August 1, 2021

Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 9 - Episode 3: "Rabid"

Reviews:

Rabid

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • Emo Oliver is emo.
  • Everyone turns into zombies, then turns back with Clark's blood as an antigen.
  • Emil knows Clark's secret, and Chloe's secret. Clark learns Lois' secrets, but keeps his secret.
  • Secrets.

    REVIEW:

    Ever seen a magician? I have, and I understand why some people are digging the show right now because of it. And more power to them, really. From the onset I've been of the attitude that if you like the show you're obviously in a better place, because you're enjoying the show, and that's a good thing. Keep doing it, and don't get mad at me if I don't.

    A magician puts up one hand and shows a peanut, and the eye follows the peanut, and he swings it around, hands it to a pretty girl for a while, and then the pretty girl puts it on a table, and at the end of a few seconds you're so rapt on the peanut you don't see the mallet coming from over his shoulder.

    The mallet SMASHES that damned peanut, and then BAM! The hidden lever in the mallet opens so fast you can't see it and there's a jar of peanut butter sitting on the table.

    The crowd oooohs, most of them anyway. And there's a guy in the back, he's paying attention, he's not swept up in things because he's a critic, and he goes, "Hey, buddy! I saw that lever!"

    That's my function as a reviewer, and it makes people angry in a reasonable way. They're like, "Hey, buddy, don't give it away!" or "Hey, man, I gotta get up for work in the morning, and you're killing my one thing that makes me happy here!"

    But see, I'm the trickiest magician of all, because a magician just has to obfuscate something in a new way every week, and that's what we're both doing. A rabbit becomes a toad. A pretty girl becomes another pretty girl. Or, in this case, a man with a kryptonite heart becomes a bunch of zombies. Adversity is adversity, after all. So what sets a story apart?

    The way it's put together. Why does this review hack people off or make them passionate? IE, why is it effective, where Smallville often is not? Because most reviewers give you a very structured and simplistic journalistic argument for or against taking a child to a movie. Boring. That's what most of them amount to, from what I've seen.

    It's a litmus for whether junior will scream in the theater, with rare exceptions. Some people find it a higher calling. Roger Ebert seems to do a-ok by me. Most shows are similarly very structured and simple and aspire to nothing greater and still get put out there. Smallville has become this. It was not this once.

    There are the fluff pieces, the reviews that no matter what a show or movie does, will always be positive, just for the sake of positivity. I've seen that. I won't name names.

    Then there are the trolls, the guys you just know are trying to spike something out of vindictive spite. You see a lot of that on Ain't It Cool News, and I feel I can say that fairly, because I can also caveat that with the fact that I like Ain't It Cool News, because they positively reviewed my comics, which they didn't have to do.

    I can say with honesty that I don't do this to be vindictive, and folks don't tend to believe it, but if I wanted to just spike it, I could do that in a creative way and not go into plot and character. It's easy. That's why people do it on comment boards.

    I often get labeled the troll by people who either don't read my review, don't like where I'm coming from, or just want to enjoy the magic show, and don't realize that I'm not standing in the back shouting out the secrets of the production. I'm quite literally watching it by video feed and then posting a link that says, "Hey, you want to know what I think? Read this. If not, that's cool. You don't even have to pay." I don't do it out of a vindictive notion. I do it out of love.

    The reason I mention all of this is because I've written a lot of negative reviews in the last two years, and if you think it wears on you, imagine how the hell it wears on me. I don't like doing a negative review (even if I may have a talent for it) any more than you like having to read one after you've watched the show attached to it, even if you hated it too. It means we've all been duped. We head out to Transformers 2, watch it in the theater, and kind of walk out with our heads bowed. Like, "Aw, man. I knew better than that." "Yeah, but it's Saturday, waddayagonnado?"

    And one of you (that'd be me) starts thinking about the most recent Lawrence Block book and how you could have been fifty pages more in. But you go to Transformers anyway because you love Transformers, and know Transformers was once great, and hope it might be great again at some point.

    The bottom line is, when you're watching something, and subsequently reviewing it, you can appeal to two quantitative responses to the show. The nuts and bolts, or the emotional response.

    Most bad reviews appeal to the emotional response factor. It works for things with a broad fan base and a wide appeal. Superman. The Matrix. The Lord of the Rings. Star Wars.

    "OMG. I just went to the movie, and it was everything I had hoped it would be. I was so glad to finally see this thing I waited for, and it gave me everything I wanted it to! All of the stuff that happened was great! All of my friends were cheering! The whole place loved it!"

    "OMG. I just went to the movie, and it was the festering pile of crap I expected it to be. I waited all this time, and I got a punch to the groin for my troubles. Everything that happened sucked. All of my friends were farting in protest. The whole place died of a stupid attack."

    One is more amusing to read even if you disagree. The other is boring but reassuring to someone who has the same opinion.

    Neither accomplish a single damned productive thing.

    Then there's the quantitative analysis, which is oft maligned when people who don't know much about the writing process say, "IF U DON' LIKE IT, DON' WATCH IT!" Usually while picking their nose and walking into a Wal-Mart, texting the comment as they drive. See? Negative regard. Can be funny.

    Analysis gives us a basis by which to judge the media we regard, and I believe it serves a purpose. It creates more cognizant viewers who demand better work and elevates the craft creative people have to produce in order to get noticed. It also pisses off stupid people who want to remain stupid unmolested, which is even better.

    Example:

    The plot of The Matrix is exceptionally thin, in that it rehashes a series of basic philosophical maybes and couples them with your typical rebel and overlord stratagem that permeates most summer movies. On a visual level, there is much beauty to behold. Fancy computer generated images, hot chicks and dudes in leather, fight scenes that culminate in trucks coming together and exploding. Easy on the eyes. The martial arts is obviously researched, and most of the cast pull off their respective roles without too many groaners. Ultimately, it's a mixed bag thereby, but if you want to turn off your brain and have fun with your buddies who think they're turning on their brain for regarding the brain in the vat argument for the first time, hey, why not?

