“Smallville,” the seemingly never-ending story of how young Clark Kent became Superman, aired its series finale on Friday.
I’ve never been so happy to see a show end.
Ten Years. Ten Years I gave to that show. A show that was stupid more often than not. A show that I lost interest in about five years ago. A show that’s mythology got so convoluted over time that I lost all hope of keeping it straight. For the past two years I’ve been skimming episodes while putzing around on the computer. I use it for background noise, mostly.
I don’t even particularly like Superman. He’s not Batman. He’s certainly no Thor. I switched allegiance from DC to Marvel decades ago. And it’s not like I’m the kind of nerd who grabs onto something and won’t let go — I stopped watching “Lois and Clark” before it ended. I gave up on “No Ordinary Family” mid-season. I quit “The Cape” and it only ran for like five weeks.
And yet something drew me back every week to Smallville.
Therefore, I feel I owe it some sort of post-mortem. This will be largely random, confused and go on too long — which makes it a fitting farewell to the show I’m talking about.
First up, the “Smallville” theme song was one of the worst theme songs in television history. Recorded by Remy Zero, it features it’s lead singer plaintively pleading “SOMEBODY SAAVE ME, let your waters break right through SOMEBODY SAAVE ME, I don’t care how you do it, just SAAVE, SAAVE, C’MON.” That voice was like nails on a chalkboard. If that was the only hit Remy Zero ever had, I pity them like no other band I know.
The early years of “Smallville” focused on Clark Kent (Tom Welling) in high school, where he pined over the lovely Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and ignored the cute-but-no-Lana Chloe (Allison Mack), who had the hots for Clark. When not dealing with teen angst, Clark would have to fight whatever Smallvilliean had been infected by a meteor rock that week.
In “Smallville” mythology (which beared little resemblance to Superman mythology in the beginning, and even less as the show went along), when Krypton exploded, not only did baby Kal-El crash land in Kansas, but practically the entire planet did as well. These fragments of Krypton would give whoever came in contact with them strange abilities and usually put them at odds with Clark. This got tiresome and predictable so they dropped that plot after season two or three.
Clark is befriended by Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), son of millionare scumbag Lionel Luthor (John Glover). The Luthors — and Lana — were probably what kept me hooked on “Smallville” for so long. Rosenbaum and Glover were always entertaining, even when forced into horrible storylines, and Kreuk was just hot.
I never liked Chloe. Nothing against the actress, I just always found the character annoying — a trait that got worse as time went on.
Clark grew up on the Kent farm, adopted son of Jonathan (John Schneider) and Martha (Annette O’Toole) Kent. Pa spent a L O T of time lecturing Clark on the proper use of his powers (don’t use ’em) and the evils of the Luthors. Pa could get grating at times, but I always liked Schneider and it was a blow when they finally killed him off. Martha goes on to become a senator and I have no idea where that came from. Somehow the farm managed to run itself after Pa and Ma Kent were written out.
One of my favorite stupid things about “Smallville” was how the Kent Farm didn’t have any phones. Whenever anyone wanted to have a chat with Clark, they would drive out to his farm, find him in the barn loft, talk for a few minutes, then leave. Seriously. I could buy that if everyone on “Smallville” lived in an apartment complex and talking to someone was just a matter of walking next door, but Clark lived in the country. I always wondered why no one would just pick up a phone.
And Oh God, do the people on “Smallville” like to talk. A typical “Smallville” episode was 15 minutes story, 45 minutes talk (minus commercials). Every episode would end 10 minutes early so they could spend the last 10 minutes talking about their feelings and Clark’s destiny.
Which brings us to the mystery of Jor-El, Clark’s father. You may recall in the movie that Jor-El made a bunch of interactive videos through which he was able to communicate with his son even though he was long dead. I can buy that. But in “Smallville,” it’s taken to such a ridiculous extreme that it’s difficult to believe that Jor-El died years ago on a planet far, far away.
I think the biggest problem with “Smallville” was success. The show’s mission statement — How young Clark Kent becomes Superman — is not something you can drag out for 10 years. Heck, they only spend 10 minutes on Smallville in the “Superman” movie.
But nobody, especially not a third-rate network like the WB/CW, is going to cancel a show that’s making money. So the show kept going like a kryptonite-fueled Energizer bunny. And to keep it going, they had to come up with more and more convoluted bits and goofy storylines, like Lana marrying Lex or that weird bit where she ran off to China or Japan and became a ninja. It’s all a blur, so to speak.
And then of course they had to bring in Lois and Jimmy and Perry White even though none of them should have had anything to do with Clark’s formative years. I believe Clark spent 2 seasons in college and then miraculously got a job at the leading daily newspaper in a major city. Oh, and did I mention that Smallville is apparently a suburb of Metropolis? I always thought Smallville was in Kansas and Metropolis was on the East Coast. Apparently there’s a wormhole that gets Clark, Lois, Chloe and the Luthors back and forth from Smallville to Metropolis in no time at all.
By the last few seasons Lana had left, Lex was dead and the show basically became “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of The Blur.” Yes, because they still refused to call him Superman, they spend the latter years with him running around secretly being heroic under the handle of “The Blur.”
During this period they also bring in every DC character they can get away with (meaning, every DC character that doesn’t have a movie deal) and make Green Arrow Clark’s new best friend. I’m pretty sure the only major DC heroes that don’t appear on “Smallville” are Batman and Wonder Woman — no doubt because they have better agents.
I’ve gone on and on far too long (much like “Smallville”) so let’s cut to the finale. Two hours. I decided out of respect for our long relationship that I would give the finale my full, undivided attention. I put away the laptop, I turned off the iPad, I even went downstairs to watch it on the widescreen.
I lasted maybe 45 minutes before I had to hit the fast-forward button. Did I mention how much they love to talk on this show? This was record-breaking. Clark talks to Lois. Lois talks to Clark. Clark talks to Chloe. Chloe talks to Lois. Clark talks to Ma. Clark talks to the ghost of Pa. Clark talks to Oliver. Oliver talks to Chloe. Clark talks to Lois through a door.
And it’s not like they were saying anything new, it was the same tired “Clark loves Lois,” “Clark has a destiny,” “Lois loves Clark” discussions that have been running for years. It’s amazing they took out five minutes to deal with Darkseid, who’s about to destroy the world. But then that’s another “Smallville” staple — build up a villain all year and then dispatch them in five minutes.
Which brings us to the final betrayal. After 10 years and more than 200 episodes, do we finally get to see Tom Welling in the Superman costume? No. Well, yes if you count blurry images and what is clearly an animated figure with Welling’s head attached.
I don’t even understand what happened at the end. Apparently Clark pushed the planet Apocalypse out of Earth orbit, but they don’t show it. He’s just floating there in space as the fiery rock drifts away.
I’d be disappointed except — I’m just so relieved it’s over.