July 31, 2021

Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 6 - Episode 20: "Noir"

Reviews:

Noir

Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

Lana is shot, Jimmy cracks the case subconsciously, only figuring it out after being knocked in the head and dreaming about an alternate life in a black and white movie, Lionel may or may not be trying to kill Lana, and Lois finds out about one of Lex's secret projects.

Okay don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the episode. It was fun to see the actors cut loose a bit and the black and white movie feel, complete with cheesy car chase, was very well done. I just think that it took up too much of the episode.

The whole point of the dream was for Jimmy to figure out a clue he spotted. That is all. Sure there were some nods to Clark's double identity life that speaks volumes for Jimmy's perceptions of people but beyond that it was just filler. Fun filler sure but there were more important aspects of the Smallville story that need more time devoted to them and this fun little side trip took time that could have been better spent elsewhere. Basically I do not think it needed 3/4s of the episode's run time devoted to it.

So beyond that little rant I really have nothing more "bad" to say about this episode. Well okay. I am ignoring the fact that Lana is shot in Metropolis and has to be flown to Smallville for a waiting specialist... I guess after being flown into Smallvile so many times by the Luthor's the specialists all just decided to stay there.

But really. I did like it. Jimmy's view of everyone's place in his "movie" was fantastic. All the actors involved did an absolute fantastic job playing with the whole 50's B&W movie set in the 20's vibe. It was complete with cheesy accents, scrolling window screen effects on the car chase, and over dramatic dialog. Great stuff.

The twists and turns continue with Lionel. I love how they hinted that he may have been behind the plot to kill Lana but yet we cannot be sure he was actually the one behind it. Lionel's story is coming to a head. It has to. Yet with all the twists and turns we still do not really know if he is Dudley Do-Right or Snidely Whiplash. I am loving it. I eagerly await the resolution of his story. I can only imagine they have one heck of a finish for the magnificent one's story line this season.

I was extremely amused by Clark's saving of Chloe near the end of this episode. Her comment about not having to wait until the last minute and his wise crack about there being no fun in that was just fun. Again we see Clark being casual and enjoying his roll as a hero and I really like that. Plus I like how he dropped Chloe on the couch and hid from Jimmy. No reason to push his luck with Jimmy. As we viewers saw in Jimmy's dream, our favorite shutter bug is already getting ideas subconsciously about Clark's roll in the world and it would be best not to give him any more thoughts to dwell on. Sadly I get the idea by his goodbye to Chloe that Jimmy will not be around for a while, at least not until next season.

Lastly, this week's Justice and Doom animated comic was a good one. All the heroes were in action in this one taking apart Lex's labs all over the world. Last week's was a bit of a let down but this week's was short and sweet. Good job there.

So I am just going to give this one a 3 out of 5 or a B-. I liked it, and I certainly recommend watching it, but I could not shake the feeling they spent way too much time on Jimmy's dream and not enough time on other series plot items. I'll give this week's Justice and Doom comic a solid A+ or 5 out of 5!

Next week looks like Clark goes up against Lex's super-solder. Only a couple left before the big finale. I am almost giddy with anticipation.

Doug



Noir

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • Jimmy gets hit on the head, and imagines himself the hero of a noir film.
  • In the process, he solves the real-life mystery of who shot Lana Lang.
  • Jimmy, Chloe, and Clark stop the villain.
  • Lana tells Chloe not to tell Clark she's gathering info on Lex.

    REVIEW:

    Noir! (Subtitle: Even Jimmy loves Lana, despite not knowing her.)

    All joking aside, this episode is still a mystery yet to be decided by me. And the reason for this is because my gut is telling me to give it a higher rating than my inner analysis is.

    For instance, we have this technically interesting piece reveling in the power of Noir and its subconscious influence on much of what it followed.

    And then we have the actual story, a Lana-focal tale of how she's noble for lying and getting shot, told through the lens of a story that makes Jimmy know too much even for subconscious meandering.

    But then, it's full of gleeful little cast moments where people stretch muscles they never have before...

    But then, it's all totally irrelevant to the dramatic point of this series, and some of the performances were just dog-*** awful.

    I'm going to do what I usually do, decide through my meanderings here, though I will admit, I'm not decided straight-out, which I usually am, for the most part. I think, like Onyx, it's an OOOOH! Awwwww.

    Typical careless continuity to open the blow-by-blow. Chloe is still the late night phone answering type, while turning in regular reports. Living in Smallville. Going to college? (He said with an upward intonation.)

    Jimmy, through dialogue, notes that Chloe needs to get away from her real life soap opera. Again, as has happened before, another case of the show's dialogue reflecting a real problem with the series. The line should indicate Chloe has to get away from her real life of action, adventure, and heroism. Instead, it's soap opera. And the sad thing is, it's apt.

    Then, look! The Big Sleep! Odd, because The Big Sleep is very much like this episode for me. An OOOH! Awww. experience. I took this class in college called "Literature and social justice," I think it was. The teacher was a battle axe, and all of the books were completely irrelevant-to-concept romance novels and classical literature, save The Big Sleep, and The Big Sleep is not about social justice, it's about the lack of it and how good people are called to their duty reluctantly. It's also an apt metaphor for the Smallville Superman or the regular Spider-Man.

    So anyway, I liked The Big Sleep, but like Hemingway, I developed an irrational prejudice against it because it was being recommended to me by an instructor who took pride in keeping rats for pets and tormenting me for asking questions like, "Uh, why aren't we learning about what we signed up to learn, and how does this help me become a novelist?" Because you see, I'd already read Fletch on my own, adopted style from the crime genre and their minimalist dialogue, and moved on, six years previous.

    That, and the fact that I always get Raymond Carver and Raymond Chandler confused, because she taught them both in the same class. I mean, honest-to-God, what can be worse than a class about social justice that takes Raymond Carver as an example? I'll tell you, folks. It's looking for a hardboiled action mystery and finding a story about people fighting over cash to the death of their child. Ah, college. (He said with an upward intonation?)

    Chloe's little line about being called a dame being unflattering seemed forced, and feminist influenced. I have no problem with being ticked off at a derogatory nickname for chicks, but I fail to see how words like dame, chick, bird and babe are derogatory, unless attached to phrases like "You're a dumb broad, you lousy bird!"

    I tell all the babies I know that they're real sweet dames when they want to be. When they're not being dumb broads. And in return, they say I'm a righteous dude when I'm not being a dog or a ditz. Then, I become their dogg again when they're pleased with me.

    Why? Because the ignorance and awful severity of a stereotype are based in their intention, not their usage, which is why two black dudes calling each other, well, you know what, is inoffensive save to, well, I can't say dumb broads here without being shot, can I? But I can say the dumb broad spectrum of humanity. Mwa ha! Dumb birds.

    Point being, making an arbitrary girl power statement over the use of "dame" is ridiculous. There's nothing wrong with calling a chick a dame. There's something horrible, however in assuming a woman is stupid simply because she's a woman, however. There is a difference, which such a pig ignorant chick comment highlights, making Chloe out to be a sour bird. Ask any chick. But don't ask a dumb broad.

    I'm a righteous dude.

    Anyway, Chloe is totally hot in that scene. I shouldn't say that, because it's undermining my whole point above, objectifying her, but what the heck. I'm guessing you either agree with me or already are ticked at me for saying the former, so why not the latter? I love that dame.

    Gunshots, and Chloe doesn't call Clark? She just lets the baddie get away? Ah-wha? Jimmy takes a pic instead of pursuing? All very convenient to a dry, contradiction-filled plot.

