Smallville as a ‘Quality TV’ Show

Television shows are important due to the significant role that they play in America as they have become part American culture. People have become much attracted to watching television shows in a manner that makes it appear as part of the people’s religion. Intense use of the television is made possible through technological advancements that make television sets readily available. Television shows are relied upon for entertainment in people’s homes as well as work environments like in Banks. The shows have different emotional effect on viewers. Television shows create different emotional appeals to viewers. Some shows create a sense of realism although the events presented may not be true in real life situation. It is essential for one to be well versed with the characteristics of “Quality” television to make an informed judgment on the quality of a television show. 

A television show is said to be quality when it is confirmed to have a textual characteristic that is essential in presenting it to the target audience. In this case, the target audience should belong to the middle class hence capable of interpreting the content of the television show. The basic characteristics of a quality TV show are that it should have a well formulated storyline; it should be well filmed and properly acted. A quality TV show can have little emotional effect on the audience hence making it to be termed as “generic”. Although a “quality” television show can fail to appeal to the audience’s emotions, it has particular features that make it qualify as a quality show hence setting it apart from others. This discussion looks at “Smallville” as an example of a “Quality” television show.


Smallville qualifies to be regarded as a “Quality” show due to a number of characteristics. First, it is worth being regarded as a quality show because it is not regular TV. Smallville is among the latest incarnations of Superman franchise. It is different from the others in that it does not feature some common elements that are associated with the incarnations. The show focuses on addressing teenage life as opposed to the common element of blue and red suite that is associated with the Superman’s incarnations. The show is about Clark Kent is his teenage life, and it illustrates how the character is influenced to the point of turning to be Superman. As opposed to other shows, viewers of this show can hardly predict the storyline. They remain focused to watch the show so as to see how the narrative develops to their anticipated closure.

According to Thompson, twelve features are essential in determining whether or not to term a show as a “Quality TV”. The factors that are highlighted by Thompson are all essential but some of them have more weight. One of the most significant features discussed by Thompson is that a quality TV show should adhere to all criteria that enable it win industry awards and become popular among fans. Smallville qualifies to be regarded as a “Quality TV” on this account due to the expertise with which it was edited. The show has attracted interest of many viewers and won several awards awing to its special effects, good editing and perfect performance. Thompson also talks of the application of ensemble cast as a vital feature in categorizing a show as a “Quality TV”. Smallville meets this requirement in that it involves several characters that give their personal contributions to the series. The show doe not solely focus on Clark and Lex but incorporates the role of other characters like Chloe in its plot development and to introduce equally important scenes.

The seventh characteristic proposed by Thompson concerns the hybridity of a TV show. Smallville is a perfect illustration of a show that conforms to the element of hybridity. This characteristic makes the show to qualify as a “Quality TV”. The concept of hybridity of the show is evident in the fact that the show is both a teen drama and a tele fantasy. Smallville combines three attributes to make it qualify as a tele fantasy. It belongs to the category of fantasy shows, has aspects of fiction science and some aspects of horror.

The sixth characteristic of “quality TV” show is that they should show features of a strong ‘series memory’. The series memory should be vital to the show but should not be inevitable in the interpretation of the show. A part from the shows end of season cliffhangers, its episodes are made up of forty-four minute narratives that reach their resolution at the closure of every episode. Season one of the show is seen to be highly episodic but the next seasons have significant contributions to the development of the memory of all seasons of the show. The episode Rosetta gives a significant contribution to the general understanding of the show in that the episode helps Clark and the audience to get necessary information about how Clark would become Superman. Additionally, Smallville has a strong ‘franchise memory’ as an extra feature that makes it correspond adhere to the requirement that ‘Quality TV’ must be self-conscious.

The fourth characteristic suggested by Thompson as an essential attribute of ‘Quality TV” is debatable with regards to Smallville. This characteristic states that quality TV should be tough to sell to audiences. This show is characterized by more than sixty years of tradition. The show can be regarded as a Superman show that does not have a Superman. The complexity of the show makes it difficult to interpret thus tough to sell to viewers. However, the writers and editors of the show considered the complexities hence making effort to simplify it for the audience. To make this possible, the show is organized in a way that season one is highly episodic and ensuring that the show starts to be serialized at the beginning of season two.

The characters in Smallville are presented to be flat and rounded as is the case with Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Korte 9). The show is developed in a manner that makes the characters flat in their attributes as their roles are determined by the slayer. The characters are also seen to be “rounded” due to the fact that the show targets to unearth different emotional adaptations of Buffy with respect to the responsibilities that he is given in a given scene or episode. The characters in Smallville are flat as even after losing all his powers, the main character remains the hero that helps to rescue other characters whose lives are in danger. At the same time, Clark can be seen as a rounded character in that he learns to be Superman from the interaction that he has with other characters.

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The tenth feature of ‘Quality TV’ is that the shows should be controversial. Smallville might not be regarded as being highly controversial but the fact that it is based on teenage issues like sex and drug abuse among other elements of teenage life makes it to appear controversial. The controversy in the show comes out clearly through use of telefantasy metaphor. Several episodes make use of red kryptonite. This feature relinquishes Clark’s traits as he gets influenced to adopt a lifestyle that is full of crime and immoral acts. The height of Clarks crime is seen after the character elopes to Las Vegas. The situations depicted in these scenes are fictitious but they help to create a sense of strong parallels.

The eleventh feature of ‘Quality’ shows as proposed by Thompson is that they should be based on realism. Smallville adheres to this quality in that it is highly realist as can be expected of any show. The show is realist in that it focuses on teenage life and presents in a manner that clearly represents the actual picture in the society. Realism involves presentation of an actual image of the society. Smallville can be used as a mirror teenage lifestyle in the society as the characters face situations that clearly depict the occurrences in everyday life.

To conclude, the justifications shown in this discussion are clear indication that Smallville qualifies to be regarded as a ‘Quality TV’. The illustrations confirm that the television show meets the features set by Thompson as the defining characteristics of a ‘Quality TV’. It is essential to note that television shows can hardly meet all characteristics that qualify them as quality shows. However, despite the failure observed by the show to meet some qualities, it complies with most of the characteristics hence it is a perfect example of a ‘Quality TV’ show. As such, the evidences provided in this discussion present a strong ground on which Smallville can be based as a ‘Quality TV show’. The seasons of the show are still popular among audiences and its last seasons are continuing to air. The show is highly popular as it meets the expectations of its audience. Its quality is also evident from the fact that it has won several awards due to proper editing and performance. The show has a very high pedigree that can be confirmed by the expertise with which its characters act during the performance.

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