Smallville: Mania TV Review -

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Mania Grade: C-

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  • TV Series: Smallville
  • Episode: Collateral
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Allison Mack, and Alaina Huffman
  • Written by: Jordan Hawley
  • Directed by: Morgan Beggs
  • Network: The CW
  • Series: Smallville

Smallville: Mania TV Review

Joe is questioning Smallville. In other news, water is wet.

By Joe Oesterle     February 05, 2011

Smallville: Collateral
© The CW/Robert Trate

It’s been a long layoff in between episodes of Smallville, and after watching Friday’s newest installment I couldn’t help but ask myself, why? Not why was the show gone so long, or the even why did it bother to come back. The answer to both questions have to do with network revenue. The “why” in this case is directed specifically at all of the unforgivable writing gaffes that have plagued this show from its inception, but seem so much more galling a full decade later. You’d think with that with so many years under their belt, and a healthy vacation behind them, the creative team could come back with an episode that didn’t insult the intelligence of the average viewer. Sadly it seems the average Smallville audience member has either accepted a healthy dose of insults as part of the viewing experience, or worse yet, doesn’t realize they are being affronted.

And so this review will focus on the “whys” of “Collateral,” this week’s Smallville. Let’s go through this in the chronological order of each offense.
#1) After Chloe appears to morph herself through a brick wall in Ollie’s asylum, why does Ollie point out to Chloe he’s in a straight jacket and can’t get out? Leaving out the 1989 special effects and simply concentrating on the logic of the situation, if a girl I knew appeared to me through a solid wall – mind you, this is a girl who has never walked through a solid wall in my presence before – I’d assume she could also get me out of the looney bin as easily as she got in. Particularly when she’s not sweating the fact I’m in a straightjacket. But you know what… that one is almost forgivable when we consider the rest of the grievances.
#2) I understand all the heroes were in an unconscious state, thanks to evil government forces, but it was never explained how they all were able to share the same collective comatose experience. I may have suspended my disbelief if they ever took half a minute to explain this highly unlikely scenario, but they made no attempt whatsoever, and just assumed we’d all buy into the fact every hero can interact with each other in their private dreams.
#3) On the rooftop, Chloe has already convinced Ollie he was caught in a construct of his own mind, and is now trying to do the same for Clark. I realize there are virtual enemies running up the stairs to stop everyone from escaping, so why doesn’t Chloe quickly just show Clark a cool trick to help convince him? Making herself multiple Chloes would have been a good trick. At least reproducing herself in that way would have served a purpose. (More on that later.)
#4) Here’s a big one. Chloe convinces Ollie and he makes the “leap of faith” with her off the roof, leaving a powerless Clark to fend for himself on the rooftop. How does Clark manage to escape? The only way down from that roof now is the very door two very angry virtual security guards are trying to bust down. Seriously. How did Clark get by them?
#5) How is it that Black Canary is still able to fight? It was pointed out the bad guys took away Ollie’s equilibrium, thus making him unsure of his aim, and therefore his fighting ability. They also took away Clark’s superpowers, a much harder procedure I would guess than messing with an ordinary man’s balance, so how come Black Canary still possesses the martial arts abilities to hold her own in a fight with Morpheus/Chloe? Better yet, Canary still has her aim, as depicted when Morphyloe makes the dagger stop inches from her face. Yes they took her sonic voice boom thing, but that’s like just taking Clark’s strength but leaving his speed, heat vision, invulnerability etc.
#6) Why send in a covert operative disguised as Chloe when that plan gets thwarted exactly one minute after hatching the plan. (One minute, I’m not kidding.) From a writing stand point it makes no sense. The only reason you send in a bogus Chloe (or a Bhlogoe) is to fool the protagonists for a reasonable amount of time. One minute is not reasonable. It invalidates the writing choice mere seconds after it’s been established.
#7) How come, after just telling Clark he knows Chloe better than anyone, it’s Lois who spots the Bhlogoe?
#8) Why is Ollie still using that annoying fake voice generator thing? He came out publicly as the Green Arrow a long time ago. Why would he still feel the need to alter his voice – especially since he’s no longer wearing his sunglasses at night?
#9) Why, as Lois and Clark reach the rooftop, does the Bhlogoe decide to multiply into 7 more versions of Chloe. If anything that move could have only reinforced Clark’s decision to jump off the roof, since clearly eight Chloe’s would not be a possibility in the “real world.” (Unless that world was the Seventh Ring of Hell.)
#10) Why didn’t the writers do anything with these multiple Chloes? Was that whole scene an attempt to scream at the dumber fans who may have missed the obvious attempt at homage to The Matrix, “Hey in case you missed it, we’re ripping off The Matrix this episode! See, this is the Agent Smith scene! Get it!?!?”
#11) Why would a writer who clearly doesn’t understand the meaning of the movie, The Matrix, think he has a right to pay respect to that film? The Matrix was more than a cool special effects movie, and Smallville couldn’t even get the effects done right.
#12) Why do they bother teasing us with fake flying scenes? Granted, this homage to Christopher and Margo actually worked on an emotional level, but how many times will they play this game with us?
#13) Where was Aquaman? He was in that mind trap too. This one is easy. They didn’t want to pay for the actor to show up to utter one or two lines. Still, that should have been thought of before he was written into the plot to begin with.
There were a couple of other bright spots in this completely insipid program, though not enough to warrant watching this show to begin with. As I just mentioned, I did enjoy the tip of the cap to the flying scene from the 1978 film, and I also was happy to see a Joe Kubert-inspired Hawkman pencil sketch in Carter’s journal, and that’s where the highlights end for me.
I’m willing to put up with overly sappy romantic dialogue that sounds as if it were written by an overly dramatic and not very talented freshmen girl, and I’m happy to believe the Black Canary can summersault through a hailstorm of machine gun fire and never get nicked, but what I can’t tolerate is the sloppy, stupid, lazy, ponderous and careless scripts.
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Showing items 1 - 10 of 58
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PhillipBrian 2/5/2011 3:50:09 PM

