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Advance Review: Smallville: The Complete Series DVD Set

Smallville came to TV at the right time.

Premiering a month after 9/11, it showed up when TV needed a hero. The WB Network also needed a hero, having recently lost Buffy to rival UPN. Who would have guessed, in 2001, that a TV series about the young adventures of Superman before he was Superman would go on for ten years.

That's what it did, and in less than three weeks, Smallville: The Complete Series hits DVD from Warner Home Video.

Without Smallville, you probably wouldn't even be reading this. I got my own start writing about TV with KryptonSite - the largest and [hopefully] most well-known Smallville fan destination. Without that experience, I doubt I would have ever written for the Smallville magazines or companion books. But hey - this review is about Smallville, not me, right?

And that's where we go next.

Smallville: The Complete Series is a 62-disc set that contains all 218 episodes from all ten seasons of Smallville. In short, it's the best way to have the entire series all in one place. To make the package more appealing, the DVD's are put in two square bound "books" full of vivid images, with the discs being held between the sleeves. There's a Daily Planet newspaper included that has articles written especially for this release, and a small booklet telling us what is on what disc (but be aware - it says the Complete Series retrospective is on Disc 61, when it's actually on 62. Nitpicking, I know). Physically, the package is beautiful, although I do have two issues... one is that the sleeves holding the discs are VERY tight, making me paranoid that the discs will get scratched. The other is the front cover art to begin with - blue jacket/red shirt always implied "Bizarro" to me. There's a red jacket/blue shirt on the envelope holding some of the extras; I actually wish this had been used on the front cover.

The big reason to check this set out is a 100-minute retrospective on the show. I admit slight bias because I am interviewed on the feature, though if anyone sees me on it, know that I know that yes, there were more than two action figures in the initial run; I think they edited it because they only had physical samples of Clark and Lex to display. But wow - so many people are interviewed, including the elusive Tom Welling, whose interviews were done at the time of the "Finale." There are so many treats - Michael Rosenbaum talking about Tess, the revelation that someone else was cast for Lionel before John Glover.... and people were featured in interviews who I never expected to see discussing Smallville again, including Sam Witwer, Al Gough, Miles Millar, Ken Horton, and Jeph Loeb. Erica Durance, Allison Mack, Phil Morris, John Schneider, John Glover, Annette O'Toole, Michael Rosenbaum, Cassidy Freeman, and Tom Welling are a few of the actors interviewed, and crew members beyond those mentioned before, who were also interviewed, include Glen Winter, Al Septien, Turi Meyer, Kelly Souders, Brian Peterson, Bryan Q. Miller, Greg Beeman, and Mairzee Almas. It's really comprehensive, and I'm sure I'm missing a few people in that list. The whole feature is narrated by Phil Morris, whose love of the show was always greatly apparent.

The best part of it, beyond showing off the most fantastic moments of the ten years of the series, is that it reminds me of why I loved Smallville to begin with, and why we all loved Smallville to begin with. Beyond the "shipper wars" and arguing fans, something brought us in, and chances are good that that "something" is represented within. It was also really nice to revisit some of my favorite parts of the series, including parts I might not have even thought about lately.

Part of me wishes this could have aired on The CW at the time leading to the series finale. It's that good, and it honors the show in the way that it should.

That's hardly the only extra feature. Beyond the extras on the individual seasons, the set also includes an unaired 1961 Superboy TV pilot, Aquaman starring Justin Hartley (previously only released as a Best Buy exclusive DVD), the 2004 Paley Festival event, a retrospective on Comic-Con appearances by the show, and more. Honestly, I've barely been able to scratch the surface; watching all of this will take me weeks. So, I can't say yet how the Season 10 extras are, or talk about the commentaries, because I haven't seen them yet.

As comprehensive of a set this is, there are some things that I feel are missing that I wish had been included. The original Smallville pilot episode, starring Cynthia Ettinger as Martha Kent, has never been publicly broadcast, and that version of the pilot also contains scenes that were never seen in any other version. Allegedly there was even more Smallville pilot footage that has never seen the light of day. That would have been fantastic to include, if they could get the clearances. On a similar note, Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders mentioned prior to the airing of the "Finale" that things - including a lot of the Apokalips story - ended up on the cutting room floor. Where are they? They would have been great to have on DVD. Likewise, I wish that the original version of the Season 7 episode "Veritas" - when it was envisioned as the season finale - could have been included, even without finished effects. It would have been an easy extra to create, and I've always wondered how that cut would pan out. The season would have ended with Lex finding the Fortress - in clips seen only briefly in the "Finale" and in a promo for "Veritas" that aired on The CW back in the day.

