Superman, of course, has a big city to protect.
Metropolis needs him; sometimes, the whole world does. The Daily Planet may need Clark Kent, too.
But Clark is still a Kansas kid; now the new “Superman & Lois” series (shown here) nudges him back home to Smallville. The show debuts at 8 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 23) on CW, reruns at 9 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 27) on TNT, then settles into a CW spot at 9 p.m. Tuesdays.
“We talked a lot about shows like ‘Everwood’ and ‘Friday Night Lights’ and (a small-town) family drama that had Superman in it,” writer-producer Todd Helbing told the Television Critics Association.
This is not the usual Superman turf … but it is where Clark (his secret identity) grew up.
As this version starts, Clark and Lois are both at the Daily Planet. She’s a star reporter; he’s not. They have twin sons, 14, one a top quarterback and the other brainy and reclusive.
Yes, having teens will be an adjustment for the actors. Bitsie Tulloch (Lois), 40, has a 2-year-old daughter with her husband (and former “Grimm”colleague) David Giuntoli. Tyler Hoechlin (Clark), 33, has no kids, but says he can think about his own dad (an emergency-room doctor who still saw all his baseball games) and his six nieces and nephews.
For Clark, Smallville is familiar turf; Lana Lang still lives there. “They dated in high school,” said Emmanuelle Chriqui, who plays her. “But beside that, they’ve known each other since kindergarten.”
But for the others, this is a huge culture shock. Lois, a big-city star, finds the Smallville Gazette. She can “go back to real journalism – feet on the ground, knocking on doors,,” Helbing said.
And for their sons, this is a jolt. The show’s young actors know the feeling.
Alexander Garfin, who plays Jordan (the reclusive twin) jokes that he grew up “on a small island named Manhattan. And I went to a small school of, I think, 3,000 kids …. They like art.”
That’s LaGuardia, the performing-arts high school portrayed in “Fame.” Moving to Vancouver for this show is an adjustment. “I’m used to this giant hub of everyone from everywhere, doing everything,” Garfin said. This is like “when Jordan Kent had to move from Metropolis to Smallville, just a bit.”
Jordan Elsass, who plays his twin (the star athlete) grew up in many places, but the role had him move to Vancouver from a suburb of Austin, Texas. “It does feel like what Jonathan’s going through. I’m leaving all my friends behind and coming to this new city.”
But what would it be like to be a teen who’d always lived in Smallville? Inde Navarrette, who plays Lana’s daughter Sarah, finds that relatable. Her own home town (Visalia, Cal.) has 135,000 people – 10 times Smallville – but it’s a San Joaquin Valley spot which feels the same to her.
“I find very big parallels” between Smallville and Visalia, Navarrette said. “Not only because of the farming dynamic, but just the small-town vibe and the high school and the football games. And how much of a culture that is.”
In Smallville, her mom is a banker and her dad is the fire chief, played by Erik Valdez, who said he also knows the small-town feeling. He grew up “all over Texas,” but started in a small town (then with 2,500 people) near Lubbock.
“I know these guys” in Smallville, Valdez said. “They may not come across as the most polished, … but they’ve got really big hearts. They do a lot of things to help others.”
They’re the sort of people who helped mold Clark Kent into a super man.