If ever there was a series that has outlasted everyone’s predictions, it’s Smallville. Despite each season looking like it will its last it rises out of the ashes of The CW’s cancellation floor like a phoenix, ready to begin anew. This eighth season, originally constructed as the series finale, is now just a stepping stone into the shows ninth season (will it be the final one? Well with the show being given a Friday time slot, it looks like they’re trying to their best to kill the ratings, so who knows) and as a result most of what you see in this season ends up as something that’s not even something that will carry over, aside from a few things that all came out of the season finale. Still, there’s no doubt that this eighth season was one of the shows strongest to date and turned some of shows harshest critics (myself included) into fans again. Until Lana came back, anyway.
There’s a new reporter at the Daily Planet: Clark Kent, who shares a workspace with Lois Lane. There’s a new hero in Metropolis, too. No one knows who he is. But Jimmy Olsen was on the scene of one of the do-gooder’s exploits, and he snapped a blurred photo of the hero in superspeed action – a hero everyone now calls the Red-Blue Blur. Red-jacketed, blue-shirted Clark Kent draws closer to his Superman destiny in the exciting 22-episode, 6-disc Season 8 of Smallville. Another Kryptonian destiny also takes shape. Davis Bloome begins to realize he is Doomsday. His mission on Earth: kill Clark Kent. So many new events (will Jimmy and Chloe’s marriage last?), so many new faces (Tess Mercer, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy among them!), so many state-of-the-art effects – so don’t miss a single thrill-packed moment!
Everyone knows that Michael Rosenbaum, one of the shows last real shining lights, left the show and as a result questions surrounded whether or not this eighth season would be any good. I had my doubts, but honestly after just a few episodes into the season I was mesmerized by how much of a turn around it had performed. Clark was his own man, working full time at Daily Planet, the new characters were genuinely interesting and engaging and everything started to feel like a proper Superman product. I know this show has never been called as such, but it finally started to get away from its sophomoric funk that it’d been in since….well, the second season. Everything started to turn around. Characters matured, progressed forward with relationships and…then Lana returned.
When Lana showed up on the show again, whatever made it good was immediately sucked out of it again. They worked in a revival of Lex, whom we never really saw aside from a bald silhouette occasionally, and then Lana’s whole return which just…dragged the show back down into the ditch again. She left, of course, but not before going out in her own super stupid way and her appearances this season forever tainted it for me. So much so that by the time she left the season, so did I. I opted not to bother tuning in again and as a result I never saw the final eight or nine episodes of the season.
Until this Blu-ray arrived, anyway. That’s all changed now and I’ve completed the remainder of the season…including all of the embarrassing moments. I originally felt kind of good going into the remainder of the season again until such stupid plots as Lois’s “Stiletto” super heroine and the laughable “Zatanna” episodes came up, anyway. Then I was reminded by the shows apparently inability to come up with original stories for the show that don’t suck incredibly. But, truth be told, the remainder of the season really wasn’t bad. The playing out of the Doomsday plot was incredibly stupid, as the battle that had been hyped up all season long lasted all of ten seconds (literally) and the valiant effort to save the man containing Doomsday ended up being futile as the righteous “human” that was his shell eventually turned murderous anyway and killed one of the shows stars. Stupidity, I says!
But…alas, that’s what this show is all about. Doing entirely predictable things in incredibly stupid ways. I’m not sure how this show has maintained its mediocrity over the years without anyone stepping into help fix it, but…thems the breaks. I wish the strong start of the season could’ve continued throughout, but whatever originality the show had going for it was eventually squandered as it revisited past plots that once again made Clark a poster boy for someone who needs to take some anti-depressants. Not that they’d do him any good, because his system wouldn’t absorb them for them to do any good. What a lameo.
For all of its flaws, however, this really was one of the series strongest showings in years. A particularly strong start was marred only by a saggy middle and soggy finale that basically made the entire season worthless as it erased everything cool that happened. Which is typical, for Smallville. “Let’s have Clark do something bold and then retcon it at the end of the episode so as to not change up the shows monotonous formula too much!” If I sound bitter about the show…I am. I know it could be so much better, but it’s constantly being held back by whoever thinks it’s a great idea for no one to make too much progress, less then run out of story ideas. It’s a shame they haven’t realized that having Tori Spelling’s character show up again isn’t already a sign of that.
Overall this is a decent season and one of the best, but still riddled with holes. Recommended only for the fans, others will find it worth a Rental only. If that.
Warner has released this four disc set inside a viva Multi-Pak Elite Blu-ray case with a cardboard slipcase mimicking the cover art and a booklet that shows off the Daily Planet package shot that is an apparent Best Buy exclusive. Disc art for each of the discs is the same Clark/Lois shot as used on the slipcase and jacket cover…on every disc. Seriously, can’t we change things up a bit more? What’s with the monotony? The booklet itself is fairly thick with effort with an intro by the producers of the show and descriptions, credits and chapters for each episode.
Video arrives in the form of a VC-1 encoded outing that looks pretty damn nice. It’s to be expected for a modernly produced show, of course, but the 1080p transfer really brings the action, settings and characters to life. It also makes the cheesy visual effects all the more obvious, of course, but it’s still a pretty solid outing, nonetheless. Audio is a subdued DD5.1 track (what, no TrueHD?) that does the show justice…for whatever that’s worth. The surround usage is minimal, but the LFE gets a fair bit of output courtesy of the shows soundtrack and occasional boom boom.
In the Director’s Chair: Behind the Lens and Calling the Shots with Allison Mack
Smallville’s Doomsday: The Making of a Monster
Unaired Scenes (“Plastique,” “Instinct,” “Legion,” “Power,” “Requiem,” “Turbulence,” “Hex,” “Eternal,” “Beast,” “Injustice”)
Commentaries on 2 Key Episodes (“Identity,” “Legion”)
The short amount of commentaries are surprising…as are their choices. No discussion on the season finale, really? The unaired scenes are nice (and in high definition), but the other two featurettes on the set are pretty weak in regards to what they show, although the Mack one does show some nice behind the scenes footage.
Overall a fair release, but nothing special. Kind of like the season, really. Hopefully the ninth (and supposed final) season will at least send off the show in a fashion I know it’s capable of. I mean, after all, it’s on a Friday time slot now. You don’t have much of an audience to anger on that day of the week, so you can do whatever you want.
Smallville – The Complete Eighth Season arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on August 25th.