July 16, 2008

SPECIAL REPORT: A Whole Season In A Day

Based on the title of this blog, you might assume that I’ll be making some comment about the 2-season climate in Costa Rica. If you assumed that, you’d be wrong, because this was all just a trick to pull you into yet another long-ass, rambling post about Smallville! Gotcha! Mwa ha ha!

The title is actually somewhat accurate, though, because this past Saturday, I decided that I’d watch all of Smallville's Season 2 in one day. As you may know, my gentle readers, I am no stranger to the idea of donating one’s body to scientific investigation. However, I’m not like those sissies that wait until their bodies are dead to turn ‘em over to the goons in the lab coats. I say, “Bring on the medical testing, and bring it on while I’m alive, so I can profit from and enjoy it!” (For another example of me selling my body to science, click here to check out this story on my website about the time I ended up getting food poisoning in a sleep lab!)

So, in the spirit of scientific discovery and extreme sloth, I undertook this DVD-watching adventure. Ever since my friend and coworker Angie told me she had the first six seasons of Smallville on DVD, I was trying to think of an interesting way to write about the show. I watched all of season one, and although it took me over a week to do so, I started noticing a few trends that I wanted to mention. That evolved into the idea of watching all of Season 2 in a single day, and it all snowballed from there.

So, Dear Readers, in the spirit of Junior High Biology class here is my lab report:


SMALLVILLE SCIENCE EXPERIMENT:

LAB REPORT

OBJECTIVE:

Watch all 23 episodes of Smallville Season 2 over one 24-hour period. Monitor the effects on my own person, and keep statistics related to my experience, as well as the content of the show itself.


SIX HYPOTHESES:

First Hypothesis: This experiment will turn out to be more difficult than it sounds, and by the end I will “wig out,” to use a bit of scientific jargon.

Second Hypothesis: My wife Angela will try to discourage me from doing this project, citing her concerns for my health.

Her possible dissuasion techniques may include:

--1. Requests for me to get off my ass to wash dishes, fold laundry, or to visit in-laws;

--2. Open and blatant threats;

--3. Suggestions of sexual relations upon theoretical pre-emptive termination of experiment; and

--4. Offering me enough alcohol to fall asleep on the couch and thereby dissuading me from continuing experiment.

Third Hypothesis: Clark Kent will finally grow a pair and tell Lana how he feels.

Fourth Hypothesis: Clark’s father, Jonathan Kent, will say “son” a lot and dispense lots of upright and fatherly advice for his Clark, as well as for audiences at home.

Fifth Hypothesis: For one reason or another, at some point in each episode, Clark Kent will be sitting in the hay loft of his barn and looking at the sky, and he’ll be surprised by someone.

Sixth Hypothesis: If season one is any indication, season two will probably have a lot of truck crashes.


PROCEDURE:

For this experiment, I started the DVD set at 8:54 am on the morning of Saturday, July 12, 2008 and finished the last DVD at 4:43 am on Sunday, July 13, 2008. (I guess I shouldn’t have taken that break to look at our house construction site and drink beer with Harvey, the guy who guards things there). Each episode lasts an hour on network television, but without commercials, they last only about 42 minutes each. I decided I could take breaks to make coffee or popcorn, as well as to do small things around the house. To stay awake, I also used the exercise bike during two episodes. I also kept a lab notebook to document episode content, coffee consumed, and the number of times Jonathan Kent said the second-person use of the word “son.”


RESULTS:

The overall goal of this experiment was a success, as I watched all 23 episodes in less than 24 hours. I also learned a lot about the show, and I’ve decided that the best actor is Michael Rosenbaum, who plays Lex Luthor (See Figure 1.3 in Appendix 2). I know he’s supposed to turn bad later and that we’re not supposed to like him, but just like Carl Anderson’s Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, the villain has got the best acting chops in the whole cast, and he generally steals the show.

I disproved my first hypothesis, because the experiment wasn’t that strenuous at all, and in fact it was somewhat enjoyable. At the very least, it beats a day traveling by bus or writing lesson plans.

