Reinventing Smallvile with Soulder & Peterson

Thu, August 21st, 2008 at 4:43pm PDT

TV/Film
Remy Minnick, Guest Contributor
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"Smallville" begins season eight September 18 on the CW network

For the past seven seasons, the team of Al Gough and Miles Millar has been the guiding force behind “Smallville,” the show they created, based on the Superman characters of DC Comics. At the end of last season they, along with actors Michael Rosenbaum and Kristin Kreuk, left the show to pursue other endeavors. Stepping into the role of showrunners for the latest and possibly final season of “Smallville” will be four familiar faces to fans of the show: Kelly Souder, Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer, and Brian Peterson. Between the foursome, they’ve written over one hundred episodes and have been part of the “Smallville” family since season two. CBR News caught up with the entire team to talk about life in Metropolis and what the future holds for mild mannered Clark Kent, starting with h Kelly Souder and Brian Peterson. Tomorrow we will be concluding our weeklong focus on “Smallville” with producers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer.

Having the creators and two major cast members the show might leave some fans depressed, but the “Smallville” staff have turned the loss into a new opportunity. “Obviously, we've took some massive hits this year,” Soulder said. “But in a strange way it kind of forced everybody to look at the show differently, which you don't often have an opportunity like that after seven seasons. So it allowed the writers to walk in kind of with a blank slate in some ways and look at how to really reinvent and reinvigorate the show, the characters, the situations, and the relationships. So we're actually all very energized. I haven't seen the writer’s room this energized in a little while, not that they weren't really passionate before, but I think it's just forced everyone to dig deep.”

Justin Hartley joins the regular cast of "Smallville" as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow

One of those options is the ability to add new villains like Doomsday. But just because the producers are introducing a new heavy doesn’t mean he’s meant to fill the space that Michael Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor left behind. “I think the way we approach it is nobody could ever step into Michael Rosenbaum and Lex Luthor's shoes,” Soulder said. “So I think that was the first [thing] when we sat down to really think about the season, about the villains, and who Clark was eventually going to be fighting that was our number one thing: don't try to replace Lex Luthor. There's just no point to it, we can't do it and we would never want to. We honor the character, we honor the actor so much but that said we looked around at who was going to be the biggest villain we could possibly bring in.”

That villain was Doomsday, who comics fans know is the monster that actually killed Superman. But many have already noticed is that the “Smallville” version isn’t exactly the character they remember him to be. “What ‘Smallville’ always tries to do whenever they reinvent something is also try to link up eventually with what happens [in the traditional mythology],” Soulder explained. “You get the sense that is where the character’s going so that everything kind of matches up. Just because he comes onto the scene as like this really great, fun loving, charming paramedic doesn't mean we aren't also trying to figure out how to make sure that he lines up down the road.”

Fans might be worried when they hear words like “reinvigorating” or “reinventing” a classic show or a character, but Peterson and Soulder want to assure the “Smallville” audience that season eight will faithfully continue the series they know and love. “Well, the great thing for the four of us is that since we've been on the show as long as we have, these characters -- it sounds kind of cliché -- but the characters and the world and the show have a life of its own,” Soulder said. “So you can't ever come in and change some things you can't come in and do a ninety degree turn even if that's your intent because the characters are so true to themselves. I think our cast does such an amazing job of embodying the characters that they really live as real people, so when we talk about all the changes its probably more of an evolution than change.”

Allison Mack stars as Chloe Sullivan on "Smallville"

As the creative team has evolved on the show this season, so too have the characters. “Across the board, for all characters, [it’s time] to move on to the next phase of their life.” Peterson remarked. “Which is kind of exciting. So there's a lot of some sense of leaving the past behind and moving to the next part of the Superman mythology.”

“I think Allison has just been such a great Chloe,” Soulder added, “and will always be that Chloe. This year it's just about opening up her world a little bit more same thing with Clark Kent. I think that the show has been successful based on it's ability to kind of give us an origin story of Superman that felt real but also had some reinterpretations in it. We are just following in those footsteps that Al and Miles created for us. So Clark Kent is still the same Clark Kent; we just want to get him closer to the Superman that we know, that the general public is more familiar with.”

Two things associated with Superman that have not been seen in “Smallville” up to this point are his powers of flight and his costume. Could this evolution of Clark Kent and his acceptance of a dual identity mean the appearance of either of these staples of the Superman mythos? “We have a lot of conversations [about that],” Peterson said. “The only thing that we are saying is that we can absolutely confirm that there is no tights, so that's pretty much all we can say on that.”

What the producers can say is that this season will focus on the theme of double identity and the situations it forces Clark to be in. “That's actually his main thrust this season,” Soulder said. “Saving people in Smallville was one thing -- when he had to run to the factory to save Chloe the roads weren't very crowded, the streets weren't very crowded. Being alive in Metropolis as Superman is a very different experience and you will find very quickly in this season he discovers it's not so easy when you’re running through crowded streets or your having to run into a crowded crisis situation.”

Scene from "Smallville"

To which Peterson was quick to add, “Or you're accountable to Lois back at the Daily Planet.”

“So that's what forces him to start really exploring the two worlds,” Soulder said.

As for Clark’s future wife, viewers will soon get the chance to see the two of them in a setting that comic book fans will be more familiar with. “The dynamic of Clark and Lois at the Daily Planet when the dailies are coming in is fantastic,” Peterson explained. “It is iconic, it is exactly what those two actors feel like they were meant to do. I mean they are just great together and watching Clark and Lois together in the way that we're used to seeing them, from everything that we remember I think is making a really fun show this year.”

With such a strong dynamic between Lois and Clark, fans might get a little bit more of Lois then the thirteen episodes actress Erica Durance is contracted for. “We have an option to do more,” Peterson said. “What is great is that she is really present in all the episodes so far, she's just front and center and is doing a great job. So yes, there is an opportunity for more.”

Cassidy Freeman stars as Tess Mercer in "Smallville"

One thing some “Smallville” fans have always been curious about is the relationship between Chloe and Clark, and the possibility of them being more than just friends. “We definitely have an episode this year that addresses a lot of the underlying tension, the sexual tension and the love tension, between the two of them,” Peterson confirmed. “So we do touch on it this year, definitely.”

A rumor that has floated about was the possibility of crossing “Smallville” over with another CW show, “Supernatural.” “It was talked about in previous seasons so it is within the realm of possibility,” Peter said.

“We never cross anything out,” Soulder added, however, “we haven’t talked about it in these first two months we've been hitting the ground running on season eight.”

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TAGS:  smallville, kelly souder, brian peterson

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