Smallville: FAQ, history and impact

Discussion in 'Misc. TV Series' started by AgentPat, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. AgentPat Squeaky wheel

    Apr 16, 2004
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    Recent discussion prompted me to begin assembly of a FAQ thread for this forum, but in trying to keep it simple, it ended up looking more like a dos and don'ts list. For example, "Don't open a thread asking for when Batman/Bruce Wayne will appear on the show." To any newbie, the question becomes "Why?" The answer is much more involved than, "He'll never appear on the show, so don't bother asking." Again the noob asks, "Why is that?"

    Oh dear. Not going anywhere for a while? LOL So I'm taking another approach, one which I think will be even better.

    Other than a few threads specific to certain details such as ratings, it appears that we do not have a thread devoted to discussion of SV as a show. For example:

    • I heard there was a bidding war over SV, what was that about?
    • Where'd the "no tights, no flights" rule come from?
    • Who's this Dawn Ostroff chick everybody keeps talking about?
    • And yes, why is Batman off limits?

    But this thread is more than that. It's a place to discuss the impact of SV and have one location where various interviews and articles can be posted for easy reference. In that way, it's kind of a SV facts thread, not just a SV FAQ thread. :)

    Okay, so lets get started...

    The following excerpts are from a book titled, "Season Finale: The Unexpected Rise and Fall of the WB and UPN," written by Susanne Daniels and Cynthia Littleton. I recommend it to anybody who's interested in the history of both networks and the shows they aired.

    Cast of Characters:
    • Garth Ancier - The WB's entertainment president from 1994 to 1998; Ancier had filled the same role for Jamie Kellner a decade earlier at Fox.
    • Susanne Daniels - A fledgling member of the WB's creative team, Daniels was a Fox recruit who headed the WB's program development before succeeding Ancier as the network's entertainment president.
    • Bob Daly - The long-serving cochairman and CEO of Warner Bros. who saw that the studio needed its own broadcast network for its TV production operations to survive.
    • Jamie Kellner - Founder, chairman, and CEO of the WB Network. A linchpin of the team that launched Fox in the 1980s, Kellner saw an opening for a fifth network and was driven to prove he could do it again with the WB.
    • Jordan Levin - The right-hand man to Ancier and Daniels whose youthful sensibilities greatly informed the WB's most successful shows. Levin would rise to succeed Daniels as head of programming and serve briefly as the WB's CEO.
    • Barry Meyer - Daly's veteran lieutenant and ultimate successor at Warner Bros., whose long friendship with Jamie Kellner paved the way for the WB venture.
    • Leslie Moonves - The charismatic TV executive who led the turnaround of CBS in the mid-1990s and later assumed oversight of UPN from Kerry McCluggage (Paramount/UPN).
    • Dawn Ostroff - The smart, ambitious programming executive who ran UPN under the direction of CBS's Leslie Moonves for the last four and a half years of UPN's existence.
    • Sumner Redstone - The chairman of Viacom who inherited the plan to launch UPN when his company bought Paramount Pictures in 1994.
    • Peter Roth - The former 20th Century Fox Television executive, who became the Warner Bros.' Television president and brought harmony to the WB's relations with its sister studio.
    • Aaron Spelling - The legendary producer whose work involvement with the WB early on gave the network respectability in Hollywood and its first hit, Savannah.
    • Ted Turner - The major Time Warner shareholder who tried to convince the company's board of directors to shut down the WB and use resources devoted to it for buying an established network or investing in better programming for Turner's TNT and TBS channels.
    • Joss Whedon - The creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the distinctive drama that pointed the WB toward the young audience that would become its trademark.

    Birth of an idea:
    Though the slew of industry-realigning acquisitions and mergers dominated the headlines and lunch conversations of nearly everyone in Hollywood, we couldn't let it distract us from our primary job of finding quality programming for the WB. Early in the summer, I ran into Peter Roth at the Warner Bros.' commissary. As always, Peter was buoyant and excited about the next big thing his staff was cooking up for us. He took his time telling me how they were developing the perfect property for the network and its Buffy the Vampire Slayer action-fantasy-loving demographic.

    "So what is it?!" I said, curious. I felt totally conformable with Peter. I didn't have to make any pretense toward niceties. My lunch was getting cold while he launched into his pitch.

    "Superman... young Superman," Roth said. "It's Clark Kent in high school in his hometown of Smallville, just as he's realizing he has superpowers. Don't you think it's perfect?"

    "Superman!" I replied incredulously. "Super-man! Don't you think Superman is over, Peter? Really? Can Superman possibly be hip again?"

    Within a few weeks, I was eating my words.

    Why Smallville wasn't Gotham instead:
    Indeed, Smallville came to life in the summer of 2000 through a series of happy accidents. The show might never have happened if the Warner Bros.' film division hadn't been so protective of its Batman movie franchise.

    Shortly after Peter Roth joined Warner Bros. in early 1999, he got a call from Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins, a pair of prominent television producers who had an exclusive, and lucrative, contract with the studio. The duo rang to ask Roth for help in persuading his counterparts on the feature film side to ease their grip on the rights to Batman so that they could develop a TV series based on the caped crusader. The film division was the gatekeeper of the character, which Warner Bros. controlled through its ownership of DC Comics. Batman became an important movie franchise for the studio starting in 1989 with director Tim Burton's Batman, starring Michael Keaton.

    Ten years later, Batman's star had cooled considerably, as evidenced by the ho-hum box office performance and critical drubbing that greeted 1997's Batman & Robin, featuring George Clooney behind the mask. Tollin and Robbins wanted to do a TV series focusing on the formative years of the Bruce Wayne character as he came to realize his gifts and obligations as a protector of the innocent. As Roth spoke on the phone with the producers, he realized in an instant that here was a succinct, instantly marketable, genius idea that was perfect for the WB demo.

    Tollin and Robbins had made their names as highly efficient producers, writers, and directors of live-action programs for Nickelodeon (the sketch comedy All That, buddy, comedy Kenan and Kel) and modestly budgeted movies (Good Burger in 1997, Varsity Blues in 1999) that connected with younger audiences. They had the right sensibilities to freshen up a dormant but still valuable character franchise for Warner Bros.

