Review: Smallville 9×1

Kneel before Zod

Smallville 9x1

In the US: Fridays, 8/7c, The CW
In the UK: Some time in 2010 on E4

No matter how you look at it, the Superman comics can be a bit silly. To be fair, as soon as you accept that there are aliens from the planet Krypton who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, etc, when they’re on Earth, you have to accept there’s going to be a certain amount of silliness anyway.

Smallville, however, did its level best when it started to avoid too much that was implausible in an effort to create a realistic view of what it would be like for young Clark Kent to grow up in Smallville, encumbered with super powers. Yes, to ensure that it wasn’t boring there was the ‘krypto villain of the week’, but it still was on the less silly end of all the possible Superman worlds.

Over the years though – and we’re in our ninth year now – it’s gradually become sillier and sillier as more of the DC Comics intellectual property has been added to the scripts. So Green Arrow, the Flash, Aquaman, Brainiac, Black Canary, time travel, the Phantom Zone, Supergirl and a whole lot more have come and made everything a whole lot dafter.

For this, the opener to season nine, we have Lois Lane coming back from the year 3000 thanks to a ring she borrowed off Clark; Metallo’s stomping around trying to chat her up; Chloe has become the Oracle of the Justice League’s Watchtower; the Green Arrow is off cage fighting; Clark’s decided to abandon his human side and embrace his Kryptonian destiny, complete with natty S on his chest; and there’s a new boy in town. He’s a soldier. One day he’s even going to be a general. He comes from Krypton.

Kneel before Zod everyone. Or is that a bit silly?

After an inauspicious, stupidly action laden opener that looks like it was directed by Joel Schumacher, the episode begins to settle down. The general thrust of the season is darkness – so naturally everything’s filmed in the dark – with Clark running around in a black trench coat, Green Arrow not bothering to do anything but fight and Chloe generally hacked off that Clark’s gone vigilante without dropping by to say hello from time to time.

And things look like they’re going to get a whole lot darker. Major Zod has turned up thanks to Cassidy and her S orb – she’s been stuck in a back bedroom being beaten at her own request, it seems – along with a few dozen of his favourite soldiers, although for some reason none of them has any superpowers on Earth. Seeing as Zod has already made an appearance and possessed Lex Luthor with Brainiac’s assistance, this is all very odd. My guess? They’re all still tethered to Kandor’s red sun and they’re earlier versions of themselves, not the ones that perished on Krypton.

By the end of the episode, Clark’s had a fight with a version of one of the soldiers – this one from a year in the future – and a prophecy has been set out: he’s going to destroy their world (Earth? Kandor? We don’t know yet).

See what I mean? Silly.

All the same, it’s still kind of fun. New arrival Callum Best, doing a fantastic Terrence Stamp impression, is likely to make the whole thing worth watching. Clark’s stopped whining at least, and thankfully, Lana’s not around for him to moon after. But Lois is still irritating, and poor old Chloe’s still sad – when’s she ever going to have fun again?

But it still feels like it could all do with a bit of a spring cleaning: it’s overly complicated, the direction is too comic booky, and the characters need to enjoy themselves for once.

On the whole, still worth watching, but you are going to need to leave your brain at the door and take some happy pills in with you.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

    View all posts