Should I buy Smallville on DVD?
May 18, 2004 9:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm a TV on DVD watcher. Should I buy Smallville? [More inside]

I like: Firefly. Buffy (S1-4) Homicide. West Wing (S1-2.) ER (I've only seen S1.) Freaks and Geeks. Sports Night. Scrubs (Ok not on DVD, it's the only show I currently watch in real-time) Simpsons, Futurama, South Park (S2&3)

I'm 'meh' about Angel, B5, and surprisingly, the Sopranos. I did not care for the X-Files (S1) , Wiseguy and Law & Order (S1).

Two questions: (1) Should I try Smallville (S2) which, I was astonished to see, got a good review on DVD Journal. (2) Is there anything I should check out (other than Northern Exposure which releases later this month) [And let us keep in mind Matt's recent caution against turning AskMe into a discussion forum]
posted by mojohand to Grab Bag (22 answers total)
Smallville can get addictive. I don't have it on my list of TV on DVD to get, though, unlike Northern Exposure, which most definitely is... well, at least the first two seasons.

But you shouldn't listen to me, I have all released DVD sets of Stargate: SG-1 and fiercely defend my bootleg Space: Above and Beyond DVD set from England.
posted by linux at 9:36 AM on May 18, 2004

I can't speak about Smallville, but I would suggest that you give Six Feet Under a shot. I rented all 4 discs from NetFlix and really enjoyed it. Season two is released in June, I believe.

For those that you're unsure about, what's keeping you from running to the rental store and checking out the first disc? Give it a trial run. Could be fairly decent insurance against a $40 dud.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:55 AM on May 18, 2004

From what I've seen of Smallville, it's like a stupider version of Buffy, or at least it's more oriented towards the popular kids.

Definitely watch Six Feet Under first, and heck, follow all of Ufez Jones' advice.
posted by furiousthought at 9:57 AM on May 18, 2004

Take a look at Gilmore Girls -- particularly if you liked Sports Night/West Wing and think you might like Northern Exposure.

I watch Smallville, but it's pretty far down on my list. It's hard to know, but based on what you said you liked and don't, I'm guessing it won't light you up.
posted by willnot at 10:16 AM on May 18, 2004

Smallville is wretched teen soap opera, but it is also a really interesting retelling of one of our culture's central myths: the orphan from another planet, raised with small-town American values to become our most valiant hero. There are tremendous dramatic opportunities here and while the dialogue and situations are often pretty clumsy the overarching narrative is plumbing powerful ironies - we just know so much more than these characters do about their futures. We know that kind, tortured Lex Luthor will be lost to conscienceless depravity; that Clark's soulmate Lana Lang will be grown out of and forgotten; that this farm boy will discover pretty soon that he can fly. So if you grew up on comics and all that character history is deep in your head somewhere, it's rather a lot of fun to watch young dumb Clark bumble through his formative years.

I can't feature buying it, but don't you have Netflix? Oh, and do you have a DVR? I would recommend Keen Eddie as good silly fun but it's not out on DVD. And, are you likely to enjoy some older shows? The Avengers, The Prisoner, The Saint - they're all on DVD and pretty great.
posted by nicwolff at 10:21 AM on May 18, 2004

Oh, and Wonderfalls! You need to BitTorrent Wonderfalls.
posted by nicwolff at 10:39 AM on May 18, 2004

I agree with nicwolff, if you don't have Netflix, get it. There's all kinds of shows I've tried watching on DVD that I never would have (NYPD Blue, ER, Buffy, Firefly), even if they were available at Blockbuster. And if you don't like the show after a disc or two, the cost is negligible. Not to mention the fabulous movie selection they have....

Oh, and "feh" about Angel? That's a crying shame. It's way better than Buffy, especially after Buffy's disastrous season 4. If you've only seen Season 1, I suggest trying season 2. They story really hits its stride that season.

On another note, I find it ironic that the Ask Me post that I specifically tried to word so it wouldn't start a discussion is now being the poster-boy for not starting discussions. ;)
posted by emptybowl at 10:41 AM on May 18, 2004

Er.....being USED AS the poster-boy....
posted by emptybowl at 10:42 AM on May 18, 2004

I couldn’t deal with all the melodrama on Smallville. A few episodes are good, but there’s way too much filler and crybaby teenagers making pouty faces. It’s the sort of show that probably works when you watch it weekly on television, but on DVD it’s too easy to recognize the strict formula they use for every episode.

24, despite its terribly contrived plot, is really addictive on DVD. I’ll also second nicwolff’s recommendation of The Prisoner. Rent it first, though. It’s quite expensive if you haven’t seen it yet.