    That's a review that factors elements of the plot in. People who love The Matrix will write me and be like, "You just don't understand the deeper philosophy!" "Much beauty to behold? There IS NO PRETTIER MOVIE, BUTTHOLE!"

    And then the invariable: "YOU LIKE DUDES IN LEATHER, F@G!" from an idiot who leaves an email address like urnevercatchme@anonymousemail.com, not realizing that the IP of everyone who writes in comes with the message and that we then ban them.

    That's what people do when you hit the hornet's nest of responsible regard. I dig that, actually.

    But there's a fundamental, continuing ignorance in the response: "I dislike you disliking something." Hey, buddy, you're disliking my dislike, in case you didn't take philosophy 101!

    People get violent. It's nutty. It extends outward, too. When you take it into politics, it leads to death. In Iran right now, there are three people being executed because they protested a presidential election. The judges said, "Well, you criticized something, and so I criticize you, then sentence you to execution." Wheee!

    I just say this because there are people who want me to be things other than what I am, but if I changed anything to suit folks, other angry folks would rush to fill the gap because something changed.

    Pains are given for trying anything new, like, say, starting a review with a long essay on what writing reviews mean will ultimately drag spurn in.

    This is always followed by the occasional, "I USED TO LIKE YOU... back when you were GOOD" email. I never know what that's hoping to accomplish. Thanks for something I liked once, so here's your reward: Eat @#$%!

    If I keep writing, I lose, because I have to keep taking crap. If I stop, I lose, because there are people who enjoy what I do here, and I don't want to disappoint them. I imagine, ironically, this is much the same dilemma Smallville faces. The difference between the two of us is that they're doing it for money, and I'm doing this because I want to thank the people who were good enough to follow this work for so long, even if this isn't as enjoyable as it once was. Now it's like swimming the English channel just to prove that I can.

    None of this misinterpretation bothers me more than it amuses me, because if I flatly gave a crap what people thought of my writing beyond the people who publish it, if I did it for any reason other than the fact that I enjoy what I come up with and do it for myself and the people who like it, I'd have quit the first time I had to deny myself something for writing, which was so long ago and far away that Alzheimer's has wiped it from my brain, along with, sadly, doubt, because writing is tough. You gotta heat your office with candles and beg food from strangers and deal with cars that don't run, and wait fifteen years longer to start having your kids.

    The long and the short of this argument is that in the place of the notes I used to take to try and justify myself to a group of folks I am either already justified to or will never justify myself to, I have more room for introspection, and that's nice. It just means it's hard to say the quantitative things sometimes, like:

      This is Smallville, not a zombie show. As villains, Superman fighting zombies is like Superman fighting, I dunno, werewolves. One punch kills. Even assuming they grow, like, Kryptonian strong, Superman still has superspeed, fire from his eyes, super breath. It's no contest, and a stupid dilemma. Why rip-off 28 Days Later instead of coming up with an interesting plot?

    But I will say these things regardless. I'm not gonna shut up just because you've got a bug up your butt about not understanding how this thing works. How words are all take them or leave them. How a given person can (REALLY) read a work they disagree with and then not try and change that person's opinion with threats, insults, ignorance, or barrage.

    Kay?

    And if you don't like it, you can just trot the hell off. Or write something better. I encourage that, too.

    All of the major character dilemmas in this episode accomplished nothing, and came from nothing. That sounds like a stern indictment, but it's true. You can run through it character by character for the character flaws.

    Lois starts the episode from the place of having just lost a guy she liked (Metallo). She shows no continuity in this and is as happy-go-lucky as ever. Then, because a guy who has saved her multiple times before (Clark) saves her from zombies, she is making dovey eyes after him without such a thing happening (outside of a few other such arbitrary moments) in the last five years.

    Oliver starts the episode having escalated a depression that didn't make sense when it was introduced. Jimmy died, yes. Oliver got close-ish with Jimmy one episode last season when Jimmy was "on drugs." So Jimmy dies, it would seem to make sense that Oliver would fall into a deep depression and blame himself, right? Well, wrong-o for a few reasons, the main one being that Oliver, as he insinuates, didn't fail to stop Doomsday. Clark failed to stop Doomie.

    But the main reason that annoys me as a purveyor of character is that the dilemma didn't spring from Ollie. Ollie's character is a man who, when he was trying to deal with the DEATH OF CLOSE LOVED ONES, decided to throw on green and stomp bad guys. To take that character and then have the DEATH OF A CLOSE LOVED ONE and have that then inspire suicidal depression, drinking, and deciding to STOP throwing on green and stomp bad guys is, at best, chaotic, at worst, f#@%#ng stupid. I'm gonna go with the latter.

    And hey, to make that more appealing to anyone paying attention, let's throw in another case of where a guy says something a girl doesn't like, so the girl smacks him. Always love that, right? Because if there were a scene where Lois said something that Ollie didn't like about objectifying him, it'd be okay to haul off and smack her in the face as a gesture of disapproval, right? Nice sexism there, Smallville. You go, girl.

    I love how that comment always gets the letter, "Well, he was being such a d!ck!" No kidding. How many times was Lana annoying, and how many times did Clark smack her for it? It just reinforces the ridiculous guys gotta be tough BS. And I mean, I'm a tough guy. I'll build a house for you, repair any plumbing or electrical error. I shoot deer. I drink beer. I'm one with the inner brainless Neanderthal (just look at my history of fart jokes and monkey humor).

    That doesn't mean that men should just take physical abuse.

    No one should, and to display it as a logical reaction in the show makes me HATE the people who promote it.

    Clark starts the show in the most neutral place of all, and yet the most chaotic place of all. He is supposedly doing multiple things at once. Training in the Fortress. Living in Smallville. Working in Metropolis. Operating as the red-blue blur. Writing newspaper articles. He didn't have any major catharsis to work through.

