Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics [Blu-ray]
THE JOKER, LEX LUTHOR, CATWOMAN, DOOMSDAY, BANE. What makes them so thrillingly watchable? So terribly wonderful? So extremely vital to our super heroes and their worlds? This new feature-length documentary explores these questions across seven decades of DC Comics' hallowed Rogues' Gallery of infamous evildoers.
Hi! Nice to be here to review something for the Superman Homepage. For those of you who are reading this review, welcome. I hope you enjoy this.
Below is how I have rated this DVD set. It is the same 1-5 rating system which the reviewers working at the Superman Homepage use. However, in case you want further explanation, I've given it to hopefully clear up any issues associated with how I use the rating system.
The way I've reviewed this set is on a 1-5 basis. 1 being the worst, and 5 being the best. If I give anything a 1, it's really, really bad in terms of storyline or movement of plot or information, depending on if it's a deleted scene or a commentary. With special features, I probably would want to puke in order to give something a 1. 2s are close to ones, but better. They don't quite reach what I feel is the standard for this show, but they aren't so bad that I wish I never saw them. 3s are average. They could be better, but they also could be equally worse. 4s are when there is mostly good things, with the occasional "Why is this here?" moment. And 5s mean that if I had the option of seeing this thing constantly for days, without watching anything else, I'd watch it. That's really extreme, but a 5 has to be almost godly.
So with that, here is my review.
(If you would like to see a review for any specific episode in this DVD set, Neal Bailey has reviewed every episode from this season).
Deleted Scenes - 4 of 5: I almost gave these scenes a 3, instead of a 4. There was one scene from "Heat" that I felt was just horrible. It was a great move, in my mind to delete that scene, because it had absolutely no purpose on the show. So when I looked at my notes and added everything up, it came out to about a 3 out of 5. But, I felt that the rest of the deleted scenes were good deleted scenes, so I increased my rating.
There is a scene from "Dichotic" which I enjoyed. I warn you readers, if you are squeamish about the sight of blood, you may not want to watch this deleted scene. There isn't a lot of blood, but I do know some people who faint at the sight of blood, no matter how much. I liked this scene in particular because it really showed how the actors interact. There was no music, and the lighting for the episode appeared not to be set up yet. It looked like natural lighting, and it was just nice to see. I have always loved when television shows go outside of the studio to film a part of their show.
There was also a deleted scene from "Exodus" that I really thought should have been in the episode. I thought it added another element to the possible pure hatred Lex has towards his father, and that would have made for an even better season finale. Not to say that Lex plummeting towards the ocean is not a cliffhanger. But come on, he's Lex Luthor. Unless the writers of this series have lost their minds, I doubt they would ever kill off Lex Luthor. He is Superman's main enemy in the future after all.
Commentary (Overall) - 4 of 5: In the Season 1 DVD set, the only people commenting were the Executive Producers. Never did they ask the actors and actresses themselves to comment on the episodes. In this set, there are two commentaries for "Red" and "Rosetta." The actors commentating were Tom Welling (Clark Kent), Kristin Kreuk (Lana Lang), and Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor). Greg Beeman helped them out with both commentaries, and James Marshall was also involved with the "Rosetta" commentary. Also, Al Gough and Miles Millar commented on both episodes, with additional commentary by Jeph Loeb for "Red". For further details, keep reading.
Commentary: Red - 4 of 5: (By Executive Producers Al Gough & Miles Millar, and Writer/Consulting Producer Jeph Loeb)
It should be no surprise that most people who have heard about Superman know what kryptonite is. Green kryptonite. "Red" was the episode which introduced red kryptonite (hence the title). This part is not in the commentary, but red kryptonite was introduced to me via a Season 2 episode of "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" back in the 1990s. In that "Lois & Clark" episode, the red kryptonite caused Superman to lose control of his powers. I remember one scene in particular where he and Lois were in one of their kitchens making dinner, and Clark had to hide his face with his hands, because there was red kryptonite somewhere causing his heat vision to go berserk.
Now for the commentary of "Red". The big guys of the crew explained that this version of red kryptonite on "Smallville" caused Clark's evil side to come out and be free. They explained that every one of us has a good side and an evil side. To determine who one is, one has to decide which side of themselves to listen to. Clark chose good, due to his bringing up on the Kent farm, while eventually, Lex Luthor will succumb to his dark side. The main reason for bringing this story about was because the producers wanted to use a form of kryptonite that wasn't green. Basically, they got tired of the green kryptonite stories all of the time.
