Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 4 - Episode 14: "Krypto"

Reviews:

Krypto

Reviewed by: Saundra Mitchell

Oh yeah, Clark is cryptic. For serious, he is. I, for one, am mystified as to why he still thinks it's okay for him to take risks with other people's lives. Yes, we know that Shelby had nothing to do with the Cujo mauling in the teaser, but we (and Clark!) do know that they've been shooting him up with kryptonite juice for who knows how long.

Now, what have we learned about long-term exposure to kryptonite in the last three years of this show? Oh yeahhh, it has a tendency to make people violent, even people who wouldn't ordinarily be violent. And what did we learn in this episode? At least one of the dogs exposed to the krypto-steroid mix did turn violent. So what guarantee do the Kents have that this one won't? Golly, Clark's word! Clark's word is deed and law!

It's absurd when the guy who grows up to be the arch-villain is the one with the common sense in the relationship, but I'm not going to complain too much, because they did have a shred of a relationship in this episode. The invitation to play pool was nice, and it was also nice to see Clark walk in with his questions without as much of an attitude as he usually has. Even nicer? Was Lex telling Clark that whatever goes on in LuthorCorp's R&D department is none of his business.

Because you know what? The internal workings of LuthorCorp really aren't Clark's business. It's high time that Lex told him to butt out, even if he does turn around and tell him everything he wants to know anyway. Personally, I want to know what Lex has brewing on Level 33.5, because jeez, it'll be nice for some of the shenanigans to finally be of Lex's doing. I'm getting a little tired of, "Oh yeah, that was my dad's experiment." (Yes, I'm looking forward to truly bad Lex- as long as it's truly earned bad.)

And speaking of truly earned... well, Lex still didn't have a lot to do this episode except bounce up against Genvieve Teague, but... whua. (The shallow continues!) Seriously, though - it's about time that people start to notice that both Clark Kent and Lex Luthor are fine looking young men, and Jane Seymour brings a fantastic, brittle Mrs. Robinson air to her performance whenever she's in a scene with Michael Rosenbaum, and it's a joy to watch.

Anyhoo... even though this was a complete retread of "Hug," "Stray," and "Run," it was a pretty pleasant hour, all things considered. They borrowed well from the comics and hey, boys and puppies are cute. I could have done without the dog growling at Lex (I mean come on, how anviliciously lame can you get??) but I was generally entertained and I didn't want to beat anybody with a shoe, which is an improvement on recent episodes. I give this one three cookies and a dog biscuit, and leave it to you to figure out whether that's a whole or a half.

- - -

Love Letters to Neal:

Dear Neal,

What the naked hell is this? Gertrude's descendants are doomed to be murdered by the Countess so Genvieve goes out of her way to make sure that the Countess rises from the dead? What kind of bumpy troll logic is *that*!?

Always,
Saundra



Krypto

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

REVIEW:

Main Points:

  • A few kids are using mad dogs to rob people. One latches on to Clark.
  • Clark researches what is going on, and puts a stop to the caper.
  • Meanwhile, Jason and Lana and Lionel and Lex and Genevieve talk about secrets.
  • A lot.
  • It turns out Lana may be destiny bound to kill the Teagues.
  • Ergo Lana now takes a more immediate role in the death of her every boyfriend.

    Given the whole affair with Rebecca and all the works involved, most of you all know that I'm a big fan of dogs. I'm a dog person. Yeah, I have cats. Bukowski had like, a hundred, and there's nothing wrong with that throw it in your face attitude the felines have, but when it comes down to it, I want a pet I can fight with. A pet with undying devotion. A pet that will be sad when you are mad at it. A pet that will save your life.

    That's a dog. And I just lost my puppy, so I'm really easily tamed.

    It's like Memoria. You show a lonely kid on the screen, I recall what it was like when I was younger, and I weep like a little punk. It happens, when you're not afraid of your emotions. Good thing I chew stumps to stay tough when I'm NOT crying, ye hi, and don't forget it, or I'll, I'll thrust my chest at you, ook ook. And throw the bone in the air.

    Point being, if the camera turns to show a jowl of a mutt turned downward, and that look commanding approval in the pup's noble eyes, you have me at hello, so this review is biased from the beginning. I just love dogs. I almost cried at the look the dog gave. I'm still recovering a little bit. I may buy another dog on impulse. I go to the humane society and walk around as some kind of therapy, and this show, it didn't help. But it did help me remember, and that's a good thing.