    What he needs is a consistency, a knowledge of where he is from week to week. If he's training, how is he in Metropolis? If he's in Metropolis, why is he living in Smallville? But from this chaos, he faces a dilemma in ways that are also insensate. Zombies pop up, he has to stop them from taking over the city, so he gives blood, wakes up, and holds Lois to normal. I struggle to think of a way Clark could be less proactive to the plot. The underlying point from a character perspective is the wonder at why, if Clark is the central protagonist, the conflict and its resolution doesn't center around him beyond the tangential blood? He ends the episode also arbitrarily smitten with Lois, putting Lana behind. Why? Eh. Who cares. We saw it turn into peanut butter, right?

    He also revealed his secret arbitrarily to someone, but that's a plot hinge. I'll get there.

    Chloe goes from being angry at Clark last episode to working with him with no problems at all, presumably because he's Clark again (not that there's any difference between when he was Clark and wasn't Clark, really, beyond the suit). No connecting tissue there before we jump straight into the fact that Chloe has SECRETS she's hiding from Emil. Why she's hiding them from him? Eh. Doesn't matter after this episode. It's just arbitrary tension, like when Oliver was riding his motorcycle to be an emo kid for no real reason. Doesn't derive from any real logic. She ends the episode in an ambiguous way with Emil, it's dangling.

    Tess is bitten by a zombie and becomes a zombie while mumbling something about the people she's searching for, granting us no new information. Innovative.

    Emil learns Clark's secret. I suppose Emil had a bit of a growing character moment. I suppose it's telling that he's the only one who did when he's not on the credits or a major character of yet.

    Zod killed a guy for helping him (we can debate whether it was help or not, but Zod SAID it was helpful, so I'll go by the show's stated motive instead of the logical one). Why? Who knows. No real progress one way or another.

    Basically, from a character perspective, this was bankrupt.

    Plot? Well, let's see:

    A vial of blood turns into a flood of blood from a plane and then back into a vial of blood that Zod's follower has attained, without powers or how he got it being shown.

    All of the people indoors must still be zombies, and all of the people who became zombies and got killed (by Oliver with a shotgun, note) are unaccounted for in terms of scope. This kind of attack would stop the world. By next week, it'll be ignored.

    Poor Tess. Trains all day to take people's heads off, and then when confronted with a zombie does the old "Reach for whatever's around" routine. Sigh.

    The virus is airborne, but Lois gets it from being bitten. And then is cured by an airborne additive. Ollie doesn't get it. Chloe doesn't get it.

    Clark chooses to reveal his secret identity to Emil, because the situation calls for it for lives to be saved. When Lois is threatened with losing her life by the zombies, Clark doesn't jump to superspeed to save her, allowing her to be bitten by not using his powers despite the situation calling for it for lives to be saved. Crap.

    A needle with a trace amount of kryptonite on it puts Clark out for an entire night where drinking the crap just upset his stomach a few years back. This is particularly stupid, given that once the needle is removed Clark heals up and vooop! Back on his feet.

    This is garbage. It's just garbage.

    1 of 5.

    LETTERS:

    AJ Bhowmik wrote:

    My biggest problems with the episode:

    1. The Costume - overall, I was excited to see him wear this outfit, but the S-Shield looks like it's been through the wash about 250 times. How could anyone have thought a faded S - that's not even visible in all the scenes it's so washed out - could possibly have been a good idea. Why not a raised S-shield a la Superman Returns? Even if you don't like the Neo outfit overall you have to admit that would have been so much better.

    I'm waiting to learn why black, still.

    2. The Costume - No explanation about where the costume came from? Did Clark just make it at home, buy the shirt off of e-bay, or ask Chloe to whip it together? I understand he's "training," whatever that means, but at least a throwaway scene to show him donning it for the first time would have been better than another watching another Allison Mack crinkle her forehead scene for the 100th time.

    Yeah, I think it's a way to show progression. You know, without showing any with the character.

    ---On to Comics---

    I have yet to read your review but honestly, as a reader dating back to the Return of Superman, I have never felt such apathy towards the Comic. WONK is great and the Superman proper title and Action should have all flowed seamlessly with Wonk - everything happening in these two books could have been weaved in.

    Zatara in trouble? Meh. Mon-el "dead," but obviously coming back to life in a couple days? Please. The Science Police? Aside from having the lamest name of a team ever, this is a direct slap in the face to the years of writing that established the SCU. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Robinson hasn't even mentioned the existence of the SCU, which if he is going to replace them he could have at least done even with one offhand line.

    I mentioned that earlier in my reviews of the Robinson run. I don't mind if they replace it, I just wish there were a reason. At least he paid lip service to the newsboys with the death, which is nice.

    I think Robinson has some great ideas, I just think the writing isn't as tight as it should be in terms of execution or proper focus. It'd be like writing about the Mona Lisa and talking the whole time about her hands.

    Honestly, his dialogue has improved, which isn't saying much since he started extremely low with Superman commenting on how hot Jade is even though she's dead. I have to give some points to seeing Guardian flying around on his shield - but again, give some credit to long time fans and at least mention Project Cadmus from time to time - throw in a cameo by Dubbilex. Anything but the disconnected mindless drivel that's going on.

    I think Dubbilex died in the Jimmy Olsen special, if I recall right. You should check that out. It kind of closed the book and was overlooked by some.

    Kevin wrote:

    Hey Neal, love the reviews; they are my favorite part of watching smallville.

    Thank you kindly.

    I thought that the characterization they did of Metallo was great and I hope this isn't the last we see of him. I just want to say that I disagree with the belief that an EMP grenade is an attempt to murder Metallo. He, at this point, is a machine. In all honesty you can't murder a machine. You can shut it down but it can always be reactivated later. That would be like someone saying I murdered my computer if I unplugged it.