    The film studio, nonetheless, was protective of its Batman properties. Executives there feared that a contemporary Batman TV series - even one far removed from the campy humor of the 1960s ABC series that starred Adam West and Burt Ward - would dilute the event nature of future Batman movies. After a while, Tollin and Robbins were ready to move on to other pursuits, but not Roth. The hunt for Batman reminded him of how much he loved superheroes, and how he could count on one hand the number of fantasy-action vehicles on the major broadcast networks at the time - one of them was Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Young Superman:
    Undaunted, Roth set his sights on a revival of another iconic character in the DC Comics stable: Superman. Roth loved the Man of Steel. He had tried to develop a cartoon series around the Superboy character when he worked in children's programming at ABC in the 1970s. Tollin and Robbins also saw the promise in Superman, who at the time had an even lower profile than Batman at the studio. Warner Bros. had been stymied for years in trying to find suitable successors to the string of mostly successful Superman films that starred Christopher Reeve in the late 1970s and 80s. The Man of Steel's most recent reappearance since then had been as a romantic-comedy hunk from 1993 to 1997 in ABC's moderately successful Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, featuring Dean Cain as Clark Kent and future Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane.

    Miles Millar and Alfred Gough:
    Tollin and Robbins adapted the same conceptual framework they'd had for the young Bruce Wayne story line to the adventures of young Clark Kent. The first order of business, even before finding their star, was to recruit the perfect writer to flesh out their vision. Tollin and Robbins settled on the highly regarded writing team of Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, who were known as the time for their movie credits, including Lethal Weapon 4 and Jackie Chan's Shanghai Noon. Millar and Gough had delved into prime time during the 1999-2000 season with a short-lived action drama, The Strip, set in Las Vegas among casino security guards. The show happened to be produced by Warner Bros. Television for, of all networks, UPN.

    Millar and Gough proved perfect for the young Superman project. They had the comic-book sensibilities needed for the assignment, and they had the skill as writers to do justice to a beloved piece of Americana. And they were brave enough to try. If Smallville fizzled, the film studio's job would be twice as hard.

    No tights, no flights:
    Millar, Gough, Tollin and Robbins took their time working out the kinks - the story lines, the characters, the settings, and the tone for the pilot. They steadfastly adopted a "no tights, no flights" policy, refusing to depict Clark Kent in the traditional Superman imagery flying through the air in his blue tights and red cape. Smallville centered on Kent's emotional development as a young man, and one with incredible responsibility to bear. Executives at the DC Comics division were angry about those decisions at first. In their view, the TV studio was graciously granted access to the original superhero, and yet it was trying to downplay all of the elements that made him, well, super.

    Fox is interested:
    In time, the chatter in television industry circles about the project began to grow. Tollin and Robbins were hot producers at that moment and there was curiosity about what they saw in the Superman milieu. Roth was surprised at my lackluster reaction when we first discussed the project. So he turned his focus to selling the show to Fox, where newly appointed entertainment president Gail Berman, the same woman who had helped bring Buffy back to life as a TV show four years earlier, had a healthy appetite for fantasy-action fare. Berman liked what she heard and made a substantial commitment to Roth on the spot to snare the Smallville pilot. Berman's enthusiasm was music to Roth's ears because it gave him maximum leverage in bringing the formal series pitch to the WB, or any other prospective buyer for that matter.

    Pitch to WB:
    Although I'd briefly made my feelings known about what I thought of the prospects for a young-Superman show, I'd not heard a formal pitch from a writer. Luckily, Peter felt an obligation to allow us to hear it, now that the premise was far more developed and the studio had writers to ring it to life. On our end, we owed our studio colleagues the courtesy of taking the meeting. By this time, Carolyn Bernstein, the Columbia TriStar TV executive who'd worked on Dawson's Creek, had joined the WB as head of drama development. I still had low expectations as Carolyn and I sat down in WB's main conference room with Roth, Tollin, Robbins, Millar, and Gough.

    As Millar and Gough launched into their pitch, Carolyn and I were blown away. I had to apologize profusely, and sheepishly, to Peter for making such a snap judgment before. The pitch was captivating; it wasn't like any rendition of Superman we'd ever seen before. Miles and Al had thought through how to play it to avoid any whiff of cheesiness, and how to slowly unravel the Clark Kent story in a way that made a coming-of-age allegory that would resonate with our audience. The show would employ some but not all of the Superman mythos, and most of what was used was tweaked perfectly for the twenty-first century. Clark's best friend was a troubled fellow teenager named Lex Luthor who was outwardly charming but black-hearted on the inside. His primary love interest was a beautiful local girl named Lana Lang, not Lois Lane, and yet another close friend was the girl reporter for the high school newspaper, Chloe Sullivan. This Clark Kent wouldn't be caught dead in horn-rim glasses.

    Bidding war:
    During the meeting, Roth sat off to the side, listening patiently and quietly as we made an offer to commission a pilot at a fee that he knew was generous by the WB's usual standard. He let us gush about the show and its potential for a few minutes before he responded.

    "That's great. I'm glad you like it," he said without a hint of "I told you so" in his voice. But by his tone, we knew there was some complication.

    "Fox wants it too. They've offered us even more," Roth said with a sigh.

    We were taken aback. Smallville sounded like such a WB show. We didn't want to lose our reputation as the home of cutting edge youthful dramas. And the pitch we'd just heard was bulletproof.

    I quickly conferred with Jamie Kellner and recommended we match Fox's offer. Jamie sparked to it right away. So we came back to Roth with a rarefied 13-episode commitment - the highest compliment a network can pay a series concept in its germinal stage. That meant Warner Bros. Television had to make the difficult call to steer Smallville to the WB. All things being equal, Roth knew it in his bones that Smallville belonged on the WB. Although the show's ratings might be higher on Fox, it would have the longest life and receive the most TLC on the WB. That's what Roth surmised. He couldn't avoid taking some heat from Fox entertainment president Gail Berman, who was steamed about the situation for months afterward.

    Once the show settled at the WB, the highest priority was finding the next-generation Clark Kent. The Warner Bros.' casting department mounted a nationwide search. Our Clark had to have a lot of vulnerability. We wanted the proverbial fresh face. The young man who wound up carrying Smallville on his strapping shoulders was a former model from New York. On the resume pasted onto the back of his head shot, Tom Welling had only a handful of guest starring roles on CBS's drama Judging Amy, but it was clear to Miles and Al and us that he had the handsome, unassuming charm and macho strength of a young Christopher Reeve or Tom Selleck.