    And Shelby was cute. Just really, really cute. People have been asking me to flay, because it's not a white hound. And you know what? If this were a new show, without any precedence, I would. But I've already flayed a hundred times for their continuity. Long ago, I declared that there was no salvaging this show within the Superman universe, and that's okay in ways, tragic in others. When they cross the line, like saying Mxy is homicidal, I go nuts, but this isn't a Krypto story, any more than Kara was the real Kara. People get up in arms about that, but the story was well done, so I forgive a lot.

    Also, it harkens to Superman For All Seasons, where Shelby is mentioned.

    My Krypto is the hound of the comics. It is not the hound of this show. But to judge this show, I refer to this episode as it is, and as such, it wasn't half bad, especially for this, the most atrocious of all the seasons only 14 episodes in. There were a lot of inconsistencies, there always are, but some episodes they sink in and bother, others they don't. It's all dependent on the narrative flow, on the point, and on how well things are handled. I find myself perplexed at how sometimes flaws can make me go off and hate the show, and other times, I'm enamored with the failures. It's the subjective TV experience, and I love it. People cry for objectivity sometimes, but they don't realize, TV, opinion, they're not objective things. And I found myself liking this episode despite failures.

    We start off, essentially, with the opening of Stray. That made me worry. Goons outside send a person/animal with powers in to do their dirty work, steal the money, and then they run away. Stereotypical. I wondered why they didn't just chug the kryptonite serum into themselves, instead of an animal that can turn on you, but that's asking logic from people who turn to attempted homicide instead of turning themselves in and getting out in thirty days on a robbery rap, the way our prisons are. Two dogs, two people, why not turn the serum inward. Sigh. Silly criminals. Too dumb to tell on Clark, too. You'd think they'd be able to find a better job. I mean, some dopes lost 9 billion dollars in Iraq, I'm guessing these guys are cousins. They could have at least got the job hookup instead of turning to crime, and in a small town no less. Why not Metropolis?

    Lois hitting the dog was kind of unrealistic. She's not perplexed that there's no blood, and she's also pretty cool with it once she gets over the original smash.

    Hitting an animal with a car is a strange thing. People all react differently, because there's no manual. I hit a cat that ran out of bushes straight under the wheel of my car a year and a half ago. My reaction wasn't, "Oh, my! What have I done!". I was screaming, slamming my breaks, and hitting myself. It was emotional. Thankfully, the cat was fine, I believe, but you don't just go, "Whups!" It's a life changing experience. But I understand you have to get from A to B. I just was kind of mad at Lois on a surface level. But I'm emotional, and she's cold hearted.

    I was in awe of the super-carpentry. I'm able to write and not work because I fix up houses when the day's writing is done, and that lets me coast. Clark zips around and repairs a beam in a few seconds. It was a neat application of the powers. I know, it's not a big explosion, but that's the kind of stuff I like to see. And he's careful about it, unlike typically, of late.

    There is very little speculation going on in my corners of the internet about sub-plots. People are just plain bored. That said, there is buzz about Chloe and knowing the secret, and how it will pan out. THIS is a subplot I am interested in. Chloe knows, she's not telling, and she's being a good friend.

    Clark, of course, is proving himself not to be intuitive, and quite the moron, the mean guy. He blows Chloe's offer of friendship off, and he flat out LIES to Lex this episode. And we're supposed to believe Lex is the eventual villain? What's going on here, I reiterate, from many oft repeated condemnations of that past.

    I tend not to like this show played for comedy. They did it in the preview, and I groaned and held my behind so my answer to the sitcomification didn't come in typical flatulent fashion when the preview for this episode hit. But sometimes they can pull it off. Clarky was a good way to do that. Lois and Clark continue to have good dialogue. It's intriguing to watch, and it's well written often.

    Problem is, it doesn't make sense. Chloe can still fulfill every role Lois has ever played in this show. Why couldn't Chloe be the one who hit the dog?

    In the chat, I very pointedly illustrated that I can't think of a single reason other than that Chloe is a B cup and a little overweight (by Hollywood dummy standards. By Washington State standards, she's a fricking supermodel), whereas Lois is a C cup and rail thin. Otherwise, why supplant Chloe with Lois?

