E mail.

March 4, 2009

Life is a funny thing when you think about it. By the time you have even the slightest fucking clue what’s going on, you’re old and wrinkled and you have a plastic tube whacked up your urethra so you can piss without getting out of bed. By the time you understand your job, you’re almost terminally bored of it. By the time you understand the opposite sex, you’re unable to have it. And by the time you know what you want to do with your short and arguably pointless time on earth, it’s already too late and you are pigeonholed into whatever unsatisfying trudge of an existence your foolish inexperienced, youthful, hormone-fuddled brain directed you too after your dreams of being an astronaught or a movie star or a famous author (what? don’t fucking judge me!) keeled over with a audible ‘fwomp!’, like a fat hamster eating slug death.

It’s weird though. For every bile filled proclamation of hate I utter in the general direction of the undeniably wrong aspects of society, you know, like the London tube network or chavs being allowed to reproduce rather than being shot in the streets, or Smallville, something special jumps up and slaps me soundly about the chops with the salmon of inscrutable awesome. I may not fully understand it, but by god, it makes me glad to be alive.

Something like this happened to me today when I got an email. This was an email of epic awesome. This was an email so brilliantly constructed it made my heart rate increase and my pupils dilate. I may even have peed a little. Allow me to clarify. There are several things I absolutely hate about emails and this one had none of them. It single-handedly restored my faith in both women and humanity, but that’s a story for another time.

However, it got me thinking, how many of you actually know what you are doing wrong? So since it gives me an excuse to rant like a bastard, here is ‘Nihil’s guide to not writing emails like a fuckwit’

1) Your ‘urgent’ email isn’t.

Allow me to explain for the more retarded among you what actually constitutes urgent. When your house is aflame and you have seconds before your own skin starts sloughing from your bones and taking on the majority of the characteristics of a piece of overcooked bacon, it could be said that you have an ‘urgent’ requirement for the fire brigade to intervene. (Check me out with my resisting the temptation to make a ‘man with a large helmet joke’). Similarly, if you are about to be devoured by say, an angry hippopotamus, it could be said that you are in urgent need of some assistance. It doesn’t have to be life and death. A major contract being on the brink of collapse and somebody emailing you for a crucial piece of information to save it would also be legitimately urgent. What is NOT urgent however is usually the stuff that you, YES YOU!, mark as being exactly that.

I kid you not when I say that the other day I received an email marked with an angry red exclamation mark demanding that I update my car parking details in the company system as a matter of urgency. Yeah. Or the brilliant case of another college of mine who felt the need to boast that he had sent an email to facilities, again marked as top priority, letting them know one of the arms had fallen of his chair. Who in the name of Jesus flaming Christ thinks THAT should be marked as urgent? So the arm fell of your chair did it? Well here is a newsflash for you: NOBODY CARES! That’s not even worthy of a ‘low importance’ flag you utter wangmunch. Take the arm, yes the one that fell so dramatically from your idiot-perch, and insert it directly up your backside. Then you can legitimately send an email to the company medical officer marked ‘urgent’ telling them all about it. And whilst you are at it, mail it to the rest of us so that we can have all have a giggle.

I’m honestly tempted to get a rubber stamp with a giant exclamation mark on it, to dip it in red ink, and then to hunt down every single bellend who uses the urgent button without due cause so I can smack them squarely between the eyes with it. You know who you are, so sort it out!

2) ‘Text speak’, pointlessly abbreviated words and generally sloppy grammar is not acceptable in a civilised society.

Exhibit a:

Hi Bob

Hope everything is going well mate.



Exhibit b:

Hi Boob

Hop evrythng is going wll m8.



Anything, and I do mean anything, that resembles the latter rather than the former is ejected from my inbox so fast it could outpace an Israeli artillery round descending into a Palestinian classroom for leper children. I don’t care if it’s from the fucking CEO. To not take even the slightest care over what you write, to not proof read it or check that things are spelled correctly and that the grammatical syntax isn’t at least vaguely correct and readable is the verbal equivalent of rape. I’m serious. Sending someone an email (and god forbid, someone you actually give a toss about or somebody important) that reads like a bitch is basically the equivalent of marching into their house, punching their significant other in the chops, smashing all their crockery, sticking a firecracker down their toilet and shitting on their kids. It shows an utter lack of respect towards the other involved party. For Christ sake people, you went to school for a reason!

3) Funny emails aren’t.

Oh god how I loathe ‘funny’ emails. It’s mostly men who send them, the majority of women possessing a grain of common sense and all. What I want to know is, who in their right mind sits there, day in day out, writing this shite and flinging it into the clambering arms of the desk bound proletariat? What sort of pond scum thinks ANYONE is interested in ‘the ten funniest things to do during a meeting!’ or ‘check this out!!! it’s a cat that looks like Harry Potter!!11’

And who the fuck do you think you are sending them? Unless you wrote it, don’t bother. Eddie Izzard is possibly the funniest man alive but you don’t see him marching up on stage, declaring himself hilarious, and then spewing out some nonsensical bullshit harvested from the murkiest corners of the internet do you? And if Eddie Izzard doesn’t think it’s big or cleaver then you shouldn’t either! You aren’t funny. I’m sorry to lay it on the line there champ, but that’s life. Some people are born tall, some are skinny, some will go bald at twenty six and some are born fucking hilarious and gifted with a magnificent wang but we can’t all be me.

Stick to photocopying your own arse and trying to hit on that bird from HR with the massive bazoombas. She’s probably never going to fuck you, she’s too busy fantasizing about me after all, but you never know. Get her tanked at the Christmas party and she might let you ride the train to tuna town. Just for god’s sake stop picking up pissweak material from other people’s inboxes and then forwarding it to everyone you know in the vein hopes that they will all fall off their chairs laughing and be filled with endless admiration for your comic genius. We won’t.

4) Learn to use a spell checker you lazy prick

Nuff said.

5) The computer box doesn’t likee sendee big attachments! Only send wittle ones okey?

Were you, for some bizarre and totally arbitrary reason, to send somebody a letter about a steam train, would you, or would you not, attach said vapour-driven locomotive to the letter before posting it? The answer for those of you who are struggling, is ‘no’. So if you wouldn’t do it in the real world for the love of god will you please stop doing it in the virtual one! You cannot just fling whatever you like into that little attachment line and expect everything to work! And my computer does not want your oversized and irrelevant piles of digital crap clogging it up and my mailbox is going to choke like a pharyngoesophageal constriction sufferer trying to deepthrought a banana. If you are going to attach something, make sure it’s relevant, concise and absolutely necessary. Otherwise kindly take a running jump off the nearest bridge.