    Not unlike the girls of Savannah, Welling was cast as much for his muscular abdomen as for his acting chops, which improved markedly during the first few seasons. But he had enough skill, even during the pilot filming, to make a credible, conflicted Clark Kent, with the aid of a strong supporting cast that included a star from an earlier TV era, John Schneider of the Warner-Bros.-produced Dukes of Hazzard, and Michael Rosenbaum and Kristin Kreuk as Lex Luthor and Lana Lang. As we saw the group come together in preparation for the pilot, we were confident that our 13-episode commitment would prove to be a good bet.

    Pilot and ratings:
    On Wednesday, October 17, 2001, Peter Roth had a 6 a.m. phone call with Jordan Levin. The night before they had premiered the series Smallville, and the pair spoke to digest the overnight rating returns, which were very strong. It was barely a month after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Nerves were on edge. The WB had poured most of its fall season launch marketing budget into getting Smallville off in style. In the network's first season after Buffy, the heat was on Jordan to prove that the WB still had it.

    After all the stress, tension, and excitement, their labors boiled down to a Nielsen rating that translated into 8.4 million viewers, the highest debut for any WB show in the network's history. Young Superman beat the WB mark set nearly four years before with the premiere of Dawson's Creek.

    "We were screaming at one another. Just screaming with delight and joy," Roth recalls. "There was so much pressure."

    Because of the special effects, the pilot had come in at a cost of about $8 million - expensive by any network's standards. For the WB, it was a record breaker. But by all accounts, Warner Bros. Television never wavered in its faith that Smallville was worth the investment. The stakes were high, just like a good Superman comic adventure.

    TNT & TBS:
    The emergence of Smallville as the WB's next big hit provided an oasis of calm during an otherwise turbulent period for the network. As I watched it blossom from my unfamiliar spot on the sidelines, I was relieved that I'd dogged a speeding bullet of suffering the blame for letting the show get away to Fox.

    The success of Smallville was fabulous, but it also brought a new series of conflicts to the forefront. In Atlanta, Jamie Kellner was seeking to beef up TNT and TBS by having them run repeats of WB shows a day or two after the episode premiered on our network.

    Right around the time Jamie took over Turner, some studios saw those repeats on cable as a way to help them cover more production costs by collecting a little extra license fee money (usually $75,000 to $120,000) from a cable network happy to get a nearly new, highly promotable program. ABC had Alias encores, among other shows, running on its ABC Family cable network. Fox had the 24 clock ticking on FX. Universal Television had its Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent running on its sibling USA Network.

    Jamie believed repurposing episodes of WB hits on TNT or TBS a few days after their airing on the WB could help the networks and the programs by generating more advertising revenue, and greater exposure for the show, and better image-branding for the cable networks. After Smallville opened big, he sought to repeat that show on TNT within a week of each episode's telecast on the WB.

    Syndication hurdles:
    But Warner Bros. Television wasn't having any of it. Barry Meyer and Bruce Rosenblum were dubious about what all those extra repeats would do to the show's long-term syndication value. They were concerned that a show might wear out its welcome too quickly with viewers to have a long life in reruns. Worse, in their view, if those repeats drew low ratings, Warner Bros.' syndication sales guys would have an impossible time getting top dollar when they went out to sell the long-term rerun rights to the show if it lasted long enough to deliver 80 to 100 episodes. Barry and Bruce would not grant Jamie the right to repeat Warner Bros'. shows on the Turner networks...

    PHEW! I'll stop there. It's a start. More articles from other sources to come! :word:
  2. Brainiac 8 Clark Smash!

    Aug 8, 2005
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    Great thread Patsy....good info for those who don't know that story. :up:
  3. Sam Fisher Heavy Meddle

    Sep 26, 2004
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    I'm sure if it went to Fox, they would have cancelled it by now:csad:
  4. Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
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    Your wrong about why Gotham never happened. Gotham never happened because when they were about to go into production on the show they got the script in for Superman vs. Batman. Superman Vs Batman was put on hold because they got the script in for Batman: Year One (which would later become Batman Begins) and the script in for the Superman in a can movie. Because at the time they had a few scripts and a cast built for the show but when they were about to go into production much like Superman Lives it was pulled because they got a great script in of Superman vs Batman (which you can read over at Superman Homepage). They already had cast Superman and Batman for that movie and had cast a few other people as well and when the WB was about to go into production with that you got the script in for Superman suit in a can and Batman year one and so the WB wanted at the time to do 3 solo movies with their heroes then bring them together. However the WB could never get a Superman project off the ground (which is why you have that 70 million attached to Superman Returns budget) so they revisited the idea of Gotham but going off of the idea of one of the scripts that had Clark helping him out. But thats what happened to Gotham and why we have SV. And to behonest SV was about to go off the air had Singer not stepped in and said that the show could go on because they are telling a story about Clark's journey to becoming Superman while he is telling a Superman story and thats what saved SV. So the WB kept the show but in return they had to conform to the movie some what which is why the SV \S/ looks close to the Returns \S/ and why the FOS looks like the one from the movie and even why the Daily Planet inside looks just like the movie although that happened by chance I believe. But had it not been for the WB putting Superman vs Batman on hold we never would have seen SV because the WB then and now really doesn't want two live versions of their heroes running around which is why I believe (even though they say they won't do this) if Justice League takes off you can say goodbye to Nolan's Batman and Singer's Superman ( which has been rumored about both of them).
  5. zerohour films Sidekick

    Nov 1, 2005
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    Thanks Pat.
    As always very informative.
  6. AgentPat Squeaky wheel

    Apr 16, 2004
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    It's posts like this that remind me why I need to keep you on ignore. Do you HAVE to argue with every damn thing, All-Star? My GOD!!!

    First off, this thread is NOT about Batman, Justice League, Chris Nolan or Bryan freakin' Singer. It's about SMALLVILLE, its history and impact. Read the thread title.

    Secondly, I am not "wrong." Everything from "cast of characters" to "phew" in my first post are direct quotes from a book written by Susanne Daniels. Daniels was Head of Primetime Series for The WB Television Network from 1994 to 1998. In 1998, she was named head of The WB entertainment division. She is the exec who was largely responsible for landing shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dawson's Creek, Felicity and Smallville to the WB. If you want to argue with anybody, argue with HER. She's now President of Entertainment at Lifetime Entertainment.

