Superman on Television

Smallville: Episode Reviews

Season 9 - Episode 8: "Idol"

Reviews:

Idol

Reviewed by: Douglas Trumble

Super Short Run on Sentence Summary: The Wonder Twins are trying to help out our hero in black but keep screwing up causing the Blur to take the blame and forcing Lois to go up against a crooked DA to clear Clark's Kryptonian persona.

You know. It wasn't what I was expecting but I really really liked this episode.

Titles and promos would have you believe this was going to be an episode with and about the Smallville version of the Wonder Twins but in the end it was something totally different. It actually turned out to be a heavy Clark/Blur/Lois "triangle" centered story line that touched a bit on how this Superman is seen by those he protects. The Wonder Twins were almost over glorified cameos. Which was fine by me.

I think they did a solid job bringing an updated version of the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, into the present. Both character were likeable enough and done in a way that fit right into this alternate DC Universe Smallville has created. I would certainly not be opposed to them bringing the pair back in the future in any way. In fact I really hope they do. I want to know more about who they are and where they come from. Correct me if I am wrong but they are also aliens right? Or at least they were on the "Super Friends" right? I didn't catch any mention of that in the episode but if it was briefly said I might have missed it. Having a few more people from off planet around would be a good thing for Clark. Plus as I've said before, it is always fun to see Clark act as a mentor.

The Wonder Twin powers were done pretty well on budget. Nothing spectacular but the couple of transformations they did show were good enough for what they were trying to do. Jayna going from Cat to girl was pretty good. Zan's ice slick to boy was obviously CGI but I think it worked well enough. I really liked Zan's fog form at the end both in how it looked and for the story reasons why he did it. Giving Clark cover so he could save Lois without revealing his identity was a great use of Zan's powers. Plus Jayna going guard dog to catch the bad guy was priceless.

Chloe's quote "Dog and fog show" had me cracking up.

Yet even though the Wonder Twins were there the story really focused on the interaction between Clark, the Blur, and Lois. While I thought that was fantastic and well done there is one thing about that I want to take a moment and talk about.

So indulge me for a moment please.

I love Superman and the Superman story. He is a force of ultimate good and I love the romance between him and Lois. I think it's obvious to anyone who reads my commentary that I prefer versions of the character where he and Lois have a "happily ever after" over versions where they "can't" be together for some silly reason. Yet I think what I have to say is true of all versions of the character. So here it goes...

I think the arc of the Superman/Clark/Lois love story by its very nature will always reach a point where Clark's continued deception to Lois crosses a line and becomes something cruel and unfair to her as a person/friend/lover. He is Superman but he's not perfect.

I know Clark has valid reasons to lie to Lois initially in all versions of the character. Whether she is a new co-worker, a rival, or just the cousin of a friend, Clark is acting perfectly reasonable by not letting her in on his secret. I would even call it smart but it doesn't change the fact that he is lying to a friend.

As the relationship grows and she becomes his close/best friend or even lover, the deception becomes more and more wrong. I know I may have touched on this idea a bit before, especially when Clark and Lana first became intimate, but it becomes even more important here because we are dealing with Lois now. His true love. His future wife.

It is a tricky time because if they take it too far they can make the eventual reconciliation after she learns the truth less believable. Basically Clark is being a jerk and the bigger a jerk they make him the less believable it will be when Lois forgives him for being said jerk.

In order for this to happen they need Clark to have a sound and honest reason for continuing the deception.

I think the best way I've seen it done is how it was handled in the early 90s both in the post "Crisis" comics and on "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman". Both of those versions of the character basically approached it as Clark wanting Lois to love him for who he really was and not because he was Superman. That works certainly but even that idea has only a limited time where the deception remains reasonable.

So what exactly is the reason Smallville's Clark doesn't just tell her? From what I gather it is simply to protect her. From what? She wouldn't be in any more danger than she already is, especially now that she told the world she knows who he is.

I am just not buying the "protection" angle anymore, not after this episode. It might have been a valid reason initially but she has proven to him more than once she can handle it. Not only in alternate time lines but also just by the very fact she has kept the Green Arrow's secret without any problems.

Now that Lois has shown us (and Clark) that she was willing to DIE? Die as in be dead! Splat! Gone, pushing up daisies, taking a dirt nap. She would die for him but he will not tell her who he really is? Don't get me wrong. I loved that scene on the ledge. It was an awesome moment but can you really tell me it is fair and right to keep her in the dark after that?

They either need to just tell her for real or come up with a better reason for Clark to keep lying to her.

I don't even care if they play it off as an irrational fear of Clark's or go the route of the "Superman/Doomsday" animated movie where she knew and he knew she knew but they just didn't talk about it until the end.

Just give me something more... Anything...

Okay Smallville executives? Ya' all hear me? Because I totally know you read my commentary on the episodes before writing the next one... Right?.... Right?

(insert sounds of crickets here)

Oh well. At least Clark didn't impregnate her and then leave town without telling her. That would totally... oh wait... sorry... moving on...

And we are back from my delusions of grandeur...

Let me rattle off the awesome in this episode because despite my little soap box moment above I really truly did like this episode.

Lois' talks with the psychologist had me laughing a lot. Her discomfort at first was certainly chuckle worthy but even better was her manic panic when she found out Clark might be the Blur. It was very well done. Just the look in her eyes screamed crazy! Lois's choice of ring tone for the Blur was priceless.

Speaking of phones, you really had to smile at the Gleek phones the twins had even if they were all product placements. (A very nice way to honor the monkey without actually bringing the monkey on the show too).

Clark putting a steel hand between the Wonder Twin fist bump was sweet! I liked how he used his super hearing to find them after calling Zan's phone. Clark using his powers and brains to solve a mystery is always nice to see. I also really liked the scene at the end when he came to them and encouraged them to be their own heroes. Plus it was good to see him so sincere about using the House of El shield as a symbol of hope and keeping it pure. I like that.

The introduction the twins got to the Watchtower just might be my favorite Chloe scene so far this season. She was just pure awesome in that moment. Not sure I liked her big brother actions revealed later on but it's no worse than some of the things Batman and Oracle do from time to time in the comics. That story is ongoing and obviously building to something so I am just going to let it play out to see where they are going with it. They are doing a good job showing Clark's disapproval of her methods which is the important thing right now.

Clark's question about how he and Lois could possibly get to know each other better when she already tells him what color knickers she wears every day was a fantastic homage to Superman: The Movie. I had to pause the show for a few minutes until I was done laughing after that one. It also drives home how close they are to each other already which I rather liked.

I think above all though my favorite moment was when Lois kicked the stack of papers across the room so she could stand on them and kiss Clark. It was funny, surprising, romantic, and it just fit their relationship perfectly.

Clark pulling out the glasses was classic and I loved Lois' reaction to them.

I do wonder what was up with Lois' dream. Was the sun red in the future? Clark had a face wound which the red sun could explain but how does that happen? If Zod Clone is trying to give his Clonetroopers super powers that would kind of defeat the purpose wouldn't it? Hmmmm? Makes you wonder. I am rather excited to see how that possible future plays out.

Nitpicks and random rants aside this was exactly the kind of episode I want out of this show. Some humor, some action, some suspense, and some romance. Toss in a couple of characters from the DCU done well but make it still be mostly about Clark, Lois, and Superman. I call that full of win.

I can give this one no less than a 5 out of 5.

Next week looks like the Clones are on the move. Where is Obiwan when you need him?

Doug



Idol

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

MAIN POINTS:

  • Clark is imitated by other heroes, and that leads to bad press.
  • Lois almost discovers Clark's secret.
  • She decides Clark and the Blur are two separate entities.

