Topic: Smallville

I figured that since the show ran for so long, and because it isn't part of the current DC TV universe, it deserved a thread of its own.

While browsing through Vudu today, I noticed that Smallville was listed for sale. This surprised me, because I've never seen the show available for streaming before, especially in HD.

I watched a couple of the two minute previews and it looks pretty nice. The CG effects (especially in the pilot) don't compare to The Flash, but the normal scenes are well shot.I don't know that these are rescanned from the original film, but they look good. I would have to compare them to the DVDs in order to judge the detail.

It is nice to see the show available for streaming. I would like to see it on Netflix. It is a good show that ran for a long time, so it doesn't deserve to fade away because nobody can find it.

I wonder if it will ever get the full bluray upgrade.

Re: Smallville

Smallville was a pretty good show. I didn't realize it was on Netflix. Weird that a show that was popular for so long, even recently, is kind of vanishing from the popular culture.

If anything, I would think that the current popularity of DC Comics on TV would make people want to check out the back catalog.

Re: Smallville

It isn't on Netflix yet. The only place I've seen it available to stream is Vudu, and you'd have to pay for it. I think that is a large part of why it is fading from memory so quickly. People love the show, but they can't actually watch it without buying it.

Re: Smallville

SMALLVILLE is weird to me. The majority of its episodes are quite awful, in my opinion, but the first season is full of potential and the eighth and ninth season are superb. The tenth season is good but then falls apart in the final run of episodes. The Season 11 comic books are also good but, again, fall apart near the end.

SMALLVILLE, for Seasons 1 - 7, suffered from when it was made and who was making it. After BATMAN & ROBIN, there was a great distaste for superheroes in live action, so SMALLVILLE was made with an aversion to superhero imagery or storytelling despite being a SUPERMAN TV series. Due to all the self-imposed limitations, the series got locked into a very tight and restrictive formula; monsters of the week who would be dealt with in repetitive scenes of Clark throwing them thirty feet, and an incredibly monotonous seven years of Clark and Lana circling around each other.

The show seemed incapable of moving past these two areas for Seasons 1 - 7, and the main problem was the showrunners. Alfred Gough and Miles Millar were buddy cop screenwriters who wanted to do BRUCE WAYNE: THE SERIES only to settle for the Superman rights. They threw the Pilot together haphazardly, sold it as a series -- and promptly ran out of ideas.

As showrunners, they spent most of their time writing screenplays for other movies, barely paying attention to SMALLVILLE and dictating a rigid and unchanging status quo so that they could periodically write or direct an episode without needing to deal with what the other writers had conceived. Often, other writers would come up with ideas, see them approved only for Gough and Millar to abruptly backtrack. They were also based largely in LA, rarely being on the scene in Vancouver to see what was being filmed or performed, and were blind to things like the lack of romantic chemistry between Clark and Lana. They threw out dictates like making Lionel Luthor a regular cast member even though the writers didn't know what to do with him. When they felt that plotting arcs for Clark Kent's college years was too troublesome, they ordered that Clark become a college dropout.

Also, the repetitive writing created numerous problems (characters seeing Clark use his powers, a small town population that should have been traumatized by 3 - 4 murders a week) that weren't addressed.

Season 1 saw numerous writers struggling with these limitations and then quitting en masse to less aggravating TV shows because Gough and Millar would remove running plots and refuse to let Clark be vulnerable in any way to the Kryptonite mutants. The Season 1 staff went onto HOUSE, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, HEROES, DEXTER and EVERWOOD -- all because they were sick of Gough and Millar.

Gough and Millar quit after Season 7 (having had enough producer credits on enough episodes for syndication royalties). The remaining writers all received promotions and asked Tom Welling to work with them. Season 8 - 10 saw a massive upswing in quality and consistency: Clark donned a prototype Superman costume and started working in Metropolis and the show became the superhero show it had been ashamed to be previously. The Clark/Lana romance was replaced with the far more endearing Clark/Lois dynamic. The show, previously clumsy and repetitive white person angst, shifted into a larger than life superhero fantasy.

But mis-steps were made. Season 8 built up a fight with Doomsday that the majority of fans and reviewers declared anti-climactic due to its brevity. Season 9 had Clark using heat vision to destroy two buildings that would have otherwise given Kryptonian conquerers superpowers, but the imagery was upsetting to the fans. Season 10 collapsed upon itself when the great threat of Darkseid and his minions were vanquished by Clark flying through Darkseid and his telekinetic and indestructible henchmen being killed by arrows they had so casually stopped in mid-air in previous episodes. The finale was an incoherent mess.

Season 11 was a series of comics written by one of the staff writers, Bryan Q. Miller. It was good to start, distinguishing itself from the mainstream Superman comics by emphasizing that Superman was actually a team effort in SMALLVILLE. Unfortunately, halfway into it, the weekly schedule of the comic had artists rushing through their work. As a result, the likenesses of the actors were lost; the SMALLVILLE cast, once rendered with loving attention to the actors' faces, now looked generic and like they could be in any Superman comic. A lot of the appeal of the comic was lost and the series ended on a decent but ultimately un-SMALLVILLE-esque storyline -- the writing was always great, but if Clark and Chloe don't look like Tom Welling and Allison Mack, the comic has no reason to exist.

SMALLVILLE, to me, was, an interesting failure. And yet -- you don't get to the magnificent ARROW and FLASH and SUPERGIRL shows and the Marvel Cinematic Universe without SMALLVILLE. But it was made at a time when superheroes in live action were out of style. It was created by writers who didn't understand superheroes or television. And that always crippled it.

