Sunday, 7 December 2008

Of Supernatural Season 1

Hey, remember yesterday when I said that I’d have some season reviews up in the next week? Guess what I was telling the truth! Whilst the Dexter review might have to be pushed back (I’m going away the day before the last episode airs), Supernatural and Veronica Mars are still on track. I might get them both up today, just depends whether or not I watch the last 2 episodes of Veronica Mars today or not. But I have finished Season 1 of Supernatural which I will now review.

Season 1 of Supernatural is very good. It isn’t the best though; think of it more in line with Chuck except its more of a drama than a comedy (although there are comedy elements in it). However I have a feeling it is going to move itself out of the ‘fun’ category and move into the ‘very good’ category soon, especially if the quality of the last episode is maintained (which from what I’ve gathered it does).

Supernatural is about two brothers who go around battling demons and ghosts and the like, so far so Ghostbusters. The two brothers have a great rapport and played to perfection by Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester and Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester. The Winchester brothers fire witty lines at each other for quite a while but are also fairly adept at catching these spirits and evil beings. And this is where my main complaint for Supernatural comes; it falls very much into the ‘monster of the week’ trap. Yes shows like Buffy and Chuck also use this very much and I’m not saying it detracts in any big way from the show, because it doesn’t. However it would be nice for some little story arcs, yes there is the season long arc of ‘where is John Winchester (the boy’s father)’ but it seems that whilst it is interesting there just doesn’t seem to be any carry forward.

There are only seven characters that appear in multiple episodes of Supernatural, and before you say “that seems like enough”, I would like to give you some figures. Sam and Dean Winchester appear in all 22 episodes of the season and are the only contracted regulars. John Winchester appears in 8 episodes overall, Meg Marsters appear in 4 episodes, Sam and Dean’s mother appears in 2, Sam’s girlfriend appears in 2 and unnamed demons appears in 2 episodes. Every single other character in the show appears for one episode and doesn’t reappear. Shows like Chuck and Buffy had reasonably big casts and are always able to keep the play between characters interesting. There also little mini-arcs which introduce characters who might be around for ever but are still around for a fair while so we can get to know them. Supernatural relies entirely on the chemistry of Sam and Dean Winchester, which thankfully there is a lot of.

The Season long arc also isn’t pulled off as well as a show like Buffy or Veronica Mars (which perfected the art in its first season). Yes it is always interesting, but there is no real mystery it’s just the occasional phone call or clue to their father’s whereabouts. It just would have been nice for an episode or two where we get a new character who we know is going to stick around for a while and is going to help them find their dad.

However then we have the actual ‘monsters of the week’ themselves. Some of them are really very good horror movies (albeit told in 40 minutes and less gore). Many of the episodes deal with folk lore type creatures such as evil scarecrows and the woman who appears if you say her name three times into a mirror. Some episodes such as “Faith” and “Provenance” are exceedingly well done but it is the mythological heavy episodes that are the most interesting. Whilst Supernatural doesn’t have mini-arcs it has a strong series of sub-arcs to the “missing dad” one such as “who killed their mother?” and “why is Sam some sort of psychic?” These questions are detailed in episodes such as “House” and “Nightmares” and are definitely the most interesting episodes of the show. Then there are the monsters themselves, they are all done surprisingly well. Whilst some are just downright stupid (seriously a racist car?) the effects for most of the monsters are good in a subdued way and the way they are dealt with is also really interesting. The show also likes to mess around with generally accepted law (such as vampires).

Finally I would like to give a brief mention to the gore on this show. Holy fuck! Many episodes feature blood and whilst the majority of the time it is the “splatters against the wall/window” trick, sometimes it is used in other ways. This show is one of the few times I’ve actually seen a headshot carried out in camera. Some 15 movies don’t have the stones to do that, then there’s the fact that blood actually comes out the other side! The most surprising thing about this show is the network it airs on. This show is on the CW a network well known for targeting the “tween girl” demographic. You know shows like 90210, One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl (that one is very good though). So to have a show about two boys going around killing demons is interesting (however it also the network which cancelled Veronica Mars).

Overall I’m going to give Supernatural a 7.5/10. It has laid its foundations incredibly well and introduced a whole heap of mythology and it promises to get a lot better in Season 2.

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