Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 7 - Episode 10: "Persona"Reviews:
PersonaReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
Bizarro is making it with Lana while Brainiac is out trying to rebuild himself. In the mean time Lex's is having some family issues and Clark is still a popsicle.
I don't know what I was expecting from this one. I really don't. The big twist at the end of the last episode was fantastic. A total WHOLLY @%$$% moment for sure. Then the long wait for the new episodes to start out again I felt like we were heading into season premier territory here.
So I guess I was expecting a wow episode similar to all the season premiers so I have to admit I kind of felt a bit let down. Plus some of the story lines wrapped up in this one kind of felt flat at the end. Like they were just in a hurry to wrap it up to move on. Don't get me wrong. It was a good episode but I admit I was expecting a fantastic episode. I got spaghettioes instead of spaghetti... Still filling and tasty but just a meal.
Grant/Julian's end was sudden and quick. Sure it worked in the way it showed Lex has turned to outright murder and I did like Lex's anguish over it. In his evil mind he would feel like he was forced to do that and would scream at the world for it. Nice scene well played by Michael Rosenbaum for sure. I just feel they could have tied up Grant's story a little better. Maybe let it play out longer. I don't know. I am not even really sure what more they could have done but since the character was around so much it just sort of seemed like too quick an end. I do know Lionel was kind of quick to let him in but some how it felt right so that is not where my problem was. Maybe it was how Lex gave up so fast on him. Like I said he felt forced to remove Grant from the world but I just think Lex Luthor might have tried a few other things first.
Bizarro's end was also kind of sudden and I was actually a bit disappointed in them destroying him. It was nice to see them deal with him last time without having him die but this time there is little chance he can come back which is where my disappointment lies. It was a neat scene though. Lana playing lovey with Bizarro to slip him the blue Kryptonite was nicely done and I was certainly glad Clark was not the one to deliver the death blow. Lana is, after all, the one with the highest body count on this show so might as well be her killing the villains. Lex is catching up though.
It would have been nice to see a fight between Bizarro and Clark but that's ok. I did like Bizarro's stand off with Jor-El in the Fortress even if it was just a stand off of words. Plus Jor-El's letting Clark go to go get him was pretty neat.
But they did present us with another problem. They really implied that Bizarro and Lana had been intimate during the time he was living Clark's life. Shake off the eww factor and really think about that a moment... No matter how you cut it, that means Bizarro raped Lana. I know it wasn't forceful but I would call having sex with someone by making them believe you were someone else a rape. It was non-consensual sex. Lana gave her consent to Clark to share that as part of their relationship, not Bizarro. It's no different that slipping some kind of drug in her drink. I know we're talking about super villains here but do we really need them to start raping women in Clark's life to show they are evil?
Still I am not mad about it but it was something I found uncomfortable. That they might have taken things a bit too far. There are a few positive things they can do with it though now that it happened. Obviously from that last scene there is going to be tension in the relationship. Clark is going to be jealous and that is normal. Showing our Superman dealing with that can be good. It's not Lana's fault and Clark coming to terms with that truth will only make him stronger.
The other Kryptonian story line was interesting as well as was Brainiac using Bizarro and Clark to hunt him down. It was nice to see them bring Marc McClure onto the show. Boy he doesn't look anything like Jimmy from the movies anymore. I did not even recognize him but he did a great job playing the Kryptonian in hiding. It was just too bad he couldn't stick around a few episodes but I suppose that makes sense. Brainaic moves fast when his plans are in motion and we already have two full Kryptonian's on the show. I still have some questions though. Was the kid his biological kid? If so just because Dax-Ur was using blue-K doesn't mean his genetics changed. Is the kid Kryptonian too? Or was the kid adopted? Maybe that will be something addressed at a later time but it is an interesting question I'd like to know. I did like how Clark did not reveal himself as "Clark Kent" to Dax-Ur even when asked. Very interesting. This could be the start of Clark coming to terms with his need to have a second identity. Something more than just the "Boy Scout".
I am really loving Brainiac. James Marsters is doing such a fantastic job with the character. It will be interesting to see what the villain does now that he is fully repaired.
Speaking of good acting. I cannot say enough good things about Tom Welling in this one. His Bizarro was fantastic yet again. It did help that they altered his voice a bit but I still think everything from posture to just the look in his eye was right. When Bizarro wasn't pretending to be Clark he was a totally different character. When Bizarro was pretending to be Clark he really came off as another character pretending to be Clark. I just think it takes some mighty fine acting to pull that one off!
So a good episode that felt a bit rushed and had some missed potential. I'll give it a B for the good parts. Call it 3.5 out of 5 hunks of blue Kryptonite. We'll see how they deal with the fall out from Bizarro and Lana's relationship.
A little birdie told me next week's is going to be a good one. I so cannot wait.
PersonaReviewed by: Neal Bailey
I am rusty. RUS-tee. A month and a half mid-season had me scratching my head this episode and wondering if I would remember enough to be clairvoyant, to catch little details. Another little nagging worry was whether or not I cared. Has apathy dragged me to the point of where I'm just... watching?
My last set of notes were two pages. Tonight's were two pages. There are, I guarantee, as many errors as there were before, but here's where I'm at. I can either list them all, like a broken record, for the thousandth time, with little explanations for each, or, more realistically, I can assume that those of you still with me on this review know most of my general critiques, and go straight to the real offenses of great things about this show. As it winds down, or at least, as this season winds down, that brings a melancholy sense, much like I had reading the finale to Y: The Last Man.
