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Old April 25 2011, 04:02 AM   #1
Kestrel
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So I've started watching Supernatural...

Warning: long post.

I picked up the first season on DVD a couple days ago and am now 10 episodes in. I know there's some/a good number of Supernatural fans on here, so I figured I'd start a thread.

I'd previously only seen a few episodes from later seasons, so I know the general concept and I'm familiar enough with Sam and Dean. This series has gotten a lot of praise from some people whose opinions I trust so I figured "what the hell, why not?" While I know some general stuff from later seasons I don't know a lot in terms of specifics so I'd appreciate a general lack of spoilers if possible. I'll talk in this first post about some overall observations and then briefly about each episode (I'm up through "Asylum" so far). This thread probably won't be anywhere nears as awesome as TheGodBen's old recap posts, but hey, it should be fun.

So, General Thoughts.
Maybe it's because of the tone and mood of the show, or maybe because Amy Acker's an early guest star, but I keep comparing this show in my mind with Joss Whedon's Angel (which I'm also watching through but more slowly and with my brother). Well, not directly comparing I guess, but in general thinking of it running along the same lines. One thing I often find myself thinking is "Okay, this ending seems too happy and well-wrapped-up... where's the ominous warning or the lingering dread or the sense that the monster isn't really gone?" The overarching plot thread (searching for their Dad and for the thing which killed their Mom and Jessica) is more grim than early Angel, but the episodes themselves seem to wrap up as less morose and gloomy, if that makes sense.

Sam and Dean are great leads - totally buy them as brothers and their deep affection for each other even while they're battling bizarre supernatural monsters and mostly-avoiding their deep-seated issues. I do kinda wish there was a female lead, but "two brothers roadtripping across America to hunt evil monsters" is a pretty solid core idea, and where the Fang Gang were tied to one location and could thus develop recurring characters and a larger cast, the Winchesters are always on the move. I know from later on though that there's more developed recurring characters, so no worries there.

The show can be often creepy, but rarely rises to truly terrifying IMO (thus far). One thing I really like is that the show's drawing on urban legend, local myth, and Americana for its baddies, kind of an "American Gods" sensibility here.

Pilot
A really good intro to the show. I actually had to go back and watch the first scene of Sam at Stanford again because I was expecting Sam to be a dirty blonde with bigger hair (am I right in thinking that from later seasons?) and rather grumpier so was a bit confused when Dean first shows up. The episode does a nice job of setting up the general concept behind the show and also giving us a taste of what to expect with the Woman in White - one of the better villains thus far IMO. Tragic waste of Adrienne Palicki to kill her so early (though I guess this was before her Friday Night Lights days?) but her death nicely sets Sam on what seems to be a self-destructive path. 8/10

1x02: Wendigo
A good second outing - nice villain and nice job of keeping it mostly in the shadows and dark; did we ever get a clear look at the Wendigo? I was kinda hoping they'd go with the "it perpetuates itself by creating another one" idea and have the brother somehow turn out to be one of the monsters, but what we got was good. Though this episode does start (or continue?) something that's not really a problem so much as a nagging annoyance: why doesn't the beast/ghoul/demon just kill Sam and Dean, since they're apparently normal humans? Yeah, suspension of disbelief, but the speed the Wendigo was said to move? 8/10

1x03: Dead in the Water
I'm not sure if it's my own fear of drowning, the dark secret underlying everything, or simply the always-delightful Amy Acker, but this is one of my favorite eps so far. Nice to see Dean bonding with the little boy after his utter failure at pickup lines. The contrast between Dean's general horniness and Sam's continued morose nature while thinking about Jess is good to see. Also interesting that ultimately the brothers didn't so much defeat the spirit as it (mostly) got what it wanted. And the brief glimpse we got of the drowned little boy was pretty chilling. 9/10

1x04: Phantom Traveler
Ok, any jokes about "Toxic Love" aside, the villain this week was pretty excellent. I was glad to see Sam point out that Dean's great discomfort about flying made him a perfect target to be possessed - kinda wished the demon had tried or Sam had to cast the demon out of his brother at some point. Still, the confrontation with the demon and his taunting words to Sam about Jessica (a lie, presumably) were well done. I was hoping I think for a little more of Doctor Who's Midnight in that confrontation, but there was nothing wrong with it for sure. As always, the female guest star was gorgeous - being a CW show, I guess that's to be expected, eh? 8/10

