Good-bye to Smallville

It’s a Saturday in the offseason, so that means I get to write about whatever I want.  Well, that and the fact that it’s my blog.

This post is a few weeks past due, but I didn’t want to let the series finale of Smallville go unheralded.  For ten seasons now, it’s been among my favorite shows on television. 

My wife and I started watching Smallville just after arriving in Argentina in the fall of 2002. We caught up on the first season just in time to start the second.  Now, after ten years, it’s gone, and we are going home. That alone makes it a sort of pop-culture marker in our life. It’s the show that encompassed our time in South America.

Before Smallville, we were X-Files fans.  I mourned the departure of Scully and Mulder, and Smallville seemed to slip neatly into place. The early episodes were all shot in Vancouver, just like the early seasons of the X-Files. That meant many of the same actors showed up in Smallville. CSM was the mayor of Smallville, for crying out loud. The essential format of the show was the same as the X-Files as well. There were Freak of the Week episodes wrapped around elaborate mythology episodes.  It was perfect.  In many ways, it was like the X-Files never left.

Smallville jumped the shark at least three separate times, but generally managed to save itself.  After a disastrous fourth season (the witch episode? Seriously?), it rebounded strong, slowly remaking itself into a comic book show.  Though the presence of Lana Lang for a season too long threatened to cut the legs out of the show, the chemistry between Tom Welling and Erica Durance helped to steer the show in the right direction again. 

Down to the last season, the show continued its roller coaster ways. The final season of the longest running US sci-fi show ever started strong, but many of the final ten episodes proved unwatchable (a Matrix rip-off?  Oh, and The Hang Over rip-off was even worse).  The series finale was great in spots, but got crazy talky. I suppose dialogue is cheaper than CGI.  Still, the show gave me the one thing I wanted since season one: Clark in the suit with the John Williams music playing.

I was never a huge Superman fan before Smallville. I gravitated more toward Batman, but after 10 years of watching the show, I’m on board with the Man of Steel.

More importantly, Smallville kept time for me.  We came to Argentina at 25 years old. So young, so unaware of what was coming. 10 years later, we are better, wiser, and whole lot more beat up than we were.  We’ve had to grow up a lot being here, a nice symmetry with the coming of age story we watched each week.  When we came to Argentina, the album that most defined us was U2′s All that You Can’t Leave Behind. Now we are coming home, and it’s a lot more Emotionalism by the Avett Brothers.  That’s how these things go, I guess.  I have no idea if this has been a ‘hero’s journey’ as Campbell would say, but it’s been some kind of journey, and it’s been great having Clark Kent around to mark the pace.

The purpose of all art, even TV shows on the CW, ought to be to unveil to our hearts to truths we would otherwise let life obscure.  Smallville, for all its cheesiness and insanity filled that purpose for me. 

Like my time in Argentina, it was time for it to be done.  That doesn’t mean I’m not sad to see it go.

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