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Summer of Smallville –

The Biggest One Yet

14

Aug

Posted by Steve

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 Today, we have four episodes worth of the Summer of Smallville.  I originally wanted to do six, and I originally wanted to post them on this past Friday.  Due to some hardware issues and life complications from moving and people constantly at my house, though, it’s been tougher to get done than I would like.  But enough complaining.  On to….

Season 1 Episode 7 – Craving

Written by: Michael Green (second writing credit on the show)

Directed by: Phillip Sgriccia (second directing credit on the show)

Synopsis – We are introduced t Jodi Mellville, a girl in Smallville who struggles with her weight. (And who will one day be publicist, personal assisstant, and lover of Ricky Bobby.) (That’s a Will Ferrell reference.) In an attempt to lose weight, she begins a diet of veggie shakes made with vegetables grown in meteorite-rich soil. (Or as Emeril Lagasse would say, “We’ve kicked the veggie shake up a notch with a little Kryptospice.” “BAM!”) The shakes help her lose weight…rather quickly and dramatically and leave her with an unnatural need and ability to “suck” the fat out of people. As Chloe puts it, she becomes “a fat sucking vampire.” Meanwhile, Lex is given a physical and told by his doctor of an unusually high white blood cell count. The doctor says he sees a lot of it in Smallville, and to prove he is healthy and his plant has nothing to do with the phenomenon, Lex orders a battery of tests to be done. The incident does spur him on to look into the effects of meteor rocks though. He talks to Chloe about her theories and is put on the trail of Dr. Hamilton. By the end of the episode, Lex has Dr. Hamilton in his pocket, thus causing our Lex plot to thicken. While all this is going on, Lana is getting ready for her sweet sixteen, and Clark is stressing about what to get her for her brithday. Pete gets a date that goes wrong, a digital deer bites the dust, a greenhouse explodes, and Bugs Bunny makes a cameo. As far as foreshadowing moments or neat line go, there is only one and it’s delivered briefly enough to be considered a throw away line to the casual observer. Clark tells Chloe, “I’ve gotta fly,” as he is leaving to work on Lana’s birthday present.

It’s neat to get to see Pete not just in the buddy role in this episode, but we really get to see how good of a guy he is. When other guys are picking on Jodi because she’s fat, Pete is quick to stand up for her. Of course, Chloe is there to help out, but I think we expect Chloe to be good hearted, Pete, I think the audience would forgive. There is also the chance that the creators of the show would use this episode to be the one where “one of Clark’s friends learns an important lesson about kindness…tonight…on a very special Blossom.” (Sorry, mixed references.) You get my point I hope. It’s nice to know that Pete is a good guy, not just the funny buddy. He does have a great line when Jodi asks him to Lana’s party…”Women dig me, get used to it.” Good stuff.

There is a moment with a digital deer. I point out that it’s digital simply because when it walks on screen it’s fairly easy to spot the digitalness of it. It sort of brings you back into the “this is a television show not a movie” world. It’s not a complaint or a harsh criticism, just a fun observation. The digital deer, however is the reason for auto mishap number 5 (4 wrecks and an explosion) in the show!

Once again, this episode puts Clark in the position of deciding to save lives or go after what he wants. He chooses to save lives as he realizes that Jodi is responisible for turning the deer she hit into jerky, making the kid who made fun of her look like he has plageria, and that now she may put Pete in danger. He and his parents have a good talk about the sacrifices he will have to make if he is to do what he needs to do with his gifts. (I appreciate that they refer Clark’s powers as gifts or abilities. It makes him more human, and let’s us see how they see him, not as a strange visitor from another planet, but as their gifted son.)

The Clana relationship gets ramped up just a touch as he gives her the best birthday present she could have received by setting up a screen and projector against a barn and treating her to Drive-In movie cartoons the way her parent’s did when she was little. (All set to the tune of “I could be Your Hero.” Girls everywhere were “awwwwww”ing.)

