How Do You Solve a Problem Like Smallville?

My previous post generated a bit of discussion on the various shortcomings of Smallville. And while I don't really think about or talk about this show much anymore, I would like to outline some of the various places where Smallville went seriously wrong.

Smallville is a show that I kept watching because I deluded myself into thinking that there would be some sort of pay-off. The thing that is so frustrating is that it was a great idea for a show...and it has a built-in, fail-proof pay-off. And yet...

Smallville missed the mark completely in so many ways. And I'm not saying it needed to be loyal to comic book canon or continuity. I was absolutely into a re-telling of the story, with new characters and altered relationships and histories. I think some of the strongest characters on the show were created specifically for the show. Chloe Sullivan and Lionel Luthor, for example.

What I am saying is, I accept and appreciate the world that Smallville created, and that it is separate, but inspired by, Superman comics. But the makers of the show couldn't even keep a handle on that world.

So as Smallville quietly slinks toward the finish line, I am going to point out some specific mistakes made. Because I would hate to see this happen again with another comic-based show down the road.

1. Chloe Sullivan vs Lois Lane: I don't know about you guys, but I think Chloe became the strongest character on the show by, say, season 4. Right off the bat, she was clearly inspired by Lois Lane. A fast-talking spunky journalist who constantly lets her curiosity get the best of her. Plus, there's the whole massive crush on Clark Kent thing.

We knew early on that Chloe had a cousin in Metropolis named Lois Lane. Here's where the show went wrong: introducing Lois as a character on the show. If you want a great pay-off...make Chloe turn out to be Lois. This is something that there were rumours about...until Lois showed up. Chloe alluded to the fact that her cousin had no interest in journalism, and that Chloe had used her cousin's name as a pen name. In the context of this show, Chloe could have been Lois.

And that would have been great because all of the chemistry on the show is between Clark and Chloe (besides, of course, that between Lex and Clark). Lana is boring, and there is nothing between Clark and Lois. The viewers want to see Clark and Chloe together forever, but that can't happen because it's not canon. Well, make it canon.


2. Make Lana Lang a better character: Lana's character pretty much started and ended with being pretty and boring. I don't really think anyone was rooting for her. By throwing Chloe into the mix, you pretty much ruined any chance of the viewers wanting to see Clark and Lana as a couple. Lana ended up being a character that no one knew what to do with, so she ended up pregnant and married by the time she was 19. LAME. (And then not pregnant and not married soon after...but still boring).

3. The Death of Pa Kent: What a terrible, terrible episode this was. You know, the one where Clark finally tells Lana his secret, and she is totally cool with it, so he proposes to her on the spot? When they are, like 18? But then through some twisted fate and through Lex's jealous rage, Lana is killed in a car accident. So Clark goes to Jor-El of all people and begs him to change things so Lana can be alive again. And Jor-El does...on the condition that someone else Clark loves dies in her place.

You can see the problem here.

So Clark agrees to this. And then his dad dies of a heart attack the very night he wins the state senate election (which...don't even get me started about that). And ok with this? Lana for his father is a fair trade?! And for the rest of the series he's like "Gee I miss dad, I wish he wasn't dead." He didn't have to be, asshole!

4. The Constant Amnesia: There was no chance for the show to ever progress, or for the characters to grow, because every episode ended with one or more characters suffering short-term memory loss. The events of each episode never affected them. No lessons were ever learned, no stronger bonds were ever formed, no secrets were uncovered. Unlike with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, nothing that happened on Smallville ever mattered. You knew there would never be any repercussions at all. So it became very boring. Chloe would find out Clark's secret, but you knew she would have her memory wiped by the end of the episode. Or someone would turn evil and not remember anything later. Barely anything carried from one episode to the next. The gang would save some fellow high school kid's life, hang out with them for an episode, have some heart-to-heart talks, and then never see them again. They wouldn't try to be their friend later? I just find that weird.