The unfair shape of things to come…

February 10, 2009

I have never had much affection for the BBC since I reached the age where my entire mindset did not revolve around being a slave to my nightmarish cocktail of hormones and I was able to think coherently about the way of the world.

They strike me as overly melodramatic and downright irresponsible when reporting world affairs half the time, but the one thing you can say for them is that it isn’t the fault of their journalists.  The blogs posted on the BBC website are about six million times better than any of their televised coverage because the people writing them do not have some daytime-tv amateur fuckwit of a director bawling in their ear about making the piece more ‘heartfelt’ or trying to ‘connect with the viewer’.  Something which apparently is best achieved by treating them like a dribbling simpleton who requires the use of big bold graphs in big shiny colours with a big orange reporter flailing in their general direction in order to make them understand.

They also have an alarming tendency to think themselves funny, which concerns me on several levels.  I mean ok, Robert Peston is hilarious, but that’s not intentional so it doesn’t count.  Take for example, the blog written by the BBCs economics editor Stephanie Flanders (who presumably was drafted in as a more manly replacement for Evan Davies).  Now I don’t know the woman personally, but I’m willing to bet she’s got quite a bit up top and I’m not talking about her bra size.  The poor girl has doubtless been through years of journalistic training and worked her arse off to get where she has gotten and I’m sure she’s very proud of that.  So why BBC, why in GODS NAME did you call her blog ‘Stephanomics’.  Whichever wool brained, cheap suited, triple skinny-latte drinking spastic came up with that should be hurled from the nearest office window with only their pretentious prêt a manger crayfish salad for a parachute.

Anyway, regardless of the unforgivably shit name, she makes an absolutely excellent point here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/stephanieflanders/2009/02/unfair_we_may_have_to_hope_so.html It’s enough to make those of us who have actually bothered to put something away rather than blow everything and get into debt cry tears of pure bile towards those who haven’t and may even end up better off for it.

Secondly, unnerving, blabber-mouthed, incoherent, yo-yoing-inflection master Robert Peston is up to his old tricks again, having written two more awesome posts for which we should all be thankful there is no audio-visual accompaniment:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2009/02/the_questions_for_the_former_b.html deals with the question of the questions fat-cat bankers should be called to account with.

And the sublime http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2009/02/bonus_buck_stops_with_brown.html perfectly sums up why the ridiculous furore over bonuses for bank staff isn’t quite the clear cut case of crusading good vs fiscal evil the majority of news organisations would have you believe.

That’s enough for now.  I like all savers am off to stab myself in the eyes with the shards of my own shattered dreams…


I’m back

February 10, 2009

Ok so it’s been a while.  Alright it’s been fucking ages, but Clockwork Planet isn’t dead.

I haven’t been able to update the site for the last few months for reasons too boring to go into but the current plan is to whack a few random articles up here from now on and then to kick off my Smallville reviews again for the next season (if there is one).

If anyone has any suggestions for article titles about pretty much anything at all, please submit them as comments on this post.


– Nihil


Clockwork Planet Smallville S7 EP16 ‘Descent’ Review

April 23, 2008

He’s dead! Oh golly gosh, I can hardly believe it. Finally after all this time, after so much pain and heartache, after the misery he has inflicted upon the lives of so many, he has finally gotten his comeuppance!

I am of course joyously referring to Creepy Little Goggle-Eyed Appalling Child Actor Lex, who finally pops his whiney little ginger clogs this week by being lobbed face first into a raging fire. God bless you Smallville writers, god bless your children and your children’s children. I take back all the nasty things I have said about you and your terrible, terrible show (note: I don’t really).

Far less important but none the less worth mentioning is the death of Lionel Luthor and his frankly amazing range of haircuts.

Despite being about the worst kept secret on the internet in the days leading up to the episodes release, the scene in which Lex finally steps into the darkness and hurls his dear old dad out of his office window still reverberates with potential and impact. Slightly underplayed by Michael Rosenbaum, it is never the less nicely acted, directed and filmed (the use of lighting, or mostly the lack thereof was especially nice). And whilst it’s fair to say it wasn’t exactly unexpected, the fact that there was a discernable build-up to a major event on the show which didn’t turn out to be either a non-event, with everything going back to normal by the end of the episode, or a giant bucket of second hand horseshit is both pleasing and above all satisfying.

In fact ‘satisfying’ is perhaps the best word I can think of to describe ‘Descent’ because it strips away almost all the elements that have dragged this season into the murky depths of the lake of appallingly written shittyness and manages to deliver a relatively tightly paced episode that actually manages to entertain rather than depress.

Things didn’t look good at the start. Having delivered the pre-credit intro sequence, in which Lex partakes in the spot of aforementioned patricide, we are then quickly back on the usual one way train to shitty-town with this weeks ‘standout stupid moment of the week’.

After Lois announces that someone just fell out of the Luthorcorp building to a startled Clark and Chloe (who were working together to find Kara and Braniac in order to return Lana to her irritating, sighing, skinny little nascence of a self), they march over to said building, which is conveniently just across the street, and are greeted by the sight of Lionel’s eviscerated body splattered all over some steps, and covered only by a transparent plastic sheet. They also see Lex looking hilariously unconvincing in his attempts to feign shock and sadness. This isn’t what had me worried though.

It isn’t long before that barmy detective woman who has poked her nose into previous episodes, with all the subtlety of a rusty spoon to the eyeball, turns up and proceeds to announce to the supposedly grief stricken younger Luthor that she needs him to identify the body. “Ok” thinks I, “this isn’t too far fetched, I can accept that despite it being mighty untactful, we are clearly going to get a scene a bit later in the morgue where Lex confirms it’s Lionel”. But no, oh no, that would be FAR too costly in terms of time for this particular detective apparently, because, to my total disbelief, she proceeds to rip the plastic cover off the top half of Lionel’s body IN FRONT OF THE ENTIERETY OF THE WORLD’S MEDIA AND HUNDREDS OF ASSEMBLED ONLOOKERS?!!!

