Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 5 - Episode 10: "Fanatic"

Reviews:

Fanatic

Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

Well we are back with a new year and new episodes of Smallville. I hope everyone had a happy holiday season and the new year is going well for you.

Let us just get into it shall we?

We have a villain who's a crazy college student. This is a slight improvement over the weekly crazy Smallville High-school student but only a slight improvement. Again with the been there done that but still, all things considered, she worked as a villain for her part in the overall story. Her motives fit and did not seem forced in any way. Lex has been shown to attract that sort of attention in the past. It is not unbelievable by any stretch. My only gripe was that Dr. Fine was already off campus. It would have been interesting to see how he would have dealt with the Students for Lex Luthor Brigade in his class room.

The biggest improvement with this villain over most of the others was the fact she was nothing more than a good old fashioned over-obsessive maniac. Not someone who went crazy after being exposed to Kryptonite. I liked that. It is really nice to see the Kryptonite-powered Freak of the Week is becoming less frequent. I know we have seen girls obsessed with Lex like that before, this is the first time one went as far as to shave her head to be like him. That was a nifty touch.

There were basically two parts of this episode that interested me greatly.

The biggest being Lionel and Lex. What was in that envelope that he burned and did he kill the guy who had it? I get the fact that he is trying to oppose Lex's run for office but it seems there is more too it than that. The envelope could have been information on Clark's adoption but I hope it was more than that. If it was that then Lionel would have had just as much to gain from burning it as the Kent's did and I'd like to think there is something more going on there than Lionel simply looking out for himself. I am not saying he needs to be a good guy or anything like that but if it is simply him covering his own backside I'll be disappointed.

I was also interested to hear Lex's reasons for running for political office. Something he had to earn himself? That is really strange and I am not exactly sure is totally true. You have to consider the amount of Money that is involved in a political campaign which they did touch on pretty well in this episode. Is Lex really earning the job when he can fund his campaign himself? A Grassroots Candidate like Mr. Kent has go to out and ask for money and thus he would have to "Earn" it completely. This may be just a sign of a twist in Lex's ego where he sees something as being "earned" even though in the end it was just another thing he bought and paid for.

The other interesting part was Clark and Lana's relationship. I was glad to hear he had backed off from being physical with her since gaining his powers back. The fact they took the time to show him worried about hurting her was nice to see. However it just goes to show the wrongness in Clark not telling Lana about his heritage. The reason I am not up in arms about it is because I can see Clark is figuring that out for himself. He is learning a lesson here and I am willing to go with it and see how it plays out even though I do feel the producers and writers should have had him tell her long before this point. Clark's discussion on the subject with Chloe was very funny and I was glad to see Chloe suggesting Lana knows more than she lets on. I hope this leads to Clark finally telling her the truth or at the very least Lana learning it for herself.

Lana needs to know. They have dragged it out too long now and there relationship is way past the point where it should have been all laid out. As I said, I am willing to cut some slack and see where they are going with it but even I have limits.

Lastly just a comment on the final action scene. Clark super-speeding in a race with the bullet was pretty cool to see. I liked how he caught the bullet and dived off to the side so no one saw him on stage. Pretty slick move on his part.

This was a good solid episode but there was nothing there to set it above the rest I guess they are saving all the big stuff for the 100th coming in a couple of weeks.

I give it a solid B (or 4 out of 5 astronomical anomalies).

See you next week Super Fans!

Douglas "Doright" Trumble



Fanatic

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • A campaign worker of Lex's goes crazygonuts.
  • Jonathan's campaign is beating Lex's, but Lex has one final barrage.
  • Lionel is snaking his way into things, offering to fund Jonathan's campaign.
  • Griff found some dirt on Jonathan, but Griff went back to the future. Dead.

    REVIEW:

    I find writing this review squeaky in a couple of ways. I've only written one in the last few months. It's like picking up after the summer break.

    Also, my body is bruised, battered, tired. I've been fighting a really bad sickness since December 22nd, and, stupid as I am, I decided to go skateboarding when I don't know how to skateboard earlier today, and I have broken every bone in my body and popped out both my eyeballs. So anyway, point being, expect madness.

    Especially given that I've finished my fifth novel. I could die at any time...the fates might be finished with me. Butter that prose, prepare for debauchery! Atomic batteries to power, and etcetera...

    I'm struggling to come up with a relational or a catch phrase for this review, because to be honest, the people in the chat summed it up well. Someone said, I forget who, "Did anyone else find themselves distracted with this show? Bored?"

    Yeah. That's about it. I mean, the tension was not really tension, the catch at the beginning was really obvious (yeah, like Lois would shoot at Jon boy), and Lana and Clark debating a relationship? WOW. We have no idea how that's going to end up.

    SECRETS.

    LIES.

    ZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZzZzz.

    There weren't inconsistencies, for the most part, which is why I think it's so perplexing. Usually when they fall back to formula and make with the freak of the week, there are so many holes that the whole episode is a big joke. Here, there were no holes, there was just no real reason to care what was going on in a lot of ways, with rare exception.

    Onward to the blow-by-blow.

    The show started with a redundant summary of the season up until now, telling us something that won't really be a factor in the show to follow, that Jor-El has decreed a close member of the cadre must die. Interspersed in this unnecessary (but potentially ratings-inspiring, thus included) prattle are pictures of the major action sequences of the season, also irrelevant to the plot at hand. The missile jump, the helicopter pull.

    How about a summary of, say, the campaign? Oh yeah. I forgot. It's been a pretty silly sub-plot for the most part, so it's not that great of a selling point.

    We at least find out, definitively, as of the start, that this is a STATE senate race. I've read that they were fighting over a local position, and I've also seen evidence to the contrary, but now we've had it stated pretty straight, so I'll go with it. If any one of you have more eagle eyes than me (seeing as they popped out skating), shoot me an email and let me know, I'll pop it in the letters for clarification.

    Pa starts giving his speech, complete with a nice little LuthER, and Lois assembles the high powered rifle to blow his head off. We know she can assemble this rifle because she's the daughter of a general. Right?

    Because, raising her as a boy as Sam Lane did, she learns how to shoot, how to fight, how to fix cars, how to scratch herself, etcetera.

    But then, you know, when firing a high powered rifle at a target, even without wind, you'll recall, if you've been raised to be a boy (like me) and shot a few rifles (like me), that the first thing they teach you when you're aiming for a target is to not close your other eye because it harms your depth perception. It's also a tactic you'll need in order to improve your aim on a constant basis, or maintain the skill level you already have.

    Even amateur rifle enthusiasts know this. Like me.

    The Lex Luthor campaign strategy meeting was neat. This episode was peppered with quite a few references to the comics, including a reference, in passing, to the "Tomorrow Party", as I recall it was that Luthor runs for president under, with his "Look to the future" campaign posters. I thought that was pretty neat.

    I'm surprised that by this point in the campaign he hasn't met his street team. But that surprise was alleviated through the careful (read: painfully obvious) camerawork revealing the girl campaign worker to be the person who, for no real apparent reason, is going to go instantly homicidal and lovingly obsessive over one of the main characters. In this case, predictably Lex.

    This is why, as I say for nearly the hundredth time, perhaps, the freak of the week formula is tired, failed, inefficient, worthless, add your own adjective. It ruins the show, takes any good one down a notch, removes characterization, and, though it's created to bring an antagonist to the show, actually makes said effort worthless in that we know the antagonism will always fail because that person will be gone by the end of the show, whereas a real and long-term antagonist, even one like Genevieve, or, more successfully, Milton Fine, over a foreground of say, real-life and character-based problems, leads to a better show.

    A new problem to deal with every week works great with shows like House. A new problem every week that involves a kid going psychotic fails miserably.

    Samantha Drake, obvious freak of the week, this is your life.

    In the midst of her stalker-like introduction (the like of which we've seen too many times), there was one neat little throwaway line. Lex examines the "Lex" pendant she has in her cleavage. She remarks, "I used to wear a cross."

    I thought that was a neat little piece of social commentary on the way we treat our politicians as a source of worship and reverence as opposed to people who are duty-bound to enact the best wishes of the people they represent.

    It's also just a cool line in a throwaway scene, which made it stand out.

    Griff gives Lex a call. "I've got it, Lex! We'll bury Jonathan."

    Lex is ecstatic, and prepares to leave.

    Enter Lionel, who materializes, not unlike the Batman, right behind Griff. Now, how Lionel would know Griff was working for Lex, how he would know where he is, that we can assume rich guys can buy, right? Er...

    But what gets me about this scene is that suddenly, after last episode made such a big deal about Lex's future hinging on whether he kept in the race, and how Lionel so wanted him to stay in, it was an odd scene to see Lionel fighting his son's race and stopping him from being the winner in every way he could.

    Lionel seems to be the continuing enigma character. He does things in the shadows, and no one knows why. He's for Lex, then against Lex. For the Kents, then against the Kents.

    Problem being, five years later, there's no real revelation as to what really motivates him, taking what is essentially a complex and intriguing character dynamic and ending it in a kind of hollow way. Does he want his son dead, or dedicated? Does he want to take his son's place, or have his son take his place? Does he love or hate Lex? If any of these questions ever got answered, he could still be the shadow-player, but we might know what motivates him more.

    Like right now, working against his son's campaign, makes absolutely no sense. Especially when he seems to be best friends (albeit a jousting one) with his son after trying to kill him, and stealing stones from him. His son made him flat broke, but somehow he's rich again...his character used to be neat because you realized all of this would eventually be explained. Like the fortress. Like Jor-El. But then, it's not getting explained, and the show is nearing its final years. Some things should be coming to some kind of head.

    This episode emphasized that for me, because he reverses course yet again.

    Pa Kent appears in a nice suit in front of a big desk at the behest of a campaign manager, and Martha looms in the background, causing conniptions. Why? Because it's the first time I've seen Annette in this show and not been hopelessly in love. Political wife clothing made her unattractive to me. Just shows you what I think of stepford politician wives, but anyway, they MORE than make up for it with that mini-skirt later. Homina. Homina. Homina.

    Anyway, good scene, with Pa firing the campaign manager, believing that he should stand on honesty. It goes to character, and it's also what you would expect, outside elements trying to corrupt the good guy trying to do right by the world. Lionel fits that mold perfectly, if only every time you saw him you wouldn't scream, "YOU! THE GUY WHO TRIED TO KILL ALL OF MY BEST FRIENDS AND IS SLOWLY CORRUPTING THE RICH ONE!" before making the sign of the cross and throwing holy water at the dude.

    I'm curious why Jonathan would make Lois his campaign manager. To pay for the free room and board? Her qualifications consist of giving a hard time to the man who got another senator elected six times in a very politically incorrect way before toasting a TV appearance. You're hired!

    Jonathan reaches into a nice little tin and pulls out a red pill. When he does, his hand starts turning into a mirror, and Laurence Fishbourne says, "Good choice."

    Nah, we just realize he's got a heart problem, which we already knew, and which his family seems to see as a total revelation later in the hospital, which baffles me. You mean, Jonathan having a political campaign is a stressor? Martha's caught Clark's dumb, I guess.

    Enter the "catty fight" scene that they have every now and again. That's where one of the main girl characters interacts with the freak of the week for a few seconds to get an inkling that they're the bad guy. You know, the one before they find the body? It's that formulaic.

    They fight over a few posters, with the girl drawing a ton of attention to herself, and then the two exchange words in that pleasant, we're having a fight but we won't seem like we're having a fight fight girl characters often have that drive me bug*$#%.

    Lois also calls Lex Luthor a fascist.

    Good grief. I mean, okay, they're trying to make Lex out to be a bad guy on the show without doing the work. I get that. But I have FRIENDS, best buddies, who have done stuff worse to me than Lex has, and I wouldn't call them fascists. Fascists burn people in ovens and take over countries. Lex, if anything, is a lasseiz-faire businessman with questionable ethics who once tortured a semi-aquatic superhero that anyone with any respect for what such cheesy characters do to the comic genre might have tortured as well.

    I jest, but really, is he a fascist? Lois, and all of the other characters for that matter (I'll get there) are assuming the worst in Lex constantly when he's only done a few bad things in a long stream of good. Which is, I'll point out through politicians, a very rare thing in a rich man with a ton of power.