5. Let Lex Have Some Fun: Now it would take forever to list every opportunity wasted by Smallville, but this to me is a big one. Smallville is a fantasy-based drama that pretty much allows for any ridiculous scenario to be swallowed by the viewers. This made for some pretty fun episodes, such as the red kryptonite-infected Clark stories, the Jimmy Olsen film noir dream episode, the Chloe forcing everyone to tell her the truth about everything epsiode, and many others. It also led to some pretty terrible episodes (vampire sorority anyone?). Everyone enjoys an episode where someone gets to act out-of-character. Hands down, the best episode of Smallville was the body switching one between Clark and Lionel. Brilliant! It should have lasted a month!

Where am I going with all of this? Ah yes. So there were all these episodes where characters got to act all crazy and fun. But there was never really one where Lex was affected in a fun way by anything. The closest we got was an episode where Lex was split into evil Lex and good Lex (science!), or when he was possessed by Zod. When you have a comedic talent like Michael Rosenbaum on the show, USE HIM! Good lord, the possibilities!

I don't know what disappoints me more, the fact that we never got to see Lex be silly or the fact that we never got to see Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) sing!

6. That Whole Marriage Thing: Remember when Clark married that girl who could teleport? And then she died, like, the next day? She was murdered, actually. Horrifically. It was all very traumatic. The kind of thing that would really mess you up and haunt you.

Unless, apparently, you are Clark Kent. Because guess what Clark pretty much never mentioned ever, ever again before the body was even cold: his dead wife.

I kid you not. Here is Clark one episode later!:

I'm just saying, if you are going to have a storyline that stupid, at least try to make it have some sort of lasting repercussions.

And since we're talking about weddings: how about Lex's? What did we see, like, 3 weddings? At least. He's actually the lamest playboy on Earth. Every girl he holds hands with he marries.

Haha...actually, Smallville's portrayal overall of Lex's crazy, sordid life was pretty hilarious. Remember when Clark learned that Lex had slept with, like, 12 girls in one year or something? And Clark was shocked and disgusted and thought Lex had a sex addiction? Good lord. If anything, I was let down by the low score. Also...that "exclusive underground" strip club where, according to Lex, things happened on stage that were supposedly crazy? But then Clark went to it and Lois was dancing as an amateur stripper (probably one of the worst moments of the show ever) and stripped down to her bikini? Yeah, pretty crazy, Lex.

But I got sidetracked. What I wanted to mention was that Lex's whole engagement and marriage to Lana was gross and dumb. The show is so damn wholesome everyone has to get married.

7. Let Him Fly: for the love of Schuster, why the hell does Smallville have a "no tights, no flights" policy?! It's a show about SUPERMAN. Let the man fly! If I have to watch a politician in a suit flitter around the skies on Heroes, I can certainly handle SUPERMAN flying around Smallville. And the few times we've seen it, it looked kinda cool. Especially when he was ripping the door of Lex's jet.

8. Clark Is a Terrible Person: this is the biggest problem with Smallville. We've seen the evolution of Lex Luthor from weird nerdy rich kid to full-on super villain, and the whole way we've seen Clark relentlessly pushing him closer to the edge. ANYONE would become a villain if they had a friend like Clark Kent. He's a complete and utter douche. His entire relationship with Lex, his alleged "best friend," was based on Clark breaking into his home and demanding favours (and not in a sexy way). And it just. never. stopped. It was the most one-sided relationship ever.

All Lex wanted was someone to like him. To give him a hug or some sign they believed he could be a good person. Clark didn't give him anything close to that, and instead reminded him any chance he could that Lex could not be trusted.

Superman made Lex Luthor by being a complete asshole all the time to him. That's a problem. Frankly, given this back story, I am rooting for Lex for the rest of their eternal struggle.

Sorry, I just had to get all of that off my chest. Now I can forget about Smallville forever.

In conclusion, Tom Welling is not shirtless nearly enough.