Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Jumping the Clark

When did "Smallville" jump the shark?

I recently purchased Season 5 (I stopped watching the show as it aired sometime back in Season 3, and have caught episodes in other forms since then) and I guess I'm a third of the way through or so. After episodes on vampire sororities and infiltrating strip clubs, it's become abundantly clear that the show is floundering, and probably should have ended before our intrepid heroes left high school.

But at what point did the show make its biggest misstep? I mean, the first season was pretty rough to begin with (what with the freak-of-the-week episode structure), but it seemed to hit a nice stride in the second and third seasons. What was the turning point?

Flipping through the booklet for the Season 4 set, I'm seeing loads of possibilities...


ticknart said...

For me, the show started to crumble after Pete Ross left the show at the end of the third season. Pete was Clark's grounding force, all the others accepted the weirdness to easily.

I watched most of season 4, but, for me, it was missing an essential element. And bringing Lois into the show pissed me off, too.

Will Staples said...

Pete leaving was the beginning of the end for me too, but the point at which I could no longer go on watching was that inane "witches" episode. The whole "teen sex romp" crap is painful enough on its own, doubly so when you're watching with the whole family. :P

Anonymous said...

I think Lois is the only part of the show worth watching anymore. What makes the character work is how, unlike EVERYBODY ELSE on the damn show, she's the only one who doesn't suspect Clark has powers. She simply thinks he's a hick.

What kills the show dead for me is any time Lana and Lex are on the screen together. If you pay attention, they really are the exact same character, those two. Both want to know Clark's secret. Both are ruthless to get their way. Both pull the "you can trust me" card while setting up at least three plans to betray said trust, and when they are discovered (and they always are), it was always "for your own good."

As for the shark-jumping moment, I don't think there is a clearly defined moment more than just stagnation. Clark is the same character now that he was in the first episode. Every season, it gives you hope that he'll finally accept his destiny and become Superman, but by the end of the next season's premiere, he's back to business as usual.

Jeff said...

I think you guys are looking at it wrong. Vampire sororities and half kryptonian native American tribes are a hoot. It's like the live action version of a Silver-age Superboy story with a bigger budget. These are all the stories somebody wanted told somewhere else but couldn't frame them properly under the guise of any other show. I think it's a hoot and the Justice League of guys in vests and Clark in season 6 is equally as fun, and funny. Take it as campy Silver-agey goodness don't take it seriously, you'll enjoy it a lot more.

Tom Foss said...

When I wrote this post, my first thought for the answer was "when Pete Ross left." He really was the only normal character on the show, and losing him lost that grounding.

The witches episodes were what stood out to me when I flipped through the Season 4 booklet. Also: being reminded of the weird European rapist Mxyzptlk.

Sidebar: so, in the season 5 strip club episode where strippers keep disappearing with a mysterious European guy every three months and never coming back--did anyone else think that was going to be Mxyzptlk?

Neverask: that's a good point about Lana; she's never been a likable character (hell, the comic version is barely likable), but this version, particularly since dating that coach guy, has been an irrepressible bitch. The fact that Clark is still pursuing her has really made him look like a poor judge of character.

Jeff: It'd be a lot easier to take the series less seriously if it would decide whether it wants to take itself seriously or not. If they treated some of these topics with a little more levity, I think I could enjoy it. But there's something of a jarring transition between the dramatic soap opera business-as-usual episodes and the occasional wacky (yet, not really funny) Buffy parody full of plot holes.

Unknown said...

Season 5 should have ended the series, in my opinion. Season 4 was awful, but Season 5 had a lot of cool episodes and important strides towards Clark becoming Superman.

I agree with Neverask 100%. I feel like every season, we're treated to an episode or an arc meant to help Clark "stop thinking about himself and start thinking about using his powers to help the world." That's what the Aquaman episode was hyped as, and that was (supposedly) the main point of the Green Arrow/Justice League arc, although I've yet to see either of those bear the intended results.

I don't think it's so much that Lana is unlikable; I think it's that the writers ran out of ideas for her around Season 2 or so, and all of her bitchery is an unintended consequence of the writers trying to justify her continued existence on the show.

Around the Valentine's Day episode of Season 6, I pretty much lost interest in the show. I still keep up with it enough to know what's going on and I caught the season finale, but going into Season 7 I can say that I have almost no interest in keeping up with it whatsoever.