    Clark goes to visit Lana, who greets him with a fond hello, a few kisses, and an attempted sexual encounter gone geek. She fails to show him the pictures of the meteors on the desk (to later comical and some would argue duplicitous result), and instead pushes him down and tries to take him in a most manly fashion.

    This is, of course, a Lana Lie of the best sort. The kind where she totally gets away with it, but if Clark did it, he'd get the turn, fold arms, and walk away for at least three episodes and maybe a season break.

    She asks him why they're not bumping uglies, and Clark replies, "Uh, erm, things are different since I miraculously came back from the dead." which, when they say it in the dialogue, makes you realize how flippin' ridiculous that whole idea was in that episode.

    This takes Lana and turns her character and motivation on her head. Mainly in the purity way. The idea behind the Lana character (as they so often beat us over the head with) is the fact that she is pure, chaste, and yet still desirable in every way, ignoring the reality of life that men move on, women are just as debauched as men (even if they may hide it better), and that no such person exists.

    But, as is par for the course, to prove that Lana is everything to everyone (the essential tenet that allows her character to be unquestionably and yet continually contradicted), we experience the angel/whore phenomena, if you'll forgive the bluntness of the term, where a woman is idyllic, virginal, and wonderful, until she has sex, then she wants it constantly, is depressed when she doesn't have it, and destroys her relationships when she doesn't get it.

    Now that's reading into things in the way they taught me to in college, in the way that I don't entirely buy into. Me? I just see it as a scene where a girl who had five successful platonic relationships without sex and didn't care for anything beyond heated necking suddenly complains when she doesn't get sex, and I don't buy it.

    This exploits the fact that a large portion of the audience doesn't yet have fully comprehended conceptualizations of their own sexuality due to their age (they know most of the audience won't raise a red flag at how ridiculous or uncommon it is when someone has sex before marriage on a constant basis and craves it after so often proclaiming virginal attitudes), and reinforces a few contemplations and ideas about sexual identity I'm not particularly fond of inciting personal sexual confusions in an impressionable portion of the audience. But then, everyone is responsible for their own actions, and if they let a show dictate their thoughts, no pity here.

    That, and I just don't buy the character partaking in the actions they partake in, given their past. I don't buy that Clark and Lana would have engaged in pre-marital sex (even though I have and would have), and thusly it's hard to see them in this character mold. Especially given that, especially for Lana, who lived with someone for a year without sex, it's not part of the character's template.

    Mostly though, it's just me being hacked that they hit the sex topic when they didn't need to still.

    It covers a topic that many fans speculate about (that writers beyond the failure that was the Azzarello "For Tomorrow" realize to be prurient and unnecessary), whether Clark can have sex when fully powered. The answer, like "Does he have a religion?" and "Would he have sex before marriage?" is a question that is likely obvious, sure, he can probably have sex like you and me with his powers. But it's a question that isn't asked and isn't covered for a reason. Jason Lee has a great question about the Thing's undercarriage, but Stan Lee wisely passes it off in Mallrats for just that reason.

    If you're thinking that hard about a character...oy. And furthermore, if you answer that question, like the sex, religion, or politics question, it estranges.

    And then...and then...the earth cracks open, the four horsemen appear and begin hurling floppy javelins at old ladies, the sky turns a stark shade of pudding, the cars start running backwards, and CLARK STARTS CALLING LANA ON HER BEHAVIOR.

    Yes.

    It happened.

    No, no trumpets, no fire rain, no new Babylon, but nonetheless, a sign of the end times.

    He says, "Hey. You want to get on my case for not having sex with you? You've been so obsessed with your astronomy, you've been ignoring me. You started going out with me, and then you moved away!"

    And then he gives the quote of the show to her, both barrels.

    "Honesty...it works both ways."

    I don't know if you all saw it, but I managed to snake my way through space and time onto the set into that scene, and if you look carefully, you can see me cheering and making pelvic thrusts at both characters in the background. I think I was screaming "Good, Anakin! Goooood! Kill her. Kill her now."

    It might be on the DVD, I don't know.

    In other words, I had begun to open my eyes, pay attention, and actually enjoy this scene, as hard as that was.

    Then, Lana's response, the typical writer pandering.

    "Nice. Deflection. I don't fall for that ANY MORE." Capital letters are mine, obviously.

    Lana: Hey, let's have sex!

    Me: Hey. You've got a bug on your face.

    Lana: Nice deflection!

    A direct accusation which is based in truth is now deflection. I love how later, Lana wholly admits that these things he accused her of are correct, but Clark just kind of shuffles his feet and takes it. Television shows that a lot. A girl accusing a guy of something, and he's a moron, a bad guy, rotten. But then the guy calls the girl on the things she does, and she can be mad about it, leave, and she's portrayed as right. And if she later has to take accountability for her actions, it's begrudgingly, and the guy is still made to look like a soft-headed moron. This show is a nice example of that.

    There's also the ANY MORE. When has Lana ever taken anything from Clark? I mean, seriously. He sneezes when she's cooking with pepper, she says, "Oh. That's great. You don't like my cooking? We're over!" Then she folds her arms and stalks out of the room.

    Deflection is Lana's game. Guilt. Accusation. Anger. Giving up. But when Clark plays it (with a reason) it becomes deflection.

    And then, hey, we then get to see the Lana decision making process.

    Someone accuses you of something. The adult thing is to then:

    A) Answer the accusation...

    B) Deflect the question with a passive aggressive accusation

    C) Walk away and intimate that the person is a jerk for daring to question you.

    Three guesses as to which one Lana never does.

    You know what? I really, really, really, really, really, really hate the Lana character in this series. She has been so botched, so fetishized, it's just abominable. I see her, and I want to gargle glass. In fact...

    Aggegagegageagegaeg!

    See. I just gargled glass. Great. Squeaky shoes for Garth. Nuts.

    If anyone, male or female, treated me as Lana treats everyone around her, I'd put a hit on that person. And I'm poor. I'd have to rob a charitable organization to pool up the cash. But I'd do it. Seriously.

    Jonathan Kent is working in the barn when some guy hits him twice with a baseball bat, knocking him out. I guess it somehow doesn't blow his heart up.

    At this point, you're saying to yourself, how surprising! I wonder who could possibly be behind it. Is it Lex? Is it Lois? I mean, she was shooting him in the beginning. Who IS that guy?

    And then the girl steps out, realization dawns, and you say, "How could I ever have missed that?"

    Or, maybe from the minute you saw Jonathan, you knew she was somehow going to be attacking him this scene, because that's just the pattern for the show.

    I almost forgave it, because we had Ma Kent in a mini-skirt in a back alley taking out the trash. Ah, mini-skirt.

    ANNETTE, WHY WON'T YOU RETURN MY PHONE CALLS?

    I shaved myself bald and killed a few guys with tridents to try and win her affection. I even scratched out the face of a Michael McKean photo. Why won't she realize we were meant to be together? I don't care if he was in Spinal Tap! I go to eleven too!

    D'oh.

    Anyway, this whole marvelous five seconds or so is undercut by the appearance of Lionel in the dark back alley. Also like Batman.

    Annette gets this startled look on her face. "What do you want?"

    Lionel smiles. "I'm someone like you. I'm someone who's going to rattle the cages."

    He then drops a check on the ground, and makes her pick it up. When she looks up, he's gone. It's like Dick Cheney, only I'm sure Lionel's bat wings are either fake or paid for.

    Now, what I want to know is why Lana didn't hit him with the stun gun, like in the Batman movie. You see the guy who tried to kill Chloe and Lex, killed his own parents, stole your son's body and hit on you in it, and heck, just generally is the nasty guy of the town, and you meet up with him in a dark alley, and you don't scream and run away for help?

    Nah, you just sit there and consider taking his money. Another problem with the Lionel inconsistency, and the lack of plot consistency. You need a CATALYST for everyone to be okay and best friends with Lionel again, just like you need a CATALYST for everyone to think that Lex is evil.

    Martha almost takes it, then reneges, making a very good point. Taking money for the campaign would tarnish Jonathan's purity, make him a butthead, and destroy all that he wanted to be.

    Why did I immediately say to myself, and note, "Fifty bucks says she takes it by the episode's end."?

    Of course, taking that money is indeed a violation of everything Clark's ever been taught, and a horrible thing for his mother to do. Pa wouldn't let him take a free truck for saving a life, a football scholarship for college. But Martha's going to take money for politics? Ridiculous.

    Now watch my female accountability theory of television in action. When Clark took the truck, an intense guilt trip from Jonathan, all of his friends questioning his integrity. Martha's going to take this money, and when it comes out, she'll say, "I was just trying to do what I thought was right." and she will not be questioned.

    Mark it on your calendar, ladies and gents.

    Clark then does perhaps the most inconsiderate thing he's done in a long time.

    "Hey, Chloe! How are you? I know you're the only character on the show who's been sexual, who's been comfortable with her sexuality, and who, you know, is consistent. So try this one on for size. I'm finally having sex, and even though I know you really want to have sex with me, heck, to be with me, I'm just going to go ahead and ask you how I can spice up my relationship with the puritan. Okay?"

    Chloe: Blank stare. And then the stabbing, and the death, and the things of this nature. You know she keeps a piece of K, and she's just waiting for an excuse.

    He's gonna say something like, "You know, Chloe, last night, with Lana...I-"

    Then BAM with the kryptonite quickness, and she'll go riding off into the night with Pete singing "Boooooyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

    Superman is a *%$#, ladies and gentlemen.

    Krypto-hag is priceless, too, given that, well, anyway, if you know the term, it's really funny.

    Cut to much later, Shelby's barking, they go and find Pa, hanging upside down. Apparently, messing up the blood flow doesn't hurt a bum ticker either. Imagine that. But at least we see Shelby! That's cool. Good to see they didn't forget him.

    Commercial time, pointless summary once again pointless, and then, say it loud, say it proud, everyone now:

    AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY SHOES!

    Smallville is the world's best argument for socialized medicine. Want to know why they're broke? You know now. Never mind pulling. Don't LIVE near Superman's cape.

    You can tell Pa is really winded by the whole affair, because he says "LuthER" twice in two sentences. Poor guy.

    Clark finds Lex in the hallway, after talking to his father. Pa Kent would probably have told Clark, "Yeah, this guy hit me with a bat. Big dude. Yeah. He had hair."

    Clark then sees Lex. "Hey, bald man! You no hit my paw-paw! UNG!"

    Lex goes, "Uh, I didn't."

    Clark shakes his head, hits himself, flaps his jowls, then speaks again. "Hey, bald man! You no hit my paw-paw! UNG!"

    Lex sighs, offers a reward, throws a Hershey bar and a dollar down the hall, and Clark goes skipping off.

    What a fascist!

    That's right. Clark is an assuming blowhard who doesn't trust his friends, and Lex is the guy who's constantly trying to do right.

    What a fascist!

    What? What, you say that makes him noble?

    Good day.

    I SAID GOOD DAY, SIR!

    Cut to the campaign worker girl. She's obsessed with Lex (who knew!). Her accomplices decide to go to the police. She plugs them, puts hair on them, and gives them Lex masks.

    Sounds a lot like my ex-girlfriend. Sigh. Fortunately, life with me made her gargle glass. Woot!

    She goes to the mirror and starts shaving her head bald. Didn't quite have the effect of Lionel's shaving scene, mostly because she didn't say, "Do it." and "Thank you." to the tune of a Godfather montage. I missed that this episode.

    She then shows up in Lex's mansion, in his office. Lex's security is once again proven abominable and absent. Lex even plays lip service to it. "Apparently I could use better security."

    Nah, I mean, one MIGHT assume that you could sneak past guards if you could guess the key code. What you need, brother man, is trained killer guard dogs. And a lion for the cloister office when all else fails, released by a button and trained to eat stalkers and Clark.

    She said the password was his brother's birthday. I thought they were referring to Lucas for a minute before I remembered they don't do continuity like that.

    She's buck naked, and it makes sense for the character, so it didn't bug me. Lex also shows remarkable character in that he's like, "Feh! I can have Kelly Brooks! Be off wit ye! Fetch me a donut, wench!"

