows? Maybe I am.

    Then I wrote to apologize for doing exactly what I blamed you of doing, HOWEVER, now the game is a bit bigger, and yet simpler...:

    No need to apologize. If everyone agreed with me, I'd be FREAKED out.

    If you question enough things in Smallville as it is now (before sweeps anyway), don't you think a derivative amount of people will find themselves influenced by your thoughts (which many [myself included] appeal to), so they can judge the show as is, and as such may (if the latter include TPTB and their correspondents) just decide, "well, you know, Neal has a good many points, and if our ratings are dropping it may be because he's influenced the whole in some way"? Could there be anyone with enough money to turn this looneybin into a successful enterprise (No show pun intended), or will there be enough TPTB perusing this joint and the forums to say "he's got a point... let's give up on trying to make money off this dead horse and go somewhere else". Thus leaving my (and your) idea of Smallville truncated and without any WB backing as it is... and as it is, I have to admit it doesn't hold a candle to much of season 2.

    If television shows were influenced by the internet, I firmly believe Firefly would still be on the air. They're just run by dumb execs who pander to the biggest crowd they can.

    Say I influenced the entirety of the people who read my reviews for three days after it's up on the biggest unique hit count of our site, all season. That's roughly 75,000 people times 22 episodes, or, approximately a million and a half people. Each episode of Smallville gets between 3 and 6 million viewers. In an entire season, I don't believe I reach the audience of one show.

    Am I proud of that one and a half million potentiality? You bet your super boots I am, and I don't begrudge it. I'm flattered. But does that number mean I can affect the show? I don't believe so. Let me put it like this. I think one sponsor leaving the show would have more of an effect than my entire run of reviews and all of the kind people who follow them.

    Anywhooo... (God, I hate web spelling, don't you?)

    More than Lana Lang. More than Lana frickin' Lang. I'm even guilty three to ten times in my own reviews.

    I'm not asking you to change your tone (God forbid), I'm asking you as a guy (yes, I am a guy, however sensible, or sensitive I portray myself) who wants to see a story told to a guy who cherishes one of the greatest stories ever modified (that came out religious, I know... I'm agnostic... a relapsed one at that) to also include the great (not only good points) moments in the chapter that could save it from sweeps, because if not, you won't be reviewing "one of the greatest stories" modified, but will be left in the dark along with the rest of us. And while I personally vow to buy your stuff as soon as I can get my head above [insert Biloxy Blues reference here] (I'm up to my eyebrows in IT), I don't know if the rest of the Smallville Die Hards are gonna keep it up.

    In fact, I do believe after last season, many die-hards dropped off. But that's the fault of the show, I think. Take heart in that I am seeing things more positive, at least, if you do believe it has an effect.

    Basically I'm suggesting a commercial move which won't hurt you much (the appraising of good things in Smallvile) so that the general following (TPTB included) can glean some good from the show and keep watching it (and keep it alive). I mean... Oh darn it, I went astray of myself, I just mean that if you include something other than you into the affray, while at the same time being you (and not the airhead you portrayed), the people that read and are turned on or off the show by you might be swayed to a perpetuity or Die-Hard-ization (is that a word or am I juust drunk... no need to answer that) to keep this hardly-continuous-yet-enjoyable-if-fanboy experience alive.

    I don't know about that. I've confronted that question before, in many capacities. My mother always says, "Neal, why do you have to write about God and sex and politics and the working class? Write one good thriller about a "normal" person, get yourself an audience, and then think of the things you'll be able to do!" It's a common misunderstanding of the writing world. If I were to do that, sacrifice my principles even ONCE to achieve a goal that's devious and untoward, it would negate any work in the future. I couldn't live with myself.

    Does that mean I think Greg Rucka is a shill for doing work-for-hire? NO! Not at all. Would I do work-for-hire? YES! But does that mean that I will write a book I have no faith in that I know would please the dollar sign eyes of some cynical publisher in New York? No. Why? Because it's hard enough transferring people who love my work here to my novels now. Imagine if I had die-hards who believed me to be like John Grisham who then read my political novel. They wouldn't say, "Oh, what a neat change of pace!" They'd say, "Hey, this isn't Jay and Silent Bob! I'm not watching Jersey Girl!"

    You cut your teeth doing what you love, and if people never find me, if I never find my commercial audience, I will have the one thing I really care about. Integrity.

    That includes not shilling for a tv show just to keep it going, no matter how much I love it.

    I'm sorry if I went and wasted your time, I have spent many an evening (and morning-afternoon-night-graveyard shift) perusing some sort of wit from Gremlins (I define a Gremlin as being who expresses his/herself at least quarter-rationally).

    Never apologize for your opinions. Truth without discretion can save the world, me boy! But are you calling me a Gremlin? If so, make me Stripe. Stripe got the gun.

    I just want the show to go on, whatever the consequences... I'll buy the dvd's and judge them later for my kids, if said show comes to a realization of itself... I don't hope you'l understand that... it would involve walking a mile in my shoes, then selling them back to me as a relief for stress.....

    Anyway, unlike the first few correspondences, I don't hope you'll answer this one, much less in a rushed state (as the first couple were)... please just keep in mind at least a couple of the things I wrote (and don't unleash any of your minions on me)

    Actually, your letter got the longest response of this column yet. Be proud of that. And I don't unleash my minions...they kinda tend to unleash themselves. It's neat to have people who defend me, but then, a lot of people don't realize that I love someone who's critical of me but continues to read as much as I love someone who loves everything I do. Joss Whedon, however, has assassins. I'd swear that in court. Watch that dude.

    Your friend,

    Jules

    Likewise.

    P.S. I may have changed my point of view in the morning, if so, please regard this as junk mail

    Har!

    J

    P.P.S. I'm checking the "Check this box if you want your message to be published in my Reviews." checkmark so that some of this mindless dribble can be posted without any legal pursuit in the hereafter.

    Ah so! But which mindless dribble? I deleted one period, because I found the rest poignant even in inebriation. Thank you. No water after midnight, now.

    Shalamarke wrote:

    Hiya Neal,

    I am writing regarding the episode review for "Aqua." Below, I post the comments you made and my response.

    Aw, now that's all complex. You know I only think linearly!

    Neal

    Clark's shirtless, and granted, it's been a while, but the first immediate, glaring hole in the story was no attempt to cover the whole "no scar, I died" thing. (From last ep).

    Shalamarke

    Yes there was; It was a small patch. I'll say no more, as I expect you to be flooded with similar comments.

    And I was. And they're right. Total miss.

    Neal

    He calls the brain the "greatest supercomputer in the world", a hilarious line if you know Brainiac, but then he goes on to assert that we only use "ten percent of our brains", a controversial and debunked urban myth of a claim that a supercomputer would know with even a cursory examination of our world's database. Or google.

    Looks like the writer only used ten percent of his research.

    How did I know this? Uh, embarrassing, but I just wanted to test the theory, so I researched it a bit about six months ago for a story.

    Shalamarke

    So are you remarking about the lack of the writers' research, or the lack of your own? How can you possibly expect to get away with making such sarcasm without insulting your audience? Is the admission of your own guilt supposed to absolve you of this?

    Actually, no. I was just saying that I wouldn't have known either, and that my reason for looking was silly, but since I did know with only cursory research, the writer should have known. Geoff Johns did it too, actually.

    I get away with it by the wonderful power of the first amendment! What I didn't expect was that with that right came the responsibility of owning up to my words. Ye GADS! But in all honesty, I don't see how it's insulting...maybe you could clue me in?

    The way this was handled bothered me so much that I have rewritten my response several times and am still struggling a little. I think the reason it upset me is because now I'm angry that *I* didn't know this bit of information before, and I think I'm angry with you because you were unforgiving about it, even after having been ignorant of it yourself at one time.

    It's like this. I did a book about the rise and fall of civilizations. I read The Rise and Fall of Nazi Germany, a ton of books about the Roman Empire, stuff on the founding of America, I consolidated research, and I didn't even use most of that. It's the writer's job to NOT be ignorant of the story he tells. So, for instance, say I wanted to write a story about Batman, and I needed him to know a lot about martial arts. If I were to have him do the "Crane" move from Karate Kid just because a lot of people know it and think it's real, that's lazy. A simple google would show you fifteen different martial art sites, and just google the words, "Ten percent brain" and you can debunk the former myth.

    Perhaps you were unforgiving because you cannot forgive yourself. Or perhaps you were unforgiving because the show constantly makes mistakes about real life things like electricity and whether or not it's actually feasible to take over a missle silo and this is "just ONE MORE of those!"

    Yep. That's about it, actually. Constant mistakes are bred from writers who are not held to task and required to have top standards for themselves...I don't like that. It's not because I can't forgive myself. Heck, I'm pretty proud of the research that goes into my serious work. I work hard at it.

    Regardless of the reason, it left me, as your reader, insulted by what I experienced as your indignant impudence... or maybe just mad at me for not knowing. I'm still undecided. I only know that I cannot believe that I want to put so much energy into this response, which means it really got my goat somehow.

    I'm still not so sure what the big deal is, but I'm sorry if it made you angry.

    Neal

    There's also the fact that he singles out and corners Clark for being late in a college class, something that rarely, if ever happens, especially in an auditorium for a 100 level affair. I had English teachers (much maligned for doing so) who took attendance, but the general assumption is that if you're late for class, it's your loss, and unless you're causing a disturbance, the teachers don't give you crap.

    He also speaks of Lex LuthER. Now, granted, I get flak for noticing that, but in this episode it happened a TON of times, more than usual.

    Shalamarke

    I finally get it... you're one of those guys who comes out of a movie theater with a list of all the little tiny errors that NOBODY sees or cares about.

    I know, I know... It's your job as a "critic." I think I'm being overly sensitive today. I will try to overlook anything like this for the rest of your review today...

    Actually, after most things I watch I just usually shrug and say, "Sucked" or "ruled" and move on. When I level a critical analysis at something, I note every little detail, generally.

    Hey, though, if nobody cared, how has my audience grown, and why do I still have a column? I think people do care. A lot of people find it hilarious. There are people reading this who don't even watch the show any more. There are people reading because they hate me.

    Neal

    The preceding scene, where Arthur Curry shows up and harangues Lois at the Talon, was okay, but I couldn't help but get the feeling that the whole set-up was that Lois was letting this guy be a jerk to her because he looked good, an attitude I pretty heartily stand against. It's out of character for Lois, per ce, given that if she wanted to be with a good looking guy, face it, she's a military brat. There are hundreds of guys in shape that she could shoot for. It's also playing her as rather shallow.

    Shalamarke

    He what?? I don't recall any sort of lecturing... I only recall that for once, someone actually let Lois's sarcasm and insults bounce off of him, maybe even offered a little in return, and openly enjoyed the repartee! I didn't think it was shallow at all and I think it's why she liked him so quickly.

    Well, I think that if I save someone's life, then go to their place of work and subtly intimate that they owe me a date for it, I might get slapped. Then again, I don't have aqua-pecs, and the world works that way more often than not.

    Neal

    Why Arthur survives when it kills the fish? Well, that's up to you.

