Tuesday New Shows, Fall 2001
The WB, 9-10 p.m.
Debuts October 16
Faster than that slutty girl in metal shop! More powerful than a tube of Oxy 10! Able to leap over prom limos in a single bound! It’s a brooding high school hunk, it’s a budding superhero, it’s…Clark Kent!
Kent, yes. Superboy, no. You see, when Shanghai Noon writing partners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar were asked by Warner Bros. Television to develop a show about the early life of the Capo of Caped Crusaders, they told execs, ”We’re definitely interested, but you should know off the bat that this is what we’re not going to do: No suit, no glasses, no flying,” remembers Gough. ”Otherwise it would feel passé.”
So look elsewhere for red booties and a fortress of solitude: This Clark Kent (Judging Amy’s Tom Welling) is battling high school life, trying to get a date with his already-spoken-for dream girl Lana Lang (newcomer Kristin Kreuk), and dealing with his strict but doting parents (The Dukes of Hazzard’s John Schneider and The Huntress’ Annette O’Toole, who coincidentally played Lana Lang in Superman III), all while his body is going through the kind of changes — superstrength, X-ray vision — that put voice-dropping to shame. ”It’s puberty with superpowers,” says Gough. ”Clark’s parents do raise questions: Can he ever have a normal life, and can he have sex? That clearly has never been explored before.”
As if ”Superman’s First Time” wouldn’t shock die-hard Superfans enough, there are plenty of other tweaks to the 63-year-old mythology. First off, it’s set in current-day Smallville, Kan. ”That will bring a lot more viewers than had it been set back in the [’30s],” says Welling. ”It brings the issues we’ll deal with up to speed.” Also, the meteor crash that flung the infant Kent (né Kal-El) to Earth has sprinkled kryptonite around Smallville, causing weird mutations in townspeople who Kent must now battle: Think a cross between The X-Files and Justice League, 90210. And then there’s Lex Luthor (played by Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane’s Michael Rosenbaum). Still in that awkward, pre-”I will rule the world!” phase, the archenemy-to-be is the son of a domineering, ruthless Trumpesque tycoon. Lex lives in Smallville, attempting to rebel against his father’s greedy legacy, and he’s also Clark’s buddy…at least for now. ”Lex is a loner, and so is Clark in a lot of ways,” says Rosenbaum. ”He sees something in Clark that no one else sees.”
Although Rosenbaum says we’ll be seeing the seeds of Luthor’s evil genius, the roots of his hair are already long gone: The pilot explains that the chrome-domed villain lost his ‘do as a small child during the kryptonite crash, and Rosenbaum decided to make a tress-free commitment to the role. ”I tried a bald cap on, and it looked kind of funny,” he says. ”I just said, ‘Shave it.’ ” Luckily, when his hair came off, his scalp was revealed to be dent-free and camera-ready. ”You never know,” he says. ”I saw the producers exhaling, ‘Thank God!’ ” Now all they have to worry about is early male-pattern baldness for the Boy of Steel.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the action and heartbreak of Clark Kent — before he was all things Super