Re: Smallville

I'm pretty sure I watched a few episodes of Smallville on Netflix a few years ago. I had seen a lot of episodes at random times, so I wanted to go back through and watch at least the most popular and acclaimed episodes in order. I didn't get around to that yet, though.

So I think it's been taken off Netflix for whatever reason. Maybe DC doesn't want brand confusion with more recent incarnations of the character?

Re: Smallville

Really? I've never seen Smallville on Netflix. Whatever the case, I hope they put it on there soon.

The show did have many flaws. The circular plots were a huge problem. The way they forced characters into arcs that they shouldn't have been involved with (Lana should have never been more than the small town girl. Running the Talon was a huge stretch, but everything beyond that was just insanity). Yet, it's one of those shows where there are enough elements in place to make it worth sticking with. The cast, for the most part, was great. The way they interacted with each other was great. Seeing Tom grow into not only the role, but his own talent as the series went on... it was like the Superman arc playing out in front of and behind the camera at the same time (in a way). Allison was great. Kristen did the best she could with the crap they gave her. She had a thankless job on that show. She had genuine charisma and chemistry with the others, but they never used her properly. Annette and John were perfectly cast. As was Michael.

And as the series went on, there were great additions. And eventually, the story became better.

The show was well shot. The atmosphere was nice. The visuals were great for their time (Clark's first flight scene still ranks amongst the best Superman flying scenes. I think Man of Steel took some elements from the show)

It is a real shame that the writing was lacking so much, so often. Everything else was in place.

Re: Smallville

For show that lasted THAT long, I think it was very successful.   I myself went through several stretches where I would watch, then stop, and watch again.  The cast was fantastic, which is why I kept watching here and there.

Re: Smallville

That First Season was great.... But I have to agree that until it moved to Metropolis later it really stagnated.

Lois was great in Metropolis but I have to say I actually hated her initial appearances in Smallville as to me Smallville was about Clark, Chloe and Lex...
Lois and Clark in Metropolis fine but otherwise.....

"It's only a matter of time. Were I in your shoes, I would spend my last earthly hours enjoying the world. Of course, if you wish, you can spend them fighting for a lost cause.... But you know that you've lost." -Kane-

Re: Smallville

SMALLVILLE, on the whole, wasn't anymore successful than FRINGE or COMMUNITY or CHUCK in terms of a viewing audience.  Its premiere received 8.4 million viewers. The final seasons had about 3 - 4 million viewers. Most major networks would cancel shows with such a low viewership. SMALLVILLE had fewer viewers than LOIS & CLARK when L&C got cancelled for low ratings.

It's actually quite a damning indictment of SMALLVILLE that it was about a universally known American icon and yet, more people followed Chuck Bartowski than Clark Kent. It's like a JAMES BOND movie having the same audience as a student film short.

SMALLVILLE was unquestionably a financial success -- but it has to be said that the demands of the WB and then the CW network were fairly low compared to other TV shows.

Why did SMALLVILLE make it 10 seasons? The budget was low. They filmed inexpensively in Vancouver. They rarely flew writers out to Vancouver and had them script the series at a distance, reducing costs. The lead actors were hired in their late teens and early twenties and accepted low rates with gradual increases that would eventually make them all rich but without ballooning the budget. As the ratings dropped over the years, the studio and network gradually reduced the budget. Some of the lead actors would be hired for only 13 episodes out of the 22 per year to cut costs. Location filming was replaced with soundstages. Warner Bros. was able to sell the series to their own affiliates at lower prices which increased the revenue from advertising.

The ratings were about what you'd expect of a teen soap opera written by two middle-aged men with no sense of youth culture. The ratings were low, the series was watched either by superhero fans grudgingly tolerating poor scripts because of an investment in the Superman mythology or viewers who just liked watching pretty white people angst about romantic problems. It was not a very large audience at all, but due to the network and the actors, SMALLVILLE's revenue was higher than its production costs.

I've nothing to prove this, but my suspicion about Alfred Gough and Miles Millar quitting after Season 7 is because in order to keep SMALLVILLE's production costs low enough to see a profit from sales and advertising, they would have needed to take pay cuts. Season 8 is the start of the most dramatic budget downsizing seen in SMALLVILLE up to that point with location filming reduced to the bare minimum and numerous actors absent for 9 out of 22 episodes.

I'll certainly give SMALLVILLE its due because it was an early adopter of the modern TV superhero format, but it has to be said that it was not as big a success as the hype would claim. SMALLVILLE was successful in the way those cheap slasher movies are successful. They're not exactly masterworks of cinema or visual storytelling, but they keep getting made because they cost so little to make that the small audience who will sit through them is enough to produce a profit.

Re: Smallville

Looks like Smallville will be streaming on Hulu this year... http://comicbook.com/2016/04/03/smallvi … this-year/

Unfortunately, I don't know that this will help it's legacy much. Hulu confused the audience when it couldn't decide what it wanted to be, and now it isn't exactly a go-to source of entertainment. But hey, it is more than we have now, so that is something.

Re: Smallville

http://ew.com/tv/2017/08/08/smallville- … er_zergnet

Some interesting insight from Tom Welling, including an abandoned idea to have much more Superman in the series finale.

Re: Smallville

I agree with him. I wouldn't have been upset if the red leather jacket was Smallville's Superman costume. I think the tights and cape felt forced. It was more about "what we have to do" and less about the actual series.

