2 March 2006 | Spacetree
So many mixed feelings...
So, what can I say about Smallville? Firstly, it's an original premise, I'll give it that. It is genuinely cool to see how Superman was when he was a teenage, and for the most part his character development is rather intriguing. The superpowers and other special effects are well done most of the time, and the fight scenes are modest (they could be more involved and lengthy, however). The other characters work as good foils for Clark, and Lex Luther himself has become a highly complex character (even if a good deal of it is non-canonical and rather contradictory). From the get go, Smallville had potential both as an interesting action/fantasy series and a drama.
But what afflicts Smallville is what afflicts most shows of this type: haphazard, episodic writing. In it's good moments, Smallville can pull off some good story arcs and plot lines that evolve the characters so that they become beings that you can actually relate to and feel for and create plot twists and turns that keep the viewer interested. However, when it's bad, it simply puts all the strides the series made into shadow. The show is now in its fifth season, and now the character developments and plot directions made in previous seasons have been seriously damaged and all but erased. For example, Lionel Luther (Lex's father and a newly created character) served as the chief villain for seasons one through three- when they didn't resort to the "villain of the week" formula (which got old, FAST). In the fourth season, Luther was in the process of changing his ways, trying to stop his son from taking the same path as he (which, of course, will fail). However, in the fifth, he reverts back into one of the main antagonists. Huh? Did I miss something? Smallville is constantly plagued with writing that either goes nowhere, doesn't know where it's going, or exploit some fad (one episode is created around Lana Lang kissing another girl with absolutely no other noteworthy plot subjects and another is used to sap popularity from Chinese wuxia films). The series builds story arcs up only to knock them down with some half-assed plot device (such as "make Clark evil" or "Put Lana in mortal danger"). While attempts to create mystery and suspense are present, they rarely succeed.
Most of the story lines make vague allusions to the comics, but most are non-canonical. While this is excusable in a television show such as this, sometimes the writers take too many liberties with canon.
In general, Smallville has a lot of potential, and sometimes it meets this potential. But the capricious and wandering writing really hurts it.