Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 6 - Episode 1: "Zod"

Reviews:

Zod

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • Clark escapes the Phantom Zone and defeats Zod, dragging along some villains.
  • Jimmy Olsen is at the Planet, and Chloe's hitting it off with him.
  • Martha and Lois survive the plane crash with nary a scratch. Martha talks with Jor-El
  • Jor-El seemingly disappears. Lionel lies about having a connection with Jor-El.
  • It's the end of the world as we know it, and...well, it'll be okay next week.

    REVIEW:

    The Millenium Falcon has a sound that is how I feel right now. When it starts up, there's that shrill shrieking, and then Han hits it with his fist, and it starts up.

    I went into this premiere hoping to gouge its eyes out and do something awful with its skull, but to my surprise, it managed to be a pretty darned strong effort. Yeah, there were the typical inconsistencies, but not so strained as is typical, and with the payoff of good effects, fights, and character drama.

    Lana's still Lana, don't get me wrong, but all in all, one heck of a premiere.

    Will next week be better? Who knows. Typically I always get bitten in the butt by these premieres, because they're so awesome at the time, and then a week later everything that happens in them dissipates. Like, for instance, next week likely the world will be back to normal, Lex and Lana will be fit and fine, Clark and Chloe will lack an awkward tension, Jimmy will just be around, and no one will have any injuries from the week before. At least, you know, until sweeps, when Lionel's eyes will perk up with that Jor-El madness again.

    But that's next week. This week, I'm pretty pleased.

    Clark wakes up in the Phantom Zone, and we see what it looks like on the inside. Pretty cool, if you ask me. He checks out this great glass elevator, and does what any smart guy would do, stomps on the floor and finds himself in the warp-zone to world eight.

    This drops him into the desert world, which has a pretty awesome echo that never repeats beyond Clark's first cry for help, alas.

    Clark's bleeding, which is kind of strange. I always through the Phantom Zone was one of those places where you were disembodied. Like the Phantoms. But then, I get that they have to have him interacting with the environment, but why then have the Phantoms and not just fellow wanderers? And why do the phantoms get powers? Why does Clark lack powers, if they're in the same prison? How can Jor-El's little doohicky survive the trip? Also, isn't the Phantom Zone supposed to be a way to imprison, not execute? Otherwise why not simply kill the villains. This begs the question, if the other villains can kill Clark and likely will, and if any new prisoner will be beaten to death, why use the Phantom Zone? Etcetera.

    Clark he finds himself attacked by Dementors. He struggles, batting at his face, "EXPECTO PAi-ah, crap, not the eyes! Not the eyes!"

    "EXPECTO PATRONUS! Zap yo dumb @$$!" says the woman to his side, and immediately Clarky Potter is freed.

    "Hey, how do you keep your skin so moist in an arid desert climate?" Clark asks.

    She kicks him, knocking him out. Enter Raya.

    The Superman symbol, if I saw it right, was the one from Superman Returns. Crazy. I'm not up-in-arms. I think it's okay. I don't really mind the subtle alteration in the symbol. It doesn't change much, and it looks sleeker. The S changes, I'll deal. I kind of like it, actually.

    Ripoff/homage with the Dementors. Sigh. I dunno, I'm so used to Smallville taking ideas from other sources I almost missed it.

    The new credits are neat. It gave away a few scenes from the premiere, and, as someone in chat (just after the Pacific Time Zone showing, each new episode, in our chat room) mentioned, it shows the post-coitus Lana scene, so we can think of it each week. Har!

    Lionel and Chloe are still getting torn up in the middle of the riot. Out comes kung-fu Lionel (who knew?) followed by...what's this? A Luthor security goon doing his JOB? Of course, he didn't start doing it until Chloe's leg was hurt and his boss was nearly dead, and not escorting them into the building makes him typical Luthor security, but still, a neat nod. Maybe it was just some gung-ho Rambo chauffeur.

    Cut back to Lana and Lex, who, when last we saw them, were sucking face. Lana said, as I recall, "I have total faith with you and want to spend forever in your arms, you beautiful bald man-hulk you."

    While the city burned.

    Here, we shift gears entirely from "We will take Manhattan!" to typical Lana, but a sensible typical Lana, complaining about something that makes sense.

    "Uh, Lex, you can stop a bullet with your hand. Why aren't you helping these people?"

    Lex: "You forgot Poland!"

    Wins ANY debate.

    Even Zod says "Luthor" LuthER. Zod, in addition to your crimes against humanity, I add...grammar!

    So let me get this straight. Zod, we can understand why he'd just sit and watch the world burn with all his powers. Why in the world would Lana neck with Krypton Satan knowing that he can go down there and save people? I guess dramatic dialogue is more important to Lana than saving lives.

    "Lex Luthor is dead. My name is ZOD."

    The dialogue, when you write it out, is actually somewhat cheesy. Thankfully, the actors turn this into a really, really powerful episode. I'll be highlighting some of the better dialogue. The above was made possible by the genius of the Baum.

    "Zex's dead, baby. Zex's dead."

    Zod takes flight with Lana, awesome effect. You'd think with all of these people flying and from Krypton, Clark might make the correlation. Eh. Especially when he's been told he'll fly. But apparently Kryptonian flight only occurs after seven seasons...should have known better.

    Lionel and Chloe have a chat about killing Lex, which is really just an excuse to get Chloe to stay in Metropolis and meet Jimmy and get Lionel in close quarters with Martha so they can try and build (horribly) a basis for their shared interaction and make them justifiably in a relationship later this season, by my estimation. It fails on a few levels, because of the fallacy of having Chloe be the one dubious about killing Lex with Lionel gung-ho. Not because Lionel isn't a cold SOB, but because Chloe was pretty much FOR killing Lex in last season's finale, the reason why Lana (falsely) assumed three times that Clark was going to kill Lex no matter what without even talking to him about it.

    Blah blah blah, Lionel would obviously not be friendly with them, blah blah blah. You've heard my rationale on this multiple times, and it's obvious to anyone with half a brain. The man tried to murder them all, you don't get chummy with him, but they're doing it anyway, and I hate it like a pundit mixed with a junior high insult.

    I also laughed out loud at Chloe's excuse. "But...my leg!"

    Wile E Coyote, standing behind her, holds up a picture of a car before falling off a cliff. If you note, too, she doesn't really limp for the rest of the episode. There's also the fact that they don't really show her leg getting popped, and that she ran off with Lionel to get to the Luthorcorp building. Not a big inconsistency, but an easy one to fix for writers who should know better.

    A better excuse: "I've got to find Lana."

    A better excuse: "Lex was here, so maybe Clark was here with the knife. I'll check Lana's apartment and the rooftop."

    A better excuse: "YOU'RE A MURDERER! I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE WITH YOU."

    This thinking thing is why I can't write for Smallville, no doubt. Well, that and the fact that my eviscerations likely ruined any chances long ago. Still, neat to fantasize sometimes. But if I'm gonna do that with Alison, why plot points and not...

    CENSORED FOR YOUR PROTECTION.

    They're also way too affectionate for people who tried to kill or jail each other at some point. If Lana and Clark's tension (which is present for little to no reason) can last, a murder attempt would last longer. Inconsistent.

    Why would Lionel assume that the dagger was in Smallville if Zod/Lex was in Metropolis? He knows that Clark was going to use it on Lex, so wouldn't it make sense that it would be somewhere in Metropolis? He doesn't know about their barn confrontation, especially given that he's now cut off from Jor-El.

    Which, like most twists in this show, lacks a strong catalyst. WHY is he cut off. WHY is the Fortress dead? WHY in the world did stabbing Brainiac with the Zod knife damage the Fortress. I believe the kids have a phrase for this kind of thing.

    WTH? WTM? WTF? I dunno. I don't speak rap. It's cold in here!

    Lana and Lex are walking into the ship's current whereabouts, and Lana is struggling. It's very well acted, so it comes off well.

    Lana: "Where are you taking me?"

    Lex: "Zod doesn't take orders, he GIVES them!"

    It's an homage, so points for that. And it plays, points for that. Where it fails is sensibility.

    Steve: "Neal, I need to edit your Smallville review. You can't say that the writing staff has mental herpes simplex. It's too far. I won't have it."

    Neal: "Neal doesn't have, he takes!"

    Even if it sounds dramatic, it makes no sense. Plus it makes that whole Bob Dole talking about the self in first person thing come up. "Bob Dole doesn't take orders, he GIVES them. Bob Dole isn't a letch for liking Britney Spears! Bob Dole doesn't speak about himself in the third person? Does Bob Dole? Bob Dole isn't Zod! Bob Dole hates Fascists, and loves Pineapples! Great for Hitler's butt!"

    Lex: "Do you think Zod cares what a primitive like you thinks?"

    What do you think Lana's response is?

    "If Lex is really dead, then why waste your time with a primitive like me?"

    Zod: "Good point." CRACK! He snaps her neck and she falls over.

    No, wait. He says, "To bear witness to the end of the human era!"

    Why would Zod care about that? Zod doesn't care who witnesses the end of a human era! Especially a human who is supposed to be ending! They never really address this beyond Lana asserting that Lex, somewhere inside, wants to spare Lana. And Zod does state that she left a stain on him. (Ew). But nonetheless, even if Zod were made to care for something, he's ZOD. Even if he found a puppy cute in some amusing way, he'd snap its neck just to watch it bleed out. He's ZOD. ZOOOOOOOOD!

    He finds the ship and pulls another sigil looking thingie out of it.

    A Kryptonian ship with a sigil that comes off of it being a focal plot point, one that we later learn will figure into future stories. A sigil that Lex manages to find, a source of tension because we know if he finds out what that sigil means, he'll get closer to Clark's secr-

    HEY! Bob Dole remembers this! Bob Dole saw season three! Bob Dole remembers the ship AND the sigil. Bob Dole even remembers being offended by that baby they killed! Bob Dole disapproves! Mah!

    Martha wakes up in the plane wreckage. Brainiac dissipated, apparently, and the plane went down. Not a guided landing, but a "Holy crap there's no more pilot" descent.

    Miraculously, the small plane doesn't disintigrate, and Martha has small bruises and a cut above her eye. And the plane is mostly intact.

    Any of you watch the news? I do. And what's something you hear commonly? A small passenger plane went down, killing all aboard. Why? Because small planes don't really lend themselves to crashes very well.

    Lois is still fine, just bleeding on her neck a little bit and unconscious. She won't wake up. Martha doesn't check her pulse or anything, but she sees a structure, the Fortress, and carries her heavy form quite a ways across the arctic wastelands in frigid weather to the Fortress despite having just endured a crash.

    This is a good place for a character to say, "I can't! My leg!"

    I was kind of hoping for an "Alive" kind of situation. Martha could eat Lois, kind of wistfully at first, and then eagerly, and when she got back, Chloe could become Lois. Totally. It could happen.

    The Fortress, which tried to kill Chloe last time she set foot into it, lets them in gleefully, and Jor-El starts chatting it up with Martha.

    "Look, sorry Mar-Mar, but your son is in a totally inescapable hell pit of doom with people who want to kill him on all sides. Oh, and Dementors."

    "No wai!"

    "Totally. He's beyond screwed. Imagine watching season four all day, every day, naked, in a seat made of broken glass, while eating nothing but Raid, with Kristen Kreuk walking in front of the TV right in front of the only good parts. There's TOTALLY no back door out that I specially designed for people in my family that I know about but am not telling you about for some unknown reason. It's called the 'El Backdoor,' but really, it's not half so vulgar as it sounds on paper."

    "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" (Vader voice).

    "And you know what the best part is? I could have saved him, had I only told him that stabbing Brainiac with the knife would unleash Zod."

    "Wh-Why didn't you?"

    We hear the sound of giggles. "I am OZ, the GREAT and POWERFUL!"

    "What?"

    "Never mind. You trust me, right?"

    "Why should I?"

    "It'll forward the plot. Come on."

    "Oh, okay."

    "All right Martha. Here's my next trick. YOU, and ONLY YOU, must go and get the SPECIAL KNIFE which you can use to cut Zod."

    "But bullets bounce off of him!"

    Giggles. "No, you don't understand. It's a SPECIAL KNIFE, Martha."

    "Ohhhhh!" Nods. "But what about Kryptonite? You had the foresight to hide it hundreds of years ago in China, surely you know a way we can use it to stop Zod."

    "Look, a rabbit! By the way, is Lois bleeding out?"

    "I wasn't paying attention."

    "Good Martha, because you have to listen carefully to this next part. I want you to take three thousand dollars, and leave it in a bag at Neal Bailey's house."

    "I don't understand."

    "When you do this, the special hand will pop out of the mail slot and give you the CRAYON OF KRYPTON! With this Crayon, you must make a box with a circle on it, put a line and a few dots through it, and take it to CALIFORNIA, where you will find the WRITER'S ROOM."

    "Oh-Okay."

    "Tell them it's the symbol for MONEY and SHOW LONGEVITY. Tell them to find the symbol they must use the COHERENT PLOT DEVICE, which you can find ONLY in the Red Zone."

    "Is that for parking?"

    "No, the Old Spice Red Zone is for LOADING and UNLOADING only. Zappa-El told me. When you give them this COHERENT PLOT DEVICE, be sure to take it after they've used it, and leave it in a flour jar for a while. THEN, let Lex inconspicuously discover it and study it for a while before we forget all about it. Now, do as I command!"

    "But...what about Lois? Shouldn't I ask you to heal her, since I know that you have the ability to heal ovaries and such?"

    "SILENCE! No Jor-El healy-healy on Lo-Lo! I will only do it if you do not express concern and instead teleport away without worrying about your sister-like Martha apprentice! Besides, if you're not around, I can use my x-ray vision to-"

    "Aye aye, Jor-El!" with a snappy salute.

    WHOOSH!

    In the mini-fortress in the Phantom Zone, Raya introduces herself to Clark, and tells him a little bit about her past. Apparently, she was Jor-El's research assistant. Knowing that Krypton was about to explode, graciously Jor-El sent her to the Phantom Zone to save her from death with...eternal torment.

    "Why didn't Jor-El and my mom come?"

    "Because he was so dedicated to saving Krypton, and she wouldn't leave his side."

    Pffft! Yeah, right. Jor-El was messing around with his research assistant if you ask me, and found a convenient way to get rid of the wife. What! It's plausible, given his previous lies. Like telling Martha there's no way out of the Phantom Zone when there's really a backdoor.

    Here's how Jor-El keeps it on the down-low. He finds out he's gonna get caught messing around, he sends the girl and her incriminating undergarments to the Phantom Zone. Oh, you thought he was a humanitarian and made the Phantom Zone to punish villains? What motivates men, altruism, or getting away with stuff?

    Guilty. Guilty. GUILTY!

    Here I realize that okay, yeah, Raya may survive in the Phantom Zone in her body because Jor-El sent her there with benign intentions to help her survive. The other guys, the Phantoms, were sent as punishment, so no bodies.

    So Zod sends Clark in malice to the Phantom Zone but...lets him keep his body? Huh?

