Wednesday, June 17, 2015

TV Show Review: Smallville - Season 8

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong beginning, many fun moments
Cons: Didn’t care for season’s overall plot arc/villain
The Bottom Line:
Some major changes
While show is still mostly strong
Has definite flaws

“Even a Dress Shirt Can’t Hide the Hero in You.”

As this summer approached and I got ready for my annual season of Smallville, I became quite anxious to see how this season would go.  Not only did they lose Michael Rosenbaum and Kristin Kreuk and therefore their characters of Lex Luthor and Lana Lang, but the creators of the show stepped down as show runners, meaning that a new team was working behind the scenes.  While this season did have a couple of missteps, I did overall enjoy season 8.

The season picks up several weeks after the season 7 finale.  Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is still missing after the Fortress of Solitude collapsed while he and Lex were fighting inside it.  Leading the search for the missing men, but with different teams and different agendas, are Oliver Queen (Justine Hartley) and Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman).  Oliver is hoping to find and rescue Clark while Tess is looking for her boss Lex.

When Clark is found and returns to Smallville, it’s to start his new life as a reporter at The Daily Planet working across the desk from Lois Lane (Erica Durance).  Meanwhile, Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) has a giant IQ and a fiancée in the form of and Jimmy Olsen (Aaron Ashmore) and Chloe has also taken over the ISIS foundation.  Meanwhile Clark is caught on camera, sort of, and takes the next step in his evolution toward Superman as the mysterious Red Blue Blur.

But trouble is still brewing.  Not only are Tess’s motives unclear, but she has moved in to the Luthor mansion and taken over all of Lex’s roles, including editor of The Daily Planet.  Has she learned Clark’s secret from the files Lex left behind?  Meanwhile, there’s also paramedic Davis Bloome (Sam Witwer) who is very afraid he is harboring a deadly secret.  Is he correct?

The season got off to a great start, and I honestly didn’t miss the usual drama from Lex and Lana.  Don’t get me wrong, I had enjoyed those characters, but it was nice to see some new members of the cast.  Yes, Tess is obviously designed to keep the Luthor mythology alive, but she works quite well.  And without Lana around, they are able to increase the flirting between Lois and Clark.  I loved their scenes together.  Lois is my favorite character on the show, but she is stronger than ever this season.  The scenes when she starts talking to the Red Blue blur via phone are wonderful.  I also loved the many continued references to Clark’s future as Superman.

Likewise, many of the villain of the week episodes work wonderfully.  Thanks to a reappearance by Veronica Lake (guest star Tori Spelling), we see what would happen if Clark revealed his powers to the world.  Lois and Clark go undercover as an engaged couple to rescue Chloe and Jimmy.  We do get a bit more of Oliver’s backstory, and I loved comparing that to what they’ve done with the character on Arrow.  And a wish might shake up Chloe and Clark forever.

It’s the season long arc that doesn’t work for me, and as it takes over near the end of the season, I began to enjoy it less.  Chloe starts to behave in a very stupid manner late in the season.  I don’t buy it at all.  She’s much too smart to do what she did.  And don’t even get me started on what they put poor Jimmy through this season.  He’s another character I’ve loved on this show, so I hated what they put him through here.  Plus, I was expecting more from Oliver Queen.  He felt wasted to me, although his connection to Tess added an interesting element to both characters.  They actually used him more when he was a guest star for the first half of season 6.

Of course, since the season long arc takes over as the season winds down, it ended on a bad note for me.  But really, I did enjoy most of the season.

Now, I know I said earlier that I enjoyed having Lex and Lana absent for the season, but Kristin Kreuk did come back for a multi-episode guest starring arc in the middle of the season to wrap up her story.  I actually loved most of those episodes and how that ended.  Also back to wrap up her storyline is Laura Vandervoort as Clark’s cousin Kara, although she only gets one episode.

The cast does a great job bring their characters to life.  This is no surprise when it comes to the returning vets, but the new cast members jump right in and make us care about their characters as well.

Like always, the special effects are amazing and bring all the out of the world stuff we see to life perfectly each week.

All 22 episodes of season 8 are included in this six disc set, and they look and sound wonderful in widescreen and full surround.  We get deleted scenes in a majority of the episodes as well as two audio commentaries.  Rounding out the extras are a featurette on Allison Mack’s directorial debut on one of the episodes this season as well as one on the creation of the season’s villain.  Sadly, we are once again missing the gag reel.

There were definitely flaws in season 8 of Smallville, but overall, I still enjoyed it.  I’m very curious to see how things progress next season as they keep building toward the hero we all know and love.

Season 8 Episodes:
1. Odyssey
2. Plastique
3. Toxic
4. Instinct
5. Committed
6. Prey
7. Identity
8. Bloodline
9. Adyss
10. Bride
11. Legion
12. Bulletproof
13. Power
14. Requiem
15. Infamous
16. Turbulence
17. Hex
18. Eternal
19. Stiletto
20. Beast
21. Injustice
22. Doomsday

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