Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 7 - Episode 6: "Lara"Reviews:
LaraReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
Welcome to Dougie Doright's schizophrenic review of the season. I had to actually watch this one twice just to nail down my feelings on it.
First of all let me say I had really been looking forward to Helen Slater coming to the show to play Lara Jor-El. I really was. I have to admit. I loved her Supergirl movie. She did such a fantastic job with the character I can honestly say that my becoming a fan of Supergirl was directly related to that. Sure maybe it was a teenage crush. I don't deny that, but she made me appreciate a character that was just sort of off my radar. I knew Supergirl at the time. One didn't collect Superman comics without coming across her from time to time but since Helen Slater's performance I started paying attention to the character more and grew to become a full blown fan. Enough to rank her pretty high on my list of favorite characters.
So not only was I looking forward to Helen Slater's appearance on the show, because I am honestly a fan, but also because every time they bring in guest stars like that we are usually in for a really great episode.
Helen Slater did not disappoint. Her Lara Zor-El was beautiful, graceful, and kind. The kindness mixed with sadness and strength that Helen Slater brought to the role sold the character hands down and allowed us to see that Kal-El really did have good genes to go along with his honest Kent upbringing.
I just wanted to say that because I want it perfectly clear that what I say from here on out had absolutely nothing to do with Helen Slater or her performance in this episode.
I hated and loved the episode. Really. I feel like Bizarro but that's the best way I can describe it.
There were some really cool things in this episode. Helen Slater being one, but there were other things that need to be seen by people who follow the series. For one we now know why Clark and Kara were sent to Earth in life boats. The portals Kryptonians had been using were destroyed to keep Zod from getting to Earth. We also know why Lara or Jor-El did not go with Kal-El which I think is perhaps the most important thing to learn from this one. They were fighting a war and sent Kal-El off to be safe from that war but they were not going to abandon the fight. I know this is a bit different than past versions of Superman where Kal-El is sent off as the planet explodes but I think it really works with what we have learned over the past 5 years. The planet did not explode until well after Kal-El was sent off. Whether it was the Brain Inter-Active Construct aka BrainIAC (I actually find that pretty clever) or Zod that caused the explosion we don't know but we know that Lara and Jor-El were only sending their son to be safe and probably hoped to retrieve him sometime after the war. I think this nicely tied in past continuity from the show into a believable situation that answered a lot of questions.
I also like how we find out that Zor-El is kind of a jerk but that Kara didn't actually know. This was good because it allows both Kara and the J'onn to be right from their little spat a couple of weeks ago. That was nicely done. I loved finally seeing Krypton. I enjoyed that very much. Plus the scene between Kara and Lara in the barn and the Kent house was just nice. Sweet and sad. I loved how they hid a picture of Lara in the house for Clark to find later. That was a neat idea.
So, Doug... You sound like you loved it. Why did you also hate it?
Well Kara Zor-El for one. Sure it was cool to see her floating above the city and almost getting smacked by an airplane was actually pretty cool. That taught her a lesson but I had a lot of problems with her actions after that.
Really I just did not get the whole thing about her sexing up the geek from the lab. I know the show has never shied away from the sexing it up factor but this was just so out of character and made absolutely no sense. With her abilities she could have followed him everywhere. Swiped his wallet and broke into the lab without him ever seeing her. Plus what in the world was she using the key card for to begin with? At first I thought she was being smart and just going for stealth by not smashing her way in but then she just went ahead and smashed her way into the safe anyway. What? Why didn't she just bash into the lab from the get go. That actually would have seemed more her style anyway. I didn't get it.
Then she goes and super hacks into computers after having no clue last time we saw here how to use one. I know Kara and Clark probably learn faster than the average human but this just seemed too fast. I found my anger at this frustrating because I am really likeing the Kara character on the show and I didn't like them kind of dropping the ball with her so to speak. I can forgive the computer hacker bit but having her act like a floozy to get info from someone? No. I did not like that at all. As sexy as Laura Vandervoort is I really do not think having her use her body to get information is the way to do the character right.
Then we have Lana's new foundation? Ok. Weird but I can go with it. But why was she sitting on a seat in the waiting room when Chloe came in if she's the foundation's founder? Small thing but I noticed it.
I really enjoyed Lionel and Lex's scenes together. Over all I think Lionel was great here. Coming to save Clark and Kara and being cool enough not to get on Clark for not opening up about Kara to him. Lionel is the one person who would understand that. His talk with Lex was pretty good too. I like the comment about never being able to fool him. You can fool yourself but you'll never fool me. Great line fantastically delivered by John Glover. One of the great Lionel moments of the series to be honest. Lex's comments about Lionel acting like Clark's father hit a solid point. One that just may be a big factor in Lex's down fall. I don't know if Lionel is trying to help both Clark and Lex, just Clark, or is just out for himself but the more important thing is that Lex sees his father being close to Clark and not him.
I liked Clark coming to Kara's rescue. He was really ticked off that someone was hurting her. You don't mess with Superman's family. He was mad enough to fight through the Kryptonite pain to save her, though admittedly it probably wasn't pure Kryptonite in that solution. Still I don't think it tickled. Plus the super powered CPR was almost too cool for words.
I really enjoyed Kara and Clark's heart to heart talk after they were home safe. I felt like even though the episode bugged me to that point, they ended up in a good place with the two of them coming back together as a family and sharing a memory of Lara.