    Lionel is now working with Lana, it would seem. He went to the theater with her. He bends down after she's shot, reassuring her he'll find who did it. This is odd, because it's later revealed that they're not working together this episode, making that contradictory. Beyond that, it also reveals that Lex ordered his own wife attacked for that case, which is contradictory, given that Lex, even if he is faking her pregnancy, did so because he loves Lana and wants her affection and to keep her around. Waffling, inconsistent character motivation.

    Lionel tells Lex that he's med-evacing Lana to...Smallville? Er, what? Must be a set thing, but it makes no sense to have someone evacuated to a small town with few if any specialists over Metropolis, which probably has high value care facilities all over the place.

    I've got a weird thing to reverse position on. Maybe it's time, maybe it's context, I dunno. I used to think that the Superman shield being on the Metropolis police folk was rad. Now, I'm thinking, uh, why would they do that before the shield became well known? Is that hypocritical? I dunno. It struck me as odd, mostly because it was so paraded this episode.

    Lois decides to sneak in and damage a crime scene. Why? Well, because she wants a story! So she risks Lana's shooter not getting caught. Then sits on the evidence and does nothing with it for the whole story. Grand.

    The cop does nothing, of course...why would he? She hot! Of course, had I spilled MY purse into evidence, I'd have a nightstick in a very uncomfortable place. Like the back of a Volkswagen.

    Everything outside of the black and white, actually, is pretty much garbage. The black and white shines, but the more I read my notes, the more I realize this to be the case. The bookend was...gah.

    Clark is all guilty over Lana getting shot. He says, quote, vomit, print: "I've always been there for her until now!" He then turns away, sighs, and says, "Oh Marsha!"

    And I say "Oh ____." The blank starts with bull.

    Jimmy goes to examine the evidence, because Chloe tells him to upload the photo. Why, when he can just show her it on his phone? Because it gets Jimmy alone to get conked, proving the Smallville theory correct: Why make an actor's actions relevant to motivation when you can just have them arbitrarily do what you'd like them to?

    CONK! Black and white.

    Here the episode gets a little better straight-off. Jimmy picks up the Daily Planet, a Lex Luthor publication. Nod to the comics, nice. Or at least good seeming nod to the comics.

    No music cluttering the scene. Even better. Good set, good extras, awesome mise en scene. It's like we've entered a whole new show. Point of fact, even if I hate the story, I frickin' LOVE the way they homaged, even if I've seen it done better.

    Enter Chloe, as His Girl Friday (mucho thanks to Will for turning me on to that movie). She does a passable impression, with a few little slips. The dialogue didn't make it easy, but she pulls it off well.

    There's a minor contradiction here. She says that she's working for Jimmy, then makes him answer his own phone. It's one or the other, you're your own woman who doesn't take guff from palookas, or you're working for this guy because you think he's so dreamy...figure it out, ya dumb broad! Geeze, toots.

    Clark pops up, looking AWESOME in glasses. It's just...rad. I mean, there's the fact that it rubs in that what we want to see isn't happening, but it's so well done it's an instant forgive. He feels up Chloe, which comes off awkward, but it's also perfect, given that it's written as Jimmy's subconscious fear, and he thinks that Chloe's in love with Clark, etcetera, so I dig it.

    The glasses are also odd, given that Jimmy would have to know the future. It's a case of the character being given knowledge to fit the cute factor, something that happens a lot this episode. Because it comes off so well, I pretty much forgive it.

    The wipe out to the commercial RULES. Awesome.

    Enter Lana. I usually, honestly, have no issues at all with Kristin. I think she's a good actress unless she's obviously playing something she's uncomfortable with, like a sexpot. She's portrayed as a conservative person in real life, and I believe it, because she always seems awkward when forced into kissing scenes, etcetera.

    Here, we get her forcing smoking, and pretending to be a throaty sexpot. Fails miserably on all fronts. She's as wooden as my guitar, but at least my guitar plays.

    For once, Lana's not just annoying because of how she's written, she's annoying because Kristin can't play this part. At all.

    Jimmy finds a matchbook for the Talon, which is a great prop. The Talon itself is miraculously changed with a masterful establishing shot. I love it.

    The "secret identity" line with Clark is also too much information for subconscious, but plays so well you can look past it. At least for me. Still gold here.

    Tom can't do oldie talk either. He obviously struggles with the dialogue and fails in this episode, for the most part. He plays a ruffian well, but the delivery is...eh.

    Erica jumps on the stage to sing, and the song is rather great, but I doubt that's her. The voice sounds similar, but different. If it was her, great disguise on the voice. If it wasn't her, as I think it wasn't, still a decent song.

    I recall a similarity here to another time Lois was on stage, in Lois & Clark, even if I can't recall the reason. I recall Teri Hatcher actually sang, didn't she? But anyway, it was a great moment for a fourteen-year-old, as I recall. But then, at that age, so were most lousy dames.

    I'm gonna get shot, aren't I? Well, before you get your guns, look up purposeful irony for purposes of deconstruction, would you? I'd recommend a teacher for literature as social justice, but that bird is just-

    Moving on...

    Lionel plays an INCREDIBLE slimeball. He nails his lines, delivers them perfectly, and manages to seem a wholly different character while shades of the same. The man is epic. He's a man's man.

    It's incredible, I said that in chat, and a friend pointed out that he's actually gay. I didn't know that. As far as I'm concerned, that's rad. Nothing ticks me off more than gay guys getting pegged like birds. It's not news to me that gay guys can portray masculine better than most straight guys, I mean, heck, it's a survival instinct AND a cover story for some, but I have rarely been so fooled as I have been with John Glover, and the cool thing is, I don't think it's because he's hiding his sexuality, I think it's because he's an awesome actor. Talk about deconstructing stereotypes, I just got a new level of respect for the guy. He's a magnificent b@st@rd's b@st@rd. More power to him.

    Michael Rosenbaum... I want his contract. Here's how it must read:

    "Dude, I totally get to mack any hot chick who comes on the show at some point. Signed, The Baum."

    And Gough signs in blood. Dude got to make out with Erica despite its total improbability. And here's Jimmy, doing favors for Lana, and does Ashmore get nookie? No. Poor dude gets side-hug. My high school teachers gave me side-hug. What a world.

    Lois does okay old-timey lines. Decent delivery.

    The sign drop in the car chase, the stock footage background, passing the train, the crash, all incredible. That's one sentence, but I can't stress more how cool this was. I might watch this episode again just for the technical fun some time.

    The picture gets developed anachronistically fast for the early 1920s (I'm assuming, because of the speakeasy, though it could easily be 30s, 40s.)

    Captain Shoulder Pads, AKA Jimbo, speaks to Lana, and is, of course, infatuated. Not a fun scene. It fits the archetype, but even in the archetypical story you go, "YOWZA! I might do something stupid for that broad." Here, not so much, because of Lana's history and the fact that fur totally covers any of her assets.

    Jimmy, yet, is so enamored of Lana he instantly offers to kill a guy who she doesn't like. She's amazing. Face it, sweetheart.

    GARDENIA! ROSEBUD! It's a bit obvious, but I got a giggle out of it.

    Hey, here's a great way to get audience sympathy! Emphasize the fact that Clark is being a homewrecker by making him the villain working with Lana (to the larger goal of good). And hey, want to emphasize misplaced priorities even more? Make Lex an innocent good guy getting shot for trying to do what Lana wants.

    Lana is shot, and dies...AGAIN. Oh, big deal, you say. But get this: On this show, Lana's death has been played to dramatic effect NINE TIMES. This is ten. Every other character has died exactly once except Jonathan by my reckoning, and he died once (in Clark's nightmare of all his family and friends dying) and once in real life. Other than that, only Whitney comes close, with two death. Oh yeah, Chloe got blowed up once.

    Statistically speaking though, Lana's death is played as an important dramatic event once every thirteen episodes, or approximately twice a season. Think about that.

