Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 6 - Episode 11: "Justice"Reviews:
JusticeReviewed by: Neal Bailey
I've been waiting most of the season to say that I enjoyed a show as much as Zod. Now I finally can. It's not because the show was especially inventive. It's not because the writing was especially good. It's not because the story inspired me. It's because, at its core, this was a simply told, well-produced comic book story in the vein of the actual comics this show is based on.
For so long, this show has in no way resembled the Clark Kent or the character I know in many ways, or even, for that matter, the Smallville Clark I know. Here, at very least, the spirit of the form comes through.
Clark Kent did relatively little in this episode. Aquaman swam. There was no major fight between heroes and villains, more espionage. BUT, all that said, the action and the collection of people carry you along so well that you don't care.
It's funny, people give me all kinds of crap because I gave "Drone" back in the first season a four, I think it was, when that show right now is all kinds of the suck. I politely explain that the difference is that back then, there were so many great shows, it was hard to knock even a bad one, and that cumulatively, a string of success counts for something, and sometimes excuses the faults of whole episodes.
Here we've come full circle, where a whole string of awful episodes and several seasons of mediocre attempts at things that failed, so I feel almost obligated to try and find fault in this show.
The more cynical of you will indicate that that's already what I do, but no, it's not. What I do is try to analyze the show, and then rate it from my gut. How much I enjoyed it. I have eviscerated (as I will this show) episodes that I've loved. That's the goal of critique, close examination.
Bias does creep in, that's why I'm telling you that I was ready to pound this show. Heck, last week I was ready to trot out the DEAD TO ME board. I still might be, considering that I realize that this last show was probably a fluke, and that the rest of the season will follow suit with the rest. But I'm hoping (I always hope, despite what some may think) not.
But that said, top to bottom, inconsistencies aside (of which there were many), I enjoyed this show. Maybe it was the pace of this plot-based beast, which was much faster than any show I've seen in a while. Maybe it was fanboy fun. Maybe it was the way that I actually bought this Justice League concept. I know it wasn't the surface-level characterization and the cliché dialogue (as so many internet critics who got an advance copy when I didn't) were quick to point out. But it was something, and something fun, and I loved it.
We started out a little rocky. Chloe talking to a guy who transferred patients who is suddenly guilty of conspiracy to collude with Lex Luthor for a super-army without any logical reason. Then said guy pulls a gun, and you're wondering what crack he's on, but then WHOOSH. The save. And BANG, it's not Clark, it's Flash. Then ZOOM, the chase. Lots of good fun here, and your eyes open right up.
There's a group of ballers having their superficially cheesy and whitebread game of basketball, yo, and they interrupt it. Clark stops in the middle of them, chasing Bart, only to jump to immediate superspeed again, right in front of these kids. Crappy writing, in that there's no reason this couldn't happen in a back alley. I realized shortly after that the reason they did this was so that they could use the people in the background as a frame of reference for the effect, but then you realize, that's letting people watch Clark jump to superspeed, no matter how cool it looks. They're so absorbed in their game is the counter argument, yeah, but why would Clark take that risk? It's stupid.
Still, he stops, sees Bart, and says his name with a great delivery that actually gave me chills. They remembered something good about this show and consciously chose to bring it back.
They get straight to the point, which is the best and only real way to do a show without major character work well. Viva Bond. No internal conflict, no catharsis, just BANG BANG BANG, which is why the weak spot in this episode is the emotional crap in the end with Lois and Oliver.
There's also the fact that now we know that Bart can go WAY faster than Clark. Not just fast-fast. FAST-FAST. If you watch, Clark is still moving at his super-speed, which can get you from South America to Metropolis in seconds, and AT that speed, if you watch, Flash goes to super-speed. So it's super-speed in super-speed.
In the next scene, we have one of the arbitrary typical Smallville comics. Clark doesn't tell Chloe about Bart, which is supposed to be him being protective or a butthead, depending on how you look at it. It's out of character, either way. Chloe can handle the secret, she can handle one ancillary freak. But they do it so they can have a big reveal later to Chloe, so she can say, "Oh! Wow! That was HIM?"
This fails miserably because Bart shows up instantly behind her when she and Clark are having a private conversation in the barn, and she doesn't suspect anything, which doesn't play.
Chloe to Smallville and back. DING! Two.
Clark immediately and illogically assumes Lex is responsible (I mean heck, even Lionel is more likely a suspect in this case), and tells Chloe that he'll...call Lionel for help in the matter?
Oh yeah. I forgot. Lionel's now a good guy without any reason that we're just supposed to accept. Uh, yeah. Martha's boyfriend.
Where's Lionel been, anyway? Martha and Lionel have both been conspicuously out of the show in favor of Green Arrow and Lois. Odd, given that the show is about Smallville. Hopefully, this episode will end that string.
People like to call banter that involves intelligence snark. I hate the term snark. Snarky is what a thirteen-year-old girl who thinks she's cool because she's telling me my shoes are out of style, when she's really just a dipthong, thinks she is. My shoes rock. Stupid little girl. I'll kill you!
The difference being, snark is inane. Like when they have Chloe arbitrarily say something super-witty and out of character, it's not defining, it's a thirteen-year-old's fun.
Here, Bart and Chloe's repartee is intelligent fun with each other, so it plays, and works well. Good dialogue, for the first time in quite a while.
Continuity with the wallet and the map is nice as well, though you'd think since things ended on the up note Clark would have faith in Bart, per his character. Instead they need the arbitrary suspicion, and run with it, which is too bad. Still, if it's an excuse to remember something that actually happened in a previous episode, it's better in my book.
I like the courier idea, too. Funny.
Lois has a four martini lunch, engages in a gratuitous makeout session with Ollie, then gets angry because he's "All interruptus and no coitus!"
I think of all the characters in comicdom, Lois would be the most uninhibited and cool about sex, for the most part, even if she'd likely wait for Clark in his putzishness. Still, this was laying it on a bit thick.
Also, if they were both drunk, how did they get back home? And hey, isn't Lois like, JUST 21? She was going to college (first year) when Clark was a senior, so she may be 21, might not be. Either way, not that I think that drinking before 21 is a big deal anyway, responsibly, but to put that on Lois might have issues.
I probed around, but there's nothing I can really crank on that's bad about this scene beyond the fact that it's of essentially no purpose and is worthless exposition in a plot-based story. It can be argued that it sets up the later dramatic scene, but I challenge you to find out what information that was in this scene couldn't have been worked into a later scene. That's the litmus for unnecessary exposition. EVERY scene should reflect a conflict, and spoke the central thematic conflict. Why not just have Lois pop in during the last scene and say, "How about that vacation you promised me because you keep standing me up?" (As said tendency has already been established in the series and is not new to this show, thus extra information that isn't dramatic or necessary.)
But Neal, we see Ollie nipples!
Oh yeah, sorry. I forgot, CW. My bad. Snarky little remark there, little girl.
Lois to Metropolis and back. DING! Four.
We conveniently learn that Lana is in Paris with Nell shopping. It's so good to know that Lana's so dedicated to civil service that she'll fly across an ocean to shop. That's not shallow, materialistic, wasteful, or whorish, is it? Because essentially, if you're with someone to abuse their monetary potential, that's the definition of whorish, is it not, when sex is involved? Particularly when they're not suited to each other emotionally or in terms of status.
But I forget. Lana is an alabaster crown of innocence on a tuft of purity that farts obsession. So when she goes to Paris to spend another person's money wastefully, it's because she's worldly.
I don't know. Maybe it's just a different worldview. If I had enough money to do these things, I'd take the money and buy a homeless dude a wardrobe or something, or help some other poor schmuck writer.
But Neal, you don't get down on Lex for that! He does stuff like that all the time.
Yes, snarky girl. That's true. It's because Lex is a VILLAIN and Lana is supposed to be an avowedly philanthropic, caring person whose teeth shine the radiance of the sermon on the mount and whose gastic emissions speak platitudes such as "I just want to help people!" while her bile ducts create Israeli manna for her tribes of worshippers.
Lex and Lionel banter about 33.1 in another exposition scene. Lex even goes so far as to deny that the 33.1 facility destroyed was nothing but data, when Lionel is in on the gag, presumably. He helped Lex protect one a while back, couldn't have been more than five episodes, but apparently he's...forgotten? Or maybe the writers did.
My next note is entertaining. I wrote down that I thought the Flash outfit was okay, if a bit bright, when he's stealing the data. Then, the very next scene, GAH! The lightning bolt on the back, too much. Much hay was made over the fact that the suits look awful. I disagree. I think in motion they looked just fine. Clark's, if anything, was a bit much for the show, given that he's the only one (and without any real reason) not going incognito.
The voice modulation on Green Arrow is still miserably cheesy. I wish they'd do away with it. I know it disguises his voice, but seriously. There are other ways. Or better modulations. Superman does it by deepening his voice. The actor should be able to do that in this case.
Why did Impulse stand there taking the data instead of simply stealing the computer, getting out of the way of any potential cameras, and then returning the computer?
Because that would make sense, Neal!
Monkeybella, I missed you!