Then comes the big twist and I wanted to just throw my TV out the window. I assume that is what they were talking about in the breaks about the big twist in the series. dum dum daaa. (insert eye roll here)
Sure it was a twist but it really, really ticked me off. CLARK STOLE THE CRYSTAL AND HID IT FROM KARA? WHAT? (notice I am refraining from using four letter words here but readers can feel free to add their own). Are you kidding me? After we see them come back together as a family he hid it from her? WHY? What for? Sure I understand that he learned it had Lara's DNA. Kind of like keeping a lock of his mother's hair to remember her. So I understand that it's important to him but he also knows Kara has a strong sentimental attachment to the crystal. Why did he have to hide it from her? Why couldn't they both keep the memory of Lara safe together in the Kent house they both live in? Why hide it in lead in the barn for only Clark? That was either really selfish by Clark, proved that Clark was full of crap when he was making up with Kara, or both. I don't find any of those options pleasant when in regards to our future Superman. Not cool... Not cool at all... Lucy. They have some 'splaining to do. Hopefully they will help me make sense of it in the next couple of episodes but for now I am a bit peeved.
So see. I am so back and forth on this one. There was so much I loved and so much I hated. I can't even call it middle of the road for any part. It literally went from sweet and rocking one moment to completely ticking me off the next, then back again. I feel like I was on a seesaw.
So really while I can't give this one a high grade I can't call it a complete failure either and honestly it is an episode that people following the series will not want to miss. Just be prepared for a few aggravating issues. I am going to give it a C. I have to. Sorry but that's just averaging it out really. The good parts were a solid A and the bad parts were a D- at best. So let's call it 2.5 out of 5 blue crystals hidden away from someone who has just as much right to it by someone who shouldn't do stuff like that.
Next week however looks pretty gosh darn cool. Looks a bit like the "Ultrawoman" episode of Lois & Clark which was a pretty good one. Let's see how Smallville uses the idea.
LaraReviewed by: Neal Bailey
This episode needed a better subtitle than Lara. Like: PERV.
Seriously. I'm all about random, wanton, crazy lusty sex, but this episode has some stuff that even made ME go, "Aw, dude. That's just...aw."
First you get geek kid from the DDS who wants to give away the U.S. secrets for a little nooky with a prolongued seduction scene that lasts for three hours, then you get the guy locking up Kara and torturing her (I'll get to the dialogue later), and finally, you get a guy who wants to genetically recreate a chick so she can be his magical girlfriend.
DUDE. Candy is dandy, but liquor works MUCH better than cloning. I think. Did I screw that up?
Beyond that, what we had in this episode is a double-edged sword. Mythology, tons of mythology, which would normally please the heck out of me. Except they Smallville corrupted it, turning Zor-El into an Alura-hating wretch and making Brainiac Jor-El's idea... somehow.
But anyway, back to the DDS. I mean, seriously, every time they mention that department, I think of this:
I'm sitting there, watching this menacing guy tie Kara up and inject flame into her veins, and all that's going through my head is, "I am your dennnntist! And I get off on the pain I ex-ERT!"
My temperment's wrong for the priesthood. And teaching would suit you still LESS! (I especially dig that part, because I was almost a teacher.)
I drink blood and have a super-hairy chest and I think I can catch bullets in my teeth. I'm so uber-manly I once lifted a city bus. But I think I have the gay gene when it comes to musicals. Well and truly.
Beyond that, no, this episode is not a total loss, believe it or not. There are a few good scenes, some great effects. Problem being, they're bracketed with a bucketload of crap.
The opening, with Krypton, with missiles, running from Zod... nothing but net. Awesome. Incredible scene, a lot of fun. I felt like I was really into a great show. Red sun lighting, decent dialogue. The only thing that irked me was the "three year journey" to Earth thing with established instant access, but then they actually address that later. Interesting.
Zor-El indicates that the crystal is the only thing that can save Kal-El. I want to know why, but that's not in this episode, so I won't harp on it here, I'll harp on it later if it turns out to be true. Nonetheless, the crystal remains a very obvious, badly done MacGuffin.
Zor-El indicates he has to protect Kandor, and for the entire episode, it's indicated that she lives in Kandor. Why the change from Argo City to Kandor? My guess is that the writers are unfamiliar with the Kryptonian cities, or just don't care. Another irrational mythos change.
There's also the whole, "Jor-El made Brainiac" and "Kandor is still on Krypton" despite it being in its final throes thing, and that whole, "Hey, Brainiac is supposed to be what takes Kandor away!" But hey. Those I can take as individual to this mythos. Kara not coming from Argo City is just odd.
The plane and the miss played really well to me, another great effect. If the whole episode had been like this teaser, it would have been an easy five.
Alas and alack, per typical.
Clark superspeeds into the Daily Planet, interrupting Chloe at work and, more importantly, magically appearing in the middle of nowhere, powers in front of people.
Most of the Jimmy/Clark/Chloe scene was a spacer. Nothing important said, nothing really glaring. I just kind of lost thought through it, beyond Clark appearing from nowhere. Nothing really compelling. Jimmy tries to "ZING, OOOH SNAP GOTCHA!" with Chloe, indicating that Kara trusted him with something, but the thing is, Chloe did trust Jimmy, she just broke up with him arbitrarily, so the zinger has no tension at all.
Clark goes to... Lionel... and greets him with a... fatherly hug.
"Lionel! Welcome back! I'm glad you're okay!" Hug. He then asks Lionel about his connections in Washington to help find Kara.
So Clark hugs and greets a murderer (bludgeoned a gal to death just last week, folks), indicates he's glad he's okay, and then asks for HIS Washington contacts over... his own mother's? Not even a line, "I can't reach my mom."?
Lionel is still wounded, though, which is actually pretty good continuity for injuries on this show.
