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The Smallville Cast directs! [Aug. 31st, 2009|11:06 pm]
tasabian
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With S9 bringing more cast directed episodes, I thought I'd take a look back at some previous efforts! First up: Talisman, Fragile and Hydro.



Talisman, directed by John Schneider

JS favoured the "tight ship" approach to directing! From a 2004 interview:
"I've never believed in the whole Spielberg, baseball-cap thing," Schneider says. "You should be able to tell the director from everybody. That's why captains have bars. Is it militaristic? Yeah, it's militaristic, but the long and the short of television is, you make your day, or you don't make your day.

"How you make your day is, when it's fine and everybody's having a good time, but somebody says, 'OK, let's go. Rosenclown, get on your mark.' 'Yes, Mr. Schneider.'

"That's funny, and it's cute, but he meant it. He understood."


"Talisman" has some strong visuals, especially in the scene where Jonathan and Martha tend to Clark, who's been stabbed by Jeremiah. There's real urgency to this sequence - in a visceral touch, Martha actually slips on Clark's blood. And the beautiful shot of the family huddled together reflects JS's frequently stated belief that the Kent family is the central relationship of the show.

Sleepy, red!blanket Clark is so cute!

The episode also contains two excellent Clex scenes. There's some tension between the boys at the college. Clark throws the term paper excuse out there and Lex throws it right back: "those term papers you're always writing."

Snarkiness aside, it's not as though Lex's priorities have shifted...

For the final scene, the best written of the episode, JS opts for super-close-up....thanks for that, John!

The chemistry is scorching here - angsty, sexy Clex at its finest.


Fragile
Tom's debut gets off to a visually impressive start as the camera scoots under the bed with Maddie.

This is a pedestrian script - but Tom plays up the characterizations to fine effect. We see a rare glimpse of vulnerable Lois, admitting she's not much good with kids. (One of ED's better S5 moments.) And the rapport between Clark & Maddie is lovely.

(Was the stick figure drawing Tom's idea? Nice touch.)

In the Lex/Lana kiss, Tom stages it unambiguously. Lana reaches out and grabs her some of that.

And keeps grabbing....later scripts will posit Lana entrapped by Lex - but Tom shows her clearly in the driver's seat. (And yep, I'm wishing I was her right there!)


Hydro
Tom has a mess of a script to deal with here - three plot strands and a mixture of soap and camp. This episode also contains a rarity - a Clex scene that's a complete dud. Lex has to utter the telenovela line "she's carrying my child!" Oh, it's dire. But Tom makes the most of what he has.

As with "Fragile", we start with an eye-catching shot - a tracking shot of Linda Lake's boots!

Love this prop! Clark where he belongs, at the center of the triangle.

The best plotline: Clark & Ollie conspiring to trick Lois. Love the little flash of mischief here, as Clark contemplates playing dress-up!

The kiss is staged brilliantly - Clark ducks out of the way before Lois can shatter her hand! And Tom gives Justin his best reaction shot to date.

And he gives himself a pretty amazing reaction shot too - fab acting by Tom here as a number of emotions play across Clark's face, and possibilities through his mind.

The Tori plot is fun too. If there's any doubt about Tom's skill with actors, contrast this ep. with TS's horrid S8 performance. In Tom's hands, she's just the right degree of campy; in S8, she's painfully over the top.

The fight with Chloe is a hoot - love how they make it all the way down to the street, clobbering each other with everything in sight!

And now for the soap....the redeeming aspect of the Clana barn scene is Clark's firmness. Lana pleads for his secret but doesn't ante up hers. However Clark already knows about the baby.

He won't close the physical gap between them and sees her off with a chilly: "I hope Lex makes you very happy." Tom sees what other directors often miss - that when Lana is treated as a fallible person who sometimes messes up, she can actually be sympathetic.

This is a rough episode for Lex. There's no redeeming the dialogue in the final scene but at least Clark shoots Michael real pretty! Here's the final shot:


Next up: Freak, Apocalypse, Injustice! (With apologies to AM...I've still never watched Power.)

'caps by acampbell
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: starry_dawn
2009-09-01 06:18 am (UTC)
Lovely! I always like noticing the little directorial touches in the episodes the cast directs ... they're always so informative!

I love the JS quote. That man was a gem ... I feel so bad that they got rid of him so early. I think we could've benefited from a few more years with the Kents.

And ITA about Tori Spelling. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why she was so unbearably campy in S8, but it makes perfect sense that a different director may have had a different effect. "Hydro"!Tori was actually quite a hoot!
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-09-02 02:07 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I couldn't for the life of me figure out why she was so unbearably campy in S8, but it makes perfect sense that a different director may have had a different effect. "Hydro"!Tori was actually quite a hoot!
Tom did a great job modulating her performance.

I love the JS quote. That man was a gem ...
In the same interview, he talks about wearing a "sport coat" to direct, so he'd look professional. Very cute!
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[User Picture]From: lonelywalker
2009-09-01 07:51 am (UTC)
Schneidy directed Talisman? I was wondering who was responsible for Glover having his shirt off so much in that ep. Thank you, JS!
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-09-02 02:08 am (UTC)
Apparently, he gave JG pages of notes about Lionel! (JG didn't need notes but He probably appreciated the effort.)