The second hypothesis, that Angela would try to discourage me from watching 18 or so hours of a TV show, was also disproved for the most part. She actually tried to watch with me on three different occasions, albeit without much success (See Figure 1.6). I started the experiment in the morning while she was in Palmares at an Excel computer class she’s taking, because I thought if I had a 5- or 6-episode head-start by the time she got home, it’d be easier to convince her that I should continue. However, she put up little resistance when she got home, since she herself is a Smallville fan. She started to watch episode 6 with me, but fell asleep on the couch halfway through. After a nap in bed, she came back out to the living room for a few mid-season episodes, but once again fell asleep on the couch eventually (See Figure 1.7). As my beautiful, squinty-eyed wife stumbled to bed around 1 am, she made some sort of comment about “Mi amor…(mumbled, unintelligible)...bed,” but that was all, really.

The third hypothesis had mixed results. Although Clark finally told Lana how he felt about her, it’s still very debatable whether he really “grew a pair” or not. (Figure 1.9)

The fourth hypothesis—that actor Jon Schneider, who plays Clark Kent’s father, would say “son” a lot--was proved time and time again throughout the experimental period. As you’ll see in the statistics appendix, Jonathan Kent addressed Clark Kent by using the noun “son” 43 times throughout the season. That’s an average of 1.87 times per episode, and since this word was so ubiquitous, I may have missed one occasion here or there. I didn’t keep track of it, but “son” was also often present in the same sentence as “your mother,” as in, “Your mother’s right, son; you should be careful with Lex.” (Figure 1.12)

There must be something about Clark, too, because other older, male characters called him "son," as well. This is interesting because I am almost 100% positive that in my whole life, neither my father nor anyone else has ever addressed me as “son.” Not once. This is not to say that my dad doesn’t care about me, though, because I can’t recall hearing any father that I know address their sons with “son.” I think this might just be an artificial construction that a teleplay writer in Los Angeles came up with to make the Kents seem more down-home and rural. In any case, by the end, Jonathan Kent’s country-fried platitudes were getting a bit hard to swallow, even IF actor Jon Schneider was in the original Dukes of Hazzard TV show (and I say “if” because this is absolutely a guess that I’m not sure about, and I’m not curious enough to investigate it right now).

The fifth hypothesis, about a daydreaming Clark Kent being surprised in his hayloft, was mostly true (Figure 1.10). However, this only happened 16 times throughout season, and on some occasions, Clark wasn’t alone (like when he was with Hot Native American Tomb Raider Look-Alike Wolf Girl), and Clark also even surprised a waiting Lana on a few occasions. I don’t know what it is about this guy, but you’d think that someone with X-ray vision and all these other enhanced abilities—fuckin’ A, he’s Superman, after all—wouldn’t continually be caught looking through a telescope or watching a sunset with his guard down. As Angie said, “God, Emo Clark sucks.”

The sixth hypothesis—that season two would be as full of truck crashes as season one--was only partially proved. There were certainly a lot of transit emergencies, though. In terms of pure pickup-truck-related disasters, season two came up a bit short. Episode 1 and episode 7 had three pickup-truck crashes, but those were all actually flashbacks or continuations from season 1. There was a full-blown pickup-truck explosion in episode 10 (Figure 1.11 and 1.16), Clark crashes the family truck into a ditch in episode 16, and in episode 18, a bully’s pickup-truck catches on fire. Episode 3 had a jeep/van crash, but Pete at least came to the rescue in a truck. Speaking of Pete, he also managed to crash two Camaros this season. I’m not sure if reincarnation is true, but if it is, I sure as hell don’t want to come back as any sort of vehicle in Smallville.


CONCLUSION:

Not only was the experiment a success for the most part, but the television show’s second season was also very good. I have come to a variety of conclusions.

