|Smallville: Ten times the cast "fixed" the script!
||[Jan. 6th, 2009|10:36 pm]
Let's be frank! Much as I love it, Smallville has never been the best written show on TV. Sometimes the writers knock an episode out of the park; Other times, they strike out. And sometimes the actors give the scripts a little helping nudge, by improvising a line, or a moment, or by fighting for their character.
(1) Glover eats a Peach:
On the Memoria commentary, as Lionel is shown picking up an apple, Miles Millar notes that John wanted some "business" for Lionel to do. Michael tells the story of John fighting to keep the scene of Lionel eating a peach in "Slumber", and Millar sounds a little dismissive about John's enjoyment of props.
What JG understands, however, is that the SV scripts, even the decent ones, can always do with a little extra effort from the cast. And John is ace at that: he'll unexpectedly touch his fellow actors, he suddenly plinks the piano in "Solitude", he improvises a laugh here and there....these little grace notes make every Lionel scene memorable. And he makes Lionel chomping a peach extremely memorable!
(2) Michael and Tom amp up the Clexual tension.
There are a several hundred examples of the boys making a scene better simply by flashing each other a sultry look! Here are just two.
I doubt the script for "Drone" read: "Lex, open-mouthed, stares at Clark with wild desire...."
And this teasing look from Clark to Lex in "Redux" is a Tom-innovation. (An alternate take shows Tom "playing it straight." This version is much better!)
(3) Kristin dresses Lana
In 2004, producer Greg Beeman explained Lana's highly regimented colour palette:
So, Kristin, because I think she was always designed to be the princess, you know, the object of desire, I think the idea was to put her in very innocent colors, and she would be the innocent one. So really, sky blue and pink were always her colors from the beginning. And frankly, she looks great in pink.I know people get sick of it, but I think she looks really good in those colors, so, and she also looks good in black. She looks very good in black, but Miles really does not want to dress her in black. He thinks black is a dark color for bad guys, and typically we really reserve the color black for bad guys. - - Kristin doesn't really like pink, and she hates being dressed in pink... So, I gave her a chance to pick her own colors on one episode, which was Crisis. And she picked this terrible color of green, and this terrible color of orange, and that was the end of that. And I think if you see the episode you'll agree, that the orange she chose, and the green she chose, were not a success. So, we were right back to pink.
Er, Greg I do not agree. Kristin succeeds in making Lana look like a teenaged girl, instead of a pedestal princess, and this little scene is one of her most likable moments in S3. So to hell with the pink palette!
(4) Tom rolls a chair!
As early as the S2 "Red" commentary, it was clear that Tom was starting to think like a director, taking pride in a scene he'd help block. One of the best moments of the excellent "Transference", is Lionel (in Clark's body) suddenly rolling his chair towards Chloe:
It's a funny moment - but a little menacing as well, the wolf playing at being a puppy. Lionel is thoroughly enjoying himself, and these little details show how much thought Tom had put into his performance, and the scene!
(5) Laura saves Supergirl
In 2007, when the show announced that Supergirl would be coming to SV, I groaned. Never been a big SuperGirl fan and was fearful of what the SV interpretation would be like. Interviews with Al & Miles didn't help, as they seemed to envision a Paris Hilton type: "She becomes enamored with our culture: clothes and iPods and stuff," said Gough.
Fortunately, the character was salvaged by Laura Vandervoort. She explains how in an interview with Vancouver24:
Canadian actress Laura Vandervoort just didn’t see Supergirl as a ditsy blond. A kick-ass blond, sure. But not a ditsy blond: “The way I portray her wasn’t what they originally had in mind. They wanted her to be more of a ditsy, Paris Hilton-type. She goes shopping, she breaks into stores, she’s walking around naked. But I played it kind of stronger, because I thought, little girls are going to look up to her, and I didn’t want her to be another one of those girls. We don’t need another one of those girls.” Mission accomplished! Kara ended up as a believably capable Kryptonian, with a nice touch of gravitas.
(6) Clark appeals to Chloe
This is mentioned by AM on the "Spell" commentary. Clark has been pinned down by the witches. As he looks up at them, he makes a touching appeal directly to Chloe:
According to Allison, this was Tom's idea. It's a cool character moment. Clark doesn't know Lois very well yet; he and Lana are a little estranged. Chloe's the girl he's most sure of at this point in time:
(7) Schneider puts his foot down
The morning-after scene in "Hidden" originally had Jonathan and Martha expressing concern for Clark and Lana: are they okay? (How campy/squicky would that have been?) At a convention in New Zealand, Schneider described his version of the scene: "I'm not asking my child if he was safe! I'm telling him to take a deep breath, because the next one's going to be his last. And get the hell out, Lana, and don't you dare speak to me!"
For once, Kristin gets a funny moment...
And Tom also finds the comedy, as Jonathan glowers and things get exceedingly awkward!
(8) Lex wants Kara's full attention!
Michael throws a cool little improv into the Lex/Kara scene in Apocalypse. He's in the middle of a longish speech. Lex: "We will prevail and through it all I expect you - LOOK AT ME! - I expect you to stand by my side." Kara jumps to attention and so did I!
(9) Before he realizes Kara's his cousin....
Clark is (briefly!) a little interested. Check out the speculative expression!
According to LV, this was Tom's idea! But as soon as Clark learns she's his cousin.....here comes the Serious Face!
(10) And finally...Michael prevails in "Arctic"!
How many obstacles had to be overcome to get Clark into Lex's embrace at the end of S7? If there hadn't been a writers' strike, if Kristin hadn't have been away filming Street Fighter....would the final scene have been a Clana one instead? Al & Miles have said the final scene was NOT what they wanted: did Michael and Tom fight to get what they wanted? Were A & M too worn down by network battles to fight it?
In May, SV insider Lacroix posted that the scene had been changed from the original script....In August, Michael revealed he had written his last line. And thus, to quote one of my favourite icons, a relationship that "started with a kiss, ended with I love you..." Thanks, Rosey!
What are YOUR favourite cast-improvs?
'caps by acampbell & smallvillededication