SMALLVILLE: New Friendships, New Rivalries For Season 8

Determined to prove change can be good, the new showrunners, villains and series regular talk excitedly about 'reinventing' Smallville.
Smallville creators Al Gough & Miles Millar left the show at the end of last season, as did co-stars Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor) and Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang). But the new four-man showrunning team has chosen to see the changing of the guard as an opportunity to, in the words of producer Kelly Soulder, "reinvigorate the show, the characters, the situations, and the relationships."

"I think the way we approach it is nobody could ever step into Michael Rosenbaum and Lex Luthor's shoes," Soulder told CBR News's REMY MINNICK. "So I think that was the first [thing] when we sat down to really think about the season, about the villains, and who Clark was eventually going to be fighting that was our number one thing: don't try to replace Lex Luthor."

Instead, they searched the Superman canon for the biggest villain they could find and dug out the one who, in comics continuity, actually put the Man of Steel into the ground: Doomsday.

But Smallville's version of the ultimate baddie doesn't start out with rock-hard skin and bony protrusions. Rather, he's introduced in Season Eight as charming paramedic Davis Bloome (Sam Witwer of Battlestar Galactica, right).

"It's really great because as a kid I was a huge Superman fan and [I] watched all the movies with my parents," said Witwer, who won't let fandom stop him from coming to blows with Clark Kent (Tom Welling). "You know, who doesn't want to take a swing at that guy? I just hope the fans like what we do with it because it's our own interpretation."

But Soulder reassures fans that their interpretation doesn't preclude seeing Doomsday as he appears in the traditional mythology. "Just because he comes onto the scene as like this really great, fun loving, charming paramedic doesn't mean we aren't also trying to figure out how to make sure that he lines up down the road."

Davis Bloome isn't the only potential antagonist for Clark to contend with this season. Cassidy Freeman (Razor Sharp, left) plays Tess Mercer, the new head of LuthorCorp who, like the previous CEO, is particularly interested in young Mister Kent.

"I am very inquisitive about Clark because he was close to Lex and Lex is missing," Freeman said. "That's pretty much the only thing I want to find out right now is where he is and I think that Clark can help me do that."

Mercer has a history with Smallville's other rich bad boy, Oliver Queen (aka Green Arrow), played by new series regular Justin Hartley (top right), who guest-starred in Seasons Six and Seven. The two actors should have an easy time making it appear as if they really know each other, because they do.

"I had just shot a pilot with Cassidy. She ruined it," Hartley joked. "They didn't pick it up and I think it was a day or two later [when] I got the call [for Smallville] and we talked a lot [about it]. I love playing the character, it's a great show and a lot of fun for me so when they said series regular I was definitely interested. I'm excited about it."

While not returning as a regular, Clark's cousin Kara will put in an appearance this season.

"In October, I'm shooting," said Laura Vandervoort, who played Kara in Season 7, at the Toronto Fan Expo. "I only know of one [episode] right now. They've asked me to tie up my storyline."

But don't think Smallville's giving up on alien babes. TV Guide's MATT MITOVICH learned recently that Canadian Charlotte Sullivan (MVP, right) will debut in the fourth episode as Maxima, an extraterrestrial princess who decides that Krypton's favorite son is her perfect mate.

This serves to complicate Clark's lovelife exponentially.

"We definitely have an episode this year that addresses a lot of the underlying tension, the sexual tension and the love tension, between the two of them," producer Brian Peterson said of Clark and best friend Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack, below left).

According to Entertainment Weekly's MICHAEL AUSIELLO, however, a less-pleasant kind of tension develops between the two in episode six when a serial killer starts wreaking havoc on Metropolis and Clark suspects Davis Bloome as the culprit. Possibly because of her growing feelings for the hunky paramedic, Chloe disagrees with Clark.

At the same time, Clark's relationship with frequent sparring partner Lois Lane (Erica Durance, top center) becomes decidely more healthy as he finally joins the Daily Planet this season.

"The dynamic of Clark and Lois at the Daily Planet when the dailies are coming in is fantastic," Peterson explained. "It is iconic, it is exactly what those two actors feel like they were meant to do." The producer confirmed that Smallville has the option to extend Durance's appearances beyond her 13-episode contract this season, and his positive response to her performance suggests they may just do that.

With all these dramatic changes, Smallville's showrunners are demonstrating that they're moving the show into the next part of the Superman mythology.

"So Clark Kent is still the same Clark Kent," Soulder said, "we just want to get him closer to the Superman that we know, that the general public is more familiar with."

"Clark is starting to embrace his destiny a little bit more, so you see that happening," said Hartley, who also revealed that Ollie's growing doubt about his own double life will contrast effectively with the development of the future Superman.

But how far will that development go? When they started the show, Gough & Millar laid down the catchy edict "No flights, no tights."

"The only thing that we are saying is that we can absolutely confirm that there is no tights," answered Peterson carefully, "so that's pretty much all we can say on that."

The new season of Smallville begins September 18 on the CW network.

[Thanks to STEVE YOUNIS at Superman Homepage, and to Comics Continuum.]
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