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Superman & Lois – The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

THE WORLD’S FINESTSYNOPSISREVIEWMEDIAFORUM


SUPERMAN & LOIS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Studio: Warner Bros. Television
Label: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Release Date: Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital – October 19, 2021

Description: After years of facing super-villains, monsters, and alien invaders intent on wiping out the human race, one of the world’s greatest super heroes (Tyler Hoechlin) and comic books’ most famous journalist (Elizabeth Tulloch) come face to face with one of their greatest challenges ever – dealing with all the stress, pressures and complexities that come with being working parents!

With Blu-ray’s unsurpassed picture and sound, Superman & Lois: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release will include 1080p Full HD Video with DTS-HD Master Audio for English 5.1. Featuring all 15 episodes from the first season in high definition, as well as a digital code of the season.

Superman & Lois stars Tyler Hoechlin (Supergirl, Arrow), Elizabeth Tulloch (Supergirl, Grimm), Jordan Elsass (Little Fires Everywhere), Alex Garfin (New Amsterdam), Erik Valdez (Graceland), Inde Navarrette (13 Reasons Why), Wolé Parks (All American), Adam Rayner (Tyrant), with Dylan Walsh (Blue Bloods), and Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage). Based on the DC characters, and Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the series was developed by Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, Batwoman, Supergirl) and Todd Helbing (The Flash, Black Sails), who executive produce alongside Sarah Schechter (All American, Riverdale), Geoff Johns (Titans, DC’s Stargirl, Wonder Woman) and David Madden (Kung Fu, Save the Last Dance).

Episodes: Pilot, Heritage, The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower, Haywire, The Best of Smallville, Broken Trust, Man of Steel, Holding the Wrench, Loyal Subjekts, O Mother, Where Art Thou?, A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events, Through the Valley of Death, Fail Safe, The Eradicator, Last Sons of Krypton

Blu-ray & DVD Features:
-Superman: Alien Spirit
-Superman and Lois Legacy of Hope
-Never Alone: Heroes and Allies
-DC FanDome Panel: Superman & Lois


Superman & Lois: The Complete First Season Review
By James Harvey

A true surprise and easily the best DC Comics-based series on network television, Superman & Lois absolutely soars in its inaugural season. The series, which debuted January 2021 on The CW to strong ratings and critical acclaim, skillfully blends superheroics with family drama to (mostly) great effect, while also delivering a surprisingly modern and nuanced take on Smallville and other classic Superman motifs. It’s a genuinely surprising series that, while a little bumpy at times, is an ultimately immensely satisfying take on the Man of Steel that can legitimately stand up with the greats. Yeah, Superman & Lois is that good and – despite a host of clear influences ranging from Donner to Loeb to Morrison to Tomasi – it deftly carves out its own place in the ever-swelling comic book media landscape.

Superman & Lois follows super-couple Clark Kent and Lois Lane as they juggle their usually larger-than-life adventures with their greatest challenge – the stress, complexities and pressures of being working parents. Spinning out of The CW’s 2019 “Crisis on Infinite Earths” television event, the show picks up with Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) raising their teenage sons, Jonathan (Jordan Elsass) and Jordan (Alex Garfin) in Metropolis. However, the Kents make their way to Smallville following a tragic loss. Now, they find themselves not only adjusting to their new surroundings, but also the many secrets and surprises Smallville holds for them.

As always, spoilers will be kept as light as possible.

Following a stirring (albeit very streamlined) extended opening sequence to get viewers up to speed, Superman & Lois wastes little time in putting the Kents through their paces and on the road to Smallville. With both Clark Kent and Lois Lane out of work following a ruthless takeover of the Daily Planet by Morgan Edge, along with by a sudden and tragic passing, the couple sees Clark’s former hometown as a chance to not only keep the family afloat, but to give their twin sons a better life. This being a Superman story, things don’t entirely work out as planned, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, quite the opposite. Superman & Lois constantly surprises with its approach to not only the bigger-than-life foes Superman has to contend with, but also with how he and Lois deal with parenthood. No matter how bad things get, there’s always hope.

