Sunday, November 26, 2006

Review: Smallville Season Four

I have to say that I really dislike the way story arcs are handled in Smallville. This season's big story arc revolves around three MacGuffins that are meant to be gathered by Clark Kent. Unfortunately, there are only a small handful of episodes that advance the plot --- most of the time, the plot is advanced by little side shows that don't even include Clark Kent. This makes the primary story arc feel more like something thrown in there so there's a little bit of continuity, rather than a coherent storyline that you frequently see in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, for instance.

There's also a major plot hole around those MacGuffins. If there had been prior Kryptonian visits to Earth, why isn't Earth a Krypton colony, instead of having only one survivor of Krypton? This is such a major plot hole that it ruins the credibility of the rest of the season.

Lois Lane makes an appearance in this season, really demonstrating that Smallville does not intend to stick to Superman canon. I really enjoy the portrayal of Lois Lane, however. She does not fit the damsel in distress stereotype, and frequently does kick ass. Her cousin, Smallville's star reporter Chloe Sullivan also finally discover Clark's secret, and Luthor, while being played as a sympathetic hero in previous seasons finally becomes the villain, but not before he gives Clark many chances to be honest and come clean with him.

I do miss what they did in previous seasons, where the music being played in the background is more often than not part of the character's foreground, so whenever Lex gets out of his car, for instance, the music that he's listening to stops. The mode of dressing Clark in red and blue continues, and it's kinda neat to see them do that. There is also a very well done reworking of Myxlplyx, a Superman villain that I thought would have been tough to do on TV. Sarah Carter also does a great comeback as Alicia Baker the teleporting girl in a touching two-parter.

The DVD does include a peek into the writer's room, where you see why Smallville's overall story arcs are so incoherent. The main drivers for the TV series aren't even in the room most of the time. When seeing the corresponding footage in Buffy, you'll see Joss in there all the time bashing out stories together with his writers.

All in all, worth watching, but not worth buying.
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