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Smallville Loses Some Punch This Season, But It Is Still Wor
Sean Pasek | Albuquerque, NM | 05/31/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"**I'm going to SPOILER tag this review for anyone who hasn't seen this season yet. Some of the problems that I have with this season, I'll need to reference specific details**
The 7th Season of Smallville, unfortunately, has two fewer episodes due to the writer's strike. Some of the problems in this season could be a direct result of this. Another issue is that the CW renewed the show for an 8th season, but most of the contracts for the cast had ended, except for Tom Welling. In some ways, it seemed that the writers were struggling to come up with a good way to transition into Season 8 while finding a way to make plausible exits for those cast members who will not be returning to the show. Unfortunately, this hurt Season 7 of Smallville to a degree. The show loses some of its cohesiveness that they've enjoyed, especially in comparison to Seasons 5 & 6, which in my opinion, are the show's best seasons.
Of course, most people don't realize how difficult it is to be a show running for 7 years and maintain that high level of quality that Smallville has been. Most shows tend to lose something the longer they are on the air. Stories change, cast members come and go, and it can be very difficult to maintain the show's quality with so many changes.
Okay Smallville fans, we're finally treated to what many people had been waiting for: Lana finding out Clark's secret, AND Clark finding out that Lana knows. Many people, myself included, were expecting something big for this occasion, since, for some people, they had been waiting for this moment for 7 years. The emotional climax is dry. One is almost forced to ask, "Is that it? Is this as excited as they can get? Clark FINALLY gets what he wants, and yet, he doesn't seem as excited as he should be." Okay, we all know that Clark will eventually end up with Lois. But in that moment with Lana, I felt that there needed to be more than what they showed. I would think that Clark would be ecstatic! I would think that Lana would have a ton of questions to ask him, especially given their history.
Exit Martha Kent from the show, enter cousin Kara (aka, Supergirl). At first, I was extremely apprehensive about this addition. And yet, newcomer, Laura Vandervroot does a credible job with the limited amount of time that she is on the show. It's difficult to do a proper character development on a character who is only in a handful of episodes. Purists may find a distaste that Supergirl demonstrates more powers than Clark, at this point, as he is still unable AND unwilling to learn to fly.
Kristin Kreuk is also in the show for a limited time, and she even drops down to third billing in the opening credits behind Tom and Michael. She's barely in the last five episodes as Kristin was in Thailand shooting a movie. While it's not her fault, the final moment between Clark and Lana, via videotape is stale and leaves the viewer feeling cheated. Many fans who already seem to despise the character of Lana were given further ammunition when Lana breaks up with Clark via videotape.
James Marsters returns as Brainiac, and he's still as good as ever. I was glad to see them bring the character back.
Chloe is still Clark's faithful sidekick but now she's a "meteor freak;" a type of person that she has spent much of her time trying to expose. Now she's faced with her own dilema of whether or not to tell boyfriend, Jimmy Olson that she now possesses the power to heal. While interesting, one still can't help but wonder how and when Chloe suddenly came upon this power. We are given no explanation or even possible theories.
Lois is as headstrong as ever, but toward the end of the season, her character begins to soften a bit, especially toward Clark. You can't help but think that the writers are laying some groundwork for the future couple. I still think Erica is the best Lois to play the part, and Lois has some great moments with Clark at the end of the season.
Michael Rosenbaum is always fantastic, even though Lex still can't seem to avoid getting shot. The only problem is that Lex doesn't seem to be around as much. There are stretches where you miss him. I certainly did, considering he's one of the strongest actors of the cast. There is a classic moment when Lex finally rids himself of the last trace of good that is left. The scene after he has killed Lionel, and he throws "Alexander" on the fire shouting, "You make me weak!" is classic, vintage Lex, and Michael Rosenbaum has the character nailed cold.
Tom Welling is excellent as Clark. If he has one "weakness" it's his difficulty in showing real, genuine emotion. There are scenes were he appears to be trying too hard, and it loses some punch because it doesn't appear natural enough. His range as an actor has only grown with each season, but I'd love to see him lose his fear of expanding his emotional range to include complete sadness and the sense of loss. He showed real glimpses of this during the time when Jonathan Kent died. He's also still a fantastic director as shown in "Apocalypse" where Clark is given a chance to see how things would be if he never came to Earth. It's sort of a Smallville version of "It's a Wonderful Life."
