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What I miss on Smallville [Oct. 4th, 2009|06:41 pm]
tasabian
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Watching Savior & Metallo put me in a reminiscent SV mood. This isn't a SQUEE post. But it's also not a bashing post, I hope. No 'ships or characters targeted. Call it a nostalgia post.



The Sun
Night time & interior scenes have been on the rise since S6. They're cheaper to shoot. I miss the sun-drenched cinematography of early Smallville. The symbolism of the sunny town with secrets brewing beneath was so perfect.


Sets
With the episodes shot on a faster schedule and with a lower budget these days, there's less time to create the really fabulous sets of the past. Therefore poor Metallo gets a drab warehouse to deliver his monologue. There isn't time to create something as elaborate and gorgeous as Lionel's set below - it was only a short coda scene but the set adds to the sinister atmosphere. There's even a sunflower in the background! Remember how sunflowers used to signify sinister intent on SV?


Exterior shots
In S8-9, an "exterior" scene is often the same Metropolis street set, used repeatedly. I miss the days when the show made optimum use of the beautiful B.C. landscape.

And the downtown Vancouver streets.


Live action, low tech stunts
In Savior, Clark caught a train. It was a cool digital effect but it made me nostalgic for the low-tech days...

...when it was all Tom.


Direction
The directors used to inject their own individual style to an episode; you could recognize the hallmarks of a Marshall, Beeman, Ransick, Szwarc episode. There's no time for auteurs now - and no money for jaw-dropping crane shots. Smallville episodes used to look like mini-movies; now, they look like TV. Well shot TV, but still TV.

This isn't to say the direction is bad, just that there's less time for complicated shots on an accelerated schedule.


Crowds
Not much money in the budget for extras now. The Talon is always closed. The Daily Planet has a sparse population. "Infamous", a good S8 ep, could have used more "crowd" in the crowd scenes. In S4, there was still the money to make this look like a real football game.

Clark's nightclub in "Exile" and Lex's Club Zero are convincingly full.


The Parents
I understand the plot reasons why Lionel, Jonathan and Martha have moved on. The actors seem happy with their new gigs. But their departures left a space in the show that for me, hasn't been filled.


Especially Martha. References to "Mrs. K." in Metallo only underline her absence from Clark's onscreen life.


Non-Emo Villains
In S8 & S9, villains spend as much time expounding on their pain as doing cool villainous stuff. Tess isn't really bad, you see. Callous men have hurt her feelings. Inside, she's a scared little girl. And Doomsday was a gaping maw of man-pain. Metallo did more monologuing than rampaging and it's not really his fault because his sister died and well, he's sad. Zod is more angsty, less Zoddy, than I was hoping for.

I miss the days of the cheerfully unrepentant villains who just wanted career advancement (Ian), money and sex (Desiree), someone else's life (Tina) or a business coup (Morgan Edge). And speaking of Edge, check out the beauty of the shot below - Clark chest, Rutger Hauer and Vancouver skyline: yum!


The Hero and the Anti-hero
Obviously I miss Lex. Clex is my 'ship and my tongue hangs out whenever Tom and Michael are onscreen together. But hormones apart, in a story sense, Lex leaves a big gap. He was, as Jimmy put it "the yin to Clark's yang". Doomsday was all about Chloe; Zod seems to be partnered with Tess. But Lex was Clark's and Clark was Lex's. They balanced each other and they balanced the show.


Clark having a non-hero life too
This isn't a budget issue - Clark is grown up and assuming his hero's responsibilities. But I miss the days of barn-raising...

Swimming & picnicking with friends...

And Clark getting to play!


Smallville is a subjective show. There are fans who are having their Smallville Golden Age right now & I'm happy for them. And even if my Golden Age never returns...at least I have my DVDs and seasons of beauty to enjoy.

'caps by acampbell!
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[User Picture]From: myownghost
2009-10-05 12:08 am (UTC)
this makes me nostalgic. (mmmm, rutger hauer!) there used to be a lot of visual beauty in the show, and i don't just mean lex. :)
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[User Picture]From: herohunter
2009-10-05 12:42 am (UTC)
there used to be a lot of visual beauty in the show, and i don't just mean lex.