Things are slower. Things are a little less epic. And yet... things are happening that, in season three would have blown us away. But it's in such a framework, you can hardly cheer.
Bizarro and Brainiac teaming up in Smallville, with a new Kryptonian, and Jor-El in the Fortress of Solitude. Imagine saying that in 2002.
And yet here we are, with that episode, and though these elements are there, the effects, the mythos, they're all dramatically altered, and not what they were even three years ago.
It's a Bizarro episode with no Clark/Bizarro fight. It's a Brainiac episode with no major Brainiac activity. The Fortress is a cheesy gimmick used to hold Clark in place. Jor-El is, well, kinda waffling and dumb. As is Clark.
Still, this story ATTEMPTED to have some character. It really did. The problem being, like with the comic book series Countdown, the mere attempt to do something epic, even with appropriate lip service to several key concepts, is NOT epic. It's just not.
There are some major themes explored in this episode in failing ways. The fractured Luthor family. Lana's failing love for Clark. Dax-Ur and regret. The problem is, none of them ever really go anywhere or have any convincing outcome.
Lex is portrayed as having SUCCUMBED to his dark side, a card they play a lot. The problem here being the lightswitch effect. Julian/Grant decides to SPEAK with Lionel, so Lex fires him, then kills him. The problem being, it's out of character. Lionel has TRIED TO KILL Lex, and Lex still speaks to him affectionately and refuses to harm him in any way. Despite having a gunman right there killing Julian for much lesser evils. So when Lex screams to the sky, while a beautiful moment visually, you're wondering, "What's the big deal? He just executed him like a piece of tissue paper going down the drain. It meant nothing to him."
And for that matter, Julian has been so vapid and airy as a character that we don't care for him either, point of fact.
Lana's flawed love for Clark is also explored. Lana's supposedly "happier" and "better off" with Bizarro. Ultimately, after the "Lana spell" fades and you look at it with a critical eye, to realize just WHY the writing seems to indicate that she's happier. It's because Bizarro unquestionably obeys her every whim and praises her at every turn. In other words, she wants a brainless zombie who thinks she's perfect. When Clark tries to assert his individuality and stop Bizarro (who essentially raped Lana), Lana actually pauses to consider letting Bizarro KILL Clark so she can have what she wants all the time.
So in other words, we feel no sympathy for Lana, and we feel no sympathy for Clark, because who in the world could feel sorry for a masochistic fool who keeps returning to someone who would KILL him for sycophantic worship? That's not love. That's clinical delusion and co-dependence that makes Lex and Lionel look HEALTHY.
And finally, we see Dax-Ur and regret for having created Brainiac. Problem is, when Brainiac comes to call, we don't know if Brainiac kills him, lets him live and takes the info, or if, perhaps, Dax-Ur did something to stop him. It just ends abruptly so we can cut to Clark and Lana in bed staring at the ceiling, which is, oh god, so very undramatic in a way that makes me gag.
I think... I don't know. Maybe it's not so bad to assume dilemmas without character attached to it. But to give you an example of how character even in an archetype ridden show can be accomplished in seconds... there's more character in this one minute of Scrubs than I've found in the whole of Lana and Clark's relationship over seven long years:
But anyway, that's the themes, such as they were, here's the nuts and bolts:
Lana is essentially raped in this story (he said above), and here's my justification. A guy she wouldn't have had sex with made her have sex with him through misleading intentions. It's not violation rape, but it's a forced intercourse not requested. One might argue that wearing a suit is then rape, because it makes a girl think you're rich. But this is pretty much different. You can't assume the identity of someone else's true love. This was, quite obviously, a violation, and one that I assume will not have Lana in some kind of therapy or even be addressed.
The sun on Bizarro thing needs to be addressed. I don't think I noticed in the last Bizarro review, but theoretically, if that dude has things opposite to Clark, wouldn't exposure to the sun slowly weaken him even outside of the direct rays until he died? Clark, even outside of direct sunlight, charges, so theoretically Bizarro would lose his charge. Irrelevant, assuming this show might have some continuity, because later in this episode we see Bizarro streaking through the air in broad daylight sun at the North Pole, and beyond that, he flew in broad daylight in the premiere as well. The whole "sunlight is my weakness" thing is a world of fail.
Lana is now a mad hacker, and her computer room, which she supposedly threw away but still had, is now up and running like new. She finds traces of Brainiac in the Suicide Slums (again plural, consistent, if wrong from the onset), bums whose trace minerals have been removed from their bodies. Because, you know, it's much easier to take a buttload of metal from bums than it is to walk to a pile of metal or maybe a fence or...heck, a CAR and absorb metal.
But either way, some atrocious dialogue here, from Lana: "Chloe's not the only one who knows her way around a computer now!"
Gee, Lana! When are you gonna get on world peace, 'cuz you've got everything else on a string. I kid you not, if an Olympic gymnast visited Smallville, she'd be running a two minute mile.
Thank you again, writers, for sabotaging Chloe even more.
And even Bizarro, to wit: "What would I do without you!?"
Well, for one, you'd still be alive, %#@$wit.
Brainiac and Bizarro bantering WAS awesome. Even if their characters were a television version of a shade of what they could be, I had some genuine enjoyment watching Marsters and Welling banter. The voice deepening worked for me, as did the lines about substantial intellect. They were cheeseball lines, but Brainiac uses these kind of lines, so it worked well for me. He's still acting like the terminator meets Eradicator, but at least now he's adopting SOME of what Brainiac has come to typically mean.
