Over the next while I will be looking at a few of the good, not-so-good and great shows that have been filmed in Vancouver over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Stars: Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack
Canadian Content: None unless I missed something.
Lasting Impact: The first show that I’ve profiled that is still being produced Smallville helped kickstart a second wave of shows that mixed teen drama with science fiction elements (after Buffy The Vampire Slayer invented the genre), some of which were also filmed in Vancouver. It also helped Warner Brothers finally decide to go forward with the Superman Returns movie.
Good or bad: Mixed. The show does suffer from being compared to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the movie version of Superman, the Bruce Timm / Paul Dini animated Superman/DC universe cartoon(s) and the comics all of which it is inferior to. Taken on its own however it’s an engaging mix of teen drama and superheroics.
The last time Canada stood in for Smallville USA, the childhood home of Superman, was in the 1978 Richard Donner film where Alberta filled the role of the Kent farm. After first scouting Australia it was decided that Vancouver and other lower mainland locations, would be the new home of Smallville Kansas in a teen action/drama series that explored the early years of Clark Kent as he grew into the role of Superman. Superman had been on the small screen a few times since the movies including in Superboy [wp] and Lois and Clark [wp] but it has been the newest series that has been the most enduring helping to define the Clark Kent character to a generation of non-comics readers and paving the way for the Man of Steel’s eventual return to the big screen in last year’s Superman Returns.
Initially my appraisal of Smallville was going to be much more positive, until I remembered Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Smallville follows the path that Buffy, and other shows, tread in mixing science fiction / fantasy into a teenage high school drama, but Smallville has always lacked the incredibly smart writing that Joss Whedon and his team brought to Buffy and while it remains one of the better shows of this kind on television today it just can’t compare. Like the episode of South Park where Butters discovers that everything he can think of doing The Simpsons already did and did it better, Smallville may forever be in the shadow of Buffy. Having said that from this point forward I will try not to mention that vampire show (which I’ll point out was not filmed in Vancouver).