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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > TV > Smallville – The Complete Eighth Season (Blu-ray + DVD/Warner Home Video)

Smallville – The Complete Eighth Season (Blu-ray + DVD/Warner Home Video)

 

Picture: B+/B-     Sound: B/B-     Extras: C+     Episodes: C+

 

 

It doesn’t take a Brainiac to realize when a television series has gone beyond its prime.  Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season has arrived on Warner Blu-ray and DVD, but on some level leaves reviewers feeling unfilled and bored.  Though this reviewer had previously viewed all the season’s episodes when they originally aired, re-watching Season Eight resurfaced the same old feelings that begged the question; how long will this go on for?  The characters are great and the basic mythos of the Superman saga is there; but the stripped down storylines, coupled with Superman characteristics that have been remodeled, ill used, and basically bastardized have left the waning series weak and empty.

 

Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season continues on the journey to bring Clark Kent up to speed with the Superman we all know and love faster than a speeding bullet.  The series that has always been extremely liberal (after the first couple seasons) with its use of Superman characters, events, and everything in between; continues to outpace the actual happenings (as established by the comic series) of Clark Kent’s life.  In Season Eight Clark Kent (Tom Welling) takes a job as a bright eyed and bushy tailed reporter for The Daily Planet.  At the Daily Planet Clark has a chance to reunite with an old acquaintance in the form of Lois Lane (Erica Durance) and meet some new faces as well; such as Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore) amongst others.

 

Not long after being in Metropolis Clark unwittingly gets a name for himself as the “Red-Blue Blur” when random good deeds are done across the city; the name originating for the hero after Jimmy Olsen snapped a quick shot of Clark (clad in a red jacket and blue shirt) in the act.  This season brings a host of other classic Superman elements to the surface as Doomsday arrives in the form of Davis Bloom (Sam Witwer) and Cosmic Boy along with Saturn Girl manage to hit the streets of Metropolis in the progressively odd reimagining of the Superman Legend.  Of course the series does not remain completely superhero-centric as it remains true to its teen-drama roots with melodrama focusing on Clark sharing a workspace with Lois, the recently departed Lana Lang, and the wedding of Chloe and Jimmy Olsen.  Nevertheless, the series is fun if nothing else.  The same elements that originally drew fans in are there, but as the actor’s age and the Superman mythos becomes more scrambled it becomes much harder to believe or even swallow that the often garbled plot is actually a tale of The Man of Steel.

 

The picture, sound and extras on both the DVD and Blu-ray remain consistent with previous seasons that were already released.  The picture is presented in a 1080p High Definition 16 X 9, 1.78 X 1 VC-1 Encoded image that is impressively clear, balanced, and colorfully vibrant.  As the primary colors of reds and blues fly off the screen fans will be instantly impressed with their boldness and fluidity.  The image also has solid contrast presentation and inky blacks that fans will surely notice from the very beginning.  The Blu-ray is a definite step up from the basic quality of the DVD presentation that does little in the area of depth, textures, and clarity; the Blu-ray makes for a presentation that is not only clean, but highlights the best aspects of the series as well.  The Blu-ray, whereas great, does have its issues with occasional banding and artifacting here and there.  The sound is presented as a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound that sounds very much like previous seasons as it has an insanely clear and prominent dialogue track, but the rear speakers (though powerful in chaotic sequences) do not immerse the viewer in the soundscape as it should and overall is lacking.  Now that so many, many other series and films are being released with pristine DTS and TrueHD tracks it is becoming increasingly difficult to sit back and take the ‘blah’ sound quality of some of these Warner releases.  The DVD fairs even worse as it falls even flatter with its personal Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Track of mishaps and lackluster effects.

 

The extras on the DVD and Blu-ray are the same as they both contain weak Commentaries on 2 Key Episodes, Unaired Scenes, an In the Director’s Chair: Behind the Lens and Calling the Shots with Allison Mack featurette, and finally Smallville’s Doomsday: The Making of a Monster featurette.  The extras are flat out drab, but at least they exist for some fans to enjoy (as many other series still refuse to put ANY extras).  The commentaries with Miles Milar, Todd Slavkin, Ken Horton, Al Gough and more are quick to bore as they feature little discussion of anything the fans want to hear; i.e. lacking any talk of the characters specially featured in that episode. The featurettes are short and feel like worthless filler tracks that take the place of more worth while ventures in Superman history, trivia, and so forth.

 

Fans of the series should continue purchasing the Blu-ray over the DVD as it surely showcases many of the great things Blu-ray has to offer.  As previously mentioned, though the series has gotten somewhat tired and stretched the Superman mythos way beyond its means, I must say that Smallville remains a fun series that is a nice “lazy day” viewing if nothing else.

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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