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For those who have seen me recently, you’ll all be aware of my latest guilty pleasure… I have followed the melodrama back in time from Desperate Housewives, through Gilmore Girls to… Smallville.

While it lacks the sparkling wit and tight production of Gilmore Girls, or the sharp cheekiness of Housewives, Smallville does have a special charm all of its own.

The key thing is how it riffs off Dawson’s Creek and Roswell while also have the subtextual layers of shows like the Simpsons and Buffy. Things like the teasing gay subtext of Lex and Clark’s friendship, for example, which isn’t an actual gay relationship – but plays on their friendship in a manner that is akin to the “coming out” scene in X-men 2. It uses a different context to subtlely play on the subtext of the conversations. Initially I thought this was something that people were reading into the show, but the more I watch it the more I begin to realise that it is very likely a deliberate play on dialogue and scripted actions – the number of times that Lex says such things as “Your father is never going to accept me, is he?” is more than a coincidence. The biggest give-away is when Clark is going to the school social and is having trouble with his bow-tie. Lex walks in and helps him out in a manner that appears to be deliberately played to have a subtle subtext.

But all that aside, I think it really is the almost innocent charm of the show. The way that it has the balls to make Clark the real man and Superman a facade that Clark Kent takes on in later life. Unlike the “greater than thou” good guy attitude that Superman tends to be written with, Clark is a likeable, naive and even slightly goofy farmboy with superpowers. He wants to do the right thing, but he isn’t infallible. This is a man of steel you can’t help but like.

And the cast are quite convincing. Sure, some of the cast are a bit flat (Sam Jones III, I’m looking at you…) but for the majority they are all fun people. Lex Luthor is a sympathetic villain in training – we see he can be noble and good, but also cruel and opportunistic. Clark (Tom Welling) is sometimes a little wooden, but often played with such a convincing naivete and innocence that I find impressive. The Kents are believeable good-guy parents and I find most of the cast really relish their roles and fill them with a three-dimensionality that is often lacking in this kind of series.

But it is all in the subtleties. The little looks and expression changes that show how the characters are experiencing more than just the events in a given scene. How Cloe is able to show in the way she talks to Clark the various emotions that we see develop over the season, how Lana is able to show her growing affection for Clark in the way she *doesn’t* tell him.

Part of this comes from the directing and part from the performances.

Heh, I’m making it sound like this show is one of the best things on TV – it is cheesy, make no mistake. But like I said – it’s the layers to the show that make it shine for me. Even with the terribly hokey plots it still manages to be such a likeable show. 🙂

So check it out and get over your Superman envy/hate – this is not your parents Clark Kent. It is something of its own, and I hope that it manages to keep up with that. 🙂

Love and Huggles

Conan

Currently Reading: Runaways Vol.2
Currently Playing: The Grand Experiment;Exalted
Mood: Feeling good

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