    More info on Daniels and her book can be found here:

    Back on topic...

    Hollywood Reporter
    Jan 26, 2006

    Milestone: 'Smallville'
    Small wonder
    by John Anderson

    The character of Superman is one of the most iconic, quintessentially American creations of the 20th century, so it's hardly surprising that the Man of Steel has enjoyed an enduring public life. Since he first appeared on the pages of DC Comics in 1938, Superman has evolved from a wisecracking tough guy into a genial movie hero whose overwhelming goodness compensates for his somewhat-questionable fashion sense (it takes a real man to wear a blue-and-red body stocking and cape). He has made stars of the actors who have portrayed him, from George Reeves to Christopher Reeve, and earned plenty of cash for the movie studios and TV networks responsible for his big- and small-screen iterations.

    Intrigued by Superman's legacy, "Smallville" executive producers Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins partnered with showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar to hatch a series that would reintroduce the character to a new audience. Their concept placed mild-mannered Clark Kent in rural Kansas, where he would face off against the perils of a "super-adolescence" -- including dating, exams and X-ray vision.

    The show proved a perfect fit for WB's predominantly teen demographic, and four-plus seasons after its 2001 debut and with its 100th episode set to air tonight, "Smallville" has become a stalwart of that network's lineup, delivering solid ratings despite time-slot shifts and executive turnover. The show now airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. and routinely draws more men 18-34 viewers than does CBS' reality hit "Survivor" -- and, in perhaps the surest sign of its strength, "Smallville" was cited immediately this week as one of the strongest assets available to the CW network to be created in the fall by the union of WB and UPN.

    The series' Seasons 1-4 DVDs also have brought in more than $100 million in revenue for Warner Home Video, according to Home Media Research, and "Smallville" has fared nicely in syndication for ABC Family, which picked up the show for about $400,000 an episode and began airing it in 2004.

    Oddly, the creators of the sci-fi drama did not initially set out to make a show about Superman. Robbins notes that he and Tollin had their eye on a much darker, though equally compelling, comic-book character.

    "In the early days of our deal at Warner Bros. (Television), we had the idea to do a young Batman," says Robbins, whose production company with Tollin, Tollin/Robbins, is also behind the WB drama "One Tree Hill."

    Fortunately for Clark Kent, Warner Bros. Pictures already had spoken for Bruce Wayne's caped crusader: The studio then was developing "Batman: Year One," based on Frank Miller's graphic novel, for Darren Aronofsky to direct (though Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" ultimately would restart that film franchise last summer). It was suggested that Tollin and Robbins instead focus their series on Superman, a notion motivated in part by corporate synergy because the studio, the network and DC Comics are all owned by Time Warner.

    "We wanted to do the same spin: Redefine the early mythology of Clark Kent," Robbins says. "We went to (WBTV president) Peter Roth, and he loved the idea -- and that was the beginning of it."

    Finding the right actor to portray Clark Kent was critical, and even up-and-coming thespian Tom Welling understood that the role was not one to take lightly.

    "When Tom Welling walked into the casting office, all we had was a tape where he played the cute pizza boy in (the 1997 movie) 'Chasing Amy,' I think it was," Tollin says. "He had a sparkle and charm and a screen presence, but he was a little concerned with diving in and playing a young Superman because, let's face it, this town is littered with people who have taken that on and found it was a dead end. To his credit, he wasn't a young actor who got stars in his eyes and said, 'This is my shot' -- we had to talk him into the role."

    Obviously, Welling signed on, as did Kristin Kreuk as love interest Lana Lang and Michael Rosenbaum as a young incarnation of Superman's nemesis, Lex Luthor.

    "Before this, I was doing comedy," Rosenbaum says. "Now, I'm the most serious character in the show -- but I do have fun. When we started, they said, 'We know you're eventually going to be evil, but let's make it interesting (and) see how the villain becomes the villain."

    Once its elements were in place, "Smallville" became the subject of a major bidding war between WB and Fox, which did nearly everything it could to wrest the series from its rival. The struggle forced WB to make the show's creative executives an attractive offer: a 13-episode commitment with a significant budget.

    "It worked out for the best because it really became a defining show for (WB), a defining show for us, and the slant we took on the show -- very youth-driven -- worked really well for them," Robbins says.

    "Smallville" had the mixed blessing of debuting shortly after WB had lost "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," one of the gems of its schedule, to UPN and was in need of a smart, genre-bending, youth-skewing series with potential to garner critical acclaim. Although considerably different from "Buffy," "Smallville" similarly relies on the supernatural as a metaphor for growing up and assuming the responsibilities that accompany adulthood.

    The premiere was anything but small in ratings terms: In a 9 p.m. Tuesday berth, "Smallville" delivered the best numbers for a series debut in the then-seven-year history of WB, bringing in 8.4 million total viewers, topping Fox and ABC in the time slot and delivering WB's best-ever numbers among adults 18-34 (4.5 rating/12 share), men 18-34 (5.0/14) and men 18-49 (3.9/10). It also ranked No. 1 in the time slot in WB's target demos of teens, female teens and persons 12-34.

    After a rocky first season marred by on-set anxiety, "Smallville" assumed the mantle of a hit series with relative ease. The show seldom has been WB's flashiest asset but has proved its worth in every slot in which it has been scheduled, a trend that was underscored when "Smallville" moved to Wednesday nights in 2003.

    The series' latest schedule shift, which took effect for the 2005-06 season, not only raised eyebrows within the industry -- could "Smallville" compete in the Thursday 8 p.m. slot against "Survivor," Fox's teens-in-peril franchise "The O.C." and other established hits? -- but also motivated its creatives.

    "Believe me, last May or June, when we knew we were changing nights again, it was a nerve-racking time," says executive producer Greg Beeman, who has directed more than a dozen episodes. "I also think that because we were moving nights, we made a really concerted effort to have a great season. Obviously, that's the goal every season, but this year it was like, 'This is do-or-die for us.' What we all started talking about was how we were going to stop holding back on all the things we've been holding back on."

    According to insiders, at least one character will die during tonight's episode, and Clark will not only propose to Lana but also reveal his true identity. "All those things that we've been playing with and flirting with, I think we all decided to just go for broke," Beeman says.

