Superman on Television
Smallville: Episode Reviews
Season 7 - Episode 14: "Traveler"Reviews:
TravelerReviewed by: Douglas Trumble
Dr. Swann's daughter comes to town looking for the Son of Krypton causing Lionel to kidnap Clark for his "Protection" and the only way to save him is for Chloe to chew out Jor-El in order to get Kara her powers and memory back.
Ya know. I really liked this one. I know the last couple of new episodes have been a little on the disappointing side but this one really kicked it up a notch or two.
First of all I really liked the idea of bringing Dr. Swann's daughter into the game. You know that the man had volumes of data on Clark and Krypton laying around and it is nice to have the question of what happened to all that data answered. Plus I found it very interesting that the Luthor's, Queen's, Teague's, and Swann's were all part of a group that was waiting for Clark.
I am not sure if Jor-El had contact with these people or if their group was just formed based around Swann's intercepting of the transmissions from doomed Krypton but it is interesting none the less. This brings up a lot of questions about how long has Lionel at least suspected Clark was the Traveler they were waiting for. He did know that Clark was found in the meteor shower and he helped the Kent's fake the adoption so it's very possible he knew who/what Clark was all along.
It's just now the question is what side is he really on? Did he really kill Oliver's parents and Dr. Swann? We know that Mrs. Teague is part of Lana's not small body count but did Lionel kill her husband? I am not sure if that question has been answered yet. We never really did see this evidence Patricia Swann had so I am not sure. We do know that Lionel crossed a line putting Clark in that cage though. Sure it can be played off as "protecting him" as Lionel claimed but that just doesn't hold water. Either Lionel was doing evil or he really has a twisted idea of protecting someone. Either one is possible given what we know of Lionel Luthor but both are bad. If that is how Lionel acts when he's your friend then maybe it is better having him as an enemy.
There is only one way I can see this working and Lionel coming out as a good guy and I kind of think he still might. This is a theory... I avoid spoilers so if I am right I don't want to know and I am just warning all to skip the next paragraph if you don't want to hear my theory.
Ok. Ramble mode on. Maybe part of the original Veritas group were not looking to welcome the Traveler. That the original plan involved capture and study. That Lionel feared Patricia Swann was going to put Clark in a lab to study him and he somehow thought that if he made her believe Clark was already neutralized she wouldn't go after him herself. I doubt the Queen's or Dr. Swann would be that way but the Teague's and Lionel I could see originally wanting to put Clark under a microscope. This would explain why Dr. Swann and Lionel were so hostile towards each other the time we saw them together. But Lionel might have had a change of heart and the Teague's were eliminated. It is possible the Teague's killed Swann and the Queen's. We already know they killed Swann's assistant so this is not much of a stretch to think they were on their way to taking out the rest of the competition before Lana and Lionel finished them off.
Anyway, that's my theory.
Now back to the rest of this episode. I really enjoyed Chloe and Lana taking action to save Clark once they found the barn trashed. I was also glad to see Clark had a good reason for hiding Kara's bracelet and was working on getting her memory back for her. Good thing too since Lex was in full on evil mode this week. I found it rather amusing that Lex referred to where they were going to take Kara as a Clinic when talking to her but a Lab when talking to his assistant. Nice touch. I am really glad Kara's stay at the Luthor mansion was brief.
Chloe's speech to Jor-El was pretty cool too and I loved the effect of Kara getting her powers back. I would like a little more explanation as to why Kara lost them to begin with but I suppose I am okay with the idea that Jor-El took them simply because she was Zor-El's daughter. It just seemed like there was more to it than that but oh well that answer works.
Kara coming to Clark's rescue was awesome. I loved how she just busted in all angry (only after stopping to change into Supergirl colored clothing) to heat blast the controls and toss the cage across the room. After her experience in the Lab earlier in the season one can understand why seeing her cousin that way would get the super anger power going.
Lastly Lex? Dude. Talk about cold blooded. He had Patricia Swann killed simply for her locket? A locket? That was just cold. I know it was played at first to make you think Lionel ordered the hit but Lex having the bloody locket answered that question real quick. It just shows you how obsessed he is with this whole thing. He is willing to kill someone for even the smallest clue.
So really a good episode. Some folks might be bothered that other than a tussle with some commandoes early in the episode Clark was out of action for most of it. All the super action was on Kara's part but I am okay with that. Some important steps in the entire series-long story arc were taken tonight. Questions still need to be answered but we're starting to get a view of the "big picture" now and this is certainly one you don't want to miss. I'm going to give it an A. Call it 4.5 out of 5.
Next week looks like a big one too. I saw Brain-I.A.C. in the trailer so you know it's going to be good. See you then.
TravelerReviewed by: Neal Bailey
Okay. NOW we are talking. THIS is fun. This is good. Yes, there were some MAJOR problems with the kidnapping subplot, and there are holes here, many holes, but this episode stayed true to the characters, developed them, had a bunch of good, riveting moments, and held me captivated for the first time in forever. There feels like some real consequence here. I missed that. I needed that.
Part of what makes it good is that there are MULTIPLE threads. Not one crappy thread that the others try to falsely feed on. Like, instead of Clark getting Krypto-measles and then them figuring out how to force every other character into that plot where they don't belong, here we have three good, palpable dilemmas that weave into each other. Veritas, Kara's memories, and Clark's kidnapping. God help me, I enjoyed the memory stuff.
In the end, there was enough stuff for me to point at and say, "HEY! LAME!" but it was widely offset by the fun I had. Which is atypical of late.
So let's get to it, shall we? I'm already running late. I bussed back from Wizard World LA, having done the last review by the skin of my teeth, then I got sick, took a 30 hour bus ride, and here I am, behind. EN GARDE!
Firstly, thanks as ever to Stephen G for pointing out Veritas as a Greek reference. Good call.
Lionel's opening scene is cool, and well acted, well filmed. Tense, even though you don't know what the heck he's worried about. It sets a good mood. Cut to Clark, who is staring at the key PLOT DEVICE, as characters in this story are wont to do.
Here's the first major hole. Guys sneak up on Clark, firstly, and secondly, a SQUAD OF GOONS decimate the barn and annihilate Clark's secret identity. That's a biggie, and probably the worst part of this episode. There HAD to be a better way to do it than that. It's a shocking scene, though, no doubt, and held me riveted regardless of later analysis.
I counted, looking pretty closely, eleven guys in the armored suits shooting Clark with tasers. ELEVEN people who now know that Clark has some extra-normal ability. That's just... that's frickin' sloppy, folks. And that's not including Battlestar Galactica guy. Oh yeah! I went there! I actually have watched the first two seasons now. I don't think it's everything it's cracked up to be, but it's decent fun. Sadly, seeing this dude indicates his character is dead. And I dug his character. And this character is sadly one-note. Meh.
The tasers look interesting, but are really just another abysmal use of Kryptonite. And it gets worse, throughout the show. Not only do they have it for tasers, apparently they used over a ton of it to create Clark's prison. A TON. That's... that's just insane. The best part is when they show the manifest, though, and it's called "METEOR ROCK" on the manifest. No, like, "AGENT Z!" or "UNKNOWN ALIEN METEOR." Just the generic, show-known METEOR ROCK.
Clark doesn't flee at superspeed when he realizes something is up?
I was watching this show with a friend, and she started laughing. I asked her why. She said, "DON'T TAZE ME, BRO!"
At any rate, that's an old video, but I want a recording of Tom Welling saying that like I want to fart on command at varying volumes. A lot.
Immediately Lana and Chloe are on the scene, which actually works for me. They'd notice he was missing and search around. It was a bit sloppy of such a highly effective team to leave their junk around (like a bright green glowing taser end), and even stranger they didn't look at the book Clark had. Still, it worked. It was chaotic, and they were good catalysts, ultimately.
Battlestar guy goes all sadist on Clark, exposing the weak point of the show. Here is a guy who is self-disciplined enough to plan, assault, and take down a Kryptonian. He then, for no real reason, revels in torturing Clark despite Clark not doing anything wrong to him that he can't stop doing it. NNNNT! Lame. As is the METEOR ROCK PERIMETER bit on his computer. Giggles ahoy.
I was a bit hacked that Clark was literally in a CHAMBER of kryptonite and not dying, but then it appeared to be regulated by level, so maybe it's extraordinarily diluted. I can dig that.
The scene on the Metropolis waterfront (Kansas oceanfront guffaw ensues) actually rocks despite exposing the whole Canada/Kansas thing. Mostly because it's Lionel acting like Lionel and doing something intriguing, meeting Swann's daughter and exploring the mythology. Though how a guy can get so rich he can just fly a helicopter in a yard off the water is... well, that's kinda cool.
Patricia Swann. Pretty, slightly naïve, but compelling. She makes some dumb errors, mostly due to the writing, but her character plays, and plays well. I had hoped she would be a recurring, and she seemed like a cool addition until, well, what happens to her.