Ah, yes, and the OBJECT OF LITTLE WORTH BUT MUCH DESIRE! The necklace from the time capsule, AKA a homing beacon to Dax-Ur.
Ole Jimmy played a heck of a guest star role. With what he had, he did a MARVELOUS job. One of the real highlights of the show, and probably my favorite guest star this year, beating the snot out of Lara, oddly enough. Problem being, he never got to throw down. That disappointed me. And no resolution. I hope he survived, but they left it ambiguous, and we have few repeat guest stars on this show. And who knows if this show will be around after five more episodes?
Gah. If they end on a cliffhanger, I swear... I will probably... move on with my life and be just fine. I saw this coming a mile away. But still, the principle of the thing!
Clark uses powers in front of people. Not REAL Clark, but Bizarro Clark, ramping in and out right in front of all those bums. Not Clark's fault, but still something he'd be responsible for.
COMMERCIAL TIME! Remember, I used to give out diet vanilla cherry Dr. Pepper, I think it was? Because it's too much title for one soda? Well, get this. Today, on this show, "Cherry chocolate diet Dr. Pepper."
You know what? To hell with that. I have a better Dr. Pepper. One that will CREAM cherry chocolate diet Dr. Pepper.
Omni-cola kiwi lime cherry suicide vegan diet Dr. Pepper ONE.
The one is for how many you can drink before your head explodes, because my soda is so rad, you can't handle the X-TREMEness of it.
And why Vegan? Because the Dr. is a veterinarian.
Lionel goes all the way to Smallville to have his son insult him, as opposed to making a phone call, because it's DRAMATIC. Only it wasn't. It was just an excuse to hear "Son." about five more times and wonder what the heck Lionel is even doing alive after seven years of torturing Lex.
Here's where I actually SPACED OUT. Quite literally. I haven't really done that since four years ago before I started taking notes, because I actually pay attention, realizing that if I don't, I won't be able to critically analyze this as well any more. But my brain is so fried with the same plot and the same devices over and over again, despite my need to chronicle, I spaced. That's sad.
I came back when Chloe was telling Lana that Clark was not Clark. This was patently obvious, even if she LOVED HIM, but in a nice bit of "Look how nice Lana is!" Lana turns it into "Chloe, let go of Clark!"
The irony of the moment being that Chloe knows Clark better than Lana does, but Clark's still stupid for Lana and Lana's still stupid for... Lana. Herself.
But is this critical flaw brought to bear in character form, or elaborated on? Nah. Why do that?
Jor-El releases Clark after seeing Bizarro... after encasing him in ice to punish him... how, exactly? Jor-El brand soap. On the label it says: "If you want to get clean, don't open this box!"
My simile meaning, "If I want Clark to save the world by being my personally designed hero (negating the choice factor that makes Clark who he is, note), then I'm going to...ENCASE HIM IN ICE INDEFINITELY."
Sound logic for a dead guy. Give him a diet cherry vanilla chocolate diet Sprint phone.
Evil Clark returns, wearing...yes, a blue jacket. Lana, standing right there, still sees him as good Clark, even though good Clark just left.
Clark goes to Lionel and asks him for help, because he's "Jor-El's emissary."
Lionel goes, "Blue K, son! Blue K!"
Now, I get that this isn't Lionel, so I have no problem with him conveying that information. A critical gap here, however, is that Clark doesn't say, "Hey, #%$@! Why didn't you tell me about this the FIRST time Bizarro was rocking my face?"
Because, you know, it would have helped.
But beyond that, the "logic" is insane. Blue kryptonite takes away Clark's powers. So it gives Bizarro so much power he explodes? No. It'll just give Bizarro powers. That's the opposite. But they've already messed with the kryptonite, so they actually have Lioniac there, actually admitting in dialogue that it doesn't sound logical. It goes like:
Clark: "Hey! Doesn't Blue K remove my powers? How would it kill Bizarro! That's not opposite!"
Lioniac: "It, uh, overpowers him so he explodes!"
Audience nodding thoughtfully.
Clark: "But, uh, wait, couldn't I just expose him to sunlight, which we've already established kil-"
Gough: "SILENCE, FOOL!"
Or rather: Proxy producer who's filling in while Gough counts his money, no longer supports the show with interviews, and generally works on OTHER PROJECTS: "Silence, fool! Or we'll call Al."
For those of you who might think that overly harsh, here's what Gough and Millar have done OTHER than Smallville since Smallville began, something I assert drastically hurt the overall arc of the show and disrespects the faith and time we put into this project:
The Mummy 3
Aquaman TV pilot
Herbie: Fully Loaded (EPIC!)
Imagine what the effort put into six features would have brought to Smallville. Yes, they'd have made less money. I get that. But what's more important? Completing the things you start artfully, or money?
I can tell you right now that I would finish a project making me NOTHING, not a red cent, before I sacrificed that project to make money. Maybe that's just a fundamental difference in philosophy. I admit, you CAN do several things at once, and I can imagine a world where you can write movies and supervise a show at the same time. But if that's what's going on, why are they never writing episodes any more? Why did the show start to stink? And beyond that, why are there some eighteen million producers?
Clark walking into the sun with Chloe was a beautiful moment. Enjoyable.
