Case Number 14612

SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON (BLU-RAY)

Warner Bros. // 2007 // 829 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // September 26th, 2008

The Charge

"This guy can fly? God, Clark, you got to get on that one."

Opening Statement

A quick heads up: This review will contain spoilers.

Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season (Blu-Ray) sees series creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough wave goodbye to the show. Along with them, series regulars Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor), Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang), and John Glover (Lionel Luthor) either wave goodbye to the show for good or move down to part-time status. Before they all bid adieu, there are 20 episodes of superhero action to get through.

Facts of the Case

Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season comes to Blu-Ray in a three-disc set:

Disc One
* "Bizarro": Clark must face the Phantom Zone escapee who absorbed his DNA. Meanwhile, Lex is rescued from drowning, again, by a mysterious stranger with links to Clark.
* "Kara": Lana Lang returns to Smallville, while Clark gets to know his cousin, Kara (a.k.a. Supergirl).
* "Fierce": Kara enters the local beauty pageant in an attempt to blend in. However three of the contestants have superpowers of their own and plan to use them to locate buried treasure.
* "Cure": A neurosurgeon with a dark past enters Smallville offering a cure for the town's meteor freaks.
* "Action": The crew of the "Warrior Angel" movie comes to Smallville.
* "Lara": Kara recalls a previous visit to Earth.
* "Wrath": A freak accident causes Lana Lang to share Clark's powers.

Disc Two
* "Blue": Clark's biological mother, Lara, enters Smallville, but with her comes her evil brother Zor-El, leading to a showdown at the Fortress of Solitude.
* "Gemini": Lois is informed that Chloe has a bomb attached to her, and the only way she can stop it is to reveal the truth about Lex's experiments.
* "Persona": With Clark immobilized at the Fortress, Bizarro makes his move on Lana.
* "Siren": Lex calls upon the help of Dinah Lance, a.k.a. the Black Canary, while Lois learns the truth about Green Arrow.
* "Fracture": Lex falls into a coma following a shooting. Meanwhile, Clark must locate his cousin and Lois, who have been kidnapped.
* "Hero": Pete Ross makes his long-awaited return to Smallville.
* "Traveler": While Kara struggles to regain her powers and memory in an attempt to save Clark, the Luthors clash over the Veritas society.

Disc Three
* "Veritas": Brainiac attempts to enlist the help of Kara.
* "Descent": Lex takes a path that will lead him to his ultimate destiny.
* "Sleeper": Federal agents convince Jimmy to spy on Chloe.
* "Apocalypse": Clark confronts Brainiac and is shown by Jor-El how Earth would be without him.
* "Quest": A member of the Veritas society carves mysterious Kryptonian symbols on Lex's chest, leading Clark to Montreal.
* "Arctic": Clark must confront the possibility that Kara is not who she claims to be. Meanwhile, Lex is drawn to the Fortress of Solitude and a showdown with Clark.

The Evidence

"No tights, no flights." That was the rule that Miles Millar and Alfred Gough set when creating Smallville, and, honestly, it's beginning to hamper the show greatly. Don't get me wrong. When it's on form, Smallville is a heap of fun. But all too often this season, the cracks in the show's setup are all too evident.

Though Season One suffered a few teething problems, as most new shows do, Smallville went on to have a terrific run that culminated in the 100th episode, "Reckoning," which saw the tragic death of Jonathan Kent. Since then, the show has failed to develop the character of Clark Kent in any significant way. Sure, he will occasionally hint at his ultimate destiny, but Smallville is quickly becoming one big tease, one that I fear has no intention of providing the payoff fans of the show are all secretly hoping for: Tom Welling in the famous suit.

Like most Superman fans, I too raised an eyebrow when key characters from the Superman mythos were introduced to the Smallville universe. After all, how could Lex and Clark ever be friends? Of course, once I gave the show a chance, the re-imagining of the Clark/Lex relationship proved to be wildly entertaining. As the seasons progressed however, and despite brilliant episodes like Season Six barnstormer "Justice," the show's reliance on bringing in classic DC heroes and villains to keep things interesting has become tired and seen the purist in me becoming increasingly frustrated. Confounding my frustrations this season was the introduction of Kal-El's birth mother, Lara, played by Helen Slater (Supergirl). Indeed, the revelation that numerous Kryptonians had already visited Earth, long before baby Kal-El, only serves to reduce the impact of one of the most powerful aspects of the Superman mythos: Jor-El and Lara sending their child into the unknown.

Surely everyone in the town of Smallville is aware of Clark's powers by now. Hell, this season he doesn't even seem to care that people see him performing amazing acts; even stopping to give those he saves a warm smile as they gawk back at him. Even if the yokels are so dumb as to not notice, the likes of Lex Luthor and Lois Lane must be seriously self-involved if they haven't conclusively worked out Clark's secret by now (must be something to do with the double-L initials). Even Tom Welling, who continues to impress even as his role becomes more ridiculous, has started to look bored when forced to deliver yet another lame fabrication to keep his superpowers hidden. Almost, but not quite as annoying, is the downright lazy use of yet another memory wipe/amnesia-based storyline this season.