    Also, I don't buy that Jor-El and Lara wouldn't take the Phantom Zone option if they knew it could keep them in their bodies and alive, and that there was a way to fend off baddies. Think about it. Yeah, they're trying to save Krypton, but then they realize it's too late, send their son out, and then, what, stand around waiting to die when the Phantom Zone is right there and the teleportation into said Zone is instantaneous?

    Here's how to fix that plot point: "The earthquakes must have damaged the Phantom Zone projector before he could use it on himself. I don't know what happened!"

    Or: "Ow! My leg!"

    You know, I missed doing this. It's good to be back.

    Here we have a great shot of the Daily Planet smoldering with the rest of the city. Good effects.

    Chloe is trying to decipher the runes, and hears a sound. She shoots at it, and it's...Jimmy Olsen! His bowtie is still twirling from when he and Chloe did the dirty, and he even jokes about it. "You're not mad because I didn't call?"

    LOL one night stands! Oh Smallville, you CAD!

    With Chloe it's okay, she's not a moral arbiter. But then, for a show that went way out of its way to show that nine out of every nine people who engage in pre-marital sex drop dead of cooties (Chloe said poignantly in a moment of "The more you know!"), they sure do laugh about said two fifteen-year-olds having sex point pretty cheekily here.

    Jimmy Olsen shouldn't be as old as Clark. Jimmy Olsen now has seniority over the Planet with Perry, which is an abomination to God. Jimmy Olsen got some before Clark Kent. Jimmy Olsen is cooler than Clark, and stealing what could potentially be his girl.

    Abominations, all, but in this continuity, on this show, it just can't raise a good head of steam with me any more. I just don't care. I mean, though that's all well and bad, my big worry is Lionel and Martha riding the wild baloney pony or Lana getting pregnant by Lex. I mean, sweet Saddam Hussein, you crazy, crazy AlMiles, what more can you do? I mean, if you want crazy-as-hell plot ideas, I got a million of them.

    Martha turns out to be a dude.

    Lionel takes up gymnastics.

    Chloe and Lois hook up. (Good for sweeps)

    Clark goes evil just to see what it's like (worked for Luke in Dark Empire). No wait, you did that one already in season two/three.

    Jor-El is evil.

    Batman stops by, but he's "edgy" and "hip".

    I suppose I should be pleased they kept up the continuity that she had sex with Jimmy. But then, it's in continuity that she had sex with Jimmy. Come on. Let's bandage that wound with salt, huh?

    Jimmy doesn't belong in Smallville. Lois doesn't belong in Smallville. Obvious stuff.

    Zod and Lana jaw. Zod: "You had feelings for this human?"

    What clued you in, Zod, the fact that she sucked your face, or her pledge of eternal love? Congrats, you win the "Dumb As Clark" award for this show.

    Zod stops Brainiac's virus causing world chaos so that he can use the Pentagon's super-secret earthquake laser (no, seriously) to destroy the world and reshape it into Krypton. Which is funny, because as I recall, Krypton is way smaller than Earth (or way bigger) and thusly would have to be virtually annihilated, catapulted to a different star, and totally rebuilt to make a new Krypton, but hey, maybe shaking the Earth a little bit will do the same thing.

    Also, killing all the humans doesn't really seem to give Zod much to subjugate.

    Let me get this straight, here's the plan:

    Zod's agent, Brainiac, wants to get Zod out. He does this by telling Clark he'll destroy society, which he starts doing.

    Somehow, this will make Clark take the knife which he's supposed to stab Zod with and stab Brainiac (cunning plan).

    Concurrently, he's taking Lois and Martha to the Fortress, where neither Zod nor Clark nor Brainiac are, to use as pawns. It doesn't pan out because the plan he planned on happens.

    Then, when Zod comes back, as was planned, he stops destroying society so that he can get another way to destroy society, and do the exact same thing Brainiac was doing with the ship, re-making the world in Krypton's image.

    Which, honestly, is the modus of the Eradicator, not Brainiac.

    Excuse me, I need a sip of water.

    Mmmm!

    Bob Dole likes water, and his leg hurts.

    More likely, the writers needed a way to make Brainiac taking Lois and Martha make sense, and a reason to restore the power when there was one, so they made up crap.

    Yeah, I'll go with that.

    Now, in the middle of all this intelligence, Lana, who just saw this guy fly and shoot a bullet into the palm of his hands, decides to totally annihilate Zod by drawing one of Lex's swords.

    Lana was gonna win the "DUMBER Than Clark" award for the first time, but honestly, that's beyond dumber than Clark. This is the first official "You're A Bloody Carrot" Vegetative State Award. This even though she knows that Kryptonite will kill him dead.

    Zod does the obvious, slams her around and gives her a nice stigmata. She got off easy. I think Zod, written in character, would have burned her to a cinder.

    But no, face it, Lana's amazing. He keeps her, being the first female he's seen of this planet, alive to bear his heir. Why her? Well, because she's Lana, I guess.

    This does count as a time she failed to use her Flung Poo.

    Clark is going to where the backdoor is with Raya, ready to use his blood to open the door (no jokes, you filthy animals) when they're ambushed by Nam-Ek and presumably the gal from the first episode of last season. Likely they couldn't get her back, because she keeps her hood up for the whole encounter, adding a strange, almost Muslim context to their villainy. Subconscious or conscious? That's a debate for someone smarter than me. I'm just a construction worker.

    Raya betrays Clark, which later turns out to be a ruse, in order to kill Nam-Ek.

    Now, why does Nam-Ek not have that ethereal Dementor form? Strange and inconsistent, huh? Otherwise Raya could use her doohicky on them. And theoretically, it should work on them anyway, if it worked on the corporeal human-form Zod. The sigil can apparently survive the Phantom Zone, scare off Dementors with Expecto Patronus, and remove Zod from Lexes, much like black Kryptonite, but I guess it doesn't work on human-form people in the Phantom Zone.

    I guess.

    Sigh.

    So instead, she sacrifices herself to save Clark without warning him that people with his powers will follow him through the gate if he goes through in a certain way. Heck, even likely knowing it.

    Subtle revenge for Jor-El putting his mistress in an eternal hell? Methinks.

    Martha, Lionel, and Lana find the knife in Clark's barn. Why Lana is there is beyond me, beyond looking for Martha, who she'd likely know or think is in Metropolis because that's where she was when she flew off. The only other thing she could be looking for is the knife, which wouldn't logically be in the barn any more than anywhere else...

    Lana is suddenly and inconsistently unconflicted about killing Lex. Before she was fighting to bring him back from the brink, but now she's like, "Gimme knife!"

    Martha's head bruise is well done here. Nice development, actually, though I wonder why it wasn't there in the Fortress. That's a long walk.

    They were a bit subtle with the fact that Lex went to the Pentagon and back and returned with the launch codes. I think that's because if you think about it, you wonder why a man controlling a computer that can bypass any firewall in existence would need a computer in order to launch nukes.

    Well, that and the fact that Lex Luthor just committed an international act of terrorism and a crime against humanity and is one of the most recognizable faces of his nation, especially to politicians and warmakers, those cronies with their hands in the pockets of big business the most. Generally speaking of course.

    I guess when the world goes back to normal no one's gonna arrest him or anything, huh? I mean, obviously, he wasn't himself. (Homer voice) IN CASE YOU CAN'T TELL, I WAS BEING SARCASTIC!

    Lana has turned over a new leaf, and apparently wants to make bunnies with Zod. Zod, being a general who masterminded the destruction of a planet and thus obviously some kind of malevolent genius, says, "Oh, that must make her trustworthy!"

    But it's okay, because Lana's a carrot this week. She starts making out with him, and instead of stabbing him in the head or whatever, she says, "Maybe you just underestimated me!" before slowly reaching for the knife tucked in the couch.

    Stupid, because a guy who can move at incredible speeds shouldn't get a warning. Not from a SANE murderess.

    Heh. That's weird. "Unconflicted" gets a spell check warning, but "murderess" is apparently a word. Someone call Stephen Colbert.

    Lex puts the in-no-way-obvious plot device computer chip to work, taking the heretofore unheard of satellites that can cause earthquakes to work, as we all know that ending society by sowing chaos is not as good as ending society with earthquakes. Or maybe you argue that he's trying to rearrange Earth to be like Krypton, but like I said, that wouldn't take shifting the crust, that'd take changing the sun, son.

    For the rest of the show, as Sara astutely noted, watching with me, no one, for any of the shaking, makes for any kind of cover or shelter. The room starts rocking, they just start running around said room. Jimmy and Chloe are the first to do so.

    Clark finds out that blood is the key to getting out of the Phantom Zone. "But hey, I've been bleeding all show!" he says. "SHUT UP!" say Al and Miles just off camera.

    Clark gets through the zone, but not without dragging some Klingons with him. Six, by my count. Curious, and actually a pretty cool plot point. Six Krptonian types around. Beats the heck out of freak of the weeks that drink a Kryptonite milkshake and suddenly can spit cows at terminal velocity. Or whatever it is they haven't used yet.

    Lex starts choking Lana, which doesn't really make much sense. He's a genocidal maniac. Why doesn't he simply snap her neck? But nah, he chokes her into unconsciousness so she can't see Clark in action. Obvious, but okay.

    Clark busts in and uses his heat vision to blow half of the tech apart.

    Zod snarls. "YOU BROKE MY WOOBIE!"

    And bang, here's the money shot. Zod pushes through the room at insane speeds, blasts Clark through the air and into the dirt a great deal, throws him though a tree, punches him into a rock again and again and again, throws him through into a field, and then flies in at super-speed to mock him.

    People have been complaining to me since I saw the episode. "Neal! The fight sucked! Clark did NOTHING to fight back!"

    Two responses.

    One, Clark wouldn't be able to take Zod in a fair fight. Yeah, he's had a lot of fistfights, but Zod is a general. A merciless, genocidal general. Just like I think if Lex had Clark's powers Clark couldn't take Lex. Clark knows he has power, but Clark lacks tact. He throws guys forty feet, he doesn't go hand-to-hand.

    Two, he threw the fight. Dur. I mean, it looks like he's being a pansy in the show, but if he has the sigil in his hand, he knows that Zod's gonna thwomp him, and presumably the plan is to get him to shake hands and pow! Zap yo dumb @$$! I'm ketchup, Krypton trucker! MUSTARD! I'm a part-time candy stripper AND I do hair!

    This fight is awesome. It's hands-down the best super on super fight the show has ever had, and it makes this episode ALL worthwhile, no matter what you think of the rest of it. And though I'm poking fun as I always do, I really enjoyed most of the rest of the episode.

    They did the kneel. Complete with the line. They did the handshake, and made a way for it to stop Zod. Do I buy that the sigil would work on Zod? No. But I like the way they use the device enough to forgive it. Some will see it as cheese. I'm a sucker for the scene. Certain moments are classic Superman, and always will be. Rosenbaum plays the part well. The mise en scene is perfect. It manages to work well as a lynchpin scene, and I was tingling. GREAT stuff. The only thing missing was heat vision and more flight, but I'll take it. For tv, EPIC.

    Good lines, too:

    "You're an idealistic fool, just like your father."

    "Jor-El couldn't stop me, and neither can his son."

    "So easily beaten. Disappointing." (Right after a top-notch fly-in, I might add.)

    "Swear allegiance. KNEEL before Zod. KNEEL!" (Cool points and a mention to the first person who takes that KNEEL and puts my picture in front of it in a YTMND. In fact, why the heck aren't you guys making ytmnds, huh? C'mon, they RULE!)

    "Allow the ones you love most to live."

    The music in this scene is well done too. I notice a lot of the scraping fingers along a harp sound in the finale of last season. This season though, the music is fresher, epic, good stuff.

    I AM TIRED OF THESE MOTHER*$%(*^%* SQUEAKY SHOES ON THIS MOTHER%($^*#^ PLANE!

    I dunno. It got cheers at this theater I went to.

    Lois got home because a white light enveloped her, and she thinks she died and went to Heaven. Wonder if her conversion will last through next week?

    The bit with Clark holding her hand then pulling away is great. Well done.

    Now, what could this show be without a moment where you just want to kill Lana? Oh yeah, we already had that a few times. But here's a worse one.

    Lex comes and finds Lana, who cringes. Why does she cringe? Because he effectively forced her to have sex with him or die (otherwise known as rape), stabbed her in the hand, knocked her unconscious, choked her, beat her up, took over the world, tried to terraform Earth...

    Her response? "Oh, you weren't yourself, it's okay!"

    "But I blew up the Earth!"

    "We'll rebuild! Aw, shucks!"

    But Neal! Have pity! Lex wasn't himself!

    Well, yeah, that's how you or I or any other rational being would see it.

    BUT NOT LANA. How would Lana see it? Clark is walking down the street. Somebody comes up, grabs his hand, and in full view of Lana, forces that hand onto another girl's shoulder.

    "CLARK!"

    Clark: "Lana, you just saw, I wasn't doing that, some dude just forced my hand onto her shoulder!"

    And STOMP. And POUT. And TURN. And EXIT.

    When Clark does things out of character, out of his control, Lana eviscerates him for it. Lex almost destroys the world, she takes him back, is sympathetic, and forgives him readily.

    Inconsistent characterization.

    Clark and Chloe pass off the kiss. Nuts. You knew they would, but it still sucks to see it happen. Mostly because there's really no plot reason for it at all. There's an angle in having Chloe have someone interested in her finally, and I think that's what they're aiming for this season. Lana has Lex, Lois had Green Arrow, Chloe has Jimmy, and Clark's all alone. Why? Because he's SUCH a @$#%$^, right? Makes sense.

    Or maybe it would make sense for Clark to get with Chloe, who's been a good, positive influence in his life, etcetera. Chloe's what Lana's character should have been.

    "They grow 'em big in Kansas!"

    Problem: For that line to work, Jimmy and Metropolis can't be from and in Kansas themselves respectively, right? Undermines that whole "we're strangers meeting in the big city we're unfamiliar with" thing.

    Clark then turns into Lana, passive aggressively ignores the suggestion of dinner, and looks scornfully at Chloe, the only person on this show he really has wronged with a lack of proper respect for her contribution to his life.

    "CK" is a decent nod to Lois and Clark, but was forced because it happened before Clark even hardly knew him.

    Jor-El doesn't respond to Clark, and is apparently gone. This plot device doesn't really intrigue me, because it's about as likely as Clark dying. Lionel lying about having Jor-El still within him is no surprise either. But why POWER?

    Clark: "Everything's changing!" And hey, for the first time in years, that's pretty much true. Chloe's moved on. Clark and Lana are over. Jonathan's dead. If they can KEEP this and make it sensible, we might be renewed here. Dare I hope?

    Martha's hero speech was a bit derivative, but once again, good acting saved it. A strong speech in Annette's hands.

    And then, the end. Good times. Freaky, a great, strong, scary ending. I'm eager to see what the heck it is.

