Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Smallville" and Jack Kirby

I started watching "Smallville", the TV series about Clark Kent before he became Superman, around the time it debuted… and didn't follow it for long. It's not that I thought it was bad, but I just found it kind of flat. I thought the key role of Lana Lang was horribly miscast, though Tom Welling did a great job as the young and conflicted Clark Kent.

My good friend Rob is a huge fan, though, and has often talked about the show and how much he liked it over the last five or six years. And I have from time to time thought maybe I should ask if I could borrow his DVD season sets, to see if I was missing something. But I never did.

Last week I was in Barnes and Noble checking out the new movie and TV DVD releases, and I noticed that the tenth and final season of "Smallville" had come out. I was immediately drawn to the cover image on the box -- a shot of Clark Kent in his normal civilian clothes, casting a shadow behind him which looked like a man with a cape in a very Supeman-esque pose. I was intrigued, and bought the set, and just tonight finished watching it.

I enjoyed it -- the stories were a little corny in spots, and the relatively low budget of the show kept it from looking as "super" as it could have, and many of the scripts seemed to rehash ideas from one episode to the next… but overall it was fun to watch.

  And there was something unexpected, something that really piqued my interest -- the inclusion of characters and concepts from Jack Kirby's "Fourth World" series that he did during his tenure at DC during the 1970's. Darkseid, Granny Goodness (even the "Female Furies" of Granny's orphanage… sort of… at least there were two recognizable ones, Mad Harriet and Lashina… though I confess I kept hoping for Big Barda to show up), Desaad, Glorious Godfrey… even Orion of the "New Gods" comic was name-checked, and correctly identified as the son of Darkseid.

It was pretty cool! And I was tickled that whoever was writing and producing the show MUST have been a big fan of Kirby's work at DC to try to work these characters into the show in that way. They even brought Darkseid's world, Apokolips, into the season finale… and I have to say the special effects artists did an excellent job of realizing it, blazing fire pits and all.

But it made me start thinking how a dedicated "Forth World" movie or miniseries made with an adequate budget could be amazing. I doubt it will ever happen, but one can dream… -- PL

    P.S. There was one thing that really bugged me, and it's something I have seen in other shows on DVD. I often watch with subtitles turned on, and I can't tell you how many times they wrote "gonna" when a character was supposed to be saying "going to". Now, it's possible that that's the way it was written in the scripts, and it's also possible that it's the way the actors actually said the lines… but it just looks… well… DUMB. 


David McBride said...

I have seen the show off and on. The one thing that always turned me off was how it felt like one of those teen drama shows.

Have you seen Justice League the animated series? They have done a lot with characters like Darkseid and Granny Goodness.

Big D said...

i went to a comic book convention in 2006 where smallville co-creators/showrunners alfred gough and miles millar were doing a q&a. someone asked them if they ever planned on putting darkseid in the show and it was clear from their response that they had never heard of the character in their lives. although they left the show after season seven, i would not be surprised if smallville's eventual inclusion of darkseid was not the result of the writers' love of the character, but rather a move to finally please all the fans.

Sarah The Anime Librarian said...

I never really watched this, kind of in the same boat as you were Peter. It looked interesting, but it didnt GRAB me (although I did see some of the MArtian Manhunter episodes because I love that character.) I also have been thinking I should start taking the sets out of the library and watch.