A good show but probably better acquired a season at a time
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 01/03/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My rating is for the series and not for this particular set of DVDs, which I consider to be appallingly priced. I am a longtime watcher of SMALLVILLE and I wouldn't discourage anyone from taking time to get acquainted with the show. That said, I'm not sure that catching up on the show is best accomplished by buying this set. As I write this review the discounted price is $325. Unless the price drops dramatically, my advice is to buy this set a volume at a time. What I usually do when I want to collect a TV series (and I own around 40 series on DVD) is put all of the individual volumes into my Amazon shopping cart and then save them for later. Then I periodically visit my Cart to see if any of the items I'm watching experience a price drop. For instance, I had all of THE GILMORE GIRLS in my cart, waiting for the price to drop during a sale. One day I logged in to see that the prices for most seasons of GG had dropped to under $20 and I instantly bought all those seasons. Do the same with SMALLVILLE and I think you will get the entire series for a whole lot less than $325. (By the way, an interesting tie-in between Superman and THE GILMORE GIRLS is that the back lot that was used for the filming of GG was adjacent to the one used for THE ADVENTURES OF LOIS AND CLARK [it was also used for the tragically cancelled PUSHING DAISIES]. When Clark visited Smallville in that series, the Smallville town square was the same one used for the Stars Hollow town square.]
The other big question is whether someone will want to catch up on this show. It definitely isn't for everyone. If you enjoy fantasy or Sci-fi it can be a heck of a lot of fun. Comic book purists sometimes get too angry watching it to enjoy it. My daughter, for instance, knows more about Superman comics than anyone I know. She could probably teach a college level course on the history of Superman and his various incarnations. She does not share my enthusiasm for SMALLVILLE. The series is not a canonical version of Superman: The Early Years as much as it is a reimagining of the Superman legend focused Clark Kent of Smallville rather than of Metropolis. There are analogs of nearly everything that you can find in the regular Superman comics, but in a slightly different form. As of Season 8 many of Superman's traditional enemies have put in an appearance on the show, from Lex Luthor (who was through the first seven seasons a series regular) to Brainiac to Doomsday. There have been multiple references to the Justice League and many of Superman's future colleagues have been introduced in the series (but to date no Batman, Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern - though it is interesting that the acclaimed Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns has begun to work as a guest writer on the show - next to Grant Morrison, Johns might be the most respected writer currently working on DC superheroes), with JLA stalwarts such as the Green Arrow (a series regular in Season 8), the Flash, Aquaman, the Flash, and the Martian Manhunter (a recurring character who in Season 8 has made several appearances, though he is temporarily stripped of his powers). In Season 7 Clark's cousin Kara (Supergirl) was a regular. Seriously, the Superman references are too many to attempt to count.
SMALLVILLE, while freely altering elements of the Superman story, is deeply respectful of its source material (though many fans of the comics would undoubtedly disagree). Clark almost always dresses in variations of blue, red, and yellow, the constituent colors of Superman's cape and tights. The producers have brought onto the show as guest stars a large number of actors from previous Superman TV shows and movies. For instance, Christopher Reeve had a recurring role that ended only with his death, Margot Kidder appeared briefly as a guest star, and Christian Kane, the Superman from THE ADVENTURES OF LOIS AND CLARK. The two things that the creators of SMALLVILLE said that we would never see on the show are Clark flying on a regular basis or Clark wearing the Superman uniform. Frankly, I think that was fine for the first several seasons, but I don't think they imagined the show would last for 8 seasons. I'm not keen on seeing Tom Welling put on tights, but I think the show would be well served by allowing him to fly. At this point Clark's failure to gain his last ability has become rather silly.
The early years on the show were largely structured around a meteor-freak-of-the-week format. The idea is that when Clark arrived in Smallville from Krypton he did so in a meteor shower bringing many "meteor rocks" (i.e., kryptonite) with him. While toxic to Clark, the rocks imbue normal humans with a variety of powers. So, each week in the first few seasons Clark would have to struggle against some person with unusual powers created by the rocks. It was pretty consistently the least interesting part of the show.
Thankfully, alongside the meteor-freak-of-the-week were the main relationships in Clark's life: his parents, his friend and then later nemesis Lex Luthor (played marvelously by Michael Rosenbaum), his best friend Chloe Sullivan (again, played wonderfully, this time by Allison Mack), and most of all, the first love of Clark's life, Lana Lang (played by the almost impossibly cute Kristin Kreuk). During all of this many interesting story lines were introduced and developed, though to tell the truth after a certain point keeping Lana the focus of Clark's love life kept the show from developing. Lana left the show at the end of Season Seven, and the result has been in Season Eight a complete resurgence of the show, easily the best season in several years, as the departure of Lana and Lex has allowed the development of an entirely new dynamic for the show. In particular, while Clark and Chloe's cousin Lois Lane have enjoyed a love-hate relationship (with Lois treating Clark with persistent disdain), in Season Eight is definitely more love than hate. The relationships on the show have sometimes led to some atrocious storylines, none worse than in Season Six (the worst season on the show), where things heated up between Lex and Lana.
Over the years I've definitely enjoyed the show more than it has upset me. My main complaint is that I'm not sure that there is an overarching story. The narrative definitely feels like it is being made up as they go along. It isn't like LOST or BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, where you feel that the story as a whole is informed by where the series is going to end up. There is an interesting dynamic in the writing, however, that is fairly unique to SMALLVILLE. Most shows tend to end pretty much at the climax of the episode, or at most a minute or two afterwards. Almost every episode of SMALLVILLE climaxes a good 8 or 9 minutes before the end of the episode. You then get a few scenes that shows the main characters reacting to the events of the previous half hour. So you'll always get a scene, say, between Lex and Chloe and then between Lana and Clark. Most episodes have a fairly leisurely feel to them. All in all, a good thing.
In short, this is a good series, though certainly not a great one. If you enjoy fantasy and Sci-fi, you'll probably enjoy it. You'll sometimes be irritated (especially at how thick-headed Clark is, though in most other ways Tom Welling makes a thoroughly enjoyable Clark, and he certainly looks the part), sometimes entertained, and sometimes blown away. The show usually has memorable season finales, more than its fair share of truly awful episodes, and a good number of excellent ones. If it never becomes consistently excellent, neither does it become consistently bad (with the possible exception of the terrible Lex/Lana story of Season Six). It does get better after the first couple of seasons, stays pretty much on the same level after that (with the exception of Season Six), and then gets very good in Season Eight again. All in all, I give this series a thumb's up. I've always looked forward to seeing it each week and I'll continue to do so until they decide to bring the series to an end. Just do yourself a favor and collect the individual seasons individually and not through this very expensive set."
Tamster | Florida USA | 11/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Product was received exactly as represented online. Was provided status via email. Great Service!"
Obbie Herter | Union City, Tn. | 02/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Smallville is my ultimate favorite series and these were in great condition. Three of us has watched them already."