Monday, May 16, 2011

Smallville: An Autopsy

Tom Welling has cast a spell of sheer enchantment over me.

He makes me nostalgic for Dean Cain.

Granted he did not accomplish this overnight, no, it took Tom Welling ten years of boring scripts and mechanical acting to get me to reconsider completely "Lois and Clark, the New Adventures of Superman", but in the end he prevailed.
It seems hard to remember that ten years ago, Smallville was nothing more than a rip off of "Buffy the Vampire the Slayer" with a buffed up male protagonist, a built in audience and a completely cowardly core concept...I.E. Young Clark Kent no tights no flights no nothing really.
And what the hell the damn thing was a success and a malign precedent as well.
D'ye know what you get when you do Clark Kent without the costume?
Without the mythos?
Sans cape?
You get Hugo Danner, the pitiful superhuman "hero" of Philip Wylie's 1931 novel Gladiator, except this poor schnook feeling sorry for himself because he couldn't think of single practical application for being faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive.
And that is what was wrong with Smallville (regardless of Tom Welling's suspended animation performance style), it was whiny self pitying nonsense...directless for lack of a unifying concept.
Year after year Smallville piled up ever more inane excuses to keep Clark out of the cape, other characters from DC comics were introduced seemingly at random (What the hell has the Green Arrow have to do with Superman, other than the show's producers couldn't get the rights to Batman) all to cloud and obscure and obstruct any progress towards the debut of Superman.
Whenever they got two steps forward Clark would lose his powers or his confidence or wanna snuggle with Lana Lang (Played by Kristen Kreuk possibly the worst actress on this breathing Earth), and this went on for years!
Smallville did the impossible at the end of a decade I was entirely in sympathy with Lex Luthor maybe Clark was an alien interloper after all...Maybe Clark Kent is the threat. And even if he isn't when is that Big Mary gonna snap out of it??
And the audience kept coming back for more despite yearly rip-offs that stagger the creative imagination.
Until last week the producers could bail out the Titanic no longer and in the last fifteen minutes of the two hour season finale they CGI'd Welling into the costume and had a cheap computer animated Superman at last save the day.
A more blatantly disrespectful conclusion cannot be imagined.
My Ghod Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster AND Kirk Alyn are spinning in their graves.
What is wrong with Smallville and what will live on long after it's finale is the bad precedent that it sets. That it's okay to run far away from the character's core concept and that you can fake out the comic book audience for decades sans reproach.

I fear the next time the Man of Steel hits TV, the wrong lessons will have been learned from Smallville and even worse indignities will be meted out to Kal El and his mythos.

But thank Rao it's all over, and unless he has made some formidable investments we can expect to buy Tom Welling's autograph for $20 a pop at the Framingham Super Mega Fest sooner or later.

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