Smallville when good is great. For example, "Stray" and "Checkmate". Normally it is fair. That thing I watched last night was some of the worst TV I have ever seen.

Murph 2/5/2011 4:27:15 PM

I have to say, I was looking forward to this show coming back from its hiatus, and what do we get treated with, but this Matrix-rip-off crapfest. I have been reading reviews on this show for years, some too harsh, some not harsh enough and some dead on. This one is somewhere between dead on and not harsh enough. I can't take watching this show anymore, I just can't !! This coming of age story of the greatest comic book hero has just got to end, for the love of everything holy. Their writers are uninformed, clueless, lazy and must think we are all idiots, and it's a total shame. There's better writing on The Cape. I think the fact that this show's about Superman in some way is the ONLY reason i continue to tune in. RIP Smallville - and for the writers of that show, tune back in 2 years and take notes from The Man of Steel, with Nolan involved, it's sure to be a well written good Superman movie. Maybe the bad taste in our mouths that Smalville has given us will be gone by then.

Duckbeaver 2/5/2011 6:26:00 PM

Chloe should have just offered red and blue pills to everyone.  That would have wrapped this story up faster and, frankly, been more interesting.

I wanted to like this episode, but continuing to watch it just made me mad.  It seemed interesting up until the revelation that it was all a Matrix/Inception (so basically up until the first commercial break).  I thought, "Whatever, they're ripping off The Matrix, fine."  Smallville's done that before with other movies, so it's no big surprise at this point, but still...unoriginality...

Then I thought, "Well, even though he's powerless (for the 50th time), at least Clark's not getting clubbed around like a helpless baby seal."  I forgot that the writers have another go-to in their Clark arsenal: making him the most insecure, distrusting and whiny superhero ever.  I understand that Chloe has done shady things in the past and shaken Clark's faith in her, but wasn't it Clark in the beginning of this season who said he trusted that Chloe knew what she was doing by disappearing because she had seen the future?  Why backpedal on that?  If anything, Clark should have been first in line to escape the Matrix!  Instead, it felt like he was being a little kid covering his ears yelling "LALALA!  Can't hear you!" while Lois tried to snap him out of it.

Sooo...why exactly can't Clark use the mindset that he had in the Matrix to fly in the real world?  Oh, right!  Because the producers want to tease out something that is not looking so spectacular the more they do it anyways (training with Supergirl, seeing his future self fly, float dancing with Lois).  Honestly at this point, I'm more looking forward to what the suit looks like than his flying.  The flying effects just look terrible to me.

The action was decent for the most part.  I liked the Suicide Squad/JLA team-up battle.  And you're right, Joe: that Hawkman pic was pretty sweet.  I'm glad that this episode didn't just forget about Carter at the end.

Whatever, hopefully next week does better.  I always liked Martha Kent's character, so having her, Lionel and pre-teen Lex clone show up will get the bad taste of this week's show out of my mouth. 


millean 2/5/2011 6:39:46 PM

Great googley moogley Joe, how did you miss the most obvious blunder in the entire episode?  I'm talking about the arrow that Ollie shot in the real world when Chloe is trying to escape from the bad guys.  You know, the arrow that is shot from one direction, then seconds later Ollie is seen approaching from the exact opposite direction that the arrow must have been shot from?  I think I screamed at the TV at that point.  (I guess it must have been a bank shot, a boomerang arrow or something of the like... sheesh)

Ah, I see how you missed it.  You were probably so irate at the number of other problems in this episode that you probably had punched your fist through your TV set.  I'm guessing it was right after one of the STUPID bird puns Dinah and Chloe were spouting off at each other.  ("I guees this bird needs to eat some crow"... really?  What, are the writers like 5 years old or something?)