    I get this letter a lot, actually, and I always wonder why. Maybe it's because I grew up reading science fiction stories that debate whether or not sentience is limited to meat. Most humans seem to fall to that as a default. I don't personally believe that. I believe that if you took all of the electrical impulses that make up me and pop it in a theoretical machine, it would replicate me. But that's because I don't believe in a soul.

    I also watched Short Circuit when I was a kid, and cried when they killed Number 5. It's just one of those things. If it has personality, ambition, emotion, it's sentient. Doesn't matter if it's in a machine, a dog, or a human body.

    If your computer had sentience and you unplugged it, it'd be one thing. If you smashed it with a hammer assuming it could be rebuilt, you'd be killing a being.

    I suppose to take it to the extreme, our bodies are just machines. You can restart them, but like a computer, when you smash it up, it isn't guaranteed. An EMP on Metallo is like hitting a human being with a bolt of lightning. It shorts all of the electrical impulses and fries our circuitry.

    I know they called him a cyborg but to me that was only because he still looked human. Also I don't think Clark killed the woman from the future in the season premiere either. She fell on her own sword. Clark didn't use the weapon and attack her she missed him and fell on it herself. My understanding of murder is when someone tries to kill someone through intent and action. I'm not looking forward to the whole "zombies" episode but I'm hoping to at least be entertained.

    There's a difference between murder and killing. But beyond that, where did I say that he killed her? A few people have accused me of this, but I didn't say that. Only that the fight was stupid.

    Oh! I see what it is. People are just reading the summary. There's a difference between killing someone and murdering them, but yeah, that was bad wording on my part.

    Gislef wrote:

    Just a few notes.

    1) Corben isn't a GI, he's a reporter who served in a war zone. Granted, that probably wouldn't give him the salary to buy an apartment unless he was really well-known like Wolf Blitzer. Then again, if he was that famous, they would have recognized him pretty easily. Maybe his sister just had a big life insurance policy?

    Why should we make excuses for their bad storytelling?

    2) I really didn't get the impression the EMP would kill Corben, or that anyone had reason to believe it would. Chloe even it says it would only paralyze him long enough for Clark to escape with Lois. Not that Clark does that. And it's not entirely clear why paralyzing Corben would shut down his heart's kryptonite radiation so Clark could get by him.

    Why should we make excuses for their bad storytelling?

    2) The problem with "Metallo" is the problem the character has in the comics. He doesn't need to be a super-powered cyborg. At the core, John Corben is a guy with a piece of kryptonite. Sure, they do more with him in the comics and the comic book Superman has a bigger (i.e., unlimited) FX budget. But Corben doesn't need to be a cyborg to take on Clark here. Ironically, Corben's strength proves his downfall because he throws Clark far enough away that he can grab a piece of lead panel. If he just stood over Clark and let him die, we'd have moved onto Green Arrow: The Series ("Star City"? "Arrowville"?).

    I thought the main character of this show was Green Arrow already...

    Lex Vader wrote:

    Good point about the beating heart. I didn't give it much thought. Well, maybe I thought it was a little corny. I can't remember. It sort of accidentally implies that between beats, the Kryptonite has lost power, so it's a nice EFFECT at the very least. Actually my custom Metallo figure would be WAY better if the heart could beat.

    I like the idea.

    And actually, I don't feel like Clark is emo. I feel like he's about a hundred times less emo than he was whenever Lana was around, which was MOST of the past eight years. He seems pretty darn casual about the whole Batman thing, but it's Chloe that keeps making an issue of it. Clark's spouting fan service lines like, "I just wanna fly already!" And if you read into it a little, he's sick of being lame Smallville Clark. How can he be emo if he wants to STOP having emotions? He just wants to go save people, like he should. He's already proven he doesn't need the Daily Planet job or the secret identity. Of course, this means he's instantly the exact opposite of what the show was trying to bring to the character. But he wants to be Neo, not emo. And we all know Neo is incapable of emotion.

    He's totally emo, though. Staring off into rainy windows. Deciding if he wants to be himself. Wearing black. Longer hair. And there's that album he did with My Chemical Romance.

    What bugged me the most is that, while they based Metallo on the one-story Silver Age version, they made him even LESS metal. While he is superficially Metallo (crazy guy with a Kryptonite heart and superstrength), he's about as far from the character who fills the need to see Superman fighting robots as you can possibly get. So... Smallville found a loophole, and picked the Smallvilliest version of the character so they didn't have to change him much (except they decided not replace all his bones and muscles with metal).

    I like what they did, but that was my big problem too. No fight at all.

    Honestly... though mostly joking to myself, I thought what Clark was going to ask Emil for was a lead suit. I'm not sure if asking for an EMP is smarter, or stupider, but it's definately the least like Superman.

    I always wonder why a guy with superspeed has issues with a guy like Metallo. You just speed far away, hit him with heat vision, melt him in lead, bingo.

    Peace, love, monkeybombs!

    Rob wrote:

    Neal,

    I was just thinking the other day about how if Zod became a mod, he might have a unique way of answering some of the people in the comments on this website.

    "No baiting before Zod!" "No saying 'If you don't like it, don't watch it,' before Zod!"

    Someone would cry free speech, and he would say "Why do you say this to me, when you know I will kill you for it?" And so on.

    I have literally had to stop modding because the wave of stupid is just too much for me sometimes. There are, quite literally, enough idiots to power a small country on any message board anywhere. Even pros.

    Anyway, I'm worried about this season. This is the first time the premiere hasn't given people false hope for the rest of the year by at least being a 4/5.

    I'm not worried. I know what it is. It's the end of the show. They're almost done milking it. It's like watching someone on a ventilator. And I don't say that glibly, I just watched a loved one die in that fashion. It's very similar. Squeeze every last bit out instead of culminating. I've been saying that'd happen for years.

