TV Review - Smallville: Series Finale
|Michael Rosenbaum and|
Tom Welling in "Smallville"
The final episode of Smallville ended in a very familiar place and a less exciting one. Since this tenth and final season began, the show has felt as if it's been building to the moment when Clark Kent would don the cape and tights and fly as the iconic Superman. When it does happen at the very end of the episode, it's less than satisfying.
First off, when Clark puts on the suit, it's never a full-body shot. It's a shot from extremely far away. Secondly, because it is saved for the very end, there's hardly any time devoted to Clark as Superman. The show basically spends two hours talking about him becoming a superhero than him actually as one. In that, this is probably the most boring episode ever.
There was potential for excitement. For the past few months, the show has been teasing the return of Michael Rosenbaum who plays Lex Luther. I believe the show suffered when he left because Rosenbaum made for a great Lex Luther. His character was well-written and always well-performed. Rosenbaum returns, but only for one scene with Tom Welling who plays Clark, and again it's a brief scene saved for the very end. I would have appreciated it if Rosenbaum's bald-headed character was more involved in the end plot. For so many years, he was integral to the show. His much hyped and trumpeted return was ultimately lame.
What was also perhaps overly hyped was Darkseid. This final villain, which was basically black smoke that took over other people's bodies, had a less than spectacular resolution. It wasn't much of a fight. The majority of the time was rehashing of things we already knew, which is typical of series finale episodes.
Also typical is the level of sentimentality. There is the sentimentality of a mom reading to her son the story of Superman. There is the sentimentality of Lois and Clark's wedding. The sentimentality of a son talking to his dead father. If anyone of it was balanced with urgency or any kind of dred, the sentimentality might have been effective.
The writers might have thought they had urgency or dred because the episode opens with a large meteor, heading for Earth. It was somewhat poetic that the very first episode was about a bunch of small meteors crashing on Earth and this very last episode was about a meteor the size of a planet also about to crash land. It was poetic in an episode brimming with poetry. Like most Smallville episodes, this one was filled with poetic monologues, and they're not poetic in the way the monologues are structured. There are no rhymes or iambic pentameter, but the monologues are all flowery and overly important, weighted and at times stilted.
Usually, the dialogue has snappy one-liners, pop culture references and witty asides. There was none of that here. I had always loved the show because it took the Superman premise and made it its own, modernized it to an extent. It was a different and unique thing than what's been depicted in the comics or in cartoons. How odd that its end is it becoming the same Superman we've seen over and over.
Not many TV shows make it to ten seasons, but Smallville did. It's now the longest-running TV series based on a comic book that's ever been broadcast on American airwaves. That's not saying much, but still, it's an accomplishment, and Smallville was one of the most exciting series on the air. It was basically an action-adventure that incorporated a healthy and manageable level of fights and special effects that surely satisfied the comic book fans out there and balanced it with enough sentimental and romantic, tug-of-war games that has defined the teenage-targeted WB-UPN-CW shows for over a decade. Over the past nine years though, the show fell into a very predictable pattern that's in line with the spirit of the comics as well as other Dawson's Creek-type programs, but got to be frustrating for me as the years went on. I was a fan of the show from the very beginning but it fell into repetitive loops.
Just as a refresher to what Superman was all about, Superman involved aliens who looked exactly like humans who lived on a planet called Krypton. The planet Krypton exploded, but before it did, a man named Jor-El put his baby son named Kal-El in a spaceship and launched that spaceship toward Earth. Kal-El landed on Earth along with a lot of meteors and was raised by John and Martha Kent. They re-named him Clark Kent and essentially adopted him, making him a part of their farm life in a town called Smallville, Kansas.
The TV series differed from the comics in that at the time of Kal-El's arrival, there also arrived meteor rocks from the exploded planet of Krypton that became radioactive and started mutating any human and giving them some kind of superpower. As Kal-El grew up to be Clark Kent, he would encounter these mutated people and would occasionally have to fight them. This was essentially the premise of the first few seasons of the show.
Where the TV series also differed from the comics was that in Clark's sophomore year of high school, he rescues local rich boy, Lex Luthor, from a near fatal car accident. From that point, Clark and Lex become friends. In the comics, the two were never friends. They met as adults and were immediately enemies. The TV series took several years before the two friends became enemies and it was always an interesting dynamic to watch.
For nine years, Clark has struggled with the fact that he has these powers. He's always believed that he should use those powers to help people and the writers have always made the argument througout the years of what Clark should and shouldn't do in order to become the hero that he seems destined to become. They've attacked the argument and its various issues from every conceivable angle and they've never been afraid to venture into dark territories, especially in these recent seasons, but one can tell with that final season that the writers are really circling back and are obviously tying things up.
I enjoyed the show. I thought Tom Welling was great in this role. I think he's always played it well. In a world where most shows feel like they need anti-heroes or lead male characters who are jerks in some way, Welling's character is pure, moral and just, and a reminder that it is okay to have a show centered around a guy like that. I liked the way that the show was photographed. There was at times a dream-like feeling to it, a haze or glow to it that made it feel surreal or a definite fantasy, but I tought it worked.
Three Stars out of Five.
Running Time: 1 hr.