    REVIEW:

    Not much happened in this episode other than character exploration. Some of it came from nonsensical positions of motivation, but most of it played true, which is odd, especially for this show.

    Lois is realized as a character with motivations other than forwarding the plot for one of the few times we've seen that sustained, and I applaud that.

    This episode was also fragmentary and disjointed in ways, given that the obvious focus of the episode is Lois and her dilemma, something which could easily fill an hour show, and it's watered down and diluted with the Wonder Twins, a schlocky concept that I'm sure was cashed in to make fanboys tune in, which is kind of sad.

    I can see the logic. Hey, guys, what will bring in more comic guys? More NAME HEROES! That's because they hear us crying for that, and rightly so. It's a superhero show. But then, when they've done everything before Superman's even Superman (as they have), then the game is to work well with the universe you've created, not go, hey, know what we need? GLEEK!

    Or maybe they really thought they could take the Wonder Twins and make them viable, who knows? Main problem with that? It's THE WONDER TWINS.

    Well, that and Smallville already did the Wonder Twins, years ago, but hey, no one needs have a memory here.

    I'm probably just pitching a fit because I didn't get to see a monkey in a suit.

    The Wonder Twins weren't handled too badly, though, all in all. They even did their trademark thing, and kind of seemed like their regular cartoony self. I don't know if that's a compliment or a condemnation. I'm just going to largely ignore the Wonder Twins subplot, because it's throwaway, in favor of the meat, Lois' love of two men.

    If you come into this episode completely out of context (as one almost must with this show or have one's eyes cross), you feel for Lois, you want her to find her way, and you care for her more as a character despite the fact that she makes a couple of petulant and selfish decisions that endanger lives. It's more forgivable in this medium because she's NOT Clark, the hero, she's a supporting character. You expect better from her, but then again, she seems to know not what she does and yet have her heart firmly in the right place, as opposed to Lana as a character, who knew not what she did and had her seat firmly grounded in manipulation.

    Completely in context, it's hard to believe some of the jumps that have been made here from a logical perspective, jumps that we justify because as fans we want to see Lois and Clark together instinctively (70 years of expectation, huh?). Lois, who would not give Clark the time of day this year, is now suddenly so smitten with him she can't get him off her mind. She is nervous to speak with him, she disappears because she's afraid to talk to him. It's not that I don't know people who act that way, god I do, it's more that it's light switch. I know it occurred over a few episodes, but in the big scheme of 175 shows, it's not that long.

    To put it more plainly, she goes from tough enough to drive a monster truck up to a doorway into therapy over a guy who has exhibited no new outward signs of greatness that weren't already readily apparent from day one.

    Nonetheless, like the first episodes of last season, you completely ignore that out of context, and you get swept in, which is the point of good writing. You forgive the errors in the fact that a man really can't fly and you jump in. I did that this episode because I really am a victim of Lois and Clark porn. You might call me a Clois shipper, in a way, but that isn't entirely accurate, given that I could give a rat's patootie if they ever get together in the show. I think I am more of a mythos shipper. I want to see the iconic Superman I know and love coming together, and this episode gave outside impressions of that, attempts.

    This is undercut by the fact that I'm guessing he won't be wearing the glasses next episode, they won't be locking lips constantly. The status quo will return. That's what expectation and failed hope will do for a show over time.

    The glasses was a good mention, a good way to kind of say they might eventually try and synch. I admire the effort, I do, but then he took them off and stuck them in a pocket, so I really don't.

    I REALLY don't buy the fact that a bunch of cops in a box would turn the public completely against Superman, and I get tired of that plot device when it's done poorly. Over the last few years it's been done a few times, some good, some bad. I think it was Verheiden (a Smallville vet) who did Superman stopping Blackrock and scaring everyone just because he had to go to extraordinary lengths to stop the guy. I didn't buy it, because this is a guy who regularly moves the moon and changes the course of mighty rivers. If you're not already terrified, you gotta put a hell of a lot of trust in the guy. It's not going to be light switch there. I think you'd have to really push to discredit Supes.

    In the recent comics I buy what Lane's doing, because I see it in real life. The idea that a General could take a public absolutely apoplectic with fear of terrorism and convince them that Kryptonians were responsible for a terrorist act (though the water thing is kinda eh) is something I dig.

    In this case, however, Smallville undermines itself by making this episode two or three (four?) after an episode where Clark quite literally almost KILLS a cop. Compare that to accidentally imprisoning cops but hey, getting a whole box full of coke. Apples and oranges.

    All in all, I didn't see what the Wonder Twins added, the plot was rather arbitrary, but Lois drew me in and held me, mostly thanks to Durance and some decent writing for once. I have my second good episode this season, so far, and I'm damned pleased about that.

    4 of 5.

    LETTERS:

    First, a word about assault. I got a few letters from folks HOW DARE YOU-ing me for being a sexist, mostly because of this line from the last review:

      The only thing that was utterly abysmal that I saw, which still hacks me off, is Clark grabbing Tess by the neck and lifting her into the air for a man he hardly knows. Not what Superman would do, not by a long shot, and not what anyone of good moral character would do. You don't hit people to make them do things or because you disagree with what they're doing. I know that gets lost a lot in this country.

    Most were, true to typical "I didn't read it but I'm gonna bich" internet form, along the lines of, "You say all that stuff about sexism, but then you get mad when a woman gets choked and forgive it when guys are choked!"

    My response to this is to read the above passage again. Emphasis on "You don't hit people to make them do things or because you disagree with what they're doing."

    You DO hit people to save lives, but note the PEOPLE part of that equation. Male, female, I don't give a damn, you don't hit someone because you disagree with them or find them repulsive. Even Lex Luthor. It undermines you as a hero.

    Is there something viscerally MORE disgusting about seeing a woman being lifted by her neck than a man? For me, yeah, but that's sexist, so I can't base any thoughts on it. A man or a woman being lifted by the neck over a disagreement is abhorrent.

    Back to the show. There are a BUNCH of letters, so bear with me.

    booksmart devil wrote:

    this is NOT hate mail...simply a question of your criticism...are you as harsh to other superman related medium...or does smallville receive extra attention for straying from the cannon?

    For straying from the canon, I would argue that comics get even MORE flak. Check my comic reviews. But that's because I expect a written visual medium to be more thought out than television, given that I hold written materials in higher esteem than the idiot box, so named for a reason. That's not to say I don't see a place for television or have a sign on my unplugged TV that says TELEVISION IS FURNITURE like I used to, but it's quite obviously easy to see the difference in literary merit between LIFE AS A MIDGET and World of New Krypton, to me.

    Andrew wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    first off, i just want to say i've loved reading your reviews over the show. It's comforting to know that as I'm watching the show and seeing a lot of the annoying inconsistencies within it, I can come over here and read i'm not the only one.

    Thanks.

    I just wanted to ask if you considered that the Kryptonians on Earth are clones of their former real selves? I've been thinking that Zod and co. were part of some military experiment to clone themselves in the case that Krypton was destroyed, thus explaining why he is only a major, why he presumed Krypton had been destroyed, and why there would be no HUGE continuity screw-ups. Major Zod is a different being than General Zod and same with the others that arrived; they're a snapshot of the past. And if this is the case, I will bet that the dude from the house of El revealed at the end of the Metallo episode will be revealed to be a young Jor-El.

    You were wholly correct, and a good prognosticator, I should have gotten you proper credit by having this published weeks ago, but I didn't. Apologies.

    Of course we know that you are correct now, and much of my criticism was off. But then, I would argue that waiting six weeks to let us in on all that awkward was a bit too long, even by Lost standards.

    Still, great guess!

    Steve wrote:

    In this week's column you wrote: "I watched the first three seasons [of Lois & Clark] 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."

