Smallville: Series Finale Review - Mania.com



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  • TV Series: Smallville
  • Episode: Series Finale
  • Starring: Tom Welling, Erica Durance, Justin Hartley, Michael Rosenbaum, Cassidy Freeman
  • Written By: Al Septien, Turi Meyer, Brian Peterson & Kelly Souders
  • Directed By: Greg Beeman & Kevin Fair
  • Network: The CW
  • Series: Smallville

Smallville: Series Finale Review

Not a Finale! Joe calls it a Giant Turd!

By Joe Oesterle     May 14, 2011


This is the ending for Smallville? Joe doesn't appreciate the effort
© The CW/Robert Trate

 

Supershit. There it is. Contractually I don’t even have to write another sentence. I have just fulfilled my obligation as the reviewer on the series finale of Smallville. It sucked hard and it sucked hard for two hours. I guess that in itself is impressive, but everything else about this show just sucked.
 
   By the way, if you want to skip my preamble rant, and go directly to my review, skip down to the bold header that reads, “Review Starts Here.” It’s 4 paragraphs down.
 
   Some of you out there will violently disagree with my assessment, but you would be wrong. As many of you know, I only started watching/reviewing this program a couple of years ago, so I didn’t get as excited as some of you may have when you noticed the guy who played Jimmy Olsen came back and play Jimmy’s brother. That may have been a nice touch, but how about other, more logical touches - like Lois’s sister showing up for her wedding. And how about the way the just danced around the word “heroes,” implying the rest of the JLA would make a guest appearance? After ten seasons of introducing characters like The Flash, Zatanna, Martian Manhunter, etc, wouldn’t it seem only fair to see them during them, if only for a glimpse during the Earth’s moment of absolute peril?
 
   Look, I know this show didn’t start out as an action series, and to be honest it’s one of the reasons I didn’t care for it. This show was designed to be in a similar vein as Dawson’s Creek, but with a young Clark Kent instead. I didn’t care for the melodrama of Dawson and his gang, so after giving Smallville a chance a few times in the first season, I bailed. Overly dramatic teen angst does not and never has appealed to me, and poorly written, overly dramatic teen angst appeals to me much less. That said, I don’t wish to get into a battle over how great or poor the first few seasons were. I checked out a few, overall they didn’t appeal to me, so I kept my distance from the show, but every now and then the idea that Clark Kent was being represented on TV was enough for me to tune in.
 
Most times I didn’t enjoy, but every now and then, I was entertained.
 
   This season’s Smallville contained some of the absolute worst writing I have ever witnessed, (Episode 15 – Fortune comes to mind) and yet before anyone calls me a hater, I enjoyed episodes 17, (Kent) 18, (Booster) and 19, (Dominion.) For as long as I’ve been reviewing this show, Smallville has always made the most basic mistakes in writing, and it absolutely floors me that so many people, who I assume are over the age of seven, still love this show in spite of these problems.
 
   Here’s an example of poor writing choices that the fans of this show are happy to gloss over, and one I don’t understand the writers making in the first place; why introduce a character named Cat Grant, a TV host, played by Emilie Ullerup, only to replace that character,r in name only, by actress, Keri Lynn Pratt, and make her a newspaper journalist. Not only that, Pratt’s Cat Grant is not her real name. Pratt’s Cat Grant’s real name is Mary Louise Shroger. Huh? Why? Even if there was some sort of contractual obligation to have a Cat Grant on this show every 17 epsiodes, wasn’t there a better way to write that solution? I only bring that example up because it serves as a quick case in point at how little thought the writers give to their decisions, and more important, how little respect they have for their audience. Needed to get that off my chest, and now…
 
   The Review Starts Here
 
   Supershit. I’m betting not a lot of reviewers get to lead with that word, and even less probably get to work it into the review twice, but this episode deserved it at least that much. I wanted soooo much to like this episode. I wasn’t expecting to love it, but secretly, deep down inside, I was hoping to love it. But simply liking it would have sufficed. Instead I hated it. The first hour of forced and unnecessary melodrama put me in a very bad mood. There was entirely no reason at all for Lois to get cold feet on her wedding day, especially after the progress they had recently made, turning Lois from whiney, indecisive damsel in distress to strong, confident romantic partner for Clark.
 