    Judging from the crappy preview with that freaky actor that I know from somewhere, it looks like next week might be a bomb. We'll see.

    But as for this week, all criticisms aside, I had a heck of a blast, I'm eager to be watching Smallville again, which I haven't said in a LONG time, and if they can keep this momentum, I'm on board.

    4.5 of 5.

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    Okay, yeah, so a device wouldn't work in a Phantom Zone, and Clark wouldn't retain his body, and Zod wouldn't shut down the virus, and earthquakes won't turn Earth into Krypton. Heck, for that matter, Lana wouldn't be Zod's ideal mate, unless it was coffee-mate for his beverage of choice, ground up with eye lasers. Still, the fight, the scope, the acting, and the effects make this a very good, strong episode, at least in the gut. 4.5 of 5.

    WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION:

    Well, I didn't answer letters, alas. Sorry about that. To those of you who sent me personal letters, I'm working towards it.

    Honestly, the situation with the house I'm repairing is such that I'm having to sacrifice my writing or go bankrupt. It will end in December when I finish repairing my house and refinance it to build another, but the point being, I'm slow to answer personal letters because of it. It's not you guys, it's the fact that my books aren't selling, I'm going into debt to write, and I'm working myself to the bone.

    As I've said before, I will answer every letter I receive until I no longer can, but time guarantees are not great right now...and I'm really, really sorry about that. You guys are what makes this good, and I hate to neglect that. I have a mortgage company you can write complaint letters to, or asking a senator to help fund the arts might help. Ha!

    NEA grants for writers are only given to already successful, published writers who are making money. I have been searching for years and have yet to find any grant to help a struggling writer. Why? Because businesses get grants, not the people who keep businessmen sane and laughing.

    My book deal with Conscious Publishing progresses. I've finished a good working draft of my poetry book, Roofer, a construction worker character piece, and it's strong. That was most of this summer.

    Went to Chicago, that was crazy. Sold out of books, but ultimately lost money.

    I'm going to Florida next week as press to explore the Superman video game. Ergo next week's review will be late. Apologies.

    I'm finishing the editing on my fifth prose book. I anticipate sending out a metric ton of submissions in January when my refinance goes through and I get cash.

    LETTERS:

    I am in bold, per usual. I'm also throwing in my Superman Returns "Yes Publish This" mail, so those folks can get words as well...

    Mike wrote:

    Hi Neal,

    I really love your SMALLVILLE "K.O."-list. It's a nice (and FUNNY!) piece of work.

    Thanks!

    The only "complaint" I have to make is regarding the feature at the end of your list:

    "Characters who meet Clark LATER in the comics, but know him earlier in this continuity:"

    The SMALLVILLE writers are using l o t s of old Silver Age comicbook-stories ("Superboy" & "Adventure Comics") for their scripts ("modernized" of course, and without showing Clark in a "Super"-costume).

    Some of the characters on your list, Clark HAS MET in his Smallville-days, like:

    • Lex Luthor (revealed for the first time in "Adv. Comics" #271, 1960 and in various issues of "Superboy" & "Adventure Comics" in the 60's & 70's; ...and in flashbacks in "Superman" and "Action" 'til 1985. ...and now again thanks to "BIRTHRIGHT" :)
    • Maggie Sawyer ---
    • Morgan Edge ---
    • Lois Lane (a young Clark met Lois in Metropolis in an early issue of "Action Comics"; a young Lois visited Smallville several times in various issues of "Superboy", "Adventure" & "Lois Lane") btw: In his Smallville-days, Clark even met a VERY very young Jimmy Olsen (cameo only)
    • Sam Lane ---
    • Steve Younis (Last Son of Krypton audio drama) :)
    • The Flash ---
    • Mr. Mxyzptlk ("Superboy" #70 & 78)
    • Bridgette Crosby (Dead) (not in the comicbooks)
    • Dr. Foster (Dead, somehow) (?)
    • Dr. Teng (Dead, somehow) --- (it's a "Byrne/Man of Steel"- only-character)
    • Perry White ("New Adv. of Superboy" #??, ca. 1982 and at least an old Silver Age Super-...comicbook)
    • Dr. Hamilton (Dead, somehow) ---
    • Lucy Lane ---
    • Neal Bailey (KAL) :) ...nice try :)
    • Aquaman ("Superboy" #171: "introducing Aquaboy")
    • Milton Fine ----
    • Cyborg ---
    • General Zod. Zoooooooooooooood! (in "Adventure Comics" #281 (?), featuring the 1st appearence of the PHANTOM ZONE and of GENERAL ZOD! A lot of fans think, that "Zod" is character from the movies and/or SuperMAN-comicbooks, but this isn't true!)

    Aha! You are wholly correct and wholly wrong at the same time, mostly because of my lack of clarification. In that list, I mean the accepted, Byrne Post-Crisis continuity that Smallville is loosely based on (earlier on it was closely based, now it's much more Silver Age). To that end, I've modified the count to reflect that, and thanks. GREAT index of those first experiences, however, and it's really great to have those early moments catalogued here.

    Bridgette I actually have no clue where she met with Superman, but according to the writers or producers, as I recall, they said she was a character from the mythology, and I just trusted them...and it's possible, so I'm leaving it in.

    Sorry, that I can't give you the exact issue numbers on some entries, but I dont have my Superboy/man-collection here at work :))))

    No worries. What you did do is pretty incredible.

    btw: I would love to try my luck at your contest, but I must see if I find the time for it.

    That's usually my problem too. ;) But please do!

    Keep Up Your Great Work!
    ...and kind regards to you
    from Berlin (Germany)

    Mike

    Awesome! I'm a half-German decent dude myself, I think. German/French/demon. But either way, I'm a mutt. Thanks!

    Michael wrote:

    Hi Neal,

    If you want to use any of the Smallville stuff here on your page, feel free. And feel free to use any of the rest of it if you think it's relevant.

    Cool. Thanks.

    You surprised me in your review of Fade. What did you give it? One star? Two?

    Hah! I've forgotten what Fade even was about. Looking it up...

    Ah, okay. Yeah, it's the one about the gangster who gave Clark the TV and put the moves on Lois. Gave it a one.

    I thought it was very enjoyable and would have put it at around four stars. It makes me wonder something about Smallville. Most of what bugs me at this very moment of Smallville is how inconsistent it is with some elements established in previous seasons. I think this is your main gripe too.

    Usually. To me, the foundation of a good story is a strong set of consistent characters. Superman's characters are so well defined, it's extra agonizing when they screw it up for arbitrary drama.

    For Martha to do anything other than dial 911 when Lionel shows up on her doorstep is absolutely wrong for the character, based on what we've seen in the past. So I'm wondering at what point we have to forgive the show for season 4? When do we acknowledge a tacit ret-con? If you eliminate the year of witches and rocks -- and the season 3 cliffhanger which, though good, is tied to season 4 -- then season 5 looks a lot better and makes a lot more sense.

    With me, I forgive a bum story when it's acknowledged and repaired. For instance, Lionel has never repented or tried to make up for what he did in season four, and that's what it would take to make him a viable character the others would trust. It's like, well, what the letter is about to get into. Just because people say Lionel's been good and trustworthy doesn't make it true.

    The other annoying thing about Smallville is the recycled plot. Fade was definitely a recycled plot, but I still found it to be a fairly solid rehash of the standard FotW plot. So I was willing to pretend I hadn't seen 90 other shows just like it and enjoy the character moments. Now, I would not cut that kind of slack for the Simone show. That was a real sucker punch and I'm still sore about that one. It wasn't just a recycled plot. It was a recycled bad plot. And Clark took his shirt off. Have you noticed that Mr. Welling isn't as ripped and hunky as he was in season 1? Looking a little soft, to my eye.

    I haven't checked out Tom, mostly because I'm so straight it isn't even funny, despite having a ton of gay friends. I only look at two men as sexual objects: Hugh Laurie and Ewan MacGregor. And not in THAT way. I just have to concede, in a gruff voice, that, et-hem, those are pretty men.

    I guess my question is this: do we judge each episode primarily on its own internal merits, or do we judge it based on how it fits into the series as a whole? I think your reviews are driven more by the latter consideration and my own a little bit more by the former.

    I try and do both. I would say premieres and sweeps stuff are the former, and the rest are the latter for me.

    But I used to be more in your camp. Maybe the reason I've shifted a little bit is because it makes the show easier to enjoy. It was very enjoyable in season 1, 2 and 3 on that big picture view. But that view just isn't very satisfying lately. That's too bad.

    I agree. But hey, that's where you're supposed to be. I'm the guy who finds the niggling details...and critiques (thus the title). You're the person who just sits back and enjoys it. And that's great.

    Now I have a critique of your critiques. Your reviews have lately become mostly a scene-by-scene pick-apart session. Now that can be fun, but I usually like your stuff better when it has a broader view. So if I had one request for your reviews, it would be more forest and less trees. But maybe the tree-chopping is your own reaction to how unsatisfactory the forest view has become?

    I think I make up for the forrest for the trees thing by the acknowledgement that the scene-by-scene stuff is for fun, to see how much I can find. I don't feel bad because, even if every scene can be picked apart (and it usually can be) I still rate on my gut. That's why this episode got 4.5 despite failing horribly under critical examination. I had fun watching it.

    Be aware that nit-picking leads to trouble because you will frequently exceed your own expertise.

    Oh, I expect it. I hope to fail and be flawed. That's why I do the letter column. It keeps me humble, corrects my failing assumptions, and allows a town hall information safety net, like Wikipediea. And I believe, honestly, that the benefits of taking such a critical risk far outweight the staleness of safe, sane, and utterly boring as hell writing.

    That leads to crazy people writing crazy letters. But then, you like that.

    Word! But this ain't crazy.

    One example: you scoffed at Lois the third-degree black belt picking up a weapon. My own reaction was exactly the opposite of yours. I found it very realistic and laudable, because a big part of what makes a black belt is never to rest in a prideful trust of your own abilities. On the other hand, what bugged me in that show was Lois getting so riled up when Graham surprised her, and then bragging about her training. A third degree black belt will definitely move fast into a safe position, but she will not brag. And she'll have her hands up too, but not in that confrontational way.

    I dunno. I found her actions stupid in street fu, which is all I know.

    Good call, by the way, on that sick conversation between Lois and Martha about how dating slimeballs can be a handy back-door into a strong marriage. "I attracted the dark type." Yeah, you're just the blameless magnet. Tell me again how Clark learned that the ends don't justify the means? How he learned about personal responsibility? Not from Mom, I guess.

    Yeah, very true.

    The thing I enjoyed most of all in your recent reviews was your off-the-cuff outline for how the show could wind down to its final episode. That was really fun! Give us more stuff like that. There are lots of people on the Web writing about every little continuity error -- look, the coffee cup stopped steaming and then it magically started again in the next scene! Blah. Less of that, please, more of the other.

    I try and mix it up. Some like the one, some the other. I just rant and see what sticks. Were this a TV SHOW I might do otherwise, but really, this is just goofing around and having fun being a fanboy.

    I haven't seen your reviews yet for the last two shows. I wonder what you'll make of them. I enjoyed the next-to-last show quite a bit. Maybe the best show of the season. Can't wait to see what nits you pick off it. The finale was less good, but still pretty good. But I laughed out loud at that ridiculously over-dramatic scene of Lex in his Matrix coat standing over the burning city! I had to rewind it several times to laugh some more. That was preposterous, but in kind of a comic-book way, so I'm ready to forgive it.

    Heh. I liked it because, heck, I'm a sucker for Zod.

    On another subject, I liked your review of Skelton's book, and the interview. Boy, the Web comments sure got stupid fast.

    Web comments tend to be when anonymous. People will say all kinds of stuff when they know their mother isn't watching, and for some reason I'll never understand, people really enjoy making others miserable online from anonymity. I love making scumbags feel ridiculous personally.

    But no one jumped on the one thing that bothered me, Skelton's comment that Batman fits in with the supposed eye-for-an-eye theology of the Old Testament. That's a real Evangelical Protestant take. I think most Jews and many Catholics would take strong umbrage at such a characterization. I'm a little surprised no lunatic jumped up to scream "anti-semitism!" Those types are usually in good supply on most Web sites.

    You'll never be short somewhere to find someone who will get offended at something. Especially on websites. But honestly, his opinions are his own. Offense is the choice to get angry at something without real reason. Logical debate is the mediation of disputes of intellect that usually results in equitable compromise. Guess which one I pay heed to? Poor Steve, he's gotta look at the offense. I just have to try not to offend. Which is like running on marbles. Sometimes the most benign things are "offensive" whereas I can get away with some stuff that is odd to me no end.

    I remember being very struck, years ago, by that line in Donner's Superman -- "For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I am sending them you, my only son" -- but I was a little more cynical about it than Skelton. It always struck me as a pretty shallow and uneducated attempt to catch some air from the messiah story. If you check out St. Paul, Christ's coming didn't have much to do with our capacity for good. Kind of the opposite, I think.

    I always saw it as Christ coming for our potentiality for good. Our capacity, if you will. It was a way to stop the error of destroying humanity (Noah) as a way to redeem them, a correction. That's my lay interpretation. There's also a cynical one I have, but that'd offend people.

    Does Skelton have anything to say about how the Superman story helped nudge other science fiction stories in the messiah direction? The messiah theme is enormously used -- or overused -- in science fiction. Think Dune, think Terminator, think Matrix. It would be interesting to trace some of this fascination back to Superman. But I gather that Skelton's book may be more devotional and less scholarly?

    I think that's taking the House analogy. Your paint is peeing and the room is filled with smoke, you don't repair the wallpaper, you run from the fire. I think all of the messianic stuff in sci-fi is informed by our society's propensity for religion, not sci-fi's propensity for it.

    Finally, I want to take you to task on something you said about faith. I only bring it up because you're my kind of atheist. As a lapsed atheist myself, I have a soft place in my heart for die-hards, especially when they're rational and polite.

    Cool.

    You said, more or less, that faith is, by definition, believing something without any evidence to support the belief.

    Yes. Religious faith in particular. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing in all cases, just the truth. I exempt naturalistic truths because I think existentialism is a load of hooey. Sure, you can't prove anything logically exists. We might all be brains in a vat. But if we are, the exercise of logic is a fool's errand anyway, so until I find reason to believe there's something beneficial to devil's advocating yourself out of any rationality, I make an exception for the fact that I believe because I see a flower, it exists. "Prove it!" you say, and I point at the flower. "Prove God!" someone screams...and where do I point? Which is my point.

    I know you could find Christians to defend such a statement, and they're vocal in America, but I think you could find far older and more universal support for a quite different understanding of faith. For example, persons seeking baptism in the Catholic Church are never told that they must simply accept doctrines without evidence, "on faith," whatever that would mean. The people who demand you accept something "on faith" are bad teachers. The Church is quite ready to argue with anyone who asserts that there is no evidence for the Resurrection.

