Smallville Season One

Smallville: Season One

With the television series Smallville Season One, a new twist is provided for the origins of this most venerable of super heroes

Smallville Season One

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Mankind has always had a need for mythology, stories to explain natural phenomena where science has not yet been able and also to enthral listeners with stories of beings with incredible powers, far beyond those of mortal man. While science has explained a lot more of nature over the many years, we still seem to need the mythology of super beings. One of the most enduring of these modern myths is that of Superman, strange visitor from another world.

Created back in 1932, it has had more makeovers and re-works than I can remember. With the television series Smallville, a new twist is provided for the origins of this most venerable of super heroes. First, the Smallville Season One storyline is set in modern day Kansas, the characters are high school kids (well they play high school kids, they are obviously a bit older) and the focus is not on the well known blue and red costume but on the emotional impact these powers have on young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) and his interaction with his parents Jonathan (John Schneider) and Martha (Annette O'Toole) as well as his friends. This focuses on the emotional conflicts the super powers bring rather than the heroic encounters that enable this version of the Superman tale to be more like something from the Marvel school of comics rather than DC, where Superman started.

Marvel always probed deeper into the effects of these abilities on human nature and Smallville Season One follows suite. Clark Kent is only now beginning to come to grips with his growing powers. He has always been a strong boy, impervious to harm but now his senses are growing as well. While he desires nothing more than to fit in with his peers his growing powers are alienating more and more. He has a close and loving relationship with his parents who are extremely understanding but counsels Clark Kent to keep his abilities hidden. While these powers are super human they prevent him from doing what he really wants, to ask out his neighbor Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk). The powers are also causing a riff between Clark and his two best friends Chloe (Allison Mack) and Pete (Sam Jones III).

Smallville Season One gives the audience a greater touchstone to reality than most incarnations of the Superman myth, we all can remember our first serious crush, how finding a girlfriend pulled us away from our other friends. In order for there to be drama there has to not only conflict but contrast. In Smallville Season One we are provided Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), son of the ultra rich Lionel Luthor yet devoid of any fashion of nurturing from his father. Where Clark has supportive, loving parents, Lex is constantly at grips with his father, striving to out do and out maneuver each other.

For the most part the cast in Smallville Season One was unknown to the public. Some of the actors have been in films and television shows before, but Smallville is their spotlight. Welling performs well as Clark Kent although at times his level of angst is a bit overplayed but I guess that’s what it was like when we were teenagers. He reaches out for the friendship that is growing between him and Lex. Without our knowledge of the future Clark Kent sees Lex as an older friend that can help him cope even if he can never reveal the true source of the conflicts. Welling comes off as a young man that is caught in a balancing act of being brought up to be truthful yet having to deceive his closest friends. Rosenbaum is the real breakout actor here. We all know his character will become a dastardly criminal yet we are still drawn to him, we even feel a bit sorry for him since his life is devoid of parental affection. Kreuk as Lana brings back memories of the first girl loved but loved from afar. She has always lived next store to Clark Kent and he has always had a crush on her but now as circumstances draw them closer together his powers and secret threaten to always keep them apart. Some of the other characters are not given the chance to really develop in Smallville: Season One. Mack plays Chloe as the smart, pretty girl unsure of herself, in love with Clark Kent, who loves someone else and who sublimates her crush by investigating the many strange occurrences that happen in Smallville. There is a treat in the performance of O’Toole and Schneider has Clark’s parents. They are the touchstone to reality not only for Clark Kent but for the audience as well. They are the modernization of the wise and concerned parents we grew up watching on TV.

Typical of most television shows there are a myriad of directors that assume the helm. One of the best presented was David Nutter who directed the two part premier. This is a man that has been around quality television. He has directed ER, West Wing, Dark Angel, Roswell and many episodes of the X-Files. He works well with a youthful cast and has set the bar high for those that were to direct the subsequent episodes. For the most part those that followed held the Smallville Season One series together nicely. There is a consistency in the way the Smallville story flows, the pacing of individual episodes and the all important character development.

The special effects and use of Clark Kent’s growing powers are not used to drive the stories but rather punctuate them. This is a relief since in too many television shows of this genre the effects often overshadow the reliance on the abilities of the cast. The one thing I felt was over done is the use of the glowing green meteor rock, Kryptonite. In this incarnation of the saga it not only is deadly to Superman but it mutates regular humans into the monster of the week. This got a bit old fairly rapidly as a plot device. Some poor kid is exposed to the rock, turns evil and monstrous and Clark Kent must save the day. They are better off when they stick to the more emotionally conflicted plot lines.

The Smallville Season One DVD is well presented for the most part. The anamorphic 1.77:1 video is clean and clean, providing a nice contrast and color balance. The audio is Dolby Stereo and booms out with the modern song laden soundtrack. There is a commentary track of cast and crew provided for the two part first episode that is more like a reunion than anything else. Added to this is an interactive tour of the town and links to Smallville web sites. For fans of the myth, Smallville is a must but mostly it is geared towards the younger viewer.

Movie Review of Smallville Season One
by Doug MacLean of

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