This season still has some great and memorable episodes. Lana briefly possesses Clark's powers (though at no loss of his own) in "Wrath." It's a great episode, and you really understand why no one but Clark can handle that much power; not just physically but psychologically.
"Descent" may be the season's best episode as Lex and Lionel have their final confrontation that leads to tragic results for Lionel. The final scene with Lex and Clark standing on either side of Lionel's coffin is a classic and powerful Smallville moment that is not to be missed.
As good as many episodes were, the season finale, "Arctic" is bit of a let down, especially when you compare it to past finales that always had dazzling cliffhangers that made you dread the 5 months until you find out what happens! The problem with "Arctic" as well as with the main storyline leading to it, is that it feels rushed. It was as if the writers were trying to quickly get through it as fast as possible (especially with 2 fewer episodes to work with) in order to get things set-up for the next season. Unfortunately, the finale and main storyline suffer as a consequence.
Things might have improved greatly if they had done what other shows have done in the past: shoot a 90 minute finale. This gives them more time for better plot development, and it would not have felt rushed. You have the final confrontation with Brainiac. You have Clark and Lana dealing with their final moments. You have Clark trying to get to Lex to prevent him from using a device that will somehow control Clark (a fairly weak idea on the writer's part. It still seems unlikely from a character standpoint that Jor-El would actually create some device to control Clark that could be used by humans even if they had to find the clues to acquire it. Here Smallville went a little "Da Vinci Code" on us. Besides, I didn't see any concern on Jor-El's part when Clark was on red kryptonite and wreaking havoc in Metropolis).
Because past seasons of Smallville have all been great or beyond great, I couldn't help but feel that something was missing from this season. It felt rushed. It lacked the emotional depth that Smallville has utilized in the past, and the storyline turned out to be only satisfactory when compared to past seasons.
I still love this show and have since the first season. Since the show has been picked up for another season, I'm really hoping that with a full 22-episode season, Smallville can bounce back and end the series with the efficient capability that the writers have shown in the past. After all, Smallville is about Clark becoming Superman, and I for one, want them to go out in a blaze of glory as Clark finally accepts his destiny and becomes the iconic hero that we all know and love.
An excellent season for a show that has been on for seven ye
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 05/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Warning! Several spoilers!
I have long had a conflicted reaction to SMALLVILLE. On the one hand I really like a lot of the main characters -- the reconception of Lex Luthor and the invention of the character of Chloe Sullivan are two major contributions to the Superman mythology -- and there are in each season at least a few exceptionally good episodes. On the other hand, SMALLVILLE narratively remains one of the most timid shows on TV, barely moving the overall story along from one season to the next. Fans of LOST became unhappy with the series both in Season Two and at the very beginning of Season Three because the show seemed to go into something of a holding pattern. Instead of moving the story along, it seemed to be standing still (luckily LOST dramatically picked up the pace in the last 16 episodes of Season Three and all of Season Four). But compared to SMALLVILLE, even at its slowest LOST seemed to be moving along at a jacket rabbit pace. Both shows seem slow compared to BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, which has moved its story along at a refreshingly brisk pace.
So, all in all, not much happened in Season Seven of SMALLVILLE, much like all previous seasons. The goal of the show seems to be to stretch it out as long as possible, not to make the best show that they can. Four or five episodes can pass with virtually nothing of significance having happened, and then you get an exception one like "Descent," in which Lex kills his own father Lionel, and Lex is transformed into something approximating the utterly evil Lex Luthor of traditional Superman.
But the timidity of the writers/producers dominates the show. Only at the end of the season do we finally see what appears to be the genuine end of the Lana/Clark romance. Lois was introduced seasons ago, yet it is hard to imagine her and Clark having much chemistry (that will be the great challenge for Season Eight, making the eventual romance between the two of them seem not merely possible but plausible). They seem more than anything like non-kissing cousins. New plot wrinkles were introduced in Season Seven, like Clark's cousin Kara arriving and the emergence of the Veritas organization, but these mainly seemed to be ways of postponing the real story. And what is that? How a mild-mannered farm boy (as Lois puts it) can be transformed into the world's greatest super hero. In Season Six we seemed to be moving a bit in that direction with Oliver Queen urging to use his abilities for some greater purpose, but in Season Seven Clark seems to have regressed. He seems -- to be blunt -- to be clueless about what he should be doing with his life.
