Supernatural: The Complete Third Season (US - BD)
Gabe Powers takes more belated looks at more television that confuses him...
Apparently someone called the ‘Yellow-Eyed Demon’ has been vanquished, but the battle that brought him down released hundreds of demons from Hell into an unsuspecting world, and it cost Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) his life. Grief-stricken, Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) made a deal with the Crossroad Demon—his soul for Sam's resurrection. Now Dean has just one year to fight the unholy demons he helped to free, and one year to say farewell to his brother Sam. But Sam won’t let his brother be taken without a fight.
Further proving that there are no more original ideas in Hollywood I present Supernatural, a semi-successful concoction of pop entertainment leftovers. In my limited capacity I recognize bits of The X-Files (and its offshoots), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and her offshoots), and extra especially, Alan Moore and Jamie Delano’s Hellblazer comic series (which was filmed as Constantine in 2005). Originality isn’t required for general entertainment value, but the carcasses Supernatural aims to pick over are brimming with volumes of and hours of stories all their own. Movies and books can only fit so much information within their runtimes and covers, but TV series and ongoing comic books have enough trouble coming up with stories of their own, let alone inspiration for future shows.
The show’s production staff comes with high pedigree, including The Tick creator Ben Edlund, The X-Files regular Kim Manners, and (ugh) Charlie’s Angels director McG, and the production values are incredibly impressive for network television. The technical direction is solid as well, but the writing is wildly inconsistent. The dialogue alternates between sub- Dragonball Z hilarity (in the first episode a demon quotes Anakin Skywalker and Agent Smith almost verbatim while teasing our heroes on the weakness of humans), and purposefully amusing, but unnatural one-liners. The actors are mostly good enough to overcome some of the clichés, sub-Schwarzenegger one-liners, and other verbal offenses, but for the most part word play is enough to gag.
The stand alone episodes are pretty good on the whole, including a half decent, sort of Final Destination inspired slapstick episode, and an episode staring the Christmas Krumpas. Episodes written by Ben Edlund seem to be the best overall. The shows that thematically line-up the series, and further its particular mythology (which is a strange thing to say when the series is entirely based in other mythology), are the weakest. Perhaps if I were attuned to another two seasons of the development of these characters I’d be more susceptible to their little plights and dramas, but as it stands the overarching storylines are just too obviously taken from better sources (*ducks angry fan debris*). As a non-fan, I'm more likely to giggle at the obvious sexual tension between the two male leads, a subject which hasn't escaped the slash fiction audience, apparently...
Supernatural is likely one of the best looking HD television discs I’ve seen. The 1.78:1 widescreen image quality is very consistent, even when the film style changes up. The directors go out of their way to make the series look as theatrical as possible, using moody lighting, and aiming for a deeper depth in their focus. When focus is tight the background details are broad and sharp, and close-ups are super sharp. The creators aim mostly for slightly muted, natural colours, and the transfer doesn’t disappoint. The colours cut sharply when needed, avoiding any unnecessary bleeding, and when blending is called for the hue changes are smooth as ice. The majority of the series is filmed darkly, and the darkness doesn’t have the usual adverse effect on the colour consistency found on so many other discs. There is slight green noise in some warm colours, but no blocking or edge enhancement to speak of.
Supernatural’s producers push their audio production to similarly theatrical places as their widescreen images, though the final effect isn’t quite as impressive. I notice that the majority of sound is delegated to the front channels, with only occasional shots of sound in the rear delegates. This isn’t to say that the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is particularly flat or unnatural; it’s just a little less wistfully immersive as some big-budget movie tracks. The mix is uniformly naturalistic, save some of the gooier gore effects, and the dialogue is always clear and strictly centred. Most of the digital audio slam dunks come in the form of the musical score, which is large in both its aggressive nature and its volume.
I lieu of audio commentary these discs house a few ‘Closer Look’ segments (episodes 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, and 12). These segments are made up of the director, writer, and/or producer’s favourite bits of each episode, and interviews with the guy or gal who picked the segment. They’re well thought spoken bits, and I suppose a good short interview segments beats a hot and cold running commentary track. Disc two of the set also features ‘Ghostfacers! Confessionals’—a sixteen minute series of made for the web featurettes, concerning the pretend adventures of the ‘Ghostfacers’. ‘Ghostfacers’ is a faux reality series which appears on a single episode of Supernatural. The faux series lampoons Sci-Fi Channel’s Ghost Hunters.
The majority of the extras are delegated to the third disc. ‘From Legends to Reality’ is a stylish look at the series’ surprisingly potent make-up effects, digital effects, and monster designs. There are a few massive CG blunders throughout the series, but overall I was impressed. What continues to shock me is the level of gore allowed on network television these days, and Supernatural really pushes the limits, not only with their man on monster gore—brutal human death that would make Lucio Fulci proud is a regular part of almost every episode. I’m not offended by any of it, but it does make me wonder about how Hollywood compares the MPAA rules to those of free television. Anyway, the series effects are pretty awesome overall, and this twenty-three minute featurette is informative enough.
‘Supernatural Impala Featurette’ is a look at the series’ hero vehicle, a ’67 Chevy Impala. Gear heads will likely get something out of the featurette, though my car-tarded brain went bored pretty quickly. Not once during the entire five minute exploration of the vehicle does anyone mention that it was named for a reddish brown member of the Aepycerotinae family found in southern Africa. The extras are zipped up with a gag reel.
Supernatural is a very well made series, but it pulls everything from other popular television shows, comics, and movies. I’ve never been too into the Buffy or Angle series, and my love for X-Files doesn’t move too far beyond basic admiration, but the constant aping of the Hellblazer comic series makes me long for an official television adaptation. The stand alone episodes are pretty fun, and funny but the season arc is a big disappointment, drawing unfriendly comparisons to HBO’s superior supernaturally tinged series Carnivale. Fans should be ecstatic, however, as this is one of the best looking TV on Blu-ray sets I’ve seen yet, and the audio quality is pretty impressive too.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 11th November 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Extras: 'Closer Look', 'Ghostfacers! Confessionals', 'From Legend to Reality', 'Supernatural Impala'
Easter Egg: No
Cast: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles
Length: 651 minutes
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