I first passed on Smallville back in late 2001 and early 2002 because it was on the WB (barely a network) and DC was changing the Superboy/Superman mythos to appeal to the younger crowd. I, like many hardcore comic book fans had issues with DC taking liberties with Superman canon, and introducing new characters such as Whitney, Lionel Luthor, and Chloe. My major pet peeve was Clark Kent walking around with no glasses.
Boy, was I wrong.
I watched all the reruns later on, and I was blown away by the pilot. That Smallville pilot felt like Superman: The Movie, without the whole Krypton-fest. After watching Season 1 three times in my life, here’s a list of my thoughts on the characters:
Clark Kent (Tom Welling): This is not your dad’s Superman. Without his Kryptonian identity, Clark is a regular country boy who thankfully listens to his parents, who are saints. But he’s still a teenager and has struggles though his identity, self-doubt, peer pressure, confusion, and keeping his secret. [Does that sound like a closeted gay man?] Clark is an Enneagram Type 6, with the following traits: passive-aggressive compliance, a martyr, wide-eyed unawareness, bad luck, joy killer, moody, and walks around with the weight of the freakin’ world on his shoulders. This version of Clark swings in-between being a Type 6 and Type 9 (Peacemaker) and shows no traits of being a Type 3 (the classic Superman). I kinda like the other versions better than this teen angst version.
Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum): The show stealer. This version of Lex is an Enneagram Type 4w5 or 5w4. He’s not a straight Type 5 mad scientist or eccentric businessman, like in the comic books. He’s much more human, and he’s actually heroic at times. The whole drama of Season 1 is not knowing what is going to set him off to turn him heel. He’s much more exciting to watch than Clark, and he is a sympathetic and tragic figure due to his abusive and manipulative father. Lex is a good guy. Without Lex, Smallville may not have made it.
Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk): Tasty eye candy damsel in distress. She is a generic Enneagram Type 9 who can’t express her feelings and is dreamy. She is in a love triangle with Clark and a football jock named Whitney. By now, you see how pretty and handsome everyone is in Dawson’s Creek Smallville.
Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole): Strong, younger modern version of Ma Kent. Not as strict as her husband. Solid actress.
Jonathan Kent (John Schneider): Never thought Bo Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard would be so good as Pa Kent, but he is an awesome character, probably the most important influence on Clark Kent using his powers for the forces of good. Very stubborn, hard working, and moral guy.
Pete Ross (Sam Jones III): His only purpose in Season 1 is to serve as Clark’s best school buddy. He’s also “the black guy”, although race is thankfully never mentioned. Pete Ross isn’t black in the comics, and the truth is Superman didn’t have black characters for a long time since DC Comics is an old institution. But for a TV sjow, you need to have a black character for diversity, so Pete Ross became black. It actually worked well; since most of my buddies in school were not of my own race, I could relate better to Pete’s character being a “bud”.
Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack): She’s a Lois Lane analogue- inquisitive reporter who suspects that Clark has a secret. Unlike Lois, she has a super crush on Clark. She’s caught in a romance triangle with Lana. I like her better than Lana as a character, because she’s more geeky and down to earth, but she’s still annoying like Lana is. Clark feels that he has to chase the unattainable (Lana), while Chloe is right there next to him. MEANWHILE, you can tell Pete Ross secretly wants Chloe to be more than friends! I hate the fact Chloe always knows who the killer is.
Whitney Fordman (Eric Johnson): Pass.
Lionel Luthor (John Glover): Lionel is not a regular member of the cast, but when he’s on, he’s the best villain on television. As an Enneagram Type 3, he is the best at what he does. He runs a rich company, and pulls so many strings it’s not even funny. Everything he says has a motive to manipulate someone. He is the master planner and everything he says is laced with lies…and truths. The competition between he and his son Lex makes Smallville season 1 fantastic. As much as it’s Clark’s show, the Luthor feud is what attracted me to Smallville. Actor John Glover is absolutely amazing, and I can’t say how much I enjoyed watching his villainous portrayal of Lionel Luthor.
Frustrating things about Smallville Season 1:
- “The Villain of the Week” episodes are generic. They copy the same formula that Buffy Season 1 and X-Files Season 1 did. Smallville Season 1 works better when they focus on character growth and Lionel should have been a regular.
- “The Secret”. I know the whole concept would collapse, but it’s so LaME that Clark won’t trust his best friend, Lex Luthor, with his secret, not to mention his dream girl Lana Lang. It really stretches credibility, considering that all the major characters don’t have a problem with the other super-powered beings running around in their town. And it’s not like Clark has a “secret identity”; he has no costume or double-life.
- You kind of know that Clark’s secret will remain a secret by the end of the episode (either through memory loss, running real fast, or people just being dumb.)
- If you’re a civilian who never read a comic book, you may be confused why the characters don’t question certain supernatural things. Smallville borrows from Buffy and X-Files a lot when it comes to establishing when you should suspend your disbelief, but it’s not executed as well.
Good Things About Smallville Season 1
- The characters are very interesting.
- The music is totally awesome (every week there’s a different soundtrack).
- Even if you’ve read Superman comics, you have no idea what the direction of the show is going, and if Clark will ever wear the costume.
- Pretty good TV drama. Probably the most consistent and best superhero TV show of all time (certainly the best production values).
Best Smallville Season 1 Episodes
“Pilot”- Ultimate Superboy origin.
“Rogue”- Corrupt cop finds out Clark’s secret and blackmails him.
“Hug”- Bob Rickman *is* The Realtor (R).
“Leach”- Evil Superboy vs powerless Clark.
“Zero”- Lex’s past revealed.
“Stray”- Young mind reader bonds with Clark.
“Tempest”- Season Finale: Lionel vs Lex blowout, Whitney leaves, love triangle