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When I was writing my review of season seven of SMALLVILLE, season eight was being touted as the series last. Now, season nine is in production, and it may or may not be the last hurrah for the pre-cape and tights wearing Man of Steel. With eight seasons under its belt, SMALLVILLE continues as the longest running genre series currently on television. Doing what it does best, SMALLVILLE places an intriguing and decidedly fresh spin on the Superman mythology. Season eighth of SMALLVILLE marks something of a reboot for the series, as the vast majority of the original characters are now gone, as are the original creative team. With so many changes behind-the-scenes, and a new creative team in place, SMALLVILLE needed to evolve and change. And during this season of change, new characters were added and the series’ protagonist continued his evolution towards becoming the world’s greatest superhero.

The season eight cast of SMALLVILLE features Tom Welling as Clark Kent/Kal-El, Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan, Erica Durance as Lois Lane, Aaron Ashmore as Jimmy Olsen, Cassidy Freeman as Tess Mercer, Samuel Witwer as Davis Bloome and Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow. Season eight guest stars include Laura Vandervoort as Kal-El’s Kryptonian cousin Kara and Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang. SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON ($80) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired during season eight: Odyssey, Plastique, Toxic, Instinct, Committed, Prey, Identity, Bloodline, Abyss, Bride, Legion, Bulletproof, Power, Requiem, Infamous, Turbulence, Hex, Eternal, Stiletto, Beast, Injustice and Doomsday. Highlights of season eight include, Tess Mercer picking up the mantle of the vanished Lex Luthor, Chloe and Jimmy find the road to wedded bliss paved with dangerous obstacles, Clark discovers the need to create an alter ego to protect his true identity and loved ones, Chloe faces the unforgettable consequences of being infected by Brainiac’s intelligence and Clark is forced to battle a Kryptonian creature known as Doomsday.

Warner Home Video has made all twenty episodes from SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Once again, the 1080p presentations for the episodes look pretty terrific, with SMALLVILLE being another series whose appearance greatly benefits from high definition production technique. For the most part, the image is very sharp, nicely textured and offers up plenty of fine detail. Sure, some mild softness does creep into the image in places, but it doesn’t detract from the overall presentations. Colors are bright, vibrant and fully saturated; reds and blues really pop, which adds the perfect comic book flavor to the episodes. Blacks appear true, as do the whites. Contrast and shadow detail are well beyond what would find in a typical television sitcom production. There are no notable defects in the source materials. Mild grain is present, but the picture never looks over-processed.

All of the episodes that constitute SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtracks. Once again, these are strong television soundtracks, with excellent presence. Of course, again, no one will confuse the sound design for the episodes with that of theatrical productions. In keeping with the necessities of television sound, the forward soundstage is dominant. However, some active effects are directed to the rear channels, along with the usual complement of ambient sounds and musical fill. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. No other language tracks are provided for the episodes, but English and French subtitles are included.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. Running Audio Commentaries are provided for Identity and Legion. Unaired Scenes are included with the following episodes: Plastique, Legion, Power, Requiem, Turbulence, Hex, Eternal, Beast and Injustice. Other supplements include: In The Director's Chair: Behind The Lens And Calling The Shots With Allison Mack (the actress talks about directing an episode) and Smallville's Doomsday: The Making Of A Monster (this season’s greatest nemesis).

Season eight of SMALLVILLE marked some cast changes and the continued evolution of the small town boy into the world’s greatest superhero. The Blu-ray presentations are pretty terrific and make it very difficult to go back to watching the show in standard definition.



Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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