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Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season [Blu-ray] by Various Directors
Review by Charles Mohapel
Warner Home Video Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B002JVWRE0
Date: 25 November 2010 List Price $69.98 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: IMDB.com / Show Official Info /

According to the show's executive producers Season 9 of Smallville is the penultimate season, but rumors are out there that The CW Network loves the show so much, they're dangling lots of greenbacks in front of the executive producers as an incentive to bring the show back for Season 11.

Created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar
"Superman" created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Series Cast:
Tom Welling ... Clark Kent
Allison Mack ... Chloe Sullivan
Erica Durance ... Lois Lane
Cassidy Freeman ... Tess Mercer
Callum Blue ... Zod
Justin Hartley ... Oliver Queen / Green Arrow

Season 8 of Smallville ended with the surprise death of Jimmy Olsen after Chloe Sullivan had used black kryptonite to split Davis Bloome from Doomsday. Mortally wounded by Doomsday, Jimmy's final act was to kill Davis, after which Clark Kent buried Doomsday deep underground.

"Savior" got Season 9 of Smallville off with a bang. Lois Lane returned from the future, only to discover to her great surprise that she had company - a ninja style Kandorian assassin out to kill Kal-el. Thanks to Chloe and Dr. Emil Hamilton, the Watchtower finally became operational.

I liked "Roulette" because Chloe used an elaborate scheme to convince Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) that he was still a hero and that it was time to stop moping around and get back to fighting crime.

"Crossfire" was one of my favorite episodes since it introduced Mia Dearden, a feisty little cage fighter and prostitute, who impressed Oliver so much that he offers to train her. Even after she betrays Oliver to her pimp, Oliver gives her a second chance, thereby allowing her to become the second person to serve as Green Arrow's sidekick Speedy.

"Kandor" was another of my my favorite episodes because it gave us a flashback which let us see the relationship between the original Jor-El and the original Major Zod, then took us back to the present where Jor-El arrives at the Kent farm looking for his son. Jor-El encounters Chloe who tells him that Clark is away in the desert looking for him, and she tells him that Clark has developed into a man that he can be proud of.

I liked "Disciple" because it featured Green Arrow, his old mentor (a mysterious man named Vordigen), and the return of Mia Dearden. Vordigen has gone rogue and kidnapped Mia in order to force his old apprentice to kill him - I guess this is the archer's equivalent of suicide by policeman whereby someone wishing to commit suicide pulls a gun on a police officer and forces the officer to shoot and kill him.

As a long time fan of the Golden Age Justice Society of America, my absolute favorite episode was the 2-hour (including commercials) "Absolute Justice". Not only did we meet Sylvester Pemberton (Star-Spangled Kid), Wesley Dodds (Sandman), Carter Hall (Hawkman), Kent Nelson (Doctor Fate), and Courtney Whitmore (Stargirl, Star-Spangled Kid's apprentice), we also got to meet Checkmate, led by the evil Amanda Waller. After her catspaw Icicle killed Star-Spangled Kid, Sandman, and Doctor Fate, surviving JSA members Hawkman and Stargirl teamed up with Green Arrow, John Jones (Martian Manhunter), and Clark to stop Icicle, who was subsequently demoted to the Suicide Squad by Amanda Waller.

"Warrior" was a light-hearted episode that began in a big comic book convention and featured the clueless Lois walking around as an Imperial Stormtrooper from Star Wars. Best of all was the return of the enchanting Zatanna Zatara who showed up to reverse a curse cast by her father.

Amanda Waller returns in "Checkmate" as her deep cover agent Tess Mercer and other Checkmate agents kidnap Green Arrow, who subsequently escapes. When Oliver returned to Metropolis, he encountered Tess who suddenly realized that Oliver was Green Arrow. Tess then informed Oliver and Clark that Checkmate had kidnapped Chloe, who was their real target. Clark sped off to the Checkmate base and saved Chloe from their clutches, while at the same time John Jones destroyed Checkmate's sample of Kryptonian blood, then used his Martian powers to erase Waller's memory of Clark, Chloe, and Oliver's faces, preserving their identities.

For me the high point of "Charade" was the surprise appearance of the Red Queen, a heretofore unknown quantity and a new player in the Big Game, one determined to block and frustrate Checkmate at every turn.

"Sacrifice" was an episode where you almost needed a scorecard to tell the players apart from each other. The sides were Checkmate, Zod and his Kandorian followers, the Kandorian rebels who no longer trusted Zod, and finally, Clark, Oliver, and Chloe.

"Hostage" was the second to last episode of Season 9 and after Checkmate Agent Maxwell Lord kidnapped Tess in order to find the Book of Rao, she escaped before giving it to him, only to be captured by the mysterious Red Queen who forced her to turn it over. Meanwhile Senator Martha Kent returned to the Kent farm, accompanied by the amorous Perry White. Clark had a somewhat unpleasant encounter with the Red Queen when he ripped the doors off her limo, only to have her thrust a big piece of Kryptonite close enough to him to make him weaken. Upon discovering the Martha is the Red Queen, Clark confronted her and quietly asked her to give him the Book of Rao which she reluctantly did. Martha then explained that the book would exile all Kryptonians to another plane of existence, including Clark, and that is why she did not have the original intention of giving him the book or revealing her secret identity to him.