Re: Smallville

Well to be fair, it's all forced for Clark.  He's this farmboy from Kansas who puts on this bright blue and red costume.  The red-blue blur makes a whole lot more sense for someone who should really be quiet and soft-spoken and want to stay out of the spotlight.  Batman's costume is, at the very least, functional.

I thought it was weird in Man of Steel too, honestly.  Clark had spent most of his life trying to blend in...he wears muted colors and Lois refers to him as a "ghost" - but he finds a blue/red onesie with a big cape and decides, "Yep, this is what I want to wear now" big_smile

Re: Smallville

Regardless of whether it fit the themes of the show or not, SMALLVILLE was one long build to seeing Tom Welling in the costume -- and they didn't deliver. On a visual level, it was awkward and clumsy to, after Clark suits up, film Tom only from the neck up and to use a CG Tom for long distance shots because the lead character of the show is suddenly subject to awkward angles and editing.

But, because I read the Season 11 comics, it didn't bother me too much.

Re: Smallville

Well, the last shot is terrible.  I have no problem with the arguments Tom presented, but it didn't have to look so cheap.  It was obvious that they only had a portion of the Superman Returns costume and had no budget for anything better.  The idea that the show ends as soon as he's Superman is fine, but it could've been better.  If they truly were going to have an entire episode where he was going to be Superman then the 3 seconds that he was Superman could've been better.

Re: Smallville

I think it was a huge mistake to attempt to tell the story of Clark putting on the suit for the first time while avoiding any shots where he was actually wearing it. It'd probably have been best if the Darkness plotline had been wrapped up as the second-to-last episode season finale with the actual finale being a flash forward set 5 - 10 years later with Superman only ever seen at a distance as a blur of special effects. But maybe they felt they'd used that idea already with the flash forward in the homecoming episode.

Re: Smallville

Well, the whole final season was weirdly planned.  They didn't know if they'd get Michael Rosenbaum back so there was the whole Lex clone storyline that might've gone nowhere.  Since they couldn't legitimately have Darkseid on, Clark ended up fighting Lionel Luthor and then "fighting" a CGI planet.

It actually feels a lot like the Sliders final season where they planned a big CGI finale, ended up blowing their budget on something else, and then ended on a cliffhanger.

Re: Smallville

I think there is a disconnect between the show that Tom Welling describes and what the show actually wanted to be, and what the studio/network wanted the final season to be. The Darkseid plot was never going to work on Smallville. The Superman suit was never going to look or feel right for Smallville. What they should have had was a personal journey for Clark (possibly using the final season to tell a story that happens over the course of a couple of years) getting him to a point where he can step into the world as Superman and be that person. We didn't need Lionel Luthor. We didn't *need* Lex to come back, and we certainly didn't need for him to come back the way he did.

I like Tom's point about us not being able to go with Clark as he becomes Superman. That's a perfect mindset to have with ending that series. And I don't think we needed the Superman imagery at the end of it all. We didn't need the scene with the airplane, which was just there because "it's Superman!". The show wasn't about Superman. If we flash forward ten years, I'd really care less about seeing the suit than seeing where Clark, Chloe, Lois, Lana, etc all wound up.

It's one of my peeves with comic book characters, where people think that they need to hit specific notes and create specific imagery, rather than just tell the story the way it wants to be told. Ultimately, it weakens the story on screen because that story is an afterthought.

Re: Smallville

I agree with that.  Clark's way worked, and the final season could've/should've been how a guy like that would even want to be Superman.  It doesn't make a ton of sense for most versions of Clark, and it made even less sense for the Smallville version.  The whole "beacon for the world" idea could've made sense, but since the writers didn't really know where they were going with it, they threw so many ideas out there.  Lex clones, superhero registration, Lionel, Earth 2, Darkseid.  It was just a weird scattershot.

Re: Smallville

I think that the Darkness plotline worked fine in Season 10 -- in terms of how it began in Season 10, episode 1 and ended with episode 13. Once the Darkness had been rebuffed and rejected by the Vigilante Registration Act repeal, the plotline was effectively over, although it continued to linger awkwardly afterwards.

I've gotten slightly more behind the scenes information on the show since the finale and there were some serious production problems throughout Season 10.

Allison Mack's departure came as a huge shock; the producers knew she was tired out and bored with Chloe Sullivan, but they had expected to get her to stand on her marks and say her lines for one more year -- perhaps by signing her to a 13 episode contract so that she'd have nine episodes off.

Instead, Allison signed for the premiere and then a few weeks of work that would amount to about four episodes in the middle of the season. Production was shocked that, due to the state of their contract, they couldn't even be sure if Allison would be in the finale. In fact, all bets were off for the finale.

Because of Season 10's low budget, they could not book actors well in advance. Fans would expect Allison Mack, Michael Rosenbaum, John Schneider and Annette O'Toole in the finale, but without the money to secure them, all production could do was hope to God these actors hadn't booked other jobs by the time the last filming block arrived.

So they planned what they could -- which is to say they planned the first 13 episodes of Season 10. That's why "Beacon," in which the Darkness is defeated and Lionel is ousted from LuthorCorp, feels like a season finale.

The hope was that by the time episode 13 came, they could figure out what the hell to do for 14 - 22. Maybe Allison Mack's contractual situation could be ironed out. Maybe Rosenbaum would commit to return for one episode.