    I read that someone's gonna bite it in the finale. That means that whoever it is has a good ten deaths to go to even get close to Lana, providing it's not Lana herself. But I don't think they'd beat that dead horse again so soon, and besides, she's too beloved of the creators.

    Clark as a cop is neat. I did like that touch.

    Lana gets shot, Jimmy wakes up, frightened of the impending death row for shooting Lex...in self defense? Uh-oh. The coolness must be ending.

    Sure enough, we find out there's a freak of the week in the last ten minutes. Jimmy and Chloe go up to accuse a guy of...MEETING WITH LANA!

    The guy admits it on substandard, heresay evidence that means nothing, typical to form, and we half-expect him to whip out a gun and start shooting them over a contention of battery one.

    Instead, a guy miracle shoots him through a door, not seeing him, but somehow nailing him perfectly. That dude can shoot someone through glass without seeing them, but nicks Lana in the shoulder? The $#%@?

    A struggle ensues, and Chloe goes into the Hitchcock fall. The resolution of falling onto the couch is so wildly impossible it's laughable, and plays horribly as such, but the homage is almost worth it. I wish they'd just gone to the typical and knocked Jimmy out, it would have played much better. But nice homage.

    Want to talk about male/female liberation, here, you lousy dames? Why is it bad form (to the point of chastisement) for a dude to call a bird a dame, and yet, when a guy starts to point out a girl's lie, it's perfectly okay and not sexist to play on his sexual desire and alleviate his questioning with the raw sexuality of a kiss, objectifying yourself in order to achieve a selfish end?

    Just saying.

    Lionel confronts Lois for taking the OBJECT OF DESIRE PLOT DEVICE Gardenia majiggy. He then whips out what she's stolen, and watches it in front of her, despite the fact that she might not have seen it, revealing Project Ares to her. Smart, Lionel! You couldn't take it and just, I dunno, walk out and watch it elsewhere?

    Back to the B plot that sucks.

    Lois line, when she realizes that Lana is hiding something from Lex: "You have GOT to give Lana props for double crossing both Luthors!"

    That's a line I hear a lot as an excuse for people. "You've gotta give them credit though!" (usually for trying once and failing).

    It's often employed in a feminist aspect. Like, a single mother whose kid is screaming on the plane I'm on. "Oh come on. Give her credit. She's raising a kid all alone!" (Without figuring any of the circumstances of how she came to be a single mother, etc). Applied to Lana, it further underscores my recurrent theme. It's not feminism or empowering a woman to arbitrarily praise her for doing nothing of worth. Like "double crossing both Luthors" when what she's really doing is just flailing random plot limbs. It makes women like Lana look stupid in general as opposed to empowering them through showing them succeed irrationally. It contributes to a psychological disorder called learned helplessness. I'm great just because I think I'm great. You go girl.

    In guys it's called being a jock while working at the Esso station. We don't really have a phrase for it, because guys don't get praised for thinking they're great when they're not, they just get crapped on. Or girls. That's the one fringe benefit of wanton arrogance.

    AND AGAIN WITH THE SQUEAKY SHOES!

    Great! A Lana scene! Just what we needed. Chloe tells Lana it's stupid to hide secrets. Lana tells her to just trust her, blah blah blah. I zoned, because it's been done eighteen times and remains mentally retarded.

    Why did Lana have Lillian's cigarette case? Ridiculous. Lex would just let her have it? Huh? Why would Lana choose that to store her data? Huh?

    Chloe doesn't question Lana not coming to her, a journalist she knows personally, as opposed to some strange journalist. It's apparently hunky-dory that Lana doesn't trust Chloe enough to go to her as press (despite their "best-friend" status), but totally inappropriate for Chloe to urge her to tell Clark, the invincible superhuman, that Lex is trying to kill her (which might save her life).

    Because Lana's always right. It sucks. It really drags the show down. Broken record, broken record, broken record. It's still true.

    Chloe's red Yaris went gray. She can apparently afford a new paint job or a new Yaris. Conveniently odd. Product placement continues as Jimmy puts the camera on the Yaris and plays his MP3 player on the Yaris' CONVENIENT MP3 thing. Seriously, though, we know she has a Yaris.

    Neat Lois song. The final kiss didn't play with me as well, though. It was cheesy.

    Is it me, or did Lana's arm wound switch sides?

    Okay. So here I am, done already, confused still. The stylized stuff was neat, but the acting sometimes failed, the story was cornball and had multiple holes. I really, really enjoyed the fun stuff though.

    This show, however, is supposed to be a dramatic endeavor with a beginning and end point. What did this show do to forward that? Nothing. Lionel was working with Lana last episode. It's no major step for any character involved. Jimmy is leaving? Yeah. Sure.

    I don't like "funny" episodes of Smallville. I've now seen two seasons of Buffy, a benchmark people use to say, "It works well for this kind of show!" Well, funny works well for Buffy for a reason. It's never taken itself wholly seriously, at least what I've seen. It's always camp with a purpose. Smallville is (or was) a serious drama, so a complete jump to the funny always plays as ridiculous, like the vampire episode, or the witch episode, etcetera. Funny is odd on this show.

    Here, however, I think for the first time with me, the funny works, in the concept of the dream sequence. Still, the plot surrounding it is miserable.

    I'm gonna say five for novelty, one for execution of plot, and fairly meet at a 3 rating.

    SUPER SHORT REVIEW:

    LETTERS:

    HAH! Ask, and receive. I actually got a ton of letters this week. I just need to keep my mouth shut. :) But thanks, to all of you who responded!

    Bruce Kanin wrote (Regarding Nemesis, I missed posting it last week - Neal):

    OVERALL

  • A. We had "Star Trek: Nemesis"...now..."Smallville: Nemesis". Superman & Star Trek...my two favorite franchises...

    THE GOOD

  • What can I say? This was a terrific episode, from start to finish. It had a near-perfect balance of adventure and emotion, plus lots of stuff was revealed. It was a complex episode in some ways, yet not overly complex in a way that makes you go "huh?"
  • Near the beginning, when Lionel is being carried away on a stretcher, he effectively tells Clark "This is a job for Superman!" Now, he didn't say that, but, he could have. It was a cool scene in which Clark realizes that he's the one guy who can go rescue Lex.
  • Lana and Lionel share two scenes together. The second is really good, but the first one is crackerjack. Too much to even write about. Lana really kicks arse in the first, scene, though, threatening the hell out of Lionel - but wait - is Lionel really a good guy, after all, given what he tells her? And Lana then attempts to blackmail Lex, threatening to go to Martha and spill the beans about him? Lionel's comment about Lana being a real Luthor topped it all. Great scenes and for once, a great Lana - not the sweet, innocent one, either. A real hardened Lana is on hand now.
  • Speaking of whom - the last scene with her and Lex - we have Kristin Kreuk acting as Lana who was acting as a beloved, loving wife of Lex. It was almost over the top and very much like the old, syrupy nauseating Lana of old - but it was all an act, and I loved it. Did Lex swallow it? Not sure. Maybe. Who knows? That's what made it great.
  • More great scenes down below between Clark and Lex. Powerful scenes. Plus we think Lex has gone to save himself - but he comes back to rescue Clark. Great stuff.
  • Another great scene - wordless, too - after Clark and Lex escape. Lana and Clark embrace, but then, perhaps recalling Lionel's message, she "happily" rejoins Lex. Powerful, powerful scene, well-played with the lack of words and the music.
  • And the very end, where Clark tells Martha that maybe he gave up on Lex too soon - and that the only good in Lex was via Clark - just great stuff that made sense.

