Smallville: The Complete Series DVD Box Set

Actors: Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum
Format: AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Region: 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Number of discs: 62
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: November 29, 2011
Run Time: 11 520 minutes





Out of all the superhero shows that have graced the television airwaves over the years – Batman the Animated Series, The Incredible Hulk, the George Reeves Superman, the incomparable Adam West – none of them attained the surprising success of Smallville. Ten seasons, 218 episodes, enough cameos to fill the entire Hall of Justice, and most importantly, proof that four-color fantasy could work on the small screen in the 21st century.

The curious thing is why this particular show outstripped so many of its betters. It lacked the groundbreaking qualities of Batman: The Animated Series and previous Superman shows like Lois and Clark showed far more daring than it. Its cast embodied their characters well enough, but never found the iconic essence the way Lynda Carter did with Wonder Woman or Lou Ferrigno with The Incredible Hulk.

Indeed, the early episodes resembled The X-Files more than a genuine comic book effort, with new and bizarre threats arising every week to challenge young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) and his friends.

Thankfully, the show eventually found its proper tone, thanks to the brilliant dynamic between Welling and Michael Rosenbaum who played Lex Luthor. The two are fast friends in their high school days before Lex’s ambitions and Clark’s inherent nobility set them on opposing paths. Smallville’s greatest strength lies in the development of their relationship, and the fleeting sense that they aren’t all that different from any other teenagers.

The show also kept moving inexorably forward, giving it a proper arc. Clark eventually moves to Metropolis and starts working at the Daily Planet, preventing Smallville from becoming stale or stretching credibility by showing twentysomething adults still in high school. Along the way, it paid fitting homage to various aspects of the Superman mythos - from Jor-El to the Fortress of Solitude – as well as other DC Heroes like Hawkman and Green Arrow.

At its worst Smallville used such elements as cheap gimmicks, introducing new heroes or concepts as a way of getting through the week rather than any real dramatic elements they could bring to the table. The same held true for the show’s staggering variety of guest stars – including Carter, Dean Cain, Michael McKean, Pam Grier and Margot Kidder – who could elevate the series to staggering heights or trash an entire arc, depending on how they were used.

The high point of that tendency came with an appearance by the late Christopher Reeve, playing a benevolent scientist who aids Clark in understanding his past. The episode ranks as the best in the entire series, and illustrates what Smallville could do when it fired on all cylinders.

Sadly, it couldn’t do so every time. Any show this durable has its share of ups and downs, and the lows could be as painful as the highs were exhilarating. Smallville may have ultimately outstayed its welcome as well, with a final season that had nowhere to go and a creeping urgency to just put Welling in the cape and be done with it. The show hit its stride at about the third season, but plenty of boners crop up throughout . . . as do solid and reliable episodes that could keep the faithful tuning in.

It has an odd legacy, and it’s far from the best superhero show out there. Those with a shorter run time didn’t wear out their welcome in the same way, and I daresay there’s at least two or three you’d rather pop in the DVD player than this one. But Smallville hung in there far longer than any of them, and it always treated its subjects with respect. Through good times and bad, it endeavored to persevere, and while it wasn’t always art, at least it was honest and true. Kind of like the hero it endeavored to portray . . . and ultimately did with respectful and respectable results.

THE DISCS: The new boxed set of the complete series is a monster: a box the size of a Guttenberg Bible with all the trimmings. The discs themselves – 62 of them – are arranged in a pair of thick booklets rife with artwork and general fanboy sexiness. Sixty of the discs hold the show itself (neatly ordered) while the last two contain a bevy of extras. It includes a retrospective documentary, a look back at Smallville at the San Diego Comic Con, a feature length documentary called Secret Origins on the history of the DC universe (also available separately), and pilots of both the aborted Aquaman spin-off series and a Superboy series from the early 1960s. The boxed set also contains an episode guide (complete with lots of snazzy pictures) and an amusing copy of The Daily Planet detailing various aspects of life in Metropolis.

WORTH IT? The price tag is hefty, but this is definitely the set to own if you’re a Smallville fan. You’ll never need another one. Non-fans can probably skip it – this is more than anyone could ask for – but its comprehensive nature fits the scope of the set quite well.

RECOMMENDATION: The show itself can be experienced in cheaper forms, but if you love Smallville, this set has everything you could ever desire.

- Rob Vaux



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