Archive for September, 2012

How Smallville should have ended …

September 30, 2012

So, if you’ve been following my list of what I’m watching on DVD, you’ll see — for the next little while anyway — that I just finished watching the entire series of Smallville, from start to finish. And in my opinion, the series should have ended after season 7 … and, particularly, at one scene.

Before describing that scene, I want to set up a little bit why Smallville Seasons 8 – 10 could have been tossed without losing anything. First, both Lex Luthor and Lana Lang left the show at that point. With Lois entering the picture, Lana wasn’t as important a character, but Smallville had been set around both Clark and Lex, with us watching Lex’s change from a not-so-villainous character into the villain he’d be at the end. So, Smallville lost its best antagonist, and the one the series had been built around for so long. At any rate, starting Season 8 we were missing Lex, Lana and Lionel. This left the second spot in the opening credits list to … Chloe. Now, I really like the character and really liked Alison Mack, but when the second character you list in the credits is an invented character with little tie to the canon, that should really scare you. In place of Lex we got … Tess Mercer, who was a lackluster villain that turned into a bit of an ally later. And then they added officially … Green Arrow, who was lackluster and didn’t really have that much of a roll in the series. So, since Tess Mercer was a lackluster antagonist and a character that we hadn’t seen before, she certainly couldn’t fill the big shoes of Lex Luthor as an antagonist. So the series was in trouble, in my opinion, from the start.

Now, ask yourself what storylines from the last 3 seasons you really would have missed. Again, Tess’ were lackluster, and so we can lose her antagonist path completely. Doomsday was a big storyline, but with the “We should feel sympathy for Davis” line it was, in my view, botched. There just wasn’t the emotional connection that we would have had in debating over whether to just kill him or not — because Clark’s view of not killing him and taking the other option made too much sense until the very end where Davis, for no real reason, goes bonkers — and the ending was just too insane to buy. Zod was more interesting, but not necessary. The whole “Lex’s death and Lana killing him and getting power” storyline was only added because they needed to move the series on without them, and the ending of the Clark/Lana relationship was badly done, as instead of them breaking up by, say, realizing that they aren’t right for each other it’s only because Clark literally can’t stand to be around her that it happens, implying that if he could he’d leave Lois in an instant … which carries on to the ending. Darkseid was interesting … but seemed rushed, and could easily have carried a movie on its own with all the set-up that we didn’t really have.

So, really, there’s nothing that we couldn’t have lived without. But, then, would ending it at Season 7 have been better?

To me, the ultimate ending scene for Smallville was at the end of Season 7, right after Lex kills Lionel. Lex is standing at Lionel’s grave, and Clark arrives as well. They look at each other and at the grave in complete silence, Lex with an expression of distaste and Clark mostly the same. It’s clear in Season 7 that their friendship is over, and Lex is making it a goal to get rid of “The Traveller”, who is Clark. In the end, Lex walks away and brushes past Clark as the music plays. It’s a brilliant scene, and worthy of an ending. Sure, one could argue that the more hopeful ending of Season 10 works nicer, but I’d say that for Smallville as it was written this is the ending you need, the one that sets up the canon for Superman and why Lex will hate Superman. And having to remove Lex’s memory to fit into the canon cheapens the entire series because the series really did show his development … but he forgot all the bad things that happened, so why does all of that still matter to him? Why is he still evil after that?

What I would have done is, again, made that episode the last of the series. Resolve the Brainiac line earlier in the season — Chloe even comments that it’s odd that Clark is chasing Brainiac while Lex is off to find the thing that controls Clark — and then set-up the end of the Traveller arc in the last episode. Have Clark stop Lex … as Clark. Have some kind of effect throw Lex off the scent, and in some way present the Traveller as not being Clark. I mean, it’s not like that’s never been done, right? So, Clark breaks the key or something like that, opposing him mostly because he wants to keep himself safe but, to Lex’s eyes, because he wants to respect Lionel’s wishes. And in that moment, Lex realizes that Clark was more a son to Lionel despite all of Lex’s efforts. Again, a big part of Smallville was Lex trying to be what Lionel wanted him to be, and constantly feeling like he was failing. At the end, he realizes that he did well and truly fail … and that a lot of that was by trying to be who Lionel wanted him to be. It’s reasonable for him to see this as a wasted effort, that all of the time he put in trying to be Clark’s friend while still trying to be what Lionel wanted didn’t matter at all, add in his belief that the Traveller was a threat and that Boy Scout’s like Clark were going to interfere because they couldn’t do what needed to be done, and it’s reasonable for him to conclude that he needs to be ruthless … and a villain.

