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Smallville - The Complete Seventh Season (2007)

Science Fiction & Fantasy and Television movie

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Tiptoe-ing over kryptonite

  • May 25, 2008
*NOTE: Spoilers within.*

I've been in love with "Smallville" since the first day I saw the pilot. I've grown up with this show, literally, and I'll stick with it no matter what. That said, I stopped expecting great or even good writing from the show a long time ago. Maybe Joss Whedon has spoiled me. When I watch television now, I expect something great. Fortunately, "Smallville" has enough going for it to make up for the crap writing, but with good writing, it could really be something great. Though most other fans will call me crazy, I stand by Season One as the best season of the show, because even if the storylines themselves were nothing special, the writing and style of the show was superb. After Season One, though, things loosened up a bit, and when we hit Season Five, I figured that was probably as good as the show would ever be.

But then came Season Six. Wow. Season Six was not just a great season of "Smallville": it was a great season of television! The directing tightened up, the writing became clever and began moving the storylines along at a much faster pace - even Mark Snow's previously unremarkable music suddenly became intense, dark, and atmospheric. The show as a whole improved dramatically, and for that one season, the series soared like it hadn't in years. The show hadn't changed any of its personnel. It was just a sudden and inexplicable change.

So now we've come out of the series' seventh season. Who ever thought the show would last this long? Considering that it has lasted this long, Season Seven is not so bad. What it is, though, is bland. Most people would agree that Season Four was the low point of the series. For all its shortcomings, though, Season Four was colorful. Season Four was fun. Though Season Seven may be a little sturdier than Season Four as far as its storylines, it's bland as hell. In fact, this may be the most bland season of any series I've ever seen. The writing usually just cuts it. The directing just cuts it. The story moves at such a slow pace that a story arc which should be resolved over two or three episodes runs on for nine or more. To their credit, the actors are trying their best, but the material is too lackluster for them to really strut their stuff - and thus, the acting just cuts it. Everything just cuts it, and that doesn't make for the most exciting season.

The season's strongest point is the introduction of Kara, a.k.a. Supergirl, the other last survivor of Krypton. Laura Vandernoot is a fine bit of casting. She's got the Supergirl look in her eyes. And guess what else? She can fly. As early as the second episode of the season, the writers drop hints that Kara's going to teach Clark to fly. In fact, the selling point of "Veritas" -- which begins the final arc of the season and my personal least-favorite arc of the entire show -- is that Clark needs to learn how to fly to defeat the resurrected Braniac (once more played by the peerless James Marsters). But Clark doesn't learn to fly, and there's never any reason given for why he doesn't. He just doesn't. By the end of Season Seven, Clark still has not flown. That's a little ridiculous.

The long-anticipated return of James Marsters as Braniac is one of the more appealing parts of the season. But despite a promising re-introduction, Braniac winds up as little more than a background figure. He doesn't even feel like much of a menace. He crops up and now and then to give the storylines a little push, and then he's gone. It's really a bad way to Marsters and a misuse of the series' finest non-Luthor villain.

Speaking of the Luthors, this season is a big one for the devilish duo. Lex takes his final steps toward becoming the mega-bad-guy he is in the comic books. Despite this, the character only shines thrice through the season. The first time is in "Fracture," an interesting little headtrip in which Lex is shot and Clark must go inside his mind. I'm not sure why, and I don't think the writers were that certain either. This final glimpse into the mind of Lex Luthor reminds us of how kind he was when the show began -- and how not-so-kind he is now. The second time is a moment in "Hero," when Lex decides he needs to torture someone for information. Rosenbaum has rarely been better. In that scene, a cloud of absolute blackness surrounds Lex, and we recognize just how evil he has become. The third time is in the season finale, "Arctic," in a scene which "Smallville" fans have been dreaming of for some time. Tempting as it is, I won't reveal what happens. Suffice to say I'll be very interested to see how the writers try to work that little twist into the mythology.

As for Lionel, well ... things don't go so well for him. Through this season, Lionel doesn't serve much of a purpose. John Glover, arguably the most talented actor ever to feature on the show, is left unable to do much of anything. So in "Descent," Lionel dies. And the worst part? I didn't even care. I've always loved Lionel, but the writers had done such a poor job of fleshing him out recently that he seemed more like a cardboard cut-out tossed into a scene here and there. When that happens, something is wrong.

That's really the way most of the season is, though. It does have a few very good episodes. The season premiere, "Bizarro," stays true to the "Smallville" tradition of excellent premieres. Playing Bizarro is the only chance Tom Welling gets to shine anymore. The third episode, "Fierce," is not going to rank highly in the pantheon of great "Smallville" episodes. The episode revolves around three contestants in Smallville's annual beauty pageant who decide to take advantage of Kara when she decides to compete in the pageant. It doesn't sound that good, and it isn't, but I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of the earlier episodes of the show, when, even if the stories weren't that good, the writing was strong as the Man of Steel, there was an incessant soundtrack loaded with today's most popular music, and there was color -- lots and lots of color. You don't get that in a season filled mostly with cold purples and metallic blues.

In "Cure," Dean Cain (of "Lois & Clark") finally guest stars. Oliver Queen, alias the Green Arrow, returns in "Siren." Queen was the best part of Season Six, because Justin Hartley is a terrific actor. Beside being one of the most attractive men to ever appear on "Smallville," Hartley can turn even the most droll writing into something cracking and witty. It's a pity he only shows up for one episode. Also in "Siren": Black Canary makes her first appearance. Nice.

