“So what are you: Man or Superman?”
On October 16th, 2001 the WB premiered Smallville. An origin series of Clark Kent before he became Superman and forever changed the way comic book television would be seen. But how did it get to that status?
This will break down every season in 2 sentences or less:
The pilot of Smallville premiered to a record high of 8.4 million viewers and would continue to have record high ratings,the highest being the episode “Lineage” with 9.4 million.*
Season 1 got us into what would be called the “Freak of the Week” where each episode was self contained and overall many were enjoyable.
Season 2 is relatively the same with a “Dawson’s Creek” vibe with the Lana (played by Kristen Kreuk) and Clark (played by Tom Welling) will they or won’t they style of relationship. It’s also the season with the best guest star and one of the best episodes, kind of the same but you can forgive some of the flaws.
Season 3 expand’s the universe with characters from DC Comics like Perry White and Morgan Edge. It was finally showing hints of Clark learning of his Kryptonian heritage.
Season 4 is where things get going, while the Lana/Clark romance starts to get really annoying, especially when it became a love triangle with Jason Teague (played by the then unknown Jensen Ackles). Lois Lane (played by Erica Durance), who in this guy’s opinion stole the season, is introduced this season and has a connection to Clark’s best friend Chloe Sullivan (played by Allison Mack). We also have the pretty clever origin of The Fortress of Solitude.
Season 5 is probably my favorite season. With the introduction of the villain of Brainiac (played by James Marsters-who many know from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) the season also got Clark out of high school and into the confusing world of college. It also marked the beginning of end of Lex Luthor (played by Michael Rosenbaum) and Clark’s relationship, this being the strongest element of the show.
Season 6 is where the mellow drama was at it’s height and it was becoming even more unbearable. Lana, Lex, and Clark’s love triangle took up a big chunk of the season and many fans, including myself, were really pissed off. The introduction to Oliver Queen (played by Justin Hartley) was about the only good thing about Season 6 as the majority of it is not that good.
Season 7 is where it picked up a little by focusing on Clark’s power training with the help of his cousin Kara (Laura Vandervoort). Lana thankfully gets shoved to the side as the show becomes a Clark and Lex battle. When Lex’s father Lionel (played by John Glover) left the series, it became a hold nothing back war between the two and it culminated into one of the best finales of the series.
Season 8 is where many people stopped watching because Lex from here on out would not appear in the remaining seasons due to to renewing his contract. The season was “ok” at best with a lot of the same while bringing in a lot of new faces. Jimmy Olsen (played by Aaron Ashmore) was great but other characters like Davis Bloome/Doomsday (played by Sam Witwer) felt kind of forced, overall I’d skip most of it.
Season 9 is highlighted by the blossoming romance between Clark and Lois, playing out how many would think these two falling in love should be. Zod (played by Callum Blue) was welcome but honestly forgettable. This is where the universe building was at its height and the show started feeling so much more,more so in this season.
Season 10 is the final season becoming a full on Superman origin story and it was awesome. Everything was slowly coming together and in a stunning two part finale Clark Kent finally flew and became The Man of Steel. A surprise return of Lex and the throwing away of the “No Tights, No Flights” rule made it feel worth it as you feel like everything was earned over these many years: the ups and the downs.
Smallville for Superman fans was something they needed at the time and every time I watch it, I fall in love over and over again.
Its like watching old memories, memories that will last a lifetime.
*Thank you to Zach Moore from Always Smallville Podcast for fact checking.