'Smallville' approaches its centennial

Tom Welling, back, and Eric Johnson in a scene from "Smallville." The WB drama will air its 100th episode this week.

Warner Bros.
Published: Friday, January 20, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 10:42 p.m.
In the midst of a ratings and artistic revival in its fifth season, the WB's "Smallville" hits a milestone Jan. 26 (8 p.m. EST) with its 100th episode. And to mark the occasion, the producers of the Superman-as-teenager drama have come up with a grabber of a hour that includes the death of a main character.
"For us, it was a really exciting episode to shoot because it's a turning point, and from this episode on, this show is going to be very different," says Tom Welling, who plays the young Clark Kent. "We're finally going to get to what I believe the audience wanted the show to be."
Welling says he doesn't know for sure, but he hopes the changes won't find the producers going back on their pledge of "no flights, no tights" on "Smallville."
"To me, from the beginning, this show has always been about Clark before Superman. And for me, flying then brings you into the realm of Superman," Welling says. "I find it much more interesting to concentrate on the development of this character and show you what happened in his life to make him become this Superman that we all know him to be."
He says the writers want to redefine the relationships on the show, particularly between Clark and the young Lex Luther (Michael Rosenbaum). "We're going to actually start seeing the Luther/Kent rivalry. It's going to start to explode a lot faster than it has in the past."
As might be expected, Welling isn't saying who dies next Thursday (and all I'm going to say is that it isn't the character you might expect if you've seen promos for the episode).
"This show did a really good job, leading up to this episode, to not hint toward it at all," Welling says. "And when the death occurs, it's a complete surprise to every single character."
He also isn't certain just how the upcoming revival of the "Superman" film franchise - with Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns" - will affect the series, which has had the Man of Steel mythology to itself for the past five years.
"I wish I had a better answer than I don't know, but I really don't," Welling says with a laugh. "We'll have to see what happens."
n n n So far this week, Fox officially has put a fork into two of its long-running signature comedies: "Malcolm in the Middle" (after seven seasons) and "That "70sShow" (eight seasons). Both will have their series finales in May.
But for whatever reason, the network still is refusing to acknowledge what just about everybody knows: that the critically acclaimed but little-watched "Arrested Development" will be gone from Fox after its final episodes of this season on Feb. 10. (Both ABC and Showtime have expressed interest in picking up the series.)

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