    I tried to honestly think of another reason, and I can't. The few sources I have suggest that the sexing up is intentional, and if both characters fulfill the same purpose but one is prettier, what other reason can there be? If you have a theory, I'd love to hear it, but my impression is that they're doing what they did with Pete. He's not the "social standard", so he's marginalized off and replaced with a new hot character that doesn't exactly belong.

    So we see Chloe for five minutes, and Lois for twenty.

    And Alicia returns in unfathomable circumstance, but Chloe can't even get a smile from Clark when she offers to be his friend. It disgusts me. I'm as visual and male as anyone, but there's a line where I find the objectification of women in context totally out of hand. This show pushes it through their placement of stars and plot.

    One might argue that they're doing the same for Lana, perhaps, giving her only a few lines an episode. And maybe they are. I doubt it. My guess is that most of the last half of the season will be Lana, Lana, Lana, and this witch nonsense. For every marginalized episode, we'll have full episodes devoted entirely TO Lana. Speculation, for what it's worth. Next week's preview is where I derive that.

    So when Chloe's subplot is the most intriguing, why are we watching Lois work with Clark? How much more effective would this show have been if Chloe had been behind that wheel, forcing Clark to go 35 miles an hour to test him? What if she had said "I'll take care of the guards. You go do your hero thing." And then he has to ask her what that means? That's dramatic tension, and it's lacking with Lois. Lois and Clark are comic relief. Lois is a whiney, mean woman (who pulls it off just short of Lana, because she's cute about it instead of irrational. She knows who she is, and doesn't pretend to be everything to everyone like Lang). Lois and Clark look good on film, but I want STORY, dangit. I must be the only male in America who does.

    I say this every week, but yeah, Lois is hot. But no, her character is not appropriate in this context of the mythos and needs to leave.

    Lo! Another set of kid chemists.

    I'm all about the lower class. All of my friends are working stiffs, and most of them know how to swing a mean hammer. Of all the people I know working the nine to five, not one of them can supersaturate a solution, much less find a place to make rock molten and divine chemical properties of its radioactive isotopes.

    How does some dope who's not even smart enough to cover a screen when he checks the ID on "Clarky" have a brother bright enough to synthesize K? And why (the eternal question) does Kryptonite adopt whatever property the person who uses it wants? Inject it in a dog, it gets super powers.

    I know it's the device. I decry it every week, because there are BETTER literary devices. Many. Like, a cool use of powers is carpentry, not throwing guys three stories into the air. And a cool way to make a villain is to show a person who is rotten to the core, and have him be unstoppable for a while (your average Luthor template), not a high school kid with ambitions that wouldn't cause one to murder.

    No one, and I mean NO ONE would complain if Lionel became like the Byrne Luthor and was Clark's constant foil, sending man, machine, heaven and Earth to destroy him, but with Clark unable to stop him. Even say with Lex in the middle, trying to sort things out. But if I see one more teenager who sucks on a rock and can suddenly shoot blades out of his forearms, I'm gonna puke. Seriously.

    WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARF!

    And I'm SURE the producers and the writers and the cast know how tired we are of the device, and how they need new blood, new creativity, continuity, and a little bit more consequence and cohesion.

    Then we enter the first of the fifty scenes we have seen of late where someone says, "Just trust me."

    Here's the formula the writers are using, for those of you who are mathematically inclined.

    V= "or" (per symbolic logic)

    J= "Jason", G= "Genevieve", L= "Lex", AB= "Lana", and MB= "Lionel"

    2 ((J) V (G) V (L) V (AB) V (MB)) = Machiavellian intrigue.

    There's also the mid-level filler, where (J) V (G) V (L) V (AB) V (MB) waxing about secrets and keeping things secret is somehow NOT annoying.

    Be sure and add the words secret, family line, and trust.

    For instance, in this episode, J and G have a talk about the family line, trust, and who they are keeping secrets from, after L and G have a talk about trust, who they are keeping secrets from (with some awkward Elektra lust).

    And then the mid-level filler, Lana whining about how everyone is keeping secrets, colluding, blah blah blah. This while she's holding the family history tree she's just asked Chloe to look up IN SECRET.

    What this show needs is me, and a bat.

    First I'd walk to the Luthor mansion. I'd tell Luthor to stop letting anyone into his mansion with the last name of Teague, Lang, or Luthor, other than one prefaced with Lex. And that doesn't count if any of the mentioned change their name to Lex, either. I don't think Lex would take much persuasion. He's a logical guy.

