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- DVD Box Set: Smallville: The Complete Series
- Rating: Unrated
- Starring: Tom Welling, Annette O’Toole, John Schneider, Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack, Erica Durance
- Written By: Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
- Directed By: Various
- Distributor: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2001-2011
- Extras: See Below
- Series: Smallville
Smallville: The Complete Series DVD Set
The Greatest Superhero TV show ever
By Tim Janson
December 24, 2011
When Smallville premiered in 2001 I think most people gave the show very long odds to have much success. I mean here we had a show about Superman as a teen, set completely in Smallville, and with the infamous ground rules that there would be “no tights and no flights”. Huh? How the heck can you do Superman (or Superboy) with no costume and no flying? Ten years later it has become the biggest show in the WB/CW Network’s history and now the entire 10-year run is out in a mammoth boxed set of 62 DVDs featuring all 218 episodes.
Early on, Smallville was more like Superboy meets Dawson’s Creek. As much as the show dealt with Clark first discovering his powers and then how to use them, it equally dealt with the relationships Clark had with his friends Lana Lang, Chloe Sullivan, Pete Ross, and his young, future nemesis, Lex Luthor. At home, Clark was recipient of the homespun Midwestern family values courtesy of his adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent. In this version of Superman’s younger days, he becomes fast friends with the wealthy Lex Luthor whose life he saves when his car crashes off a bridge. Yet it is this event that makes Lex suspect from the very beginning that there is something different about Clark.
The producers and writers were content early on to stay away from as much of the comic book continuity as they could. As a result, the threats and villains that Clark faces for the first few seasons amounted to mainly normal people who had been affected by the green Kryptonite rocks that fell to earth in the original Meteor shower that brought Clark’s ship to Earth. Season two brought in Red Kryptonite, the first of several different colors (besides green) of the Kryptonian element that affected Clark in different ways. Season two also began to explore Clark’s Kryptonian heritage when strange symbols are found on the walls of Native American caves. The key episode of season two, and one of the most important episodes of the series was “Rosetta” where Clark meets Dr. Swann (played by Christopher Reeve) who educates Clark about his home planet.
Season three began Smallville’s blend into the DC Comics continuity as characters like Perry White and Morgan Edge show up in guest spots and Clark begins to have his battle of will with his true father, Jor-El. Season three set the table for the next several seasons. More and more DC characters began to show up such as Bart Allen/Impulse in season four; Lois Lane, Aquaman, Cyborg, and Brainiac in Season five; Jimmy Olsen, Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, and The Martian Manhunter in season six; Supergirl, Bizarro, Black Canary in season seven. Through it all, other elements of the Superman Mythos were introduced into the series such as the Fortress of Solitude and the Phantom Zone which was portrayed as a savage barren wasteland. But we hadn’t seen anything yet as the final seasons through just about everything imaginable into the series like the Legion of Super Heroes, Doomsday, Zatanna, Metallo, Checkmate, and Darkseid. What started with the writers trying to do everything they could to distance themselves from the comics, ended with nearly every episode featuring a character or plot element from the comic continuity.
It would be impossible to pick all the highlights of the series but certainly this writer’s would be the two-hour, Absolute Justice storyline featuring the Justice Society of America. Who in a million years would have ever thought we’d see Hawkman, Sandman, and Dr. Fate in love action! Smallville had huge stumbles along the way, lets not kid ourselves. There was far too much sappy episodes of romantic angst between Clark and Lana, Clark and Lois, Lana and Lex, Lois and Oliver Queen, Jimmy and Chloe, etc…and there were far too many episodes where Clark fell under some sort of mind influence of some witch or magic or form of Kryptonite…it seemed live every season had an episode like this. And after 10 years and over 200 episodes of waiting to finally see Clark don the iconic Superman costume, the series finale was under whelming, although who didn’t get goose bumps when the John Williams Superman theme hits and Clark rips open his shirt to show the “S” underneath?
Smallville was successful not only because of generally strong writing but also fantastic performances from the cast. Seeing how Tom Welling grew into his role from teenager to a man as well as the growth of all the other characters. Michael Rosenbaum gave us a Lex Luthor that could well have been a great guy but slowly got pushed to evil in part by his corruptive and manipulative father Lionel played brilliantly by John Glover. Without a doubt it’s the finest live-action superhero series ever produced.
Ok I won’t go into all of the extras because there would be simply too much to list. The boxed complete series set comes with all of the extras that were on the single season boxed sets meaning a couple of dozen audio commentary tracks, numerous deleted scenes, and several featurettes. Instead I’ll concentrate on what is new to this huge boxed set which consists of about five hours of new material.
A Decade of Comic-Con (13:00) – This looks at the various panels that took placed over the years at Comic-Con. Lots of great stories through the years and includes Erica Durance’s introduction as Lois Lane at the 2004 Panel.
Paley Fest 2004 (24:00)– yet another panel-type extra that features Tom Welling, Annette O’Toole and Sam Jones III and took place during season 3.
Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics (90:00) – Ok lets just hold it a minute…this is NOT a new feature. This was already released on its own DVD over a year ago and while it’s a fairly entertaining documentary it is NOT new.
Making of a Milestone (65:00) – Again this isn’t exactly a new feature but rather a slightly extended version celebrating Smallville’s 100th episode that was released as a Best Buy exclusive for the Season five set.
Aquaman Unaired Pilot – The Pilot for the proposed but never aired Aquaman spinoff series. Again, this was included in certain retail exclusives of previous season sets (season seven I think).
Unaired Adventures of Superboy Pilot – This unaired pilot is from 1961 and is presented on DVD for the first time. Unfortunately the video and sound quality is extremely poor making this little more than a curiosity.
Complete Series Retrospective (100:00) – by far the best extra. This ten part documentary spends approximately 10 minutes on each season of the series and includes the recollections of the cast on their favorite moments and also pays respect to 9/11 and the effect it had on the show.
Also included are some bonus collectible items. These include a 32 page episode guide with hundreds of photos and pieces of art from the series and a 16 page faux issue of the Daily Planet newspaper.
All in all it’s a beautiful set and at around $200 it’s not a bad deal, working out to just $20 per season. However obviously if you already own the individual seasons then there simply isn’t enough new here to warrant the investment. The other negative is that there is no blu-ray version, owing in part to the fact that some of the early seasons of the show were not shown in HD.