    Shalmarke

    Because he's the king of the ocean and if it did any more than give him bloody ears you would have commented on the fact that the king of the ocean would not have been so injured by such a petty instrument that kills little fish?

    **ooh, bad Shalamarke... I promised to stop commenting on the petty stuff....*

    Actually, nope. I wouldn't have commented that. But that's cool.

    And therein lies the end of my commentary, because a paragraph or two later is where I could no longer read.

    My apologies. I'll get the guy who struck you blind. Just give me a name!

    I've actually been getting more and more upset as each review comes out and this was the first time I decided to put any energy into writing. I apologize that it's on a day when I am being so unforgiving myself.

    No problem. I never take it personally.

    Being that it's *entirely* possible that I am in a "mood" today as implied, I do have to say that I have previously experienced what I would describe as getting somewhat sick of some of the little crap that keeps getting pointed out. It's a TV show. And I've said that before, and your response is that it is your job as a reviewer. Well, I don't know what else to say. Maybe: Can you point the stuff out without jumping up and down like your insides are going to burst or insulting the readers?

    I could, but that would just be boring. As for insulting the readers, I still don't see how I've done that. I insulted the writer...that's for sure. I think the problem might be that I jump up and down for so long. That bugs people. But I've never said my reviews were supposed to be taken literally. It's a game, it's a play, it's devil's advocate, it's all about fun. It's also serious sometimes. But one thing it's not is dishonest. And for me to critically analyze something and hold back because my style is abrasive to some would do both me and ye a disservice.

    I wonder, are you losing readership over it or am I the only one? I'm asking that for real - do you know if you are losing readers and if so, why? I keep wondering if it's just me.

    Honestly? We don't measure on the Smallville page itself that I know of, but I do know that since I started working here, with the help of the rest of the staff, we've gone from 3,000 daily uniques to 18,000 average, now, and I've seen a lot of spikes on the day I write the review.

    But honestly? While I'd say that to a prospective employer to get a book deal (and I've talked about that with Steve), the truth is, my priority is not to increase readership, but to be honest with myself. So far, it's led to phenomenal success for me personally. This year I've received fewer letters thusfar. I believe a lot of that is because last season just squashed a lot of the enthusiasm out of the viewers, not because my reviews are causing an unholy fury among people and making them drop like flies. I've been writing in this style for three years now.

    Thanks in advance. I know you will answer as fairly as possible.

    That's using ten percent of my brain! :)

    Also, on a completely different, and hopefully much more entertaining note, I'd like to comment on the preview for next week's episode. This is what my brain did with that:

    Smallville writer 1: Hey! Wouldn't it be HILARIOUS if we wrote a line where Marsters says something like, "There's no such thing as vampires?" hahahaa! Get it??? He used to be SPIKE!! A VAMPIRE!! hhahahaha

    Smallville writer 2: Hahaha! Yeah that would, but there are no vampires in Smallville. Oh well.

    Smallville writer 3:(wearing a black-K T-Shirt): But why not??

    Smallville writer 1: Yeah, why not?? There will be a new episode the week of Halloween, you know... We could work it into that!

    Smallville writer 2: Hmm... that's true. And the WB DOES want us to try to do more Holiday episodes... even though that's not really a Holiday *frowns* Nevertheless, we could probably work that line in if we have one of the cast dress up like a Vampire for a party or something. *grin*

    Smallville writer 1: NOO! It wouldn't be NEARLY as funny unless we worked REAL Vampires into the show!

    Smallville writer 3: Yeah! They could be the villain of the week!

    Smallville writer 2: We were told to try to do better villains than the old "FOTW" formula.

    Smallville writer 3: Well, they AREN'T meteor-freaks, fool! They're VAMPIRES!

    Smallville writer 1: Yeah!! Let's do it!! Then we can do that COOL LINE!

    Smallville writer 2: I don't know... we have some pretty good episodes before this one... couldn't something like this really lose the audience we just worked so hard to regain?

    Secretary: Excuse me, Writer 2? The boss wants to see you in his office. He said to bring a box with all of your personal belongings.

    Smallville writers 1 & 3: YES!!! *highfive*

    Shalamarke: sigh.

    Careful...that sounds almost like me!

    Just when you think the extra advertising dollars for the new insurgence of commercials we have to endure with the hike in ratings just MIGHT go to keeping the cool FX tricks going all season... they go out and buy FANGS.

    No doubt. Lame!

    Shalamarke

    PS - You can decide whether you want to respond in published format or offline. Feel free to post all or any part of what I wrote, or to not post.

    I'm posting everything I get with a "publish me" somewhere involved. This is a solid blast, and it forces me to get back to people on time and on task. I love it.

    Bruce Kanin wrote:

    Re: SMALLVILLE: AQUA

    Hey Neal,

    A few things:

    1) I don't mind one bit you publishing my reviews. An honor. Thank you HEAPS.

    Yee haw! For all of you who want in, email the man above. He's got a great summation.

    2) Your observations re: AQUA are ones I would likely have had if this episode had shown up last year (well, you have a keener eye than I, aye aye - or, as you put it, oy oy). Still, Season Five seems like the best one since Season One or Two, so I'm still willing to overlook stuff. At least there's no cave, crystals, tattoos, witches or vamp-whoops - next week - vampires - ARGH!

    That's a punk oy, by the way, not the traditional oy. Nothing against the traditional oy, I just thought it'd be funny to say that.

    I was willing to almost say the show had jumped back, but I knew sweeps were coming. We'll see how pole dancing goes.

    3) You noted that Chloe disappeared, more or less, in favor of Lois, and how annoying that is. I agree. The Clark-Chloe relationship is one of the best, relatively new and refreshing things this show has had in awhile. Compare it to Clark-Pete (the other "pal" who knew Clark's secret ID as Superteen). They did that to give Pete a raison d'etre (did I spell that right? MS Word didn't like it.) - an excuse for giving him scenes, but I don't recall that working all that well and look where Pete ended up anyway.

    Yep. And hey, at least this season it's half and half with Lois and Chloe.

    The stuff between Clark and Chloe, however, can at times be magic, like the opener this season in the Yukon hospital, and in AQUA where Chloe tells Clark to "go, baby, go!" and save Lois at the Kansas oasis alpine lake.

    Yep.

    (Speaking of disappearances - notice how Lana disappeared about halfway through the show. The final sequence in the barn loft was with Lois, not Lana. Interesting. And didn't bother me!)

    Likewise.

    4) A friend of mine remarked that he didn't like Lois falling for A.C. Actually, I thought that was absolutely right (assuming one accepts Lois in Smallville, which I don't). You see, Lois, who puts up a great protective, almost arrogant bubble about her, was shown to be very much vulnerable to supermen by falling for A.C. Supermen make her melt, like no other men can. And that was reinforced by the somewhat forced but OK ending with Lois & Clark - for me, the first decent Lois & Clark scene in the show (again, if one accepts Lois being on this show at all, which I don't).

    I didn't mind it. The only thing I didn't like was the shallow way he did it. Superman's a nice guy.

    5) I'll repeat something from my review which I thought was a (if I may say so myself) funny and brilliant moment for me, at least, and perhaps Lex: when SuperBro and AquaBro vanquish Dr. Evil's "LAY-SER" (I mean, Lex's Leviathan, or whatever it was), Lex notices something on the monitor, then turns his head around and is clearly p*ssed off. I immediately conjured up his alternate-Earth Lex (from the movies, of course), i.e., Gene Hackman yelling "MISS TESSMACHER!" from a somewhat similar situation in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE. Loved it, even if only I saw it.

    Cheers,

    Bruce

    I see it too, now, so no sweat. Thanks, Bro-er, Bruce!

    CeeBee wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Thanks for printing my letter last week.

    You're welcome. Did you know it morally obligated you to buy my books? MWU HA HA! I have you now! No? *cries*

    As for the "sunset scene" you missed when Clark gave up his powers... you didn't. There WAS a sunset scene but as he didn't know that losing his powers was the "consequence" Jor-El spoke of, it wasn't an informed choice. At no time was he ever told he would lose his powers. That was a huge mistake on the writer's part, I thought, and made Clark an unwitting and passive victim of circumstance rather than a hero who knowingly sacrifices something personal in order to save someone else.

    Good call. I missed that.

    In addition to the barn-building and chores and college classes you mention in your Aqua review, shouldn't Clark also be concerned about which of his loved ones is gonna die? I mean, here he is helping his cool professor investigate LuthorCorp when he COULD be investigating ways to save people from Jor-El's "someone must die" mandate. Priorities!

    Slight of hand. Nice snag.

    You know what would have put a new twist on the hoary old "Clark is instantly suspicious about someone and arbitrarily ends up being right" plot? Having him realize that in past circumstances, HE was in the Aquaman role. Clark himself has done suspicious and downright illegal things and yet gets angry when people suspect him of something. Having it dawn on him that he doesn't own the sole rights to being suspicious would have redeemed that plot for me. (Or having someone point out to him that, hey, just because your girlfriend is delusional enough to overlook your Lazarus trick last week just because you're wearing a tiny band-aid doesn't mean that EVERYONE should be expected to be blind to your feats of weirdness.)

    Yeah. Things move too fast for introspection, apparently.

    Jeremy Hill wrote:

    Just a few things. I never fail to read your review. Even though it's often a bit too strict for my tastes, I enjoy it and respect your opinions. That said, I just wanted to mention a few things.

    Thank you!

    You'll probably hear this a lot, but Clark does cover his scar when he has his shirt off, he has a bandage over it. Not much, I know, but hey, at least it's *there*.

    Verily, did I hear it. Oy, did I.

    Two, Chloe finding out AC's criminal record is really not that difficult. Many states have searchable databases with court cases. If you go to the one for Wisconsin (my lovely home state) you can find out that I've had a speeding ticket, and that I paid it.

    Oh my God. Excuse me.

    TAPPITTY TAPPITTY TAPPITTY

    Okay. I'm back. They DID expunge that squirrel punt from the record. Probation.

    Seriously though, didn't know that. Cool.

    I was going to attempt to prove how easy it is by spitting your (more than likely minimal, like mine) criminal record back at you, but Washington state doesn't have a name searchable database yet. I say 'yet' because it's coming soon:

    http://www.courts.wa.gov/?fa=dw.home

    See?

    Interesting. I have nothing to hide, alas. I've never been arrested. Though I did toilet paper a urinal once in a fit of anger, I threw snowballs at cars once and got chased half a mile, and I did get cited for a loud muffler, but I got it dismissed. I should have been a lawyer! But no. Heck, I've only been pulled over that once in 9 years. I don't even break the speed limit. I'm a putz.

    But I always thought it would be funny to get arrested for something. It'd have to be something great, though, like pie-ing some vapid starlet or mooning the president (either party).

    As long as the offender wasn't a minor when the offense was committed, any criminal history is part of the public record.

    That's all I have for corrections. As for other things, I loved the JLA line, just because I'm a sucker for that stuff (the 'superboy' line and everything else was a bit much for me though.)

    That's the rough thing about those lines. Some work, some don't, and it depends on the person, largely.

