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TV Wasteland: It's a Bird, It's a Plane
It's... the end of the longest running superhero show ever.
By Rob Vaux
May 08, 2011
Smallville poised to exit the TV Wasteland
© The CW/Bob Trate
In the last decade, one name stands alone in the ranks of superhero TV shows. That name is Birds of Prey, the immortal Batman spin-off that has lasted for 24 seasons, claimed 102 Emmys, and made household names out of its not-at-all douchey staff of writers.
What I meant to say is Smallville!
Yes, Smallville, a portrait of the Kryptonian as a young man that has beaten the odds to become the single longest running superhero series ever. Longer than Lois and Clark. Longer than the George Reeves Superman. Longer than Adam West and Lynda Carter and Bill Bixby and even a little Joss Whedon teen drama called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It survived the departure of two of its three core stars, the implosion of the WB network, and a Friday night time slot that scarfs up genre shows like M&Ms. It overcame a bevy of truly awful episodes (anyone remember the vampire sorority?), an early controversy involving Clark (Tom Welling) strung up in a corn field, and a tendency to reach into the DC canon for heroes anytime it needed a ratings boost.
Throughout it all, it stuck to its guns and not only managed to thrive, but brought a unique sensibility to the Man of Steel that let it stand on its own. In the process, it attracted a who’s who of guest stars – including former Supermen Dean Cain and Christopher Reeve – who it treated with the same love and respect with which they approached it. It wasn’t always art, but when it hit, it was something special. And in an era when shows are cancelled almost before they air, its longevity and durability remain a thing of beauty… to say nothing of the fact that it’s departing on its terms and no one else’s. Hats off to you, Smallville; we wish you and your creators nothing but the very best.
Catch the two-hour series finale this Friday at 8:00 PM EDT on the CW.
Chuck (NBC, 8:00 PM EDT)
While prepping for his nuptials, Chuck (Zachary Levi) must save his mother (Linda Hamilton) so that she can get to the ceremony alive.
The Event (NBC, 9:00 PM EDT)
Simon (Ian Anthony Dale) and Sterling (Zeljko Ivanek) race to deliver the antidote, while Sophia (Laura Innes) finds a new patsy in her scheme to destroy all life on Earth.
Stargate Universe (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
The series comes to a conclusion as drones surround the Destiny. Fare thee well SGU. You deserved better.
Sanctuary (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
How does the Sanctuary team go out on a date? Apparently, we’ll be finding out tonight.
The Fly (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
This is the original 1958 version, with Vincent Price. It’s not quite as good as the Cronenberg remake, but it definitely holds its share of chills.
Land of the Dead (Cinemax, 8:15 PM EDT)
The fourth entry in George A. Romero’s Dead franchise isn’t in the same league as Night or Dawn, but as his latter-day films go, it’s easily the best.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
A great cast, a nifty concept… and they still find a way to screw it up.
Also, while it’s not genre, the incredible Lawrence of Arabia is screening on TCM tonight. If you haven’t seen it, get to the biggest TV you can and give it a look.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (HBO, 9:00 PM EDT)
Why, oh why, did nobody see this mighty slice of awesome? If you haven’t, now’s your chance to rectify the oversight.
Prince Caspian (Syfy, 8:00 PM EDT)
Unjustly maligned and certainly better than the moribund Voyage of the Dawn Treader, this second entry in the Chronicles of Narnia series does an excellent job of bringing a structurally challenging book to the screen.
Breaking In (Fox, 9:30 PM EDT)
Oz (Christian Slater) is a vindictive little bastard. So when the team blows a high-profile contract, he responds by locking them in the office and daring them to escape.
Wanted (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
I don’t believe that anyone can shoot bullets around corners, but if someone could, it would probably be Angelina Jolie. Also James McAvoy is seriously one of the nicest people working in Hollywood, so if you want to show him some support, tune in.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00 PM EDT)
Howard (Simon Helberg) finally reveals his engagement to his mother, putting her in the hospital. I’m betting real money we still don’t see her.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
And the season finale rumble-rama continues as the gang deals with the fallout of the sacrifice and the town screens Gone With the Wind for the purposes of evoking sepia-toned flashbacks.
Nikita (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
The first season ends with Percy (Xander Berkeley) making another attempt to seize control of the CIA and Nikita (Maggie Q) in danger from one of any number of sources. Maggie Q fans going into withdrawal can catch her this Friday in Priest. She kicks high.
The Box (Cinemax, 8:00 PM EDT)
Never, ever, ever accept anything that Frank Langella gives you in a movie. Seriously. I’m not kidding.
Strange Days (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Not only is this film all kinds of awesome, but the director is apparently tackling an adaptation of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Woot.
Smallville (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
It all comes down to the two-hour series finale. Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) returns! Clark (Tom Welling) faces his destiny! And we’re betting that a certain pair of long johns will finally make an appearance. See the top of the article for more.
Camelot (Starz, 10:00 PM EDT)
Some not-especially-bright person attacks Morgana’s (Eva Green) castle just as she’s entertaining Arthur (Jamie Campbell Bower) and his men. Tears and hurt feelings presumably ensue.
The Ring (Cinemax, 7:15 PM EDT)
It’s good. The Japanese original is better.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a rerun. Considering its competition in the superhero department tonight, I’d say that’s a wise decision.
Doctor Who (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
The Doctor (Matt Smith) races to aid another Time Lord, risking himself and the rest of the gang in the bargain.
NAKED PROMO ALERT: Check out my cool friend Marcia’s cool Dr. Who blog with the cool name “Confessions of a Neowhovian.” (http://www.neowhovian.com/
) It’s cool!
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Though easily the weakest entry in the Pirates franchise, it still puts you in a good mood for the (much better) On Stranger Tides next Friday.
How to Train Your Dragon (HBO, 8:00 PM EDT)
Dreamworks scored its biggest hit without the name “Shrek” in the title with this supremely winning story of a quirky Viking boy and the dragon he loves.
The Book of Eli (HBO, 9:45 PM EDT)
This is somewhat less winning, but it still features Denzel Washington placing serious amounts of harm on all kinds of postapocalyptic scumbags.
Roadkill (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
AKA “Stephen Rea has bills to pay too, you know.”
The Messengers (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
In years to come, which film will be a source of more embarrassment for star Kristen Stewart: Twilight or this third-rate teenybopper horror film from a few years ago? The answer may come as a pleasant surprise.
Game of Thrones (HBO, 9:00 PM EDT)
The King orders an anticipatory assault on the Targaryens, which causes no small amount of squabbling among his men.
Near Dark (IFC, 6:30 PM EDT)
Okay, I’m going to say it: best vampire movie ever.
Alien (IFC, 8:30 PM EDT)
If you need this one talked up, you’re really hanging out on the wrong site.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Syfy, 7:30 PM EDT)
Of all the Terminator films ever released, this is one of them.
Total Recall (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
All together now, with feeling: “Get your ass to Mars!”