If you’ve never caught an episode of SUPERNATURAL, the series is cool, creepy hip, and freaky. While the series concept borrows from other sources, it does it all so well and so effortlessly, that SUPERNATURAL comes off as fresh, original and totally fun. Just to give you an idea of what I mean by borrowing from other sources, SUPERNATURAL is sort of like if THE HARDY BOYS were nurtured on MELROSE PLACE, before taking a detour into THE X-FILES, then hooking up with BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER.
The basic premise of SUPERNATURAL follows estranged brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) who are reunited when their father John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) disappears while on a hunting trip. Of course, their father John was on no ordinary hunting trip… As it turns out, something supernatural killed the boys’ mother, when Sam was just a baby and Dean was only a few years older. So, for the last twenty-two years, John has been hunting for whatever killed Sam and Dean’s mother, while at the same time, destroying every other supernatural beastie that he and the boys encountered along the way.
As the series opens, we learn that Sam has tried to make a normal life for himself by leaving his father and brother behind to attend college. Sam is just about to get into law school, when Dean shows up on his doorstep needing Sam’s help to locate their missing father. Although Sam is disinclined to leave his new life behind, tragic circumstances force his hand and he joins Dean on the road to find their missing father and take down whatever supernatural beastie they encounter.
SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($60) comes to DVD in a six-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired in the show’s freshman year: Pilot, Wendigo, Dead In The Water, Phantom Traveler, Bloody Mary, Skin, Hook Man, Bugs, Home, Asylum, Scarecrow, Faith, Route 666, Nightmare, The Benders, Shadow, Hell House, Something Wicked, Provenance, Dead Man's Blood, Salvation and Devil's Trap.
Warner Home Video has made all twenty-two episodes that comprise SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. SUPERNATURAL is another series that is aired in HD and as a benefit of the HD mastering, the standard definition DVDs look really good. Sharpness and detail are very good for a television production, although there are stylistic aspects to some of the photography that introduces some mild softness. Also some of the process work looks a little softer than the principal photography. Colors are generally well rendered, but again, some of the more stylized moments are rendered with de-saturated hues. Blacks are accurate, whites are crisp and contrast is somewhat better than typical broadcast fare. The film elements from which the episodes are transferred appear very clean and noticeable grain is generally mild. Digital compression artifacts are usually held well in check.
All the episodes that comprise SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON come with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks, which decode to standard surround. As always, I will express my preference for 5.1 channel soundtracks and with the large amount of classic popular music finding its way into the episodes, SUPERNATURAL would have benefited from the discrete format. Despite my reservations, the episodes still do sound very good in matrixed surround. As expected from a television caliber mix, the forward soundstage is dominant, with the rear channels providing mild ambient reinforcement, occasional active effects and some musical fill. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and remains completely understandable. No other language tracks are provided for the episodes, but French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are included.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode/scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplemental materials that have been spread throughout the set. Two audio commentaries each have been provided for the episodes Pilot (creator Eric Kripke, director David Nutter & producer Peter Johnson) and Phantom Traveler (actors Jared Padalecki & Jensen Ackles). Unaired/Extended Scenes are provided for the following episodes: Pilot, Wendigo, Phantom Traveler, Hook Man, Home, Scarecrow, Faith and Nightmare. Supernatural: Tales From The Edge Of Darkness is a twenty-one minute look at the creation of the series. Day In The Life Of Jared And Jensen clocks in at ten minutes and follows the two stars through a day on the set. A Gag Reel and Still Gallery close out the supplements.
SUPERNATURAL is everything a horror genre series should be: smart, scary and fun. The DVD set looks and sounds great, not to mention they outclass standard definition broadcasts by a nice margin. If you are a fan, you’ll want to add SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON to your personal TV/DVD library. If you haven’t had the opportunity to catch the series, then this collection is a great way to get acquainted. Highly recommended.
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