    No need to apologize for crushing on younger Teri - she was actually hot then and the show knew how to work it. I still remember one of my favorite early episodes being the perfume one where everyone got sprayed and lost their inhibitions. Two hightlights - Lois in a tight white lace dress and especially later when she shows at Clark's in a bellydance outfit and does the Dance of the Seven Veils. Trust me, if you've forgotten why Hatcher did it for you then, go rewatch that episode.

    Ah, I was thirteen at the time. I would look back on the tree in my front yard from that time and go, "Man, Oakie was HOT." In retrospect, Teri is far less my style than she was just, I dunno, THERE when I was a kid. Ever love a gal like that? I expect many geeks have in their youth.

    Of course as i type this I can only think of how much I hate when Smallville pulls the "mind whammy makes a character act all horny" and how much I roll my eyes at a lot of the pandering they do to put Erica in revealing outfits (and I LIKE Erica.) If the next new episode of Smallville contained a scene of a horny Lois performing a bellydance to seduce Clark, I'm sure I'd feel embarrassed for all involved. Maybe the trick is I just need to watch this show from the perspective of a 13 year-old boy.

    Honestly, I'm not all that hot on skin for the sake of skin, but on an outside perspective level, as a dude, I've seen so many women come and go over the years with their fifteen minutes of collagen induced fame, and I've rarely seen anyone as sustainably beautiful as Erica Durance has been over Smallville for me. She's a gal I would put up on my wall and leave there. Same with Allison. That rarely happens twice on a show for me, and I'm rarely smitten with the beauty of a character on television, because unlike most, I consider the women I will never meet nothing to concern myself with, and I throw my effort into the gals I know in that regard.

    But if everyone has an Angelina or Brad on their list they'd forsake all for, I'd pop Erica and Allison on them in a second.

    That doesn't stop me from rolling my eyes when they put on green bag balm that makes them want to do the beast with two backs arbitrarily. It's bad writing, even if I won't complain to see more of their skin.

    That and for all it's script suckitude at times, L&C was probably less pandering with its titilation.

    I seem to recall it as less titillating than Smallville, but then, it was fifteen years ago, and things are getting more and more bold by the year. Not complaining about that, either, I'm all about free speech, and the sooner we can get to do whatever the hell we want with media, the better as far as I'm concerned.

    These days I'm enjoying your reviews more than the actual show... keep up the good work.

    Thanks.

    Steve

    Carlos wrote:

    Hey Neal, I just read your review of Rabid, first of all I agree with you about all the hate mail you received, I like when you make it clear, that even if you don't enjoy the show now, its perfectly fine that your readers enjoy it, some people are not fair with you.

    Thanks!

    I actually have enjoyed the show this season, I can see a lot of things that don't make sense, but I guess I just don't care, and while I have enjoyed the show lately, I still love your reviews and look forward to read them all week, even if they are negative, they are fun, and really help me catch a lot of things I might have not caught by myself.

    Great! See, this is how easy it is. Heh.

    I lost faith in smallville a long time ago, even if I liked this season and don't expect to recover that faith ever, this just isn't a superman show anymore, not even a clark kent show, just a show, thats how I watch it.

    And that's how you should watch it... you're not a critic. Great!

    So keep doing your fine work, I really respect it and like it, even if all the episodes are 1s this season.

    I notice none of the people who flip me crap are writing in now that I've done two relatively high reviews; that's how it goes.

    One last thing, while I enjoyed rabid, I know none of that is superman, Oliver using a shotgun was a stupid moment for me, and I know it was there just because it might look impressive to some people, to me was just stupid and made no sense, actually nothing of the episode made sense, but as I said, I watch a show, not a superman show, and that helps me a little bit, after the episode ended I was like "well that was weird, entertaining but weird, I know Neal will rip this episode a new #$%, hope his review comes out soon".

    Greetings for Colombia Neal.

    Thanks, man!

    Mumb-El_S wrote:

    Neal,

    First, let me say it's interesting that you and I are the only members online as I write this. I only say that because I just finished your review of "Rabid".

    I'm on a lot, actually. Mod stuff, staying appraised of the articles, and plus it's my home site on my web browser.

    Second, I have agreed with you so far on every episode this season, which is odd. I usually have my brain turned off for Smallville, but I have been watching it more critically. That could be due to my mom being an author, herself, and knocking anything that is wrong in grammar, plot, character development, etc. I never saw 28 days later, but the first words out of my mouth when I saw Lois were, "It's HOUSE OF THE DEAD. No, because Lois is wearing clothes."

    It might also be because the more we see the same theme beaten in the media, the more critical we become of it if it's not totally unique.

    Other than that, this show was horrible, I was also expecting to see the Quickening when Zod killed that guy, and Emil Hamilton is gay. Okay, maybe he isn't but the character he played in BSG was. Oh well.

    I didn't know he was on BSG... I got through two and a half seasons and kinda gave up.

    Finally, (shameful plug for a site on which i am not) on 10/27 the Nostalgia Critic and Linkara will review Superman IV: The Quest for Peace at thatguywiththeglasses.com

    Go check it out, folks!

    Thanks for reviewing,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    David V. Wilkins a.k.a Mumb-El_S

    Thomas wrote:

    three things

    1) I think Emil already knew Clark's secret or had a general idea

    2) I don't think it was a flood of blood, it was more like a mist

    3) Clark isn't living in Metropolis because than they couldn't call the show Smallville now could they?

    That's it

    have an awesome day

    Bruce Kanin wrote, RE: Echo:

    OVERALL

    Before rating this episode, a change of perception should be mentioned...Clark's conversation with Jor-El at the Fortress convinced me to see this series differently. Until now I'd compare every aspect of the show to Superman continuity as portrayed in the comics, other TV shows and the movies. In that light, SMALLVILLE suffers greatly.

    However, when viewed as an Imaginary or Elseworlds story, SMALLVILLE may in fact be more palatable. For instance, I will now accept SMALLVILLE's Jor-El as an Obi-Wan-like spirit or super-intelligent, somewhat powerful computer program that survived the destruction of Krypton (somewhat like the Marlon Brando Jor-El). As well, this Jor-El has the ability to affect things in the real world, as well, especially Clark, as we see in "Echo" and have seen before.

    I'll accept that Lois met Clark in Smallville; that their romance began before Clark became Superman; that Chloe Sullivan, not Barbara Gordon, becomes Oracle (in the Watchtower); that the JLA is a bunch of wimpy characters...oops. OK, let's skip the JLA.

    Net-net: if I put the reins on my trying to compare SMALLVILLE to prior Superman continuity, it may allow me to see the show in a different and better light. With that in mind, this episode gets...a *D+*. LOL.

    HAW!

    THE GOOD

    The opening scene with Clark rescuing all those people was kind of neat. Not sure why he had to burn his "S" symbol on the floor of the warehouse, but in this continuity, that's what he does, and I'll accept that. Maybe.

    The Lois & Clark relationship continues to grow on me. Like I've written previously, it's not the nauseating Lana & Clark relationship. As well, Erica Durance continues to mature as Lois - I've come to really like her. She was lousy in the role - and as an actress - when she started as Lois, but that's changed for the better.

    Toyman came off as somewhat wimpy and easy to capture in this episode, but they have at least captured his "look" to an extent - the same look from the Golden Age Superman comic book stories where he was introduced.

    THE BAD

    Tess the Merciless needs Toyman to figure out Metallo's Kryptonite heart? Doesn't she have a legion of LexCorp scientists at her beck & call?

    I hadn't noticed this. Good call. This is the downside of not using notes.