But by the time they got there, the situation had shown only modest improvement. Allison Mack, John Schneider and Annette O'Toole had agreed to keep their schedules free for the finale. They felt they owed it to the fans.

Michael Rosenbaum, however, continued to refuse to return and at this point, production had devised an alternate plan. Having had different actors play Lex as children and an aged clone, they decided could use Lucas Grabeel, the actor playing the young clone of Lex, to stand in for Rosenbaum. They'd established that clones age fast.

The idea being thrown around in the writers' room: Grabeel, who'd played teenaged Lex in Season 6, would be the restored Lex (original brain, cloned body that would quickly age to adulthood and stop there). Lex would revive the remannts of the Darkness to fight Clark. Clark would defeat both (but Lex would survive). At the end of his final scene, Grabeel would age into Rosenbaum (Lex's face would be lifted from a Season 7 shot and grafted onto a body double's head in a dimly lit shot).

If Rosenbaum changed his mind at the last minute, Grabeel's later scenes could be refilmed with Rosenbaum instead of Lex; the clone would age earlier and faster.

Production planned several episodes with Lucas Grabeel, filmed "Beacon," filmed "Scion," -- but then they lost Grabeel; he signed to play a lead character in SWITCHED AT BIRTH. Production had only been able to hire him as a guest-star; they had no contractual hold on him if he found a regular role on another series. They couldn't even get Grabeel for a cameo in the finale.

It was too late to establish another Lex. Both the preferred plan (Rosenbaum returning) and the backup plan (Grabeel standing in) had failed. And so, the Darkness became the major villain of finale. Rosenbaum agreed to return only in time to film two scenes and some second unit footage.

There is a sad irony in how SMALLVILLE could get Rosenbaum but not Grabeel for the finale.

Cast availability was a constant problem in Season 10. There had been scheduling miracles in Seasons 8 - 9. In Season 10, SMALLVILLE's luck ran out. Kyle Gallner and Lee Thompson Young were unavailable all year, hence the body doubles in "Icarus." Alan Ritchson was able to do "Patriot," but unable to do "Icarus" or "Collateral." The producers reached out to Serinda Swan to reprise her role as Zatanna and the idea of her magic creating Clark's glasses-wearing identity retroactively was thrown around as well, but Swan was a regular on BREAKOUT KINGS. In an interview, Swan expressed her deep regret at being unable to take part in Season 10.

With all this confusion and disarray and uncertainty, many things during Season 10 got lost in the shuffle. The writers, struggling to account for a constantly unclear situation, lost track of whether or not Clark was wearing glasses or if Oliver was a fugitive or if he was avoiding Watchtower or not.

They lost their grip on whether Clark selling the farm was a good thing (it was presented as embracing adulthood) or a bad thing (Martha returned to protest). They failed to come up with a convincing explanation for how Clark's glasses would make his coworkers and friends forget what he looked like without them. They wrote cliffhangers the next episode would ignore.

This situation also made the writers blind to how badly the finale would misfire if they told the story of Clark putting on the costume but avoided any shots of him wearing it -- they were simply dealing with too many impossible circumstances at this point to see straight.

The other massive problem -- the writers worked in Los Angeles but filming was in Vancouver -- so the people scripting the show were often detached from the actual on-set production situation, not realizing that Grabeel could go at any moment or that Allison was totally burnt out. As a result, the team was unable to prepare for impending crisis or take advantage of opportunity.

This is not a SLIDERS in Season 5 situation; the SMALLVILLE team on Season 10 were hard-working and talented and they loved their show. They were simply defeated by budget restrictions, unavailable actors and geography that made it impossible for them to plan, prepare or function.

The takeaway from this, I think, is that networks should never cut budgets so deeply that writers aren't in the same city where the show is being filmed and producers can't lock actors down for filming commitments.

The other takeaway I have is that Season 10's failures don't feel like a really big deal to me because the Season 11 comic books were so good. Sometimes, sticking the landing erases any bad feeling caused by a bumpy flight.

Re: Smallville

That does sound like a mess, and I agree that the writers should have at least had the ability to be on set from time to time. I personally have always thought that the writers of a show should work where it is filmed, because the disconnect is too apparent most of the time. But Hollywood is stupid.

The solution to their problem: nix Lex entirely. Don't bother with him since Rosenbaum wasn't willing to commit. They tried to keep their eggs in a basket that they didn't have. They should have come up with a different end arc... But they felt they needed Lex because of the comics. Honestly, I was over him by that point. Seasons 8 and 9 were fine without him. The last season would have worked better if the writers accepted what they had, and the show they were writing, and stopped trying to end it on the comic book imagery.

Re: Smallville

I think the Darkness is a fine storyline...the issue I have with it is that there was really no way to make Darkseid (or even the evil planet thing) look good enough on the budget they had.  Like with Doomsday....where it just looked silly.  Sometimes these CGI villains look terrible with a cinematic budget.

Smallville was always best when the villains looked human or when the villains had powers that could be shown using practical effects.  I think TV CGI has gotten better recently, but this was never going to work.

http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/smallville/images/b/b7/822-Doomsday-5.png/revision/latest?cb=20091003012542

Re: Smallville

Doomsday didn't look great, but at least had an interesting story to with it.

Re: Smallville

Well, that's the thing.  The show didn't need Doomsday to show up the way he traditionally did.  He could've simply been human-looking with Clark-like strength.  The story was fine...how they decided to use their budget is the problem.

Re: Smallville

Agreed.

