SMALLVILLE - 9.18 - "Charade" Review - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Title: Smallville
  • Episode Title: Charade
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Cassidy Freeman, Gil Bellows, Blu Mankuma, Dylan Neal
  • Written by: Holly Henderson & Don Whitehead
  • Directed by: Brian Wayne Peterson
  • Network: The CW Network
  • Series: Smallville

SMALLVILLE - 9.18 - "Charade" Review

It makes Smallville sense.

By Joe Oesterle     April 25, 2010
Source: Mania

Let’s break up the last episode of Smallville into what I liked, and what I didn’t like. I’ll start with the “likes.” I liked Erica Durance in a Playboy bunny outfit. OK, done, now on to the dislikes – but before I proceed, I’d like to categorize the viewers of this particular program from my brief stay with you fine folks.

The first group of people who watch Smallville, are the fierce loyalists. You people, I don’t understand. There is a surprising amount of people who watch this show, and are happy each and every week with what is broadcast into your living room. I’m not assuming you’re the majority of viewers, but I am surprised that your nationwide combined total is in double digits. I can forgive anyone in this category if you are less than 10 years old, OR you live alone, AND you are without the use of your limbs, AND your television was set to the CW as some sort of cruel joke by an arch nemesis of yours.

Those are the only two acceptable reasons to watch this program, and to be honest, if I didn’t have arms and legs, I’d be scooching like a mad worm to rip the plug out of the wall with my teeth.

The second group are those of you who have watched since the beginning and believe you have too much invested in this show to give up on it at this point. It’s like you guys sunk a large portion of your savings into some can’t-miss blue chip stock at a 100 bucks a share. You didn’t expect them to go through the roof overnight necessarily, but you felt confident you weren’t going to take a loss. It was a sound and prudent investment if you bought in at Season One.

The problem with you guys, is you should have sold back before Season Two ever began. Sure. You got some nice bumps along the way, but if you’re looking at your portfolio, you know deep down you’re never going to see your initial investment. Those of you in this group feel like you’ve ridden this stock this far, and while it underperformed overall, you’re terrified if you sold off now the market will turn around.

The last group are the ones I identify with most. You’re not invested, but you like the character. You’ve seen a few good episodes, so you know they’re capable. You’re like an Oakland Raider fan. You love the brand, and sadly, you know the odds are your team won’t finish better than 6 – 10. Every now and then however, your teams wins one, and you’re willing tune in with the hopes you luck out and view one of the victories.

So now - what didn’t I like about this episode? I thought the villain, Ray Sacks, was once again played way too over the top. I’m not sure if I blame Dylan Neal for his acting choice; though it’s hard to believe anyone chooses to act like that. I’m comfortable blaming the writers and director for this one-dimensional portrayal too. Let’s blame ‘em all, because if one of them did their job this would not have happened.

Seriously, a guy gets out of prison a couple months after tossing Lois Lane off a roof (let’s not even ponder how he got a tried and convicted so quickly) and his first order of business is to try and kill her again? This is a pretty powerful guy, and this makes sense to him? He gets out of jail and very soon after, Lois Lane is found dead, and no one suspects him?

Next, Lois and Clark are going to fight each other for their job because the new editor thinks he’ll make an impression with the higher-ups if he cuts the fat. In reality Lois and Clark would have raced to HR and filed a grievance, and the new editor would be on his ass before the ink was dry for the morning edition. You can’t have that discussion in an open hallway with other employees walking by.

Number 3, not that I’m complaining, but how come Clark managed to crash this swanky shindig without having to slip on a pair of F- Me pumps, some butt floss and then pop out of a cake?

Here’s another one – If Lois Lane was trained to fight in hand-to-hand combat by her tougher than nails military daddy, and she even gave a Checkmate trained assassin, Tess Mercer, a run for her money in the fisticuffs department, then why did that 85 pound dweeb with the cell phone smack her around so easily?

Speaking of Tess, isn’t she supposed to be in hiding?

Speaking of the dweeby guy, how about that ridiculous mental image Maya 3D program Mawwell Lord hooked him and Lois and 4 other people up to? Really? That contraption pulls tiny bits of visual recollections from the captives’ minds in builds a perfect image of the combined memories? Seems a bit out there.

AND, when The Blur (geez, I am hating that nickname only slightly less than calling him the Red/Blue Blur – that was painfully stupid) meets up with Max Lord, and Lord threatens to screw with Lois’ mind permanently, Clark is frozen until he notices his identity is about to be revealed – via the big unfeasible Multiple Memory Gatherer and Visual Combiner Machine. Then not only does Clark smash through it, but Maxwell Lord doesn’t hurt Lois’ brain, but somehow manages to escape from Clark. This despite the fact that Clark happens to possess super speed, and super hearing and x-ray vision. Oh yeah, and of all the people hooked to this machine, Lois is the only one who wakes up. Were there other sadly typical “Smallville moments? You bet, but I just remembered another good thing, and I didn’t want the people in Group One to complain that I only liked Lois in her rabbit costume. I also liked Lois all kind of bondaged-up, wearing the short trench coat in that goofy mind trap.