    And always, to my opinion, fallaciously. I've searched like a fanatical Christian for years for any kind of provable evidence for any deity. There is none. It's almost empirical. Finding a boat on a mountain doesn't prove Noah's arc. Someone being healed doesn't entail a miracle. Evolution even accounts for freak jumps of logic like healing where not healing should be the case.

    Honestly, in my experience with the church, many churches, I agree that many are people who assert you must accept faith without evidence. The others, apologists and folks who like to present what I tend to see as half-evidence or evidence geared to beg the question, have a better philosophical approach but one which nonetheless doesn't change the fact that you must accept their assertion on faith. Oh, that boat on the mountain is Noah's Ark? Even if it is, how does it prove an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being that exists necessarily and is the creator of all contingent things...

    There's plenty of evidence, historical evidence, and the Church will trot it out all dressed up in the best possible syllogisms for anyone who wants to consider it.

    Yar. To which I refer.

    Some judge the evidence to be convincingly probable and they become Christians. Some judge the evidence to be inconclusively improbable and they remain outside. But nobody enters by simply ignoring evidence. Or probably many do, but they're not supposed to. In fact, it's officially not allowed.

    Right, but that doesn't assert that the evidence presented is feasible or adequate. And taking it back to your assertion, how is taking inadequate evidence and using it as a basis to be convinced into a belief not believing something you have no empirical evidence for? Not trying to bust your chops, I love a good debate, and I like where you're going, you've just got to push it a little harder.

    Faith, or anyway one aspect of faith, comes in later. Once you've decided that the Resurrection is real, are you going to stick with that conviction, or are you going to be blown about by circumstances, Christian when it suits you, something else when something else is convenient?

    Most do. I don't. I'm a weird dudikus.

    Are you going to follow what your mind has told you is true years ago, or are you going to follow what your emotions want to do right now? Sticking with your convictions is faith and that's why faith is a virtue.

    No, sticking with your convictions is sticking with your convictions, and doesn't entail faith, thought faith is related. Faith is the belief in something just because. Sticking to your convictions is taking whatever you have faith in and defending it. Blindly sticking to your convictions is logical suicide, which is what the idea of believing something without evidence is, necessarily.

    As for following what my mind told me is true years ago, it depends on the logical basis for that truth. I no longer believe that nice guys will eventually get everything they deserve, because though I believed that when I was young, I've encountered counter-examples and evidence to state otherwise. I believed in God because it was a great, fun, and ultimately rewarding premise in youth, that everything happens for a reason and that goodness is rewarded. Then I see a lot of horrible things I can't describe here, approach the problem logically, and I don't keep to it.

    So many of the religious people I know adhere to that logic, which is disappointing in my Spockish way of looking down my nose. But it's their life. Will I follow that? Nay.

    Now there is one sense in which faith demands something like a disregard for evidence. Because faith is, or is supposed to be, a personal relationship, it should operate like other personal relationships. Is it reasonable for a husband to demand constant demonstrations and proofs of love and fidelity from his wife?

    Yes.

    Will he panic if he sees her talking to another man?

    Yes. I would. If the talking seemed to be leading to infidelity, anyway.

    Will he trust her so little?

    It seems logical not to if she's stepping out.

    Same with God. If you're lucky enough to have had some glimpse of personal contact with God, you're not going to throw that out the window at the first hardship. The husband doesn't know who that man is that his wife is talking to, but he trusts his wife. The believer doesn't always know why evil prospers so exceedingly in this world, but he trusts his God.

    Which is, to wit, believing something with no logical basis to do so. I believe the sun will rise tomorrow because it's logically sensible to do so. I wouldn't trust Mother Theresa to hold a loaded gun to my head, reputation aside, just to make the exericise, because that's bloody stupid. She might shoot me.

    And husbands blindly trusting wives is why people cheat. Likewise for wives trusting husbands. It's foolish. Poetically beautiful and romantic. But stupid.

    So in a sense, your definition was exactly the opposite of the truth. Faith is itself a kind of evidence, based on personal knowledge.

    Personal knowledge is not empirical and can't be verified. There are people who believe that we can fly if we just jump off a roof. I won't follow them.

    Personal knowledge is something without a verifiable test. Personal knowledge is a set of euphemistic words to indicate faith. Faith itself is not evidence. Love-theft sounds like something benign, but it's really rape.

    It's not scientific evidence, which is demonstrable, but relationship evidence, which is often incommunicable. We often can't see why one person trusts another, but it's usually for a good reason.

    If it's incommunicable, and thereby incomprehensible, it's unquantifiable, taking it back to the original assertion. So it's not okay to have faith just because you have faith, but there's a difference when you accept an incommunicable truth as relationship evidence to believe something you can't quantify? They're analogous.

    This is important to me, not because I want to convert you, but mainly because I really think it's vitally important that atheists and Christians understand one another as well as they possibly can.

    All denials of your assertions aside, I believe I understand what you said as clearly as you stated it, which was well. I disagree with your logic, but you stated it well.

    If you continue to think that faith is believing without evidence, then a whole bunch of people are going to make no kind of human sense to you. At least, I know I can't comprehend people who claim to have that kind of faith. Either they don't really mean what they say, or they are completely alien to me.

    You've drawn a distinction between blind sheep and people who make a reasonable effort to find a reason for something they want to believe. I agree wholeheartedly. I'd rather know and befriend someone who has the best intentions and tries to justify them than, essentially, a nazi in thought.

    But I would hate to think that anything human is alien. Let's disagree, but at least try to regard each other as fellow humans. That seems to be a vanishing value these days.

    Well, I like the regarding each other as fellow humans, but I'm fond of not disagreeing. I believe that through logical examination, enough of it anyway, equitable compromise can always be found. So when someone says, "Let's just make our conflicting assertions and accept them for what they are!", to me, that seems to be giving up on an opportunity to better affirm our position in the human condition.

    We should just stop trying to see who's right or where we can meet in the middle just because it's hard and "offensive"? :) I'd rather fix the world.

    But that's the optimism I have on faith. Bites me in the butt all the time.

    Michael

    Incredible letter, Michael, and thank you. Please don't feel belittled, my regarding of your statements in no way meant offense. Logic never does.

    Kevin wrote:

    Hey Neil what's up.

    My interest rate. Hey-oh! I'm here all week, provided I'm not evicted. Try the quiche!

    I like your reviews as I have mentioned before and now at the end of the season there are a few things that I've noticed that I have issues with. You mention alot of things that are uncharacteristic of Clark Kent. I agree with most of them but one thing I think you are doing is confusing the personality of Clark Kent with that of Superman. You have to remember that Clark was raised as a human and no matter how good of parents we have there are certain character flaws that we all have as humans have.

    Yar, I agree. But Clark Kent isn't us. He's the moral arbiter. At least, that's my take. And I believe that Superman is just Clark Kent using his powers in the open. They're the same guy.

    You've mentioned the sex before marriage thing before and I think that it has been mentioned in the comics. A few times before in the comics they have had Lana hint in conversations with Clark that that had happened between the two(before Smallville did it I might add), and I'm quite certain that Clark and Lori did something in the 4 years they dated while he was in college.

    Sure. Doesn't mean I agree with it. Heck, Lois can somehow use a Kryptonian mind projection ability. Ask DeMatteiss about that crap.

    The only time Clark Kent's virginity was ever mentioned was in Lois and Clark during the third season in that episode where they are stuck in that virtual world. Also Clark's feelings getting the better of him; even the best of us let's that happen.

    Of us, yeah. Not Superman, I assert. Superman is the best of what we could be if we weren't human, and ironically, that makes him the best of humanity.

    The Golden age and Silver Age Clark Kent may have been that way but the Modern age Clark Kent is more human. So much in fact that at times it is easy to forget(even as a reader) that they are the same person. I mean a prime example of that is that ever since the modern age has began Clark has have to be reminded that he is Superman when he talks about himself in the third person.

    Yes, true, but that doesn't make him human to the point of, say, rape or murder or taking a political position arbitrarily and out of character, like the decision for pre-marital sex, which doesn't even need to be covered.

    Superman is an ideal and Clark thinks of him that way. I've read alot of the Golden and Silver age Stuff and I realize that the current Clark Kent is the reality and Superman is the disguise as opposed to the old days when it was the other way around.

    VERY agreed.

    I have heard Superman talk about having to hold back because if he didn't he might kill someone, what if he didn't just mean powers wise. I mean if you consider all of the horrible and evil things that he has seen, no matter how much hope he may have for humanity, both the side of him that is Clark and that of Kal-El have wanted to make certain villians pay for what they did. Yet Superman holds back because he knows how the world sees him.

    EXACTLY. Yes. And I believe that even when he has the mask of Kent to hide behind, he'll still try to live in that way. And he should be written that way, metafictionally speaking. He shouldn't do anything, even in private, that would make US look at him as flawed. Some agree with premarital sex. I do. But for some, it besmirches Superman.

    When Wonder Woman Killed Maxwell Lord Superman said it was wrong because the world trusts them to be better than that not because it didn't need to be done. When you mention how Clark is always bashed for helping Lana. Lois tends to do the same thing. She even went so far as to break off their engagement because of it.

    I hated that storyline.

    Before she knew he was Superman Lois would always rag on Clark for some of the same things and even some minor things. Now I'm not saying that Smallvile doesn't need to make changes I'm just saying that you have to cut them some slack on character when it comes to Clark. Now everyone else you are dead on about(Especially Lana).

    Nah, I don't. I really don't. But I appreciate that you do. I mean, if I stop holding Clark to task just because he's like me, who's to say that it's not okay for Clark to just go on a bender when he's really angry and knock down an abandoned farmhouse? It doesn't hurt anyone, and he does it without anyone seeing it. And hey, maybe it was even scheduled to be condemned. But then we see a flawed, angsty, out-of-character Clark doing something reprehensible, losing his temper.

    Thanks!

    chloefan119 wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Don't even know if you publish letters when the show is in between seasons, but here goes:

    At the beginning of the next season, yepper.

    I've come up with a tongue in cheek theory of how Chloe is so intelligent and knows even more about computers than my brother, which is saying something:

    Okay.

    Chloe is a member of the FBI.

    OMGBRBFBI!

    That's right! You thought she was actually spending all those countless hours doing work on the torch? Psshhh, no. She was taking online courses to brush up on her skills, since going through the academy only covered so much. Well, how did she fit this in between all her schoolwork? Simple: Correspondence courses! No wonder her dad was always so poor. His little girls education was everything to him. Summer break? Perfect time to go to the academy and earn that badge! Unfortunately, being the youngest undercover agent in the bureau's history has its downsides: you have to follow orders, grind your teeth and do what you are told, doing menial work at a major metropolitan newspaper with the WoW on the side.

    I play a warrior on Stonemaul. OH! You mean Wall of Weird.

    This way the FBI gets the plucky girl to send them snippets about possible dangers stemming from Smallville, and she gets to keep an eye on Clark. Would she betray him? Never! Which is how I see her eventual death. Her betrayal is revealed to another agent, that mentally unstable said agent (possibly in the pocket of one Lex Luthor) tries to get her to go public, she doesn't, and she gets wacked so she can't warn Clark. (Didn't we do a similar scenario with Pete and that cop, not to mention bits from other episodes? Yea, whatever!) Clark arrives seconds too late, and in a fit of rage dons that wonderful suit (oops, shades of Batman, oh well).

    Batman: The only...possible...explanation! Still, awesome.

    But really I just want her absurdly varied skills to come from somewhere. It's ridiculous what we have to swallow. There are limits to believability, no matter how hot I think she is.

    I'm sorry, I was staring at her breasts. What did you just say?

    The only other gripe about Chloe is her comeback quips. Really. Normal people do not talk like that. Once in a while its okay, but not all the time. It's annoying. It makes it blatantly obvious that there are writers struggling to make her character witty and funny, and it just falls on its face. I'm sick of it, I want it to stop. I want to hear Chloe say meaningful things, not sentences that sound forced and thought out five minutes beforehand instead of a few seconds.

    Yes. Bad pithy is Chloe. Good pithy is House. House is how real smart-@$$es talk. I know, because I try to all day and fail.

    I've waited years for that kiss between Clark and Chloe. Awesomeness. I would have liked a better response from Clark, though. He sort of just brushes it off and ignores it. Could be shock/nervousness, though. Or, perhaps, his love of Lana?

    My personal take on this is offensive and involves a Skittle-unrelated rainbow.

    I understand Clark's position, so I let it slide. When you are obsessed with someone, you let them walk right over you, when any sane person would stand up for themselves and realize they really aren't in love, just infatuated.

    Been there, done that.

    Been there, done that.

    I empathize. Heh.

    So I can only assume Clark's eyes haven't been opened yet. That kiss with Chloe should be the beginning of the process where he realizes there is more than one person for everybody.

    In a good writing world. Even Atlas can't help eventually looking at what the heck he's holding.

    Chloe and Clark should hook up, whereby infuriating Lana, which leads to Chloe telling her "Clark told me *everything*" just to rub it in (but Chloe is too nice to do that) but it'll probably never happen. I mean, my god, Chloe has been carrying a torch for Clark (whoa, no pun intended) since she was fourteen. It's time they were together (just so she can die a tragic death or something).

    The time they should have been together was season two. I'd have done season one single, season two with Chloe, season three with Lana, half of season four with Lana, and then ended it with the breakup and Clark heading for Metropolis. But my formula accounts for a logical arc, not the unending money-oriented TV schedule.

    "5) Will we ever get to see Lana learn of Clark's abilities? It would really help her to see how unfairly she has treated Clark throughout these last two seasons.

    DEKNIGHT: I hope so, but it probably won't happen until late in the series."

    I know he's part of the show, but I would bet money it doesn't happen until THE LAST SHOW and as a footnote. Like Vader being put in the suit.

    I approve of this, if handled correctly:

    I want to see that ***** Lana Lang curse herself to the seven hells (G.R.R. Martin reference there) and cry a river of tears once she realizes what she has done to Clark. I want stunned silence when she finds out. I want shock on her face.

    Don't want that. You'll be disappointed. Expect anger and pouting and Clark being at fault. I want that too, but it isn't the way they write this.

    And then the dawning realization that she has always, always been in the wrong with Clark. I want sincere REMORSE. A simple, "Oh my God, I'm so sorry . . ." would be good. Explanations such as in the season premiere are not needed. It should be understood from context. Maybe even some depression for a few episodes, then a continued begging for forgiveness for a while, which Clark of course immediately grants, but Lana takes time to actually forgive herself. This would be a great time for --personality/character change-- for the better.

    Is that too much to ask? Probably. -sigh-

    Yes. Sigh as well.

    I hate Lana, but I'm digging her with Lex. Dunno why. Maybe because hot, "evil" (will she follow Lex to the Dark Side?) women are attractive to me. I thought her acting in the finale was excellent, though. It's not easy to pull up tears from nowhere and act like you are in shock.

    I like hot, evil women too, but even I have my threshold for bichyness.

    Lois and dating: You have valid reason to gripe about her being too trusting, and then mystified and upset when things go wrong. The invisible man wants to fly you on his jet to go to dinner on a first date, and you think his intentions are perfectly honorable, Lois? Okay . . . time for a rant.