    Then I'd take my bat, and at batpoint, make Lana, Jason, Genevieve, and Lionel sit in the same room.

    "Lana. Jason. Genevieve. Look. See. You are in the same room together. Now. Speak."

    "I love you Jason, but I-"

    WHAM! My bat would slam into the table, which would shatter.

    "Aht! There will be NO subordinate clauses starting with BUT following an affirmative statement and leading to a negative. Simple statements or questions. Why are you a witch? What is your motivation other than to be pretty? Stuff like that."

    And then I'd turn to Lionel. "How the heck are you out of prison."

    "Genny did it."

    "Bull. I won't buy that, and you know the audience won't."

    "Son..."

    "Don't son me. I'm no one's son. And you, you're a bad B plot. Siddown and SHADDAP!"

    At which point Lionel would have me liquidated, but anyway, Joe Pesci solution. Budda bing, the whole nonsense and passive aggression we so hate, solved by that tool that people sometimes use to forward character, DIALOGUE.

    They're trying to make it all Machiavellian, but here's the deal about Machiavelli. He's smart, he has secrets that can actually profit him that are ingenious, and he doesn't run around acting like he has a secret. Lex is the Machiavellian here, if anyone, but he's acting like an utter moron pretending to be Machiavellian with people who could not possibly profit him. Or if they can, we are kept so in the dark as to how that we can't be bothered to give a crap, and instead of meting it out over a number of shows, it'll probably all come to a head in one big, benign Lanastravaganza.

    Lex paraphrased: "I choose to believe that my father has turned over a new leaf."

    The what now? The...huh? Someone who says that, I believe, would want an Otisburg, but never be wise enough to aspire for Australia.

    This is the antithesis of an interesting sub-plot. DIE!

    Next week, Lana and Lex will talk, Jason and Lionel will talk, and maybe Genevieve will whine to a mirror, if it follows to pattern. I'm so sick of it, and the gist online is that most others are as well.

    We see the map, at least, and know that Lionel has a scan, but it's just a visual. NOTHING is done with it. So what, he's evil, but acting good WHY? A character needs a coherent motivation, and it'll take a lot to justify his acting good in retrospect.

    Another point of continuity contention. Now Clark can tear apart a table at three, just like Clarky the dog, according to Ma and Pa dialogue. Whatever happened to gradual powers? I guess it's officially Silver Age now. Where's the flawless memory? In Action Comics #500, Silver Age Supes talks about how repeated exposure to Kryptonite has changed his memory. Maybe that's it. Uh, yeah.

    Here's another tired device. Lex playing pool while talking to someone. I would be happy if they did one pool, one fencing, one looking at his computer, and alternated. But we've seen him play pool so many times now, I want something NEW.

    The Lex and Clark scene is very good, in that it is a miracle to see them interacting again. But Clark lies, Clark lies when he has no reason to. And that's arbitrary tension, which is bad. It nullifies the well written, neat scene with the two icons sparring.

    Also, Lex is being played through camerawork as being the bad guy, when CLARK is lying, and Lex shut down the program. I don't get it. It's confusing and odd.

    So because Clark lies, and because Lex isn't throwing his resources into catching that dog, Pa Kent gets mauled, breaking his arm.

    And then we cut to Half-Baked, with the two dogs facing off and growling at each other for ten minutes.

    See, Nibbles was ferocious, but he was like, no, man, I don't wanna fight my brother! I couldn't stop laughing. Some of you know what I mean.

    Again, we have teenagers going homicidal for no reason. Why not have the older brother claim to be from Luthorcorp, and demand the dog back? Nah, let's just have it kill a house full of people and then take it back even though it can kill us and doesn't want to go with us.

    I can't buy into that motivation.

    And AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY SHOES! AAAAAAAAAARRRRRG!

    I'll bet Pa is just fine next week. We'll see. When a dog bites me through the bone in my wrist, I usually heal right away, if I hook up to an intravenous beef jerky feed and suck straight poetry into my head for about twenty four hours, but that's not common in mere mortals.

    Clark and Pa have a debate as to whether the dog needs to be destroyed. Clark errs in that he trusts a dog that might have put someone in a coma, and if the dog actually did, Clark wants to save it. Sorry. Dog puts man in coma, dog must die. I'm an animal lover, and I believe that. Just like man puts man in coma, man go bye bye. And Pa is wrong, in that he condemns the dog before they know who did it. It's a weird argument either way. You don't fight over whether to keep a super-powered dog. You wonder, how the heck IS there a super-powered dog?

