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Smallville- The Complete Series Blu-ray Review

“Smallville” was an ahead of its time comic book TV series.

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.”

For 10 seasons and 217 episodes, viewers were able to explore the town of Smallville. Sure, Clark Kent was the main draw as we saw him grow and develop before our very eyes from a teenager, to an adult, to a full fledged Superman, but this series wasn’t just about him. As the title suggests, it was an ensemble piece about the people of Smallville ala Lana Lang, Clark’s parents Martha and Jonathan Kent, the ever inquisitive Chloe, Pete Ross, and, of course, Lionel Luthor and his son Lex. As the series progressed, the writers integrated more of the Superman mythology by adding the Fortress Of Solitude, Lois Lane, Zod, Jor-El (voiced by Terence Stamp in a great bit of stunt casting), Perry White, Brainiac, Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, Doomsday, Metallo, and, yes, even Bizarro. Outside of the Superman realm, tons of DC characters and teams entered the show such as Green Arrow, Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg, Martian Manhunter, Justice Society Of America, Zatanna and more. Of course, the show also had plenty of romance drama, teen drama, and villain of the week (AKA Meteor Freak Of The Week) plotlines as well.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since “Smallville” debuted in 2001 on The WB (before it switched over to CW). The Alfred Gough and Miles Millar created series really deserves a lot of credit for changing the game for comic book media (not just TV series). Not only did it inspire the current generation of DC TV series such as “The Flash,” but it also predated the MCU, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the DCEU. What really made “Smallville” such a success is that it treated the source material with respect while also telling its own stories. Now we see comic series on a weekly basis, but back when this series was airing, it felt like a major event to finally see characters like Green Arrow (wonderfully played by Justin Hartley I might add) pop up and see a Justice League episode titled “Justice” where so many iconic DC characters were able to group together. Again, it’s so commonplace now, but watching that episode when it first aired was such a thrill for comic fans. 

In terms of the individual seasons, I think seasons 2 and 6 stand out the most. Season 2 is where the show really found its footing and began to delve into Clark’s destiny more. The inclusion of Christopher Reeve as Dr. Swann was both touching and rewarding for Superman fans. Season 6 is where the show began to embrace the DC Universe and characters as we got the aforementioned “Justice” episode alongside Zod and the introduction of Green Arrow who would become one of the show’s best characters. 

As much as there was to love about “Smallville,” it was far from perfect. Romance arcs went in circles, the meteor freak of the week format grew stale, and seasons 8-10 really went off the rails after Michael Rosenbaum left the show (not to mention that botched Doomsday season arc). I also don’t feel like the show really stuck the landing either with the underwhelming series finale. Yes, we finally got to see Clark as Superman, but it wasn’t what it could or should have been (especially after fans had been waiting so long for that moment).

As much thrilling content as there was, the characters are what made the show such a hit. If you didn’t care about them you wouldn’t be invested in the show at all. Tom Welling truly made Clark Kent his own. The notion of “Smallville” being a partial coming-of-age series about Clark made the series really resonate with fans. Not only did the show deal with everyday issues that any person could relate to, but we also got to see Clark grow into the hero he’d become as he discovered new powers and abilities and saved the day in extraordinary ways. The real star (for me at least) was Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor. He’s the best Lex we’ve ever seen and his performance as Lex is far and away one of the best in any comic book TV series. His dynamic with Lionel Luthor (played by the great John Glover) was equally compelling and added more depth to his character. It was fascinating to see the character go from Clark’s friend to a villain. The show was at its best when it focused on Lex and Clark to be sure. The supporting cast was equally impressive. Allison Mack created a memorable new character with Chloe Sullivan, John Schneider and Annette O’Toole brought a lot of heart and warmth as Clark’s parents, Erica Durance shined as Lois Lane, Kristin Kreuk gave the character of Lana Lang new layers. I already heaped praise upon John Glover and Justin Hartley. It should be noted that the series also includes a ton of “before they were stars” like Jensen Ackles, Adam Brody, Amy Adams, Tyler Posey, Cobie Smulders along with established names like Carrie Fisher, Brian Austin Green, Teri Hatcher, and Joe Morton.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.78:1 1080p. How do the episodes look? For fans, this box set is a big deal as it’s the first time the first 5 seasons are available on Blu-ray. On top of that, seasons 6-9 have been recoded with better video quality. The early seasons look better than they ever have although some shots look a little iffy. That’s to be expected though given that they predate hi-def. Each season looks better than the next here with season 10 looking the sharpest as both FX and video quality had improved so much since the debut season.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How do the episodes sound? All seasons now include 5.1 DTS tracks and the audio is better for it. The early seasons do sound a little flat at times, but it’s still an improvement over the mere Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks the seasons were given previously.

Extras: Aside from a Digital copy of the entire series, all of the extras have been ported over from the previous season releases which include commentaries, storyboards, extended pilot episode, deleted scenes, gag reels, featurettes, The Chloe Chronicles, The Oliver Queen Chronicles, extras on milestones and fans, the animated “Kara And The Chronicles Of Krypton,” a music video and more. On top of that, there are 2 bonus discs (DVD only sadly) which contain Comic-Con footage, the 2004 Paley Fest event, the 1961 “The Adventures Of Superboy” pilot episode, the 3 part making of episode 100, the 90 minute documentary “Secret Origin: The American Story Of DC Comics,” “A Retrospective Look At the Series With Season Featurettes,” and my personal favorite extra- the 2006 “Aquaman” pilot episode (a shame this never went to series as it had such potential).

October 25, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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