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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Smallville--Talisman, Forsaken, Covenant
I'm slowly catching up on some of the shows I've taped during the insanity that was May sweeps. One of those is Smallville, which I firmly file under the "guilty pleasure" category.

And the last three episodes of the season were firmly that--guilty pleasures. I've read somewhere that the most interesting part about Smallville is that we all know where the story ends--Lex and Clark become bitter enemies. One's a hero and the other is a supervillain. So, what's really of great interest in the show is the journey they take to get there. And the tag of--hey, Clark and Lex are friends really is an intersting one. So, as we slowly watch the friendship disolve and become what it later becomes is completely compelling and fascinating. Add to it that Michael Rosenbaum as Lex is a great actor, pulling off the most outrageous of situations with pure and total disregard for being a "serious actor" and you've got a fun way to kill an hour each week. And I have to admit, the best part of the run of final three was seeing Lex is "Talisman" say--you know, there's this superbeing from another planet coming with all this power and it sure would take one heck of a guy to have the cajones to stand up to him. That little revelation as to why Lex opposes Superman is what makes this show just worth watching. Sure we had to sit through some insanely ludicrous plot about the mythology and how it ties into ancient Native American myths, but that one scene made it all worth the effort.

That said, all of these episodes were huge on the let's push this whole plotline forward thing. We finally learned of Jonathan's deal with Jor-El and what it was--he promised to return Clark to Jor-El someday (and I was left thinking--OK, like Jor-El was gonna stop trying to get Clark to come to the dark side). We see the beginnings of the end of the Lex and Clark friendship and we see Pete leaving town because keeping Clark's secret is just too hard. Honestly, as much as I enjoy this show is it just me or does every season finale end with a)everyone in peril or b)tons of people leaving town? Seems like both of those have played into all three season cliffhangers. And the last two have featured Clark leaving Smallville in some way or another, only to return the next season. I just love how things happen on this show and no one bats an eye. You've got a naked girl walking around the countryside who waltzes up the Kent's farm, knocks on the door and when he opens it, Clark doesn't bat an eye. Now, I don't know about you, but when I was 16 if I'd opened the door and a naked girl was out there, well, I can say that I wouldn't act as if the pizza guy was dropping off my large pepperoni and bread sticks. But I guess this happens to Clark all the time so he's totally unfazed. Then, she's from Krypton and sent to bring him home and yada, yada, yada. Honestly, watching the season finale, I felt like some of the season cliffhangers of The X-Files where they'd suddenly pack in a ton of exposition and put the characters all in these dire straights and potential relationship crossroads to keep interest up over the summer and then totally ignore that the next year. Will Clark and Lex's friendship still be "over" next fall? I'm not sure. And how the heck will Chloe get out of the exploding house so she can dye her hair and become Lois Lane? (Seriously...we all know it's gonna happen! Why not just surrender to the inevitable!) As if the comparisons weren't enough, Mark Snow does the incidental music for both shows--sometimes borrowing from his themes and cues used in The X-Files. I tell ya, it's this kind of isanity that makes this show so much darn fun.

Enterprise--Zero Hour
I'm still blinking in disbelief from this one. First of all, after all these years of Trek shows totally blowing the pivotal, final episodes of arcs or even two-part episodes, we finally get one that delivers on the promise for the first 45 or so minutes. But then you get to the end and....and here's the part that's got me. Archer apparently dies saving all of humanity, thus dooming the creation of the Federation and all of future Trek history (which I'm sure would only affect Kirk and company since Berman and Braga pay no attention to any Trek made before 1987) only to somehow get into an Earth that is a page out of the ending of Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes and the classic Trek episode, "Patterns of Force." Yes, apparently the Nazis were helped by aliens and they've taken over the planet and....well, I can't say more because I was left scrtaching my head in pure disbelief. I'll give them credit for one thing--if they wanted to leave the audience totally befuddled and debating the direction the show will take next year, they did a great job. However, unlike "Best of Both Worlds, Part 1" or really any of the better TNG or DS9 cliffhangers, it's not a debate over what happened next but one of--how the **** did this happen and did we just watch 25 plus episodes of build-up to an alternate earth universe type of thing?

It just makes the head spin sometimes. Which is a shame that the image of evil alien Nazi is going to be the predominent one taken away from this episode because until that point, they'd done really well with it. It had the right amount of suspense, ending of plotlines, recurring characters coming in for the right reasons and action that actually affected the plot instead of being--oh, cool..violence! Sure, there were so many echoes of other shows--I particularily found myself wondering if Daniels would tell Archer to jump like Kosh did to Sheridan from Babylon Five's third season cliffhanger--but it all worked well. And for all the blustering about how the Xindi were different, I don't see them as much different than the Borg. And, ya know, for aliens who can jump around the time stream, the SphereBuilders sure as hell do seemed bound by things unfolding linearly. On an unrelated note: how awesome would it be to see Ben Sisko stop by and beat the hell out of them?

But I digress.

I have to say that I loved this episode right up until the last five minutes. Then, it lost me. Couldn't we have left it with the fall out of the arc to start next year? And maybe finding a way to get Archer back? Or did anyone else think--this is it, we're gonna get our Kirk cameo here. How great a cliffhanger would it be to see Archer wake up, see Kirk and Kirk say, "Son, you really messed things up good and you've doomed the entire future of the UFP?" Oh that would get the tongues wagging!

Instead, we got evil Nazis who've appparently taken over Earth. I've gotta wonder if the rumors that Braga is taking a step back from the show next year aren't more that he has no idea how to get out of this and is leaving it to others to do instead of what he claims--that he feels he's done the best he can do and doesn't want to try and top it for fear of tainting what he's done until now. Whatever happens, it should be interesting to tune back in and see where it all goes from here. It may be crazy, but it will never, ever be boring.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 5/27/2004 02:07:00 PM | |
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