    At which point she clocks him, giving Lex a nice, firm lead in the KO Count.

    Clark then goes to see Chloe to verify that Lex is a fink. Why? Well, because Clark just knows he's a fascist. Chloe inst-taps the phone and unblocks the record (How? Ask Geordi.) to find that it was the campaign office that sent the threatening call. Does he ever apologize to Lex? Nah. Why?

    Pa Kent gives his speech, per the opening, and Lois meets the evil obsessive villain, who quickly knocks her out then hands her the gun to frame her.

    We then see the opening, which cleverly (if cleverly actually means cheaply) shows us how Lois would be shooting at Jonathan. And then cleverly (if cleverly means cheaply in the Annie-from-Misery cockadoodie dirty bird sense) shows how the crazy gal was the one who actually made the shot.

    The actual special effects of Clark stopping the shot was pretty cool. The balloon popping was a nice touch, and the fact that everyone reacted was even better. I was worried they'd have no one react because he stopped the bullet.

    It also raises an issue that hasn't been definitively worked with yet...an issue that people have yelled at me about. The whole "should Clark hear people sneaking up on him" thing. Many say no, because his super-hearing isn't always attuned. I believe that it would always be attuned, generally speaking. This episode showed that I have the right idea, I think. Clark hears the bullet go even though he's paying attention to his dad, and bolts to stop it. That means he heard it so fast that he reacted at super-speed in time, which would require super-hearing, I believe.

    Lionel and Lex again meet in the palatial estate. Why Lex is still allowing his father around after he attempted to murder him is beyond me. There is, however, some decent talk. Lex is asked why he is running, and he claims that it's because of the fact that he wants something he has to work for. The father counters with Griff.

    Lex says that Griff is dead, his body found in Suicide Slums. Basically, Lionel murdered the dude with a bat wing.

    I cringed at the fact that he said Suicide Slums instead of Suicide Slum, but I'm so grateful for the nod to the comics that I don't care.

    Lana feels it necessary to drive all the way to Smallville to talk to Clark about how right he was while making Clark stammer an apology for being right.

    ?

    Here's my honest belief. Long distance relationships? They never work. They never do. People always say, "I'm going to be different.", and then they learn the truth. Yeah. Some work. Some people survive jumping off a six story building. Doesn't mean common sense doesn't dictate two people not in common and regular similar proximity can have a lasting and close bond.

    So I postulated that Lana and Clark could never have a successful relationship.

    Problem?

    This show puts them driving three hours weekly to see each other despite apparent poverty. Doesn't make sense, but it does make it a NON long term relationship. Frustrating, not because I want them to fail (though I do) but because it means that the framework is once again presented outside the boundary of the plausible even with the suspension of disbelief.

    She would have called him. Period.

    Nice little Lana line in the guilt-Clark-for-being-right fest. Clark intimates that he's been a royal %$#@ for daring to question her.

    Lana: "Clark, I would never let you go that easy."

    PFFFT! Unless someone showed up with the name of Whitney, Adam, Jason, or that freaky-magneto dude. And unless Clark said something that violated your sense of how perfect you are. And unless you had a whimsical thought that Clark had done something wrong. Or if, say, nine times out of ten, the episode is ending. Just the episode ending is usually enough to make her let go of him for a week.

    My eyebrows are melting thinking about how stupid that statement is coming from her character mouth.

    Lana tells Clark she lied about the meteor. Does he fold his arms, turn away, walk out, tell her to leave, bark at her? Nah, he listens with sympathy.

    LANA LIES.

    Anyway.

    Martha jumps in the limo with Lionel, I barf blood, and the episode ends.

    We see the preview, which shows Lex getting shot again (Hey, that's an original concept, ain't it? I mean, it's not like that happened two episodes ago, is it?), and I realize, yeah, this show, it wasn't abysmally bad, but it was mostly bad. It was pretty boring. There were a few good lines, a few good shots, but, I mean, it wasn't epic.

    It certainly wasn't what I hoped to come back to. It doesn't excite me to crack my knuckles for the rest of the season, as I'd hoped.

    2 of 5.

    And that's kind.

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    Gargle glass, freaks of the week, for lo, Lionel has arisen with his bat wings to carry off Martha's character. Which, you know, is okay if I can see up that skirt. Curse David St. Hubbins, and a pox on Clark for rubbing his nookie in Chloe's face. My girlfriend leaves her dead people with masks of my face, the probability of a trained markswoman closing an eye is the same of me ever watching this show again, and enough with the summaries, already. Oy! 2 of 5.

    BUSINESS:

    Before I get to letters, I just want to thank all of you still waiting to hear from me who have sent me non-to-publish letters. I have just finished my fifth novel, I've been releasing and creating metric buttloads of comics (all available at, et-hem, nealbailey.com), and I've been extraordinarily ill for most of the last month. My apologies.

    LETTERS:

    I'm in bold, because I hate namby-pamby fontage.

    B-Rad wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    What's up? I just wanted to send a couple of my obsevations about the episode "Solitude". It's actually one inconsistency and one goof.

    Well, just finished a novel. That's cool. And Christmas left me with at least ten books, that's like two months of good times. Shoot.

    When Fine is carrying the piece of kryptonite over Clark, he specifically says that he was created by Kryptonians, hence, he was from Krypton. This does not bode well from the Season 2 Finale where Clark destroys his ship with Kryptonite. This says to me that things created and/or from Krypton should have a vulnerability to Kryptonite. So, Fine should have died.

    Agreed.

    The goof comes from the same scene where Fine is calling upon Zod to arrive. Fine has the Krypronite over Clark and he is getting Zod to come into a deathtrap! So, was it Fine's intention to kill Zod as well? I don't think so.

    I think not. I think it was Fine's duty to just stand there until Clark took him out...or at least, that's how they made it seem...

    Anyway, your reviews rock as usual and I look forward to reading more of them after Christmas. Have a happy holiday.

    Thankee. I did. It was awesome. Hope you did too.

    B-Rad

    W i l l o w wrote:
    Hello Neal:

    Heya.

    Happy Holidays first off, and I'm not sure if this letter of mine has come to late or not but a girl can hope can she not?

    Well, late is relative. I always answer...whether it's this decade or not depends on many factors, not one of them taking a word someone writes me for granted. Unless it's hate mail. That's just fun.

    ON TO MY LETTER:

    1): Solitude:

    I have to say that I really enjoyed this episode, mostly because:

    A): SHELBY HAS RETURNED! I Jumped for joy even after it went on commercial.

    I'm a sucker for dogs too. Love that one. I have a new dog, Hunter, after all that mess about my last two dying, I now have a well-trained, loving pooch. Who runs away. I wrote a nice long poem about it on nealbailey.com, check 'er out.

    B): The Clark vs. Milton Fine short lived battle, too cool. Especially the part where Milton looked like he was flying through the fortress although he really was soaring to a wall.

    I thought it was pretty awesome.

    C): Lana was missing in this episode? ^-^;

    That alone deserves an Emmy.

    D): THE "SUPERMAN RETURNS" Teaser trailer. Very nice altogether, Brando's voice over really provided the dramatic feel to the clips that would otherwise have me mentally scratching my "skeptic" head. Though I already have doubts about the "Win a date with Ted Hamilton!" actress playing Lois Lane. I did have a beef about the trailer being placed in the middle of SMALLVILLE but they did say "During Smallville."

    I reviewed that trailer, and loved the heck out of it. I saw Blue Crush and was less than impressed with Kate Bosworth and the fivehead, but to be honest, I'll give her a chance. Sometimes a project will really bring the best out in an actor or actress. For instance, I absolutely ABHORRED Naomi Watts until King Kong. She might pull it out.

    With bangs.

    So yeah, I figured Milton Fine was a villain to begin with because you simply can't have another hero figure moving in on Clark's gig that happens to be his teacher and an occurring guest star on the show unlike Kid Flash and Aqua Man. It's just not right in the minds of the writers apparently. I was expecting this big "Brainiac story arc" to appear after this episode I really did. I mean this story took a big turn of events I wasn't expecting, like Martha Kent living for instance. I thought she really was gonna kick the bucket and that Milton Fine was actually going to succeed in his quest to release GENERAL ZOD from the Phantom zone. It was so climatic for me I was practically shouting "Go Spike, go!" Of course this is because I didn't wanna go back to the "Freak of the week" episodes and thensome.

    Likewise. And it looks like we have. I want some Luthor Fine teamwork, old comic style.

    Alas, there's wishful thinking for you. Chloe's character seemed a bit misused in this episode if anything, as did Lois, yet again. I totally agree with you when you said that little bit with Lois advertising her car (a ford Fusion?) to the security guard (who'd have to be blind in both eyes not to notice Chloe sneaking off behind him). Chloe fighting off the other security guard after witnessing Fine oozing out of his spaceship (which was cool despite you only saw snippets of it), and Lois "SUDDEN KO"-Ing the security guard before her was cheesy (that Kind of thing only works in MagGyver and then even its cheesy). They really need a fight choreographer(?) on the set to at least make a fights look realistic or Matrix-like without the slow motion and flashy camera tricks. Consistency in your works people please.

    I understand sometimes a clunker has to happen. But not constantly. I mean, even in the writing half of this stuff can be fixed.

    I thought Jonathan's reactions to everything that was going on in the episode was kinda off. As you mentioned, he never got angry or disappointed at the right times and for some reason he seemed to be in denial about what was going on around him if my honest opinion. Just not in the "this ain't happenin'" or "Martha's gonna die" kind of denial, if you catch my meanin'.

    Very much.

    Another problem I had was with how Chloe got to the Fortress of Solitude: How is that the Key worked for her from a simple reinsertion? Has been working that way ever since they used it to death in Season 2 and 3? Just wondering. And why'd she have to go and mess up GENERAL ZOD's unscheduled return from the Phantom zone? Spoot!!! This is what I get for cheering for the bad guys. Lastly, why'd Spike have to the "spike" to the back? He was really making things interesting!! But I take your "Remember when Lionel and Lois were just guest starts" thing into consideration if I read that correctly. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted I suppose (weeps).

    While it lasted? Not to get spoiler-y, but rejoice. I hear that Fine will be back. And Zod? He may not totally be, well, never appearing.

    2): THE LEX-MAS EPISODE:

    Okay, I'm not one for Holiday oriented Episodes from any show I watched (I hated the first episode of the new Batman series [Gotham Knights, or The new Batman Adventures], "Holiday Knights" - it sounded like a play-off the MacGyver Season four titled episode "Halloween Knights" but that could be me).

    Me neither. I hate them. They're usually about how cynical people are buttheads, even though cynicism saves lives.

    At least it wasn't a total rip off of "Its' a wonderful life," or "Family Man." I was altogether confused as to why Lex wants to blow Jonathan Kent to Kingdom Come just to win an election. Its' too obvious for a guy like him in a small town, all fingers with automatically point to him for cryin' out loud. The "Lex gets shot" scene was corny. Why was Lex leaning back like he bad been dipped by his dancing partner, or why didn't he jerk back like so many people do in the movies when getting hit by bullets? It just didn't make sense to me at all. Then Lionel coming up to the hospital and having him air lifted to a hospital, that didn't make any sense since he has no money or authority to do so (I'm not mentioning this again) was completely off. I thought he didn't care about what happened to Lex.

    He doesn't have the money for it. They've still never addressed that. I didn't mind the segue, it was just a device...the rest of the episode worked for me all right.

    Lex's "dream sequences" were foggy at best and yet another way to please Lexana fans, I swear it was!

    That I'll concede.

    Lana really didn't look like a convincing Pregnant woman, the bulge in her front looked as though she swallowed a very large boulder of a smooth circular design.

    It's because she spit out bats when they tried to apply the chubby cheek makeup. Because that's right, kids, pregnancy is easy and glamourous...er...

    The constant view of her standing with her back tucked in and her hand on her stomach was annoying. The would be romantic chemistry between the two characters were simply not there, I didn't feel it and I don't know how Lexana fans do. Yippee! I finally got to see Lex's mother! She's pretty, though I didn't see an actual relation between them. What was she supposed to represent in this episode anyway? Messenger of death, things to come?

