Smallville-The Complete Fourth Season (2004)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Crusade, Transference, Spell
Additional Footage-Gone, Facade, Devoted, Bound, Scare,Pariah, Krypto,Sacred
Additional Footage-Onyx, Blank
Featurette-Being Lois Lane
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind Closed Doors-Inside The Writer's Room
|Year Of Production||2004|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (6)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||
Warner Home Video
Sam Jones III
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
According to Warner Home Video, 2006 is the Year of Superman and the Season 4 release of Smallville marks another noteworthy DVD release in the lore of the last son of Krypton. A modern retelling with a twist on the traditional Superman mythology, Smallville has been controversial. Creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar have mixed it up enough to infuriate traditionalists but have also created a classic that has drawn in new fans. To see an anguished, teenage Clark Kent who is unsure of his genealogy, his abilities and how to use them is not something that comic book fans are used to.
Never a ratings winner in Australia, it has had quite an uneven airing history, being tossed by the Nine Network only to end up on Ten in various timeslots. DVD is the best way to watch Smallville. This site has excellent reviews of the first two seasons. Click on the season for the relevant review; Season 1 and Season 2.
Season 4 continues a few months after where the Season 3 finale left off. Clark is gone, having been taken by Jor-El, Lana is in Paris, and I won't mention about Lex and Chloe who were both seemingly dead at the season's end. Jonathon Kent is in a coma and Lionel Luthor is going to court for murder. Like most season openings it wraps up the finale cliffhangers pretty quickly, bringing everyone back to almost where they were before. This season sees a few new characters introduced - the lovely Erica Durance is Lois Lane (introduced as a cousin of Chloe's.) Whilst a love interest for Lana upsets the Clark and Lana storyline, Jason Teague (played by Supernatural's Jensen Ackles) not only steals Lana's heart but becomes the new Smallville High Football Coach.
This season does a few things I really like. Firstly, Clark plays on the football team. It shows a new dimension to Clark and opens up some serious father/son friction between him and Jonathon. Clark has always been prevented from playing sports to protect those he plays against and to keep his abilities a secret. Clark realises that he is old enough to make his own decision and against his parent's wishes plays and thrives on the team. The fact that Lana's boyfriend is his coach also makes for some tension throughout the season. Another masterstroke was the introduction of Lois Lane. It sounds cheesy but some of the best moments in the season are the comedic and sexually charged exchanges between the two. Lois thinks Clark is a country boy football jock (she deridingly calls him 'Smallville') and Clark is continually infuriated by Lois' antics. Durance (who should go on to become a star) gets the best lines of the show and is an infinitely more likable character than the pouting (and increasingly b****y) Lana Lang. An important responsibility is thrown on Chloe towards the end of the season that has serious implications for Clark and future seasons which opens up the show in a new dimension I look forward to.
Overall, however, Season 4 is a mixed bag. Like previous seasons there are episodes that are truly thrilling classics, up there with the best that the Superman mythos has to offer. Unfortunately there are other episodes that are cringeworthy, obvious 'freak of the week' filler episodes to string viewers along until a more important storyline re-emerges. This season has a dubious storyline relating to Lana and witchcraft that continues for most of the season. It seems that the producers have an overall vision of where they want the show to go but they sometimes get lost in the plotlines between. Needless to say, it's worth battling through the poor and mediocre episodes that crop up every now and then for the gems that seem to come out of nowhere.
It's not the best season that Smallville has to offer, but it is still a lot better than most of the TV shows out there.
The episode summaries below are intentionally light on facts as to not spoil too much.
401 Crusade (42:00): Clark returns to Earth, but as Kal-El. Martha is desperate to get Clark back and enlists Bridgette Crosby (Margot Kidder) to help. One of the best episodes in the entire history of the show.
402 Gone (39:25): Clark and Lois investigate the apparent 'death' of Chloe. Lionel is trying to exact revenge from prison.
403 Façade (40:17): Another freak of the week when a girl at school uses meteor rock to enhance her looks.
404 Devoted (41:20): Clark joins the football team, but meteor rocks are causing problems with some players.
405 Run (40:22): The young Bart Allen, a.k.a. “The Flash” makes an appearance. Lex finds a Kryptonian artefact.
406 Transference (41:36): Lionel and Clark switch bodies through some Kryptonian tool. Lionel makes the most of it!
407 Jinx (40:40): Mxyzptlk makes an appearance as a foreign exchange student.
408 Spell (40:54): Lana, Lois and Chloe are possessed by three witches whose magic is stronger than Clark.
409 Bound (41:00): Lex is being framed for murder..... or is he?
410 Scare (39:15): A deadly toxin is leaked into the atmosphere and Clark, Chloe, Lex and Lana soon begin to hallucinate their worst nightmares.
