TV Discussion

Smallville 4×14 – ‘Krypto’ – TV Rewind

It’s a fact unavoidable, but you will spend the majority of ‘Krypto’ fighting the urge to go up to the television and say ‘Who’s a good boy?’. Yep, it’s a literal dog episode.

You can’t help but love the sincerity that is frequently displayed on Smallville. For all the complaints that many have about Hollywood’s inability to get Superman right on the big screen, or the frequent difficulties Superman movie projects have in coming to fruition, the more limited resources of television have always found ways to get around that problem by zeroing in on the human component of Clark Kent.

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Smallville very famously boasted of its ‘no flights, no tights’ rule, and while the series does dole out impressive CGI and action sequences for the period it was on the air, it has always avoided making that the dominating factor, and very much puts its focus on being an epic tale of the teenage and early adult years of Clark Kent on his way to becoming Superman. ‘Krypto’ is, on paper at least, a prime example of why this approach worked so well for the series that it ended up on course to be the longest running superhero series on American television.

© Warner Bros. Television.

The arrival of a dog with powers similar to Clark brings about the requisite dramas at the Kent farm that you might expect, and Luke Schelhaas’s script leans into the cliches and tropes that this series is famous for; there are disagreements between Clark and his parents, who worry about the repercussions of what it might mean for him and there are tangible links to LexCorp that calls into question whether or not he really is a good guy before everything is peacefully resolved (at least at this stage).

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It’s all fine, but it’s admittedly far from Smallville at its best. Welling as always brings the right level of charm and lovability to someone who only wants to see the best in the world even though his portion of it is dominated by dastardly antagonists even at this stage of his life, and there is gently dramatic fun to be had with Chloe knowing his secret but not letting on. One of the low-key joyous things about the series and its ability to be a great watch even with high stakes at times is in seeing Chloe still being the best kind of supportive friend for Clark, although at this stage it’s somewhat clear that the writers are waiting until the finale to bring this story thread to a conclusion.

The main plot is fun for what it is, but as is frequently the case with this season, things get dragged down a little with the main story arc involving the Teague family and Lana’s connections to the Stones of Power, all of which is feeling more like a Charmed episode than a DC Comics adaptation. The casting of Jane Seymour as Jason’s mum is a great touch, and it’s always  a joy when Smallville not only calls back to previous Superman films but also to big name movie stars synonymous with that era (I wouldn’t be surprised if she was cast because she was in Live and Let Die), but this entire arc is becoming increasingly monotonous and is as far from the peak of last season’s arc. We’re barely past the halfway mark at this stage which leaves one wondering if this story is going to get better or worse. Unfortunately you might find it’s the latter.

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