The biggest story surrounding Season Seven really is about what it portends for Season Eight. There is absolutely no question, the changes from Season Seven to Eight will be enormous. Michael Rosenbaum (Lex) and Kristin Kreuk (Lana) both will be more or less leaving the show. Lex should be present in at least the first episode of Season Eight, but while both are supposed to return in guest roles, neither is expected to play a major role next season. Also gone is John Glover as Lionel Luthor. It could have been worse. After these three major characters were acknowledged by the studio to be leaving, Allison Mack's agent demanded a substantial raise, since Chloe would be the only major remaining character besides Clark from Season One. After a few days of posturing and an enormous outcry of outrage by fans, it was announced that Chloe would indeed returning (I hope her raise was a good one -- she deserves it). This good news was tempered with reports that Laura Vandervoort, who had been excellent in Season Seven as Kara (aka Supergirl), might not be returning in Season Eight. I hope they bring her back. This show has lost an exceptional number of familiar faces in recent years. They ought to try and keep any good, new one. There are rumors that Oliver Queen aka The Green Arrow might be back for at least part of Season Eight.
But my major concerns with Season Eight return to questions of narrative. Speed it up, guys! They really need this season to deal with two major issues and then bring the series to an end. First, they really need to make this particular Clark and this particular Lois believable as a romantically destined couple. Second, they need to give Clark the backbone to face up to the significance of his having the powers that he does and what that entails. In other words, Clark needs to become heroic on a truly super level. As far as the romance goes, there have been other shows that have successfully replaced one epic romantic couple with another. The love of Buffy's life was Angel, but her romance with Spike was engrossing in its own way. And while for three years the great romantic couple on THE O.C. was Ryan and Marissa (though I personally preferred Summer and Seth), Season Four made us forget all about R&M by unexpectedly pairing Ryan with Taylor, a character he had had absolutely no romantic vibes with in Season Three. The show needs to hit the ground running in Season Eight pushing the whole Lois and Clark thing. We have to believe that they might have a future together by the time the series ends. Right now it takes a heck of a lot of imagination to imagine them together."
Tiptoe-ing over kryptonite
Tom Benton | North Springfield, VT USA | 05/25/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"*NOTE: Spoilers within.*
I've been in love with "Smallville" since the first day I saw the pilot. I've grown up with this show, literally, and I'll stick with it no matter what. That said, I stopped expecting great or even good writing from the show a long time ago. Maybe Joss Whedon has spoiled me. When I watch television now, I expect something great. Fortunately, "Smallville" has enough going for it to make up for the crap writing, but with good writing, it could really be something great. Though most other fans will call me crazy, I stand by Season One as the best season of the show, because even if the storylines themselves were nothing special, the writing and style of the show was superb. After Season One, though, things loosened up a bit, and when we hit Season Five, I figured that was probably as good as the show would ever be.
But then came Season Six. Wow. Season Six was not just a great season of "Smallville": it was a great season of television! The directing tightened up, the writing became clever and began moving the storylines along at a much faster pace - even Mark Snow's previously unremarkable music suddenly became intense, dark, and atmospheric. The show as a whole improved dramatically, and for that one season, the series soared like it hadn't in years. The show hadn't changed any of its personnel. It was just a sudden and inexplicable change.
So now we've come out of the series' seventh season. Who ever thought the show would last this long? Considering that it has lasted this long, Season Seven is not so bad. What it is, though, is bland. Most people would agree that Season Four was the low point of the series. For all its shortcomings, though, Season Four was colorful. Season Four was fun. Though Season Seven may be a little sturdier than Season Four as far as its storylines, it's bland as hell. In fact, this may be the most bland season of any series I've ever seen. The writing usually just cuts it. The directing just cuts it. The story moves at such a slow pace that a story arc which should be resolved over two or three episodes runs on for nine or more. To their credit, the actors are trying their best, but the material is too lackluster for them to really strut their stuff - and thus, the acting just cuts it. Everything just cuts it, and that doesn't make for the most exciting season.
