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Smallville: Pilot

Jonathan: "Kids don't just fall out of the sky, Martha."

This pilot episode started at the beginning, with the kindly, childless Kents finding a small boy in a cornfield. The big difference from the traditional version of the Superman story was the deadly meteor shower, which killed Lana Lang's parents and left nine-year-old Lex Luthor bald. The mythical Smallville always seemed like such a wholesome place before, but with Clark's "crucifixion," the meteor shower, and first "scarecrow" Jeremy electrocuting people, it was obvious right away that this version of Smallville would be a much darker and scarier place.

Tom Welling as Clark is very handsome and Superman-like. Perhaps too Superman-like. He's so tall and well-developed that he looks a lot older than sixteen. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Clark desperately wants to be normal, and never can be. At least he has great parents who love him. I like that Jonathan and Martha are much younger than the Kents are usually portrayed. Jonathan does the earnest, honest, forthright father figure very well, imparting wisdom as needed. Martha is a good mom but appears to constantly defer to Jonathan. Not a feminist, I guess.

Lex met Clark in this episode when his car went off a bridge and Clark rescued him. I'm not into slash at all, but hey... eighteen minutes into the pilot episode, and Clark was giving Lex mouth-to-mouth? Hmm.

Lana Lang, the prettiest girl in school, made Clark appear awkward... not because he was in his "Clark Kent" persona (clearly too early for that) but because she wore a Kryptonite locket for luck. Interesting twist. Lana has questionable taste: she has a steady, square-jawed boyfriend, Whitney, who was nasty enough to string up a kid in a cornfield.

Intrepid high school reporter Chloe was obviously filling the role reserved in the future for Lois Lane, and reminded me of Willow on Buffy. Here, she introduced us to her secret Wall of Weird, her exploded scrapbook of the oddities of Smallville. Chloe and Pete appear to be attached at the hip. It's funny, but next to Clark, they both look tiny.

Note the primary color scheme, especially the use of the color red: red truck, Martha's red tulips, Lex's red hair. Red is the school color. The Kent farmhouse is yellow, with huge yellow sunflowers in the front. Clark nearly always wears red and/or blue, which are, of course, Superman's colors. The color scheme gives Smallville a unique, comic book feel.

When I first got into Smallville (and it took me awhile because I didn't like the first season at all), I noticed that several things happen a lot: car crashes, broken windows, and people getting thrown around. So I decided to count the "hits," or the number of times one of these things happens in each episode. This one had six car wrecks: the Langs' and two other vehicles, the Kent truck, Lex's car off the bridge, Jeremy crashing a truck and Clark into a brick wall. Jeremy also broke a shop window. That makes seven points for the pilot. Not a record, but impressive.

Bits and pieces:

— The meteor shower took place in October 1989, twelve years ago. That makes Lana fifteen, Clark possibly around sixteen, and Lex a legal twenty-one.

— One of the first shots in the series is of Lionel's newspaper with the headline: "Queen Industries CEO missing, presumed dead." Green Arrow's father, right? Clark and Lana lost their natural parents and Lex his mother. Lots of orphans in this story.

— The Superman story has always included a lot of Jesus imagery. The scarecrow is so obvious that I feel silly pointing it out.

— Jonathan won't let Clark play football, for obvious reasons.

— It's just fun that bald Lex has a father with so much hair. Ironic, you might say.

— In the flashback, the Smallville sign said it was "the creamed corn capital of the world." In the present, it was "the meteor capital of the world."

— Clark spied on Lana with his telescope. Yes, Superman is a peeper.


Lana: "So what are you, man or superman?"
Clark: "I haven't figured it out yet."

Pete: "How do I look?"
Clark: "Like a tackle dummy."

Chloe: "It started out as a scrap book and it just kinda mutated."

Good pilot. Three out of four stars,

Billie Doux had a love-hate relationship with Smallville, which is why some of her reviews are briefer than they should be.


  1. Just recieved my complete series set from Amazon, today. Looking forward to going through the series again, making comments here and there as I do. :) As for this episode... not much to say that hasn't already been said here, except that Young Lana crying almost made ME cry. And that the telescope thing is... kinda creepy.

  2. That's terrific, Greg. The earlier reviews were posted in HTML before comments were allowed, so I'd love to hear your comments. (Just FYI, I wrote a lot of the reviews of the first few seasons very quickly over a single summer, and they're not as comprehensive as they should be.)

  3. Well... I'll try to help ya out there, then. :) Also of note in this episode at least.... Lex picking up Lana's necklace at the end there. Just noting it, heh. Not commenting.

    I picked up this complete series with some of my Christmas money, along with every season of Six Feet Under, Arrested Development, and Season 1 and 2 of the Shield. Plus there's the TV on DVD I GOT for Christmas. As I watch, I'm gonna comment. :) That's all I'm gonna say, hehe.

  4. Oh.... I also enjoyed that scene in the graveyard, too. Pretty much where Clark and Lana first really connected. And I'm gonna put all my comments into one post from now on, heh. Pausing in the middle of watching to add more, as I go. :)

  5. Oh. And Clark's revenge on the jocks, stacking their trucks on top of each other, was pretty fun too. :)

  6. Good, not great, pilot. Of course, one of the problems is that the Superman backstory is so well known that the writers had to find a new twist to it. I think they did a good job with the younger Kents and Chloe.

    I haven't watched it in a while, but one thing really stood out for me -- Clark's "it's all my fault." I had forgotten how early the angst started!

  7. M: On my first re-watch and first time reading a Smallville episode reviews. I didn't catch this show back in the day. Only a few eps on random reruns. Eventually tried renting the DVDs at a local library or borrowing from friends but I could never watch with enough consistency to remember things.

    Biggest thing on episode 1 that carried me throughout the first years of the show: so much of the casting is good but WHY ON EARTH didn't they just age up the characters to match the actors better. Tom was 24 playing a 14 or 15 year old. If I had watched the show when it came out, I would have been totally unable to suspend belief long enough to get hooked. I mean, not every teen show has to start freshman year right? Can't they skip to sophomores after a mid season break or start as juniors?

    Bland but pretty Lana, Annoying but smart Chloe, blind but loyal Pete. Not the worst HS friends/friendlies. Whitney being a jerk but Lana not seeing it sounds about right for their age. The parents are good too for salt of the earth Kansans. They did good considering the canon and need to plant new plot seed. I always cared for the villains more than America's Boy Scout. Why did Clark need to be a peeper? It either needs to be un creepy or get called out.

    For Billie: I already know I'm going to enjoy the damage meter in the bits and pieces. This was a massive undertaking and you get all the props!


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