In the case of Smallville, the chronicles of a teen aged Superman, most of these goals have been met with season two
Smallville: Season 2 does make an attempt to get away from the Kryptonite mutation villains that where prevalent in season one
For a television series the second episode is extremely important. They made it through the first season and received the coveted renewal. Now, all the relationships founded in the first season must grow, plot arcs must be extended and the audience has to be pulled deeper into the world created by the series. In the case of Smallville, the chronicles of a teen aged Superman, most of these goals have been met with season two.
Smallville: Season two does make an attempt to get away from the Kryptonite mutation villains that where prevalent in season one. They do pop up now and again but this season is more story driven. Clark (Tom Welling) not only has to cope with his growing powers but the mystery of his origins becomes a major plot point and serves as a basis for a story arc that continues into season three. As a precursor to the origins arc a deranged woman claims to be Clark’s biological mother. Naturally, since he is invulnerable giving a blood sample for a DNA test is problematic. They also introduce a Native American cave that contains Kyptonian symbols that hold the key to Clark’s mysterious beginnings. There is also a parallel development between Lana (Kristin Kreuk) and Clark. Lana is adopted and begins to seek a relationship with her biological father just as Clark must come to gives with the memories of his father, Jor-El, embedded in the ship that brought him to earth.
While many of the continuing story lines in Smallville: Season 2 are soap opera in nature they do the job of drawing the audience into the world of Smallville and permit the viewer to identify with strange and unusual characters. The contrast between Clark and Jonathan (John Schneider) and Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) and his father Lionel (John Glover) becomes more pronounced. While the Kent’s relationship is based on love and trust the Luthors are far more adversarial, even to the point of plotting to destroy each other. Of course, since this is basically a teen drama there has to be a love triangle. The relationship between Clark and Lana is even more strained when Lana moves in with Chloe (Allison Mack), providing the rivals for Clark’s attentions now between tow girls that are nominally living as sisters. The series does move more away from the high school setting to concentrate on the complex relationships. To the credit of the writers the use of Clark’s super powers is not over done. Yes, the manage to save the day at the last minute but the stories revolve more around emotional ties than being faster than a speeding bullet.
While it may be difficult to believe the assigned ages of the cast the chemistry between the actors does work well. Welling demonstrates the right amount of teenaged angst tempered by the responsibility of his ever growing powers. He plays Clark not as the self assured Superman we grew up with but rather as a young man that has to face not only the normal tribulations of growing up but as one that must face his ‘destiny’. On the up side for poor Clark, he does have two intelligent, beautiful young women fighting over him. The most difficult part to play is that of Lex. Michael Rosenbaum is tasked with the considerable job of presenting Lex as a good friend to Clark even though we, the audience, know that he will become the greatest villain in history. Rosenbaum has to tread the fine line and not over act. He does so better than most television actors could have handled the part. There are undercurrents and nuances in his performance that take several viewers to catch. Kristin Kreuk is given more to do this season. Instead of being relegated to the damsel in distress she is given an ability to develop her character to greater depth. Allison Mack is a bit underused here. She is the third point of the romantic triangle and the confidant to her rival. The writers do tend to use her position as ‘reporter’ to provide much of an episode’s exposition. The adults of the show are also given more this season. Annette O'Toole plays Martha Kent more as an intelligent woman that gave up a successful career to follow her heart. When she takes a job for Lionel her husband realizes the sacrifice he wife made for them to be together. O’Toole offers a pathos rarely seen on a television show like this. John Schneider takes the role of Jonathan to new heights this season. Where he was a bit one dimensional in the first season here he adds jealousy of Jor-El and Lionel to the mix. In all the cast is able to take the series above most of the mindless fodder on the tube today.
Typical of a television series the job of direction falls to a group rather than an individual. With Smallville the selection of directors is rather good. The style of the series is maintained through the season. While each episode is marked with the individual preferences of the direct du jour, the all important consistency is maintained. Each episode is permitted a chance to add to the over all stories taken on. The contrasts and many allusions to the future roles of the characters are nicely done and add to the flavor of the series. None of the directors use the super powers as the focus of the episode, almost everything here is driven by human emotions and relationships instead of special effects.
The Smallville: Season 2 six disc set is very well done. The anamorphic 1.78:1 video is clear with vibrant colors. The Dolby two channel sound could have been better if remixed to full 5.1 audio. In the scenes in the first episode of the season where Clark saves Lana from the twister a full 5.1 mix would have been awesome. There are some commentaries included but they really didn’t do much for me. There were too many accolades for everyone included in the production and not enough behind the scenes exposition. Some of the out takes where amusing showing how the cast worked together. In all Smallville: Season 2 is a good extension of the Superman myth, one that offers a more human view of the man of steel we all grew up with. Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com
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