To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of Smallville‘s debut, TVLine is re-upping this oral history which was first compiled by Matt Webb Mitovich for the June 2011 issue of CBS’ Watch! Magazine. And coming soon: TVLine’s brand-new, superfun catch-up with Smallville frontman Tom Welling.
With those words, spoken by Jonathan Kent in the Smallville pilot, a new take on the superman saga found a home that would last for 10 years.
Developed for TV by Al Gough and Miles Millar, Smallville— which followed the adventures of Clark Kent in the fictional town of Smallville, Kan., before he becomes Superman — made its debut Oct. 16, 2001, on The WB. Fronted by Tom Welling and also starring Kristin Kreuk (as Lana Lang), Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor), Allison Mack (Clark’s BFF Chloe Sullivan), and John Schneider and Annette O’Toole (as Clark’s parents, Jonathan and Martha), the first episode drew 8.4 million viewers — breaking the record for a bow on the six-year-old netlet and proving that no amount of previous adaptations had quelled our fascination with Clark’s story.
“It’s wish fulfillment for every ‘kid’ out there,” offers Kelly Souders, who starting with Season 8 served as showrunner with fellow executive producer Brian Peterson. (Both joined Smallville as writers in Season 2.) “So many heroes in mythology are gods or characters that are hard for the everyday person to connect with, but Clark is someone we can all relate to. We want to believe that heroes are made out of people like us.”
As Smallville ended its decade-long journey, we spoke with many of those involved in getting the young man-who-would-be-Superman off the ground. Herewith, our kryptonite-free tribute to one of the greatest superhero series.