    THE BAD

  • Lex's underground bunker should have been highly secured, but like his other facilities, there wasn't a security person to be found - plus Mrs. Webb had no problem hanging out (so to speak) there.
  • The whole contrived nature - over the course of the series - in which Lex and Clark become enemies - surfaces in this episode. I once again thought: why did these two former friends develop a rift? The show did a lousy job, over the years, in splitting the two apart. That's not this episode's fault, but the episode did make me recall all of this.
  • The Non-Existent mountain range of Kansas makes an appearance again (really, the North Cascades in NW USA).

    THE REST

  • Lex makes a comment to Clark saying something to the effect of, "I always knew you were special". So, does Lex finally know that Clark is Superguy? Sure seems like it. And Clark knows Lex knows. Yet, to balance it, Lex saw Clark bloodied and weakened, so who really knows?
  • Chloe referred to Mrs. Webb as "G. I. Jane". How did she know that it was the commando's gal that was down there?
  • How convenient that the underground bunker was lined with Green K. This would normally have made "THE BAD", but without this gimmick, there would have been no plot, so I'll allow them this. It's no worse than the beloved Silver Age, which pulled virtually any variety of K out of the woodwork to help the story along.
  • When Clark wakes up in a field after escaping with Lex, he looks up in the sky - at the sun - and seems to feel better. Was it the yellow sun's rays that re-energized him? We know they do that in the comics - and in the latest Superman movie - and even on "Lois & Clark" they showed that. However, I don't recall them ever mentioning that Clark is energized by the sun, on "Smallville".
  • Did Clark mention the "Reeves dam" to Chloe?
  • Is Webb going to be Bizarro? Bet he will! Although that'd be a shame, because Bizarro should really be "cloned" from Clark.

    COMING CONTRACTIONS

  • I had read about the next episode, called "Noir", being some dream/hoax/flashback to the 1940s, and hoped that they would all but simulate an episode of "Adventures of Superman". My hopes rose briefly when they showed Clark wearing George Reeves Kent glasses, but then the rest of the episode looked like something else. Wouldn't it be grand if there is a mysterious hero that's at work in this dream/hoax/flashback, and it's Clark who becomes "him"? It'd make for a nice tribute to George Reeves and AOS...But they probably won't do that...Anyway, it seems like a "filler" episode that won't advance the season towards its finale, but hopefully it will be fun.

    You gave more credit to Lana than I did, but that's cool. I didn't see the mountains...did anyone see exactly where for the KO Count? It was the Reeves Dam you heard, though. Cool, huh?

    John wrote:
    Hey Neal! Well, Nemesis was a great show. Most of the dialogue actually made sense. Lana actually acted well for a change in a more extended role than we'd like. I love how she just gave him the briefcase and didn't explain the bullet marks, and also how she played the loud music to cover up the gunshots.

    Duly noted and parodied...it actually bugged me, but that's cool. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Lionel was a bit confusing though, but he is right about one thing. Everyone has to trust him...shudder.

    Like Lana! Heh.

    Lex was masterful as usual, and Clark was nice, even though he should not have bee able to get up so easily after that first explosion. His rapport with the sun after they made it out of the sewer was a nice touch. I have to wonder though. What would he have done if it was cloudy?

    Actually, (Oh god, am I a nerd), as I understand it, cloud cover doesn't effect him absorbing sunlight beyond in an aesthetic, storytelling way.

    All in all, a great episode. Maybe things are starting to look up. 3.5 to 4 out 5 for me.

    I enjoyed the Lex/Clark stuff.

    P.S. I have a theory about the whole meteor rocks in the bloodstream for the freaks, as Lex says in Progeny. The way I see it, Clark could be protected because there's iron in our blood. Maybe it acts as a shield...? Lemme know what you think.
    Also, aren't the Luthors from Scotland?

    Heh. It's lead that stops the radiation, though, so unless they're injecting paint... I think Lachlan Luthor was from Scotland, yes.

    Cheers and hasta luego. Until I write again.

    John

    Best!

    tommy o wrote:
    all i have to say about nemesis is the reference to the chisel lex hit clark with during the last red k crap-isode had me excited for a second or two. by the way lex reacted to clark's wounds underground, it would seem to imply that lex thought clark was invulnerable? he mentions seeing the thing clumbled like an accordian. they have showed us this 87 times. lex is close to the secret and then something happens to clark that cools lex's suspicions. he seemed suprised that clark was hurt, or at least thought again that clark was super powered again, or what? if lex has though clark was powered up since that red k episode why has that not been followed up on?

    I think mostly because Lex can't know Clark's ID by the end of the show, and won't, so they dilute what he learns and knows to keep it fuzzy.

    why do we now know what happened to the stupid chisel that magically vanished. now lex will have seen clark bleed and be back to "having a clue but not knowing mode again?" i thought that the fact the chisel was even brough up was freaking awesome, then the whole thing was killed in two sentences about "you never trusted me, blah,blah!" this is the same stuff over and over. nothing has happened since "zod." lex has always been doing shady stuff so the whole plot of 33.1 is tired and has been around sine before myxiptlyk (spelling?) i think it's time to see some freeze breath and have a new storyline circa season 2. keep up the great reviews, they are the icing on the smallville cake each week!

    Agreed. Thank you, sir.

    Joseph wrote:
    Neal: This is the first time I have written, although I have been watching Smallville since the beginning and have been reading your reviews religiously since the beginning of Season 5 (when I first discovered them). I'd like to say I really enjoy your writing; in fact, there have been times the past two seasons when the only reason I've slogged through an episode is so I have a reference point when I read your review the following week!

    THANK YOU so much!

    Your review of "Nemesis" had me repeatedly laughing out loud. I agree that, almost six full seasons in, having Lex go back to rescue Clark was a colossal mistake. I find myself wondering if the series will end with Lex still being a sympathetic pseudo-villain.
    I was going to voice some additional complaints about Lana, but you've done that so well I don't think I really have anything to add.

    That rocks. Thanks. :)

    I will say, however, that as I was watching the final scene between Lana and Lex I found myself wondering why the hell she was still such a prominent character in this show? Why is she, for all intents and purposes, still the focal point? The show should be about the relationship between Clark and Lex, and their development, but for the past 4 (6?) seasons it seems almost everything has been filtered through Lana. This has been obvious for quite some time, but for some reason it really struck me as I was watching that scene. Maybe because I was expecting (and looking forward to) the episode focusing entirely on the current status of the Clark/Lex relationship - where it was, how it got to its present state, and where it's going - and instead it ends up mostly being about Lana and "advancing" her character. Sigh. It really is depressing how far off the rails this show has gone and how simple it would be to get it back on track, but I doubt that will happen.

    I always hope.

    Anyway, thanks for the time and effort you put into your reviews. I enjoy them immensely - they are the proverbial silver lining to the cloud that Smallville has become.

    Thank you...you rule.

    thebrakeman wrote:
    Sorry, but I'm a Spaceballs nut!
    It's "Dark Helmet", not "Darth Helmet".
    Now, go straight to ludicrous speed!!

    Correct! I was tired. Apologies.

    Serethiel wrote:
    hey Neal!

    Hey!

    I had a thought about Nemesis, the part where Lex temporarily leaves Clark and then comes back. You and I both noticed that it appeared like Clark honestly believed Lex was going to let him die. I had a thought that maybe Clark wasn't completely wrong in his thinkning. Maybe Lex WAS going to leave Clark. After all, he did just take off down the tunnel without so much as a word.

    What if Lex was really going to let him die, and then as he got closer to the exit he felt a tug of conscious, looked back toward Clark's direction, and then struggled for a minute, deciding what to do before making the decision we all saw. It would have been nice if the writers could have put something like that into the episode...further justifying Clark's statement to Martha about finally seeing his friend Lex for the first time in a long time.

    Yep. That's just what I was going to say. They should have shown that.

