Why do I still watch this show? I ask myself that often. I mean, I am like the world's biggest fan of Superman, and Smallville is second only to Star Trek: Enterprise in Gregory Benford Moments! Smallville is revisionist at best and takes more liberties than John Ashcroft on Amphetimines. So, why, again? Probably the same reason that I didn't dive sideways off of Mammoth Mountain when the WB's Birds of Prey came out... that being, at least they're trying! To date there have been four different Law and Order series (including the summer replacement Law & Order: Crime & Punishment), there are two increasingly silly CSI shows, half of the sitcoms on television are silly putty impressions of Everybody Loves Raymond and if I have to sit through one more Heaven Forsaken hour of half-naked, transparent humans on ship, in house or trapped on island until some other equally transparent and half naked humans bilks them out of a cool mill, I am going to take Leslie Moonves hostage, I swear. Look, I want half-nudity (and full nudity) probably more than the next corn-cheese-ball, but at least give me the sense that I am watching something with substance and not a Cinemax remake of Ed Flipping Wood's Orgy of the Dead!
In short, no matter how great Kristin Kreuk looks in a Bikini (and, brother, she does), and no matter how frat-house-pantry sloppy the writers (armed with shovels) are when slapping together a plot, I have to thank God in Heaven, all the angels and Saints, and you my brothers and sisters that not all Television is the same three stories again and again and again. Smallville tries, and as revisionist as it is, its birth comes from a pedigree of revisionism. Since Superman was first published in Action Comics #1 back in 1938 the mythos has been altered and revised, and Crisis has reined and Zero Hour has taken place, so, like Birds of Prey, Smallville has its place, and simultaneously breaks continuity and compliments the DC Universe. Comic Book Geek moment? Why yes, thank you for noticing!
Hence my lack of disgust at "Exile" the third-season opener of Smallville! Last season we found Clark Kent making some nasty decisions to wreck his astro-carriage, and, after causing the miscarriage of his new little bro or sis, the Clarkinator slid on his class ring, jewel encrusted with a two carrot Red Kryptonite Stone. Believe it or not, "Red K" doesn't kill Kryptonians on Earth (or shouldn't at least) and instead causes them to lose their inhibitions and basically act like Al Jorgensen at a Milli Vanilli concert. Well, Clark (Tom Welling, well cast compared to both Gerard Christopher and John Haymes Newton) is back in "Exile" and living in Metropolis (strangely damned close to Smallville, Kansas). He goes by the name of "Kal" now (a nod to his Kryptonian birth name, Kal-El). He parties, commits grand theft and is to Metropolis what Godzilla is to Tokyo (well, when he's in a good mood that is).
The episode revolves primarily around Clark in Metropolis learning to be the better Supervillain, which is just awful for continuity in that, someone out there has simply got to recognize him once he dons the big blue tights and red cape. Look, he looks exactly like he's going to look, no glasses now, no fedora... someone is just bound to see him and think "Hmmmm, ain't that Kal?" That someone will most likely be Crime Boss Morgan Edge (guest Star Rutger Hauer). Clark decides to work for him and that's just weird.
The second major plot thread in need of BC Powder revolves around Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum, out of drag) trapped on an island after seeming to die in a private jet crash on his Honeymoon. I'm the first clown to state plainly that the concept of Luthor and Kent being bosom buddies in Smallville was wisely discarded with a lot of the Superboy Mythos back in 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths, but Rosenbaum is a great actor and he gives Lex both character and pathos while never forgetting the underlying mythos. He shines here as this bald Robinson Crusoe! I have no desire to ruin the ending here, but while it's true that the ending is pretty easily predicted, it doesn't have to be a surprise to be effective! Watch it. Naturally back in Reality, Lionel Luthor (John Glover) "buries" Lex (in Smallville, oh, yeah, that makes sense), and clashes with Emmanuelle Vaugier 's Dr. Helen Bryce (Lex's now "widow").
And all the while Clark's parents (Annette O'Toole and John "good old boy" Schneider) brood while Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) continues to stir up trouble. Cloe's interaction with Kruek's Lana Lang continues to show that good casting isn't an all around process here. I can say that Sam Jones III is really finally growing into the role of Pete Ross! In the DC Continuity Pete actually marries Lana. For the first two seasons I couldn't see those two together, and I still can't, but Pete's getting more believable by the second.
Bad Clark is interesting, and should hopefully be short lived, while Jonathan Kent's temporary supercharge at the hands of Jor-El (voice of Terence Stamp) was unexpected and pretty cool for a Gregory Benford Moment! The Cliffhanger ending likewise floated my boat enough to really hope for the second episode.
Three Stars out of Five for Smallville: "Exile"! The show has real potential, especially now, and, while a dope-slap to purists, it's no more a revision that John Byrne gave us back in 1986's The Man of Steel! I for one am glad that shows like this, Angel, and yeah, even Enterprise are on the air. There are flaws, yeah, but you don't see CSI: Miami's Horatio Caine going through identity crises and cutting his teeth on ATM Robbery before becoming Earth's Greatest Hero. (Heck, I'll take Lex as Robinson Crusoe over David Caruso any day). Hey, if this isn't your cup of Tea-Tea, I hear that old Mark Burnett is making yet another intestinal rupture of a rubber stamped cookie cutter Reality show actually starring Donald Trump this time. Hey, I wish I was making that one up! I wish!