The big error with Patricia was the way her dialogue was written. Instead of saying, "I have pictures of you killing Swann." She says, "I have evidence you're behind the killings!" Lionel doesn't then go, "Oh yeah? What?" So she looks incredibly stupid. And then more stupid when she brings it right in front of Lionel right in front of his GIANT GOON. Beyond that, her extrapolation through dialogue of what Veritas is to Lionel, who already knows, for the benefit of the crowd watching, is annoying at best.
Kara, in Lex's ginormous bedroom, peruses pictures from her middle school which she knows to be fake. Instead of going to the school or finding the people, she decides to have Lex cut open her brain in some crazy operation. This is how girls mature faster than boys.
At any rate, did you read her comments about what she'd be doing in the summer: "Modeling." Heh. So not only does she appear to be a vapid, surface-style chick, the friends and family who crafted her backstory agree and emphasize it. And in middle school. Oy!
They cut back and show Lex going from Mr. Nice Guy to a cold, calculating semi-bastard who starts plotting to get what he wants from Kara. And the screwy thing, the REALLY SCARY thing, is that I empathize with Lex. I mean, not with Kara in particular, but more that his experience backs up that this is what he should be doing. In crafting Lana to be such an annoying, manipulative, awful person but make it appear as if being such is heroic, they've made Lex inadvertently sympathetic. There's a synapse gap there. Like, here's how the Smallville creators would see it, I'd imagine:
Lex manipulated Lana, so Lana turned to her wiles and survived, playing Lex at his own game and then getting out of the marriage by virtue of her own wits.
Here's how I see it:
Lex loved Lana, Lana finally tolerated Lex, and then began working behind his back whenever she found it convenient. Seeing this, Lex began to watch Lana, and ultimately his efforts were proved correct when she left him, almost got him thrown in jail for murder, and essentially ripped his heart apart. Oh, and she also stole eight million bucks.
So what would YOU do, I ask, to the next pretty girl who came to your castle? Try and put her on the level and WATCH her like a hawk, right?
Is Lex villainous here? And yet this was supposed to be a big WOW, look what an evil guy he is! Nope. That doesn't work here. It works later, though. Yes, it does.
Chloe and Lana drive all the way to Metropolis for a thirty second conversation with Lionel that could have been accomplished on the phone. I can imagine that three hour drive:
Chloe: "Oh, when I get there! I'm just gonna lay it out and leave."
Lana: "Yeah! Lay it out and leave!"
Silence envelops the car, lasting about five minutes.
Chloe: "So, uh, want to listen to One Republic? I have the CD from last week."
Lana: "ENOUGH WITH THE ONE REPUBLIC!"
Chloe: "Some Stride gum?"
Silence envelops the car, lasting for the next hour...
I liked that line: "Everyone that knows Clark's weakness is in this room!" Pffft! Yeah. And monkeys might fly out of my butt. I mean, seriously. You walk down the block in Metropolis, and grab someone, and say, "Hey, what's Clark's weakness?" They'll go... "Clark? Oh, that dude who throws people? That green rock, right?"
But really, the joke's on Martha, who they just subtly ignore and have since her last episode. Which sucks. Even Pete didn't go, "Where's your mom, dude? She was hot!"
The absolute best part of that line though, is the Monty Python bit that can thereby be derived.
"Everyone who knows Clark's secret is in this room."
In this office, there are 47 people! None of them can be seen!
Lana then gets VERY SERIOUS. "If he harms Clark, I will KILL HIM." She also immediately jumps to the conclusion that it's Lex who has kidnapped Clark. Why?
I understand that Lex has been experimenting with freaks, but do Lana, Chloe, or Clark know that? As I recall, they have inklings, but no real confirmation. I could be wrong, but still, it just seems incredibly Lana to be in the room with the guy doing it blaming the completely wrong person out of abject stupidity and zero logic.
Apparently, Lionel has also been plotting to do this to Clark since he learned Clark's secret. That was a LONG TIME AGO. Why wait until right now? And later, when he tells Clark that he was kidnapped to "protect him from himself," and Clark buys it? Why would Lionel plan this and not execute it? Or if he was biding his time, why now? The Patricia evidence came AFTER the kidnapping. It's incoherent.
Lex's Veritas painting is in remarkably good shape given its age, but it's still interesting, as it provides a link between Lex and the mythology. I'm eager to see where this goes.
Lex goes to the his dad's office in Metropolis to show him the painting. I can imagine that drive.
Driver: "Sir, uh, we're about two hours out from Metropolis now."
Lex, knee deep in three women in the back seat: "God, I love excuses to drive to Metropolis!"
Okay. I can buy that.
CHECK OUT CHLOE'S NEW TOYOTA! You can, because the logo goes right across the screen!
You know, people like to yell at me when I poke at product placement. Too bad. Honest truth? It sickens me. Compromising your story to shill? That's almost as bad as rappers throwing in lyrics that reference products. It's deceiving your audience to try and get them to buy something other than your story.
WELL WHAT WOULD YOU DO THEN, SMART GUY?
Well, I'd suggest writing a story so compelling you don't need to cut the story short and insert products into the stories to pay the bills. That's one. But if it came down to it, and I had to choose between inserting a Taurus or cutting the story by two minutes, I'd simply cut the story and explain why in interviews. People DIG honesty.
Lana and Chloe perpetrate a break-in to the Luthor mansion to "save" Kara from the ill-defined operation. We don't get to see the tunnel, and there isn't much rationality to it, alas. What they do, essentially, is break in, tell Kara Lex is about to goon her, and then sneak her out. What is stopping them from knocking on the door and doing the same? Or at least attempting to, first. Lex isn't holding her captive. Were he, the tunnel scenario would make sense.
But what's really weird about this whole scene is the fact that none of the characters save Lex have a rationale that makes sense. Remember, last episode Chloe, Lana, and Clark were all dead-set committed to holding Kara's history for whatever weird reason they conjured with no rationale. Now here, this is the logic. Chloe and Lana break Kara free from Lex's grip because... Lex is trying to get her her memories? And their objective is to... get Kara her memories?
In other words, unless there is some lobotomy involved instead of subtly implied, Lex's goal is the same as Chloe and Lana, so why is he an utter villain and they are heroes?
The memory restoration effect was neat, if bluntly cut in the end. Why wasn't Lana in that scene? It was odd that she was there, and then suddenly not.
Patricia appears and banters with Lionel. She tells him that she has people who know where she is. Thereby, Lionel begins to talk to her, and then, after talking to her, without any catalyst cause, the goon saps her. It was another case of using Patricia to explain things irrationally, and sloppy plotting. Still, the ensuing scene made up for it.
Kara has no way to find the warehouse, alas, but she does.
When she does, she bursts in, uses refined heat vision (awesome) and throws the cage. The effect wasn't hot, but the whole pacing of the thing and the spirit it inspired gave me gooseflesh. Good stuff. Lionel clubbing the goon and saving Clark, then revealing his own treachery in a semi-redeeming light was also very well played. I looked down and said, "Hey, wait. That was an ex machine scene I enjoyed!" That hasn't happened for a long time.
And then, what do we do for the denouement? Do we have Lana berating Clark? Do we have Kara whining? Do we have Chloe and Jimmy getting together? Does Lois visit with her newest ex-boyfriend? No.
LEX CAPS AN INTRIGUING CHARACTER IN A WAY THAT MAKES SENSE. With a good reveal, a startling execution, and a reversal. THIS is good. It kills the loose end of why Patricia would protect Lionel after the cage, and it also puts Lex clearly in the realm of perpetuating murder for reasons that he finds sensible. This isn't lightswitch, not in the way that his torture of Pete was last episode.
Clark buying Lionel's excuse is awful. I have a feeling that'll all be okay by the end of next episode.
Clark utterly gives up on Lionel AND Lex, and rightfully so, at long last. It doesn't make up for the two years where Lionel was practically making out with Martha, but it was a POWERFUL scene, and well played.
Also, they reversed and made it so that Clark wasn't hiding the bracelet for Kara, merely holding it until she was back to normal, which played. I thought that bracelet would be a source of agitation.
All in all, a brutal episode with character development AND mythology. I enjoyed it. I really did. In a season that's been really flailing, I was entertained. 4 of 5.
There are a lot this week, so I might break it up across this week and next week. Sucks to be behind...
John Stringfellow wrote:
Thanks for the review, particularly the one about the Legion and Superman and the red sun. But you missed a part - you commented on Superman flying toward the end of the issue, but he was given a Legion flight ring in the previous issue. Thats how he flies as I remember. Please correct me if I am wrong. I enjoy reading your reviews!
Many people corrected me. Correctly. Thanks!