    Then Jason and Genevieve whine at each other in a passive fashion, and it is revealed that Jason was impelled by Genny to take Lana to the church. And Jason just did it. And then he didn't tell Lana, because lord knows, if he's allying with her against his mother, he'd better keep a few secrets, right? WRONG! BLAM! You are the weakest plot link. Goodbye.

    "But I like Lana!"

    Goodbye.

    At least that explains why a medieval witch is in a church. Still, it's a CHURCH. Wouldn't anyone raise an objection?

    And get this. Genevieve apparently believes that Lana is destined to wipe out her line. So what does she do? Does she take a cane and hit the rapscallion between the eyes, giving her a good talking to? Does she hire badgers out of Norfolk to eat the flesh from her bones? Does she bring me in, with my bat?

    NO.

    She decides to sidle up to her with passive aggression, thrust her son on her physically, and act like she's watching Lana on all fronts. Yeah. I buy that. Here's some oceanfront property in Kansas. It's right below the mountains. Morons.

    If you believe Lana is going to kill you, it is self-defense to just up and kill her. And if Genevieve is as evil as her lighting and wardrobe portray her to be, there's no reason not to.

    But Neal! If she did, there'd be no passive aggressive subterfuge! No fetishizing of Lana! No more shower scenes!

    EXACTLY, squeaky shoes!

    It's like they trained the writers wrong in intriguing plot, as a joke. Wimp Lo! My face to your foot style, baby!

    Bitter writer syndrome...a friend and famous writer I know put it well. Someone always saying that they can do it better than the others do it. But this time, I feel justified. Bring Saundra in as the writer, and I'll help script doctor.

    Dare you, Al! Come on, what can you possibly lose by looking at a pro bono script!

    Clark uses his powers well in this episode, at least, until the end. The mentioned construction, and then there's the hearing, and the x-ray with the locker. I'm pleased. He's discreet, he's using powers that he has that he doesn't usually use, and he does well by them. Until the end. I'll get there.

    Ear cam has really grown on me. They need to show some wax, though. Just for fun.

    Seeing Clark look in frustration at the spedometer ruled, too. I couldn't help wishing it was Chloe, though. And my next response? For someone who has to beg to live in a friend's house or end up living in her car, for someone who is CUT OFF, in the sense that Jason is CUT OFF, Lois has one heck of a nice car. A vehicle she could sell for probably ten to twenty thousand dollars, more than enough to get someone on their feet. Five years ago, I lived on four thousand dollars a year. A YEAR. Uphill in the snow. BOTH WAYS! Not that Bill Gates shines my shoes now, but the point is, with ten to twenty grand you can rent a hotel for about six months and get a JOB. Or a HOUSE. To say nothing of the young robbers who have a like-new seventies speedster while working a minimum wage job as an animal handler. Though that might be blamed on the robberies, at least.

    It's an oversight that's likely not intentional, but I really stand against the idea of promoting a socio-economic poor culture ethic on a show, and then showing those kids to be richer than sin, making kids who want to live a good life in poverty see the irrational expectations of having things when you have nothing. It's infuriating when you're putting ketchup on noodles and calling it spaghetti, frying bologna and making A1 sandwiches.

    It's also why the poor hate the rich, justifiably. They're naēve to the plight, no matter how deserved or undeserved.

    Clark in the van on was where it all got really henky for me. He steps into the van, and the K does nothing to him despite being in clear glass, but the glass breaks, and he's all "NNNNN!"

    It's like Alicia with the K in her purse. Two layers of leather's gonna stop radiation? Bad blocking.

    And there were two moments where I out and out cringed at punny words in this show. "Cryptic" for why he's Krypto, and when the villain is pouring gas into the truck and saying, "Sometimes heroes BURN!"

    Get the man an Austin Powers certificate that he's getting a head in the world. Then shoot him. DIE, as you deserve to!

    That's what Zod would say. "Sometime imbecilic humans burn!"

    And then the eye lasers.

    Non grunts his approval, I'm sure.

    Then, covered in gas, Clarky saves Clark, who promptly regains his powers.

