SMALLVILLE Minicaps / Season 1, Eps. 1-4

2 May

Stewart here, and be warned of spoilers within…

The beginning of the Smallville minicaps!  No need to start singing the theme music...

The beginning of the Smallville minicaps! No need to start singing the theme music…

A brief introduction: I’ve always been a Superman fan.  Yeah, he was a Boy Scout in tights, but he was also one of the more interesting characters in comic-dom to me.  You got the immigrant boy who is sent to a land foreign to him, who then grows up with values and moral decency to become that strange land’s hero.  Kind of inspiring to read something like that, and if that college-esque dissection didn’t do that for you, there’s the thrill of seeing someone fly and fight bad guys.

I wasn’t completely surprised when in 2001, there was talk of doing a TV show about the exploits of a young Kal-El, ahem, Clark Kent (Tom Welling) growing up in the sleepy farm town of Smallville.  What surprised me is that show managed to last ten seasons through a pseudo-network change, a climate more suited to darker heroes, and of course, the idea of doing a Superman series without tights (although the series wisely twisted that and other rules as it went on).  In the beginning, the show was about the twisted friendship between Clark and the slightly older Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), and the on-off-on again-off again-etc. romance with Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk).  Instead of relying on some soapy high-school drama between the Clark-Lex-Lana trio to buoy the whole thing, they added in the extra elements of friends Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) and Pete Ross (Sam Jones III) with their “freak of the week” stories of people affected by the arrival of baby Kal-El to Earth.  All that would evolve as the series went on with the removal and addition of other characters to make it more than the usual teen melodrama.

For me, revisiting Smallville like this is interesting, because I actually haven’t seen every episode, but have seen enough eps to know of the high and lows the show went to in its run.  So, with that out of the way, let’s take a trip to the Kent farm, shall we?

Before meteor shower...AFTER meteor shower.

Before meteor shower…AFTER meteor shower.

“Pilot”

After the opening meteor shower on Smallville that heralded baby Kal-El’s arrival (along with the loss of young Lex Luthor’s hair), we cut to 12 years later, where a young Clark Kent starts his freshman year at Smallville High.  He meets the now bald Lex in the worst way, through a car accident, and then has to deal with a former high school student gone on a violent rampage.  Oh, and then he gets put up in a field like a scarecrow in only his boxers.  So, fun times for him on his first days in high school.

The first episode does a good job of setting up all the big conflicts and relationships for the show going in, like Clark’s loving connection to his “parents” John and Martha (John Schneider and Annette O’Toole) and Lex’s adversarial one with Lionel (John Glover).  Its also here that we get what I call the “meteor freak of the week” stories that made up some of the episode plots early on in Smallville’s run.  I’m not entirely sold on the whole “scarecrow” plot that makes up the episode, but it does lead to that surprising and now almost iconic image of Clark tied up in that field with the “S’ marked on his chest.

Maybe its just me having bad memories of high school, but are any 15 year old guys that ripped?

Maybe its just me having bad memories of high school, but are any 15 year old guys that ripped?

–The pilot was directed by David Nutter, who seems to have a knack for directing pilots for some quality shows before and since this one.  Among them: Millennium, Roswell, Without A Trace, Supernatural, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and recently, Arrow, to name a few.

–Speaking of Arrow, a nice Easter Egg at the top with Lionel reading about the missing father of future Green Arrow Oliver Queen.

–Also of note is Annette O’Toole’s part in the pilot was shot after the pilot was, since it was originally cast with a different actress playing Martha.  And in a weird coincidence the series would play with over the seasons, O’Toole played Lana Lang in in a Superman related TV show/movie, Superman III.

–Yeah, considering she saw her parents get flattened by a meteor, I’m not all that surprised by how warped Lana is (and eventually gets throughout this show).

–It’s kind of bizarre to realize Chloe was created for this show, and has now ended up a character in the actual Superman books.

Chloe and the Wall of Weird.

Chloe and the Wall of Weird.

–In another recurring theme of the show, poor Jeremy Creek gets amnesia after getting electro-shocked himself, which probably protects Clark’s secret from being revealed.  Might be a good idea to keep a tab on how many times this happens.

–Just one question keeps bothering me: in all the time Clark has lived on that farm, he never bothered to go down into the storm cellar, or if he did, not notice that alien ship in it?

–Love how Lex pitches the mansion he lives in as “great if you’re dead and want somewhere to haunt”.

–Either foreshadowing or hope for a fifth season: “Can I answer that in about five years?”

–“Your real parents weren’t exactly from around…here.”

