REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 4

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Tom Welling and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Erica Durance (Supergirl)
Margot Kidder (Superman)
Ona Grauer (V)
Rekha Sharma (Dark Angel)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
Brianna Brown ((Hollywood Homicide)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Julianne Christie (Encino Man)
Amanda Walsh (Disturbia)
Lisa Marie Caruk (Final Destination)
Moneca Delain (Trick r Treat)
Chelan Simmons (Good Luck Chuck)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)
Benjamin Ratner (Wonder)
J.P. Manoux (Veep)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)
Trent Ford (The Island)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Claudette Mink (Children of The Corn 7)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
John Novak (Dr. Dolittle 3)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Samantha Ferris (The Tall Man)
Sarah Carter (The Flash)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Derek Hamilton (Arrow)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Chris Carmack (Shark Night
Nolan Gerard Funk (Arrow)
Diego Klattenhoff (Mean Girls)
Alvin Sanders (Tin Man)
Byron Mann (Dark Angel)
Peyton List (Gotham)
Peter Wingfield (Highlander: The Series)
Erica Cerra (Power Rangers)
Jesse Hutch (Arrow)
Kandyse McClure (Battlestar Galactica)
Beatrice Rosen (2012)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Giels)
Tom Butler (Blade: The Series)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
David Orth (The Lost World)
Craig Veroni (The Net)

Kristin Kreuk, Tom Welling, and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)

All my dreams are on the ground
Crawling’ round and round and round
Somebody saaaaaaaaaave me
Let your waters break right through
Somebody saaaaaaaaaave me
I don’t care how you do it
Just saaaave me, saaaave me
I’ve made this whole world shine for you
Just save, save
Come on, I’m still waiting for you

Anyone with even a passing affection for WB’s Smallville knows that song inside and out, upside and down … and they probably hear it while they’re trying to fall asleep, too.Jensen Ackles, Kristin Kreuk, and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)When I hear that tune (recorded by Remy Zero, btw) I know I’m in for some good, goofy, Superman-sized fun. Yes, TV geeks, it’s true: The cold-hearted and perpetually cynical Scott Weinberg harbors a deep and devoted affection for the goofball X-Files / comic book amalgam known as Smallville. For all its pedantic plot twists, overbaked dialogue, and “aw-shucks” corn-pone-osity — I’m actually a big fan of the show. To me, Smallville is like a big bowl of Cool Whip; you’ll eat it because it’s really tasty, even though you should probably be spending your time on something a little more substantial or nutritious.Kristin Kreuk in Smallville (2001)But hey, I’m a sucker for the Superman mythology, plus there’s something quaintly endearing about the young Supes stories and the way they’ve been wedged into a fairly convention teen-centric soap-opera story. Plus, Smallville is one of those “comfort” shows, the kind in which you always know that things will turn out OK and that the few dangling character threads will always be tabled for another day. The story’s simplicity itself: Teenager Clark Kent is forever trying to juggle “normal” adolescence while discovering his own amazing powers. Needless to say, our hero must deal with snooping pals, protective parents, and a whole host of dangerous doings in one of TVdom’s most villain-producing burgs. (Second only to Buffy’s hometown, of course.) It’s all very broad and corny and cartoony … and all of it works exceedingly well in the context of “Superman.” Whenever the show gets too outlandish or sappy or (yes, even) silly, the Superfans can always sit back and think “Yeah, it’s cheesy, but it’d still fit well within the pages of a comic book.”Allison Mack, Tom Welling, and Erica Durance in Smallville (2001)Clark’s gang consists of the lovely Lana Lang, the ever-inquisitive Chloe Sullivan, Chloe’s sassy cousin Lois (yes, Lois Lane!), and the devilishly duplicitous Lex Luthor. Toss in a few doting parents, Lex’s perpetually scheming papa, Lana’s bland ol’ boyfriend, a few recurring characters, and an ever-fresh supply of colorful villains … and there’s your cast of players. Hardcore fans will find plenty to enjoy in Smallville’s fourth season, but I say there was way too much time devoted to Lana’s boyfriend, Jason, a lumbering subplot involving witchcraft got way too much screen time, and that the already well-established crush-triangles between Clark, Lana, and Chloe have, by now, been run effectively into the ground. But while I’d absolutely contend that Smallville’s fourth season is its “weakest” one yet, it’s still just comfy enough to keep the fans satisfied. The relatively weakest and somewhat repetitive fourth season of a series that I consider a goofily enjoyable good time, this collection exists mainly for those who already own Seasons 1, 2, and 3. There’s four or five episodes here that have real revisit value; the rest are perfectly watchable, but nothing more than that.