Dude, I don't get the Metal Men either, especially why those characters keep getting their own series that's canceled within two years. It's my (somewhat ignorant) belief that characters of that level...including Martian Manhunter...should remain in some team book somewhere, or as a supporting character in a different title. In my mind they may be strong characters, but not enough to have, and keep, their own title. As for the Legion, holy crap. They have a huge following and decades of rich history, yet I know so little about them. With the current Legion in Action comics, I'm viewing them as characters that need Supes' help. Don't get me started, the Superman (boy?) in the future reboot still isn't sitting well with me. To quote a certain horse, "No sir, I don't like it".
I love Ren and Stimpy. Regardless, I'm getting into the Metal Men from their old stuff.
I think the problem is that they spend all their time on the big seven, and then the rest of the stories are handed off to people who haven't made their bones yet, or who want to go off on tangents. I want reboots like Moon Night by Charlie Huston, or Checkmate by Rucka. Care, time, and character put into things. I still don't get the Legion after it was in Action, so maybe it didn't need a big name or a big character, maybe what it needs is a successful reboot, instead of eighteen that still just leave them beloved to people who read them in the 70s.
Rob Severance wrote:
I have to agree with you totally on what you have said about the Legion because I feel pretty much the same way. I have never been able to buy into the idea that Superboy / man would spend time going back and forth from the present to the future to help a future society. I never have been able to buy into the time travel thing. Then what you said about the charaters themselves is dead on. I haven't been able to get it either. Even years ago I always disregarded the legion stuff and just told myself to ignore it as though the comic was never written. That far into the future, the idea of superheros seems less likely with all the technology and all. You would think the mear mortals would be able to counter anything a Superpowered being would beable to come up with, with there 31st century technology.
Im sorry I don't get it either.
So I'm not crazy. This is good!
Bruce Kanin wrote, regarding Fracture:
C+. The parts with Young Lex saved this episode from being just another ho-hum rehash of the one where Clark meets up with the Bizarro monster and Martian Manhunter in that other mind game episode - and a rehash of "The Matrix" trilogy.
So there's still some good in Lex, after all. The scenes between Matrix-Young Lex and Matrix-Clark in Lex's mind were almost touching. Seeing Matrix-Young Lex get scolded and then slapped around by Matrix-Lionel (with a bad toupee) to be followed by Matrix-Mrs. Luthor getting thrown around, made me feel sorry for Lex (the real, non-Matrix one). It helped to explain why he longed for a life as Clark had with his foster parents. It was sealed when Matrix-Mrs. Luthor was pissed at Young Lex, leaving him alone.
And then we see Matrix-Clark with a choice - head for the red door, or save Matrix-Young Lex. Like the future Superman he will be, he tries to save Matrix-Young Lex. Bully for Clark! What follows, despite it being fantasy nonsensical fluff, was a great scene: Matrix-Clark trying to beat the crap out of Matrix-Lex who is dressed in a white tux, with blood streaming out of his mouth and a Joker-like smile as he is clearly not feeling any pain. His macabre look was frightening. Rosenbaum at his best!
Finally, we see a touching farewell scene between Matrix-Clark and Matrix-Young Lex. Sort of like Captain Kirk, with Scotty telling him to get on the damn transporter pad 'cause the link between the "good" and "bad" universes was dissipating, telling the bearded Spock to be the captain and "do good". Not quite, but it did come to mind (the episode was one of Trek's all-time greats, "Mirror, Mirror".)
Thank you, writers. At least you gave Kara another name, and it was from the comics: Linda. Plus, was the Midwestern family that took her in, the Danvers (the Midwestern family that took her in, in ACTION COMICS, in the Silver Age)?
They did it right here, too: with his son brought back from the dead, Lionel finally admits to Lex that he loves him. Lex walks toward his dad, as if he's going to reciprocate, but says nothing and walks right out of the hospital room. No witty comeback and no hug. Exactly right.
They minimized Lana in this episode. Always a plus!
Lex, severely injured, is flown from Detroit to Smallville. Presumably Detroit has some incredibly good medical centers and he could have been medivac'd in minutes directly to one of them. Instead, he is presumably flown by helicopter to a nearby airport, put on a plane, then taken to Smallville Hospital via ambulance or helicopter. Smallville - not even Metropolis. DERUH!
Lex, severely injured, is removed from the hospital to be hooked up to Lionel's Matrix machine. This was not done to save Lex's life, but to find two people (Kara and Lois) who were presumably in danger. In other words, everyone involved (Lionel, Clark, Lana, the doctors...) decided that two the lives of two people who may or may not be in danger was more important than someone whose life was definitely hanging on a thread (Lex). DERUH!
Let's say I have amnesia. I've never had it, so I don't know what it feels like. But I'll try to imagine. I'm thinking that, well, I can't remember all that damn much. I can remember how to tie my shoes and take a dump, but nothing about my name, my loved ones, or much else. Maybe I remember how dumb "Smallville" is! Anyway, all I can remember is....I'm in the here and now, and I remember the last bunch of days. Maybe I remember the last 30 days - a month. But Kara - twice - says to people, "I lost my memory a month ago". Huh? What kind of idiotic statement is that to make? Who says that? That means that they kind of remember the event that caused them to have amnesia. I just found that to be a totally moronic thing that the writers had Kara say.
I can't stand Chloe's super-healing power. It's bad enough when they spray Kryptonians all over the show - that takes away from Clark being "The Last Son of Krypton". When they have his friends and others show up with super-powers, it makes Clark less unique. They're going to have an episode soon where Pete Ross returns and does an Elastic Lad (or Mr. Fantastic) imitation, due to (Gag! Choke!!) kryptonite-laced gum! Gimme a break!
Anyway, the only good thing about Chloe's power is that they seem to be telling us that she won't use it much going forward - or she'll use it one last time and finally die. BTW, the conversation between Chloe and Clark near the end about her using her healing powers seemed like nonsensical filler.
Clark topples junk cars to prevent Linda's Keeper from shooting Linda and Lois. Let's assume he wasn't aiming at the Keeper Guy, because if he was, then Clark could have killed him. But then Clark hurls Keeper Guy pretty damn far, enough to kill him. Not very Superman-like.
This was originally going to be under "The Bad", but the show redeemed itself. Lex is shot. Kara, who's an amnesiac, yells "Lex!" When I first saw that, I said "stupid writers - she's got amnesia and doesn't know him". But later we learn that she met him in the restaurant. So, net-net, we're OK.
Lois's participation in the episode was contrived, just to give Erica Durance a paycheck this week. Her involvement meant nothing to the plot.
No brunette wig for Linda/Kara, like the comics. Oh well ... that wouldn't have made sense, what with her amnesia!
Lana has totally morphed into Barbara Gordon, AKA The Oracle, sans wheelchair.
When Kara is in the Talon, her use of the cell phone is a not-so-subtle ad for Sprint.
The Keeper Guy looked a little like the Yankees' Mike Mussina.
When Clark is in Lex's head, you would think that he would see scenes as Lex would see them. In other words, we really shouldn't be seeing Lex when he's in the restaurant or getting shot. A nit-pick.
Just when did Lex plant a tracking device on Kara? And where?
So Lex is still after "the truth" about Clark, by learning about Kara. C'mon! He's not dumb! He should know by now!
At the end, Clark is in Lex's study, and then Lex walks in. C'mon already! It's Lex's home!
Why doesn't Kara have her powers? Gold K?
Having Lex and Kara hook up is kind of like the same relationship between Lex and Kara after John Byrne left the Superman series. Although that Lex and Kara were a bit different - that Lex had just been reborn as his "son" - and that Kara was the Matrix character who was not really all that human.
None! Guess the writers strike has struck!
Agreed, and I hadn't put much thought yet into the diminishing of Clark via more powers, but it makes sense, too. I dig it. Fine work.
I noticed in your review of Siren that you didn't mention how Lois seemed to have totally forgotten about Grant/Julian. She did not showing any grief or for that matter even mentioning his death and was ready to just get back into a relationship with Green Arrow.
I think that you should have given Siren a higher review, because of the awesome fight it had with Lex, Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Clark. That fight alone should at least make the episode a 1.5.
It was pretty darned cool, I admit. Just too small proportionally for me.
Well that's all I will say for now, bye.
Jim Smith wrote:
"DETROIT! says the dramatic cue card. Why Detroit? Well, because it's a town of small-town diners, right?"
Umm, would you believe me if I said yes. There are a ton of little mom and pop places like that all over the city. Not always that clean but yes. The coney my dad used to take me to when I worked with him was just like that.
Heh. Of course! Well, either way, do they sell Stride Gum from stands?
John Bower wrote:
I really loved the review for fracture (hell...all of your reviews have me rolling on the ground laughing and upset at how right you are all at the same time. Everything that I am thinking about smallville, you put into words perfectly.
There are a few things that I am wondering and a few statements that I would like to make. It's been 2 episodes since Grant was Shot. I know he was fired from the Daily Planet, but where the hell is Lois' reporting skills. She can manage to track down lex in Detroit for god knows what reason, but she just lets Grant disappear off of the face of the earth? It seems to me that maybe the writers just don't want to deal with Grants death due to the character questions it would raise.