    I think she was supposed to represent a conscience. I can't see chemistry with Lana period. I mean, I'm all about boobies, but if a woman's personality drives me crazy, I can't see her as a sexual creature.

    Another thing I didn't like was the unclarified fact that Chloe and Clark were or were not married or if Clark had married Lois over Lana. I did like the tidbit about him becoming a full-fledged reporter without mentioning "SUPERMAN." Long hair flatters Allison Mack's features moreso than her short hair does.

    Here's a statement that will get me in trouble. I believe long hair flatters ALL women's features more than short hair. But then, I think the same thing about guys. I think we weren't meant to squeeze into suits and shave ourselves into idiocy. Bald is okay, though, guys and gals.

    Jonathan wearing glasses was a bit weird for me, as was his calling Lex "the greatest man I know" --- I was thinking "hey what about Clark?" or would he fall under the "the best son I ever had" category? I didn't get a chance to see Martha in her supposed older age, I guess she didn't change much. The little conversation between Lex and Clark was bearable, I didn't like the fact that they didn't mention why Clark and Lana broke up. What did Lex offer her that Clark didn't besides money and diamonds before getting booted?

    Uh, more money and diamonds. Check the real world. Girls trade up too. ;) When a guy gets a trophy wife, he's shallow. When a girl dumps her man because he can't provide that's...uh...not shallow somehow.

    Outside comatose Lex's fantasy world, the little Clark/Lana moment was actually "non-vomitorium" material, Jonathan trying to steal cookies made me nostalgic and Shelby wearing reindeer ears was just plain wrong (He looked cute though)! I'm not sure why the dog didn't try to steal the turkey this time though. Clark playing Santa Clause was a bit over the top (I read it once in a fanfiction so I wasn't impressed). The stealing cookies from the platter cracked me up though. I'm wondering why Chloe didn't just call Uhaul to borrow a truck and delivered the presents herself.

    Or just maybe plan a leeeeeeetle bit better.

    I did enjoy the short lived moment between the little girl/boy and Clark when he got found out. But the suicidal Santa Clause who rings the bell was dopey. Was Clark was supposed to be learning a lesson here or was Santa the Wine-o? Even more impossible was after almost falling to his death, Santa the whine-o suddenly becomes good 'ol fictional Saint Nick and vanishes with the presents. Why didn't Chloe think that he was a meteor freak with superspeed and sticky fingers?

    I mentioned that. Graham Chapman would call it silly.

    It would've made more sense than having Chloe try to convince Clark that Santa Clause was real like Christmas movies try to do. Lastly I liked the scene at the end of the show where Lex ordered his crony business dealer pal to blow Jonathan to Kingdom Come (it still makes no sense) and his mother is seen in the reflection of the window ( very nice). Why is it that they constantly play Lex out to be the victim and then make him evil the next?

    Because they don't know how to dig out of making Lex a good guy and then making him a bad guy without us being sympathetic to his actions.

    Yet.

    Adios!

    W i l l o w

    Thanks!

    Danielle wrote:
    ""Because it's fun to debate whether Greedo shot first, if CGI Jabba should be there, and why the heck they extended the podrace. It may seem like you hate Star Wars, but that is what FANDOM is all about.""

    I'm totally making this my quote on my email. Thank you for putting it so succinctly.

    No big letter today ... just a note applauding another awesome review. :)

    ~Danielle

    Thank you. Very awesome. That's what keeps me going, words like that. Quoting me? I'm gonna giggle. That rules. You rule, Danielle. Thank you.

    Robert J. wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    Heya.

    I have only been reading your reviews of the Smallville episodes beginning with this season. (Yes, I know I'm behind the times. But hey, I'm not a member of this site, which I love, and have only found your classic reviews recently.)

    No shame! Heck, if you started reading now, you would never finish. Think of your own life to live! There are over 584,503,604 pages and counting now. It never stops! :)

    I digress to my points of writing this letter to you...I must say I get a real kick out of reading your reviews of each episode. I know you hear eleventy billion times how much you nit-pick at things and to some extent I agree.

    To all extents, I agree. I do it on purpose, and I do it because it's fun. Some points make people laugh, some tick them off, but it's a specific style, and if you're still here, it's because you're smart enough to know that. It's in good fun.

    But thank you. That's kind.

    But overall, as the reader, I can tell you have a love for the show and furthermore for the characters and their history and only wish to see them represented in the best possible light.

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I do not wish this show ill. I wish it a thousand seasons and constant rising standards.

    Knowing each season has 22 episodes and after 5 seasons it gets repetitious of coming up with fresh and exciting ideas to further the characters and storyline along other than the "Kryptonite victim/villain of the week." And I'm glad they've done away with this.

    Sometimes...

    But I agree with you on season 4. That whole Crouching Tiger Hidden Lana storyline was atrocious. So I, like you, would love for them to "get to it" and show how Lex becomes the true bad@$$ he is in the future. I also wanted to comment on the Lexmas episode. I was also a bit disturbed to see their version of Good Ole Saint Nick as a babbling, suicidal drunk.

    It was funny, scary, and wrong at the same time. I've blocked out season 4 though. It's repressed.

    (See kids, THAT'S why you need to be good for goodness sakes. Cuz if you're not Santa's going to take a flying leap off the nearest building he can find...and blame YOU!!) I thought you criticizing poor Chloe for taking 7 years to get a novel published was funny but harsh. Remember, this poor girl took over 4 years to get it through her thick skull Clark was never going to go for her. Why? I don't know. She's hot to me. But they say it's for drama. Drama-Schmarma. Don't bring the Dawson's Creek love triangle to my beloved Superman mytholgies. That won't happen until that whole Lana/Clark/Lois thing years later. (Depending on if you read Pre or Post Crisis) But I get it.

    I was just poking fun at the endless legion of people who want to write a novel and don't realize that the only way to do it is to do it. They fear rejection, or someone hating their work, and they gotta realize, if that's the case, they're not ready to write a novel to begin with.

    I'm probably just bitter that I've written 5 novels now in the time it took her to write one and I can't get anyone to publish any of them, when they're not half bad. Slush piles, my friend...hell on Earth. But do I stop? No! I continue making chicken.

    Again, I digress...(Now I know why your reviews get so long. You start making a point then you can go off on one little thing forever.)

    And when you have four years of points to build off of...imagine that crazy noise.

    So it takes poor Chloe 7 years. You said you've written 8 books and you're not yet 26?

    Yes. Nine now. Five novels, four books of collected poetry over 300 pages in length. But technically, I finished novel five on New Year's Eve, so I was 26 then.

    KUDOS, my man!! You rawk!!

    Eh. It's more an "if I didn't do it, I'd have found a clocktower" kind of thing. But thank you.

    Good tag when you rhetorically asked who Chloe's agent was. NICE. I return the question to you because I wasn't sure if you said you had an agent?

    I have sent over 100 letters to agents in the last year. I have been slushed and/or rejected 75 times (Approximately. About 1/4 of the letters you send out never come back.). I can't find anyone to represent my work. I've tried a million marketing tacts. Saying I have a large readership. Showing my work. Offering a huge percentage. Nothing works. I can WRITE to spec, I'm pretty dedicated, I do 14 hour days, but no, I don't have an agent.

    Why? There are many theories I have. I think the biggest one is that agents don't take risks, they don't take on someone who isn't already making money, and because frankly, they're so morally bankrupt they refuse to take any chances. They're not about art, they're about money. When I can find an agent that wants to change the world, I'll have an agent, no doubt. I have ambition. But I also have as much a chance of finding the aforementioned as I do of having a politician as honest as Jonathan Kent. And even he has a fink wife.

    Or if you have one but you have to suck up to him in order to promote your books?

    I suck up to no one, really, despite being honestly thankful for people who read my work. That may also be a reason I don't have an agent.

    I'm an aspiring writer myself (I've only been writing 1 year so try not to lambaste me just yet) and was wondering how to get an agent's attention or how to seek representation?

    I'm the wrong person to ask, not because I want to help you, but, to put it bluntly, in terms of publishing success beyond the internet, I'm a categorical failure. I don't say that to inspire pity, but just because it's the truth.

    I know, I know, I'm about as dumb as a box of rocks for asking such a question.

    Not at all. You'd be dumb as a box of rocks if you wrote and didn't.

    But I'm ignorant when it comes to this and I will simply throw myself at the mercy of your wit and say - I just don't know. If you have any pointers or advice you can share or enlighten me with I'd greatly appreciate it. And as always from now on I will continue to read your reviews and smile and concur or disagree with you on certain points. Keep up the good work and continued success on your writing career. You may not be raking in the bucks yet but you are a published author so you rawk in my book.

    Thanks. What I've been told by consummate professionals is to attain a Literary Market Place (which costs 300 bucks, thus I haven't) or, if you're poor, a Writer's Market. They also have the Writer's Market Agent version, which I have used to death. There are also a lot of online sources. Mostly, for me, sending out subs is all about making a good query, a decent three chapter sample, and trying to figure out what an agent who refuses to print any kind of well-written sensible guidelines (oh the irony!) wants me to say in order to make him feel like he can exploit me for money. Best of luck. Endless hell awaits...but if you see I've made it, ever, let me know. I'm going to try and drag people with me.

    CeeBee wrote:
    Me again! I have to say this Christmas episode was well-acted all around but gets a big "Bah Humbug" from me. While I agree intellectually that money and power in the Real World can secure happiness, it's not a logical conclusion for Lex to draw from past events.

    Why not? He's got a big house, tons of chicks, a strong wit...I mean, he's not really wanting for anything.

    Lex himself mentions the deaths of Julian and Lillian. They died while being rich. Money and power didn't save them. Why would Lex think wealth would automatically save Lana or anything else, given the history of this show?

    Because it often, and in very real ways, does. When you can buy your way into organ transplant, when you can afford the best quality care, the highly educated doctors. Heck, when it's illegal in this country, you can have it done in India. Money does help you live longer. Ask families praying for enough money for an operation some HMO won't perform because of a damnable pre-existing condition.

    And why was he poor? And why did they retcon Lex into having "always loved" Lana? Too many logic flaws!

    The latter, yes. The former, to show him what things would be like if he didn't cling tenaciously to the buttocks of money.

    But the thing that bothered me the most was how little his dream and his decision to take a dark turn had to do with Clark or the Kents. It's not Lana who's in that cave painting with Segeeth, or whose family Lex has wanted to be part of for four years, or with whom Lex had a "friendship of legends." To make Lana the symbol of all that Lex wants distorts the story and tells me more about the writer's motives than the character's.

    THAT is a great point.

    And here's a lump of coal for Dream-Lana for correcting her toddler's grammar. Good thing that kid was imaginary or he'd have some issues.

    He already does, with that mother.

    Scott wrote:
    Hey Neal,
    Big review fan here! Look forward to reading them almost as much as seeing the episodes.

    Thanks!

    Overall I agree with your review. I have to admit that the large number of inconsistencies almost lost it for me. If this wasn't a Christmas episode it would have.

    I think they took the Smallville-Metropolis proximity to an extreme. I'm assuming that the opening scene takes place in Metropolis. It has the same seedy, gritty look as the bad parts of Metropolis that we have seen before. Definitely not a small town look. Lex is shot and where does he end up? Smallville! I think I'd be suing the ambulance company for taking me to a small town hospital and not a large metropolitan hospital (Which would surely have better ER facilities).

    Yep. Easily.

    Then the timeline gets a little absurd. The show starts at night (It's dark outside). The episode ends with everyone at the Christmas Eve party at the Kents, which is just starting! Assuming that the sun had just set at the beginning of the episode and that the Kents are late night people starting a Christmas party around 10pm, Lex went from being shot to walking in a matter of 3 or 4 hours. This included the trip to the Smallville hospital, diagnosis and stabilization, being airlifted to Metropolis, undergoing drastic surgery (Where they collapsed a lung!), recovering from anesthesia, and being strong enough to walk around.

    That's pretty good medicine!

    Or writing that trusts its audience to be stupid.

    Oh well, it's a Christmas story. I guess we should cut them some slack. Take Care and with a risk of offending someone, Merry Christmas!