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 2

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)
John Glover (Shazam)

Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tom O’Brien (The Accused)
Rekha Sharma (Star Trek: Discovery)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Krista Allen (Feast)
Mitchell Kosterman (Stargate SG.1)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Disturbing Behaviour)
Joe Morton (God Friended Me)
Andrew Jackson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Michael Kopsa (Fantastic Four)
Sara Downing (Roswell)
Garwin Sanford (Arrow)
Sean Faris (Never Back Down)
Gwynyth Walsh (Star Trek: Generations)
Richard Moll (Batman: TAS)
Maggie Lawson (Santa Clarita Diet)
George Coe (The Stepford Wives)
Jesse Hutch (Arrow)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Neil Grayston (Wonderfalls)
Patrick Cassidy (Lois & Clark)
Blair Brown (Space Cowboys)
Ryan Kelley (Teen Wolf)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Mark Gibbon (The 6th Day)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Robert Wisden (Highlander: The Series)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Amara Zaragoza (Perfect Stranger)
Gordon Tootoosis (Lone Star)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Byron Mann (Arrow)
Colin Cunningham (Elektra)
Jill Teed (Godzilla)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Jason Connery (Wishmaster 3)
Eric Keenleyside (Dreamcatcher)
Barclay Hope (Paycheck)
Rob LaBelle (Jack Frost)
Shaun Sipos (Texas Chainsaw)
Haig Sutherland (The Flash)
Luciana Carro (White Chicks)
Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries)
Craig Veroni (Dark Angel)
Christopher Reeve (Superman)
Anson Mount (Inhumans)
Michael Adamthwaite (Horns)
Camille Mitchell (Izombie)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Jodelle Ferland (Case 39)
Ingrid Torrance (Scooby Doo 2)
David Lewis (Man of Steel)
Terence Stamp (Superman II)

 