The best episode of the season, surprisingly, is the one that looked like it was going to be the worst. "Apocalypse," directed by Tom Welling, is the inevitable Capra episode, in which Clark is shown what the world would be like if he had never arrived on Earth. Sound ridiculous? It sure does. But it's not. It's a blast. The writing is strong and even clever, the acting is great, and the execution of the premise is surprisingly fun. A lot of this fun comes from seeing some real sparks fly between Clark and Lois. Given the focus on Clark's relationship with Lana, one might wonder if it would be convincing for Clark and Lois to ever have a relationship on "Smallville." But this episode proves it would be, because the chemistry between Welling and Erica Durance is absolutely wonderful. The final treat: for two minutes, we get to see Clark in his disguise as a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet.

Those are the better episodes of Season Seven. Now for the bad ones.

"Gemini," in which one of Lex's former experiments plants a bomb on Lois Lane, is ridiculous and pointless. But "Hero" is a massive disappointment. It features the very, very long-anticipated return of Pete Ross (and Sam Jones III) to the show, and it sure as hell wasn't worth the wait. It's fairly obvious that the episode was written for another character to return; when that actor wasn't available, they re-wrote it just enough so it could fit Pete. But it doesn't: Pete doesn't feel like Pete. Additionally, Clark doesn't seem to really care that Pete's back. Wasn't Pete's best friend since they were in kindergarten? He comes back and Clark doesn't give a hoot? Come on!

Let's not forget "Sleeper," either, an episode which lives up to its title. The increasingly contempt-worthy Jimmy Olsen is hired by the F.B.I. as a superspy to keep track of Chloe, who somehow has managed to hack in to the government's computers. It's foolish, it's painful, it's embarrassing - it's "Sleeper."

The real stinkers of the season are the final episodes. The season was cut down to 20 episodes thanks to the writers' strike -- and I mean THANKS to the writers' strike. Anything more than 20 episodes would have been pushing it. The final few episodes feature the stupidest, most pointless, and most absurd storyline the writers have ever concocted. Apparently, Lionel and his old rich pals were part of a secret group called "Veritas" -- Latin for "truth" -- which believed that some day, the "Traveler" would come to Earth and save its people. Guess who the "Traveler" is? Yep, it's Clark. The penultimate episode of the arc, "Quest," which features a painful guest appearance by Robert Picardo, is absolutely the worst episode of the entire show.

Finally, the season concludes with "Arctic." It is the weakest finale the show has had, but considering the consistently high quality of the series' finales, that's not a bad thing at all. The ending scene, with the aforementioned twistiness and all, is one of the most spectacular scenes of the entire series.

So what's next? Well, shockingly, toward the end of the season, creators and executive producers Al Gough and Miles Millar announced they were leaving the series. That leaves Season Eight in someone else's hands, which is definitely a good thing. I've heard about some new characters and storylines being introduced in Season Eight, and so far, they sound great. The show really needs to get going if they're going to tie this all together. The absence of Michael Rosenbaum next year will take some getting used to, but I think it was a wise move. The absence of Kristin Kreuk is a wiser move, because, though she seems like a good person in real life and I like her, Kreuk's character is immensely irritating. Besides -- shouldn't Clark and Lois get together? Let's hope so. And let's hope the writers get it together too.

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More Smallville - The Complete Seve... reviews
review by . September 25, 2008
The latest complete season of Smallville leaves behind many of the campy episodes of previous seasons and instead includes many lead-ins to the Superman movies starring Christopher Reeves. A principal one is the death of Lionel Luthor, a character unseen in the Superman movies, leaving Lex alone as the chief of the Luthor empire. A second lead-in is the departure of Lana, and Clark's growing friendship with Lois. Third, we have Clark's victory over Braniac. Last, and most importantly, Lex finally …
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Tom Benton ()
Ranked #119
Aspiring high school English teacher with dreams of filmmaking and a strong taste for music.
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Super-sexy and super-flirty, Clark's super-cousin Kara (Laura Vandervoot) made the splashiest addition to the cast inSmallville's season 7. Unfortunately for Clark (Tom Welling), she's more advanced in her powers than he is (she can fly), and she's not the kind to shy away from drawing attention to herself, whether it's in a skimpy bikini or garnering notice from Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) and Jimmy (Aaron Ashmore, joining the opening credits). Chloe (Allison Mack, rightfully moving ahead of Erica Durance in the credits) is trying to come to terms with her "meteor freak" powers, and Lois (Durance) is dallying with the newDaily Planeteditor Grant Gabriel (Michael Cassidy), who has a mysterious past. The dreary drama of Lex and Lana (Kristin Kreuk) is over, and Martha Kent (Annette O'Toole) has permanently departed for Congress, so Lana is now playing house with Clark at the Kent farm. More elements of the DC Comics mythology enter, such as superheroine Black Canary (Alana Huffman), as do guest stars from the universe of Super-entertainment (Lois and Clark's Dean Cain as a doctor who claims to be able to "cure" meteor powers, and Helen "Supergirl" Slater as Clark's Kryptonian mother). Braniac (James Marsters) is still a threat, and Lionel (John Glover) reveals a shady past as part of an order called Veritas, which is purportedly assigned with protecting "the Traveler," an alien who has come to Earth as its salvation. Yet even with the numerous cast comings and goings, the most ...
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DVD Release Date: September 9, 2008
Runtime: 827 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video

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