Currently Airs:
The CW Network; Thursdays 9:00PM ET, 8 CST.
(formerly on the WB)

September 13, 2005

Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester
Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester

Supporting cast
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as John Winchester (Dean and Sam's father)
Nicki Lynn Aycox as Meg Masters
Samantha Ferris as Ellen Harvelle
Alona Tal as Joanna Beth "Jo" Harvelle
Chad Lindberg as Ash
Jim Beaver as Bobby Singer

The basic premise of Supernatural is about a family that hunts and kills demons, monsters, and other things evil, this pastime spurred on by the death of the matriarch of the family at the hands of a particularly nasty demonic being. The rest of the family, consisting of the father and two twenty-something brothers, embark on a quest to find and kill that demon, hunting and killing all sorts of other kinds of baddies along the way - including your typical horror genre creatures like werewolves, ghosts, and vampires. This quest facilitated the need for fine-tuning an evil-hunting skillset which includes extensive knowledge of the lore of each creature and exactly what weapons, if any, will kill them. At the beginning of the series the brothers are also on a quest to find their father who went missing when he was finally hot on the trail of their mother-killing demon.

The demon also killed Sam's fiancée in the pilot episode in the same brutal fashion that he had killed his mother.

Supernatural, like The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Smallville (its current timeslot mate) before it, intersperses "monster of the week" episodes with mytharc episodes, although it differs in that virtually every episode deals with the mytharc in some fashion. This mytharc, as alluded to above, includes the brothers' quest to find the demon that killed their mother but also includes discovering the mystery about Sam's emerging psychic powers and how it is linked to that demon. The storyline is nomadic as you might expect, the monster-hunting taking the brothers many places across the United States like Kansas (their home state), California, and St. Louis - whereupon a fairly important plot development takes place that would affect future episodes where a shape-shifting creature kills and is killed while taking on the likeness of Dean, making him officially a dead murder suspect. At the end of Season 2 a doorway to Hell is temporarily opened in Wyoming!

But this series is about much more than monster hunting and road trips. I would contend that Supernatural is not so much about fighting demons and monsters as it is about the relationship between two brothers and each one's relationship with his father. The target demographic of this show might be male 18-49 (like many WB/CW shows) but the appeal can be much broader to include any boy or man who has a brother and/or a father. Make no mistake, this is a man's television show, a serial the men of the nuclear family can watch and enjoy together. It's about the love between brothers and between sons and fathers that largely goes unexplored because of the typical male machismo but it is definitely there. And palpable.

To add to this male bonding feeling of the show, muscle cars and classic rock tunes abound: Dean's trademark black 1967 Chevrolet Impala, which was passed down to him from their father, is prominently featured, the trunk of which usually contains the various weapons the brothers need in their demon-vanquishing; songs like Kansas' "Carry on my Wayward Son," (several times), AC/DC's "Back in Black," Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper," and Journey's "Wheel in the Sky" decorate the show's soundtrack - amongst many other tunes from that genre. "Carry On..." is probably the closest thing to a theme song the show has, as it has no opening credit sequence. The song has been featured a few times at the opening and closing of the show.

And let's not forget that their last name is Winchester. One would be hard-pressed to come up with many other surnames as manly-sounding.

The monster and demon fighting could be interpreted as a metaphor for the inner demons and conflicts lurking in many brother-brother, son-father relationships that need to be battled often. Dean and Sam would die for their dad and each other and their father would do the same for them (and often they almost, or actually do). Dean's relationship with John is strained even moreso by the fact that since Sam was just a baby when their mother was killed and their house burned down, Dean - who was a toddler then - his burden was always to look after Sam when John was away on a mission and much more was expected of him because of this. The pressure that John put on Dean caused him to have to grow up too fast, something that Dean often resented. Sam was actually allowed to pursue his own life, go to college, get engaged (a road that came to an end when the demon killed his girlfriend Jessica) while Dean never stopped monster-hunting along with their father.

Despite the fantastic premise of Supernatural, the nature of the father-son, brother-brother relationships give an edge of realism to the show and the talented performances of Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Jeffrey Dean Morgan add greatly to this. You really get the feeling as you watch that Dean and Sam are real brothers with a real wayward father. And when Jeffrey Dean Morgan looks at Ackles and Padalecki it seems that he is actually looking at his sons Dean and Sam with the concern and admiration any father would (well, should) have for his boys. And I nominate Ackles and Padalecki for playing best television brothers ever, in any series.

I highly recommend this series and it is truly one of the best on television today if you are into shows about the supernatural or the occult, or even dramas about families or shows with classic rock and roll and cars. Or all of the above. In fact I think the combination the muscle cars, rock music, and horror is a thing of genius on the part of the creator Eric Kripke. But Supernatural is definitely not meant for the little tykes, as some of the scarier episodes can have a level of disturbing horror on par with modern feature length horror flicks, in particular the Bloody Mary episode. Some episodes, however, are as tame as most Smallville episodes. The special effects, in particular the creative method ghosts are depicted (they flicker and pop in and out like bad television reception - probably inspired by The Ring), really ramp up the creepiness of the show.

TiVo it next chance you get, if you haven't already seen it.