You have no idea how much time The Sis and I spent mocking this thing all year. And now I feel like I totally owe an apology to everyone I’ve ever made fun of for watching this show. ‘Cause it’s fuckin’ fabulous.
Honestly, before this fall, the only thing I had ever heard anyone say about Supernatural was that it was The Pretty Boys Show, leading me to believe that was ALL the show had to offer. I’ve never been to partial to the typical ‘cardboard-cut-out’ pretty boys in my television which is why I never checked it out before. But after finally going through it for myself, I have to say, it’s a crying shame that the series has been marked as such. Because the show is actually great in its own right. THERE IS SO MUCH HERE FOR ME TO LOVE. So much so, I *must* make a list...
HELLO TRAGIC, PAINFUL HISTORY
So I had watched the pilot way back last year when it first aired, right? But I must have been blind not to realize this show had my name written ALL OVER IT. Because what the hell has my mantra been for so many years? Dead people make the BEST recipe for a new show. And here, not only did this show revolve around two boys whose mother DIED, but that action had caused their whole lives to change LIKE THAT! And then you have their Dad that has been searching for their mother’s killer for 22 years and now he is MISSING and then the end Sam’s girlfriend is killed by the SAME DAMN THING and HOW ON EARTH DID I NOT SEE THE FABULOUS RECIPE FOR AWESOMENESS IN THE MAKING?! Oh, yea, that’s right. I was still way too bitter about this looking like The WB’s shoddy replacement for Angel. Stupid petty resentment got in the way.
I do have to say, the pilot is not the greatest of eps, but what is important is that IT ONLY GETS BETTER FROM THERE. The whole scene in the second episode where Dean talks to Sam about their dad's book and doing their job? That whole scene blew me away. And not just because HOLY CRAP, PADALECKI CAN ACT?! Who knew! But because it solidified what they’d be doing with this series. That it wouldn’t be merely MotW but MotW with character insight and meaningful brother interaction and familial obligation and refusing to forget the past! OMG!TRAGIC HISTORY!
And so I quickly ran through eps 103 - 108 and somewhere along the line, I started to really love the series. Each ep had its funny moments and its character depth moments and the MotW parts that drove me to the edge of my seat such numerous times that by ep 6 I was calling this the MOST NERVEWRACKING SHOW EVER. (Seriously, this show plays creepy TOO DAMN WELL.) The first couple eps were ridiculously well-balanced to give you just what you needed in order to really get to know the brothers. Basically, preparing you to be prime and plump for when they decided to RIP YOUR HEART OUT. I can only liken it to what Joss did to me with Firefly in the episodes before ‘Out of Gas’.
But damn if I didn’t realize that the ‘Out of Gas’ effect was taking place all that time. Because then I watched ‘Home’. Which was the first episode of many to just break me into little tiny pieces. Not to mention knock my ass to the floor because HOLY SHIT, THERE IS AN OVERREACHING ARC IN THIS SHOW?!?! And not just any arc but a FABULOUS, ROOTED IN THE PAIN OF THE PAST ARC. Can you picture me watching this simultaneously screaming SCORE!! and turning in to a blubbering idiot at the TEN LEVELS OF TRAGIC PAIN AND HORRIBLE ANGST? Because that’s exactly what happened.
So I was basically completely OWNED by this show with ‘Home’, but then that ep basically set into principle how exactly the rest of the ARC eps would absolutely kill me, each with more exponential killing power.
For the last week, I’ve honestly been trying to think of a truer onscreen brother portrayal (or even simply sibling portrayal) I've seen on television and I honestly can’t come up with one. The beats that they hit with these guys are just so impressive. They tease and bicker and nag and prank and fight and yell but when the chips are down, they’re right there for one another. And somehow this show is able to strike this lovely balance so that it’s not too sentimental and fluffy but not too dark or disconnected, just...right.
And I admit, I was really skeptical about a show sporting only two main characters. But man, did they throw that skeptism out the window in no time!