Here Kara does her long, awkward seduction scene with the geek in the restaurant. It's not that I object to the idea or fact that women use their sexuality to get things from dumb guys. It's when the scene is prolongued to last several minutes instead of getting to the point, and shows her rubbing him, pressing up against him, again and again, in an obvious attempt to keep the dangling participle with no revision crowd riveted to the screen. It's degrading to a strong female character, a waste of time with the lurid pornography available on the internets, and quite frankly, annoying to anyone who refuses to be led around by the nose, because you want to choke the dumb chump.
Then, there's the line of lines, uttered by Kara, vis-à-vis aliens: "That's hot!"
Ah, yes, Paris Hilton, in my Supergirl. Let's just turn that knife in my side a little more, huh?
At any rate, this is the first of many times Kara proves that girls mature faster than boys with aplomb.
Cut to a scene, out of the blue, of Lana as a meteor freak counseling center. Now, despite her pledge that meteor freaks have to be tamed and managed (see most of season five and more than half of season six), she's suddenly a humanitarian again, bringing aid to these people she wanted controlled. This a week after she had a man kidnapped and tortured for trying to... protect Clark.
Lies and secrets fly so hot and so fast that a trained crew of pockmarked fifteen year-olds with lie tumescence couldn't catch 'em all with a pokeball. As if her lies aren't annoying enough, here we go with a long, wonderful scene where Lana points out she's keeping secret her special organization from Clark. For what reason? Well, we don't know. But she keeps a secret, the organization, blatantly: "Do me a favor and don't tell Clark, okay?" Chloe senses another angle, and Lana says, "That angle is your imagination!"
Here's a gamble I'm going to make. That angle is not her imagination. So I'm gonna list it as a lie on the KO Count and later modify it to read just why it's a lie. Call it a spider sense.
And GET THIS. Not only is this huge scene thrown in there to explain that she's keeping a secret from Clark, but... SHE ALREADY TOLD HIM TWO EPISODES AGO.
Look at my re-enactment again, the first ten seconds:
"I plan on using it [the money] to help meteor infected people who have been victimized by Luthorcorp."
So she manipulates Chloe into not telling Clark... something she already told him.
See. Told you I was manly.
Kara stole the dude's wallet, theoretically to get into the facility, despite the fact that she then displays her powers, ruining any need for subtlety and destroying all stealth. Another instance of maturing faster than boys.
After this, she argues with Clark, and instead of solving it in a civil matter, she throws him through a wall and escapes through the roof. More mature by the minute.
Another example of maturity, she essentially uses Jimmy to get at his computer and hack into the Department of Defense.
One might argue that all of the above are ways to get to the crystal, which is of (snort) vital importance. I would then counter that argument by saying none of these drastic measures would have been necessary had she teemed with Clark and Chloe and (snort) Lionel.
Kara superspeeds near Jimmy, using her powers in front of people, just like she did when she superspeeds away from dorkus seductus.
She goes to Lex's house on the information that a subsidiary of Luthorcorp was handling some of the E.T. stuff. Randomly, without real reason. She's on tape, but she's still galavanting about like an idiot. Sadistic crazy pops in, fells her with Kryptonite after disabling the cameras (To what end, one would wonder? Not like there's any consequences for abusing illegal aliens who are vaguely suspected of plotting terror. What? Too soon? Should I have gone with a rendition joke? Put down the salad. They'll come to get me soon enough, and you'll have your laugh.)
The creepy bad guy gives the line of the show, almost as if spoken from the writers and every fourteen-year-old watching the show from the first time she appeared in her plasticine glory: "I've been waiting for a chance to use these restraints on you!" Shudder.
She's then exposed to Kryptonite for about, oh, god, eight and a half years, as the Kryptonite is pumped into her veins, violating Neal's preferred use of Kryptonite, which is AS IT WAS INTENDED. You walk in front of it as a Kryptonian, you fall over and die soon thereafter. Instead, it's an deus ex machine cureall snake oil for bad writing. Here, it becomes a truth serum, a sedative, and a memory enhancer.
Then there's the henky-est part of the show. "I, uh, saw that Kryptonite damaged your ship, so I NATURALLY assumed that it would hurt people from Krypton!" without saying the name of the planet or the rock, acourse, but that's basically it.
Nice corollary from a scientific genius there. I suppose we have our Earth counterpart. When I go to Venus, I'm sure to hear Gallahad say in his empirical logic: "This FIRE stuff burned your Earth wood, so I hypothesize that if we put it to your skin, YOU TOO WILL BE... "
Eric Idle: "A WITCH!"
Fire burns, you say?
But really, folks, it's crap.
The best part is the fact that the genius also laid the most complex trap since Lana anticipated the failure of the dam and hired Kathy Bates to go get Lionel. He basically deduces that Kara will find that Lex has a subsidiary involved, and then randomly go directly to Lex's mansion, far far away from Washington DC, so he goes there on a hunch and waits, in silence, at JUST THE RIGHT SECOND (because, recall, he also takes care of security and cameras just before Lex walks in).
Oh, and speaking of Lex. He walks in, sees what's going on, and is easily taken out by... get this. A DART that goes THROUGH HIS STERNUM.
You try putting a dart through a sternum. Ever seen Pulp Fiction?
Lana sees Kara in the main room, and immediately calls Clark, telling him where Kara is.
"Clark! It's Lana! I know where Kara is!"
"Great, babe! How'd you manage that?"
"Look! A monkey!"
"You have a giant surveillance room, don't you?"
Later, of course, this becomes another lie, but I'll get there.
Kryptonite IV drip goes into "He did WHAT with Kryptonite?" and Dumbest use of Kryptonite in the KO Count.
Oddly enough, they use this as a key excuse to exercise continuity, bringing up Summerholdt. They don't use it for a character beat, like Clark saying, "You did this to Ryan, and now you're doing it to her!" Instead, they just use the crummy plot device, the "memory table." Only it's improved... by being the exact same thing.