Ook Ook. And a boodily to you on no Lana this episode.
She was there in spirit, Bella.
Bart eats like his comic counterpart. Good, entertaining scene, with ACTUAL Martha. The pictures we saw promised Shelby, but still no Shelby. That's 11 episodes we haven't seen him now. The family dog, and apparently he's always out giving Bob Barker a reason to close his show.
Why wouldn't Bart tell Clark about their plan to destroy 33.1? Oliver's excuse at least is plausible, that he does things outside of what Clark helps him with, and vice versa. Bart's only making arbitrary tension. Arbitrary tension sucks.
Lois decides to jet off with Oliver, and prepares lingerie, because apparently lingerie packing is the most important aspect of what she did that day pertaining to the plot that had to be shown (Note the sarcasm. Snarkiness would be if I made a crack about her body).
I'm glad that a full time chief of staff for a senator and an employee at the Talon can take a vacation whenever she'd like. I mean, I remember all those vacations I had when I was a working stiff struggling to make the rent with a new car, I-
HEY! I didn't have a car, I couldn't afford one, and if I missed a day, I was fired! That sucks! This is unrealistic!
This is TV.
The JL International Satellite Corporation is cute. I liked it.
Bart is then trapped. I'm not sure how or why they sent Bart instead of Cyborg, but they did. I'm not sure why Lex knew he would target this exact computer or when, but he did. It's convenient and annoying, but it justifies the rest of the plot, and the rest of the plot is well executed, so it didn't bother me too much.
"Not so fast now, are you!?" did, because it's from cliché-land.
Clark is given guilt by Ollie again for not leaving Smallville, which is great, and forwards the character, as I've said. He uses the Zoners as a crutch. I see no reason he wouldn't ask Ollie for help (beyond show logistics). They should have written a better reason other than that he feels responsible, because it's out of character for Clark to not ask for their help when he knows they have powers, and Zoners are more of a fear than a few Luthor goons that Clark dispatches regularly.
Oliver tells Clark that Bart disappeared the day previously...and he doesn't call Clark until right then? Great guy, Ollie. Or incredibly stupid. Or Bart was kidnapped at night and they had a day scene next and forgot to fix that? Or they don't care?
Clark assumes Lex is responsible without any real reason. Lex is again the lightswitch evil villain to everyone around him, if not to himself and us.
Aquaman and Cyborg's reveal into the show was cool. Well handled.
Lex dialogue, again, awful: "Morning, sunshine!"
When Luthor gloats, he gloats intelligently. He doesn't say, "Your RUN of luck has lost its STRIDE! Mwu ha ha ha!"
He says something like, "My brain is faster than your feet. I win. Now tell me who sent you or I slit your throat personally."
It's the difference between a nyah 1950s comic (notably lacking character) and a modern villain.
Lex is right, too, in this situation. Bart stole from him twice. And for all he knows, there ARE freaks rising up to destroy the world. Heck, they blew up his plant (an act of terrorism). The show continues to show Lex as justified in everything he does (good) in his own mind, while simultaneously having everyone believing him categorically evil without much rationality to it (bad). If Clark had even a single conversation with him explaining that freaks are not out to get him and that the people who are making Lex paranoid had a good side, and then Lex still insisted on creating an army, THEN Clark would have a motivation for thinking him evil. Instead, because of scant evidence and theories of what Lex has or has not really done in the past, Clark condemns him openly while his character archetype is one of believing the best in anyone.
Lex kidnapped Bart. And Cyborg. And Aquaman. But two of those three were making active attempts to release freaks from captivity that were endangering the populace. Cyborg was also dangerous by any reckoning. He's sympathetic. He's supposed to be the villain here.
The ponytail line was nice. I'll give it that.
Nice camerawork with Bart's reflection talking to Lex. Excellent, very cool. The running effect was also well done, even if they very obviously repeated its usage several times in cuts.
They go so far as to mention Cyborg's back story, with his girlfriend, giving him a line to character, which was nice.
The question that will obviously be posed to me by the people already writing about how much they hate this episode is "What about character?"
Well, it's missing here, but this is a team show. It's very hard, on a short-term basis, to go into character in a story like this, so to me, if the plot is cool enough, it's forgiven. Particularly given that they already did establish these characters in previous, pretty darned good episodes in the midst of bad episodes, so that gives some leeway.
The fish jokes line was funny. Sadly, it points out a key failing in this episode, that there's no real reason for Aquaman to be here beyond the effect of swimming up to the facility. If there's any weak link in this show, it's Aquaman. I understand, however, that they're trying to bring all of the old hero characters back together, so it's more forgivable, even if, when he decks the whole room full of security guards, you're wondering how, or why we didn't see it.
I know that in this continuity he seemingly has invincibility, and some kind of telekinetic power, but I don't know. I'm not amazingly familiar with his character.
Chloe as the Oracle, or as "Watchtower" played incredibly well. People are writing me asking me if that's her role in the future of Superman.
Guys, if this show has any stones at all, Chloe is dead by the end of it. If they don't have stones, she's "Chloe." Not the future Oracle. Not Lois Lane. At very least, if this show has accomplished ANYTHING, it's the creation and establishment of this one character, Chloe, and the establishment of two different characters in one character, Lionel, but Lionel is really just future Lex minus baddies.
The biggest problem I have with the rescue is the convenience of no cameras, no security who can finger Clark, no mask on Clark. It's like the glasses justification. People say, "Well, he doesn't know he needs to have a secret identity yet", so it's forgiveable when he forever breaches his future secret identity!
Except it's not, if he's being Superboy.
Same thing with attacking this plant. There will obviously be cameras, there's no reason for Clark not to be wearing a mask. Or heck, a rudimentary costume. No flights, no tights is hardly a hard and fast rule with these guys (see the KO Count). Even a ski mask.
I can see the rationality of not doing that, because it makes Clark look like a villain. Well, what better way to teach a young Clark why he doesn't like cavorting around in a mask and instead prefers the disguise in his civilian life?
Either way, a continuity error and a lost opportunity.
Clark goes in first, and it's patently obvious that they're in that set they used as a fertilizer plant, and recently as 33.1, again. This kind of stuff I forgive more than bad writing, because sometimes you're stuck with the sets you have.
Chloe goes to Green Arrow to help, and indicates that she figured out his secret identity. No real conversation ensues. You'd think, if they get all up and conflict-y over the fact that Lois and Green Arrow are considering going on a trip, Green Arrow might get a little worried when his secret identity is compromised by someone he knew to be a friend. Or is this Ultimate Spider-Man all of a sudden with the secret identities and Chloe?
There's lead shielding around the building for refining the meteor rocks, which is kind of odd, mostly because Chloe is still calling them meteor rocks instead of Kryptonite (without reason in front of people Clark trusts with his secret identity, continuity error), and further because as we have seen from past episodes, all you need to refine meteor rocks is a hot fire (remember the guy who made bullets?) or a Gatorade canister.
It gets Clark to where he has to be, however, looking behind doors with Kryptonite in them without being careful.
They go through all of this effort to justify why he wouldn't notice the Kryptonite, in a further effort to basically take Clark mostly out of the JLA battle for the facility (because Clark's powers cost quite a lot, I'm sure, and we haven't really seen many of them beyond speed in the last few months), when in reality both hurt the story, and could have been done much easier by having Clark checking one facility while they check another, and Clark getting the wrong one. There are a number of ways that don't involve hack plot-holes.
Still, it's nice to see Kryptonite again, odd as that is to say. Mostly we've just seen pictures of the meteor shower headline explaining that Kryptonite is behind a given freak's power. The actual substance, with a justification to be around, is a nice foible. Instead of, you know, Gatorade.
The "sidekick" line for Chloe is harsh, and also something that would generate conflict but didn't. Cruel and dismissive, and a little out of character even if meant in fun.
I don't know how I feel about a JLA that Green Arrow organized over Clark, but in this continuity, it seems like the only possible way that it could happen. Emo kid Clark would never make a JLA. Heck, he'd be lucky to make an un-red bath.
Yes, to pre-empt the letter before it comes, I know this is not the JLA it's going to be. That's like saying Clark isn't supposed to be the Clark he's going to be, though. What other Clark do we get?
No, that's not part of the fun, having a flawed Clark. I don't buy it. Ditto to the JLA. What's fun is seeing how they choose to be such great people, not the failures that drive them to it.
Cyborg doesn't wear a mask either, which is odd. But his uses of power work for me. Calling Aquaman Aquaman and Impulse Impulse did too. At least they didn't have Aquaman call Clark "Superbro." And come to think of it, he didn't say bro at all, did he? Hot diggitty.
Green Arrow shoots a guy with a crossbow stun arrow in the middle of his upper spine. That would very easily paralyze and likely kill him with or without a stun head. In the arm would have been smarter and more plausible. Green Arrow also only used, what, two arrows? Part of the skill and fun of his character is that he's not Batman, he doesn't use gadgets, he uses his skill with a bow and arrow.
Clark is with the Kryptonite for an awful long time. Here's my logic:
Scene one: Clark and Chloe figure out where Bart is.