It's less a seeming, more of an eight-ball "IT IS CERTAIN!"
Let's look at it from a writers side. Grant was the editor of the Daily planet, so him disappearing off the face of the earth would seem to be almost impossible. Somebody..maybe like a girlfriend...would notice there hookup partner is missing. So, this reporter for a major metropolitan newspaper would start asking questions. Also, Grant was shot outside of a retaurant if I am not mistaken, so unless lionel paid off everbody in the vacinity, wouldn't people know Grant was shot? I almost feel as if the writers just want to ignore plot points (plot points that shouldnt have been introduced anyway because the writers didn't fully flesh them out)because they bring up too many questions that the writers would have to explain.
More than thinking that, I know. Because consumers don't care enough to hold writers to account for such laziness on this scale.
I understand that Lois is supossed to be a novice reported, but COME ON! Where is Lois' great writers instinct that made her such an iconic character in the Superman Mythos. Also, talking about dropped plot threads...Jax (oops...I mean Dax)-Ur. Clarks like...awesome another Kryptonian...too....well nothing. Clark: "I should go back to Dax and thank him for helping me defeat the last Phantom zone escapee (and now go start my training with Jor-el and join the justice league that I promised I would do). But wait. I can always do it later. It's not like I have been searching for info on Krypton's past for like the last 6 seasons..I mean years" (cave paintings are much better than speaking to an actual Kryptonian...who knew the House of EL)
Yeah, that was really odd.
The writers can't have Clark go to another Kryptonian as a role model because they spent too much time making Lionel Luthor Jor-el's emissary. Who is better as a surrogate father to Clark? A kryptonian who has live on earth for 2-3 times the amount of years that Clark has been on Earth; a guy who has had to figure out how to adapt to the whole duel identity thing and how to adapt powers (and maybe teach Clark how to fly), and has also dealt with having a family with another species and how that works (so superman wasn't the last son of Krypton). Or, Clark could look up to a guy who basically has hurt anybody close to him who just happened by chance to become Jor-el's emisarry and at the same time has countless times kept secrets from everbody even though he is reformed.
Does seem a bit incongruous, don't it?
I don't know, but I think I know which one I would pick. Anyway...I think I've ranted on a little too long. I've always been a huge Superman comic fan and become very critical when it comes to the WB's bastard child "Smallville" (Obviously Daddy DC doesn't give a F*#$ about how badly WB is destroying the mythos...Clark being the LAST SON OF KRYPON being a perfect example) Anyway Neal...keep on doing what you do best.
Andrew Gray wrote:
I just wanted to say thanks, Neal. You have really defined what is wrong with Superman stories. It's been killing me for two years now, and finally I have a label for my pain. Silver Age Crap. That's all there is now. Is it really that hard for DC to say, "please write good character-driven stories"? I mean, I know every writer isn't Geoff Johns, but it seems like the damn writers are avoiding anything poignant on purpose. So many other critiques I read just hate, hate, hate. I appreciate your views, actualy stating the problem not to hurt, but to appeal for a character that we love.
Thank you. I get flak for being too "arrogant" or saying that I could write it better, neither of which are the impression I want to convey (even if the former may be true, sometimes, without saying much with regards to my skills). I do it because I like to create a framework for Superman, and online, that's usually to the loudest voice, not the most cogent. I hope to change that.
Hey Neal, I read your review this week and I agree with everything you said. I do want to point out that the plot was not the only thing they ripped off. There is a show on BBC America called Torchwood; it's a spinoff of the Current Dr. Who series that is about a team of specialists who hunt aliens led by an immortal man from the future. There is good special effects, drama that actually is emotional and not just thrown in for the heck of it, and other things that push the envelope for american tv.
Interesting. I'll have to check it out some time.
The reason I bring up this show is because this weeks episode seemed like it tried to copy that shows format. Watch the show the first thing you'll notice they ripped off was the music. On Torchwood they use that music throught the whole show every episode, it's kind of a trademark of the show. Of course Torchwood uses it at right moments of drama to puncuate certain scenes or emotions. I'm guessing that they figured most Americans have never seen this show therefore no one would notice. The other thing they ripped off was they style of the show. Another thing they stole was the fact that alot of time torchwood starts the show with things already going on and it tends to be exciting and interesting then they explain what's going on and why(which Smallville failed to do). It's already bad when Smallville steals from something people have seen it's another thing to steal from a show that isn't seen by as many people in the States and try to pass it off as original. The truly sad thing though is that They attempted to steal ideas from a really good show and then failed at it. I wouldn't mind so much if they had done a good job of it but I watched this weeks episode of Smallville and couldn't get into it as much because i kept being reminded of how they ripped off a good show badly which really sucks. I'd say watch the show and then you'd get a better idea of what I mean; it comes on Saturdays at 9pm/8c on BBC America
Well, actually, most of the things you mention are conventions for dramatic shows. The music is sometimes instrumental, but there's usually a draw, usually dramatic moments are punctuated with music. It happens a lot. But I WILL concede that it's exceedingly derivative not to try and move beyond this or get creative with it. I like a draw-in that makes coherent sense and is still utterly shocking.
I completely agreed with your review of "Fracture." However, you did gloss over a moral inconsistancy that I found to be important.
It's basically psychological rape. Forcing entry into someone's mind without their knowledge or permission is an aberration that I think Clark would find reprehensible. That's why it was so horrible for various villains to hook up Clark and later Kara to the memory machine (by-the-by, I still have NO CLUE how THAT would work, because I'm not sure how kryptonite goo wouldn't just kill them, especially when it gets pumped straight to Kara's veins, but I digress).
Anyway, in the episode Clark's biggest problem with the brain-machine isn't that it's a gross violation of Lex's mind; it's that he's worried about what he might see.
A very good point. It's because it's harder to see a guy being violated as rape in this society, I agree. They should just "tough up" being the potential thought.
Any Clark Kent I can think of would NOT be comfortable with sneaking into another person's mind against their will. You'd think Clark would think, "Would I want someone to do this to me?" before attempting it.
But no. Instead we see some of the same moral inconsistancies that Smallville is becoming famous for.
Furthermore, it wasn't even absolutely necessary for Clark to enter Lex's mind since Chloe could've just healed him and been done with it. Instead, we then see another moral violation when Clark REFUSES TO LET CHLOE SAVE LEX'S LIFE. What???!!?? Clark Kent believes all life is sacred: even Lex's. He'd never STOP someone from saving someone else. He'd never ASK Chloe to save Lex because no one can ask that of anyone else, but he'd also certainly never refuse to let her do it.
Yeah, that was a case of the writing covering the writing's own failings badly.
That's just sacrificing characterization for a plot that wasn't even well done.
I'm tired of Smallville writers taking shortcuts. It's been worse this season than I can ever remember. All I want is a solid storyline with faithful characterization. Apparently, that's too much to ask for.
It's not. It's really not.
SCOTTY V wrote:
Just read the reviews for Action and Cure and I have two things to say.
1) Are you sure Doug isn't that old joke you played where you had a counter-reviewer that loved everything about Smallville. Because his "Action" review is so glowing and I just can't see any way someone could honestly feel that way. He even says that Clark needs something to happen to make him realize that the world outside Smallville needs him. What about "Black Thursday?" Or the second meteor shower with Aliens killing people? How about the bone-eater in Seattle?
I've actually received this a few times from folks, people asking if I'm Doug, if Doug is a second "Rebecca," the character I created to write wholly saccharin reviews as part of the biggest April Fool's joke I could think of.
Nope. Doug's just a regular guy who's very positive about Smallville, and I'm totally cool with that.
I have a tendency, when I'm reading online, to see something on another site that's overly positive about Smallville. In particular, the ones that raise my hackles are the ones that are like, "SUPERMAN HOMEPAGE'S REVIEWER NEEDS 2 JUST SHUT UP! SMALLVILE IZ THE BEST SHOW EVAR!" Were I to turn to that person and say, "You have a very low standard of viewing, and you need to just shut up until you can engage in discourse at a deeper level." I'd be a rotten dude. But sometimes, you do just want to go, "God, how can they be so positive about something that [I think] sucks so much!?"
But the reality is that the overall goal here is not to win an argument, much though the internet would have you believe otherwise. I don't believe I'll ever change the show, though if I do, hey presto and cool. I am here to get people excited about Superman, as excited as I am. If that means making people who passionately hate one kind of Superman rally to defend the character's integrity, or getting the people who agree with my currently propagated vision to rally in defense of the current course, it's irrelevant. As a fan site, we serve the character.
So Doug, even if I disagree with a positive assessment of Smallville, is filling a very key role, and doing it well. He's rallying the people who think Smallville is fine, while I rally the people who want improvement (with exceptions, even, like this episode, which I enjoyed).