Cut to the memory scenes. Lara and Kara were actually pretty good together, even if some of the dialogue and actions were incoherent. Like why instantly coming up with Kal-El was a good name. Could have explained why.
Beyond that, there's the whole Prime Directive violation, where Kara takes a picture, saying, "Don't you want your son to have a picture of you?"
To which Kara aptly replies, "Bint, I'm sending a Fortress with living AI."
Oh, wait, that's not what happens. But it DOES lead into one of my favorite continuity errors of the whole show.
Kara, realizing that she has to hide the picture, tucks it behind a RAVISHING picture of Martha. Rowr. I mean, seriously.
But anyway, later, they take the picture, in the present, and pluck the picture from behind it.
Problem, Einstein. THE ENTIRE HOUSE WAS BLOWN APART BY A METEOR TWO YEARS AGO.
Clark bursts in, decides to save Kara. He sees a bank of things holding her down, covered in Kryptonite, so he RUNS RIGHT FOR IT and collapses, thus winning the Dumb as Clark award. He then has enough energy to RUN IN and tackle the bad guy, knocking him out, but apparently not enough sense to back up and fry him and the equipment with heat vision.
He did WHAT with K? Etc.
Then he touches a lead, and somehow is in Kara's thoughts? Zor-El is now a pervy philanderer (Poor Alura!) and Zor-El tried to KILL Jor-El?
But it's okay, because he holds up the El crystal, which can also wipe minds in their entirety of whatever information you don't want in them. Which is why Zor-El goes to elaborate lengths to construct a DNA module of Lara when he can just make Jor-El forget she exists and make her remember always having been his girlfriend. What? Sorry? I didn't quite hear that? You say giving character near-omniscient powers should have consequences? Nah. Screw that. Jimmy's cheating on Chloe, and Lana has monitors she's keeping secret! Intrigue!
Prime directive violation: Door go 'splode. How would the Kents not notice THAT? Call up Ethan, still alive at this point.
Clark rises, realizing that Kara is dying. Lionel appears, from where, who knows, and how he got knowledge to be there, who knows, and shoots the bad guy.
Clark, not inches away from a bag full of Kryptonite, is standing and just fine. Kara, though the same physiologically, is dying. He rears back and delivers a super chest punch, starting her heart again, presumably. Error here being that if she's under K influence, CRUNCH, there went her chest. If she's not, then why is she dying? And if he's under K, how could he crunch, etc. Complete lack of understanding of the properties of the devices in question. Bad writing.
Later, Clark tries to console Kara with a line that had me seething: "We're not defined by our parents, Kara!" This from the guy who, if he were born in Russia, would become an evil dictator.
I don't believe that your family defines you. I agree with this line. I think Clark is an extraordinary counterexample of this in literature. The man, quite literally, is defined by the strengths his parents taught him, as an allegory for what the best of American family can offer a human being, or the metaphorical "alien" (in idealistic theory).
Lex and Lionel have a "You're walking the precipice and near the line!" scene, the eight hundredth. Somehow, for some reason, in the middle of the clichés it still rang a little cool to me. Not sure why, it was just strong. I think it's because they're both great actors.
Still, it's RIFE with a lack of character development. Seven years, they're still having this same conversation about what Lex will become. Fer crying out loud, he's 30 years old! If Lex Luthor isn't away from the parental teat by the age of 30, how can we imagine him ANY kind of supervillain, much less the villain of villains?
Kara is now fawning over Jimmy, which plays completely false. There's no chemistry between the actors, and no logic to it in the writing. Beyond that, they play Chloe as upset in acting if not in words, and she's the one that broke up with him. Arbitrary drama.
Lana lies to Clark, explaining that she used "Contacts at the mansion" to find out Kara was there.
Clark then reveals HIS secret. He has the crystal! OOOOOH! SNAP! Except he has no real reason not to show Kara and he's acting like Lana, not Clark.
And next week? Lana gets Clark's powers, repeating an episode they already did first season, except this makes another Lana focal episode. Joy of joys. Watch me vomit blood.
At any rate, there WAS some mythos here. There was. It was half crap, but some of it was fun. Still, unending inconsistencies, poor writing, out of character stuff, random coincidences that make no sense... I mean, the KO Count is generally where I put what I mock from a given episode, and there's usually an entry or three outside of the normal knockouts. This episode has a HALF PAGE of crap.
All in all, salvageable in part, but mostly a waste of time. 2 of 5.
SUPER SHORT REVIEW:
Krypton in turmoil and dodging a plane begins to hold your interest, then we have a photo that survives explosion, three hours under kryptonite, Zor-El as a strange pervert, sexual objectification without story motivation, repeated plot elements, and unending parades of inconsistencies and Lana lies. 2 of 5.
Don Ronald Lim wrote:
Hi Mr. Neal Bailey. This is Don, I have been watching Smallville since 2002 and I never stopped. Simply because it's my favorite show. And I'm a superfan of superman!
Anyway, I have read your reviews and observed that you have been scoring so many 1 of 5 since Season 4. It seems you have lost interest. So why are you still watching if you dislike the show since season 4?
Multiple reasons, many of which appear in these reviews, which you apparently don't read but still deign to criticize. The best, though, are that it's a Superman show, and I love Superman, that I hope the show will return to its former glory, and that I love getting letters from people who don't understand the basic tenets of analysis and literary criticism, all the while encouraging me to shut up and enjoy things irrationally.
is it because you just want to bash the show from now until the series ended?
Oh, gee, that must be it. You shore got me! I also choke kittens and eat poop. It's verified.
Look at Douglas Trumble's Reviews, his reviews have always been opposite from yours. Why are you not both calibrated? Considering both of your reviews appear on the same page. Also at the Kryptonsite.com, most of their reviews are positive. You are the only one who keeps on bashing the show.