Who in the name of HOLY FUCK thought that this was appropriate behaviour for a senior member of the Metropolis police department?! Who in their right bloody mind would ever even consider asking someone to identify the mangled body of their dead father whilst it is splattered across some steps and before he has been cleaned up and given some dignity in the midst of a storm of media flashbulbs and merciless video cameras? It’s utter shit-for-brains insanity.

This massive stumble aside however, Clark, for want of a better word, ‘stalking’ Lex with a look of suspicion on his face from amongst the media whilst Lex tried to slink away was a powerful hint of what was to come later in the episode.

After seeing that Lex is now tormented by constant visions of Creepy Little Goggle-Eyed Appalling Child Actor Lex (aren’t we all?) accusing him of “killing dad for a necklace”, we move on to Clark combing Lionel’s vault for clues as to why he would hurl himself out of a window, or about the locket he was trying to hand over before his forty story swan dive. What Clark instead finds is a ridiculous looking Kryptonian torch…thing (that Lionel presumably yanked out of his own arse because despite being the emissary of Jor-El I wasn’t aware that he could build honest to goodness Kryptonian devices) which projects the mulleted wonder’s final message to him onto a nearby wall.

Despite the fact that, sadly, rather than being used as the perfect opportunity for Lionel/Jor-El to deliver Brando’s “They can be a great people Kal-El…” speech and tell him that he needs to get off his arse, stop moping about, and become a hero, the scene is instead used to propel Clark into the rubbish Veritas storyline. It does exactly what it needs to i.e. it gives Clark a clear mission to focus on.

Also fitting into the ‘I can scarcely believe I’m watching Smallville because this is actually good’ category is the tense standoff between Chloe and Lex in the basement of the Daily Planet. Chloe discovers one of the two keys needed to unlock the secret of controlling Clark on her desk and, seeing Lex coming, hides it as quickly as she can. Lex then immediately finds it (presumably he has developed some form of X-ray vision or psychic powers because I’m buggered if I know how he knew it was there) and confronts an obviously scared Chloe about why she hid it from him, before firing her from her post at the Daily Planet.

It’s fair to say that Micheal Rosenbaum and Allison Mack are the strongest members of the Smallville cast. Something that is admittedly a bit like saying that someone is the least retarded in a class full of underwear-meets-cranium retard kiddies, but none the less this scene is ample proof that they both still have something in the tank. In fact Mack is far more consistent in this episode than she has been in some time and it’s good to see. But the best thing by far about this and several other scenes in ‘Descent’ is what isn’t said, but merely hinted at.

The underlying malice in everything Lex says to Chloe, and her quietly terrified reaction, made me genuinely nervous that perhaps Lex was about to beat her to within an inch of her life and that’s EXACTLY the sort of thing I have been wanting to be able to write since I began reviewing this show at the beginning of this season. It’s not every day we get a scene that has genuine depth in Smallville, ‘subtlety’ being a word I have long since suspected the bunch of twats who write this show have never encountered, but bugger me sidewise if they haven’t managed to deliver for once.

It’s also not every day we aren’t subjected to a shallow, unthreatening Lex who is constantly held back by the lingering chance of redemption, but again, here Smallville delivers. Lex’s unspoken reaction to his gargoyle faced assistant Gina saying “we did it Lex” was so perfectly malevolent that I wanted to kiss Rosenbaum on the top of his big shiny head (the one on his shoulders, don’t get any gay-vibe ideas people). I could quite happily have kissed him again when, in an unusually deep and metaphorical (if totally over the top) moment, he brutally destroys the Creepy Little Goggle-Eyed Appalling Child Actor, or ‘good’, part of himself, forever closing the door to potential redemption behind him. HOORAY!!! Lex Luthor is finally Lex Luthor! (Until they decide he just hit his head in the shower and send us all hurtling back to square one again that is.)

Rosenbaum is brilliant in most of the scenes he’s in but when he and Tom Welling engage in an emotional shouting match in the Luthor mansion, where Lex viciously tramples on Jonathan Kent’s memory in an effort to provoke Clark, I couldn’t help but sit there and smile. And I was smiling because it wasn’t just Lex who was really beginning to show his true colours.

Clark Kent has been a useless disappointment as a hero this season, a faltering, miserable, hen pecked shitstick who has done nothing particularly heroic for weeks. But this week he’s like a different person and there is one simple reason for this: the Lana Lang shaped millstone around his neck has been removed. Sure he mentions that he wants to find a cure for her catatonic state at the beginning of the episode, but after that she doesn’t feature at all. Nor do Kara or Braniac in fact. The entire episode is dedicated to the first true battle between Lex Luthor and Clark Kent and it’s about a million times better for it. Clark finally has some fire back in his eyes and some spine with which to take on Lex. As he and Lex argued, Tom Welling brought a depth of emotion and subtlety to his character that we almost never get to see. A resigned Clark sadly telling the spiteful Lex that he tried to be his friend, asking “what happened to you?” and then finally getting angry with Lex and vowing to expose his horrific crime to the world is a gigantic contrast to the lacklustre shite we have had to endure episode after episode. The decision to cut Lana, Kara and Braniac out of the episode was inspired.

Clark even gets to be a hero for once, and as ridiculous as it sounds to be making a song and dance out of the fact that Superman did something heroic, that’s where we have ended up. Clark bursting in to save Jimmy and Lois from freezing to death, then sweeping out again before they woke up was not exactly the epic ‘heroic’ scene the show so desperately needs, but it went some way to redressing the balance from previous episodes.

Speaking of Lois and Jimmy, they are my personal heroes in this episode because they finally give me something to point and scream ‘SHIT!’ at.

Their scenes in this otherwise successful episode are a total waste of time and a complete and total fuckup in terms of both impact and writing. When every other aspect of this episode was so well written and put together, I simply cannot understand why they even bothered trying to shoehorn these two into the plot. Clark should be the one solving the mystery of Lionel’s death not Lois and Jimmy. They aren’t even supposed to be in the show yet, let alone star players. If they were ruthless enough to cut Kara and Lana, they sure as hell could have stretched to Jimmy and Lois. And it’s made considerably worse by the fact that when everyone else in the cast is achieving far more than they can usually manage, Aaron Ashmore and Erica Durence are doing their very best to reintroduce us to the school of pathetically unconvincing acting.