    Instead of stopping the flare, Clark lets it go into the truck. And then, instead of saving the dog that's BURNING TO DEATH, he steps over and very obviously uses his powers in front of two people who want him dead and know his name to throw them high into the air and knock them both out with one slight bump.

    See where this is going?

    So Clarky/Krypto ends up saving Nibbles, and Clark runs in and grabs Krypto, leaping out in the explosion and showing us why Clark let the flare go, for cool effects.

    Only problem was, it was blatant, obvious, BAD CG. For the first time, I'm unimpressed with the effects on this show. Say I don't like the premise, that's fine. The effects have always been top notch. Here, we have a very obviously CG Clark walking from the van with the dog. That worried me.

    Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING on this show is in decline. I at very least thought that I would be able to always enjoy the effects. Has the budget been cut? I'm hoping this is just a one time failure. Usually, the effects are amazing.

    Lex visits Clark, sneaking up on a guy with super-hearing, and tells Clark he knows the truth about the dog having powers. Clark essentially says he doesn't care, doesn't apologize for the lie, and keeps the dog.

    But Lex is the bad guy?

    Superman, lying, stealing, and being callous to someone who he has disrespected? To character, guys. How hard would it have been for Clark to apologize, and for Lex to let him have the dog in return?

    What happened to the other dog?

    Two minutes of Lana almost makes this episode a 5 straight out, but it's the same thing she's been doing for two years.

    "Blah blah blah secrets blah blah blah trying to get me and Jason/Whitney/Adam apart by lying and saving my life blah blah blah you are beautiful blah blah Neutrogena blah blah Earthsea."

    THHHHHHHHHHHHHPT! Find me a patch of land, channel a lake, run water through it, bring in a trade route so that we'll need to build a bridge and get the he*% over it. Whiney tart. I'm more sick of you than I am of the neighbors looking at me funny when I check my mail for rejections in my boxers. My SUPERMAN boxers!

    "Get some!" (with wild-eyed stare, as they creep back into the tenements).

    CRACK!

    Lionel looks like a pacifistic hippy. Any intrigue his character had is lost to me since he left prison. They're playing him like Henry Small, for crying out loud. Who do we want? Small, or LUTHOR? Why has it been a bunch of episodes since Lionel's been Lionel? Come on, now! Genevieve is no more a villain than I am a ballet dancer. I can pirouette, yeah, but that's about it. Genevieve can look menacing in mink, that's her thing. Lionel needs to do some liquidation.

    "You can name your next dog Krypto." I approve.

    And hey...hubris, hubris, hubris! When listing a bunch of names for the dog, Lois elicits a very apropos name in the midst of a bunch of Skippy-s and Bobby-s and Trickster-s.

    She suggests that the dog be called Bailey.

    Now, I have no clue if that's directed at me, but if it is, and a few folks on that show know who I am at least, that's so incredibly awesome. I would kill to be the name of a boil on Welling's butt in the episode "Transmitted". Why? It means that in some way, in any way, I will have been a part of the Superman story. And that, quite frankly, is my dream. Name a disease after me.

    That's why I say hubris. It's arrogant of me to assume my reach so far as to be called a dog on the show, but a guy can hope, huh? Who'd have thought a guy like me would ever get to talk to Jeph Loeb, and yet I've had that honor.

    A public column is a strange thing. Calls from the Star Tabloid, the BBC, interviews with folks, you always wonder what it is...and what it means. It's got me all paranoid, thinking my name on a show is more than a coincidence.

    But if anyone thinks they know the truth, I have a phone, email, three IM services, and a livejournal. (Just kidding)

    I'd be a dog even for the show at its WORST, and this show wasn't half bad at that, though I have to point out what I see. Heck yeah. I love this show. I honestly do. Four years and about 400 pages of work, who wouldn't by now?

    The cape gag was obvious, but cool. I dug it.

    Shelby is a good name. It's the name of the first girl I fell in love with in Kindergarten, who went on to hate me and compete with me. Dog woman! Grrr.

    I wonder if we'll ever see the dog again. I hope so, but it's doubtful in my eyes. Just like Clark's next door neighbor.

    OR THE GRIEF FOR ALICIA. Check the KO Count for the new "hole in the heart of the whole town". He marries her, and next week he's playing football, the week after, goofing with a dog. PUTZ! No wonder you can't keep a girl. They know if they die, you'll just move on.