However, Miles Millar thought that the idea of putting red kryptonite in the class rings was "cheesy as h#*@." They went with it anyways. There is a discussion about when one should buy a class ring, but it's not really important.
The reason for red kryptonite bringing out Clark's bad side also was because Jeph Loeb wanted another episode like "Nicodemus" (Season 1, episode #16). The main difference would be that instead of everyone being not like themselves, and Clark not, it would be the opposite. Clark would act strange, and everyone else would be normal. Also, Clark would not forget what he did under the influence of red kryptonite, like everyone in "Nicodemus" seemed to forget what happened when they were under the influence of the infamous flower.
There is also a brief listing of each color of kryptonite Gough, Millar, and Loeb could think of that has been in the comics. They listed off green, red, blue, gold, and rainbow kryptonite. Jeph Loeb stated that his favorite color of kryptonite was the rainbow colored. Due to some research on the Homepage, I know that blue kryptonite affected Bizarro Supermen, and gold kryptonite took away all of Superman's powers forever. I also know from my past, and from what is stated in the commentary, that red kryptonite affects Superman in many ways. They stated it as the "wild card" kryptonite. I have no idea what rainbow kryptonite did though.
As kind of some side notes, they mentioned that John Schneider literally threw himself into the truck when it came to the scene where Clark shoves Jonathon at the high school. And Gough and Millar were wondering why no one noticed the baseball bat burst into flames at the bar. I thought that was a nice touch on their part to mention that.
I almost forgot to mention this. "Red" is color coded. For obvious reasons, there is a lot of red in the episode. However, Clark also wears a lot of black and green (like kryptonite), instead of his red, yellow and blue (like Superman's costume) throughout this episode. They also put Lex Luthor in white clothing to infer symbolization of good vs. evil.
Commentary: Red - 2 of 5: (By Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, and Co-Executive Producer Greg Beeman)
I had to make a decision for the rating because I can't give half-points. My real rating is a 1.5, but this could have easily been a 1 or a 2. I will leave that up to you the viewer.
I was really disappointed in this commentary. The only relevant things to the episode mentioned was that the red light on Clark in the Luthor mansion as he smashes a pool table against the detective (?) guy was Tom's idea, and that instead of class rings filled with red kryptonite being the first scene, bulldozers were supposed to pull up rocks full of red meteor rocks prior to the opening.
Steve Oben (or Oven (long "O" sound)...sorry if you see this and I got your name wrong), the head of the wardrobe team on "Smallville" was also given credit by Tom Welling about his desire to always have the clothing correct continuity-wise. Welling mentioned that Oben would have had a fit if he had noticed that at one point in the Kent barn, Clark's shirt button was unbuttoned, and then buttoned closed in the next second, without Clark or any other character touching the button.
Other than that, Beeman mentioned about how he blew up a house once while filming a scene for a show which apparently caused damage for 3 square miles around the explosion. (If anyone knows approximately how long that is, please let me know. I thought it sounded quite big). The rest of the time was spent picking on Rosenbaum for winning a Saturn Award, and everyone talking about what they wanted to do that weekend.
I didn't tune in to a commentary to hear Kristin Kreuk talk about how she was going to go see "Wicked" on Broadway in a few days. I also did not tune in to hear Welling complain about his hair, and Rosenbaum continually get picked on for winning a Saturn Award. I tuned in to get insights about "Red" from the people who actually performed in it. With the exception of maybe 2 minutes of the 43, this commentary was annoying, and a waste of my time. But I am just one person with my own opinion. If you like listening to actors and actresses tell their life story, you'll enjoy this. But, I feel, if you want a commentary to discuss the episode being commented on for a majority of the commentary, I don't think you should watch this commentary. I think a 2 is too high of a rating, and a 1 is too low. So you make the call.
Commentary: Rosetta - 5 of 5: (By Executive Producers Al Gough and Miles Millar)
This is the Christopher Reeve episode of Season 2. All biases aside, this is a great commentary. While much of this commentary is about the process of getting Christopher Reeve to appear on "Smallville", the filming, and everything in between, it does not solely focus on that aspect of the show.
However, all that being said, I still am slightly biased here. If I weren't I would be lying to myself.
