After a meteor shower bursts from the heavens, raining destruction on the unsuspecting citizens of Smallville, years pass, and the healing process leaves the town's inhabitants with scars and secrets. From the ashes of tragedy, a popular yet awkward teen attempts to decipher the meaning of his life and his clouded past. As he struggles with the transition from boyhood to adulthood, Clark finds that his strength and strange abilities set him uncomfortably apart from his peers.
The venerable Superman mythos gets a 21st-century updating in this imaginative and engaging television series from the WB Network, and series fans can celebrate the ratings success of Smallville
with a DVD set that offers a chance to revisit the origins of the characters and their numerous plotlines, as well as view deleted scenes and other bonus features. The premise of Smallville
--Superman as a teenager--takes up just a few pages in Superman's very first comic book appearance, but series producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar flesh out that period by portraying young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) not as the noble Superman-in-waiting, but as an average teen with some not-so-ordinary supernatural powers, including incredible strength and heat vision. Clark's desire to fit in with his peers and make sense of his extraordinary abilities ground him in very realistic and identifiable terms for the series' primarily under-25 audience, as does his appealing and tentative romance with Kristen Kreuk as Clark's dreamgirl Lana Lang. But Smallville
also strikes gold when it takes a turn towards more comic book territory, as evidenced by the parade of shape-shifting killers and other outlandish antagonists (many generated, in one of the series' most ingenious notions, by the same devastating meteor shower that brought the infant Clark to Earth) that Clark must harness his powers to face and defeat. Gough and Millar, along with their capable cast (which includes Michael Rosenbaum as a young and already bald-pated Lex Luthor, and Annette O'Toole and John Schneider as the Kents) manage to pull off the precarious high-wire act of combining science fiction with coming-of-age drama to create this highly watchable program. Smallville: The Complete First Season
offers a very complete and attractive DVD package that is rounded out by some highly desirable extras for longtime series fans.
For many fans, the series truly hit its stride in its second season, when it shifted focus from traditional comic book conflicts to one of self-discovery for its hero, a teenage Clark Kent (Tom Welling). Whereas season 1 focused on Clark using his powers to combat a host of menaces, season 2 delved into Clark's past and the extent of his super powers, most notably in the back-to-back "Heat," in which he discovers his heat vision, and "Red," in which red kryptonite in the high school class rings uncorks Clark's less-than-upstanding side. Other plot developments from the season that pull the series in interesting directions include the arrival of Dr. Helen Bryce (Emanuelle Vaugier), who becomes involved with Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum), but the season's most significant moment comes during episode 17, "Rosetta," in which Clark learns of his Kryptonian origins courtesy of a scientist, who, in an effective bit of casting, is played by Superman film star Christopher Reeve. The complexity of the writing and issues dealt with in season 2 marked Smallville as a series with depth and drama worthy of its considerable fan following as well as a second boxed set; fittingly, the supplements in this set are more expansive than on the first one. --Paul Gaita