1/12/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: ECW Press. 326 page indexed book. Price: $14.95 (US), $16.95 (CAN), GBP10.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-77041-020-6).
check out websites: www.ecwpress.comand www.turnaround-uk.com
The title ‘TV Goes To Hell: An Unofficial Road Map Of Supernatural’ looks like a combination eye-catching title and sub-title to the actual subject matter. My first reaction was this was a book acting as a guide to the routes the Winchester brothers used around the USA in the past five seasons. Nope! It’s not that, although it’s about time a book was done showing that. What we have here is an analysis of many of the aspects of their lives and a touch of American culture. There’s an interesting take on what ‘white trash’ is and the previous terms for it as well. It still doesn’t sound any more polite than ‘hicks’, just a wider associate base. Likewise, there are some comparisons to ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’. For my part, outside of Xander Harris and possibly Tara Mcclay, the Scooby-gang were essentially upper middle class. The Winchesters aren’t exactly ‘white trash’ but they are lower class and Sam has to rely on a scholarship for his university education.
There are a lot of things that are touched upon, like rock songs being used for episode titles, but not giving them all. No doubt this and other topical subjects will be made into a book of its own at some point after all, ‘Supernatural’ is littered with such things. I do find it interesting that the TV studio sees their target audience as being 18-34 women which says little about the male population watching it but there you go. They’ve got more people than they thought they’d get. A later chapter also points out that the, shall we say, more weirder fans do belong to their target audience so they only have themselves to blame.
Which brings up an odd question about the gay community’s thoughts on the subject presented in one of the chapters and the curiosity over the brothers sharing double motel rooms. Yes, it was made a joke of in the first season episode ‘Something Wicked’, but I suspect it’s cheaper to have a double room than two singles and have a bit more space and chat rather than having to go from one to the other to have a talk. The motel room is essentially the equivalent of the soap opera pub as a place to allow plot discussion and probably a lot more comfortable than sleeping in the Impala all the time. To make it a platform for gay issues seems out of place with the show.
As to the fact that Dean’s choice of aliases are based off of rock star and horror movie cast is probably due to what he’s most exposed to. I suspect in his downtime, he probably just watches a lot of horror material on late night TV. Can anyone see Dean watching soaps or reality TV? There’s a definite argument that writers of all such books should look beyond a particular viewpoint when examining their subject, especially as show creators probably have different things on their minds when introducing a subject into their shows. If anything, it’s a shame more time wasn’t spent on their intent than what they think was inferred.
The same could be said about comments about their clothes colour scheme although I would have though having bright coloured clothes would have been detrimental to the overall run of the series. The fact that Dean wore a brightly coloured gym outfit once also shows the producers aren’t afraid to shake the tree but also a difference in urban camouflage.
Karen Petruska’s chapter ‘Crossing Over’ examines how ‘Supernatural’ survived cancellation by being paired with ‘Smallville’, deemed having a similar target audience and how it grew with season four. This is a far cry to how programmes are slotted in here in the UK and I found informative.
There is a brief episode guide at the end and the editors point out that this examination focuses more of its attention on the first five seasons as their cut-off point.
Although I have been critical of some areas, there is a lot here of interest to ‘Supernatural’ fans and if you don’t agree with them, I’m sure many of you will enjoy arguing the point.
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