    I tried to cut slack. I think I did all right. And heck, even being an atheist, people who get offended for anything without decent reason (like a phrase or the "horror" of accidentally seeing a naked body or hearing a curse) are morons.

    -Scott

    PS - Please feel free to include this in your review.

    I did!

    Falkor wrote:
    Hey. I just read you don't get paid for these reviews. First of all thanks for all your dedication towards this thing.

    Thanks. There are rewards. Just not monetary. I've made a sum total of approximately 30 dollars for writing in my life.

    Anyway the point of the letter. You have mentioned several times that you don't see why Lex would Lana cause Lana.... stinks. Well I agree that Lana stinks. She is my absolute least favorite thing about the show. Chloe is definitely the best woman for Clark at this point, but Lois is still growing on me. I was one of the disappointed many who believed Chloe would someday become Lois. In the back of my mind I still haven't given that idea up. Anyway! I believe Lex likes Lana because Clark is in love with her.

    That I could go with...but they have to indicate that explicitly instead of making it a subtext.

    Through the series it becomes very obvious that Lex is jealous of Clark in many ways. He wants his family and wants to be loved, though that feeling is growing less and less. He wants Lana because Clark has her. But also! Throughout the show we have also learned of LEx's desire to reach the unattainable. Lana is definately that. Not because she is worth it, but because she is with Clark and because she would never fall for LEx anyway.

    That would be a better reason.

    But yes, I hate Lana too. Lex is too good for her, even if he becomes evil. I just hope that the writers change the superman mythos just a bit more and throw lana into a very large kryptonite powered blender.

    Ha! I wish.

    Brian wrote:
    Neal, love the reviews, was glad to see that you "got it" as far as Lexmas was concerned.

    Thanks.

    I was just curious if you made it a habit of reading other reviews of the show out on the Net? Not becuase you're a competitive monkey or anything, but just to see what other critical writers were getting out of them?

    Quite a ton, actually. I've pointed some out in past reviews, but I scour the net to see what people are thinking. I like to see if what I believe is reflected in the general audience, so when I make a statement I can qualify it, like, "I know most of you don't think this, but..." or "The writers should know that most of the viewers don't buy this."

    I also do it to be a competitive monkey, but really, I never see it as competition. Just in case it ever becomes one. Someone wants to throw down and say my reviews suck, I want to be versed in theirs. Same reason I read political polar opposite tracts. Open and broad minded thinking.

    Plus I just like reading other reviewers.

    There's quite a few good ones out there, that each focus on different aspects of the show, on places like:

    K-Site: http://www.kryptonsite.com/lexmasreview.htm
    DTS: http://www.devotedfansnetwork.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11850
    The Kingdom (related to BlueTights): http://www.dc-kingdom.com/news.php?id=143

    Those are probably the 3 best ones with yours that I've read, they each seem to do their own things. It's cool getting a nice cross reference on each episode from all 4 places because you all seem to look at everything uniquely.

    I read all of those, but they're good links. I have to admit, I have several personal issues with BlueTights right now, but even so, I recommend reading even the stuff I'm not particularly fond of, just for, as I said, perspective.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, man.

    Thanks.

    Michael Fulvio wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    I was actually pleasantly surprised by your lexmas review. I've found myself watching with a more critical eye, mostly because of your reviews, mainly since some point in season four, when it was easy to become critical of the show. But you're right in that you should be critical of what you love. As an actor in training, I am constantly critical of what I love, mine, and other's work. (I think Lana might correct that grammar.)

    It's a theory I apply to my writing, too. I'd rather have someone slam what I write instead of love it, because it gives me a chance to improve that which sucks.

    But what really got me thinking this episode was Lionel. He is the most inconsistent character ever. But man, John Glover could make me believe anything.

    Gotta concede that.

    Lionel set up the adoption agency that the Kents adopted Clark from - what exactly does he know?

    Ok, so he did have some kind of deal with Doctor Swann, right? Which was never explored, because of the unfortunate death of Christopher Reeve. So then Lionel begins to love his son, and we do see a great dynamic in his character. Then he tries to KILL Chloe and her father. Great.

    It's just, as I said, mystery with no resolution. And it's starting to become very transparent.

    So he's sent to jail where he's released by - who? This is after he becomes "good" - Which I think came from him seeing Clark run off in the fog. Does he know about his powers? Does he know Clark 'healed' him?

    I think he should, but canon probably says he doesn't.

    So he's good - Lex kicks him out into the pool house. Rough. But then, doesn't he have some pre-existing relationship with Margot Kidder's character? I can't even remember her name she was so inconsequential.

    Yeah, it was sad.

    Ok. Then the Teagues (unfortunately) come into the picture. While Lionel and Dr. Quinn have some good scenes, what's the history? What drives him here?

    Then he muddily becomes the magnificent MUstard again. But he sells all of it.

    Then all of a sudden he's a Kryptonian prophet. Who's in him? Zod? Brainiac? The Eradicator? (Prof. Fine was never defined as being either) Because it wasn't Jor-el the whole time, because Clark talked to Jor-el in the fortress while Lionel was in Belle Reeve.

    And now - is he Jor-el being Lionel? Does jor-el pop into Lionel? I'm guessing Jor-el is in Lionel all the time now, because Jor-el wasn't around for the awesome fight in the fortress that Clark had with Fine.

    And now Lionel is constantly flip-flopping between Lex and Jonathon in the Senate race. (No way Lex would get elected to Senate that young, especially in a down home state such as Kansas. But I digress)

    I agree on the senate. I also agree that his changing character is frustrating.

    So - as much as I love him - I think the Lionel will die in the hundredth episode. But not just Lionel. Jor-el. (who oddly has been just as inconsistent as Lionel)

    That would make some sense, but I hope they resolve some issues first.

    Because Jor-el's not around in the fortress all of Superman's life. Please correct me if I'm wrong, since I can't afford to buy twelve Superman comics a month to follow the mythos.

    Not in the comics. In the movies, yes. They seem to be following the movies.

    I think if now is when Clark really begins to make the leap to Superman, he's going to have to do it more and more on his own. He's got to lose Jor-el. And Chloe, so he can make decisions on his own. I think Miles said there may be more than one death.

    Yes. He did.

    I know that was round-about, but no one has said Jor-el will die in the reckoning. But then we can finally know that Jor-el is a good guy in the end, unless Jor-el is actually Brainiac and Fine was the Eradicator(or some program Zod made) And Jor-el is god knows where. But that sounds way off.

    It all sounds confusing, and they have a lot of clearing up to do.

    And if Jor-el dies in Lionel, we get the parallel in Clark and Lex that makes the show great with both of their biological fathers dying, and great scene where Clark wants to connect with Lex but can't because of his secret(drama!).

    That might be cool.

    Anywho - just wanted to get your thoughts, I guess I'll have to wait until January for your response, review, and a baldgirl in love with Lex.

    Thanks!

    Fulvio

    Yes, alas. They're all plausible theories. I tend to stay with Occam's Razor. They're not plotting that hard, they're just putting a TV show out. I think they don't really care that they're being inconsistent. And since so few of US do, because most of us are just tv watching type folk, they don't have any motivation to change that.

    Shafi S wrote:
    Hey Neal, Thanks again.

    Any time.

    Well Lexmas was amazing(somewhat). I can't believe it remember when I wanted Lana DEAD! THey killed her in this episode (sort of). Which I kinda had mixed feelings. But mostly my opinions changed in this episode.

    She was a different person in that episode. That's why.

    Lexmas got me curious on how Lex ended up with the girl next door, instead Clark drooling over her and then going geeky and have Lois for rest of his life I think.

    Me too.

    Hmmm even though in the comics this would be different but in good ole smallville this could just happened if CLark was always nice to the guy. Or LAna would put out. HMMM.. didn't miss Kruek kiss every young castmate in the show, well except Pete ??? But isn't she going to marry him in the future????

    Pete? Who's Pete?

    Season 5 has its hopes but since it might be a chance that the WB might not renew it sounds AWFULL. OH YEAHH i almost forgot the new hero coming to smallville good ole CYBORG. CYBORG??????? WHY!!! HEs not even close with the guy. He even bullies SUperboy in the comics and now hes going to find his nice cuddly human side in SMALLVILLE. Well i rather see the latina babe or Aquagirl i think.

    Personally, I think guest heroes enhance the show generally. It beats a freak, that's for sure. And Cyborg? Well, I think he's cool since Johns got his mitts on him.

    Before I go. I always read the comments that other fellow commenters put and they are funny(most of them) and your comment back to them is like icing on the cake. But NOW scammers HHAHHAh. JEez when will people will give you a break.

    I actually get a scam mail to the Superman Homepage form every few months. Crazy, huh?

    THanks again Neal, Happy Holidays. Sorry if you get this late.

    Shafi S.

    Thanks, and no sweat! Likewise.

    Aaron Keel wrote:
    Hey Neal!!! Great review as always but even better then usual. Lexmas has to be one of my favorite episodes because we got to see Rosenbaum carry the entire episode and in my opinion is the best actor on the show.

    With a decent script, no less, unlike Onyx.

    The other thing I really loved about this ep. is the Scrooge tale in reverse, very well written script. Although I don't think anyone can really blame Lex for going the route he does. Everyone he loves ends up dying so why keep trying? Also WTF was his mom thinking? You'd think his mom would have more common sense then that with her own son.

    Agreed.

    I find it interesting that Clark is with Chloe. It brings up the question of whether or not he gets with her because he truly loves her or just for the fact that she knows his secret. We've seen this before with Alicia and the skinwalker girl, they know his secret so he's attracted to them. In that case, is that what makes his relationship with Lois in the future so great is that he freely tells her his secret instead of her finding out?

    I think it's Lois's aggressive attitude that both Chloe and Lana lack with regards to love.

    I don't mean to nitpick but Lex threatens to kill Griff if Lionel finds out about their meeting, not if he doesn't do the job by New Year's.

    Fair enough.

    Neal what can I say but great job, maybe your best review yet. Keep up the great work!!!

    Thanks!

    Matthew Puddister wrote:
    Hi Neal,

    Just read your review of "Lexmas". The show's pronunciation of Luthor as LuthER really annoys you, doesn't it?

    Yes.

    But don't you think you're making a big deal out of a very small point?

    Maybe. I don't know. Everybody has stupid things that bug them. This is one of mine.

    Just because they pronounce it LuthOR in other versions of Superman doesn't mean that Smallville can't make its own changes. And this isn't a change like making Clark black or something...it's just the pronunciation of a word. Let it go, man.

    Nah. I think I'll keep harping on it. If it were just a change they made for the show (like writing his name Luther), I'd be cool with it. But they write it LuthOR. That should be pronounced with the OR. I'm the last person to be a prescriptive grammar kind of guy. I mean, as far as I'm concerned, Dumas is a word that would offend most people if it works for you. But sometimes, it's really a point of character. An anal retentive guy like Lex would insist on having his name pronounced right. Imagine if you were a very rich, very intelligent character, and instead of Matt, they pronounced it Mate...

    The thing is, in many ways the LuthER pronunciation works better with Smallville's format. If you pronounced it LuthOR, then how weird would it be to say "LuthORcorp"? LuthERcorp sounds much better. Now, the rest of the time, LuthOR probably would sound better. But it really doesn't bother me a great deal. I don't know, I guess you're just a purist. I don't think it's as big a deal as you make it out to be, though.

    A purist in some ways, not in others. You're right about Luthorcorp though. But then, that you could probably get away with LuthERcorp with. A person is finicky about their name, though. Like, I get letters sent to "Neil", and that doesn't bug me at all. Same meaning. LuthOR is a prestige/character thing.

    - Matt

    Adeel F. wrote:
    Well hello there, Neal. BTW, I haven't mentioned this before but, LOVE THE HAIR! (Yes, I am being sarcastic).

    Aw! It's brown again now, but will be blue as soon as someone comes over to help me with it. Anyone near Tacoma, WA?

    Couple of things... First off, the car that Lex had stolen from him. You wrote Porche, which is firstly spelt wrong (its PorSche), and more importantly, its not a PorSche, it was a Ferrari. A 360 Modena to be precise.