“Metamorphosis”

In this episode, our “meteor freak” happens to be a kid who gets bitten by Kryptonite-irradiated bugs…and does not become Spider-Man.  He does however, become interested in mating with Lana, in that insect way that’s way creepier when it involves people.  Also, Lana’s boyfriend Whitney (Eric Johnson) has to explain how he lost that Kryptonite necklace he got her without having to explain he left it on a tied up Clark in a field.  Ah, relationships…

–So this marks the first time we got a title sequence with that Remy Zero song “Save Me”, which I had in my collection before the show ever came to be.

–Usually not a good sign when an episode has two directors to its credit.  Usually points to some more than usual reshoots.

–Yeah, a bit too far on the nose with a Papa Roach song being on while Greg’s getting attacked by those insects.

–I’m sure I’m not supposed to feel bad about all the crap Whitney takes this episode, right?

(feigning concern) "Oh please, Clark.  Save the guy who had you turned into a scarecrow from being charbroiled."

(feigning concern) “Oh please, Clark. Save the guy who had you turned into a scarecrow from being charbroiled.”

–Leave it to Martha to counter Jonathan’s incredulity over the whole Greg situation by mentioning the spaceship in the cellar.

–Greg getting crushed by that slab of tractor was pretty nice.

–Yeah, nothing creepy about having a piece of rock related to the one that pancaked your parents as a necklace, Lana.

–Fatherly advice from Jonathan about Clark’s floating while asleep: “Soon as you start breaking the laws of gravity, we’re in uncharted territory.”

–“It’s amazing how far that Kent charm will get you.”

“Hothead”

Another “meteor freak” story (actually, those four words may become a bit repetitive going on these minicaps for the next few seasons) with the high school’s football coach who can go all Firestarter and set his critics ablaze.  See, he gets angry and his anger sets people on fire, and…sigh.  On the plus side, the coach is played by the dad from The Wonder Years, so you can imagine this being a fanfiction episode of Jack Arnold going pyromaniac on people.  Oh, and Lana quits being a cheerleader, in case you wanted to know.

–Seriously, Principal Kwan, walking away from a TV that set itself on fire is probably not a good idea.  Also, advice to football players: best to report when you see sprinklers on fire like they’re blowtorches.

–Good news though, the Crows win the game, despite their coach setting himself ablaze.

–Also, Lex stands-off against Lionel regarding firing some of the LexCorp workforce in Smallville, and seems to win.  For now.

–Clark and Lana share a good joyous scream, which you think would be after finding out their football coach got turned extra crispy, but no, its not.  Its an upbeat scene.  Ugh.

–“You have no idea what I’m capable of.”

–“Actually, I’m adopted.”

–“The Luthors wrote the book on uncomfortable silences.”

“X-Ray”

Clark discovers he can see though things, which is kind of cool news, except he discovers it after being attacked by Lex, who is robbing a bank.  Only, it isn’t Lex at all, but another “meteor freak” who can change their appearance to look like anyone.  And said shape shifter has a slight Single White Female obsession with Lana.  Uh-oh.   Too bad Clark has problems controlling his “x-ray vision”, although it does help in identifying our shape shifting villain this episode.

–Yep, in case shape shifter Tina looked a bit familiar, its future Party Down and Cloverfield star Lizzy Caplan.

–Shouldn’t Clark be more worried Tina may start talking about him being all super-powerful, wherever she’s going to after being arrested?

–So, Lana also learns her dead mom wasn’t perfect and finds out she had the same issues too.  Boo-hoo there.

–Pretty nice move with Lex bluffing to wipe out that tabloid reporter’s identity, as opposed to killing him, so he can use him to investigate the car wreck with Clark.  Also, Lex has the wrecked Porsche on display or something.

–Nice nod to Lex’s future career as a criminal mastermind by Clark: “A criminal mastermind would’ve worn a mask.”

–“I’d question your integrity, but you’re a journalist.”

–Thought I should just point out, I’m pretty sure I have a good fifth of the songs from the last few episodes in my mp3 collection.  In all fairness, it’s a LARGE and varied collection.

I would claim "meteor shower burned out my hair" more than "failed mohawk" too, even if the former is more messed up.

I would claim “meteor shower burned out my hair” more than “failed mohawk” too, even if the former is more messed up.

NEXT TIME:  Clark fights a guy who can suck up heat in “Cool”, a retiree gets a second chance at life…killing people in “Hourglass”, a ‘meteor freak’ gets an insane case of the munchies in “Craving”, and a LexCorp employee holds Clark’s class hostage in “Jitters”.

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