    Also, when Brainiac talked about the supercomputer he says "You know where the world's fastest supercomputer is? Right here" he taps his own head. He's being quite literal. I loved it.

    Likewise.

    With not much else to say, I will bid you adieu. As I said before I love the reviews and read them all the time. Keep the great work coming.

    -Jeremy Hill

    Thank you!

    Azor wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Chloe didn't necessarily commit a crime in bringing up A.C.'s criminal record. Criminal records are public and sometimes are readily available on the Internet. If you know anyone in Wisconsin, for example, you can go to this site and plug in their name and see what comes up: http://wcca.wicourts.gov/index.xsl. Actually, the somewhat scary thing about this site is that even if you have been charged with a crime and exonerated it is still out there for anyone to see (though it notes if you have been acquitted or if the charges have been dropped).

    The somewhat scary thing is that two letters in a row come from Wisconsin and concern criminal records. I was never there, I swear! But you're right as well.

    I may have been hallucinating, but I think in the score of "Aqua" there was a variation on the Justice League Animated theme when Clark and A.C. first met underwater.

    Might have been. I was scribbling.

    Finally, despite the large number of people who wrote to you with the opinion that it was O.K. for Clark and Lana to have sex, I don't think any one of them directly addressed your argument. This was a bit depressing, as otherwise intelligent people seem to be unable to handle the level of abstraction that went into your position.

    Azor

    Without being rude to the people who wrote me about it, I'd have to say I still agree. Doesn't mean they're wrong, just means it's harder to divorce yourself from the emotion of the subject, I know.

    Mark Palenik wrote:

    I just wanted to say, as a college student, I really agreed with your comments about Brainiac when Clark walked into class late. I was thinking the exact same thing, about how he reacted to Clark, his dialogue in general, and also, on an unrelated note - about how he was completely believable as someone other than Spike.

    Cool!

    As for what they could have done to avoid cutting the story while still doing a better homage to Christopher Reeve, you forgot to mention that they could have spent less time glancing up and down AC's body and looking at his crotch, from Lois' POV. As a last resort, perhaps they could have spent less time showing us Lois in a bathing suit.

    Or having him tenderly fondle her mammary with the bad CPR.

    Also, in regards to Lionel Luthor's body getting possessed by Jor-El, there was some comment in the episode that made me think that it was related to his use of the magic kryptonian stones (which is another thing you've got to question - do Kryptonians actually have any technology based on real science, or is it all based on magic, cosmic forces/balances and hippy new age philosophy?). Anyway, I'm not completely convinced that Jor-El has left Lionel's body, a la Eleria from the last season of Angel, when she took over Fred's body, and Fred's parents came to visit. If that's the case, some of the plot holes might not be so much plot holes as creamy nugget - i.e. hidden goodness. I hope I'm right.

    I do as well.

    Oh, and one final point. I do know someone who says bro, who's kind of into saving the rain forest, and can run reasonably fast (he did varsity track and cross country in highschool, I think). He's also fairly intelligent. However, he doesn't say bro that often, and even at that, coming from Aquaman, it just sounds wrong.

    Yeah. And I say dude sometimes, too. It's not mutually exclusive. I'm just saying, most of the time, If bro, then dude, not too bright. Not super-hero material. There are exceptions to every rule, though. Some day, there may be a Neal Bailey review without excessive detail.

    Danielle wrote:

    I just started watching "Smallville" after I bought my husband the 2nd Season DVD, after much protestations of "That's a lame comic book show." I can now count myself among the converted - I own more of the season box sets than he does (1, 3, and 4). I was looking around for episode reviews, and stumbled on this site. I totally agree with you about "Memoria" - that's one of the best episodes of a television show I've ever seen ... although that may not be saying much since I still think "Transformers" (the original, natch) and "Thundercats" are the bees' knees. :)

    I am a Thundercat NUT, and my best buddy has a ton of Transformers. That doesn't lose you points with me. You read the McG Thundercats? Holy COW was that good.

    And Lana ... don't get me started. She's there to expound morality, not to be an actual character.

    Yes. The two faced morality that so commonly drives pop culture. "It's okay when I do it, when you do it, because it hurts the pretty, it's wrong!"

    Why the hell Clark doesn't like Chloe is something I still haven't figured out.

    He should like her, but I know why he doesn't. We don't want what we can have, or what we need.

    Although I do have to say I really do like Lois. Beating the crap out of a Special Ops guy, drinking frat boys under the table - doesn't get much better than that. Not to mention all those verbal jabs she tosses at Clark. :) And I have to say, Kryptonite must the super-whatever, seeing as how you can melt it over a campfire, put it in Gatorate, use it as steroids, strap it to the Boy O' Steel, etc etc etc - I didn't think meteor rock would be that malleable, but ... I'm no science freak. :)

    It's a floor wax, a desert topping, and, more commonly, an aphrodesiac.

    Anyway ... thanks for the great reviews ("Clana", priceless. :) ) And for referencing both "Star Wars" and Bad Religion - two enthusiastic thumbs up, as I am a major fan of both. :)

    Holy cow, you caught the Bad Religion. Awesome. Yeah. Big inspiration there. Construction work is one whole heck of a lot easier to "The Process of Belief" and "The Empire Strikes First."

    ~Danielle

    Shafi S wrote:

    Hi, Neal

    Hi!

    Jeez when is this show going to go somewhere beside bang bang with the cute couple.

    When it's cancelled. :(

    The aquaman episode was cool but run was better why because Lois wasn't in it or lana fussing about clark and where is he or how he survived that. How Clark is going to be the big blue we all know and love. Jeez Quote from the show hes not reading yet. What do you guys mean Tom Welling is 27 years old in real life. Your right Neal this show has great pot holes even we can't notice.

    Thank you.

    Having Lois makes it worse again why because how is supposing if they do work togther or marry each other protect his secret while hes working at the good ole Daily Planet. Is he going to act like a wuss or act just like the clark In "Smallville. Even the writers of the show lost their forte. THe first season was the closest thing they had to the comics and they ruined it. I know the new supes movie is coming out based on Chris reeve. Those movies were good but come on look at Batman begins good but it was different. I guess the writers like the mo money to much to write something good. Thanks Neal for reading this crap. Don't stop your reviews they help us geeks on watching this sap show.

    Heh. I don't think it's crap. Needs paragraphs, but I've always favored description to prescription. If I could stop the reviews, I would. Writing's a disease. I'd make far more money as a plumber.

    Danielle wrote:

    Addendum to my last email ... *squeeee* and Red Dwarf, Evil Dead, and Princess Bride! You are officially my favorite reviewer in the history of ever. *two thumbs up* m/^_^m/ You rock! :)

    That makes my day. :) Thank you.

    If it makes you feel any better, I've read the Princess Bride book, and there's more pop culture where that came from. Maybe I scorn it so much now because I was so raised on it. Or maybe because there's so much that stands up to be counted in the middle of such rampant commercialism.

    danielle

    (pop culture reference nut)

    Thankee!

    Steve wrote:

    Hi Neal

    Let me start off by saying that this is a general Smallville inquiry instead of a reaction to your most recent review. Let me also say that I just started reading your reviews this season, so please forgive me if I've missed something by not reading season 4 reviews. So far they're great, very entertaining, keep up the good work. I don't agree with some of your opinions, but i do respect them.

    That's the best. :) And no sweat on the no response.

    Anyway, you've made it abundantly clear that you hated season 4 and I'm thinking it was because of the stones storyline and it not being a part of the Superman mythos. If that's true, I was wondering, if Superman never existed before and he was being introduced for the first time on the Smallville tv show, would your views on the stones storyline be any different or was your beef not with the storyline, but the way the storylines were handled?

    Darn good question, actually. I do believe that if this show were taken COMPLETELY out of context of the Superman mythos (hard to imagine, but possible), and I watched it show by show, I'd probably have a similar view on the stones. I say this confidently because there are a ton of shows and movies with similar storylines with no history that I've avoided and not liked for cheesy plot devices like that, an arbitrary reason for going on. I don't watch much tv, but the best, most recent example I can think of is Married...With Children. They introduced "Seven" to spice things up, and it didn't, so I stopped watching for years. It was a forced subplot, and they knew it. Married had the sense to just make him disappear. Smallville didn't. But just in general, out of context, I would wonder why and how someone from a far away planet that was destroyed would create elaborate plots to stop or help someone they sent to Earth find their way when they could just offer it up. It seemed forced.

    Half of the problem, also, was not the subplot itself, but the character reaction to it. My key beef is less the story's turns (even if I don't like them), but when characters step out of who they are, and even outside of Superman, Clark and Lana don't behave like that even on this show, first season, which would be our benchmark.

    Thanks for taking your time to read this.

    Steve

    Thanks for taking your time to read this. :)

    Mashael wrote:

    Hi Neal

    I was reading your review (I've been wondering what happened to you, good to see you back!) and I read that you wondered why Clark lost his powers. I had the same question after the episode but when I was reading someone else's comments on the show I think I might have found the answer. Jor-El told Clark to be back before the sun sets "or else" and I think at the moment the Kryptonians go flying outside you can see that the sun is setting. So that would be the "or else" since Clark missed his deadline.

    I might not be right, but I thought it's worth a try.

    Mashael^_^

    No, it's right. :) I just missed it. Thanks!

    Matt Armstrong wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    I haven't written in a while, but I had some thoughts on "Aqua":

    Cool!

    1) I know WHY they called it "Aqua", but this show isn't about Captain Obvious. Why not "Wet" or "Swim" or "Fishstick"?

    Or Manboob?

    2) Sure, this episode had its similarities to "Run". I don't know why every young superhero Clark meets has to be set on the righteous path by our favorite 20th/21st century Christ figure, BUT I pretty much bought Aquaman's eco-terrorism, hook, line and sinker (see what I did there?). Aquaman (in the few stories I've seen him in) has always been resentful of the surface world for its treatment of the oceans. In fact, he can be quite dark and callous about his solving those problems. So I thought it fit the character. Now, if we see Wonder Woman using her golden lasso or invisible jet for ill-gotten gain...

    It did. I agree there. I have a great idea for getting Wonder Woman into town. Ares senses Clark as a threat, so Clark meets Hippolyta, who brings along her apprentice. Hilarity ensues.

    3) I, too, was bother by Lois suddenly in Sm.... a bikini. I was not bothered at all by Lois' bikini. What was I writing about?

    Lex is evil? Wow!

    4) As you may remember, I'm a Naval Officer. I've also spent a bit of time working in an acoustics research lab. This really put a damper on my one superpower: the superhuman ability to suspend disbelief. Your points about testing in a popular swimming hole were all good. Here's what should've happened: Lex got a government grant to test a sonic underwater weapon. His people schedule time at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center test tank, since it is a controlled environment in which to experiment, UNLIKE A LAKE. Then he gets it on a submarine or a ship in one of the many naval operating areas and tasts it there, at which point the Navy sees all the dead fish and says, "Sorry, Lex, we can't use this because it kills all the fish. The environmentalists would really have our TUNA in a vice." Not very super, but hey, what's all this random knowledge of military testing for if I can't use it to shoot holes in a Smallville plot?