The season's strongest point is the introduction of Kara, a.k.a. Supergirl, the other last survivor of Krypton. Laura Vandernoot is a fine bit of casting. She's got the Supergirl look in her eyes. And guess what else? She can fly. As early as the second episode of the season, the writers drop hints that Kara's going to teach Clark to fly. In fact, the selling point of "Veritas" -- which begins the final arc of the season and my personal least-favorite arc of the entire show -- is that Clark needs to learn how to fly to defeat the resurrected Braniac (once more played by the peerless James Marsters). But Clark doesn't learn to fly, and there's never any reason given for why he doesn't. He just doesn't. By the end of Season Seven, Clark still has not flown. That's a little ridiculous.
The long-anticipated return of James Marsters as Braniac is one of the more appealing parts of the season. But despite a promising re-introduction, Braniac winds up as little more than a background figure. He doesn't even feel like much of a menace. He crops up and now and then to give the storylines a little push, and then he's gone. It's really a bad way to Marsters and a misuse of the series' finest non-Luthor villain.
Speaking of the Luthors, this season is a big one for the devilish duo. Lex takes his final steps toward becoming the mega-bad-guy he is in the comic books. Despite this, the character only shines thrice through the season. The first time is in "Fracture," an interesting little headtrip in which Lex is shot and Clark must go inside his mind. I'm not sure why, and I don't think the writers were that certain either. This final glimpse into the mind of Lex Luthor reminds us of how kind he was when the show began -- and how not-so-kind he is now. The second time is a moment in "Hero," when Lex decides he needs to torture someone for information. Rosenbaum has rarely been better. In that scene, a cloud of absolute blackness surrounds Lex, and we recognize just how evil he has become. The third time is in the season finale, "Arctic," in a scene which "Smallville" fans have been dreaming of for some time. Tempting as it is, I won't reveal what happens. Suffice to say I'll be very interested to see how the writers try to work that little twist into the mythology.
As for Lionel, well ... things don't go so well for him. Through this season, Lionel doesn't serve much of a purpose. John Glover, arguably the most talented actor ever to feature on the show, is left unable to do much of anything. So in "Descent," Lionel dies. And the worst part? I didn't even care. I've always loved Lionel, but the writers had done such a poor job of fleshing him out recently that he seemed more like a cardboard cut-out tossed into a scene here and there. When that happens, something is wrong.
That's really the way most of the season is, though. It does have a few very good episodes. The season premiere, "Bizarro," stays true to the "Smallville" tradition of excellent premieres. Playing Bizarro is the only chance Tom Welling gets to shine anymore. The third episode, "Fierce," is not going to rank highly in the pantheon of great "Smallville" episodes. The episode revolves around three contestants in Smallville's annual beauty pageant who decide to take advantage of Kara when she decides to compete in the pageant. It doesn't sound that good, and it isn't, but I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of the earlier episodes of the show, when, even if the stories weren't that good, the writing was strong as the Man of Steel, there was an incessant soundtrack loaded with today's most popular music, and there was color -- lots and lots of color. You don't get that in a season filled mostly with cold purples and metallic blues.
In "Cure," Dean Cain (of "Lois & Clark") finally guest stars. Oliver Queen, alias the Green Arrow, returns in "Siren." Queen was the best part of Season Six, because Justin Hartley is a terrific actor. Beside being one of the most attractive men to ever appear on "Smallville," Hartley can turn even the most droll writing into something cracking and witty. It's a pity he only shows up for one episode. Also in "Siren": Black Canary makes her first appearance. Nice.
The best episode of the season, surprisingly, is the one that looked like it was going to be the worst. "Apocalypse," directed by Tom Welling, is the inevitable Capra episode, in which Clark is shown what the world would be like if he had never arrived on Earth. Sound ridiculous? It sure does. But it's not. It's a blast. The writing is strong and even clever, the acting is great, and the execution of the premise is surprisingly fun. A lot of this fun comes from seeing some real sparks fly between Clark and Lois. Given the focus on Clark's relationship with Lana, one might wonder if it would be convincing for Clark and Lois to ever have a relationship on "Smallville." But this episode proves it would be, because the chemistry between Welling and Erica Durance is absolutely wonderful. The final treat: for two minutes, we get to see Clark in his disguise as a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet.
Those are the better episodes of Season Seven. Now for the bad ones.