So long story short, I understand your frustration, and it comes from a fair place, but I can't belittle Doug for his opinion, at all, and he's made fine and continuing contributions that folks enjoy, so I actually step forward to defend him.
2) Dean Cain is my favorite Clark Kent/Superman to date and I really think the show got alot of the important parts right. Sure it was unfortunately corny and campy. But the idea of Clark being the man and Superman simply being a more exaggerated persona of his belief system just really works.
How DARE you make fun of Dean Cain!! I also thought it was a bit desrepectful of the Ville powers that they made him a villain. Heck, even old Jimmy Olsen gets to be a heroic good guy type character. Why is the one person from Superman in media past that gets dissed Dean Cain?
I poked fun at Dean Cain the same reason I poke fun at myself. Everyone's a target for fun in good spirit. Tom Leykis won't make fun of Martin Luther King, and I share that viewpoint. But that's about it. And I'd still make fun of MLK if I could think of something funny about a dead idealist. That's just a tough one.
You don't have to print the part about Douglas, I'll write to him on those same points and I'm not looking to hurt anyone's feelings.
I respect your inclination there, but I printed it mostly because I know Doug would be cool with the question, he's a level-headed guy, and besides, it's important to address that question. "Why one mostly positive and one mostly negative reviewer?"
It's so those guys that want to kill me because of a perceived bias have alternative outlets, and good, fair ones.
Matthew Diamante wrote:
Howdy, Neal! I'm slowly working my way through S3 of Smallville, and I rush to your reviews after every show. Thanks so much for writing them!
Thank you! I tell you, though, I just had a college heart attack recalling Diamantes in poetry. Oy!
Just wanted to point out that at the end of "Memoria", Lionel not only has those magnetic string-balls in his office, like Magneto does in the first X-Men film, but a Star Trek-style three-dimensional chess set! Just thought that was too cool not to mention.
I didn't see the chess set. Sweet!
As to Clark's not being affected by Chloe's K breath in "Truth", maybe he was compelled to, but found the inner strength to resist. It doesn't show on his face, so it's unlikely that that's what they intended, and it doesn't explain how "Delete"'s email affected him, but then I don't think anything can *that*.
Oh, and the toddler Clark of the flashbacks in "Lineage" has brown eyes. Apparently young Krpytonians can change eye color like we lose baby teeth.
You didn't know that? Heh. Kidding.
Again, thanks for the great reads!
Stephen Hudson wrote:
Hiya, Neal! Long time, no exchange.
I used to be a regular Smallville viewer but, like John Schneider, I got out when I saw the writing on the wall. I stopped watching around the beginning of season five. Honestly, my only regret in making that move is that I stopped reading your reviews (mostly because I didn't want to be reminded of why I stopped watching what was once a great and promising show).
And no hard feelings here. I know how that goes.
Anyway, I just read your review of "Fracture" on a whim and I couldn't be more simultaneously pleased and heartbroken that Smallville seems to have sunk to even lower lows than it did when I watched it. At least I haven't wasted my time watching and hoping...
Better that than the alternative.
I just wanted to touch base and say that I miss reading your writing, and also that I both salute and pity you for sticking around until the bitter end (if you do, indeed, make it that far). You are a better, and more tortured, man than I.
Heh. I don't know if I'd go that far, but heck, man, there's always the novels:
God forbid that another enterprise ever be allowed to sully the greatness of my foremost childhood hero as badly as Smallville has. I hope it ends soon so it can be forgotten, and then someone else down the road with intelligence, creativity and drive can create a vehicle to portray the Man of Steel the way he was meant to be portrayed, unhindered by marketing, sloth and greed.
I don't think it's a total loss. I think it fell victim to its medium, largely.
Keep on keepin' on, Neal. Love the hair. :-)
Thanks! I may cut it soon. It's all David Byrne's fault. I'm doing it to match up to "Life During Wartime."
Gideon Blackman wrote:
This is the first time I've emailed this site although I've been reading your reviews since season 5 & love them. Also as a Film Student they actually improved my screen writing alot because I use them as a HOW NOT TO WRITE A FILM well for the bad ones & sadly since Season 4 that's mainly been the case for this programme.
I totally agreed with your fracture review also you forgot to add that in the previous episode that Lex was stabbed & all of a sudden he's better but if he can survive a bullet in the head whilst FLYING FROM DETROIT TO SMALLVILLE then he can survive anything.
He does have that white blood cell thing they forgot. They could have so been using it lately.
Anyway I can tell by your writings from Season 6 onwards that you're really starting to get a hatred with the show which is ok. Admittingly I watch more first to see Clark become Superman & also HOW MUCH WORSE CAN IT GET. Anyway keep writing & complete your work of art.
Do you ever read your own reviews from earlier seasons? And if so what do you think of them now?
I do. I see them as much less critical, from a younger man. I'm amazed they bloomed and blossomed. It informs me that heart in writing is more important than a sure gimmick, because many of the early reviews had only heart.
I'm also reading them as I do my bonus commentaries, which you'll hear about soon, theoretically.
Bruce Kanin wrote:
OK, so you absolutely hated it. I still think it was worth the price of admission to see the bloodied Matrix-Lex, dressed in white, smiling while being battered by Clark.
Paul Schaeffer writes to you? When does he have time - before or after Letterman?
Heh. I wish. Dude, I love Letterman.
PS- You need to change the anti-spam test. Ask 20 trivia questions, e.g., who married Lana - Superman-Red or Superman-Blue?
Heh. Well, then we'd get no letters. My litmus of the trivia, given that I'm a fan but not a trivia buff, is if I can get the third question on the supertrivia. There are viewers of Smallville who don't know Clark will become Superman.
Yes, I'm serious.
Bruce Kanin wrote:
Re: Superman #673
Haven't bought this one yet but read your review anyway. First of all, even if the Silver Age OD'd on Red K stories, at least they told them in - what? - 1/3 or 1/2 of an issue? This TRUE CRAP Insect Queen story is stretching ad nauseum across god knows how many issues (OK, maybe just 4).
Was it four? Geeze. Either way, I'm not enjoying it.
The original Silver Age story was, at the very least, "quaint and charming", which, for the Silver Age, was just fine.
Why do they keep trying to recreate the old stories instead of telling good new ones?
The current Insect Queen arc is reason enough to give up comics. Period.
I will agree without qualifications. And I might. As bad as that sounds.
What's more baffling is why Busiek is putting out this crapola. This is the same guy who did ASTRO CITY and SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY - things that I have no problem re-re-re-re-reading - almost as if I'm reading them for the first time.
Is his name being used, and someone else is really writing these?
I dunno, honestly.
SCOTTY V wrote:
Hey there Neal,
Just read your review of "Lara" and as always, loved it. Used to be there was a time I could at least attempt to refute a few of your claims and defend certain aspects of certain episodes but now we're at a point where, I either don't care anymore or there really is nothing more to defend.
Heh. Tired? ;)
You mention: "Kryptonite IV drip goes into "He did WHAT with Kryptonite?" and Dumbest use of Kryptonite in the KO Count."
I would say it's definitely not the dumbest use of K. That HAS to fall to K-Kool-Aide (OH Yeah! as Zor-El bursts through the door of the Kents house)
Yeah, that was really, really bad.
Speaking of Zor and Lara and Krypton. At one point in your reviews we spoke of "The Last Days of Krypton" and you think I'll really dig it. I did. I got it for my birthday on Novemebr 30th. At the time I was in the middle of finishing up Dark Tower book 7, which was also really good. So I probably started reading it around Christmas and finished in January sometime. I thought it was absolutely fantastic! This I would have preferred as a movie re-introducing us to the Superman universe over SR. Just really well done in every way. The only thing I thought was a bit disappointing (spoiler warning) was that Zor and Aura mention having children but she's not even pregnant or anything when the world is destroyed and we're simply left to assume that Argo must have survived the blast and that it's inhabitants must survive long enough for Alura to become pregnant and have a baby, that survives, before they all die.
Yeah... but that I can buy. It went off as its own little planetoid for a while, right?
Other than that though, I thought it was really great and I loved every page and every re-imagining. It's really too bad Smallville couldn't have been something more like that.
I'm all caught up on watching the eps that have aired now so I'll be reading the rest of the reviews more often and periodically.
Neal said: "You have super-speed. And a crazy father in a fortress who can seemingly grant miracles who sent this girl away on accident."
Actually, if you look back at the episode with Zor-El in the Fortress ("Lara"?), you'll see that it was Zor-El that did something to send Kara away, and presumably sapped her memory. It wasn't Jor-El. I actually watched the scene a half-dozen times in slow motion, but couldn't really make out what Zor-El hit her with.
Fair enough. I wish they'd been clearer...
An AWESOME reader known only to me as RR has sent me a chart of the ratings from the beginning... behold, the radness!
I think the scariest thing is the way that it starts slamming 1 again and again after slamming 5 so much, and the fact that there are so few fives in the last few years...