For me, this episode was good, but at only seven episodes in, the Freak of the Week thing is getting a little tired. The one thing this episode does address with very little preaching is an issue that most (if not all) teenage girls (and guys) face. Dealing with unhappiness about one’s appearance is something that just about everyone can relate to. The story of Ricky Bobby’s future girlfriend is a sci fi way of showing the dangers of real eating disorders and how easy it is for people to get caught up in them. The reality of the situation for Jodi is what makes it easy to suspend disbelief about the story. Ultimately, though, the real story of this episode is the introduction of Dr. Hamilton and Lex’s curiosity about the effects of meteor rocks. Because of the way the overall story arc is progressed, I have to give the episode a 3 out of 5 whatever I am potentially give 5 of.

So we go from fat suckers to super shakers with….

Season 1 Episode 8 – “Jitters”

Written by – Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfield

Directed by – MIchael Watkins and Greg Beeman (This is the second directing credit for both of these guys. The second of many for Beeman.)

Synopsis – In this episode we are introduced to Earl Jenkins and a condition that has nothing to do with super powers brought on by over exposure to the meteor rocks. Earl Jenkins is trying to get an audience with Lionel Luthor to find out what was being used on Level 3 of the fertilizer plant in Smallville when an explosion caused Earl to begin shaking incredibly violently. In his quest to find out how to cure himself, Earl accidentally kills a man, crashes a party at Clark’s house, takes a high school group of kids hostage, is thought to be crazy, and almost kills Lex. While Lex and Lionel both deny the existence of anything happening on Level 3, Lionel knows that Level 3 not only exists, but that there were also experiments being done with meteor rocks to see what effects they have on crop growth. Jonathan and Martha celebrate their anniversary in Metropolis leaving Clark home alone. Clark decides to have a few friends over and it explodes into a huge party. In the end, Clark has to save not only Lex and Earl, but the fertilizer plant as well. We get to see an incredible comparison between The Luthor family and The Kent family. A couple of neat little things in this episode that make me smile:

– As Clark is listening to music through some headphones, Martha is leaving instructions. Clark is going about getting something to snack on and seems oblivious. Martha takes off the headphones and asks for confirmation that Clark hears her. He repeats what she’s told him and Martha says, “It’s good to see you’re hearing hasn’t changed.” It is an obvious cue in the direction of Clark’s super hearing (Which he won’t get fully until season 3).

– When Clark gets home from the hospital, the house is wrecked. A deep breath and Clark super speeds his way to a clean house. As he finishes and looks around proudly, Jonathan applauds his sons efforts. It’s just a fun moment to see Clark use his powers for an everyday tast and to see him in trouble.

The secrets of the Luthor’s begin to come to light a little bit in this episode with the whole level 3 issue. While Lex is apparently ignorant of any Level 3, Lionel certainly is aware. But let’s be honest, Lex isn’t without his secret projects.

This episode also marks the first time we see the negative physical effects that can be brought on by the meteor rocks. To this point, everyone we’ve see affected in any way by the meteor rocks has gained some kind of gift. In Earl Jenkins case though, his body is trying to expell the meteor fragments embedded in his skin, and the rocks kick that process up by about three notches, so that his body shakes supernaturally violently.

The real heart of this episode comes from the comparison we get to blatantly see between Clark’s family and Lex’s relationship with Lionel. As the group of kids is taken hostage in the fertilizer plant by Earl Jenkins are released, Clark and Lex are stuck inside. When everything finally settles down, Lionel uses Lex’s episode to spin the story to the media. Jonathan and Martha are genuinely relieved to see Clark. Lionel hugs Lex to make for a good picture in the paper. Jonathan and Martha are celebrating Clark’s safety with real affection. Lex watches the Kents together and the look in his eyes makes you truly feel sorry for him.