    Perhaps that full-blown commitment to resolving story lines has helped to keep audiences hooked to "Smallville." The show's fifth season has been a boon to WB with an average total viewership of 5.5 million, up 28% from the 2004-05 tally, according to Nielsen Media Research.

    David Bianculli, a TV critic for the New York Daily News and the National Public Radio program "Fresh Air," asserts that "Smallville's" unique brand of drama puts it squarely on his must-TiVo list.

    "There are episodes and performances and ideas that I just like in this show," he says. "The idea of building a parallel new mythology for a familiar comic-book story is a nice use of entertainment television."

    Adds Robbins: "Superman is a huge pop franchise, but Al and Miles have done a great job in writing and crafting it -- it's very well-executed. All of the new mythology that they brought to it -- the peeling away of everything slowly, playing out the Lex-Clark relationship slowly -- has really done the show a service."
  7. Joined:
    Sep 23, 2004
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    First off Pat I did not make this a thread about Nolan, Singer and the rest if thats all you can read or see then so be it but I was not trying to make this about them. I stated a fact much like how the title of the thread is and how it came to be now this person may have been the driving force behind SV coming to light again but had not the WB pulled Gotham for Superman vs. Batman and if it wasn't for the movie going into development hell for so long SV would not be here and thats a fact. I was not trying to argue with you or be a troll all I was trying to say is you have half of the story right. And if your doing a fact and history thread about this show then you should have the whole story of the show and history and what I stated in my previous post is how SV really came to light and how SV really went into development.
  8. avidreader Avenger

    Jul 1, 2005
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    That's a fantastic read Pat, thanks for putting all those facts together.

    We now need one of the mods to make this a sticky. Could it also be a good idea in your first post, to put links to some common threads that tend to slip off the first four pages?
  9. AgentPat Squeaky wheel

    Apr 16, 2004
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    No, instead of pleasantly adding information to this thread, you came in with guns blazing accusing ME of being wrong when I've yet to post one opinion. For the purposes of this thread, "facts" come from industry professionals, writers and critics with a published history that others can reference. I spent three hours last night typing that post for the benefit of readers who don't even know who Daniels is, never mind know that she has written a book.

    In case you missed it, you accused the then president of The WB Entertainment Division of being wrong when there was NOTHING inherently wrong about what she said. Are all the nitty gritty facts there? No. It appears to be so irrelevant, those details were left out of her 381 page book. But that doesn't make her or me WRONG. You go ahead and keep making an ass out of yourself and not apologizing for if for all I care. Have fun in my ignore bin, you and all of your other aliases. At least others are appreciative of the work that's going into this thread, and I thank them for that.

    No prob. I've got to run out for a bit, but I'll edit it later.

    Actually... wait... I don't think I can edit it. LOL It's pretty much at its limit for amount of words. Hah! I'll try, but if not, I'll just add another post later.

    Here are a few articles from Variety, all of which were published on January 25, 2006. I often quote these in various posts, so it's good to have 'em all in one place:

    WB synergy in full force
    Welling, quality of show aids 'Smallville's' success

    More powerful than your average series. Able to leap from comicbook to studio to network to homevideo at a single bound. Look! On the air! It's "Friends." It's "ER." No, it's "Smallville."

    The hit WB series, experiencing a creative and rating renaissance in its fifth season, represents one of those diamonds in the rough for conglom Time Warner: A show that reaches across the company as a perfect example of synergy.

    Warner Bros.' DC Comics owns the rights to the Superman character; Warner Bros. TV produces "Smallville," a teenage take on the titan in tights; the WB airs the show (seen via affils on Time Warner cable systems in many parts of the country); Warner Bros.' distribution units sell the show internationally and into domestic syndication; Warner Home Video releases the "Smallville" DVD; the cycle starts again.

    The synergy once even hit Warner Music, which released a "Smallville" CD back when it was still owned by Time Warner.

    "The ideal property to exploit for our studio is a franchise property like 'Smallville,' " says Warner Bros. TV Group topper Bruce Rosenblum. "This takes advantage of our DC Comics division, our distribution strength via the WB, our top-supplier studio Warner Bros. TV and our homevideo operations, all working in concert together."

    Now, the success of "Smallville" has even helped bring a theatrical movie to fruition. Bryan Singer is directing "Superman Returns," starring Brandon Routh as the latest Clark Kent.

    It's easy to underestimate how "Smallville" helped jumpstart an entire franchise. But prior to Tom Welling taking over as Clark Kent, the Superman character had been limping along for several years.

    The last major Superman TV show, "Lois & Clark," suffered dismal ratings toward the end of its run. And Superman hadn't had a movie presence in years.

    The WB first got an inkling that Superman was still cool in 1997, when the net started airing an animated series (with Tim Daly voicing the main character) starring the Man of Steel -- from Warner Bros. Animation, of course. Still, there was no guarantee that "Smallville" would work, no matter how much corporate synergy there was.

    "Much like the magic of finding the right cast for 'Friends' or 'ER,' these very successful franchises come along only every so often," Rosenblum says. "A network timeslot alone doesn't guarantee success. And creative auspices alone don't guarantee success."

    But in this case, the stars did align. WB Entertainment president David Janollari says several factors led to the show's success, including Welling, and the "fresh take on Superman's teenage years and the consistent quality of the show." And, of course, "the cohesive way divisions like DC, Warner Bros. TV, the WB and the producers have worked closely together to produce a hundred different episodes that remain true to the character's inherent tone and mythology," he says.

    Next up, Warner Bros. hopes to have another franchise success story with "Aquaman," another DC Comics character that's about to hit the small screen.

    The WB (which will transform into the newly created CW network) is in development with "Smallville" showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar to bring that story to life.

    "It's hardly a slam-dunk, because the process of developing, creating, producing and launching a big franchise is daunting," Janollari says, "but when it does work, it reminds you why media conglomerates are so powerful."

    Cleared for takeoff
    Series flourishes where other comic heroes failed

    "Superboy" was the one-word sales pitch when the series that became "Smallville" was birthed, and comicbook aficionados could be forgiven if the title engendered less than complete enthusiasm.