Tom Roberts from Athens,Texas wrote:
Being a southpaw like Rosenbaum, I noticed Lex firing the gun in "Fracture" with his right hand. Is his left shoulder still sore from Canary's throwing knife in last episode's battle?
Good catch! Actual continuity?
Hey Neil, great review as always. One thing about the rating on the cover. You said you didn't like the pose they have. Well open up Kingdom Come issue 1 to the last page, then you'll understand the cover better ^_^
I got that after the review of the book. Still, point being, I got that after I reviewed the book. It should have been clearer.
hi justbout 2 watch this episode but just thought ud like to no the aphrodite teacher was due to kryptonite x she used to live in smallville and had a different name (remember clark found out and spoke to lex?) she was with bf in car by the lake during meteor shower its not said but hinted they where having sex at the time due to her sexual pheramones (bad spelling x) the meteor affected her ability to control them x
just thought id let ya no x
Okay! Okay! Even though I can't afford it, I'll vote yes in the next levy.
Manuel Rosado wrote:
I just finished your rather epic essay "Byrne is Dead... Long live... YOD!" and I have to say not only did it help me figure out what's going on in Superman's continuity, or lack thereof, but it was also comforting in it's own way. I myself came to become a regular Superman reader literally a couple months before the Doomsday story arc and immediately busied myself with collecting all the issues of Action, Adventures of, and Superman going back to 1986. It should come as no surprise to you then that I have long considered myself a Byrne "purist" and quite frankly since "Birthright" I've been mostly cheesed off with Superman's main titles and the direction the character has been taken in. (I mean come on, the guy bragged he could hit a baseball THROUGH the moon!) The point I want to ultimately make is that just as much as you helped relieve my confusion you brough actual comfort in letting me know I'm not alone in being incredibly irked at the direction they've taken the greatest iconic figure in comic book history.
Thanks. At first, when I did that article, I very much wanted to give Busiek and Johns a shot to craft a new universe. That was mostly squandered when they did not justify this "wholly new" universe, and instead told tales that could very easily have fit into the old narrative in all respects. Now I'm just kinda hacked.
In closing let me pose a question to you and to anyone who might read this: what was the purpose for the decisive end to the Silver Age Superman? Anyone who can answer that then knows the answer as to why taking Superman back to the Silver Age is a very, very bad idea.
For me, I don't think it was any of the distinct elements, really. Not the super-monkey. Not being able to sneeze and crack the Earth. It was a clear declaration: WE WILL TAKE SUPERMAN SERIOUSLY. He will be defined, rational, and linear.
In that respect, the Silver age returned in 1999, with a few regressions back to seriousness.
PS - When everyone and their brother seems to suddenly be popping up as a Kryptonian and there's so much Kryptonite in the DCU that you can get it as a topping at a Metropolis ice cream shop, that's when you know, yes, they've taken it back to the worst of the Silver Age.
Bruce Kanin wrote, re: Hero:
F for flexible. F for freak. F for "farting is a more enjoyable thing than watching 'Smallville'". F for 'fraid this was crap, ma'am. That spells "F".
Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Bupkus. Zippo. Void. Return to sender. Empty. Gone. Vacuum. Goose eggs. Strikeout. Gutter ball. Wide right. Air ball. Hit the post. Out of bounds. Capish?
This was a horribly lame episode from start to finish. No redeeming features. No advancement of the "strategic plot", with the possible exception of Kara wanting to move in with Lex as well as Jimmy & Chloe getting back together. And who really cares.
Even the return of Pete Ross could not overcome the stench of this episode.
So Clark is able to withstand the Kryptonite in the gum factory, stand and walk away from it. But when Pete puts a nugget on his chest, he's immobilized? He can't turn his body a little and make the K roll away or something?
How come when Pete is chewing the K-gum with Clark around, it doesn't weaken Clark?
Pete Ross knows what Kryptonite does to Clark. So what does he do? He leaves it on him? Doesn't he realize it'll kill Clark?
Kryptonite gum? AIEEEE!
Almost every season there's some made-up McGuffin that makes no sense. This year it's the super-bracelet. (Say, do those come in men's sizes? It'd look kind of neat...).
Lionel has become a lost, wasted character. So is Lana. I could not handle the opening scene with Clark strolling into his kitchen or den, finding Lionel drinking a cup of coffee, with Lana on hand, as well. Even Pete has the sense to tell Clark, later, that Clark's foster dad would have been crashed the General Lee had he heard that Clark's new mentor was Lionel.
Since when does Lex need Pete to steal something from Lionel's vault? Contrived, of course, so that Pete could get into trouble and be rescued by Clark.
The scene between Kara and Lana in the barn was, well...awkward and boring. Heck, will somebody tell Kara that she's Super-blonde?
A rock concert in a gum factory? Two concerts? AIEEEE!
Jimmy ironically refers to Pete as "Elastic Man". Of course, we all know that DC Comics' Jimmy Olsen was Elastic Lad.
At the end, Chloe asks Pete, effectively, if he's the good guy or the bad guy with "So, Pete, are you the Barry Bonds Pete or the Hank Aaron Pete?" On the surface, it was a clever line, e.g., the steroid (K-gum) guy or the straight, no-chemicals hero. But digging in a little, I couldn't help wonder why she didn't refer to him as the Clemens or the Jeter guy. Or the McGuire or Mantle guy. Or, even assuming we have to stick with baseball, the Sosa or the Clemente guy. Instead, the writers have her choose two baseball players whose skin color is the same as Pete's. A mite (just a mite) racially-insensitive, if you ask me.
What Lex does to Pete is a bit cruel. Seemed like an overly nasty Lex and an overly nasty scene.
It's said that Kryptonite can warp someone's thinking. Chloe is a K-freak. She's not warped.
When Lex tells Chloe that he effectively has the right to look in (read: "spy") on her Daily Planet files, and she gets all indignant that he's violating her privacy - I say she's dead wrong - and he's dead right! My company has a policy - as do most other institutions - that anything created using their facilities (and that includes their computers) - is their property. It's their right to read, delete, alter, blow up - whatever - anything created or brought into the company environment. What's amazing is that Chloe, a computer whiz times a million, didn't know this.
I don't buy the Kara amnesia bit any more. It's boring. And since when did she think she was from Minnesota? Last time out, she was in Detroit - that's Michigan!
Actually, this might have been only good thing about this episode - next week looks intriguing. But I know they'll find a way to screw it up!
Very much in dead agreement, as you note shortly. FINE review.
Tom Roberts of Athens, Texas wrote:
Kryptonite-flavored Stride: makes your body AND clothes stretch! Hasn't the FDA given Smallville the big hairy eyeball, what with all the meteor rock infections in the food? Or is Lex bribing somebodies again?
Good point! It moved his clothes, too! HAH!
When Lex's thug socked Pete, that punch should have bounced his fist away instead of knocking the gloeing gum out of his mouth.
There's a good explanation for the folks who wrote me noting the gum flew out.
Good Points- Pete is back- all the kids are now a part of the Scooby Gang. It would have been nice over the years if each of them was brought into the loop and then had to deal with the changes and challenges in Clark's life like a team.That being said, ONLY them being a part of his secret, and not all of the loose end, Clark-saved, one-shot guest stars. I think there could've been a lot of great interaction, more depth and heart for the characters if they all really had a stake in what was happening with Clark, so that it would be more believable them being in peril.
Yeah. The whole "If you're on the show, we know you and you live, if you're a guest, we know you and you die" thing
This makes me bring up "Hourglass" from the first season. It is one of the episodes that to this day remains a favorite. Seeing Clark in the center of all of those gravestones- was stuff of show legend. I think it truly took away from it's impact, having Pete go (after never really being there), and now of course Martha being gone as well, not to mention the on and off hate fests that have been the relationship of Lana and Clark. Each one of these things takes credibility away from the earlier writing triumphs. For me, it was always a double meaning, that being connected to Clark and the danger around him(his personal fear) could be the downfall of those he loved the most.
Important to note that Lex didn't have a gravestone in that scene.Of course neither does Lois. That's back in the day when I would tape religiously and watch over and over to analyze. Of course the Lex ending rocked- especially his horror at the woman's death. You could truly feel for the character, at the same time wondering when he would turn. Of course the show has changed a great deal since that time.
Cut to now- shameless promotion- a currently wanted band, and of course in case we didn't know who, they tell ya again at the end of the show. Again with the phone- no kidding they're the sponsor- and so much STRIDE gum ( were there enough banners?)- and stick a fork in my eye, the characters talking about the gum- Chloe's reference of the long-lasting flavor? Pete chewing it at the end- Kryptonite free- Drek!!!!! Reminds me of- "Can you believe Lifehouse is playing at our prom?" Please no more of this.
Please, never more, none again, finito. Yes.
Points- 1 The stupidity of Jimmy and Kara banter- just not well written.