"Gemini," in which one of Lex's former experiments plants a bomb on Lois Lane, is ridiculous and pointless. But "Hero" is a massive disappointment. It features the very, very long-anticipated return of Pete Ross (and Sam Jones III) to the show, and it sure as hell wasn't worth the wait. It's fairly obvious that the episode was written for another character to return; when that actor wasn't available, they re-wrote it just enough so it could fit Pete. But it doesn't: Pete doesn't feel like Pete. Additionally, Clark doesn't seem to really care that Pete's back. Wasn't Pete's best friend since they were in kindergarten? He comes back and Clark doesn't give a hoot? Come on!
Let's not forget "Sleeper," either, an episode which lives up to its title. The increasingly contempt-worthy Jimmy Olsen is hired by the F.B.I. as a superspy to keep track of Chloe, who somehow has managed to hack in to the government's computers. It's foolish, it's painful, it's embarrassing - it's "Sleeper."
The real stinkers of the season are the final episodes. The season was cut down to 20 episodes thanks to the writers' strike -- and I mean THANKS to the writers' strike. Anything more than 20 episodes would have been pushing it. The final few episodes feature the stupidest, most pointless, and most absurd storyline the writers have ever concocted. Apparently, Lionel and his old rich pals were part of a secret group called "Veritas" -- Latin for "truth" -- which believed that some day, the "Traveler" would come to Earth and save its people. Guess who the "Traveler" is? Yep, it's Clark. The penultimate episode of the arc, "Quest," which features a painful guest appearance by Robert Picardo, is absolutely the worst episode of the entire show.
Finally, the season concludes with "Arctic." It is the weakest finale the show has had, but considering the consistently high quality of the series' finales, that's not a bad thing at all. The ending scene, with the aforementioned twistiness and all, is one of the most spectacular scenes of the entire series.
So what's next? Well, shockingly, toward the end of the season, creators and executive producers Al Gough and Miles Millar announced they were leaving the series. That leaves Season Eight in someone else's hands, which is definitely a good thing. I've heard about some new characters and storylines being introduced in Season Eight, and so far, they sound great. The show really needs to get going if they're going to tie this all together. The absence of Michael Rosenbaum next year will take some getting used to, but I think it was a wise move. The absence of Kristin Kreuk is a wiser move, because, though she seems like a good person in real life and I like her, Kreuk's character is immensely irritating. Besides -- shouldn't Clark and Lois get together? Let's hope so. And let's hope the writers get it together too."
A Transitional Season
Zachary Koenig | Fergus Falls, MN | 05/27/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Smallville's Seventh Season can easily be categorized into three distinct parts, each containing their own strenghts and weaknesses:
1. At the beginning of this season, Kara Jor-El (better known as Supergirl) is introduced. The developement of her character is a welcome breathe of fresh air to the show, while the description of her Kryptonian parents' relationship to Clark's Kryptonian family provides some intriguing backstory into the politics of Krypton. At the same time, however, the Clark/Lana soap opera continues, milking that relationship for all it is worth (a would-be touching moment in the finale is rendered midly emotional as a result).
2. The middle of the season struggled to find it's footing. On one (positive) hand, Clark takes a very interesting romp through Lex's twisted mind in "Fracture", while Braniac (always a well-acted, interesting character) returns to wreak more havoc on the House of El. On the other (negative) hand, the Grant Gabriel character arc completely fails, the much-hyped "Gemini" episode fails to deliver its potential, while the return of an old friend in "Hero" proves to be anti-climatic and contrived.
3. The final portion of the season, however, is what boosts my rating from three stars to four. The final seven episodes of the series deal with the mysterious "Veritas" society (of which Lionel Luthor is intimately involved in) that know of Clark's Kryptonian heritage. The quest to decipher "Veritas" leads Lex Luthor to take the final step (in a chilling scene) towards obsessive madness, puts Lana, Chloe, and Kara in mortal danger, and ultimately sets up a long-awaited Clark/Lex showdown.
To conclude, though the opening portions of the Smallville's Seventh Season were average at best, the "Veritas" angle brings back the intense drama that Smallville fans are used to. As the show progresses into what may be it's final (eighth) season minus a few long-time cast members, the look of the show may be quite different than ever before. In recent seasons, Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar have been heavily criticed for tampering with the heralded Superman cannon. However, with the depature of Gough and Millar following this season, perhaps the new producers will spend more time explaining how Clark ultimately became the Superman we all know and love."
Smallville Gets Better!
Linda J. Minor | 05/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Eash season gets better and better. I am now awaiting the release and delivery of Season 8."