We’re all about comics here at Panels On Pages, but a geek cannot live on comics alone. Outside the Longbox is our chance to spotlight something outside our typical 4-color realm, be it movies, music, TV or whatever.
Sure, Lost and Heroes get all the geek TV love these days, but my favorite show on TV, by FAR now that the Shield is over, is Supernatural. For some reason, the show gets no love. It has a hardcore cult following and is one of the most successful shows on the CW, but it always takes a backseat to Smallville (it’s lead-in, oddly enough) and that’s bogus because Smallville is in no way Supernatural’s better.
The show has an official cast of two. The only regular cast members are Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Dean and Sam Winchester, respectively. There are recurring characters in Bobby and Ruby, but as for an official cast, they’re it. It serves the format of the show beautifully. Every week, the Winchester boys find themselves in some new city or town facing a new supernatural threat, encountering new characters along the way, most never to be seen again. While at a glance it seems like the show could fall into a standard “freak of the week” formula, Supernatural somehow ascends above the clichés with a VERY strong mythology.
There’s always been an overarching story behind each season, but Sam and Dean have a job to do saving people and that can’t take a backseat to anything for long. They’re tragically noble. The story began in 1982 in Lawrence Kansas. Mary Winchester was killed by a yellow-eyed demon leaving her sons and husband John behind. John became obsessed with finding what killed his wife and soon fell into the life of a “hunter,” an underground network of those touched by these thought-to-be-fantasy evils dedicated to killing every evil thing they can find. And that’s just the beginning. There is a REALLY good mythology behind this show with a deep sense of continuity. There were even a couple of Wildstorm Comics miniseries that served as prequels to the show and a couple of prequel novels as well. The writers know what these characters have done and they want to share it with you, the viewer or reader, as the case may be.
Given the nature of the show, it flat-out wouldn’t work if the brothers’ chemistry was off. Luckily, Ackles and Padalecki instantly created a report with one another that is damn-near tangible. You feel their sadness, their frustrations and their rare moments of happiness. You laugh at their pranks and jokes and just in general, you believe these guys could be brothers. The supporting cast is equally good in Jim Beaver as Bobby, a longtime friend of the family and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the hard elder Winchester. His performance is intensely strong as the boys’ estranged father. They face off against ghosts, vampires, werewolves (which are, according to Dean, “badass”), shape-shifters, demons, spirits, witches and all sorts of craziness, backed by a bitchin’ classic rock soundtrack… And it’s good every single week. This is literally the only show I’ve ever watched that I can say I’ve never seen a bad episode. They’re all gems.
One of my favorite parts about the show is its oddly realistic tone. Despite the… well… supernatural elements to the show, it all looks very real and the writers have done their research. The magic and lore in the show is solid and is based on real legends in most cases. Again adding to the realism is that notion that these guys couldn’t possibly trek around the country leaving the bloodshed behind them that they do and NOT run into the law. Dead werewolves look like dead humans, after all. Seasons 2 and 3 featured a recurring character in an FBI agent who led a task force looking to bring the Winchester boys in. To him, they were murdering sociopaths who had been brainwashed by their whack-job father. The lives of the Winchesters and their fellow hunters are not glamorous. Supernatural paints a vivid picture of this lifestyle.
The only thing that hinders the show is its greatest strength. Despite the one-and-done nature of the series, the continuity is deep enough that I can see where newcomers may have trouble jumping on at this point. There are no magic hatches, but there are still plenty of things that may not gel right away with new viewers. That’s not to say it’s impossible. They craft pretty good recaps for the show and there’s just enough expository dialogue to keep things fresh when they start to fade, but it could be a little daunting. The good news is that the first three seasons are all on DVD and absolutely worth every penny. I could go on and on about this show, but I legitimately don’t want to ruin it for you. This is the type of show that could easily be flying under your radar. If you get a chance, check it out. You won’t be sorry. It’s scary. It’s funny. It’s insanely smart, and you should be watching it.