Scene two: Chloe in Metropolis with Ollie figuring out Clark's in trouble.
Scene three: The assault on the facility and the eventual save.
Basically, in scene one, Clark is given the facility's location, and goes to save Bart "because he can get there faster alone." Good logic. In fact, one would assume he gets there nearly instantaneously given his spectacular speed.
Next, we see Chloe in Ollie's penthouse telling him what's up, and mustering the troop.
This means that Clark is with the K for all of the time that it takes her to go to Ollie's, and all of the time for Ollie to suit up, prepare the command post, assault the facility, and then three minutes (show time) on top of that.
You all know the argument. Kryptonite doesn't weaken Clark, it makes his blood boil. Kryptonite is not a nuisance to be thrown away, it $@#%ing KILLS him.
So I take back what I said about it being good to see K again, if it's going to be used like this. This is almost like the van ride.
Aquaman swims into this very convenient underwater hatch. I know my warehouses all have...uh...dive hatches?
Here's another fun issue that this episode raises. Clark, Ollie, Aquaman, Impulse, and Cyborg basically commit an act of terrorism. They blow up a civilian financial institution whose policies they disagree with in order to stop a political process they don't like.
Ah, but Neal! Don't you realize, they knew that, and had Clark actually think about it and make sure that the greater good was being served, and that all of the people were out and wouldn't be hurt? Doesn't that resolve your issue?
No, because Superman still just committed an act of terrorism. Ollie might do it. Aquaman would definitely do it. Bart probably wouldn't. Cyborg might. I don't know.
Superman wouldn't. Not in a million years. He'd simply take those responsible to jail or use his reporter's instincts (now what we might call a resolution sense) and find the moral way out.
A giant industrial fireball that destroys a warehouse is not my idea of Superman's method, and I'm disappointed that they went that route just for cool factor. I would rather have seen some more powers in use, and an intellectual plot whereby the plant is closed through the ingenuity of Clark or a buyout by Ollie, with a promise to shut more down.
Instead, at the end of the episode, these guys are going off to blow up more buildings and Clark is like, "Gee! Great! I'll come join you soon!"
Which we're supposed to think is okay because it's stopping suffering, but which is really not, because there are other, better written ways to do it, especially in a society that's scared out of its bones about terrorism, given a Superman that's supposed to stop points made through violence. Or try to.
You might argue he made a failed, stupid pre-emptive strike, but I won't go any farther than that beyond saying I don't see that as Superman, more as Luthor. Luthor's the guy who goes out there and uses backhanded power plays and violence in order to stop people from doing what he wants. How, in this case, is Clark different?
Therefore when Lex tells his father that this was an act of terrorism and that the people responsible fight against truth and justice, there's more of a grain of truth to it than I'm comfortable admitting, and though it's obviously cruel and rotten to torture freaks and make an army out of them, who among us in Lex's position WOULDN'T do something? And who would feel pity about imprisoning all of the people who over the last few years have been trying to kill the people of your town?
Well, Neal, Lex is torturing people! He tortured Aquaman and Cyborg and now Bart! Does this mean you would sanction torture in order to save people from their enemies?
Hah! No. But see, that's why Lex is the villain and Clark is the good guy. The point being, you're supposed to be able to make a clear and easy differentiation, and when the only real difference of method is that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and one tortures but the other blows up buildings, who can say that either party is worthy of any kind of commendation?
The voice modulation on Ollie's suit, though they tried to explain it this episode, is still odd. If anything, make the actor deepen his voice. That's what they do with Superman, and it works just fine. Great, in fact.
Why is Lex at the facility in the middle of the night milling about? If, as the show indicates, he has a buttload of facilities, there's no reason to be at any one save Bart spilling info, but there's no reason a lackey couldn't do that. I don't buy that he'd be there. It's for drama, so Lex can confront Green Arrow, and the confrontation is neat (if you're not taken up with wondering why it was happening). I like the arrow across the cheek, but then, will there be a scar? Nay. Should there be? Why not? That would be continuity, though.
I like watching House and seeing the scar from House's bullet wound, though subdued, on his neck every week. It's a reminder of a great show. Watching OZ over the break, it was great to see scar continuity from season to season, even.
So they blow the facility, and do the cliché hero walk. Everyone I talk to seems to think this is the coolest thing, and wants a poster of it. I'm just wondering why the heck they'd walk that way, why the heck they'd be portrayed as bad-@$$ for committing an act of terrorism, and what the heck is going on with Clark being in the lead despite being a reluctant member who did literally nothing to help this endeavor at all.
That's overanalysis, some might say. Just look at the power of the image and enjoy it!
But it's NOT a powerful image. A powerful image is the picture of Superman and Bizarro suspended in mid-air in the last Action Comics with things flying through the air in great detail. It's been done before, but never like that, making it a powerful image.
This particular style of image, without some new wrinkle, was old when Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone ran towards the camera in Joel Schumacher's monstrosity of a Batman. And even before that.
I'm not gonna bag on not having a big baddie fight. That's for the finale, I can already tell, and this was a good build to that, actually.
Here's a funny little thought. The entire facility is lead-lined, and has no cameras that survived or are archived despite Lex Luthor pouring all of his resources into it, BUT, there is a powerful enough satellite feed on the site to tell Chloe when all of the heat signatures are moving away, right through the lead and the walls and the ceiling.
There's also the fact that in order to blow a facility like that you'd need a really small nuke or about a van worth of fertilizer or napalm, and I didn't see any of them carry that in. This isn't Star Wars, where a little palm sized detonator can create a ten story fireball. That took me out.
Lois to Metropolis and back. DING! Six.
The entire Green Arrow and Lois scene failed me. Bad music, bad dialogue, bad arc end, it's just relatively pointless. Both actors, for their part, acted well with bad lines, but that can't save them from bad lines. I felt no emotional impact at all, especially given that I've never been shown any real reason for these two characters to connect beyond the fact that Lois will later like superheroes and they look cute together (which, you know, isn't adequate writing for me now that I've broken that age 15 barrier. No, really.)
This begs the question, what did I think of the overarching and all-important thematic element for the first half of this season, Green Arrow?
Well, let's see. First off, he seemed more like Batman than Green Arrow. Secondly, he's more of a hero than Clark, and thusly upstages him constantly, but without any consistency. He's a druggie, but then he's not. He gets Lois, but on this show that's like turning a knob somehow, save for the nice guy who gave her a place to live and will later be her husband despite not technically meeting her for another seven years.
Am I amused by the trick arrows? Well, none of them were particularly plausible or creative.
Am I amused by his outfit? No.
Was the actor good? Yeah, but he didn't look like Green Arrow, which hurt his plausibility.
Did his arc accomplish anything? No. It could have, if they had really made an ongoing and continual rivalry of Ollie badgering Clark to leave Smallville. As it is, it came up twice, and remained pooh-poohed, and is probably the only thing I really liked or will remember about his appearances.
He upstaged Clark, he distracted from any forward plot motion, and like Smallville always does, he's now brought things back to status quo by leaving.
Things are now EXACTLY where they were six years ago minus one school, Pete, and Jonathan. A show should be able to say more than that, and Green Arrow's leaving compliments these three changes in no way, nor does it progress the overarching theme or plot at all.
So I think it's for the most part a complete failure of both story and opportunity, which is sad. I expected more, especially given that every other hero or guest visit from a comic element has livened the show in a great way.
The reason it failed is because Ollie just showed up, and was KNOWN, like Lois. Like Jason. Like Genevieve, and became instant background pretty with little depth.
It helped me realize, as I was reading the book Story over the last few weeks (I read about six books at a time, kind of randomly, so it takes a while), that the real problem with Smallville is that it's not a deep drama. It's not an action show or an antiplot literary musing (as the first few seasons might have indicated with the larger literary themes in the background). It's a soap opera.
Story puts it aptly, and I'll quote from it, in describing a soap opera:
"Stories that are complicated only on the level of personal conflict are known as Soap Opera, an open-ended combination of Domestic Drama and Love Story in which every character in the story has an intimate relationship with every other character in the story - a multitude of family, friends, and lovers, all needing sets to house them: living rooms, bedrooms, offices, nightclubs, hospitals. Soap Opera characters have no inner or extra-personal conflicts. They suffer when they don't get what they want, but because they're either good people or bad, they rarely face true inner dilemmas. Society never intervenes in their air-conditioned worlds. If, for example, a murder should bring a detective, a representative of society, into the story, you can be certain that within a week this cop will have an intimate and personal relationship with every other character in the Soap."
(Page 214 in my edition).
I dunno. I paid thirty-five bucks for this book on the advice of a number of writer friends who call this the second coming of books on writing screenplays. Honestly, I'm three quarters through and it's nothing so far but a basic explanation of the five act structure per any good class with certain given gems of wisdom such as (paraphrased) "don't make your character's action not forward the plot or theme, and give them depth, or people will think you suck!"
These are the things that any good sixth grade teacher should be fired for not ingraining in their creative writing student's heads, so I don't see what the big deal is about this book. On Writing by King was far more insightful, and to the point. But then, one was about process, the other living the process, so King wins. Any idiot can conjugate a verb, but it takes a man to raise a chapter.