What grounds this show is not only how it unabashedly leans into the drama that comes from having such a unique family – and how it changes every facet of these characters’ lives, making even the more other-worldly events feel more palpable and digestible – but also how The Kents are impacted by their literal surroundings. Smallville is no longer the idyllic, picture-esque small town Clark remembers, but instead it’s struggling, ravaged by an economic downturn. Jobs are hard to come by and neighbors are increasingly distrustful of each other and their leaders, presenting to a novel challenge to Superman’s mission of “Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow” (a smart, so-much-better and more inclusive updating of the Man of Steel’s classic “Truth, Justice and the American Way” mantra that DC rolled out this year). And it’s that downturn which not only believably sparks a lot of the events in Superman & Lois‘s first season, but also presents a new type of challenge for Superman to face. While Superman & Lois doesn’t execute the degradation of Smallville perfectly, it’s effective enough that it’s hard not to get invested in Clark’s quest to (ultimately) save his hometown (and the world, of course).

Family drama and the strangulation of small town life are not the only issues Superman and his family find themselves confronting. Threats from Superman’s world, both on this planet and beyond, creep their way into the Super-Family’s lives, including a mysterious foe, decked out in near-invincible armor (comic readers will definitely be thrilled when said foe’s identity is revealed in one of the season’s coolest twists). While the larger-than-life superhero action does get plenty of time to shine, and looks pretty solid considering the series’ television budget, Superman & Lois never loses track of the Kents and both their complicated family dynamics and burgeoning position within the Smallville community, and it’s better for it.

By keeping The Kents firmly at the center, Superman & Lois is able to tactfully tackle its updated approach to the classic Superman mythos – successfully at that, based on just this first season alone – and that applies especially to the development of the Kent twins, Jordan and Jonathan, with legitimately surprising results. The series quickly establishes that while they clearly love each other, the twin boys are living two very different lives. Jonathan is popular and athletic, and clearly enjoying his relatively carefree life. Jordan is more withdrawn and struggles with an anxiety problem which keeps him at arm’s length to the world. While the series does put Jordan and Jonathan through some typical television adolescent angst, Superman & Lois‘ approach feels more earnest. We watch these twins question their beliefs, face staggering obstacles, learn from their mistakes, and evolve. Whereas Superman & Lois could’ve just left the boys as annoying background cliches – the “jock” and the “nerd” – instead it approaches the two teens with restraint and honesty and is all the better for it.

To give one example, whereas a lesser series would spend an entire season with Jonathan and Jordan angsting over their father being Superman, Superman & Lois deals with that rather quickly, especially as they twins realize that having the Man of Steel as a father is, well, pretty cool.

While the Kent twins get plenty of time in-front of the camera, the focus still primarily belongs to their parents (the show is named Superman & Lois, after all). Nearly all the assorted tropes we’ve come to associate with Superman over the years are deconstructed here (to an extent), with the Man himself put to the test in some pretty novel ways, especially as he adapts to his new status quo throughout the course of the season, though the series ultimately reminds us just why he continues to endure in pop culture. We see this not just through his actions, but through his loved ones, as well. His children end up being an interesting exploration of Superman’s classic dual identity, for one, and his respect, love and appreciation for his wife, Lois Lane, reminds us that some of his greatest strengths don’t come from Earth’s yellow sun. So yes, be prepared to cry on occasion.

As for Ms. Lane, the infamously tenacious reporter propels a hefty chunk of the first season’s narrative, almost single-handedly unearthing a nefarious plot that could bring about the end of not just Smallville, but also the world. All the same time, she’s also coping with the dramatic changes to her life while also keeping her family centered through an ever-increasingly dangerous array of threats. Superman & Lois doesn’t shy away from showing the toll this takes on her, leading to some of the season’s most powerful and dramatic moments. It does take a few episodes for her role in the series to really click, but when it does, it leads to some great moments. This particularly holds true in the latter half of the season as she and Jonathan bond over living in a family with a perpetual target on its back.

Superman & Lois has a tight circle of supporting characters, with nearly all of them having a close connection to either The Kents or to the mysterious events going on in Smallville. With the show’s somewhat limited supporting cast, Superman & Lois is able to give nearly each member plenty of screentime, which greatly benefits the likes of Lana Lang (now Cushing) and her daughter Sarah, and General Lane, all of whom come across as real, fully-developed characters. The series’ mysterious armored hunter is a huge stand-out among the cast, both thanks to the strong acting and intriguing character backstory. Again, details will remain vague to keep the surprises as just that.

