Supernatural – Season Five
With the world in the feverish grip of Twilight mania and the likes of True Blood almost single-handedly propping up HBO’s summer schedule at this point, the CW series Supernatural remains criminally ignored as the finest undead oriented hour on the tube. Those still pining for the loss of Buffy, Angel and the glory days of The X-Files could do a lot worse than embracing this stylish teen horror saga and seeking out the early season box sets to satiate their cravings. Playing like a straight-laced Buffy, Supernatural tells the tragic story of the Winchester family; a father, now tragically dead, and his two sons dedicated to tracking and hunting the forces of darkness that killed their mother. Trained as skilled warriors with a wealth of knowledge on the arcane, the mystical, and the occult, Sam and Dean track and slay all manner of ghosts and goblins in their battle to contain the forces of evil.
While the idea of two good looking teen brothers dissecting their fractured relationship and familial guilt while driving cross country in search of an unseen father figure might seem a little bit teen soap opera here, but some industry veterans, notably X-Files’ Kim Dickens, ensure that this is some decently adult fair. Though there is nothing particularly groundbreaking here – sparks of ironic humor that could be from the Whedonverse, exposition laced driving sequences that hark back to the travels of Mulder and Scully – it shows surprising verve and a deceptive amount of darkness.
Yes, it certainly began as a little bit monster-of-the-week, but that was a long time ago. While there is not much fresh about demonic scarecrows, haunted asylums and possessed infants, savvy direction, the ability to spot a good scare combined with some seriously pointed scripting ensure that it’s rarely less than entertaining and never in the least bit hokey. Anchoring this Midwest horror road show are co-leads Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles who spark well off each other as the brothers Winchester, following signs and demonic happenings in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the myriad of Hell spawn that would love nothing more than to carve out their insides.
Steering clear of big cities and identifiable landmarks, the show succeeds in pulling you into a nether-world of small town folklore and urban legends that makes a refreshing change of pace from domestic terrorism plots and 9/11 fueled paranoia. Aided only by the token stock townsfolk caught in the middle, each week the pair are charged with the unenviable task of lending dramatic weight to this flight of fancy. Possessing a disarming amount of charisma and above average thesping ability (notably Ackles as the headstrong elder brother, Dean), they are strong on the job.
One thing the cast of Buffy, Charmed and every other magic/ghost young adult series had as a crutch was the option to play it tongue-in-cheek, which these boys are never afforded. This show is unique amongst its dark arts brethren in that it’s really not interested in jokes (don’t get us wrong, it is very funny) so much as scaring the crap out of you and in that it succeeds admirably. Now entering its fifth season the show has evolved into a sprawling narrative encompassing the broader aspects of religion; introducing angels, and even God, in service to an overriding arc that sees the brother battle Lucifer himself. Those out there who crave darkness but find Sookie Stackhouse a shrill, fickle little girl, and who want nothing more than to punch Bella and Edward repeatedly in the face would do well to hitch themselves to this wagon. It’s likely just what they’re looking for and a testament to what’s possible if you grant a show time to actually develop itself instead of hacking it off at the knees the first week it underperforms (hi, Fox).
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Samantha Smith, Nicki Aycox
Created Byr: Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Lemming
Showtime: Thursdays, 9:00pm EST