    You're right. That's because I've only ever owned really crappy cars, and the time I could have spent becoming a gearhead I spent writing books. BUT, you might be happy to know, after learning to build a house from the top to bottom (DONE) my next project is to fully comprehend the internal combustion engine.

    Secondly, you've been whining about it a LOT lately, so just thought I'd add my two cents on the LuthOR name. You see Neal, you're wrong. It's NOT LuthOR, it never was LuthOR. It IS LuthER. I'm not talking about the spelling of course, but the pronounciation. You keep complaining about no one knowing Lex's name, but clearly it is you who doesn't know. (Understand I'm not dissing you, call it constructive criticism...or just criticism).

    Understood completely. I just know you're wrong (no offense). Luthor is pronounced as it is written, even if a million people say it wrong. It's that whole argument about what truth is, if everyone believes something that's the opposite. Like, if everyone thought Neal was pronounced "BUTTHEAD", doesn't mean that's the truth, in terms of pronunciation.

    Yes yes, I know, in the Superman mythos its supposed to be LuthOR (tho I don't know how you figured the way the name SOUNDS from READING comics...), but frankly that's irrelevant.

    But it's not, though. And actually, I figured it out the same way I figured out half of the words I know...certain combinations of English letters, in certain organizational patterns, are pronounced in a certain way, using representational understandings called morphemes. I can state, categorically, and with the skill of five years of English education (which, with fifty cents, will get you a ride on a bus, maybe) that the way to pronounce Lex Luthor is with an "OR", like "and, but, or".

    This show isn't catered solely, or even mainly, at comic book fans. Its for the general fan, like me. I know some stuff about Superman of course (what 23 year old doesn't, right?), but I am by no means a comic book fan. And from a general fan's view, I can tell you that LuthOR sounds stupid. Yes, I said it. LuthOR SOUNDS like a comic book name (and that's not a compliment). For most fans, a guy introducing himself as Lex LuTHOR sounds ridiculous. "Any relation to the Viking God?".

    So does the name Jor-El. So does Kryptonite. Heck, so does a town called Smallville. They actually use that on checks to represent a generic fictional city without character. The same as they do with Metropolis. Doesn't mean I don't love the cheese of it.

    Further, I don't know why you've been fixating on this lately. This show's been going on for FIVE YEARS! Took you that long to notice the pronounciation? Why should the other characters say LuthOR when the LuthERS themselves say it as LuthER? From the very first episode, Lex introduced himself as LuthER. The others would be morons to call him LuthOR inspite of that.

    I think I did mention it before. It's just more rampant now. Either that, or I notice it more.

    If I introduce myself to you as John SmYTHE, and you insist of calling me SmITH, who's the idiot here?

    Depends on how the name is spelled. If it's Smith, I'm right. If it's Smythe, you're right.

    To sum up, drop it.

    No. (With respect). I don't really take orders well. No offense.

    Other than that, good job (though I wouldn't mind a little less rambling and a little more reviewing...).

    Oy!

    Sara wrote:
    Neal,
    It's been awhile. I've been a little distraught that they have such huge vacations where you hardly get anything new. It just doesn't seem right. But then I put off reading your review long enough that it should hold me through until January. Well, at least I can hope. And I do have my new nephew to oogle this coming weekend, so maybe that'll make up for it.

    Coolsville. The breaks bug me too. I want 22 weeks on, 22 weeks off. It's been five years of work, broken off into small breaks...

    Someone from "Smallville" actually told you not to watch?!? Holy moly!!! Do they really have so many viewers that they can alienate even one?!?

    Actually, they told Garth not to watch, but that's okay. I'm Garth. And anyway, it was greatly flattering that I'd even been noticed.

    While I can empathize with the PTB at fan "criticism", they should realize they have to grow a harder shell. As you know (maybe better than most), most writers get rejections and criticisms on a fairly regular basis. OK, it hurts. But you have to look at the criticism. Is it from a fan who honestly wants to have the show get better and are offering constructive ways to do so (and considering you write for the *Superman Homepage* of all things, you'd think they'd realize that you're a die-hard fan.) or from someone who just wants something to complain about? And injecting humor into your review is what makes it entertaining. Duh! Who would read your review if they thought it was boring???

    Personally, I enjoy criticism more than praise, for reasons I mentioned above. A critic will hone your skills. I've learned more from the words following "That sucked" than I did from "Great work." Though "Great work" inspires me, "That sucked" improves me. Both are great. If I didn't like both, I'd have problems as a writer. And many writers do.

    That's an excellent interpretation of Lex's atheism. I'll honestly admit that you look way deeper into the Superman mythos than I ever have, but it totally makes sense.

    I have to, if I ever want a job writing it. And I do. I'll be ready, when it's time. If it ever is. And ($#%-all, if Gail Simone gets a chance and John Byrne a second one, I deserve one.

    I can only hope that the PTB made it clear that the goon Lex was driving to meet actually had a past business relationship with him. I know that Lex can be very headstrong and confident in his abilities to protect himself, but. And what? They're in the stereotypical back alley? And Lex threatens to kill Griff??? That's not the subtle Lex that I adore. That's the action of some unintelligent bully boy. Not a sophisticated megalomaniac supervillain. at least the megalomaniac supervillain he'll become. Hmmm..

    Hadn't thought of that.

    You're right. Lex always has a back-up plan. And his dedication to the protection of the Kents has gotten hit quite regularly what with Clark whining at him and accusing him on a regular basis.

    Yeah.

    So Griff leaves and he gets mugged? And get shot? Did he put up a fight or did she just not like the look he was giving her? Oy vey! I guess they say that criminal behavior tends to escalate. Maybe that's where she was. (Dr. Evil. Heee!)

    Pinky to mouth.

    Yeah, his possible desire of Lana hasn't been suitably sussed out for us to just get that he and Lana end up together. (And don't you just have to love Michael?!? Although, I do have to admit that my favorite film of his is "Sorority Girls".. What does that say about me??? And he does such a good shocked look!) At first the kid seemed really weird, but he started to grow on me. But at least the PTB gave Lex appropriate scarring!!!

    My favorite film is the same, for the, how can I put this without getting in trouble, rubberish phallic fight? Decent flick. Though Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was interesting, if only because I read the book. Which sucked.

    I have to say about the grammar correcting that, while it seems harsh-ish for Lana to correct a four year old, isn't it better to get it early? Around four, they're starting to talk clearer (and I have a three-year-old niece so I know whereof I speak) so if you do the corrections consistently and in the appropriate manner, I think you should. That way they don't have to worry about the ruler between the eyes when they're fourteen!

    Actually, I believe, personally, that it is good to correct grammar like that. But there's a different way to do it. There's the "I'm a smart adult and you're a dumb kid" way, where you sternly correct, "It's not Kristen and me will be eating the kittens, it's Kristen and I!" (with the british accent and the tone that says you're happy you're smarter than a four-year-old). And then there's my tact that I take with my sisters, brothers, and the kids in my practicum before I got the book out of teaching school. You say, "Hey, you know, I know that sounds right, and I do that myself, but when you're taking a test, or when you want to be formal, it's Kristen and I, and that's because you have to make the subject agree with the predicate with the pronoun.". Followed by "What's a pronoun?", but anyway, that doesn't intimate superiority over the kid which, really, by virtue of the fact that you're a cynical old fool and the kid still has an imagination and youth, isn't fair. A four-year-old is superior to me, period. Always will be, lucky fool.

    Lillian? There?!? And they went to bad Santa? Sometimes you have to wonder what's up with the PTB.

    Sometimes?

    If Lex is fading in and out of his dream state and then passing out (or whatever) from his gun wounds, I would say it counts as one. And while Lana's death is part of his hallucination, I definitely believe it counts. And there's a reason. It's an instance where a character is killed off but then is fine later. OK, so it's a hallucination. so what. I saw count it. Count it and cheer!

    Eh. I'd get angry letters. Besides, I want Lex to win.

    You think it's a U.S. Senate seat? I was thinking a state seat. I can't figure out why Jonathan and Lex would be the only candidates. or the only apparently viable candidates. And it takes big money to run that kind of campaign. We all know that Jonathan doesn't have any kind of money. AND even if Lionel is somehow funneling money to him, how much could that actually be and would Jonathan really accept it?!? (As I continue to read, I see that you address most of these points. Whoops!) I definitely don't expect the PTBs to wait until next season before they hold the elections. But you're giving them more credit than I. I expect a February or March election. But I suppose they could say it's June in the story timeframe. Hmmm.

    Looks like next week. Ah, January elections. Sigh.

    Why would the doctor try and get Lex conscious before wheeling him into surgery? Does he have some forms to sign? Does he want to get his autograph or a sizable donation for the hospital? Oy!

    For drama. And bad drama.

    I think the PTB have conveniently forgotten that Lionel *should be* penniless now. Lex is now chairman over LuthorCorp. He holds all the cards! In fact, considering his criminal record and the fact that Lex thinks his father has tried to kill him a number of times, it's amazing that he'd let him into his house. but then he still lets whiny Clark in, so. I agree that the plot gap is old and they need to either logically resolve it within the storyline with a couple of lines of dialogue or they need to have the characters act like they should. Maybe in the hallucination, Lionel could have regained control of LuthorCorp when the stockholders realized that Lex would allow friendly feelings for an opponent affect his killer instincts. That's the only way *I'd* buy it. and like I said. a couple of lines of dialogue.

    Heck, maybe one line.

    So Lana and Lex are poor? Please excuse me if I don't buy it. And isn't it nice that the poor in Smallville can afford grand things that middle-class people in most places can't. Also, they've been together for seven years. shortly after Lex gave up the Senate race. That means that shortly after he got shot he and Lana got together. What? Especially considering that Clark and Lana are currently seriously dating. I'm getting irritated about this inconsistencies.

    You are? Heck, I have to document them! :)

    Lex is searching for a tree? Why? That totally blows my mind.

    He wants to eat a squirrel. Now, your mind is blown.

    I saw a pic of Allison with her extensions and, while they looked nice, they didn't fit my mental picture of Chloe. It's not because she's always had shorter hair in the show. It's more because she's snarky and that hair fit that best. Hmmm.

    I can see that, actually.

    Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! :D

    Charlie Brown makes me cry.

    Ahhhhh. The Land of Squeaky Shoes! You have to love that place where you can tra-la-la around and have any plot twist smacked into your face a couple of times just to make sure you get it. It just be nice to know that your "standard" hospital (at least in TV land) will allow you to suffer from gunshot wounds (parallel. anyone?!?) without hooking you up to at least half a dozen machines with even more hospital personnel rushing around you trying to stop the bleeding or whatnot. And Lionel can just walk in? At least *he's* family. You can't say the same about when Lana walked into Clark's room. Lionel calls Lucas?!? And the doctor wouldn't have already attempted surgery? And Lex is supposed to be paralyzed??? You're totally correct that paralyzed from the "chest down" seems off. And I agree with them saying that without testing him first is off. And with the new privacy laws surrounding medical care, you have to jump through a number of hoops before you could even get that information. And Lionel has power of attorney?!? (Sara faints in a fit of ire. A coworker solicitously douses her with a bucket of water. She opens her eyes, but stays on the floor for a moment to control the urge to rock back and forth in mad irritation.) And I only stop to mention that I find it hard to believe that the pressure from a blood clot can't be relieved at Smallville Medical Center. If that's true they darn well need to get him out of there!!! But then I started to wonder why they just assumed that a blood clot would PERMANENTLY make Lex paralyzed. And I was also distracted with the thought that the doctor says Lex will live but then says that he's not stable. Doesn't that seem wrong?

    Yes.

    Do you ever wonder if any of the reporters at the Planet wonder how and why Clark is always visiting Chloe? Considering gas prices and all? Do you think Chloe just says he's going to Met U with her? And why would Clark be in Metropolis on Christmas Eve? I don't know about you, but my family has a traditional Christmas Eve dinner at my paternal grandmother's before we sing carols. (Mmmmmm! Salmon soup and music! What could be better? OK, maybe having someone else do the dishes. but I digress.)

    I usually wake up in a brothel. No, wait. I spend it with my family. But that sounded so romantic. D'oh! Last time I sang, though, an alley cat committed hare kare. But I'm getting better with the guitar. I'll play the Bad Religion version of Silent Night next year.

