The problem with Smallville isn't that it jumps the shark, but that it doesn't jump the shark often enough . . .

When one thinks about it, no TV show should be allowed to go on for more than four or five seasons at most. Star Trek ? The Original Series was only good two out of three seasons. The X-Files shouldn't have been allowed to have dragged on longer than its sixth season. The less said about when the magic died in The Simpsons, the better. (Did it die this century ? or the previous one?) Don't even get us started on StarGate (ten seasons of sub-Trek plots!). And so on . . .

Sooner or later show writers desperate to come up with new and fresh ideas ?jump the shark? as they say and come up with ridiculous plot ideas and stories.

(If you're out of the pop cultural loop: jump the shark refers to when a TV show runs out of ideas and the desperate writers dream up far-fetched and ludicrous stories. The term refers to an episode of Happy Days in which The Fonz jumped over a shark-filled pool with his motorcycle. The biggest shark jump moment in living human memory was the scene in Dallas when a ?dead? Bobby Ewing stepped out of the shower and Pamela realizes that the past don?t-know-how-many episodes was ?just a dream.?)

It was with this in mind that I just threw my hands up in exasperation half-way through the Smallville - Complete Season 7 DVD box set. (It Episode 14 of said season to be exact, but more on than later.) If only the Smallville writers DID jump the shark instead of endlessly regurgitating old ideas!

Smallville, which as you know tells of a young Clark Kent / Superman's teenage years in his adoptive Kansas town of the same name, has never really felt like Superman to be honest. There wasn't any capes or blue and red spandex on display - so how could it be? (The hunky, but wooden, Tom Welling do however dress mainly in primary colors.) Instead the show felt like . . . Buffy, but without the post-modernism and humor. Think about it: here we have a super-powered teenager at school battling super-powered menaces while trying to keep his identity secret. Sound familiar? Except Clark / Superboy didn't get to fight vampires or demons, but Kryptonite-infected people with a range of super-powers.

"If you?re watching Smallville then it means that you are not averse to a little men-in-tights action!"

For quite a few of the early seasons Smallville was nothing but a case of Clark vs. the meteor freak of the week while the tired melodrama of his sometimes girlfriend Lana Lang suspecting that Clark might be hiding something played out. Then around about the fourth season the writers must have gotten as tired of Kryptonite-infected villains as the viewers of the show were, because then they began to jump the shark by bringing in supernatural villains (witches!) and other superheroes.

By the time Green Arrow pitched up in his camp green outfit, comic book fans were going wild! They were loving every single cheesy moment of it! After all, if you're watching Smallville because, heck, it's Superman then it obviously means that you are not averse to a little men-in-tights action here! Geeks loved it, even when Green Arrow turned out to be a bit bland and not the ?cops are fascists in blue? antiauthoritarian Ollie we all love. Fans even dug the whole Black Canary in slut outfit thing as well as all the other revisionist DC characters (Martian Manhunter, The Flash, Elastic Man, Brainiac, etc.) that popped up. All the new characters and situations, no matter how outlandish, were welcomed by fans because it kept the show reasonably fresh and interesting.

But the problem was that the writers just couldn't bring themselves to entirely break with the show's past . . .

So roll on Season 7 and here?s our handy list of what irks us about Smallville:

(a.) Seven years on and Clark is still hanging out with his old high school pals and staying at his parents' home. How lame is that? Shouldn't he be moving on? Heck, we thought this was supposed to be Superman, but Clark is coming across as being emotionally unable to progress in life. Is he Superboy or Dysfunctional Lad?

(b.) Clark isn't really that super at all. Every other Kryptonian (and there seem to be a lot of them hanging out on Earth!) Clark meets can fly - including his cousin Kara, the future Supergirl. A vertigo-stricken Clark instead prefers to run around at superspeeds under the impression that he is The Flash. In the episode in question a group of Army-trained commandos get the drop on Clark (with his super-hearing, super-speed, heat vision and host of other powers) using Kryptonite-tipped tazers. Kryptonite-tipped tazers, fer crying out loud! How lame is that? Which brings us to . . .

(c.) Kryptonite. There seems to be larger deposits of Kryptonite on Earth than coal or steel or gold! The stuff is everywhere! Just how did so many meteorite rocks from a dying planet galaxies away actually managed to reach Earth in the first place? Who knows? But the point is that the stuff is literally lying around where you look. Clark would be trying to rescue Lana and his pal Chloe from a rock slide only to find . . . yup, Kryptonite lying around for no good reason. Other than the writers wanting to create some ?tension? at that point of the story, of course. In one point during the print Superman comic book's run it was decided to get rid of Kryptonite altogether (all of the Kryptonite on Earth was turned into a base metal) because . . . yes . . . readers were getting tired of Kryptonite being used as a plot device every other issue by lazy writers. So enough already with the Kryptonite!

(d.) Lana Lang. Don't get us wrong. We think that Kristen Kreuk is a sexy lady. We really do. But were are getting heartily sick of her character, Lana Lang. In the comics Lana is Superman's old boyhood sweetheart. In Smallville she has been the centre of everything since whenever. When Erica Durance were introduced as Lois Lane we thought, "Great! Clark is going to get over his pointless Lana infatuation." No such luck. Instead each episode we have to cope with an oh-so serious Lana and her aggrieved, pained expression until one wants to tear one's hair out. Get over it, Clark! The whole Lana thing is more like Woody Allen and the neurotic chicks he dates in each of his movies than The Man of Steel. Neurosis (Lana) vs. spunky and likeable (Lois)? You decide . . .

(e.) Is He Or Isn't He Evil? Each character in the series can be described with an is s/he or isn't s/he evil? in front of their names. Is Lionel Luthor, Lex's dad, Evil or not? Is Lana Evil? In the episode in question Lionel gets mysterious letters from someone about a man from another galaxy. Lionel - which is Jor El's vassal on Earth (long story) - decides to protect Clark from this threat by having him kidnapped by previously mentioned group of Army commandoes and have him locked up in a cage with Kryptonite bars. Lionel seems sincere in his efforts to protect Clark, rescuing him from a rogue commando who looks suspiciously like one of the new Battlestar Galactica cast members. So is he or isn't he Evil? Who cares? After five seasons it was about time to finally establish that, yes, Lex Luthor is indeed the bad guy of the show. (Like, wow man!) Let's move on here . . .

(f.) Everybody - and we mean everybody! - knows Clark's secret. In fact Clark's secret (his superpowers, coming from another planet, etc.) is about as secret as Reginald Dwight's homosexuality. Heck, everyone knows about it on the show . . . except for Lex and Lois, which makes them come across as kind of dim-witted to be honest. Even Lionel Luthor knows about it! At the end of the episode in question yet another person finds out about Clark. At this tempo even some peasant working the rice paddies in the farthest corner of rural Vietnam is going to know about Clark!

(g.) Clark isn't Superboy anymore. Just how old is he? According to actor Tom Welling was born in 1977 which makes him older than 30! For how long is he going to pass as someone in his early twenties? It is time for Kal El to accept his destiny, get a real job (as a reporter at The Daily Planet), get a skin-tight outfit, and fly Lois to the Fortress of Making Out . . . But that's just our problem with Smallville. It's time for the show's producers to ditch the Smallville title altogether and call it Metropolis instead (don't worry, Fritz Lang is long dead and won't sue) and get with the DC Universe here. For just how long can Clark skulk about his boyhood town without it getting downright creepy?



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