SUPERNATURAL: First Impressions

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Ten years on, Rick Trivett finally catches up with Supernatural.

Yes, I know, (please don’t pelt me with empty pizza boxes) I have arrived at Supernatural rather late. It is one of those shows that I didn’t get to see because of various reasons, including, not being willing to pay for a satellite subscription, living in an area where the local relay is only capable of bouncing off a very few tv channels, and life in general. Sure, I saw the odd episode here and there… mostly there, but not often, and certainly not in any cohesive order. Therefore, with my wife now working nights and a box-set of the first three series sitting unloved on the shelf, I come to it for the first time with a fresh set of eyes and an open mind. I’m not going to give a blow by blow account, and I don’t claim to be an authority on the subject (details info is available elsewhere). I’m also not going to give any “hidden insight” or “deeper meaning” stuff. Sometimes when you say “the curtain is blue” it is just a blue curtain and not a projection of some inner state of mind.

The spooky stuff is there from the outset, and the show makes the most of its “15” rating, with plenty of ketchup being splattered around. It starts with a flashback, a happy family scene, with a father returning from a trip, greeted by his loving wife, his young son and their baby. Fast forward a bit and noises on the baby-monitor awakens the mother, so she goes to check on her youngest. Cue the dramatic background music and flickering lights. She enters the nursery only to find her husband already there. However, as she return to her room and touches a flickering light, she notices another flickering light coming from downstairs. Venturing down the stairs, she sees her husband is actually fast asleep on the sofa, having fallen asleep watching the tv. So, who was lent over the crib? She screams, runs upstairs. He wakes and runs up after her, but sees nothing amiss, only the baby resting peacefully. Then the blood starts to drip. He looks up and his wife is stuck to the ceiling (as you do), a gash in her side. As he is watching, she is sucked into the ceiling as it is transformed into a raging inferno. He grabs the baby and palms it off on the older boy with instructions to take it outside, whilst he dashes back in to try and save his wife. But the conflagration is too much and he is forced out just in time before the room is consumed in a ball of fire. All this happens in less time than it has taken me to describe it, but then with the standard 45 minute TV format, it has to.

Spool forward to the present, oh alright, 2005, and the baby, Sam Winchester (played by Jared Padalecki), is now at college and doing very nicely thank you. He is level-headed, has a beautiful girlfriend, has high test scores and has an interview to study for a law degree. His peaceful life is disturbed in the middle of the night by an intruder. Being of the young, fit athletic type, he tackles the intrudee only to find that it is his older, devil may care (think Han Solo) brother, Dean Winchester (played by Jensen Ackles of Dark Angel fame). At this juncture we find out two important things, both Dean and Sam are competent streetfighters and that their father has gone missing on a “hunting” trip. And thus is the premise for the series set, and the brothers head off, all be it reluctantly on Sam’s part, to try and find their father who is on a quest to kill who or whatever it was that killed his wife.

If you haven’t seen it, then I’m not going to give any more detail or spoilers (possibly) and if you have seen it then you don’t need me to tell you what happens. The boys begin a road-trip in Dean’s all American classic muscle-car and end up fighting very real urban myths. The first episode concludes with Dean returning Sam to college and his normal life in time for his interview the following day. Unfortunately, Sam’s girlfriend is murdered in a copycat killing of his mother’s demise. This then galvanises the brothers to keep searching for their father and the mysterious killer.

Supernatural is a grown-up Buffy on a road-trip, with the lads travelling across America fighting beings that have been drawn from a rich tapestry of myths and legends. There is a strong influence from the diverse First Nations of America, combined with, and woven into, the tales of the immigrant population from the rest of the world. It is, as have already said, not afraid to splash the claret. It has a good blend of suspense and drama, sprinkled with a dash of ‘make you jump’ moments (this from the man thrown out of the cinema for laughing hysterically at a Friday the 13th movie) with a soupcon of humour thrown in. The dynamic between the brothers is good and evolves. The production values are high and the plot is engaging. I have only watched the first couple of episodes but I have to say I’m hooked. If you haven’t watched it or haven’t watched it for a while, I can heartily recommend it.

More to follow on Supernatural soon… Now when is she working?

R.J.Trivett (Rick) is the writer of comic fantasy series the Lyonnesse Tales. He hasn’t been able to give up the day-job yet, whatever it is, but lives in high hopes. When not reading, writing or watching a boxset, he tours around the UK and Europe on a motorcycle looking for interesting roads and sampling the local equivalent of beer.

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