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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Smallville 10x18 - "Booster"


ROLL CALL:

SUPERMAN! LOIS LANE! (And, uh, that's it. No TESS MERCER! THE GREEN ARROW! or CHLOE SULLIVAN! this week)
Special DC Universe Guest Stars:
BOOSTER GOLD! THE BLUE BEETLE (JAIME REYES)! SKEETS! TED KORD! CAT GRANT!
With Special Mentions of:
THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES! DAN GARRETT! (BLUE BEETLE I) GOLDSTAR! STEVE LOMBARD!

Last week, Smallville returned from its hiatus with "Kent", featuring the re-emergence of my favorite incarnation of evil Clark Kent, Clark Luthor of Earth-2. It also spotlighted our Clark's meeting the Jonathan Kent of Earth-2, with Clark doing the alternate universe version of his adoptive father a solid and getting him to reunite with his estranged wife, the Martha Kent of Earth-2.  Then Clarks Kent and Luthor had a somewhat less-than Superman III-level Super-tussle with each other, ending with Kent introducing Luthor to Earth-1 Jor-El, Luthor being teleported back to meet the Earth-2 Jor-El, and launching Clark Luthor on the road to heroic redemption in his own universe. Plus Tess Mercer was all extra hot and vulnerable each time Luthor hit on her/threatened to kill her. Finally, Clark and Lois agreed to move out of the Kent Farm and into Metropolis. Fine, goofy, fun, Smallville, last week.

This week is the latest in Smallville's series of DC Comics fan wanks, bringing in Booster Gold and Blue Beetle into their television universe. Booster (who looked rather a lot like Chris Evans) is pretty much exactly as he should be: a disgraced former football star from the 25th century who stole a Legion flight ring, a gold and blue battlesuit, and a sentient Wikipedia droid named Skeets, traveled back to 21st century Metropolis, and became a vain gloryhound with his sights squarely set on becoming the World's Greatest Superhero. Booster chose a pivotal moment to emerge in our time: Clark Kent has yet to publicly emerge as the Blur and is ripe to be supplanted as the hero of Metropolis. (For some reason, the most important thing the Greatest Hero in Metropolis can have is the Key to the City.)

After spending the entire season making the decision to and then reconciling the need to wear glasses and become the bumbling opposite of his natural, tall, heroic swagger, Clark does a complete about-face about his whole scheme to be mild-mannered. He spends the entire episode irritated and complaining about the very plan to be bumbling he himself deemed necessary. Lois became the one who had to constantly keep setting Clark back on the hide-in-plain-sight scheme he himself came up with (after meeting himself in the future.)  Clark's behavior was more confusing than Booster's time travel paradox origin.

Booster saves a pratfall-prone hard luck kid named Jaime Reyes from getting hit by a car, setting in motion a chain of events where an alien scarab bonds with Reyes and turns him into the Blue Beetle. The scarab had previously bonded with and killed a host named Dan Garrett, and billionaire industrialist Ted Kord (the owner of the "Blackwater" of the Smallville universe) is hot on the trail of his missing alien weapon. The Blue Beetle activates itself and forces Reyes on an armored rampage, coming after Booster Gold as he's rehearsing his acceptance of the Key to the City.  No thanks to Clark, the Beetle fails to kill Cat Grant, and thanks to Booster somehow pep talking Reyes into somehow gaining control over the Scarab, the terror is averted and the day is saved. Thereby, Booster does the first heroic thing in his life that wasn't pre-planned for maximum publicity and profit.

The amusing stuff in "Booster" was writer Geoff John's fanboy-pleasing DC Universe shout outs. I particularly liked Booster's sexy dancers having sluttier versions of his sister Goldstar's costume. Lois Lane had a sweet moment trying to get Jaime Reyes to be confident, straighten up and fly right. For some reason, Booster was selling T-shirts of himself wearing the comic book Booster's headgear and goggles instead of what he was wearing in real life. I liked the dueling billboards of Lois somehow having the funds to cover up Booster's billboard with one of Clark's S shield proclaiming The Blur as "The Real Man of Steel". Clark and Booster had a goofy conversation where Booster egged Clark on to drop the "Blur" as a name and call himself something that actually starts with an S.

Booster: "Something... super."
Clark: "I'll start brainstorming."

Oh, for God's sake! Think long and hard about it, Clark! (Never mind that they've already established Kara is out there in the world calling herself "Supergirl".) Later, Clark suddenly questions whether the public will accept hot, sexy girl reporter Lois Lane could believably want to marry a poor schlub four-eyed version of Clark Kent, but some sex between the two tabled that issue.

A big Superman moment was presented with a grandiose wink-wink to the audience: Clark sees a phone booth and Superspeeds into it to change into the Blur. The Tom Welling-directed camera swirls and zooms on Clark's chest and he zips up his red leather jacket to reveal the famed S logo so near and dear to all of our hearts. He zips the jacket all the way up, note. In the very next cut as Clark enters the frame in slow motion to stop Beetle's energy blast from killing Cat Grant, his jacket is zipped back down halfway. It's as if Clark only zipped it up because he knew a camera was there and he wanted to show off the S.

Lots of hoopla is made of Lois about to get a promotion, that would allow her to leave the basement of the Daily Planet and fill the slot Steve Lombard left behind to work at the Daily Star (never mind that Lombard is a sports reporter in the comics). Cat Grant also wants the promotion and wanted an exclusive with Booster Gold to cinch it. (I bet she was planning the headline: "I Spent The Night With Booster Gold".)  Thing is, Lois is close personal friends with Tess Mercer, the owner of the Daily Planet! They fight crime together! If Lois wants the promotion, Tess could just give it to her.  But okay, Lois wants to earn the promotion on her own - and she gets it by interviewing Jaime Reyes about his experience as the Blue Beetle? Weird.

The interplay with Booster, Jaime Reyes and Ted Kord at the end was also kind of weird. It's sort of implied Booster is going to mentor Reyes and they'll somehow work for Ted Kord. The Smallville versions of these three lacked the hoped-for "bwah-ha-ha" interplay of Beetle and Booster in Justice League International, but this was just because of the nature of how the characters were designed to suit the story. Also, I didn't like how Blue Beetle lumbered around like Robocop. At least Beetle, Booster and Kord were more pleasing incarnations than how Smallville royally screwed up Maxwell Lord last season.

Overall, "Booster" is not quite the nerdgasm of "Legion" from two seasons ago or "Absolute Justice" from last season. Had a hard time shaking off the nonsense in the episode. But then again, "Booster" did feature one hilarious piece of dialogue from bumbling, mild-mannered Clark Kent excusing himself from Ted Kord that absolutely made me BWAH-HA-HA!:

"Is there a restroom I can use here? I had a milkshake on the way in, and..."

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