PopCultureShock > PCS Movies & TV > PCS Is Dead

Posted by: Keith Chow on March 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm

So tonight’s Smallville episode “Scion” will see the debut of the latest member of Superman’s extended family. If you want to know who it is, spoilery stuff follows the jump. Let’s just say this season’s ongoing Lex Luthor clone saga will take an interesting turn tonight. In the meantime, we’re gonna look back at how the House of El has been portrayed on the show over the last ten seasons.

Conner Kent
Not sure which direction the show will go in during the episode “Scion,” but this teaser image was released a few weeks ago. Needless to say,it strongly alludes to the fact that the Lex clone (played by Lucas Gabreel) may have had some of Clark’s DNA mixed in (mini-Lex’s last appearance in the episode “Beacon” revealed that he possessed invulnerability). Whether or not the showrunners are really going with the Conner Kent/Superboy angle remains to be seen. Still, Kon-El won’t be the first member of the House of El to be on the show.

Way back in season two, Clark first heard the voice of his biological father (played in voice-over by Superman the Movie‘s Terrence Stamp) emanating from the rocketship hidden in the Kent Farm’s cellar. Later, Jor-El’s disembodied voice found a home in a series of caves underneath Smallville. Finally, Jor-El’s voice was located to the Fortress of Solitude in Season Five and has remained there ever since. Like past live action incarnations, “Jor-El” is merely an A.I. program coded into the Fortress of Solitude to impart the “total accumulation of all knowledge spanning the 28 known galaxies” to Superman. Unlike past versions, though, Smallville‘s Jor-El was a bit of a jerk. When A.I. Daddy didn’t get his way, he’d usually do things like strip Clark of his powers, or freeze him in a block of ice, or suspend him inside a cave wall. Stuff like that. In the ninth season, though, we learned that Jor-El wasn’t really as douchey as his artificially intelligent avatar. As played by Julian Sands, Jor-El on Krypton was, like his comic counterpart, actually quite noble and heroic. Turns out that when Jor-El created his artificial parenting program, he didn’t imbue the crystals with his “personality,” only his “knowledge.” And apparently, Jor-El’s “knowledge” is a hardass.

Somewhat less of a hardass parent was Kal-El’s birth mother. The first mention of Lara was actually in the great Season Three episode “Memoria,” in which we learn Clark’s earliest memory was being placed in the rocketship by his parents as Krypton was collapsing around them. In the Smallville tradition of casting Superman alumni in important roles, the actual Lara El was portrayed in several episodes by former movie Supergirl Helen Slater. Smallville‘s version of Lara was a bit flightier than she’s been portrayed before. Maybe I’m just biased because I thought Season Seven’s whole “House of El” soap opera was a lowpoint in the series’ history. What do I mean by “soap opera?” Well…

Turns out that the House of El was a tiny bit more dysfunctional than we were led to believe in the past. None more so than Jor-El’s younger brother Zor-El. While he’s a fairly minor character in the comics (other than siring Supergirl, what else did he do?), the Zor-El of the Smallville-verse is a megalomaniacal mad scientist who was not only directly responsible for the destruction of Krypton, he also had a thing for his sister-in-law Lara. After his (creepy) romantic advances were rejected by Lara, Zor-El promised her they’d be together one day. THROUGH SCIENCE! What does that even mean? That’s a mad scientist for you. Trust me, that whole House of El melodrama was a weird story arc all around.

All of that family drama was backstory for the addition of Laura Vandervoort as Kara Zor-El to the main cast. Laura’s Kara is not to be confused with the fake “Kara” (coincidentally, played by future Wonder Woman Adrianne Palicki) who seduced Clark in the Season Three finale “Covenant.” Also, it’s pretty weird of Jor-El to name the naked chick he sends to get freaky with Clark after his only cousin. What part of Krypton are they from? West Virginia? (sorry all of my readers in WVA!) Anyway, the Kara intro’d in Season Seven was the real deal and her Smallville-verse origin was very similar to Supergirl’s Jeph Loeb-penned re-introduction to DC Comics. Introducing a teenaged Kara to the show also gave the writers a chance to rehash many of the high school coming-of-age stories that the main cast had outgrown. After only lasting one season in the main cast, Laura returned for a cameo in Season Eight and again this season as a full-fledged superhero called Supergirl. That’s right, in this universe Kara is called “Supergirl” before Clark is called “Superman.” Hey, I never said the show got everything right!

They did get the dog right, however. So he isn’t really Krypto. But Shelby is the name of the Kents’ family dog in the comics at least. And while this Superdog doesn’t have superpowers (anymore), he does have the meta-canine ability to be freaking adorable!


Keith is the Editor-at-Large of the groundbreaking graphic novel anthology SECRET IDENTITIES and Outreach Director for SIUniverse Media. Visit the official Secret Identities blog to keep up with Keith and the rest of the SI team

del.icio.us Digg Facebook Technorati StumbleUpon TwitThis Yahoo! Buzz

No Responses to "Waiting for Superman: All in the Family"

Comments are closed.

Waiting for Superman: All in the Family