Sunday, April 17, 2011

The end of Smallville

After 10 seasons, Smallville is concluding next month.  Though the show has been wildly up and down at times, I haven’t missed many episodes since season 2.  If you haven’t watched, the show has essentially depicted Clark Kent’s journey from adolescent to Superman.  With the Seinfeldian rule of “No tights, no flying,” the program's longevity has allowed it to gradually depict a character’s growth in a way few sci-fi/fantasy shows have done.
The show has lasted because it has essentially been two shows.  Seasons 1-5 were a kind of Buffyesque (though not quite as sharp) journey through high school and early college, with Clark saving the day repeatedly in Smallville.  Clearly inspired by the first half of the original Superman movie, Clark’s parents, well-played by John Schneider (finally overcoming the stigma of the Dukes of Hazard) and Annette O’Toole (Lana Lang in the forgettable Superman 3), help guide him through learning about his origins and controlling his powers.  Clark’s relationships with friends Chloe Sullivan and, for a time, Lex Luthor, are interesting.  The major drawback is the on-again, off-again romance with Lana Lang, annoyingly played by Kristen Kreuk.
Smallville had a second act in seasons 6-10 because it allowed the characters to grow with the audience.  Gradually, Clark begins to use his power to help the world beyond Smallville.  We see the culmination of Lex’s  Anakin Skywalkeresque road to the dark side, Clark’s parents leave the stage (with Jonathon Kent dying in similar fashion to Superman 1) and Lois Lane (thank G-D) replace Lana as the love interest.  Michael Rosenbaum’s performance as Lex Luthor is the best portrayal of Lex, exceeding Gene Hackman in the original films and Kevin Spacey in Superman Returns.  Erica Durance has also grown into a good Lois.
The best thing about the show has been a new character in the Superman universe, Chloe Sullivan.  Played by Alison Mack, she has been the most consistently interesting person throughout the show, evolving from Clark’s love-sick best friend in high schools to his key ally in his battles againts various villians.
With the final show next month, old characters have been returning and have helped produce one of the better seasons of the show.  Look for a final scene with Clark donning the Superman outfit and flying off with the classic John Williams music in the background

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sports and Age

Anyone who knows me will not be surprised that I wanted to do a post on the Masters.  Indeed, this week marks the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’ sixth Masters victory at age 46.  All of the retrospectives reveal that our conceptions of age have changed considerably since 1986.  Nicklaus was considered over the hill at 46 and his two major victories in 1980 at age 40 were considered remarkable.  Fast forward to the present and 40 year-old Phil Mickelson is the favorite to win this week.  Furthermore, we have seen 45 and over golfers in the mix in a number of majors over the last few years, most remarkably when a 59 year-old Tom Watson came a putt away from winning the 2009 British Open.  Fred Couples (51) has a chance to win over this weekend in Augusta just as he did last year.  Shaping up to be an interesting weekend.