Smallville gets smaller
I’ve tried to watch Smallville on numerous ocassions because it comes recommended by friends and it feels like a show I should be into–but no matter how I try, I never like it. Unlike its other critics, I don’t so much have a problem with the monster-of-the-week format it frequently relies on, as I do the Clark-is-acting-weird sentiment that floats through every episode I happen to catch. This sentiment runs anywhere from overtly (Clark touched some variant of kryptonite that brings out the exact opposite of his personality) to very vague (Why won’t Clark date me?), but either way I found it pretty boring pretty fast. Maybe the angst is meant as a puberty parallel but Superman going through puberty isn’t interesting to me, and by making his moodiness often the result of alien tampering, it’s not genuine enough to connect with me on a deeper level.
That said, it has been a successful series by any measure. Ratings have been good, and the show does a great job of making flexible the comicbook continuity that fanboys and girls are usually very uptight about. By all means, this show should not have worked either for comic fans or regular television viewers, but for the most part it has, and for a cross-section of both groups (and of course the many who fall into both categories).
While Smalliville has been picked up for an eighth (and final?) season by The CW network, show creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough will not be returning with it. No reason has been given for the departure, but it was abrupt, and rumours have it that the split was more caustic than conciliatory. While star Tom Welling is still onboard, contracts that are currently under negotiation include Michael Rosenbaum’s (Lex Luthor) and Kristen Kreuk’s (Lana Lang), who has signed on for seven more episodes but nothing more concrete after that.
Honestly, it was time for these characters to go. With the series’ introduction of the Lois Lane character (and perhaps even before that), Kreuk hasn’t had much to do on the show. Lame storylines had her obtaining magical powers, posturing as a villain, oddly dating Lex Luthor, etc. I thought she would have been killed off by now and am surprised she lasted this long. True, she is the show’s sex symbol (though I would contend that), but shoehorning her into subplots has hampered more than several episodes. The show will miss Rosenbaum, whose portrayal of Luthor is the best character realization on the series, but the slow evil-ization of Luthor over seven years can’t be anything but anti-climactic by this point.
More damaging is the loss of the show’s creators. Has there ever been a show that wasn’t killed by the departure of its main voice(s)? I’m thinking of Alias, Gilmore Girls, Grey’s Anatomy. Each show lost all sense of itself after their creators left to pursue other projects. Despite the fact that television is art-by-committee, recent history has shown that the auteur theory holds even on the small screen. Will Smallville, based on a character whose creators are long dead anyways and has been written by many different people, continue to fly? Does Smallville have the flexibility of a comic book, or is it like the many TV shows we’ve seen crash and burn before it?