In an era when superhero shows seem like an inescapable part of our pop culture landscape, it can be hard to remember a time when live-action versions of such properties were few and far between. Granted, as a huge fan of superhero movies and television, I don’t really have a desire to revisit those dark days, but it’s important to remember how rare these types of projects were before the turn of the century. You’d have the occasional small-screen success like The Incredible Hulk or Lois & Clark, but these were rare exceptions.
And really, even as superheroes began their climb to cinematic dominance in the early 2000s, their representation on television remained limited. Honestly, it wasn’t until the premiere of Arrow in 2012, a mere four years ago, that the current explosion of superhero shows really began. Before that, viewers were left relying on a string of one-season wonders and countless shows that were lucky to even film a pilot episode.
So, with plenty of comic book and superhero fans that just wanted a show to call their own on a weekly basis, it’s almost no wonder that Smallville became appointment viewing for millions of fans. For a decade, the tale of a young Clark Kent’s journey to becoming Superman was the be-all and end-all of live-action superhero television, the only option for fans hoping to see classic characters, concepts, and storylines brought from page to screen.
That lack of alternatives, perhaps, explains why so many fans stuck with the show. The show’s theme song, “Somebody Save Me”, came to be an in-joke among fans, many of whom couldn’t find it in themselves to quit watching even as the show’s quality began to fluctuate wildly towards the end of its run. For many, Smallville was an inevitability; no matter how long it aired or how off-the-rails it got, they would be tuning in.
For me, though, it was always a phenomenon viewed from the outside. I had numerous friends that enjoyed and endured the show in varying measures over the years, but outside of catching a few random episodes in the early seasons, I never really watched the show. This was for a number of reasons, the biggest being that I was only 10 years old when the show premiered. I was more than fulfilled on superhero content with animated classics like Justice League and Static Shock when the show premiered. By the time I was old enough to care about it, the show was already moving past what many considered its best years. Besides, I was more impressed by the fancy new kid on the block, Heroes (a train wreck for another time).
However, over the years, I’ve maintained a minor desire to revisit Smallville. My biggest reservation was simply the fact that the show never embraced the comic material in the way most modern superhero shows do, even in its more colorful final years; I’ve not exactly heard great things about the show’s take on the wider DC universe.
Still, for whatever reason, it finally felt like the right time to take a look back at Smallville in what amounts to a blind viewing some 15 years after the show first aired. And, since we’ve got a fancy new website here dedicated to geeky pursuits such as this, I figured why not chronicle my journey here? Who knows how long any given review will be, or how far into this first viewing I’ll actually make it. But, for now, I hope you’ll enjoy this journey of discovery with me.
Look for updates to this series every Monday here on The Joy of Geek.