1/12/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
region 1 DVD: pub: Warner Bros 80678. 6 DVDs 936 minutes 22 episodes with extras. Price: about GBP13.00 if you know where to look stateside). stars: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
check out website: www.wbtondvd.com and www.supernaturaltv.com
It always pays to check which version of a DVD boxset you buy. If you want the extras for season one of ‘Supernatural’, then you have to pick up the Region One edition. That does, of course, assume you have a multi-region DVD player if you don’t live in the USA and I suspect most of us interested in the genre treat this as a sensible requirement these days. Makes you wonder then why different versions are released on different continents when it isn’t difficult to order from where the best version exists.
Six years ago, ‘Supernatural’ brought back fear to the telly. Creator Eric Kripke wanted originally to base it on a journalist seeking out supernatural happenings and although he says he was more a film man than television, I would have thought even he would have heard of ‘Kolchak’. As it turns out, the people at Warner’s preferred his second idea of two blue collar brothers doing it instead. Interestingly, having director David Nutter and the likes of Kim Manners and John Shiban on board also had three significant people involved with experience from a certain ‘X-Files’ series who knew how to scare and make use of the dark and sensible enough not to clone the previous show.
Creator’s Eric Krikpe’s description in the pilot’s audio commentary of how long he took to write it seems to be common amongst American scriptwriters and then with help and revisions along the way. Comparatively, British scriptwriters tend to be better organised with their ideas but a lot of our shows don’t rely on several people working on each script. Different discipline I guess. Mind you, when I saw the first season on TV, I never saw the Winchester brothers as comparable to Luke Skywalker and Han Solo so there’s a lot of insight you can get from their perspective from the audio commentaries and extras which makes getting this version of season one the best option.
The season itself introduces the Winchester brothers. Dean Winchester (actor Jensen Ackles) needs his brother, Sam (actor Jared Padalecki) to help him find their missing father (actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan). All they have is his extensive notebook and a great part of the season they pay attention to hot spots where they think he might turn up. Of course, things change with the arrival of Meg Masters (actress Nicki Aycox), the only other re-occurring character outside of the demon with the yellow-eyes and he changes bodies a lot.
In many respects, this season is an introduction to their life and slowly begins to open up about others like them in the field. Indeed, Bobby Singer (actor Jim Beaver) only makes a fleeting appearance.
Even if the Winchester brothers are prepared to take on the supernatural beasties and people out there, it doesn’t mean they are up for the task. With ‘Skins’ and ‘Hook Man’, they under-estimate what they are facing and it’s only luck that they get through it. If Sam hadn’t gone with Dean, then I doubt the latter would have survived. We also get hints of Sam’s precognition ability and an even bigger hint that this is part of the yellow-eyed demon’s plan when he killed their mother and his girl-friend, in subverting kids when young. I did ponder on why it only emerged with him as an adult when teenage Max Miller in ‘Nightmare’ develops telekinetic abilities earlier. Then it dawned on me, Sam didn’t have a brother rescuing him from the house before the deed was completed.
‘Scarecrow’ was and still is the episode that raised the game of ‘Supernatural’ for me when I first saw it and seeing it again on DVD hasn’t changed my mind on that. Even watching it again, Meg is still awesome in her appearances, mostly because you’re thrown by her not being what you expect.
The practical jokes between Dean and Sam that percolated into the behind-the-scenes activity is an interesting counter-balance to the grim fight the brothers are always involved in. If anything, it now feels odd that it doesn’t come across in every episode. Not that it has to be a statutory requirement, just that it should never be forgotten. That said, the shock ending is still a shock.
One thing you won’t get from watching on TV is the extras and keep an eye on the opening screen and learn Dean Winchester’s real secret. From the gag reel, Jared Padalacki definitely has a cold nose, learnt here as well as from various interviews over the years. Still a little puzzled over them doing a yuletide greeting, especially when there was no demons in the picture.
The staying power of ‘Supernatural’ in the past six years tells its own story of success. Being able to get the boxset at a cheap price now makes it the kind of viewing you want when the nights are long and you want a few shivers before you go to bed. A good thing I don’t live in the outback of the USA. I’d really give those demons something scary to consider.
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