Re: Smallville

Tom just appeared on Rosenbaum's podcast. It's rare to see a Tom Welling interview at all, much less an interview that lasts an hour and a half. Now I know why!

https://youtu.be/dmMcGLfU6Ns

Re: Smallville

Michael Rosenbaum is fascinating, a bundle of self-aware neuroticism and bombastic lunacy with a strangely insincere demeanor that is in stark contradiction to a deep sensitivity and compassion. His goofy hipster routine is curiously at odds with Tom Welling being a low-key construction worker who staggered backwards into modeling and acting who had a year or so of partying before deciding to settle down and get married with a steady job in construction -- well, television.

Basically, Tom Welling became, at age 22, what Jerry O'Connell became at age 32. Can you imagine Jerry deciding to get married and settle down during the first season of SLIDERS? Jerry was like Jeff Winger without the smarts.

It's strange to compare Tom and Jerry. They were both athletic, attractive actors playing socially awkward young men. Their characters had exactly the same dress sense in flannel and jeans and moppy hair. The only difference between their clothes is that Clark wore workboots while Quinn wore sneakers.

I once remarked that Tom Welling would have made a god-awful Quinn Mallory because Jerry was, despite his flaws, a very well-trained actor whereas Tom was a cluelessly one-note actor with zero imagination and no ability to play a scientific mind. Now I'm not so sure.

The thing is that Jerry O'Connell was an extroverted being of hypercaffeinated sexual appetites while Tom Welling was and remains introverted and withdrawn and while he partied, he didn't much like it. Jerry was only playing an awkward geek. Tom actually is one, albeit in the body of a football player. Jerry O'Connell saw SLIDERS as his ticket to an open bar at all the good nightclubs. Tom saw SMALLVILLE as his job. But unlike SLIDERS, SMALLVILLE was so well-marketed that Tom knew -- if he did a good job on SMALLVILLE, he'd never have to work again for the rest of his life.

And so, to live up to his responsibilities, Tom blocked out anything that wasn't related to his work on SMALLVILLE (including his marriage). From age 22 to 32, he simply had no personal life. He barely even saw his wife and his marriage failed. Michael notes how Tom started out in Season 5 having put on weight because he had spent the summer eating heavily and realized he could never do that again. Even when he wasn't working, he had to think about work.

Tom Welling committed to SMALLVILLE and engaged with it fully as a creator, producer and director; Jerry may have had those same credits, but he never understood his character in the way Tom got Clark Kent. Could Tom have played a scientist? Jerry O'Connell thinks it absurd that he himself played a scientist. Tom would have given it his best.

It was interesting to hear how Tom regarded modeling and acting: it was simply a job much like construction was simply a job. But he assessed the requirements and impact and handed his whole life over to his character because he knew people were counting on him.

I thought it was hilarious how Michael Rosenbaum described his resentment and irritation with Tom; it aggravated Michael deeply that Michael had spent years honing his craft and paying his dues with one lousy independent film after another. Meanwhile, Tom did some male modeling and became the lead of a hit TV show based on nothing but his chiseled facial features.

Michael then explains that this resentment vanished when Tom was downright apologetic about his lucky breaks and dismissive of his own talents and eager to learn from Michael's acting ability.

Michael describes an absurd event during the filming of the SMALLVILLE pilot:  Michael approached Kristin Kreuk and apologized in advance were he to sprout an erection while working with her. Kreuk protested, "But we don't even have any scenes together." Michael responded, "Yeah. I know!"

It's the sort of joke where -- if you're not the most socially skillful individual, it will come off very badly. You have to have off-the-charts charisma to make remarks like that and come off as amusing and endearing as opposed to creepy and harassing and Michael has it.

Re: Smallville

I have friends like Rosenbaum, but I have a hard time keeping up with them. I'm not a pot smoker, or all fart and dick jokes, or anything like that. So I often stumble around, trying to find ways to interact with that type of person (who isn't necessarily just a gross person, but just has a different personality and way of expressing his/herself) while staying in my own somewhat square style.

I understand Tom's mentality more than Michael's. Michael is a showman and a self promoter. An extrovert. Tom is a more humble (at least outwardly. I don't want to insult Rosenberg) worker, who isn't interested in the self promotion BS within the industry. I get that. I am very similar, which is why I have a hard time promoting my books and found it impossible to push my way into an acting career. So much of it is the BS, and I just didn't have it in me. I can't lie without immediately feeling horrible and coming clean about it, so it's hard for me to schmooze.

I also get how Tom could be swept into the situation where he was working non-stop for 10 years, because he couldn't put his foot down and demand more free time. I would totally be that person who never spoke up. I'm fascinated by his story, because he is such the anti-Hollywood type, and I don't want to discount the work that he did to get what he earned, but his personality just doesn't lend itself to achieving that level of success and holding onto it. On top of that, he was surrounded by a cast that genuinely cared about him enough to speak up for him when he wouldn't do it himself, which I think says great things for everyone involved. In my (much more humble) experience on various sets, I've seen the group energy come together in a way that just made the whole experience fun and worthwhile, even when the hours were miserably long. I've also been on sets where there were more people around than I could count, and it felt like the most awkward, lonely, isolated place in the world. Working the hours in that type of environment, for ten years, would be hell.

Jensen Ackles (another one of the actors who I respect because he's not all Hollywood BS) once said that most young actors would go to the opening of an envelope for the sake of publicity and networking, and he isn't into that scene.