The point being, book's merits aside, it has great definitions and a number of points with regards to classification that have been helping me peg just what is failing about this show, and the chief problem relates to the above passage. Smallville stopped being a drama with a main character conflicted on multiple levels and started to be a soap opera at the beginning of season four. There are no consequences, characters just show up and are there without rationality, and it's more about sets and the focus getting what they want over whether or not they should or would care if they even need to or want to.
Green Arrow didn't pop in for any reason other than to be eye candy, so he's soap opera, and failed.
Lionel covered for Clark, telling Lex that he had dinner with him the night before.
Lex, of course, would never realize that Lionel might lie about something, and further of course would not haul a security guard describing Clark to Clark to have him verify what went on. I mean, that would be beyond the pale.
"Something with Justice in it!" (RE: The name of their club) Yes! Something with Justice in it. That'll have to be a directive we have...that's prime...when we're dealing with new civilizations and have to have a rule...not to meddle with their society.
It played a bit too pat for me, like that Enterprise scene where Archer ham-hands a prime directive when none exists for fanboy giggles.
"It's not the end...it's just the beginning!" Cliché on that cliché, buddy.
And hey, Clark indicates that he'll join these guys after he captures all the Zoners, again indicating that the show might be in its last season...perplexing, given reassurances that we've had. When will we know? I don't know, but I'll tell you as soon as I find out.
I don't know. There were inconsistencies, as I mentioned, but this is the first time this season, since Zod, that I can say that I was enjoying the show. I think most of the fans, or at least the viewers, are with me...check this analysis.
Granted, it's months old, but I doubt the trend has changed. I haven't seen it change when I check the ratings.
Justice got 5.2 million viewers, so I'm told as I finish this. That's a huge surge. It's a show people responded to. It brought us to almost 2/3 of where Smallville was in ratings in season two. Maybe they'll catch on that we like shows that keep our attention and have some thought given to what the fans want to see.
Or maybe they'll just go back to one-off crap soap opera shows about the object of desire over character, and bring it back to what the fans want in the finale before facing either an early cancellation or dragging the show on for a season longer (nay, three) than it should have gone in the first place.
I hope for the former.
This show gives me hope for that. I enjoyed it, inconsistency aside, and applaud the creators for bringing it back one more time. Critics are tearing hell out of the episode, as are a lot of the people who normally tear hell out of the show, but numbers don't lie.
This one won out, finally. 4.5 of 5.
SUPER SHORT REVIEW:
Yesterday I saw the pilot of smallville(they are going to show season 1 on tv again) for the second time.
I noticed that they Clark's spaceship looks different in the beginning compared to the one being used later. (Even if you don't see so much of it)
Then when Clark was having a fight with Whitney it seemed that he would had revealed his powers unless Whitney hadn't had Lanas kryptonite necklace(but that just my opininon).
I was suprised at how short your first Smallville review was. Since they are showing smallville again don't be suprised to get letters concerning old episodes.
/Magnus from Sweden.
Cool, and no problem! Yeah, the reviews were much shorter then, mostly because there was less material to draw off of, also because I was developing my style yet, I was only 20, and also because frankly, I didn't know the demand for analysis that would rear its head.
Aaron Thall wrote:
A few things for your KO Count you might have missed.
1: In Hydro, Chloe vandalizes Daily Planet property by smashing as computer with a hammer. Since this would probably not destroy all evidence of Lake's story on Clark, Chloe would have had to return to the office and either wipe the hard drive or steal it. Regardless, tampering with a crime scene.
True, if any crimes were charged...
2: A miracle. In the season 6 premere, Lana's stabbed through the hand. The next ep, which was only 1 week later timewise, her hand was healed with no scar, nerve damage, broken bones... Nada.
Bingo! That goes in.
3: In Hydro, dressed as Green Arrow, Clark uses super speed and strength in front of Lois and Jimmy. Technically, this would also count as tights.
I'll give you tights on that one, but not speed in front of people not in the know, because he's in costume. It's for when it might compromise his secret identity.
4: Superhearing sneak: Lake sneaks up on Clark to snoop. Wouldn't he either have heard the water flooding or her breathing?
That's a judgement call. I would assume even with Clark's powers he wouldn't be on the lookout for malicious water.
And now, some Hydro notes... One, why wouldn't Lake have played up Clark's being a senator's son? Surely the chance to ruin a politician's reputation woulda been worthwhile.
Very good point.
By the same token, why was she publishing the Clark is an alien story? No one would believe her but Lex, and she'd sacrifice millions by not just telling him.
Another very good point.
Third, how did Lana know about Chloe's hammer action?
Another another very good point.
And why didn't Chloe ask for help from Clark, who now has super breath and could probably freeze Lake solid?
Hah! I know this one. Effects budget.
Also, why didn't Chloe consider the possibility that Lake was using electronic bugs?
I could go on, but thinking about all these plot holes depresses me deeply.
Like a plot hole rabbit.
Jim Smith wrote:
I have a cat about to give birth. Come quick, you can have the kittens!
Hah! I just need a box, and only for healing purposes. Really, I can't afford the food. Thanks though.
Anyway, about the review. I did not think this week was that bad. Granted, I hate Tori Spelling. If ever there was someone that just needed to go away and never be seen again it is her. She is just...ewwwwwww. When she opens her mouth I hate her even more. So maybe all the rage I was feeling from seeing her on the show blinded me to some of its faults.
Or maybe you just liked it. That's cool too.
Really the only part of your review that I take issue with is the counting of trips back and forth. Both Clark and Lex should be excluded. I mean, he has a freaking whirlie bird in his back yard. He can make the trip in no time flat. I also think you are wrong about Lex being tabloid material. Billion dollar playboy, head of a huge company with holdings all over the world, goes threw women like tissue until now. He even gives money to charity now and then. Hell, sounds like that guy in Gotham City with the parent issues. Bill Gates is old and boring until someone hits him with a pie.
This is true, which is why I don't include those two. Or did I? I think I didn't, though.
I also think I have nailed down just what it is about the show that you hate. I mean, besides the poor writing, horrible location and the fact that it is a nothing more than a prime product placement wh#re. Never again will you type out the words "this is the Smallville I loved". Why, we cannot bring him back. You know who I am talking about. Pa is gone son, we need to move on. But you can't. Why you ask?
BECAUSE THAT BICH IS STILL HERE!!! Every moment she is on screen we are reminded that he died because of her. Don't tell me Clark did it, we all know she is the reason he is gone. Oh and Al and Miles are not telling a story any more but selling product space with T&A on the side. I think they toss in some thing they think could be called the story of a hero but I am not seeing it. So there you have it. Just because John Schneider doesn't have tits or an ass the target audience wants to look at they got rid of him in favor of her. No matter that he is 10 times the better actor. No, we keep the walking dead wood with t%ts.
Honestly, it's not Lana, it's not product placement. I could deal with one annoying character, even eight, if there were one redeeming, fun character. That used to be Clark, Chloe, Lionel, Lex, and Martha. Now Lionel's dating Martha, Lex is Lana's sap, Clark is a hero by default, and whenever Chloe's on screen, she has to look over Erica's breasts to even say her lines.
I could have Clark in Nikes with (God help me) Old Navy logos all over his shirt, so long as when he spoke, it was a good bit of dialogue in the middle of a fine story. Like I said in my SR review, it's not the costume, it's the story and the man in it.
But they can still fix it, yes sir. How, they won't get Schneider back you say? They don't need him to fix it. But they do need someone else. Who you ask? I'll tell you, Sam Jones III, thats who. We will have Pete appear in a blinding flash of light in strange clothes with an odd looking weapon. He will tell Clark that he is there to save his life and save the entire world but he must stay in the barn. Clark will protest, ask questions but he will just say "trust me Clark" and he will. I mean it's Pete! Then Pete, with the odd looking weapon hunts down Lana and destroys her. The weapon will banish her from reality! Not a soul but us poor folks on this side of the TV will ever remember or talk about her again. Then poof, Pete goes back to his time.
Yes I know its the Terminator but who cares, the bich would be gone. Yes I know he is doing other work but they would only need him for one more show! I wouldn't even care if Lex and Clark went back to being best buddies again if that happened. I wouldn't care if they became gay lovers! That is how happy it would make me to see her gone. Anyway. Sorry about the foul words, I just don't have the skills to get across how I feel without them sometimes. Must just be my weak mind.
It's okay. I sanitize them to save my job. No sweat.
Where was I again...
Oh, nice review Neal, congrats on the second house. When you are sitting on top of your publishing empire, don't forget us. The little people.
Until next time,
I actually get people saying that a lot...telling me when I become a publishing guru, not to forget the little people. This forgets two facts. One, I will not become a publishing guru or a famous writer unless I can still be around (not just remember) the "little" people (of who I am one), and two, it assumes that someone who thinks that way will ever be allowed to make it.
I may be pessimistic, but after ten years of trying, I'm prepared for the long haul of truth without discretion with no reward whatever.