    Clark has Toyman on the ropes and then realizes that it's really a Toyman robot. Fair enough, but he only seemed to deduce it - Clark didn't use his x-ray vision. As such, unless he x-rays the Toyman figure or super-hears the gears & electronics inside of him, Clark can't be 100% sure "Toyman" isn't human. Therefore, when Clark uses his heat vision (which was neat, I'll admit) to effectively expose and destroy the Toyman robot, he could have been mistaken and zapped a real, live person - killing him. All the dumb SMALLVILLE writers needed to do was to have Clark use his powers to figure out that this was a robot.

    I had lots of trouble understanding the thought-voices from everyone...and Jor-El's voice. Was it me or did they have too much of an echo effect, making it harder to hear?

    That's happened to me before, too, with the mind zoner episode. I took flak for it, but the sound should have.

    When Ollie is stuck on the podium, thinking he's standing on a pressure-sensitive plate connected to a bomb, Clark is in the audience. Jor-El has just removed Clark's mind-reading ability, but not his super-powers. But at that point, Clark seems like a do-nothing super-doofus. He resorts to calling Chloe so that she can evacuate the place. Huh? Clark is the most powerful man on Earth. Why does he need Chloe? Why didn't he use his super-hearing to eavesdrop on Ollie's earpiece? He could have evacuated the place himself, just like he did at the beginning of the episode, with the warehouse (in fact, that would have provided a nice bit of continuity). Presumably they did this in order to give Chloe something to do. Bad reason.

    By the way, Jor-El adding mind-reading to Clark's array of super-powers, at least on a temporary basis, seemed like a gimmick to make the episode more interesting, but in the end was pointless. Per Jor-El, it was to allow Clark to understand humans better. Huh? Just what kind of plan does Jor-El have for Clark, anyway? Is he making this stuff up as he goes along? Does Jor-El just go along with the SMALLVILLE writers - whatever comes into their heads, goes for him, too?

    I'm tired of every warehouse, laboratory, factory, hot dog stand and toilet being a subsidiary of Queen Industries.

    Used to be Luthorcorp, heh. I see it like Microsoft Eggos in terms of plausibility.

    I've really lost track as to why Ollie is so down in the dumps. I thought it was because he feels guilty for killing Lex (who we know is still alive). In this episode, during his weekly nonsensical exchange with Clark, Ollie admits that he feels like nothing he has is really his. Where did that come from? I know: the writers have no other ideas for the character except this.

    Chloe continues down that slippery slope into ho-hum two-dimensionality.

    I would argue she's already there since they turned her into a killer.

    THE REST

    How cute (not) to have The Blur change in a phone booth to Clark Kent.

    After Tess the Merciless saved Ollie's arse in the Latin American bar, there was a brief sequence when she showed so much compassion for Ollie and I believed it. I even began to like her character. It's like when I start to like Sylar on HEROES, thinking he's about to turn a corner and become "good". But, as with Sylar, cold water was quickly thrown in my face, and the real Tess re-surfaced quickly.

    Not a big flaw, but Clark prints his story and Lois edits it with a pen. Um, no email and Microsoft Word? But that wouldn't have been as dramatic.

    I also can't admire the condescension of the one WITHOUT college experience editing the one WITH some college, particularly given Lois' history as a bad speller.

    Ollie losing his fortune would be consistent with the comics, when that version lost his fortune (and transitioned from the straight-laced Bruce Wayne clone to a cool, hip bearded Ollie Queen).

    Clark steals a donut from a co-worker at super-speed just for Lois. Cute but...not nice. And I could have sworn he gave her a donut that had part of it already eaten. Ewww.

    I couldn't help but think of the Jay & the Americans song "Come a Little Bit Closer" and its opening line "In a little cafe on the other side of the border..." when Ollie was in the Latin American bar. Actually, the scene in which he throws money at the two women and then the guy with the gun came in reminded me of a time when I was in a bar in Paris and...oops. Moving right along...

    Um, I guess my new attitude towards this show (i.e., not trying to compare it to Superman continuity) didn't help this episode much.

    COMING ATTRACTIONS

    Looks like another chapter in the saga of Oliver Queen, for better or worse.

    I COME FROM THE FUTURE (The future, Conan?) TO TELL YOU... Worse.

    Bruce Kanin

    Luke Roth wrote:

    Just dropping you a quick (edit: long) note to thank you for your reviewing style. You summed up why I like your reviews with the 'magician' essay at the beginning. I'm a fanboy, so am in love with the spectacle and will always watch Smallville because of that. When the show comes up in common conversation however, I tell people that the show has been drivel since season 4 and recommend they don't watch it if they're looking for television that respects the intelligence of its viewers. Your reviews allow me to acknowledge the crappier parts of the show and help me accept that I'm not a dumbass for still liking it. When I watch, there's always 5 or 6 moments in which I say to myself, "Shit, Neal is going to tear that plot hole/character choice/arbitrary MacGuffin a new one." But then the fanboy comes in and goes, "Shit dude, zombies! Hell yes!" So I've seen the lever since season 4, but ignore it purposefully.

    Thanks! And there's something to be said for watching or reading something you know is dumb. I can't tell you how many books I've finished over the years just because I started them, or how many shows I watched long past their prime. Scrubs is a fine example. The last two years had a few good moments, but god, it went downhill from that show that regularly made me laugh and cry.

    Smallville's another example. Star Wars novels.

    There's no shame in it, none at all. We need to spend some time unwinding watching dumb nothing.

    Boiling it down, what I mean to say I understand you're doing this because you love us, your readers. Please keep it up. If you keep writing, I'll keep reading.

    Actually, that's exactly it. I mean, if I didn't get letters from folks saying "I LIKE WHAT YOU DO!" I would have quit. I know some things that trolls don't... loud doesn't always mean consensus, and corollary isn't causation.

    I mean, let me put it this way. I'm a paid writer now. The time I spent on this could be time spent on my next novel. But I LOVE to noodle with reviewing to relax, I LOVE you guys as readers (and I don't include the trolls in you guys), and I love the mental exercise it allows me outside of the fictional construct.

    And who knows? Maybe we'll get art like "Meteora" again. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? There's no way that show is ever coming back. Sigh - thanks and good luck on your career!

    Meteora, eh? I'll ask my friend Beal Nailey, who downloads shows, rogue pirate that he is, to tell me what he thinks of that show.

    Wait! He informs me it's a Linkin Park album. I have just smacked him in the face and wet myself.

    Ann wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    It's been forever and a day since I've written to you and I had to take the time tonight to send this out. As someone who is also in a life shift 'career wise' and trying to make a go of what I've had on the back burner for far too long, it never helps to have those who won't even TRY at anything, do their best to rain on your parade.

    Oh, you ain't kidding, sister. Those who can, do, those who can't are all over the damned internet with time to kill.

    I for one have always loved your reviews because of one key element (even though there is always wit, analysis and humor) honesty.

    I'm staking my entire life on that bet. I am an abrasive person, but it's my belief that honesty in writing fuels identity even outside of philosophical differences. How else would Tucker Max have a career? How could I read what he does without choking the man?

    I believe people (at least, the ones who aren't clinically retarded) can see through a thing to its fundamental honesty and will seek honesty within the range of their purview. Long ramble short, thanks.

    You've been honest throughout this long run and been a great source of entertainment. I'm sorry that it seems to have affected you so negatively but I hope the new format is helping to ease the burden.

    It is, actually. I've missed a few details, but I'm done in a few hours, I don't read the comments and get worked up, and I'm having fun. Mission accomplished.

    Let me just add my relief on one front. Last year you stated it was the end- the reviews would be a shadow of their former selves. I have to respectfully disagree. Even without the notes or thorough breakdown, you don't seem to know how to just phone it in, and for that I am one thankful reader.

    Not to blow smoke up your --- or anything- hey look a monkey!!