    What I really like about this show, when it comes down to it, is that over all the cheese there is an element of a story that I like. Clark finding a friend he can identify with. It works well. Bart. Ryan. Pete (WB rest his soul). In this show, he not only gets one, he gets on he can keep. And it's a dog. And the dog is cute. And the dialogue works when it's not the "conspiracy". And the interaction is well.

    Surprisingly, I am giving this one a 4 of 5. It was above average to me. I like this interpretation of Krypto.

    Watch out next week, though. Did you see the preview?

    A Lana centric episode, taking place on another continent from out of the blue, based in the silly sub-plot, and maybe the triforce.

    The best part? Lana doing battle with...Clark?

    So imagine that she's the witch, right? The FRENCH witch? You know there's nothing more dangerous than the French. They all know kung fu. I suppose french witches take kung fu training from bald men and learn all their skizzils in a day, too, when it comes down to it.

    I see a horrible, nationalistic stereotype waiting to happen, and I cringe in anticipation of the crouching passive, hidden aggression.

    Ten bucks says that Clark meets a kindly stereotypical Japanese or Chinese person like the stereotypical Indian, and learns surface things about a made-up culture that your average middle class American can accept without being challenged.

    If I'm wrong, I withdraw that criticism, but I can't help but fear, seeing a French witch in what appears to be a kimono wielding a sai throwing honey pots around.

    May Jor-El have mercy on us all.

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    Dogs are cute. Really cute. And they excuse a lot of stuff. I mean, dogs and babies can get you out of anything. Ask any politician. Once I killed a guy, showed the judge a puppy, and they just let me go. I moved in with my insolent son and plotted against him, but that's another story for another day. Freaks still suck, Lois shouldn't be here, and there's a lot to be said for process in terms of saving the day, but all in all, much better than most episodes this season. 4 of 5.

    BUSINESS:

    I'll be straight with you. The reason I did Rebecca was red Kryptonite. My eyes glowed, I started hitting on chicks at random, and when I came down, I found myself married to myself and writing a column in tongues.

    Many people bashed her. I expected to be hated for bringing her in.

    I got 170 emails in three days after the revelation. A hundred and seventy. That's more insane than Lex Luthor on amphetamines.

    I read them all. I haven't responded to them all, it's not humanly possible (I tried), but the overarching thread, the truth of the matter, is that NO ONE was mad at me for Rebecca, which is a complete surprise. Thank you all for that. Steve got one letter from someone saying that I shouldn't have done it, and that's it. And given the nature of the internet, I'm amazed.

    I mean, there are always crazies who flame you for just existing (while reading what you do obsessively). I got no less than five letters from folks who wanted me to stop writing Rebecca, and also commenting on my review of 413. That means that yes, they didn't read the finale, and that they complained about it without reading it. That was amusing. Like people who start letters with, "Dear Neal. I didn't read the whole review, but..." and then there's a laundry list of stuff they hated that I didn't do, or stuff I missed that I already covered.

    But with all of that, with the success (and thanks again), business wanes, oddly enough. I haven't got enough stuff to fill a column this week. To those of you who I pledged business, don't worry. It's coming, once I get enough.

    The reasoning is because people aren't writing with interesting stuff about the plot, and people aren't writing speculating where things are going. My interpretation, having been doing this a while, is that people just don't care about what's going to happen in the show. They're just less interested. Also, there's a general loss of viewership and support. More and more people are writing me saying they get bored watching the show, or that they quit watching it, or that this is their last season, which saddens me. The book will close, I always knew it would, I just had hoped it would be glorious.

    I don't print things correcting me as much anymore. I used to, but business is about speculation, and when people don't want to speculate about the plot, there isn't much to do. So I'll be honest. There isn't enough this week. I could arbitrarily blow it up, but that would do us all a disservice.

    I do have one timely piece of information. Ben Bowman, a frequent contributor, finally got a recording deal for his band Two Towns Over. I listened to the tracks he's putting out, and they're awesome. I recommend watching this band...

    http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewProfile&friendID=6309280&Mytoken=20050216145339

    http://www.purevolume.com/twotownsover

    TANGENT:

    I do have one small request, before I close the week with the letter of the week. I am currently a finalist in the Dark Idol Contest. This is a contest for an agent, and publicity, and a potential book deal. Every two weeks, they eliminate one contender based on votes, and another round of short stories is placed out to be voted on.