Gough and Millar really enjoyed this episode. They mentioned that they always wanted Christopher Reeve to appear on "Smallville" because he was in all of the Superman movies, and they thank John Lubeck (sp?) of the WB and their Production Vice-President Lisa Lewis for making it possible to have Reeve on the show. And the Time Magazine used to introduce Dr. Swann to Clark, via Chloe, was an actual magazine sent to "Smallville" by Christopher Reeve himself.
There are some things within this episode mentioned that the fan boy or fan girl may miss when they view this episode. For instance, Gough and Millar did want Christopher Reeve on "Smallville", but they never intended that he be the main reason for the success of the episode. They intended for Reeve to be the vessel who would pass the torch to Welling in the Superman universe. To them, this episode is basically an episode about the relationship between an adoptive child and his or her parents. How would the child react when he or she found out about his or her parents?
Gough and Millar also mention that they always intended for Jor-El to be a "dark" character in the series, to thus put a different spin on the mythos which have been around since the 1930s.
There is also some set information. The Talon was made to give Lana Lang something to do in the "Smallville" episodes, because Gough and Millar were receiving fan complaints about the lack of Lana Lang in "Smallville". And the "Smallville Medical Hospital" was made because Gough and Millar figured that when people got sick, they went to the hospital. However, they never anticipated using the hospital set as often as they had.
The last scene of "Rosetta" involves a piece of the spaceship which brought Clark to Earth. Gough and Millar joke around with each other that they created this spaceship for "Pilot" to bring Clark to Earth, and the only two times fans have seen the piece involved was in "Pilot" and "Rosetta" (37 episodes later).
I also really thought it was a nice touch, that there was complete silence on the commentators' parts when Dr. Swann states "This is Kal-El..." all the way until "...it will never be open to you again." I loved that speech, and that speech was the "passing of the torch" moment of the series. I don't know if Gough and Millar intended for the impact I felt by their silence, but it was a neat move, I thought.
Commentary: Rosetta - 4 of 5: (By Tom Welling, Kristin Kreuk, Michael Rosenbaum, Co-Executive Producer Greg Beeman, and Director James Marshall)
I know I said you would probably hate the actors' commentary for "Red", and I meant it. And I'm not kidding when I tell you that Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum agree with me. They said so in this commentary. Welling suggested redoing the last commentary they did. I wish they had.
But I think you'll enjoy this actors' commentary. Unlike their last one where everyone was trying to figure out what each other were going to do that weekend, they actually pay attention to the episode in question this time.
I enjoy the fact that the makers of this DVD set decided to have two commentaries for the episodes they wanted comment on. But there is a bit of a problem. By the time you get to the second commentary, you've heard some if not most of what the other commentators were saying. Here are the differences with Rosetta.
Greg Beeman felt like the spaceship looked like "an egg surrounded by the Superman shield." Check out "Exodus" and that may make some sense.
Special effects must be cool to work with. The Kawatche Caves were actually shot using "helicoptors over a corn field". The cave was digital.
The beginning scene where Clark was lying in the middle of the road as Lex nearly ran him over, supposedly was cut by 10 minutes.
Welling lifted hay bails that are filled with Styrofoam. This is to make them lighter and the illusion of Clark being able to lift a hay bail with one hand look believable. Schneider always used heavy hay bails, by his own request. Schneider thought that every scene on the Kent Farm should truly depict, as much as possible, what life on a farm was like.
If you look up the Kryptonian language on the Internet, the symbols for "H" "O" "P" and "E" will be found. Combine those four symbols together, and you can copy the symbol of "HOPE" that was burned on the Kent barn in this episode. Apparently, the barn actually caught on fire at one point, and they had to re-shoot the scene, because the actors were getting too close to the flames. (And who said that life in "Smallville" was good for your health anyways?)
Tom Welling has better taste buds than I do. I like spicy things, but I don't think I'd be able to eat a packet of hot sauce without putting it on anything and not scream. I'm not sure if Welling wanted to scream or not, but he didn't. Welling said that he took a gulp of hot sauce right before the scene where he grabs the octagonal key, in order for the pain effect.
Rob LeBelle (Dr. Walden) had trouble acting on screen with Rosenbaum, because the two of them always seemed to make each other laugh.
There is also a discussion about wire work.
And no one mentioned what they were going to do for the weekend.