Annoyance of advertising note: Bad enough we need your logo feces on the bottom right of the screen (YES, WE KNOW WHAT CHANNEL WE ARE WATCHING!), but do you have to put "TOP MODEL, NEW SEASON, FEBRUARY 20" on the bottom right, making me realize that if I watch this show, that is the demographic they are aiming for, a demographic I in no way wish to associate myself with? Though admittedly, it uses many of the same dramatic devices this show does.
Lana and Bizarro Clark are now, for some reason, in the clock tower. Bizarro Clark says something that tips Lana off. A guy with SUPER-HEARING somehow doesn't detect the change in Lana's heartbeat. Again later, he doesn't realize she's about to kill him by listening to the heartbeat.
SPRINT SPRINT SPRINT! No less than three product placements for Sprint in this episode. Yeah. I get it. Sprint is the sponsor. Thank you. No, I don't think it's any cooler because they use it on a show. Particularly not when Lex uses it to confirm a murder. DUR.
Be like Lex! Murder your sibling, but make it look COOOOOOOL! Yeah, cell phones are, like, totally an expression of, like, your personality, like, I'm totally killing him, like, in a totally cool way.
No. THIS is how you make evil look cool:
Not a @#%$ing cell phone.
Lana considers murdering Clark so she can be with Bizarro. Just thought I'd mention that again. Such an amazing woman.
And then, the inevitable Deus Ex Machina that makes no sense at all.
Lana stands about two feet from Bizarro for a long while, and the K has no effect on Bizarro. Then she hands it to Bizarro, who explodes.
Clark, who is DE-POWERED by Blue K, runs UP TO Blue K, grabs Lana, can somehow still super-speed away, and is still invulnerable when chunks of Blue K-ed up Bizarro hit him, somehow not knocking him stupid or dead.
Not to mention Lana beating a guy with superspeed to the punch with the K. Bizarro would have ramped out, or he would have stopped her. Life moves a lot slower for those who can move at superspeed, don't y'know?
Then the Dax-Ur scene. One last note. Brainiac says he needs what's in Dax-Ur's head. Dax-Ur says "Uh-uh." He knows what Brainiac can do, as he designed Brainiac, so essentially, instead of volunteering information he knew Brainiac would get anyway, he essentially chooses suicide. That seemed out of character. Beyond that, why does he keep his Blue K on after having kids anyway? I suppose to be more human, but something was missing there.
Julian is shot, and the bullets hit right dead center, with Lionel right behind them, at close range, and they don't go through and into Lionel? Huh?
Cut to choppy camera, so epicz.
And Lex screaming, still awesome, I concede, but out of context. A well framed shot, but with little sympathy behind it. He lets his dad live, but snap-kills Julian, and all the while we're thinking, "Man, why even introduce Grant Gabriel if you're just going to waste any potential he might have had like that."
Which inclines me to believe he was brought in for two things. One, shock value of being revealed as Julian (which worked, but isn't worth nine episodes of working up), or two, to give Lois something to hang on. Which isn't justification enough for me, particularly given how wooden his performance was.
All in all, this wasn't a horrid episode by the standards this show has set. There were dramatic moments, it had the feel of an event mid-season, and there were elements of the mythology that slightly rang true.
I have a hard time identifying with ANY of these character. In this episode, Clark essentially kills Bizarro because he has no way to stop him, and there isn't a second thought given to it. All of these characters are morally lamentable.
But the ideas were neat, some of the execution was pretty, and all in all, it wasn't gawdawful.
I'm gonna say 2.5 out of 5. A little below what I would expect as average.
Christopher Madden wrote:
Hey Neal, I agree with your Bailey Planet talk on the new Green Lantern book. I loved it. The part where Cyborg Superman died was moving, but I found the small part at the end where the Manhunters brought him back to life and he had a tear running down his face to be even more moving. It was actually rather sad, especially after having read the Cyborg Superman: Sinestro Corps War special one shot book. On a totally unrelated note, I just wanted to let you know that I bought your book, Benjamin's Dream, at the Chicago Wizard World this past year. I am about half way through it and I think it is a pretty good book so far. I would have read it sooner, but I am just finishing up with school so now I am bringing out all my books to get caught up on my reading. I will let you know what I think of it when I finish it.
Cool! Thanks! Yeah, Cyborg's attempt at death was probably my favorite part of that whole, rockin' series.
Benjamin's Dream is probably my most accessible book. I hope you dig it.
Hey Neal! How's it going?
Great, actually! I'm finally starting to get paid to write a little, and I'm getting on top of things. Life's outstanding, if a bit on the poor financial side. Thanks for asking.
Anyways I'm a big fan. I've been reading your reviews since season 5. Prior to that I was one of those fans that oversaw the crap the writers have been spewing out of their finger tips. I mean where did they find these guy, what are they Grey's Anatomy rejects.(no offense to any fan)
I've never seen Grey's Anatomy, but I have read the book. Seriously. I did it for fun as a kid. Which is... that is just sad. But thanks for reading!
Now I see the truth quality has been sacraficed for....what!? Isn't smallville their only established show with loyal viewers which by the way is the reason that it is in it's 7th season. Don't you think we deserve better? (retorical) (I already know that no one is going to argue against it) And I'm sad to say I foresaw that what they made Lana into. After Paris there was no turning back. A queation that has bothered me since the death of Pa Kent or as I like the call it "The day the shark dropped dead out of fear of it's "coolness!'" ("it" refers to the show) WHY HASN'T CLARK USED HIS POWER TO SAVE PEOPLE AROUND THE GLOBE WHEN HE HAS NOTHIN BETTER TO DO!? Seriously!!! If I had superman's superpowers I'd do one of two things, turn the Earth into my B@#%! or what I would actually do, work in the cover of night, foil evildoers, and dress like a bat, to strike fear in the hearts of my enemys....if that dosen't work I'll start wearing tights. Thaks for letting me get that of my chest.