    Go!

    For the record, (and I'm sure you can agree with this first part) most guys are nice, upstanding citizens. Not all of them, certainly, but more than feminists would have the tween and teen population to believe.

    Tentatively I'll agree. At our hearts we're all pretty much obsessed with sex, so if that's not nice to you, that means we're all cads. I happen to think a healthy obsession with sex is not only fun and good, but requisite.

    I have heard what is tantamount to stereotypical slandering at my alma mater against men (not even in demonstrations per se, but as part of the curriculum), and most of the women just eat it all up and believe that all MEN are out to get them.

    It's a typical college thing. They actually beat a man for observing a feminist rally and called him a rapist just for observing when I was in college. It gets crazy. It comes from a logical anger, but it's taken to an illogical conclusion. Which beats racism, which has an illogical anger, but not by much, because the ends are just as destructive to communication and society.

    I dont mean to downplay rape, sexual assault, or any form of violence or true harassment.

    It's sad you have to disclaimer that. But yeah, same factions would say any critique of women at all is tantamount to abuse or rape. I'm with you.

    But I am apalled with what I have heard, and honestly, I'm hurt that I'm automatically judged as out to rape women or whatever simply because I'm male. Maybe its because I am at an extremely liberal college. It's sad, in a way, that women will automatically be believed over men, and that the level of paranoia in regard to dating and such has increased to a level where even the simplest gestures are taken in the entirely wrong way.

    I think it's because women are perceived as kinder and more trustworthy. I find men and women equally kind and trustworthy, but if a woman comes up to you crying and tells you something, I believe you're more likely to believe it than if a man does, situation regardless. And yeah, I get sick and tired of being called a potential rapist when I can't even spank my cat when it whizzes on the ottoman.

    The bottom line is fear. Many women are instilled to fear men, consciously or subconsciously, and its tiring to have to explain yourself constantly. From my experience, its about 60/40. The forty percent are the ones that like to think for themselves instead of having another women tell them how they should feel. The sixty percent, I have found, do not like to take personal responsibility in their own hands, such as buying and carrying a gun (which is legal here) for protection, but instead like to think they can do WHATEVER they want with no consequences.

    I dunno. The logical reason I mention for the irrational and violent anger is the fact that most women are sexually propositioned and assaulted. Most of the women I know, because I live in a lower class community, have been raped. That sounds horrible, but it's true. The sad part is that the one tenth of one percent of buttheads who go around and rape people then become EVERY man. Which is unfortunate.

    Get stoned and drink a bottle of rum and pass out on the couch? No problem! "It's not MY fault what happens to my body, regardless of my behavior!" It's incredibly naive, and very damaging.

    This much I agree upon. I don't believe a woman ever asks to be raped. But if I leave my keys in my car and someone steals it, I'm stupid. It doesn't make me culpable, but it does make me ignorant. And then to turn and say that other men are responsible for an agent's personal ignorance...well, that doesn't make you responsible for being raped at all, but it still makes you incredibly stupid and fallacious.

    So on one hand, I like what Lois does, because if I had that much money, I would LOVE to take women out for a date across the country--but just for fun, not with any "agenda."

    Heck, I'd do it with an agenda. If a woman is shallow enough to want to "go around the country" with me just because of my money, I'd have no problem taking advantage of her foolishness. It'd be less hard-earned, but I'd take it. Just like many women have taken me for free lunches.

    Suffice it to say, not everyone would do this. But in the real world . . . Lois is acting a little too trusting. Even in my fantasies, I know that a women would think it a strange if I offered to do something like that. A red flag would go up. It probably just doesnt happen in real life, except for the uber-rich.

    You'd be surpised.

    The situation:

    1. Clark is trapped in the phantom zone, without his powers. Zod could not free himself, therefore Clark will be unable to free himself. (Who's going to rescue him? Daddy? Or Chloe? At this juncture, it has to be either one, just because it HAS to be someone, even though it doesnt really make sense.)

    I like where they went with it.

    2. Zod has incarnated in Lex's body (really, really stupid idea, but gives them an out for a "memory loss" of key moments, grr)

    Grr indeed.

    3. The Fine virus is spreading over the planet.

    Guess what. The planet is doomed, period. Superman is not there to save the day. End of story.

    Watch them sloppily write their way out of it in the dumbest way possible, Neal. I can see it now.

    I think they did all right, but I agree, it looked bleak.

    Have a great week, and congrats on the book deal.

    Thanks!

    p.s. It's really sad how talent is overlooked. All anyone has to do is look at your reviews to see your eye for detail, charm, and talent for writing. If I had my own company, you'd be hired tomorrow. As it is, you should be writing for Smallville to save us from all this crap! I loved your Star Trek parody some months back. It'd be great to see a show just go nuts for an episode for fun.

    Thanks. But honestly, it's not overlooked. I mean, this letter alone is evidence I'm being rewarded. Is it a living? Am I making money? No. But on the other hand, I can be controversial and honest and have fun. It's give and take. If you get that company I'd take the job, but I'm content just to have my own content of character with myself. And not selling out does a lot of that for me.

    I don't know how you can write for hours on end. I have trouble going past five hours. My brain starts to shut down. My senior thesis was a nightmare. Writing on deadline? Forget it. I think I'll stick with projects where I can go at my own pace. But if you have the skills, you shouldnt let them go to waste. The problem is getting your foot in the door.

    You're telling me. I think my problem is that every time I get my foot in the door I don't resort to fakery, I stay who I am, and that's a liability for people who want to make money, a boon for people who want to make art. I naively believe that eventually someone will see beyond that.

    I write for hours on end because I love the hell out of it. It's just the only thing I've ever done right and with joy. Everything else has pain, sadness, and failure to it. Here my only failure is the expectations I bring, so if I bring the expectation that being myself and creating something beautiful is enough, I'll be happy for the rest of my days, and for these three years I've been doing it beyond the construction work on this house, it's been the most beautiful time I've seen in a kind of sad life, honestly.

    Funny you mention a senior thesis. Mine was basically to write a ten page paper about a nature place. My first line was basically, "Screw you, I'm gonna write a long story about how pain and suffering in work leads to stronger art." Then I wrote him a 25-35 page work (I forget, but long). He gave me an A.

    Point being, yeah, it was blowing my foot out of the door, it was something the public and the institution didn't want, but eventually, and in some rare and felicitous times, a genius (or an idiot who wants to do what he wants like a fool) will be recognized in doing what he does best. You get to decide the genius or idiot part, and I like your vote. ;)

    I went to sign up for a gym membership today, and the manager had Superman stuff everywhere (needless to say, I signed up). We both love superman, and are both bitter about our college degrees. They are just expensive pieces of paper that employers don't even look at.

    They're good parent-repellent sprays, but unfortunately, seeing as my parents never dropped a red cent on my education, I don't have any guilt that it'd be useful to ward off with.

    It's who you know . . . which defeats the purpose of going to college in the first place.

    That's art too, which defeats the purpose of art. Surprising we put up with it, eh?

    You need a degree to show that you can withstand boredom and are of at least average intelligence so businesses can use it as a substitute IQ test. You can thank our oh so wonderful gov't for that. Dropping out saved you a bundle of cash, neal, but sometimes I wonder if it wouldnt be a good idea just to have it in case you need it.

    Oh, rest assured, I'm still fifteen grand in debt for college. It saved me a bundle of character.

    College is essentially a rote learning worker factory for conformists. When I went into the teaching education class, that was their first line, I kid you not. "If you're not prepared for the realization that school is citizenship training and a vocational device, if you're looking for that rebel in the corner to foster his genius, get out now."

    So I did.

    keep up the good work.

    Thank you, sir.

    Jim Smith wrote:

    Neal!

    Jim!

    One thing jumped out at me while reading your review for the season final.

    Okay.

    "So get this. The ENTIRE electrical grid for Metropolis goes down. Clark and Chloe then listen to reports of the death and destruction on the radio.

    Read that again. Enjoy the laugh."

    I work for a rather large company. I do security, it's my thing. Radio stations that are part of the EBN, emergency broadcast network are required to have back up generators in case of event like this. You know that annoying tone you hear on the radio and TV from time to time. Most places can go for 24 hours without power from the local provider. Hell, where I work, we have three to keep critical systems up and running.

    Other than that, well done Neal.

    Jim

    Agreed. My joke was wondering how they heck they powered the radio, not that broadcasts would continue. Good one!

    Saurabh Sharma wrote:

    Hi Neal, I must say I am excited writing this e-mail becuase I love your Smallville Reviews and most of the times agree with what you say about the characters and the show in general.

    Thanks!

    However, I have one little point to make regarding what you call 'consisitency of character'. I know it is a major issue with you and you are not fond of characters drifting away from there personalities. I mean, you have been critical about Clark( who's supposed to love all and be Super!)being judgmental and at times even disloyal to his friends, specially Lex.

    Conceded, definitely.

    You have also been more than critical of Lana's passive anger and how she's constantly keeeping secrets from others while demanding they be open to her. My point is, that if you look around you will find people who have such shifty or lets say dual character. I think it is something natural with certain people that they react on the moment rather than based on what's happened before. Should that not explain the characterization of Lana and others?

    In real life, yes. I've met many a crooked preacher and made love to quite a few otherwise saintly women. But fiction is a different animal. What makes a fiction work is the a to b to c. Yes, my hostage taking pro-antagonist in my newest book could have suddenly decided to stop being a controlling brigand, but if he had, it would have been a worthless deviation, I think. And I believe that yes, while Superman can have a bad day, to go too far once would destroy his character.

    Look, I hate Lana's character, no two ways about it, and would give anything to have a LANALESS SMALLVILLE but I think your point about characters is a little too demanding from the writers.

    I would say yes, if I weren't willing to put my money where my mouth is. Check ALL of my work, any time you'd like, and show me an inconsistent characterization. Then give me a shot (ha!) to write Smallville, and I'd offer the same challenge. A lazy writer is, to me, inexcusable. Especially those so privileged as to be given a position of regard and be allowed the chance to put out work.

    They can't do consistent work that fast? Well the answer is simple, and one that I share with Greg Rucka. He restated it well when I saw him at a signing recently. If it's not ready, and if it's not good, DON'T DO IT. To do it anyway is greed and a disservice.

    There are flaky characters, and that's different, but Smallville's characters have never been what I'd call flaky in any way.

    Charles Bukowski puts it well too, here: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16549

    Anyway, that's my only little complaint about your reviews, because other than this I find them extremely entertaining and read them as soon as I have seen an episode. Keep writing, you are an inspiration to budding writers like me.

    Thanks!

    Seth Anson wrote:
    You said if it's life or death, Superman will kill to save the world. However, he's never actually resorted to that. Putting Brainiac at the start of time wouldn't kill him at all. It would just give him more time to collect information and make him stronger. Although he put Doomsday at the end of time, he still didn't kill the guy. You once noted how Superman doesn't kill anyone, not even Zod. Superman refused to kill him even though Zod warned him what would happen and Zod had to kill himself instead.

    Imperiex is dead. He killed Doomsday even though Doomsday returned to life. He did kill the first Zod. Returning from the dead doesn't dismiss the villain from their execution, I would assert. Superman kills. It's just in extreme cases. I would also argue that a good writer would not put Superman into the position of having to kill, so it's moot in good writing.

    David wrote:
    Neal I love your reviews of Smallville, I've never laughed harder reading reviews then I do reading yours, especially the Lana stuff for which I am in total agreement with you with respect to her character. Thanks, and I look forward to next season reviews. Take care.

    Peace To All.
    David (Baltimore, MD. USA)

    Awesome, David. Very cool letter. This is what keeps me going, man.

    David Wilkins wrote:
    I noticed that the end of the "Vessel" was very similar to the end of Star Wars Episode 3; that the protagonist and the antagonist, who were friends at the beginning and recently became enemies, decided to talk first, fought, then when the moment came for the good guy to kill the bad guy, he let him become an even badder guy. Please tell me you see the similarities.

    Thanks,
    Mumb-El_S

    I do! But unfortunately, we saw no lightsabers...sigh.

    Andrew wrote:
    Hey Neal!

    I realize this is now 2 seasons late, but I just got done with my Season 4 DVDs. Now I just have to wait for the Season 5 DVD set to come out. While Season 4 wasn't that great (good times, bad times, mostly on the edge of bad :(), the finale was good. I agree with your "Commencement" review completely. The reason for this e-mail is that you had a question in your "Commencement" review. I decided to skim through the "Business" section of your Season 5 premiere review to see if anyone answered it, and apparently, no one did. Considering that episode was months after "Commencement", I'm doubting ANYONE who read your reviews during Season 5, which as you know I'm holding back on until I actually see the episodes, did answer. Here it is.

    The "Question":
    From your review of the Season 4 episode "Commencement":

    "Killing Genny removes the tattoo, returns Lana to normal, and theoretically banishes Isobel. I REALLY don't get that. That totally pulled me out of the story. I mean, Lord God I am glad to be rid of this storyline, I never want to see Isobel or Genny or Jason again, but it doesn't make sense. It's not in a logical framework. The reason that Isobel came back, if you'll recall, was to end the Teague line. Revenge for the killing all those years ago, and also to seize the power of the stones. Right? With the death of Genny, she disappears WHY? She has a stone now, so she should be glad to have Lana back. Power, a body, why disappear? You might argue because she has successfully eliminated the Teague line.

    BUT SHE DIDN'T. Jason is still alive, as last episode's painfully ambiguous drop into the water revealed. And even assuming that the audience doesn't know he's still around at this point (and if they don't, I have serious doubts about their fictional intelligence), the Teague line is NOT dead. Period."

    Good point, but wrong. I checked.

    The Answer:

    This is from the episode summary of "Krypto."

    "Jason confronts his mother about the Count Theroux witch his mother's been investigating for years. It seems Lana is the direct ancestor of the witch who swore revenge on the women who had her burned at the stake. And it seems Jason's mom is the condemning woman's direct ancestor who the witch swore to kill once she was reincarnated; in this case the reincarnation being Lana who Genevieve feels will kill all the Teagues when she returns."

    Read that again please. I'll wait...

    Ok. If you notice, it says "Genevieve FEELS will kill all the Teagues when she returns."

    It does NOT say that Isobelle WILL kill all of the Teague's. I thought the same thing, but apparently, that wasn't the case.

    Okay, but then that begs the question why she came back at all, which points out another illogical framework. That should be a defined parameter, I'd say.

    Here's another point to that. Last I knew, Genevieve was a female. (If that's too raunchy, feel free to edit it). As you know, in the United States at least, when girls marry, they take the last name of their husbands, most of the time.

    Point being...Jason DOES carry the blood of Genevieve Teague because she is his mother. HOWEVER, Genevieve does NOT carry any Teague blood, other than through (Jason's creation). Genevieve's last name would NOT be "Teague" until she had married Jason's father...unless she was involved with incest.

    Good call!

