Supernatural, the incredibly successful series about two brothers who travel around America hunting supernatural creatures, returned to UK screens earlier this month in its seventh season. The show presents a unique and interesting premise – the supernatural creatures that the two Winchester brothers fight are not only mainstream creatures, such as the werewolf or vampire, but also emerge from urban legend, such as the ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’, or from folklore, like the crossroads deals with demons.
While the show is undoubtedly a success because of its unique perspective on the supernatural – for example vampires must be beheaded, in a rather grisly and inhuman manner, rather than be impaled on wooden stakes, or repelled by garlic – the relationship between brothers Sam and Dean Winchester and their interactions is what pulls those who are interested in the mythology of the show back for more. Their dialogue is engaging, and their performances are believable – with every time Dean says ‘bitch’ and Sam responds with ‘jerk’ you feel the brotherly bond, which is a credit to lead actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. At its heart Supernatural presents what everyone knows – that dealing with family and everything that comes with it can be hell sometimes. By centring the show around the sibling relationship the creators and producers of Supernatural instantly made a show about monsters and the things that go bump in the night relatable to more than just the people who take an interest in the supernatural.
Supernatural works because it blends comedy and horror. There are creatures and moments that produce a visceral reaction – I challenge anyone who sees a creature, that looks like a human, rip the flesh from its own bones not to recoil in horror. The effects are dynamic, and the dark nature of the show means that you find it difficult to look away. The comedy moments produce light moments, and make the horror ones more dramatic.
Season seven has a lot to live up to, due to the fantastic long running storylines of past series – after fighting both heaven and hell, any creature which is introduced as a ‘big bad’ has to be something more than your bog standard evil supernatural creature.. And so far, I think that the new season has started well in this respect. The first few episodes establish the newest enemy, the mysterious Leviathans that have been released from purgatory, and from what has been shown so far, I think that it could create some brilliant storylines, and a fantastic final showdown. The individual self-contained episodes have been interesting and engaging and give more insight into each of the brothers. Standout episodes thus far include ‘Defending Your Life’ which features the Egyptian god Orisis and some dramatic character revelations, and ‘Shut up, Dr Phil’ which features Buffy alum Charisma Carpenter and James Masters as a dysfunctional couple who happen to be witches.
My only complaint about season seven so far? The screen time of Misha Collins’ Castiel, or rather lack thereof. Collins’ socially inept angel is one of the most engagin characters, bouncing off both Sam and Dean to create another layer to the show, and I have been disappointed by the fact that he has been absent. However this season shows promise, and certainly has me hooked.
Supernatural season seven is currently being shown on Sky Living 9pm on Wednesdays and seasons 1-6 are distributed by Warner Home Video (rated 15)