2 Luckily for Kara (someone who should be invulnerable) Pete has an instantaneous reaction to his new gum (whammo- Clark has Superfriends! I couldn't resist it- I used to watch all of those when I was a kid) He saves her life and she only says "Thanks". WTH???? No, who are you, how'd ya do that, you're my new favorite person, WHAT'S YOU'RE NAME? Very Lana/Clark saving to me right there.
3 Jimmy just needs to take pics of Kara on his phone. She's right there! I could see him taking pics of the band- but the girl he's on the date with?
4 Clark coming down the stairs- doesn't know Lionel is there- Super hearing?
Lana just did that this season, and he didn't know Lionel was there because he was in the shower?
5 They all decide Kara can't know the truth? Arbitrary drama again. Lionel suggesting Clark take Kara to the Fortress- obviously means he needs them to go to the Fortress for something, and Clark and Lana don't even question it- add to that- Clark is afraid to go to his own Fortress, like Jor-El is gonna freeze him again. He's the one who let him out.
6 The bracelet- a Kryptonian artifact that doesn't call out, or ring, or hum or whatever like so many of the others' did. Like Kara's crystal that called out to --- Clark?
7 Lana hugs Pete? I can see Kristin hugging Sam, but what connection do the characters have? Clark, who knew him so well, only shakes his hand?
8 Kara doesn't feel connected to the farm- she's barely there 6 months- why should she? And at this point I really don't care how long it's supposed to be- no one even told her she's new to town?
9 Show a scene of her asking Clark and getting the dodge- it annoys me to hear her talk about his evasive behavior without ever having seen it.
10 What exactly would Lex do if he knew Clark's secret? At this point I think they haven't done a good job at telling exactly what he would do, beyond whine that he wasn't a real friend, and didn't trust him.
11 Clark uses powers- doing farm work- d*mn!
12 Pete summed up everyone knowing in about 8 seconds- The writers should take a note, and cut to the chase once in a while.
13 Personal note for me- Kara's bracelet looking way too modern- down to the Kryptonian symbol. It makes it look like merchandise. It should truly be the form of the Kryptonian symbol if it's following Smallville tradition - to me.
14 K- being a mind-altering drug. Clark says it - What?
15 Pete's resentment of Clark, jealousy toward him- too heavy handed to force tension. He called Pete? He's barely mentioned him all this time.
16 Best friends is way too overused on this show. And a note on Chloe and Pete. She says she was 'Best Friends' with Pete before Clark.
When Chloe was kidnapped in the first season Clark confided in Lana that Chloe moved to town around Jr. High I think, and she kissed him - (his first kiss)
He mentioned to Chloe that Pete and him and bug boy used to hang out together when they were kids. Clark knew Pete before Chloe did. That's what I always thought.
17 We have to be PC about the term meteor freak?
18 Lex is big brother now- and if he tried some of these tactics earlier on he might know what's going on.
19 Jimmy - "CK!" Pluck out my other eye.And he says meteor freak a whole bunch of times. Way to be consistent.The whole hero talk is stale and annoying.
Meteor freaks being safe in society talk, way too X-Men rip off there.
20 Dumb as Clark- yet again Clark. Feels the effects of the K and pushes stuff aside to get closer to it. Can't he just X-Ray to see it, from afar maybe? The X-Ray effect is dead.
21 Pete still loves Chloe, and if he stayed she might've found love, or an arbitrary on/off hate fest. Take your pick. No one sees plastic Pete. Lex is on everyone's server and yet there isn't video surveillance.
22 What shadow was Pete in? Clark was almost always a dork in school, and had to drop football when he finally played when Pete was still there- and no one knew he was saving people. It's not like there is a statue in Clark's honor.
23 Yet another person tells Clark he's hiding.
24 Kara is gonna find out about herself by searching Clark's things.
25 Another person puts K on Clark's chest, and he can't just roll it off. He was surrounded by meteor rocks in the steam bath, in the 3rd show of the series, and he was half sitting up and falling back down, trying to save himself. And of course he's just left for hours like this, and he's not dead. I totally believe exposed to it he should die, but why do they keep putting it right on his chest? Are they trying to kill him? Just lay it there next to him. I don't believe, with all of the things he does NEXT to K that he can't just slightly turn and knock it off. Why can't that happen, and he just not be able to have the strength to get away from it. It's like he's the pet, and that's the way to make him stay.
26 How did Lex know about Lana's tat? I just don't know when this happened? Are we supposed to believe she just told him, or did that happen on the show?
27 Lana can be a convincing liar most of the time, but with Kara, she's way too obvious. Gee, maybe she should call Clark and tell him Kara is ticked.Why say '... shoveling over my past'- when you could just say tell me the truth?
28 Why was Jimmy going right to Lex, and how does he get to see the boss?
29 Now Pete's a hacker too. How does Lex know Pete likes Chloe?
30 Viruses look like scorpions now.
31 Pete just believes Lex when he says Chloe is a meteor freak.
32 How exactly did Clark destroy the gum?
33 Very little Welling, not a show about Superman.
34 Everyone keeps a little box of Kryptonite. It always annoyed me to see one on the Kent farm. What was it, an unspoken rule- just in case the boy gets a hold of the red K again- this will stop him.
35 Clark making excuses for Lionel- Dumb as Clark.
36 Clark always turns his back.
37 Where is the bracelet when Pete meets Lex? He had Pete steal for him, and he didn't have him followed.
38 Clark actually looks like he's turning green from the K
39 More filler- bring on the band. We don't need a scene of Lana telling Clark she finally knows what it means to live with his secret, or Clark actually talking to Kara, or actually fight it out with Lionel- bring on the band!
40 Clark gets up in 2 seconds, and he's fine, after dying on the floor. And of course no one needed to go to Lionel's office all day.
41 Clark leaves to stop Pete, except Pete didn't tell him where he was going.
42 Cool for Clark to stop the bad guys, but anonymity is key, so slam that guy with no powers through all of those crates. Lex again KO'd .I'd almost rather watch the Superhero movie- (spoof movie commercial) Clark and Pete just stand there after all of that commotion- for the sake of drama.
43 Lex is finally evil, to Pete- why not go to the cops when Lex has you beat up? Lex isn't going to say, he screwed up when he was stealing from my father for me.Oh yeah, he's an evil criminal mastermind- sort of. Beating up Pete was one of the most evil things he's actually been a part of. And now that Clark has good reason to actually yell at Lex, he plays hoops with Pete. Of course Clark and Lex can't talk about what happened- just pretend that neither of them know, when they both do. I thought things were supposed to be coming to a head.
44 There is more to describe Clark Kent/Kal-El- last son of Krypton/Superman than just that guy who keeps secrets, and buries stuff in his barn.
45 Now Kara is moving in with Lex? Ingrate. I was sick to death with this pairing when she screamed his name after he got shot in the head.
46 Why does the "Wanted Bands'" song fit at the end? Just because Pete said he was sorry for wrecking the computer? How 'bout no song overlay ending? And Pete tells her it's OK if she's got a power. Show him, and fix his broken arm. Hell, they're not gonna keep in touch anyway. Give the guy a good memory.
47 Jimmy wants Chloe because? He's jealous of her love for Clark? Or because Kara doesn't remember him? We don't need this love triangle back.
48 Is the something else in the folder gonna be that big a deal?
49 The Preview- Everyone knows his secret now? Veritas? The preview before this show was better than the end result.
50 Please don't tell me he's in a Kryptonite box. He should really be dead after that.
All of this was the bad part. I feel like the bad cop here. This is frustrating. Was really glad the strike ended, hate most TV shows and couldn't wait for this to come back- now I'm disappointed -and can't wait to Read ya later Neal- Ann
Awesome! I read all of those, and they're all very good points. I feel like I'm reading my own review... heh.
I'm a long time fan of your Smallville reviews on the Superman Homepage
My reason for writing concerns the decline in quality of the television show Smallville. It's usage of product placement nealry rivals that of an infomercial. The last episode to air entitled "Hero" was so diluted with adds for Stride gum, Toyota vehicles and Sprint cell phones that the story and plot was drowned out and lost to me. A real shame. As a concerned and slightly enraged fan I feel something should be done. I wrote the following to the CW:
Understood. Reading on:
"To whom it may concern,
I am writing to complain about the excessive use of product placement in the television show Smallville. I've been a fan of the show since it's debut back in 2001. I've watched the show grow from being an entertaining, fun, dramatic television show with soul, during it's first three years at the former WB network. Sadly enough, since its move to your network, its quality has degraded at such rapid pace, the show now encompasses everything that is wrong with television. The problem begins with the fact that the show's creators Al Gough and Miles Millar (two very talented artists who now prioritize making more money they don't need, above making high quality art) now no longer care about their creation. They no longer write or direct any of the episodes. Al and Miles would do well to take a page out of Joss Whedon' s book, he who always managed to write an direct 3 or 4 quality episodes for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly, while still managing to fufill the role of executive producer.
