Okay, no one has started an episode discussion thread yet so I thought I'd go ahead and do it. I found a very positive review of the season preem and thought I'd start it with that: 'Smallville' returns to the Kansas we all know By DAVE MASON September 26, 2005 Faster than a speeding bullet, "Smallville" has made Superman soar again. Not that Clark Kent gets to fly in Thursday's fifth season premiere, airing at 8 p.m. EDT on The WB. (That's a new day and time slot.) But viewers won't need telescopic vision to see the series has returned to its original flight plan. The focus is back on Clark (Tom Welling), his family and friends. Last season veered off course with a search for Kryptonian power stones, people getting possessed by other spirits or personalities and a new boyfriend that neither Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) nor viewers needed. Clark even had a possible love interest with an unfamiliar character who could teleport herself. All of that made me feel that, just like Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," I wasn't in Kansas any more - at least not the Kansas known to Superman fans. All of that changes with the season premiere. The episode, "The Arrival," is the best "Smallville" story since the third season. The reasons: The show has strengthened its focus on Clark Kent dealing with his Kryptonian and human sides, and the producers have wisely incorporated elements from the first two (and the best two) "Superman" movies. Most of all, the episode keeps its focus on the characters we know and care about. The key character remains the future Superman, Clark, still played with realism by the talented Welling. Each season, Welling seems more comfortable with the character, and I have a hunch he's learning from the show's two best actors, John Schneider and Annette O'Toole, who have given new depth to Jonathan and Martha Kent, Clark's parents. (O'Toole, by the way, played Lana Lang in "Superman III.") And it's good to see that Erica Durance, who was one of the best additions to last season, continues to play Lois Lane, this time with her name in the opening credits. Durance has given Lois the same spunk that Margot Kidder did in the "Superman" films. Michael Rosenbaum and Kreuk continue to do well as Lex Luthor and Lana Lang. The big question is how fast Lex's power is corrupting him, a question "Smallville" needs to answer this season. Viewers with x-ray vision will see there are plot spoilers ahead. The season premiere picks up on last season's finale, in which another meteor shower strikes Smallville, Kan., a repeat of the shower that featured Clark Kent's arrival from Krypton. With the meteor shower comes another spaceship, this one with more Kryptonians. I won't spoil the details beyond that, except to say fans likely will like the story. Meanwhile, Clark, who was magically transported to Alaska in the season finale, throws the Kryptonian stone into the ice, and, yes, he sees the sudden emergence of a Fortress of Solitude very similar to the one in "Superman I" and "II." And Clark hears the voice of his Kryptonian father Jor-El (and that's the voice of Terence Stamp, who played the villainous General Zod in the "Superman" movies.) Jor-El warns him of a threat to Earth. It makes more sense to me to see Clark talking with Jor-El in that Fortress than in those Smallville caves that I never felt fit the series. I'm just not a fan of mixing "Smallville" with "Indiana Jones." I won't give away too much, but Thursday's season premiere features some long overdue decisive turns. Clark and the other characters are taking charge of their destiny, and that will give "Smallville" more power to tell good stories. And Thursday's story features a classic comic-book villain; Brainiac, played by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel" star James Marsters (who played the vampire Spike). You'll be seeing more of him as "Smallville" focuses on the legend surrounding the Man of Steel. I hope the focus doesn't change. (Contact Dave Mason of the Ventura County Star in California at www.venturacountystar.com.) Copyright 2005, kitsapsun.com. All Rights Reserved.