    Of course...Smallville hasn't justified much of anything in a long time, perhaps i'm expecting too much of them, ay?

    Never! Always expect the best.

    But this is coming from the girl who tried to justify Crimson.

    Ah, if you liked it, cool. Better that than not.

    Speaking of Crimson, I thought that it was nice that they made a reference to the screwdriver. Nice to know that Lex isn't a complete putz. For awhile there, they tried to make it look like he never noticed.

    Yeah.

    But anyway, that's all I have for today. I might sneak a few more e-mails your way in the future. In a month you so I'm moving where I'll have no computer, so I'll be taking as much advantage of it as I can.

    Please do! Love hearing from you.

    Serethiel

    thebrakeman wrote:
    Neal said:
    "It makes me say to myself, "The Superman I know would go forward in friendship and try to persuade Lex that he doesn't have to create this army." In this show, he never does. Not once. He accuses Lex and treats him like garbage constantly, but he never questions the bad things he does in a way that might redeem him. That's what Superman does."

    You assume that Superman never had to learn anything. You assume Superman always acted like his responsible adult-self, even when he was a teenager and young man.

    Yep.

    I could ask:
    "Why isn't Clark flying on this show? That's what Superman does."
    Answer: He hasn't learned how...yet.

    True. Doesn't undermine the above point, though. I expect Superman to know right and wrong at 18. Yeah. That's fair, I think.

    Sara wrote:
    Hey, cutie!

    Hey!

    As we noted this last week, both the chat and your responses have gone downhill lately... so I've decided that means I have to be uber-dedicated in my comments... plus, I'm trying to live in the now... ;D I'm just chillin' like a villain!

    Word.

    I'm sure you'll have 17,842 messages saying this, but Wes was Jodi's hubby...

    Yep. Knew that.

    Wonder Woman was a one-shot, I'm sure. After all, the way they started that whole plot was that she was comatose for what? 12 years... and just recently got the meds to bring her out of it. At least, that's what I hope they'd intended because she *was* still denying any powers over those meteor infected (MI)...

    Yes.

    Was she really a "freak of the week" if she didn't have any meteor influenced powers? Or is that designation given to a character that shows up as a main-ish character for one episode only?

    Freak of the week, to me, is any character that turns up and goes arbitrarily homicidal for any reason. She started trying to kill Lex instead of escaping, which is arbitrary for me.

    "Playing with my dolls"... Tee hee! I have to say that it brought up disturbing images for me, but I giggled, so it's all worth it...

    Oh, Vespa!

    The whole "I'd know if he was dead" thing did totally rub me wrong. And I'm quite probably more romantic minded than you, which has to say something. What it sounded like to me was more of a "I can't live without my hubby (even though I'm ARMY STRONG) so I've decided in my dementia that he's STILL ALIVE!" And just because a report is "falsified", it's not like that doesn't happen EVERY FRICKIN' DAY OF A WAR!!! Wasn't there "just" an incident where a military man who was with a guy who died in a certain military action was forbidden from revealing to anyone (including family and friends of the deceased) what had really happened and where? And if she's really ARMY STRONG she should KNOW THAT!!! Oh, for the love of PETE!!!

    Heck, Pat Tillman, for five hundred, Alex.

    Considering her "plans", to wire all "five miles of tunnels" with C-4 is excessive and, like you said, retarded. She already knew where she was going to take Lex (and doesn't that just say that his ability to cut his bonds with a ragged piece of pipe was stupid... I know that I would have checked all those possibilities out. They played it like she wanted him to get free so he could call her hubby, but she could have insisted that he give her the number. To let him get his hands free is the height of stupidity, but they were playing her stupid anyway...) and she could have just rigged the tunnel she was planning on jumping him at, maybe the surrounding tunnels of her HQ, maybe all the manhole covers she could find (that would explode as soon as anyone opened them). I'm not ARMY STRONG, but that's how *I* would have played it.

    I'm Navy dumb. I only say that because my dad's Air Guard, though.

    I've decided that Kristin's a carnie. But maybe I'm inflicting my Lana-view on an innocent actress...

    Beware pregnant carnies.

    I just "loved" that her way of torturing Lionel was to #1 - push in his IV a little with her ugly Lana-claws and #2 - to pinch his IV tube? His oxygen tube? I mean, how did she expect to "kill" him with that little tube? He was breathing OK on his own so to pinch the oxygen tube wouldn't have done a thing. To pinch his IV tube might delay any morphine (ah, blessed morphine!) but it wouldn't kill him! I mean, *maybe* if she had a huge glowing green syringe, I might have bought it... I'm not even mentioning that it pissed me straight off that Lionel was struck partially dumb by her pushing on the IV. I mean, the guy has done a lot of things with injuries... pushing in on the IV shouldn't have been such a killer with all his other injuries...

    Ah, dramatic effect!

    To get off my soap box, I just loved your Jell-O suggestion and the lawyer speak. That and "Lion-O"... Excellente!

    Cheetara reference incoming.

    I know what the PTB are *trying* to do. They're trying to show that Lana, in her rage over the faked pregnancy, has totally embraced her Luthor traits. But that doesn't mean that she would immediately be able to have any real authority or the knowledge what the police can and cannot do with a kidnapped billionare's car. But what do I know?

    And plus, she's already pretty ruthless and self-absorbed. Always has been.

    My sister (pro-Lana) noticed the table thing as well. What cracked me up is that I'd mentioned something picky a little earlier and my brother-in-law told her not to be influenced by my attention to sniggly details. I almost wet my pants with that. I really wanted to tell them that it was *your* influence that got me doing it in the first place. Ah, the trend is continuing...

    I will star in The Corruptor 2 as the foot.

    Why in the world were you looking up movies about pregnant midgets walking down stairs??? That seems like an odd subject...

    Long story there. I go to many media collection sites looking for fun and other stuff. Gorilla Mask is one of them. They had a video of a pregnant midget walking down stairs, one of those "empowerment" pieces that goes horribly wrong because of the impossibly funny scenes shown. It said, "If you like this, try WENG WENG!"

    And thus genius was born.

    Maybe that's the Patagonia Phantom's (PP) special power... MAD entrance skillz... At least *that* would be a useful power... Tee hee!!!

    Clark's whining about the friend thing really bothered me. *Clark* was the one to break the friendship off... and continually bust into the Mansion with one accusation or another... or asking for a favor, which is really ballsy! It felt totally off and definitely didn't come off that Clark was the "righteous" one. If this is the Lana influence (because Lex is starting to be more passive-aggressive whiny at times), she needs to be killed off before absolutely ruining two epic figures forever and evermore!

    She needed to die three seasons ago.

    Here's another thought about the bombs... obviously, they found the additional bombs that had to have had the timer on them. They *should have* known that it was too late when they were driving up. Clark and Lex were obviously aware of the time. If the cops or Bomb Squad or puppies found the bombs, they should have set their watches to it. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

    That too.

    You know, I didn't know that the "Lana Chloe knows" farts sifted sugar. I wanna' see that in a scene!

    She also breathes in carbon dioxide and breathes out oxygen. She's really quite helpful in every way.

    I had a special lazy Susan widget put in my neck just for Smallville.

    Turn, turn, turn!

    If the Smallville PTB *really* wanted to show that Lex had gone irrevocably to the "dark side", they should have Clark actually reconcile with Lex, Lex accepting his apology, and then using his new relationship with Clark to do bad things. Maybe get to Chloe. Something. ANYTHING! But they just say, "Lex is bad because we say so, so there. What? What?!? There's inconsistencies? No there isn't! Why? 'Cause we say so, so there!" That's what it feels like sometimes...

    He did murder a dude.

    That was the best artistic re-imagining I've never seen! Fan-friggin-tastic!

    I'll be ba-a-a-a-ck!

