Smallville was created by writer/producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and was initially broadcast by The WB. After its fifth season, the WB and UPN merged to form The CW, which is the current broadcaster for the show in the United States. On May 19, 2010, it was announced that Smallville would end its run after the tenth season, which premiered on September 24, 2010. It is produced in and around Vancouver, Canada.
The plot follows the adventures of a young Clark Kent's life in the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas, during the years before he becomes Superman. The first four seasons focused on Clark and his friends' high school years. Since season five, the show has ventured into more adult settings, with some characters attending college. Recent seasons have seen an increase in the introductions of other DC comic book superheroes and villains.
Smallville inspired an Aquaman spin-off pilot, which was not picked up by The CW network, as well as promotional tie-ins with Verizon, Sprint, and Toyota. In other media, the show has spawned a series of young-adult novels, a DC Comics comic book and soundtrack releases. The show broke the record for highest rated debut for The WB, with 8.4 million viewers tuning in for its pilot episode.
Originally, Tollin/Robbins Productions wanted to do a show about a young Bruce Wayne. The feature film division of Warner Bros. had decided to develop an origin movie for Batman, and, because they didn't want to compete with a television series, had the television series idea nixed. In 2000, Tollin/Robbins approached Peter Roth, the President of Warner Bros. Television, about developing a series based on a young Superman. That same year, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar developed a pilot based on the film Eraser. After watching the pilot, Roth approached the two men about developing a second pilot, based on the young Superman concept that was brought to him. After meeting with Roth, Gough and Millar decided that they didn't want to do a series where there was lots of flying, and a cape. It was here that they developed a "no tights, no flights" rule, vowing Clark would not, at any point, fly or don the suit during the run of the show.
Gough and Millar wanted to strip Superman down to his "bare essence", and see the reasons behind why Clark became Superman. Gough and Millar felt the fact that they were not comic book fans played into their favor. Not being familiar with the universe would allow them an unbiased approach to the series. This didn't keep them from learning about the characters; they both did research on the comics and picked and rearranged what they liked. They returned and pitched their idea to both the WB and FOX in the same day. A bidding war ensued between FOX and the WB, which the WB won with a commitment of 13 episodes to start.
Roth, Gough, and Millar knew the show was going to be action oriented, but they wanted to be able to reach that "middle America iconography" that 7th Heaven had reached. To help create this atmosphere, the team decided the meteor shower that brings Clark to Earth would be the foundation for the franchise of the show. Not only does it act as the primary source behind the creation of the super powered beings that Clark must fight, but it acts as a sense of irony in Clark's life. The meteor shower would give him a life on Earth, but it would also take away the parents of the girl he loves, and start Lex Luthor down a dark path, thanks to the loss of his hair during the shower. Roth loved the conflict that was created for Clark, in forcing him to deal with the fact that his arrival is what caused all of this pain.
Another problem the creators had to address was why Lex Luthor would be hanging out with a bunch of teenagers. They decided to create a sense of loneliness in the character of Lex Luthor, which they felt would require him to reach out to the teens. The loneliness was echoed in Clark and Lana as well. Gough and Millar wanted to provide a parallel to the Kents, so they created Lionel Luthor, Lex's father, which they saw as the "experiment in extreme parenting". Gough and Millar wanted a younger Kent couple, because they felt they needed to be able to be involved in Clark's life, and help him through his journey. Chloe Sullivan, another character created just for the show, was meant to be the "outsider" the show needed. Gough and Millar felt the character was necessary so someone would notice the weird happenings in Smallville. She was meant to act as a "precursor to Lois Lane".
The concept of Smallville has been described by Warner Brothers as being a reinterpretation of the Superman mythology from its roots. Recently, since the November 2004 reacquisition of Superboy by the Siegels, there has arisen contention regarding a possible copyright infringement. The dispute is over ownership of the fictional Smallville, title setting of the show, and a claimed similarity between Superboy's title character and Smallville's Clark Kent. The heirs of Jerry Siegel claim "Smallville is part of the Superboy copyright", of which the Siegels own the rights.
