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Supernatural
Reviewed by Joe Crowe, © 2005

Format: TV
By:   David Nutter, Robert Duncan McNeill (directors)
Genre:   Hot Teen Horror
Released:   Premiered September 25, 2005
Review Date:   September 26, 2005
RevSF Rating:   8/10 (What Is This?)

"You want some white meat, bitch?" — Dean, antagonizing a human-eating monster.

Supernatural is yet another Hot Teen show on The WB, even though I bet the WB doesn't want to be the Hot Teen network any more.

Well, it's too late for that. They do Hot Teen Superman, or as some call it, Smallville. Hot Teen Lone Ranger and Hot Teen Tarzan stunk up the joint. But they're doing swell with Hot Adult Teens on One Tree Hill.

But Hot Teen Monster Hunters isn't bad. The characters are not teens, but early 20s is really the same thing.

The series offers an easy-access backstory, which pushes the characters into a weekly formula: Two guys driving from town to town finding monsters to fight and girlies to wink at therein. The guys are brothers Sam (the serious one) and Dean (the funny one). Their father's name is not Frank, which I don't understand. (Rat Pack reference. Sammy Davis Jr? Dean Martin? Frank Sinatra? End of sidebar.)

Their dad is a monster hunter. Their mom was killed when they were kids, and both are angst-ified because of it. Sam wants no part of the life. Dean and Dad fight monsters for a living. Then one day Dad vanishes, and Dean and Sam reunite to go find him, following clues in his journal every week. Dad taught them magic rites. They use monster jargon, like "skinwalker."

If they find Dad, the show's over. They actually address that. They want to find Dad, but they also have to do his job, the whooping up on the monsters. Serious brother Frank asks funny brother Dean how he handles the angst of a missing dad. Dean says, "By killing as many of these evil sons-of-bitches as I can." Damn right! That's a sentiment I can get behind.

This is as deep into mythos as the show gets.

There's no word on how Dad became a monster hunter, or if he's the only one. No mention of a Big Bad or a conspiracy. Each week they show up somewhere and fight something, then drive away. Honestly, it's refreshing. I'm all about intensive continuity, but this is a nice break.

Jensen Ackles is Dean, the funny one. He was Lana's sourpuss boyfriend on Smallville. Jared Padelecki is Sam, the serious one. He was almost Hot Teen MacGyver, but the WB only did one episode of that, and it never aired. (Bastards!) Both guys are handsome dudes with gelled hair who wear Old Navy and other official name brands. Dean has a good eyebrow furrow. Sam pouts. They're clean shaven. And they want to get to know you better!

Each episode is laid out like recent-vintage Hot Teen slasher monster flicks like Boogeyman and Jeepers Creepers, only with capable young folks coming in and saving the monster-bait teens. In the second episode, you don't see the creature until moments before it gets killed. The creature designs aren't super-creative — so far it's just leathery and fangish, but at least it isn't nose ridges.

And speaking of Star Trek, check out the director. It's Tom Paris from Voyager! Robert Duncan McNeill directs the fool out of some teen monster killing. The paycheck hopefully makes the lack of makeout scenes with 7 of 9 easier to handle.

The brothers' dialogue is good stuff. They talk about "skinwalkers" and other monster hunting jargon like other people at work talk about insurance or large fries. Their banter is funny, and it sneaks up on you. In the second episode, Dean is trying to lure a cannibal monster away from the humans. After he runs off to do so, in the background you hear him yelling, "Mmmmm-MMMM! I taste GOOD!"

Ackles doesn't exactly have years of experience being funny, but he's got that furrowed brow. Padalecki does the intense, serious look. Once when he steps in the path of the monster as it tries to get the humans, I could have sworn he was about to turn into a werewolf. Instead, I guess he was just breathing hard.

I learned from this episode how to pronounce Wendigo. Marvel Comics fans know that Wendigo is the white, furry cannibal monster who fought Hulk and Wolverine in Wolverine's first appearance. For all these years I'd been pronouncing it to rhyme with "indigo." Turns out that it's Wen-DEE-go. Thank you, handsome young men.

The niftiest thing about Supernatural is the soundtrack. No kidding. That's because every other WB show religiously cross-promotes musicians owned by the Time Warner illuminati. Every moment on every show comes with the alterna-pop stylings of 22-year-old guys with eyebrow rings and chin fuzz. Or Ashlee Simpson. I am not nor have I ever been a 12-year-old girl, so this kind of thing isn't my bag. But dudes — what are you doing with my rock and my roll?

Um . . . where was I?

The niftiest thing about Supernatural is the soundtrack. No kidding. The first song on the second episode is "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner. Not a dorky cover. The actual classic rock song. When the guys drive off at the end, the song is "Fly By Night" by Rush.

RUSH, people! An album track by Rush!

Elsewhere in that episode was Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Down South Jukin'." The pilot had the Allman Brothers and AC/DC! That earns mega-points with me. If you don't understand the classics, my friend, I can't help you.

Supernatural is actiony, non-complicated fun. Even better, it can be great as a gateway drug to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, X-Files, Boston or KISS.

Humor editor Joe Crowe didn't want to join the family business, because he doesn't enjoy late-night goat roping.

 
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