Now entering its sixth season on the air, SMALLVILLE is still one of the coolest shows on television. Reinventing the mythos for a new generation, SMALLVILLE continues to place a fresh spin on the early years of The Man of Steel before he donned his blue tights and red cape, while keeping all the basic elements of the character and his history in place. Set in the Kansas town of the series title and populated with a cast of young, attractive actors, SMALLVILLE pushes all the right buttons with its intended youthful demographic, while maintaining the integrity of the Superman mythology. Sure, there have been a few times the series has made some "interesting" creative choices, but for the most part, SMALLVILLE succeeds in making Superman fresh again… six decades after he was created.
Season five of SMALLVILLE is a season of change, which beginning with Clark starting college. Season five also continues explore aspects Clark/Cal-El’s Kryptonian heritage, as well as having our Superman in training facing several threats from his home world, including an artificial intelligence with an secret agenda. Season five also gives rise to the Fortress of Solitude; further questions of nature versus nurture arise as Clark faces up to the expectations of his biological and adoptive fathers after tragedy strikes. Also, another superhero from the DC universe makes an appearance and the dynamic of Clark’s relationship with his friend Lex continues to evolve towards its inevitable conclusion.
The season five cast of SMALLVILLE features Tom Welling as Clark Kent/ Kal-El, Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang, Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor, Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan, John Glover as Lionel Luthor, Annette O'Toole as Martha Kent, John Schneider as Jonathan Kent, Erica Durance as Lois Lane and James Marsters as Professor Milton Fine. SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON ($60) comes to DVD in a six-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired during season five: Arrival, Mortal, Hidden, Aqua, Thirst, Exposed, Splinter, Solitude, Lexmas, Fanatic, Lockdown, Reckoning, Vengeance, Tomb, Cyborg, Hypnotic, Void, Fragile, Mercy, Fade, Oracle and Vessel.
Warner Home Video has made all twenty-two episodes from SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. In keeping with the previous sets SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON looks pretty darn sweet on DVD. Image quality is quite good for a television production, offering a sharp and nicely defined image. Sure, some shots look a little softer than others, but the episodes generally look really good. Colors are strongly saturated, and provide appealing flesh tones. Blacks are accurate, the whites appear stable and contrast is very good. The photography tends to avoid sitcom flatness whenever possible. The film elements from which the episodes are transferred are clean; some very mild grain shows up in places. Digital compression artifacts are well contained.
All the episodes that comprise SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON come with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks that decode to standard surround. 5.1 channel encoding would have kicked thing up a couple of notches, but it just isn’t meant to be. Still, as they stand, the mixes come off as pretty good, although their television origins are quite evident. As expected, the forward soundstage is dominant, with the surround channels providing mild ambient reinforcement and occasional active effect. Musical fidelity is very good and the music is well integrated into the sound mixes. The bass channel certainly could have been quite a bit deeper, which would have added some "weight" to the special effects sequences, which look more impressive than they sound. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and always easy to understand. No other language tracks are provided for the episodes, but 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 following episodes: Thirst and Splinter. Unaired Scenes are provided for the following episodes: Hidden, Aqua, Thirst, Fanatic, Reckoning, Tomb, Cyborg, Hypnotic, Fragile, Mercy, Fade and Vessel. Smallville’s 100th Episode: The Making Of A Milestone is a thirty-minute reflection on the series marking a key episode. Vengeance Chronicles Webisode Gallery and excerpts from Look, Up In The Sky: The Amazing Story Of Superman close out the supplements.
For my money, SMALLVILLE remains one of the coolest shows on television and season five still finds it at the height of its superpowers. Warner does their usual great job with the DVD set offering up the episodes with first-rate presentations and some nice supplements. If you are a longtime fan of the series or just a superhero nut, SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON is another must have. Recommended.
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