Supernatural: The Complete First Season (2005)
By: Markus Zussner on October 19, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Warner (Australia). Region 2, 4, & 5. PAL. 1.77:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. English, Dutch, English FTHI Subtitles. 893 mins
The Movie
Credits
Creator: Eric Kripke
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Dean Winchester, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Screenplay: Eric Kripke, Brad Buckner, Eugenie Ross-Leming
Music: Jay Gruska, Christopher Lennertz
Tagline: Fear is a luxury
Country: USA
It's been a while since I've seen a really good genre TV series that delivers the goods, but Eric Kripke (co-producer and screenwriter of Boogeyman) has finally created a supernatural horror TV series aptly named Supernatural, which has luckily managed to survive for another season. Yep, there's nothing like getting into a TV show which you think is the bees knees and then they axe the show before it gets to Season Two. If this were the fate of Supernatural, I don't think that I would've written this review. No point switching someone onto a show that's going nowhere. Supernatural is a no bullshit TV show oozing with blood, guts and horror and great stories.

Supernatural has Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki playing brothers Dean and Sam Winchester, who travel the countryside looking for their missing father. Twenty two years earlier when Sam is just an infant and his older brother Dean just four years old, their Mother Mary is horrifically murdered by a dark evil force on November 2nd, All Souls Day. Their father John notices blood dripping from the ceiling into Sam's cradle. John looks up to find the source and is shocked to see his wife Mary pinned to the ceiling, stomach cut open and throat slit, and before he can even react, Mary bursts into flames. John tells Dean to get Sam out of the house as he attempts to save Mary but the fire consumes everything quickly and John is forced to flee. After a Psychic tells John that a very nasty demon is responsible for his wife's death, he becomes obsessed with hunting it down, and this traumatic event changes what should have been a normal upbringing for both Dean and Sam who are raised by their father as "Hunters" and trained to find and combat evil supernatural forces. Eventually Sam has a falling out with his father and pursues a normal life by enrolling in Stanford University while Dean continues to follow in the footsteps of his dad. Its twenty two years later almost to the day when their mother was murdered, and this is where our story really starts. Dean turns up one night at Sam's on-campus apartment where he lives with his girlfriend Jessica, to deliver the bad news that their father has gone missing on one of his so-called "hunting trips". Sam reluctantly agrees to help his Brother Dean find their father so long as he is back by Monday so that he can attend an important job interview and get on with his normal life. The Brothers follow a lead on their father that takes them to Jericho California. Here they find clues to help them with their search for dad, but Sam decides not to continue on, telling Dean that he is competent enough to do this on his own. Dean's motive for having Sam with him is the need to protect Sam from the impending storm of evil that lies ahead. After all, he is the older brother and that's what older brothers do. Dean looks up to his father and he made a promise to him to look after Sam. So from here Sam goes back to his apartment. It is now exactly twenty two years to the day that their mother was murdered. Its evening and Sam finds the apartment dark and quiet. He looks for his love Jessica. She's not in the shower (you wish) she's not in bed (you still wish) oh, there she is suspended from the ceiling, stomach sliced open and throat slit and then poof! There she goes, lit up like a roman candle. Well if there ever was an incentive to go and kick some evil ass with your older brother, this would have to be it. Dean is on hand to drag his little brother to safety. Together they drive off into the night in Dean's 1967 black Chevy Impala, armed to the teeth with a trunk full of specialised weapons and a CD stack with Dean's personal rock music collection dating from the 70's onward. As Dean says, "My car, my music, man". Awesome, he has a copy of the first album from The Eagles of Death Metal in that stack. The Impalas trunk has the secret weapons stash containing various weapons that you would use to combat supernatural forces such as a shotgun that takes rock salt rounds to blow away angry ghosts and critters, or blades made of silver to use against certain nasties. The black Chevy Impala with only one working headlight is featured consistently throughout the first season, and as far as I am concerned is the third member of this team. The car is Dean's baby and he will protect it with as much vigour as he does his brother Sam. The car takes some damage by the end of the pilot episode, but is repaired and ready to take them on their cross country search for their father and all things evil. Tragedy struck me when I watched the Chevy being totalled by a truck in the season finale (I cried for a very long time), but sources tell me the car will be repaired and ready to go for season two. As the brothers go from one town to another they battle all sorts of evil, such as Demons, Vampires, mutants, monsters, ghosts, the possessed, screwed up psychic healers, scarecrows that actually scare, urban legends like Bloody Mary and the mythical Indian beast, Wendigo. Nothing is complete without dropping by Hell House or a haunted and dilapidated psychiatric hospital where all the dead patients and staff like to come out at night and play doctors and nurses on unsuspecting college frats, and why not travel down Route 666 and avoid being rundown by killer phantom trucks?