    And hey, even non-military have seen the articles about the dead dolphins...it's a big deal to some people, myself included, the ramifications military weapons have on native life.

    Show me a field of trees in Europe that's not in straight planted lines, I read, because of the decimation of WW2.

    5) Maybe I was too distracted by the BIKINI filled with Erica Durance in it, but I don't recall it being obvious that either Clark or AC were breathing underwater. I KNOW that AC does, because he's Aquaman; just as I KNOW that Clark holds his breath for a really long time, but does eventually need air. So when Lex says AC was breathing underwater, I immediately wondered how he knew that? I didn't see it. I also didn't see Clark breathing in space or underwater. I didn't see the crater Clark made when he hit the ground (maybe he bent his knees when he landed, a la Mary Lou Retton), or the burned remains of clothes hanging from his body following re-entry into the atomshpere when we know that a mere incinerator has previously rendered him nekkid. I certainly didn't notice Lois was wearing a bikini while poor Chloe was wearing a one-piece bathing suit. But if I HAD seen it, I certainly would be saving that mental image for... deployment.

    All fair points. I guess I just see a missed opportunity to mention it.

    Good Luck!

    Matt Armstrong

    Thanks!

    David Khattak wrote:

    As I sat down to watch Man Nipples, I wondered whether we were about to get more strong sub-plotting and improvements from "Allyoop" over-the-shoulder-criminal-tossing (I wouldn't argue against flash-bang grenades being Supes new way to deal with criminals - "MY EYES!!" "That's what you get when you 'interfere' with Lana!)

    In the event, I enjoyed it. We got to see how beautiful Canada looks even when it resembles the weather here in the UK and if you missed it kids, don't EVER wear orange and green (unless you have man nipples that you can flex in time to 80's electronica).

    The system is down...the system is down...doom doom doom doom!

    In terms of continuity they are more willing to throw in the odd lines here or there; perhaps realising that for the 3 seconds of screen time they get Neal's elite team of whipping monkeys* off their backs!? We had references back to Mr Allen and Clex's breakup, which is nice. On the other hand we had:

    -Lex putting the inheritance money to good use by getting back at those CURSED Commies/Jihadists who're amphibious and in league with The Penguin.

    -Lois getting sick of Europe round about the time she learns $20 gets you five fags...or is it only Purer-Than-Thou Lana who pretends smokes!?

    No hate mail. A fag is a cigarette. And no, I'm not calling homosexuals Camel Ultra Lights. More (CUT OFF FOR NEAL'S PROTECTION)

    Sort of anti-conituity....oh my god! Are they hinting they're going to do an anti-universe adeventure?!?! EvilKirk V Superman! SWEET!

    Ahem, anyway, oddly enough, whilst they paid varying degrees of lip service to continuity, they missed out on a vital piece of dialogue for Lana. Watch for her BLOOD-eating grin as Lois sighs something about "Gee, was that Clark being all fraught with jealousy, or was that Seth Cohen in a tank top" (Neal, sleep well!). She justs looks really happy with herself for emasculating someone and then we cut away! There was even a beat to add in a small "....well" from Lana to show she actually doesn't agree totally with Lois. Or are we back to Secrets & Lies?! They can't seem to commit totally to a happy contented Lana. Or are they holding these little scenes for some sort of montage in episode 22 to reveal Lana's secret distrust? It'd beat badly edited "There, you

    see what ya missed?!?! And you thought this Season was EXCREMENTAL!" montage at the end of last season!

    --Stand out attempt by middle aged writers to write a young character.

    Bro?

    Give broad sweeping generality to ManNipple kid with 'bro'? That's what all the kids say! Right after swigging straight from a SunnyD bottle on a Saturday night! It probably went something like this in The Writers' Den:

    "We need to say "young and cool"...with one word...a word....one word.....hey I know!...." When the weeks come that that 'word' is "Whatever", I'll start watching televisual S&M that is Lost". Maybe you should have a bit of a track of these

    "words" in your Big Business Section!

    Laters, bro, dude, and coming soon, pwned!

    --The "aquatic" thesaurus must have had a good thumb through.

    I sea.

    "Hi Mom. What's for dinner?" becomes "[Crab mating dance]What's going to be sprinkled into my aquatic holding pen?"

    Like I said for previous episodes, the little touches ("yeah, super") are the way to go. Here's a scene even I could write which satisfies the Producers nudge-wink fetish

    Lois: Hey, so you're now working in a bathroom fitters?

    Supes: Yeah. Oh you dropped that cup, here let me get that for ya

    Lois: With cup picking action like that, you could be an intrepid reporter!

    Lana: And abandon me in this godforsaken place.

    [Lex pops his head round the corner]

    Lex: Did someone mention an evil megalomaniac?!

    [All laugh heartily]

    [...as Clark strips to his underwear]

    [..and dons a red shower curtain]

    [Play latest Avril single]

    [Fade to credits]

    [Rinse and Repeat 21 times]

    Or 92. Don't forget, we're nearing 100 episodes.

    --Lastly there was the one I've never even liked; that "heh, put another stage of man after 'super' and there you go" SuperBoy moniker...

    Nintendo: We're looking for a "superboy".

    Superboy: Yep, hi there!

    [Nintendo cattle prods superboy for copyright infringement]

    [Places him in level 64.1]

    [Along with a Mario wearing yellow dungarees and an abortive attempt to make Princess Peach a rags-to-riches LADY OF THE NIGHT]

    Chloe might make a good Peach.

    On a behind the scenes note, I bow down to Cueball. He played that first "evil" scene with the lightest touch of tongue-in-cheek (GrammarMan slaps me about for that last "sentence"). Notice him cocking his head after delivering a uniquely one dimensional Bad Guy Speak! Perfect.

    Yes!

    If you are even playing a character circling the drain, THIS is how you do it!

    Very much.

    I've just read your review and yes, this is immensely better than last series exmaples, but again the story is putting the brakes on me enjoying it all.

    We also still have odd production staff at the reins.

    Lana is so pretty.

    -Why, when you're desperate for water, reach for a a small sprinkler? After all there's an open pool of water behind you. Or does Echo The Dolphin's faecal matter play havoc with you skin?

    Something fishy there.

    -ManNipples. Pan up some guys cold-induced erect nipples and end on his winning smile. Waste 10 seconds of screen time which could have been used for Lana

    leaping to Clark's defense.

    Lois: My, how do you put up with him?!

    [Lana throws her boiling coffee over Lois]

    Lana: Yeah, YEAH! YOU RUN, YOU TRAMP! NO ONE TALKS ABOUT MY CLARKY LIKE THAT!

    Earth 3?

    .....or not....but we could always hope!

    Finally, a tip for Superman enemies. Get him when he's in at the deep at Typhoon Lagoon.

    Great review. Intriguing about Worf. I'll have to have a look at that!

    Heh.

    *Can spot a Warner TV writer even when not wearing

    "smart casual" office attire...

    Anyway, maybe since he's appraoching 50, Mr Welling is

    more graceful in letting Leading Pecs pass to a new

    upstart!

    [Tom Welling hangs around late into the night beside Aquaman's dressing room...]

    [..with a pin]

    Ow!

    Sage wrote:

    I think you made an error in your last review for Smallville. They did cover up Clark getting shot in the previous episode. He had a bandage in the area of the gunshot.

    http://img73.imageshack.us/img73/2796/vlcsnap36082699ij.jpg

    Yes! Good pic.

    Henry Jones Jr wrote:

    Greetings and salutations, Neal! Long time, no email.

    Yes! And thanks for writing in.

    I see everyone in the past few Letters griping/complimenting you on your nitpicking of Teh CLana Sex, but haven't seen anyone say something about the complete lack of follow up by the parentals, which you also commented on, and to me that's the bigger issue.

    Agreed.

    As this is a WB show, and WB shows always have a Deflowering Episode, letting Clark have sex is par for the course, and the creators sort-of make it more mythos-plauseworthy by having him only do it once he's mortal - not *human*, which Clark kept saying he was, an annoyance that knows no bounds - as it is something that a "normal" boy of 18 would do with his girlfriend.

    (Here I could get into a side discourse on how The Sex didn't happen until after he had the huge break up fight with his boyfri- er, best friend, and thus visually, as depicted on screen, in more anguish than I've seen since Chloe 'died', and how it could be interpreted as homophobia, a final throwing off of his "freakishness" to be with the girl; after all, he's already gotten rid of his other alienness - but I'll stick with my topic.)

    My beef with the show since The-Season-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named began is its depiction of sex, of how it's morally wrong for a single, over 21-year old man to hook up with single, over 21-year old women without leading them on, but it's forgivable for a girl to get tramped up, strip and chain a boy up, and force sexual acts on them (kissing and rubbing herself against him definitely counts as a sexual act) for the purpose of illiciting information. In Mortal/Hidden, we have a relatively positive depiction of sex: Clark and Lana love each other, secrets and lies notwithstanding, and they make the decision together, which can hark back to that creepy Lana/Jason non-deflowering scene in TSTSNBN to show the right from wrong.

    Tis better. Just inconsistent.

    However, in Hidden, the diffusion of the parent/child conversation that should of happened- no, *needed* to happen, was cut out in favor of a joking moment. While this might not have bothered me as a way to pull the focus away from sex on a family show, it actually *emphasizes* the message the viewers saw in Unsafe, when Martha and Jonathan were FURIOUS with Clark for getting MARRIED before attempting sex, which he didn't have anyway. And as red kryptonite has been equated with a drug for Clark, the viewer is drawn to the conclusion that Alicia slipped a roofie around Clark's neck and nearly date raped him, yet Clark is lambasted for the fact that he got married to the girl he was dating and really liked at the time, in that episode.

    Smallville gets a big F from me for that.

    And something that starts with F from me.

    In fact, Hidden is an episode that made me lose all respect for the show. I have to shift my thinking when viewing and stop watching it as a Superman Elseworlds, because it's on a completely different track now, one that doesn't resemble any form of Superman that I know.

    That was my dictum season four, episode one.

    The main appeal of Superman, in comics, movies, television, radio, etc., is that he is the Ideal. He is the man we all inspire to be like, the white hat among white hats, and to accept the irony that it takes someone not human to show us how humanity is supposed to be. In all incarnations, too, whether he is Superman with a Clark Kent disguise, or Clark Kent with a Superman disguise, the yellow sun of earth gives him extraordinary abilities that he CHOOSES to use for good. This is where Smallville has dropped the ball.

    It's trying, but it just seems to miss it a lot.

    Smallville, with Jor-El's decision to bring Clark back to life, re-infuse him with powers, and reiterate his destiny, has cemented Clark's future. Clark no longer has the *choice* to do good, because his neutrality has been taken away. A basic human tenet is that we can either help others, harm others, or do nothing. Clark cannot do nothing. He either has to be the superhero or the overlord because of Jor-El, not because he grew up with good values, a strong sense of right and wrong, and decided that he was given amazing gifts that could help so many people. The moral theme to the show has vanished with the inclusion of Jor-El, hammered home with the episode Hidden.