Some of the lameness of the first season seems to have gotten worked out, and the acting also improved a bit. The storylines have a bit more coherency, and the writers seem to have moved beyond the arena of Smallville High School a bit more often. Still, I know this show is obviously a fantasy series based on a comic book, but so many high-schoolers get killed off so nonchalantly in such bizarre ways in this TV show, it makes you wonder how they’ll have any kids left for the inevitable graduation episode.

Secondly, the philosopher Zach Wanerus once asked in the Comments section of an earlier post, “So, are you a Lana Guy or a Chloe Guy?” I’m still not sure how to answer this, nor do I understand all the implications behind the selection of the person I might choose. Are we talking looks or attitude? I think Lana’s meant to be the “prettier” one, and Chloe’s supposed to be the “cute indie chick.” I guess I like Chloe’s personality better, but I can’t get past her gums. There, I said it. Maybe it’s because the only thing receding more than my hairline is my gum-line, but I just don’t like big gums. And Chloe’s got big gums.

After thinking more, though, I think that whether you’re pro-Lana or pro-Chloe, it’s probably best to be anti-Clark. Seriously, man, just ask one of those chicks out, or at least tell them how you feel. Shit or get off the pot, Supertool (See Figure 1.8). Still, I suppose that if these three characters had good communication, it’d do away with about 80% of the conflict and tension in this season. In the end, to answer Zach’s question, I guess I’m a Hot Native American Tomb Raider Look-Alike Wolf Girl Guy (Figure 1.13 and 1.14). She’s prettier, she’s cooler, she communicates her feelings in no uncertain terms, and she’s probably a real wolf in the sack. Literally. (Figure 1.15)

Finally, I also concluded that although there are many benefits to watching an entire season of a TV show in one day, it’s still probably best to spread it over a bit more time.

Oh, and one other source of problems or incorrect statistics could be due to “human error.” I’m not sure why, but we always seemed to write that in our lab reports in junior high and high school.


APPENDIX 1: STATISTICS

Number of hours from start to finish of project: 19 hours, 11 minutes.

Number of large mugs of coffee consumed by experimenter: Only 6, surprisingly; (3 with coffee liqueur)

Recumbent Bike Use, Total Stats (See Figure 1.2): 1 hour, 16 mins; 270 calories; 24.1 km

Number of times Clark is addressed as “son”: 46; (43 by his father)

Number of times someone is surprised while hanging out in the Kent Farm hay loft: 16

Episodes it takes until Clark finally kisses Lana: 22 (out of 23)

Number of vehicle crashes: 11; (7 involve pickup-trucks)

Three things I should have counted: Hospital beds, American flags, and the phrase “save + (noun)”

Seasons to go: 4


APPENDIX 2: PHOTOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION

Figure 1.1 - Here is a fleeting glimpse of a bull that was walking around Berlin and bellowing like a horny moose for much of episodes 3 and 4. He was hanging out in the front yard for a while, and for a few moments I thought the Apocalypse was upon us. Oh, and the slightly-visible house in the left of the picture is the one that we’re building!

Figure 1.2 - As Jonathan Kent was put into jail after being accused of shooting Lionel Luthor, all I could do was sit aside and helplessly pedal my stationary recumbent bicycle. I know you’re innocent, Jonathan! They must have framed you! Hang in there, and we’ll get to the bottom of this!

Figure 1.3 - Lex Luthor, as played by Michael Rosenbaum. He’s the best actor in the cast, as well as the biggest hottie…that handsome, hairless heartbreaker.


Figure 1.4 - Chloe telling Clarke that she loves him…as he lays unconscious! WTF, guys?! With all these special abilities that the townspeople got from those meteor rocks, you’d think that at least someone in Smallville would have been granted amazing communication skills! Still, I like Chloe, and by the end of season 2, I just kind of feel sad for her and her unrequited love...
What??
Oh, so now I can’t have feelings?!


