Supernatural: The Complete First Season

(2005) *** Unrated
936 min. The CW. Cast: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

/content/films/3768/1.jpgUrban legends and archetypal mythology go out for a horror spin in Supernatural, a one-hour drama created by Eric Kripke (Boogeyman) for The WB (now the CW). Though the series' mythology is distinctly dark, there's also plenty of fun to be had in the relationship between the leading men and the unusual circumstances they face.

Brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles) grew up in Lawrence, Kansas under traumatic circumstances: their mother slain by a supernatural entity and their earnest and often absent father a "hunter" of same, particularly driven to find the being that killed his wife. Determinedly on that mission, John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has disappeared, causing Dean, 26, to chase down Sam, 22 at Stanford University. Having adopted a life of normalcy--including girlfriend Jessica (Adrianne Palicki of Friday Night Lights)--Sam is reluctant to join Dean as a partner in hunting, but circumstances find the two hitting the road together in the car John gave Dean: a black '67 Chevy Impala.

The oeuvre is all dive motels and greasy spoons, head-banging classic rock (Metallica, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC), and buried secrets as the boys respond to cryptic messages from their father (or so they hope) that send them on errands to vanquish evil supernatural forces. Older brother Dean, who follows his father's orders unquestioningly, tends to take the lead, while "puppy dog" Dean--who has always chafed under John's gruff, no-questions-asked regime--proves useful in sweet-talking skeptics to do what they have to do to help the boys defeat evil. The series' mythology resists the heavy-handed, with almost all of the first season episodes perfectly functional as "stand-alones." Nevertheless, we get the introduction of the demonic Meg Masters (Nicki Aycox) and the Colt revolver, made by Samuel Colt himself, that can mystically harm or kill their enemies, including malificent ghosts, vampires, and demons.

Shot in Canada, Supernatural has much in common with The X-Files, including directors (Kim Manners and David Nutter) and writer-producers (John Shiban). In season one, Supernatural even introduced its own version of The X-Files' "Lone Gunmen" (the three stooges of conspiracy theory); the episode "Hell House" introduces comically uninformed webmasters Ed Zeddmore (A. J. Buckley) and Harry Spengler (Travis Wester) of "Hellshound Lair," who eventually become the paranormal investigators of TV's "Ghostfacers." Other season-one guest stars include Julie Benz (Dexter), Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica), Alden Ehrenreich (Tetro), Cory Monteith (Glee), Amy Acker (Dollhouse), Loretta Devine (Boston Public), Dan Butler (Fraser), Daniel Hugh Kelly (Hardcastle and McCormick), Nicolas D'Agosto (Heroes), William B. Davis (The X-Files) and R.D. Call (Stephen King's Golden Years).

Supernatural gets off to a rip-roaring start in its first season, and makes great dramatic hay of the occasional presence of Morgan. Further seasons refined the show's formula, adding more comedically adventurous outings, but the first season lays a strong dramatic foundation without forgetting to indulge a little gallows humor.

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Aspect ratios: 1.78:1

Number of discs: 4

Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1

Street date: 6/15/2010

Distributor: Warner Home Video

Warner delivers a spectacular Blu-ray package for Supernatural: The Complete First Season, beginning with crystal clear HD picture and sound. The image, taken from a 35mm source, looks sharper and better defined than previous Blu-ray editions, with crucially deep blacks and surprisingly revealing detail, adding up to near-perfect picture quality. The audio is lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, but it's certainly serviceable and clean, with punch where it's needed.

Brand-new Blu-exclusive The Devil's Roadmap (HD), kicking off with an "Intro by Eric Kripke" (1:42, HD), is an interactive guide to every episode in Season One, with new interviews, behind-the-scenes clips, local legends, and entries from John Winchester's journal. One can also unlock an "Easter Egg": a "Hidden Behind-the-Scenes Look at Supernatural: Season One" with McG, Nutter, supervising producer Phil Sgricca, Johnson and Singer focusing on the special chemistry of Ackles and Padalecki.

The fantastic 2006 program "Supernatural at the Museum of Television & Radio's Paley Television Festival" (1:12:39, SD), previously only available as a Best Buy-exclusive bonus, is the full Q&A panel featuring Kripke, Ackles, Padelecki, Johnson, Manners, Shiban and Singer.

The set also includes all previous extras, beginning with commentary on "Pilot" by creator Eric Kripke, director David Nutter, and producer Peter Johnson, and commentary on "Phantom Traveler" by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.

There are "Deleted Scenes" to be found on Disc One (5:17, SD), Disc Two (13:38, SD), and Disc Three (2:15, SD).

"Supernatural: Tales from the Edge of Darkness" (22:53, SD) executive producer McG, Kripke, Ackles, Padalecki, Johnson, director/executive producer Robert Singer, Nutter, director/co-executive producer Kim Manners, producer Cyrus Yavneh, visual effects supervisor Ivan Hayden, production designer Jerry Wanek, writer/co-executive producer John Shiban, and writers Raelle Tucker & Sera Gamble.

A "Day in the Life of Jared and Jensen" (10:37, SD) tags along as the stars go through their day: waiting, working, and pal-ing around. Fans will go gaga for this featurette.

Lastly there's a "Gag Reel" (7:44, SD), always a humorous offering.

There's great value in this tremendous set, especially for those who are already Supernatural fans.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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