When Smallville blasted its way into the TV universe back in 2001, it offered the promise of a unique, coming-of-age take on the Superman story. Now in season 3, the show sometimes delivers on that promise (Clark letting his inner bad boy run wild in Metropolis) but more often stumbles (a recent resurgence of mutant-of-the-week plotlines is dismaying). Luckily, Jor-El has bestowed on me an awesome superpower: the ability to fix what's ailing young Mr. Kent's show. Hence, my kryptonite-proof five-point plan:
1. Have Clark and Lex go at it. Forget Lana Lang. ''Smallville'''s real attraction has always been the delicate relationship between Clark (Tom Welling) and Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum). What was cool at first -- seeing these future enemies as best buddies -- is much less cool now. This intergalactic odd couple needs to start locking fists and, more important, fates. Lex's recent mental breakdown gives us hope that he's finally on the way to becoming a criminal mastermind. But enough with the teases! The most shocking scene of the season -- in which Lex learned Clark's secret and vowed to undo him -- turned out to be just a stupid dream. (At least Bobby Ewing wasn't in there taking a shower.)
2. Give the Kents something to do. Devoted dad Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) used to play a role in ''Smallville'''s narrative, either guiding Clark through adolescent angst or dealing with his own anti-Luthor issues. Lately, however, he's been relegated to throwing concerned looks at his son while wife Martha (Annette O'Toole) panics over Clark's heroics. Here's an idea: Give Papa Kent a job at LuthorCorp. If not, we're personally sending Schneider the keys to the General Lee so he can hightail it out of that town.
3. Make Chloe evil. In a tantalizing plot twist last season, Chloe (Allison Mack) flirted with the dark side by joining forces with Lionel Luthor. But just as suddenly, she turned back into a harmless blond sidekick. Everyone likes a good girl gone evil (e.g., ''Buffy'''s Bad Willow), and playing up the woman-scorned angle would add to Clark's confusion as he comes to grips with his destiny.
4. Kill off Clark's pal Pete. Oh, like you'd miss him. He's been practically invisible lately...and not in a superhero kind of way.
5. Go back to the future. This season's best episode yet featured Michael McKean as ''Daily Planet'' editor-to-be Perry White. Making White a smarmy, down-on-his luck alcoholic was inspired; why not throw other classic characters into the mix? Lois Lane could drop by for the holidays. Or maybe it's time Jimmy Olsen snapped pics for the school paper. Hell, cheesetastic Nuclear Man from ''The Quest for Peace'' could be a suspicious new transfer student! Wow, did I actually just give props to ''The Quest for Peace''? My powers must be wearing off...fast.