Smallville: Season 7
It seems that lately television series come on the air, run for a few episodes, maybe even a season or two and then fade away. To make it past the seventh season is indeed a remarkable accomplishment. Of course it helps if a show has a naturally built in and very loyal fan base. It is also a plus if the show is on a smaller network where the ratings required for renewal are not as pressing as the big networks. One series that has benefited from the convergence of these factors is ‘Smallville’. Unless you have spent your entire life in a hut at the South Pole you are already familiar with the basic back story here. Smallville is the earthly home of Clark Kent, the boy who would one day grow up and be know to the world as Superman. This series looks at the pre-caped crusader life of Clark and his assortment of strange friends. Every culture in human history has had its mythology. For the Romans, Greeks and Norse theirs was filled with gods and goddess of extreme powers who acted either for or against humanity. In 1939 a new mythology was started with the beginnings of the Superman saga. Over the course of the last sixty years there have been more variations of this modern myth than you can count. ‘Smallville’ represents only one of a long line of variations in telling this story. Unlike other renditions of the tale this one doesn’t have the tights, flowing red cape although they did manage to sneak in a big red ‘S’ on our hero’s chest. This series is one of the most imaginative ways to present a very familiar set of characters. What is even more amazing than just lasting for seven years is remaining fresh for most of that time. A couple of seasons back they were perilously close to jumping the proverbial shark but with this season the managed to pull themselves back up to one of the best versions of Superman around.
Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is on the surface a good looking farm boy from Kansas but actually he is Kal-El, one of the last surviving members of the now destroyed planet of Krypton. On earth he has remarkable super powers that are pretty much right out of the comic books. For most of the series Clark has only let a few people in on his dual identity. Keeping this secret has been the cause of the love of his life, Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) pulling away from a real relationship. As this season starts Lana has ended her brief marriage to Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum). Lex started out as one of Clark’s best friends but over the last few years has turned to the dark side with numerous covert operations through his nearly untouchable multi billion dollar corporation. As season six ended Lex was trapped in a flood at Reeves dam only to be saved at the last minute by a mysterious blonde ‘angel’. Clark has more than his usual share of troubles at the start of this season. He has been trapped in his Artic Fortress of Solitude by the computer iamge of his biological father Jor-El. While out of action his identity has been taken over by a Kryptonian biological creation Bizzaro. This creature has all of Clark’s powers but is immune to green kryptonite. He also has taken to living with Lana who now knows Clark’s secret. Of course Calrk gets out and saves the day at the last minute.
Clark’s best friend is Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) who currently works as a junior reporter at the Daily Planet in the city of Metropolis. She has know about Clark’s origins and powers for sometime and is his go to person for any computer investigations and as a general confidant. At the Reeves dam destruction she came across the nearly lifeless body of her cousin Lois Lane (Erica Durance). Chloe discovers that she has a meteor rock ability when her tears bring Lois back to life. The downside is it left Chloe in a near death coma for days. After faking her own death Lana takes off to China. She discovered that Lex was funding illegal and immoral experiments on people and could no longer stay in his vast sphere of influence. The biggest change in the cast and story line is the introduction of Clark’s biological cousin Kara (Laura Vandervoort). She had been sent to earth just before Krypton’s destruction to look after little Kal-El but her ship malfunctions leaving her in suspended animation. She was the ‘angel’ who saved Lex in the flood. Initially Kara can’t understand why Clark is so obsessed with hiding his powers from the humans. It is up to Clark to teach her how to live among humans. While Clark seems to have some problems manifesting his ability to fly this doesn’t hold for Kara but she is unable to get him over his mental block.
Kara is not the only family member of Kal-El to make an appearance this season. Thanks to the advanced crystal technology of Krypton this season is a regular El family reunion. Both of Kara’s parents make an appearance in season seven. Kara’s father, Zor-El, brother of Clark’s father Jor-El is reformed on earth. He wants to use his abilities to transform earth into a new Krypton. He is stopped with the help of his reformed wife, Lara (Helen Slater). This was a little bit of the stunt casting that this series is famous for. Slater played Supergirl, Kara, in the 1984 film. A few characters from past seasons pop up again; just like they tend to do in the comics. One of the most interesting is the Green Arrow; secret identity Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley). He doesn’t have super powers in the normal sense. He uses a quiver of technologically advanced arrows and his uncanny aim to fight crime around the world. He has gathered together a small group of people with meteor induced powers to help him out. They are the start of what in the comics was the Legion of Super Heroes. Queen is always after Clark to join them. Queen’s parents were in a secret society that included Lex’s father Lionel (John Glover) who were dedicated to helping the ‘Traveler’ a being from another planet sent to earth. This gives this season a little touch of cloak and dagger keeping it from being just another freak of the week series. One very interesting villain, as if Lex wasn’t enough, is Brainiac (James Marsters). He is a Kryptonian humanoid super computer who can take almost any form. He is set on the destruction of the earth and remaking in it his version of Krypton. He is one villain that Clark has problems getting the best of every time they meet. As the season came to an end it looks like Lex is on the run and Brainiac will be the big thing coming up. This is another hallmark of this series. It manages to keep fresh by constantly stirring up the pot. This is in the grand tradition of comics and the reason why they last for decades.
Once again Warner Brothers releases the season to DVD with great technical specs. The video is great and the Dolby 5.1 audio full with excellent channel separation. This might appeal to the die hard fan but it crosses over from the comic aficionado to a more general audience.