Hee!! *high fives you*
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[User Picture]From: hils
2009-10-05 12:22 am (UTC)
I miss those days so bad!
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 01:21 am (UTC)
Clark baling hay in a white t-shirt; Lex coming up the barn stairs: good times!
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[User Picture]From: jeannev
2009-10-05 12:24 am (UTC)
OMG, this post is made of win! Just yes, to everything. That isn't to say that there aren't things about present day SV that I very much appreciate. But yes, I really mourn for certain things about the show it used to be.

And what you said about Clex? Just YES! to all of it.
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 01:29 am (UTC)
And what you said about Clex? Just YES! to all of it.
The attempt to slot Davis into the Naman/Segeth role especially annoyed me last season. I'm used to SV retcons but that was just....NO. Rejected.

That isn't to say that there aren't things about present day SV that I very much appreciate. But yes, I really mourn for certain things about the show it used to be.
The cast is still out there, doing their best. I appreciate them. Smallville has always had variable writing - but there used to be the budget to make even a dud script look visually sumptuous. With less visual distraction, I find I'm less tolerant of inconsistencies.
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[User Picture]From: herohunter
2009-10-05 12:40 am (UTC)
This was a beautiful, sad post, Tas babe.

Thanks, it really brought me back!

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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 01:30 am (UTC)
Thank you! My "remembrance of days past" post! ♥
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[User Picture]From: redteekal
2009-10-05 12:41 am (UTC)
I agree with Valerie - this post is made of win and also made me go "OMG I am not the only one that thinks this!" Because honestly after Metallo and scanning the screencaps I'm thinking - wow I miss the colour, the outdoors, the SUN and the simplicity of the plots. Not that I don't enjoy the show now - I still do but it's in a completely different way. It's interesting - but I get nostalgic for my own childhood in a similar way.
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 01:33 am (UTC)
Because honestly after Metallo and scanning the screencaps I'm thinking - wow I miss the colour, the outdoors, the SUN and the simplicity of the plots.
The colours are just so enjoyable on a primal level: Clark in red t-shirt with yellow hay in front of blue sky = PRETTY. I also miss the single-strand plots, ie Clark's storyline rotates him through scenes with the other characters before reaching the big climax.
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 01:37 am (UTC)
I am disappointed with this season so far - the plots don't make any sense to me. Tom/Clark looks so unhappy
The scripts have recently tended to drop a lot of angst on him. He's always had a heavy load to carry but there used to be more lighthearted moments interspersed. (I say "recently" but the emphasis on angst began in late S5, I think.) He did get to smile at the end of Metallo so that was nice.

I miss the character development and, of course, the tension of Clex!!!
Oh, me too!
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[User Picture]From: frelling_tralk
2009-10-05 12:49 am (UTC)
I so agree about missing the directing of earlier seasons. I remember last season it was a moment of excitement for Chlark just getting a scene filmed on location in Eternal, it really does give the show a lift and it's not fun to see characters in the same locations all the time. It makes SV look so cheap to keep using that same Metropolis street set over and over again especially, but then I suppose the budget means that they have to be cheap now *sighs* Even the farmhouse looks dark and depressing these days


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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 01:41 am (UTC)
It makes SV look so cheap to keep using that same Metropolis street set over and over again especially, but then I suppose the budget means that they have to be cheap now
That's the irony: at the exact point when Clark's world should be expanding, from Smallville to Metropolis, visually it's contracted. Metropolis seems so much smaller than Smallville ever did.

