SMALLVILLE Eighth Season Blu-Ray Review

     August 27, 2009

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I am a comic book nerd.  That’s no news.  I see all the movies and buy far too many comic books for the limited space I have to keep them in.  I joined Smallville in its infancy and stuck through a couple seasons.  I liked the friendship between Clark Kent and Lex Luthor that the series started off with and the slow unraveling of that bond, but ultimately the meteorite powered villain of the week got tired.  The series had the whole DC Universe as a sandbox to play in and didn’t.  That oversight is rectified this season… in spades. My review after the jump:

smallville_tv_image_tom_welling_superman_clark_kent_eric_durance_lois_lane_01.jpgNormally, I’d do an overall story recap, but if you don’t know who Clark Kent is, you’re most likely an alien invader and I will offer you no assistance whatsoever.  If, however, your parents never let you read, look at the internet, watch TV or have friends, Clark Kent is an orphan from Krypton who landed on Earth, was taken in by Ma and Pa Kent and raised with such strong, positive values that he will one day grow to use his superpowers as the hero Superman.

Smallville Season Eight starts off with Clark Kent and his foil Lex Luthor missing after a Season Seven ending confrontation at the Fortress of Solitude.  This Season sees Clark join the staff at the Daily Planet newspaper in the desk adjacent to Lois Lane’s under new boss, Tess Mercer.  Lex appointed Tess to carry on LutherCorp activities in his absence so already she has a shadowy endorsement.  We see the blooming romance between Chloe Sullivan (Clark’s childhood friend) and Jimmy Olsen lead them down the aisle.  This isn’t without incident as the wedding arrives at the same time as mega-villain Doomsday.  Doomsday and Tess aren’t the only new faces to Smallville as they dip liberally into the DC catalogue to produce Maxima, Plastique, Toyman, Zatanna and Legionnaires Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad over the course of the season.  The fan boy in me ate up these appearances with the Geoff Johns penned Legion episode ranking very high in a strong season.

smallville_tv_image_justin_hartley_green_arrow_oliver_quinn_01.jpgThe addition of Doomsday to the Smallville mythos was a bold and ambitious step, but even bigger was to give him a “human” skin previously nonexistent in the comic book version.  This battle between the seemingly good Davis Bloome and malevolent monster Doomsday gave the one-dimensional killing machine additional depth.  While the masculine addition of Doomsday and regular role of Oliver Queen may seem to tip the balance, it is the women who rule this season.  Between the regulars, the visiting characters from the DCU and a special appearance from Clark’s first love Lana (Kristin Kreuk), it’s a woman’s world and Clark is just living in it.

Tom Welling (Cheaper by the Dozen, The Fog) continues to shine as Clark Kent.  It’s a shame he hasn’t answered the siren call of a big screen version of the hero. Allison Mack (Opposite Sex) as Chloe Sullivan has a great character year, fighting through an infection by Brainiac, a disastrous wedding and the love of a monster.  Erica Durance (House of the Dead) gives Lois Lane a real sense of strength.  Lois’s “anything for a story” attitude is present, but in the episode where Clark gets unmasked, you get a real glimpse into her character. Aaron Ashmore’s (Veronica Mars, 1-800-Missing) Jimmy Olsen isn’t the bowtie wearing sidekick that you remember… literally.  In addition to that, his trouble with addiction and feeling of betrayal give him ample fodder to play with.  The two new additions also hold their own with this seasoned group.  Cassidy Freeman’s Tess Mercer (YellowBrickRoad) and Sam Witwer’s (Battlestar Galactica, Dexter) Davis Bloome actually make you forget that Lex is gone from the series.  Freeman plays Mercer with such depth and dexterity that you’re not fully sure which side of good and evil she’s working.  Witwer has hero quality looks, but he brings something dark and wonderful to his performance.  Justin Hartley’s (Passions, Gemini Division) Oliver Queen, with his more pragmatic world view, is the perfect balance to Clark’s overwhelming goodness.  You can see a lot of Bruce Wayne in Queen, though Oliver is willing to cross a line that Batman never would.  He does use arrows as his weapons after all.

AUDIO/VIDEO/EXTRAS
smallville_image_allison_mack.jpgThe 22 episodes of Season Four come on 4 Blu-Ray discs with the clarity of sound and image I’ve come to expect from Blu-Ray.  A booklet is also enclosed with pictures from the season and episode descriptions as well as a list of the writers, directors and original airdates.  Spoken language is English with optional subtitles in English (for the hearing impaired) and French.

Episode selection with five scene breaks and the ability to turn the recap on or off.

Disc One
On startup — Warner Bros Blu-Ray commercial.

Deleted Scenes — Plastique (#35) and Instinct (#10).

Disc Two
Commentary on Identity from Director Mairzee Almas, Executive Producer Brian Peterson and Actress Cassidy Freeman.

Commentary on Legion from Producers Darren Swimmer and Tim Scanlan and writer Geoff Johns.

Deleted Scene — Legion (#A28)

Disc Three
Deleted Scenes from Power (#32), Requiem (#12), Turbulence (#23), Hex (#5, #8), and Eternal (#28) with play all functionality

Disc Four
smallville_premiere_8th_season__2_.jpgIn the Director’s Chair: Behind the Lens and Calling the Shots with Allison Mack — a look at the making of the episode Power with its director Allison Mack.  Smallville’s own Chloe Sullivan.  Cassidy Freeman (Tess), Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer, Rob Maier, Christopher Petry, Mairzee Almas and also comment on what the episode means and what Mack brought to the director’s chair.

Smallville’s Doomsday: The Making of a Monster — Brian Peterson, Geoff Johns, Kelly Souders, Sam Witwer, Tori Meyer, Al Septien, Bill Terezakis go over the steps to create the ultimate Smallville killing machine from the addition of a “human” side (Davis Bloome) to his growth as the opposite side of the coin of Clark Kent.  The interviews are accompanied by concept art and the process of physical of the suit’s creation.

Deleted scenes from Beast (#6, #A20, #A23) and Injustice (#A5) with play all functionality.

FINAL WORD

Even if they’ve kept it out of the title, this season has made Smallville super.  With strong characters and storylines, it’s a great jumping on point or, if you’re me, a great place to rejoin.  The season’s end promises more of this quality entertainment to come in Season Nine.  I’m setting my TiVo.  You should too.  Catch up with Season Eight first, though.  Like a good hero, it won’t let you down.

Final Grade – A


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