Feel free. It's better than me expending more energy doing it.
[quote] "Hello Citizens! I need fire power!"/Citizens: "Wh..Who are you?"/"I'm your worst nightmare!"-Lana Lang[quote]
*the preceding me have not been her, i think it was from Mulan
Heh. I only saw that once, and I think I slept through half of it.
I have heard rumors that Michael Rosenbaum is leaving the show after this season and that Smallville is still going to have a season 8. If that's true than I think that Smallville has definetely been going on for far to long. Lex's story is supposed to be one half of Smallville's main overall story, or at least it is to me.
It is to me as well. If Baum leaves, I don't see what's left.
I agree with what you have said about Smallville maintaining the status quo for to long. I think that Lana should have learned the secret during the season 3 finale at the latest. Lionel should have been killed during season 4 since that's when the conflict between him and Lex was reaching its peak. I have mixed feelings about Chloe. On one hand the season 3 finale would have probably been a good time to kill off Chloe, but if that had been done we would have never got to see Chloe learn Clark's secret and how that would elevate their relationship to a new level.
There was such potential.
Well that's all I want to say for now, bye.
I saw the new episode- I'm mixed, and too tired to go over it all again- so I feel for you having to rehash it all-- but I can't wait to read it. So -- Happy Holidays Neal, and I'll be reading ya later- Ann
Thanks, Ann! This was an awesome letter to get in the season. Sorry the delay prevented me from responding until now.
To start with, I usually agree with your reviews of "Smallville." You bring up good points and you have good reasons for being unhappy. I appreciate your sarcastic tone and uncomprimising standards, as well as your extensive knowledge of Superman mythos. I've come to look forward to your weekly Smallville insights.
Then I read your review of "Gemini."
Were you just p!ssed off at the world in general when you wrote it? That was a harsh review, even for you.
I'm always mad at the world. It ate my waffles. But thank you again.
Especially considering that "Gemini" was the best epsiode of Smallville we've seen yet this season.
Glad you liked it.
I'll admit that it had it's flaws. The kissing scene in the beginning with Grant/Julian and Lois made me want to hurl. And the whole Clark/Lana thing initially made me want to punch someone. And the Chloe/Jimmy thing was mediocre in its quality.
Grant/Julian and Lois broke up. SCORE 1! Clark who's in sort-of-love with Lana isn't actually Clark and he's actually just playing her! SCORE 2! And Jimmy with Chloe is much less strange than Jimmy with Kara. SCORE 3!
Grant and Lois were together in the first place... -1. Clark is now back with Lana, as I expected. -2 (though that should be -100). Jimmy on Smallville is unnecessary... -3.
And though this episode was lax in the plot department, it set up A LOT for future episodes. For example, Clark/Bizzarro Clark fight coming up, BrianIAC is coming back, and Clark and Lana are going to have to have a VERY uncomfortable conversation in which Clark lets Lana know that it wasn't him and that he doesn't love her anymore.
Yeah, but there was no fight, Brainiac is essentially spinning wheels, and Clark and Lana never had that conversation. MAN, I love being in the future.
I think you need to give Smallville a little credit on this one. It was actually not a bad episode at all. And I think we're looking at the beginning of an improvement in the show.
I don't need to give credit to anything I don't enjoy or approve of. Everyone always says that phrase to me in stupid circumstances. Like, "Yeah, she had a kid at fifteen, but you have to give her credit for trying!" No I don't. You idiot, you had a kid at fifteen! You're still an idiot, even if you succeed! And in this case, the show didn't even succeed.
I mean, do you have to give me credit just because I wrote a review? Nah. You either like it, or you don't, and I respect that you don't. Don't give me credit if you don't want to. You don't "have" to give anyone credit for anything they don't earn with you.
Although I will agree with you entirely that Micheal Cassidy's acting is some of the least convincing I've ever seen in my life. I just try to ignore him whenever he's on screen.
But Tom was golden in this episode. I knew right away something was off with Clark right away. Tom played him just a bit... not the same. I thought it was perfect.
That was well done, yup.
Just... Next time you sit down to right a review, try and empty your rage at the world somewhere else before taking all of it out on poor, unsuspecting Tom Welling and Allison Mack.
I try and try, but my "therapy bear" got me so mad last time, I ate him.
[quote]...Clark is stuck (EYES OPEN) in a block of ice in the Fortress. Jor-El is apparently making Clark listen by plugging his ears with ice.[/quote]
It would take more than ice to hold Clark. I'm sure it's Kryptonian crystal, just like the rest of the Fortress. I suppose this is the "consequence" that Jor-El spoke of in "Blue".
Tom Vincent wrote:
"...never had a cell phone"?!? Barbarian!
Eh, they're still overrated.
Lois didn't push the delivery man into the closet. He was already there.
Bruce Kanin wrote (per Gemini):
With the usually-reliable Cablevision DVR deciding not to record December 13's episode, I was left to piece it together via YouTube. Maybe it's me, but other sites advertising full, free downloads either have hidden the episode too well or prompt you for credit card #. So, this is a semi-review, based on viewing most, but not all, of the episode, which gets a B+.
