Sunday, October 10, 2010

Smallville - Release the Flying Monkeys

Nearly a decade ago, the first season of Smallville held some promise of being a decent television series. Sadly, albeit not unexpectedly, that idea quickly dissipated with show after show of pointlessly unrequited love and needlessly murderous "villains" who always die at the end of every episode after witnessing one of Clark's powers, something every other character remains completely oblivious to season after season. Despite this, the show somehow managed to maintain an audience for nine years, and now in their tenth and (thankfully) final season the writers are so desperate for ideas they have stooped to, and I'm not making this up, flying monkeys. Yes, you read that correctly.

If you had the misfortune of watching Smallville last night right through to the end (or perhaps you did yourself a favour and just tuned in for the first five minutes and the last fifteen since nothing important ever happens in between), you were rewarded for your optimism that, surely, the show simply has to get better at some point, by baring witness to flying monkeys escaping from the chest of the villain as if he were Azkadallia from Tin Man, though it was a cloud of flying monkeys rather than being released from tattoos on Kathleen Robertson's undeveloped chest. Pathetic as it sounds, that was the highlight of the show. 

The writers of Smallville seem determined to keep alive the hackneyed conventions of shows from the '70s like The Incredible Hulk by conveniently knocking apparently soft-skulled characters unconscious with minor blows to the head just in time to prevent them from accidentally witnessing the hero save them. Of course, they have to ensure the day isn't saved until the last possible moment, and to that end not just Clark, but his cousin Kara, AKA Supergirl, both wandered around a nightclub searching for Lois because, once again, they forgot that they had x-ray  vision, super-hearing, and can run so fast no-one can see them which should have allowed them to search the entire building in a fraction of a second. This just moments after Kara finished chastising Clark for not being able to control and use all his powers. I guess super-absentmindedness must be one of the most powerful of Kryptonian abilities.   

Normally the writers love using Clark's super-speed, and they utilize it up to a half-dozen times per episode -- though only to change scenes. When it's time to save the day they expect the audience to believe that someone who can move faster than bullets with reactions to match has never learned, after years of watching people die because of his inaction, to not just stand there until after the villain attacks and do something while there's still time to save someone other than a main character who is by this time, of course, unconscious. 

Intelligent writing is clearly Smallville's kryptonite, and now that the series is drawing to a close, I fear for the next classic franchise they intend to similarly ruin.  


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