Greetings Smallville devotees, before I begin my review of the latest episode, “Metallo,” I feel I need to let everyone know I am not a long time fan of this particular show. That is not to say I haven’t enjoyed watching from time to time over the past 9 seasons, but I have to admit, the program never hooked me.
I guess I felt the first season seemed a little bit too “Dawson’s Creek” for me. I didn’t necessarily need to see Clark in his red and blue tights every week, but when there’s a genuine Kryptonian in the story, I will always vote for less mindless teenage drama and more action/adventure. That said, now and then over the past 8 years, I have tuned in. Sometimes I enjoyed, sometimes I rolled my eyes, but I never gave up hope that the show might eventually win me over.
Like many of you, I’ve been a Superman fan my whole life. I loved the old black and white George Reeves re-runs, devoured the comic books growing up in the 70’s – so much so that I would search and buy older mags just to read the Man of Steel’s adventures from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. In 1978, I really believed a man could fly. (Although, and I know I might get some flack for this, I find those Christopher Reeve movies no longer hold up for me.) I loved Tim Daley’s portrayal in the animated show, and one of my favorite books of all-time is “Superman vs. Muhammad Ali.” Yeah, that’s right, I consider it a book.
I give you all of this preamble to let you know I am no piker when it comes to the Superman mythology; and now that it’s my job to watch this show, and I’m happy to say that this mild-mannered reporter from a great metropolitan-based entertainment-driven Internet company liked what he saw last night.
From the beginning of the episode, I was impressed by the dark and gritty cinematic feel. That ambiance was certainly not there back in the “Dawson’s Creek” days. Since then, I’ve seen Smallville attempt this theatric mood over the years, but it always seemed like there was a third rate Joel Schumacher behind the scenes. (Which is particularly insulting since I consider Joel Schumacker to be a second rate Joel Schumacher.) Last night however, visually - they pulled it off. I may be hooked.
And speaking of mindless teenage dramas, let’s give it up for Brian Austin Green. The former 90210 resident really gave a mature and tense performance as John Corben, a.k.a. Metallo. And while I thoroughly enjoyed Green’s performance, I am quick to point out the flaws Corban’s Blur-hating logic.
If I understood this correctly, and I think I did, obsessed hero-hater, John Corben detests this alien “Blur,” because he believes his sister was killed because Clark Kent/Superboy/Kal-El changed the normal course of fate, and in the process his sister was killed?
Just speaking on purely common sense level, how in the hell does John Corben know what the normal course of fate would have been? Maybe it was his sister’s fate wasn’t to die that night? And how could John Corben foresee that this Kryptonian wasn’t destined to land here on Earth, and do exactly what he did on the night in question? Hey, I love a bad guy with an irrational grudge as much as the next guy, but make the irrational grudge more believable. Like, you saved this horrible Hitler-like man from dying, but in the process, Corban’s sister got killed. That’s an irrational grudge I can get behind. Maybe I misunderstood. As I stated, I’m not a regular viewer, but could someone clear this up for me? Am I right about this?
I didn’t let that bit of convoluted reasoning take me out of the show though. I loved the one-way anxiety between Lois and Chloe. Obviously, over the years, Chloe has gone through the gamut of feelings concerning Clark, and in this episode it’s clear she is no longer blindly enamored, secretly crushing or even doggedly unwavering to Clark’s ideals. Chloe isn’t sure who or even what her childhood friend has turned in to lately, and while she believes there’s a chance he may eventually become the hero she expects, she’s not so all-fire sure of it anymore, and her concern/subtle jealously towards Lois is a nice twist.
Now the fanboy in me really loved the nod to the phone booth. Nice to see that in this day of cell phones and hi-tech (especially Chloe’s Oracle inspired digs) the city of Metropolis hasn’t done away with all of their phone booths. Homeless people always need a place to pee.
Of course the phone booth scene also bugged me from a writing perspective, and it’s a problem writers of Superman have struggled with or completely ignored since 1939; the guy is really too powerful to face as much daily conflict as he does. Suspension of disbelief only works for so long. Especially when Clark has shown off his super speed a number of times already in this episode. I’d like to know how in the world Metallo could have possibly crossed the street, let alone skulked back into his way cool flaming industrial secret hide-away after kidnapping Lois while she was on the phone with Clark – who was calling from the same area code.
Come on. Assuming Metallo’s underground lair was directly beneath that phone booth, Superman would have been there before Lois was dragged three feet, and if not, he could have used his super hearing for her muffled screams, he could have heard her particular heartbeat (you know Clark knows Lois’ heartbeat) he could have searched the immediate area with either his telescopic or his x-ray vision, or he simply could have used his super smelling senses to hone in on Lois’ scent. (Again, you know he knows her scent, and if he has all those other senses, he has super-smelling.)
Well, in the end, good triumphs over evil. Matrixy looking Clark stands in the shadows, ala one of DC’s other famous crime-fighting avengers, Lois begs for a peek, but the Blur blurs away. And it appears Clark Kent will once again embrace his human heritage as he takes his rightful seat at the Daily Planet across from Lois Lane. Now that sounds like fate to me.
In the final analysis, it appears as if I’m going to enjoy this season. But I can tell I’m going to have to accept there will be a fair amount of, for a lack of better phrase, super-power inconsistencies. And so fair citizens of Smallville, until next week, this is Joe Oesterle, your mild-mannered blogging, reviewer guy saying, “I am not given to wild, unsupported statements. And I tell you we must leave this planet immediately.”
Joe Oesterle is an award-winning writer and illustrator, but what he often fails to mention is that many of those awards were won on a New Jersey boardwalk. Pick up his latest books "Weird California" and "Weird Las Vegas" in any Barnes and Noble near you, and look for his next book, "Weird Hollywood," due out soon. www.JoeArtistWriter.com And be sure to check out his weekly animated rant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M358ncKKmGM