    I'm probably more annoyed with the comics. Is it too much to ask to get a subscription to a book called 'Superman' and have said character of Superman appear in more than half the issues for the year?

    They're doing something with it, though. I gotta say, I'm digging it.

    Why is Smallville doing what they're doing to Green Arrow? The only thing as a writer I can think of is that they want him to be a foil for what Lex was (Clark's rich friend, goes bad, starts killing people, etc.) only have him turn out all right in the end.

    Or maybe it's a hot guy factor coupled with the need for more characters, given that the show hemorrhaged all of their mains.

    Sometimes, it looks as if Smallville rips off other sources.

    Sometimes?

    I haven't watched any episodes of it, but there's a new show called "Flash Forward," and the descriptions I read of it remind me of some of the things in the season premiere of Smallville, with the time travel. I suppose it could be a coincidence given how they need these things to be written well in advance.

    I've fallen on the floor before, and never once blacked out as a result. Imagine!

    Drink more. It'll happen. I kid. Drinking is bad.

    I don't know if they're just going for that Batman/Matrix vibe, but Clark's current outfit DOES have a lot in common with Jor-El's attire at the beginning of Superman the Movie.

    Heh. Except it's not made of aluminum foil.

    What do you think will happen first:Clark becoming Superman, flying, and wearing his traditional red, yellow, and blue--or universal healthcare coming to the United States? Tough call. (I'm Canadian.)

    Oh, you kidding? One's a figment of our collective imagination, the other will happen by the end of next month.

    I have hope, and I live in hope.

    Shafi S wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    I'm back....but Smallville of course is still bearable than ever...I read your past two reviews of this season...and it confirms my beliefs that if they didn't have the superman license...it might be a better show...I don't know I'm trying to think outside the box...maybe I shouldn't. Neal what do you think about this?

    I always default to thinking. I save not thinking for late, late at night when my brain is fried, and then I play Tower Defense Games.

    I just saw the scene from the episode Rabid....I was laughing in embarrassment....Superman fighting zombies.....well it happened in the comics I think. Its just why....I was reading IGN.....they like this sort of thing..I thought they should be furious about this...but no...somehow its character development.....my buttocks.

    I think the process is, "Hey, zombies are cool! Let's make a show about that!" instead of, "Now where is Clark as a character?"

    Neal...I wanted to ask you if you still aren't reading Amazing Spidey....my friend convinced me to get back in there...I know One more Day was awful and I love Mary Jane...its just the concept of Spidey as a swinging bachelor was hilarious...now they have Joe Kelly on board...and another candy in their favor was black cat...I always like Cat and MJ back to back...so I was a Sucker...Neal....if you were an editor of Marvel do you think this is the right direction, even though this is a late question....also do you think what they're doing in Superman comics...like Clark being in WOK...I don't..I don't like Supeman stories on Krypton....The stories are good but personally, I like Superman on earth...and also Batman was it right to kick Bruce Wayne and put Grayson in his place...I liked Dick as Batman but Bruce Wayne is a legend...what do you think of all this?

    I am loving what they're doing in the comics. Robinson needs to work a bit on reigning it in, but all of the ideas are superb. As for Spider, I have not, and will not read it. I was so hacked at what they did with the Mary Jane and Spidey marriage that I will never read the comic again, likely, unless they reverse it.

    It's not really about the fear of bold storytelling (I mean, I have no problem with retcons that make sense). But the way they did it was incredibly character destructive, and there's also nothing compelling I've heard that's come out of it, really.

    You can remove Superman from his title book with one issue of continuity. You can't eliminate a marriage carte blanche and then say the stories still stand and have it be coherent.

    Also last question, what do you think about Johns changing DCU again...with Superman Origin...I read the first issue and I can't describe the offness about it....I know thats not a description :) but theres something about it. What do you think about it? Also did you like how The flash Rebirth thing is up par with Green Lantern Rebirth?

    I dig Secret Origin a lot so far. I loved Geoff's Flash run. Flash: Rebirth is not really sitting well with me yet, and I'm not sure why. I think it's because I still don't see why Barry had to be brought back. But it's not even half over yet, and Geoff culminates, often.

    Thanks again in reading my rant Neal...I will return with more :)

    Thanks.

    PS. Please watch Big Bang Theory...I liked it....it had spunk.

    I hear this from a few people. Right now I'm plowing through Leverage. I dig it.

    Steve wrote:

    Reading your reviews of Smallville for the last few years, it is very clear you are not happy with the show because of its lack of true superman-ness. Recently i've started watching Lois and Clark on thewb.com and its made me wonder what you thought of that show. This is assuming of course you watched it.

    I watched the first three seasons avidly, then got bored and stopped. I also had the biggest crush on Teri Hatcher I can't understand right now. But then, that's youth.

    Antonio a.k.a. Dark.Shingo wrote:

    Hey, how are you Neil? How are things going? I hope you got time to write. Excuse me if i didn't catch that info before, but: is there anyway i can read something you've done or buy something? I would love to.

    Actually, yeah. I have four comics out that I have copies of, and I sign and mail them for anyone interested who can fork over a few bucks.

    My novels are out of circulation because I got an agent finally and I'm trying to start fresh. I have a new series novel that I'm plugging at. If you shoot me an email, I might share it with you... mwu ha ha ha.

    I also have multiple copies of the Smallville Magazines I wrote that I will gladly send at cost signed to anyone interested.

    I do indeed have time to write, and I've prioritized this year better than I ever have before, to the point where I will have two finished novels in one year by December. Boy, are my arms tired.

    And thank you for asking.

    So, today i'm conflicted. I mean, i'm not enrirely sure of what i just saw. Coud it be considered a good episode? On the bright side, it had some character development (altought a little cheesy), an interesting story and more information about future events in the season. On the other side, cliches everywhere, hard to keep my suspension on disbelief and some moments that felt like the writers had to put in there just because, forced somehow.