On April 3, 2008, after seven seasons with the show, Gough and Millar announced they would be leaving Smallville. The developers, after thanking the cast and crew for all their hard work, acknowledged they never stopped fighting for what they saw as "their vision" of the show. A specific reason for their departure was not given. On March 26, 2010, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Millar and Gough, alongside co-producer Tollin/Robins Production, had filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. and The CW. The lawsuit contests that Hollywood's "vertical integration" cost the pair millions of dollars. The suit claims that Warner Bros. failed to "maximize profits" while marketing Smallville, misrepresenting production costs, and selling the show in foreign markets at "well below the value of the series". At this time, the lawsuit does not specify how much the plaintiffs are looking for in compensation. On February 6, 2009, after only one season, the L.A. Times confirmed executive producers Darren Swimmer and
Todd Slavkin would not be returning for a ninth season of Smallville; instead, the pair would take over The CW's new series Melrose Place. The Times also reported Kelly Souders and Brian Peterson would continue on as executive producers when Smallville starts its ninth season. On July 24, 2009, it was announced Tom Welling had become a co-executive producer of the series. As credited in a May 20, 2010 press release by the CW, Welling has become a full executive producer for the tenth and final season of the series.
The show is produced at BB Studios in Burnaby. Initially, production was going to be in Australia, but Vancouver had more of a "Middle America landscape". The city provided a site for the Kent farm, as well as doubling for Metropolis. It also provided a cheaper shooting location, and was in the same time zone as Los Angeles. "Main street" Smallville is at a combination of two locations. Portions were shot in the town of Merritt, and the rest was shot in Cloverdale. Cloverdale is particularly proud of being a filming site for the show; at its entrance is a sign which reads "Home of Smallville."
Vancouver Technical School doubled as the exterior for Smallville High, as the film makers believed Van Tech had the "mid-American largess" they wanted. This kept in-line with Millar's idea that Smallville should be the epitome of "Smalltown, USA". The interiors of Templeton Secondary School were used for Smallville High's interior. The Kent farm is a real farm located in Aldergrove. Owned by The Andalinis, the production crew had to paint their home yellow for the show. Exterior shots of Luthor Mansion were filmed at a castle in Victoria. The interior shots were done at Shannon Mews, in Vancouver, which was also the set for the Dark Angel pilot and Along Came a Spider. Movie house Clova Cinema, in Cloverdale, is used for exterior shots of The Talon, the show's coffee house.
Composer Mark Snow works in tandem with producer Ken Horton to create the underscore for the show. As Mark Snow summarizes his job, "I get a locked picture on a videotape which syncs up with all my gear in the studio. I write the music, finish it up, mix it up, send it through the airwaves on the internet, and the music editor puts it in. They call up usually and say, 'Thank you, well done.' Sometimes they call and say, 'Thank you, not so well done - can you change this or that?' I say 'Sure,' make the changes and send it back." More specifically, Snow creates his music on the spot, as he watches the picture, and then tweaks his performance upon reviewing the recordings from his initial play. Most episodes feature their own soundtrack, comprised of one or more songs by musical bands. Jennifer Pyken and Madonna Wade-Reed of Daisy Music work on finding these songs for the show's soundtrack. Pyken and Wade-Reed's choices are then discussed by the producers, who decide which songs they want and organize the process of securing the licensing rights to the songs. Although Snow admits that it initially seemed odd to combine the two musical sounds on a "typical action-adventure" television show, he admits that "the producers seem to like the contrast of the modern songs and the traditional, orchestral approach to the score".
At various times the creative team have had the chance to try different musical tones to enhance the story of an episode. In season three's "Slumber", producer Ken Horton wondered if they could get a single band to provide all the music for the entire episode. During a breakfast meeting with the music department at Warner Brothers, the topic of band R.E.M. rose up, and Jennifer Pyken and Madonna Wade-Reed immediately saw an opportunity to connect the episode’s featured band with the episode’s story, which happened to revolve around REM sleep. For season three's "Resurrection" and "Memoria", songs were chosen particularly to provide symbolism for the characters in the scene. In "Resurrection", The Rapture's "Infatuation" was used during a scene involving Lex and Lana; the point of the song was to symbolize the idea of, "Are we ever going to figure out what these two people think of each other?" For "Memoria", Gough came up with the idea of using Evanescence's "My Immortal" for the final scene of the episode. Gough informed Wade-Reed as soon as he began working on the script what song he wanted to use for the closing scene, as he saw the song as being symbolically about mothers, and in that scene Clark is telling Martha that his first memory as a child was of his biological mother, Lara. "Velocity" provided the music editors with the opportunity to use a style of music that they would normally not use on the show. As the episode was similar to The Fast and the Furious, as well as being primarily focused on the only black character on the show, Pete, Madonna Wade-Reed was able to use a more hip-hop sound, which worked well with the story. Reed had heard of a British hip-hop artists named Dizzee Rascal, and became the first person in the United States to secure the licensing rights to use Rascal’s album. When the talents of Pyken and Wade-Reed are not put to use, Mark Snow supplies all of the music for the episode, like he did beginning with season two's "Suspect".