    Therefore, Genevieve never was related to a Teague when Isobelle was burned at the stake. The only reason Isobelle knew of Jason and Lex is becuase they went after an "stone of power" in "Sacred". Jason's MOTHER'S side of the family does not have the last name "Teague." So Jason should be spared from Isobelle's wrath on the women who burned her at the stake.

    THAT I would buy. Good one.

    As far as I know, Genevieve was the LAST person on her side of the family living. So when Genevieve died, her entire bloodline was dead. Jason is part of his FATHER'S bloodline (because his last name is his FATHER'S last name). Jason's FATHER wasn't related to the witch burners (without incest). It wasn't his father's bloodline.

    Please let me know if this makes any sense to you. I hope it does, but I can always try and think of another way to explain it if this doesn't help make the tattoo's disappearence make more sense to you.

    Oh, it makes sense. It's a bit convoluted, so I find it to be a rationalization for something the writers should have made clear, but I totally accept it. It works. Point being, we as viewers shouldn't have to create our own such rationalizations. That's what I think anyway.

    Thanks for your time!

    -Andrew (ARM)

    P.S. Please don't publish my e-mail address in your reviews. Thanks! :)

    No problem. I never do unless it's requested. Personal policy.

    sergio wrote:
    hello, when is arrive the season 4 of smallville to mexico.

    i love it. i love kristian Kreuk

    Hmmm. No Borat jokes, I'd be eviscerated. I like you!

    I don't actually know. Saying 'Check your local listings.' sounds shallow, but it's all I've got. My leg hurts.

    Is Kristian Kreuk hot? You should introduce me.

    Mrs. sharonabed wrote:

    Dear Sir/Ma.

    I'm a mother?

    It's my pleasure to contact you for a business venture which I and my Son AIL intend to establish in your country,Though I have not met with you before but I believe one has to risk, confiding in someone to succeed sometimes in life.

    You fool! I'll ruin you!

    There is this huge amount of money Eigtheen million U.S dollars($18,000,000.00) which my late Husband Mr.EDWARDS ABED kept for us in a security storage house here in Abidjan before he was assasinated by unknown persons. Now my son and I decieded to invest these money in your country or anywhere safe enough outside Africa for security purposes.We want you to help us to transfer this fund to your country for investment purposes on the followings below:

    1). Telecommunication

    2). International School

    3). Five star hotel

    If you can be of an assistance to us we will be pleased to offer to you 10% Of the total fund.

    I require meals and a press pass. We'll also have to have the ten percent up front. I will be sending you an anonymous letter with no personal greeting at the address you can send it to on Paypal.

    I await your soonest response.

    Curses! I got this in June!

    Extend my warmest regards to your entire family.

    They said they hate you and hope you die. Don't take it personally.

    Thank you and God bless you.

    Sincerely
    Mrs. sharonabed

    That's Strongbad's cousin. She lives in Spamalot.

    David wrote:
    I was Supermans Pal first!!!

    Yeah? Oh yeah!? Well I'm acquainted with an apostrophe!

    All joking aside, James Olsen will be issuing you a summons. Good day, sir!

    steve(swright) wrote:
    Hey Neal, I agree with your review on the whole, but you seemed upset that they said KK liked Thirst. I think they were being sarcastic, at least that's how it sounded to me. It was well known that she didn't like doing that episode, and I think that's why they said it. But hey if you noticed that too and I just misinterpreted your comment then just tell me to go to hell..lol.

    No, you interpreted right. I didn't know either way. I didn't get their humor. I just assume anyone who likes Thirst needs a Planet of the Apes lobotomy.

    Uh, except YOU, person who's about to write a letter of complaint. Dirty ape!

    Alasdair MacDonald wrote:
    Yo fella, long time no chat. Been MIA, keeping up with the DC post post-crisis, lol. Anyhoo, quick questions. I'm a UK fan and we got the Region 2 DVD on August 28th. Early than stateside. At first I thought cool, now though it seems as though its been rushed out. I have three key points for comparison. On my Region 2 the opening montage (which I have loved on previous DVD's), of the season's action is gone. Nothing. It goes from warner logo and cuts straight to a menu, (a static menu at that, which is my next point).Gone is the opening seen in other DVD seasons - 1 was the spaceship and things, 2 was the heat vision and exploding storm shelter, 3 was more heat vision on the road and cars flipping about, and 4 was namely clarking launching into flight. These were really cool. MY DVD doesn't have one for season 5. Was it the same for you?

    Lame! No. We just had smaller packaging. I'd find WB and kick them in the testicular region.

    It was just such a cool touch and made the DVD feel that much cooler for hardcore fans like me! Secondly, the static menu. Previous seasons, they had moving picks in the background. THis one just had a great pic of tom, (which is too frequently used though), in the fortress with the crystal in his hand, looking like he's been struck by some sort of beam (from arrival when he does the learning bit with jor el). It was static though. These first two things left me with the impression they'd not made nearly as much effort as before and just fobbed me off. Thirdly, format of the dvds. Another change, this time three boxes which come out of the sleeves. Is this the same as the DVD you got? If so just reply with yes, and if not just reply with no.

    Nope. Ours was more elaborate. Sounds like they put less effort into that region DVD.

    I'm just desperate to know whether us REgion 2 fans have been fobbed off with what, in comparison to an otherwise unblighted back catalogue of freakin amazing smallville merchandise and media, seems like a half arsed effort. The features and extras were fine, I just felt let down by some of the lesser things. As always dude, I'll look forward to hearing back from you. Hoping all is well your end, and apologies in advance for the poor formatting of this email! Thanks dude

    Al

    Thanks, Al! All is well. Best!

    Chris Sturdivant wrote:
    Hey, Neal. I just read your review on Smallville Season 5. I really liked it.

    Lord, I hope you took at least one stop to pee. And is the kid you had when you started 18 yet? I keed.

    I had something that I wanted to add though. I wish they would have included the gag reel like they did in Seasons 2 & 3. I thought the gag reels were hilarious. Season 4 didn't have a gag reel either. But other than that, I enjoyed the 5th Season on DVD. I hope Season 6 is even better. Well, that's about it. I'll talk at you later.

    Chris

    I did notice that. Michael Rosenbaum's farts are incredibly hilarious. Bring it back, WB!

    (Feel free to post/use/quote/whatever this letter, by the way, if you so feel inclined.)

    Cool.

    Will Sabel Courtney wrote:

    Hey, Neal. Just thought I'd fire off a Superman-themed email before the Smallville season starts up, and you disappear behind an onslaught of review-themed love letters. :)

    Hey, I get spam too. And a lot of fun angry mail.

    So, I actually had a pretty unique experience this weekend. On Friday, I went to go see Superman Returns in IMAX 3D, and on Saturday, I went to go see Superman: The Movie play at the Zeigfeld Theatre. (The wonder of living in New York...) As you might imagine, seeing both these movies in what can only be described as the maximum viewing method (read: you can't get more awesome) in such a short time period left me with a few contrasting impressions.

    The biggest thing I came away with from the experience was after I got out of S:TM, when I thought: That was much better than Superman Returns.

    I'll have to watch both on the ultimate set to decide.

    Having been born too late to see any of the original Chris Reeve films in theatres, seeing the best of the four movies on the big screen lent a brand new perspective to it. Believe me, there is absolutely no substitute for it. I'd seen the movie many times before, on TV, on DVD, and I'd liked it...but to see it unedited, uncut, all at once on a giant screen with the soundtrack blaring from every side was just awe-inspiring. For the first time, I really connected with Brando's Jor-El. I felt the pain when Pa Kent had his heart attack. I marveled at the Fortress. I believed a man could fly.

    Thankfully, my screen is theater quality, and I couldn't agree more. It's great work.

    The crowd helped with this, too. I've never been at a movie with such an enthusiastic group of viewers. When that giant "S" faded onto the screen at the start of the opening credits, and everyone in the theatre burst out into riotous applause and cheers, I got goosebumps. (I'm getting them now all over again, just remembering it.) When they cheered just as loud for Christopher Reeve's name, the goosebumps came right back. We cheered when Superman caught the helicopter for the first time, along with everybody else on the screen. We all laughed at Luthor, Otis and Miss Tessmacher. Not in that wow-this-is-so-corny-it's-funny way, but genuinely laughed, the way the writers and director wanted us to. I almost cried when Superman found Lois dead in her car after the earthquake, and I couldn't help but smile like a kid again when Chris Reeve flew past the camera and grinned for us all at the end. It was moving, it was beautiful, it was epic.

    I still laugh the way they wanted me to. It's a great depiction. I want something more mature now, but it was and is still incredible.

    Superman Returns? Well, I'm not going to lie - by the fourth or fifth time (I'm not sure which one this viewing was) I'd learned to look the other way at some things. The obvious plot hole of Superman lifting the chunk of kryptonite into space, though still annoying and something I'd NEVER do as a writer, I managed to just sit back and enjoy as spectacle. I learned to ignore Bosworth's Lois Lane, pretend she was somebody else. (It wasn't hard.)

    Like I mentioned in the review. Later viewings, you just ignore the bad stuff. Why not?

    Of course, the effects in SR blow anything in S:TM out of the water, especially in IMAX. The whole sequence with the plane, in giant 3D...I think that's what they play for you on the way up to Heaven. Superman pulling the yacht out of the water, grabbing Richard, then casually letting the boat go is inexplicably cool on so many levels. Really, anything with Superman performing a super-feat (especially in 3D) was awesome.

    Which is why I await the sequel without the wishy washy crap with baited breath. I will be MUCH more eager for it than the first one.

    But the story...well, especially in comparison to the Donner film, SR just fell flat, man. Plain and simple. S:TM had heart, it had romance, it had that epic quality of legend. SR, while amazing during the action sequences, just didn't have the emotional depth of its predecessor. And that disappoints me. Because anybody can make up a movie about a flying guy who saves people, whip some multimillion-dollar special effects into it, and call it a superhero movie. But Superman is so much more than that. It's about trying to reconcile these incredible powers with an even greater drive to help people. It's about a man fighting against himself to get the woman of his dreams. It's the struggle of identity, one man who people see in two different ways. It's about what it takes to do the right thing, and how far we'll go and how much we'll fight to get the things we want the most in this world. In Superman Returns...Superman had a bastard child with an effectively married woman. What does that have to do with anything?

    It's not a failure. I would have went another direction, myself.

    I know that plenty of people out there loved Superman Returns, both Superman fans and casual viewers alike, with whom any attempt to dispute the movie's quality usually results in you feeling like an idiot or a geek. That's cool. My dad was one of them. (One of the few things we disagree on.) And I respect that. And I'll be the first to admit that the Donner film isn't my ideal adaptation of Superman - Pa Kent dies, Jor-El sticks around, Superman is Kal-El (i.e. an alien) first and Clark Kent (i.e. human) second. I'd much rather have had Karen Allen as Lois Lane then Margot Kidder. (Watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, and tell me Karen wouldn't have nailed the part.)

    I'd nail that...er, well, no, I'd make a bad Lois.

    But as a whole, as a way of capturing what Superman, the greatest fictional hero of the 20th century and maybe even American history as a whole, is about...Richard Donner, Chris Reeve and the rest just nailed it on the head. Bryan Singer, well, he didn't. Routh certainly was Superman - he played the part equally well as Reeve, in my opinion, and that's saying something - but he was Superman stuck into an alien universe, one where the woman he loved was a passive-aggressive yuppie with a kid and a long-term fiance. And just changing that one thing, that changes so much about the story that it becomes something else.

    I think they're both good in their own ways. I'm now back leaning towards liking Donner more, though earlier in the summer I thought differently.

    The way I've always seen things, the Superman story is as much a love story as it is anything else. An iconic love story, the love between Lois Lane and Clark Kent and how they manage to come together through all the obstacles and trials in their way. It has to be between Lois and Clark, too - it the end, it can't be between Lois and "Superman," but Lois and the human core of the Man of Steel. Whether you believe Superman disguises himself as Clark or Clark disguises himself as Superman, Lois Lane can't believably go on to publicly wed the world's greatest hero and go live in the Fortress of Solitude like a queen. Her humanity is what makes her real, just as Clark is what keeps Superman real. But that love story is and has always been perhaps the most important part of the Superman story to me. Everyone Superman saves, in a way, is just him saving Lois Lane. And when the woman who means the world to you isn't worth saving anymore...what's the point?

    Agreed.

    (That would have been an interesting movie, don't you think? Show Superman as being conflicted and torn about whether he even wants to do this anymore, since the woman he loved now doesn't care about him. That would have been thought-provoking.)

    Thought-provoking, yeah, but also depressing. I'd just go a differing direction, myself.

    But Bryan Singer, for all his skill as a filmmaker, somehow missed all that. Sure, he threw in a nod to the love story, but in the end, Lois Lane is still engaged to another man - a man who she loves, a good man, who was willing to put himself in danger to save both his fiancee and son (so far as he knows, Jason's still his son) and again to endanger himself to save Superman. How do you write him off now? Does he die a hero's death in part two, leaving Superman to swoop in and be that guy to Lois? Does he turn into a jerk or a villain, so Superman can beat him up? Either way, both Lois and Jason are going to be torn up. Either way, that sucks. Sure, stuff like that happens in real life - but that doesn't mean we want to see that in our Superman movies.

    I agree wholly. It's an awful corner to paint into.

    Perhaps the most unfortunate part about SR isn't that it took so much from Donner's work, but rather, that it took the wrong things. It concentrated on aping the little things (crystalline Krypton, Jor-El, Superman drowning, making the most of a end-of-the-third-act deus ex machina plot hole) instead of capturing the overall feel. The heart of Superman, if you will. That's what I tried to capture in my Superman screenplay, and while I know it it's overwritten and inexperienced, I think it manages to do that pretty well.

    In my ideal screenplay, it would be less about how to appease tradition, more the obvious. A great bloody story.

    Well. At least we have Smallville to keep us content, right? To show the Kents alive and well, Clark learning who he is, helping his friends along the way?

    Ah, sh#t.

    Heh. Sorry.

    Well. At least we have the comic books, right? Showing post-Crisis Superman, with Clark as the real man and his reasonable powers, without anything stupid like supersonic hearing that can hear people talking in China or super total recall memory or Superboy, right?

    Oh, f$@k.

    Dan Didio, are you listening? Matt?

    Well. At least we have our imaginations, right?

    Peace,

    Will Sabel Courtney

    Thanks.

    J.G. Franken wrote:

    I have a comment on your Superman Returns review; and in particular on your opinion on the portrayal of Lois. I agree, and disagree with it. The problem is not Lois' attitude, but the fact that the reasons for the attitude are never addressed; and as part of that, exactly how much of Superman II's romance plot and the final mind-wipe occurred in the past of Superman Returns, and how much of what must have happened Lois managed to piece together after she went: "Pregnant? WTF!? I didn't have sex with any man!? And no angel came down from heaven to tell me I'm the next Mary either! So what gives!?"