    After all, comic characters to that point had a somewhat abusive relationship with cinematic adaptations in general and television in particular. From the "Superman" series in the 1950s to the "Biff! Wham! Pow!" of "Batman" in the '60s to "The Incredible Hulk," "Spider-Man" and "Wonder Woman" in the '70s, comics-based programs had variously indulged in high camp or been characterized by puny special effects that, at best, were highlighted by savaging a tear-away wall.

    Even the big-budget "Superman" movie, starring Christopher Reeve -- with a section showcasing Smallville's amber waves of grain that provided the basis for a teenage Superman series -- yielded its share of teeth-gnashing among fans, what with its over-the-top villain, Lex Luthor, and his equally absurd sidekicks.

    "Smallville," however, proved a pleasant surprise -- a show that paid homage to the Superman mythology while carving out a path of its own, one that boldly reimagined the character's Kryptonian roots while staying true to the underlying source material. And, go figure, the series managed to accomplish that under the stewardship of Al Gough and Miles Millar, a writing team who confessed to having no special affinity for comics.

    At first, of course, there was grumbling about the supervillain-of-the-week formula, with some unlucky teenager morphed into a monster by the meteor rocks, otherwise known as Kryptonite, which showered Kansas along with the arrival of young Clark Kent (Tom Welling).

    Soon enough, though, "Smallville" began to take an intriguing shape, what with the tenuous friendship between Clark and his eventual nemesis Lex (Michael Rosenbaum), charting the influences that not only prepared the former for heroics but steered the latter toward evil.

    Ditto, in the most pronounced departure, for "Smallville's" treatment of Superman's Kryptonian father, Jor-El, who sent him to Earth not to help the planet's inhabitants but to conquer and rule as he wished. Suddenly, the values ingrained in Clark by his way-cool adopted parents the Kents (John Schneider and "Superman III" alumna Annette O'Toole) seemed even more significant -- the ultimate battle of nature vs. nurture.

    Balancing the loving foundation provided by the Kents is the inevitable road to the dark side traveled by Lex, whose relationship with his father (John Glover) and gradually fraying friendship with Clark provide the show's most intriguing dynamic.

    (It's worth noting that the "Superboy" comics also featured a young Lex, though the explanation for his descent into villainy -- an accident that caused him to lose his hair -- is one probably best forgotten even by comicbook fans.)

    Still, fealty to the spirit of the comics alone would hardly explain "Smallville's" resilience, surviving a handful of time-period shifts, including the always dicey proposition of being relocated in its fifth season, when viewer loyalty is easily shaken. Part of the show's durability stems from its playing on multiple levels to different constituencies. At various moments, "Smallville" is an action hour, sci-fi romp, teen soap, family drama and rethinking of comicbook mythology -- often all within the same episode. Small wonder that when the program was honored by the Museum of TV & Radio, the audience included children, teenage girls swooning over Welling and middle-aged men, asking about Clark's wardrobe and where the TV show exists vis-a-vis the films.

    These elements are very much in evidence within "Smallville's" impressive 100th episode, which airs tonight and brings the series to something of a crossroads. Clark, after all, is no longer a high school lad but a young man, with the now-28-year-old Welling's presence already requiring some suspension of disbelief.

    All good things must come to an end, and this series is certainly no exception, whether it's next season (where it may be moved over to the new CW net) or the year after. Indeed, the WB's shortcomings and the WBTV-produced program's relative success probably have conspired to keep it alive longer than is logistically prudent.

    Superheroes have become ripe fodder for splashy theatrical incarnations thanks to the blessings of computer graphics, but it shouldn't be overlooked that "Smallville" was part of that revolution -- blazing its own big red "$" sign across the small screen, and helping to do penance for the sins of TV series past.

    Leaps tall ratings
    Not even Kryptonite can slow show's momentum

    Superman jinx? What Superman jinx?

    After previous television incarnations of the Man of Steel lasted no more than four seasons, the WB's "Smallville" has surpassed them by not only surviving to a fifth season, but thriving in it.

    Shifted to a tough Thursday night slot, the story of young Superman has defied conventional TV wisdom by having its best season to date in key ratings categories.

    No longer opposing ABC's hot drama "Lost" on Wednesday, "Smallville" is averaging 5.5 million viewers this season, up 8% from a year ago. It's also set Thursday records for the WB.

    "It's not surprising that 'Smallville' has a loyal core audience who would follow it to a new time period," says media buyer John Rash of Campbell Mithun, "but it did it in the teeth of tough Thursday competition and the more-hyped premiere of 'Everybody Hates Chris' on UPN.

    "It consistently delivers its desired demo, only now on a crucial marketing night."

    WB entertainment prexy David Janollari, looking to spread his rebuilding net's assets across the sked, says the decision was made because there was an opening for young viewers on the night -- and Thursday "isn't what it used to be competitionwise" now that "Friends" is gone.

    "It was one of those moments of looking at the board and saying, 'Hmmm, what about this?' " he says. "The sales group lit up and said, 'Yeah, we can do business there.' "

    Thursday is the most lucrative night from an advertising perspective, in large part because film studios pay top dollar in a bid to attract young adults to their pics on the weekend. And in "Smallville," the Frog has its first real significant presence there.

    Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. Television, producer of the series, says the timeslot move was risky but has clearly worked.

    "Give credit to the network, because the competition is less formidable and they found a good spot for it," he says. "This is arguably one of the biggest hits we've produced as a show for our sister company.

    "It's a wholly owned Time Warner property, and it's been given the full weight and impact of the network, which has made for a happy association."

    Series creators Al Gough and Miles Millar, whose film work includes "Shanghai Noon" and "Lethal Weapon 4," credit Roth and a moment of "serendipity" nearly six years ago that led to the creation of the series.

    The writing partners had a relationship with WBTV since 1999, and in the summer of 2000 they pitched a series about Lois Lane, whom they envisioned as a cross between Ally McBeal and Nancy Drew.

    "We thought we could never get the rights (to Superman), so we went in a different direction," Gough recalls. "But at the same time, Peter was trying to secure TV rights to Superman."

    Gough and Millar were then off and running, creating their own "Smallville" mythology while trying to stay true to Superman characters in the DC Comics.

    "Batman had always been considered cool and Superman kind of cheesy, so we wanted to ground Superman in reality," Gough says.

    They literally grounded him, too, setting up a "no tights/no flights" rule at the outset to make a young Clark Kent more relatable to auds.