And then, ending it here allows for them to do one of two things:

1) Open with a new series aimed at Superman itself, where a lot of the Season 8 – 10 storylines could have been covered better, in a different context.

2) Since they wanted to do reboots of Superman around that time, move the Smallville universe to the big screen, bringing along the Smallville fan base while having a better universe to start from. Heck, if it was just movies Lana and Lex might have been able to stick around and do other things, meaning that you might not even have to recast.

As it is, Seasons 8 – 10 are disappointing, and do things that Superman should do, not what is the equivalent of Superboy. It would have been so much better to end it after Season 7 and be done with it, ending on what I think is the absolute best scene in the entire series.

What means war?

September 10, 2012

So, over at Almost Diamonds Stephanie Zvan talks about an image that’s making the rounds that she seems to think is really insightful and that I think really shows the flaw in this new-fangled occupyish, 1% versus the 99% movement that we’re seeing these days.

Basically, the image says “Busting unions that provide teachers with middle-class salaries, affordable benefits and job security” as not being class warfare, but “Asking people who make hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains to pay more than 15% of their income in taxes” as being class warfare. The picture — and Zvan herself — then imply that this is ridiculous, that of course the first statement is also class warfare if the second one is, and perhaps even implies that the first just is class warfare regardless of whether the second statement is or not.

But there’s a big problem here, which is the rather simple fact that something cannot be reasonbly called class warfare unless it’s directly implemented to favour one class over another, or to create an antagonistic situation between two classes. There are a multitude of reasons to go after unions other than to attack the middle class. First, one may argue that it’s better for the middle class as a whole, since it is generally the taxes of the middle class that pay the salaries of teachers and so working around the union helps them get the benefits and salaries under control when they have it generally better than most middle class people. One can also argue that public expenditures need to get under control, and that’s a big one. One could also simply hate unions. None of these have to do with singling out the middle class and attacking them for simply being the middle class.

However, the second statement is indeed saying that this upper economic class is somehow deficient, and that it is their hoarding of the money that’s causing the problems, and that to solve our problems we must take the money from that greedy class to put to the benefit of the other classes. It is, indeed, singling out that class because of the class they’re in, and making them a target. Yep, that’s clearly class warfare, no matter how many “WTFs” one puts into an image that misses the point.

Look, just admit that yes, you are engaging in class warfare. Don’t try to rely on sophistry to dodge that point. Be honest about it, and see if others want to go along with it. If you’re ashamed to admit to doing what you’re actually doing, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

Update on this blog …

September 4, 2012

So, you might have noticed that the updating on this blog has gotten a bit sporadic, and that a lot of the things that I said I was going to do I haven’t done. A big reason for that is that this is a pretty busy time for me at work and with other things, so I haven’t had the time I normally would to update. Another reason is that almost any time left-over is spent moderating board games and playing The Old Republic. And this isn’t likely to change over the next couple of months.

That being said, I still do intend to do those things. I intend to finish off my Ji’ark diaries and move into diaries with my next TOR character when I start that one. I still intend to work through the “Philosophy and Pop Culture” series books (right now, an article in the Star Trek one is slowing me down because it isn’t that interesting, but I do have something that I can say about it, so I do want to talk a bit about it.). I want to continue my other series, do more reviews and commentaries on books, and, of course, make posts about things I see elsewhere. And, of course, you’ll always get sporadic Not-So-Casual Commentaries whenever I get around to it.

So, I’ll probably start drifting back into posting more in October at some point, and hopefully pick up more after that and into January. Thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog so far.

City of Heroes Ending …

September 3, 2012

I was reading Twenty Side Tale when I heard the news: City of Heroes is going to be closed by the end of the year.

Now, I should be working, but I had to make a post here as this has depressed me. City of Heroes was my favourite MMO. It let me create a multitude of different characters and act basically like all of them. It had incredibly character customization, both in terms of appearance and in terms of powers. No other MMO that I’ve seen has come close. Yes, I didn’t play it anywhere near as much as I could have and, yes, I never made it past about level 23 or so, but it’s the MMO that I’ve had the most fun playing over the time I was playing it. I was willing to pay even when I wasn’t playing when it went F2P because I liked its model for that. I’ve tried DCUO and found it lacking, and from what I’ve heard I wouldn’t like Champions Online either, so this leaves me without a superhero MMO or, in fact, without even a really good superhero game to play.

I have no where left to get my superhero fix from. I always thought that when I got some time I’d be able to play a bit of CoH again, but that’s not going to happen.

The studio is hinting at in-game events to take the game out, but I’m thinking now that I won’t participate in them. I don’t want to remind myself of what I’m losing by picking it up again only to have it die out. So, I’m going to let my characters fade away quietly, much like how I actually played them.