Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Originally, Tollin/Robbins Productions wanted to do a series about a young Bruce Wayne. The feature film division of Warner Bros. had decided to develop an origin movie for Batman, and because they did not want to compete with a television series, the series idea was nixed. In 2000, Tollin/Robbins approached Peter Roth, the President of Warner Bros. Television, about developing a series based on a young Superman. That same year, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar developed a pilot based on the film Eraser. After watching the pilot, Roth approached the two men about developing a second pilot, based on the young Superman concept brought to him. After meeting with Roth, Gough and Millar decided they did not want to do a series where there was lots of flying, and a cape. It was here Gough and Millar developed their "no tights, no flights" rule, vowing Clark would not, at any point, fly nor don the Superman suit during the run of the show.
Gough and Millar wanted to strip Superman down to his "bare essence", and explore the reasons behind Clark Kent becoming Superman. They felt the fact they were not comic book fans played into their favor; not being familiar with the universe would allow them an unbiased approach to the series. However, this did not keep them from learning about the characters, as they both did research on the comics and picked and rearranged what they liked.[ They returned and pitched their idea to both The WB and FOX on the same day. A bidding war ensued between FOX and The WB; the latter won out with a commitment of thirteen episodes to start.
Roth, Gough, and Millar knew the show was going to be action-oriented, but they wanted to be able to reach "middle America iconography" 7th Heaven had reached. To help create this atmosphere, the team decided the meteor shower bringing Clark to Earth would be the foundation for the franchise of the show. Not only does it act as the primary source behind the creation of the super-powered beings Clark must fight, but it acts as a sense of irony in Clark's life. The meteor shower would give him a life on Earth, but it would also take away the parents of the girl he loves, and start Lex Luthor down a dark path, thanks to the loss of his hair during the shower. Roth loved the conflict that was created for Clark, in forcing him to deal with the fact his arrival is what caused all the pain.
Another problem the creators had to grapple with was the question of why Lex Luthor would be socializing with teenagers. To address this, they decided to create a sense of loneliness in the character of Lex Luthor, which they felt would require him to reach out to the teens. The loneliness was echoed in Clark and Lana as well. Gough and Millar wanted to provide a parallel to the Kents, so they created Lionel Luthor, Lex's father, which they saw as the "experiment in extreme parenting." They wanted a younger Kent couple, because they felt they needed to be able to be involved in Clark's life, and help him through his journey. Chloe Sullivan, another character created just for the show, was meant to be the "outsider" the show needed. Gough and Millar felt the character was necessary so someone would notice the strange happenings in Smallville. She was not meant to act as a "precursor to Lois Lane".
The concept of Smallville has been described by Warner Brothers as being a reinterpretation of the Superman mythology from its roots. Since the November 2004 reacquisition of Superboy by the Siegel family, there has arisen contention regarding a possible copyright infringement. The dispute is over ownership of the fictional town of Smallville, title setting of the show, and a claimed similarity between Superboy's title character and Smallville's Clark Kent. The heirs of Jerry Siegel claim "Smallville is part of the Superboy copyright," of which the Siegels own the rights.