Not to compare shows or anything but...okay, just to compare shows. The characters of Sam and Dean are pretty much exactly what I had always thought Veronica and Logan had the potential to become. And no, that’s not me saying I support the Wincest, because I totally don’t. I’m not talking about any romantic implications. I’m just talking about their character construction, and how their relationship is brought about and sustained through that construction. They have these polarizing thoughts that propel scenes and storylines and force each other through character progression. And yet they complement each other in such a way that despite their broken states, are able to find strength in each other. It’s a fabulous feat to be able to propel a series on two characters so strongly, and this show does it remarkably. EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Yes, I am still in awe of this show’s consistance for excellence.
There’s also this lovely advantage that a show has if it can pull off two characters like this. Because with only two characters, it is almost literally a whole 45 minutes an episode of those two on-screen. Add in how these two are thrown into near-death situations every single episode and it really gives you a chance to get seriously attached to these two within only a few short eps. Quickly, you understand their character motivations, fears, and regrets and it just ends up really bringing the viewer close to the characters. No one should ever underestimate that connectivity factor.
And sure, some might say it ends up leaving the show too simple with only two characters but I don’t know. I think I’d rather see something done well from one point to the other instead of being sloppily handled. And hey, look, you don’t have problems with character shirking or having too little of time to address things because you have only two characters. Everything is taken step by step. Issues that SHOULD be dealt with? ARE dealt with. It’s so refreshing. Things are presented and then moved on in a progression that it should be allowed to. From one ep to another. Character issues end up being carried over with grace, not forgotten only to be clunked down later.
And granted, this show doesn’t exactly have the most accomplished of writing. Most of the scenes are made awesome by the production of them, not necessarily the writing underneath them. And they do a lot of ‘tell’ instead of ‘show’ which I know I should consider OMG!BAD. But as hellopoe said, I DON’T CARE. It’s so refreshing to see characters talking about what they should be talking about. I’m so sick of waiting for conversations that never happen and then having to fanwank them in order for progression to make any sense. Here, there’s no showrunner mind games. If characters should talk, they do. End of story.
What amazes me is that they’ve struck such a balance with these two characters for me. They are so different and yet, here’s the crazy thing. I LOVE THEM BOTH. EQUALLY. Okay, so granted, as of now, Dean’s character has been given more depth than Sam’s has and is therefore a little bit more interesting to me. Plus, I kind of connect to his character more because, hey, fellow older sibling here! But in the end, the point is I LOVE BOTH THE BROTHERS. This isn’t a ‘God, Dawson’s so annoying, go drown him in the creek and give the show to Pacey already.’ Nor is it a ‘Give Logan more screentime and drive Duncan away because he’s boring me to death.’ This is EQUAL CHARACTER LOVE.
And I see it looks like there’s some uneven love in fandom, but for me, they’ve really accomplished this in just how they let each of them have their flaws. They both have their good points and their bad and we see them both. One isn’t painted as a golden boy while the other is painted as the screw up. Dean is rebellious to society but golden to his family, hotheaded but mostly still with a rational mind. Sam is rebellious toward his family but society’s own golden boy, being booksmart but of the less rational mind than you would expect. Dean appears as the extroverted brother but in actuality keeps his feelings close to himself while Sam appears as the introverted one but ends up always bursting at the seams to let out his thoughts or feelings. It’s these ambiguous contrasts that really propels the series for me. We see them both screw up, and we see them move on from there. I’ve talked a couple of times about my love for equal scenes of controversy. Verbal fight scenes in which you can understand where each character is coming from, where neither character is really right and neither character is really wrong. This show produces these scenes on almost a WEEKLY basis. Which absolutely floors me. And it’s all possible because of these conflicting complex lines of character construction.
One of my concerns when I first started watching was how exactly they’d make it even remotely feasible for these two fully human ‘not at all super’ guys to be hunting down these supernatural things all the time. But they ended up making it work for me, quite simply because they don’t know everything. Episodes upon episodes, they think they have the answer all figured out and then it turns out they didn’t. They slip up numerous times, and sometimes those slip ups really cost them and their near death experiences end up getting really near-death. I mean, Dean should be dead twice over by now. (OH, DEAN.) But the whole point is, they don’t play the series like they are invincible hunters. They make a point to show their fallible humanity at all times. And it ended up being so refreshing to me that these guys were fighting these things not with supernatural powers, but supernatural smarts, that when ‘Nightmares’ came up and Sam could suddenly move things with his mind? It made me alittle sad. I would of never expected to have that reaction before watching...
