The pilot episode lets you know immediately that this is going to be a bit different from thebucolic Smallville stories we might be familiar with. The spaceship containing the child Kal-El(soon to be Clark Kent) doesn’t arrive on its own: it is accompanied by many fragments of theplanet Krypton, which smash destructively into Smallville, killing the parents of Lana Lang (andalmost putting paid to a young Lex Luthor). Flash forward to the present, and we follow ClarkKent thr…ugh high school, see him grow into his powers, and observe his friendships with Lana,Luthor, and others. Bit by bit, the seeds of the superhero to come are sown. Along the way, ofcourse, there are all sorts of villains and derring-do.
As 2.0 TV releases go, this is pretty good. There is, naturally, a lot of music, and it soundsjust fine. There is also a fair bit of environmental work too, with nice placement of the effects.Most of the made-for-TV discs I’ve seen have very little surround work of this kind. There aresome disappointments, though. The explosion that marks Clark’s arrival on Earth, for instance,is strangely subdued.
It’s not everyday you see a network series presented in 1.78:1 ananmorphic widescreen, butthat’s what we have here. The blacks are superb, and the contrasts are strong. The coloursthemselves, however, aren’t perfect. They tend to be a bit harsh (with the result that the CGIbecomes even more obvious). The oranges are particularly over-the-top. The image too isn’talways as sharp as it should be. At times, it gets very soft indeed.
The first disc has commentary tracks on the first two episodes. Exec producers Alfred Goughand Miles Millar are joined by director David Nutter on the pilot, while Gough and Millar alonehandle “Metamorphosis.” The discussions are informative, but also a bit too self-congratulatory,and unnecessarily point out what is CGI (believe me, you can tell). Disc 6 has a montage ofdeleted scenes with optional commentary. The storyboard-to-screen montage (of the pilotopening) is flashy, but rather difficult to follow. There is an interactive tour of Smallville, alsowith commentary, which provides plenty of footage of the primary locations in the series.Rounding out the disc are some WB ads and DVD-ROM features. The main page of the menuis animated and scored, as is the very long intro.
Not all aspects of the series are equally successful, but there is some pretty impressive workhere. The extras aren’t up to a Simpsons package, but don’t need to be dismissed either.
Special Features List
- Pilot Commentary
- “Metamorphosis” Commentary
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Storyboard-to-Screen Montage
- Interactive Tour of Smallville with Commentary
- WB Ads
- DVD-ROM Features