For my money, SMALLVILLE remains one of the most enjoyable re-imaginings of the entire Superman franchise. This highly popular television series puts a modern spin on the early years of "The Man of Steel" showing the teenage life of Clark Kent in the town of Smallville, Kansas, before he made the move to the city of Metropolis and began donning blue tights and a red cape. Mixing elements of teen angst, romance and good fashion sense into the Superman mythology, SMALLVILLE provides the perfect combination to appeal that youthful demographic that advertisers love so much, while remaining relatively true to a character that has been around for about sixty five years. Of course, having very attractive performers in all of the leading roles certainly doesn’t hurt the show’s appeal either.
During the second season of SMALLVILLE, the show moved away from a monster-of-the-week approach to storytelling that dominated season one, and instead, became focused on creating its take on the Superman core mythology, by building it around the characters and their small town lives. Season two of SMALLVILLE even features a great guest appearance from former Superman Christopher Reeve as a scientist who offers Clark clues to his origins on the Planet Krypton. The cast of SMALLVILLE features Tom Welling as Clark Kent, Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang, Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor, Sam Jones III as Pete Ross, Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan, John Glover as Lionel Luthor, Annette O'Toole as Martha Kent and John Schneider as Jonathan Kent. SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON ($60) comes to DVD in a six-disc set that features the following twenty-three episodes that were aired in the show’s sophomore year: Vortex, Heat, Duplicity, Red, Nocturne, Redux, Lineage, Ryan, Dichotic, Skinwalker, Visage, Insurgence, Suspect, Rush, Prodigal, Fever, Rosetta, Visitor, Precipice, Witness, Accelerate, Calling and Exodus.
Warner Home Video has made all twenty-three episodes from SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Like season one, year two of SMALLVILLE looks great on DVD. In fact, I think the second season looks even a bit better than the first. Sharpness and detail are absolutely first rate for a television production. Colors are vibrant and very strongly rendered, with very appealing flesh tones. Some of the warmer hues almost push the level of intensity too far, but remain stable. Blacks are accurate, whites are crisp and contrast is somewhat better than typical broadcast fare. The film elements from which the episodes are transferred appear very clean and noticeable grain is mild. Digital compression artifacts are usually held very well in check.
Like season one, all the episodes that comprise SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON are presented on DVD with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks, which do decode to standard surround. Again, I reiterate my opinion that I think the episodes would sound better if they were upgraded to full 5.1. Channel separation and clarity would certainly benefit from the discrete encoding, but as it stands, the episodes do sound very good in matrixed surround. As expected from a television caliber mix, the forward soundstage dominates, with the rear channels providing mild ambient reinforcement and occasional active effect. The bass channel is decent, but lacks a significant punch and could use a bit of "sweetening" for the episodes’ more action oriented moments. Of course, dialogue is cleanly reproduced and completely understandable. No other language tracks are provided for the episodes, but English, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode/scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplemental materials. Two audio commentaries each have been provided for the episodes Red and Rosetta. Red features producers Alfred Gough, Miles Millar and writer Jeph Loeb on track one, plus actors Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, and Michael Rosenbaum, as well as producer Greg Beeman on track two. Rosetta includes Alfred Gough and Miles Millars on the first track, while Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Greg Beeman and director James Marshall voice their comments on the second. Fans should get a kick out of all four tracks, as they prove to be interesting and rather enjoyable.
Deleted scenes have been provided for the following episodes five episodes Heat, Duplicity, Dichotic, Fever and Duplicity- some interesting stuff here, although the material probably hit the cutting room floor to meet airtime requirements. Christopher Reeve: The Man Of Steel is a ten-minute program that pays tribute to the former Superman and it allows he to talk about coming home to the material that made him a star. Faster Than A Speeding Bullet: The Visual FX Of Smallville runs twelve minutes and looks at how the show’s super special effects are created for the Smallscreen on a Smallbudget. The Chloe Chronicles offers a fourteen-minute history of the somewhat strange goings on in the town of Smallville. Closing things out is a very funny Gag Reel.
SMALLVILLE is indeed a very cool version of the early Superman mythology. As for the DVD set of season two, the folks at Warner have done a very good job, offering excellent video and solid audio quality, plus some very nice extras. If you are a fan, then you will definitely want to add SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON to your collection.
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