So who is the Red Queen? It could be Martha Kent as some of you surmised. It may very well be Tess Mercer. She also has the red hair thing, so it makes a little bit of sense. Well, a little bit of Smallville sense anyway. It could be the return of Lana Lang. I did hear that Kristin Kreuk was seen on the set a bit ago. Then those lovely gams could belong to Lex Luthor. Maybe he had to sneak into a fancy soiree in a Playboy bunny outfit.

It makes Smallville sense.

 


 

Check out some of Joe Oesterle’s artwork. He just updated the Design section on his site. Let him know what you think.

http://joeartistwriter.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/design/

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 35
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Duckbeaver 4/25/2010 12:24:03 PM

I feel I'm a little of columns B & C: the earlier seasons caught my interest enough to want to follow the show and (stupidly) hope that its ending lives up to expectations, but at the same time, my "investment" isn't going to be shot to hell if I skip out for half a season and just catch the good parts.  I sometimes work late on Friday nights anyways.

Unfortunately, not THIS Friday.  My God, this episode was disappointing.  I agree with you: "Smallville" gives us glimpses of what an awesome action/adventure show it could be.  But the following week, it's hampered down with "Twilight"/teen drama-infused fare that every other CW show (save for maybe "Supernatural") seems almost mandated to deliver.  It worked in the earlier seasons when Clark was, in fact, a kid.  Teen drama is expected.  But these characters are adults now.  Why can't they (and the show) act like it?  Lois and Chloe giggling about "the L-word?"  Are they 12?  And though Lois/Clark is more bearable to watch than the Lana stuff, do we really need another "people keep secrets to protect the ones they love"-scene?  That line's been in about every episode since the beginning, WE GET IT.

Why even bring Maxwell Lord into the show if he's going to be poorly used?  They said everything they needed to in "Checkmate:" they're hunting superheroes down.  We knew that already and so did the characters.  This episode really did nothing to advance that plot; it just gave Clark a chance to save Lois and make goo-goo eyes at her.  Meanwhile, isn't there a deadly army of Kryptonians that should have blown something up by now?  There HAS to be a consistent way to deliver a propelling story that raises the stakes while also incorporating the humor and romance, right? 

I enjoyed parts of it.  Mentioning the search for a new editor at the Daily Planet (coupled with the news that Michael McKean is returning as Perry White before the end of the season along with Annette O'Toole as Ma Kent) appealed to my "Superman" geek.  It was nice to see Lois and Clark being work rivals again, no matter how brief that was.  And I'm glad they're showing off the "S" shield a little more and have him standing on rooftops actually looking like Superman as opposed to close-ups of Clark being all pouty and forlorn.  And, of course, the bunny outfit.  What is that, like the 4th or 5th costume she's worn this season?  No complaints here.  Hell, she should have her own spin-off where that's all she does: run around in skimpy outfits pretending to be a reporter and getting her ass kicked by scrawny pizza delivery guys.

Sorry, yeah.  That part was pretty weak.

 

Moz72 4/25/2010 12:25:03 PM

Speaking as a member of the Second Group. Being a fan of genre shows I have stayed with Smallville since day one, and believe me, I have also found and criticized certain plot moments and storylines throughout it's run. It's a fun show and one of the few and better shows on CW, including Supernatural. Besides, as you stated, I like the character and the fact that it's about Superman and the inclusion of other chacters of the DCU.

Anyhoo, I have to agree with you on the writer's decision to have Clark just standing and watching as Maxwell Lord stood over Lois trying to extract her memory. I kept asking 'Why is he just standing there?' Was he hesatating at exposing himelf to this new adversary? But the fact that he has super speed would negate that theory. Which leads me the following criticism: Superman always confronts his adversary, and of course there is some back and forth banter, during battle. The writers of Smallville have decided that instead, Clark is just going to rush in at super-speed, knock the bad guy 50 feet across the room and disappear just as fast. Looks great but essentially anti-climactic and It has been done to death.

Lois-Reggie Ray suffers another concussion! One more and she dies.

Speaking of Lois and Clark, why did the writers rush the relationship between them? That just complicates the characters and the story development. Why couldn't the writers just leave them as friends and colleagues? That way Clark can focus on being the Blur (CAN"T STAND THAT NAME!!!) If the writers wanted to get some good ratings, they should have focused on officially bringing together the Justice League and make them regular recurring characters and start putting out some really good action heavy episodes instead of a re-hash of CLANA.

Seems like the writers are stuck inside of a box and are afraid to bust out. Also, ditch the Matrix outfit !

The Red Queen: Tess Mercer was also my first guess, which makes alot of sense. If she is the Red Queen, going undercover boss puts her in the perfect position to get inside info on Waller.
 