I love the stories of people that I can identify with, but who found a way to make it work. Who stay grounded and who don't turn into complete a-holes, the way so many actors do once they find success. I don't want to call it luck, because I think they still work hard and earn it just as much as the people who are constantly promoting themselves, but I've never been able to find that angle from which to approach a career in the entertainment industry where I could find success while managing to feel like myself at the end of the day.


As for Michael joking with Kristin about getting an erection, I think it's a combination of his being able to pull off the joke, and her being able to take it as the joke that it was. There are many, many people who would jump at the chance to get offended rather than laugh those things off, and I think any environment like that would be doomed to feel awkward and fake all the time.

Re: Smallville

In the movie about the making of SLIDERS REBORN, which would feature me and Transmodiar sitting in a room talking, Tom Welling would play me and Michael Rosenbaum would play Transmodiar and we sound just like them except Tom swears a lot and I don't.

ME: "I'm stuck on this part of the 'Net Worth' Redux script. I've finished everything else, I've fixed all the other plot problems in the story, except -- I can't figure out how Quinn is supposed to survive getting shot at with a bazooka that brings the hotel crashing down around him. I'm really starting to lose hope that I can come up with a solution."

MATT: "Why do they have to fire a bazooka? Is that set in stone? Couldn't the Rovers or whatever the fuck they are called have pirated a piece of tech from the Onliners? Some pulse technology that knocks everyone out without damaging the building?"

ME: "But the bazooka!"

MATT: "I mean, you're trying to reverse engineer a solution to a problem that is fundamentally stupid. So just change the problem to something less stupid. That whole scene is tard-level dumb, you should come up with a completely different scenario. Barring that, change the nature of the weapon and be done with it."

ME: "I didn't want to see it that way, I guess. I wanted to see it as an impossible situation, which Quinn tends to thrive on."

MATT: "Quinn doesn't thrive on that stuff."

ME: "What!?"

MATT: "He is adaptable at BEST. Quinn is not MacGyver. He is not going to engineer a solution out of getting hit by a bazooka."

ME: "MacGyver?"

MATT: "Have you never seen MACGYVER?"

ME: "Is that a TV show?"

MATT: "Are... are you fucking with me right now?"

ME: "I've heard it used as a verb."

MATT: "I am gobsmacked."

ME: "I'm reading the Wikipedia entry on MACGYVER now. But I always thought the best way to handle Quinn was to put the character in insane, impossible, no-win situations. And then come up with some absurd, implausible, nonsensical contrivance that allows him to succeed while using his genius to dismiss any plot problems that may result."

MATT: "See, and that's a problem that was perpetuated by the writers. Each member of the team had a particular skillset. Quinn was the enthusiastic genius. Arturo was the realist, the skeptic. Rembrandt was the street-smart voice. Literally, the voice. And Wade was the devil-may-care element of playful chaos. As time went on more and more things were subsumed by Quinn because he was easiest to write for -- he was the lead, after all. So he became the hacker, the sweet-talker, the fucking lockpick master. But if you are looking at a basics approach, Quinn should be totally out of his element when staring down a bazooka."

ME: "This Wikpedia page on MACGYVER is really inspiring. This reads like the greatest TV show ever made, Matt. 'The clever solutions MacGyver implemented to seemingly unsolvable problems – often in life-or-death situations requiring him to improvise complex devices in a matter of minutes – were a major attraction of the show, which was praised for generating interest in the applied sciences, particularly engineering, and for providing entertaining storylines.' This is totally what Quinn should be!"   

MATT: "I'm telling you -- Rembrandt needs to take center stage for a moment. Arturo needs to be a disbelieving boob."

ME: "Matt, MacGyver is the perfect model for Quinn Mallory! Quinn is going to beat that bazooka even if it kills me. MacGyver will lead the way!"

MATT: "God help us."

Re: Smallville

A lot of the MacGyver stuff was BS though. Just saying.

Fun fact: I can't watch MacGyver anymore! In 2009, I decided to sit down and watch the first episode on Netflix. While watching, I was informed that my father had suffered a severe stroke (which ended up throwing the lives of a few of us into complete chaos, which never ended).

A while later, the initial trauma of that stroke died down and life went on. So we decided to sit down and watch an episode of MacGyver. Good times, right? Except, my father wound up in the hospital again that night (I forget why... Possibly a seizure, which we weren't familiar with at that point).

So, the show is officially considered cursed in my family. Nobody is allowed to watch it at this point.

Re: Smallville

Informant wrote:

A lot of the MacGyver stuff was BS though. Just saying.

Fun fact: I can't watch MacGyver anymore! In 2009, I decided to sit down and watch the first episode on Netflix. While watching, I was informed that my father had suffered a severe stroke (which ended up throwing the lives of a few of us into complete chaos, which never ended).

A while later, the initial trauma of that stroke died down and life went on. So we decided to sit down and watch an episode of MacGyver. Good times, right? Except, my father wound up in the hospital again that night (I forget why... Possibly a seizure, which we weren't familiar with at that point).

So, the show is officially considered cursed in my family. Nobody is allowed to watch it at this point.

omg.  get away macgyver!

Re: Smallville

It's a shame, because I love me some nostalgia TV. smile

Re: Smallville

That was actually a really entertaining interview.

Re: Smallville

In the comments, Rosenbaum says he’s interviewing Kreuk and Mack in future instalments. The last I heard of Mack, she’d fallen in with this creepy cult leader and his weird harem.

