In time for Christmas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is giving Smallville and Superman fans a great treat with the release of Smallville: The Complete Series.
It is a massive set that features all 218 episodes of the series on 62 DVDs along with decent bonus material (made up of new and previously released features), a 32-page episode guide (featuring production art and behind-the-scenes photos), and housed in a sturdy box. The set itself is made up of two books breaking the show into seasons 1-5 and 6-10. The discs are a little difficult to get out, but the books are sturdy and held up to use as I made my way through the seasons of the show.
Having reviewed past “complete series” collections, I was really impressed with the love that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment showed the series, and how much they are giving fans for the selling price. Fans already owning the series on past releases won’t want to upgrade, but it is a perfect purchase for those who never picked it up as the series aired on television.
From writers/producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar and based on the DC Comics character Superman, who was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the series started out as a focus on the teen years of Clark Kent (who would grow up to be Superman) in the little town of Smallville, but ended with Clark as a reporter and superhero in the big city of Metropolis.
The series found a perfect teen Clark Kent in the casting of the fresh-faced Tom Welling and gave the actor a solid supporting cast of fellow young actors including Allison Mack as a busy high school reporter and Clark's best friend Chloe Sullivan; Kristin Kreuk as Clark's high school flame Lana Lang; Sam Jones III as Clark's friend Pete Ross; and Michael Rosenbaum as Clark's friend, rival and future enemy Lex Luther. The show's creators also provide Welling with the perfect Ma and Pa Kent with the casting of John Schneider as Jonathan Kent and Annette O'Toole as Martha Kent.
As the series got going, the creators and writers started bringing in more characters from the Superman comics and the larger DC Comics Universe - including Erica Durance as Lois Lane, Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, Cassidy Freeman as Tess Mercer, Aaron Ashmore as Jimmy Olsen, Laura Vandervoort as Kara/Supergirl, Alaina Huffman as Black Canary, Callum Blue as Zod and the voice of Terence Stamp as Jor-El. The series also gained more credibility with the appearance of the real Superman Christopher Reeve.
The first five seasons of Smallville focused on Clark learning about his true heritage; struggling to deal with his powers and his destiny; and trying to be a normal high school kid with teen problems like wanting to date the school's hottest girl. By Season Five, Clark is juggling leaving high school behind for college and an adult life in Metropolis.
Along the way, some of Clark’s supporting cast help the young hero while others, like Lex, start to maneuver to take their place as the would-be Superman’s enemy. Rosenbaum does an excellent job in the early series portraying Lex’s journey to one of DC Comics’ greatest villains. The actor makes Lex’s journey not only believable, but some of the very bad things he does are easily justified given Lex’s own struggles against his father Lionel (John Glover).
The early episodes of the series did fall into a formulaic feel with Clark and pals taking on a guest character of the week that has some sort of super power as a result of the Krypton meteor showers that hit Smallville when Clark’s original planet exploded. It is also amazing how many people suffered from concussion during episodes of those first few seasons. I started to think everyone in Smallville should wear helmets just to be on the safe side.
As the Smallville got going, the supporting characters started to take a larger role in the series with Mack’s Chloe discovering there was a reason for her tech savvy; Lana playing a “will she, won’t she” love game with Clark and Lex; and Ma and Pa Kent seeing their world move a little away from the local farm.
The show really got cooking as it embraced its comic’s roots in season 6-10 and saw Clark start to become the hero he is destined to be – even if he went by the moniker The Blur. The show opened up the cast to include more heroes as Green Arrow started to reappear as a protector of Metropolis; J'onn J'onzz/ Martian Manhunter (Phil Morris) shows up to help guide Clark; and other heroes decide to form a sort of Justice League with Clark and Chloe (who even develops a Watchtower headquarters for the heroes). My personal favorite episode of the later seasons featured a Watchmen feel with the Justice Society of America’s Hawkman and Dr. Fate.
Clark and his supporting heroes also find greater challenges to square off against as Clark takes on villains ranging from Doomsday to Zod (Blue seems to have fun uttering the classic line “Kneel before Zod!”).
The show’s writers also make sure to keep lots of heart and romance in the series as Clark moves on from Lana to Lois, and supporting characters hook up with each other in the kind of ups and downs that would make the teens of Beverly Hills 90210 proud.
Along with every episode, the box set comes with more than 28 hours of bonus material (with five hours of it being new features for the set). Fans of the series will enjoy the retrospective look back at the series and DC Comics fans will love the feature on the company and its hero. The set also includes a rare Aquaman pilot and the 1961 Adventures of Superboy pilot.
Smallville: The Complete Series is a great release for any fan of the show or anyone wanting to pick up the entire series in one collection. It is a little on the pricey side, but the set is more than worth the purchase price thanks to its book packaging, bonus features, and 32-page episode guide.
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