Last weekend the television series Smallville ended after an impressive ten seasons on the air. The show was about the formative years of Clark Kent that would eventually lead him to become Superman. Alas, it suffered from overdoses of teen angst initially, and poor plotting throughout.

Clark Kent (Tom Welling) seems to be a typical teen in the rural town of Smallville, Kansas, until he notices some changes -- like super strength and invulnerability. His parents Jonathan (John Schneider) and Martha (Annette O'Toole) have quite a surprise: He's an alien, whose ship landed on Earth in a meteor storm many years ago. Now the folks try and instill a sense of goodness and morals in Clark, while he gets occasional lessons and training from the program/ghost/something of his biological father Kal-El (Terrence Stamp) at the Fortress of Solitude.

Clark has a huge crush on Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk), but is afraid knowing his secret could put her in danger (not to mention her parents were killed in the meteor storm that brought Clark to our planet). Clark's friend Chloe (Allison Mack) has an unrequited crush on Clark; she also has a "Wall of Weird," tracking the strange occurrences that happened in Smallville since the meteor shower. It turns out that kryptonite (called "meteor rock") has given lots of people abilities, often resulting in the show's "freak of the week" who appears, battles Clark, and is never heard about again. And "meteor rock" is common enough to cause no end of problems for Clark.

And what would the story of (pre-) Superman be without his nemesis? Lex Luthor (Michael Resenbaum) is being groomed by his father Lionel (John Glover) to be a ruthless, brilliant ruler of men. But Lex is both friends with Clark (who saved Lex) and suspicious of him (knowing something's different about Clark but never quite finding out what.)

Eventually both Lana and Lex were written out of the show, and the replacements came in. Lois Lane (Erica Durance) was brought in as the perky, flirty-antagonism love interest of Clark. Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) was the heir apparent to the Luthor empire, wavering between good and evil. (Lionel Luthor was still around, sometimes good and sometimes evil.) While lots of superheroes appeared for an episode or two (they got Aquaman, but never Batman), the most regular was Green Arrow (Justin Hartley), though he usually appeared as Oliver Queen: no costume, no arrows. And Clark became a superhero known as the Blur.

Truth be told, I'm not sure how Smallville lasted as long as it did. For comic book fans, there were some good references and castings (Terrence Stamp, who voiced Jor-El, played Zod in Superman 2; Annette O'Toole, Clark's mother, played Lana Lang in Superman 3) but lots of inconsistencies (such as a prison of baddies put there by Clark -- yet Lex couldn't figure out his secrets). The will-they-won't-they romance(s) consisted of far overdone longing stares and about-to-tell-but... scenes. The histories of characters like Lionel and Oliver show that the writers had no clear vision for the characters or where the show would go. And while I really liked Michael Rosenbaum as Lex -- the person who seems to have everything, yet is jealous of a simple farmboy with friends -- most of the cast was adequate. (The finale was underwhelming -- not to mention several flashback montages!) At some point the Superman franchise will get the big screen treatment again, but Smallville was a very inconsistent look at the origins of the teen who would become the Man of Steel.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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