    Thanks! It's hard to explain this, but I do have a process, and what I've done is removed one stage of the process. There's OPENING/TECHNICAL ERRORS/HUMOR/RATING. That's very rough, but the technical errors section informed all three others, so when I excised it I figured the others would suffer. So far, it's just made me have to deal with less emails regarding niggling errors.

    And- had to quote you

    'not all of the hate in all of the message boards on planet Earth can change the sheer power of a person who will do what he or she will do with courage and conviction'. (enough to choke me up- sorry, I am a chick after all)

    Ah, that's not because you're a chick, it's because you're emotionally receptive. I choke up too, all the time. I burst out crying walking down the street sometimes when I see a beautiful or tragic thing. I think some people were just made like that.

    I'm glad to be.

    Except, you know, Superman. But that's just because he shoots fire from his eyes and could give a man a heat vision colonic.(but still kept me laughin'- I didn't say I was an all out, mushy chick)

    I'm hoping some day heat vision colonic will make it into a comic. Even if I have to put it there myself.

    So like I said- not blowin' smoke- but those who will try and knock someone down so that they can feel better about themselves don't deserve your or OUR (loyal readers) attention.

    And BTW- (especially for the critical critics- I thought the first 3 episodes sucked! - go cry to someone else about it)

    Though I might have had a random moment of joy, somewhere in this season (don't press me to remember when) the '28 days later' rip-off episode, from the same show that once gave us 'Reckoning'? -WTH?????? Zombies???? Really? Zombies???? OPSF=

    Open palm, smack forehead. And people are mad at you for this? Get lives, get jobs, 'go jump in a lake filled with sharks'.

    Eat a weenie is another good response. But eh. I've learned the zen secret to the internet, which has been around for some time but is quite hard for passionate people. Don't validate it. Just don't respond. That hacks them off even more than whatever was written.

    Seems simple, but it's like the advice to walk away from a fight. Few can heed it. I'm learning as I go, because I believe in fighting for a moral cause, but hadn't learned that nothing was ever won on the internet until my mid twenties, because I grew up with it.

    Didn't really dig on the Toyman eppie, maybe because I just see too much of the blah around what's left for this show- so many missed opportunities. Another great 'review' though.

    Read ya later Neal,

    Ann

    Thanks, Ann! Fine letter. Sorry it took so long to respond.

    Scott wrote:

    I'm gonna break up your letter into paragraphs for the sake of my sanity. No offense meant.

    Hi Neal. I'll be upfront, this is the first time I have responded to your reviews in the last, oh probably four or five years. I'm not sure when I found this website, and started reading your reviews. I can say I did go back and have read all of your reviews from Day 1. I know, I know. I probably should have responded sooner, being that you mentioned something to that effect in a previous review.

    No worries. Thank you, btw.

    But hey, at least I felt enough conviction to write you and let you know how I feel. What I just stated in the sentence before the last one actually fits in with my point. Even though you had said you wanted people to respond to get their opinions about Smallville and other things, I still decided to hold off. Why? Who knows? God? If you believe. If not, oh well.

    Oh, well. ;)

    I'm pretty laid back, I have my routine, but other things I just let go. It's no use getting a headache or staying up all night because you can't sleep because of other people's opinion.

    The insidious thing about this is that it's not really a choice. You can't just say, "Man, that comment hit me. I'm just going to forget it and move on." You really CAN get that headache. So the trick is to not see the comment in the first place.

    It's one of the few things I understood about the Bush Administration. Who would want to listen to all of those people saying they hate you? But on the other hand, in certain circumstances (like politics) those who listen to their critics and can respond analytically are benefitted with a better job performance.

    In reviews, that's a zero sum game.

    (By the way, I loved your review when you played it out like a ST: TNG script! Awesome!)

    I keep getting asked to re-do that. I need to experiment more.

    Anywho, people have their opinions. You can't please everybody, so what do you do? F%ck 'em.

    This is good advice.

    Don't sweat it. Just do your thing. I know you don't care about image or popularity contests. You just enjoy doing what you love, and that's writing. Hell, I play World of Warcraft. I get some funny looks when I tell people that. But hey, dirt off my shoulder. I don't have to answer to them. I just do my thing, and if they don't like it, move on. Get outta my face. Bl@w a monkey or something.

    You know I love monkeys... but beyond that, WoW rocks.

    I used to have a really bad temper when I was younger, mainly because I let a lot of stuff get to me. Now that I've grown and matured, it's all just trivial. I don't too much what other people think. You shouldn't either. I think it may be affecting your writing, judging from the last review. I know you have to vent, get that frustration out. We all do. What do I do to vent? Run over people with my car. Just kidding, hopefully I won't get sued by anybody for that.

    It's not affecting me any more because of the review, if that makes sense. I'm always amazed when people consider me apoplectic for something I've written, like I sit there and think about it for DAYS, etc. When I write, it's out there, it's done, I don't need to think of it any more outside of questions as to what I wrote and why.

    I've written long, passionate essays that I'm extraordinarily passionate about when I'm writing them, and then a half hour later I'm eating Doritos and playing Call of Duty and going, "Die, NAZI!" without so much as a thought in my head.

    So yes, I was affected, inasmuch as I felt compelled to write a commentary about trolls, but honestly it was more an experiment with oblique writing and how an audience would react to it, to a degree. If folks would get it. And they did, which strengthens my assumption that if you go from a place of honesty, people will work to find the center.

    But, hey man, just do what you do, never lose your passion, and be optimistic. I enjoy reading your reviews, even if I don't agree. Me, I'm an easy pleaser. In a way, I'm grateful that Superman is on TV, being a big fan of the Man of Steel. But, you're not, your job as a reviewer is to dissect and nitpick. These letters you get from other people that put you down, they're just bored. They have nothing better to do in their life than to put you down because on the inside, they feel that their lives suck! Most of them probably sit at home and watch RoadHouse and fondle themselves! Who knows? God?

    If they want to watch Road House and fondle themselves, more power to them. I don't think it's boredom, necessarily, that drives trolls. I think it's a helplessness, which is actually quite sad. I think it's people who lack some power in their life (and from kids I totally understand that, adults less so), and they realize, hey, here's this place where I can do WHATEVER I WANT and no one will hold me accountable!

    Most people turn in the wallet. Some people take the wallet and spent the money on cocaine. These are the internet trolls.

    Sometimes it's annoying, like when I get people telling me I live in a basement and have way too much time on my hands and will never get laid, like I've never heard those criticisms before or like I'm NOT in a poly-amorous relationship with several girls at the same time. Et-hem.

    Sometimes it's scary, like when it's people insinuating that Arabs all need to be shot or that Jewish people are behind all of our problems or that our black president is just a six letter word we'd thought lost to the hell of our past.

    But I have to admit a certain bemusement at a fat man in a basement typing "B. Hussein Obama is a terr-ist!" while watching Road House.

    Something uniquely American there.

    I already said that! F%ck it! Just don't care what they think! Do your thing. And if you ever need a shoulder to cry on, my pet monkey Bobo is here for you (he is a biter, though). So, just do your thing. I enjoy reading your reviews, and I actually check everyday after the show to see what you wrote, because we all need a little perspective or other-side opinions to keep our brains working. Otherwise, we'd all be vegetables and be eaten for dinner. Good luck in the future, and maybe I'll write you again! Keep your pen flowing.

    No choice, there, it's writing or insanity, and I can't abide Arkham. Thanks, though.

    Magnus wrote:

    Hi Neal!

    I just want to start by saying I enjoy reading your reviews and also the comments to all letters.

    Great! Thanks.

    I still like the show, so therefore I usually start reading Douglas reviews since they are often positive and I have often enjoyed watching the episode.