There was no need for all of the will she or won’t she, because the point of Lois and Clark’s relationship isn’t will they ever get married, but how she grounds him, loves him and inspires him to be the hero he’s capable of being. The pre-wedding jitters could have been interesting, but they weren’t, and a big part of that is because the writers had so many other story points to cram in to two hours, devoting the first 56 minutes to a wedding we all knew would be interrupted by the bad guy forced the entire tale to suffer.
 
   I should point how ironic I thought it was when Chloe lamented to her husband Oliver that she wish she could remember her wedding. God, I wish I could forget that episode.
 
   Here’s another piece of writing that smacked me in the face the way I was hoping to see Clark smack Darkseid. Clark enters the farmhouse and notices his mother standing there, somewhat distraught. Clarks asks, “Is this about Dad?” Martha goes on to talk about how Jonathan is always there for her, and could be for Clark if he opened his heart, and then one minute and ten seconds later Clark literally says, “Why bring Dad up on a day like this?” Hey Superdummy, you brought him up when you asked, “Is this about Dad?” Do I know what the writers were going for in that scene? Yeah, kind of, but this type of sloppy writing is my biggest pet peeve of this entire series. Granted, I don’t care all that much for the night –time soap opera genre they are trying to satisfy here, but I don’t care for Desperate Housewives, yet I have watched a handful of episodes and have to admit the writing is fine.
 
   Next thing I know, Ollie is kneeling before Granny Goodness and two other guys whose names I forgot, but were in this show once. (Actually I do remember the names, DeSaad and Godfrey, but that’s mostly because I know the characters through the comics, and to be honest, I did have to stop and think about it for a few minutes. More credence to the fact they should have concentrated more on the development of those characters so we could work up some justified hatred when we saw them on screen, instead of wasting 120 seconds thinking, ok, that guy ran the S&M parlor and the other guy was kind of a Rush Limbaugh guy.)
 
   By the time Clark was in front of Jonathan’s grave, I was beside myself with anger. It’s 40 minutes into this “spectacular” and we haven’t even approached a resolution. If anything, the story just took a major step backwards when Clark confides in Ollie that he is starting to think Lois had it right, and he’s going to say good bye to her forever. Wow! Could this show get any dumber? Yes. Yes it can.
 
   However, the next scene was a brief, but tense bit of action drama that I wished was more of the norm. Tess is chased and captured in her car. It’s an easy bet who organized this crime, but that doesn’t matter. This scene was done well. And sadly, that’s it for that.
   As the bride and groom walk down themselves down the aisle (by the way, Lois didn’t seem to mind her Dad wasn’t there for her, but I guess that can be poorly explained away as she’s used to be let down by The General.)
 
   More on the no explanation front, did anyone else find it strange that Martha’s new beau, Perry White, was not at the church as either Martha’s date or Lois and Clark’s guest? Again, this could have been easily explained away that Perry was on assignment overseas, but the real reason was so Ghost Dad could have a seat next to Martha.
 
   By the way, does Chloe have x-ray vision, because she seemed to be at an angle of that wedding ring box that looked like it had to be mostly blocked by the lid. Oh no, Chloe saves the day with knocking the ring out of Clark’s hand and to make matters worse, in almost the same way I sarcastically predicted in the last column, Ollie is saved from Darkseid’s inhuman super powers by Clark’s friendship. Wow. Lame. Seriously Lame.
 
   Meanwhile, back to what is shaping up to be the most interesting character of this episode, Tess is tied on an operating table and Lionel 2 has explained to her he’ll be using her heart to make Lex’s clone finally come to life. Thankfully the writers decided to remember Tess has considerable martial arts training, and I was happy to see her act in a way becoming her character. Naturally the writers realizing they had made a good choice decided to atone for that by killing her off. More on that later.
 
   In healthy shades of Lord Vader, Lex removes his James Earl Jones breathing apparatus with his mangled hand, and breathes a tiny bit of too little, too late into this episode. I suspect for most of you this was one of the high points of the episode, and while I agree, the bar was not set very high. Michael Rosenbaum has the acting chops to carry off the convoluted dialogue placed in Lex’s mouth, but sadly, the characters who are capable of spinning drivel into drama are often relegated to guest star status.
 
