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First look: ‘Smallville’

Maybe Superman can fill 'Buffy' void

The WB has a lot riding on freshman drama “Smallville.”

As the WB’s only new hourlong entry, the skein –which stars newcomer Tom Welling as a young Clark Kent — must help fill the void left by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” defection to UPN.

Indeed, “Smallville” has been paired with returning “Gilmore Girls” to relaunch the net’s New Tuesday lineup. The night, once home to signature WB dramas including “Buffy” and “Dawson’s Creek,” remains one of the netlet’s priorities.

Airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m., “Smallville” also goes to battle in what may be one of the year’s most competitive time periods. The young Superman saga will battle against another ex-WB series, “Roswell,” on UPN, as well as Fox’s heavily hyped “24,” NBC’s “Frasier” and ABC’s new Jason Alexander laffer “Bob Patterson.”

The series follows teen Clark as he comes to grips with his emerging superpowers while navigating high school with his buddies, including best friend and future nemesis Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum).

Kristin Kreuk also stars as Clark’s love interest, Lana Lang, while John Schneider and Annette O’Toole play the young superhero’s parents.

“Smallville,” which comes from Warner Bros. TV and Tollin/Robbins, has been a priority at the WB from day one. After Fox expressed initial interest in the show, the Frog stepped up and ordered 13 episodes of the series last fall for what was believed to be one of the highest episodic license fees the net has ever paid for a first-year drama.

Guiding that investment are “Smallville” creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, along with fellow exec producers Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin and Joe Davola.

“The interesting thing about the series is you know how it’s going to end,” Millar says. “You know Lex and Clark are going to end up in Metropolis and be bitter enemies. For us it’s how interesting and unexpected the journey is to Metropolis.”

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