Thursday, May 01, 2008


DC Comics used to have special issues called "Elseworlds," in which various characters would find themselves in different circumstances than what we were used to seeing them in. The idea was that these stories never happened in the continuity of their various titles, but rather, what if something different happened.

What if Batman was a 16th century pirate? What if Superman's rocket had landed in communist Russia during the 1940s? Etc.

When I wrote my spec script for "Smallville" (CW, 8 p.m.) a couple of years ago, it was entitled "Elseworlds." Through a bit of technology, Clark (Tom Welling) was able to see what life would have been like had he been adopted by Lionel Luthor rather than the Kents. Let's just say I brought the idea of sibling rivalry to a whole new level between Clark and Lex (Michael Rosenbaum).

Clearly, that script was never bought, because I'm still here doing this blog for you guys, but "Smallville" does finally visit an Elseworlds scenario for tonight's 150th episode, directed by Welling. As Brainiac (James Marsters) flies back to Krypton of the past to assassinate the young Kal-El, Clark wonders if the world might not be better off without him. The spirit of his father gives him a slice of what that might be like.

Lex is President, with Brainiac as his chief of staff and Kara (Lauren Vandernoot) as his enforcer. Lois (Erica Durance) is a Pulitzer Prize winner investigating Lex's sinister plans.

As a comics enthusiast, I've always enjoyed the Elseworlds ideas that the writers have come up with over the years (Marvel Comics has a similarly themed series called "What If?") While "Smallville" is hardly the first series to tackle the "It's a Wonderful Life" dilemma, at least it can fall back upon the DC Comics tradition of Elseworlds to justify it.

THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: "Smallville" isn't the only CW series to play with an alternate reality; Dean Winchester experienced his own version last season on "Supernatural" (CW, 9 p.m.) Tonight, Dean gets a visit from a spirit claiming to be that of his father.

Addison (Kate Walsh) makes a one-night return to "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 9 p.m.) from her spinoff "Private Practice," no doubt sending "Grey's" fans into a frenzy. It follows a new "Ugly Betty" at 8 p.m. and precedes a new "Lost" at 10 p.m. as Jack falls gravely ill, and Kate and Juliet rush to save him. Ah, to be nursed back to health by Kate and Juliet...

"CSI" (CBS, 9 p.m.) must be investigating Vulcans, because several victims turn up with green blood, followed by a new "Without A Trace," which presumably has no Vulcans.

Earl is finally awake on "My Name Is Earl" (NBC, 8 p.m.), which kicks off the network's terrific comedy lineup of "Scrubs," "The Office" and "30 Rock," followed by a new "ER" at 10 p.m.

Finally, the documentary "Carrier" (PBS, 9 p.m.) wraps up tonight.


Jonathan said...

With the exception of Batman and occassionally Flash or Green Lantern, I've always been more of a Marvel guy. But "Elseworlds" was one thing that DC, I felt, did better than Marvel's fairly silly "What If" line.

However, the few times in the past that "Smallville" has gone down this route like that terrible Lex Luthor Christmas episode, I believe that was from last season, it's been pretty silly.

I'm torn about "Smallville." I already got behind this season, so I will be watching the majority of it on DVD when it comes out later this Summer, or maybe I won't. I just can't see this show being much of anything next year without Rosenbaum. He's been the one constant factor that has kept my attention over the last couple of seasons. Although, Erica Durrance doesn't hurt matters, but that really has very little to do with the depth of her character or her acting abilites. Sue me, I'm a dude.

Phillip Ramati said...

Yeah, that Christmas episode was pretty forgettable, but I know they put a lot of effort into this one, so I'm hoping for a rebound.

There's talk of Braniac returning for more episodes next year, so if they split the time between Lex and Brainiac next season, it won't make Rosenbaum's departure as a full-time cast member seem so bad, but yes, he's a huge loss in general and one of the best villains on TV.

Marvel's What Ifs were generally hit or miss, but some were really good. They tended to change a major moment in the Marvel continuity as the starting point of the alternate story; DC did Elseworlds by recasting the entire universe.