Re: Smallville

Seriously? That's so sad, but Mack has been in the Hollywood machine for so much of her life, it honestly wouldn't surprise me if she were manipulated into a cult.

I can't judge, but I can be deeply concerned.

Re: Smallville

Yikes. Damn.

Okay, so there are longer videos available, but the one I chose to watch was this one: https://youtu.be/9kd9bOzqO-A

Watching the video is uncomfortable for me, but also fascinating in a way. I see Allison reaching for something. Her side of the conversation seems like someone who has always been told that she has to be "this" and the message is "that", which is true of someone in that industry. Before she had a chance to decide who she was as a person, she was told that she had to be a role model for all young women. No pressure. But that side of Hollywood is as fake as what we see on TV. The causes that they champion and the messages they convey are carefully crafted to create a certain image for the public.
As an adult, she appears to realize the false nature of those images and titles, and she seems to want to move beyond the bullshit, but I'm not sure that she knows how to explore those feelings without reading books on the subject, or having someone explain it to her. In doing this, she is repeating the process that got her here in the first place. If my reading of her is right, she has a noble goal, but she is going about it the wrong way.

He is a con man. He answers her questions with hollow, meaningless ramblings that offer no great insight, but he does so in a way that validates her question and makes her feel like he is giving an answer that is just barely beyond her reach. He mirrors her thought process and projects a calm and rational version of what she already thinks, and passes it off as his own wisdom. He rambles, and she smiles blankly because he is saying nothing and her mind is probably wandering. She isn't engaging with what he says at all, and at times her physical response is dictated by his movements... She is actually being led into her responses without realizing it. His rambling is the smoke and mirrors. He says a lot of crap and she does her best to find some shape or purpose in them. But it isn't an actual conversation. There is no back and forth. He contradicts himself and feeds into what she is struggling with, offering validation...

I don't know enough about him or his organization to say whether or not it's a cult (my research so far is this one video) but he is very clearly a con artist. And you do see this performance play out in religious situations, which is why I've always been incredibly uncomfortable being preached to. I'm a strong Christian, but I turn into a total Scully the second I step inside a church. Not that all preachers are con men. I've just seen my share of them.

Re: Smallville

There are no two people more opposed to each other than Informant and ireactions. So, when we both agree that Allison Mack has been swept up in a creepy cult run by a con man, we're probably onto something.

The important thing to hang onto in moments like these, I think, is to remember that Allison Mack merely played Chloe. We should separate the art from the artist. I confess, there is a bitter irony in this for me in that Chloe Sullivan taught me how to be suspicious, to demand that assertions be accompanied with evidence and specifics.

On five occasions, people have tried to rope me into multi-level marketing scams. On three occasions, cultists have attempted to recruit me. While I was innocent, guileless and lonely, Chloe Sullivan's influence helped me see right through these people every single time.

It's unfortunate that Chloe couldn't give Allison the same thing.

Mack and Chloe are different. Chloe Sullivan, despite some truly terrible writing , was a practical-minded character (although to say that, I have to ignore her SEVEN YEARS of crushing on Clark and those healing powers I'd prefer to forget). Chloe was fixated on building her career in journalism and then shifted into the Watchtower initiative. Mack subsumed her life into Chloe's existence.

When SMALLVILLE ended, Mack felt at a loss without writers to script snarky one-liners for her and felt like Chloe was a fully defined person while Mack was a blank template. And, because SMALLVILLE had made her rich, Mack went a different route from Chloe, focusing on intangibles like self-actualization, identity, emotional authenticity -- and this search for ephemeral (and therefore extremely vague) meaning led her into what looks to me and Informant to be a cult.

I would define a cult in this sense as an organization that promises insubstantial, non-material validation in exchange for vast sums of money and the notoriety of their members. Mack, who was desperate for validation, seems to have fallen head-first into this scam.

Cults like these tend to work best with people who are insecure but don't worry about where their next meal is coming from. They target rich but troubled people with emotional needs that cult leaders can salve in the way you saw in that video. Mack expresses her need and this Keith Raniere fellow parrots back her question in paraphrased terms but with no actual specificity.

There's a lot of gossip around Raniere, some of which has been substantiated and some of which hasn't. We can be sure that he ran multilevel marketing schemes and executive coaching workshops that charged people $25,000 a day.

You say that Mack isn't engaging with him, but she seems completely swept up professionally and personally. Mack blogged about how Raniere is her mentor, how he encouraged her to take a step back from acting and figure out who she'd be if she weren't being Chloe, and how she was getting involved in his (high priced) workshops and programs which have been described by cult investigators as flattering people's egos while brainwashing them into Raniere's control.

She now runs some sort of vaguely defined acting school with him that charges $10,000 a year to young performers.

The part where unsubstantiated rumours come in: former followers have claimed that the end goal was to acquire a large pool of young girls -- including Hollywood actresses -- to engage in sexual relationships with Raniere.

The story going around (which may or may not be true) is that Allison Mack is hopelessly in love with him and is now recruiting young actresses into Raniere's harem -- of which Kristin Kreuk was briefly a member but left after breaking up with a cultist boyfriend and after a threeway with Mack and Raniere -- and that Mack's been brainwashed into believing that all this scamming and seduction is some process of self-realization.

I cannot emphasize enough, however, how everything in the above two paragraphs is unproven hearsay. I would be sorry to think any of it true. It is entirely possible that Raniere's former business partners (victims?) have sought to smear him and used Allison Mack's public standing to attack him (with exaggerated claims?). There isn't anything resembling a verifiable source in these claims.