The first half of the Supernatural TV series is quite restrained, with most of the violence and gore shown in its aftermath stage. I didn't mind this at all because the storylines of each episode are consistently strong and there's plenty of tension to keep you occupied throughout and the pacing of each episode is excellent. Couldn't ask for much more could you? Well wait because things only get better. Half way through this 22 episode first season feast the creators of Supernatural turned the visual assault up a few notches and did what I didn't expect, and that is to lay on the gore nice and thick. Well as thick as gore can get on a TV show. In Episode 1.15 Shadow, there were three particularly nasty scenes involving this lovely little blonde girl called Meg who goes around slitting throats in the name of the evil. We see two of her victims throats cut on-screen and to great effect, but the third throat slit delivered over the telephone had much more impact on me. This kill was done for the sake of all good sound effects. Just before our pretty blonde girl with a knife does the dastardly deed, she says over the phone, "this is the sound of your friend dying" then you hear the victim gurgling and choking in his own blood from the other end of the line. This just goes to show that blondes do have more fun. The character Meg can be found in Episodes 1.10 Scarecrow, 1.15 Shadow and 1.20 Salvation. I have a funny feeling we haven't seen the last of Meg. There are plenty of monsters, mutants and freaks of nature appearing throughout the show, which means there's plenty of great monster makeup FX to drool over. The SPFX are a combination of CG and makeup FX and although I am not a real fan of CG, the CG in Supernatural is of good quality and shouldn't put you off.

Another thing I found great about Supernatural is that it only has one basic subplot that lurks just below each self contained episode waiting to pop up at the most convenient moment and it's not annoying or intrusive in any way. Unlike The X Files with it's subplot within a subplot and four more subplots hanging off that one, the subplot of Supernatural does not annoy and conflict with the whole body of work and is welcomed when it does pop up. Despite the subplot (finding dad and tracking down the demon that killed their mother) popping up every now and again, each episode is a well written self contained story. Each story is so well written that there really aren't any weak "space filler" episodes in Supernatural that you can bypass (which is what I do with some shows). Some of the evil guys and gals do get away, only to be killed off in later episodes, but a few, just a few, get away with seconds and I believe that we won't be seeing the last of them. Episode 1.19 Dead Man's Blood deals with Vampires Near Dark Style, where one nasty female biker chick with a nice set of canines will be coming back for another entrée in season two because our dashing heroes have killed her vampire boyfriend as well as most of her vampire biker crew. I am not a real vampire fan, Near Dark being the major exception, but I liked this one because it sort of reminded me of (yes you guessed it) Near Dark. It's only fair to mention Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Dean and Sam's father, John Winchester who has a recurring role throughout. Though there will be fans that favour one brother over another, when Jeffrey Dean Morgan pops up to chastise the kids every now and again, expect a powerhouse performance that deserves an Emmy. All I can say is Jeffrey Dean Morgan's performance kicks ass. For all the love that this family have for each other, each of their personalities is flawed in their own way. The Winchesters each have their strengths and weakness' which is what I see in all people in the real world and it's good to see this sort of realism developed in the structure of their characters. Maybe I'm just reading too much into all of this. I guess you will make your own mind up.
Video
Widescreen 1.77:1. There's not much I can say about picture quality other than beautiful, crisp and clear. I could not find a speck of dirt on this one. Most of Supernatural takes place at night as all good Horrors should. You won't find any grainy night shots. It's as clear as a cloudless full moon evening. Like the TV series Lost, there are no opening credit sequences to Supernatural or theme music.
Audio
English Dolby Digital 2.0. We are talking about a brand new state-of-the-art TV show with a decent budget and high quality production standards. With such a high standard, they certainly are not going to skimp on the sound quality and they don't. You won't be disappointed. Music selected for the soundtrack is from some of the great rock bands from the 70's onward. A good move, because the music won't be dated in 20 years time when Supernatural is on high rotate on the repeat channel. We're talking classic stuff here; AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush, Foreigner, Def Leppard, Living Daylights, Bad Company, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Boston, Quiet Riot, Scorpions and Joe Walsh. Believe me when I tell you that I haven't even scratched the surface yet. If you have never heard of any of these great bands, then you are probably too young to watch this TV show.
Extra Features
Sadly there are none. The Region 1 and Region 4 format were released at exactly the same time. The Region 4 format which we have here in Australia is devoid of any special features while the Region 1 format for USA has two featurettes, deleted scenes, and a preview of things to come, amongst other features. Why the Australian version should have had its special features gutted is a mystery to me and a damn shame since every other box set of TV shows that I have purchased come with a full compliment of extra features. Maybe they just vanished in some sort of supernatural event. The only extra you have is that you can switch the recap in the beginning of each episode off.
The Verdict
Supernatural is a typical example of less is more, and simple is just plain smart. Chilling, frightening, edgy and scary at the best of times. Comes in a slick, shiny, very slimline 6 disc set which won't hog up all the space on the DVD rack. Folks, tuck the kids into bed and grab a six pack of brewskies because Supernatural is Hardy Boys for adults.
Movie Score
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