'Smallville: The Complete Series' Packs a Superpowered Punch
The first time I caught a glimpse of Smallville was at the 2001 Comic-Con International: San Diego. I remember watching, with no small amount of skepticism, as a trailer for the pilot episode flashed across a screen above the DC Comics booth. The idea of a Superman show that adhered to a "no tights, no flights" rule didn’t seem like much of a Superman show at all, and though I’d been a "Last Son of Krypton" fan since I was old enough to hold a comic book, I wasn’t convinced I’d like this interpretation. However, my inner geek (and Tom Welling’s abs) wouldn’t let me skip the debut of this series, and before the closing credits rolled on that first episode I knew I’d be back for more; I wasn't alone.
Smallville became the longest running superhero series of all time and refreshed the Man of Steel's mythology for a new generation. The show’s parade of (often shirtless) hotties like Michael Rosenbaum, Justin Hartley, Sam Witwer, Eric Johnson, Aaron Ashmore, and John Schneider alongside the show’s star, former Abercrombie model Tom Welling, scored a legion of gay fans. Now with Smallville: The Complete Series DVD box set, the ground-breaking series has been released in its entirety.
Containing over 192 hours of content on 62 DVDs, this set is beautifully presented with two picture-book style cases in a high quality slipcase suitable for display. Alongside the show’s 218 episodes are a superhero-sized serving of extras, including the rare 1961 Adventures of Superboy and 2006 Aquaman TV pilots, Secret Origin: The American Story of DC Comics documentary, a Daily Planet newspaper (written by DC comics) that highlights storylines from the show’s 10-year run, season featurettes, an episode guide with never-before-seen production art and photos, deleted scenes, episode commentary from cast members, and much more. There's also a 90-minute season-by-season retrospective of the series, featuring new interviews with the cast and crew that offers an insider’s look at Smallville’s rich history. It's the obvious gem here and is the perfect companion to this box set.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that early seasons were not filmed in HD, Smallville: The Compete Series is only available in DVD format with no plans for a Blu-ray version at this time. Nevertheless, the standard definition set is still fairly impressive and even though there are some minor clarity issues on a larger TV screen it doesn’t detract from enjoying the series. Each episode is presented in a matted-widescreen format, (“enhanced” for widescreen TVs, of course) to preserve the aspect ratio of the show’s original airings.
Soundophiles will notice the difference in audio quality used throughout the series’ ten-year run. Seasons 1-3 are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, while seasons 4 and 5 received Dolby Surround, and the final 5 seasons were given the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound treatment. Though some might have preferred a more even sound mix for this set, the differences highlight one of the many improvements made to Smallville’s decade of episodes and may not be noticeable to the average fan.
Like any superhero saga, Smallville is a mix of awesome and absurd. While a few episodes and storylines may induce audible groans, (like the season 5 episode “Thirst” where Lana joins a sorority and is turned into a vampire—yeah, I know), there are several moments that are the among the best superhero stories to cross the small screen. Among them are Season 2’s “Rosetta” (guest starring Christopher Reeve as scientist Virgil Swann), Season 6’s “Justice” (featuring the Smallville version of the Justice League), the season 8 two-parter “Absolute Justice” (written by comic book scribe Geoff Johns and featuring several classic members of the Justice Society) and, of course, the double-sized episode “Finale” where Clark finally dons the super suit.
Smallville: The Complete Series is a wonderful way to revisit this series that redefined Superman for the new millennium, a TV show that truly upped the ante for any future superhero series.