1x05: Bloody Mary
Oh my, how gruesome! Nicely done on using a well-known tale and making it pretty darned spooky - the way Mary appeared always in shadow (until the final confrontation) worked in the episode's favor I think. And Sam confronting "himself" in the mirror was excellent - more of that delicious Winchester misery that I'm guessing is a huge part of this show. However, the truth behind Mary seemed a little... I dunno, weak? Nothing wrong with it I suppose but it didn't really work for me. 7/10

1xo6: Skin
Interesting how we never get to see the villain in its true form - assuming it even has one. Also, I found it interesting that sometime during the pilot Sam or Dean casually references skinwalkers, but here it seems to take them a bit to figure out (and even then they just call it a "shapeshifter"). It's interesting how in "Dead in the Water" Dean was perfectly happy to stop and help random people while Sam was wanting to push on and keep looking, while here it's Dean who doesn't seem to care. Of course, this is one of Sam's friends - friends that he still keeps in contact with. I wonder if the police might shouldn't be after Sam for what happened in Palo Alto, come to think of it? Was the fire that killed Jessica just ruled an accident? Wouldn't it look kinda suspicious that Sam took off right afterwards? Anyway, I'm straying away from "Skin," which, while I don't seem to have much to say here, I thought was excellent. The brothers' drama is the heart of the episode, of course, and the shapeshifter changing was suitably gruesome. Though, let me see if I've got this right - the shifter was Dean, tied up and beat/attacked Becky and was captured (but escaped). Then the shifter kidnaps and stashes Becky and turns into her, showing no obvious wounds, am I right? I guess it's fortunate Sam didn't ask her why she didn't have any bruising and there were no neighborhood dogs... but I nitpick. 8/10

1x07: Hook Man
Yeah I admit it, I thought it was the preacher at first too and not Lori. I realized what was happening right when the plot wanted us to I think. The idea of a "moral guardian" killer is a good one, and making its manifestation a result of Lori's deep-seated conflict was a nice twist, as was the Hook Man coming after her because she felt she deserved to be punished. Though, wouldn't it ultimately be self-defeating of the ghost to kill Lori? Sam and Dean make surprisingly effective frat guys, if a bit scruffily dressed. 7/10

1x08 Bugs
Yeah... aside from being disgusting this is probably the weakest episode so far. Nothing wrong with surviving a plague of bugs, but the dramatic conclusion seemed a bit arbitrary and sudden. It went from darkness to daylight in like 10 seconds, and Dean's homemade torch, while nice, didn't seem to be doing anything but somehow held back the onslaught. The trip to the Indian man seemed to be ultimately pointless - I mean, he told them the legend but they could've just as easily picked that up from someone in the town, right? Why bugs only? Why not coyotes or trees or the very ground itself? And the Winchester drama seemed a bit odd this time too - though the idea of John Winchester going to Stanford periodically to privately check up on his son was a nice touch. Overall though, meh. 5/10

1x09 Home
Ooh, this one's good. It's nice to see the Winchesters come back home and have to confront (or at least, Dean has to confront) some truly awful things from their past. Seeing Dean nearly break down on the phone leaving a message for his dad was a nice scene. I cringed a bit when the poltergeist began going after the baby, saying "Surely they wouldn't kill the baby would they?" but fortunately no. Missouri Mosley was a very cool character, I hope she comes back again. Also I like the fact that the evil haunting the house wasn't the thing that killed Mary and Jessica but a fairly random (if powerful) poltergeist. I assume Mary's spirit was the one Missouri couldn't pin down? I'm guessing these prophetic dreams Sam's begun to have are going somewhere; I seem to recall from a later season episode that Sam's not entirely human, so premonitions must be the first step in that? One nagging question: why was Mary's spirit still there? And moreover, did she have to sacrifice herself to get rid of that poltergeist? Seems a bit undramatic for her soul to be consumed in battle with a villain of the week. Nice twist at the end, I look forward to seeing John join up with Sam and Dean 9/10