    Lovies!
    Sara

    Thanks!

    Zak wrote:
    When I saw at the bottom of your latest review the bit about letters dropping off, I thought maybe I'd express a sentiment I've held back for sometime.

    Has the show gone downhill? Yes, somewhat? As much as your reviews indicate? In my opinion, no.

    However, your weekly reviews have gotten a bit stale with me, which is I why I haven't written in some time. Now I'm sure it could be argued that you're repeating yourself a lot because the show is repeating itself a lot; its not a hard argument to make.

    I don't repeat myself. I don't repeat myself!

    But at the same time, I remember Neal Bailey reviews that used to pay equal lip service to the good of an episode as well as the bad, even in a thoroughly horrid episode. There were reviews written by a guy who enjoyed the concept enough to forgive some flaws and find the nuggets that the producers probably saw and made them make the show in the first place.

    True. The first three years, I definitely gave more of a benefit of the doubt.

    Anymore, I feel like I'm tuning in to a weekly rant from Lewis Black or George Carlin (both brilliant comedians, but both with a schtick that can get old with over exposure). Inconsistent characterization this and plot hole that and I could come up with 90% of the review with Beppo and a dart board. It seems you've become to disillusioned with the franchise that you don't even enjoy doing these reviews anymore.

    I understand how it might seem that way. But believe me, these reviews are much harder to concoct than that. I'll put my money where my mouth is. Sith law has always been in place. You write something wittier and funnier and more knowledgeable, I encourage you to submit it to Steve and try and knock me off my pedestal. I'm no genius, but I knows this work.

    There are just some fundamental truths about the new Smallville (which I would characterize as perhaps Season 5 on).

    - Lana will never be characterized like the show started out characterizing her. We all understand that. She's borderline useless to the plot but pretty to look at, and thus will remain the show's Achilles heel. So let it be said, so let it be done.

    It has been and is...but that doesn't mean it isn't my job to notate how that's failing in a given episode.

    - No one will ever understand Lionel. While I think part of it comes from a lack of coordination between several writers writing several episodes at the same time, it's time we all accept that the Smallville staff can't or won't come up with a solution to this, and should thusly cease trying to rationalize what he does. Deus Ex Lionel; we cannot comprehend his ways.

    True. But that doesn't mean it's not my job to notate how that's failing in a given episode.

    - Lex will never be the bad guy. While a premise of two friends destined to become mortal enemies could never work for 6+ years, AlMiles are determined to do it anyway. So Lex will kill someone in one episode and save someone in the next. I rationalize this by saying to myself that he's holding on to his last vestiges of humanity, and then I take a drink.

    True. But that doesn't mean it's not my job to notate how that's failing in a...HOLY CRAP, I DO REPEAT MYSELF!

    Most importantly, and this is something I've thought about this show for a while, since it departed from what parts of The Continuity I know. I'm not an avid follower of the comic continuity, either Superman or Superboy, but while I've seen plenty of the grown, moral arbiter Superman, I've never seen the an honest to goodness look at Clark Kent, and how he became that man. It's a mighty tough pill to swallow that the toddled out of that spaceship with a clear cut view of right and wrong, and not much easier to think that nothing but good, mid-western upbringing did the trick either. The show is about the journey to becoming that man, and the mistakes and down right *bleep*ups he makes along the way (hard as it is to envision with Tom Welling, Clark is only 20). So when I see "Superman would never...", I personally feel like the point may have been missed.

    I dunno. At the beginning of season 4 I said that I would no longer complain about continuity diverging. And generally I don't. I do, however, believe that in any version of the myth Clark should know right and wrong by the time he reaches adulthood. Otherwise, fundamentally, his parents have failed to instill in him what it takes to be Supes.

    All that said, it IS time to get Clark's butt in gear, and if we're at this point next year and he's not in a journalism class, made a moral commitment not to kill, or at the very least gone back to the Fortress, maybe I'll join you in disillusionment.

    -Z

    I'll see you there, I would think, sorry to say.

    Irwin Santos wrote:
    Hey Neal,

    Not to worry (in reference to not many emails from your fans)!! I'm reading your rant faitfully. Keeps me in check on what truth each eppy of Smallville consists of.

    Keep up the good work!

    The Hawaiian Superman

    THANK YOU, sir. I never really worried, it was just odd having no email for once.

    RMF wrote:
    *Finally*, Smallville returns to what made it worth seeing in the first place: the relationship between Clark and Lex. Too bad they waited until no one's watching any more. The ratings have sunk like a stone since "Crimson" and especially "Promise". I almost didn't return after "Promise" myself, but I stuck it out to see "Nemesis". The interaction between Clark and Lex is the heart and soul of the show, and I wish the writers would act like they know that.

    It was pretty good, when that's where the spotlight was.

    The "bottle" show is hardly a fresh concept, but it's usually a good one, and despite a clunky entrance into the central predicament, the payoff is pretty decent. We've seen Lex get abducted or imprisoned by a vengeful whoever a bazillion times already, so it's annoying to see it again. It's downright hilarious for Lex to threaten whatsherface with, "My security is gonna get you!" Hey dumb@ss, how about taking them *with* you when you enter creepy, drippy deserted tunnels so they can shoot people who try to take you out? The writers could have achieved the same result and sense of karmic retribution by simply having one of Lex's mad experiments blow up on him and destabilize the tunnel infrastructure. The only thing the approach they chose gets them is a tad of foreshadowing for whatever is going on in "Prototype".

    Yep. Looks interesting.

    Once Clark shows up, though, the episode takes off. Yes, the kryptonite inconsistencies are awful, but I'm prepared to ignore them as long as the character interactions ring true, and they do. Lex has developed a convenient amnesia about his role in breaking up their friendship and exhibits a manipulative self-pity about his failure to get people to love him. He believes himself to have been entitled to Clark's trust, no matter what he may have done to abuse it. The irony is, of course, that the one thing that he legitimately faults Clark for -- keeping the truth from him -- is what is keeping Clark safe from him now. Clark utters one of the most provocative lines in response to Lex's complaints about trust -- "Would it have made any difference? Look where we are." It's a good question. If a person has it in him ever to rationalize a Level 33.1, could he really have been saved, or is that hopeless naivete?

    I see it more on Lex's end. Lex has never done anything explicitly to lose Clark's trust, really. Not directly. He kept his "secret room" for a while, but Clark's kept secrets from him too.

    The decision to have Lex come back to rescue Clark from the rubble is perhaps the most troublesome of the episode. On the one hand, the arrogant, duplicitous Lex of "Progeny" was so much fun in the wake of episode after episode of Lex being Lana's bitch that I wanted to see a Lex who would leave Clark behind to save himself. I have to agree with what they did here, though, because the point was to lead into the final scene between Clark and Martha. Usually when people break out the argument that "Clark isn't Superman yet", it's to justify some lame episode in which Clark nearly kills someone or gets in the middle of Lexana, but I think it works for "Nemesis". Clark plaintively asks Lex whether they were ever really friends, since he's faced a Lex who cultivated a bond while investigating him behind his back, sent goons after his family to prove a point, hired a hypno-floozy to break him up with his girlfriend, and ultimately admitted to using him to vicariously experience a wholesome life.

    All of those things, though, Clark knew MAGICALLY instead of logically, by bad writing. That causality seemed unimportant then, but is vital now.

    The audience, however, has seen a friendship that *was* real, despite Lex's being torn between honoring that friendship and falling prey to Lionel's conditioning. Human nature is complex, tricky, and slippery, and a young, inexperienced person is exactly who would fail to recognize that. In this episode, however, Clark does witness a glimpse of his old friend in the cruel and corrupt present-day Lex. I think the writers were hoping to establish that iconic characteristic of Superman -- seeing good in everyone -- as coming about in this version not just because he's kind hearted, but because he's seen it in Lex, who becomes the worst of men.