    Clark's family has always seemed rather traditional and I would have thought they would have something going on that night. Maybe they only do Christmas Day stuff. And Chloe isn't in Smallville with her dad??? And Lois??? They're nearly the only family they have. But maybe that's my upbringing talking. [OK, I just watched it and I'm rather relieved. There's Martha. making Christmas cookies. And they're having a party. But she doesn't want Jonathan running for Senate? And he's totally bypassed her concerns? Doesn't that seem out of character. Oh, and I thought I was going to vomit that Lana was helping decorate the Christmas tree. but then I was distracted with the question of who waits until Christmas Eve to get and/or decorate the tree. And if I was Clark, I would have been pissed that Chloe was so vague and desperate sounding. but it was only for passing out presents. I'm also wondering how Clark got into the houses. After all, it's doubtful that those in Metropolis would leave their doors unlocked for Santa.]

    Clark is a master B and E man.

    Chloe seems to be having a bit of discretion problem when it comes to Clark's secret. Oh, she won't tell anyone specifically, but they talk about it constantly! In her office, where other reporter-type people could overhear. Seriously! (I've noticed that I use that a lot, so I've been trying to cut down. Have I succeeded?) And why isn't anyone else tasked with passing out the presents? Because she's an intern? Can you honestly expect me to believe that a huge paper like the Planet only has one intern???

    One that writes articles, no less.

    You know, I realize that music has a lot to do with the feeling of a scene in a movie or television show, but when the first few bars of a song lets you know exactly what's going to happen in a scene. I just think it takes too much away from the scene. You can do it if it's a B movie. But get yourselves under control, people!

    Yeah.

    Do they give any sort of reasoning for airlifting Lex out? How many times have they flown in a specialist? And why was Lex transferred from Granville to Metropolis?

    Look! A rabbit!

    Maybe that's the problem, Neal, with the "Luth-or" and "Luth-er" conundrum. Maybe the writers write it with an "-er" and the actors are so tied to the script that they don't realize that isn't how you pronounce it. And considering that someone within the PTB definitely does read your reviews, you would conclude that it might be corrected within the near future. Of course, maybe that's a false hope on my part.

    I doubt it. My solution would just be to have a new or a better continuity editor. One who wouldn't let Lois close an eye shooting a gun because they researched it. One who would say, "No, it's LuthOR" after the first take. That kind of thing. Day and night continuity, etc.

    Kissing Santa.. Oh dear. I just peed my pants a little. Seriously, Neal. Have a little consideration for me. I usually read your review at work. Something like that makes me choke a little. Pretty please?

    Mercy is for the weak, said a guy, before Mr. Miyagi handed him his nuts. What? I meant Planters.

    The summary's back?!? I could have sworn that they'd stopped it. Why, oh why would they bring it back??? And it's not even accurate. Grrr.

    Yeah. Sucks.

    I'll look for the glasses for you. It'll be my LATE Christmas present to you. Oh, and would you remind me to buy one of your books. maybe a little later when I actually have money. I've been meaning to take them off your hands, but with the present buying and stuff. (Sara actually looks about a little ashamed.)

    Actually, I'll remind EVERYONE to buy one of my books. First, there's Madly, the story of a disaffected young artist trying to come to terms with love and being a failed writer (uh, not me at all. Totally), and there's my new poetry anthology, which rules, though I've only sold one copy. It's called "If You're Reading This, I'm Probably Dead". Which would be really funny if anyone were buying it. There's also my just-released comic book, Paladin, which is a BUCK for the PDF, and if people buy it, I'll print it. All are available at my website. Heck, go to see Steve's awesome site design, if nothing else. You want a signed copy? I mail out personalized copies cheaper than retail. Email me. I've sold three books in four months. It hurts my heart. It's the only book you'll buy this year where you can call and yell at the author if it sucks. BUY!

    So it jumped from a party at the Kents' to Lana dying in the hospital? Are you kidding? (And I totally agree. Airlift me to "We Can't Save Even a Single Person but at Least We Try" hospital before the Squeaky Shoes clinic!)

    Heh.

    I agree that in the timeline of the plotline, this Lionel isn't right. I don't buy that it's some weird hallucination because of the Clark thing. The thing about Lionel's mispronunciation I addressed above. I honestly think that the writers are using spell-check too religiously. I know that every time I write Luthor I get a red squiggly line. with the suggestion of an "-er" ending. Ah ha! I've solved the mystery!!!!

    Maybe...

    I agree with you and Lex. You don't just accept the bad things in life. You fight to make things better or to get your share of the pie. You don't just say "Oh, that's right. Life sucks so I should just slog and let life pass me by." If everyone did that, we wouldn't have vaccines or new inventions or any of the cool things we enjoy today. Is that really the message the PTB wants to put out there? That only evil Lex would fight against "fate"??? Screw that noise!

    Yes. And the sad thing is, most people just do that. I believe life has a higher purpose. Even if it's just hedonistic self-indulgence based in the realm of man.

    I'm not sure I have the words to describe my confusion of the Chloe-Santa scene, so I'll just blink a bit more in bewilderment and let it go. (blink. blink. BLINK.)

    Blink.

    Ah, you quoted Weird Al! I am now your devoted fan from now until forever. Before I was just a fan, but now. (Sara heaves a pleased sigh and continues on reading.)

    One of my happiest memories of youth is standing outside a Weird Al concert, despondent because I didn't have the seven bucks to get in, and this dude comes out with three whining kids insisting on going one and gives me and my buddy front row tickets. I wrote much of my first novel to "This is the Life", ironically enough, given the book's context of crushing poverty vs. the evil rich.

    Ahhhh. So now Lex is pulling a Clark on Lionel? When he's the one who didn't have the foresight to revoke his father's power of attorney???

    Sad.

    Happily Forever After. You know, it totally depends on your view of what Happily Forever After entails. I'm just looking for a life well-lived with few regrets. I want to live a life where I've worn my body out and have experienced all there is. Of course, it would be easier with money, but I've seen too many people that are wealthier than my family become depressed and angry individuals. I don't think there are any guarantees in life. I think you just have to make the most out of your life. Honestly, I sometimes envy your life. You've worked it so that you can write (hopefully soon for a living) and not have to go to some mind-numbing job. Maybe I'm just too Polyanna about it, but that's how I feel. (And now that I think about it, remind me. I pay for my website so I should be able to advertise your book there too. I know you do it here on the Superman Homepage, but if it gets the word out there.)

    Actually, I envy my own life, publishing success or not. I have two regrets in life. One is not kissing a girl. A very special girl. That ship has passed. And I regret it. The other regret is not realizing girls were just as dumb, ugly, and evil on the inside as everyone else in the world until I was 20.

    Please, advertise my books. I know I can't afford it myself. And I can't sell them. I'm just not a salesman. I'm a writer...

    We actually discontinued the ads here, because none were selling. Which sucks. But hey, I can't really feel right taking up Steve's space unless it's really working. I don't even really make royalty, I just want to share the work.

    As for being polyanna, heck no. Just realize, if you put your mind to any one goal (beyond the impossibly obvious), you can do it. It took me ten years, and I may have to go back at any time, but hey, believe.

    Maybe that's why they did the experimental and risky. Now Lex can walk. and all those extra white blood cells helped with the speedy healing process. Or maybe the PTB have never had major surgery done on them and don't understand that painful recovery process.

    I think that may be some of it.

    Now my question is. would Lillian have remained around if Lex had made the "right" choice??? Maybe they're trying to say she was his guardian angel but now he's made the final choice that makes it so that she can no longer protect him???

    Depends on if you see her as a conscience or an angel.

    On to our little within the review convo:

    A movie would be awesome. but considering I don't currently like seeing pics of myself, I can only shudder at my reaction to seeing myself in a movie. :)

    Wouldn't that be funny?!? The sheriff delivers the car to a disappointed fan and they put it in the show because they don't have to pay the recipient.

    Heh.

    I've had this dread certainty that Chloe will be the dead character because of certain things I've seen, but I've had a golden light of hope shone on me. I won't say why or how, but that's because I don't want to ruin things for others. I'm not sure who I hope for (oh, let's be serious! I want it to be Lana 'cause she drives me crazy!!!) and I would like it to just be a hose job. That would be nice. They I wouldn't have to cry. even if it is Lana.

    I believe I know who it is with 95% certainty. Email me with a brief one if you want what I know, folks.

    I've pretty much caught up on my watching now and that makes me feel pretty good. But I've been putting off others as well. And you're right. If it's Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, I'm all up in that.

    Stephen Colbert has to be the most biting satire that few people are really seeing the full scope of that I've ever seen.

    Maybe we should buy stock in Depends. You regularly make me laugh so hard that I leak. and apparently I can do it to you as well. (Muwhahahahaha!)

    I like wetting myself. It keeps me warm in the ocean.

    Lex should be a nemesis by now, but they're painfully drawing it out. They made him suddenly "evil" but then are playing the pansy and saying "Well, we're not really sure" or "Oh, we're sure now" back and forth so much that I want to drive up to Vancouver and set them straight on a few things. Hmmm. I wonder if I could get past security.

    You know, me and my buddy Will had a plan to sneak through in Animaniac style. We should do that. Will, why haven't we done that?

    Spoilers: I have a gift. I've very lucky and I'll tell you why. I can read the spoilers and have a pretty good idea about what's going on and still be entertained and surprised when the show comes up. It's why I have a ginormous movie & TV DVD collection. I can watch them over and over again and it still feels like it's nearly the first time I've watched it. So I actually seek out spoilers and it helps whet my appetite to actually watch the show. Simple pleasures for simple minds.

    Yes. My belief is that it's all in the execution. I agree. Otherwise, Empire would be a shallow movie.

    Congrats on learning the guitar. My sister is too. I just don't have the patience. I tried to get my dad to teach me, but he just pawned me off on instruction books. Maybe one day.

    I'm getting a little better each day. Obsessive, is the word, I think.

    I love Colbert's obsession with bears! I really do!!! They're always on the threat down.

    Absolutely.

    Chloe's transportation to the Fortress can possibly be explained. Didn't the key get left behind the first time he was transported and Lex found it? (I think Lionel stole it back, but now I'm not so sure.) So, if we take that explanation, Chloe just inserted the key herself. Of course, hopefully she reminded Clark to go back for it. And isn't it interesting how they can always get into the caves without worry of being overseen by LuthorCorp security. at least I thought it was still LuthorCorp property.

    It should still be.

    Okay, I'm now on my sixth typed page and I should probably end. I know that you, being the Mr. Universe of writing, write six pages in your sleep, but I'm supposed to be actually working. Maybe I'll get around to it today, but it's the day after a holiday and the network's down. What do they expect from me???

    Har! Let's tally it up. I started at 10:30 PM, it is now 3:35 Am, and this is page...38, with help from letters. Not bad, actually. But I may be doing it in my sleep if I don't finish soon. I tallied it up, and for each and every day of 2005 I wrote 14.4 pages, I think it was, and 7,000 average words.

    And no one will employ me, but Billy Corgan gets a poetry book. Ah, justice!

    Happy Holidays!!!
    Sara

    Thanks!

    Samuel Makepeace wrote:
    Hey Neal, wow, I'm finally on the same page as everyone else! Up to date at last.

    Just a few things I noted about the episodes in season 5 (and sorry that this is the second email I've sent you in a row without waiting for the first one to be answered).

    That's fine.

    You often speak about being pulled out the narrative, well in Aqua I was quite forcibly ripped out of the narrative when I saw ripples in the water before AC surfaced at superspeed after Leviathan is activated. This must have been from where the actor submerged before they started shooting, then they put in the superspeed blur in post-production. I'm not sure what they could have done about this, maybe had him underwater for longer with a breathing device in order the give time for the ripples to dissapate. But this was just so blatantly obvious that I was pulled out.

    I didn't see that. Good call.

    All the rest of my little notes (a habit I think you've rubbed off on me) are on Lexmas, an episode which I know you liked but frankly I hated. It was worse than Jinx or Velocity to me.