But Informant and I both agree (!!!!!!!!!) that Raniere is a con-artist.

And I just think it indicates that Chloe and Allison aren't the same person; Chloe's bullshit meter is a highly tuned radar for nonsense whereas Allison is deeply susceptible. Cult leaders are bottomless wells of charisma who target people's innate longings and weaknesses; the only reason I'm not a victim myself is because, um, I already had an all-consuming obsession that required absurd amounts of time and investment (SLIDERS, it was SLIDERS).

That said, we are assuming innocence on Mack's part and thinking of her as a victim -- because we love Chloe Sullivan and we don't want to think that this woman who represented everything we'd like to be and like to date could be a willing accomplice to a con-artist and predator.

**

I confess to a certain level of, shall we say, professional admiration for Raniere. I run a book club and one challenge is to keep the conversation going. One technique is to paraphrase what somebody else said in the form of a question to get participants to question, explore and debate what's been said and them transition into something new, while making everyone feel like what they've said was heard and is being considered. It's a terrific conversational approach for a book club.

When Raniere talks with Mack about authenticity -- I've actually used that topic in some of my friendships with actresses. Acting is the art of being natural in highly unnatural circumstances in counterfeit realities. I consider my actress friends to be experts in the art of naturalism and the subjective nature of reality and it's a subject most performers could talk about forever and it's a great resource for conversations in a book club.

And I can (grimly) appreciate the social skills to engineer a position of trust with Allison Mack. I imagine Raniere presented himself as someone who was beyond the rat race, pursuing higher goals of personal definition and Mack latched onto that, thinking this already wealthy man of high ideals couldn't be after her money or her body. I'm kind of like that with women too. I try to communicate that I'm interested in their opinions and unique perspectives formed by their specific life experiences and professions and skillsets -- largely in terms of what it can bring to discussions in my book club.

I am somewhat interested in how my book club could benefit from brainwashing, domination over submissives, psychedelics to induce suggestibility and inducing wealthy members to hand over all their possessions and funds -- or I would be except that seems like a lot of time, effort and energy and I don't need such complications for my book club.

I guess the upshot of all this is that we can respect people's skills and talents (Allison's acting, Raniere's leadership) while being appalled by how they choose to use them... ?

Re: Smallville

We can be sure that he ran multilevel marketing schemes and executive coaching workshops

Those are the scammiest businesses is existence.  It's shocking to me that people still fall for both of them.

Re: Smallville

Dude, you just came up with a novel, screenplay or stage play. The book club cult thing is a great hook, and it's something original. Don't create a Quinn Mallory character, but you could have your book cult leader looking to TV characters and politicians as charismatic role models as he/she builds their cult leader persona.

And while we're on the subject of book clubs... I mean... you do know an author with several books out. Just sayin'. ;-)


I think I view Allison as a victim here because I felt incredibly uncomfortable watching her body language and listening to the tone of her voice in that video. She looked like someone who was scared of having the wrong thought. When you compare that to something like this: https://youtu.be/WKXqq7103s4 the difference is incredible. In one she looks like an abused puppy, and in the other, she's talking about how loud an opinionated she is. When I see her talking about things she knows and which she believes in (even if it's just telling a story from the set that actually happened) she seems confident and strong. However, when I see her talk about her beliefs, etc, she just seems so lost. I don't know. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but she seems to struggle with finding her true north.

When I say that it doesn't seem like she is engaging in that conversation, it's not that she doesn't look smitten with his words. It's that... When you're having a conversation that's sparking thoughts and ideas, and which is revealing truth to you, it tends to show a bit more. What little she did offer that conversation was delivered in quiet, unsure tones, as though she could be punished for having the wrong thought.

I watch Leah Remini's show about Scientology, and I see this guy using some of the same tactics when approaching his victim. When I look in her eyes, I see that almost drugged look that you see in Leah's eyes in those videos from way back when she was still in the cult. It's that look of someone who is totally devoted, but they don't really know why, and they can't put it into words. They have the absolute truth in their hands, but they have no idea what it is... yet they don't want to say that they don't understand it, because that means that they are defective.

I don't think that Allison is stupid or weak. I think that she is searching for something real, and she's not sure how to find it. So much of her life has been fake. Hollywood is fake. A lot of what they do out there is similar to what you'll find in cults. If you don't say the right thing and believe the right thing, and put on the right act, you are punished. And it all contradicts each other. You have to sell yourself as a sex object and a strong woman who demands respect at the same time. You have to starve yourself and work out endlessly, while declaring that your favorite part of the job is the snack table.

In a way, she's been in a cult for most of her life. Other actors would have breakdowns or turn to drugs as a result of that mental game, but she got attracted to something like this instead. Probably because a lot of what he says (the hollow circles of what he says) reflect the Hollywood message, so it's new but familiar.

I've seen other actors and actresses on that search for something real and meaningful in life, and I think there is a moment in that search where they are really vulnerable. When they are an empty glass that is looking to be filled.


Like I said, I could be reading into things while watching that video. He just seemed like both the snake and the charmer at the same time, and she just seemed to fall in line behind him. I won't invest in rumors of threeways and all of that, but I can give my thoughts on the video itself. smile



Oh, and for what it's worth, I wouldn't describe the two of us as being opposed to each other. That makes it sound like we're not friends. I would just say that we both mean well, but have very different perspectives on many issues (mine being the right perspective, of course). smile