    Great! Doug rocks.

    Afterwards I read your review and the letters.

    I liked todays review by you since it was differnt, I like it when you do the reviews different, like for example the star trek one and so.

    It's always a risk, but it usually pays off. Bold experimentation within an established framework is the key to good changing media, I think.

    The 2 major things I don't like about the show, is however all the kryptonians(they are too many) that come all the time and that he hasn't learned to fly yet.

    Yeah, he really needs to be flying by now.

    this is my second email to you, first one was a couple of years ago I think, but I've read all your reviews of Smallville, so after I'm watching an episode of smallville, I look forward to reading your reviews, I always enjoy reading what people think of an episode even if it didn't was what I thought.

    That's great! I think it's the best way to form an intelligent opinion, seeing takes on things from multiples sources and finding your choice.

    So why am I writing an email a second time, well you said you wanted recommendations from 3 people before you watched a show.

    Typically, yeah.

    So I want to reccomend "The Big Bang Theory" from me too. It was first in episode two I started liking it but it's now my favourite show.

    It can get me to laugh and that means it's great ;) .

    I like it because the jokes are about stuff I study, like physics and similar my favourite in the show is Sheldon, well I'll stop talking, and just say watch it and I'll hope you like it.

    Beal Nailey, my evil pirating buddy, will let me know what he thinks. I'm sold.

    ok, now I can't think of anything more to write, feel free to do what you want with this letter.

    Perhaps I will write a third email in a couple of years.

    Please do! Sooner, if ye'd like.

    Thanks for reading

    /Magnus

    Michael Wilson wrote:

    Hi Sir.

    Sir! No way. I'm Neal to anyone. But thankee.

     You probably won't remember me but we have had previous correspondence. I don't recall exactly when but it was maybe a year or two ago. At that time I was critical of your reviews for being too negative. I would like to apologise for this as I have gained a real sense of your personality and soul from your pieces, which I won't call reviews as such a description does no justice (and boy do you put soul into it, rest assured it genuinely does show). I started writing my own reviews blog a few months ago http://thursdaythe12th.blogspot.com if anyone would like to check it out though this is NOT an exercise in plugging, my work is of a much lesser standard than your readers would come to expect but I'm doing something I enjoy, for me, and I learned from the master.

    You flatter too much! Your work is just fine. I went there and checked it out, and I'm glad to help you with a little traffic, I hope.

    And no need to apologize for being critical earlier. I appreciate it, though.

    You truly give me faith for a world that sometimes leaves me jaded so I always smile after reading what you have to say, how potentially ironic that its very Superman-esque in spirit (in a world much more embracing of and suited to the Dark Knight).

    Damned good point. I think it's why Batman gets a larger movie audience. It's easier to step in to Batman's shoes than Superman for most people, even if I personally aspire to Superman more. Most don't.

    Anyway I really wanted to let you know that I am a total fan, despite being one of the first moaners. I send this to hopefully assure you that your work truly is enjoyed and thought-provoking, and give you the pep up you give me. Whether I agree or not is almost irrevelant as I realise that was not the point. I live in the U.K so unfortumately I can't chime in with opinions on season 9 til later than it's aired for you but I also wanted to say that it is possible to still love the show and your good self. Look forward to reading more, even though I am spoiling myself, damn my lacking self control. Keep doing what you do and the very best of luck in the world with the novels, my eyes are open (in more ways than one).

    That's very, very flattering, and truly appreciated.

    Many thanks for your time

    Mike

    Mike A wrote:

    Hi Neal,

    FIRST TIME WRITER AND NEVER COMMENTER! (So no trash talk coming)

    Hah! First time writer doesn't stop many, but I'll trust ye!

    Been reading the reviews pretty much since the beginning, and want you to know that, even though in the note-taking days I thought you got a little too nit-picky at times, your thoughtful analysis was ALWAYS interesting to read and would bring out points I had let slip by. It was like getting to enjoy the episode for the first time twice!

    Thanks!

    As for this week's episode, I have to assume they fired the writing staff and brought a new, slightly more skilled one in. I thought it was that much better than anything this season.

    Emo-Oliver is actually feeling guilty for the murder of Lex Luthor (not Jimmy). Hmmm more plausible and some actual depth to the character (not just a pin-up boy with a bow).

    Emo-Clark is still emo, but is actually being Clark again. Although they opened with a distinctly non-superman act, stealing (THEFT!) the donut right in front of Lois and the entire press room when he could have just as easily sped down to the donut shop, got another donut, and left exactly the right amount of money plus a tip because that IS what Clark does. Just drew me out big time.

    Yeah, it was played for laughs. I figure a donut is not as bad as holding someone up by the neck, though.

    The Toyman stuff was fun, much less contrived than the Zod BS so far. (Someone doing something with motive, wow)

    Some good development between Lois and Clark, might actually get somewhere with it. And Clark has to make a 'Save People' vs 'Be With Lois' choice. Not Bad.

    All in all, not a bad episode, it actually felt like Superman, which it hasn't for a long time.

    Glad you enjoyed it, man! I hope you continue to.

    Thanks again for all your hard work. Don't worry about the detractors, Jesus had em, and if he had em, we're all screwed.

    I just want to know where the line is in number of detractors where you go from Jesus to Glenn Beck. There should be some kind of meter available for purchase, but I can't find the thing anywhere in the Costco.

    Take care,

    Mike

    Michael wrote:

    Hi Neal,

    Listen, I've read your last four reviews and I can tell you're frustrated with people and commentators. Here's my thing, I've been reading your reviews since 2002 (as long as I've been watching Smallville, the end of Season One), and I'm going to continue reading them. Who cares what people think that are just mean. They don't matter. When your write the review, just think of the people like me who actually have fun reading it! My only complaint is that you haven't done any crazy ones like the Star Trek one from four years ago (was it really that long?)!

    I agree, and if you notice, the review about trolls was actually one big experiment akin to the Star Trek one, just more subtle. Expect more of that as the show winds down.

    Now that I've said that, I feel I must say about "Echo" some things.

    When the show opened, I felt like I was watching Superman. So far this season, whenever Tom is on screen, I feel like I've been watching Superman. The way he's playing him, the way he's carrying himself etc. But especially the opening of Echo. sirens are going of, which Dodge Charger Cop Cars by the way, are always cool, and then in a rush, Superman appears. I know he didn't fly in or wasn't in red and blue, but it felt like Superman to me. He rushes in, saves everyone, pimp-slaps a guy across a room (not so much Superman-ish, nor was melting a robot's face off), and then changes in a phone booth. Then all of the flirtation stuff with Lois... it made me feel like I watching Lois and Clark again.

    See, that's the stuff I'm falling for too, when they do it right and focus. I was last season, too. It's why Stiletto got a high rating despite the absurd concept.

    I guess what I'm saying is, is that after however many years of seeing a less-than-proactive Clark, it's nice to see Superman. No matter if Oliver is being a bum, or Chloe isn't really doing anything... Clark is being Superman. And also, Geoff Johns is saving the day in a couple of months with the Justice Society.

    And again, I would just ask you to try and focus on the fans and people who actually do care about you and your writings and your reviews.

    Done and done! You want to know a secret? The troll-centric review was not so much because trolls got to me, but because I wanted to write a really good experiment in persuasive essay. I'm pleased with how it turned out. I'd actually dealt with the letter issues a week beforehand, and was turning my attention to driving the spike and finding the new in the review. In return came one of my greatest successes with this column... I think.

    Thanks,

    Michael

    Bryan White wrote:

    Hey Neal,

    Due to all the crap you've been getting I read your review for "Echo", and I really enjoyed you working your craft. I was entertained, thank you.

