Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What I’m Watching: Smallville (Series Finale)

Just shy of ten years ago, on October 16, 2001, I sat down to watch this show’s series premiere. Though I wavered at the start of the sixth season and only caught up during the summer when the show was airing in repeats, this is the oldest show which I watched from the very beginning as it aired live on television. I loved season one and two, and grew very disillusioned with subsequent seasons, and was revitalized briefly at the start of the sixth season, as I state in my first-ever post on this show, from the summer of 2007, by the introduction of Oliver and an upturn in quality. Unfortunately, that didn’t last, and while this show has had its moments over the past eight years, it’s never been able to match the initial quality and innocence that came from the reinvention of this story. Michael Rosenbaum was usually the strongest actor, and I was a fan of Lana and Chloe back in the day, but not the way that they ended up thanks to later seasons. I was never a Lois lover, but the final few episodes have helped improve my opinion of her. This finale, like this season and those before it, was disjointed and had a few strong moments. Overall, however, it felt highly uneven and unfinished, rushing Clark’s story to its end as he becomes Superman. I’ve heard complaints about not seeing Clark in costume, but what annoys me more is the use of the Superman music composed by John Williams from the original 1978 film. Don’t get me wrong – it’s excellent, and definitely enhanced the episode, especially that awesome ending with Clark running to save a handful of people – but its association with this show is artificial. I’m going to remember that awesome moment with Clark running up to the roof thanks to the music, and that’s just not fair, since this show doesn’t deserve that. Bringing back Lex was fun because he is a great actor and it’s good to see him face off with Clark one last time. Tess wiping his memories, however, almost negates the entire show: Lex is back and elected president, and none of his nefarious deeds will ever be brought up again. It’s a bit cheap, and, additionally, the show doesn’t offer much closure other than to say that Chloe has a child, Tess died but no one cared, and apparently Emil wasn’t worthy of an appearance. And those who were annoyed by the existence of another Jimmy at his funeral can be reminded of that by his appearance next to Lois in the final moments. Basically, if all Clark had to do was realize that he should embrace his heritage, and everything was going to turn out according to mythology anyway, couldn’t we have saved some time and just ended this thing back in 2003?

Series finale: C+
Season grade: C-
Season MVP: Cassidy Freeman as Tess (though not by much)
Series grade: C
Series MVP: Michael Rosenbuam & John Glover
Best season: Season 1
Best episode: “Zero” (Season One)

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