    Please check out the contest. If I win, it could mean really big things for me. That elusive novel, potential publication across mediums. My ticket to ride, basically. And the more clout I can get in the publishing industry, the more I can bring here to our experience at the home page, in many ways. And for the record, I don't plan on leaving this gig until Steve pries it from my cold, dead, lecherous hands.

    And if you bookmark, you can vote each day. You do this for me, I owe you a favor, godfather style. You ever need to call in a favor, you tell me. I'll do this service for you...moustache Pete style. Be fair, but if you like my story, please vote for it.

    To see all the stories, visit the main site.

    To vote, please hit the vote site.

    The new stories come out early next week, and that's when the voting is most critical, early on. Assuming I survive this round, I need to only survive four more times to be the victor. That means we'll all know right about the time Smallville season 4 ends.

    Could mean one heck of a summer, and one dramatic return story.

    Thank you for bearing with my tangent.

    LETTER OF THE WEEK:

    This is the general tone of a lot of letters. Will Sabel Courtney writes me a lot, but he always has good words. Here are his words that struck me especially this week.

    I can't take it anymore.

    Smallville has just gone down the *&$%er. It's lost everything. It had so much potential, so much room to grow and be the greatest telling ever of the birth of one of the world's most legendary heroes...and it threw it away. For what? Alicia's *%ts, contrived conflict and Old Spice Red Zone? 

    This show is making me ashamed to be a Superman fan. It's making me feel guilty for paying an extra $1.50 a month on my satellite to get the WB, as this would be the only reason I would ever watch that network.

    I was watching an old Season 1 episode on ABC Family before "Pariah" came on - you know, the one with the pyrokinetic psycho coach. I actually miss having episodes of that caliber. Yes, he was a meteor freak, but at the very least he had some sort of motivation - even if it was just ego. Clark didn't go around showing his powers to the world, Lana wasn't being fetishized by everyone with a Y hormone, and Ma and Pa Kent, while taking issue with their son's choices, had a valid line of thought - which made sense, and which was explained to the viewers in full.

    You know what happened tonight, for the first time while watching Smallville? I got bored. Never happened before; there was always something, at least something, that connected the show to me - that made me want to keep watching. It was gone tonight. I was actually considering watching something more interesting - say, C-SPAN's pre-state of the union coverage.

    Superman can vault skyscrapers, outrun the Concorde without trying, and throw cars around like plastic models. He can melt steel with his eyes, hear a conversation a mile away, or look through almost anything. He's defeated almost every type of villain one can imagine, from alien conquerors to mad scientists to his own worst nightmares made real.

    But even he can't beat off the bad writers that have tarnished his name.

    Maybe they can turn this around. Maybe Smallville can become good again. Maybe the writers will go back and watch those early shows, when the characters still made sense and acted logically, like real teen-agers and real adults. Maybe they'll realize that what makes Smallville different from every other show on TV is the fact that it deals with the defining years of one of the most famous modern legends in the world. When all of today's civilization is dead and gone, and all that's left of us is stories, Superman will most likely stand atop a pantheon of great heroes of myth, right next to Hercules, Odysseus, and Arthur. He may well end up being one of the only things left from our time eventually - a testament to what we, as Americans - nay, as humans - held most dear. A man who had all the power to sculpt the world into the way he wanted it, but chose to use his gifts to aid the weakest and neediest instead. Some say that a society is defined by its heroes. If so, I pray that Smallville doesn't go down as the way we define ours.

    Will Sabel Courtney

    Harsh words, yes, but there's a grain of truth in them. The show is in decline. I don't think it's hopeless. You can write your way out of everything. But Will is right in one respect. The creators need to snap out of it.

    LOVE LETTER TO SAUNDRA:

    Dear Suandra:

    I'll explain why Genny is going out of her way to ressurect the evil countess when someone tells me how the heck Lex Luthor, greatest criminal mind of our time, can believe that his father is reforms.

    If I were Lex, I'd be rigging ECT for daddy and breaking a brandy glass off in Jason's head. But that's just me.

    And I guess all that's not very romantic for a love letter...when the show fixes itself, it'll have to be a make-up kind of deal. ;)

    Neal

    PS: You're holding your own pretty well here...I'm hearing good things from everyone about you. Thank you for being real.



    Back to the "Smallville: Episode Reviews" Contents page.

    Back to the main TELEVISION page.