Lois getting shot in the shoulder, then yelling “you shot me?!” in an immensely irritating ‘spunky gal’ way made ME want to shoot her, several times, preferably in the face. If I had my collar bone shattered by a bullet, I don’t think a wise guy remark would be top of my list of priorities. I should think those would consist of attempting to prevent myself from bleeding to death and shitting myself in shock. Lois’ ninja bullshit has GOT TO STOP! The stupid cowbag is a total waste of space and Erica Durence is a terrible, terrible actress. She doesn’t so much as try to hint at being in crippling pain, but rather whinges a bit as if she’s bruised herself. Being shot is not something you just shrug off for fucks sake. It’s a great shame because it drags down what would otherwise have been a genuinely brilliant episode.

Also striking a bum note is the assassination of Gina moments after she discovers that Clark is ‘the traveller’. As plot twists go, it’s odiously predictable and totally unnecessary and although I approve of them getting rid of her, it wasn’t necessary to have her leave that ‘D’oh!’ phone message for Lex at all. He could have just had her killed because she said ‘we did it Lex’.

However, these niggles aside, the episode ends on a high. Clark and Chloe’s chat is debatably the highlight of the episode. Chloe gently confronting Clark’s usual ‘they died because of me’ whinging with ‘yeah, they did, and now you have to prove they died for a reason, you have to stop Lex’ was perfect in tone and delivery, and Clark’s grim ‘I will’ did more to develop his character than every other episode this season combined (even if Welling did manage to look constipated). Finally, Clark openly yet silently defying Lex’s refusal to allow anyone else to attend Lionel’s funeral was excellent. The two men locking eyes over the body of the man Lex killed was a striking, poetic image of lost friendship and simmering anger so potent that stupidly over the top music and ridiculous beams of sunlight couldn’t spoil it.

It’s been a long time coming, but Smallville has finally delivered a good episode that shows exactly why so many of us return week upon week despite the constant disappointments. It showed that when you strip away most of the pointless, bloated mess we usually get stuck with, there is a great show lurking in there and a capable cast who can deliver it. ‘Descent’ wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was a giant leap in the right direction and one I only hope the writers continue to take. I can’t help but feel however, that like so many decent episodes gone by, this may be the one exception to the rule this season, and I sincerely hope this isn’t the case. Because if this represents a new beginning for the show, we could be looking at a cracking end to the season.

Time will tell.



Clockwork Planet Smallville S7 EP15 ‘Veritas’ Review

April 18, 2008

When I read the press release for this episode, I nearly fell off my chair. One particular line, “Kara decides to teach Clark how to fly in order to strengthen his chances against Brainiac.” really caught my eye. “Finally”, I thought, perhaps they are going to abandon the ridiculous ‘No tights, no flights’ rule, which was created way back in the show’s infancy, before anyone knew how long the series would run for or that Clark would get a flying cousin and several flying enemies to fight.

“Alright, so maybe he won’t be very good at it, or maybe it won’t work all the time, but still” thinks I, “this could be awesome!”

He isn’t, it doesn’t, and it wasn’t.

Right back near the start of the season, I complained in several of my reviews that Clark’s inability to fly was really dragging the character down when so many of the super powered individuals he has encountered this season can do it with ease. The idea of an earthbound Clark Kent was a fresh and appealing one that made perfect sense when the series launched because it showed how far Clark was from achieving his destiny. Flight is, after all, arguably Superman’s most iconic power (his invulnerability and weakness to Kryptonite being the other contenders for that particular throne in my opinion). In fact, Clark’s progression in terms of powers has so far been excellent, with him gaining new abilities each season as he gradually grows into the person he was born to be. Each power has been introduced in a relatively sensible way, and has come along at a time when his existing bag of tricks was beginning to get old. In short, this is the one aspect of Clark’s character development that the Smallville team has actually done a decent job with. Recently however, Clark has really begun to lose his way. Forget about his moodiness and barmy love life for a second. I’m talking powers here.

When was the last time you saw Clark use his X-Ray vision? Or his heat Vision, or his Super-Breath? When was the last time he really did anything other than run about and knock down a few baddies in slow motion?

The real problem is that Clark, more often than not, simply appears to be human. It wouldn’t take much to fix the problem. Why don’t we get a scene where Clark is hovering and chatting to Lana (lets face it, ‘Pussy whipped’ doesn’t even come close, Lana clearly has him doing everything around the house) then proceeds to pick up the sofa she is sitting on with one hand mid-way through the conversation so that he can clean underneath. Why does he never quip “I’ll do the dishes” after dinner and then do them in an eyeblink? Why does he never cook dinner with his heat vision or yank a beer out of the cupboard and instantly chill it with his breath in a neat little X-men 2 pastiche (possibly because he may or may not have freeze breath yet, but hey)? Why doesn’t he ever juggle bloody tractors JUST BECAUSE HE CAN?

The only recent example of this kind of thing I can think of is Clark loading a few fence posts into the back of a truck and hammering in a few nails with his hands and frankly, it sucks. Claire Bennet does more super powered stuff around the house than Clark Kent these days.

It’s immensely irritating to watch a character getting steadily worse rather than better, but with ‘Veritas’ that really is the case.

The main thread of the episode revolves around Braniac, and his turning up at the Kent farm demanding that Kara go with him to some undisclosed location, presumably so that he can do something evil and nefarious with her, though he doesn’t trouble to explain what.

Clark turns up just as Braniac grabs Kara, something that she seems powerless to resist for some bizarre reason, and chucks him through a wall and into a shed. Braniac then flies off, leaving Clark gurning after him like a useless tit as usual.

Kara then has the brilliant and aforementioned idea to teach Clark to fly so that he can share the same playing field, or sky, as her and the villain. Problem is, after flying about all over the shop to show him how it’s done and teasing him a little (it must be said that Laura Vandervoort does a pretty decent job in this scene), Kara doesn’t so much manage to teach him, as ‘get yelled at by her moody prick of a cousin and give up almost immediately’. Clark doesn’t even try; he just looks like he’s straining to control a nasty case of the shits for a few seconds, then gives up.

As missed opportunities go, it’s fair to say that this one takes the cake. In fact, it’s a giant kick in the teeth for all the genuine fans out there because a) now is the perfect time for Clark to start flying and b) they got our fucking hopes up in the first place!

Why bother? Why dangle the trout of metaphorical awesome in front of the fans’ faces and then slap them with in instead?

It’s a massive disappointment and an unbelievably retarded decision. In fact the sour taste it left in my mouth left me pissed off for the entire episode.