    Now, if Jor-El turns out to be an imposter (the Zod speculation), would that reassert the moral theme to the show? I'm not sure. Clark has been depicted from the beginning that he feels it's a burden to have these gifts and wants nothing more than to be "normal" like everyone else - again, hammered home by Mortal/Hidden. If he is given the three-tiered choice once more: good, evil, or neutral, the only way for the moral theme to work is that he would choose neutral for a very long time, seeing the world's badness without interfering, until his interal compass tells him he has the ability to do something about it. Right now, good is a burden to him, according to canon. He feels like he *has* to do it. Canon-established guilt over the meteorite freaks motivates his actions against them. In fact, in a lovely twist of irony, Lex is the only person he's helped just to help someone because it's the right thing to do. Ryan comes close, but that's only after familial ties were established.

    There's also the fact that making Clark start over would essentially negate the journey of the show...they wouldn't do that.

    What the creators may have tried to do with Mortal/Hidden was show us that, even if Clark doesn't have powers, he'd still try and stop the bad guys. However, this was overshadowed by Jor-El/Zod(?) having taken that choice away again and underlined the burden factor once more. Without this moral theme, one of the basic Superman mythologies is no longer a part of the story, and that just makes the show... Smallville.

    -Henry Jones Jr

    Agreed, Doctor Jones. No ticket!

    Bill Castonzo wrote:

    Hey Neal! As usual, your reviews hit most of the right notes with me, and even concerning the stuff I don't agree with, I like your style.

    Thanks, Bill. You gots pinash!

    I was compelled to write in, something I've done maybe twice in the past, to comment on some things. So hopefully you'll humor a fellow Luthor enthusiast :D.

    Always, man.

    1.) Jumping back to "Hidden", if I may, and Clark's miraculous leap: There's VERY good evidence for that being an instance of flight. For Clark to have merely leapt, with no intrinsic negation of the pull of gravity, to that height and, more importantly, at that speed (and with no visible deceleration, I might add, but I digress...), Old Isaac's First (or is it Third? Don't feel like googling...) Law comes into effect. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The force exerted by Clark's legs to enable that jump, if it was purely a jump, should have caused a sizable impression, if not a flat-out crater, in the earth below him. As it stands, we saw NO evidence of even MARGINAL effect on the spot from which he took off. That's breaking the laws of physics, my friend. That's flying.

    The ground was uprooted, though. And there's a heck of a lot of mass in the Earth for the energy to disseminate into.

    2.) Clark's New Super-Breathing that you've commented on: Clark being able to breathe underwater seems a little far-fetched. Clark being able to breathe in space is flat-out impossible. However, I'd hazard to guess his lung capacity to be a wee bit mightier than yours or mine. Holding his breath long enough to tear out a warhead or go a few rounds with his bro AC isn't inconceivable...In fact, I'd almost say it's obvious. Even if you don't buy that for some reason, consider also the efficiency of his metabolism: A single mighty breath could conceivably oxygenate his system long enough to perform either of the aforementioned super-feats.

    I do buy it. Still, you go into space, you then talk about it, I say.

    3.) Lex's Leviathan Cameras: ... Was your mind wandering back to Lois' bathing suit? Heck, mine sure was, but I still caught the fact that Lex spent a CONSIDERABLE amount of time reviewing the underwater footage of Leviathan's first malfunction, and actually watched the second malfunction on a four-screen display with his nameless assistant and the military crew. It was plain as day. That thing was video-taped. He just failed to glean any useful images out of the mass of bubbles created by AC's furious swimming. Jeez, you must be slipping as you slide ever closer to inevitable insanity...

    Crazy? I went crazy once...they locked me up.

    4.) Re: bad puns. Surprised you didn't catch this one...AC's comment to Lex upon being questioned as to what organization he's with: "I don't roll with an entourage." Of course, it's well-known (to the point that Entertainment Weekly ran a useless comparison chart in last week's issue) that the lead character in the HBO series Entourage is an actor who has been tapped to play none other than Aquaman in a fictional upcoming movie. Yet another groaner...Though it doesn't come close to matching "Junior Lifeguard Association". Ugh.

    I don't watch much TV, alas. And I can no longer afford an Entertainment Weekly sub. Had one for a while for the King column, but they started putting it online.

    5.) Was it just me, or did Lex miss a golden opportunity to whip out a "Takes one to know one!" when Aquaman called him a tool. God, I could not stop laughing after he said that. Such a random, ineffectual, and unintentionally hilarious put-down. Man, that moment was priceless. And "First of all, you called me a tool" was the icing on the cake.

    Yep.

    6.) One thing I must commend Aqua for: The idea of Clark dismantling Lex's experiment for the greater good and in the process costing Lex dearly echoes the classic Pre-Crisis tale of how Superboy accidentally balded young Luthor in the process of containing the fire caused by Luthor's experiment. Best intentions by young Superboy leads to a personal loss for Luthor...It was the first time in the entire series that I felt they actually got the dynamic of the Clark/Lex split right. Too bad something like that couldn't have been the LEAD-IN to Lex's otherwise unexplained turn to the dark side.

    Here's looking forward to that Halloween spectacular they got planned for us! Huh? Huh? Anybody?

    ...

    Well, until next time anyhow. :(

    - Bill C.

    Good one, Bill. Thanks!

    Stephen Hudson wrote:

    Okay Neal, I feel bad about this, because I should have mentioned it earlier and it totally slipped my mind. I've tried to check through the letters in this week's review and I haven't seen any mention of it, but please forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know.

    KO.

    So here it is: In "Hidden," Clark pulls a really cool maneuver in which he leaps (Flies? More on that in a minute) onto the nuclear missile as it launches, then proceeds to climb to the top of it, as its various stages separate and fall to the earth below. Finally, he is left to dismantle the warhead in heroic fashion as he hangs on the edge of space. Just about everybody has lauded this as a spectacular moment that makes up for many of the episode's other foibles.

    Yes. Myself included.

    So here's my problem: how many ICBMs have you seen that have STAGES like that? Okay, I'm not a rocket scientist, so maybe something with that kind of range (even though it was basically aimed at its own silo) would have a detachable booster system to get it closer to its destination, but the final stage should still be something that can be accurately aimed and propelled. This thing that Clark was dismantling looked like a splashdown capsule from one of the old Apollo missions, not anything that could be aimed at a target to deliver a payload. Did you see any engine on it at all? I certainly didn't. How aerodynamic would that dome-shaped nose be on re-entry, really?

    Whoa! You're right! Staged rockets are come down randomly, in the ocean! Very good catch! I can't believe I missed that!

    I understand the stages falling off the rocket (and that's what it was, a rocket, not a missile) added to the situational tension as Clark climbed up the side, but it REALLY took me away from the action to see something that obviously false and thoughtless portrayed here (especially with Smallville's history of using the insert-falsehood-or-mythos-conflicting-plot-contrivance-here policy). This is another example of a good idea that was executed really poorly, something that happens all too often with this show. This is also another example of me nitpicking, but it took away from my enjoyment of the show so I say it's fair game.

    And yet, we still watch this thing every week. {sigh} Who are the real suckers here, really?

    Us. Always us. But then, if I didn't get something out of it...and I do.

    (Or maybe, MAYBE, the "missile" WAS, in reality, a space-bound ROCKET, and this entire scenario was orchestrated by LEX LUTHOR, HIMSELF, to determine YET AGAIN if CLARK is an ALIEN! That's it! We just haven't seen Lex watching the camera feeds in his study yet. Yeah, that's the ticket...)

    The Nuclear Man returns, in episode 100!

    One other thing to interject. I think that everyone who is telling you that Clark "flew" to reach the missile is 100% spot on--sort of. Because of the neat pressure-wave effect, I do believe Clark instinctually used his flight abilities to get to the rocket (perhaps knowing that he couldn't attain that distance simply by using his legs?). I just don't think, without Kal's consciousness inhabiting his body, that Clark is very good at flying yet. He probably "leaped" at the missile like he would any other time, but subconsciously accessed his latent ability to fly in order to cover such a distance. Hence, no control over the flightpath, but still with the added boost and neat pressure-wave effect.

    I think if he had more power than usual, he'd note it, and talk about it. I hope!

    I'd ask for my No-Prize, but that would be wrong on too many levels. :) Thanks for the thoughtful diversion, Neal! Until next time...

    You can have a Monkeybella blessing. That cool?

    -Stephen Hudson

    Hector Izaguirre wrote:

    Okay, let me start off by saying that I think your reviews are awesome. I'm pretty new to reading your reviews, so forgive my silly questions and comments. What I want to talk about today is the episode Aqua. I really enjoyed this episode, however, I had some of the same concerns. I'd like to add a few things of my own.

    Cool! Thank you!

    In the opening scene we see Lois telling Chloe that she's going for a swim. We then see Lois jump into the water. Chloe notices from a long distance away that she has been in the water too long. Why was Chloe watching Lois that closely anyway? It would have been different if Lois had said, "Hey, tell me if I have good form on this dive?" Or something like that. It just seemed a little odd that Chloe was keeping that close an eye on her. It shouldn't be a shock or anything, after all, Chloe is the the McGyver of the show when it comes to breaking into LuthER Corp.

    I know why. Chloe set the trap to remove Lois from the plot so she could have her part in the show back, and then got a conscience. Bingo!

    Also, I just wanted to say that I thought it was pretty neat the Arthur aka Aqua, was dressed in orange and green. Since he does, or did attend the University of Miami whose colors happen to be orange and green. I just thought that was cool. I'm sure alot of people caught that though. Just wanted to throw that out there.

    It was cool. I didn't note it though I saw it because they're fairly consistent with that kind of thing.

    I also noticed that James Marsters aka, Professor Fine aka, Spike, aka Brainiac, aka, Jor-El, okay, I went to far. Anyway, I noticed that alot of the time that a word came across with the letters, e-r, or o-r, he would pronounce it funny. He kind of had a southern cowboy pacific islander twang accent. Just wanted to throw that out there.

    It could also be Brainiac trying to pretend to be flawed. Hadn't thought of that.

    One last thing before I go...I'm not real familiar with the whole KO count you have, but I'd like to know if we could start a count for the number of times Lex closes his laptop when Clark walks into his office. I haven't kept up with it or anything, I just happened to notice it tonight and wondered if you had, or if anyone had a count for that.

    Ha! Well, as a general rule, it has to be something outrageous, and something that happens not every episode (the freaks just happen to do that). Lex doing that makes sense. He's a businessman. Now, the talking to someone behind you, THAT might be good. No wait. That happens every episode too.

    Keep up the great work. Look forward to your next review. I'm hoping the whole vampire episode next week doesn't suck. No pun intended.

    Oy, if only it hadn't.

    Thanks!

    Thank you.

    Hector Izaguirre

    Odessa, Texas

    Jules Brice wrote:

    Neal... I...

    I don't know where to start (... again)

    So you say! But I think "Neal...I..." is pretty good. It can go anywhere. Neal...I...hate midgets. Neal...I...I'm your father. Think of the possibilities!

