Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season (2008) [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Adventure / Drama / Fantasy|
|Warner Brothers || NR - 1012 minutes - $79.98 || August 25, 2009|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-08-16|
Writer(s): Joe Shuster & Jerry Siegel (created by), Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (developed by)
Cast: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Aaron Ashmore, Cassidy Freeman, Sam Witwer, Justin Hartley
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“Smallville” enters its eighth season without its key villain (Michael Rosenbaum), key love interest (Kristin Kreuk), plus the departure of Supergirl (Laura Vandervoort). Not to mention series developers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar who departed for different pastures. And last season was a couple episodes shorter (only 20) due to the writer’s strike.
This season begins the transformation/push of Clark Kent towards his ultimate destiny, of becoming the hero he was meant to be. Clark faces challenges on multiple fronts: the possibility of his identity being exposed by an eager Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore); Davis Bloome (Sam Witwer), a paramedic with a darker, destructive, Kryptonian side; and Lex Luthor’s replacement, Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman), who has even more ambitions than her predecessor.
I have mixed feelings about this eighth season. While it is better than season seven – as much as I loved seeing Laura Vandervoort as Supergirl, she didn’t contribute that much to the overall story of that season – it also squanders great possibilities especially with the season villain, Doomsday. I think they did a brilliant job brining what was just a monster in who appears basically out of nowhere in the comics and putting it into human form and giving that side a back-story and integrate him with other characters. Sam Witwer – reminding me of Christian Bale oddly enough – plays the role quite well and as an interesting third wheel to the Chloe/Jimmy relationship.
The other key addition of Tess Mercer played by Cassidy Freeman can’t really touch the evil charisma of Rosenbaum’s Lex Luthor, yet she still manages to bring a different dynamic to the series that was missing from previous years so the net difference was overall positive.
** MAJOR SPOILERS **
The biggest drawback to season eight wasn’t some missteps in certain episodes (see: ‘Power’ or my least favorite, ‘Toxic’) but the season finale called ‘Doomsday’ was a waste. What built up all season long, for 22 episodes, all led up to what was supposed to be an epic battle but instead was just a pitiful “fight” (and I use that word loosely) sequence (very loosely) that literally only lasted maybe 5-minutes and without Clark even getting a punch in, yet still somehow win the battle. What makes it worse is that a couple episodes earlier (‘Eternal’) they establish that Davis Bloome/Doomsday becomes indestructible after a Kryptonite liquid bath.
And then there’s Jimmy... Who probably wasn’t the “Jimmy Olsen” we all knew and loved but in fact, after the, err, incident, is known as Henry James Olsen who in fact had a younger brother whose name was not revealed but no doubt is the actual Jimmy Olsen. Got all that? At worst, it’s a slap in the face of “Smallville” fans (casual or rabid) and at best it’s just a poor cop out to keep from taking out a classic Superman character... At least have the balls to keep him as Jimmy Olsen for crying out loud.
** END SPOILERS **
Anyway, despite those key setbacks for the season, I still enjoyed it overall. Is the writing that great? No, but outside of the first three seasons, it never was the upper echelon of television writing and I’ll give the writers some major leeway given the road Clark Kent and the Superman mythology on, it’s not easy to keep it going after eight (going on nine) years. However, even through the bad times, I still like the show and will certainly watch it even if it somehow goes into year 10 or 11 (at which point we they would have to put CK into a blue/red costume).
I’ve enjoyed watching the budding semi-romance between Lois and Clark and seeing Tom Welling filling in his adult Clark Kent role is a pleasure as he’s looking more and more like Superman with each passing year. So, writing issues aside – cumulating with a subpar season finale – “Smallville” is still an entertaining soap drama adventure that even without its most interesting villain, has a little gas in it yet.
EPISODES (* - Favorites):
It might just be me, but it seems the features on every subsequent “Smallville” set gets lesser and lesser... The Blu-ray release comes in a 4-disc BD Keep Case (wider than a standard case) with a side slip cover (not like season seven’s).
Up first are a selection of deleted scenes (18:28; HD). Scenes include for episodes ‘Plastique’ (Tess and Clark flirt), ‘Instinct’ (Tess and Eva; only 15s long), ‘Legion’ (Lana succumbs to Brainiac’s trance), ‘Power’ (Chloe and Clark talk about Lana’s power), ‘Requiem’ (Lana and Dr. Grohl talk about the Power Suit), ‘Turbulence’ (Jimmy Remembers), ‘Hex’ (Chlois takes a picture; Chlois talks to Jimmy; Chlois takes out a mugger; Lois persuades Chloe to return to The Daily Planet), ‘Eternal’ (Lex and Davis play – Davis is taken away), ‘Beast’ (Chloe and Davis talk about curing him; Chloe gets pulled over by the FBI; Chloe gets questioned by the FBI), ‘Injustice’ (Clark comforts Chloe).
Next are two episode commentaries: ‘Identity’ with cast member Cassidy Freeman, Director Mairzee Almas and Executive Producer Brian Peterson; and ‘Legion’ with Writer Geoff Jones, Executive Producer Darren Swimmer and Supervising Producer Tim Scanlan.
I wish they had included a couple extra tracks (including one for the season finale) and with a couple of the other cast members as well. With what’s here, they’re not too bad as each track just gives background on the episode (like the actor who played Sebastian Kane originally auditioned for Doomsday). One bit for those who hated the season finale, Swimmer (I think that was who) mentioned the final battle when asked by Geoff Jones, that the fight would be as “big as they could make it”.
Last are a couple of featurettes:
In the Director’s Chair: Behind the Lens and Calling the Shots with Allison Mack (19:14) – The veteran “Smallville”-ien talks about taking the directorial reins after 17 years in front of the camera and how she made the transition from actor to director. This is an extensive featurette on how Mack handled being a director from her perspective and her co-stars.
Smallville’s Doomsday: The Making of a Monster (15:23) – Go behind the scenes of the creation of this iconic moment in Smallville’s epic eighth season and get up-close and personal with Superman’s most notorious foe, Doomsday. This one goes over the creation of the monster, how it differs from the comic book and how the costume was made.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Like the season seven Blu-ray, this one doesn’t look great, but it is a slight improvement. However, the picture itself comes off soft (more so than what was intended) and not that sharp either. The detail levels aren’t the greatest but colors do seem to be pretty good so it gets a passing grade, but note that as far as Blu-rays go, it doesn’t quite pop off the screen.
Once again, as per normal now, Warner only provides their TV on BD sets with standard Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. I had to check and make sure, but this almost seemed like a downmixed track or something because certain elements sounded very flat and even the music/score didn’t have much depth. I’m not sure if it’s a bad mix or if it’s yet another cost cutting measure for the production.
In spite of a quite lackluster season finale showdown between the Red-Blue Blur and Doomsday, season eight of “Smallville” remains an enjoyable soap opera adventure with great character interactions (Clark/Lois) and an interesting concept for someone(thing) like Doomsday and give it a face and back story. Obviously the show suffers from the tightening of purse strings (which explains the finale and the lack of more action sequences), so for fans, this season will not be too satisfying especially compared to the first few years.