Seven years ago, a fledgling of a television show crash-landed onto our television sets. This TV newcomer set out to tell how one of the world’s greatest heroes came to be, intriguing Superman fans everywhere.
The early years
As the young show began to mature in the first seasons, so did its protagonist, Clark Kent. He developed new abilities that he would someday need to master in order to fulfill his ambiguous destiny.
The new arrival promised a fresh look at Clark Kent’s (Tom Welling) adolescence through compelling stories while weaving in elements from the Superman mythos. Smallville delivered on their lofty promise, at least at the beginning.
Losing its powers
It was about season four when the show started to show signs of growing pains. Producers Al Gough and Miles Millar wrote the show into circles, rehashing old episode concepts and plot devices. Their criticized episodes usually included a character under the influence of some supernatural substance. Their “freak of the week” formula routinely showed a new Kryptonite infused wacko stalking Clark’s love interest, Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) and routinely bored its audience.
Season five and most of season six gave us the worst episodes in Smallville history. There were rare strong moments and a faintly interesting storyline, but the show was not working. Toward the end of season six, producers started making alluring new stories using the show’s existing history. Lana discovered Clark’s secret, and the discovery that Chloe (Allison Mack), Clark’s best friend, had been infected by Kryptonite caused quite the buzz.
In the seventh season, producers took a look at Clark’s roots in episodes where Clark had reunions with his biological mother and uncle. Depth was given to the character of Lex Luthor as he descended into darkness. Rosenbaum and the producers did an excellent job of chiseling this character into a villain.
Unsure of the show’s future for season eight, Gough and Millar implemented a series-ending storyline. They gave importance to seemingly lost story arcs from all of its six previous seasons. Had they reached their series finale with the intended climax, fans would have been happy to let Smallville bow out in dignity.
A Season of Change
Instead of ending the series, the CW wanted yet another season. This did not sit well with Gough and Millar. Believing that their time at Smallville had come to an end, they decided to move on and let the series take another direction with new producers.
Rosenbaum also decided not to return for an eighth season. New producers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer decided to not recast the role, and instead implemented a storyline in which Luthor went missing. Also missing from the cast is Kreuk. Though she is no longer a series regular, producers promise that we will see Lana a few times this season. Justin Hartley (who plays fan-favorite The Green Arrow, Oliver Queen), previously an irregular appearance on the show, brings a bit of hope to this new season.
With all the changes going on, fans are unsure of the fate of their show. Can the new producers take the show that was once so full of promise and make it soar like a bird or a plane? Or will they be the Kryptonite that ends up killing Smallville‘s eight-year run?
For more information
Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Tuesday, September 9.
The new season of Smallville premieres on Thursday, September 18 at 7pm on the CW.