Sunday, May 13, 2007

"You're not a cat, Lana" - Smallville

I don’t mean to sound overly bitter, but what a sad commentary it is on Smallville that an action-packed episode set in its own universe proved boring in comparison to last week’s episode set in a film-noir alternate universe. Okay, that was definitely overly bitter. I guess ‘Prototype’ wasn’t that bad, but considering the ingredients – ex-Buffy scribe Steven S. DeKnight writing, Battlestar Galactica’s Tahmoh Penikett guest starring and a premise involving a deadly super-soldier – it really should have been a lot better.

We don’t expect smarts from you, Smallville. If we’re part of your viewership that means we’re willing to suspend our disbelief a fair bit. For instance, we’re willing to ignore the fact that Tahmoh Penikett appeared in a season three episode as a completely different character. Equally, we can overlook the glaring inconsistencies in his powers (he can turn invisible and has super-strength, but still feels the need to off his victims with a knife?). We can even turn a blind eye to how much you’ve wasted Penikett’s considerable talent by having him either invisible or deliberately expressionless for most of his screen time. However, we can’t abide dullness. Or at least I can’t.

After all, one of the main reasons I watch Smallville is because it’s unashamedly entertaining. ‘Prototype’, seeing as it involved Lois being pursued by a super-soldier programmed to murder her, should have exemplified this attribute perfectly. Instead it proved one of this season’s most uninteresting episodes, mostly because of an awkwardly inserted backstory that linked the super-soldier to Lois as a first crush. Erica Durance gave it her best shot, but the attempted balance of touching recollection with awesome killer robot action just did not work. I would have preferred an episode devoted entirely to awesome killer robot action, but I guess they’re saving some of the budget for next week’s big finale.

Which I’m still looking forward to! Because one thing Smallville has always delivered on is insanely entertaining and entertainingly insane season finales. Further, Smallville’s last three episodes have cleverly set up a confrontation with Lex by giving every major character a reason to want him dead. So if next week’s ‘Phantom’ does deliver on this promise with a prodigious showdown, I'll be one satisfied viewer.


Carrie said...

Smallville is so frustrating. The characters never change. You know nothing shocking will happen because the show is too afraid to take a real chance. Yet I still watch and grumble. (I did mostly like the noir episode, it was fun.)

You guys should cover Supernatural. It's about 75 times better than Smallville these days.

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Carrie: We're looking for someone to cover Supernatural next season, actually.

I tend to let the show stack up and watch about 10 at a time, but I agree it's far, far better. Hopefully it moves to a less-competitive time slot so David, Joey or I can tackle it.

Unless you're looking to join the team!

Libby said...

Speaking of coverage, when are we having the fall draft so we can figure out who's covering what ... *hint, hint*

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Probably in the first weeks after this season is over. We'll be having a summer draft next week.

Carrie said...

I would love to join the team if you guys would consider having me. You should know, however, that I have no qualifications other than an obsessive love for television and a strangely high tolerance for programming on The CW.

Joey said...

Hey, that's how I got on!