The Official Companion
Season 5

Author: Craig Byrne
Titan Books
RRP: £12.99, US $14.95, Cdn $19.85
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 542 2
ISBN-10: 1 84576 542 7
Available 21 December 2007

Smallville, the hit series which follows the adventures of a teenaged Clark Kent and his friends - including Lana Lang, Lex Luthor and Lois Lane - is one of the hottest shows on TV. This volume of the authorised companion series explores the making of Season Five, and is full of cast and crew interviews, unseen pictures, behind-the-scenes stories and a comprehensive episode guide. Also included are excerpts from the Smallville Ledger and the Daily Planet, as well as the Central Kansas University paper The Tomahawk! Plus a special in-depth look at the making of the show's critically acclaimed hundredth episode Reckoning and a 16-page colour photo gallery...

Craig Byrne delivers his second Smallville Official Companion, following the guidelines carefully set down by Paul Simpson for the first three volumes. If you've purchased any of the previous collections then you'll know that, content wise, these are essential purchases for serious Smallville fans - even if the poor paperstock makes the majority of the carefully chosen black and white photos appear blurred or badly reproduced.

There are no real surprises here, just (thankfully) more of the same. Each episode for the show's Fifth Season has a brief synopsis followed by background information on that episode: the original vision; behind the scenes information; how the episode would shape the future of the series; information on the guest stars; etc... you know the sort of thing. Basically, lots of interesting snippets of information that acts as a complimentary companion to each episode.

In addition, once again, in amongst the pages are little boxes of trivia information; notes on the music tracks used in the episodes; cuttings from various sources (the Smallville Ledger, Daily Planet, The Tomahawk! and Project Mercury) that help to flesh out each episode. Although, I have to admit to not finding the inclusions of the newspaper cuttings as useful. Some of them feel a little too much like space fillers.

More than half of this book is also taken up with pages that look at the cast and crew as well as the Smallville phenomena. Again, these sections will be welcomed by fans of the series.

There are the usual slight complaints. As usual these have nothing to do with the author's hard work in compiling the content. As I've already mentioned, the paper stock is not really the best for showcasing the numerous black and white photos. And, because of this, most of the images look way too dark and some look out of focus. Then there's the 16-pages of colour photographs, While these are a much welcome inclusion, yet again it's just a dry collection of publicity shots with individual actors - although, once again there is a page devoted to a series of stills from a scene in Season Five.

Those slight grumbles aside, this is still one of the better Official Companions on the market and will certainly take pride of place in any Smallville fan's collection.

Steve Mikando

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