   For those of you who were looking forward to the final Clark and Lex moment, I hope you were satisfied. Personally I was confused. Almost immediately after Lex droned on about how he was the only villain in history capable of to driving Clark to become the greatest hero ever, I couldn’t tell if Lex was playing the role of the bad guy to spur Clark on to becoming the good guy, or if he was merely bragging. It seemed all for naught minutes later when Lex ran Tess through with a broadsword he somehow managed to conceal from her. With her dying breath Tess wiped Lex’s face with a smidgeon of liquid mind erase that Clark created (somehow – but why bother explaining or showing us this info when it’s simply easier to make it up on the spot when it’s convenient.)
 
   So my question now is, if Lex has no memory of anything he’s done, and yet he’s still a bad guy, why smear that crap on his face. AND CONVERSELY, if Lex is not a bad guy, why bother with the whole, “I made you a better good guy by being such an evil bad guy speech?” This is horrible writing all around. If you don’t agree, please don’t talk to me about anything, because I know we will never be anything but mortal enemies. Unless of course by being my mortal enemy you can make me a better me, then by all means argue this point, but I better not hear from more than one mortal enemy, because I only care to have the one who will prompt me to greater things, thank you very much.
 
   Hey, by the way, aside from the fact that Ollie still wears his sunglasses at night, and a voice modulator for no apparent reason since he came out ala Tony Stark and admitted he was Green Arrow, were those arrows specially treated somehow? I mean, Granny Goodness by herself is a pretty powerful foe, but teamed with Desaad and Godfrey, how did Ollie know he’d be able to disintegrate them. It’s possible this was explained at some moment my brain was having a seizure from all the shitty writing, but it looked to me he just reached in his arsenal, grabbed some non-descript arrows and launched them, way after by the way the fact that Granny Goodness did some magic gesture with her hand which I assume would have been deadly. But the arrows hit their targets and just made them disappear. I’m left to wonder what was so special about those arrows, and if they were really just plain arrows would a really sharp pencil have done the same thing? I ask this because I tried to stab myself with a really sharp pencil to deaden the pain of this episode, and you know what? It didn’t work.
 
   At 9:37 Clark meets Darkseid in the form of John Glover. We’d already seen the video game version of Darkseid, so they figured let’s just show him as Glover. The fans love Glover, and the producers love shortchanging the fans when it comes to giving them what they want. And so as Clark is smashed through the barn, he finds the inner peace he so desperately searched for all these years. To be honest, Smallville actually looks like a pretty good show if you’re only watching the visual highlights of ten seasons in less than two minutes, and you score it to John Williams’ musical epic. It’s much less so in real time.
 
   Back to the Fortress and Clark gets to hang out with his two dads as they jointly present him with his super suit. Of course we never really get a decent shot of Welling in the suit, and I’m not sure who is being the dick here, but clearly, someone is. It’s probably a legal thing, but very dickish nonetheless.
 
   So instead of having an original thought, the writing team rips off the best moment of the Brandon Routh Superman, and we’re treated to a mostly GCI Welling. I confess, that looked kind of cool, but why not strive for more of this coolness. I know, because this show was never about flights and tights. It was always about, bad writing, wooden acting, complex situations that never needed to be complex, sloppy plots and cloying dialogue. I get that. I was just hoping… you know, that this wouldn’t suck.
 
   I’m not in the mood to talk about Lois tricking the trained Secret Service agent with her clever ruse of “look out the window,” or the fact that no one there at that table seems to have an Omega skull engraving, or the sickening way Lois convinced the table they all have families (as if these people forgot that tiny fact.) I’m sorry, I just can’t get into that right now.
 
 And so as the giant fireball plummets towards Earth we see a red and blue blur shoot over the Metropolis skyline and in typical Smallville fashion, ruin the build of a potential climax with a quick dose of anti-climax. Well, if one thing is certain, they stayed true to themselves.
 
   Oh, and here’s another thing. Assuming Chloe was reading this entire story to what we are led to believe is her son with Ollie in the pages of a DC comic book, wouldn’t it also be fair to say that everyone now knows Clark’s true identity? I mean that story she told was not about Superman, but about a kid from Smallville. A kid whose name was Clark Kent but was secretly a good guy alien who was really strong, and could (eventually) fly and had a girlfriend named Lois Lane who worked at a place in Metropolis called the Daily Planet. The exact same Metropolis Daily Planet that a real life guy named Clark Kent works with a real life Lois Lane. And they still aren’t married seven years later, and he’s still calling her Miss Lane, even though they’ve been engaged for seven years now and have been dating much longer. Doesn’t anyone proofread this stuff?
 