Oh, sorry if my spelling was bad.
Hard to stop when I am rolling like that.
Better late than never.
Some comments about the second episode of Smallville: Metamorphosis.
When Greg Arking jumped down, on Whitney's car, he began banging on the roof but I wonder why did they car rotate and land on the side? Greg was only banging on the roof and suddenly the car began to twirl and land on the side.
And why did the car explode later? Was it beacuse it was burning, why did it began to burn?
In an episode when Clark was on red kryptonite, and he was with Pete and Chloe, Chloe ask something like "Can you fly too?" and he answers laughing that he can't.
Why didn't he say something like "I don't know, I should try it, I remember that I floated above my bed once" Since in this episode he floated above his bed and remembered doing it so he should know he has the possibility to fly.
And your first smallville reviews are very short.
You must had liked the first episodes very much.
And one of the reasons I want to see the first season again is that I "never saw the "hourglass"-episode and wants to see that.
/Magnus from Sweden
Hah! I can't even remember the basic premise of bug boy beyond that I think he liked Lana and wanted to mate with her? Boy, I'm glad they moved beyond that plot.
I did like those first episodes, actually. Even through season three the show was a lot of fun.
You can see House in Sweden now too, I think they started to show it autumn last year. So the series I'm following now is Lost, House, Prison Break and Smallville.
I'm watching House, Smallville, Daily Show, Colbert, and Scrubs. Some Cops for fun, and South Park when it's on. That's it.
You know, once I read your reviews and thought about your comments. That must have been during the seasons of Smallville you actually liked.
Then, I just became amused by them. When, in your opinion, the show got worse, your reviews were funny.
But now, I gotta say, I don't really like them at all. You spend a great amount of time trashing a pretty decent show.
You know what I think. I think you're mad. You probably could write a better fan story of Superman than these guys. There's probably no question about that. You are obviously a big fan. But you're mad that you're not writing it. And, in turn, you can't help but be mad every time you watch an episode.
True. But that's not my primary motivation for being angry. I mean, heck, in all arrogant honesty I believe I can write better than most of the shows out there. The real question is if I would spend my time doing so. To write something, I need a really compelling premise beyond making money.
And the anger isn't that I'm not a Smallville writer, though that's something I would like. The anger is at a squandered opportunity. It's what I think of when I see CNN or Fox, too. It doesn't mean I want to be an anchor at Fox. I just say to myself, "My God, you're lucky enough to have an audience, and a captive one at that. You could step up your game and do such great things." and no one in that position (or few, anyway) ever do, for love OR money.
Take a step away from it. The show is pretty decent stuff for a family to watch, which, in my opinion, is a good thing. I've got children, and I can watch this show with them, which goes a long, long way. And maybe my worldview is pretty conservative, but, if this show just exists to present a guy whose worldview is inherently good (which is what Superman is really, truly about), then that's good enough.
I don't have children. So I should be excluded? Ideally, a show should be good for people with or without kids, and reflect a uniformly understood concept in some unique way. A show is not great, or even "good enough" in my opinion if it just presents a guy who IS inherently good. He has to be inherently good for a sympathetic reason that's compelling to watch.
And honestly, there are times I don't think this show would be appropriate for children at all.
I too, though you might think otherwise, am pretty conservative. I just don't characterize myself as many who do consider themselves Republican or conservative right now because I'm conservative in the way that currently elected conservatives have forgotten to embody. Basically that means that though I'm against the war and big government and religious control, I buy into a lot of the things that conservatives have traditionally (though do not currently) embody, with a healthy liberal viewpoint (per Superman) on social welfare and taking care of the helpless.
I understand the idea of idealism and good. My trashing on this show is for every way this show steps away from it.
The show will run its arc. In a season or two it will be done. And you will have contributed a lot of thought to a show that may or may be be able to be improved according to the world of the true, purist, Superman fans. But, you know, when you get right down to it, the shows are interesting for 45 minutes on a Thursday night. They let you think about Superman in a different way. And, again, Smallville is a show that is inherently good -- a good guy in a world of bad guys. What's so wrong with that?
There are no true Superman fans. I get enough writing me in telling me how to think to know that they all think in a different way. What I do know, however, is that it's not just Superman purists who want this show better. I get letters every week from people who don't even know who Doomsday is or what the name of the longest running Superman title is, who still think Smallville is awry.
As for what's so wrong with the show, well, as you said, you read all the reviews. I think my point's been more than stated, and to wit, you didn't list any points you took umbrage with.
So stop trashing it just for once. Look at the big picture. I think if you watch the show through those lens, you may find something different.
This is a polite way of saying "Like it because I like it." Why shouldn't I just say the same thing to you? Criticize it because I criticize it. The answer is the same in both instances. Because one should never foist their viewpoint upon another, they should instead attempt to persuade someone logically to their position through logical evidence-based argument. The difference being, one is based upon feeling and condescension, the other fact and pattern in an organized system.
I love your reviews as it appears many other intelligent people do! You say the exact things I'm thinking as I watch the show, sigh. Why, oh why has Smallville gone down this ridiculous path??
I don't know. Wish I did.
I liked the first two seasons for the most part. IMO, however the producers should have made the Chloe part be Lana, and Lana (cheerleader) be Chloe. IMO cheerleaders tend to be shallow people mainly concerned with themselves and image and being in the popular crowd.
Not just your opinion. I challenge anyone to show me a smart cheerleader.
I always thought Superman (aka Clark) was attracted to strong, intelligent, independent women like say, Chloe! Wouldn't it have been better for Clark, Lana, and Pete to work together on the Torch? This way Lana was the one investigating the Smallville wierdos and getting into dangerous situations with Clark rescuing her. Of course without revealing himself. Eventually, Lana starts to suspect Clark and this would cause Clark to be more careful and maybe even consider a disguise?
Hah! You assume that they might want to make a plausible end point...they could care less, it would seem.
Also, I think this scenerio fits better with the mythos. The way I remember it in the comics, Lana suspected Clark and was always coming up with silly schemes to try and prove Clark was Superboy. That might have been a change from freak of the week, huh?
Well, yeah, but every female's main goal also seemed to be to marry Clark. There are some things better left in the past. But your point, that Lana needs one, is taken well.
Plus it would also give Clark a reason to act weak in front of people, another early event to cause him to develop a disguise or different persona. I would have kept all three characters actively involved in the Torch, then going off to college and studying, say journalism? Lana and Pete would realize their hearts are in Smallville and with each other, and return home, but Clark realizing Lana and Pete belong together decides to go to the big city.
Sorry for rambling here, but like you, I'm not happy with all the Metropolis characters on the show either, plus how is Clark ever going to become a reporter?? Is he going to college? Are any of the characters currently going to college??
None of them, no. Not that I know of. But Chloe's apparently a full-fledged reporter anyway. Sigh.
Oh well, I'll keep looking forward to your reviews, I just discovered them and spent the last few days reading through them! I've had lots of good lol moments!
Thank you for making my weekend and sorry if I bored you.
Nope! Not bored. Thank you, and you're welcome.
Zach Cole wrote:
Neal, in your Smallville reviews often point out what could be fixed about the show to "correct the course." But isn't it too late? The show has been going on for six seasons now, with few memorable scenes (except that Clark has, by age 19, met every future Daily Planet co-worker...expect for Ron Troupe. Hey, Bow wow's second cousin could play him in an upcoming episode!)
It's never too late. One good show can change everything. I will say it's about 99% unlikely the show will spring back to its epoch.
So I want you to hop into a shiny DeLorean and cruise back to 2001. You're in a WB exec's room (wow, talk about bad parking), and the wordsmiths will later bring us "Herbie: Fully Loaded" are pitching their idea for a TV show based on the early years of Superman. What would say to these two to stop "Smallville" from becoming what it is today?
Hi, Al. Hi, Miles. I know you don't believe I'm from the future, but I am. Here's how I'll prove it. On September 11th...
Months later, I'd get the call, come in, and then demand a hefty ransom in order to tell them exactly what killed the show.
I'd then take that money and publish my novels, my first love, then maybe parlay into Supes.
I know, not what you'd expect. But honest.
Re: Hydro Review
Can't put enough emphasis on "word" to your reaction of Lois slapping GA full on and being played off as cute. That wasn't a light tap either. She whaled him...hard. I participate in several message boards and to see people (particularly females) classify it as cute made my blood boil. You said just about everything I felt dead on. If it had been gender reversed there would have been hell to pay.
Lois as a whole pretty much just aggravates me these days. It's Lana 2.0 with how she's handed opportunities and people's willingness to accept poor characterization because the actress is hot, delivers one-line snark, and is wearing the name tag. Even her snark is starting to fall completely flat with me. Seeing her critique Jimmy's pics when we still haven't seen that she can run an article through a word processor with spell check much less photograph a vigilante takes all the fun out for me. Just like 90% of being a smart a#s hinges on actually being smart 90% of effectively ragging some ones competence hinges on the ragger having demonstrated some of their own. She ought to go back to picking on Clark. At least she had some credentials to make those lines funny.
