Supernatural Season 6, Volume 1 review
|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
The boys are back, and it's Angels and Demons all over again...
I'm going to start with a claim; one that I'm sure will be accredited by fans, and dismissed by opposition. Supernatural has - as it continues to prove, season after season, episode after episode - one of the best writing teams in the business. And I'm not just on about the horror genre - oh no, I mean of all genres to date.
It's their ability to keep the show original that is most refreshing. When stripped to its core, Supernatural is just another show about monsters, and the subsequent hunting of said monsters. However, what makes Supernatural unique, what really makes it worthy of such accolade and praise is the ingenuity of both its writers and, most importantly, its executive producers. Eric Kripke, Robert Singer, McG, David Nutter, Kim Manners (who tragically passed away during filming of the fourth season), Sera Gamble - each brings their own chimeric outlook and a quirky sense of humour, but it's a combination of them all that makes Supernatural unmissable viewing.
Anyhow, I digress. So, what of Season six, part one? Well, like those before it, it's lively. You see, Eric Kripke, the show's creator, had originally penned the series as a five season run, but after a significant spike in ratings towards the latter end of season four, CW announced a two season renewal of the show. However, the deal rested on Kripke's acceptance (after all, he did create the thing and - one would assume - has a fair share in the rights) and for much of the year, it looked certain that Supernatural would cease production at the end of season five.
However, like the Winchester brothers themselves, Supernatural was once again reborn, but under one rather daunting condition - Kripke would step down and leave Sera Gamble as the shows main runner. Now it's not that fans didn't have faith in Gamble - far from it in fact - but Kripke was the brain-child of the operation; the angelic Mac-Daddy whose brilliance had turned Supernatural into one of the most captivating shows on television. Would the show continue to be as shocking and unpredictable as it has been to date? Well, in short...yes.
Season five ended with yet another cliff-hanger. Sam had sacrificed himself, dragging Michael and Lucifer into the pit and ultimately preventing the apocalypse. Dean, who's relationship with his brother is similar to that of Kirk and Spock (eerie, at times) had promised Sam that, should he suffer such a fate, he would leave things behind and attempt to live an ordinary, suburban life with Lisa and Ben. Yet just moments later, Sam is pictured looking in on Dean and his new 'family', despite having just fallen into his hellish fortress.
Well, as Season six, volume one explains, that's not all that's changed. When Dean is dragged back into the life, Supernatural sets about establishing its now famed sub-plots. Not only is Sam back, but also the boys' grandfather - Samuel - too. It turns out that Sam has been hunting alongside his estranged grandparent for some time, but chose to keep Dean out of the loop. However, as the brothers start to become reacquainted, Dean realises that not all is as it seems. His brother is...different, for lack of a better word, and Dean's trust of Samuel and their band of merry-man is questionable to say the least.
While keen to remain distant, Kripke had commented that this season would return to its roots - the brothers relationship and the actual hunting of supernatural beings - and its certainly done that. Samuel's motives, though confusing, drive the boys into wholly new territory, forcing the brothers to tackle a number of new scenarios and - worryingly - new monsters. Hybrids; Alphas; an entirely new breed which, seeing as though he found them, Dean names Jefferson Starships - something's amok in the Supernatural universe...again.
You always feel like there's a greater purpose to the show; a higher calling, if you will. Season three had Dean's crossroad deal, and the constant threat of Lilith; season four welcomed Castiel and the angels, whilst dealing predominately with Lilith's attempts to break the 66 seals of Hell and free Lucifer; and season five was just manic - a looming apocalypse, brotherly disputes (angelic and human), dealing with death himself...you know, the usual. Season six is no different. While day to day, the boys hunt, their is always a long-term goal, one that continually pops up throughout the season. As such, it lets the writers turn their attention to unique, off-the-cuff episodes, something that has become a staple of Supernatural. Confused? Well check out "Mystery Spot" (S3E11), "Wishful Thinking" (S4E8) and/or "The Real Ghostbusters (S5E9), and it'll all become clear.
To this point, I've been almost overly positive of this addition, but let's address a few issues. To start, this half of season six is probably the weakest. For a reason unknown to myself, CW sent me the entire sixth season, so as someone with full viewing experience, it's the truth. Yet this isn't a problem per-say; Volume one has a dark - but ultimately personal - feel, and this is sure to resonate well with fans. Furthermore, it is clear to see that Kripke and gang want to clean up a few loose ends, and this job falls within the confines of this release. However, as is always the case with those 'pesky Winchesters and their dumb drunk', when one hell-infested door closes, another opens, so fans and viewers alike can be sure of an action packed ride.
Also, for the first time since I began watching Supernatural, I felt the show dragged in a couple of places. Certain plots - which I am adamant not to reveal - dragged longer than necessary, and Castiel's involvement at times was a little far-fetched...even for an angel. However, the development of new characters makes up for these minor flaws, and the underlying sense of that greater purpose I spoke of earlier is sure to keep you hooked.
But what of the acting? Well, as ever, it's sublime. While kudos goes to the shows writers and executive producers for the content, it is those responsible for delivering it that really shine. Rarely have I witnessed a show that gets every character right, and yet this is one of Supernatural's best attributes. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are excellent as Dean and Sam respectively; their chalk and cheese personalities perfectly bounce off each other, and the passion in their performances is heartfelt and sincere. Misha Collins, who plays Castiel, has really come into his role...as the show has developed around him, so has his performance. Gruff, short and distant, Collins' performance as Castiel - or Cass, to the boys - is now one of the strongest the show has to offer, and this is sure to continue when one considers how important he is to the current storyline.
And yet, Supernatural's true casting superiority comes courtesy of its side-characters. Jim Beaver is captivating as Bobby Singer, a short-tempered drunk who's become a sort of father-figure to the boys. Any problem, any query, Dean and Sam turn to Bobby, and Mr. Singer's character is instrumental in season six. Sebastian Roché (Balthazar), Mark Sheppard (Crowley) and Demore Barnes (Raphael) all add their own take to the show. Crowley is cunning and sarcastic, Balthazar is cocky and obnoxious, and Raphael is direct and humourless - but overall, they add texture and personality to the series.
While not the strongest to date, Supernatural Season six, Volume one is still an exceptional piece of television that ought to be watched. Gripping storylines, captivating acting and a dark, sarcastic humour make Supernatural one of the best out there, and Volume one is no different.
Fans of the show are sure to love the new direction of this addition - its back-to-basics feel and emotional ties are reminiscent of earlier seasons, with much of the content linking back to previous plots and story lines - but there is still that greater purpose; the pursuit of bigger and better things that keeps us captivated. However, for those unfamiliar with the Winchesters or their truly unique lifestyle, I would recommend starting back at around season three - things will make a lot more sense that way.
Either way, Supernatural Season six, Volume one is a great addition to an already stellar offering, and I cannot recommend it enough.
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