"Salvation" was the Season 9 cliffhanger as the storyline with Zod and his Kandorian followers came to to a head with Tess dead, Oliver missing, and Clark letting Zod stab him with a blue kryptonite dagger, then falling off the rooftop.

Features:
Deleted Scenes:
"Rabid" - Oliver and Lois in the Safe Room. (Disc 1) BORING!!!
"Roulette" - Oliver Gets His Gun. (Disc 1) BORING!!!
"Disciple" - Clark confronts Mia (Disc 2) Great
"Persuasion" (Disc 3) Good
"Conspiracy" (Disc 3) Good
"Upgrade" (Disc 4) Good
"Charade" - Tess discovers Watchtower (Disc 4) Great
"Salvation" - Lois gets a note from the Blur (Disc 4) Good
Individually some of these deleted scenes were great, good, or mindnumbingly boring to the point where I wondered why some of them were shot.

Commentaries (Disc 2):
"Kandor" with Turi Meyer (Co-Executive Producer / Writer), Al Septien (Co-Executive Producer / Writer), and Daniel James Callum Blue (Major Zod) was awesome since the three of them go into great detail about Zod and the Kryptonian clones.

Unfortunately "Idol" with Kelly Souders (Executive Producer), Brian Peterson (Executive Producer), and Erica Durance (Lois Lane) was only so-so.

Kneel Before Zod with Brian Peterson (Executive Producer), Kelly Souders (Executive Producer), Dan Didio (Co-Publisher: DC Comics), Richard Donner (Director of Superman & Superman II - The Donner Cut), Terence Stamp (General Zod), Matt Idelson (Group Editor: DC Comics), Elizabeth Gehrlein (Coordinating Editor: DC Comics), Geoff Johns (Co-Publisher: DC Comics), Callum Blue (Major Zod), and Cassidy Freeman (Tess Mercer). Here we're taken from the casting of Terence Stamp as General Zod in Superman II through to Callum Blue as the younger Zod when he was only a major. The characterizations are different, but we're told how the younger Major Zod could metamorphose into the megalomaniacal General Zod. This was an excellent featurette.

Absolute Justice - From Script To Screen with Geoff Johns (Chief Creative Officer, DCE), Brian Peterson (Executive Producer), Phil Morris (John Jones / Martian Manhunter), Tim Scanlan (Co-Executive Producer), Kelly Souders (Executive Producer), Glenn Winter (Director "Absolute Justice, Part I"), Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen / Green Arrow), Wesley MacInnes (Icicle), Britt Irvin (Courtney Whitmore / Stargirl), Jim Shield (Sylvester Pemberton / Star-Spangled Kid), Brent Stait (Kent Nelson / Dr. Fate), Michael Shanks (Carter Hall / Hawkman), Melanie Williams (Costume Designer), Michael Holme (Prop Master), Bill Terezakis (Creature Effects), James Marshall (Executive Producer), Richard Darwin (Special Effects), James Philpott (Production Designer), and Michael Walls (Special Effects Supervisor).

It was fun learning that the shooting script for Part I was titled "Society" and Part II was titled "Legend", as well as the fact that Part II was directed by Tom Welling. Here we learned how the casting of Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Stargirl, and Icicle was conducted; how the Justice Society brownstone was created from a long standing set; and how the costumes and props were designed and fabricated.

As a long time fan of the JSA from their numerous team ups with the Justice League in the 1970s and 1980s, I'm a big fan of Kent Nelson (Dr. Fate), Alan Scott (Green Lantern), and Jay Garrick (Flash), and I was curious to see how the characterizations of my old heroes would fare in 2010. While this version of Dr. Fate's costume was markedly different from the comic books, stylistically it reminded me somewhat of this show's Green Arrow costume and this meant that I could accept it without much trouble. Probably more of a shock was seeing Kent Nelson as a mentally broken derelict who was terrified when the Helm of Nabu enveloped his head and he was involuntarily transformed into Dr. Fate.

All in all, "Absolute Justice" was an entertaining blend of the classic Golden Age comic book heroes with the modern day setting and heroes of Smallville and I'm glad that the executive producers asked for and received permission to 'split' the episode into two 'episodes' and air them as a 2 hour episode.

Overall Smallville: The Complete Ninth Season on Blu-ray was excellent, but since my Blu-ray player doesn't handle BD-LIVE content, I really wish there had been more bonus features that I could access. Why didn't they have more deleted/unaired scenes, commentaries, and gems like bloopers and gag reels? I guess we'll have to wait for those extras on the hypothetical Smallville: The Complete Series that I'm hoping will be released.

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