It's not that I dislike Lois, it's just that I don't see what function she fulfills that Chloe doesn't.
On the whole Lana having feelings for Clark things. 2 parts. First is that I despise the Lana character for every reason you do. Second I disagree with your assessment that we were lacking any kind of build up to this revelation. Lana light switching feelings for a guy is pretty normal and in this case it's a guy that she was declaring love for verbally by the end of Season 2. Anyways I think Lana having an emotional torch for Clark is something that we aren't supposed to ever think goes away. In fact I think writing wise the writers want us to similarly believe Clark will always have a little bit of a thing for her as well moving forward. Speaking personally I didn't need to see any scenes of Lana rekindling feelings of Clark (I barely survived the one line as is) to buy her speech. Got to hand it to the writers, the great thing about Clana is that it's only one sappy loft scene away if they need it! Ugh kill me now I guess.
It's part of the return to status quo problem they've had since, speak of the devil, the end of season 2.
On Lex: Talk about a complete waste of one of the best actors to play a Lex in my opinion. The CW might as well just set a match to the money they are paying anyone who writes Lex's lines. All his on-screen time is devoted to Temple-O-Lana while building all his dastardly schemes off-screen which is a terrible choice. What's the point of tuning in to see an evil character develop by off-screen reference and innuendo?
I don't know. Point of fact, since season four's Lex-centric episode, I haven't had much fun with his character at all.
I still enjoy the show but nowadays it's mostly Clark and Chloe holding me in. Every scene with the two of them just clicks. Chloe in particular has been fantastic this year and Allison just gets better every time I see her. On the shallow side, however, not digging her hair this year. Clark dare I say was doing great until the whole "Gotta find Lana no regrets line". Gah I almost stood up and yelled "Hell yeah!" when he said "Nah I know better" only to have it brutally ripped away. Oh, you said something about Chloe yelling at Clark in Hydro. When was that? All I remember is her cutting him off when he got a dark look on his face about the baby and launching from there into the secrets thing. Overdue and not a bit out of line in my humble opinion.
Less yelling, more calling to task.
Glad to have the reviews back. Monday morning wasn't the same without them (I know they are up earlier but they are better with coffee at work =p).
Usually they're up Mondays...that's been working better. Steve's Australian weekend starts when the show ends, and that gives both him and I some time to digest all of this material.
Happy belated Holidays.
1) KO Count update: for the people getting hit by cars category, don't forget about Duncan in "Reunion."
2) As a huge fan of Northrup Frye and Carl Jung (well, huge in the sense that I know who they are), I'm going to ask you to thing twice about your usage of the word "archetype." I feel like most of the time that you use that word you can use "stereotype" as a more accurate term. "Stereotype" has a negative connotation, while "archetypes" are supposedly unavoidable and don't necessarily connote bad writing.
A fair critique. Though I would argue that a stereotype and an archetype are analogous, we just want to avoid archetypes that aren't creative. In other words, a stereotype is an archetype that fails. So if I say, "I'm tired of the Lana archetype", that's essentially saying I'm tired of a Lana stereotype as well, though a pedant might hang me for it.
Being a prescriptive grammatic kind of guy, I know that leads to more verbal confusion like that, but I think judging the ideas is the key. But I'm with you, I'll try and watch that.
Dug the Hydro review but I've got two points of contention.
1. Lois did hand Jimmy money, which she should have demanded back because the photos sucked.
I got flak about this...it's less that she didn't compensate him ultimately, more that Jimmy would have little to gain from going to some tabloid hack over trying to sell them to, say, Kahn.
2. RE: The slap. A tad overboard - agreed. But she called him Ollie pre-kiss. So in Lois' mind the scenario was: she thought she was kissing her boyfriend, he knew she thought this and knew she was wrong and yet went along with it, thus taking advantage of the situation. And then she was put in a position where she needed to save face in front of her boyfriend. And, frankly, she just saw the GA toss a thug across an alley - dude could probably take a slap.
Again, missing the point. It doesn't matter if Clark would feel nothing and Lois broke her hand. It's a simple objection to an entity, any entity, striking out in anger over a personal embarrassment and having that be condoned by the writing staff de facto.
Clark may have been an opportunist. Heck, he could have called her that swear word that starts with a C. Doesn't matter. You shouldn't hit someone, male or female, over a perceived insult. Not as a role model, not in real life, there's no real reason period...unless you're a villain. Then it's right.
And another key fact. She THOUGHT she was kissing her boyfriend, but didn't know, meaning she passive aggressively tried to prove her point, failed, and then lashed out in embarrassment. I cannot condone her behavior with your rationalization...
There used to be this bald-guy character who was on Smallville. He smashed out a metermaid's headlights for giving him lip, shot a tabloid reporter in the back, and let his homicidal second wife jump out of an airplane with a faulty parachute. Do you know what happened to him? They've replaced him with some other bald guy who has so little self-respect that he actually still wants to marry a faithless horror of a woman after she's revealed that she still loves her ex-boyfriend.
It's awful, isn't it?
But seriously. Gawd. How do Lex's 33.1 experiments carry any weight this season when he's this whipped?
Because LANA spurs him on! It's all HER idea! What an amazing woman.
Other than that, I didn't hate "Hydro". I thought it was good compared to the other episodes this season, because there were some important character transitions, decent action, some humor, and better direction. Welling didn't write the script, so I don't ding him for the flaws in it, but I do give him credit for bringing off what he was given. He drew good performances out of everyone (who was capable of it), kept up the pacing, gave us the first decent fight scene this season, and offered up the droll idea of the gossip columnist dribbling into the gutter at the end. As for script flaws, the one that bothered me most other than the Lexana crap was that the secrets and lies issue was in deadly earnest when it came to Lana, but when it came to Lois, it was comedy. Now, I much prefer the comedy, and it is consistent with what goes on in the comics, but fair's fair, right? If Clark's deception shakes Lana's world to its foundations, he can't turn around and screw with Lois's head, can he?
Nope. It's hypocritical.
I was also puzzled with the Jimmy-Lois story. You mentioned it was peculiar that he wouldn't offer his Green Arrow photographs to the Daily Planet instead of shopping them around anonymously online, but it's worse than that. He should have backed out of the deal as soon as he saw the buyer was Lois, because it put him in the position of working for the Planet but moonlighting for a competitor. That could get him fired, so I can't see him doing this unless he's desperate to make rent, but nothing like that was mentioned.
Not to mention being unethical. It'd be like me getting an exclusive and then selling it to KSite because they offered me money.
I didn't have a problem with Lex's love life being covered by the Daily Planet gossip column. I had more trouble with the DP having a gossip column in the first place. The love lives of billionaires such as Donald Trump are covered in gossip columns, and Lex the former playboy has been harassed by the Inquisitor before, so we know he has a high profile. Clark's picture appearing was bizarre and unnecessary, though. Do we need more questions as to how the secret identity is ever going to work?
You know what's really funny is that I would have said even ten years ago that tabloid fodder was not the business of major newspapers, but as they hit the wall of making money versus maintaining integrity, and as more and more major conglomerates suck up the major news sources, I see more and more gossip and emotional claptrap reported as "news," so I would argue that the Planet in this day and age, not run by Perry, would have a gossip page.
That doesn't mean anyone would give a crap about a billionaire industrialist's girlfriend. I mean, tell me, what color is Melinda Gates' hair? Now tell me the name of Paris Hilton's puppy.
One you know, because Paris wears no underwear even if she's a crack hag. The other one the world could give a crap about beyond her charity.
I also give Clark more credit in the loft scene with Lana than you do. He essentially does tell her to settle down with Lex and have the child. She starts in with her BS about feelings and pwease pwease pwease tell me the secret, but he stops her by revealing he knows about the baby, and that that changes everything. He finishes off by pointedly telling her that he hopes Lex will make her happy. It's not in-your-face, but then Clark seldom is. Yet, I think it's pretty clear he's telling her where her responsibility lies. I'd just like to know what he really thinks of a woman who deserts her prospective fiance and father of her child to importune her old boyfriend while hiding her pregnancy from him. Do the writers recognize that Lana's actions would be an absolute adoration-killer for any normal guy?
Well, I don't know. I know a lot of whupped guys who would take Lana's crap. But I don't see Superman, the ultimate father/idol figure, as one of them. Nice guys can not take crap. I know. I don't.
I noticed you said a nail gun couldn't shoot without air, well I work with a cordless nail gun. It uses a co2 (compressed gas) cartridge. Also Bond uses one to kill a villain at the end of Casino Royale!
I remember that! True. I got to thinking about it this weekend, and realized that in some cases, like, say, high up where a hose would be prohibitive, there MUST be some way to use a nail gun without a compressor.
This doesn't absolve the show, however, because really, the only reason to use expensive CO2 cartridges would mean if there were no power, and this is in a room where a computer was running.
David Wilkins wrote:
I read your review of Superman and Batman vs. Aliens and Predators. Three words: Batman: Dead End. I have never actually seen any of the Predator/Alien movies, but even i know that the Predator does not stop killing by choice. The aliens are more savage.