The "Lex owning the Planet" thing occurred in 98-99, and ended in a comic called "Superman: Save the Planet!" which was the first Superman comic I missed getting on the stands since 1992, because my shop didn't carry enough of it. I later found it, and it was not that great, alas.
I hadn't noticed the symmetry between Lex and his false self and Clark and his... good eye!
Again, another spot-on review. I can only wonder how the actors of the show feel about it's development over the past 4 years. Anyway, there's a Penny Arcade comic strip that made me think of your reviews and laugh. I hope you get a kick out of it. (link at the end of the letter)
That comic rings SO incredibly true. It's funny you mention it. I just started getting into Penny Arcade. I've read the first three trades, and I'm working my way back on the comics on the site. It's funny, this comic is right in that sweet spot between where I am in the past and where I am in the future, reading-wise.
tom vincent wrote:
error on the KO Count page:
Lana hits him with a vase, not a purse. Or do you date women with glass purses?
I date women with beards who burp. But anyway, I don't care about the vase/purse distinction. It's too niggling even for me. Besides, I don't know which one you're talking about.
Bruce Kanin wrote:
Re: Superman #671
I was looking forward to your review on this (and wasn't disappointed). Like you, I continue to find myself at odds and at a turning point with mainstream comics, as you call them.
I'm almost to the point of leaving them.
This issue started out grand and with lots of hope, although I kind of knew it would end quickly. I'm referring to the Superman-baseball sequence. Great art, nice Super-baseball uniform, and cool with Superman pitching and batting, though he should have gone one more step and gotten himself out by catching the ball on the moon.
Yes, the moon. They should have showed the ball making it there. I don't get it: they go out of their way to insure that Superman's control of his super-pitching and super-batting is within certain scientific bounds, but when it comes to continuity and sensible, interesting story lines, they throw that to the wind.
DC, put care into your stories, but not this way!
Oh, I'm guessing it'll land in the third issue, which will prompt me, predictably, in my review, to say, "Decompression is so decompressed that it takes a baseball three issues to land!" Yuk yuk yu....eh.
They've clearly lost their way and are grasping at ideas. Busiek is trying to entice the young readers with all that there insect-alien action and old fart Silver Agers like me with "Lana Lang, Insect Queen". Busiek is doing a re-imagining of the Silver Age story the way the Smallville TV-series would: in a garish, dopey way.
Yes. And in a way that would please that demo, perhaps, but not anyone who's read more than three comics. Nothing new there.
Finally: my programming skills are still somewhat formidable, and as such I'm ready to put code behind your Plot Generator (LOL). It'll generate the details, e.g., silly dialogue and such.
Awesome! If you do, I'll put it on the front page, Steve willing.
Time to crack open my DC Archive Editions to read some decent stuff...
(I'm not sitting here hoping/expecting that you'll publish my message in your Review section, but it's okay if you see anything in it that you want to use. I just wanted to say "thanks." Sorry that the message is long!)
No worries. I have no problem with long messages. You guys read my long reviews.
Okay, Neal, I finally have to write you exactly a year after I started reading your Smallville reviews to tell you how much I've enjoyed them. I bought the Season 1 DVD set for my husband for Christmas a year ago in December 2006 (okay, I got it for me, too), and we enjoyed it so much that we gradually bought Seasons 2-5 and watched them with our sons throughout the first half of 2007. (At age 11 and 14, our boys know that when Smallville gets too "mature," we'll say, "Look away, kids, look away!" as the signal to throw a sofa blanket over their heads until we give them the all-clear. Actually, I'd use "juvenile" instead of "mature" since these are usually the let's-show-skin-and-sexual-stuff-to-boost-the-ratings-since-the-plot-is-sucky-again type of scenes. It does lead to some good discussion about what's the best thing to do in certain situations, though.)
My mother used to have me put my hands in front of my eyes. But my hands had one weakness. The GAP BETWEEN FINGERS. But yeah, there's a lot in that show that, sadly, is not as positive in terms of being a role model than it could be.
I discovered your reviews when we were watching Season 1, and from then on, a huge part of the fun of watching Smallville was reading your review after each one (yep, every word). I've laughed so hard that I've almost fallen out of my chair, tears streaming down my face, and I've called my husband and sons in to read them review excerpts more times than I can keep track of. I've loved the parts of Smallville that you have, and I've hated almost all (not quite all) of the parts that drove you crazy. For example--if either of my boys ever brings home a girlfriend anything like Lana, may God help her! (Flee for your life, sweetie!) Whenever Lana appeared in scenes with Clark (Clanas) starting in Season 3, my sons would look at me waiting to see what anti-Lana comment I'd make...or sometimes yell...at the screen. One of the best things about the Season 6 "Justice" episode is that there was NO LANA whatsoever. And I bet you've noticed that the only times she's remotely likeable is in alternate-universe plot such as "Lexmas" or "Labyrinth"--which is the last episode we've watched as of today (12/30). For all four of us, our favorite characters have always been Lex and Chloe...besides Clark, of course, when he's not being anti-Superman or "dumb as Clark." I think that "Rosetta," too, is probably still our favorite episode.
But here's the absolutely CRAZY part about that...there is this die-hard, devoted segment of the viewership that just LOVES Lana, simply because she's PRETTY. That's all it takes to fool this whole, big, massive contingent! And sadly, that includes, seemingly, the creators. I'm with you, though, and I'm glad you dug the reviews and got some laughs.