1x10 Asylum
Maybe I was just tired while watching this episode, but it seemed fairly ho-hum. The twist that the spirits aren't attacking but are instead trying to communicate what was done to them is a nice one and we get another nice Winchester v Winchester battle. Still, while it's a decent episode and there's nothing wrong with it, ultimately it didn't do much for me. Maybe more could've been done with the random teenagers, but I guess there wasn't time. 6/10

And... whew, long post! Okay, that's where I am now. I'd be glad to see what you all think of my basic thoughts; I'll try and keep this a running thread, but no promises.
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Old April 25 2011, 04:04 AM   #2
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

I sampled this show in the early seasons, and while I understood the appeal of it, it wasn't really for me. I started watching regularly in the fourth season and it really was good by that point. I enjoyed S4 and S5 and S6 is pretty good so far. I don't know if I'd bother to go back and re-watch the first three as I'd seen bits and pieces of them.
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Old April 25 2011, 04:44 AM   #3
RoJoHen
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

I watched the first season, and while I enjoyed it, it didn't really grab me enough to rush out and watch Season 2. I am definitely going to watch more of it eventually, though.

My biggest problem was with the number of standalone episodes. This is a show that I think would have benefited from shorter seasons with more arc-based storytelling. I really liked the main story, but I didn't like having to watch lots of unrelated stories in between.
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Old April 25 2011, 04:48 AM   #4
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

If you like these early episodes this much, you're going to love it when things really pick up. Seasons 2-5 is some of the most consistent storytelling ever.
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Old April 25 2011, 05:04 AM   #5
Kestrel
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

I should admit I'm not all that hard to please. Maybe I should stop with the grading scale.
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Old April 25 2011, 06:11 AM   #6
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

Supernatural is a great show. I don't know why people complain about the early seasons. The first season took a while to get going, but the series is about two guys driving around hunting monsters, of course there are suppose to be standalones.

Yeah, Bugs was terrible. The monster of the week was uninteresting, the insect attacks only made me chuckle, and the ending with how long night lasted made no sense at all.

There are usually one or two dud episodes each season. You'll get to the second dud of season one very soon.

Home was really the first great Supernatural episode I think. It was so creepy and I loved how it resolved the Mary Winchester plot. There was also the nice ending.

If you are interested reading amusing comments from other fans about the past episodes check out TWOP, Supernatural boards. You can waste hours just reading what people posted years ago.

http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.....php/f811.html
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Old April 25 2011, 06:52 AM   #7
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

Supernatural is a nice little show--what holds it back is its unevenness. My two favorite seasons are 1 and 4. Both were consistently good. Season one was fun and was the best season doing mostly standalones and the occasional big myth episode here and there. I thought the standalones after season one were never as good resulting in very stale plots leaving only the characters to buoy them but in the later seasons the character stuff becomes stale itself. I also loved the simplicity and newness of everything in season one when they hunted monsters of the week before things take an epic turn.

Season 4 was the closest the show ever got to being well-plotted and doing a better job in effectively incorporating the myth arc in a more central manner each week than any other season so the episodes didn't feel like filler. All the other seasons just had the mytharc floating in the background--a lot of times the episodes felt that they existed to spit out a crumb of the plot to seed for further use down the line unlike in season one where the episode itself was worthwhile making a lot of episodes in that stretch feel like a mixed bag. S2, 3, 5 were all over the map giving me whiplash from the wide swings in quality from week to week. S6--the current one--is consistent but consistently mediocre--it is vying with season 3 as my least favorite. It really needed to end after season 5.

As the series goes on its budget is cut back and it shows and the show which was a solid drama in its early seasons starts toying with comedies, parodies and meta commentary that for me undermined the dramatic gravitas it had earned. I still prefer The X-Files or Friday the 13th The Series more but I'll admit it was one of the better sff shows to come out of the last decade.
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Old April 25 2011, 07:05 AM   #8
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

You've got one really bad episode left, but aside from that and maybe a couple 'decent' eps, the back half of Season One is very solid. Episode 11 or 12 is, IMO, where the show really started to find its footing.
RoJoHen wrote: View Post
I watched the first season, and while I enjoyed it, it didn't really grab me enough to rush out and watch Season 2. I am definitely going to watch more of it eventually, though.