But this facet pales in comparison to the excessive use of product placement that encompasses the show to such a degree, I can't tell if I'm watching a show about cell phones, cars or gum (among other things) or the adventures of Clark Kent. In addition, there's these annoying "clear ads" for your other television shows that appear at the bottom of my television screen, so I can't even see the entire picture while I'm watching the show. Your use of product placement is shameful. It cheapens the show, the network and all who are associated with those two entities. Your last episode titled "Hero" is the worse case of excessive product placement I have ever witnessed. I realize a show is created to make money above all else. But if you value your reputation as a Network. If you care about the show and the fans who invest their time to sit down and be entertained and taken along for the creative ride. Keep the product placement where it belongs - in the commercials, not in the show itself. If this means making less shows, than take this hit. You'll keep your fan base happy and loyal. And this will no doubt please your sponsors. As of this writing, I am on the fence as to whether or not I will continue watching Smallville. I will leave that up to you. Don't make me change the channel on you guys cause the remote is in my hand and my thumb is hovering just above the arrow button. Remember, Smallville is your flagship show. It represents the quality, the image, the prestige of the CW. Treat it with care and respect. Develope it so it may be the best it can be. Right now, Smallville has sold its soul to the Sponsors. But all is not lost...yet.
Chris Fraser (a concerned Smallville fan)"
Very well put.
I expect a generic corporate answer in return. But, I feel you might have some better means to get the message across. I feel this is a great show that never met it's true potential. I'm betting that if this aired on NBC or CBS, we might have a better quality show. Thank for reading this and keep up the great work.
I think, alas, you may not even get a generic response, alas. They don't tend to respond to criticism.
Jim Smith wrote:
After "Hero" I am ready to give up the farm. That was the single worst episode I have ever seen. There is less product placement in a two hour episode of Extream Home Make-over. Next week better be a hell of a lot better or I am done. We should all be done with this show after the crap they just gave us.
Sigh. You know... I sometimes really, really want to stop reviewing. Shows like this last one make up for it, but I do understand the frustration. Really.
There is no reason for me to keep watching if this is all they are going to give us. None at all. I love your reviews but this could be the end of everything Smallville for me. Until next time.
It's been probably over a year since I last sent you a letter. It's mostly because I have less time now with college, but also because I've slowly lost interest and hope in the show. Your reviews are just as great as always, but unfortunately the show is hardly doing you the justice...
For whatever reason, I've been reminiscing about the show a bit, thinking back to the first couple of seasons. People who think that your sole purpose is to berate the show obviously don't realize how glowingly you rated it during the first few seasons. To a certain degree, the last four have made the first three that much better.
Yes. Very much agreed.
While I went through a bit of a comic book fad about a year and a half ago, what I've learned about the Superman continuity (or any other superhero for that matter) is that as a reader you take bits and pieces from your favorite stories to put together your own continuity - the Superman as you envision him. At least that's the way I have. Perhaps it is a product of me become a fanboy only recently, but one think I will always credit Smallville for is bringing Lex Luthor and Clark Kent together in their upbringing. Portraying Lex Luthor as a dark hero may be cliche (after all, who hasn't seen Star Wars), but at the same time, a very powerful foundation for the choices Clark ultimately makes when he finally decides to don the cape.
Yep. This is actually the first "Lex in Smallville" imagining I have dug.
The way I see it, Clark's childhood is what ultimately drives Lex Luthor insane. Smallville did an amazing job of showing how Clark has everything that Lex desires - a stable family, loyal friends, a moral upbringing. Lex both admires and envies that part of Clark. But Lex's fatal flaw is his desire to live up to the expectation brought upon him by his father and Clark simultaneously. When he realizes that he can never accomplish both, it eventually drives himself over the edge. In Lex, Clark sees a couple of things. First, a man who he realizes he failed. For this reason, Clark makes the choice to never make that same mistake. He is still a boy, destined to be Superman, how his failure with Lex is partly what drives him to be a hero. Clark also sees the good of humanity in the young Lex Luthor. In many ways, he sees the world as a macrocosym of Lex and he makes it a personal goal to not let the world follow the same path. In large part, this is why I always accepted this part of Smallville (not to mention Lex Luthor as a dark hero is kind of bad@$$ and add dimensionality to his character).
Yep. That's a VERY good analysis.
The greatest misfortune Smallville may have ever had was to be aired on the WB. Unfortunately, that meant the focus was not so much on Clark Kent, but Clark Kent and Lana Lang. I can't even fault the writers any more, since I imagine they are getting instructions from higher above to focus on these elements as opposed to Clark's growth. I'm sure anyone would have difficulty with that sort of restriction.
Even so, Clark and Lana were fine in the first season, until they made Lana the constant illogical pariah due to her beauty.
One of the main criticisms of the show now is that they're making Lois Clark's second choice after he realizes he cannot end up with Lana. Yeah, that is bad. The way I always understood it is that Lana and Lois represented two different parts of Clark's life. Lana was his childhood sweatheart, but Clark's destiny was far greater than Smallville. The reason Clark and Lana don't end up together is that Lana ultimately is not part of that destiny. She's a simple girl, who simply cannot be a part of Clark's bigger picture. Lois, on the other hand, is the woman who fits that bigger picture. It's not that Lois is Clark's second choice. It is that Lana is not a part of his Superman life. Only in shaping him into that hero. I find it to be a rather subtle distinction, actually, but it is crucial that this subtlety is explored. And you and I would both agree that the writers have failed to that end.
Smallville's second big success, in my view, is making Clark's powers a big part of his development. I like the idea of his powers being analogous with puberty. It's a neat adaptation and it did make for some great episodes.
It's kind of that Buffy vibe, to a degree. But it was better here, for me, because I can relate to Clark, I can't relate to Buffy.
One thing I had a really problem with is them killing Papa Kent. I always felt that it was the principle distinction between Clark and Bruce is that Clark was not motivated by a mere sense of seeking justice/revenge, but motivated by his hope for humanity. Bruce became who he is largely because of his parents' death (personally, I also prefer the version where he doesn't know who killed his parents - though I've come to accept Batman Begins for this choice). He is motivated by his desire to ensure that criminals like his parents' killer are brought to justice. He wants to ensure that other people do not experience the same tragedy. But also, this is what makes him a darker, more brooding character. But Clark is not motivated by his father's death. Rather, he is motivated by a love for humanity. And Papa Kent is a big part of that, but his death should have no part in that. It was a desperate move by the show at the time, but it simply doesn't belong in Clark's development.
Yes. And they never made hay of it.
As I am slowly becoming more and more detached from the show, I felt it was pertinent to think back. Truthfully, I could write fifty pages about this (you could probably write 50000). Heck, one day I might be inspired to write my own Superman volumes (it would be multiple as his birth, upbringing, and destiny are all central parts). I just wrote out my stream of consciousness here in hopes some of it makes sense. I felt it necessary to get at least some of it in writing. I guess, even though we may sit here in pain watching the dying days of what was once a good show, I felt I needed to think about the good this show has done. If nothing else, it made a fanboy out of me (with the help of others, such as yourself). I guess that is all for me. Not really a topic related to an episode, but I just was in that zone...
And it was a good zone to be in. There's some incredible insight in the above.
Thanks for your time. I hope all is well for you and good luck in your future.
""Pete, after using his stretching power to assault Lex, is suddenly affected by a punch. I thought he stretched? What threat would blows or a bullet have for him? And yet he is tortured, and Lex's goon bends his arms back "
In (mild) fairness, after the thug hits Pete in the back of the head and Pete hits the ground, you can (just barely) see the green gum fly out of his month. Presumably he has to have it in his mouth to maintain the power. And his power fades as soon as it leaves his mouth. Yeah, the merest tissue of rationale, but that seems to be what the writers had in mind. And who are the Helbings anyway? Their main claim to fame seems to have been writing assistants on Carnivale and Brotherhood. Way to go, giving two guys their first professional full-out writing gig to bring back a former regular and run with some major plot elements. :roll: One suspects they were heavily story edited by the executive producers, and co-executive producers, and producers, and story editors...
I'll bet. But beyond that, per above, I'll suggest that hitting a guy with stretchy powers before the gum pops out would do nothing.
"Pete, after using his stretching power to assault Lex, is suddenly affected by a punch. I thought he stretched? What threat would blows or a bullet have for him? And yet he is tortured, and Lex's goon bends his arms back (a strange way to torture someone, for sure). Incoherent. Then, later, Pete only has one injured arm?"
Not trying to question your undeniable athority on this subject...but I thought they showed his piece of gum falling out of his mouth when the big guy surprised him.
Pete + Gum(kryptonite)=Elongated Man (or Plastic Man, take your pic)
Pete + big friggin guy - Gum(kryptonite)=Pete with no powers
just a thought
It's Déjà vu all over again! See above.
(happy to have a review to read again, I hated that break)
And I'm spent!
More next week!
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