I remember last season it was a moment of excitement for Chlark just getting a scene filmed on location in Eternal, it really does give the show a lift and it's not fun to see characters in the same locations all the time.
A new location gives a little adrenaline jolt, maybe for the cast as well. I've noticed that Supernatural has come up with some great location shots for this season and S4. The broken bridge in a recent episode was a fabulous visual. But I guess SPN saves money on actors and can spend more on filming?
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[User Picture]From: xparrot
2009-10-05 12:51 am (UTC)
Aww...these 'caps reminded me that whatever else SV did wrong, it always *looked* gorgeous. These could be movie shots, any of them...
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 01:42 am (UTC)
These could be movie shots, any of them...
Absolutely. Even then, the schedules were tight but they had the budget and talent to produce these mini-epics.
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[User Picture]From: lexii314
2009-10-05 01:05 am (UTC)
Agreed. I'm watching and appreciating Smallville now for other reasons then when I first started watching. However, I still miss the early years ( Watch them over and over like crazy) and my OTP. Nothing will ever top them.
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 01:45 am (UTC)
However, I still miss the early years ( Watch them over and over like crazy) and my OTP. Nothing will ever top them.
I guess every fan has their favourite period of the show. With Clex gone, I'm much more of a general viewer now and less emotionally invested.
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[User Picture]From: theclexfactor
2009-10-05 01:21 am (UTC)
Someone made the excellent observation that SV now is more like Superman: Year One, and like you, being a Supes fan, I'm loving it. Looking through these caps, the differences in what the show used to be and what it is now is pretty obvious, but I don't mourn how Clark was portayed over the last few seasons until S8 when he rocked the house. Since he is my number one reason for watching (and IMO S9 is awesome so far) then I'm a happy fangirl.
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[User Picture]From: eeyore1017
2009-10-05 01:36 am (UTC)
Great post, Tas! I agree. Especially about missing the beautiful outdoors shots. I also miss Martha and Jonathan.

I wish that they'd find some way to bring back AoT. If she won't go to Vancouver, couldn't they send a mini-crew to where she was and shoot an "on the phone with Clark" scene or something?
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 01:59 am (UTC)
I wish that they'd find some way to bring back AoT. If she won't go to Vancouver, couldn't they send a mini-crew to where she was and shoot an "on the phone with Clark" scene or something?
My secret wish is that the very last shot of Smallville will be Clark and Martha. I think AOT might return for that. I would cry buckets!

Especially about missing the beautiful outdoors shots. I also miss Martha and Jonathan.
There was something poignant about Clark dealing with his normal and "super" problems at the same time, these big dilemmas set against an idyllic backdrop.
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[User Picture]From: roxymissrose
2009-10-05 01:41 am (UTC)
oh gosh--you make me sad for the past. All those beautiful closing shots, the sun, the color...*siiiiigh*
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 02:00 am (UTC)
All those beautiful closing shots, the sun, the color...*siiiiigh*
Visual beauty of Tom & cast + sun & sky & fields = happy, satiated me.
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 02:02 am (UTC)
I really miss that too also Clark was more happy and I really enjoy his jokes...
He was cheekier in the early seasons. So cute!

I miss Lex too and the friendship of the show, I think back the every character has their own story to tell...
I understand why Michael moved on, he felt Lex's story was done. I still miss him & Lex though.
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[User Picture]From: silverscreengal
2009-10-05 03:03 am (UTC)

The show is the Golden Age for some. I still love it because Tom is Clark Kent, but I feel all kinds of remorse after reading your lovely observations on seasons past. Especially the comment about the directors. *sigh* It feels more formula to me. I've always felt like since the CW took over, TPTB just wanted to get ratings.
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 03:19 am (UTC)
I feel all kinds of remorse after reading your lovely observations on seasons past.
Aw, no remorse, love! Change was inevitable after nine seasons. Though I'll likely always love earlier seasons more, I do wish they had the resources to do Metropolis on a grand scale, with flash, colour and crowds.

Especially the comment about the directors.
I do wonder if it frustrates the directors who have been there for years (Tom included) to be working on a much smaller scale?

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[User Picture]From: rosy5000
2009-10-05 03:44 am (UTC)
WOW! Now I miss the show... for what it used to be. You brought out a lot of 'little' things that changed, but that had a huge impact on how the show looked.

I always enjoy reading your commentary as much as I do looking at the pictures you chose to post with it. :)
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[User Picture]From: tasabian
2009-10-05 04:00 am (UTC)
Thanks, love!

You brought out a lot of 'little' things that changed, but that had a huge impact on how the show looked.
It took me a while to realize how central the SV visuals are to my enjoyment of the show. (Still not as important as Clex though!)
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