Having made a triumphant entrance, Braniac then fucks off for the majority of the episode, only popping up to do something naughty every now and again like the little shitbag of a school bully who always used to appear unannounced and boot you in the shins when you weren’t looking. Yet again, the Smallville writers seem to have immersed themselves in a giant pool of liquid stupid by failing miserably to come up with a single genuinely useful or entertaining thing for a talented guest star to do. I complained bitterly in my last review about the fact that the Chief from Battlestar Galactica, (the unquestionably capable Aaron Douglas) was basically locked in a basement for an entire episode yanking a lever up and down and laughing like a narcissistic prick before popping his clogs with an audible bum note of missed opportunity.

This week it’s the turn of James Masters, who, despite sporting that hilariously shit American drawl of a voice for yet another appearance, presumably because his native British accent was deemed TOO FUCKING AWESOME for the American masses to handle as it might make them feel inadequate, is actually a pretty decent actor. Alright so he has a face that looks like someone tried to sculpt a statue out of solid smug only to slip with the chisel and rip half of it off, then decide that he better make it symmetrical or it might look silly, and his fan base largely consists of fourteen year old girls who are prepared to jump on anything with a six pack, but the guy deserves more than six seconds of screen time.

We will come on to exactly what he does get up to a bit later because I simply can’t put off ripping into the Da Vinci code, sorry, ‘Veritas’ sequences any longer.

See, Lex, by way of a bullet to the face not so very long ago, or possibly Chloe’s healing powers, appears to suddenly be able to remember, at will, whatever the fuck he likes about his father’s past dealings with a secret society. This is explained away because apparently, back in the day, he just happened to have eavesdropped on PRECISELY the moments required to unravel the entire mystery in the blink of an eye, which is in no way a totally unoriginal ‘cop-out pile of wank’ way of accelerating yourself out of the hole you have written yourself into.

We are informed of this via a few sequences where Lex appears to be having an aneurism for a couple of seconds, and then we are catapulted into another mushy, soft focus flashback in which Lionel is apparently much younger (we can tell apparently, because despite looking exactly identical to his current incarnation, he has marginally less hair, way to go makeup team!) and we get to watch a meeting of the ‘Super-rich let’s talk total bollocks club’ through the eyes of, all together now: Creepy Little Goggle-Eyed Appalling Child Actor Lex! Hooray!

The scene in which Creepy Little Goggle-Eyed Appalling Child Actor Lex overhears one of the key meetings between Lionel and the other members, where they argue about what should be done with the envelope containing the secret to ‘controlling the traveler’, is an absolute hoot. Never since the ‘witches’ storyline in season 4 have I stared in such dumbfounded disbelief at what I was seeing and hearing. Apparently, contained within a bank vault in Zurich, which can only be opened with two keys sealed within lockets and entrusted to Veritas members, is an envelope containing the secret that could lead to ultimate power: a way to control Krypton’s last son. Apparently Dr Virgil Swan made the discovery that there was a way to control the traveller and decided to share it with three of the most morally corrupt, power obsessed business men he could get his hands on. And best of all, apparently, the Teague family have been the custodians of the secret of the traveller ‘for centuries’, and have been sacrificing themselves for all these years to protect it. What a load of total, TOTAL Bollocks. So much in fact that it’s the clear winner of the title ‘standout stupid moment of the week’.

For a start, nobody knew Clark was coming to earth aside from his Kryptonian parents and their extended family back on his home planet. All this nonsense about secret societies makes no sense whatsoever because nobody ever bothers to explain exactly HOW people, several centuries before Clark’s arrival, managed to find out he was coming when back on Krypton, nobody had a CLUE the planet was going to be destroyed, because if they had, they would have been high-tailing it to the other side of the universe. We are just expected to swallow the fact that someone, somewhere found out, despite that being impossible, and get on with worrying about what is in the ominous envelope locked in a bank vault.

I’m sorry but I wasn’t aware that ramming totally random plot elements from the collected works of Dan ‘I am a totally talentless cock’ Brown was deemed acceptable in modern television dramas. Especially when said elements make even less fucking sense than the contemptible piles of claptrap he manages to get away with passing off as novels simply because council estate retards from Manchester take them on holiday to Gran Canaria and digest them in an attempt to make themselves appear less thick.

It’s a terrible, contrived, badly executed mess of a storyline which plods through the heart of the episode like a dieing elephant and ruins everyone’s fun. The one and only saving grace about the whole sorry affair is that it seems to be pushing the increasingly (and pleasingly) unhinged Lex to hitherto unreached levels of contemplated patricide. It would be a shame to see a memorable character like Lionel bumped off over a locket, but still, at least it might liven things up a bit.

Meanwhile, Braniac has effectively lobotomised Lana (it actually makes her far less annoying as it turns out) and turned her into his puppet in order to force Kara to hand herself over in a tragic case of ‘it’s-me-he-wants-so-I’m-going-to-blunder-blindly-into-a-trap-in-the-hopes-that it-will-be-enough-to-save-her-itus’.

We are then ‘treated’ to a scene in which we get to watch Clark looking on, utterly powerless, as his cousin hands herself over to an evil, lunatic supercomputer and flies off into space with it (relatively decent and quite expensive flying special effects used on another two characters who aren’t Clark Kent, naturally).

The real cake-taker however has to be the ending scene of the episode. It’s a perfect metaphor for the way Clark has been treated this season, and more than slightly ironic considering that Chloe (who was tortured to the point of absurdity at the beginning of this season) is present to watch the same treatment being handed out to Clark.

Watching Clark break down in tears (well, he didn’t actually manage any tears, apparently it was beyond Tom Welling, so they had to drag Allison Mack in to show him how it’s done) was a sad moment. Not because of what’s going on with Lana, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about her, but because it represented the very lowest ebb that the writers have ever brought our hero to. Lost, powerless, alone, stressed and depressed to the point of breaking down. It really doesn’t sound much like Superman does it?

Something needs to change fast or Smallville risks becoming just like its hero, a useless mockery of everything it represents. The problem is, that with Kara soaring off to recreate Krypton with Braniac, and Lex about to bump off Lionel (if my guess is correct), the focus is anywhere BUT on the man would be Super and that’s the greatest letdown of all.

