February 18th, 2006

Tiger cub

Smallville: Seven Basic Plots (Part I)

Introduction and acknowledgments
This is the first in a series of seven essays, in which I hope to explore the ways in which Smallville is structured using certain plot archetypes. The genesis of this series of essays lies in conversations with supacat, norwich36 and others, in which I discussed how Smallville is structured as tragedy. This was an instinctive response on my part, as I love the dark themes of the show, but I was prompted to define this response more clearly. While thinking about this I stumbled on Christopher Booker’s recently published The Seven Basic Plots, which gave me both answers and further questions.

The Seven Basic Plots is a brilliantly accessible and compelling exploration of plot archetypes, and I recommend it to anyone interested in story construction. I will borrow heavily from Booker’s analysis in these essays, but I cannot hope to explore the complexities with anything approaching his aplomb or accomplishment. However I hope that it will be of interest as an analytical tool to those of you, like me, who get a kick out of meta.

The following essay contains specific spoilers through S4 Onyx, very general spoilers for S5 and specific spoilers for Superman I.

Basic premise
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1. Overcoming the Monster
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1.1 Overcoming the Monster in Superman I
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1.2 Overcoming the Monster in Smallville
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1.3 Summing up
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I'm such a geek. *facepalm*

ETA: Now with less annoying italics!