Dead End was pretty good on the costumes and fights. I was ticked we didn't see the end of the fight though.
I did read the first part to the Superman vs. Aliens saga. That actually piqued my interest. That's also when I noticed that they must have had the money to use the paper for the cover through the comics. Oh, well. some people do not pay attention.
I reviewed Superman/Aliens 2. That was pretty good stuff.
Also, i knew there were going to be problems with Tori Spelling on Smallville. I never liked her except in Saved by the Bell as Donna, Screech's Girlfriend. It also seems that the writers are stealing villains from Marvel. Not even x-men, but Spiderman's villains. At least try to come up with something a little more original for a meteor Freak of the week. The Static guy from 33.1 (where the whole cast minus Clark should get the Dumb as Clark award for forgetting about Lionel) was okay for a bad guy, but there were too many inconsistensies during the final fight scene. Oh well.
Thanks! I think Smallville is far more Marvel than DC in attitude, generally.
First off, I have to say I've been grateful to have these reviews. This is my first time writing. Until this year, I was never able to follow all the episodes regularly, because the new episodes were always on channels I didn't get. This was what allowed me to follow the continuity.
Thank you. Though Pete's summaries probably deserve more thanks on that front.
The reviews are awesome. The movies that you have started to incorporate, are hilarious. I was wondering if you had ever considered making a "Weird Al" style parody of "Save Me" at this point in the show. Or maybe something like that could be an alternative to the caption contest one week.
It'd have to fit the video. I'm going to make each on the fly and very rough...because it's what I can do. I don't think I could ever equal Weird Al, but like Smallville, I know the power of throwing a strong song in front of shoddy situations, heh.
The show's continuity problems are bothersome at times, but as my brother once put it to me: "I don't watch this show for plot and stuff. I watch it for super speed." You know, I think the show should get Lionel to give the speech about "Land" referenced in the movies. On the topic of the three hour drive between Smallville and Metropolis, I would wonder if some of the characters in this show may be reckless drivers and actually go places in much sooner than three hours.
Lex and Lana I could see doing that. But even if you double the speed limit, that's still an hour and a half. And much more gas.
Actually, I had a few thoughts regarding Superman Returns.
First, one time when I saw it, I paid special attention to the dates on the Daily Planet issues. "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman" I think was written February 13, 2005. When Perry has his two alternate covers at the end of the movie with Superman holding the globe off the Daily Planet, the date is September 29 or 30 2006. I didn't catch when the plane was saved, but I reason it would have been at the end of June, mostly from the fact that the kid got his report card, and that would have happened at the end of June, most likely. A D in gym?
The movie takes place over a long period of time, actually. Though the cuts make that harder to see, which is cool.
Which brings me to another point. Why does the kid have a report card? I would tend to think that since he is only five years old, he would likely be in kindergarten. Umm, they don't really give marks in kindergarten, do they? (I wondered in one of the forums how the Smallville characters were old enough to DRIVE in season one, but someone said that it was possible to get a license at age 15 in Kansas.)
I got one when I was in Kindergarten. It meant a lot to me, even though there was only plus, check, and minus.
One more thought: I thought when they had the bit about the dog eating the other dog in SR, it was dumb. But, it was suggested to me that this was a literal representation of the saying "It's a dog eat dog world."
I don't get disgusted easily, and I thought it funny. It's obvious they didn't really kill a dog. These people saying someone will imitate that or that it's being condoned are ridiculous.
I liked the attention to detail in Superman Returns; little things like the pictures on the wall of Jonathan Kent showing the actor from the first movie. I thought the opening credits should have been on 3D. Also, I wonder, why haven't more movies jumped on the IMAX 3D bandwagon? I did read somewhere it was possible that all the Star Wars movies could be put back in theatres at some point, in full 3D. That would defy description.
It's because they're expensive to produce, and unless they get a really large audience, it's not a huge profit, which is (sadly) the bottom line for most film creative endeavors.
Anyways, thanks for continuing to write these Smallville reviews.
Thanks for reading.
Shafi S wrote:
Sorry for not writing at all, usually I write every other episode but not getting the chance. Besides work and school, the family adds to the problems.
No worries, I understand a good time crunch.
I saw Hydro and it ok, I wasn't bored, but I agree with you Neal, the tacky Tori Spelling stuff really is garbage. I only enjoyed the Lois stuff, and that was ok. I liked Fragile but I not sure even Welling could saved this one.
What we need now is Rip Taylor.
Now I hear the famous twosome Al and Miles are going back to the Clana. Instead of Clark becoming Superman they're showcasing on Lana and her relationships. Wasn't that the idea of the show Clark becoming Superman, and not people drooling over Lana. Why Lana, I'm really starting to like Chloe alot alot alot more, wishing if Lana might get run over by something and Chloe taking her place. But why can't Lana be normal, nice and understanding. Instead of vicious and ugly (well not that ugly) but her character lost her appeal.
If I had all the time in the world and no life, I'd add up the number of minutes devoted to Clana and compare them to minutes devoted to Clark as becoming Superman and I imagine, were I a betting man, I'd put a few hundred dollars on the Clana outnumbering the destiny at about five to one.
The comics are really getting to me too. I don't understand Lois and Action Comics, and I don't Get Superman the comic in General. I bought it tried to understand why is this happening, whaaat or who is Kyber. I tried reading the reviews to understand where is this story going, but nothing. But thanks to your recomendation Neal on Superman Confendential, I'm staring to like that. I love Tim Sale his art is really amazing. I never had a problem with any of his characters, even Spider-man, I really liked his spidey. Batman Conf is another good one. I was really surprised by The Spirit I really liked that.
Right now, were I not reviewing, I'd read Action Comics and Confidential, with All-Star when it comes out twice yearly. But then, Superman just surprised me, so I dunno.
I almost forgot, but did you like the final Superman Returns the game. I got the PS2 one and it was ok but short and buggy. Only thing I liked was the flying, and nothing else.
I played through it halfway last week. As soon as I finish it, I'll add a follow-up to my trip report. Basically, so far it seems a lot shorter to finish so far, but we'll see. I need time.
Thanks Neal for reading.
just for fun, stay focused on aquaman in the next episode and try to see exactly what he does besides running and hiding.
I mean, cmon, all we've seen him do is swim fast and throw water-balls
Oh, give the guy credit. He also took his shirt off. Manboob!
I saw the smallville episode Cool today (episode 4 in season 1).
And in the beginning the were having a party at Crater Lake.
The interesting thing was, the showed a sign saying "Crater Lake" and under that text it stood "No Swimming, No Fishing, No Skating" but isn't it in Crater Lake that Aguaman saves Lois Lane?
Just wanted to mention that.
Good catch. I had completely forgotten.
And tomorrow I'll get a chance to see hourglass.
It rocks. It really does. You get to see Lana die for the first of five times.
Brian Lewis wrote:
Neal you gots the skills to pay the bills!! Love reading your reviews.
Susie Balducci wrote:
I greatly enjoyed reading your superman returns review but I have to wonder why you have it in for Lois so much.
I don't. I love Lois, quite a bit. I just don't like her as portrayed by Kate Bosworth.
I mean she is a b%#ch in superman returns, but she's not particularly nice in the first movies either.
Right, but it's not arbitrary or without merit in the first two films. She's just being who she is. Bosworth's goes out of the way to give Superman hell without a rationale.
After all put yourself in her shoes, she's in love with superman and out of all the women in the world, he also seems to have the same feelings for her. How good that must feel for her self esteem! She finally has the chance to be with him and have sex, then he kisses her and she forgets it. He then disappears for five years without even saying goodbye, I mean just imagine how she must feel.
Well, she probably wouldn't care, as she wouldn't remember it. But then, Singer has said that the kiss is not in his continuity. Regardless, Superman didn't know she was pregnant, number one, and they weren't exactly engaged. Also, point of fact, she hooked up with Richard maybe a month or two after Supes left, so it couldn't have crushed her THAT much.
She is then left alone and pregnant and not knowing who the father is(because she can't remember).I think those are pretty good reasons for her to be pissed off and to hold a grudge against superman.
She had to have remembered, otherwise she wouldn't have been able to whisper it in Superman's ear in the end.
Being left alone is a point of sympathy, if only having a baby was not a choice. But it is. Lois could have aborted, as calloused as that sounds. It's still true. She chose to have the baby. That's not Superman's fault. That's her choice.
As for her treatment of Richard well, lets face it, she doesnt really love him or she would have married him by now, five years is a long time to be engaged.
I know it might be hard to believe, but people can be engaged and have stronger relationships than people who are married.
Most of the successful relationships I've seen and been party to are people who are not married and maintain individuality outside of their significant other for more than five years, often. All of the married people I know around my age are clingy, possessive, and soon divorce.
The idea that someone isn't in love just because they don't get married is absurd, frankly. Marriage is a cloistering that doesn't really benefit men much (it financially obligates and castrates them, along with forcing them into a contract that offers them mere exclusivity they should already have). Men who get married often get trapped into rearing children, paying bills, and that fun of funs, alligmony.