   By the way, since the finale ended, I have checked out a good number of Smallville-centric message boards and sites and I’ve been confounded by the positive responses to this finale. I am stunned to be honest. Regardless. Please allow me to take this time to thank the wonderful folks at Mania to give me a forum to take the opposite view point much of the time when it comes to commenting on this series. I’ve not liked more than half of what I’ve seen, but I’ve always been frustrated when they manage to get enough right to make for a pleasurable viewing experience. For the most part, I’m sad this show wasn’t better than it was, and wasn’t as nearly as good as it should have been.
 
    I’ll miss the exchanges between the readers of this column as I did when LOST went off the air. I hope the comments in the boxes below will stay at an adult level if you disagree, but I’ve been down this road with this show before, and while most of you guys have always been cool even in disagreement, that’s certainly not been the case of a select minority of people who take it personally when I point out the flaws in their favorite TV show.
 
   And finally I’d like to say to the writers of Smallville, I hope you all made a ton of money and plan to retire immediately. I really hope that.
  
 
Follow Joe Oesterle’s book, “Weird Hollywood” on FaceBook. Lots of deleted and unedited stories from the book, but also plenty of genre discussions and some like-minded people. Daily updates.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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hanso 5/14/2011 3:31:11 PM

As always, you nailed it Joe.  Finale was complete sh.it.  Man, I feel for the cats that actually tuned into this thing for 10 seasons non stop.  I had probably seen one or two episodes at the most this season, I found your reviews much more entertaining and worthy of my time.  Anyway, the finale was just sad, I'm not sure if keeping pace with the season would've made it better but just tuning into it with little knowledge of what was going on, all I can I say is it was s.hit.

Just like they did with Doomsday, they screwed up the Darkside battle.  John Glover wtf!?  And then he just flies at him and that's it?  What a waste.  I didn't know who the three bad guys were (one of them was an old lady) but from the looks of things they've been around a few episodes and Green Arrow just shoots an arrow at them and that's it?  Another wasted battle.  Couldn't the show get away from highlights of past seasons and use that time to expand on at least on one of the fights?  Guess not.

I tuned to see the guy put on the suit, and like you mentioned we didn't get one clean look at the guy.  It was all crappy CGI shots with him far away.  What was that about?  Only good thing about this entire episode was John Williams's music, and I guess the last shot of the series was cool too.  I would've ended it the same way.

jedibanner 5/14/2011 3:35:40 PM

Hehehe, I haven't watched the show in ages but, LOVED THIS REVIEW as never before I've liked to read a review in my life, great read.

I didn't watch the finally also, maybe I will but, after this review, don't think I missed much.

SgtTechCom 5/14/2011 3:47:51 PM

I think alot of the battle's that were supposed to take place had to do with budget and they couldn't put on the type of stuff that would appear in a movie. Maybe if it was on a better network such as like HBO or SyFy maybe so we always got short changed with the confrontations in that respect.

Plus yes there should have been more Justice League characters brought forth but the whole wedding nonsense got in the way.  Im sure again budget on what they could and can't do.

The Cgi stuff was lame but i guess they spent the entire budget on that rather then giving some epic battles.

I think the whole Lex forgetting thing deals with him not knowing Superman's true Identity now and that he can go forth building LexCorp then finally becoming President and eventually presenting Superman with his most fierce notable villian. I guess it will build up to that point.  Thats really all i got out of that mind erasing thing.

The end was the best part where he goes up to the roof - que John Williams score and off come the glasses and the ripping the shirt open SUPERMAN S .. then epic end credits ala classic Lester superman movie.That really was the best part of the Finale.

I was a fan of the show since day one and there were some great moments over the course but there were also some crappy ones too thrown in due to the writers.