The main theme to Smallville is not a score composed by Snow, who is used to composing the opening themes as well, like he did for The X-Files, but the single "Save Me" by Remy Zero. Although Snow did not compose the theme song for the opening credits, he did compose one for the closing credits. The closing credits are composed based on how they represent the theme of show. In the first two seasons, the music playing during the closing credits was one of the potential theme songs for the series, before Remy Zero’s "Save Me" was selected. The melody was more "heroic" and "in-your-face". Mark Snow was told during season two that the closing credits needed new music, as they no longer represented where the show had evolved to. Snow created a new score, which was toned down, and featured a more "melodic" tune.
Since the show's premiere, two soundtrack albums have been released. On February 25, 2003, Smallville: The Talon Mix was released featuring a selected group of artists that licensed their music to the show. Following that release, on November 8, 2005, Smallville: The Metropolis Mix was released featuring another select group of artists.
Season one sees the introduction of the regular cast, and storylines that regularly included a villain deriving a power from kryptonite exposure. The one-episode villains were a plot device developed by Gough and Millar. Instead of creating physical monsters, the kryptonite would enhance the personal demons of the character. To prove the show was not simply about a new kryptonite monster every week, the writers attempted to craft episodes that had nothing to do with kryptonite, like "Rogue". The first season primarily dealt with Clark trying to come to terms with his alien origins, and the revelation that his arrival on Earth was connected to the deaths of Lana's parents. Clark develops X-ray vision this season, and, unlike his super strength and speed that he was already aware of, is forced to exercise his new ability to gain control over it.
Season two has fewer villain of the week episodes, focusing more on story arcs that affect each character and explore Clark's origins. Several key plot points include Lex becoming more entangled in conflict with his father, Chloe digging into Clark's past while dealing with Lionel, Martha and Jonathan Kent's financial troubles, and Lana and Clark's vacillating relationship though they end the season apart. The main story arc, however, focuses on Clark's discovery of his Kryptonian origins. The disembodied voice of Clark's biological father Jor-El is introduced, communicating to Clark via his space ship, setting the stage for plots involving the fulfillment of Clark's earthly destiny. Christopher Reeve, who portrayed Superman in the 1970s and 1980s film series, appears as Dr. Virgil Swann to provide Welling's Clark with information regarding his heritage. Season two saw the emergence of heat vision, as well as a new form of kryptonite. Red kryptonite causes Clark to set aside moral compunctions and act out on his impulses and dark desires, unlike green kryptonite, which physically weakens him and could possibly kill him if he is exposed to it for too long.
Season three focuses on loyalty, betrayal, and new revelations involving Jor-El. Early in the season, Michael McKean, Annette O'Toole's real-life husband, portrays Clark's future Daily Planet editor Perry White; from this point on, other major characters present in the Superman mythology and the DC Universe are introduced to Smallville. Pete Ross' inability to deal with keeping Clark's secret causes him to move to Wichita, Kansas with his mother after his parents' divorce. Season three introduced Clark's "super hearing", which developed when his heat vision accidentally blinded him.
Season four ventures further into the Superman mythology by creating a story arc that runs the length of the season; it involved Clark seeking out three Kryptonian stones, at the instruction of Jor-El, which contain the knowledge of the universe. The majority of this season revolves around Lex trying to rekindle a strained friendship with Clark, Lana dating Jason Teague (Jensen Ackles), a young man she meets in France, Clark and numerous other characters vying with one another in attempts to obtain the stones, and Lionel's ambiguous transformation into a good father and person. This season introduced Lois Lane (Erica Durance), Chloe Sullivan's (Allison Mack) cousin, as well as Bart Allen. The season began with the appearance of a new form of kryptonite; black kryptonite held the ability to split Clark into—and merge back together from—two separate beings exhibiting two personalities.
Season five brings in more elements of the Superman mythology, including the Fortress of Solitude, the Phantom Zone, and Zod. The villain Brainiac, in the guise of Professor Milton Fine (James Marsters), becomes a recurring antagonist. The season's central plot revolves around Clark using the knowledge contained in the Fortress of Solitude to train for an impending doom that will befall Earth: the release of Zod from the Phantom Zone due to Fine's machinations. Clark and Lana finally begin a relationship with one another. Season five featured a gradually unveiling storyline in conjunction with multiple minor story arcs running in parallel, mid-season and season finale cliffhangers, and cameos from two other notable DC characters, Aquaman and Cyborg.
