Saturday, July 6, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Smallville - Season 5

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Many great episodes show some true emotional depth
Cons: A run of subpar efforts in the second half
The Bottom Line
Smallville and Clark Kent
Both move toward growing up in
Serious season

"What Do We Have Here, Sheriff?"  "Another Day in Smallville."

After four years in high school, the time has come to enter the real world of jobs and college.  And that's not just true in real life but also on the TV show Smallville.  As it entered season 5, the main cast ventured out into the real world.  But the show kept producing great episodes as Clark Kent took another step toward becoming Superman.

Once again, we start the season dealing with the fallout from last season's cliffhangers.  (At least this time there was a bit of a recap before the first episode to give you some idea what was happening).  Clark Kent (Tom Welling) was just discovering his fortress of solitude and still arguing over his fate and purpose here on Earth with his biological father (voiced by recurring guest star Terrence Stamp).  Meanwhile, Smallville is dealing with the aftermath of another meteor shower.

As the season progresses, Clark briefly loses his powers and starts a relationship with long time love Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk).  Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) finally gets a job at the Daily Planet.  Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) takes on Lex Luther (Michael Rosenbaum) for a state senate seat withLois Lane (Erica Durance) as his campaign manager.  And politics makes strange bed fellows as Martha Kent (Annette O'Toole) takes money from Lionel Luthor (John Glover) to help.

Meanwhile, Clark, Lana, and Chloe all start college.  Lana pledges a sorority of vampires, and Clark gets more than he bargained for with his new professor who is hiding an other worldly secret of his own (recurring guest star James Marsters).

Obviously, there was a lot happening this season, and the first half is very strong.  We're introduced to two more members of the DC comics family when Aquaman and Cyborg show up.  The campaign makes an interesting story arc that involves most of the characters for several episodes.  Plus Clark now knows that Chloe knows his secret, which makes their scenes a lot of fun.

I have to give a special shout out to "Exposed" which reunites John Schneider with his Dukes of Hazzard co-star Tom Wopat.  Even though I have weak memories of the show from a few episodes I watched in my childhood, I still got several references to that show that made me laugh out loud.

Then comes the 100th episode of the series.  Now don't get me wrong, the episode itself is powerful as it plays out a warning Clark had gotten early in the season - in exchange for something that happened to him, someone close to him would die.  The fall out from that is very well written and acted, and I teared up several times.

However, the episodes soon devolve into a parade of meteor freaks of the week.  When the show does too many of those, it quickly loses my interest because they are so predictable.  A plot thread from early in the season finally comes back into play in the last couple of episodes, and we find out someone else learns Clark's secret, but it's just not up to the level of the earlier episodes of the season.

As I hinted earlier, the acting this season is strong.  Everyone truly gets a chance to shine at some point, and whether it's lighter bits or more dramatic, they always hits the mark.

Likewise, the show is filled with special effects, and they always worked perfectly to help tell the story at hand.  I was never left shaking my head at something that looked fake.

The 22 episodes from the season are all here in widescreen and stereo on six discs.  Extras on the set include lots of deleted scenes, two audio commentaries, the Vengeance Chronicles webisodes, and a look at creating the 100th episode.

Despite a run of several weak episodes in the second half, season 5 of Smallville is still strong enough to give 5 stars.  Just be aware that we get yet another cliffhanger that will make you want to watch the next season right away.

Season 5 Episodes:
1. Arrival
2. Mortal
3. Hidden
4. Aqua
5. Thirst
6. Exposed
7. Splinter
8. Solitude
9. Lexmas
10. Fanatic
11. Lockdown
12. Reckoning
13. Vengeance
14. Tomb
15. Cyborg
16. Hypnotic
17. Void
18. Fragile
19. Mercy
20. Fade
21. Oracle
22. Vessel

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