It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a second chance! Read our excerpt from EW's Dec. 6 issue about how ''Smallville'' has conquered its creative troubles to become the most watched show on the WB
Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, ...
Credit: Smallville Cast Photograph by Tony Duran

In its second season, the WB’s ”Smallville” seems to have found the magic formula by returning the show to its relationship-based roots. Now it’s surging both creatively and in the Nielsens: With 8.5 million viewers a week, ratings have bulked up a whopping 46 percent over last season, and the show is holding its own against such tough Tuesday-at-9 p.m. competition as NBC’s ”Frasier” (15 million) and Fox’s ”24” (11.8 million).

All that, and ”Smallville” has transcended the WB’s usual Britney-and-Justin demographic, having shown surprising muscle among adults 18 to 49. ”The big misconception is that it’s a teen show,” says Michael Rosenbaum, who plays the series’ resident evil-genius-in-training. ”It’s just not. [I met] a 60-year-old black woman at a Chicago concert, and she was like, ‘Mmm-hmm, you’re Lex Luthor. I love your show.”’

Most rewardingly — to its producers, at least — is the news that the drama has, in a single bound, leaped past the eternally supreme ”7th Heaven” to become the WB’s No. 1 show in total viewers. ”Thank God,” exults exec producer Brian Robbins. ”A lot of people watch ‘7th Heaven,’ but I don’t know who they are.”

”Smallville”’s biggest achievement, however, may be its creative rebirth. Once overreliant on F/X, the plots have dug deeper into its core characters’ back stories this season, yielding richer episodes. ”This show is really quite good,” says Kristen Kreuk, who costars as Clark’s unrequited hometown love, Lana Lang. ”Last year, I probably wouldn’t have said that.”


It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the action and heartbreak of Clark Kent — before he was all things Super

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