Additionally, I would have loved to have seen the original WB "Song Yet To Be Sung" ad campaign on these DVD's, even though I'm well aware that aside from the early X-Files sets, promos rarely seem to end up on TV show season sets. It still would have been a nice (and nostalgic) addition.

A lot of people have complained that this set is on DVD, rather than Blu-ray, but the thing is... the original elements to produce the show's early seasons do not exist in the highest-resolution form. To release a Blu-ray of those early seasons would have resulted in an inferior picture, and if Warner Bros. had spent the money to remaster (if it's even an option), it would mean it could be a lot longer of a wait to get a set like this at all. To me, the episodes on this set look fantastic on the DVD format. If the other option would be to release a "Blu-ray" at the exact same quality, it might not have a point.

In the end, Smallville: The Complete Series is a celebration of Smallville. Ten years! Every fan of the show should try to put this on their holiday wish list. It definitely does the series justice. Maybe because I'm still geeking out at its awesomeness, but I'd put this on the "Highest Possible Recommendation" list.

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Here are some images from the set if you're curious to see more:

Smallville: The Complete Series DVD Set

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11 comments

  1. Wow this is definitely going to be a treat 10 years is worth the wait!

  2. I feel the same way about the blue jacket versus the red jacket on Clark. But The blue jacket is more aesthetically pleasing with the red Superman shield behind Clark.

    I really hope I can get the complete set... my season 1 and 2 DVD sets are falling apart! I suppose that’s because I’ve had those DVDs for 7 years! :P

  3. Hi, sorry I've just a question, 2 questions: first- In the DVDs there is only english as language to choose to watch the series, or there are also spanish and italian? .. second - I would like to have some information about the costs, just because I live in Italy, so what will be more or less the costs for the DVDs and the shipment? Thanks

  4. AH, I hate Warner for not providing this version in Region 2. I'd definitely buy it if my DVD-player could handle it. And since the R2 Complete Series is "just" all episodes (no extras and fancy packaging) and I already have all episodes, I won't buy it.

  5. GOD I MISS SMALLVILLE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
    MUCH. They could have kept it going. I have wondered who cut it short Tom or the studio????
    I am 57 and have seen EVERY Superman their was. Tom is barnone my FAVORITE.MISS U TOM & THE GANG

  6. Man, Smallville will go down as my favorite TV of all-time over other past show favorites. As a fan of the WB series, I can't thank the cast and crew enough for their hard work for all those years. I just wish I could have those extras from the Complete Set other than buying it since I have already the previous 9 seasons but plan on getting Season 10. I'll miss Smallville.

  7. I really love this movie&i wish it continues.I will always look forward 2 see more of tom welling&all other leaading stars,i miss u all.As for the DVD if it contain special effect of the makings i may buy it when it get 2 my country Nigeria,b'cos right now i have d whole seasons.

  8. Great review, thanks! Can you confirm that the extras from the original season set releases are included in the complete series?

    I watched the show from the premiere, and always enjoyed it immensely, but even though I've been a Superman and Superboy fan since the early '60s, I was surprised at how layered and mature this series became over time. The show could have transitioned fully to Metropolis, and gone on for years more - it was a brave decision to go out while the show was still hot, but it does leave me wondering what other wonderful things the cast and crew would have achieved together.

  9. Yes, the extras from previous seasons are all here :-)

    I actually think the show, if it were ever to fully transition to Metropolis, should have done it years earlier if they needed to. As it stood... 218 episodes is more than any other American Sci-Fi show, but beyond that, the cost involved for ratings that probably didn't justify it, and I can't imagine what Tom would have been paid for Season 11... it was time to go. I'm not even sure the show would have been considered "still hot" beyond it's still loyal fan base - it had come a long way down from the days of regularly getting over 6 million viewers a week. Granted part of that was being on The CW, but still. Even the best shows lose ratings with age. I just wish most that a show like Smallville would be on our screens again someday.

  10. Could you confirm that you have in seasons subtitles in Portuguese?

  11. Hello,

    Could you confirm that you have in seasons subtitles in French ?

    Thank you

About Craig Byrne, Editor-In-Chief

KSiteTV Editor-In-Chief Craig Byrne has been writing about TV on the internet since 1995. He is also the author of several published books, including Smallville: The Visual Guide and the show's Official Companions for Seasons 4-7.
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