Family Guy on DVD was a lot funnier than I remembered it on TV for some reason. Mr. Show is guaranteed to offend just about everybody, but is one of the best sketch comedy shows out there. Speaking of which, Kids in the Hall was just released and is really good, but I couldn’t find anything funny in the first episode of the Ben Stiller Show.
posted by Gary at 10:52 AM on May 18, 2004

I love the hell out of Smallville, so natch I own the DVDs, but I would suggest sampling S1 and S2 (now available) before actually buying them. The mythology of the show is really fantastic, but the day-to-day drama can get annoying even for an ardent fan; Smallville really picks up its steam in S2 and S3. My best advice? Rent S1 and watch: Pilot, Metamorphosis, Hug, Hourglass, Zero and Tempest, and rent S2 and watch Vortex, Prodigal, Insurgence and Lineage. If you don't like any of those, you won't like the show.
posted by headspace at 10:57 AM on May 18, 2004

I would also tentatively recommend giving seasons 2 and 3 of X-Files a try. Each improves on its predecessor, and by the time you get to season 3, they've established enough that they can begin deconstructing it, which carries them happily through season 6 or 7. The best episodes of the X-Files are a kind of horror-tinged romantic comedy that I find sublime.
posted by blueshammer at 10:57 AM on May 18, 2004

I have to disagree with Gary. The Ben Stiller Show is one of my Top 10 Funniest Shows of all time. I will admit, however, that the show is horribly dated. If you don't like 1992-era jokes about ZOO TV and Cape Fear, don't watch it. Though it may be worth renting Disc 2 just to see "Bad Twist Ending Theater" and "The Legend of P.J. O'Pootertoot".

Invader Zim just came out on DVD, if you dig kid's cartoons obviously made for adults. There's 8 episodes of Get A Life on DVD. And if you're willing to accept "cartoons" as real drama, Cowboy Bebop is one of the best shows of any genre.
posted by emptybowl at 11:00 AM on May 18, 2004

I'd vote yes on at least the latter seasons of Smallville. And another thumbs up for Six Feet Under.
posted by rushmc at 11:33 AM on May 18, 2004

(1) I never bothered with Smallville, so I can't offer an opinion here.
(2) All three seasons of Family Guy, the first season of Upright Citizens Brigade, and the first season of The Office are worth getting on DVD.

I wouldn't purchase series DVDs without renting first, since they're usually more expensive than single movies, and even if you like the show, it might not have real replay value for the price. I do enjoy the Sopranos and it's the only series I keep up with in real time, but after reviewing all the seasons through Blockbuster, I didn't bother to buy the sets.

Try renting through the library (super-cheap from my library, and might even be free where you are). This is how we got to check out The Office, and next on my list is Six Feet Under. In my experience they're more likely to have offbeat or foreign series along with the popular - you may even be able to request stuff.
posted by Melinika at 11:53 AM on May 18, 2004

Also, if you liked Freaks and Geeks, you might want to check out My So Called Life. My impression is that it was very much a product of its time, so it might not play as well in 2004 (or on repeated viewings for that matter). It was pretty good at the time though, so it might be worth a rental to see.
posted by willnot at 12:28 PM on May 18, 2004

I watched the first two series of Smallville, and I seem to remember liking it, but now we're on the third series, and I'm only watching to see Lana die some horrible death. God I hate her. (btw, that isn't a spoiler - just wishful thinking)
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:49 PM on May 18, 2004

I have to say the teen angsty melodrama of Smallville got on my nerves fairly early in the first season so I stopped watching (I think I glutted myself on that genre with Roswell)

but I'd like to second the rec for The Office (there are two seasons out on DVD now)
posted by Julnyes at 1:16 PM on May 18, 2004

In addition to the great recommendations above, check out The League of Gentlemen (the british series not the crappy hollywood comic adaptation), season 1 out on Region 1 DVD or Strangers With Candy (two seasons available). I didn't find the Ben Stiller show funny enough to not feel like I wasted $20.
posted by Gortuk at 3:21 PM on May 18, 2004

Should I buy Smallville?

I don't know. Have never seen it.

Should I buy Smallville?

No, you should rent the first disc from Netflix first, then see if you like it.
posted by Hildago at 4:50 PM on May 18, 2004

No. Smallville is owned by Luthercorp.
posted by bingo at 9:48 PM on May 18, 2004

For her 30th Birthday, I bought my wife the 15 DVD collection of "The Muppet Show."

45 hilarious episodes. Mark Hamill, Alice Cooper, Bob Hope, Kenny Rogers...they're all in there.

One of the best entertainment investments I've ever made.
posted by ColdChef at 8:06 AM on May 19, 2004

Smallville: fascinating for reasons stated previously.

I like the show, but I'm gay and Clark Kent is simply gorgeous. Warps MY judgement!

There is something about the show that is better than average. Normally I would be yelling for Clark to kick Lana into next week and forget her. But the pathos of the attraction there is such I would be happy if he shagged her into nirvana. God, she needs it!
posted by Goofyy at 9:21 AM on May 20, 2004

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