As of late, about the only way I can watch this show anymore is by trying to imagine how Joe must be reacting to things as they happen.  Maybe you can set up a live webcam where we can all watch him suffer thorugh this show in real time.

OK, as it is, it is good to have you back Joe.  If only the same could be said of Smallville...


jedi4sshield 2/5/2011 7:18:35 PM

Welcome to the Matrix, that's what the episode was about lol. Thats fine, atleast he flew. Pahahaha the funny thing is, remember what Chloe said to them if they didnt believe it was fake when they jumped that they could also die in real life. Well I'm trying to get over the fact that Clark was able to believe he could fly and did and yet this didnt transition to the Real world. Not only that but he was powerless. Even though Chloe said that you change certain things if you believe it does this mean that Canary couldve used her powers if she believed she still had them or was the programming that Chloe said they were using on them was the temporary inhibitor. So Clark shouldnt have been able to fly! Quite the contradiction isnt it. Despite the Matrix episode it was alright cause in the end he still couldnt fly but thats not why I was okay with it. It's because of the fact that they didnt make him fly for some Lame excuse within a computer program that I can accept it. Meh. C- sounds about right.

JoeArtistWriter 2/5/2011 7:29:52 PM

Here's some food for thought Smallvillians: By my count, Smallville made at least 13 unforgivable mistakes during Friday night's show. Reader millean, spotted a 14th. Given the fact the show (with commercials taken into consideration) runs about 48 minutes long. This means, conservatively, the Smallville writers make some stupid, lazy, sloppy or inconsistent writing decision once every 3 minutes or so. Couple that with at times laughable special effects and less-than-Emmy-deserving acting, and that's a good reason to never watch this show again.

Phillip, I have to say Checkmate is probably my favorite episode of this show. When I saw that ep., I thought to myself, wow, they finally figured it all out, and it's only going to get better from here. Turns out Checkmate was a mistake. I guess if you try to turn out crap week in and week out for 10 years, every now and then something really good will accidentally slip through the cracks.

Murph, I'll cop to being not harsh enough with my grade, but sometimes I try really hard to grade on the Smallville curve. It's equivalent to throwing a 3rd grader into advanced calculus. He's most likely going to do horribly, but sometimes I just don't have the heart to fail him. I'm not a big fan of "The Cape" either, and I wanted to be (to be fair, I only saw the pilot, but that was enough for me.) That said, The Cape is leaps and bounds superior to this sh1t sandwich we've been eating.

Duckbeaver, next time I'm forced to watch this show I'll be taking my own mixture of red and blue pills.

millean, I am embarrased to say I missed the fact that the arrow came from a different direction, but yeah, it's tough to stay on top of all the mistakes these guys are throwing our way. And please don't get me started on the bad puns. I agree they happen far too regular in even good comic books, but they are poison in the mouths of bad actors.


JoeArtistWriter 2/5/2011 7:33:29 PM

jedishield, you point out yet another inconsistency, making it 15 glaring errors in this episode. I'm curious where all the Smallville apologists are now? No one can possibly defend a show that makes this many mistakes in one single episode. LOST didn't make this many mistakes in the entire series.

Murph 2/5/2011 8:11:56 PM

Or dont overlook, that when Clark returned to "the real world" he didn't spend anytime at all trying to fly, even though he remembered the experience. Also, wasn't it earlier in the season he was kissing Lois, and they were floating? I can't wait to see in what sloppy half-assed fashion they tie up everything in time for us to see Supes in all his glory in the last episode.

JoeArtistWriter 2/6/2011 12:10:59 AM

Murph, here's the most aggrevating thing about all of this... they are going to milk this Clark putting on his tights until the very last episode, and they'll probably be able to charge triple the ad rate for a commercial on that stupid show.

Had they only given us smart and consistent writing from the start maybe the ad rates would already be at that mark. Of course, they'd argue the show has been on for ten seasons, so they must know what they're doing.

My counter point to that would be, no one ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American people.

okonomiyaki4000 2/6/2011 12:39:57 AM

Ha, the writers of this show don't have to worry about insulting the intelligence of the average television viewer because Smallville viewers are no where near average. You may think that the writers would have gotten better after 10 years but, on the contrary, the viewers have gotten dumber. I'm sure they were pretty dumb to begin with, all thos kryptonite monster of the week episodes in season 1 were pretty awful. But over time, anyone with any brains abandoned the show and those that remained surely became dumber and dumber with each episode. 

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