I am almost embarrassed to say this, but tonight I just finished the tenth and final season of Smallville. That is the longest running show that I have ever followed from start to finish.
I am a sucker for anything Superman. I grew up idolizing the Man of Steel. Whether it be the Justice League cartoon, the Christopher Reeve movies, or even the occasional black and white television episode on Nick-at-Nite.
The only Superman interpretation that I never was able to embrace was the Lois and Clark edition. But I have to admit that I have been recently tempted to pick it up on Netflix. It just seems a bit too “Beverly 90210ish” for my taste.
But here I am, watching a show on the WB/CW for the past ten seasons. And to think that I almost missed it. My good friend, Phil Wade, called me while I was going to Northwest University and gave me the heads-up on a television show based on the origins of Superman. I watched it religiously – even carrying over to when Jana and I moved to Moses Lake. It would be some time during the third season that I would enlist another good friend, Darrin Cavnar, in watching it with me every Wednesday night after our youth ministry gathering. Only a move to Monroe would force me to go back to watching it alone and usually having to wait nearly a year after it was off the air when it would finally be released on DVD.
The first 3-4 seasons were fun. It was like watching a comic book. There would often be that jewel of an episode that would use Greek mythology, share the beginnings of another superhero in the Justice League, or even feature a surprise cameo by an actor from another Superman story. There were times, especially during seasons 6-8, where the viewer had to overcome an “OC” or “One Tree Hill” moment. But I never gave up. Even when Lex Luthor was killed off. I was too curious on how they would end it. I had watched far too much Smallville to not discover how the writers would finally morph Clark Kent into Superman. And just for the record, I am happy with how they ended it. They did the story justice.
I hope that our society once again embraces Superman. The last movie was a bust. I don’t really know why. I appreciated it. Maybe our culture does not want to believe in superheroes with a dark side. They want someone that reminds them (or even excuses them to be) of themselves). Our postmodern age prefers the like of X-Men and Batman. This is probably why Superman is being rebooted and has rumored to be a bit darker in approach. My hope is that it resonates with a new generation without comprimising the integrity of the character.
Remember that Superman was created by two Jewish students during the World War II-era. Though not orthodox, they were searching for a Messiah. They were hoping to bring hope. Young artists and writers who utilized a new medium. There are quite a few Christological references in Superman – maybe not intentionally – but they are there nonetheless. Of course, I don’t want take these correlations too far. All that I am saying is that stories like Superman are a visible reminder that people still want someone to save them. Someone to listen. Someone to act. Someone to do what they can’t. Smallville gave us the backstory. We love a Savior. And we want to know how they became one.
Smallville, thank you for the memories. Now, on to television that is more for my age group and gender.