411 Unsafe (41:11): Alicia uses red Kryptonite on Clark in order to get him to run away with her.
412 Pariah (39:49): Chloe makes a startling discovery........ and it involves Clark.
413 Recruit (40:55): Clark is in the football spotlight, then along comes another freak of the week.
414 Krypto (41:45): Lois discovers a dog with superpowers.
415 Sacred (41:43): The gang head to China to chase down a Kryptonian crystal.
416 Lucy (40:35): Lois’ sister Lucy drops in and causes a lot of trouble for all concerned.
417 Onyx (41:37): LuthorCorp runs an experiment with Kryptonite, but an accident causes the meteor rock to become unstable.
418 Spirit (41:58): What high school show would be complete without a prom based episode. Can it bring Lana and Clark together?
419 Blank (41:50): Freak of the week who can erase people's memories.
420 Ageless (41:22): A baby turns up that causes a lot of trouble for Lana and Clark.
421 Forever (41:07): Chloe gets kidnapped by another freak of the week.
422 Commencement (50:46): The season comes to a conclusion in a cliffhanger as Clark must save the planet from destruction.
The transfer is presented at 1.78:1 and the PAL disc is 16x9 enhanced.
The show is shot in High Definition and this transfer is very good, but not perfect. Like Season 2 there is a touch of softness which can haze out the background a little. The picture is, however, quite detailed, and shadow detail is above average.
Colours are rich and vivid. The reds and blues used to remind you of Superman's costume really come alive. Skin tones are natural.
There are no MPEG artefacts, but there is some noticeable grain in places.
All episodes have subtitles available in English, French, Italian, Dutch, Greek, Arabic, English for the Hearing Impaired and Italian for the Hearing Impaired.
The main audio is a competent English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) track. It's a good audio transfer for a TV show.
The dialogue is always clear and there are no audio sync or defect issues.
The music is always great on this show, a combination of modern rock (or love ballads if Clark is ogling Lana!) and a Superman inspired score. The music comes through well and adds a lot to the show.
The surrounds don't get much of a workout but there is a decent amount of panning across the front speakers and in moments where it's needed there is a reasonably spatial feel to the mix. There is no discrete subwoofer track - a 5.1 track would have been ideal for this show.
There are also French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) tracks.
|Surround Channel Use|
Crusade: Features Executive Producers Al Gough, Miles Millar, Ken Horton and Actresses Erica Durance and Annette O'Toole. Easy to listen to and very enjoyable. It was Durance's first episode, so it was cool to hear her discuss that. It seems like everyone gets along well.
Transference: Features Executive Producers Al Gough, Miles Millar, Ken Horton and Actor John Glover. Glover get s a lot of screen time in this episode so it was a good choice to include him. Entertaining to listen to.
Spell: Commentary by Director Jeannot Szwarc, and Actresses Kristin Kreuk, Allison Mack and Erica Durance. Funny to have a commentary on one of the lamest episodes in the entire show's run. A lot of sucking up by the girls to the director. It's the best commentary of the set.
Most of the footage needed to be dropped, however you get the odd scene (like Gone) that was really fun to watch and could've been left in. It must be hard to edit into a set network timeframe.
An interesting look at Lois Lane through the ages, including interviews with Dana Delaney (voice of Lois from Superman: The Animated Series), Margot Kidder & various DC staff. This is a lot of fun, so it's a shame it's so short.
Goes through the scripting stage of one of the season's episodes. Brief but interesting.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The R1 and R4 releases are identical.
Overall, this is a great interpretation of Clark Kent before he was Superman.
The video is very good.
The audio is good, although a 5.1 track would really suit this show.
The special features are on the light side, but there is a bit to keep you going.
|DVD||Marantz DV4300, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL HS10 projector on 100 inch 16x9 screen + Palsonic 76WSHD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Sony STR-DE685. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||DB Dynamics VEGA series floor standers + centre, DB bipole rears, 10" 100W DB Dynamics sub|