(Except, someone really needs to get the boys some STEALTH lessons, STAT. They’re sneaking skills for snooping are incredibly lacking.)
Yea, John gets his own section in this post. Despite his near insanity toward the end, I loved his character’s run, if only just because of the effect he had on the brothers. I’ve seen just from quickly peeking my head in fandom that a lot of people rather hated him. But for me, he really had the Lilly effect for most of the season. I loved him simply because the boys loved him. You go episode upon episodes with the boys who are desperate to find their father, and you root them on. And so when he finally calls in ‘Scarecrow’ it’s just about the SADDEST THING EVER. Until of course, when he actually shows up at the end of ‘Shadows’. Which then becomes the new SADDEST THING EVER. And then he has to leave again. And then shows up again, is almost killed how many times, and DUDE, this guy is responsible for so many TRAGICALLY PAINFUL scenes, how can I not love him?
His presence really solidified how much despite what the show looked like, it was not about the scare so much as the family. And you can say all the weepy family moments were overdone but I’ll stand up for them because dude, this was their family here! They were all they've got. And here they are totally fallible humans with no super anything to speak of putting themselves on the line to kill this demon and I don’t know! Considering the context, I find the scenes they produce to be just the right amount of sentiment. It might still be the crack speaking but I’d say? BEST TV FAMILY PORTRAYAL EVER. Just because I can. ;)
Unfortunately, I did know that John was going to die at some point. I had read about it before even having the thought to watch the first season and I actually completely forgot about it until about halfway through. And I didn’t know how or when (I figured it was in the premiere since I had recently seen people talking about it) but nevertheless I did expect it so it lessened the punch for me alittle bit. (As a consequence, I found the premiere to be a little weak.) At any rate, I *want* to be incredibly mad with him for doing what he did so stupidly and leaving his boys like that, but I can’t. Because if he hadn’t done what he had done? Dean would be dead. And we can’t have that. So instead, I must thank him. As much as I loved his character, this was really the perfect moment for him to go. Besides, he was losing it anyway. After what he had gone through in the finale, getting so close to what he’d been trying to accomplish for so long and loosing that? He would have only gone insane and gotten himself killed, or even worse, his boys. This was definitely the most perfect way for him to go. (Except, you know THAT STUPID BLOODY SECRET DEVICE THEY INSULTLY CLUNKED DOWN IN FRONT OF US. But more on that some other time. We're on the love train now.)
But none of this would mean anything if the show didn’t have the acting to back it up. They could have ended up with such corn in the hands of less capable actors. And truthfully, with Padalecki on board, I was bracing myself for just that. But damn! All three of these guys have just really brought their A-game to this show. Their use of pauses and stutters and facial movements and inflections are just so damn effective in selling every scene so completely that I’m honestly in awe.
Jensen Ackles? I expected him to be good. I’ve never seen him in anything he couldn’t pull off with finesse. But I wasn’t ready for him to be so fuckin’ spectacular! The way he is able to just put himself in a scene so completely in portraying Dean’s internal angst? And what that guy can do with a couple of silent seconds when they give it to him? JUST KILLER. He just totally sends my world askew. Because HELLO pretty boys can’t be awesome actors! And yet, he totally is. These things are supposed to be completely mutually exclusive. HE TOTALLY DEFIES THE UNIVERSE. Hi, Jensen, welcome to my top five list of actors I will follow anywhere.
And Padalecki, I had remembered him being really horrible in the pilot and true, he was sort of overbearing in places. But too bad I hadn’t gone on to watch the second episode where he just knocks that ‘I’ve got to find Dad’ woods scene right out the park! Now admittedly, Ackles’ acting abilities reach further than Paladecki’s but he still manages to impress me with each episode. As it ends up, he plays the perfect emotional little brother to complement Jensen’s own hard-boiled Dean.