    I think if you don't think about it, it could be enjoyable. If you really don't think about it.

    The whole Resident Evil vibe got ruined the very instant Oliver said "Resident Evil". Like acknowledging where they got the inspiration (or more along the lines of "we ripped off RE"). Then they go "lol, we kid you, everyone is gonna be ok". Really? Such a virus is released and then everyone is ok? Back to normal after such event? Isn't anyone curious? I don't think life would go back to normal after that, i mean, goverment would be nuts trying to figure out who attacked the population. War against terror comes to mind. You can't shake the normal status of a show and then pretend everything is back to how it used to be, not when it involves everyone.

    I point that out in the review. It's a big problem of the show, things are just back to normal after huge chaos.

    Now, is it all gonna be "Blame it on Zod" from now on? Metallo? Blame it on Zod. K-Virus? Blame it on Zod (indirectly, at least). Clark got a stain on his shirt? Blame it on Zod. Oliver goes nut? BLAME IT ON ZOD! Really? I know he's supposed to be the main antagonist for the rest of the season, but at least they could use it now and then, not ALL THE FRIGGIN' TIME. Whatever.

    The show sucks? Blame it on Zod. HAW.

    It was a nice touch seeing Lois so vulnerable and telling Clark all those things. Somehow i've liked the chemistry between those 2 since last season. The only "but" i got is... IT'S TOO SOON! Come on, he's not yet Superman and she's digging Clark already? Pffffffffft.

    Yeah, there's a big cart before the horse factor, which is odd because they're so late with other things.

    I don't get what are they doing with Oliver. Ok, so he's in the path to autodestruction, right. Now he does the whole "Spiderman 2: Spiderman no more" thing (once again a Spiderman reference... Jesuschrist). Clark seems oblivious to this. I mean, a guy i'm kinda friends with tells me all that, while holding a bottle of whisky (or alcohol of any kind, since it's so flamable) and says "thanks" to me? Yeah, he's fine, why should he be otherwise? Not to mention that, to stop a motorcycle, there's no better way to put a truck in front of him. What is the risk? Crashing and dying? Nah, Clark knew he would stop, right? Right?

    But if he talks to Ollie, no arbitrary conflict!

    Chloe and Emil. Hmmm... Dunno. Both trying to be misterious to each other. I don't buy it. But oh well, maybe something good will come out from this. Not like Chloe or Emil would backstab each other, right? :rolleyes:

    I think it's only a matter of time before they're making out.

    Other things i didn't like? Clark passing out by being injected with a needle with a drop of kryptonite, Zod getting rid of a subordinate who proved valuable, no matter that he stepped over the boundaries (gee, just keeep him in check or threaten him so he doesn't do it again), the last shot of Zod (i could only think "There can be only one" after seeing that), how easy is to get a sample of Clark's blood, how Louis get another flashback just to remind us is not over, etc.

    Yeah, agreed on all counts.

    Overall, i think it was not that bad. But i don't think they're getting it right. Well see. Eager to read your review, have a good week!

    Thank you!

    Bruce Kanin wrote:

    OVERALL

  • C. This episode was in many ways pretty bad, but it had some redeeming features that brought up its grade.

    THE GOOD

  • I liked the fact that there was a reason for the contagion being released: so that Zod could weed out Clark. Well, it wasn't Zod, but Dr. Coates, one of his henchmen.
  • The opening scene between Lois & Clark made me wistful in terms of what the series could have been. Lois reading about a fire; Clark disguising his super-speed trip to put out the fire by getting Lois coffee; Clark comes back with signs and smells of the fire on him; and then using his super-breath to cool the coffee. (Never mind that all of this had the potential to reveal his secret.) It was just plain fun - something we don't see enough of. To top it off, we see Clark not being able to control his super-cooling-breath enough what with Lois's coffee being cold. That, too, was a nice touch, i.e., he's still learning to control his powers.
  • The return of Lana Lang! Well, only in a photo, and that's why this is "good" - because Lana herself didn't return. Also, we got to see a photo from the first season. Ah...when the series was decent and held such promise. Can't they also show Ma & Pa Kent once in awhile? Do these folks get residuals when their photos are shown?
  • The somewhat cool scene in which Oliver destroys his Green Arrow mask reminded me of the SPIDER-MAN comic book cover showing Peter Parker walking away from his abandoned outfit sitting in a garbage pail (re-created in the third SPIDER-MAN movie).
  • Lois & Clark's relationship is antithesis of the Lana & Clark relationship. I like it and it's believable. It's not hokey and full of boring, nonsensical dialog as was the Lana-Clark nonsense.

    THE BAD

  • Bad special effects when Hamilton's plane let out the chemicals to cure the zombie contagion. Also, it was still red, like blood. I'll reluctantly buy that Clark's blood was the cure for the disease, but they would have had to replicate it zillions of times to make enough to mix with the water supply, clouds, rain, etc. Surely it would have changed color. Ah, the whole thing was just plain ridiculous.
  • I still want to know: how will this series reconcile the fact that Zod appeared previously and inhabited Lex Luthor's body for a bit? Presumably what we're seeing now is a younger Zod? Ridiculous.
  • The Clark-Ollie conversations are sinking to the level of Clark-Lana conversations. I've even forgotten why Ollie is depressed. It's so contrived.
  • The flashing light zombie effect was annoying.
  • Chloe continues to descend into a one-dimensional character, a far cry from what she used to be.
  • Uh-oh...a conversation about secrets, something of a dead horse for this series. Yes, Clark and Lois started down this path but fortunately it was limited. Clark and Lana used to talk about secrets ad nauseum, to the viewer's detriment.