I know this may come as a surprise, but some people's opinions differ and vary. For instance, Doug's and mine. And since, oh, say, forever, journalistically it's ethical to try and balance coverage and perspective with opposing viewpoints. There's only one major news organization I can think of that is fully "calibrated," which is Fox News, and gee, that's just been wonderful for America. Oh, and bigotry.
Kryptonsite's reviews are very positive, true. I know this because I read a multitude of reviews as they come out. I promise you, they're not all positive, and I'm not the only one. Or wait, because you said it, it must be true. Yeah, that's the ticket!
And peripherally, question: How positive is this letter?
I am currently watching Lois and Clark TV series. I love it! Although most of the episodes were just "Villian of the Week" themes. But not in Smallville, there were filler episodes (all shows have!), but the story progresses anyway. So for me, Smallville still delivers! Hail to Smallville!
I agree. Hail to Smallville. But what's so agonizing about a guy having an opinion. I'll never get that.
Look, if you, and I mean you, the guy who's gonna write me the next nasty letter, want me to stop reviewing the show, pay me off. Seven thousand dollars, and I'll never write another review of this show again.
Otherwise, tolerate the freedom of speech, or shut the hell up and go hide in a hole, ya intolerant windbag.
Bruce Kanin wrote (RE: Action):
o Three Superman-to-the-rescue scenes, each of varying intensity:
o In the teaser, Clark super-speeds to rescue the actress as her car goes hurtling overhead.
o Once again, he saves the actress (who, by the way, looked like one of the girls from "Saved by the Bell", eons ago) by stopping a bullet.
o And the scene where my eyes were welling up: Clark rescues Lana. You could argue that he flew, despite the "no flights" rule. You could say that he fell, but whatever it was, it was nothing short of Super. And crashing down on top of a car, well, that was simply the best. Kind of like an exclamation point. The only part that marred the scene, slightly, was that Lana wasn't screaming. Maybe when you fall from a building, you don't scream. Anyway, this scene ranked up there with the one from many moons ago where Clark leaps tall buildings.
Clark has the actress live on the Kent farm to keep her out of the limelight? Did he forget that he needs to stay out of the limelight? And that's another thing, little is made of the fact that Clark being a superhero is plastered all over the papers.
How convenient that the deranged bad guy director decides that he imagined seeing Clark catch the bullet, when pressed by Lex. Lex has got to be pretty dumb if he doesn't know that Clark is Superguy by now. Or us viewers are.
The core plot about the bad guy directly looking to kill the actress was a bit lame, but I'll overlook it.
Chloe pinpoints the comic book shop where the key Warrior Angel comic was bought. Huh? What kind of records like that are kept - and are available over the net? I realize that that was necessary to advance the plot, but please...
We were fairly far apart on this one, but I'm glad you enjoyed it, beats my experience. I think the story had potential, but in the end, the acting killed it for me. I wonder how cool it would have been with better actors for the gal and the kid...
Bob (email@example.com) wrote:
First off, that's the most awesome fake addy ever. Thanks. Usually it's: "Yousuck@Imtoocowardlytogetyourreturnletter.com"
Hey man, first let me just say thanks to you for being someone who cares about things like plot, consistency, and character development.
Second, let me say that you sound like Comic Book Guy an awful lot ("worst episode ever!"), but I guess that's appropriate in a way given the material.
True. And the audience. A lot of it is caricature. In real life, I'm mostly a construction worker type, fairly somber. Supermanhomepage, while a BIG part of my life, is really usually only about a quarter of what I write. Granted, as I'm fixing up a house right now it's far more, because it's about all I'm getting done writingwise, but yeah. Veins don't usually pop out on my forehead in real life, I just stop buying stuff, like most other folks. Analysis is a beast that requires study and talent, but the audience is the one that demands fervor in this case. If I were writing a Smallville review for the TV Guide, it'd be couched much differently, and boring.
Which, to wit, is why I don't wanna write for TV Guide.
I just watched s7e05, I can never remember the names, and I personally I thought it was the best episode we've had for a long time.
Cool. Glad you liked it.
Sure, there was that bodacious actress who was all over Clark, but unlike yourself I don't see anything wrong with a little pointless titillation. I mean, look at the way both men and women are drawn in comic books; you're going to tell me all those rippling muscles and all that cleavage is there to advance the plot?
Nope. But I tell you what, I'm much happier to be reading the 80s Question series, which has character, subplot, and explores cogent issues, than I was to see Wonder Woman strapped in with big-time cleavage in the last JLA, hot though that may be. It's just lowbrow. If I want to #%$^@ ()##, I'll go find a website. To me, tittilation and literature are two different spheres. I'm all about the objectification in appropriate ways, but as a substitute for story, never.
But I sidetrack myself. When Lana hit Lionel in the face with the shovel, I felt relief more than anything else. They've needed to stop screwing around with Lana's character for about, oh, 1000 episodes now. Personally, I always liked the interpretation (not in Smallville) of Lana as a sweet, down-home country girl to offset Lois' brashness. Smallville wants to go a different way, that's their perogative. But please to God, Allah, and Vishnu, DEFINE THE CHARACTER AND STICK WITH IT FOR MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES. But I think they've taken a positive step towards that: now, Lana is basically where Lex was circa seasons 3is-4ish. She's damaged goods, but there is still possibility there for redemption. And if you like the show at all you'll probably want to hope for redemption, because the chemistry between Kreuk and Welling is all too often the only thing this show has going for it. I know, I know, you hate Lana with the white hot heat of a thousand suns. Personally, I think you must have gotten dumped by someone who looks like Lana. I'm giving you a hard time, but in all seriousness the vitriol starts to wear, at least on me. The repeated sighing from your review of s07e04 was much less grating and communicated just as well the frustration you feel.