And Jeffrey Dean Morgan? Well, he just never failed to break my heart every time he was onscreen. He really was a master of the use of pauses and I really am sad to see him go.
Something I really noticed watching this show? How effective their use of close-ups and extreme close-ups are. If you have actors that can handle it, (and what Jensen can do with close-ups is damn near miraculous) it only serves to pull you even closer to the characters. After being so used to the sparse use of it in VM, I’m happy to see it again.
HI, OTHER SHOWS
When I watch a new show, I’m one of those people who relates it immediately to my old shows. It’s just what happens. It’s human nature. You relate what’s new to what you already know. Like when I first watched Veronica Mars, it reminded me as taking the best elements of Angel and Dawson’s Creek with a dash of Buffy and a good helping of Poirot. When I watched Firefly, I related it to mixing Little House on the Prairie, Star Trek, Veronica Mars and M*A*S*H in one big melting pot.
But Supernatural might just have a conglomeration of the best reminders of any of my old shows yet. This isn’t to say that the SPN isn’t its own show in its own right. It is. Nevertheless, it has certain elements that just nostalgically reminded me of my three most favorite shows of all time, Angel, Veronica Mars, and Firefly. This, of course, can’t be anything but a good thing.
Angel is the given. I expected it when I first started watching, since I remembered tuning into the Pilot last year and screaming ‘THIS IS A POOR MAN’S ANGEL!’ all night. At that time, I had resented it, but it seems as though I’ve accepted Angel’s death finally, because the aspects that is does have of the show, I can now look at fondly. From little things like the dark, high contrast aspect and similar cars, to the main idea of hunting a new monster every week and larger things like the inner turmoil of the characters and using its presence to utterly rip the hearts out of their viewers. Also, I’ve discovered that I really miss the supernatural angle on things. As much as I really disliked that part of Angel and Buffy when it was on, and how much I loved that VM didn’t have that angle, I’ve been without it for too long. And this show really makes me miss the almost limitless possibilities that a supernatural series can bring. It just brings you such a longer scope of ideas to explore. Also something that I miss from my lack of new Buffy and Angel? That feeling of first time watching, knowing they have to get out of the spot they’ve gotten themselves in, but not knowing how? It’s an adrenaline rush. Plus, it lends itself to that connectivity factor. When you fear for their lives so, you connect to them just like THAT! Something else I’ve really missed from VM’s set up that was done with Buffy and Angel? Getting that chance to truly meet the real character by (as that fictional psychotic dictator would say, *wink*) holding them over that ‘volcanic edge’ every week. VM can do this and has, but to a far lesser extent since it’s real world boundaries limit them so. And I honestly didn’t even realize I how much I had missed it until going through this series.
What else did I discover I had missed? THE RESEARCH BOOKS. You know how every episode of Angel and Buffy had them digging through these anciently old, musty books? I MISS THAT. I know, it was a strange thing to miss, but I do. Researching on the computer just isn’t the same as sitting down to stick your nose in a pile of books a mile high.
I was actually more surprised to see little bits of Firefly rememberance in this show. Considering how long gone that show is, anything that gives me even the briefest of FF reminders I have to accept with open arms. And maybe I just really miss Firefly, but SPN is highly reminescent of the show for me. Such as the basic simple concept that leaves the series wide open for MotW and season progression. The brothers running around in The Impala each week to little back-country towns of America to do a job is like that of Firefly’s weekly premise of flying around in Serenity to a different planet each week. You have your beginning ‘arrival’ shots and your end ‘leaving town’ shots, complete with snarky commentary about the town on their way out. And like Serenity, The Impala is treated like the third character of the show, and soon you find yourself loving the damn thing. (And then the showrunners take advantage of that fact and stab you right in the heart! But wait, I haven’t gotten to that yet.) Not only that, but you have this constant talk of jobs. Finding a job, taking a job. The importance of getting the job done. Dean reminds me of Mal over and over in so many different ways I’m not even sure where I would start, from his goofy joking tendencies and sporting this devil-without-a-cause confidence all the while hiding behind it his past which is slowly eating away at him and burying him in a darker and darker hole for every day that he bottles it up and keeps it to himself? Hard-boiled to a core, that boy. Not to mention they share their love for their vechicles of transportation!! I would however wager that a lot of the similarities in the characters are due to how Jensen Ackles’s acting style is similar to Fillion’s. Nevertheless, I love what I see.