    THE REST

  • Speaking of Dr. Coates, presumably his name pays homage to Phyllis Coates, the original "Adventures of Superman" Lois Lane.
  • I thought we were watching "Tess, the Vampire Killer" at once point.
  • Chloe took another step towards becoming the JLA's Oracle in this episode, admitting that she is watching out for them. But Oracle wasn't exactly that. She was more like Garcia from "Criminal Minds", if anything.
  • Jury's out on Dr. Emil Hamilton. Still not sure if I like him. At one point when he was spouting something about the virus, he reminded me of Mr. Spock crossed with Sheldon on "Big Bang Theory". And did he suffer from friction burns when Clark zoomed him across town? And why isn't he in the opening credits? He appears more than Zod.
  • When Hamilton and Chloe were looking at map to figure out how to control the contagion, it looked like they were staring at a map of Chicago, with Lake Michigan on the right.
  • So we learn that the police car that turned around to chase Ollie on his motorcycle, was not on its way for donuts, but in reality a police babe on her way to get it on with Mr. Queen. Awright!
  • Could they not have told the story in "real time" and not with a flashback? Of course not - they wanted to be "cute".
  • Come to think of it, why did Coates have to spread a disease that created zombies? Couldn't he have sprinkled Ambien or Sominex in the reservoirs and waited to see who didn't fall asleep, i.e., Clark? Of course, an episode like that would have put viewers to sleep.
  • The threat of falling asleep and waking up transformed into something sinister is a non-original concept stolen, so to speak, from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".
  • SUPERMAN #237, May 1971, "Superman, Enemy of Earth", had a cover and story in which Superman is attacked by Earth people who have been transformed into zombies.
  • Clark tells Ollie that his "S" is a symbol of hope for people. Wish he'd just don the Superman uniform already - THAT's a real symbol of hope.

    COMING ATTRACTIONS

  • The return of the Terrible Toyman!

    -- Bruce Kanin

    You were more forgiving than I was, but you found a few things that I missed. I think the biggest is the idea that Lois and Clark at very least seems to be a healthy, human relationship. That's rad.

    Antonio a.k.a. Dark.Shingo wrote:

    A little addendum to my last letter:

    My god, i just realized something and raged. IT WAS NOT RESIDENT EVIL, IT WAS 28 DAYS LATER!

    Let me elaborate. In Resident Evil, the original T-Virus transform them into slow walking, blood driping zombies. The whole thing was enginered to create living dead, they kept walking and munching because in some part of their brain it was still controlling all those functions, despite the body being mutating and decaying.

    In 28 days later, the virus came from experiments with monkeys and it affected the brain in such a way that manifested itself as voracious rage. It turned people into mindless, vicious creatures.

    While analizing the virus, Emil tells Chloe it mainly affects a part of the brain, a primal instinct about running or facing and attacking the enemy... very much like 28 days later. So, it struck me out that Oliver says "Resident Evil" when all the infected people behave like 28DL! Great Scott! The writers are more clueless than i thought! They ripoff something and then they pretty much f**k up when they try to make a joke about it! Arghhhhhh!

    Anyway, i hope this little detail manages to get into the column, i think, at least, makes for a fun trivia... See ya!

    I think the rage centers in my brain have been triggered by a virus on the television.

    Guy wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Surprisingly, since these days I only watch the show to better appreciate your reviews (lame, huh? Though flattering, I'm sure :P), I found myself actually quite liking the zombie episode. Sure, it was a bit heavy on the Jesus stuff (if you're going to have an episode where Clark saves condemned people through his blood, you don't ****need** to have another character outright state the Jesus parallels earlier in the episode) and sure, it had a lot of the usual Smallville dumb but... hey, I don't know, it was still kind of fun.

    I'm glad you liked it. I'm also flattered you watch the show to appreciate the reviews. Many thanks.

    Tom and Erica work really well as a "Lois and Clark" team (loved the little coffee scene) and it's just a shame that he's not already Superman and we're having to put up with this "Blur" nonsense.

    Yeah! If that were more than five minutes of the show, we'd have a show!

    Oh, and are we all in agreement this "end the world" thing is going to be Clark going Superman II on its arse and turning back the clock? It's the only way I can see them finishing the show with Clark being able to pull off the glasses disguise short of him rocketing around Metropolis kissing everyone. It's a pity they didn't come up with some excuse for him to have ****always** worn them even back in High School. I don't know, they could have said his pre-developed vision powers caused him pain unless he wore lead-rimmed glasses or something silly but convenient like that. Maybe that'd have been a bit too Cyclops-like, though.

    I don't think they'll ever address it. No glasses, no turning back the clock. I really don't think they care. More importantly, I think they don't see a problem as we do, or they'd address it.

    I'm not sure if I'd be that opposed to the "turn back time" scenario, though, given how dire things have been going for a while, now... and if Clark and Lois were together in the "original reality" it'd be an interesting new spin on the reasons for why Clark pines for her so soon after they meet for the "first time" at the Daily Planet. Not a necessary spin, by any means, but a new one.

    Anyway, yeah, something else this episode drew to my attention that is actually a problem in the comic books, too. Superman is super-fast, right? With super-reactions? Why is it, then, that he often seems incapable of dodging the blows of opponents who - though they're super strong - are certainly ****not** super fast? Like, seriously, it doesn't make any sense that Zombie Lois would get a hit on him unless he wanted her to. (This sort of thing happens in the show a lot, it's just that I've never really thought about it too hard until now).

    It's a critical mismanagement of the general capabilities of the character. IE, lazy writing.

    Uh, anyway, I rambled on for a bit too long. I look forward to reading your review of the Zombie episode.

    Thanks!

    Keep up the good work and all that marlarky,

    Guy

    Take care, all! More next week!

    Neal



    Rabid

    Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

    Super Short run on Sentence Summary: Superman and Lois Lane Vs Zombies... 'Nuff said.

    I am going to quote my youngest man child here with this one. "THAT WAS AWESOME!"