    Thanks. It was very fun for me, honestly. I like putting attention to the craft.

    Do you have a recommendation of the order I should read your stuff?

    Right now, all that's currently out is the Female Force graphic novel, but they put the issues in the wrong order, alas, for whatever reason. You should be able to order it or find it at a Border's/Barnes and Noble. That's the only thing I have out right now, aside from some stuff I have at home here, given that I've discontinued my old books.

    I have an agent now, so I'm gearing up a series novel character as my focus, but if you want to keep abreast of when my stuff is published, www.nealbailey.com is the way to go.

    But if you're REALLY wanting a fix, shoot me a private email. I have my ways...

    Also any short story anthologies you recommend?

    Honestly, I don't read too many. I've written a lot of short stories, and I'm in a few myself, but the last one I read was the new Stephen King one, Just After Sunset, which pleased me.

    I am, however, about to launch headlong into a Lawrence Block short story collection. I've just discovered Matthew Scudder in the last year, and Block is a new idol. I'd recommend him.

    Loislme wrote:

    If you love great writing and interesting sotries that actually go somewhere, then you should check out True Blood on HBO. I am sure you already have but if not, it is worth the view.

    I HAVE, actually, because I'm a big fan of HBO/Showtime dramas.

    Alas, I am not a big fan of Sookie and company, not because of the lack of a unique concept, but more because of the fact that the shrill whining of Sookie drowns out many of the concepts for me.

    HOWEVER, I will caveat that with saying that the guys who make the show made Six Feet Under, one of the greatest shows I've ever seen, so I'm still watching out of respect for that.

    BUT, you want a REALLY good vampire story that will kick your teeth in? Heck, you want an author that will really kick your teeth in? CHARLIE HUSTON.

    Read the Joe Pitt books. Trust me. Now THAT is vampire fiction like I haven't seen. I mean, I see all these people reading Twilight and watching True Blood and I'm just wondering when they'll turn on to Charlie Huston and lose their mind with the radness of it.

    Plus, he writes in minimalist stylings, which is my modus. LOVE that man's writing. Go! Trust me.

    Bernie wrote:

    Hey Neal,

     Love your reviews. I sent an E-mail once before just to see what it was like, but after reading your Echo "review" I couldn't close the browser window without commenting on how I agree with what (I think) you said. Sometimes I don't understand the references and English lingo (had to look up caveat emptor...but I guess that's more of a political term?) that you use and I might even misconstrue what you're really trying to say, but I like the honest criticism that you make about Smallville.

    Caveat Emptor is an old term that means "Let the buyer beware." It means, essentially, that you are responsible for how you regard the things you buy into, in a metaphorical sense.

    It means that I can criticize Smallville all I want, but I have to admit that I watch it, and own that, and take responsibility that for all the criticism I give I owe it a debt for providing me a service, good or bad.

    It's often misinterpreted to mean "If you don't like it, don't watch it." Which is a dismally retarded concept.

    We're not villains for being critical of the things we buy into. We ARE, however, responsible for doing so in a manner that stands up to examination.

    Meaning, a person who reads my reviews and accuses me of misogyny is guilty of not fulfilling Caveat Emptor, because they have not fully regarded the product they've received and are criticizing me for something I have not illustrated.

    A person, however, who writes in and says, "You know what? This factual error occurred in your review." is being responsible, and seeking a repair in a defect in the product they've been offered.

    It's also a catchall phrase that says that anything you buy is AS-IS, and if you didn't pay for it, you can't ask for your money back, at least in my case. Any response you get from me is something not to be expected, something I can just freely give.

    Sorry to beat that horse, but I think it's important.

     Although I don't agree with everything you say (mostly because I want to enjoy Smallville and think of it as the best show ever), I know the honest truth is that there are LOTS of flaws in it. I feel that some people are just afraid of accepting the truth about something they adore, like, etc. I actually had a conversation about this with my boss once and we both agreed that if you face a situation where you accept the known truths, then the situation itself is a lot easier to handle. Don't know if they made sense...but I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.

    I totally understand it, and your boss is right. And I hope you can watch Smallville in that way. It's much more fun, and heck, anything is much more fun that way.

    Critique, though, is not about fun, it's about regard. But I can tell you get that.

    I feel like it's enlightening - if that's the appropriate word - to see things from all points of view, whether they are correct or not. Sure, ignorance is bliss, but one can learn how others think and feel about, say Smallville, and realize, "Oh I didn't see that," or "No, I don't agree with that critique, but I can see where he/she is coming from."

    And that's where you can take your enjoyment and add a dimension of enlightenment to it. In the same way and context with which we read history. We don't have any practical need to know what James K. Polk did on a regular basis, but if we study what he did and the commentary on it, it can inform later acts and our regard of it, and put George Washington or Lincoln into context.

    Sorry if my E-mail is choppy and blocky and messy, etc, but I basically wanted to let you know that your reviews are top notch and to just keep doing what you're doing!

    Thanks!

    Take Care,

    Bernie

    Byron wrote:

    Hey dude!

    Yo!

    Seriously, putting the review in a comment on the comment of a review (or something) was just pure genius. Cracked me up!

    Less genius, more slight of hand. But glad you liked it.

    If people didn't get it, well, then they didn't deserve to get it in the first place.

    Yes.

    No comment on the episode itself, just wanted to say kudos!

    Thanks! Glad you got a giggle.

    Byron

    Gabriel17 wrote:

    I thoroughly enjoy your reviews even though or maybe especially because I switch off my brain when I watch Smallville. I switch it back on again afterwards by watching something like Battlestar Galactica (god rest its soul) or reading your reviews. So as a 42 year old 10 year old (the perfect age to see Christopher Reeve flying around on the big screen) I say to you sir, keep doing what you're doing.

    Thanks! And hey, I was four when I first saw Reeve, but it still did the trick. ;)

    As for those nipple heads who can't think for themselves? &*$^ them! You can't please everyone and there's no reason why you should try. They're your reviews, no one else's. They're your thoughts, no one else's. I thought the whole point of America, and the internet itself, was the freedom of expression. If not, I must be woefully naive and horribly misguided.

    You are correct. Explaining it to people's the real bich.

    I am intrigued by the phrase "nipple head," because I've been using it myself for many years, thanks to Blade 2. There's a point where one of the guys gets one of those bombs on his skull, and another guy turns to him and says something along the lines of "Come on, you f#%%ing nipple head!" Just funny.

    Ever since then, I've used that phrase in colloquial speech. Odd.

    Anyways, I'm going to stop there before I descend into a rant about the decline of western civilisation as evidenced by the stagnation of cultural imagination and the proliferation of remakes and "reality shows" about talentless nimrods who want to be famous for being famous, not for actually doing anything constructive, creative or original.

    Just wait until ego REALLY eclipses realistic expectation, and learned helplessness takes on its second dimension, and that second dimension collapses in a rush of famine and riot. It's coming. I'm gonna have the TV on.

    Okay so maybe I indulged in a mini-rant, my point is: don't give up. For every f@(*tard out there who tries to cut you down, but doesn't have the guts to engage in a reciprocal dialogue, there are at least five of us who appreciate the time and unpaid effort you put into your reviews regardless of whether we agree with them or not.

    Oh, I know. And I love it when you guys talk up like this. Makes my day.

    So speaking just for myself I'm saying a super-sized thank you for your reviews and I'll keep reading them for as long as you keep writing.

    Right on top of that.

    Daniel Spady wrote:

    Neal,

    I have always watched smallville but i never came across your reviews until season 5. I usually dont comment on your reviews, i do enjoy them and the comedic perspective you approach with the reviewing of the show.

    Thanks!

    As the show started to lower its age requirements for cast members...

