The Complete 8th Season
release date: 8/25/2009
When Smallville's seventh
season rolled around, most fans figured the show was
drawing to a close. Series co-star Michael Rosenbaum was
through with playing Lex Luthor and original show runners
Alfred Gough and Miles Millar had also decided they were
moving on. However, the CW was not ready for it to end -
and new show runners Darren Swimmer and Kelly Souders stepped
up. Suddenly, Smallville wasn't just revived; it
The proof is in the Smallvile Season 8 DVD released yesterday. This is the season where Smallville remembered that it has its roots in comic book lore, and tried to move things in that direction without blowing up the seven years before it. Perhaps that's a tricky proposition, but for the most part, it works.
In addition to finally making Clark Kent (Tom Welling)
step up into the idea of fighting evil in a dual identity,
this season finally (please?) dispatches Lana Lang (Kristen
Kreuk) and moves Lois Lane (Erica Durance) front and center
as a romantic interest. Okay, so all of those things still
have their downsides: Clark becomes "the Red-Blue Blur"
and Lana gets super powers, but the new runners still have
a duty to develop from what they inherited.
Swimmer acknowledges as much in his commentary on the episode "Legion." Maybe it's sitting in the studio with episode writer and DC Comics giant Geoff Johns that elicits that oblique confession. Along with supervising producer Tim Scanlan, they use this episode to talk about the difficulty of pleasing comics fans and Smallville fans alike - not always the same thing.
a perfect episode for it, as "Legion" is an example of where
the show absolutely went right this last season. Bringing
in the founding members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the
episode uses the superheroes of the future to comment on
all the differences.
though they're dressed in a way that fits the show's production
design, they're still recognizable - and they're confused
as to why Kal-El doesn't act more in line with the historical
documents -- aka comic books - that they know and
A personal favorite moment there, highlighting how Smallville
employs both fan and non-fan, is what to do about the Legion
flight rings until Johns pointed out in a production meeting
that he actually owned one. For fans, it is an extremely
cool moment when the camera first catches the Legion wearing
their accurate rings.
Through that commentary, Johns praises the show for one of
its other big successes in the season: the introduction of
Doomsday. I take particular pride in Johns agreeing with me
on this one,
though since he's Geoff Johns and I'm not, I guess it's more
like I agree with him.
way, how the producers of Smallville utilized the
character of Doomsday stands head and shoulders above what
the comics did, giving him depth, thought out backstory,
and a real reason to stand as a recurring (but tragic) villain
in Superman's life.
Played by the sensitive Sam Witwer, Doomsday suckered
unsuspecting viewers in as a romantic rival for Chloe Sullivan
(Allison Mack). For weeks, comics fans grumbled that this
couldn't be the killer monster from Krypton, and then, suddenly,
brilliantly, he was.
They also retold the origin of Green Arrow (Justin Hartley)
fairly close to the comics, and their vision of Maxima (Charlotte
Sullivan) didn't veer too far -- though if they'd gone too
close it might not have been appropriate for prime time
television. Zatanna (Serinda Swan) got some slightly different
powers, but ultimately spoke backwards and looked dead on.
You might think that would be hard to mess up, but I still
held my breath.
Among the extras, a featurette covers the creation both in thought and make-up of this version of Doomsday. The other major extra focuses on Mack stepping into the director's chair for the first time, an interesting behind the scenes look at both Mack's place on the show and the new show runners' mindsets and enthusiasm for this revivified Smallville.
The other major players on the show are absent from the
extras, though Cassidy Freeman, who plays the shady Tess
Mercer, enthusiastically pops up through featurettes and
commentary. Perhaps after seven seasons of DVD sets, Welling
has run out of new things to say. It still feels a little
empty without him.
Beyond two episode commentaries, most of the episodes have deleted scenes included, and on the Blu-ray, they're all in high definition. I'm still not completely sold on Blu-ray for live-action series, but it is somewhat sharper and the deleted scenes are of much better audio and video quality than usual. Where the high definition is most noticeable is in the featurettes.
Still, if you had given up on Smallville, you might
want to dip back in with this season as the show integrates
more true superhero action. At the very least, "Legion"
will please the fanboys, and with Johns returning this season
to write an episode with the Justice Society, you'll want
to see how well the guy does.
Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season [Blu-ray]