The only way is up (up and away)…



Clockwork Planet Smallville S7 EP14 ‘Traveller’ Review

April 18, 2008

Season seven of Smallville presents me with a problem as a reviewer. I keep having to write the same thing. Every other season of the show has been up and down like a malfunctioning lift in terms of quality, but at least they didn’t make the same mistakes over and over and over. Each season, in its own small way, contributed to Clark’s journey. Sure, they might have been utter shit in places (See season 4 for more details), but they didn’t make Clark seem like he was walking backwards along the road to becoming Superman. Traveller’ is a perfect example of the core problem that currently faces Smallville: Clark Kent is shit.

If anyone actually read this I would in all probability be deluged with angry comments surrounding that last point, but hear me out. In previous seasons, Clark has done some pretty awesome stuff and for all its faults, Smallville has delivered some truly memorable moments. From Clark’s first true flight (As Kal-El, his ruthless Kryptonian alter ego) to him clawing his way up the side of an ICBM and ripping the nuke out of it’s heart, money has often been spent in the right places and the results have been one of the few factors that made the show worth watching.

Initially, the signs were good for ‘Traveller’. The intro scene, where Clark is ambushed in his barn by the chief mechanic from the utterly sublime, re-imagined Battlestar Galactica and shot with kryptonite tasers is frankly brilliant. Atmospheric, well acted and a few gaping logic holes, (1. Why would you try to take on such a powerful ‘freak’ alone if you were the highly trained leader of an elite strike team? 2. Why didn’t Clark hear them coming from the other side of the globe, let alone 30 feet away? 3. Why, after recovering from his first dose of tasering, did Clark not simply move at nearly the speed of light in order to dodge the other incoming shots? 4. Oh alright, I’ll stop now) aside, genuinely striking. Clark flailing about like a wounded bear and lobbing Chief Tyrol across the room was a powerful illustration of his irritatingly hidden potential.

However, before long, our ‘hero’ is banged up in an expensive looking Kryptonite cell and in desperate need of saving once again. WRONG!

This could have been a fantastic opportunity for a hero’s true colours to emerge. Superman is not thick. In fact he has a crazy Krypto-brain that works like a supercomputer. He never forgets anything, and he always finds a way to win, no matter how intelligent his foes. It’s very easy to think of him as a well mannered bruiser in tights, a man who solves the world’s problems with brawn rather than brains, but that’s simply not the case and Smallville could have easily made that point with this episode. Imagine for a second if, rather than writhing on the floor for an entire episode, a stricken Clark had engaged in a tense battle of wills with his captor, constantly watching, waiting for an opportunity to break out. Maybe he could have achieved it about half way through, and then found himself in a fortress of Kryptonite laced traps, scrambling for safety and enjoying only short bursts of power, and all the while persued by the relentless agents and their adapted technology. His moral compunctions could have been his Achilles heal, his unwillingness to kill in order to escape his biggest challenge.

Instead, what we get is an immobilised, brutalised, tortured hero who can’t do anything about his situation but wish to god he wasn’t in it, and must rely on his friends to help him out.

This has consistently been the case for weeks and its really starting to grate. But for all its monotony in some senses, the series is also wildly inconsistent in others.

Take good old Lionel Luthor for example, who is once again grabbed by his ridiculous hair and hurled bodily into another totally unexplained change of heart. For over a season now, we have been told that Lionel is Jor-El’s emissary, a walking library of Kryptonian knowledge and secretly one of the good guys, only to be told an episode later that he is in fact a ruthless, murdering, wife beating despot who just happens to have a bonce full of Krypto-think. It’s ridiculous to the point where you have to wonder if the writer of each episode has even bothered to watch the one that preceded it. Lionel flip-flops so often he resembles a greasy, craggy faced goldfish that’s leapt out of its bowl in a frenzied bout of stupidity.

Here he’s something of a villain once again, having given the order to have Grumpy McDroopyface banged up and Kryptonited half to death in the first place. According to him he did it for Clark’s ‘protection’, but in actuality, it transpires that he has been wanting to control Clark all along, having anticipated his arrival on earth some time ago as a member of a secret society called ‘Veritas’ who knew that an alien of unimaginable power was going to fall from the stars. Veritas is made up of the men-folk of several of the DC universe’s richest families. As well as a Luthor, we also get a Queen, a Teague and a Swan. The society apparently planned to welcome Clark upon his arrival and ensure his protection, something which should be read as ‘cease potentially the most powerful asset on earth and control it’. Things didn’t exactly go to plan for the members of Veritas, unless of course you happen to be Lionel Luthor, for whom things went exactly as planned as he systematically had the other members killed off in order to claim Clark as his possession when he landed.

A charming little story isn’t it?

I have to wonder exactly which member of the writing team, whilst doubtless snorting coke from the heaving plastic bosom of a leggy prostitute, thought to himself “I know, let’s rip off The Da Vinci Code, NOBODY WILL NOTICE!!!” then actually managed to get the rest of the production team to buy into the idea. I can only assume that they are all off their faces on some sort of hallucinogen or simply utter fucking retards, but by god they made a colossal cock-up of this one.

First of all, allow me to indulge myself for a second by pointing out the one teeny-tiny flaw in this otherwise shining example of televisual script writing wonderment:


How in the name of all that’s holy did they have a bloody clue that the last son of Krypton was coming to earth in the first place let alone build a FUCKING stupid Fucking secret fucking society around the idea!? WHO IN GOD’S NAME WRITES THIS SHIT!!!?!

I feel better now. Anyway the point is that the entire idea is totally absurd. They never even bother to offer the slightest explanation as to how or why Veritas was able to determine that ‘The Traveller’ was on his way, let alone how they planned to control him when he did get there. The whole thing is clearly just a terrible excuse to sling in a ‘secret society’ simply because those were the talk of the town back in 2005 and hell, if it worked then, it’s gotta work again right? And also just to give Lionel an excuse to still be in the series.

Also, why the heck would you get an actor like Aaron Douglas (he of the aforementioned Battlestar fame) on the show and then proceed to give him a theoretically interesting role as the villain of the piece, only to then have him spending an entire episode pushing a lever up and down? He’s totally wasted and actually ends up looking a bit shit (not to mention dead) by the end of the episode thanks to some horrible dialogue and direction. If you are going to get guest stars on the show who have a proven track record, the least you could do is actually give them something productive to do.

So the scene is set for a dramatic rescue, though sadly not by Clark, and in this week’s standout stupid moment, the rescuing falls to Chloe and Kara.

