Having been at Comic-Con this past summer to witness Bryan Singer’s original take on Superman, I must admit that I went into Smallville: The Complete Fourth Season wondering just what kind of show it was going to be. I had never screened an episode and it looked like just another vehicle for a good looking guy to show off how good looking he was. Imagine my surprise when I saw the show and I realized how well done it was. How they took many of the ideas and themes from the lore of Superman, but have also made this show something unique in it’s own right.
I came into this show with no idea about the characters, just some preconceived notions about Tom Welling as Clark Kent and Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luther. Truthfully, I think everybody on this show does a very solid job and I was particularly fond of Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang. When I first heard about this show I wondered how in the world it could possibly last, but then after thinking about it the idea is really ingenious. So many television shows today deal with youth growing up. Why not make a show about that but have it also centered around one of the icons of cinematic history?
Smallville: The Complete Fourth Season is an example of TV really being in tune with it’s audience and the material it is dealing with. I never felt lost or out of my element even coming in at the fourth season. I think another factor that really bolsters this show's credibility is how it takes the ordinary events in our lives, and mixes them in the with the extraordinary. We see things such as going to High School, alienation, first loves, etc..., but they are heightened because of what the character Clark Kent has to deal with. He's not only facing with things in the everyday life of a teenager, but he's also got his "super powers" to think about. This show handles some of it's fantastical elements in much the same way that a show like Roswell did. It is normal mixed with the the not normal.
Commentary Tracks on Various Episodes
The episodes that are “talked over�? on this 6 disc box set are “Spell,�? “Crusade�? and “Transference.�? They feature a bevy of directors, actors and producers. Thankfully, they broke up everybody into groups for each episode, otherwise it would have been a nightmare trying to figure out who was saying what. Overall, I really liked these commentary tracks. I think that there was an easygoing sense to all of them and on top of that I felt that they were informative. As I said, I was just thrown into this world of Smallville, but I found that I was able to follow the commentaries and not feel like I had to go back and rewatch episodes to be “up�? on what they were saying.
Unaired Scenes, Inside the Writer’s Room and Being Lois Lane
A decent amount of deleted scenes that were not in the final cut of the shows for one reason or another. While I enjoyed going through these, I think that the shows worked just fine so I can’t really say that I missed them. “Inside the Writer’s Room�? was a fascinating look at how the scripts for shows like this come together. As someone who would like to write for TV one day, I found this insider’s glimpse to be really enlightening. These guys work their tails off and it’s amazing how they come up with these ideas week in and week out. “Being Lois Lane�? was also interesting because we get to hear from all the beauties who played the potential “Mrs. Clark Kent.�? I never knew Dana Delaney inhabited that role!
Widescreen Anamorphic. 1.78:1. I love that this show is BRIGHT. It takes place in a small town, could be “anywhere USA,�? so this seems like it should be par for the course. Still, I really think that the way this show was lit had a lot to do with why I liked it. It’s about things and people I can relate to. Even though I am not 100% versed in all the Superman lore, I did grow up watching most of the movies starring the late Christopher Reeve, so I do know what they are talking about and alluding to on this show. While I will admit that that knowledge probably helped me really become engaged with this show, I don’t think that that is totally necessary to have. Also, this show seems like it could be a nice primer to aid people in going back and discovering those movies for themselves.
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround). While I didn’t notice anything that amazing about the audio on these DVDs, I also didn’t notice anything that took away from my viewing experience. These things sounded find. Sure, the music swelled in all the right places and the sound wasn’t used to aid in a character sense, but does it really need to on a show like this? I was just thankful that the sound wasn’t used in a melodramatic sense. The actors just spoke their lines and it didn’t seem like they were going out of their way to make everything sound perfect. Sure, for the most part it did, but this show really felt very fluid in how it was executed.
This 6 disk digipack houses all the disks really nicely inside a vinyl, cardboard cover. Staying with the crop field vibe, Tom Welling stands in the forefront of this box set looking intense. The colors on this DVD cover are very sharp and they carry over to the back as well. There are some shots from the show, a description of the episodes, an extras listing and some technical specs. On the whole, the packaging for all 6 discs is really economical. While it first seemed a bit heavy before I opened it, once I did I found everything very easy to manage.
Could the deck have been stacked any higher against Clark Kent? He comes to an All-American place like Smallville ed to have alien powers. It’s tough enough to try and fit in and I am sure he could have gotten by for a long time on his good looks, but it must be odd to try and be normal knowing the whole time that you possess these “otherworldly powers�??
I’d also like to take this time to thank the writers and the technicians of this show. There is a vitality and life to all the episodes that I think is quite rare in TV nowadays. I have spoken on these pages many times about how it seems like every character on dramatic TV shows is speaking in a whisper. How all the blocking and movements that the characters do feels too staged. Smallville: The Complete Fourth Season has very little of this. There is action, drama and emotions and I really feel as if the creators of this show have gone out their way to make Smallville stand out.