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By Craig Byrne - KryptonSite Webmaster
I know a lot of people are curious about all aspects of the release, so I'll try and cover each and every one, starting with the look of the DVD packaging itself.
The Packaging: At least for the regular retail version of this set, the packaging matches the same general style seen for the first 7 DVD sets. This makes me happy because it maintains a consistent look on the shelf. This year, the spine has coloring that is very similar to what was used for Season 1 a few years back. Inside, things are a little different, with the "booklet-style" design replaced by a much better, sturdier plastic case. A lot of DVD sets have gone to this as of late, and personally, I like it a lot better.
The cover imagery was a bit controversial among Smallville fandom with many complaints. I am not one of those complaining. If they want to advertise the season as "the year that Clark and Lois are at the Daily Planet," then this is it. I also like that Lois's dress resembled a cape behind Clark's back. Unfortunately for those who like that sort of thing, the L&C-Planet stuff is missing for most of the second half of the season. The other alternative may have or should have been to have Clark and Davis side-by-side, as Season 8 is also "The Year Clark Met Doomsday," but then again, it might make that season finale all the more disappointing.
Menu screens are great and the individual disc art looks nice. There's a little booklet inside telling you what is on what disc, and the Daily Planet building is on the cover of that. There's also a letter from the show's executive producers within, where they for the first time (as far as I know) publicly refer to themselves as "PS3."
The Episodes: (Warning: Spoilers for Season 8 episodes are below) Season 8 is one of those years for Smallville that, in my eyes, started off very strong and didn't end too well. The first 11 episodes are, with a few minor hiccups around episodes 3 and 4, pretty darn good television, which is a great feat for the executive producers considering the series' original showrunners as well as popular actors Michael Rosenbaum and Kristin Kreuk had left the building. The show's two newest additions, Sam Witwer and Cassidy Freeman, both successfully played their characters, and those new characters made themselves welcome easily.
The arc for Chloe being possessed by Brainiac was very interesting to me, and would have been a lot more interesting if it hadn't been spoiled prior to the season's start. Clark working at the Daily Planet with Lois gave the show a lightness and humor that the show needed, especially to counteract the very dark Chloe-Davis story. Episode #10, "Bride," was one of my personal favorite installments of the show, and was in many ways a more effective "season finale" than "Doomsday" had been.
Having Tom Welling and Allison Mack as the only full-time cast members also added to some of the schizophrenia of Season 8. You'd have a light and fun episode and then the next week, it'd be Doomsday killing people. At least with a DVD set you can skip the episodes you don't like, but I hope that Season 9 with its increased episode counts for some actors will result in something a little more consistent.
That's not to say that there weren't some highlights in that latter half. "Hex" is a personal favorite of mine, which brought the character of Zatanna from the comic books. I still think, though, that the first half of the season brought me a lot more enjoyment.
In that first half, beyond the season premiere, there are underrated episodes like "Identity" that build the new legacy of the "Red-Blue Blur." I love the shows that explore and look into another alter ego for Clark Kent. The fact that the Legionnaires in "Legion" knew all about Clark's Super future made it so much fun.
"Prey" is a very dark episode but it builds up the Davis Bloome story in a way that is nicely shot and well written. "Bloodline" explores Davis's story a bit more, and features an all-too-short return appearance by Laura Vandervoort. In short, out of 22 episodes, almost every episode has a moment or two that really shines. Even the maligned "Requiem" with the fake Lex that looks like Cobra Commander from the G.I. Joe movie has a terrificly-acted final scene between Tom Welling and Kristin Kreuk where both actors brought their "A" game.
