As a wedding present to ourselves – and since we’re not ferreting every last cent away to pay for the wedding anymore – we decided to turn our Netflix account back on this weekend. If you’re anything like me, you can sometimes spend more time browsing Netflix online just to find something to watch than you actually spend watching something, but I found a nice, long series with 100+episodes to catch up on: Supernatural.
Now I can’t rightly explain to why I haven’t been watching this show from the beginning as apparently it was tailor made for my sensibilities. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the show, it centers around two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, as they travel the country in black ’67 Chevy Impala hunting down malevolent demons, ghosts, monsters, and urban legends and terminating them with extreme prejudice while looking for their missing father. The premise is really as simple as that, and it works damn well from the half a season’s worth of episodes I’ve watched so far.
So far, the show has a strong resemblance to early seasons of The X-Files, and there’s a good reason for that: Kim Manners, the lamentably deceased member of the X-Files core team of producers and episode directors, was heavily involved in producing and directing episodes of Supernatural for its first few seasons as well, imbuing the show with a darkly comic aesthetic and moody, atmospheric cinematography categorized by actors half-shrouded in inky darkness and filmed through a gritty film-noir filter.
However, the show does diverge from the X-Files formula significantly, especially because Sam and Dean (played with incredible chemistry by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) operate outside the law. Instead of the authority of the FBI at their backs with all the rights, responsibilities, and resources of federal agents like Mulder and Scully, the Brothers Winchester have to scrounge their way across the country, hustling pool halls and perpetrating credit card fraud to get from one seedy motel to another, at times impersonating Homeland Security agents, homicide detectives, insurance claims adjusters, and even priests in order to interview victims and peruse crime scenes – though when this doesn’t work, they’ll simply break in while nobody’s looking. The best part of these multiple impersonations has to be how Dean selects aliases for himself and his brother from the annals of rock history; so far Dean has name-dropped a Led Zeppelin drummer, two members of KISS, and Michael McKean’s character from Spinal Tap of all places (watching him introduce himself and his brother as “Father Frehley and Father Simmons” with a straight face was priceless).
On top of the little Easter Eggs thrown in by the writing staff, there’s also the excellent range of nasties that the brothers face week after week, pulled from urban legends, mythology, and folklore. So far they’ve faced down poltergeists, angry ghosts, demons, a Vanir, a Wendigo, and a possessed monster truck that hated black people. No, I’m not making that last one up.
While I can’t vouch for the current state of the show – as it’s still currently running – so far I’ve been extremely impressed. Each episode I’ve watched to date is entertaining, quite often creepy, and filled with the kind of measured character development that makes the writer in me want to mainline this show. Alas, I have to do things such as eat, drink, sleep, work, and use the bathroom, so unfortunately my viewing time is limited; not only that, but if I don’t finish that second short story I promised Twit Publishing by the end of the month I’m going to end up tarred and feathered. Still, consider this show highly recommended by me if you’re one of the handful of people who had no idea the hidden gem they’ve been looking over for years.