I hear from fans of TV shows all the time who want me to jump on their save-a-show campaign. The nadir was probably a woman who wanted me to rally around "The Nanny." More recently, another woman keeps e-mailing (addressing her missive, "Dear Mike," which cracks me up), wanting me to take note of NBC's decision to move "Crossing Jordan" to Wednesday night.
While I applaud these fans for their passion, unless I share it, which often I don't, I'm not going to join in the pleas. However, I was impressed with a treatise on "Smallville" sent to me by Callie Bentham of Toronto, who wants to save the show from itself. Namely, she wants to see the character of Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) eliminated.
LORENZO AGIUS /The CW
Don't hate me because I'm ... poorly written.
Fans wanting some measure of creative control over their favorite show is not new -- since there's been an Internet, there have been organized armchair critics with an outlet to vent -- but I was struck by her argument. Though I long ago quit watching "Smallville" on a regular basis, even when I did, I disliked the Lana character.
My only quibble with Bentham's argument is when she says Kreuk bears no responsibility for how awful the Lana character has become. While I agree the writers are mostly to blame, Kreuk is a pretty one-note, awful actress.
Without further ado, here's Bentham's treatise on Lana Lang:
Early spring! It's the time of year when networks and producers consider their upcoming seasons: Which plot-lines to extend, which to drop; which characters to showcase, which to purge. For the CW and Smallville producers Al Gough and Miles Millar, one choice should be glaringly obvious. After six long years, it is time to put Lana Lang out to pasture.
Lana is the most passive, whiny and inert leading lady on network television. Not only is she boring, she is the cause of boringness in others (and it's quite a feat to make the young Superman and Lex Luthor tedious.) Lana scenes are what the show serves up instead of plot. Her sole plot-line, spread across six years, consists of romantic triangles: deadly dull, chemistry free, sub-Dawson's Creek triangles, in which people stand around in barns and gawp at each other while the audience waits desperately for something to happen. Superman mythology gives the writers a wondrous sandbox in which to play. What a shame, then, that they have so often opted for generic teen-soap plots.
The highest rated episode of Smallville this year, "Justice", was entirely Lana-free. Without Lana clogging the arteries of the plot, fans finally got the exciting show they'd been craving. Conversely, Lana-centric episodes such as "Static" and "Trespass" (advertised with a head-shot of Lana) have led to considerable drops in the ratings. The CW have been vocal in their wish to attract male viewers, aged 18 -- 34. The way to accomplish this? Ditch Lana -- and the soap opera element she represents -- and let Smallville be the action show it always should have been.
It is certainly not actress Kristin Kreuk's fault that Lana is such an unsalvageable character -- the blame lies with the writers and producers. In fact, Kreuk has been one of the most vocal critics of the character, recently commenting: "What is portrayed through Smallville, which is both my responsibility and other people's, is a girl who needs saving and a girl who needs help."" (Globe and Mail, Feb 3, 2007)
People take pride in their achievements; they take "responsibility" for their mistakes. The characterization of Lana as a passive victim has been Smallville's greatest mistake. While Kreuk has many achievements in which she may rightfully take pride (her work in the film "Partition" for instance) it is long overdue for Smallville to say "goodbye" to Lana.