Smallville has always been my guilty pleasure. An average show by all standards it has somehow managed to survive 10 years of prime time television ! A great proof of why in the world of art the total can be much greater than the sum of parts. As it is now in its 10th and final season, Smallville ratings are at an all time high and each episode is looked forward to with great anticipation from its large fanbase. There are so many things that this show did wrong but miraculously there was more stuff that they did right. I believe the concept of taking an American Superhero and looking at its story from a new angle was obviously the key – it got people watching and kept them interested. If one knows how the story ends, its always fun to imagine how one could get there. How Clark Kent becomes Superman – well there is over 50 years of comic book history to get inspired from and so much to add the story line.
As a tribute to a show that I have been addicted to for over ten years, I decided to do a Smallville Marathon. I am going to back to season 1 and start re-watching stuff and now analyze the episodes in retrospect.
Pilot – Its almost a bitter sweet sensation to go back and look at the first episode. We see the young but ridiculously good looking Tom Welling, gorgeous Annette Toole and John Schneider and absolutely adorable Allison Mack. The challenge for a series opener is to establish a plot and characters and thats what Al Gough and Miles Miller get that really right. We are introduced to Clark Kent as a typical teenager next door up to the moment he superspeeds to school ! There his dynamic with Chloe Sullivan and Pete Ross is discovered. Lana Lang is quickly introduced in the first fifteen minutes of the show – she is the high school cheerleader, the quartberback’s girlfiriend, girl next door and the girl whose heart Clark desires.Every superhero show needs its villain so how can we forget Lex Luthor. It was so nice to see Michael Rosenbaum on screen in that role that he owned. I always maintained that he was probably the best actor on the show. Now Lex Luthor has always been the over the top maniacal villain but in Smallville world we do things differently. He is the 20 something spoiled Luthor brat who is desperately trying to be not his father, the tyrannical industrialist Lionel Luther. Now thats interesting – Smallville doesnt establish Lex as the bad guy at all , but instead this person who is desparately trying to be a good. As the show progresses, the show is not only about Clark’s growth into Superman but also how Lex becomes that villain.
In this very first episode we see signs of the struggle that Clark will face throughout his life – his struggle to live a human life with all his superpowers. Even getting on a football team is a matter of great debate and concern. It is in this episode that Clark discovers that he is not human at all but from a different planet – imagine you are 16 something and you realize you are an alien!The show format has always been about the “Monster of the week” and with emphasis on character development and the overall arch with Clark and the villain of the sereies. I have never been too interested in the MOTW so my analysis on these would be minimal.
All in all a great start to a really good show.