Smallville's first accomplishment was breaking the record for highest rated debut for The WB, with 8.4 million viewers tuning in for its pilot. The premiere also broke the record for adults age 18 - 34, and finished first with viewers age 12 - 34, leading Warner Bros. President of Entertainment Jordan Levin to credit the series with invigorating the network's Tuesday night lineup. The series was featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly as one of five new shows to watch. After its first season, Smallville placed sixth on the Parents Television Council's list of the "best shows for families". The WB's CEO Jordan Levin recognized the early concerns the show had become a villain of the week series, and announced season two would begin to see more "smaller mini-arcs over three to four episodes", in order for them to move away from a "serialized show". Gough realized with each succeeding season relying more on seasonal story arcs, there are occasions where they have to have villain of the week stories. It was clear the villain of the week stories were generally more criticized by the fans of the Superman mythology, but Gough wanted to be able to please both the fans of Superman and the general audience of the studio; in the case of The WB, the general audience consists of teenagers who prefer the villain of the week stories over the episodes focusing more heavily on the Superman mythology.
Christopher Reeve, star of the Superman films, voiced his approval of the show:
"I was a little bit skeptical when I heard about [Smallville] at first, but I must say the writing, the acting, and the special effects are quite remarkable. In 1977, a big stunt scene would have taken us a week to film—it's pretty impressive what they are able to do with computers and effects technology today on a weekly TV show. It gives it a lot more production value and inventiveness than I thought I was going to see when I first heard about the series. I think the show is doing a really good job following the mythology, and Tom is doing a good job following the tradition."
MTV's Karl Heitmueller believes that Smallville's Clark Kent is a better representation of the original material, staying "true to the heart of the story" by showing Clark's selflessness, and his struggle between his desires and obligations. At the same time, Heitmueller feels the show will have a difficult time addressing why no one in Smallville will recognize Clark when he puts on the suit, especially Lex Luthor.