Supernatural- Season 1
“The creepy. The demented. The unexplained. The Unearthly. Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) grew up hunting such terrifying things. But that’s all in the past. Law school beckons him. So do safety and normalcy. That is, until Sam’s estranged brother Dean (Jensen Ackles) appears with troubling news: their father, a man who’s been hunting evil for 22 years, has disappeared. So now, to find him, the brothers must hunt what their father hunts… and Sam must return to the life he thought he’d left behind.”
Plot Rating: 5/5
As a child I was a huge fan of “Are You Afraid of the Dark”, “Goosebumps”, R.L. Stein, and any other scary content I could get my hands on. I cite that as the reason for my love of this show. Each episode is almost a self-contained movie, combining classic horror elements with real mythology. No new monsters are made up, all are based on research into American folklore. The Winchester brothers do not hunt in style, but drive an old 1967 Chevy Impalla (which has become iconic for the series), live in crap motels off credit card fraud, and post as whatever officials they need to in order to hunt.
This first season of the cult hit show begins with the mysterious death of one Mary Winchester, Sam and Dean’s mother, who their father finds pinned to the ceiling in Sam’s nursery when he is only six months old. Her stomach is slashed and her face is frozen in a scream, then she bursts into flames. Consumed with grief and obsession their father dives into the world of a Hunter, tracking down and killing everything that goes bump in the night, and training his sons like warriors to do the same thing, all in the hopes of one day finding and killing the thing that murdered their mother.
Sam, at the beginning of the series, has left his father and brother to attend Stanford. He became estranged from both and refuses to speak about them with his girlfriend of a year and a half, Jessica. When Dean suddenly appears in their home one night and drags Sam into a hunt for their missing father it is on the provision that he return quickly. Tragedy awaits Sam back home after the hunt (in which they find only their father’s journal, a guide to monster hunting, but not their father). When he collapses wearily on his bed blood falls on his face. He opens his eyes to see Jessica, pinned to the ceiling and bleeding. Just like his mother, she bursts into flames. Sam is pulled from the fire by Dean and, just as his father before him, becomes consumed with the need for revenge.
Acting Score: 5/5
Jared Padalecki portrays Sam Winchester as the sensitive one. Had she not died when he was six months old the term would have been “Mamma’s Boy”. Sam is definitely emotion-driven and Jared Padalecki seems to be channeling his Gilmore Girls experience for this role. His emotional acting is far better than most actors (who tend towards awkward) and delivers his lines expertly.
Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) pulls out all the stops in the wild and loose character of Dean Winchester, who loves nothing more than a good rock music, fried food, and a woman on his lap. Ackles brings dimension to the “Daddy’s Boy” who has spent his whole life hunting and, unlike Sam, was old enough to remember their mother’s murder and seek revenge. He manages to play up the tough side of Dean while still conveying his care for his baby brother, who he was raised to guard with his life.
With only two main characters and no regular guest stars (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays their father John, appears in a handful of scenes throughout the season, then figures in majorly in the last 2 episodes) the show relies heavily on guest stars who drive the mini-movie episodes. This could have spelled disaster for the series, but the quality of even their extras shows great care in the casting. While season 1 does not contain many if any big names, it builds the series a solid foundation.
Age Range: 13+
While the show does not contain strong language, nudity, or adult scenes it DOES make a strong name for itself as a horror-based show. Everything from bugs to ghosts to monsters find their place here and should not be taken lightly. Young children may be frightened by the content (hell, I’m twenty and I was covering my eyes sometimes!) and some parents may find certain material inappropriate for younger ages. I would recommend watching each episode before allowing anyone younger to view them. People of all ages will find themselves drawn in by episode 3. My older cousin (almost 30) and mother (in her 50s) have fallen in love with the series, so there is certainly no cap on it’s appeal.
Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles actually became fast friends on “Supernatural”, which helps improve their brotherly dynamic in the show.
Since filming with only two main leads requires a lot of time and intense effort Padalecki and Ackes decided to do what they could to keep the mood on set light, thus beginning a prank war between them and the crew which has continued relentlessly ever since.
Episode 8, Bugs was filmed using real bugs. Instead of using CGI, Director Kim Manners insisted on bringing in 60,000 Drone Bees. The set was encased in netting to keep the bees from escaping and cameramen wore protective gear. Padalecki and Ackles, who riled up the normally docile drones with slapping and a real flame thrower, sustained numerous stings during filming. As the two became frustrated and began to complain Manners walked onto the set and sat down in a camera blind spot wearing no protective gear, determined to stick it out with them. To this day both men chose this as one of their least favorite episodes to film.