Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recommendation of the Month: Supernatural

I enjoy any show that is well written and has a fine cast.  Supernatural is such a show.  But I don't just enjoy it, I love it.

I'll admit that I got into Supernatural late into its run.  The Winchester boys were already well into season five and nearing the end of the big angels and demons arc by time I picked the show up.  My greatest television regret is that I wasn't there with them from the very beginning.  But, better late than never, right?

Supernatural is just finishing up it's sixth season on the CW network and has recently been renewed for a seventh.  The show centers around Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers born in Kansas to John and Mary Winchester.  The Winchester's aren't a normal family, however.  They are hunters.  And I don't mean the deer or big game variety, they hunt the really bad stuff.  They hunt vampires, Wendigos, demons and shapeshifters.

When the series begins, the eldest Winchester son, Dean, pays a visit to his little brother in need of help.  Their father, John, is missing and he needs Sam to help find him.  Sam has left the hunting life to attend college and is even engaged to a nice girl and doesn't want to be drawn back in.  But, he goes with Dean because family is everything to the Winchesters.  So, with the understanding that once they find their father Sam will return to the new life he's made for himself, the brothers hit the road.  They encounter a different "monster of the week" in each episode as they come closer to finding their father.  Beneath each weekly story is a continuing arc that only gets more complicated and intense as the series progresses.

When Sam was just six months old, his mother was killed in an unusual way:  she was burned on the ceiling of his nursery.  Sam's fiance dies in the same manner further fueling Sam's desire to get to the monster who murdered his mother, the same monster John Winchester has been tracking ever since Mary's murder.  The trail leads them to a yellow-eyed demon who has his sights set on Sam.  He doesn't want to kill Sam.  Sam is "the chosen one" that will secure Lucifer's escape from Hell.

Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) approaches everything with a sense of humor and often has some of the best lines in the show.  His most prized possession is his black 1967 Impala, something he often refers to as his "baby".  We later learn his father purchased the car when he was a young man.  Dean is as passionate about protecting the Impala as he is about "ganking" the creatures they hunt--perhaps more so.

Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) is soft spoken, intelligent and caring.  He has a sensitive side to him that feels deeply for the people they come in contact with who have had their lives destroyed by the creatures they hunt.  Sam always wants to do what is right even at great cost to himself.

Along the way, Sam and Dean team up with an old family friend and fellow hunter, Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver).  Bobby is a grizzled hunter who has seen just about everything to come along.  He entered the hunting life when his wife became a victim.  He's fought alongside John Winchester and thinks of Sam and Dean as if they were his own sons.  He's the man all the hunters call when they need someone to back up their stories of being federal agents or when they need some quick research done to know how to kill a creature.  He's smart, tough and says it like he sees it.  He sugar-coats nothing for no one.

As the angels and demons arc progresses, the Winchesters meet the angel Castiel (Misha Collins).  He's a soft spoken, trenchcoat-wearing no-nonsense soldier of God who always looks at everything in terms of the greater good.  Poor Cass is often the brunt of Dean's sense of humor and he doesn't always understand everything Dean says and takes him too literally most times.  For Castiel one thing, and one thing only, is important:  saving Heaven at all costs.  However, Cass does become very fond of Sam and Dean and is always there when they need him.  He's gotten them out of some major trouble on many occasions--just as they have him.

The writers hit the ground running with the start of season six and the race hasn't stopped even for a second.  Now that the angels and demons arc has concluded, the Winchesters, Bobby Singer and Castiel are picking up the pieces left behind from the thwarted Apocalypse.  There are new battles to fight and new creatures to deal with.  Supernatural story lines are almost always very unique.  How often do you see a modern show taking a step back into the Wild West to kill a phoenix or the two main characters jumping into the bodies of the men who play them?  The guys have even dealt with dragons and fairies in season six.  While both of things might sound silly and cliche, in the very capable hands of the Supernatural writers, they were anything but.  Regardless of the situation, everything fits perfectly and it makes sense.

When it comes down to it, Supernatural isn't a show about monsters and scary things that go bump in the night.  It's a show about two brothers who grew up in a life that neither of them probably wanted but they took on because of familial duty.  They love one another more than anything and would literally die for each other--and have.  They have few friends and they cherish them because they know with the life they lead, they can't really invite anyone in.  The monsters are the vehicle that bring the story, but it's the true heart, Sam and Dean and what they mean to each other, that makes Supernatural such an outstanding television show.  The writing is strong and the actors are top-notch.  There's not a single bit of fluff to Supernatural.  It has the power to make you laugh and cry and it will leave you thinking.  There are real characters there that you truly can care about and you want to know more about them and what makes them who they are.

The show has spawned novelizations based on the Winchester characters and even an anime series.  Watching just one high-action, nail-biting, humor-laced episode is enough to tell you why Supernatural has the best and most loyal fan base out there! 

Dean Winchester:
  Jensen Ackles
Sam Winchester:  Jared Padalecki
Bobby Singer:  Jim Beaver
Castiel:  Misha Collins

Former Characters & Special Recurring Characters:
Ellen Harvelle:
  Samantha Ferris
Jo Harvelle:  Alona Tal
Samuel Campbell:  Mitch Pileggi
Rufus Turner:  Steven Williams
Ash:  Chad Lindberg
Azazel, the yellow-eyed demon:  Fredric Lehne
Ruby:  Katie Cassidy (later, Genevieve Cortese)
Death:  Julian Richings
Crowley:  Mark Sheppard
Lucifer:  Mark Pellegrino
The Trickster/Gabriel:  Richard Speight, Jr.
Zachariah:  Kurt Fuller
Gordon Walker:  Sterling K. Brown
Balthazar:  Sebastian Roche

Seasons one through five are currently available on DVD & Blu-Ray.  Season six is available for pre-order in both formats.
Season One:  DVD | Blu-Ray
Season Two:  DVD | Blu-Ray
Season Three:  DVD | Blu-Ray
Season Four:  DVD | Blu-Ray
Season Five:  DVD | Blu-Ray
Season Six:  DVD | Blu-Ray

Supernatural airs Friday nights at 10:00 p.m. (eastern time) on the CW Network.
For more information:
Supernatural Official CW Web Site:
The Internet Movie Database:

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