I guess we'll have to wait and see what the New Superman Movie presents and if having Zod back will suck or not.

lemarcus03 5/14/2011 3:48:43 PM

I, regretfully, agree with this review.  While there were a few isolated shots that were almost cool, even they were unoriginal shots plucked right out of other Superman movies. :(

lemarcus03 5/14/2011 3:53:50 PM

I, regretfully, agree with this review.  While there were a few isolated shots that were almost cool, even they were unoriginal shots plucked right out of other Superman movies. :(

noahbody 5/14/2011 4:02:28 PM

I tried not watch the finale with my finger on the FF button, worked for about ten minutes. They did everything we expected, crappy battle with the Villain (check), crappy resolution to said Villain (check), and then a crappy resolution to the seasons plot (check).

I am glad I have fast forwarded through this show so often, this show was obviously made for little girls and Twilight fans.

IamChuck2026 5/14/2011 4:04:19 PM

Yeah, really disappointed. 

So, if I hit Darkseid with a truck, would I have defeated him?

chester 5/14/2011 4:11:04 PM

Great review ! Best one ive read so far. I too am astounded that there are people on various message boards who are actually defending this piece of tripe. You said what a lot if people are thinking. Supershit indeed and a great middle finger to the fans.

chester 5/14/2011 4:19:14 PM

I meant to say 'a lot of people'. Sorry about the typo. Also, I guess the lame cartoon cgi they used at the end was an homage to the lame cartoon flying scenes they first used in the George Reeves series (insert sarcasm here). But at least cgi didnt exist then so they did the best with what they had. Smallville producers etc whats ur excuse? Supershit indeed!!!!

ElBaz13 5/14/2011 4:25:16 PM

Agree on the rating. It seems a lot of genre shows end up on a low note. Here are my pros and cons

Pros

Rosenbaum back as Lex. I did like the scene between Clark and Lex. It felt like a set-up for their longtime feud but at the same time not too "I'm good, your bad, I'm taking you down". Loved the exchange between the two.

The final 5 minutes. Sure it was CG Supes and longshots but the writers/producers always said this was a show about Clark, not Supes. No flight. No tights was their motto. John Williams score and of course the whole "regular day at Daily Planet" felt very comicbookish. Plus we all knew the previous Jimmy was the older brother of the real Jimmy so it wasn't a shock to see him working at the Planet.

Chloe out of the picture. She seems to be living happily ever after without Oliver and raising Ollie Jr (or Connor Hawke?) ...but still have a con in regards to this denouement.

Lois. I liked Erica Durance and think she is the best Lois ever. This might sound blasphemous but there is something about her that gave her that charm. It could be because the Lois Lame in Returns - Kate what's her name, was extremely boring and Durance was a refreshing follow-up.

I did like the scene when Lois saw Supes for the first time outside the plane. Sure it felt ripped off from Returns but it was still fun to see.

Con

Where to begin.

The wedding jitters for the 1st 30-40 minutes. Seriously? WTF? This should have been 2-3 episodes ago, leaving all of the action for the final 2 hours. It was just so slow paced but then a rushed ending. ugh!

As Joe pointed out. The mention of heroes and we do not see any of them. Was the episode's budget blown on the sfx so they couldn't get any of the guest stars? It's not like the people playing Canary, Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman and Jon Jonzz demand high cash. Or maybe Rosenbaum's salary ate the cast budget? I know this is about Clark but 2 seasons of JLA build up and we see none of them. Not only that, none were around to help the Apokalips effect. Not only that, couldn't they at least get Michael McKean for even the last scene at the Planet?

In Fantastic Four Silver Surfer, I hated the Galactus cloud. Well, this was the Galactus Cloud ending. It's probably due to budgetary reasons but still. We would rather see a slugfest between Darkseid and Supes.

I could go on and on to bitch and moan but I will admit, deep down inside, despite some terrible episodes here and there, I will still miss this show. This was the closest thing to a comicbook/TV show fix I could get and surprised it lasted this long (I think the show's creators never expected this when they pitched the Clark Kent as a teen idea to WB). With a lot of genre shows coming and going and not looking good in the fall (I also lost Lost and 24 last year, Event, V and No Ordinary Family so I'm s*** out of luck for genre) I think we might miss this show more than we think. I prefer bad Smallville over any reality show crap out there. If a spinoff occurs for a character like GA, Manhunter or even Zatanna, I will probably tune in.

So long and farewell Smallville. Despite the highs and mostly lows, I will miss you. :(

Now please get other shows on TV (Hulk, Jessica Jones) so I get comicbooks on the small screen soon again.

 

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