Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Red Caped Destiny - Smallville's Series Finale

10 years.

Imagine that.

That was how long Red Dot Diva had invested some of her pop-culture time with the long-running CW (previously WB) series, "Smallville". A re-imagining based on the popular and very well-loved DC comics character, Superman.

Perhaps one should tip a hat off to Tom Welling. For without him staying as youthful-looking as he did, Red Dot Diva doubts the series would have stayed on for this long!

The two-hour finale was announced many weeks before and fans were already aware of several re-appearances by well-loved actors, including Michael Rosenbaum. Even Greg Beeman was back directing for the final hour of the series. Greg has some wonderful behind the scenes stories and pics of the finale on his blog. Click here to check it out!

So after 10 years of trying to embrace his destiny and attempting to actually fly, "Smallville" ended two Fridays ago on May 13th with his Kal-El-ness finally taking to the skies in that familiar red-caped costume. About fraking time right?

In Red Dot Diva's opinion, "Smallville" definitely has its ups and downs. What kept Red Dot Diva's interest varied from season to season, and episode to episode. At first, the Freak of the Week monsters were cheesy but amusing. Then, there were those "aha" moments of "ohhhhh... so this was supposed to be So and So" or whatever superhero/ villain this character actually turned out to be. She enjoyed how the writers had chosen to introduce familiar superheroes, like Aquaman, Flash and Black Canary to Clark Kent (Tom Welling).

On the other hand, the over-arcing, angsty romance between Clark and Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) was a total bore to her. Red Dot Diva is not a fan of vapid pretty faces although many fanboys would gladly beg to differ. Many female fans who love "shipping" and romance arcs probably followed the series for a long time because of the couple. As for Red Dot Diva, she preferred sparkplug Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) much much more and things got very intriguing when Chloe became darker and more complicated towards the later seasons.

Without a doubt, the heart of the series was Clark's adoptive human parents - Jonathan (John Schneider) and Martha Kent (Annette O'Toole). For several seasons, they provided sagely advice and love that Clark needed to embark on his journey towards Superman-hood.    

Now, as for Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), he was definitely one of the key reasons that kept Red Dot Diva coming back for more "Smallville". It was sometimes heartbreaking to see Lex trying so hard to stay away from evil. Even when everyone knows who Lex will finally be. Or maybe, Red Dot Diva just loves rooting for evil underdogs, who happen to be rich, bald and possess a magnetic personality.

One cannot fail to mention the awesomeness of mega-evil Lionel Luthor (John Glover). He was the consummate creepy, conniving villain who one simply loves to hate. After Lionel was murdered by his own son Lex, his underlying dark presence was very often missed. From then, every time Lionel made a guest appearance, it was like a quick shot of Red Kryptonite for "Smallville" fans - i.e., a lot of uninhibited flailing was involved. ;)

At about the same time Lionel was killed, Lex was exploded into smithereens by a bomb placed by Oliver Queen the Green Arrow. After which, Red Dot Diva felt the story arcs in "Smallville" became quite uneven without the two key villains.

There was Doomsday (Sam Witwer), and Zod (the wonderful Callum Blue) and the most recent, Darkseid -- but all these villains seemed to clumsily limp along in their respective seasons, with too few truly malevolent moments. The momentum just wasn't there.

If it weren't for the many well-timed, gratuitous shirtless scenes of Oliver Queen (Thank you Justin Hartley!) and the smug snarkiness of Green Arrow's quips, Red Dot Diva might have stopped watching "Smallville" awhile ago. Justin Hartley does such a great job as Oliver and soon, she had to get her regular fix of Green Arrow. She does think that Oliver and Chloe have a special kind of chemistry. Their kissy-kissy moments were thankfully, not chick-flick cheesy.

Hence, due to a mix of brilliant and face-palm episodes, Red Dot Diva surprisingly found herself still watching "Smallville"'s Season 10. Generally, she found the season aimless and unfocused for most part. Many episodes were plodding along as mere fillers, just so the show could get to the series finale. Case in point - "Shield" (like a waste of good Egyptian time), "Icarus" and "Prophesy".