    I just finished your review (for the third time) and I wanted to say I'm sorry... I was unfair, albeit you were expecting this from "an inebriated dude who's probably want to deny his story when he's sober", and I know I'm not gonna get off the hook easily (which means you're probably going to put my letter with the rest of the one-track-mind readers that liken you to Lucifer Himself for speaking badly about Smallville... but...

    I had a point, however hazy, it still was a point, the Readers are a lot, the Die Hards are few... I was just afraid, no, more like desperate to see words that other Die Hards like meself would relate to and not chafe over the poor stuff we're given to watch weekly. Sweeps is almost here and I groan everytime I see the other shows on the same time-slot doing better and reading about "smallville did well with demographics but fell short of everything else".

    No apologies! Criticism never bothers me. I can CERTAINLY dish it out. How callous would I be not to be able to take it? Thank you, though.

    To wit... I have in my possession 4 Smallville original DVD sets (yes, even Season 4, which sucks), and I wish for the whole idea (an idea that falls well short of anything some other of my favorite shows brought to fruition [namely Babylon 5], but which still racks me up and puts me in an "ooh and ahh" fanboy sense. Not because the show is that good, but because it has such a solid base to begin with. I guess I just want it to end with a bang (not a bang and a flash as our dear Bilbo would state), but a bang that will make this the most memorable of Superman portrayals ever.

    That makes two of us.

    Season 5 is hoping to do this... it's a wonder they actually went and compromised anything beyond Season 4 (which was dreadful). But that hope lies in all of us Die Hards, and you're the first that comes to mind because you get so much exposure.

    As an aside, but I hope to turn it into a point (inebriated science does wonders for plotholes and suspension of disbelief), I was the first in the cinema that said "Now the Emperor will turn to Anakin when Mace Windu is about to kill him [the Emperor, not Anakin] and say "Anakin, I am your father", because the Emperor found the way to do so by means of that shadowy dude we only hear about in the games (Jedi Academy), and he hinted at it in episode III, and it'll explain why Darth Vader could put up with the Emperor for 25 YEARS when he had the same inclinations to rule everything as his dark mentor and could have seen him off anytime. Well, I was sorely tried, just like when Matrix 2 set the stage perfectly for Alice (Neo) to try to wake up in Wonderland and find out it was all the Red Queens' (Trinity) dream and now they have to work with the machines to break out of dominance. What came after was politically correct, but not what I expected (let alone the fact that some of the scripts in Star Wars and Matrix and other let-downs have been just that).

    And pop culture is just FULL of that kind of thing. I think it happens because money mixes with what was started out of love.

    In short... again, though it's obviously not going anywhere and I'm blatantly suffering from dipsomania that you can only think of me as one of the lesser breed that only speak up when a nerve is touched, your reviews mean so much to people (and me, above all me)that go in for the name Superman alone, but they can also be turned off like a switch, and this is what I fear.

    I don't think reactionaries a lesser breed. At least they have passion. They lack tact and logic sometimes, but then, so do most.

    Don't worry about the reviews being switched off though. I'm in this thing to the finish.

    Call me paranoid and say the machine will go where it must, but I believe you could be the leader of masses (which masses conform the majority of people), and you could be the leader of the faithful as well (which can be construed as the few). And all of these can be used as a tool (sad line by Lex that "first, you called me a tool") to engage the public admittance, and the public approval. I would gladly take a tab and form in line if so many people that read your review and weren't turned off to the show actually spoke up and demanded THEIR show on the air as should be.

    Alas, I just don't think I have that much sway. I am persuasive, not denying that. I once had a teacher say I was going to be a great man or a truly evil man, because I can lead people, and because I have the ability to persuade (not charisma, note, a difference. Truth is persuasion, con is charisma).

    But obviously, if I had sway like that, I'd have a book deal on my terms by now. To wit, I don't.

    As it is (and this is my opinion entirely, arrived at by measuring responses across the WWW and personal enquiries in different countries around the world), your reviews have a tendency for telling people "watch this ONLY if you have absolute faith in Superman and nothing else", and all others "have a miserable time with this decadent show"

    Is it decadent? Hell yes!, why Lana isn't that bad now (no detriment to ms. Kreuk's acting, she works with what she gets) but her scenes are still Season 3 and a half - four-ish with a twinge of season 2 thrown in for a change.

    Is it bad? Compared to the shows I measure it up to... surely. (No detriment to the entire staff trying to get this together, By the way I'm not much of a Star Trek geek, although Enterprise was OK [but I might be biased because of Quantum leap]).

    I know I was.

    Is it a bad idea? Well, I liked Firefly and that became so much eyewash, I liked Birds of Prey but the WB could only have ONE superhero show at the time.

    Or Birds of Prey just doesn't resonate like Supes. Just like, I believe, the reason Firefly failed was not how good it was, but that people just don't have a taste for character, they like Flash. Breasts, explosions, and things they know. Not Mal, unique ways of telling old stories, and a truly immersing universe. Immersion implies risk, and audience just want six people in a flat who look like they do and never get into any problems that end in real trouble.

    Does it suck? Only if we let it... I never thought much of Buffy and yet it stood the test of time, X-Files had a solid groundwork from its fanbase that kept it going and going and going like the Duracell bunny, I'm not even going to mention Friends or Seinfeld, because those were shows that people cared about enough to keep them going (I actually DO like a bit of Friends and the occasional Seinfeld interspersed here and there) and yet all those shows got to finish things in one way or another to fan acclaim.

    Where am I going with this? God knows... I actually changed my nick today on messenger (AN EMAIL if you want to add me as a contact) (DONE), to say that I might have met my future ex recently, which goes to show that I have a life beyond the boob tube, but it still pulls me, you know?. I know I'm not the only one out there, and maybe if we all jelled together we'd make a weight so large that even the infamous (see my previous letter) TPTB couldn't help but give us (the majority) what we want... namely a decent end to this facade they call a show. I have totally agreed on your ratings for Season 5, as a commercial, I just wish we could come to a situation where it wasn't "we're just trying to jump the shark and to hell with the story and everything else" every week.

    It hints at it sometimes, I think. And even gets there sometimes.

    It shouldn't be that way. Superman is a hell of a whole lot more than ratings, he's... why he's Superman, for goodness' sake. Even Superboy gets looked up to, not because he stands for "Truth, Justice and the American way" (which a lot of the Die Hards frown upon), but because he's not from our world and yet he CHOSE to live with us to the very end (or his).

    Exactly my attitude. He's a privilege, not a way to sell under-arm deodorant, or soundtracks.

    Anyway... definitely another fervent admirer of Bakkus and his ways, you might think, I can't help that, I'm in enough trouble as it is with regular life and I'd like to see one of my favorite shows to pull its weight and finish awesomely if my own doesn't.

    Still trying to get through your site... Great stuff by the way.

    In the words of the Dread Pirate Westley (LOVE that book and movie)... as you wish.

    Bacchanalia's all right to me. Name that tune! And thanks.

    Jules

    P.S. Sorry for sounding sophomore, I guess I quit school before going to college even if I did go.

    I quit school a week from finishing. It's not your pieces of paper, it's how you use what you have.

    J

    P.P.S. Love your work, keep it up!

    Thanks.

    P.P.P.s. I haven't saved ANY of my letters to you, so if you feel I have abused you somewhat I'd appreciate a copy to put my awkward sentences in perspective.

    I don't feel abused by anyone. I feel disappointment when I see racists and political blind sheep. After that, it's all solid, good opinion. And yours was cool.

    ME

    Samuel Makepeace wrote:

    Hey, I've been reading your reviews for a while but have never submitted anything because it would probably just be "old news" and someone might have mentioned it already in a review I've yet to read. You see, I didn't start watching smallville until a few months ago when I got the first two seasons on DVD. So I'm still catching up, I'm getting close to the end of Season 3 at the moment.

    That's always a cool way to go. It's how I watch most shows now.

    Anyway, my point, I just noticed that for the episode "Truth" in Season 3 you noticed that the project was called "Levitas" when "Veritas" would have made more sense. I agree with you there, but would like to point out that you've put "Veritas" in your KO Count at least four times. Twice in Chloes KO Count, once in the FOTW list and one in the "Mythology references" section.

    Correct, and fixed.

    For what it's worth, I think the writers of the show are the ones who slipped up there. I've been racking my brains trying to understand the "Levitas" mention myself. Regardless, it should read "Levitas" in the KO Count, as thats what they called it.

    Thankee.

    Respectfully yours,

    Samuel Makepeace

    PS, I've checked the box for adding this to your reviews if you so choose, but as this is for an old episode, I wont be upset if it isnt included. Look forward to commenting on more recent events with you when I catch up

    As far as I'm concerned, letters about the first review are still fair game.

    Will Sabel Courtney wrote:

    Heya, Neal! Don't worry, you have express permission to print anything I send to you on the site. (Unless I ask you to withhold something.)

    Great!

    Two amendments to the KO Count:

    In 503, when the missile gets wrecked, you could put it in the Geico column if you included Lex's missile. It technically did carry a person...

    Done!

    Also, in that episode, there's more mountains in Kansas, when the Humvees are driving off into the field towards the first silo after Pa confronts the sheriff.

    Added!

    I think Lana telling the dying Clark that ever since she saw him, he's the only one she's wanted to be with counts as a lie, don't you? :)

    Nah, because I believe that. It's why I was so hacked at her when she pretended with the other guys and put Clark through the mill.

    And come on, black K physically splitting HUMANS in violation of all the laws of physics counts as a dumb use in my book. I MIGHT by it for Kryptonians, but people? Un-uh.

    I have to see how it pans out first.

    We know that powered Kryptonians CAN have sex with humans. Watch "1961" again; it's pretty obvious that Jor-El had sex with Lana's great-aunt in that barn, and it even leaves less to the imagination than the ACTUAL Clark-Lana sex scene. (And, by the way, the two had to have sex more than once - between 502 and 503, weeks have passed. My proof? THE HOUSE IS REBUILT!!!)

    With you there.

    The following references a theory that Clark's powers come from sun reacting with organelles.

    As for your questions about why Jor-El didn't reset his own organelles, my answer is multi-part. First of all, it's possible that he only knew how to turn them on or off. Perhaps they developed the idea as part of fighting kryptonite poisoning, which would attack the same parts of the cells; like chemotherapy, it would harm any Kryptonian affected (as they would no longer be able to get nutrients from Rao), but it would keep them alive, at least. Maybe there just wasn't enough energy in the red sunlight to kick-start the reaction. Or maybe Kryptonians DID have powers on Krypton in this continuity; after all, they've changed enough other things.

    Definitely a possibility.