    Ok I know it was somewhat rushed and they didn't do a real good job showing us what was really going on around the city. Plus yes I will agree the final cure/solution required a bit of a suspension of disbelief but still...This episode rocked and rocked hard.

    I mean did you see that scene in the Daily Planet with Clark and Lois fighting off the zombies? Dudes and dudette's that was perhaps the most intense scene of the series. Well ok... Maybe not the most intense scene but it might make a top ten list. Let's just call it really cool.

    Lois is all like "Smack!" and Clark is all like... "I can't heat vision your face off so "Whoosh!" with the super power throw. And then Lois is "Smack POW!" and Clark is "Woomph!" Then when they are done Clark sweeps her off her feet and caries her off to safety.

    Loved it!

    Seriously. They created a believable situation where super-powered Clark was back to back with Lois fighting off a horde of bad guys.

    We had real live people, so Clark could not go full power on them yet they had enhanced strength so he still had to hold his own against them. Plus Lois was able to unload with her Lane-fu making it pretty much even and that was just too cool to see. I even liked how the whole scene was lit and staged. Stuck on the stairs with that harsh lighting really help put me in the feel of the setting and really sold it.

    Ok. Yea I admit I like Zombie stories. Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves. Supernatural horror is something I am into. I don't like murder or torture horror where you have humans doing stuff to humans but throw in a monster and I am so there. So admittedly this episode did cater to a certain side of me that I just liked. What matters is that I enjoyed the ride. It was so much better than the Krypto-Vampires a few years back when something similar was done.

    So kudos to the Smallville people. The only thing that could have been better was delaying this one a couple weeks so it would have aired on Halloween. That would have been awesome! Still, it might have gotten in the way of the now traditional viewing of "Batman vs Dracula" by myself and the man-child, so maybe it was better this one was shown a few weeks earlier. Yet... now that I think about it, maybe we'll just have to add this episode to that yearly tradition. Hopefully the season 9 DVD is out before next Halloween!

    This story continues on the theme from Metallo where the Zod squad is using Kryptonian science to mess with the humans. Testing things and basically running amuck. I think this is a good background plot going on. It makes sense that the Kryptonians would be using their advanced science to try to solve the power dilemma and it's interesting to see how little regard for human life they have with their testing.

    Sure it was a bit weak plot wise as to how the virus spread and how it was cured. I mean wouldn't you have a bunch of people waking up all zombied out inside their houses until they shambled out in the rain or choose to pause in their zombing to drink a glass of water? Again, I will have to knock that a bit but it didn't ruin my feeling on the episode.

    I like how Hamilton and Chloe's relationship is building. They are really starting to work well together. There is a measure of distrust and tension there but you can see that starting to peel away. I loved Hamilton's reaction to finding out Clark was an alien. I never really thought about it before but they never did tell him how Clark was powered up. His "That explains a lot" comment cracked me up, as did Clark's question of "Do you get motion sickness?" just before whooshing him across town.

    They are doing a good job knocking Oliver down in a consistent way and yet maintain at least a bit of that hero we remember. He was willing to come to the rescue even if he wasn't 100% on top of his game. That is worth some praise. It's interesting to see he is still holding some feeling for Lois. I wonder if that is adding to his despair knowing that Clark has all her attention? I did find it amusing when he ended up at home half naked with the cop who was chasing him. (I still think there must be a shirtless scene quota in Justin Hartley's contract). Too bad for them that Chloe chose to put her tracker on Oliver's belt. I wonder how she's tracking Bart, AC and Dinah? I assume she could just hack into Victor with her mad hacking skills. I do like the fact that Chloe is keeping tabs on them though. They might have somewhat disbanded but the Watchtower is still up and going.

    Lastly there was more to this episode then just a throw down with zombies though. There really was a lot here in regards to the building love triangle between Lois, Clark, and the Blur.

    Clark really saw how serious Lois is taking her relationship/connection to the blur and I think that really hit home. He knows now it is way more than a crush on her part and I look forward to seeing how he moves forward with that in mind.

    Maybe even more important than Clark seeing how serious it is to her is the fact that Lois was able to see a stronger side of Clark. We have had hints of it before and we've seen subconsciously Lois feels Clark can hold his own but this time she saw it front and center and clear as day. Her conflicted feelings between the two men who are really one man are really starting to snowball and it's turning into a really fun ride.

    Great symbolism on the Lana picture too! Having Clark put her picture away like that really showed us that he was moving on.

    That final moment after Lois got all ugly and started tossing Clark around was beyond awesome. Of course Clark couldn't fight back. It's Lois we're talking about here. He just took it as she dished it out until he was able to put his Kryptonian powered arms around her and just hold her tight keeping her safe until she was cured. I don't think Clark knew the rains were bringing the cure but I don't think that mattered. At that moment just keeping Lois safe was all that mattered and that is what he did. The way she came too in his arms standing in the rain like that? Call me a softy but I actually found that romantic. I even checked with my better half and she told me it was romantic too, plus the boy found it icky so I know I am on the right track there.

    Lastly I am just going to say something about Zod. Dude, that man is brutal. I like it. Faced with a subordinate that stepped out of place and actually did something good what do you do? Well if you're a stand up decent person you praise and reward them like most of us would do. Yet if you are a diabolical maniacal wannabe dictator or just average middle management in most business firms you take a somewhat different route by making them think you are pleased just before cutting their freaking head off with a sword.

    So I really liked this episode. Zombies, Romance, Action, Zombies, and Superman being Superman. I want to give it a 5 but I have to admit the "cure" plot point had some truck sized holes in it so...

    4.5 out of 5.

    Again... No preview of next week... but I do want to end with an apology for being a bit late on my reviews so far this year. I know Steve and Neal like to get them on the site a bit sooner and I've been slacker man a bit. The weekends have been busy this fall for me and the move to Friday's has slowed me up a bit but I am going to try really hard not to fall behind anymore.

    Thanks and see you next week!

    Doug



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