    The quality of the show seemed to lose something. The show doesn't have that family vibe it used to...I miss it

    Agreed.

    I enjoyed some parts of this episode. I thought they where going to do something lame with the reading minds training sequence, but it looked good to me. I thought that episode would have been awesome if Lex Luthor was still in the show. Just to see him saying something and thinking something entirely different to Clark...

    "Lex, how did Toyman make all of those bombs!?" ~ Clark

    "Clark I have no idea how the toyman got the resources to get all of those explosives" ~ Lex

    When in fact Clark i was the one who gave toyman all those bombs and targets...muahahahaha I am so smart, and you Clark are so nieve. I am so much better then you.* ~ Lex's Mind

    and then Clark just stares a him like...

    "I heard that..."

    That WOULD have been cool.

    I just wanted to comment on the funny bit you did by hiding the review of the show in the lower part of the review in the letters.

    to be honest i was quite angry that you did a whole page dedicated to the people that leave hateful comments and left a sentence for a review...

    or maybe i was just mad that you said "Eh. Wasn't that bad. Wasn't that great. Cool face melt."

    That's the goal of good writing. Manipulate you to laugh, cry, and then get it. At least, as I see it. Now you have an emotional experience to remember, and hopefully I've convinced you it was worth your time.

    I was also secretly hoping that people who weren't paying attention would not see the review, but it looks like that didn't fool many people, which just shows that even the haters read to the very bottom (which never ceases to perplex and please me).

    But yeah keep doing what your doing. don't ever let em see you sweat. Keep the reviews coming.

    Letting them see me sweat helps reveal that I'm human. But I'll never give them the satisfaction of letting the sweat stop the work. And I'll just keep charging in, because that's what life is.

    The second reason i wanted to email, was just to say third, Big Bang Theory is a excellent show, definetly worth checking out

    Many many endorsements have led to me checking it out. More on that soon.

    Mark wrote:

    I just turned on Smallville and saw Oliver being interrogated by what I assumed were the police, or something like that, and then a man claiming to be with the FBI came in and asked him to log in to his bank account. I had just turned on the episode and had no idea what was going on and still I could tell that this was some kind of scam. I was thinking "don't do it, don't do it," and then Oliver logged in and not only that, walked away from the lap top without logging out again. Can he really be that big of an idiot? How did he not lose all of his money to a Nigerian prince years ago?

    Yeah, it was incredibly contrived.

    Anyway, this show is getting ridiculous. I've missed an epiosde earlier this season and tried to watch it on Hulu but got so bored that I think I only payed attention to about 10% of it and didn't make it all the way through without starting to do something else on the computer. Now, there's some kind of whip kick fight going on, and I have no idea why because I was two busy writing you. I think your reviews are the only reason I keep watching these days, so as always, keep up the good work!

    The last two episodes are the sole salvation of this season so far.

    Bruce Kanin wrote, RE: Roulette:

    "Do you expect me to talk?"
    "No, Mr. Queen, I expect you to die!"

    Oh, sorry, I thought I was watching Justin Hartley as 007 in "Roulette", a new James Bond movie.

    If they did that to James Bond, people would still complain that a James Bond movie was co-opted by the Green Arrow. HAW!

    I don't know how to rate this episode. It wasn't an *A* and it wasn't an *F*. I can't even use my usual reviewing style with it. So the whole thing was a ruse by Chloe and the "JLA" to shake Oliver out of his death-wish doldrums. I can't decide if I'm bothered by that or if that was clever.

    I was bothered, mostly because it's attempted murder of a sort.

    There really wasn't much of Clark in this. Oh, we had his cute rescue of the woman attacked in presumably her car - while he was supposed to be getting popcorn in the kitchen. Did he have to shatter the car's glass? Couldn't he have torn the door off? Prior to that, Clark walks into his Smallville farmhouse, clad in his silly black Matrix uniform and full of dirt from his latest escapade, /surprised /to find Lois there, doing her laundry. Why would a guy with super-senses be surprised about most anything?

    Yeah.

    I did kind of like Clark and Ollie at the end, watching over Metropolis. Cheered Ollie's comment about Clark's ridiculous outfit, suggesting it needs color. And yes it was good to have Green Arrow back, although I still haven't warmed up to his glasses. He needs a mask. And ultimately he needs to end up in Star City. And grow a beard. And an attitude. And team up with Green Lantern! Woo hoo!

    It bothered me that when Clark needed some information about things Kryptonian, he just zipped up to the /Fortress /to talk to dear old dad. Does he also talk to ol' Jor about the birds & the bees? "Um, dad, uh, how can I stop from killing Lois when I, um, you know...?" And, whither Kandor? What is Kandor supposed to be in the SMALLVILLE Universe? I was hoping that Clark would say that Jor-El told him Kandor was shrunk by Brainiac, but no dice.

    Whither Kandor is an AWESOME phrase.

    Oh, and the Vancouver Skytrain made a couple of appearances. First when Ollie attempts to call Chloe at the phone booth - the Skytrain elevated is right behind him - and then when he was running with Dragon Lady before she got "shot". It all just serves as a reminder that we're not in Metropolis, Kansas or the USA, but Vancouver, British Columbia and the CPA (um, Canadian Provinces of America).

    HAW.

    This was a strategic episode in that it got Ollie back to being himself, but it wrapped up a pointless thread that had him down in the dumps for what seemed like several seasons (it was only a few episodes). I'm glad it was wrapped up, because they can move on, but it was colossal filler. And what happened to all of Ollie's angst...about "killing" Lex...about his parents...about everything he ever had being given to him? He was upset, previously, because he didn't, as John Houseman used to say, "earn it". His fake adventure, courtesy of Chloe, cured him of all that?

    Light-a switch-a.

    Speaking of which - she went to all that trouble? All that preparation? The fake sets? The actors? The pyrotechnics and such? How crazy! That's as ridiculous as the god-awful third season episode of STAR TREK, "The Mark of Gideon", in which a planet's leaders create a duplicate, land-locked Enterprise in order to get hold of Captain Kirk's germs. Hunrh? Do writers think we're going to buy this stupidity?

    At least Star Trek had the advantage of a man who anyone would want to steal the germs of.

    Also in "Roulette", we have another installment of "Lies, Secrets and I'm Just Trying to Protect Somebody". In tonight's episode, Lois was pissed at Clark for keeping the truth about Ollie's depression from her. Ho hum. Let's see if she forgets about that next week - the coming attractions seem to suggest that she will and be ga-ga over Clark once again.

    Ding!

    And finally, we have the other strategic thread, the Super Trek: The Search for Kryptonians. Funny...threats are supposed to be menacing and scary. This one, the danger lurking with these evil Kryptonians scattered around the Earth (somewhat evenly - did you notice?) makes me...sleepy.

    I'm waiting for this show to be about Superman, yet it continues to present inane plots about...everything but.

    It almost got there last week and this week.

    Bruce Kanin

    Darkseid wrote:

    Monkey-boy, you missed Kal-El's shout-out to my Anti-Life Equation! Mwahaha- I will destroy your pathetic planet with painful parademon groaners. None shall escape the grasp of Darkseid.

    Great and Mighty Darkseid, I sought only to keep your precious weapon secret from the firepits, lest they make a pitiful attempt to avoid your wrath!

    THIS REVIEW:

    CRITIQUE + FUNNY / MONKEYS X PORKRINDS, WHIPS, and DESPAIR

    Now go get Paris Hilton!

    On that note, I'm gonna stop! I have more letters, but I'm gonna divide it up into next week so that I can save my own sanity. Take care, all!

    Don't forget to check out the updated KO Count.

    Neal



    Back to the "Smallville: Episode Reviews" Contents page.

    Back to the main TELEVISION page.