Sam Jones III and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)The first season of Smallville got off to a bit of a rocky start, as the program didn’t really find its footing until midway through the season. The show suffered from what fans called “Freak of the Week” syndrome, in which a new Kryptonite-mutated supervillain would emerge in every episode with some pretty weak storylines. The “Bug Boy” and “Coach Firestarter” episodes come to mind pretty quickly, and it makes me shudder just thinking about them. However, the show gradually shifted into telling more stories that advanced Clark Kent’s overall storyline, with multipart episodes that focused on slowly revealing Clark’s origin as Kal-El and his “immigration” to Earth, as well as the ongoing storylines of the supporting cast. Not to say that the show still doesn’t have an occasional “Freak of the Week”, but when they do they are either (1) fewer in frequency or (2) somehow related to the overall show’s story arc.Sam Jones III and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)With that out of the way, let’s talk about the cast. Tom Welling is pitch-perfect as the teenage Clark Kent. With his tall stature and ripped physique, he certainly looks the part, but he also captures the insecurity and awkwardness of youth while portraying an inner nobility and morality for which his character will eventually become renown. As Lana Lang, Clark’s childhood crush and current on-again, off-again love interest, Kristin Kreuk is about as superhumanly lovely as one could imagine. She’s the “girl next door” multiplied by about three million, not only because of her phenomenal physical beauty but also due to her bright-eyed, compassionate, down-to-earth demeanor. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why Clark loves her, or why it rips him apart when he has to push her away in order to keep his powers a secret and keep her from being harmed (people who tend to learn about Clark’s powers generally end up dead or insane.)Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Michael Rosenbaum brings young Lex Luthor to life in what has become my favorite character of the show. Making Lex Luthor and Clark Kent childhood friends is a novel (and daring) conceit by the show’s creators, and it pays off handsomely. Lex adds a darker, more cynical dynamic to Clark’s teenage development that was missing in previous iterations of the character. Rosenbaum, who rather ironically provides the voice for the DC superhero “The Flash” on the Justice League animated series, makes Luthor a dark, sympathetic, and conflicted figure. He’s charismatic enough to make one want to like him, Machiavellian enough to make one worry if they can trust him, and – since we know his eventual fate – an overall tragic figure. We know he’s going to “go bad”; his slow transition from Clark’s trusted friend to worst enemy makes for some truly compelling material.Annette O'Toole and John Schneider in Smallville (2001)The cast is rounded out by John Schneider as Jonathan Kent, Academy Award-nominated songwriter Annette O’Toole (and a former Lana Lang herself from Superman III) as Martha Kent, John Glover as Lionel Luthor, Sam Jones III as Clark’s childhood friend Pete Ross, and Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan, whose unrequited love for Clark has emerged as a critical subplot in the development of the series. The group makes for an attractive ensemble, and there’s not a bad apple in the bunch. My only real complaint about the cast could be the little screen time Pete Ross gets (which gets worse in Season Three). As Clark’s best friend since childhood, his relationship with Clark gets laid by the wayside in favor of the Clark/Lex dynamic. Every now and then he turns up to provide some expository dialogue, and while he is featured prominently in a few episodes (especially “Duplicity”), his role in the show has slowly diminished over time.John Glover and John Schneider in Smallville (2001)Smallville: The Complete Second Season picks up from the cliffhanger ending that ended Season One, and slowly grows into a stronger and more self-assured show. Over the course of the season we get introduced to heat vision, red Kryptonite, a trip to Metropolis (with a cameo by The Daily Planet), and, in the episode “Rosetta”, an appearance by the former Man of Steel Christopher Reeve which stands out as one of the series’ best episodes. When I heard bits of John Williams’s amazing film orchestrations woven into the show’s score, I had goose bumps everywhere.Tom Welling and Amara Zaragoza in Smallville (2001)While still a little bumpy at times, Smallville’s second season is a huge step above the first, and remains one of the most entertaining shows on television.

 

REVIEW: SMALLVILLE – SEASON 1

Starring

Tom Welling (Lucifer)
Kristin Kreuk (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Rosenbaum (Impastor)
Eric Johnson (Flash Gordon)
Sam Jones III (Glory Road)
Allison Mack (Wilfred)
Annette O’Toole (The Punisher)
John Schneider (The Haves and the Have Nots)

Sam Jones III, Allison Mack, and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

John Glover (Shazam)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (Disturbing Behaviour)
Adrian Glynn McMorran (Arrow)
Alvin Sanders (Riverdale)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Chad Donella (Final Destination)
Gabrielle Rose (If I Stay)
Jason Connery (Wishmaster 3)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heores Reborn)
David Paetkau (Flashpoint)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Tom O’Brien (The Accused)
Beverley Breuer (Rverdale)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Jackie Burroughs (The Dead Zone)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Mitchell Kosterman (Stargate SG.1)
Amy Adams (Justice League)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Joe Morton (God Friended Me)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Michael Eklund (Bates Motel)
Kelly Brook (Three)
Cameron Dye (Valley Girl)
Jesse Hutch (True Justice)
Azura Skye (28 Days)
Kett Turton (Saved)
Rick Peters (Dexter)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Kevin McNulty (Snakes on a Plane)
P. Lynn Johnson (The Invisible)
Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
Kavan Smith (When Calls The Heart)
Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man)
Eric Breker (Godzilla)
Jud Tylor (That 70s Show)
Corin Nemec (Stargate SG.1)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Bill Mondy (Blade: The Series)
Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica)
Julian Christopher (Elysium)
Ryan Kelley (Teen Wolf)
Jim Shield (Cold Pursuit)
Brandy Ledford (Andromeda)
Rekha Sharma (Star Trek: Discovery)
Tiffany Lyndall-Knight (Chloe)
Shonda Farr (Crossroads)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Marguerite Moreau (Wet Hot American Summer)
Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body)
Kevan Ohtsji (Elektra)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)
Frank C. Turner (Alone In The Dark)