    "Superman's always been malleable to the times, from the '50s to the '90s when he was a yuppie, so we went the angst-ridden teen route," Gough says. "He's a contemporary teen that just happens to be from a different planet."

    Among the chances taken by the creators were the addition of Chloe as a confidante to Clark, and beefing up the character of Lionel Luthor, father of Lex.

    "Lionel wasn't intended to be a long-term player, but he affects Lex so much and we were so intrigued by the parallel of extreme parenting," Gough says. "Why does Clark Kent become Superman and Lex who he is? It's really how they are raised."

    Looking forward, this fifth season is a key one in the Superman mythology. Clark and his friends are in college and the working world in Metropolis, and he is discovering more of his powers as he becomes involved deeper with his legacy as a son of Krypton.

    "This is where Clark starts to step up and take the mantle of Superman," Gough says, "and Lex's descent into evil is accelerated.

    "And now that everybody's legal, we can play that Clark-Lana-Lex triangle and see that effect."

    Show has been successful for ABC Family in syndication and is doing very well overseas, where it has become Warner Bros. Intl. Television's highest-rated and most well-received series since "ER."

    A sixth season is expected, but nobody involved with the show will commit beyond that at this point.

    "Advertisers love 'Smallville,' and it's been wildly successful for our network in terms of revenue," says Janollari, adding that it has helped expand the WB's audience by bringing in young males.

    "For as long as it's around, its popularity can help us rebuild and find that next wave of hits."

    Super expectations
    Skein satisfies devoted comicbook fan base

    There's one foe that all comicbook adaptations, bigscreen or small, have to face, one that is immensely powerful, supremely picky and hard to win over: the fans.

    Springing from the mythos of Superman, the first and most famous comicbook superhero, "Smallville" drew skeptical looks from those fans when it launched in 2001. The series had to compete with previous TV and movie incarnations of the Man of Steel and was being brought to life by producers who had no history with comics either as fans or as filmmakers.

    "We were vilified. They (the fans) thought it was a terrible idea," says Al Gough, who co-created and exec produces the skein with partner Miles Millar. "Until the show aired, the Superman fans were extremely skeptical, as Superman fans are."

    Most of the trepidation came from making a series about Superman in which he neither flies nor wears his signature blue-and-red outfit. Those who knew the ins and outs of the Superman and Superboy mythos had further complaints about Clark's arrival amid a meteor shower of Kryptonite; having Clark and Lex as friends in their youth; and new characters such as Chloe Sullivan.

    "It was such an interesting angle on the show to begin with -- that you'd do a series on the early years of a superhero but you'd never get to the point when he'd get into the costume," says Gareb Shamus, publisher of top-selling comicbook fan magazine Wizard. "I think it was a little overwhelming for the fans."

    Gough says he and Millar worked hard to get the basics right. "We've tried to stay very true to the sort of core Superman canon," he says. "We've just rearranged some of the other elements."

    In addition to working closely with Superman's publisher, DC Comics, Gough and Millar brought in as producers and writers Jeph Loeb and Mark Verheiden, both of whom have written Superman comics, to bring some of the comicbook elements to the show.

    Characters such as Perry White and Lois Lane have shown up, as has Red Kryptonite and a few actors from previous Superman projects, including Christopher Reeve. Aquaman showed up in a recent episode to test the waters for his own "Smallville"-like skein, and future episodes promise to bring in more DC characters.

    "The sincere respect for the character and the underlying mythos really comes through," says Paul Levitz, president and publisher of DC Comics. "Anything that introduces new generations of people to our characters has to be good for us. There's a lot of people who love Clark Kent and Lex Luthor who didn't four or five years ago, and we think they'll be fans for generations to come the same way those who saw the George Reeves show way back when did."

    The show's ability to reach a large audience has given "Smallville" a shot at becoming the longest-running live-action superhero comicbook series in history: It's about to surpass the 104 episodes of Reeves' "Adventures of Superman" skein and looks likely to top the 120 episodes of the 1960s "Batman" next season.

    While some fans may still not like that the show deviates from the comicbooks, that group is relatively small, Levitz says. Still, the show has used more elements from the comics as it goes on, which Levitz says enriches the show for both comicbook fans and the general audience.

    "It shows that this show is taking place in a rich universe," he says.
  10. KBX Sidekick

    Nov 23, 2005
    Likes Received:
    How you are not an official spokes person for Smallville is beyond my understanding AgentPat! :woot:

    So even though WB owned all anything relating to DC comics, this show might have been on Fox? Really?
  11. AgentPat Squeaky wheel

    Apr 16, 2004
    Likes Received:
    I dunno? I'd do it for cheap though. :D

    Yeah, apparently. But Lois & Clark ran on ABC, which is owned by Disney, so it's not that unusual.

    Here's a few excerpts from the commentary track with Gough and Millar from Metamorphosis on the S1 DVD:

    Millar: The interesting thing for us was developing the show with the intention of looking at everything in a real way and finding the heart of Clark Kent. I think for me as an English person, he's always been very removed and very earnest and noble, but we never understand why. And I think the point of this show and the episodes that follow is you discover why he became the man he is. It's also we see because of his parents, because if he landed in Russia, or he landed in Poland or...

    Gough: ...even a different state, he'd grow up to be a different person. He is the man he is because of who his parents are. These episodes are sort of... we call it 'The Trials of Clark Kent.' And obviously the big overarching thing is that the meteor shower brought all this Kryptonite to Smallville, and it affects different people in different ways.


    Millar: We spent two months talking about the idea and developing the characters, working out the emotional triangles between the various characters and their back stories. We went in and pitched the WB Network and Fox Network in a single day. I remember we all went in to see the executives, Peter Roth and all the people from Warner Television all wore Superman T-shirts. We went into this huge conference room at Fox...

    Gough: A lot of guys who had no rights wearing Superman T-shirts... [laughs]

    Millar: ...we pitched the show to the president of Fox Television and...

    Gough: ...president of the WB

    Millar: ...and we basically had some sort of bidding war I guess. By the end of that afternoon, we had sold the show and had a commitment of 13 on the air, which for us was unbelievable. That helps in so many regards. It means you can start the casting process...

    Gough: ...which we did. We started the casting process in October of 2000 and we shot the pilot in March of 2001. So we had a number of months to find Clark, Lana and Lex, and all of our other characters.