In my opinion, this is one of the better episodes of the season. While It doesn’t do much to move things along on a large scale, there is the discovery that Lionel, at least, knows of meteor rock effects. Clark gets to be the hero on a larger scale than he has yet to this point. There is no teen drama, but a couple of fun moments as we meet Chloe’s dad and he embarasses Chloe while the class is on the field trip. The drama of this episode comes from the desperate Earl Jenkins as he seeks to find out how to fix himself. If asked, I would give this episode a 4 out 5 whatever I’m giving 5 of just because of an X-Ray vision moment when the X-Ray vision is see-through vision and I feel like they should have that worked out by the eighth episode. So the story of a shaky former employee taking a group of kids hostage in a crap factory ends and that brings us to…

Season 1 Episode 9 – “Rogue”

Written by Mark Verheiden (The man who gave us “X-Ray”)

Directed by David Carson

Synopsis – This is the first episode ever of Smallville with no meteor freak. (Unless you don’t consider Earl Jenkins a meteor freak…and I do.)(Then again…if you’ve watched through season 6, you know that if Chloe is an episode, then the episode is never truly meteor freak free…but…we’ve got five years worth of TV to get through before we even know that, so..this is the first ever episode of Smallville with no meteor freak.) While at a museum in Metropolis, Clark steps out for a moment and stops a runaway bus from hitting a homeless man asleep on a bench. He is seen by Detective Felan of the Metropolis PD. A dirty cop. Felan is having trouble with Internal Affairs, and decides to use Clark to help him with his problems. When Clark refuses to help, Felan pushes him and his family. When Clark tries to swerve Felan, he frames Jonathan Kent for murder, landing Jonathan in jail. Victoria Hardwick, the daughter of one of Lionel’s top business rivals, makes her way to Smallville and into Lex’s life as she tries to bring Lex into her dad’s corporation. Lex decides to get Victoria to work with him so that they can overthrow both of their fathers. At the Torch, Prinicpal Kwan fires Chloe for printing wild stories about meteor freaks. While trying to help the situation, Lana finds herself editor of the Torch and at odds with Chloe. In the end, we see Clark vs. a bullet for the first time, Lex drawn even more into trying to unravel the mystery of Clark Kent, Lana and Chloe finally decide to be friends, and the man who Clark will be one day comes slightly more into focus. This is one of the best episodes of the entire first season. It seems that in any incarnation of Superman, whether it’s the comics, the cartoon, or another Superman television, whenever Clark’s secret gets out, it makes for an interesting story. One of the better episodes of the old black and white Superman television show was one where some people found out that Clark Kent and Superman were one and the same. It is no different here. Felan discovering that Clark has these amazing abilities and trying to use him to get out of trouble with internal affairs makes for a great show.

Not to simply rest on a great story, the creators had to ramp up the teen drama in this episode as Chloe loses control of the Torch to Lana. Lana does the right thing in the end though and publishes a story defending Chloe. Chloe gets the Torch back and she and Lana become friends.

There are some really cool moments in this episode.

* When Clark sees the armor that was worn by Alexander the Great (Which surprisingly, has a diamond shape on the chest with a snake in the shape of an “S” in the center of the diamond) he says that he can’t see himself wearing that as he goes into battle. Shyeah…we’ll see.

* It’s nice to see Clark in Metropolis for the first time on the show. But the best of Clark in Metropolis is yet to come.

* Jonathan and Clark talk about the fact that Clark wanted to kill Felan, but Clark didn’t. Jonathan reminds Clark that once he crosses that line, he can never go back. It’s interesting how the idea of Superman not killing, which came about as a reaction to an attack on comics in the forties or fifties, has become so important to the character.

* Then there’s the great moment of Clark being faster than a speeding bullet. This is the first time we’ve seen Clark go up against a bullet and it’s pretty fun to see the look of amazement on his face as he watches the bullet pass by.

There are a couple of little “roll your eyes” moments as well.

* When Lex tells Clark to give him five minutes and he will have a team of the best lawyers in the state. How many times does he make similar statements throughout the rest of the show? I should have counted that.

* When Felan calls in a false bomb threat to the museum, Lex is there and acts as the bomb squad. Who would let him do that? I don’t care if they’re just museum security or not, they wouldn’t let Lex just open up a box that potentially contained a bomb.

Then there’s the auto mishaps.

Clark makes a dramatic save when a bus driver suddenly has a heart attack and loses control of the bus. Clark steps in front of the bus and stops it cold. This makes auto mishap number 6 in the show. Then, as if he realized that there were no automobiles harmed in the filming of the previous episode, he drops a safe on Felan’s car from a third story window, doing quite the number on Felan’s car for auto mishap number 7.