I've wanted to email you multiple times, answering questions you posed in reviews; saying, "YES!" to various points you made; or just thanking you for the pleasure I've had reading your reviews--but then I'd always realize you were watching the current season on TV and would wonder what these bizarre comments were coming in out of the blue about seasons years past. We finished watching Season 5 on DVD just in time to start watching reruns of Season 6 on TV in May, but then we gave it up after being used to the luxury of no commercials on DVD as well as the fact that CW started skipping episodes in its rerun schedule. ("HOW the heck does Oliver know about Clark???" we all yelled when CW totally skipped the "Arrow" episode.)
Yeah, I had that happen when I was watching entire runs of Red Dwarf as a kid. It killed me. But don't be afraid to write, even if you're in season one...I can still remember most of this stuff pretty vividly, and it's good to hear from you.
We bought Season 6 last week for Christmas 2007 and are now watching Smallville again nightly. Therefore, I get to read the Neal reviews again! Several videos you've added to Season 6 have had my sons and I rolling on the floor--we love the Darth Vader mask/helmet for "Justice" and the Lex walk from "Subterranean."
I've had less time for the videos than I'd like, but I have a KILLER one planned for the end of this season.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the immense amount of fun I've had reading your Smallville reviews (as well thinking about some of the truly profound observations you've made). I suppose it's unusual that a 40-something mom would see so many of the same things in Smallville that you do, but then again, I've noticed that we have a lot of the same likes when it comes to good stories. I've loved Star Wars since I was 16 (and wanted my own light saber) when the first movie came out in 1977, and I made sure my sons and I saw ROTS on opening night in 2005. My husband and I never missed a Star Trek-TNG episode when it was on TV, even giving our oldest son the middle name "Geordi." (Yes, I totally understand your SW and ST comments, including the "Star Wars isn't Star Trek" analogy in one of your Season 6 reviews.) My boys and I often discuss whether Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings is our favorite "movie"--and still can't decide. (However, we do agree that the Star Wars Battlefront Xbox games are our favorite to play together; I'm usually "sniper woman," as we call her, and you can't beat Hoth for a battlefield.) And...I've loved Superman since I saw Superman-the Movie in the theater in 1979. Yes, it came to my hometown in Texas a month or two later than its official release date, as did all movies back then. (The Superman movie music themes in "Rosetta" gave me chills, too).
Battlefront rocked... I wish they'd make a second sequel.
I don't think it so odd that a 40-something mom would see eye-to-eye with me... I would find it odd if someone like Lana did, heh.
Geordi is an awesome name. I have many names planned for my inevitable demon spawn, but they all involve: "Neal Andrew Charles Bukowski Hunter Thompson Caleb Major John Yossarian Bailey." It's gonna be a multiple name spree.
Caleb Major, btw, is what Major Major Major's father promised his mother he'd name him in Catch-22. Take THAT for an extreme reference! Hah!
If you live in Texas, you should pop by and say hey with the kiddos at Wizard World when it comes back around, I'd love to see you!
I can be girlie when I need to, but I think I definitely make a good mom for boys. If nothing else, I've always enjoyed guy humor, and nothing my boys have done so far has grossed me out!
That's the best way to be... open.
You'll like this, too--my mom, born in 1934, grew up reading ALL the original Superman comics...and still had them until the 1960s when she decided to throw out a bunch of old stuff. Ahhhh!!! My mom is a pack rat and almost never throws anything out; ironically, this is one of the few things she ever got rid of!
Ack! Yeah, comics were just not considered anything worth keeping until they started having a coherent narrative. And honestly, I can understand that. I wouldn't have kept them at the time. Who would have known they'd be a historical context?
What made me finally write to you today? I had a little time to do it, and I read the following in the comments section of your Season 6 "Labyrinth" review and couldn't resist telling you how much I agreed with how great Ian McDiarmid was in ROTS. (And I've always thought Tom Welling might have made an excellent Anakin, especially after seeing him in bad-Clark mode in early Season 3 "Exile"/"Phoenix" and when Lionel walked around in Clark's body in Season 4's "Transference".)
"I think at that point in the plot, I could care less about Anakin, and I really don't think the film is about Anakin, Lucas be damned. Personally, that whole movie is Ian's. I actually BOUGHT it when he gave the "too weak" line. I was like, aw, look, it's an old dude. He's just mislead, and here Mace is gonna cap him, but...HOLY CRAP! ANAKIN TOOK OFF HIS ARM.
POWER! UNLIMITED POWWWWWWWER!
You then spend the next ten minutes recovering from the horror of that, and by that time, he's in full hood, starting genocide you didn't expect to see in a kid's movie, and from there on, it's gold.
I love that movie. And I could care less about Anakin's wooden acting. Anakin is not the point of that movie. He's a puppet. Palpatine, Yoda, and Obi-Wan are the point, and they're all spot-on."
--Again, thanks! (No need to reply unless you want to.)
RIGHT ON. And yes, I still very much feel the same way about SW, to the point that I've started a Star Wars audio serial at Pendant, (PLUG PLUG!):
Tom Roberts wrote:
Here's something M&G haven't answered: How does Clark cut his hair, or shave? My hair gets that long if I go nearly a year without a haircut. Smallville started when Clark was a freshman, and most guys that age can grow a good mustache. He didn't get his heat-ray vision for a couple of seasons, and he doesn't have a Kryptonian mirror to vaporize his facial hair, much less the hair on the back of his head. Did Jonathon and Martha coat a pair of scissors and a straight razor with a grain of Kryptonite when he reached the age for his first haircut?
