Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season (2009) [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Fantasy / Science Fiction|
|Warner Brothers || NR - 928 minutes - $69.98 || September 7, 2010|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-09-03|
Writer(s): Joe Shuster & Jerry Siegel (characters); Alfred Gough & Miles Millar (developed by)
Cast: Tom Welling, Allison Mack, Erica Durance, Cassidy Freeman, Callum Blue, Justin Hartley
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Incredible. That’s the only word I can use to describe this ninth season of CW’s “Smallville” which has several episodes that damn near helps us forget about the huge letdown that was the eighth season finale.
In season nine, we find our superhero still in coming-of-age mode as Clark Kent/Kal-El (TOM WELLING) removes himself from society to the Fortress of Solitude to be trained by his father, Jor-El (voiced by TERRENCE STAMP) and although Clark says he has denied his human side and wants to fully accept the Kryptonian within, something is holding him back. This something comes to light when Lois Lane (ERICA DURANCE), missing for 3 weeks, crashes back to the present on a train with a ninja chick out to get Lois but is also after Kal-El as well. As the fight progresses, thanks to the time traveling entrance, the train goes off its rails only to be saved by none other than Super... err... The Blur and lo and behold, Lois manages to land at the bottom front window for Clark to see (of course she is unconscious).
Throughout the season, several connected storylines revolve from episode to episode from Tess Mercer’s (CASSIDY FREEMAN) obsession with the all things alien and Kal-El – not to mention where/when Lois Lane went and what she saw – to the appearance alluded to in the eighth season finale of this year’s primary villain, Major Zod (CALLUM BLUE), released from a crystal along with his army of fellow Kryptonians with plans to rule Earth; problem is, unlike Kal-El, they do not have any powers which starts off another storyline: Zod’s quest to find the power. In order to do so, they are going to build a massive dual towers and turn the yellow sun red due to their genetics since Zod and the others – we discover in ‘Kandor’ and perhaps earlier – are in fact clones which need instead the red sun to gain powers since Jor-El (played by JULIAN SANDS in ‘Kandor’) had made sure they would be stripped of these powers.
During all of this, those in the Clois camp (can’t believe I know all of this) will be/are happy as the relationship between Lois and Clark take it to the next level as Clark finally makes his feelings known and she, after a small amount of fight or flight response, reciprocates. Like in previous seasons, “Smallville” offers up some fun cameos in the DC Comic Universe, has a couple semi-stand alone episodes that take a turn to the magical and bizarre side (see: ‘Rabid’ and ‘Echo’) as well as just a more comedic tone (‘Crossfire’). Admittedly, not all of the 21 season nine episodes worked for me. I really had a hard time buying ‘Roulette’ in which Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (JUSTIN HARLEY) goes through a series of challenges headed by a woman known only as Roulette and in the end was all set up by Chloe (ALLISON MACK) in order to help Oliver come back from the brink because since season’s start, he was on the edge, feeling guilty for the death of Jimmy in the season 8 finale.
The highlights for season 9 were, of course, the 2-part episode, ‘Absolute Justice’ which sees the show introductions of members of the JSA or Justice Society of America, a group of vigilantes taken down and exposed by the government decades earlier. In the episode, members of now disbanded organization include Carter Hall/Hawkman (MICHAEL SHANKS), Kent Nelson/Dr. Fate (BRENT STAIT), Courtney Whitmore/Stargirl (BRITT IRVIN) plus Wesley Dodds aka Sandman, Alan Scott aka Green Lantern and many others who don’t appear or make brief appearances as the former members are being targeted by a villain named Icicle out for revenge but being pushed by a secret organization known as Checkmate headed by one Agent Amanda Waller (PAM GRIER who looks a little odd here).
In the end, “Smallville” has its fair share of poorly scripted episodes here and there but the positives in my eyes far outweigh the negatives. As with other seasons there’s something there for the DC Comic fans like myself (even casual fans) but also provides a good season-long story arc introducing a classic villain that both pays homage but also makes him unique and a challenge to Kent and friends.
01. Savior (4/5)
02. Metallo (4.5/5)
03. Rabid (3/5)
04. Echo (3.5/5)
05. Roulette (3/5)
06. Crossfire (4/5)
07. Kandor (4.5/5)
08. Idol (3.75/5)
09. Pandora (4/5)
10. Disciple (3.75/5)
11. Absolute Justice (4.75/5)
12. Warrior (3.75/5)
13. Persuasion (3.5/5)
14. Conspiracy (3.75/5)
15. Escape (3.25/5)
16. Checkmate (4.25/5)
17. Upgrade (4/5)
18. Charade (3.5/5)
19. Sacrifice (4.5/5)
20. Hostage (4.25/5) – Only due to the return of Martha Kent
21. Salvation (5/5)
The Blu-ray, like for season eight, comes with an open sided slip cover to house the 4-disc HD Keep case. One thing that I noticed was the lack of participation by show veterans Tom Welling and Allison Mack.
Episode Commentaries – There are two commentaries included, one for ‘Kandor’ with Actor Callum Blue and Writers/Co-Executive Producers Turi Meyer and Al Septien and one for ‘Idol’ with Actress Erica Durance and Executive Producers Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders. The tracks aren’t terribly fascinating but you do get a mixture of technical info from the crew’s perspective with some more on-set aspects from the actors. One thing I do wish is they had included a commentary for ‘Absolute Justice’.
Deleted Scenes (8:23; HD) – There are several short deleted scenes from various episodes but none of them would’ve added to the story though at the same time some were so short (one was only 13 seconds) that I’m unsure why they were removed. Strangely enough, the commentary for ‘Kandor’ mentions a scene that was longer yet its absent here.
Kneel Before Zod (15:14; HD) – This featurette examines the character of Major/General Zod and how his character evolved in the show plus comparisons with the movie version from Superman II. It also features sound bites from director Richard Donner and Terrence Stamp, the original actor who portrayed Zod in the movie.
Absolute Justice: From Script to Screen (29:32; HD) featurette takes a look at the fantastic mid-season episode, ‘Absolute Justice’ and features interviews with those involved including writer Geoff Johns, Actors Phil Morris, Justin Hartley and others. It’s an interesting look at how they wanted to bring the characters like Hawkman and Dr. Fate to life on the show. The featurette also has audition footage from the members for the JSA.
Each disc also has a BD-Live portal. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
“Smallville” comes to Blu-ray in a nice looking 1080p high-definition with a 1.78 aspect ratio. Previous seasons of the show on Blu-ray haven’t been the greatest as often the video is a touch soft and there is that this season as well but overall it’s still a good transfer with some nice detail levels throughout. Colors are also generally bright just like in previous seasons but this year there are also darker moments and even there the picture comes off quite nicely showing no signs of obtrusive amount of noise or grain.
I won’t bother venting about Warner’s lack of using lossless audio as they continue to choose and use the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks on their TV on BD releases. In any case, the track here isn’t anything amazing though still suitable enough for the amount of dialogue used. However, the rear channels rarely if ever get used and there are several scenes where gunfire is used and those moments do not have any depth whatsoever; now, the opening title sequence probably as the most robust of any parts of the episode.
Outside of some features that left more to be desired, season 9 of “Smallville” is nearly a homerun collectively but the season finale was the clincher for me as it made me almost forget about the truly poor season 8 finale with the lame fight between Clark and Doomsday. The video presentation is pretty good and even though the audio is substandard for my ears, I would not hesitate for fans to pick up this set as it is very much worth it.