Smallville: Season 8 (Preview)


On DVD: 
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
On Blu-Ray: 
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I am a self-described closeted WB/CW fan.  I don’t know what it is but I get roped in to a lot of their shows if I allow myself to.  With my job, it’s even easier to allow myself to because, well, I have to at times.  So, despite any of the shows actually being of sound quality, I can get drawn in to the hokey drama.

That aside, I actually think that Smallville started out as a terrific show.  It was a new take on a warn out story (theatrically, comicly and on television).  It told a story that hadn’t been told except in flashbacks and talking; the story of Clark Kent.  Not Superman, but Clark Kent, the person who would BECOME Superman but struggles along the way with not only normal human trials but also the challenge of coming in to his powers.  It’s a great concept that held a lot of promise and, 7 years ago, lived up to the promise.  Sure, it still had the expected WB sappy parts and near soap opera quality but the entertaining parts more than outweighed the drags.

Then, season 4 came along.  Running out of story, the writer’s decided to overlook the outline already in place for the franchise and started inserting Superman stories into the pre-Superman fold, angering fans and alienating it’s shrinking audience.  Despite this, I kept strong and watched (although I did switch from watching it on TV to just waiting for DVD.).  Slowly, it started getting it’s edge back and, with the addition of the intriguing Green Arrow, it hit it’s stride again.  Then came the shocking announcement that series regulars Kristen Kreuk and Michael Rosenbaum would not be returning this season.  Since these were the only two characters to be featured in every single episode aside from Clark Kent himself, Tom Welling, this kind of change scared the hell out of me.  How can a show that was just barely starting to recover handle such a dramatic shake-up?

Although a fan favorite, Kristen Kreuk’s Lana Lang was somewhat running it’s course and isn’t really a big character in the Superman universe so that can be easily taken care of.  But, what about Rosenbaum?  Not only is this Lex Luthor we are talking about, and one of the most intriguing characters on the show outside of Lionel Luthor (who was killed off last season), but he was also literally caught up in a tangle (and the explosion of the Fortress of Solitude) that ticked down the final seconds of last season, leaving a cliffhanger.

So, the first episode of this season (titled “Odyssey”) deals with the aftermath of that explosion and finds Clark Kent as a slave prisoner to some smugglers without his powers but (thank god), WITH his memories in tact, so he knows who he is.  Lex is missing which allows for a new character to come in to take over the Luthor enterprise.  That character is the cold-hearted Tess Mercer, played by Cassidy Freeman, a character that was not previously seen in any incarnation of the Superman franchise, an obvious write-in to fill the Lex-less gap.  But, in many ways, she works.  Also coming in as a main character is Oliver Queen (aka Green Arrow) played by the almost Aquaman Justin Hartley.

Odyssey is a great opening episode that moves pretty quickly, an apparent attempt to clean up the mess of missing characters that actually works quite successfully.  Fun, action-packed and back to form, Smallville seems to have returned with the explosion that it left off with last season but only time will tell for this one.

Peter Oberth
Review by Peter Oberth
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