    Millar: We had casting directors all over the country - at least 10 different cities we had casting directors looking for Clark, Lana and Lex.

    Gough: It really made a difference just to have that time because most television series don't get that sort of lead time for casting. You're usually going after the same pool of talent.

    Millar: We saw hundreds of people. I think the three we action wound up with - Tom, Kristin and Michael - we couldn't want better; they own their roles.


    Gough: Our philosophy was we would be faithful to the Superman legend without being slavish to it. DC to their credit, and Jeanette Kahn - the president of DC Comics - really likes the idea of expanding the world. Because they understand that Superman has lasted 60 years because he can move and change with the times.

    An interesting thing about Kryptonite is that it was not part of the original Superman legend. It actually started on the radio show in the 40s, which was a huge success. The actor had by contract two weeks of vacation and you didn't do reruns in radio, so they needed to have a different actor come in for those two weeks. They invented Kryptonite, which weakened Superman, so that he was exposed to Kryptonite and sounded different for those two weeks. So a lot of those [things] are necessity is the mother of invention. Also, when he first started he couldn't fly; he leapt quarter miles. So the idea here in our show that he won't fly in the series goes back to the original idea that Schuster and Siegel had.


    Gough: [referring to Lana's Kryptonite necklace] This is something visually we did to help sell the Kryptonite poisoning, where when he's around Kryptonite, his hands and veins start to writhe like that and they're sort of a little green. And once again with the lead [closing the necklace in Lex's lead box], then the hand clears up and he's fine.

    Millar: The interesting thing when we tested the show, we found out that young girls had no idea what was happening to him and what was the thing. How do we visually indicate Kryptonite, so it's a cool way with the veins in his hand.​
  12. Lighthouse Fairness, Equality, Bacon

    Feb 28, 2003
    Likes Received:
    How ironic is it that we never got to see a Gotham series because DC was so antsy about "diluting" the movie franchise, and then they make a Justice League movie with none of the same actors. WB, thems a buncha geneuses!
  13. Serene Avenger

    Aug 18, 2004
    Likes Received:
    AWESOME information, Pat. Some of these articles are familiar (probably from you posting excerpts in the past) but I'm really enjoying reading them in their entirety. Thanks for all that typing!
  14. triplet KryptonSite Reviewer

    Sep 20, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Quoted for Truth!

  15. zerohour films Sidekick

    Nov 1, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Thanks Pat!

    That article reminded me that haven't shown the Kryptonite effect like that in a long time...I miss that. I felt they had always done it better than the previous shows/movies. Actually showing the pain he is experiencing.

    Great read.
  16. AgentPat Squeaky wheel

    Apr 16, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Apparently, the origin of the "No Flights No Tights" rule on SV needs to be reiterated, because even people like Steve Younis, owner of The Superman Homepage, is a little fuzzy on it.

    Here's what he said in a recent "Big Blue" Report (#187):

    For the record, Tom Welling is not responsible for the "No Flights. No Tights" rule. The rule comes from the original producers of the show, Al Gough and Miles Millar:

    At a July [2001] press conference, Gough and executive producer Miles Millar explained their desire to create a super show without Superman's most distinct super power -- flying.

    "Honestly, I think that the stigma of Superman is putting on that suit," Gough said. "We went back and researched the history of Superman. It was interesting just to see the different sort of evolutions of it throughout the decades. It is fun to hint at that."

    "We were vilified. They (the fans) thought it was a terrible idea," says Al Gough, who co-created and exec produces the skein with partner Miles Millar. "Until the show aired, the Superman fans were extremely skeptical, as Superman fans are."

    Most of the trepidation came from making a series about Superman in which he neither flies nor wears his signature blue-and-red outfit.

    Gough and Millar were then off and running, creating their own "Smallville" mythology while trying to stay true to Superman characters in the DC Comics.

    "Batman had always been considered cool and Superman kind of cheesy, so we wanted to ground Superman in reality," Gough says.

    They literally grounded him, too, setting up a "no tights/no flights" rule at the outset to make a young Clark Kent more relatable to auds.

    "Superman's always been malleable to the times, from the '50s to the '90s when he was a yuppie, so we went the angst-ridden teen route," Gough says. "He's a contemporary teen that just happens to be from a different planet."
  17. ironman29758 Sidekick

    Nov 20, 2007
    Likes Received:
    here's another look at the devolpment of what could of been the gotham city/bruce wayne tv show
    edit: sorry if you want me delete it just say the word and it's gone
    #17 ironman29758, Mar 4, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2009
  18. RakuMon Sidekick

    Jun 9, 2004
    Likes Received:
    One of my favorite blogs on the Internets is Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog on The Atlantic.

    He discusses everything from politics to race to football to hip hop, and yes, comics.

    Anyway, he has a post about his disillusionment with comic book movies and then one of his commenters had these things to say about Smallville, which I thought were awesome:
  19. Superman1980 Civilian

    May 15, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Thanks very much for all the hard work you've put into this thread Pat, it's very interesting and I look forward to reading more.
    Ignore the negative people who are having a pop at you, the rest of us are grateful!
  20. The Incredible Hulk Bad Hombre

    Dec 19, 2001
    Likes Received:
    It never ceases to amaze me how in the face of being completely wrong about something, you will continue to rail on saying how you're correct with nothing whatsoever to back you up other than your own conjecture and yet you insist that what you're stating is "fact" without any link or citation to back up what you're spewing.

    Everything Pat posted is right out of the book of the Network executive. I mean, it couldnt be any more from the "horse's mouth" if you tried. Did you ever just for a second, stop and think that perhaps your account of the "facts" might not be completely correct considering that at best, anything you heard was second hand?
  21. The Caped Knight Shield Avenger

    Apr 9, 2004
    Likes Received:
    As I pointed out to my good friend Brainy

    I seriously believe that the team behind Visual effects in this series have done an absolutely epic job with VFX over the course of 8 seasons . The work they do sometimes is so incredible that it even surpass the work done in some Superhero films on the Big Screen . :ikyn
  22. Webhead2006 The Web-Swinger

    Nov 3, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Yea i agree most of the time the sfx work has been very great for a tv show budget smallville has. There has only been a handful of times during the 8 yrs the show has been on that some scenes didnt look that great.

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