John Schneider and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Coming only a few years after the somewhat successful, but often corny, Lois & Clark, there were a lot of expectations and fears going into Smallville. Would the series appeal to die-hard Superman fans, or would it just be another WB drama geared toward teenagers?Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)Fortunately, Smallville turns out to be super – easily the best on-screen depiction of the Superman character since the original Superman: The Movie. But it does take most of the season to get things rolling. Too many of the shows in Season One are simply “Villain of the Week” kind of deals, with Clark Kent going up against a villain who has one superpower or another (the explanation for why all these genetically altered people are showing up in Smallville is attributed to the meteor shower that hit the town – and brought Clark to Earth).Kristin Kreuk in Smallville (2001)It is obvious, however, in the early going that the relationships between the main characters would develop into something special. Clark is just beginning to discover his super powers (he does not yet have the ability to fly – following the concept that he will not gain all of his super powers until he reaches maturity), and Lex Luthor actually starts out as a good guy, who is slowly turning towards his evil ways. Also noteworthy is the developing relationship between Clark and Lana Lang, a girl whom he is infatuated with, but can’t get close to…not only because he is unsure of himself, but because Lana (whose parents were killed in the meteor shower) sports a necklace with a piece of the meteor as a way of remembering her mother and father. The meteor is, of course, Kryptonite, so Clark both literally and figuratively gets weak in the knees every time he gets close to the woman he loves!Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)But the relationship that is really worth tuning into Smallville for is the one between Clark and his adoptive parents (played by Dukes of Hazzard’s John Schneider and Superman III’s Annette O’Toole). I really like the father figure presented here for a young Clark – a man who both loves his son, yet is afraid about how his special abilities may affect his future. It’s really a relationship that has never been deeply developed in any previous incarnations of the Superman legend, so it’s nice to see a show that focuses on it so strongly.Kristin Kreuk and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)By the time Season One wraps up, all the pieces are in place for Season Two – which really did a great job of exploring Clark’s Kryptonian heritage and had him start asking some real questions about his purpose in life. But until Season Two arrives on DVD (or you catch the reruns on the WB), Season One has enough to keep fans entertained. So keep in mind when viewing these shows that they do indeed get deeper and more meaningful as they go along.Annette O'Toole, John Schneider, and Tom Welling in Smallville (2001)The overall episodes are fairly strong, and for the most part, presented well on DVD format by Warners. It’s getting a “Highly Recommended” not so much for the overall package, but for the overall strength of the episodes. Sure to bring new fans to the series and appease those who are already big followers of the show, this box set may not leap tall buildings in a single bound, but it has got enough spring in it to make it a worthwhile purchase.

REVIEW: BLOOD ALLEY

Starring

Steven Seagal (Under Siege)
Sarah Lind (A SImple Curve)
Jesse Hutch (Freddy vs Jason)
Lochlyn Munro (White Chicks)
Adrian Holmes (Skyscraper)
Tanaya Beatty (Hostiles)
Mike Dopud (The Predator)
Mackenzie Gray (Man of Steel)
Peter Kent (Re-Animator)
Lily Gao (Kin)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)

imageBlood Alley (which I can barely say without laughing) is actually a fusion of two episodes from Seagal’s television show, True Justice. Seagal plays Elijah Kane, an ex-special operative brought back to deal with a ring of human traffickers. For this purpose he needs to enlist three comrades each with their own special ability. Maybe one shoots magic and the other can turn invisible; who knows. One is an ass kicking girl, because, you know, that’s hot right now, as I’m sure someone mentioned to Seagal in between his feeding times.blood-alley-movie-review-e1356019464630In regards to the movie more specifically, nothing about it is original, and what is in it isn’t done well in any way. Everything about this movie sounds like a relic of the past that now only exists in the form of satire. But when the world turns dark and the sun finally fades from view a million years from now, I have no doubt that on the blackened husk that used to be Earth; Steven Seagal will remain; shooting at evil imaginary Russians and pretending to be an ex-cop on the edge. And something about that is terribly endearing.