    Now watch them make a fool of me for giving them this much credit.

    Nah, you're fine, man.

    The down side of the Clark-Lex interactions is that in some cases they barely scratched the surface of the serious issues between the two. At the end of the episode, Clark wonders whether he is partly to blame for Lex's fall from grace. I don't take the "Clark's fault" theory any more seriously than Martha, because no matter how earnest Clark's efforts were, as an unworldly adolescent, he was overmatched at dealing with the kind of problems in Lex that would have defeated a brace of psychotherapists. The fact that he does feel guilty, though, is important to Clark's character, and the question of whether anything more could have been done to save Lex deserves more than a couple sentences' dismissal from Martha.

    I expect more of Clark, myself.

    On to the bad. In a recent interview on mediavillage.com, producers Slavkin and Swimmer affirm that they see Lex's faking Lana's pregnancy as the point at which he totally turned the corner toward darkness, because "he's doing this with the woman he loves more than anything in the world". I admit I'm fairly stunned at this attitude. I'm left wondering why they see faking a woman's pregnancy as a greater sign of depravity than human experimentation. Granted, Lex used to follow the crude moral code of "I'll protect me and mine, but everyone else is fair game", so victimizing even his loved ones does represent a breakdown of his limited standards. However, we have seen that he understood, admired, and temporarily strove toward the Kents' loftier sense of morals even though he often failed, so his manipulation of Lana seems more like the deterioration of his last few crumbs of honor rather than the big turning point. For heaven's sake, we saw a slew of meteor freaks bite the dust when Lex ordered the doctor to clean up the mess in "Freak". How is that not worse?

    Good point.

    Which leads me into the Lana mess in this episode. She's super-conniving Lana now, in another overreaching reinvention of her character designed to make her interesting again. At the start of the season, they tried to serve us Dark!Lana when she threatened Dr. Grohl. Then she turned sentimental and was still in love with Clark. A few episodes ago in "Freak", she was fairly proactive. Then she became Victim!Lana for "Promise" and "Combat". Now she's cunning again. None of it feels connected or logical, much like the whole season itself, which has lurched from plotline to plotline in fits and starts and spasms. I got the feeling that we were supposed to cheer her on in this episode as she turned the tables on Lionel and left Lex to his fate. I was simply disgusted, though, at the spectacle of her menacing the bleeding Lionel and her willingness to let Lex die because he faked the pregnancy. I'm sure that there are nice toasty corners of hell waiting with Lex and Lionel's names on them, but it's not about what they deserve, it's about what she's doing. Although they have committed crimes that could possibly net them the death penalty, she either doesn't know or doesn't care about that. What she cares about is the damage they've done to *her* life. Even though what Lex did to her was contemptible, should he really be left to die because he made her think she was pregnant? Should Lionel be tortured for extorting her into marriage and making a threat against Clark that she isn't even sure he can carry out?

    Nope. She's royally out of line and annoying.

    The one real positive about the Lana storyline is that Clark actually finds out that she left Lex to die and is disturbed about it. Is she finally teetering on her pedestal? There has to be a pretty big philosophical divide between the two characters if Clark still goes to rescue Lex despite the "Progeny" throwdown over Level 33.1, but Lana leaves Lex to die over a faked pregnancy. This is promising stuff, and I'm crossing my fingers that the writers don't stupidly validate Lana's actions with Clark and Chloe once they find out what Lex did to her.

    I don't think she'll ever drop from her pedestal, myself.

    Regards,

    RMF

    Thanks.

    Jim Smith wrote:
    NEAL!

    Jim!

    I have not written in awhile. Honestly, I did not see anything worth pointing out in your last two reviews. Meaning, I was in complete agreement with everything you said. That being said...hehe.

    Heh. Thanks.

    If that crazy wife was an Army engineer I can see her having the know how to do the things she said. They build the bridges and blow them up. But more often than not they deal with blasting caps miles and miles of cord with their C4. I have an easier time believing that she had the material but where in the hell did she get all the timers. It's not like they sell them at a hardware store. Which if I believe my army buddy, you can buy the stuff to make home made C4 but not the timers.

    FIVE MILES? Heh.

    Oh, cell phones and explosive devices do not mix well. Cell phones, pagers, two way radios can all cause them to fire off well before they are supposed to. The crazy wife having a phone or telling Lex to use the phone is what drove me nuts. She should have known better, the writers should have known better.

    Writers...research? I'm sorry. I just passed out.

    The show has gotten better the last few weeks but when are they going to learn. More Lex and Clark is good. More Lana is a waste of film. As much as I love her even Martha is moving into the pointless character area at this point. Atleast she was consistent before Pa died. Anyway, good review as always Neal. Until next time...

    Jim

    Thanks, Jim!

    person wrote:
    Hey,

    I've got it all figured it out. If I kill some random guy tomorrow, it's justified if I feel remorse afterwards. That's good to know! (At least, this seems to be the philosophy of Clark and Martha Kent.)It doesn't matter if I wanted to kill him with my bare hands and did so. If I feel those feelings after, everything is good, and I can probably forget about it in a week without losing a night's sleep. That seems to be what this show is teaching.

    Even if you're Superman. You go, boy!

    In your review for Combat, you wrote:

    "Like every other Zoner, Titan knows Kal-El despite the fact that there's no way he would, given that Kal-El was a baby or unborn when he was imprisoned, likely."

    Now, could be wrong here, but if "Relic" in season three is any indication, Clark is the spitting image of his father. They both look like, well...Tom Welling. Kryptonian DNA must be very strong to produce such instant replicas of fathers to sons. So, these Zoners probably recognized Clark's face, one would think.

    True. I buy that. But why seek him out in a whole big world like ours?

    Could be a coincidence, but I was watching "Extinction" from season three the other day, and I noticed that the final dialogue scene between Lana and Clark is practically the same as the finally dialogue between them in "Freak." Basically, in both cases Lana says to Clark that if he was a meteor freak it would explain a lot, and Clark says he's not. Honestly, watch the two scenes back-to-back. They are eerily similar.

    Oh, I know.

    I noticed with some of your other reviews (like Superman Returns) you gave more than just an overall rating--you rated specific areas. I don't mean to give you more work, but since you dissect each show so much already, what if you gave marks out of five to other areas besides the overall, like music, acting, screenwriting, or whatever? This could help clearly identify what worked and didn't for people in a concise way. Just a thought. The reviews are awesome already.

    Generally I do, just without a number. Like, if I give the show a 1, I tend to say, "But the soundtrack ruled!" if it did. The rating is gut, but I do note pretty much everything.

    Oh, and congratulations about the job with the magazine!

    Thanks! I'm still perplexed. Heh.

    Kevin wrote:
    Hey neal liked the review. Also congrats on the job with Smallville Magazine. I noticed you said no one writes anymore I think that you forgot to suggest a possible third solution; That everyone likes the reviews and are more than happy reading them and enjoying them each week. If the majority of responses are to disagree or say you're too harsh on the show then it begs to reason that those same people might not write if they agree with and like what you say. Well keep up the good work Hope you get to work on the Superman comics one day.

    True! Good way to think about it. Thanks for the congratulations! I hope to work on the Supes comics...I want some more experience first, but I hope to get there.

    Poster Caleb Garcia wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    I'm a big fan and love the reviews they crack me up everytime.
    I made this Smallville spoof pic, if you will, maybe you can post it.
    You said you were open to stuff like this.

    Thanks again,

    Caleb Garcia
    Calabasas, CA

    Awesome! Thanks, Caleb.

    Byron Abrahams wrote:
    Hey Dude... long time no write...

    Yar! Hello.