    Apparently Singer forgot the mind-wipe kiss. So Lois pretends she doesn't know whose kid it is, making her a liar. I guess that's...better?

    Basically what happened is the following: You lucky dog, you had sex with Supergirl. She wiped your mind of the event. 9 months later dumps a kid in your lap, and you go: "What do you mean, my kid? We didn't..." She interrupts you going, "Sorry, we did, bye." And then disappeared into space for five years, leaving you with a child you can't remember conceiving.

    Which sucks. Yeah. Except Superman didn't know he had a kid.

    You'd (and I'd) be mightily p%ssed off, and rightly so I say; in fact the mind-wiping that Superman did to Lois is downright a criminal act.

    I think his motivation wasn't to get away with sex, but rather to protect her, so I don't find it criminal. I would be hacked in YOUR scenario, but not Lois'. If someone consciously abandoned me with a kid I'd be mad. Superman would have stayed had he known Lois was pregnant, and as much as you may agree or disagree with abortion, the choice to have the child was wholly hers, and she made the choice to have it.

    The problem is that it's never addressed; Lois never gets to confront Superman about this, and rightly curse him to hell and back for what he did.

    I thought she did. Did I see a different movie? I mean, in the one I saw, she uses her bitterness for what he's "done" against him for most of it.

    What we're left with is Lois being just p%ssed off at Superman, and emotionally detached for no apparent reason (or rather the weakly avoid the real subject and reduce it to passive aggressive bulls%$t about "(not) needing and being saved by Superman" just so we can surprise the audiance with Jason's "surprise super strength shove the piano" scene.)

    I think that was actually a subtle character way of showing her anger at what he'd "done." At least, that's how I took it.

    After all, if Lois gets to tell Superman in the night air after his useless sermon about being needed, that he can f^$k off, he wiped her mind of some level of relationship and sex they had, leaving her with a kid she can't remember conceiving; and get to the meat of her very correct issues with Superman we'd know in advance Jason is Supes' kid.

    But she did remember conceiving it, otherwise she wouldn't have been able to tell him that he was the father. And she did know in advance it was his kid, thereby. So no, he can't f^#k off. In my opinion.

    That really crippled the movie for me. It was great on a superficial level; but the fact a HUGE and very big part, and complex problem in main characters' lives of the movie is totally ignored, just so we can have the suprise piano, severely detracts from the movie; and gives us as a result Lana Lane - instead of a complex, and rightly angry Lois Lane.

    Agreed there.

    Letter for the review, if you don't mind publishing it. I wish I could review with you. This is just as good.

    Thanks!

    Felix Vasquez (http://www.cinema-crazed.com) wrote:

    So, Neal, another new season

    Yar!

    After months of debating, and anticipating what to expect it's finally here, and... well... I'm satisfied.

    Me too. Weird, huh?

    Not bowled over, but I'm satisfied. I enjoy the fact that they've managed to explore the Phantom Zone and add some sort of exploration into Superman's understanding of both the severity of being in the Phantom Zone which will help in future situations when facing a criminal, and because now he can understand that this zone is mainly for truly horrifying criminals that have now leaked onto Smallville.

    But therein lies the fault. It's The Phantom Zone for the reason that criminals Can not break out of it. It's a pretty solid prison.

    Yep. Saw that, and agree.

    And just a few notes:

    1. They have hot chicks in the Phantom Zone. I just liked that. She has makeup, and a perm, and looks great in spite of no known knowledge of food or grooming.

    And arid climate. Heyo!

    2. More Lana fetishizing. Zod hates everyone, EXCEPT Lana... wow. And he wants her to birth his child. He has super strength, and is nearly a god, and yet he's not smart enough to know that he'd kill her. And he didn't have the foresight to know that Clark would use heat vision to destroy his weapon.

    Face it, Felix. She's amazing.

    3. I still don't accept Jimmy Olsen's appearance as a good move storywise into the series. It speaks of desperation and pure lack of creativity. But had this been the sequel to "Superman Returns," Aaron's depiction of the character wouldn't have been that bad.

    Agreed again.

    4. And damn KK still can not act. I laughed hysterically when Zod put the knife through her hand and she let out this hilarious bellow.

    But...she's pretty! How dare you!

    5. They're still pushing for "Martha Loves Lionel." It's utterly embarrassing.

    It's spitting on Jonathan. It doesn't offend me, it's just garbage. We know that.

    6. The fight between Lod (Lex/Zod) and Clark was fantastic! The special effects, Rosenbaum's acting, and the choreography was excellent. Best part of the episode, barnone.

    Best part in the last 20, I'd say.

    7. We got to actually see ZOD!! I hit the roof! I hit the blasted roof! Yes! And when the Supeman theme blasted? Heck yes! If they're atoning for their past sins, they're succeeding!

    Yes.

    8. Lois is still not serving a purpose. The example? She was unconscious throughout the entire episode.

    I repeat: If they hope to have forward motion in both the series, and in the formation of Superman, they'd best start now and clean up the mess they've made. I have high hopes for this season, and here's hoping we get something good.

    Maybe they will. Or maybe they'll try and sell Bowtech bows. Time will tell.

    3 out of 5 for me.

    See you around for the new season! Can't wait to get back into your reviews.

    - Felix/Terminal

    Thanks, Felix!

    Andrew D. Friden wrote:

    Hello Neal, time for my yearly letter,
    (wishes he had time to write more but doesent always work out that way)

    No worries. I am slow to respond, alas.

    hope you had a good 4 months off, anyways here lets get to the business

    I did, a hectic four, but good ones. Thanks.

    Season 5 wrapped up preety nicely, very good season overall i dont know if its persay the best, 3 was preety good to me so its a toss up,

    I did like how thier werent very many FOTW episodes, yeah thier was a couple but 2-3 compared with the other seasons relying on them for like 17-18 episodes it wasnt THAT bad even though the idea has been so overdone,

    Actually, check the KO Count. They exceeded most previous years.

    I still miss Pete Ross, it hasnt felt truly Smallville without him there,

    Agreed.

    I like the idea of we finally got to the main story after all these years! The problem though is Smallville writters dont know how to strech stories to create dramma and it seems like they wrapped up most of the loose ends from the previous seasons and shows only do that when their about to go off the air. Not saying smallville cant still go on afterwards but the storytelling will not be nearly on the same level. I mean for example in Star Trek The Next Generation Season 1 ends with them finding some mysterious force had oblitterated most of their outposts and space bases, the force is not revealed but its an ominious plot thread that would be picked up later in season 2. Season 2 near to the end they make first contact with the Borg and its revealed the wrecked stations were caused by the Borg, the Borg being cold inhunan and insidously evil in thier quest to absorb all life. Season 3 the borg attack, take captain picard (captain of the legendary enterprise) and absorb him and turn him into thier own deadly little pawn to destroy hummanity and ends with Cmdr riker (first officer of the enterprise) ordering to fire on his now borgified captain. That trend was cool but season 4 preimere they recover picard (then locutus or whatevr) and "De-borgify" him and the borg dont show up for the rest of TNG's run. Not that the episodes after this happened were all that bad or anything, just they didnt have the steam that was keeping us all at the edge of our seats in the previous years and unfortunetly i see the same comming of smallville.

    I dunno. My favorite TNG seasons were the later ones. I think they did okay on all fronts. But I understand what you're getting at with subplot.

    I mean avoiding a topic and streching are two different things. For example Jor-El first started talking to Clark in season 2 trying to tell him about what hes here to do and Clark moaned and biched and ran off to metropolis. Season 3 Jor-El tries again acutally reprogramming him in the Season 3 finale since Clark wouldnt stop whining about what hes there to do. He comes back is INSTANTLY de-programmed and then realizes that maybe he should listen to Jor-El a little bit more and goes after the gem-component-whatever things to form the fortress, good story idea but was implemented badly. While were on the topic about not being able to strech out, in Season 4 i always thought he shoulda stayed programmed by Jor-El for at least 3-4 episodes and then Chloe had gone missing and they couldve had Clark & Lois look for her getting closer and getting to know eacother and only finding her finally at mid season and she having one of those FOS gems and thats why she was missing for so long and now knows everything about clark from holding it instead of lionel, but is afraid to talk to him about it (instead of her finding out cause Alisha had a mean streak in her). But instead that kinda depth was saccrificed for some crap about Lana becoming a Witch out to murder irrevelant characters that meant nothing to anyone to say nothing about what they were to the whole superman community. My father and I acutally had a conversation about this, durring smallville last night

    Dad: you know they could keep him in the phantom zone for a couple of episodes,
    Me: yeah, if they knew anything about building dramma and tension, nah hes gonna get free somehow and vanquish Zod (oh im sorry i mean Lod) and next episode will have next to nothing to do with anything with this.

    moving on,

    i dont know about this whole "Zod takes poession of Lex" thing, i mean what does that make then, a hybrid, Lod short for "Lodda BS!", i mean i kinda figured in season 4 when Jor-El says "a dark force from Krypton has been awakened and its sights are set on earth" that he was referring to General Zod, I was thinking Zod would come to earth become like a father figure to Lex, one that would be better to him then Lionel ever was, except he'd teach him all the ways of evil and wrong-doing and Lex never realizing Zod is Kryptonian and sees Zod and Kal-El locked in mortal combat, Lex gets knocked out just after seeing Clark's face but before the real superpowered throwdown knockout begins and determines that Clark was trying to kill the one true father he ever had and therefore thier friendship comes to an end finally and succiently. Although i wont lie I do like the idea also of Lana comming between them, i always wondered "do clark and lex not like eacother so much later in life because like all stories, this ones about a woman?"

    I dunno, I liked it. It beats a potentially bad actor for Zod.

    I'm all for the main backstory of the series being Kal-El's journey to Earth was to stop Zod from taking over and afterwards he realizes he just helped the whole world and it gives him so much satisfaction, more then anything hes ever done and so keeps doing it as the man we know and love "Superman". But once that wraps up where do you go from thier, after all it is the story of the teenager who would one day be Superman.

    I think the story should be one of desperation. An orphan cast to the stars. Zod is just something that happens to that orphan, to me.

    Well i just watched season 6 preimeire with my dad last night, my thoughts on that.

    Wow i dont know i dont keep up with alotta stuff but this was the first time i ever saw the innards of the phantom zone in real life, they dont call it that for nothin!, cool stuff,

    Lod taking flight with Lana, sweetness,,

    How convient is it that the plane crashes in the artic right at the FOS front steps, and martha kent is able to drag lois inside despite having a short red dress and no shoes on?

    VERY convenient, heh.

    however her conversation with Jor-El was awesome, plus the fortress was all gloomy and dark looking in compariosn with last season, could definetly feel the structure of it was intensely weakened and damaged right down to Jor-El's voice not being thundering or booming but softer almost whispering (if a computer holograph of a dead man could whisper, whatever) nice that it went all black when it teleported martha back, i gotta wonder if Jor-El used the last of his energies to teleport them to smallville, after all he did thank her and say goodbye, i mean i hope not the whole Clark-Jor El relationship is why i keep watching the show and didnt give up at season 4 with most people. Sure Clark said the fortress was dead but that didnt make sense to me. I understand that FOS is a key element to maintaining integrity to the phantom zone and when clark used the dagger on fine it disrupted the FOS damaging it and allowing Zod to come through just as Jor-El says buttt.

    You know the Fortress isn't gone. It can't be, because of future Superman. He's got more energy. He's playing possum, obviously. Why? Plot device. And a crappy one.

    How did the phantom zone be maintained without the FOS when clark was still an infant riding to earth and then the first 4 years of smallville. After all Krypton did blow up so what kept its integrity?

    I believe the Phantom Zone isn't a creation, it's a dimension.

    nearly sploofed myself when Lod stabbed Lana through the hand!

    Is sploofing vulgar? I like it.

    why would Raya give her crystal to Clark, ovibiously she was staying in the phantom zone, wouldnt she still need it to ward off the phantoms (granted she was killed but what if she wasnt?),

    Insane altruism?

    honestly thought the thing clark put in Lods hand was his spaceship key it seemed to be the same size and shape but wasnt clearly seen cause it was glowing alot and then faded into a mini superman symbol, the spaceship key woulda made more sense, to go in line with that great line "my father sends his regards" and Lods confusion then realization and says "Jor-El???" and then the spaceship key crumbling to dust, and also would match up with the end of the ep better when clark announces the FOS is dead,

    Brainiac will not be seen again, he was written out unfortunetley. Of course he could always replicate again but now that Zod was released and seemed to destroy the black ship it seems as if Brainiac wont be back for smallville. Which begs the question Zod cant be defeated that easily hows he gonna get back without the big brains help?

    He's not. I think we've seen the end of Zod.

    For a dagger that was powered by the FOS manufactured to defeat another Kryptonian Lod breaks it easily enough. Granted he did it sideways but i mean i would think the dagger would at least cut into his hand or release some kinda energy discharge that would at least wound or hurt him somewhat even if it didnt nesscarily kill him as a plunge into the heart would do.

    If it's Kryptonian, he shouldn't be able to break it, technically. Forgot that in the review. CURSES!

    Whats with lana wearing her boots over her jeans like some kinda hooker? more on that in my next line

    Er...

    why does Lionel & Marth decide that running through the barn durring an earthquake is alot safer then going AROUND the barn?

    Ah...

    Anyone notice that when Lod picks up Lana by the hair if you look real close her left boot goes flying off, i saw a wierd glitchy thing i thought so i rewound my tape and slow motioned it and her boot defiently just goes flinging off her foot and across the room, whats with that, producers have a thing for feet? espically since martha was barefoot in the planecrash for no reason

    Maybe she has carnie feet.

    another wierd visual thing it seems like Lod runs around clark real fast to do the ol smallvile "behind ya" gag but when they cut to the next time they show him hes in the exact same poession

    Yeah.

    awesomely choregraphed fight scene with the two super powered titans turning over eacother as they fly out of the luthour mansion, true superman style! but i wish clark would do some fighitng back for once instead of just a tap here a nudge there and enemy is vanquished (seems to be wussing out in these fights in season 4 primere he beat Kal-El way to easily, this episode, he was able to kneel down and beat Zod by simply holding his hand!) also another wierd thing i caught in slow motion, when Zod beats clark on the rock the scene keeps jumping between rosebaums face and his fists connecting with clarks jaw, in the middle one of them (third or fourth punch) clark seems to have a split black bleeding lip, which would make sense if he was getting pumelled by a true Kryptonian but in the next shot of clarks face its perfectly unblemished

    Good call! Missed that too.

    Lois & Clark scene in the hospital, they starting to liken to eacother :)

    Yup! A bit...odd, but okay.

    Is lionel gonna revert back to Darth Lionel of seasons 1-3 with Jor-El's innflunce over him gone, i dont think so after all he does seem to be geunielly trying to help both clark and chloe out giving clark advice and chloe a gun durring the riots respectively but then it could be just him trying to get brownie points with martha, what could "power!" mean, could it be lionel is finally understanding kryptonian, or that he wrote what he most wants, after all he begins by drawing krypto symbols and stops to write power! only time will tell i supose,,,

    I think Lionel's so inconsistent they could have him open a charity orphanage while murdering orphans. It's very weird.

    anyone notice how jimmy olson was the flash in another episode and that Raya was Kara in the season 3 finale?

