Derided back in 2001 as Kal-El's Creek (or Clark's Creek, or Dawson's Cape), Smallville -- this sturdy re-imagination of the Superboy mythos - has certainly established itself as a real survivor.
After all, Smallville was one of the few network shows to successfully make the jump from the now defunct WB to the CW. It has also survived the competition: a big-budget movie resurrection of its main character in 2006's Superman Returns.
Smallville has even survived -- and flourished -- after the departure of main characters/actors, like Michael Rosenbaum's Lex Luthor and Kristin Kreuk's Lana Lang.
Now renewed for a landmark ninth season, Smallville has lasted an impressive duration, one greater than Batman (1966-1969), Lois and Clark (1992-1996), The Adventures of Superman (1951-1958), or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003).
The only bailiwick in which the series hasn't witnessed much good luck is in the creation of a spin-off to replace it. Mercy Reef, the Aquaman re-imagination...sunk without a trace.
In all, this is a surprising turn of events for a superhero TV series that The Washington Post derided as "pandering to the WB''s adolescent audience" and Variety termed "one more semi-soap opera about beautiful teens with self- esteem problems."
And don't forget, the series was even criticized/protested early on for the fact that images in the pilot (of Clark Kent strung up in a Kansas corn field...) reminded some people of the Matt Shepard murder that occurred in October of 1998.
However, by the third season, the series had established its own identity, and established it well. Which doesn't mean there aren't still some really terrible episodes you have to contend with (particularly one with a vampire sorority, and another with Lana unexpectedly possessed by a 17th century witch...) But these ridiculous moments are often mitigated by great, portentous ones (like the apocalyptic vision of Lex Luthor in the Oval Office, in "Hour Glass.")
It's also difficult to accuse this durable series of disrespecting Superman lore since it has lovingly paid tribute to the actors who made the character and his universe so memorable on film and television (with guest stars including Terence Stamp, Margot Kidder, Dean Cain, the late Christopher Reeve, and Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter).
Smallville also creatively incorporates many aspects of the mythos, from Zod and Jor-El to The Fortress of Solitude, to the Phantom Zone, and the larger DC universe (including Cyborg, The Flash, Green Arrow and Aquaman).
I suppose my bottom line is this: I can (usually...) view Smallville without pain and suffering, which I honestly can't say for any iteration of the popular Stargate SG:1, which I find truly cringe-worthy. I'll take Smallville over Stargate any day. I feel the same way about Smallville over Supernatural. Or Ghost Whisperer.
Although that's like being voted the nicest inmate in prison, as I am wont to say.
Regardless, I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and so without snark, I congratulate Smallville for its great success and longevity on network television.
And I can't help but wonder: does this mean my Smallville action figures are actually worth something?