As far as VM, I think I probably have the talent of relating anything to VM in one way or another. But I’ve talked in the past about the similarities between Mal and Veronica, and so of course, I see a lot of similarities between Veronica and Dean. The hard-boiled bitter cynicism? Which when you dig past, you find is just a shell to protect their squishy marshmellowy core? In fact, I had jokingly said while watching the pilot that Dean was S1 Veronica and Sam was S2 Veronica. I had no idea how true it would actually turn out to be, Sam with his plead for a normal life and knowing their family can never be like before while Dean rejects normal but desperately wants to preserve their family. But in the less crazy arena, the set up is sort of similar to S1 VM complete with noir-like elements. Their goal of finding their mother’s killer? The pained past that has changed their lives so, ripped ‘normal’ from them, and never lets them forget? Except that in this case, the past literally haunts them. But you’ve got your hard-boiled character in Dean, cynical dialogue in the script, and topped off with its high contrast-y and dark wet streets look. It’s like VM if it had a supernatural element and Rob cared about characterization more than the mystery arc.
Just from the little I’ve poked around reviews for the show, it is unfortunate that this show seems to be getting the brush-off by critics about as widely as Dawson’s Creek itself. *pets poor old show I still feel like defending after all these years* Why doesn’t this show get more critic love? I don’t understand it.
THE IMPALA – THIS SHOW HAS CAR LOVE?!?
How much do I love this car? WORDS CAN NOT EXPLAIN. I learned pretty quickly that it was really stupid of me to liken my love of The Impala to Serenity because here THEY MADE ME WATCH IT GET DESTROYED. The truck just keeps moving and slamming the car to pieces and I HAD TO WATCH THAT. IT KIIILLLLLED ME. And here, I knew Sam and Dean would end up being okay. BUT THE IMPALA?!? I couldn’t lose The Impala!!
When they showed it at the junk yard in the premiere, and Bobby was saying how it was a waste to try and save it, I was just like: NO. THE IMPALA WILL BE REBUILT AND THAT’S THE END OF THE STORY. OKAY?
THE CAR JUNK YARD! THE IMPALA! DEAN! HE’S WORKING TO FIX THE IMPALA! THANK THE LORDIE. THE IMPALA WILL DRIVE AGAIN. Man, that was the happiest thing they could have shown me. Until of course the next episode where it opened with 'Back in Black' and lo and behold coming over the hill was OMG. IT'S THE IMPALA BACK ON THE ROAD. And they not only gave its reintroduction a perfect song of its own, THEY GAVE IT FULL-ON SPOTLIGHT. THE CAR GOT A FULL-ON SPOTLIGHT!! See, at least there’s SOME showrunners that understand the emotional value and importance of transportation vehicles.
(And after some more poking around SPN fandom, it look like everyone calls the car by name of Metallicar? WHY? Sorry, I ran through the whole season calling it The Impala, so for me, that’s what’s sticking. Yes, proper noun and all.)
COLOR FILTER LOVE
Whatever filter they use on this show, I am completey and utterly in *love* with it. How it desaturates the picture but with this dark contrast-iness that in night scenes make it almost ‘black and white’ like? SIGH. I confess, I’m originally a black and white lover so it makes me very happy.
