By jettisoning the tired Lana Lang melodrama, Smallville is quietly having its best season in at least 5 years. Clark is wearing a Matrix-esque Superman getup and is more mature and less broody, Lois is less sarcastic, and The Green Arrow (an excellent Justin Hartley) has become more and more interesting by the week. Chloe (Alison Mack) is a strong friend to Clark and a great leader for Watchtower, and its nice to see her with more backbone as right-wing Chloe. Chloe is often right about having to “clean up Clark’s messes” and I think Clark has taken her criticisms to heart.
Not every episode has been perfect, but the best episodes including “Metallo” (played by a surprisingly good Brian Austen Green) are a good mix of drama and action and they make the most of Smallville’s limited budget. Mia/Speedy is also a good addition to the cast in her limited role as Green Arrow’s protege and sidekick, lets face it, the show needs some female superheroes from time to time, it’s a bit of a boys club. “Echo” with the creepy pedophile who calls himself The Toyman was also entertaining and “Kandor” with Julian Sands perfectly cast as Jor El was memorable and emotional. “Idol” was probably the most amusing episode of the season with the cheesy Wonder Twins while “Pandora” was a dark look at a future Metropolis run by General Zod (a sneering pro in Callum Blue) with a powerless Clark. The episode had some striking images of a wasteland Metropolis and a red sun. Until Zod gets his powers back he’s not a physical match for Clark, but Callum still makes the most of his role, sneering and licking his lips, last week even making a pass at Lois Lane….to which Clark said he would “destroy” Zod and his people……..damn !
Smallville: Absolute Justice was a two hour movie event that aired last night and mostly lived up to expectations. A creepy, closeted super villain with Daddy issues (is there any other kind these days?) named Icicle is hunting down members of an old superhero team named the JSA (Justice Society of America) with the help of a sinister organization named Checkmate, run by a sociopath named Amanda Waller (the always-welcome Pam Grier) and Clark tries to intervene and help the reformed team which include Stargirl, the disturbed Doctor Fate, and the vengeful Hawkman. While watching the episode I couldn’t help but think back to the early seasons of Smallville (aka Superman’s Creek) and how little the show resembles its former self. It now plays much more like a live action graphic novel than the soapy melodrama it once did.
The first hour played as a mystery and ended with a kickass fight between Stargirl and Icicle. Actor Michael Shanks made for an excellent, brooding Carter Hall/Hawkman (though in costume, he went all Christian Bale and raspy voice) and Doctor Fate was absolutely awesome. Stargirl was a welcome addition merely because she was female and added some much needed estrogen to the all boys club. The scenes with Green Arrow and Hawkman were extremely amusing (Arrow lovingly referred to Hawkman as Big Bird and got tossed through a window by Hawkman for his troubles), while the scenes with Clark and Doctor Fate were a lot of fun and revealed that indeed Lex Luthor is not dead…….no kidding. Finally, it was nice to see Martian Manhunter back to full power and his speech about humans and their capacity for hope above violence was a well-written and clever nod in the age of Obama. The final fight was short but they probably blew their budget load on it and the effects were generally cool. I said “whoa” at least 3 times, always a good sign.
Smallville Midseason Grade: A-
Smallville Absolute Justice Grade: A-