    First and foremost, congrats on the Smallville writing job. You deserve it, and don't let anyone tell you different. What I'm praying for, is that your influence leaks out to the Smallville behind-the-scenes, producer-filled universe and and takes over the creative part of their brains like the Borg. I know I just compared your writing to the Borg, but I'm not gonna apologise for that, coz the Borg rocks!

    Don't expect a miracle. I'm glad to have done what I've done. I'm just pleased to have one shot. I'll take each one as my last and love the hell out of it.

    Just a few thoughts to share... That is to say, a few things that are ticking me off about the show.

    Sure.

    After watching Promise, I probably hated the show more than I ever have before. And my love for it has been dwindling in the last two years. Why? Because for some shinig moments during that episode, they proved to me that there are people on that team who are capable of raising the bar to where it was at season three. I sympathised with Lana (and consequently felt a strange urge to get a lobotomy). I felt real pain for Clark. I reacted with shock to every twitch of Lionel's cruel smirk and LOVED it. So they can do it - but they're CHOOSING NOT TO. And that I can't stand. It's like the striptease of TV shows. Know what I mean?

    I really, really do. They could start turning it up a notch TOMORROW without having to change the budget with simple, consistent character and dilemma.

    Next, the soap opera element. Like I've told you before, I work on a soap opera. No, I'm not hear to rant that you're trashing soap operas.

    No worries. I have buddies who love soap operas. The basic format of comics is the soap opera. But EVERY dilemma has to still spring from consistent character.

    I'm well aware of the limitations of the genre, but I'm also aware of the huge pull it has on audiences. The fact is, Smallville and soap operas share a lot of inate properties. Both, from the get-go, require you to suspend disbelief to a phenomenal level. You have to, or you get pulled right out of it. ER this is NOT. The key to good soap opera, and yes, there is good soap opera, is the one that completely believes itself. On my show, the hardest job I have is believing that what I'm writing is real. These people (characters) are real. The pain, joy, whatever they're feeling is real. Even though Character A is crying because Character B ran off with her stepsister for the 17th time before announcing that she had a terminal disease and was leaving her fortune to the cat. It's ludicrous, but if you can believe it, you can write it well, and make people enjoy it. Look at Promise. The Lionel blackmail twist was a laugh-out-loud stupid plot device that for THAT episode, and sadly only that episode, ACTUALLY WORKED. You can have these hinky things thrown in if you go for it hard enough. They're just not trying. Freakin' striptease.

    And I think you'll agree, 99 percent of that is passion on the part of the writer, as opposed to struggling. They have to BE those characters. If you can't make being you new, you can't make a soap opera fly. I have no problem with soap opera. I have a problem with its penchant for LCD.

    I don't know if you've ever watched the show How I Met Your Mother. It's a comedy soap opera. It's really ridiculous sometimes. But the characters are so consistent, and the writers really go all out to REMAIN as ludicrous as possible that it's actually become one of my favourite shows.

    I don't watch much TV, haven't seen it, alas.

    I guess, what I'm saying is, there's probably no time left to save Smallville. If you recall, last time I wrote you was around episode four, where I launched into a sixteen page narcissistic rant of a storyline of how I would save the show. But it's too late now. So why do we keep watching?

    Because I, as a writer, know that it could be turned around with one episode and consistency following. I believe, with direction and commitment, the show can turn around. I honestly do.

    Because it's Superman. Love or hate the direction, for six years now, Welling has filled Clark's skin for us, and for too many unforgettable moments, HE made us believe he could one day fly. So we'll be there, at the end. Maybe a little jaded. Maybe a little disappointed. Maybe with a whip. But we'll be there. Gough and Millar don't deserve us.

    There's that, too.

    Cheers Dude.

    Write your @ss off, okay? Coz you're Le-Gen-Dary!

    Byron

    My @ss? Oh, that disappeared around the age of 21. I wrote that off before I finished college. Now I'm struggling to have my sanity not slip in between the keys of this keyboard. I really, really need a break. I will collapse of a heart attack at 36, however, and that will be that.

    And so it goes. God, I miss Kurt.

    Bruce Kanin wrote:

    OVERALL

  • The episode gets a B and two F's, for "Basically Forgettable Filler".

    THE GOOD

  • Clark's "Metropolis Police" shield was shaped like the Superman pentagon. Cool.
  • They showed the original Daily Planet shield that was shown in "Adventures of Superman". Great touch!
  • John Glover is a really good actor. I loved his chat with the B&W Jimmy, blowing smoke in his face.

    THE BAD

  • Essentially what we got was about 10-15 minutes of a new episode, with Jimmy Olsen's pointless B&W dream in-between. It was hard to get excited about the "action" taking place in his dream. Since I knew it wasn't real, it had no meaning. I'm there to either watch something strategic happen (like Bizarro appears or the bottled city of Kandor is discovered), or fun stuff with Clark using his super-powers - or both.
  • As well, it was all basically filler. It's like the writers said, "we don't want to give too much away this week, so let's do something 'cute'". I hate "cute".
  • As for the brief new episode, I'm really confused as to what is going on with Lionel and Lana. Is she working for him now? I thought she hated his guts, at least until last episode, thinking that Lionel was threatening to kill Clark. Is Lionel a good or bad guy? My mind is spinning on this one now.
  • At the beginning, when Lana was shown on the floor of the elevator, a great deal of blood had been spilled - hers. My thinking is that she should be dead...but wait...this is "Smallville". She must have had a mere flesh wound - with just her arm in a sling. Eh?
  • They blew it with Clark back in the 1940s. Before long, I realized that, because it was Jimmy Olsen's dream, he couldn't imagine Clark as a mild-mannered reporter and a mystery superman. The best he could do is the four-eyed Clark and his alter ego as a policeman. Now, if the writers had any sense, they would have had Chloe get conked on the head: she would have had a great reason to fantasize about Clark Kent and his super-powered alter ego. Even with "no flights / no tights", they could have had Clark-as-Superman in the shadows, saving the day. Dumb writers - they really could have paid tribute to "Adventures of Superman".
  • Except for Clark catching Lana, no super-powers from Clark in this. Boo hiss.
  • Lois seemed so out of place in this episode, both in the dream, and in the present.
  • Contrived alert! Jimmy and Chloe are in the gossip guy's office, late at night, and he conveniently comes in - and gets killed.

    THE REST

  • The B&W stuff was done decently. They gave Lionel and Chloe some good 1940s-sounding lines.
  • Jimmy's reference to the 1940s Clark living a double life wasn't all that impressive. Too cute.
  • So, as with JR Ewing...who shot Lana? Was it Lionel? That doesn't seem to make sense, especially is he's using her to get information about Lex. Was it Lex? I don't think he'd be that cruel. It's got to be someone, perhaps that senator, who we aren't focusing on.
  • The 1940s Jimmy stopping Lex's bullet with that metallic thing reminded me of a terrific second season "Adventures of Superman" episode called "A Shot in the Dark" in which Clark makes people believe he stopped a bullet with a lucky silver dollar.
  • If only they had the sense in the Daily Planet scenes to have someone yelling, gruffly, in the background, "Great Caesar's Ghost!"

    COMING CONTRACTIONS

  • Looks like we're closing in on the end of the season cliffhanger and whatever Lex is brewing. He seems to be coming up with some kind of force field. Hmmm...not sure what to make of that...maybe a hat...a broach...

    Cheers,

    Bruce

    You seem to have the exact opposite thoughts I did...but for similar reasons. I liked the technicals, and hated the forced dilemma. Good call.

    Well, folks, I'm gonna be a little late in the next few reviews. Next week it's because I'm going off to ninja camp, so expect a Monday completion, and the following week is the finale, where I have a big video idea and the re-review.

    Best!

    Neal



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