Talking about "Prophesy", this was the penultimate episode of the entire series and Red Dot Diva was expecting a hell lot more from it than more droning from a disembodied Jor-El, face time with the Toyman and "self-sacrificing" mumbo-jumbo from a confused Lois Lane. The Darkseid story should have come into play more here so that there would have been a better build-up to the finale.

So, how did the writers/ producers of such a long-running series say sayonara to the loyal fans?

Well, the first half of the finale was rather slow-moving. Red Dot Diva knows that all that lovey-dovey talk was an emotional lead-up to the almost Clark-Lois wedding and the revelation of Oliver's betrayal.

She found her attention wavering until she felt a twinge of the "awwwws" when Clark took Lois' hand and walked her down the aisle. Erm... then again, it must have been the music (Sara Bareilles' "Breathe Again") that was used for that scene. Red Dot Diva calls this emo-music-blackmail. *wipes a rare tear*

What irked her the most about the first half was Darkseid going poof just like that. Lame. It took 21 episodes to figure that out??! Especially considering that Darkseid was supposed to be uber-powerful Big Bad of the final season. Where's the great epic superheroes-like battle?

Anyway... on to the second half of the finale. This segment was definitely better-paced and more effectively directed (hello Greg Beeman!).

Ginormous fiery planet is still hurtling on its path heading right smack into Earth.... but wait.... *evil loud cheer* Lex is revived! Thanks to a bloody hearty contribution from Lionel!! And he's wearing his trademark glove on his right hand!! *Swoon*

Despite the eminent planet crash, Clark and Lex had a nice male-bonding session about good and evil at the Luthor Mansion ruins. And after seeing Lex's point of view, Clark decided to truly embrace his destiny by heading back to the Fortress of Solitude, where a vision of Jonathan Kent presented him with that famous blue and red costume.

And.... Whoosh! It's a bird, it's a plane.. it's SUPERMAN!
Saving the day, his OTL Lois, and Earth all at once.

A heroic moment.

But, but.... where's the flying Superman close-ups or full-bodied shots??

It was a pity Tess Mercer came to an unfortunate end in her attempt to have Lex's cognitive memory erased. Towards the last two seasons, the sometimes unreadable Tess was a key player in the "Smallville" story and was an intriguing, strong female character in her own right. Red Dot Diva will miss her.

To get a fairer input on the "Smallville" finale, Red Dot Diva asked a few fans what they thought of the show's finale:

Ian from @Death_Boy_Comic, an avid comic reader - "Absolutely wonderful. Hundreds of callbacks, fridge brilliance with Lex, a genius 'LOOK UP IN THE SKY' moment and a great epilogue."

@justinbarlow, who is familiar with the comic Superman-verse - "Little bit of a letdown, imo. Would've been better if they'd had more time (penultimate ep, then two-hour finale). Good for what it was."

@DarkStitch, convention and pop-culture geek - "Smallville's Series Finale was awesome, but Clark was Superman for only one scene and it was at a distance... (Out of money for sfx? LOL!)"

@becky731, who has watched "Smallville" from the start - "I thought it was surprisingly emotional, and very rewarding for those who've been watching since the beginning."

@JWalkIV, comic book reader/ scifi TV fan - "Ignoring the goofy way of avoiding actually showing Welling in the costume, I loved the whole episode from the romance of the first half to the adventure and 'first flight' in the second."

Aravind from Jove Pater Media (one of the creators of local comic "Salvation Sam") - "After 10 years he finally wears the costume and flies... and it's as real as the acting in the Star Wars prequel."

Ahhhh.. "Smallville". So inspiring and awkward at the same time.

And in that same vein, Red Dot Diva summarizes that the series finale was both good and bad in almost equal proportions. It was definitely more satisfying than the "Lost" finale though!

Goodbye, "Smallville"! For the belief in love and the message of hope for 10 entertaining seasons.

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