The “Man of Steel” is back. So maybe he isn”t exactly a “man” yet, but Clark Kent is still faster than a speeding bullet or at least the school bus he just missed. Just a few years short of the reporting tag-team of “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” “Smallville” features a teenage Clark coming to terms with his supernatural abilities. Deftly played by quiet newcomer, Tom Welling, Clark manages to invoke memories of past Supermans from the likes of Christopher Reeve to Dean Cain.

Paul Wong
Someone has a pocket full of Kryptonite. Who?<br><br>Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The bulk of the pilot episode begins 12 years ago as a meteor shower rains down on the quiet sprawl of Smallville, Kansas. Unsuspecting townsfolk are unfortunately killed during the freak event, including the Langs, parents of Clark”s future paramour Lana (Kristen Kreuk). Riding home to their farm, the childless Kents (John Schneider and Annette O”Toole) are involved in a car wreck only to be rescued by a smiling 3-year-old boy. Believing this an answer to their prayers, the Kents “keep” the young boy.

So, now you”re thinking I know this story already. I watched the “Superman” movies! But in a most spectacular fashion, the creators of “Smallville” decided to add a little twist. It seems that Clark Kent and his future nemesis, Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum, “Urban Legends”), are friends? While the town lives uncomfortably under threat from the rich Luthor clan, Clark just happens to save the spoiled boy”s life.

But wait, there”s more! Clark and Lex actually share more of a past than either of them knows. When Clark “fell to Earth,” Lex was harmed when the ship came crashing down into a cornfield, causing him to inexplicably lose all his hair so that explains it!

Granted the entire show relies too heavily on past premises. Sure there is only one Superman story, adding a “teenage” twist to the entire heroic mythology seems quite silly and definitely does not do it any justice. Compiling a bevy of “pop” music mixed with lame teen dialogue has “Smallville” yearning to fit in with the rest of the teen dramas on The WB. Interestingly enough, it”s up against director David Nutter”s other teenage, sci-fi creation, “Roswell,” which has jumped to UPN.

Even the so-called villains that Clark finds himself up against are pretty weak. Sure this is all a learning experience before “The Man of Steel” hits the big leagues, but disarming a nerd who seeks revenge on the football players who played a life altering, practical joke, just seems like a waste of power. And hearing Clark whine about not being normal can only be sentimental so many times.

The show does have its winning points. Lex”s city ways (and dare I say corrupt values) are a perfect contrast for Clark”s small town mores. Their friendship gives some personality to an otherwise dull show.

Of course, no “Superman” drama is complete without the threat of Kryptonite. This time it”s in the hands of Clark”s secret crush, Lana, so every time he comes within five feet of her, he collapses. But, for the first time in “Superman” history, the bad outweighs the good.

Bad script, bad dialogue and bad coincidental occurrences, bleed the show of any true quality. In fact, the makers involved with the show have a more interesting history than our dear Clark. Interesting facts: Not only has David Nutter created alien drama, “Roswell,” but he also had a hand in 1988″s “Superboy,” the college edition of “Superman.” Additionally, Annette O”Toole who portrays Martha Kent actually performed the role of Lana Lang in “Superman III.”

Holy blue tights fetish!

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