With Clark in mortal peril as usual, it falls to Chloe to drag powerless amnesiac Kara to the fortress of solitude and shout at Jor-El until he restores her memory and powers. At which point both of them should freeze to death almost immediately because, correct me if I’m wrong, the north pole is not the sort of place you simply saunter around in in a fashionable coat and a pair of jeans unless you want your feet to fall off. But that’s exactly what they do and apparently suffer no ill effects.

Nitpicking aside, the really stupid moment comes when Chloe starts yelling. It’s a shame to have to say it for the second time in one season, but Allison Mack seems to be losing her touch slightly. She has, for a very long time, been possibly the best reason to watch the show, simply because she brings a genuinely pleasing amount of skill and charisma to a cast who otherwise sorely lack it. I don’t know if the director is to blame for this scene, but for my money, Chloe should have been on the point of emotional meltdown, screaming at Jor-El to help because she was terrified that Clark was going to bite the bullet at any second. Instead, she basically just marches into the fortress and grumbles loudly. To cap it all, she then declares that she ‘loves’ Clark without so much as a misty eye. Had she been on her knees, in floods of tears, begging for help when she made such a declaration, it could have been one of the most memorable scenes in recent memory, but instead, it’s almost as if nobody can be bothered. It’s a great shame because unlike many others, Mack is doubtless capable of such a performance.

To cap it all, without so much as a word, Jor-El fixes Kara just like that. Done! Right then, off to save the star of the show.

All that boring nonsense we had to endure in previous episodes evaporates then does it? All the messing about with Lex trying to pry Clark’s secret out of Kara? Done. No explanation, no major revelations, no point whatsoever. She just gets her memory back and that’s that and that leaves us screaming “why the hell did she need to lose it in the first place!?”

We then get yet another expensive, visually arresting special effect sequence where Kara bursts through a balsa-wood door, and fries the controls for Clarks cell, before ripping the whole thing out of the ground and throwing it at his captors. It’s impressive stuff, but it doesn’t change the fact that she should have been the one in the cell and Clark should have been saving her. Yet again they blew the budget on someone who isn’t our hero.

Finally, we have Lex, and his ordering a hitman to kill the ‘frankly far too young to be a mentor for Clark’ Patricia Swan, in order to further unravel the mystery of Veritas. She is introduced so quickly and disposed of so promptly that you never really get the chance to understand quite why she is so motivated to find the traveller. Does she want to control him, or is she a good guy after all? Sure, she seems genuine enough in the final scenes of the episode, but it’s irritating that we will never find out what she had planned. Having said that, the Veritas storyline, for all its stupidity, seems to finally be sending the two Luthors hurtling toward one another on a collision course and I really hope they don’t simply brush this storyline aside in the next episode like so many others when it has the potential to be epic, if rather unrelated to Clark and his journey.

Speaking of Clark, having escaped death for another week (sigh), he moves on to some more moping around the farmhouse and questioning whether he can ever live up to people’s expectations of him. Good to see some original thinking from the writers there…

All in all, Traveller made not a jot of sense. The Veritas ‘secret society’ idea is neither intriguing nor particularly useful in terms of advancing Clark’s progression, but it does offer up the potential for some fireworks between Lex and his father. Traveller was in many ways the victim of what proceeded it (I.e. several rubbish storylines) but it could have turned things around had Clark been able to do something other than get rescued for once. For a budding, indestructible Super hero, he sure doesn’t do much in the way of heroism these days, and it’s dragging the show into the doldrums.



Clockwork Planet Smallville S7 EP13 ‘Hero’ Review

April 9, 2008


Sorry, but having just watched “Hero”, one of the most absurd examples of glaringly pretentious teeth-grinding ‘hidden’ advertising within a television program ever filmed, that’s all I can think about. Or rather, how much I wish I could personally take each and every member of One Republic back in time to a medieval castle siege, strap them to the diseased and bloated body of a dead cow and fire them, by means of a large trebuchet, over the castle walls and into the arms of the starving peasants waiting behind said wall for a chance to vent their frustrations.

Stupid, smug, self-satisfied, emo, pop-cocks aside, the other big news this week is that the almost terminally boring and uselessly acted ‘token character turned into a black dude for the TV show to stave off the frenzied hooting from the politically correct’, Pete Ross turns up again in Smallville. Hooray?

Quite why Pete needed to turn up again having added nothing to the first three series’, aside from the obligatory black face, I really don’t know, but never the less, it’s what we get.

Things begin at the first of many One Republic concerts shoehorned into the episode, with Kara and Jimmy standing in a pleasingly sparse crowd (the less support for Rne Oepublic the better frankly) chatting about how gosh darn irritating it is that she can’t remember anything. Presumably it’s irritating for Jimmy more than Kara because she’s less likely to allow him to fill her with his toothpaste of love if she can’t remember who the fuck he is or why she fancies a scrawny little man-rat like him in the first place.

Either way, Olsen saunters off to buy drinks with which to accelerate the panty removal process and Kara, after having swayed like a glass eyed six year old in the midst of a slow-motion epileptic seizure for about five minutes (whilst Ron Opubelic murder their instruments and the camera caresses them like a well paid six-armed hooker), gets saved from a falling speaker by elastic Pete, the super stretch hero.

Pete it would seem, has managed to get himself the hilariously rubbish ability to elongate his own limbs by means of some Kryptonite laced chewing gum (Whatever did happen to, ‘kills Superman, no effect on humans’?). Upon discovering this ability, and having been snapped by Jimmy saving Kara with it, he unwisely decides to forgo turning his arms into a series of nooses with which to throttle Noe reublicp or enlarging his own cock to epic proportions and charges off to tell the world about his heroic awesomeness.

Before he can manage to tell everyone however, he is waylaid by a series of scenes in which he has to ‘catch up’ with all his old Smallville friends and tries to make Clark feel shitty for having the nerve to be born on another planet and place his trust in his very best friend in all the world by telling him his secret. He does this by making stupid comments like ‘Lionel Luthor is in your house? That’s just wrong’ and ‘oh my gosh, I tortured myself for years over the burden of having to keep Clark’s secret and now Chloe, Lana, Lionel, Kara, Green Arrow, Cyborg, Aquaman, The Flash, The Martian Manhunter, Brainiac, Black Canary, The mind reading kid from the ‘Warrior Angel’ episodes and that little kid he saved from a flood in the opening episode all know about his powers and haven’t resorted to merciless self flagellation and Clark bashing. Boy do I feel silly!’.