    Olsen was actually a freeze guy, as I recall. A twin. And Raya just looked like Kara. I noticed that too.

    well thats all i can think of for now, party on neal keep writting hope to write again sometime this year and break the "yearly" tradation and make it more regular,

    peace brother!

    Thanks, man!

    Sebastián wrote:
    Hello Neal, my name is Sebastián, I live in Argentina, I wrote to you once to congratulate you for your books being published...=D

    And thank you!

    Anyway, I must say I liked the season premiere, that is, until the last three seconds. Why?, well, because of that "Iguazu falls, Patagonia, Argentina" bit. What's wrong with that?, well, it seems that the producers of this show didn't bother to check a map.

    http://img156.imageshack.us/img156/6857/iguazufallspatagoniasx2.jpg

    In that link you can see a map with a few anotations of mine, and there you will see why those last 3 seconds ruined the premiere for me, I mean, it's like saying "The Great Canyon, Florida, United States"...

    You mean writers in the US are potentially globally ignorant? Wish I could be surprised. One in five of our college educated adults believe that Saddam was behind 9-11 somehow. That a tv writer would screw up a location is alas, probably common.

    Looking forward to read you review...=)

    Thanks!

    SCOTTY V wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Yo!

    It's taken me a while but I finally got finished reading your Supes Returns review. I don't have as much time for reading and messing around on the net anymore, as I too, like Superman just after me, have become a father. Not sure if I've told you about this yet but she's a beautiful girl, born on June 15th, Chloe Michelle. I love her with all of my heart and she is absolutely the sweetest thing ever. In that she takes after her mother. Both are sleeping beauties right now - over my right shoulder I glance at them and my thoughts and words cause tears to form in my eyes. It makes me think further about the sadness Clark must feel in this movie knowing, at least seemingly, that he can never be with either of them.

    No, you hadn't told me, and congratulations, man!

    What I took from this situation is that Clark knows he can't come between the boy and his "father." If he had planned to usurp Richard, he would have started the process. Instead he talks to him while the boy is sleeping, sadly telling him that he will be there for him all the while knowing he won't be there there. Lois kisses Superman in the hospital yes, and so does Jason, but I say it's out of innocent love for a man who has been your friend and your savior and that it's ok rather than infidelity in front of her child, because the man might be dying and he is a great hero. All people, even a woman who is married, must be allowed to show affection for others, even other men, if the closeness and/or circumstance are such.

    I hope so. We'll see how the next movie treats it. I have faith in Singer, actually.

    I definitely agree with you that there isn't enough, at least we aren't given enough reason for Superman to leave the Earth for five years! I think that, if there were a galaxy in desperate need and that they were going to all die without Superman's help, that he would probably go, albeit hesitantly. Otherwise though, Superman would never leave his adopted home and the people he's sworn to protect for any prolonged period of time, let alone five years. Furthermore, I submit that the entirety of destruction of evil that happens in this film is the fault of Kal himself. If he hadn't come to the Earth in the first place, if he hadn't left the Fortress out in the open, unprotected (a fault of the film really because we all know that only Supes can get to the Fortress in the comics and it makes sense that way) not just one time (in Supes II) but then again here. Doesn't he learn? If Superman hadn't then left the Earth for five years, knowing that Lex (a terrible danger to the entire world) would be released and able to do evil once more, shirking his court responsibilities and thus freeing Lex from jail - none of this film could have happened. These are the major flaws I have with the film. Superman is at fault. Even if he wsn't Superman he'd have to at least try to save the world if only out of guilt.

    I'm with you. Not about the guilt, but that he wouldn't leave because he knows he's needed here.

    The kid of course, is a very tender spot. It changes these characters in ways that should never have been approached yet. They weren't ready. They should, as you say in your review, have approached marriage first. Also, what IS with the continuuity? DOES Lois remember them sleeping together and being in love? How is that possible? The time also doesn't work. Jason is five years old, Superman left the Earth five years ago. If those times were correct that would mean that Sueprman would have had to know Lois was pregnant before he left. Therefore he would either have known about Richard or known that he was the father. I can't believe either of those theories based on what this film shows and yet Singer says it's a loosely based sequel. It bothers me that he felt the need to take so much from the Donner films, which really weren't even very good. But since he has decided to do so, shouldn't he at least decide and make it clear what happened and what didn't? If it's a sequel, then it all happened. If it's a loose sequel...argh!!!

    Yes. Agreed.

    Here I actually want to come to Lois' defense slightly. I agree that Bosworth doesn't play a particularly convincing Lois. However, I think it's reasonable that she'd be upset that Superman left without saying goodbye. I also think it's logical to assume that people who've had their hearts broken will act illogically in the face of the returning love that dared to break their heart. I don't think any of Lois' retorts at how she deosn't need a savior or acting as though she's angry that he's saved her really mean what she seems them to mean. She certainly can't be mad that he's saved her, that would be stupid. I just htink that she's attempted to move on with her life and for all she knew he was gone for good. Then, he shows up and throws it all back in her face again, albeit unintentionally. Now she has to confront those feelings again and being human, she doesn't do it very well. I think towards the end of the movie when she starts to apologize (at least that's what it looks like to me) we can see that she realizes she's acted like a dunce.

    Well, there's being upset about saying goodbye, and then there's shrewishness. The reason the film is so redeemed is because she's shown to be a putz. I just prefer a stronger Lois myself. I like strong female role models. We need more.

    To the island: I've argued this point with a number of people and I'll state it here as well. I believe, based on what I saw, that the island Luthor created was embedded in much of the actual ocean floor. There were alot of soil looking, rocky parts that appeared to be natural Earth as opposed to crystal/Krytponite. If this were the case, which I believe it has to be, Superman could land there and not be immediatley affected, at least not noticeably. By the time he climbs the stairs to Lex though, which would take some physical excertion for a weakened person, he's starting to sweat and both he and Lex know the jig is up. Then, after the beating, when Superman flies into the sun for healing, he takes up so much energy that the rate the still embedded piece of Kryptonite is draining that energy is slowed and that energy burns off much more slowly than it does in Superman's every day status. Superman then flies into the ocean, using the heat vision to cut through the floor, which you mention in your review as also being a problem. I see this as a great move by the filmakers to show us that Superman is going under the island in an attempt to shield himself from the radiation and I think it would work.

    Until the Kryptonite just pops right in front of his face, heh. Which it does.

    Furthermore, in many many comic book stories we have seen that, more than Superman's great powers, his willpower and drive to do what's necessary and what's right has always prevailed. So when we see our hero, struggling against all odds, doing what he should never be able to do, albeit shielded by the crumbling ocean floor, powered by direct close rays of the sun but still injured by a small shard of K embedded in his side, the feat is even more incredible. For me, it was a triumph that brought tears to my eyes. I said to myself "Now that is Superman."

    A lot of people saw that. The general consensus I get though is that it threw most people off. I can take it in context, actually, and it doesn't bug me too much. It's still something to critique.

    The entire lift he was growing weaker and weaker closer to death, protected only by the extra added healing strengthening power of the sun and the diminishing ocean floor but knowing all the while it didn't matter that it had to be done. "That's Earth's greatest hero," I said, and that's what he can do. "Let's see you catch a giant plane that's crumbling to bits Spiderman!" "Okay Wolverine, how bout you pull a yacht from the sea while rescuing three people and not breaking a sweat!" "Batman, you're lucky if you can fight off a thug, let alone lift a giant island into the stratosphere!" Superman did it and he could have under these circumstances. That's what I believe and I bought it. It was heroic, fill of stength of will, and there were painstaking steps taken by him (as per the writers) to set it up that way. Superman's powers don't go away completely after exposure to Kryptonite, they instead weaken over time.

    I'd disagree there, but it is open to interpretation. I see it as stopping and killing him pretty instantly. Otherwise, it's just a nuisance, not a menace.

    I didn't even think of the fall back down to Earth in terms of him burning up but we have to assume that everything I've said here still applies. Once he knows the world is safe and he's free to succumb to the weakness, he falls unconscious and lets himself be taken by the gravity. Then, his body must still be strong enough to protect him, although he's obviously in an extremely vulnerable state as he almost dies. This is what Superman would do. He risks it all to save the world...and does.

    Of course, he was the cause of all the trouble anyway, even if he didn't know it.

    Ah, I still blame Lex.

    So that's it for me. I truly wish they hadn't gone the way they've chosen to go. It would have been much much better if they'd come up with a new, original story (even one based in one of the great stories in the comics) instead of one so rooted in the original Donner film, which again, wasn't even that good. I wish they hadn't taken him away from the Earth for five years and given he and Lois a child. I wish that every writer who has the duty of bringing a new version of Supes to the screen didn't feel like they had to do something strange and challenging and different. I tire of hearing these people, like Singer and Gough and Millar say things like "Superman is very difficult to write. We needed to come up with an actual challenge so we had to blah blah blah." It's all copouts and excuses. The comics have been doing it for years and years. They continue to do it. Take a hint from Sam Raimi I say. Sure some things have been changed from Spidey canon, but we're seeing actual comic book storylines adapted for the screen. With Superman though, we need to get these ego guys who want to put their own spin on the greatest legend ever. We don't need that. That's why this movie was disappointing at the box office. Not because people don't want to see Supes, but because of what writers and directors and producers feel they need to do and change to make it interesting.

    The comics might not even have been doing it, but I do agree. It's not hard, it's a joy. I do it pro bono and without audience, but it's not hard. It's SLOW. You must be careful, because it's a complex character. But hard? Heck, is sugar hard to eat? No. You've just got to be careful how you use it, because it can kill you if you take it the wrong way.

    I personally loved a great deal of the film. I think Superman has never looked better. The powers and feats are shown with such flair and so stylistically that I can't imagine them being any better, ever. Most of the characters are right on. Brandon is great as Clark/Superman. I think that he does a great job with very limited dialogue. Most of his better acting comes from the looks he gives and the gestures he makes. Spacey is great as Lex, most times. I think that in some instances he's a little campy and over the top but mostly it's such a vast improvement from the Hackman I might have expected, being that this is a sequel and all (sigh), that I hardly noticed. I also think the writers should have gone with the very smart, very rich, hardly touchable businessman Lex from the current comics instead of the recluse loser who stole money from people like old dying ladies to get where he is. that really bothers me. But overall, I really enjoyed this film and I sincerely hope we get to see where these characters will go and what will happen with the kid and Richard. I find myself hoping that somehow, Jason isn't Clark's kid, but I don't see how that's possible.

    Anyway, that's my word and I'm stickin' to it.

    Scotty V

    Thanks, Scotty, and congratulations again on the kiddo! Start buying Superman toys NOW! Heh.

    That's all for me! More next week!

    Neal



    Zod

    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    Welcome back Super Fans! I hope you all had a great Summer (or winter for the southern half folks).

    I know I did. It was a long wait for our favorite show to return but at least we had a nice similar themed movie to keep us busy during the off time. I still think I prefer Smallville's take on the characters but I certainly enjoyed that flick quite a bit.

    Ok Ok I know. Who cares about movies. Superman TV is back and most of you are hear to find out how the fall kick off went on the brand new CW network.

    Well let me put your hearts at ease. It was not perfect but it was pretty gosh darn good.

    Let's just get the less than perfect items out of the way first. I want to end this review on the good stuff.

    My first less-than-prefect observation goes back to something I said a few times last season which applies again here. A somewhat re-occurring fault of the show in general. The simple fact is, they try and fit too much into too few episodes. It was not that the episode felt rushed. It did not. The director and editors did a real good job with pacing so that the scenes we saw flowed well together and we saw enough of the main story to get the full affect. My problem is there were other things going on that we did not see. The world was rioting and coming apart. Yet we only got a few glimpses of that in Metropolis and then later at the Smallville Medical Center. The world wide scale we were introduced to in the finale last season was just sort of dropped. Not only that but there was no resolution on a world wide scale. Maybe we will see some of that next episode and if so, I take that part back, but it would have been nice to get a better feel for the dangers facing the world when Clark took on Zod.

    My only other complaint was the Chloe, Clark, and Jimmy Olsen scene. I am not sure if I can really put my finger on what bugged me about that. The one thing I can say is it just felt stiff. Forced maybe. I think they might have been trying for "awkward" since Clark had just asked Chloe about the kiss from last season and was meeting someone she was obviously attracted to but I do not think it quite worked. Small knock but I have to mention it to be fair. I like the idea of them bringing Jimmy on the show and I cannot wait to see how they are going to use him but I think his introduction could have been better.

    Now the good stuff.

    The Phantom Zone looked awesome. The phantoms of Krypton's greatest criminals attacking Clark was extremely creepy. They certainly were nice effects for a TV budget. Clark learned the truth about Jor-El from his assistant. There are still some questions that need to be answered about messages left for Clark but at least now we know without a doubt that Jor-El was one of the good guys.

    Martha finding the Fortress was perhaps my favorite scene of the movie. Her conversation with Jor-El was fantastic. We see some real compassion in Jor-El. Something we have yet to see in the character outside of the flash back memories Clark experienced many seasons ago. I was also pleased to see Lois vaguely remembers being there. Her comments about the Palace of Ice near the end of the episode did bring a smile to my face.

    Michael Rosenbaum did a fantastic job playing Zod in a way that made it clear that Lex was not in control. I was not quite sure why Zod kept Lana around until he explained that he felt some of Lex's feelings when he took over. This gave, not only a credible reason for her to be dragged around by Zod but it also let us know that Lex's feelings for Lana are genuine. I was very amused by Lana's claim to Lex later that she "almost" killed him. I do not know what she saw but there was no "almost" in her attempt to stab Zod. He had her pegged from the beginning. I am sure he already knew the knife was there and she never had a chance.

    The fight between Zod and Clark was pretty cool, though admittedly Clark was pretty much just a punching bag throughout the brawl. Still he had a trump card and was simply waiting for the right time to use it. Superman does not always rely on fists to win and I liked that we are seeing that in young Clark.

    The effects for the fight were top notch and I was really impressed by the shot of Zod and Clark plowing through dirt after crashing.

    Finally as things wrap up we are let in on a few items that may hint towards the season plots. Lionel is no longer connected to the Fortress but he can still remember some Kryptonian. While an important fact it was not the biggest item to take note of. When Clark escaped the Phantom Zone there were at least three other entities that escaped with him that I saw. At the end we got a glimpse of what might be one of those, but it might also be Zod's phantom still on the loose. Either way there are some dangerous creatures on the loose that Clark needs to deal with.

    So all in all a great start to what looks like another great season. I have to knock it down a bit for the couple items I listed above but I do not think this one deserves anything less than 4 out of 5 phantoms. Lets call it an A- for the scholastically friendly folks.

    Have a great week.

    Doug



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