Smallville: The Complete First Season

BY James KeastPublished Oct 1, 2003

Depending on your perspective, Superboy series Smallville is either the most watchable crap on TV, or the most agonising quality program you've ever had to sit through. It's a dichotomy that almost overwhelms the show's debut season, which is essentially a 21-episode-long tease. The show teases the nature of Clark Kent (Tom Welling), a space refugee with mystical "gifts" and a destiny to only date women with double L names. It teases Kent's choice between dreadfully dull do-gooder Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk, all creamy complexion and bee-stung lips) and woeful Chloe (Allison Mack, who gets the plucky best friend bits and only hints of the romance). Superboy comes from a nice small farm, saves people while hiding his secret, struggles with his destiny, etc. It's familiar territory fairly competently revisioned in this TV series. But Smallville's most interesting tease is of super-villain-in-training Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum). The journey from good to gooder is fine, but Rosenbaum's handle on Luthor's struggle against his destiny is what makes Smallville truly compelling. Sadly, these various teases last the entirety of the show's first season, where Lana spends all her time with a no-future dimwit jock, and Chloe pines for the oblivious Clark. Only hints of Kent's true identity and Luthor's evil intentions are ever dropped, which is sad: that drama should in fact be the meat of the series. Instead, we get more Dawson's Creek-style moaning and whining about high school irrelevancies like who's taking whom to the dance. Combine that with the worst (honestly, the worst) music choices ever selected for a high-end, otherwise quality TV series and 21 of these becomes its own strange form of kryptonite, weakening your defences to the point where you actually care if Clark is ever going to ask Chloe (or will it be Lana?) to that dance. The DVD extras are painfully thin, mostly recaps of information already gleaned from actually watching the show, like the interactive "tour" that takes you around Smallville's "locations" (the show is filmed in Vancouver). Commentaries only appear on the first two episodes, and they're typically sycophantic and self-congratulatory. And please, somebody save me from the bloody theme song, which dominates every menu and transition on this DVD set. Plus: pilot storyboards, deleted scenes, more. (Warner)

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