SPOILER ALERT: If you still plan to watch the “Smallville” finale, read no further.
Well, thank God that’s over.
“Smallville” spent years as one of TV’s most underrated programs. Clever, sexy, smart, the first four seasons were really first-rate and underappreciated because they aired on the then-WB, playing off the Superman mythology while exploring all the melodrama of a teen soap.
Several years ago, however, the series began to spin into “What the hell do we do next?” territory, and after showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar — the duo that developed it — left three years ago, it’s basically stayed airborne more due to the CW’s needs than any creative reason for the series to continue.
Hanging around too long turned out to be the show’s kreative Kryptonite, in other words, which was more than evident from the bloated, confusing, mess of a two-hour finale, which did finally dispense with the “No flights, no tights” pledge and put star Tom Welling in that iconic skin-tight costume. Still, the build-up to that stirring payoff — reviving Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), a near-wedding to Lois Lane (Erica Durance), and an apocalyptic threat in the form of one the great comic villains, Darkseid, here reduced to a smoky shell — was a titanic slog. Just sitting through it if you haven’t been hanging on every twist in the show for the last few seasons was a job worthy of You Know Who.
In addition, all the Christ-like parallels and metaphors about Superman as Earth’s savior felt heavy-handed.
Ultimately, there were two nice moments: Seeing the character’s Kryptonian father, Jor-El, basically present himself to his son in the form of Earth dad Jonathan Kent (John Schneider); and the framing device, with Chloe (Allison Mack) introducing Superman to her son by way of a comic book.
Other than that, I was sort of sorry that my TiVo didn’t malfunctioned earlier in the evening.
Every longrunning show deserves the chance to go out on its own terms, but “Smallville” was always handicapped by its awkward juxtaposition against more than 70 years of comic-book history. And finally, as the finale demonstrated, that was a weight even Superboy couldn’t lift.