That Kristin Kreuk's Lana Lang is to no longer be a major player in the show is a blessing. Don't get me wrong, Kreuk plays the role she is given with relish, chewing up scenery in her vampish take on Lana Lang. The lady does nothing wrong. My problem, and I know Smallville is an alternate take on the Superman story, is that Lana Lang is so far removed from the character in the comics and movies that she's rendered unrecognizable. A conniving schemer, she would be more at home in Dallas. Her return from the dead in a storyline introduced early on this season only serves to tread the same path the show has been on for far too long, with Clark going all doe-eyed around her.

Before I end my rant against Smallville (and in the words of Columbo), just one more thing. Please, pretty please with sugar on top, can we not have any more meteor freaks? Nearly everyone in Smallville has one superpower or another, and frankly, it's getting silly.

Warner Bros. brings Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season to Blu-Ray with a 1.85:1 1080p transfer. It's a nice enough looking image, with beautiful color reproduction and black levels, but it's plagued by a number of issues. Edge enhancement rears its ugly head throughout the season, while the picture intermittently retains a soft appearance. It's certainly a step up from the DVD presentation, but certainly nothing to shout about. Though the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is clear, with no real issues, it really fails to take advantage of the Blu-Ray format, and offers a minimal upgrade over the DVD.

Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season comes to Blu-Ray with a good set of extras, each presented in standard definition. With this season introducing the character of Supergirl, it seems fitting that we get a short featurette dedicated to her. Detailing the origin of the character, along with her previous incarnations, "Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton" makes for an entertaining watch. Keeping with the Supergirl theme, "Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton" features six animated shorts, previously released on the CW website. Offering up some interesting back story to the character of Kara, these shorts are a nice addition. The "Jimmy on Jimmy" featurette is a real treat for Superman fans, as it features four actors who have portrayed Jimmy Olsen, either on the big or small screen. Obviously we get Smallville's Aaron Ashmore, but we also get Marc McClure from Superman: The Movie; Sam Huntington of Superman Returns fame; and finally Jack Larsen, who played Jimmy in The Adventures of Superman back in the Fifties. Backing up these features, we get a fine selection of deleted scenes and commentary tracks with Miles Millar and Alfred Gough.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Despite my numerous criticisms, Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season is still far from being a bad show. In what has become an all-too-familiar trend with Smallville, the season flags in the middle, but opens and closes in a strong fashion. The season opener, "Bizarro," offers plenty of superhero action, while adding a little more depth to the character of Chloe Sullivan. The introduction of Kara proves to be a successful addition to the show. Her relationship with Clark is handled well, especially with Kara seeing herself as Clark's protector, while giving Clark the opportunity to seriously question his role on Earth as his cousin refuses to just blend in.

Most importantly, Lex finally turns irreversibly to the dark side this season! It may have taken an eternity to get there, but by the end of Season Seven, Lex is too far gone for any kind of redemption. Ironically, Michael Rosenbaum is no longer going to be a series regular, which is desperately frustrating. At least the series finale, which pits Lex against Clark, gives him a worthy sendoff.

Although my faith in Smallville may be waning, my wife still remains a believer. And that, perhaps, reveals a simple truth about the show. Those who grew up with Superman, who went to bed in their Superman pajamas and queued around the block to see Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, are likely to find Smallville's pillaging of Superman's history borderline sacrilege. However, those just looking for a fun superhero show, something that blends The O.C. with Heroes, are likely to continue to enjoy Smallville until it finally comes to an end. Me? Well with Season Eight looking like it may be the last (though a ninth season remains a possibility), I'm likely to see this through, albeit with an increase in the number of times I roll my eyes in utter disbelief at what the show is doing to classic characters. I mean: Doomsday, in Smallville, really?

Closing Statement

Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season doesn't warrant being exiled to the Phantom Zone, but reveals a series quickly running out of ideas and in need of somebody to saaaaaaaave it; I don't care how they do it.

The Verdict

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a once great TV show teetering on the brink. Due to some good will on the Judge's part, and for Lex Luthor, Smallville: The Complete Seventh Season gets a not guilty verdict.

Review content copyright © 2008 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 80
Acting: 85
Story: 75
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 829 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Cast and Creator Commentaries on Two Key Episodes
* Unaired Scenes (In High Definition)
* "Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton"
* "Jimmy on Jimmy"
* "Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton Mobisodes"
* "Smallville: Visions" Digital Comic Book

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0279600/combined

* Official Site
http://cwtv.com/shows/smallville