CST Throwback Thursday- Television Series of the Week

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Smallville

by Gilberto Campa

During this past fall’s crossover event “Invasion” where all of the heroes in the DC television universe or “Arrowverse” teamed up together to take down a race of aliens called the dominators, it really hit me as I was watching it to see just how far superhero television had come along to where it used to be. Along with other series that include Agents of Shield, Gotham, Daredevil, Preacher, Gotham, Lucifer, etc. we are truly enjoying the Golden age of Comic Book television shows that are very distinct and unique besides being good of course. But I would argue that there is one show that is single handedly responsible for all of these shows being created and successful.

My throwback series of the week is the Alfred Gough and Miles Millar coming of age story of Clark Kent, Smallville. Back in the year 2000 Gough and Millar had come up with a premise for an ongoing weekly television series based around a young Bruce Wayne and his journey to eventually becoming Batman (The script can actually be looked up online and it’s pretty interesting). But due to the fact that Warner Bros. we’re looking to shine away from Batman after the fiasco that was Batman & Robin, they ultimately re wrote the story around the story of a young Clark Kent and his journey to becoming Superman. Along with the 60 plus years of stories and the legendary Donner Films, the duo of Gough and Millar specifically looked to a four issue series from Jeph Leob (who would later produce and write on the series) and artist Tim Sale entitled “Superman For All Seasons”.

Smallville doesn’t only focus on Clark but it also sees how his friends, family and eventual enemies look and interact with him. One of if not the most drastic choices that was made for the series was having Clark Kent and Lex Luthor start out as friends before they would become arch enemies. This series was the first in its kind because unlike the previous Superman series “Lois & Clark” there was one rule that set the foundation for the show, No flights, no tights. It isn’t until later seasons where the rules are bent a little bit to move along with the story. The most important aspect that I not only enjoyed but which really made the series great in my opinion was the relationship that Clark had with his adoptive parents (Jonathan and Martha Kent) as they helped him on his journey into adulthood, you truly get to witness the growth of Clark from man (teenager) to Superman.

In terms of character portrayals and performances the cast of Smallville is one of the best overall casts for any series. Tom Welling who in my opinion plays a great Clark Kent does a great job at showing Clark at his best and at his worst especially when things become more difficult and tricky in later seasons. And in terms of the supporting cast John Schneider as Jonathan Kent for me is probably the most complete and perfect portrayal of that character, along with Annette O’Toole as Martha Kent they all carry a great chemistry throughout the show. And Michael Rosenbaum who is also very famous for his voice work on Justice League gives one of the best portrayals of Lex Luthor in any medium as he along with Clark has the biggest character arch on the show that keeps things interesting (even when he is not there). Plus you cannot tell the story of Clark Kent without the two women in his life that are very important to him, those being Lana Lang played by Kristen Kreuk and Lois Lane played amazingly by Erica Durance. Both of these character come in at different points in Clarks life but they each help him along his journey into becoming the man that he is destined to be, but also don’t always need him for help since the writers made both of these strong female characters very capable. Perhaps the most important thing that this show did was create a completely original character in Chloe Sullivan played by Alison Mack who becomes Clark’s best friend and eventual “Oracle” to his Blur persona as he starts to help more people throughout the show.

Smallville also does a great job in going through almost the entire mythos of Superman with almost every ally (Justice League, Legion of Superheroes, etc.) and enemy (General Zod, Zor-El, Doomsday, Suicide Squad, parasite) making an appearance as the story progresses. There are also many guest stars and recurring actors that left quite the impact on the series including, Sam Witwer, John Glover, Aaron Ashmore, James Marsters, Justin Hartley, Cassidy Freeman, Laura Vandervoort, Jensen Ackles (pre Supernatural), Callum Blue, Amy Adams, Lynda Carter, Terence Stamp, Julian Sands and the late Carrie Fisher. But out of all those great guest stars none of them can really compare to the appearances that Christopher Reeve (Superman himself) made as Dr. Virgil Swanson who is one of the first people outside of his parents that shows Clark his true purpose in life (I still get chills watching the scenes that he was featured in)

To conclude I would highly recommend this series to anyone who wants to see a more realistic and different take on the Superman mythology as you get to really go on a journey with all of these great characters who are all different by the time the series ends. For comic book fans like myself it is a bit of a slow build, but a very enjoyable one as there are other heroes and supporting characters who show up in the series and present different ideas and methods to Clark, and by the time the final season comes around Smallville delivers a very satisfying finale. But there is also the mainstream appeal as this is a journey of a teenager at a very important step in his life which is something that we can all relate to (except the flying and the superpowers of course Ha!). If you have seen everything on Netflix and want to watch a good and consistent series I would give Smallville a chance, it is a show that has a very special place in my heart and I wish that more and more people can get the chance to experience it.

 

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