Must be. Heck, you expect them to care for minutae? These guys don't even care if Bizarro's in the sun.
Rob wrote: wrote:
I've been watching a lot of season five lately and I noticed something in "Thirst" (the vampire episode). There's a scene where Clark is talking to Lex at the Luthor mansion and suddenly Lana flies in, smashing the window. She steals Clark's powers and takes him with her. The next scene we're back in Metropolis at her campus. Since she flew in through the window, logically, Lana would have flown to get back to Metropolis, carrying Clark, even though this wasn't shown. I think you might count this as a "flight" for Clark.
Alas, I have to see it... sorry!
The writers still don't understand Bizarro.
The Lana I know would have just gone to live with the Bizarro Clark. Seriously, would that not have been more in character?
Oddly enough, it would have.
I was flipping through an issue of Smallville magazine recently and happened to notice a poll question of interest. It was: "What is your favourite Smallville couple?" Options included such items as Clark and Lana, Lex and Lana, Jimmy and Chloe, Jason and Lana, ___and Lana (insert lame one-note character here), and so on.
Anyways, I thought about it for a moment and realized that, in my opinion, not one Smallville "couple" had been written satisfactorily, in my opinion. Almost every one is one-dimensional. If I were voting in that I would have said "Martha and Jonathan," but I don't think that's what they had in mind! What do you think?
I think Martha and Jonathan were well done. Other than that, no, all of them were kinda screwy, save Clark/Chloe in season one.
In this episode, I liked the part where Grant Gabriel died. Actually, I could barely refrain from applause.
Lionel made no sense to me. He admonished Lex for making Julian but at the same time he wanted to spend time with Grant? What the telephone noise is that?
Yeah... hadn't thought of that angle. Good point.
The show probably started to get worse once Lionel became inconsistent, a process that started at the end of "Transference" when he decided to be good and coincided with the shark jumping moment not long after.
I think Transferrence is where I pegged the shark jump, if I recall. And I think I was right.
Still, I liked the scene where Lionel said "It's you I've lost" to Lex. The dialogue is maybe a little melodramatic, but the music is strong. I'm of the belief that strong music can make up for weak dialogue. How else do you find drama when watching Anakin and Padme on screen, for example?
Well, I never really found drama in Anakin and Padme. I found drama in Anakin's actions. I look at it like they fell in love off-screen, and alas, we had to watch some of it.
Still, the writing quality is not where it was. The first three seasons had some great writing. My favourite moments of dialogue are the mythological lessons that turn into metaphors foreshadowing the futures of the characters.
There's actually a lot of stuff out there that has sold well that I don't think is that well written. Art is subjective, I guess. I mean, "The Catcher in the Rye" is one of the best selling books ever and it has no plot--it's just one long monologue from some kid about how much he hates life.
True, but at the same time, and I'm loathe to say this, but what the hell. I honestly do believe there is an ethereal "standard." And not the crusty old white dude type, but a type where if you step back, and look at things irrespective of the trappings of context (IE plot/no plot theme/no theme form/no form) there's a fundamental TELL of how something moves someone. For instance, this review is expressly anti-formal in the way it goes about things, and rants, raves, goes off topic, but still fundamentally moves those who read it, whereas other reviews, more formally correct reviews, haven't been as successful. I think that's because no matter HOW you go about an art, passion bleeds through. And Salinger was obviously passionate.
Regardless, I do have hope for some of the next few episodes. Based on some things I've read, the potential is there for the show to do some cool things again.
Bruce Kanin wrote:
They spelled it out because of the Sprint sponsor, alas... but I shared much of the same concerns, and enjoyments!
"Persona" should have been called "Godawful." This show is so broken at this point, I can't even call my continued audience presence gaper delay. I stand alone, slack-jawed and drooling, as the last of the cleanup crews sweep the debris away. There's nothing to see anymore, and yet here I am. I think I actually hate this show.
Sorry to hear. I hope it gets better for you.
Here's an idea- the writer's on strike from this show should just STAY on the pciket line when the strike is over. They won't be missed, and it would probably be an improvement. Just get a legal pad. Then tell the kid from the craft services table that he can write anything he wants, so long as he promises to
a) Openly contradict an established theme, idea, fact, or geography every 2nd paragraph
b) Promise to steadfastly ignorant anything resembling character development.
c) Continue to spell Lana as "Leona Helmsley" to keep her in character.
4) Have John Glover look like he wants to be anywhere but on this show
5) Have Michael Rosembaum increasingly phone it in as he desparately looks to get off this show
6) Have Tom Welling look like he should have held out for double what his last contract offered as he realizes that he should have got off this show while he still had a career
Godawful Neil. This might have been the worse episode yet. Best, most telling line- James Marsters, head and shoulders above the entire cast, telling Clarkzarro, "Lying to you would be like lying to a mollusk. There's no point."
The producers should take their own advice and call it a day.
Until the bitter end, Neil,
Alas, that bitter end may be coming. I don't know, because not only do they not put craft in their stories, they don't put much effort into communicating their aims and desires to the fans as much any more.
I honestly have always loved the concept of this show, and hated individual episodes. I could never hate this story, because it's not the shows I enjoy, it's the context. And when that's on, it's on. When it's off, well, we've had the last few years.
See you next week!
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