I'm with you. DEFINE her. Now, of course, she's not a kidnapper, but a counseling center manager. Sigh, I repeat again.
I never got dumped by anyone who looked like Lana, actually. I've never even dated someone who acted like Lana, or looked like Lana, nor would I want to. What HAS happened, though, to fuel my hate of women like Lana, is I've experienced many women who believe themselves perfect and infallible when they're really retarded, inept fools with breasts, so they get away with everything. That's why I sigh. This show glorifies those kind of gals. Cuz they hot.
Give me a woman who belches that I can climb, who will outcurse me, in a leather jacket, toe my line in literature and philosophy. Give me a woman with a brain in her head, who revels when she's objectified because she knows she can think, as opposed to being afraid of being a sexual object, as she's so insecure in her own learned helplessness she doesn't know who she is.
In other words, a thousand suns away from dear Ms. Lana.
As for myself, I find much more irritating to be the introduction of Jimmy, who should still be in kindergarten, and the continued existence of Chloe. I know, not making with the popularity points around here, but I think the root of both Lana's and Lois' ill-defined roles as characters in this show can be found in the attempt to give what is essentially their qualities and screen time to the Chloe character. Chloe made sense in seasons 1,2,even 3, but they should have just left her blown up, brought Lana back from Paris sans attitude, finally let Clark have his cojones back and tell Lana what's going on, and let those two be friends (oh and LET THE POOR BOY FLY for crying out loud, that's supposed to happen at 18, currently we have a Clark Kent who suffers from some kind of superhero learning disability or something). In the end, I think because Chloe was an invention of Gough and Millar, they're obsessed with trying to make her a lasting addition to the Superman mythos. But for the last three or four years she's just been in the way, gumming up the works. Nothing against Allison Mack, who does a good job most of the time, but there is no Chloe in Superman (there is no "I" in "team").
I think it's oddly the one time they listen to fans, who don't want her killed. She's the only sincere gal on the show. And the hottest, to me. But I too believe she should have died in season three's finale. I think the biggest flaw is not her continued existence, but it's that Lana's character should have been Chloe's, and Chloe Lana's. Chloe is the honest, good, down-home girl, and Lana's the ditsy idiot who demands power that no one likes, not a high school sweetheart.
Oh, and personally (really not going to go over well) I'm starting to kind of like this Martian Manhunter. No, he's nothing like any J'onn J'onz I could recognize, but the J'onn/Clark/Kara scenes from last week actually worked for me in the following way: Krypton was one messed up place. You had seedy back-alley dealings, no-good plotted fratricides, and hazily defined "crime and punishment" as J'onn put it. Laughable as real Superman mythos, yes. Unattractive as a morality tale, yes. But if you take it on its own, it has a certain skanky glamor to it. You just have to think of it as some kind of weird alternate universe thing, which should be easy because 'Smallville Clark' can never be the Superman of myth and legend. They've spent too many years letting him make too many compromises. He can do good, yes, but whatever universe he lives in is already destined to be a sadder place than the real Superman universe because he doesn't have the courage of conviction.
I'm glad you like it. I'll accept it if they give J'onn some character. They can do WHATEVER they want so far as I'm concerned, but there should be a logic to it. Cyborg changes, yes. Mxy, no, in other words.
Maybe I'm wrong about that, I hope I am. But this certainly did turn into a rant. Bottom line, for me, is that dwelling too much on how much you hate something will just make you miserable. If Lana bothers you so much then try to take a deep breath or something when it comes time to write about her adventures. But on the plot stuff and the inconsistencies, I think you provide a valuable public service.
I've put a lot of thought into dwelling so much on how I hate something, particularly given all of the letters that say, "Hey, idiot! Stop reviewing this if you hate it." My typical response is that I hope this show will return to its glory, analysis doesn't care if I like it, and in the end, people like this review and ask me to continue doing it.
Sometimes we do things that cause us pain as a way to find out who we are. I work construction, and I hate it, because I know that writing, and the time for writing that construction will provide, is worth far more to me than the fact that I got hit in the head with a crowbar today, or picked up a piece of burning wood and didn't feel it because of the calluses on my fingers.
With regards to these reviews, I learn a lot, and I've learned a lot every year. Maybe the repeated grilling as to what is WRONG in a TV show will help me write a good scripts. It certainly brings my characters and interpretation of plot to a fine point, as it's been like reading a primer of what not to do 50-75 times. I catch flaws like Smallville makes easily now, and it benefits my writing, because I used to rely on some lazy tools.
But in closing, I've considered what you said before you said it, recently, and I think if the show continues in a strain of 1s, I won't quit, but I'll definitely re-evaluate or do something more interesting. I'm considering making next week the first drunken review, and things of the like.
LOVED Philly. Awesome city, man.
P.S. I totally got the lack-of-effect in 'Promise' last year the first time I saw it. I jumped out of my chair because I thought it was so brilliant. I think my exact words were "Holy crap they just showed how Lana has become a total outsider when it comes to Clark's life!" Finding out his secret didn't bring as much joy as she thought it would, did it? So I guess that makes two of us that got it.
It was awesome. I stand by that.
I love reading your reviews! I've only been reading them since the end of season 6.. Australia has managed to show seasons 3,4 and 5 in one year :D So i had to watch season 6 via The Internet and found your reviews!! they kept me sane-ish while waiting for season 7. I like that you can write such critical reviews for a show and still enjoy watching it.
Thanks! That's how I like to see it. Others want me dead.
I wasn't a Superman fan before I started watching Smallville. But now I am, and I hope Smallville can redeem itself and start heading back towards the Mythos in a more believable way.
