John Smallwood: Super cast gets ready for 'Smallville' finale

LOS ANGELES - It's up, up and away for Superman.

"Smallville" ends tonight after 10 seasons of stories on the transformation of mild-mannered Clark Kent (Tom Welling) into the Man of Steel.

A lot can happen to a series in 10 years. The original concept behind the show was to create a program about a family dealing with a special-needs child - one who just happens to have superpowers. It ends at a much different place.

Accepting people's differences became a major theme in early seasons. But Clark Kent eventually grew up and his small-town ways were traded from the big city. Although the producers had promised the character would never slip into a fancy costume or fly, they eventually gave into both. The show's main theme shifted to how a person learns to accept his destiny.

This year, Kent started to wear glasses as a disguise, changed in a phone booth and learned how to fly. He takes on the villain Darkseid in the two-hour finale that will end the journey from farm boy to the world's greatest protector.

"Paying homage to 10 seasons is no small task, and wrapping up each character and story arc has been extremely important to everyone involved in the show," said executive producers Brian Peterson. "We're excited to be able to make the final moments of 'Smallville' a television event, as the character we've grown up with makes his legendary transformation."

As the series shifted from family drama to more of a love story mixed with an action series, it invited a long list of comic book characters: Green Arrow, Hawkman, Zatanna, Booster Gold, the Legion of Super Heroes and Aquaman.

There were plenty of cast changes, including the death of Kent's father, played by John Schneider, and the departure of Lex Luthor when Michael Rosenbaum decided to leave the show in 2008. Rosenbaum reprises the role for the finale.

Erica Durance joined the cast in 2004 as Lois Lane, Kent's love interest. Next to the big yellow "S" on Superman's chest, there's nothing more closely associated with Superman than the pesky Daily Planet reporter.

Lane's tendency to need a hero is what Durance has liked most about the role.

"I like playing Lois because she's flawed. Maybe she does the wrong thing, but she turns around and she gets up," Durance said. "What I've liked about 'Smallville' is at the end of the day, it's been a good show. It sent a good message and I liked that."

Since the beginning, the show's theme has focused on Kent's moral development as the ultimate champion. Whether it's been dealing with the death of a family member or friend to facing negative public sentiment when they turned against costumed superheroes, the show has always presented a strong message: right over might.

And now, it's time to say farewell.

Durance isn't ready because she never likes to see a good thing go away. But she realizes that every "chapter has to end."

"It's pretty bittersweet. Because you have people that have been watching it for 10 years, you want to do justice to that and work as hard as you can," Durance said. "But there are certainly moments that you think, 'My gosh. This is the last time I'm going to work with you.'

"You just learn to appreciate every scene that you get to do and appreciate working on a show where people really love each other and they care about what they're doing, and it's been a lot of fun." In fact, it's been super.