Smallville was developed by writer-producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, based on the DC Comics character Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Smallville is about Clark Kent’s journey to becoming Superman.

The show reconfigures the future of Superman’s life as a genre-bending tale about young people and their weird hormonal people with superpowers in a small town called ‘Smallville’ – in the years after a meteor shower that brought Clark (Tom Welling) to Earth. But for the majority of its 10 seasons and 218-episode run, Smallville functions as a crime-solving procedural with a Superdude at the center.

Alfred Gough and Miles Millar pulled from Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s monster-of-the-week structure and high-school-is-hell metaphors, creating an action show about the Kryptonite-infected Smallville. It later evolved from its humble beginnings in Smallville high-school to address Clark’s first steps in the big world of Metropolis as a journalist.

Clark’s slightly older rich friend is Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), who he saves after being hit by him driving a car on a bridge in episode one. Gough and Millar’s vision for quintessential Midwesterners, the adoptive father of Clark is Jonathan (John Schneider) and Martha Kent (Annette O’Toole).

Annette O’Toole played Luis Lane in the original Superman 70s movies with Christopher Reeve, who also guest star the show in later seasons. It also includes guest appearances by many other past Superman movies and tv actors like Margot Kidder, Dean Cain, Teri Hatcher, and many more.

Smallville’s first season does a fine job of establishing the basics—Clark is a high school freshman who knows that he’s from another planet but also going through all those teenage related issues as everyone else. Featuring a love triangle between Clark, Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk), and Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack).

Pete Ross (Sam Jones III) is another best friend of Clark’s and the first person to whom Clark voluntarily tells his secret. A character that the writers wrote out of the series in later seasons with other characters joining instead.

Clark is a guy who has a ton of responsibility on his shoulders and is consistently selling himself short, he is humble to an admirable extent much to the virtue of his humble foster parents, keeping him grounded as he gets to learn more about his superhuman abilities, if he had a bigger ego, all hell would break loose and he’d probably become his worst enemy.

We see step by step how Clark discovers his super-man abilities one by one and it’s actually kind of fun. “Sneeze” comes to mind as a sample of taking a simple idea (Clark learning about his super-breath) and making a whole episode out of it where it’s actually enjoyable despite sounding boring.

Everything that was great in the first season is amped up with season two. The acting is improved, Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor is simply great. After Clark experiences bizarre visions and has an alien language downloaded into his brain, he reaches out to reclusive physicist Virgil Swann, played by none other than another Superman, Christopher Reeve.

The third season is perhaps its darkest; Clark discovers Lex’s secret room dedicated to uncovering his alien secret, Lana pulls a Joey Potter and heads to Paris to get away from Clark’s lying ways, Lex and Chloe feel the wrath of Lionel’s power after deciding to testify against him, and the Kents’ decision to ignore Jor-El brings deadly consequences to Jonathan.

Clark becomes an all-state quarterback in season four and we meet Lois Lane (Erica Durance) for the first time. Lana becomes a powerful witch and dates a college boy (Jensen Ackles). Lex Luthor develops from a friend of Clark’s to an okay kinda guy to (presumably) the villain who will plague Superman in his later years. We first see Lex working under his father Lionel at LuthorCorp, but with an escalating conflict with his father, with Lex ending up as the only Luthor left in the show by later seasons.

We get a new love triangle between Clark, Lana, and Lex in season six. The biggest story that carries over from year-to-year in Smallville’s middle seasons is the construction of a proto-Justice League. The show took what we now recognize as the Marvel approach, introducing The Flash (Gallner), Aquaman (Alan Ritchson), and Cyborg (Lee Thompson Young) in spiriting individual spotlights across seasons four and five and then bringing Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) into the picture in season six.

Clark’s younger cousin Kara (Laura Vandervoort) shows up in season seven and is more powerful than him. Lois gets a job at the Daily Planet. A rushed, partially retconned final arc inspires Lex to finally discover Clark’s secret, which allows Rosenbaum to tear through his character’s pent-up betrayal, distrust, and anger.

Lex and Lana are mostly out of the picture by season eight, so is Gough and Millar. Instead, we get a newfound focus on Clark and Lois in Metropolis working at the Daily Planet and Clark trying harder to be a real hero. Hanging around as a murderous poor man’s Bruce Banner/Hulk is Davis Bloome/Doomsday (Sam Witwer). The showdown with Doomsday – one of Supermans’ most physically powerful enemies – ended after a few punches and a tackle between normal everyday Clark and a guy in a costume so fake looking you’d prefer the CGI from Ang Lee’s Hulk.

Image: Millar Gough Ink DC Comics Warner Bros. Television

Beginning with season eight, DC and Warner Bros. opened the doors to previously inaccessible corners of the larger comic book universe. The resulting three seasons feature a litany of special appearances, from fan favorites Legion Of Super-Heroes and Booster Gold to glorified bit players Mia Dearden and Bruno Mannheim.

Season 9 packs some new villains such as Zod, Metallo, and Silver Banshee but also some more changes to the Superman mythos. Clark stepped up and finally grew as a character, Lois rose up to be a stronger and perhaps aa more enjoyable character. It gave the series new life with a glimpse as to how amazing the tenth season could be.

Image: Millar Gough Ink DC Comics Warner Bros. Television

The final season rounds off a show that has shaken off and exceeded the early Dawson’s Creek/Buffy comparisons. Lois finally figures out who Clark really is and they finally got together and at the very end of the series, Clark Kent finally became The Man of Steel Superman saving the world and becoming the hero we all know and love from the comics.

The Special effects for this show while they were not as great as what we got with the later CW DCTV Arrowverse shows, Marvel TV Shows, and Fox’s Gotham were good for the time of the early 2000’s like the way Clark would speed his way out of danger and rescue his friends from trouble awesome and showing what he can do so good.

The writing on the series at times was good to not so good and some argue that Smallville went on for too long. The legacy of Smallville is great, however, it was able to keep the Superman story alive and introduce new fans to the world of comics by proxy, allowing Kal-El to stay relevant within pop culture.

Smallville paved the way for a lot of future Superhero TV Series to come later like The CW DCTV Arrowverse tv shows Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl as well as The Marvel Studios TV Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , and The Marvel Netflix shows like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, etc. ANd soon to come Marvel Shows on the Disney Channel.

Smallville (2001-2011)

8.5

Television Series

7.5/10

Nostalgia Factor

9.5/10

Overall

8.5/10

We like:

  • Watching Clark grow each season and slowly -very slowly- turn into Superman.