Me too. They seem to be starting to try... we'll see.
I liked how Clark was portrayed in seasons 1 & 2 and parts of 3, 4 & 5. Season 6 ruined him.. actually Lana ruined him.
I try not to watch season one, because it is so much better, and reminds me of the change.
Alot of season 6 confused me. But it did have 2 of my favourite episodes. 'Justice' and 'Labyrinth'. I know you gave 'Labyrinth' a 2/5 mainly because the idea had been done before. This was the best version of 'Alternate Universe' that they have done. I really liked it. I though it was heading in a really good direction til he says 'I'm still in love with Lana'. Lame. but the rest of the episode I really liked. It didn't do much for the season storyline (except bring in MM and reafirm that Clark is retarded when it comes to all things Lana) but as a single episode in a season with next to no plotline, it was really well done. I liked the Lex in a wheelchair touch.. and Chloe dying both sucked (cos I like the character) and was an interesting idea.
Yeah, the Lex wheelchair thing was neat.
Season 7 so far.. I liked 'Bizarro'. Not knowing much about the comicbook Bizarro really helped.
Oh, you have no idea. Heh.
I liked the idea of introducing Kara.. but they ruined that during 'Fierce'.
To a degree. They seem to be trying harder now.
The new Daily Planet Editor makes me want to punch something. I can't even remember his name.
I couldn't either last review. I think a few times I just said, "Editor guy" out of spite.
Lois at the Daily Planet.. I'm glad they are trying to move forward.. but it could have been done alot more believably and with less Chloe bashing. Also Lois could have actally wanted and/ or at least APPLIED for the job. The Lois they have on Smallville confuses me. Its like they control her with a light switch. some episodes shes Lois Lane: Super Reporter and possible Love interest for Clark, then in others she is Chloe's army brat cousin Lois who is more like Clark's big annoying sister.
Yep. It's called baaaaaaad writing.
Lana. Never liked her, never will. I'm so sick of her CONSTANT Secrets and Lies. I just finished watching 'Action' and I need to vent:
WHY did she kidnap Lionel?
WHY is she spying on Lex?
WHY does she keep lying to Clark even though she is doing it all to "Protect" him?
HOW does it all protect Clark? and why does the Man of Steel need protecting?
The answer from Gough is, "Stay tuned!"
I can't wait til Clark finds out what shes been up to. There is NO way a guy who stands for Truth and Justice could POSSIBLY still love her.
Hah! She's amazing, though!
Then again. She IS Lana. No man can meet her without falling in love.. then going insane and dying.
After trying to kill her and have her for his own forever.
I actually liked the 'evil' character for 'Action'. He had some very relevant ideas and some excellent quotes: "Sorry Lana, theres a Hero living amoung us. Theres only one way he will accept his calling. YOU NEED TO DIE"
hehe. If only.
It kinda ripped off Zoom, but I still dug it.
Thank you for letting me vent... not like you had a choice :P
Oh, I could hit delete. But I wouldn't. Your letter ruled. Thank you.
keep up the good writing!
Scott wrote: (forwarded to me)
Don't really have much of a newsstory for ya but if you watch Smallville 7.5 "Action" right before Lois breaks into Lex's office you can hear a distorted voice say "Lois is really hot" during the aerial shot of Lex corp. Learned this creepy little factoid from the imdb Smallville board.
I listened for this. It's true. It's really there. They're trying to program us! I'll start the revolution, we'll stop their subliminal crap! Just let me go get a Diet Pepsi, and I'll get right on it... HEY! Wait!
Jim Smith wrote:
Oh lord. While I liked it a bit more than you sir I do have a couple points to argue...
"Apparently, Lex can't out-history Chloe for Kara. Chloe, a low-level hacker, can create a more plausible, unassailable history than Lex can undo? Not buying it."
I had more problems with Kara getting a job without any kind of ID than I did this. Chloe put together a public ID, left bits of information out there for anyone to find. So when someone did look into her it would be just as easy as me looking up stuff on you. Sure Lex might have been checking to see if she had anything to hide but all Chloe wanted to do was make her an American. Still a hell of a reach but I did not see it the same was as you.
True. There is that, on the show that just made such a big deal about "THE ULTIMATE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT".
"Clark is seen catching a bullet by the crew goon, who we now see is the baddie. Unfortunately, Clark can't hear a guy two feet behind him despite his super-hearing. Yeah, I buy that. Right."
I've always been under the impression that Clark has to actively listen, try to hear everything Vs. he can hear the horses outside his house farting from 800 miles away without even trying. Sure, somethings he picks up right away as a reflex. Explosions, gun fire, Timmy screaming from the bottom of the well again. Could be wrong but that is always the way I have seen it. Same thing as when he is in the barn doing something. How many times have we seen folks walk up on him and he doesn't react right away. There is nothing dangerous about someone walking into the barn, hell the bi$ch was there so it could have been her.
True, but in the bullet scene especially, one would assume he was being attentive, given that he was using his power. I would be, anyway.
Yea, the fence poll thing bothered the hell out of me too. We have seen Clark do that a hundred times on this show a hundred times better than that. It's like they did not even want to try.
As for the walking away from the Cape thing...yea. This Clark has a better shot of becoming Ultraman. Anyway, good job with the review.
Until Next Time
Bret Rumbeck wrote:
As usual, your reviews are damn near spot-on. Do you feel that the "no flights, no tights" rule has started to hinder Smallville? It would seem that the "training" we've been told about since Season 3 would make an interesting arc, rather than the typical Kryptonite infused baddie.
I don't see any reason for Clark not to be flying. They've broken every other rule they set forth on the series. People clamor for it more than big breasts. I say they should do it.