The burden of Clark’s secret is brought to the forefront in the episode. He can’t tell Lex why Felan is after him, and he can’t let Felan destroy his family. Lex’s curiosity about Clark is heightened and as Felan lays dying at the end of the episode, Lex presses him for information. Whatever it takes, Lex is going to get the knowledge he wants. In fact, the last shot of the show is Lex looking at security camera footage of a blur going through the museum.

I loved this episode. The drama of Clark’s secret being used against him, the passion with which Jonathan tries to protect his son, some great effects, a splash of intrigue with Lex and Victoria, and just a slight touch of teen drama all came together to make a 5 out of 5 whatever I’m giving five of on this episode. And they did it with no meteor freak…sadly, what we get next is not only the last review of this post, but also…

Season 1 Episode 10 – “Shimmer”

Written by Michael Green and Mark Verheiden

Directed by D.J. Caruso

Synopsis – Smallville misses a step as this episode focuses on an invisible person attacking Victoria Hardwick right in Luthor mansion. It turns out that the viewer thinks it’s Amy – the daughter of Lex’s housekeeper. In reality, it’s Amy’s brother trying to take up for Amy. It really is not fun. In fact, the real heart of this show comes from Lana and Whitney having trouble as Whitney pulls away from Lana. Clark decides to step in and make his move. Before he can though, he finds out that the reason Whitney has been on edge is because his dad is very sick with a heart condition. Whitney hasn’t told Lana because he doesn’t want to burden her with his problems after all that she’s been through. (That’s actually kind of selfless thinking on Whitney’s part.) Clark, then decides to step back from trying to move in on Lana and gets her to be there for Whitney. Yep, the teen drama is actually more appealing to me in this episode than the invisible boy helping his sister feel better about her obsession with Lex Luthor. A couple of cool moments:

– Pete tells Clark, “You’re not the flying type.”

– We see Cadmus labs for the first time as Victoria is going through Lex’s files…suddenly it seems as though Victoria isn’t as nice as we thought she may be.

– Lex and Lionel go at it about his relationship with Victoria. It’s always nice to see father and son have those conversations.

– When Clark asks Lex what he would do about Whitney if Lex were in Clark’s place, Lex tells Clark, “I’d go for it. But you wouldn’t.” Lex then talks to Clark about how Clark is a really good person.

The moment that all Clana fans hate is when Lana and Clark are in the loft to watch the sunset and after Clark tells Lana that she needs to be there for Whitney, she looks at the set sun and says, “Look, we missed it.” Because everyone knows that she’s not just talking about the sunset..she’s talking about her and Clark.

There is a line thrown in at the end as Clark is fighting Amy’s naked invisible brother (He has to be naked to be invisible.) where he tells Clark that he’s heard Lex talking about Clark like he’s something special. If Clark would listen, he’d know a little bit about what Lex is up to.

There’s really not much to say about this episode. While I really think they hit all the right notes in the Lana/Clark/Whitney triangle, and there was a great effect shot of Chloe’s fingers after she’s rubbed the invisibility oil on them, this episode was just a bit of a misstep after an episode like Rogue. Of course, Smallville suffers from this every season. There will be a WONDERFUL episode and they follow it up with a less than stellar episode so it seems worse than it really is. While it’s not Pete driving a car, it’s not very good either. I give this episode 2 out five. With all two points coming from the Clana/Whitney triangle. There was no big explosion, no car accident, but there was a cool shot of Clark getting hit in the face with a mace (Weapon from midevial times…not spray). So maybe we’ll go 2.1 out of 5.

Well, I know this is a long one, but we’ve got a lot of ground to cover.   We pretty much halfway through season 1, and I know that there are few episodes coming up that I won’t be spending much time on…kind of like “Shimmer.”  So hopefully, we’ll be done with Season one and into Season 2 by the end of the week.  Check back often and tell your friends.  As always, keep coming here to immerse yourself in total geekdom.

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