Personally, I have loved three women for more than five years. I will never be married, and it would be foolish to belittle my love because it doesn't conform to a judeo-Christian ideal of monogamy.
Lois, being a progressive feminist type, would likely see the freedom-impairing effects of marriage herself. If anything, that's one aspect of her character I liked.
I also think she loves her kid but isn't really good mother material as her job comes first, and her kid second. That is not an entirely unrealistic portrayal for Lois, especially if she doesn't know who the father really is(I bet that must be screwing her mind up!).
But she does know who the father is. And I disagree. I believe were Lois to have a kid, she'd put the kid first. That's why you don't give Lois a kid, because she's a career woman with an independent mind. A kid is antithetical to her character in her early life, and essentially ignores her motivation entirely.
That's it really, except for one last point. why do you insist on Lois being a femminist icon? I don't agree, who says that? Maybe in the past but surely not nowadays.
Actually, NOT so much in the past, but yes, nowadays. Lois Lane was one of the first major female characters in media to have a steady job in a reputable media situation. She went toe-to-toe with Superman verbally and in action. She's a feminist icon because though early on her desire was to get married (almost solely), all the same she stood up for herself instead of sitting down, fought for her independence, and managed to survive in what was then a largely male world.
Now she's a feminist icon because in an adolescent's genre, comics, she's not judged by her relationship to Superman but rather as her own character (by most, not some), she's not beloved just because of her giant mammary powers, and because now she's an example of a woman that could have lived and died without her patriarchal ideal (Superman), but through her own problem solving skills has survived, abided, and succeeded.
She's changed the world with her reporting, maintained a strong sexuality despite being forced into a rigid, asexual, and difficult occupation (a female reporter), she's stood up to villains large and small, heck, she's FEMALE in a COMIC, and not a total sex object, which qualifies her enough for me.
But bottom line, I don't need scholars to tell me (though they do) how much Lois has meant for feminism. All I need is my gut, which tells me that in an arena and time of feminist hypocrisy on multiple fronts, Lois, to me, stands tall as an ideal of female and male equality. A feminist based not in seeking power, but a level and fair playing field.
Well bye then and thanks for reading.
Hi Neal! :D I'm glad that Smallville is back and your reviews with it :)
I hope you had a good holiday! ^-^
It was rough, but now all is well.
Neways, I just watched "Justice" XD And I think it was one of the better episodes of this season, but given this season, that's not saying much XD
True. I enjoyed it as well.
I liked the part when they were all working together to save Bart. That was very fun (at least until the walking out of the exploding building thing which was extremely forced :) But I found it cute that Chloe was the watchtower XD But given how critical she was to the plan, what was Green Arrow planning to do if Chloe hadn't shown up when she did? XD And it must have been fun to be Chloe, it's like playing Starcraft or something X3
Green walkie talkies, heh. And hey, you get infared in Starcraft! HAXXORS! Kidding. When WILL they make the darned sequel?
BTW, if you too are a Blizzard nut, I'm still WoWing on Stonemaul under Chinaski after midnight Pacific.
I didn't like how ppl seemed to be acting illogically (tho in Smallville logic, it could be logically :O) just so the writers could get the result they wanted. : Like, when Ollie's about to lose the love of his life (or so he says XD) forEVAR, wouldn't it be the time to tell Lois that he's Green Arrow, and let her make the decision on whether she wants to continue or not? : And, if he wasn't gonna go on the vacation and was just gonna go away forevar, shouldn't he like, tell her first and not just let her find out? :O
That would make sense, wouldn't it?
And if I was Lois, I wouldn't have given him a last kiss b/c I'd be too angry he didn't even tell me he was leaving town! :|
Well, as this Lois seems solely motivated by hot guys and sex, I dunno...but I agree. MY Lois wouldn't.
Oh and am I the only one who laughed out loud when Clark said "I'm a smart guy" to Bart? XD
I also thought that Clark was being uncharacteristically skeptical and untrusting towards the "Justice League" considering all of these ppl are his friends. : And I found it funny he keeps avoiding talking about what thing he has to do (track down the zoners), instead of like, ASKING FOR THEIR HELP. Together those 5 could easily capture all the zoners!
And Lex just accepts at face value his father's lie that Clark was with him for dinner? Considering that Clark having powers makes everything in Lex's memory make sense, and considering how often his father lies and manipulates him, you'd think Lex would do a little digging and find out where Clark rly was. :|
Agreed, and noted.
Neways, I found some of the banter between the team a little forced, but I enjoyed most of it, esp how everybody makes fun of Aquaman! XD Also, no Lana! :D Yayyyyyyyy!!! I was just sorta sad that we didn't get to see the freak of the weeks show up to fight the JL. : If they were gonna do fan service and be corny, they should at least give us that. :|
Wait for the end of the season...
But I think I liked this episode, at least more than the stuff we've gotten lately, and the last half (except the very end) was entertaining and I liked to see them all working together and coordinating thru Chloe. I thought that was fun! ^-^
I'm with you.
I'm curious to read what you think and I can't wait! (your reviews are the best part of Smallville XD) :D
Take care Neal!
Thanks, Ami! Hope you liked it.
Bruce Kanin wrote:
JUST GOOD (THE GOOD)
JUST ICKY (THE BAD)
JUST BLAH (THE REST)
Truth, Justice and the Milky Way
Good observations, Bruce. For some reason, I forgave a lot of the action-based stuff, though I usually don't, I think because it was a novel concept.
Sorry for writing again Neal :(
No problem at all.
I just forgot one more thing I wanted to say! XD
Wouldn't it have been funny if the scientist guy had recovered and wrenched the gun from Chloe and killed her while Clark and Bart were off playing tag? XD
Good call! I didn't notice that. Hah!
Geez Neal, whaere's the review???/ I wait and now I worry that it's not up. I personally thought the eposide was really good. Yes, it had it's flaws but WOOHOO!, hearing Lex auy that Lana was in Paris with Nell buying a wedding dress.....I high-fived myself knowing she wasn't going to be in the episode. How much better was the ep. for it???
We got Lex totally evil, we got Clark fighting evil in a big way and we got the "boy's together......
Agreed. It was fun. The review is usually going to come on Sunday/Monday barring a time schedule change on Smallville's part. I'm not going to push Steve to bust butt on my novel when it's his weekend. We bust it enough on this site as it is...BUT, if you instant message me (email@example.com on MSN) on Friday I just might able to give you a preview...wink, wink.
Aside from aside....loved Chloe being the keeper of all. If I watched 007 movies I would equate her with whomeever the knowing all being is.
That's usually Bond...but the gadget guy, Q, might fit in there.
I liked the ep....
Likewise. And thanks!
Well, that's it, kids. Next week, an alterna-future. See you with my alterna-review.
JusticeReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
Smallville Episode Review Episode 6-11: Justice
When I first heard about this episode it fast became my most anticipated episode of the season. What could possibly top a pre Justice League teaming up with young Clark Kent to stop the evil plots of Lex Luthor?
Did it live up to the hype? In a word, Yes; but only to a point.
I liked it. In fact I loved it. There was nothing in the episode I did not like, but ultimately that leads to what was a disappointment. There was just too much there for one episode. I know I have made that complaint before but this time I think it holds true more than ever.
Everything about this episode rocked. Bart's return, Lex's motivations for his work, Clark opening up to Chloe about the world of super heroes, Chloe joining the Justice League and working in the "watch tower", Clark joining the team and saving Bart, all the jabs between team members, especially the fish jokes (they never get old), and most importantly the code name they gave Clark. It was an obvious choice but perfect in its simplicity.
Just so much goodness in one hour I wanted more and more and more. I would have liked to see more of the team working together both before Clark was involved and after. I would have liked to see or hear more about how they met. I understand this is Superman's story and we already know how he met these heroes but I still would have liked more of their stories on what they were doing between when Clark met them and now. I wanted to see Clark working with them more. Even when they finally teamed up, they pretty much split up. I wanted some side by side action. That would have really rocked.
I also would have liked to see some of these "freaks" Lex was working on. We know about them and we know what 33.1 is but if there was more time we could have seen some of these people. Maybe have a few face the heroes. A super-powered face off between the JL and some of Lex's super freaks would have really made this episode pretty much the best thing ever since sliced bread. There was also a great opportunity for a "rescue" here. Introducing another DC hero character via a rescue from 33.1.
Well lets just say a few opportunities missed I guess. I don't want to spend too much on what was not there and just enjoy what was there. I am sure budget played into reducing this somewhat and I think they did pretty good with the superpower action they did have. Each of the heroes had a moment or two to showcase their talents giving us a glimpse at what they bring to the table and that really is the important thing. Even Chloe the "sidekick" had a chance to show what talents she can provide to the team. A fact I was pleasantly surprised to see.
So all and all a great episode. One of the best. Just a bit too much for its own good. So I am going to give it a 4.5 out of 5. Call it a solid A. Just one step short of perfect.
Next week looks like a psychological thriller type. One cannot help but groan at the thought of Clark out of his mind yet again. I will be going into this one very skeptical to say the least. Have a good week!
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