But I don't think that's what hindering Smallville. I think it's crappy writing and a bad sense of internal continuity.
Joe Costigan wrote:
Another GREAT review, it is Funny after all these years, I almos know how your review will go. When I am sitting there with my wife watching this show, and I see somthething I know you will comment on, I turn to my wife and tell her "Neal will have a field day with this one."
The question I have for you is,
In the loft where Lana and the actress is hiding out and Lana failed to use her Lana-Fu
Was that not Oliver Queens loft? How in the world does Lana get this place? Was it Given to anyone?
True! It could have been a "actress" apartment that was poorly remade from the Ollie set, too.
You mentioned Lois having the alias of Sadie Blodgett, and you said that you couldn't remember where it was from.....
It was from the Superman(Earth One) comics where Lois grew up on a farm. Sadie Blodgett was one of her alias's when she was Superwoman.
Cool! Didn't know that one. Nice.
You were totally wearing the GL Power Ring on the wrong finger...Middle Finger not ring finger. Nooooot that it really matters. Nice use of it though, I like to use mine to silence stupid people at work.
How sad is it that I KNEW I was using the wrong finger... I did that because the ring was made for kids, actually, and was too small to fit on the middle. Good eye, though.
Daag Alemayehu wrote:
Just finished reading/skimming your review of "Action" and I had two points I wanted to make.
Dag, yo! Sorry. I love Teen Girl Squad.
First, I don't think the storyline with the obsessive comic book fan was unintentional irony. I think it was a deliberate attempt by Smallville's writers to take a shot at you and other high-profile critics of Smallville, or, at the very least, message board critics. As I was watching this episode I was SURE you'd catch on to that and have a good chuckle at what was practically your national broadcast television debut (by proxy and with heavy satire, of course).
High profile? I'm writing this in my underwear to candle heat, my friend, because I can't afford to turn on my gas. But I giggle-gress.
I dunno. It very well could have been, like when they used "Bailey" as a potential name for Shelby. I know Gough knows who I am. I know that, because of Smallville Mag, someone out there has been paying attention.
But ultimately, I don't think my writing reaches enough people or has enough market impact to get them to even know who I am in a "Oooh! I'm gonna get that Bailey!" kind of way. I'm flattered you would think that, though.
Second, I think we've at long last come to the point where you cannot continue to henpeck at Lana for her lies. It was one thing when you pointed out the hypocrisy of her secrecy and lying to Clark back when she was supposed to be Miss Goody Two Shoes, but it is painfully obvious now (if it wasn't so earlier this season) that LANA IS A VILLAIN. Maybe that doesn't fit with the Superman mythos but that's certainly the direction the writers have taken. She is a baddie. Thus, she is allowed to lie and be secretive.
Still, she insists that no one lie or tell secrets, so villain or nay, I'd say that's a contradiction that needs exploration. Same way I count the number of times Lionel gets out of jail, etc.
"Lara" certainly wasn't the worst episode this show has put out. The opening sequence was one of the strongest in a while from a mythos standpoint.
I have to say I don't like the Jimara's very much. How do you like that term? Jimmy and Kara as a couple don't make that much sense. I feel sorry for the nerd guy who she led on.
Jimara... interesting. I'd call it Kammy-Olsor-Jelly.
I wouldn't mind seeing--in more Superman mediums to be quite honest--scenes where Kryptonians speak Kryptonese. It's ridiculous. I'd actually love it if they spoke in some kind of Kryptonese maybe from the comics (like they do with Elvish in Lord of the Rings) and we had English subtitles. Aliens who speak English for no coherent reason pop up with even more maddening numbers on shows like Star Trek Voyager, but I still wouldn't mind having that addressed here. But it's obviously a budget issue.
In Star Trek, there's actually an explanation internally that I greatly respect, the universal translator. In Smallville, they just don't care.
Nah, you can easily blur and muck up a voice. They just didn't think of it, methinks.
It was unclear how much the Kryptonite was affecting Clark and Kara in that one scene. They really need to be stronger with that.
I was thinking the other day that Smallville has really overused the plot device of people having their wine glasses spiked with something.
And getting hit with cars.
It was hinted that was how Lana had steroids passed to her; Lionel did it to Genevieve Teague; Lex was poisoned in the season three finale, and it's happened a few other times. With the number of times it's been reused, I think that might be worth a KO Count nod.
Might be. If you can come up with another two, I'll go with it.
I've been wondering how Lana can spy on Lex when she had him take down all the cameras last year. That part didn't work for me.
When I thought about it I wondered if the writers wanted to come up with an explanation for why no one ever sees Clark superspeed out of the mansion on camera. I just see them in a meeting room:
"Hey, we'll really impress our fans with our attention to detail! Lex probably has cameras in his mansion. Clark superspeeds from there every other week or makes some demonstration of his powers. Let's make a RATIONAL EXPLANATION!"
"Great idea! Oh boy! How can we get rid of those cameras?"
"I see three options. One: Pete the Boss Ross returns and trashes the place with his speed racer friends. But we can't get Sam Jones to return.
"Option Two: We have an episode where Byron the poet and Linda Lake come back and cause trouble there. They are both brilliant creations and if we don't bring them back our fans will probably go homicidal on us. That's what comic fans do!"
"Option Three: Lana can tell Lex to remove them!"
"We'll do option three, because Lana doesn't get enough screen time."
That's how it happened.
Awesome, man. You've got me rolling here.
Anyways, it will be interesting to have your take on this episode.
Bruce Kanin wrote, regarding Lara:
I hadn't thought of the Zor-El's first appearance being this episode. Good call! But yeah, he turned out to be an unsatisfactory, mean, letch. Selah.
Best, all, catch you next week!
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