Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TV on DVD Review: Smallville - Season 9



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun characters, great acting, plenty of action
Cons: Chloe underused
The Bottom Line:
Face off against Zod
As show returns to its strengths
And characters shine




“I Was Beginning to Think Your Family Lived on Some Distant Planet.”

Summer has rolled around, and that means it is time for my annual season of Smallville.  I started watching this show on DVD years after it started, and I’ve finally made it to season 9.  While I had been a bit disappointed with last season, I found this one to be quite fun.

The season starts off three weeks after the season eight cliffhanger.  Lois Lane (Erica Durance) has been missing for 3 weeks, and her cousin Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) is doing everything she can to find her.  Meanwhile, Clark Kent (Tom Welling) has decided that his attachments are holding him back from his mission to save humanity, so he has gone off on his own and increased his training.  And Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley) is going into a self-destructive spiral over his guilt for the events of last season.

When Lois does show up with an assassin in tow, she has no clue where she has been or even that she was gone.  Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman) is extremely interested in where Lois has been, leading Clark to return to his old life in order to protect Lois as her memories return.

Tess has her own agenda, however, helping the Kryptonians who have just appeared thanks to an artifact that she found.  They are led by Zod (Callum Blue), and they don’t seem to have the powers that Clark does.  Has Clark found some people like him?  Or do they bring a new threat to the planet that Clark loves?

Even though I am not super familiar with comic books, I do know Zod, so it was easy to see the villain from the very beginning.  However, I really appreciated how they developed him over the course of the season.  He was more than just a power hungry guy.  Of course, they had a full season to develop him instead of a couple of hours in a movie, so that certainly helped.

Really, the season was filled with great development overall.  The season long story arc was well thought through and developed in a logical manner, answering some of the great questions we received early on before setting up a final showdown.  Meanwhile, we also got some standalone episodes that entertained.

The core cast had some great material to work with as well.  The early episodes that show Oliver/Green Arrow’s growth are fantastic.  I still can’t figure out what Tess is up to.  I do know which side she is on, however – hers.  She makes an interesting foil for our heroes since she’s not quite hero and not quite villain.  Sometimes in other shows, that waffling can be annoying (Sylar in Heroes, for example), but the writers make it work well here.

Of course, the biggest advancement of the season comes to Lois and Clark, who start dating during the season.  This leads to some very funny moments and some more serious moments as Clark toys with letting Lois in on his secret.

You’ll notice I haven’t said much about Chloe.  That’s because she often gets the least amount to do.  She converts the tower she got at the end of season 8 into a super high-tech computer center, and then she is used to give out plot information in the form of stuff she’s taken from surveillance cameras or research she’s found on the internet.  Essentially, she’s the data dump for information to advance the story, a job she’s always had, but that seems to be about all she’s good for this season.  Chloe does get some fun stuff late in the season, and Allison Mack makes the most of it, but the writers left her out of the main action for the most part.

Like Allison, the rest of the cast is wonderful once again.  They bring every moment to life perfectly, whether it’s comedy, drama, or some subtle shade in between.  The effects are still perfectly believable, too.

As I’ve been watching the current DCverse on TV, I’ve been commenting on the perfect timing between those shows and my seasons of this show.  Once again, that happened here when Smallville introduced the Justice Society of America in a two parter mid-season that introduced us to Hawkman, among others.  I hadn’t even heard of this hero until this season’s Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, and I enjoyed getting a new take on him.

Late in the season, Annette O’Toole returned for an episode as Martha Kent, bringing her real life husband, Michael McKean, back to reprise his role as Perry White.  It was a powerful episode that I really enjoyed.

The season is listed as having 21 episodes, but since one of them was a two hour episode, this really was a normal length season.  All the episodes are here on six discs looking and sounding great in wide screen and full surround.  Extras include a smattering of deleted scenes, two interesting commentaries on episodes early in the season, and two featurettes, one on Zod and one of the Justice Society two parter.

Overall, I felt that season 9 of Smallville brought the show back to its strengths, characters we love and fun superhero action.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this particular take on Superman wraps up in the final season.

Season 9 Episodes:
1. Savior
2. Metallo
3. Rabid
4. Echo
5. Roulette
6. Crossfire
7. Kandor
8. Idol
9. Pandora
10. Disciple
11. Absolute Justice (double episode)
12. Warrior
13. Persuasion
14. Conspiracy
15. Escape
16. Checkmate
17. Upgrade
18. Charade
19. Sacrifice
20. Hostage
21. Salvation

2 comments:

  1. Nice review. I've always been curious about this series ever since it aired but never got around to watching it. I know a lot of people who love it though. Maybe this summer I'll check it out :)

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    1. I've found summer to be a great time to watch this series. :)

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