DC comics is killing it on the small screen right now. They've got four shows in the same universe, as well as several others, and they all bring something unique to the table. Arrow, which began in 2012 and is going into its sixth season this fall, is seen as the start of this new age, but that is only half true. While Arrow did usher in this new era of heroes, a year before Arrow began was the year that a decade-long superhero show also on the CW finished: Smallville. As someone fairly new to the superhero genre, I didn't know much about Smallville. It's not really referenced or talked about and when I told a few people I was going to start watching it, their responses weren't overly passionate. And that is a shame. Smallville was a lot better than I expected. Here's why we as a society need to give some more love to this show.
Smallville was great and here's why
- It didn't stray too far from the comics. As a TV adaptation, it is allowed to take liberties (and it did) but overall, it was pretty true to the Superman storyline. An alien baby later named Clark Kent crashed down in Smallville, Kansas and is adopted by Martha and Jonathan. He grows up on a farm as a normal kid but has these superpowers he has to keep secret. His ultimate opponent is Lex Luther and he ends up marrying Lois Lane, a fellow Daily Planet reporter.
- It introduces a lot of other heroes. While it was a Superman origin story, there was a multitude of other known DC heroes brought in. The Green Arrow himself was a series regular for several of the ten seasons, and both the JLA and JSA took part in several missions. If you aren't familiar with many characters, Smallville provided a decent starting point.
- It was good quality. In terms of acting and overall production value, this show was on point. The CGI was ahead of its time, really, and the action sequences were all strong. Some of the older superhero shows got a little cheesy (*cough*Batman*cough*), but Smallville rarely did.
- There were some amazing characters. Yeah, Clark was the star, but he'd be nowhere without the likes of his friends. Smallville had some really great well-rounded characters that really worked well with our favourite Kryptonian. One of Smallville's fan-favourites was Chloe Sullivan, who wasn't even a character from the comics. If you like Arrow's Felicity Smoak, then get ready because Chloe is all that and more.
- The frame allowed for continued interest. From the first episode and for the first few seasons, Clark was best friends with Lex Luthor and he only had eyes for Lana Lang. Even people with the most basic level of Superman knowledge would know that that is very incorrect. By having the show start this way, viewers stayed with it so to find out what happens. While I did think the Clark/Lana thing dragged on a little too long, it's only because they did such a good job building it up.
- A lot of guest actors on current DC shows were also guests on Smallville. Lisa Snart on The Flash? Yeah, that was Lucy Lane. Indigo on Supergirl? Yeah, that was Kara Kent. It's fun and really great of DC and the CW to bring back folks for these fun little roles.
- It's a good framework for a superhero show. Smallville was not perfect, and it had some very weird subplots at times, but overall, it managed to have ten whole seasons and not get boring, which is quite a feat. One thing it did that really stood out to me was keep Clark's secret a secret to people. Clark met Lois in season 4 but she didn't find out until season 10. Clark didn't tell Lana until season 6. Whereas if you look at shows like The Flash right now (three seasons in) everyone knows Barry's secret, and it's not as suspenseful. Smallville also hinted at the future really well in fun ways, with very subtle references to an eventual JLA or the existence of Gotham. Even though we never met Batman, it's good to know he exists and one day, even if not the show's lifetime, Clark will encounter him.
Respect your elders
If you haven't seen Smallville, I definitely recommend it, even if it's on the older side now (can we call 2001 old?). Whether you're a huge Superman fan or not, Clark's farmboy charm and the rural normality of the setting will make this version of the iconic hero special. The show had everything one could want: humor, adventure, mystery, heart, likeable characters, unlikeable characters, a dog, and aliens. Watch it.
And this fall, while you, like me, are watching the current CW DC lineup in all its glory, just remember that without Smallville and everyone who supported it, none of that would be possible. We owe it a lot, and it's about time we start paying up.