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Supernatural: The Complete Second
Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 9/11/2007
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/1/2007
If you ask most people about horror-themed television shows, they may not be able to name any. But, a quick look at the history of TV will show that horror has been present in some incarnation for years. From Thriller to Dark Shadows to Tales from the Darkside, each generation had a horror show. With the advent of cable, more shows of this ilk would crop up from time-to-time, but currently, the best horror show on television is Supernatural, whose second season has just come to DVD.
(Author's Note: In order to review Supernatural: The Complete Second Season, I must divulge some plot points from both Season One and Season Two, so if you don't want any spoilers, read with caution. -- ML) Supernatural tells the story of the Winchester family. Years ago, Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith) was killed by a demon (who forced her to the ceiling and then burned her alive). Following this, her husband, John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), swore that he would have his vengeance and became a professional demon hunter, training his two sons, Sam and Dean, to do the same thing. The series opens in the present, where Dean (Jensen Ackles) has followed in his father's footsteps, while Sam (Jared Padalecki) is attending college and attempting to have a normal life. That life is shattered when Sam's girlfriend is murdered in the exact same fashion as his mother. Sam and Dean then reunite, only to learn that their father has disappeared. They set off across the country searching for their Dad and fighting supernatural baddies at the same time, just as John had taught them. They go up against many nasty foes, but they also learn that the demon who killed their mother is still out there. As Season One ends, Sam and Dean have found their father, but all three are involved in a horrific car wreck.
Season 2 of Supernatural picks up in the aftermath of the accident, as Dean and John are hospitalized while Sam waits to see if they will wake up. Following this, something tragic happens to John, and Dean learns that Sam may possess demonic powers. Attempting to put these awful events behind them, the brothers hit the road again, moving from town to town doing battle with the dark forces of the night. Sam begins to have prophetic dreams which guide their journey. Sam also gains the knowledge that there are others out there like him. Is the powerful demon who caused Mary's death behind this, and why is he attempting to gather Sam and the others with mysterious powers. The season takes the boys towards a dramatic conclusion.
I hate to stereotype, but The WB, which then became The CW, has a reputation for making somewhat shallow shows which feature attractive actors. At first glance, Supernatural falls into that category. To be honest, I was aware of the show during its first season, but never watched it. But, then a friend let me borrow the DVD set of Season One and I became hooked.
Supernatural is much more than a show where two pretty boys chase ghosts. The show is comparable to The X-Files in many ways. We have two characters who travel from place to place investigating the supernatural. Dean, who was very close to John, is very involved in the demon-hunting and has no qualms in going to any lengths to destroy a demon. Sam, on the other hand, takes a more emotional approach to their work. While not exactly a skeptic, Sam likes to do more research on a subject, whereas Dean likes to tackle a problem head-on. As with The X-Files, Supernatural is comprised of free-standing episodes, and episodes which are part of an overriding story arc.
And, as with The X-Files, I prefer the stand-alone episodes in Supernatural to the "mythos" shows. In short, the storyline involving Sam's new powers and the yellow-eyed demon did nothing for me. The story never felt completely fleshed-out and the season finale is a groaner. To me, the individual episodes are much better. While it may not add to a greater whole, I like the stories where Sam and Dean have learned of a disturbance in a town and go there to help the locals. These episodes have a great mixture of horror and humor, as the show doesn't pull any punches when it comes to the ghosts, demons, and monsters, but there is also a great deal of comedy, as the brothers typically have to bluff there way into people's houses. (The episodes "Hollywood Babylon" and "Tall Tales" are both very funny.) Fortunately, Season Two of Supernatural features some great episodes in which the guys confront evil, including killer clowns, a werewolf, assorted ghosts, and a shape-shifter.
In a time when television is pulling-away from hour-long dramas to focus on reality shows and game shows (when is trend going to end?), it's nice to know that we still have shows like Supernatural. The shows offers a nice mix of serious horror and action, combined with humor and some very nice references to classic horror movies. And, I've been told, that Padalecki and Ackles are nice to look at. The show does vary in quality from episode-to-episode, but overall, it's a quality show which is proving to a new generation that horror can be done and done well on TV.
Supernatural: The Complete Second Season drives cross-country onto DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The six-disc boxed set contains all 22 episodes from Season Two. The shows are all presented in their original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and they are 16 x 9. This is great for someone like me, whose local CW affiliate doesn't broadcast in HD. The transfer looks very good, as the image is sharp and clear. The image shows basically no grain and no defects from the source material. Supernatural is a very dark show, but the image never gets too dark here and the action is always visible. The colors look fine. I did not some minor haloes around the characters though. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is an odd track. The center channel is fine and there is some very nice stereo here. The subwoofer kicks in when necessary, most notably during the action scenes. But, the surround sound is far too faint. I had to actually stand on a piece of furniture and place my ear on the speaker to confirm that any sound whatsoever was there!
The Supernatural: The Complete Second Season DVD set contains a number of extras. Disc 6 offers the bulk of the special features. We start with a 9-minute GAG REEL which shows some cruel practical jokes. "The Devil's Road Map" is a very cool extra, as it features 20 short segments which give background information and focuses on the real-life legends behind particular episodes. These segments contain comments from the show's cast and crew as well as interviews with experts in various fields. "Jared Padalecki's Original Screen Test" (8 minutes) gives us low-quality video of the actor doing a scene from the pilot (in a bad hat). The "Webisode Gallery" offers three shorts: "The Inside Scoop with Ivan Hayden -- VFX Supervisor" (3 minutes); "Inside the Writers (sic) Room" (7 minutes) (which features Eric Kripke, John Shiban, and Robert Singer); and "The Inside Scoop with Christopher Cooper -- Prop Master" (3 minutes). There are DELETED SCENES for the episodes "In My Time of Dying" (Disc 1), "Blood Lust" (Disc 1), "The Usual Suspects" (Disc 2), and "Hunted" (Disc 3). We also get a few AUDIO COMMENTARIES. Disc 1 has a commentary for the episode "In My Time of Dying" with actors Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, director Kim Manners, and producer Cyrus Yavneh. Disc 6 features a commentary on "What Is and What Should Never Be" by producer/writer Eric Kripke, and one for "All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 1)" by Kripke, producer Robert Singer, and writer Sera Gamble. These commentaries are somewhat loose at times, but they are informative.
Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long