    But, even without that, why wouldn't Jor-El have saved his family anyway? It's clear that Kryptonians were capable of interstellar travel thousands of years before the planet went kablooie. We've seen the evidence from the elements and the caves; we've seen the Zoddites' ship, we even saw that Jor-El made it to Earth and back in the 60s. My guess as to why they didn't save the planet? It caught them by surprise. Here's my hypothesis: the explosion came so fast and furiously that there was almost no time to launch a ship, but Jor-El beamed his family and certain parts of a laboratory into the Phantom Zone (hence the purplish glow in Clark's first memory from Memoria). There, he retrofitted a probe he had into a lifeboat and put Clark inside, knowing that he had to complete Krypton's destiny on earth or else Zod's men (or maybe just nobody) would. He programmed it to land in Smallville, to seek out the Kents. But the Els weren't the only ones beamed into the Zone; in the panic, others had done the same, and in the process chunks of kryptonite came in and started killing the Kryptonians. Jor-El, as the radiation poisoned him and Lara, set the portal to open as close to earth as he could get it to, and sent the ship out through it on a course for Smallville, where he knew the Kents would raise him well until the time could come fro him to embrace his destiny and rebuild his homeworld on Earth. He wasn't being selfish; after all, if Earth was going to blow up, nobody would think much about people setting up contingency plans to rebuild our civilization on another world, even if it meant displacing those already there. Presumably, he used the Zone's links to the caves and the FOS to find someway to implant a piece of his consciousness there; then again, the Zone is outside time and space, so maybe he just did everything we've seen spread out over years in a few moments. Or maybe somehow he survived and is controlling the FOS and the caves remotely from the Zone, no way to physically get out but still able to communicate - and do his thing. And when Clark renounces his hertiage, Jor-El strips him of his powers rather passive-agressively; "You don't want to be yourself! Fine! Be one of them!" Unfortunately, it ended up backfiring.

    Awful nice story...now if only they'd out with something like unto in the show...

    However, if Jor-El can go back in time and correct it, i know what he has to do to make Clark more accepting of his gifts; kill off Lana as a child. No obsession, no lust, no despair, no wanting to be human so badly. Boom. There, I just solved the show. ;)

    Will

    That's cold! It sounds kinda crazy, but it just might work!

    W i l l o w wrote:

    Hello once more Neal Bailey:

    Hola.

    PREVIOUSLY:

    First off; to answer your last question (be it seriously posed a serious question or not), I don't think Zim has a shark tank, but he does have a spaceship beneath Dib's house, and he whipped a Cop's memory so horribly that the officer believed he was a sea-creature and waddled across the floor like had no limbs whatsoever. Was that a "Jump the shark" quota, by the way?

    Might be, at that. :)

    Shelby is still AWOL, now Clark's Parent's have gone AWOL (I though they stopped that) as well in the episode "Aqua." For people who are relatively poor to the point they complain about Bills and loosing their farm, they sure do go out to dinner and to the Hospital a lot (or maybe they just won a trip to the Bahamas for a week), then complain about it afterward. I really found myself enjoying this episode because of two factors; 1): Brainiac appeared in this episode -finally- and James Marsters was actually a really good in this role and was never overwhelming like he was as SPIKE most of the time; 2): Lex acting like a complete and utter "non-longical" villain, and Author Curry(?) before he started saying "Tool" - "Bro" - "Bra", anyway. The acting was half-decent as well.

    Agreed. Actually, in Smallville, everyone's magically rich unless they're pleading humble pie. It bugs me. But I liked the acting too.

    I really didn't like Clark's characterization throughout this entire episode. I'm glad A-Man whouped his tail in the water sequence, which was cool, except for the part where Clark and A.C. were missing their shoes while under water. Or I could've been seeing incorrectly.

    Lex stole them, the fink!

    He goes as far as speculating A.C. is a terrorist, having Chloe look up his criminal record which was non existent save for the breaking out a whale, getting jealous and territorial when he starts flirting with Lois Lane (you've got Lana at the moment doofus, don't tell me your having second thoughts already), and then going as far as defending Lex Luthor against "Prof. Fine"'s opinion of Lex ---when he was comparing him to the most over used political figures in War and otherwise noted---- and then remembers later on he's supposed to be non-friendshipy and "oofensive" toward him when he finds out he's making a subsonic missile or something that kills marine life. Did you notice that every person [suped-up or normal] that either meets Lana, Chole, Pete (alas), Jonathan or Martha, has be "evil" to justify Clark's suspcions of them? I mean why? What's the point? Does everyone that strolls into town or is from SMALLVILLE have to be Evil and unjust because they take an interest in somebody other than "him," and everyone that's evil that's involved with him isn't evil because Chloe, Lex, Pete, Lana, and his parents are weary of "them"? That's a stupid bacward ploy right there.

    I agree. I like the idea of the "never putting on the suit" Superman comic. Sometimes, it's good just to sit back and show the good side of things.

    I really hope they don't do anymore "JLA/DC Heroes in-training" appearances ever again. Next thing you know, they'll be having Bruce Wayne, Wonder Woman, The Alien Hunter -J'ohnn(?), Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Hawk Man/Woman/Girl making appearances in SMALLVILLE for absolutely silly reasons. However, I doubt Batman would step foot into SMALLVILLE unless he had Alfred trailing after him with a duster for his costume.

    Heh. I don't know. I'll bet we get one more at least.

    I mean this show is beginning to feel almost cartoonish with is approach to problems or incidents in every episode that goes by. Not that that's a bad thing, but even "SUPERMAN: TAS" had some sort of continuity to it (it even make references to past events nowadays), although it had its fair share of clunker episodes and plot holes. I'm mean, something . . happens in Smallville --------be it physical or incidental------ and everyone forgets the next day, like the Men in Black came and whiped their minds. Just like some Cartoons (most perferably the ones with two short stories, like "INVADER ZIM" and "ANGRY BEAVERS"). Somebody please Jeph Leob or Chuck Dixon, Bryan Michael Bendis(?) or some other DC/Marvel comic book writer to write the episodes, please!

    I dunno, Loeb has his continuity problems at times. But it's forgivable, because his writing is just so darned GOOD. And hey, he WAS part of Smallville for two, three, and four.

    I'm also thankful for the lack of Lana appearing in this episode, I didn't have to sit through half a minute of "CLANA" Kissing. Lois was actually bearable in this episode like she sorta was in "Arrival" when she was bothering Clark near the end. And as for her dressing up as a Striper: Somebody's saying she's going "undercover" as a "striper" for some reason (why is beyond my logical thinking mind).

    Like licking your elbow. I don't mind Lois's character, just her reason for being around.

    So anyway, I'm bracing myself for tonight's episode "THIRST," Hoping Lana's fangs break when she tries to bite Clark on the neck (laughs evilly). I thought we'd had gotten over these kinds of episodes? I Claire they're doing this because James Marsters' (and Halloween) in this episode. I think a girl's name is even "Buffy." The Horror. [SIGH] I'm basically just ranting at the moment. I'll return with a fully composed review next well or not. Depends on my mood.

    I thought we got over it too. Alas!

    Fare thee well, until Next time anyway. I could kick my TV right now. Curse vampire-plots.

    W i l l o w*

    Don't kick the TV. Kick a Gough.

    Will Sabel Courtney wrote:

    What.

    The.

    GEHENNA.

    Was.

    THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!???

    I think it was an emphatic statement.

    That had to be, by far, the WORST episode of Smallville I have EVER seen.

    Worse than drag-racing Pete. Worse than the witches. And probably a tie with the body-swapping prom queen. I pray to God that the producers had this plotline forced upon them by WB management, and didn't come up with it themselves. It's like, remember how Abrams purposefully exaggerated some of the things Peters asked for in a script so he would see how stupid they were? I get the felling that's what happened here. Only nobody upstairs got the joke.

    I think that the main plot was that bad. I liked the sub.

    Starting from the top:

    Okay, Chloe really needed to stand up for herself to Leia there. A woman like that would probably give you more respect if you stood up and snapped back at her than kissed her POO POO.

    Sometimes. Sometimes they just throw you out. Happened to me more than ones. I had a campus minister tell me I was full of EXCREMENT in front of fellow students.

    No words can describe the opening sorority scene. None. It was that bad.

    My note, recall "What kind of note do you take for that?"

    And then, cut to commercial. I'd watched the last 5 minutes of the pilot on ABC family just before this started, and after seeing that, and then this new episode, I wanted to cry. It was so good back then...it had so much potential...I could identify with that lonely kid dancing in that barn. But now? It's a mockery of itself, and of Superman. This was like one of those bad Lois and Clark episodes that nobody could give any respect to, because they were so idiotic.

    I see the parallel.

    Is Lana supposed to be intrigued by Astronomy because of the Kryptonians? If so, I wish they'd made it a bit more clear to the audience. I bet a lot of people missed that. And since when does Clark not like astronomy?

    I caught it.

    Every time the sorority came on, I couldn't stop shuddering. It was compulsive. I couldn't help myself. By the way, that whole monologue about Rome by Fine...was he describing Zod and Krypton? Or himself and Krypton?

    A and B.

    Chloe's room is CLEARLY a hotel room. I'm one who knows. :)

    Heh. How?

    Gotta love Lana, Hard-drinkin' man. What are we teaching kids, that if you get bitten by sorority vampires and become a bloodthirsty freak of nature it's okay to drink blood?

    And murder.

    In the scene after the sorority girl throws Lana off the balcony and they walk down the stairs, look above the staircase at the wall in the top-center of the screen. I SWEAR that's Batman's shadow. Pointy ears, cape...

    That's kinda freaky.

    One of my other main beefs of the episode. Clark runs from the house (which does look different inside now) to Metropolis in 3 seconds. I timed it. Now, i admit it was funny, but that's pushing his powers too far. Even if it is only 150 miles to Metropolis, that makes his speed 180,000 miles an hour. ONE-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY THOUSAND. Mach 240. Or almost seven and a half times past escape velocity. At that speed, Clark hits a speed bump, next thing he knows he's in orbit. The writers just don't care anymore. I want some realism with my flying superstrong aliens, darn it! That's just pushing things too far. What, he couldn't have been on his cell in Metropolis already? Or trapped in "a glass case of emotion?"

    Didn't catch that one. But then, it's easier to forgive the instant appearance for me, because it was neat to see him actually acknowledge he's only a few seconds from anywhere.

    Waitasec - Clark and Chloe refer to the head as Buffy. So does Lex, later. I thought Chloe said that the names were changed? But later, the ed. refers to her as Buffy as well? WTF?

    Got that.

    Okay, Zorro Clark was cool. I would have preferred an Indiana Jones costume, but, whatever.

    I would have actually preferred to see him in that costumed hero guise that Ryan liked. That would have been cool.

    And the cape and mask remarks were not too bad. They were the only average moments in a shitty episode. The only AVERAGE moments, not even good. Another Batman moment; the black-clad Clark is gone without a sound when the girl turns around in her bedroom, just like bats. The window's open, so it's implied he left that way, a la Batman. Nice touch.

    Heh. Missed that part of it.

    And Lana as Catwoman!

    Caught that.

    And Clark superspeeds in public, right in front of everyone!

    Ditto.

    The Bat attack thing was lame, I'm sorry. Like they ripped off all those cheesy 50s movies. "Attack of the Kryptonite Vampires!"

    With hiss.

    And, by the way, just a little note for Lex and his indigenous species remark. (I pick up a megaphone and turn it on before yelling into it) VAMPIRE BATS DON'T LIVE IN KANSAS!!!

    Har har! Heh.