Additional Special Features:
Christopher Reeve: The Man of Steel - 5 of 5: Even though I'm biased regarding this issue, this feature truly deserves a 5 out of 5. As I was watching it, I was thinking that if the P.S.A. for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation was not put in, I would automatically dock the feature by a half-point. But that was made moot. However, even without that P.S.A., this is still awesome. It's true that Al Gough and Miles Millar basically reiterate what they say in their "Rosetta" commentary, but you also have the following speak on behalf of Christopher Reeve's character: Jeph Loeb, Tom Welling, Greg Beeman, Michael Rosenbaum, Kristin Kreuk, John Schneider, and possibly the best one and most surprising to hear from, Alex Ross.
Chris Reeve also speaks in this about the history of Superman, which I found very helpful since I myself only have a general knowledge of the character compared to most Superman Homepage members I've come across.
Faster Than a Speeding Bullet: The Visual FX of Smallville - 4 of 5: "All the special effects in the world, can fall extremely flat, if you don't believe in the characters themselves" - Jeph Loeb
It's really amazing what television has been able to do over the decades. When Superman first appeared in the 1950s on television screens, perhaps the biggest effect, (and I'm speculating), was having George Reeves fly out a window. I've heard over the years that was done by him leaping out of the window after bouncing off a spring board in the floor. Nowadays, we have "Smallville" where the effects are so much more advanced.
I placed that quote in by Jeph Loeb because it brings up a great point. The special effects for anything can be great, but the one seeing them has to believe they are real, or they won't work at all, no matter how outstanding they may look to the creator of the effect.
I liked the fact that this was not just sitting down with the FX team and having them discuss the visual effects of "Smallville". There were scenes being shown during the talking, as well as input from people outside of the effects-making (including the Executive Producers Gough and Millar, and a brief cameo by Christopher Reeve comparing "Smallville's" effects to Superman: The Movie in 1978.)
This was a solid feature. It's basically an average feature about how special effects are done, but I give it an extra point for including the visuals instead of boring the viewer by having a classroom-like lecture.
The Chloe Chronicles - 4 of 5: (NOTE: This is a 5-part special feature. I have given my rating based on the overall performance, not on each individual part).
The Chloe Chronicles were on the Internet at one point during the time that Season 2 was airing on the WB (now known as the CW). There was one "episode" posted online each week. These same episodes were placed on the Season 2 DVD for fans' enjoyment.
This five-part storyline is an interview by Chloe Sullivan concerning the activities in "Smallville" which she believes are due to the meteor rocks that fell on October 16th, 1989 in "Pilot". I recommend you look at Peter T. McDermott's episode summary of "Jitters" on the Superman Homepage, or watch it prior to viewing these chronicles. ("Jitters" is the 8th episode in Season 1). The basis of these chronicles is that Chloe is trying to determine what the meteor rocks had to do with Earl Jenkins. The interview takes place somewhere in between "Jitters" (episode 108) and "Duplicity" (episode 203). But if you don't know about "Jitters", you may want to study up. The basics are explained in the Chloe Chronicles, but it's more enjoyable if you know about the episode beforehand, I think.
I loved the way these were made. Chloe Sullivan is on another story concerning the events that happened in October, 1989 in "Smallville", and she has chosen YOU to be her camera person. You will meet many people, most of which will be very snippy. After all, you and Chloe are investigating something that is highly top-secret.
Like I've said, remember "Jitters" and you'll enjoy this more, I think. It's a fun experience all around however.
Gag Reel - 3 of 5: To be clear... I LOVED this!!
But it does not deserve a 5 out of 5.
For me to rate a 5 out of 5 for a gag reel would be misleading.
This gag reel is a 3 out of 5. The reason I say this is because it's like watching Dick Clark's "Bloopers" or "Outrageous Television Moments". If you enjoy watching television and movie blooper shows when they are on, you'll probably enjoy this gag reel. However, if you don't like watching blooper shows, you'll hate this with a passion. It really depends on what kind of a mood you're in when you turn on this gag reel. So, I feel a 3 of 5 is appropriate for that reason.
Overall Experience - 4 of 5: With the exception of the deleted scene from "Heat" and the actors' commentary on "Red", this set was a joy to watch. You get multiple commentaries for episodes, which is a new feature, a gag reel, also new, and 5 discs worth of special features instead of 2. All in all, while the Season 1 DVD set was good, this set beats it hands-down. Not to mention the fact that the episodes for Season 2 are really good.
Thanks for reading!