    But then again it was a Christmas Special, so we can be a bit more lenient, maybe even go so far as to "forget" it's place in the shows continuity (hell, the writers are bound to. What are the chances of seeing Lex's scars the next time he arbitrarily goes shirtless?).

    With me, I just like the sad ending.

    The first note was just me being hopeful, a Christmas special episode and we open with Lex in another town going to meet someone in a shady dive. My pretty little brain starts hoping that he's off to see Lucas for Christmas greetings, but alas, no. When will they remember that Lex has a half-brother?

    Magic Eight Ball says...chances bleak.

    Then there was Lana correctly pronouncing Luthor. I had to rewind and watch that again to make sure I hadn't imagined it.

    Yeah! That was weird, wasn't it?

    The doctors name was Scanlan (or similar spelling). Could that be a nudge and a wink to a blind horse? I believe Scanlan is the name of one of the Powers That Be involved in the show, I remember seeing the name Tim Scanlan in the credits but don't remember his job.

    I don't know. Might be.

    The next thing is father comparisons again. Lionel tells Lex in this episode that "You gave up your power now the one you love is going to die and you can't do anything about it" (heavily paraphrased). Once again the shows writing make Lexs' story parralell Clarks'.

    Yep. That was good.

    And finally, I'd just like to make my point about how much I didn't like this episode. The whole thing had such a cliched feel to it. Clark helps deliver presents to needy kids (Awwwww!) he meets Santa who has had a crisis of faith and helps restore it (Awwwww!) him and Lana share their first christmas together (Awwwww! ClickClick, BANG! (which is of course my onomatopaeia for the sound of rifle being cocked and fired, a little preview of next weeks episode)).

    That's a definite factor. Although you gotta admit, not many suicidal drunken santas outside of Billy Bob.

    But of course, out of all the things wrong with that episode, Santa takes the cake (and all the presents, boomboom tish, I'm here all week). Maybe it's just my personal opinion but magical beings like Santa Claus have no place in a Superman story like this. I'm aware that magic exists in the DC universe anyway but I'm still not particularly happy about it, it seems like a cheap writing trick most of the time and doesn't seem to fit into the framework. It was the main gripe I had with Season 4.

    Magic is usually cheap with Supes. Unless it's Mxy.

    Anyway, as I said earlier, this episode could quite happily be forgotten from the continuity of the show, the only major bit of progression (and thus the only redeeming feature of the episode in my humble opinion) was Lex choosing to go after Jonathan with dirty tactics, which we could pretty much surmise by ourselves without this horrible christmas special showcasing the decision.

    Agreed.

    Yours faithfully,
    Samuel Makepeace

    Thanks.

    Kevin Hendrickx wrote:
    Hi Neal. I saw Lexmas today. Here's a fact. Don't know you already heard or thought about yourself.

    If Lex's dreamworld really is showing the future he could have then I must notice this. He is "nice and healthy". So is everyone else. Lana(for a while), Chloe, Ma & Pa kent, .. Everybody that's close to Clark lives.

    So if Lex really had a vision of an alternative life. Why is everybody alive?

    In episode 100 someone dies. By Jor-El? I would say NOT. Because in the real life of Lex Luthor where he is "evil" somebody dies.

    My conclusion : Lex Luthor kills someone close who's close to Clark, not Jor-El.

    I don't know...it seems a bit drastic at this point with the character. But hey, stranger things have happened.

    Nomad-238 wrote:
    Shalom aleichem! Peace be upon you!

    Word! But likely not, given the beans I had earlier.

    Just a pet theory I've been tinkering with (one you've probably read before): Regarding the issue of whether or not Jor-El wanted a conqueror or not, we would do well to recall that we aren't seeing the actual Jor-El at all in the series, but a sophisticated computer system designed to mimick him in all ways, including vocal intonations. In essence, a virtual Jor-El.

    Perhaps. But then, wouldn't it be LIKE Jor-El, or programmed to be god?

    Here is my problem: Is the virtual Jor-El correctly interpreting the instructions of the actual Jor-El? Jor-El himself is deceased, so the virtual Jor-El (in all of its manifestations, from spaceship AI to cave wall and Fortress of Solitude voices) is left to interpret events according to instructions Jor-El left for it and in accord with the personality template of Jor-El. The problem is that most computers or virtual constructs only possess the personalities the operator chooses to give them. Without constant input from the operator, the computer is left to its own devices. Computers do not see things as living beings do! Everything we do is tainted with emotion -- even if you are a scientist or a John Byrne-written Kryptonian who practices stoicism. We can't get around that because emotion is hard-wired into us. Computers, however, do *not* see emotionally. They see no colors, no gray areas to morality. Everything is binary -- black and white, yes or no, on or off, one or zero.

    Agreed. Like Brother I. If the show says that, I may just bite.

    So you have an unemotional being -- the computer or "virtual Jor-El" -- trying to interpret the desires and commands of an emotional being. If Jor-El was a stoic of some sort, then the virtual Jor-El would have even more difficulty interpreting commands that were laced with thousands of years of emotionally-driven verbal constructs.

    For example, I point to "Star Trek: The Next Generation", specifically all the trouble Lt. Commander Data had trying to interpret several human figures of speech. Only after he received his emotional programming in "Star Trek Generations" did he begin to understand the meaning of jokes, let alone many common verbal expressions. If humankind has so many varied expressions, slang phrases and cliches in our language, how many would Kryptonese have? Isn't their society far older than ours?

    It's supposed to be. And that's a fair point.

    No matter how hard Jor-El might've tried to keep such expressions out of his speech they would've crept in anyway. I note the use of the word "conquer" itself. Speaking as a major in literature, there are several ways to "conquer" without actually fighting. What about Jor-El's benediction to Kal-El engraved on the inside of the spacecraft? "Where your strength lies"? What "power" might that be? Would it truly be the power in his fists or the heat in his eyes or could it reference the power of character? The strength of will only a Kryptonian raised by tough, "salt of the earth" Kents would have?

    Heh. You ask questions like an English Major too! But hey, I'm one too, so all is forgiven. They're very valid postulations...and questions I hope they'll answer.

    Clark makes references to Jor-El wanting him to be a "warrior" throughout Season 3. Do you have to fight with your fists to be a warrior? Allegorically speaking, I could say Martin Luther King, Jr. was a "warrior" who "fought" for the rights of the oppressed.

    I might say that more of Malcolm X, but point taken.

    Given the various poetic and metaphoric expressions inherent in any language -- be it terrestrial or extra-terrestrial -- how much trouble would a construct like the virtual Jor-El have interpreting such verbal or transcribed commands? The virtual Jor-El could be far off the mark intended by the actual Jor-El. All we know of the true Jor-El is what we saw in Clark's earliest memory of being in the craft in Season 3 (that would be the episode "Memoria") and the memories Clark gained thanks to the talisman Jor-El left behind in the 1960s (in the episode "Relic"). From these snippets of him alone I don't see that bad of a guy at all. Do we really know the virtual Jor-El is an accurate representation? Is the simulation truly the man or simply a vague shadow?

    I don't know...but if he was there in 1960, he'd know most of what humans are about, I'd think.

    Thanks for your time! Godspeed you on your journey!

    But where are we going? :)

    Nomad-238 wrote:
    I know, I know. I messaged you once already. Sorry.

    No problem at all.

    This is in reply to your review of the episode "Gone" (3x02). You mention the nice scenic wide-shot of Kansas and then toss in:

    "EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT THERE ARE MOUNTAINS IN THE BACKGROUND IN A SHOT SET IN KANSAS."

    Wow! That might have been the first time I said that. :) Long while back.

    First off, as one who works in the TV industry myself I can vouch for how hard it is to find archived footage of *anything*, let alone what you want to find. I'm in the process of archiving years of back footage we have of Israel scene-by-freaking-scene. This alone will be an on-going project, especially since the management takes annual trips to Israel (sometimes twice a year) and likes bringing camera operators on occasion. *sigh*

    I can understand that. I don't really complain about it beyond to jokingly note it unless it pulls me out of the scene. I'm sure there are many I've missed, which is a testament to the DP.

    But enough complaining about that, I was trying to give the "Smallville" guys some sympathy. However, I cannot. I, too, come from a place that has been plagued by bad representation in the Media. Not "bad" as in "negative", but "bad" as in "We aren't really like that at all". That place is Texas.

    Yes. Truth be told, before I met a number of people through writing this review from Texas, including Stephen G, I had my own stereotypes.

    Granted, there is much accuracy in the Media about Texas. The TV show "Dallas", for example? There's a ring of truth to all that garbage; I know people who can vouch for that. Apparently, much soap opera drama actually happened here amongst the crime families back in the '70s. Remember the film "JFK"? All the parts that took place in Texas? Fairly accurate stuff, especially the on location footage of Dealey Plaza. Then there's the film "Friday Night Lights", a movie that takes place in my hometown. (I had a bit part in that, in fact, but it wound up on the cutting room floor.) Sad to say, but that is a halfway-decent, semi-accurate portrayal of 1980s Odessa, Texas. The citizenry here worships football. It's the major religion here. Having family that went to both Permian High School (the school Billy Bob Thornton's character works for in the film) and to Odessa High School (the "other team" in the film), I know both sides of that story. I can recite the allegations of cheating and the bribing of officials at length, but that's not the point. Yes, Virginia, there *is* on occasion accuracy in filmmaking.

    And hey, stereotypes are created by something. The sad thing is when it's created to slander someone as opposed to being for a frame of reference.

    However, Texas has also had its fair share of mountains that appear out of nowhere. Ever been to Dallas? Not a fregging mountain in sight. Yet, the rural suburb featured at the beginning of "The X-Files" film near Dallas has MOUNTAINS in the shot. We know this is near Dallas because the text crawl at the bottom of the establishing shot says so. The fireman mentions "Oldetown Road", the road that goes from Dallas to Seguine, TX. (In fact, the Mutual UFO Network's original headquarters were on that road in Seguine.) The scene after this where the Federal offices in Texas get blown to smithereens occurs in Dallas. Are there mountains in Dallas? Hell. No.

    Heh.

    Now for an even worse example: the film "Operation Swordfish", which was more rubbish than I've seen in any trip to the local dump. Part of the film allegedly takes place in Midland, Texas. Midland is Odessa's unofficial "sister city"; it's only a short twenty-minute drive East from us. We're in the desert out here, just flat land for miles. You won't see anything resembling anything other than a massive sand dune or hill until you get near Fort Davis, which is closer to the Rio Grande. (We're just below the Panhandle, far away from any viable above-ground watersource.) There are no mountains here in Odessa, in Midland or anywhere within several miles. You would have to drive for a day just to *see* a mountain at all. Yet, in "Operation Swordfish" there are mountains *all over* Midland. If one were to go by the film alone without having been to Midland, one would think Midland was situated in the middle of a mountain.

    There's some pity for having to shoot and needing a cheap place that works, but you're right, it pulls you out.

    As a Texan (we prefer the old term "Texican"), specifically one who lives in the area, this is a major pEEer. I get nitpicky about things, and I can nitpick with the best of 'em -- onetime member of the Nitpicker's Guild (props to Phil Farrand) and longtime fan of MST3K. I have a healthy cynicism meter. I can spot plot threads at the beginning of an episode or movie poorly-written. Having worked in TV, I can spot camera shots fairly well and can catch a poorly done special effect, audio effect or cut/wipe. I can bash on any scene with intense accuracy.

    Sounds like how I feel reading a novel and knowing the cheap tricks authors use no one sees.

    However, doing so has left me a tad jaded. That, and it's unfair to those shows that actually *try* for accuracy. The film "Tin Cup" did a fairly nice portrayal of a pancake shop here locally, for example, and the show "Walker: Texas Ranger" actually filmed its brief scene of Midland on location in between Midland and Odessa. (Criminals hiding in Odessa, that's more accurate than I care to admit.) At some point, you have to set aside the nitpicker in you and just enjoy the show. If you don't, it'll get to you after a while.

    Yep. Agreed. And actually, I don't say a single word in protest towards the stuff I don't review, even though there's stuff I don't like. I usually just don't watch. I watch House, The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, 60 Minutes, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Scrubs, and that's about it, as I recall...

    Until next week, everyone, take care!

    Neal



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