Alright so he doesn’t say that, but he should.

I don’t really understand why Pete needed to be quite so petulant and stupid towards Clark in this episode. Hell, he’s so ridiculously over the top he makes droopy-draws Clark look like a happy little sunbeam by comparison. He blames Clark for stirring up the Luthor Hornet’s nest and losing his parents their jobs, and for ‘ruining peoples lives by keeping his powers a secret’, which is a selfish and totally ridiculous argument. If Clark did go public with his powers, his chances of a normal life would be non-existent, as he and all of his friends and family would be taken away from their homes and dissected in some government lab to find out how he can do what he can do. It can be argued that Clark would be placing his loved ones in more danger by going public than he is by keeping his secret, so Pete’s actions hold no weight. Until the ‘Superman’ idea of leading a double life crops up, it’s impossible for Clark to use his abilities without reserve in public. But good old Pete decides to threaten his former best friend with exposing the very secret he has fought so hard (with marginal success it must be conceded) to protect without batting an eyelid.

On the plus side, watching Sam Jones III (seriously, who the fuck has roman numerals after their name in this day and age?!) trying not to look annoyed when confronted with his vastly more successful and doubtless much better paid former cast mates is hilarious. Since leaving the show he has managed a career spanning the dizzy heights of fuck all, so it must have been really rather irritating to see how nicely everyone else has done without him (the uselessness of the show notwithstanding).

Having wasted a lot of time, the episode finally lurches into life when Pete decides to do Chloe a favour by infecting Lex’s computers at the Daily Planet with a sweet little virus that makes pictures of scorpions appear all over people’s computer screens. Lord knows why, real viruses don’t do that at all, but there you go.

Anyway, this leads to Lex blackmailing Pete into stealing Kara’s bracelet from Lionel Luthor’s vault. Jimmy happens to be hiding in the room at the time, and blabs about the whole thing to Clark and Chloe, setting up a confrontation between Clark and Pete. Anyone else spot a teeny plot hole here? I thought so. How exactly is a man who can stretch supposed to break into a gigantic safe, held on the top floor of one of the most advanced buildings in Metropolis without a) getting spotted by the millions of cameras and guards b) getting shot, or c) without any way whatsoever of breaking into the safe itself. Why he strolls right in past all that security nonsense and shoves his bendy hand into the huge gap between the door and its frame of course! Because recessed foot-thick several-tonne safe doors have gaps that anyone with a coat-hanger and a jot of ingenuity (or a bendy hand) can exploit whilst smirking like an idiot…

Clark can run almost as fast as light, so ninja-ing past a few guards and cameras is fine for him. Hell, he could jump in through the window if he felt like it. But Pete? Jesus guys, you could at least try to think these things through. However, despite everything, this pales in comparison to what follows.

In what is undoubtedly the standout stupid moment of the week, Pete decides that the only way he can save Clark “and everybody else from Lex once and for all” is to attack the future Superman with a bloody great big lump of Kryptonite and leave him laying on the floor with it situated on his chest, directly over his heart.

Take a second to read that again and think about it. Clark’s best friend decides to SAVE him, by placing a lump of the only substance on earth that can KILL him, directly in contact with his chest, with no way for him to remove it. He then plans to take a trip all the way back from Metropolis to Smallville, a journey of several hundred miles (as indicated in an earlier season), dispose of Lex, and then travel several hundred miles back again to remove the Kryptonite.

What kind of colossal twatface thought that was a good idea for a plot element? I can scarcely comprehend the sheer stupidity of it. Alright, so Pete’s mind was a little fuddled by the Krypto-gum, but he would have to be utterly fucking bat-shit crazy to think his plan was a good one. Leaving Clark with a lump of death rock on his chest is the sort of boo-hissable behaviour I expect to see from Lex, not from one of his best friends?!

The whole thing reeks of lazy, stupid, contrived writing from a bunch of total cretins who can’t even think up a single decent challenge for Clark, and therefore have to resort to having him writhe in untold agony on the floor at least once an episode so that he can’t possibly save the day in an instant, which is precisely what Superman is supposed to do!

The fact that Superman gets saved by Lex Luthor’s fucking dad AGAIN is yet more proof positive of exactly how far from the point Smallville has managed to drift in recent months.

To cap it all, the writers then decide to have Pete play nice again with Clark at the end of the episode. In my last review I referred to the ‘I never realised how hard it is to be you’ cliché that reared its ugly head. Well paint me yellow and call me bongo the banana boy, Pete actually bloody says it out loud in this episode’s closing stages. It was all the fault of the Kryptonite you see, he’s not actually a nutter who nearly murdered the world’s future greatest hero by exploiting the carefully bestowed knowledge of his one weakness. He’s had a tough old time, poor Pete, but he’s one of the good guys dammit and that’s what matters. Big hugs all around.

If I were Clark, I would have screamed at Pete until his ears fell off then banished him from the farm forever. The whole thing is totally ridiculous.

Speaking of ridiculous, Jimmy and Chloe are getting back together. Yeah, despite the fact that nobody gave a flying fuck about their relationship last time around and the way he treated her like total shit, Chloe says yes to a date as soon as he comes creeping around again. I’m really not sure who wrote this episode, but I really rather hope they fall out of a helicopter and land eyeball first upon the point of the Chrysler building. Either Jimmy Olsen is a meteor freak with the power to bat spectacularly above his weight at will, or he’s hung like a fucking rhinoceros.

Finally, Kara moves in with Lex. Yeah, that plot line is still limping along but I’m not even going to bother giving it review space. Lex clearly isn’t going to find out Clark and Kara’s secret from her, so for god’s sake can we please just give the girl her memory back and be done with it?

Overall, ‘Hero’ was a total waste of time (unless you happen to be an appalling soft-rock band trying to get some free publicity). It didn’t move Clark any closer to becoming Superman, it didn’t develop any existing plot lines to any great degree and it certainly didn’t merit bringing Pete back to the show. Smallville has been routinely chucking out stupid, contrived episodes season after season, but it usually manages to balance things out with the odd gem. So far, Season 7 has been at best average and at worst terrible and plots like ‘Kara’s lost memory’ don’t offer any hope of excitement or interest in the near future.

And if I ever hear another One-fucking-Republic song on the show again I’m going to hunt down and murder the entire production team…