Chris Beveridge 4/25/2010 12:35:09 PM

 I like watching the show because it's.... entertainment. Some shows I just want to enjoy without anything really serious or heavy with it. Smallville plays between the two on occasion, but mostly I watch it because it makes me smile and I don't take it seriously. Then again, if it's a show I don't like watching, I don't watch it and I don't spend my time talking about it elsewhere. 

Duckbeaver 4/25/2010 12:42:14 PM

Ha!  Moz, you may be onto something with the concussion thing.  Maybe that's why she never figures out Clark is Superman even though EVERYONE ELSE knows: a history of severe head/brain trauma. 

Fluffhead 4/25/2010 12:48:24 PM

I am in the same boat as Duckbeaver, I also fall into the 2nd & 3rd groups.  I started watching in S1 because I've always loved Superman and after 9 years I feel like I would be cheating myself out of seeing how it ends.

PAGE 4/25/2010 1:35:08 PM

Yea, agreee with your review Joe. This episode was definitely average at best, or at least, average for Smallville. It's looking like the Red Queen could be none other than Martha Kent. Props to myself for calling that one out. Could still be wrong. If it turns out to be Tess Mercer, that will be an example of even more poor storytelling on the writers part since they have her supposedly in hiding like someone fearing for her life. Also, even if she was the Red Queen, why would John Jones be working for her? Because he is clearly working for the Red Queen. I think there's only 3 episodes left for the season, so we'll see how things shape up in these last 3 episodes. I personally think its been one of the best seasons overall, but hopefully the finale won't be as disappointing as it was last year.

redhairs99 4/25/2010 1:49:15 PM

I started with season one and still watch because I really love Superman and feel like I need to see how they end everything.  Plus, they do on occassion have some really great episodes.  I wished it was every week, but it's better than nothing and it's definitely better than when Lana was still on the show.

Joe, I was wondering the same thing about Max Lord.  Where the HELL did he go?  He was screwing with Lois' brain, then Clark speed/jumps thru the imaging device and Lord is gone?

Moz, I agee with you about the anti-climatic fights.  The problem is that the writers have written themselves into a corner after first couple of seasons by not giving Clark glasses to wear full-time.  Granted, the glasses are a lame disguise, but now Clark can't really go toe-to-toe with anyone and have good back and forth banter unless they aleady no his secret or unless their fight will automatically lead to his opponents immediate death or a coma that they will never wake up from.

JoeArtistWriter 4/25/2010 1:53:15 PM

Duckbeaver, again, this show continues to frustrate me. Every time I write them off and assume anything enjoyable was a fluke, they deliver a good enough episode to build up my hoped for the future. Fool me once, shame on you...

Moz, great to hear from you, sir. I'm in agreement as I stated above - some times this show is enjoyable, but too often I'm annoyed that they aren't trying hard enough, and really the extra effort wouldn't be so difficult. This show is within reach of being consistently entertaining. I'm not expecting brilliance, just entertainment. They've prove they can do that now and then. Seems like they almost refuse to deliver on a consistent basis on purpose.

Chris, you have an advantage over me in that you're noot paid to watch and comment. I'd probably not watch at all if this weren't a paid gig. I've tried over the years to watch, but more often than not I would leave disappointed, but not angry. Nowadays, I do get mad at the mistakes, and the lazy writing and the logic gaps. Come on, that Sacks guy is going to kill Lois now why? He just got out of prison (and was tried and paroled within 2 months) He needs to keep his nose clean. If he makes another attempt on Lois' life the judge may throw the book at him and give him an extra 2 weeks in the pokey.

Fluffhead, I get it. Not sure if I'll review this show next season, but I'll probably still DVR it and if I hear it's a good one I'll watch. Of course if he finally puts on the iconic uni, I'll sign up for another tour of duty. He needs to be Superman already. I hate that "Blur" moniker.

 

JoeArtistWriter 4/25/2010 2:05:52 PM

Page, you will get your props if the Red Queen does turn out to be Martha - and I'm pulling for you. No way Lana's legs are that shapely. Kruek is a pretty girl, but her legs are too skinny. I'm still holding out for Lex in drag. That prediction is all mine.

redhairs, I too am a Superman fan, and whiile this show does deliver, it is never on a consistent enough basis. Max Lord just disappears. Why? Couldn't Clark superspeed clobber him and get back to Lois in a nanosecond? Look, writing a character like Superman is a difficult task because he's got so manystrengths, and his weaknesses are few (and should be rare, but 6 out of 10 people in this city seem to carry some version of Kryptonite around at all times.)

Letting Max escape without a plausible explanation is the exact crap that makes me hate this show at times. A clever writer should be able to figure that out with the (cheap and overused) assistance of Kryptonite.

gopherblaster 4/25/2010 2:14:12 PM

I couldnt get past the fact Lois punched Clark, suprised you didnt mention this Joe.  All through the episode I was thinking about it, couldnt get past it.  She punched Superman...

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