Figure 1.5 - A visual summary of season 2, deconstructed: Clarke is surrounded by two women he cares about, and who care about him, but he basically just drags them both along for 23 episodes; Lana (left) is dreamily looking at Clark, but she doesn’t say shit, either; Chloe (right) is mad at Clarke because he did or didn’t do something; and Pete is somehow both right in the middle of things, yet his character is completely superficial and uninteresting. I have a feeling that in season 3 or 4 they probably kill Pete off, a la Lana’s ex-boyfriend Whitney (aka Shitney), or else he “moves away to Metropolis,” a la Aunt Nell and all the other actors who demanded too much money in their contract negotiations.


Figure 1.6 - My wonderful yet tired wife, Angela, “just closing her eyes for a minute” during episode 16 or so.


Figure 1.7 - Angela during episode 18 or so, no longer even keeping up the pretense of watching the show. She might not have caught all of this particular episode.


Figure 1.8 - If you’ve watched Smallville, then you know that this is basically what season 2 is all about, all wrapped up into a single freeze-frame picture.


Figure 1.9 - Clark Kent, the man who can shoot fire from his eyes and bullshit from his mouth. You know, where I’m from, I seem to recall that the farm boys wore much less flannel plaid and many more Metallica T-shirts.


Figure 1.10 - The Future Man of Steel in his hayloft, letting his guard down to look at the stars. Aww, what a Sensitive-90s-Type-of-Guy.
Clark: “Ahh, such solitude here in this hay loft, where I can be alone with my thoughts and just…oh! Hey, (insert name of Smallville character, probably Lana)! I didn’t hear you come in!”


Figure 1.11 - Yet another Smallville truck explodes. I hear that the Smallville Allstate office has an employee whose sole job is to deal with truck explosions.


Figure 1.12 - Jonathan Kent, as played by Jon Schneider, as he begins a phrase with, “Son,…” (Yes, I put the subtitles on when I watch DVDs in English). Clark Kent may be the Simple Farm Boy With A Chassis of Steel and a Heart of Gold, but Jonathan Kent is the Original King of Down-Home Folksy Schlock.


Figure 1.13 - Clark (with his shirt open in swarthy Costa Rican style) meets Hot Native American Tomb Raider Look-Alike Wolf Girl.


Figure 1.14 - Sure, she's hot, she doesn't play little reindeer games, and she talks about cultural conservation or something deep like that, but...


Figure 1.15 - ...Oh, whoops, she's also a crazy-ass angry wolf.


Figure 1.16 - I leave you with this final image, which can also summarize season 2 of Smallville in its own way: Hot Native American Tomb Raider Look-Alike Wolf Girl looks on as yet another Smallville truck explodes. It figures that the one girl who's straightforward with Clark and who doesn't have loads of emotional baggage turns out to be half dog.


Anyhow, that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed this report, despite its girth. I’ll see you next time for the Season 3 Science Experiment, right here at the same Bat Time, same Bat Channel!


365: Picture a Day Project    365 Leftovers    All My Pictures    Sitzbook

4 comments:

annie keatley said...

You never cease to amaze me! Keep up the science!

Anonymous said...

OK, I read this, because Michael Rosenbaum was mentioned and it was a blast reading your take on Season 2 of Smallville! If you think Rosenbaum was the best in Season 2, just wait until you see Season 3!

angcr said...

I don't even know where to start. This is probably the coolest scientific experiment I've ever read. :p

1. Emo Clark is made of suck. He toughens up a bit in season 5 and 7, but it's a weird cycle. He's Emo!Clark one day, and the next he is "Rebel Clark".

2. Can't argue about Michael Rosenbaum. He's the best actor on that show and he's fine looking as well. In fact, when the show started, I developed a crush on him like a 15 year old girl. Actually, he was over here in Costa Rica once, you know.

3. Yeah, John Schneider was in the Dukes of Hazard. He's known as Bo' Duke in the Smallville cyberspace. Man, you should totally check out televisionwithoutpity.com They have the funniest Smallvile recaps ever.

4. The pictures are hilarious! A very well-documented experiment, Sitzman. Looking forward to your season 3 installment. ;)

Sitzman said...

Hey Everyone,
Thanks for reading. If you leave comments, maybe put your name so I can know who you are, out of curiosity.
Thanks still!
Ryan