And then, unfortunately... and my apologies to the folks at Smallville who might be reading this... this all led into "Doomsday," which might have been the show's most disappointing season finale. Lots of head-scratching moments in that one Where did Jimmy get the money for a place like that, if he was stealing money for drugs? Who made the payments when he was in the hospital? "Henry," really? That couldn't have been hinted at earlier? And why bring back one of the stars of the upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street film and one of the stars of Stargate Universe and then do nothing with them? And then - again not trying to be mean - to have all of this build-up for a Clark-Doomsday showdown and then have it last for only 3 minutes was extremely disappointing, as was having an episode called "Doomsday" without the death of Clark Kent, kind of made all of the Doomsday buildup seem empty. To their credit, I know that a lot was changed in the production of the season finale, as it could have been the show's series finale; but still... I wasn't a fan. Maybe a longer Clark and Doomsday fight could not be afforded financially or as far as time would go. But to tease a big showdown all year with very little pay-off was a bit disappointing.
The other aspect of Season 8 that I wasn't a fan of was the characterization of Oliver Queen this time around. As things were, watching Season 6 and "Siren" in Season 7, Oliver was one of my favorite characters. The drunk/thuggy/lecturey Oliver, however, doesn't work for me. I really hope his character has some redemption next year. I am thankful at least that they had Oliver in his own office set later in the season, rather than having him in a parked airplane all the time.
On the subject of sets, I also hope Metropolis gets more than one street next year. Seeing the same street over and over again became almost comical after time.
The Extras: There's DVD commentary on "Identity" with Cassidy Freeman, director Mairzee Almas, and Executive Producer Brian Peterson. As always, it's a blast to hear Cassidy talking, and I'm glad to hear her participation. "Legion" featured commentary with writer Geoff Johns, Executive Producer Darren Swimmer, and Supervising Producer Tim Scanlan. This commentary was particularly interesting to hear about the show from Johns' outsider view; you hear his impressions of the show sets, the casting, and that sort of thing. Featurettes within include a look at what brought Doomsday to the small screen, including quotes from the special effect designer Bill Terezakis, the show's producers, several of the show's writers, Geoff Johns, and Sam Witwer; and a featurette about Allison Mack's direction of "Poewr" which included interviews with Allison, Cassidy Freeman, and many members of the show's crew. The latter showed a very interesting look at Smallville behind the scenes. I am disappointed, though, that there was no feature about the Legion of Super-Heroes like the Green Arrow and Supergirl features from the past two years' DVDs. Maybe if the Legion comes back, they should consider it.
Again, there are no bloopers, sadly.
There are deleted scenes for the episodes Plastique, Instinct, Legion, Power, Requiem, Turbulence, Hex, Eternal, Beast, and Injustice. I admit, some are kind of pointless in the scheme of things and I understand why they were cut, but some sequences are a treat. A cut scene from "Plastique," for example, has a woman approaching Clark's barn on a horse. Clark thinks it's Lana but instead it's Tess Mercer, who is much flirtier with him than she ever seemed to be in the show itself. There's a nice scene with Lana and Dr. Groll from "Requiem" that explained her current condition in a much better way that I wish had stayed in the show. "Hex" had quite a few cut scenes, including the Lois and Jimmy scene that was in one of the episode stills but didn't make it into the show itself. There's a Chloe and Lois scene from the end of "Hex" where Lois returns from assignment and talks to Chloe about what had happened. This scene, while having some good cousinly bonding, will probably not go over too well for a portion of the fandom - Lois gives Chloe an application to return to the Daily Planet, which of course is not what she ultimately decides to do. "Chlark" fans will be happy, though, with a nice cut scene from "Injustice" where Clark consoles a distraught and wet "Chloe" inside a bathtub. (See screen captures from that scene here!)
The Final Verdict: Any fan of Smallville will still want to keep their collection complete, and even if you had issues with some parts of the season, I think there are still many gems within Season 8. Part of the fun of a DVD set like this is being able to look at the episodes again in retrospect and finding those good moments. I also appreciate that there are extras to make it an even more immersive experience. The DVD set comes out on August 25, which gives people exactly a month to catch up on the entire season before Season 9 begins in September.
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Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season
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