Talisman is a great episode for Lionel's strong, sinewy chest!
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[User Picture]From: lonelywalker
2009-09-02 04:52 am (UTC)
I seem to remember JG mentioning that he and JS disagreed about what kind of car Lionel would have.

It should have had its own credit!
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[User Picture]From: christina_kat
2009-09-01 12:33 pm (UTC)
Tom is a great director!
I also think that Tom did a great job with Linda Lake! Her acting looked pretty normal too.
The Lexana kiss was really hot and different from other SV kisses! Tom made their first kiss memorable!

The last Clex scene is definitely my favorite from the "talisman" episode! Great close-ups!
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-09-02 02:09 am (UTC)
The last Clex scene is definitely my favorite from the "talisman" episode! Great close-ups!
They are so pretty!

I also think that Tom did a great job with Linda Lake! Her acting looked pretty normal too.
She's a fun villain in "Hydro"...less so in S8.
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[User Picture]From: chrisluvstommy
2009-09-01 12:36 pm (UTC)
I think Tom is a very talented director, I also like how you pointed out that Lana wasn't a "victim" in getting with Lex she chose on her own to be with him course who can blame her for wanting to get back with the hot farm boy.. *I personally would never have left* but again that was HER decision

I also didn't know JS directed Tailsman that is a really good episode I need to break out that dvd and rewatch it again...

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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-09-02 02:12 am (UTC)
I also like how you pointed out that Lana wasn't a "victim" in getting with Lex she chose on her own to be with him course who can blame her for wanting to get back with the hot farm boy..I also didn't know JS directed Tailsman that is a really good episode I need to break out that dvd and rewatch it again..
The main plot (Clark/Lex/Jeremiah/dagger) is exciting. The two subplots about Lana moving to Paris and Pete's parents getting a divorce are a little less suspenseful.

Edited at 2009-09-02 02:12 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: rosy5000
2009-09-01 01:50 pm (UTC)
I'll admit I never really paid much attention to directors of the eps, but I love your discussions and breakdowns. Helps me catch a lot of what I miss. :)
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-09-02 02:12 am (UTC)
Thank you! It's fun to watch for the directorial touch!
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[User Picture]From: jeannev
2009-09-01 04:40 pm (UTC)
Very interesting stuff. I do think Talisman is a very visually interesting episode. And Tom just seems to have a good eye, and bring out a lot of good qualities in SV's actors. Well, except for Injustice, which was sort of terrible :(

I really need a Claddie icon.
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-09-02 02:14 am (UTC)
Tom just seems to have a good eye, and bring out a lot of good qualities in SV's actors.
Tom's system of working fairly quickly and doing one take "just for the actors" seems like ti would keep scenes fresh.

Well, except for Injustice, which was sort of terrible
It's a dud script, but he works in some interesting visuals.
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[User Picture]From: herohunter
2009-09-01 05:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, what a great post, babe!!

Great insight!!

:D
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-09-02 02:14 am (UTC)
Thank you! Can't wait to write about "Freak'!
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[User Picture]From: complicat
2009-09-01 08:46 pm (UTC)
Poor Tom got some dud episodes to direct there really! Mind you, it's not like there was much to choose from in those seasons. He did a pretty good job of making them better than they were on the page though, I think.

I had completely forgotten that JS directed Talisman! That scene with Lex and Clark in the college is one of my favourites, and I usually assume it's the genius of MR but maybe I should be crediting JS as well - when Lex pointedly closes the blinds to reveal the Kawatche symbols, asks Clark if he knows what they are and then walks out without bothering to wait for Clark to lie to him. Love it. That's my Lexy.
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-09-02 02:15 am (UTC)
That scene with Lex and Clark in the college is one of my favourites, and I usually assume it's the genius of MR but maybe I should be crediting JS as well - when Lex pointedly closes the blinds to reveal the Kawatche symbols, asks Clark if he knows what they are and then walks out without bothering to wait for Clark to lie to him. Love it. That's my Lexy.
Lex is magnificent there - such a haughty kitty!

He did a pretty good job of making them better than they were on the page though, I think.
Tom hasn't had a really good script yet but he's done quite well at working around some "blah' plotlines.
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[User Picture]From: carolandtom
2009-09-11 11:27 am (UTC)
I really liked Hydro. I think Tom did a wonderful job and made the episode much better than it could have been.
I liked Talisman too, in spite of how drastically last minute plot changes affected it. The Kent family scenes were really good and I enjoyed the Clark/Jeremiah fight and the Luthors struggling to get the dagger, with Clark as a witness.

Great picspam!

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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-09-12 02:21 am (UTC)
I really liked Hydro. I think Tom did a wonderful job and made the episode much better than it could have been.
He really shows his skill at bringing out the comedy in scenes - it's a shame he had to drop out of directing "Hex" - that would have been a perfect fit for him.

The Kent family scenes were really good and I enjoyed the Clark/Jeremiah fight and the Luthors struggling to get the dagger, with Clark as a witness.
Schneider aced the fight scenes! Love how he frames both Lex and Lionel around the dagger: such a gorgeous shot.
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