My biggest problem was with the number of standalone episodes. This is a show that I think would have benefited from shorter seasons with more arc-based storytelling. I really liked the main story, but I didn't like having to watch lots of unrelated stories in between.
I would definitely recommend trying it again. For the first four seasons, the show really gets better with each year, and the arc-based storytelling really starts to develop. Even in later seasons, when they did Monster of the Week episodes, they'd still find a way to develop something in a manner that works toward the overall arc.
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Old April 25 2011, 12:37 PM   #9
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

I live for the funny episodes. I much prefer it when they're being funny.
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Old April 25 2011, 02:36 PM   #10
Technobuilder
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

I myself have never been a fan of horror/gore but I've always loved stories where the mood could shift from somber to lighthearted and serious to whimsical at the drop of a hat.

Originally I thought Supernatural was a teenybopper-horror series so I didn't give it a chance until I came upon a mini-marathon of late season 3 episodes. So I guess it's still nice to be reminded that I can be wrong in my first impressions every once and a while.

Shows like Angel, Buffy, Doctor Who, Being Human, & Supernatural all fall into this particular mold.

One minute you're having your heartstrings pulled, and the next you're laughing out loud, sometimes in the span of mere moments.

To be fair for Supernatural though, it's more likely you're having your heartstrings pulled-out all over the floor and then you're guts burst open from laughing yourself to death while something wicked watches from the shadowy corner.

Scene:
*Ambulance Chasing Lawyer just saved by the brothers from getting hit by a car angrily walks back into the street telling them he doesn't want them around.
*Lawyer immediately hit by a Mid-Town Bus, mid-tirade and crushed to pulp.
*Dean points out the mowed down personal-injury lawyer's billboard on the back of the very bus that just hit him.

Dean: *smiling* "What? Too Soon?"
Sam: "Yeah, 3 seconds is too soon."
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Old April 25 2011, 03:04 PM   #11
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

Starbreaker wrote: View Post
If you like these early episodes this much, you're going to love it when things really pick up. Seasons 2-5 is some of the most consistent storytelling ever.
Yeah I'm gonna have to disagree.

If I were to recommend this show to someone, I would tell them to stop at the end of season3.

The brotherly angst continuing past that point just made the show eyeroll inducing for me.
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Old April 25 2011, 04:03 PM   #12
Kestrel
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

So, cooler car - Dean's or Angel's?

Mr Light wrote: View Post
I live for the funny episodes. I much prefer it when they're being funny.
They do funny really well. They do drama really well too.

Dream wrote: View Post
Home was really the first great Supernatural episode I think. It was so creepy and I loved how it resolved the Mary Winchester plot. There was also the nice ending.
So is it ever explained why her spirit was still in the house?

Technobuilder wrote: View Post
One minute you're having your heartstrings pulled, and the next you're laughing out loud, sometimes in the span of mere moments.

To be fair for Supernatural though, it's more likely you're having your heartstrings pulled-out all over the floor and then you're guts burst open from laughing yourself to death while something wicked watches from the shadowy corner.
I take it the sense of dread and constantly-lurking evil ratchets up as the show goes along? That shift in mood is something I enjoy too.
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Old April 25 2011, 05:01 PM   #13
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

All I'm going to say is ... as we discover ... Wincest is canon.
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Old April 25 2011, 06:16 PM   #14
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

Skywalker wrote: View Post
For the first four seasons, the show really gets better with each year
Disagree. S1 is better than S3 and S2. S4 is the apex of the show S5 is a step down and S6 is a step down from that.
and the arc-based storytelling really starts to develop.
Even at its best, SN was never as heavily serialized as say LOST or S1 of Heroes or even a primetime drama. So if someone wants that type of arc storytelling they won't get it with SN. It is more a mix of episodic and a myth ep here and there.
Even in later seasons, when they did Monster of the Week episodes, they'd still find a way to develop something in a manner that works toward the overall arc.
I would hardly call peripherally tying in or giving brief lipservice to the bigger picture--while technically working toward advancing the overall arc--being arc based storytelling. S5 was especially bad at this. SN would definitely been better assessed by me had they been heavily serialized.
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Old April 25 2011, 08:27 PM   #15
Skywalker
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Re: So I've started watching Supernatural...

Well, of course you'd disagree.
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