    They are native to the Americas, but from Mexico south. The cold of Kansas winters is inhospitable to them; they're tropical and arid climate animals. I just checked that in 30 seconds on Wikipedia; the writers can't do the same? Couldn't say they were escaped LuthorCorp test animals? Oh, no, they did that with Krypto. And Smallville can NEVER repeat a plot device.

    I once had a bat fly into my first apartment. I realized I had to move, then realized I couldn't afford to. So I chased the bat into the ceiling. Never saw it again. Probably laughed at me then flew off to run for president.

    Sorry. My own sarcasm overwhelmed me; I needed to take a one-hundred and fifty mile jog. But it only took me two seconds. Clark's a slowpoke.

    Heh.

    Hey, if Chloe got bitten in Metropolis, why is she in the hospital in Smallville? Why would Clark bring her all the way back there? And why is he still wearing black? He only does that when he's evil.

    Will, face it. You're amazing! :)

    And then Lana bursts in, and bites Clark. This is the note I have for what happens right afterwards. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

    Make that YTMND!

    Verbatim. SUCKING KRYPTONIAN BLOOD DOES NOT GIVE YOU KRYPTO-POWERS!!! They only did that plot once in the 50s, and it was all a dream even then! And if she was gonna manifest any power, it would be strength or invulnerability, not heat vision. And heat vision doesn't shatter mirrors, it melts them. And if she sucked his heat vision, that meant she had to have invulnersable eyes; and if here eyes were invulnerable, that meant all of her probably was; and if she was invulnerable, she probably had all his powers (or at least a good share), and she TOO WOULD BE SUSCEPTIBLE TO KRYPTONITE. Sorry, girl - you don't get to have your cake and suck its blood too. If somehow she got Krypto-powers from sucking Super-blood, she'd be at least somewhat vulnerable to kryptonite.

    Duly noted.

    AAARRGH!

    My exact reaction at the time of occurrence as well.

    And then...Lana kills a girl.

    In cold blood. She could have just knocked her out, even burnt off a leg, but instead she VAPORIZES her. And doesn't even show any emotion. God, she's a bich. There's a word for a woman who kills in cold blood with minimal provocation when other alternatives are available and doesn't show any emotion about it afterwards,

    Mom?

    but I've been told by my parents that it, above all else, is a word which should never, EVER be used, due to its incredible disrespect. I'm eighteen years old, and in college now, and I still will not use that word. I think you know which one I'm talking about.

    Oh! Lana.

    The scene with Clark and Lana talking about "Clark's inner warmth" nearly made me vomit. Seriously, I was staring to heave a little bit. So unnecessary, so sappy. No, wait that's not the word.

    POOPY.

    And, finally, the end. Of course, the editor-in-Leia gives Chloe a little back-talk (passive-agressive female number 587 on this show), then suddenly lets her on. Why? Because...um, rainbow Kryptonite?

    Vampire pops.

    And why does the Daily Planet's basement have windows, perchance?

    More to blow out when the villain attacks.

    And the last thing that really made me wonder. What's with that "future superheroes" remark? The most probable idea is that the narration of the episode is from the future, after Clark becomes Superman - but this would mean that Chloe must be alive until then. (Unless she's narrating from heaven.) But she was speaking in the present tense. So does that mean she knows that somehow Clark's gonna work there one day? Does she intend to be a super-hero? Or was she just referring to the fact that they will cover Clark, one day? It was a dumb line, in a dumber episode.

    I thought so at first, then I figured she was just using foresight...still, odd.

    My rating: Dude, I can't rate this. It would offend the krypto-scale to rate this. They either should take it out of the show's canon somehow (even having Clark wake up and say "Boy, I just hacd the weirdest dream!" This is unrateable. 0 out of 5 stars, or shield-points, or whatever. Comic Book Guy says: "Worst...episode...EVER!" Peace out, man. Next week...Lois strips. I was excited for that, but after this...BEAVER CONSTRUCT, even Erica Durance in a star-spangled bikini does nothing.

    Check your pulse! But still, I agree, the motivations are feh.

    Toby S. wrote:

    Hi Neal,

    I waited around the chat roomfor a while, but decided I had to sleep instead.

    Sorry about that. I missed it this week because I had a guest.

    I just wanted to point out something about tonights episode. Don't know if it was intentional but I thought it was interesting that an episode with Carrie Fisher as guest star had the number 1138 (as in THX1138--George Lucas's first movie) featured (it was project 1138).

    Got it. I'm a Star Wars geek. :)

    Keep up the good work!

    Thank you.

    Hiss, everybody! Have a good week.

    Neal



    Thirst

    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    I know everyone is sitting holding their garlic and wooden stakes just waiting for word from me on this episode before daring to venture into Smallville's first Halloween themed episode. People are left at home wondering, with various questions running through their head.

    "Doug? Is it true the plot really bites."

    "Doug? Does this one count as one of the better episodes?"

    "Doug? Is this episode a nail in Smallville's coffin?"

    Or even

    "Doug? Was the "Smallville" writing staff just getting a bit batty for their own good?"

    Well now that I got the bad Vampire puns out of the way, let us sink our fangs into the episode. (whoops, there goes another one).

    There are two ways to take this one. If your really serious about "Smallville" as an actual drama that just also happens to have a super-powered being from another planet who can play basketball with a pickup truck, then you may be a bit disappointed with this one. On the other hand if you're okay with a light-hearted episode with a few funny puns, in jokes, and not so subtle rips on other pop culture icons, then you just may have a good time with this, like I did.

    First the episode starts with the Princess. No warning or warm up. Just Bam! there's the Princess. The woman an entire generation fell in love with back in 1977 when she took the blaster from Luke's hands and shot her own way out of the detention center hallway. At that very moment Han Solo and millions of adolescent boys let out a collective jaw-dropping "Whoa" and we were hooked ever since. Carrey Fisher's life took some hard turns following her time in the Galaxy Far Far Away and it certainly looks as if that road took somewhat of a toll on her but she is still the Princess and always will be. Seeing her take a step into the universe of my other obsession was just an absolute joy for me. Welcome to the world of Superman Carrey Fisher. We are very pleased you could join us Your Highness.

    The scene at the Daily Planet was really well done. Paula Khan's unabashed ripping of Chloe and the circumstances that led to Chloe's previous work at the Planet were very well written, acted, and placed in the series. I really liked that they took the time to show that Lionel's arm twisting was something that did not sit very well with others outside of Clark and Lex's inner circle.

    Then we get on to the meat of this week's story. I really like the choice of having Chloe tell the story as a flashback or as a diary entry. This was a good choice since it allowed the writers to insert obvious in-jokes that in a realistic sense may seem over the top at first. However since Chloe starts the episode off by saying the names have been changed to "protect the vampiric" it allows the in-joke of the lead Vamps name being "Buffy Saunders" to work as a really funny gag.

    Quite honestly I was expecting a bit more shots at Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this one but there were only a couple that I saw and I do consider myself a fan of that series. The lead Vampire's name was the most obvious but I found Chloe's choice of Halloween costume to be the best and funniest. Not just funny, extremely funny. I actually had to pause my DVR for a few minutes so I could stop laughing before continuing on with the episode. Whoever had the idea to dress her as Buffy the Vampire Slayer deserves a high five from this geek. Clark's choice of Zorro for a costume was also really good and I really liked the comments about how he hated the mask but kind of liked the cape. That was a nice job sliding that little nod to the future in there and also deserves a high five.

    Overall I think the plot of this one was a bit weak. Still what it may have lacked was greatly improved by moments of genuine humor. There was also slight advancement on the "Professor Fine vs. Lex Luthor" story line that I am finding myself very interested in. It's plainly obvious by the end of this episode that Fine is a villain but his target is Lex who is also a villain now. So I find it very interesting because we are left wondering which is the lesser of the two evils there. Which will bring more problems for the world should they win the sparring match that is gradually picking up intensity. Being fans of Superman we know Lex Luthor is the baddest of the bad so we can guess the answer but I can not imagine that whatever Prof. Fine has cooked up will be good for Mankind.

    I know many fans will be bothered by "Smallville" having Vampires but honestly my biggest disappointment with this episode was that they were not real Vampires. Vampires in my opinion are a completely valid and logical villain to use on a show about Superman or any other comic book Superhero for that matter. I know for a fact both Batman and Superman have gone toe to toe with a few blood-sucking creatures of the night. I am not sure if Wonder Woman has but I do know she has gone up against other Supernatural creatures. Vampires are part of the DC Universe so they are a valid villain to bring onto the show. In fact just yesterday the Boy Wonder and I were at the store and found a new animated movie for "The Batman" titled "Batman vs. Dracula." Something that somehow ended up in the cart of us two superhero fanatics. We are saving it for our Halloween evening viewing pleasure. He is only 8 years old so "Batman vs. Dracula" is about as close to a Halloween horror movie he can get right now. Even the Marvel Universe is ripe with Vampires leading to a semi main character/hero being a half Vampire who hunts other Vampires.

    So with that said why in the world did they not just let "Buffy" be a real Vampire? I know the Kryptonite poisoned Vampire Bats allowed Lex Luthor to be not only part of the cause but also part of the solution but that could have been accomplished simply by saying he was investigating those supernatural beings. Instead they turn our sexy blood-sucking vixens into nothing more than over glorified freaks of the week with fangs and I have to say I was a bit disappointed in that turn of events. Not enough to ruin the episode but enough to give me a slight disappointment.

    The story climax was pretty cool. Lana gets a taste of Clark who is weakened by Kryptonite and gets super-charged from his blood. That makes sense. One of two things could have been done there. Either his blood would charge up a Vampire or the sunshine his body absorbs would burn them up. So Lana's reaction to feeding on him was logical. Not only logical but it lead to a neat scene with Lana frying Buffy with heat-vision. I guess "Smallville" is staking its claim on which is the better show. (Oh my, not another pun!)

    Later we learn Lana only has vague memories of getting supercharged from Clark which she interprets more as feelings than the reality of what actually occurred. This makes sense to a point and it certainly is better than having her forget all together.

    Finally we are treated to Chloe getting a job in the Daily Planet basement. Something I found rather fun. An interesting note on that final moment of the episode I'd like to point out. Chloe's comments referring to the Planet as the future home of certain Superheroes tells me she was telling us this story from the future some time after Clark has put on the cape and boots and started his Superhero life. This is was a great reminder of the destination at the end of Smallville's path and I loved how they inserted it into this episode. I also think it is nice because it leads one to believe that Chloe is alive and well at that time in Clark's future which should be a big boost to fans of the spunky blond reporter who is just trying to find her niche in the Superman mythos.

    Anyway, a good and funny episode with a few flaws but nothing that really "sucked" the life out of the episode. (Oh come on you know there was no way I was going to end this without using another bad Vampire pun).

    I was entertained and enjoyed watching this one so I give it a B+ (or 4 out of 5 Cloves of Garlic.)

    Next week we get sweep's skin week with Lois doing poll dancing. I Guess the Boy Wonder will have to sit that one out until I can see how they handle that part of the plot. See you next week Super fans. Same Super time, same Super channel.

    Doug



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