By blending together elements found in road movies, buddy comedies, horror films and classical westerns centering on mysterious heroes who ride into any given town to save the day, series creator Eric Kripke built the backbone of the cult favorite Warner Brothers television show Supernatural.
Given the series’ cinematic scope that was apparent right from the start of Kripke’s ten years in the making, labor-of-love project, it’s only fitting that this brand new re-release of the first successful 2005-06 season makes its way to Blu-ray high definition to enhance the filmic feel of the twenty-two episode initial run.
While the picture presentation of the darkly lit series is a bit grainy during close-ups and murkily lit in its overly black night sequences that make it slightly harder for audiences to pick out the characters from their surroundings, it still makes an easier translation to Blu-ray quality than other CW series because it was intended to offer fans a different supernatural horror mini-movie every week.
And that it does, both to the first season’s detriment as well as its success since it opens with a seriously intense pilot that picks up momentum over the next few episodes before it unfortunately turns into a series of unrelated “freak of the week” standalone installments without the benefit of a greater story arc to hold the work together or get us invested in the nearly nonexistent mythology of the series.
Bolstered by the dynamic chemistry of its two lead actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, Supernatural begins with a terrifying flashback as we see the boys as young children interacting with their father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) before the unexplainable occurs as their mother is jolted to the top of the ceiling and the home is burst into flames.
Spending the rest of their childhood “hunting” along with their military father for the demon or creature that murdered their mother, as the series opener continues we find Sam Winchester (Padalecki) excitedly making plans with his girlfriend about their future together at Stanford University before Sam’s older brother Dean (Ackles) arrives out of the blue to tell Sam that their father has gone missing.
Having hoped to leave the life of chasing unexplainable phenomena behind him to live like a normal college student, Sam seems pretty reluctant to pack up and hit the road with his brother in their trusty ’67 Impala. However, when the demon from their past threatens Sam’s future and tragedy strikes once again, Sam decides to join Dean to not only track down their father but try and stop any and every evil entity they find waiting for them in the United States.
Considering the names of Sam and Dean – an obvious play on Kerouac’s “Sal” and “Dean” from On the Road-- Kripke’s series plays out like a modern day western as the two drift in and out of towns all across the country where bogeymen are real and there’s plenty of things going bump in the night.
For the plethora of cases that come the young men’s way, the Supernatural writers draw on various urban legends like “Bloody Mary” and mythic creatures like witches and vampires, with special effects galore. And admittedly, there’s enough scares packed into the first season to make you jump right along with Sam and Dean as they impersonate cops and medical students to gain access to crime scenes. Nonetheless, without any major multi-episode plot development until you hit the halfway point in the season when we meet one villain who then disappears until the final few shows, unfortunately there’s not enough going on to keep you invested on anything more than just an escapist scary movie level.
In fact, horror fans are sure to catch nods to everything from The Ring to The Exorcist and Final Destination throughout as angry ghosts, demonic possession and showdowns with fate fill the screen. And thanks to the way the show sort of winks at the audience by employing plot-lines with which we’re familiar and giving the brothers a great nonstop soundtrack of classic rock they use as driving music that we can all relate to, Supernatural succeeds.
Likewise, it ensures overall that you remain entertained even if you wish that Kripke could’ve used the ten years he spent developing Supernatural to truly build the structure of its debut season by making the mini-movies feel like they’re part of a much bigger picture rather than just mindless interchangeable diversions of heroes and villains.
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