‘Smal­lville’ ends 10-year run on CW

The Daily Herald - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAY BOB­BIN

“This was not a show about Su­per­man.” That’s what star Tom Welling says about “Smal­lville,” which has spent 10 years chart­ing Clark Kent’s pro­gres­sion from his teen years into young adult­hood, putting the na­tive of the planet Kryp­ton at the brink of be­com­ing the Man of Steel. A land­mark show for the then-WB Net­work be­fore it merged with UPN to be­come the cur­rent CW, the DC Comics-in­spired ad­ven­ture wraps up its run with a two-hour fi­nale Fri­day, May 13.

Many de­tails are be­ing kept un­der wraps, but wed­ding thoughts are cer­tain since Clark (played by Tom Welling) is on the verge of mar­ry­ing his true love, re­porter Lois Lane (Erica Du­rance). How­ever, his mind also is on two foes: the pow­er­ful Dark­seid and the sly Lex Luthor, the lat­ter played again by for­mer se­ries reg­u­lar Michael Rosen­baum (now a co-star of Fox’s “Break­ing In”).

“We shot the ac­tual fi­nale as our third-to­last episode,” re­ports Welling, who also has been a “Smal­lville” ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer and the di­rec­tor of six episodes. “We shot two more episodes, then shot the first part of the fi­nale last. It gave us the op­por­tu­nity to take a look at what would be the last im­age of the show in post-pro­duc­tion and make any changes or adap­ta­tions to it. It didn’t nec­es­sar­ily take the emo­tional pres­sure off us, but the time pres­sure.”

Even if the very last scene was done weeks be­fore pro­duc­tion on “Smal­lville” ended, it still had its im­pact on Welling.

“I re­ally didn’t know what to ex­pect,” he says. “As we were shoot­ing it, ev­ery­one’s senses were height­ened. Peo­ple were fly­ing up from L.A. (to Van­cou­ver, where the show has been made) to su­per­vise and make sure ev­ery­one who had to make a de­ci­sion was there. Ev­ery­body was just re­ally ex­cited, and the en­ergy level went up.

“I would imag­ine it’s like the last mile of a marathon,” Welling adds, “where the adren­a­line kicks in and re­ally al­lows you to fin­ish strong. At the same time, it was ‘Make sure the shot’s good.’ The last im­age, for me, sums up not only the end of Clark Kent but the birth of Su­per­man. I hope that’s what peo­ple can take away ... that Clark is still out there fight­ing the good fight, but we’re just not able to go with him.” (Movie di­rec­tor Zack Sny­der plans to change that with the pro­jected 2012 re­lease of “Man of Steel.”)

Its mak­ers had plenty of no­tice “Smal­lville” was end­ing, since Welling an­nounced at last May’s CW up­front event for ad­ver­tis­ers that the se­ries’ 10th year would be its last. “From the global as­pect of mak­ing sure we summed ev­ery­thing up af­ter 10 sea­sons, there was also the at­ten­tion to de­tail,” he re­flects of the home stretch. “I think that at­ten­tion has been a big com­po­nent of why we’ve been able to sur­vive for a decade.”

Gone from “Smal­lville” for the past three sea­sons, Rosen­baum ini­tially claimed he wouldn’t re­turn for a fi­nal round of Lex ver­sus Clark, but he ul­ti­mately re­lented.

“It was fan­tas­tic,” Welling says of the re­union. “It was like he’d been gone for­ever, but it was also like he’d never left. The scenes I had with him were all done in one day, and it was prob­a­bly the most fun I’ve had in a long time. He and I have a great re­la­tion­ship.”

Al­li­son Mack closes out the role of Chloe Sullivan, since Welling rea­sons, “She’s a big com­po­nent not only of the show, but of Clark’s tra­jec­tory, so it was im­por­tant for her to be there.”

How­ever, Kristin Kreuk doesn’t reprise the part of Lana Lang.

“When her char­ac­ter left Smal­lville, I think ev­ery­body knew that was kind of it,” Welling says. “As ex­cit­ing as it might have been for Clark to walk into the Daily Planet and see Lois and Lana hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion, and as stress­ful as that could have been for him, it just didn’t come to­gether.”

For some time, “Smal­lville” pro­duc­ers stated the show’s view­ers never would see Clark fly nor wear the Su­per­man suit un­der the so-called “no flights, no tights” rule. Well, they’ve now seen him fly, so it re­mains valid to won­der if they’ll see him in the leg­endary blue-and-red uni­form with the big “S” on the chest be­fore the se­ries signs off.

“To me, and to a lot of peo­ple con­nected to the show, that’s not what the show is about,” Welling main­tains. “Maybe we leaned that way some­times be­cause it was eas­ier to go that way and it would be eas­ier to write about, but to me, the in­tegrity of the show was about Clark Kent in Smal­lville. Even when he made his move to Me­trop­o­lis, the essence of the char­ac­ter be­fore he be­came Su­per­man was al­ways im­por­tant to me. That’s what I found in­ter­est­ing, that’s why I signed up 10 years ago, and I think it’s a big part of why peo­ple watched.”

Still, Welling knows “Smal­lville” also has had to ser­vice a much big­ger mythol­ogy, es­pe­cially since he con­sid­ers work­ing with the late Christo­pher Reeve — a four-time movie Su­per­man and two-time “Smal­lville” guest star — a high­light of do­ing the show.

“I think they do a great job with Su­per­man in films,” he says. “They spend a lot of time and money, and to be hon­est, they put a lot of re­stric­tions on our show as to what we could do with Su­per­man. We al­ways had to check in with DC Comics, and ev­ery­thing had to be OK’d through them. There were lim­i­ta­tions in do­ing some things we wanted to do, but other lim­i­ta­tions were self-im­posed.”

Also seen in the movie re­makes of “Cheaper by the Dozen” and “The Fog” dur­ing his “Smal­lville” ten­ure, Welling hopes to keep work­ing for The CW as an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of the se­ries “Hell­cats,” which hadn’t yet been re­newed for a sec­ond sea­son at this writ­ing. For now, he’s sat­is­fied with the way “Smal­lville” is leav­ing the net­work ... and fans.

“Smal­lville” con­cludes its 10-sea­son run with a two-hour fi­nale Fri­day on The CW.

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