“Smallville” – S is for Stale

You sir, are no Bertha Mason!*sigh* Why do I watch this show?

I can't even remember when it first started airing, but I must've been able to smell the high crap factor and stayed far away. Yet another WB show overflowing with white people, overage actors playing teens and Top 40 music edited in with a hammer, bleating out clumsy commentary for a derivative script. The few times I tuned in, it seemed to be striving for some mix of Buffy and X-Files: weird phenomena and taut young flesh. Just another day in high school.

It's too bad. I'm a sucker for well-known stories/mythologies told from unexpected and alternate points of view: reading about Bertha Mason, Jane Eyre's mad woman in the attic, in Wide Sargasso Sea was the first time I realized how this approach can illuminate subterranean veins of meaning. Even the dimmest critical analysis (hi!) could begin to unearth it. Couple this with the fact that the most memorable scenes for me from the Superman movie were Clark discovering his powers as an adolescent, racing to beat the train on his way to school. This is exactly the period of his life that "Smallville" is set in.

But it had to take previews of Clark flying (season 4?), or appearances by Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg to finally pull me in. I began watching, hoping the writers had worked out the kinks in character development; that the new mythology they were constructing was beginning to connect more intricately and intelligently with what was already there.

Sort of. Not really. So far this season, in just about every episode, Clark has been whimpering about "his secret" being discovered. It's his excuse for cowardice, fear and celibacy. A clear connection is being drawn between this tragic teenage fate and the reality the Clark Kent we all know must live with: a failed romance with Lana Lang, Lex Luthor his nemesis, and Lois Lane his future love interest. (What's with all the L names? I just noticed that.) But it's all so, well, lame.

I've ceased to care about any of the characters, and find myself wishing for those moments from the movie, when I was in the place of that kid, watching a young man through the window pace and outstrip the train I was on. Running so fast, my parents missed him by the time I called them over to see. That same exhilaration that another superhero movie, Spiderman, didn't tap into until the very last scene: webslinging gracefully across the skyline, heart in throat, the camera swooping behind and around to catch up. I just hope the writers for "Smallville" don't wait until the last scenes of the series to get us there.

The theme song has it right: "Somebody save me."


1 Comment »

  1. Pat said

    ooh go watch subtareanean if you really want to be disgusted with the show. New Low!! Thats it for me and this half assed series.

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