THE DP IS MY NEW HERO
Despite the desaturation, this show is still SO FUCKIN’ PRETTY. The shots and the camera work are planned so damn well, in a way that kind of puts previous shows in the sand. And my favorite, is the accented blues and greens of this show. I’m not sure whether it’s the filter that does it or just the lighting, I’m sure it’s a combination of both, but the whole damn show has this grey bluish green color that I just LOVE. And then combining those colors with their dark night scenes where they intersperse these colors with the fog and you have a recipe for me dying of the prettiness after every cap. Plus, THIS SHOW HAS PRETTY PRETTY LENS FLARES!
Also? I totally missed the use of focus changes. This show REALLY uses their focus changes and I *love* it. Deep focus is nice and all, but sometimes, the use of focus changes is just plain fun to watch.
AS IS THE EDITOR
Hi, editing transitions of utter FABULOUSNESS. Thank you for rocking my world. A fruit basket will be arriving for you shortly.
AND THE COMPOSERS
This score is just a work of absolute fabulousness in itself. It literally MAKES this show. So much of this show pulling off what it tries to pull off depends on its score. And I quite honestly haven’t heard a score so accomplished on television since Christophe Beck (Buffy) and Greg Edmonson (Firefly). Of course, it is a little unfair because the show actually has two composers that swap episodes every other week. Aren’t they lucky, not having that one week crunch that most tv composers do! But nevertheless, the score remains cohesive ep to ep with a constant eclectic nature that is incredibly impressive. From the creepy dissodant build-ups that set you on edge a la Bernard Herrmann himself, to the stinger scary tactics that are way too damn effective and cause me to jump to the sky, they’re still not afraid to hit these sweet, beautifully sympathetic string-based melodies that are just ESSENTIAL for the shows emotional content. And my ultimate favorite, are the use of acoustic guitars and other folk instruments to create this slight western-type sound for the backcountry towns that sounds like something pulled right out of Firefly and just…SIGH. I love it.
KRIPKE GIVES ME AWESOME TUNES
The classic rock adoration in this show just cracks me up. But I love it. And the sound surprisingly works for the series. It’s actually inspired me to pull out that classic rock playlist I haven’t listened to in forever. And now I remember why. Because they go through my head ALL DAY LONG. Still, in this day and age of badly matched up imagery to contemporary music that recording companies only care to get off the CD racks, any showrunner who wants to use AC/DC and Bad Company for a TV series soundtrack? Is absolutely fabulous by me.
AND AWESOME PREVIOUSLIES?! This is me in heaven.
Has any other show in the world ever rocked their previouslies more? I was in love with them back when they had the same generic one they used over and over again in the beginning of the series just because HELLO. Here’s a show that says, ‘Hey, we have a one minute spot to do whatever we want to catch people up with the show. Let’s make the most of it!’ But then the end of the season they did the previouslies to ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’ which ROCKED MY FUCKIN’ WORLD. And then they decided to do every new previously just like that one with a new classic rock song every week that totally relates on every single level to the matter at hand? They should win an award for this alone.
And because I can’t forget...The Silly But Still Important Miscellaneous Aspects to Love
I confess. I have this thing. I *love* a guy in a good jacket. And I am so ridiculously in love with the jackets the boys wear all the time. Dean’s leather jacket? And Sam’s khaki jacket? And all the other collared jean jackets they wear in between. Wardrobe totally deserves a fruitcake.
Also, the consistant use of the black-cord necklace on Dean? LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. And hey, I heard they’re actually giving the necklace some significance. HI, SHOWRUNNER WHO CARES ENOUGH TO EXPLAIN NECKLACES A CHARACTER WEARS IN EVERY SINGLE EPISODE.
Also, I *love* the episode name title cards. Every show should do that. It should be the law.
And...I just...I love everything about this show. Seriously, I can’t think of a single thing I don’t like about it. The utter creepiness, yes, I could probably do without the freakin’ heartattacks every minute. But it’s done so well, I simply don’t have the heart to complain about it.
In all honestly, after all this time, VM has just sort of worn me out. I’d just gotten so tired of begging and pleading for the littlest of scraps. And then here comes Kripke who says, “Hey, I’ll give you everything you want. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.” I so I kinda feel like a traitor but I don’t care. There’s a starving fandom girl over here. And she’s jumping in to join the feast.