Unfortunately, there are some supporting characters who get the short end of the stick but, for the most part, it doesn’t take away from the show in any meaningful way. The exception, however, is ruthless CEO Morgan Edge. His arc is handled in a kinda clunky manner, driven more by the needs of plot advancement than believable motives (which gets more and more skewed as the season progresses). While not a fatal blow to the character, it does make Edge a little underwhelming. Still, it’s worth noting that, for the most part, Superman & Lois is unafraid to jettison stories and characters that aren’t working (including one character who’s repeated absences becomes somewhat of a running joke), and tweak and improve what’s falling short. There’s clear attention being paid to these characters and their respective journeys, and while every shortcoming can’t be fixed, it’s admirable to watch the show’s creators actively work to improve the series’ quality from episode to episode.

The drive for quality translates over to the show’s visual approach, specifically how it uses a 2.2:1 aspect ratio to give Superman & Lois a cinematic, big-budget feel. The series’ incredible opening sequence (watch it in the video player below) wouldn’t look out of place on the big screen, for example. While the show still clearly suffers from the limitations of its budget (which – granted – is still higher than most of DC Comics’ other live-action television offerings), Superman & Lois manages to hide most of its shortcomings with smart framing and use of digital color effects. The larger aspect ratio, higher than the standard 1.78:1 used in the majority of modern television programs, not only adds a distinct visual flair that lets Superman & Lois stand out from nearly everything else on network television, but it also beef up the action beats. And the show handles these big battles and set pieces admirably, and they look good overall, even with the format constraints. 

To note, while the show is considered part of the “Arrowverse” – the name given to The CW’s DC Comics-based series which share the same universe – by no means are any of the other shows required viewing to understand what’s happening in Superman & Lois. With the exception of a cameo or two, Superman & Lois is pretty divorced from the rest of the “Arrowverse,” which ends up working in its favor. 

It’s safe to say that, even though Superman & Lois teeters on occasion, this small-screen take on the Man of Steel is unquestionably a success. A lot of that credit can be given to the show’s emphasis on family, which ends up being both a legitimately novel take on the Superman mythos and the source of some of the series’ strongest moments. Hoechlin and Tullochare are pitch-perfect for this iteration of the super-couple, with both playing off each other wonderfully and reveling in their undeniable chemistry. And impressively, there really isn’t a single bad episode to be found in Superman & Lois‘ first season, and when it clicks just right, it’s truly great television.

And for those looking to check out, or revisit, Superman & Lois, then the Blu-ray release for The Complete First Season is unquestionably the way to go. Though also available on DVD and digital platforms, the high-definition presentation on Blu-ray disc surpasses them all. Superman & Lois‘s unique visual style really shines on Blu-ray, easily overshadowing the quality of other formats. The 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is also fantastic, and superbly juggling the quiet conversations and bombastic set pieces without issue. The Blu-ray also features some worthwhile bonus content to check out, most importantly extended cuts of all 15 episodes from season one. The Blu-ray also includes a 19-minute “Superman & Lois: Legacy of Hope” featurette, a “Superman: Alien Spirit” 9-minute featurette, the nearly 30-minute “DC FanDome Panel: Superman & Lois” special, and a 21-minute “Never Alone: Heroes and Allies.” featurette – all enjoyable.

All things considered, Superman & Lois is a strong addition to the Man of Steel’s already hefty amount of television and movie adaptations, even exceeding expectations with its smart, big-hearted take on The Kents. It can proudly stand side by side with the likes of Superman: The Movie and Superman: The Animated Series as adaptations that really gets to the core of the character and why – maybe now more than ever – he continues to matter (ideally the same can be said for future seasons). While it does endure a couple growing pains along the way, the debut season of Superman & Lois is one of DC Comics’ strongest television outings in recent years, and deserves the attention of even the biggest skeptics. It’s just that good. Highly Recommended!

Superman & Lois: The Complete First Season is now available to own on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital and for streaming on HBO Max.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided The World’s Finest with a copy of Superman & Lois: The Complete First Season for the purposes of this review.


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