“On April 21st,1967 the 100-millionth GM vehicle rolled off the plant in Janesville. A blue two-door Caprice. There was a big ceremony, speeches, the Lt. Governor even showed up. Three days later, another car rolled off that same line. No one gave two craps about her, but they should have. Because, that 1967 Chevrolet Impala would turn out to be the most important car in pretty much the whole universe…I guess that’s where the story began. And here’s where it ends.”
Except it doesn’t; not really. Still, everything about the 5th season of Supernatural plays out like it were the show’s last. Perhaps at one point it was expected to turn out that way. Fortunately, for us, it didn’t end up that way. But you can’t deny the finale feeling this season has. It’s the Apocalypse, for cryin’ out loud. It comes with all of the trimmings: horsemen, dead walking, anti-Christ, and Satan himself. How the writers could ever top such an event with these players I just can’t wait to find out. Like finale seasons, these episodes bring back a lot of familiar faces from the first four years. Friends die. And the final episode would be a fitting conclusion to the series.
Some highlights of the season include an episode where the boys attend a Supernatural convention where they meet plenty of Sam & Deans. The trickster returns for a rather prominent role in the end of the world situation. There’s an episode where the boys are trapped in television-land and do a great mock-up of David Caruso’s odd remarks from CSI: Miami. Paris Hilton stars as a demon. We all knew that was coming, didn’t we? It’s a great season and a welcome addition to my Blu-ray collection, as it should be to yours.
If you are a fan of the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker, you were more than likely disappointed in the remake a couple of years ago on ABC. Your hope is now once again restored. Supernatural is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to The Night Stalker. Like Kolchak, the Winchester brothers are faced with weekly incarnations of evil. They’re forced to research these legends and figure out a way to stop them. As Kolchak discovered, it’s a thankless job. Sure, Supernatural is populated with all sorts of beasties and nasties, but it also manages to hold on to a sense of humor that rounds out these adventures to make this one of the most entertaining shows around. When UPN and WB merged, I was a little worried about Supernatural. You do the math (that was another review). Two networks worth of shows, one network worth of programming time. Half of the shows needed to vanish, and I was concerned Supernatural would be one, if history of respect for genre shows was any indication. Fortunately for us the show has not only survived, but it has thrived, looking to be around for quite a while yet.
What amazes me most about Supernatural is the incredible balance the show manages to keep up week after week. Of course, there is that creature-of-the-week idea, but without taking anything away from each episode, there is an overall story arc that ties these creatures and moments together in such an intricate yet easy-to-follow fashion. Each episode blends just the right mix of darkness, comedy, and series mythology. Even The X-Files wasn’t able to spin this flawless a tapestry. I also can’t say enough about the leads. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles have a wonderfully complicated chemistry that gives us an element even Kolchak never had. This is not a one-trick-pony relationship. Under all of the brotherly love and shared tragedy there are far more emotional themes that surface from week to week. There are resentments and rivalries that can suddenly dominate their intercourse. Unlike most shows these conflicts are real and remain a part of the fabric of this relationship, not to be brought out and then quickly overcome never to be seen again. Each of these events leaves a visible mark on their personalities. This kind of continuity is almost unheard of. It requires discipline and dedication by everyone involved; from the actors, writers, and production staff. And again, the season finale will leave you counting the hours until the next episode.
The fact is this. If you are even remotely a genre fan and have not checked out Supernatural, get your butt down to the store and get the early seasons now. I promise you won’t be able to stop watching. Now that the show has been coming out on high definition Blu-ray, it only gets better. This is exactly the kind of series that Blu-ray was meant for. Detail is important on a show of this nature. There’s a lot of nuance to the series, and now you’ll be able to catch it like never before.
Each episode of Supernatural is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The 1080p image is brought to you through a VC-1 codec. As you might expect, this show is dark in more than just its nature. Much of the action occurs at night, so black levels need to be spot-on, or any detail can be quickly washed away like blood pools in a hurricane. Supernatural delivers with great shadow definition and deep levels of black. I’ve seen the broadcast HD versions, and these are even better. What is remarkable about the colors is that they manage to hold on to such fine definition even under intense low-light filming conditions. There is nothing about this transfer that will keep you from enjoying the best horror series since Kolchak.
Supernatural’s audio is presented in a disappointing standard-definition Dolby Digital 5.1 track. It’s likely identical to the DVD release. I’m not sure why there was no uncompressed audio provided, but the series certainly would have benefited from the inclusion. Instead we have a very mundane presentation which has to depict some rather incredible images. It falls flat for a Blu-ray release. Certainly dialog comes through just fine. There is some rather aggressive use of surrounds on rare occasions.
There are some select Audio Commentaries.
Gag Reel: (10:18) Like the first DVD set, there’s a short and entertaining gag reel on this set. I’m happy to see this is becoming a rather standard extra on many shows. This thing has a very produced look, complete with music. I rather enjoy the spontaneous stuff more.
Deleted Scenes: Many of the episodes offer some extra footage. Nothing to scream about here, but nice to have.
Supernatural Apocalypse Survival Guide: This is actually an interactive game where you look for clues.
Ghostfacers: Another collection of the webisodes.
Whatever the tone of this season, the show is returning, so we’re not finished with the Winchester Boys just yet. This was the first year to be so dominated by one story arc. There have been season-long themes and quests before. But this one dominates pretty much every episode of the season. After watching it all, I’m not quite sure what I think about that idea yet. What I am sure about is that this is the most powerful season of this or any show you’ve seen in the last few years. “Nice change-up to the mythology, by the way.”