Season six takes Clark inside the Phantom Zone, inhabited by a society of exiled criminals from the "28 known inhabited galaxies". The destinies of Lionel and Lex play out in the aftermath of Lex's possession by Zod and Lionel's adoption as the "oracle" of Jor-El. Several prisoners escape the Phantom Zone with Clark. Clark acquires "super breath", after developing a cold from over-exerting himself cleaning up Lex/Zod's destruction in Metropolis, and having no abilities while in the Phantom Zone. DC Comics characters Jimmy Olsen, Oliver Queen (and his superhero alias Green Arrow) and Martian Manhunter are introduced this season, and many of them unite in Smallville to fight a common threat. Clark promises to continue his training, at the Fortress of Solitude, once all the escaped Phantom Zone criminals are either returned or destroyed. Other storylines involve Lana and Lex's marriage, Lex's secret "33.1" experiments, and the introduction of a Clark clone.
Season seven focuses on Clark meeting his biological cousin Kara, and teaching her how to control her abilities in public; Lana's behavior toward her friends, and Lex, after it is discovered that she faked her own death; Chloe coming to terms with her newly discovered kryptonite-induced ability; and the secret of the Daily Planet's new editor Grant Gabriel. Towards the end of the series, Clark faces the dual threat from returning villain Brainiac, and Lex's discovery of his father's secret society who possess the means to control Clark.
Smallville's season seven, along with many other American television shows, was caught in the middle of a contract dispute between the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), Writers Guild of America, West (WGAw) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The dispute led to a strike by the writers, which has caused this season to end prematurely with only twenty episodes being produced, instead of the standard twenty-two episodes.
Season eight season focuses on Clark Kent as he starts his job at the Daily Planet, begins to accept more of his destiny as Earth's hero, and develops romantic feelings for Lois Lane. While Lex Luthor is presumed dead, and Lana Lang has left Smallville for good, Clark also meets new characters Davis Bloome, Smallville's interpretation of Doomsday, as well as the new CEO of LuthorCorp, Tess Mercer. In other storylines, Clark and Oliver Queen clash over how to handle Lex when he resurfaces, while Chloe Sullivan and Jimmy Olsen take their relationship to the next level. In addition, this season sees the appearance of more DC Comics characters, including recurring appearances from Plastique and members of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Season nine features Clark taking his superhero persona into obsessive territory when he leaves behind those he cares for so that he can focus solely on Jor-El's training. In order to accomplish this, Clark wears a new costume that sports his family crest on the chest. The theme of the season is about Clark finally embracing his alien heritage, while also being his darkest hour thus far. As a result, Clark's relationship with Chloe and Oliver will suffer this season. Season nine will also see the introduction of more DC Comics characters, including the Justice Society of America, the Wonder Twins, Oliver's comic book sidekick Speedy, and villain Metallo.
Taking flight in its tenth and final season, this modern retelling of a hero's legendary origins continues to blend realism, action, heart and humor as Clark Kent (Tom Welling) soars toward claiming his birthright.
Clark has emerged from his darkest hour, only to find the path to his destiny blocked by ghosts from the past -- shadows in the present tempting Clark toward the darkness at every turn. Despite insurmountable odds, is Clark strong enough to step into the light and claim his rightful place as Earth's mightiest protector?
Smallville's first accomplishment was breaking the record for highest rated debut for The WB, with 8.4 million viewers tuning in for its pilot. A common criticism for the first season was the use of "villain of the week" storylines. By the time the first seven episodes aired, at least one journalist had had enough; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Rob Owen stated, "Smallville flies high with super character interaction and a nice performance by John Schneider as Pa Kent, but the series needs better plots than the "monster of the week" stories seen so far." Jordan Levin, president of The WB's Entertainment division, recognized the concerns that the show had become a villain-of-the-week series. Levin announced that season two would see more "smaller mini-arcs over three to four episodes, to get away from some of the formulaic storytelling structure we were getting ourselves boxed into... We don't want to turn it into a serialized show." Smallville's first season placed sixth on the Parents Television Council's list of the "best shows for families".
On January 24, 2006, it was confirmed Smallville would be part of the new The CW's Fall 2006–2007 lineup once The WB and UPN ceased separate operations and merged as The CW in September 2006.