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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Supernatural - What we thought and how to fix what's wrong

By [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
We are caught up on Supernatural. We updated the episodes you can skip post too, in order to include season seven’s time wasters. So…what did we think? Overall, we really liked it and will definitely watch season eight this fall. But we are also angry. This show has a ton of potential that it only occasionally realizes. When the show is good, it stays with you for days. We have no idea what the show was doing in seasons six and seven. We understand season one being cheesy and bad because they were still figuring out what the show was. By season six, the show knew what worked and what made its best seasons good. And then it went and did the opposite of that.

The good news is one of the brothers is always awesome, no matter how bad the show is. We’re obviously talking about Dean. We don’t hate Sam. He is in no way annoying or unlikeable. He just doesn’t have as much personality. And Dean is infinitely cuter. We also like, Castiel, obviously. We like all the salt they use too. If you know why, you’re awesome. One of our complaints about the show is that sometimes it’s too depressing, especially in season three when hell was hanging over Dean’s head for a year. The boys have few allies, and the ones they do have tend not to last long.

There’s a lot of dark forces and not a lot of light powers to counter it. Even the angels on this show are dicks. God exists, but he is absent, only taking an interest a couple of times. We have never met him on the show. The show’s version of God seems like a faraway jerk who won’t even let his angels see him. (On that note, the theology/spiritual theories often change based on what the writers want to do with the show, so it all comes out murky and inconsistent. Much like real theology, haha. It’s funny what this show thinks purgatory is.) So when Castiel came onto the scene, he provided much-needed comic relief. Without him, the events can be dreary and wear on a marathoner of the show.

We love when the show has a sense of humor about itself, like in "The Monster at the End of This Book" in season four and when the brothers were transported to the real world. It’s a humble show that pokes fun at its stumbles/worst episodes, long running time, actors, and staff. The show is better when it’s a serial and not a monster-of-the-week show, but it inability to decide what it is hurts it. The show’s best seasons (three through five) had strong overarching plotlines and lots of continuity, turning it into more of a serial. That’s what this show is good at. It builds tension, it develops the characters, and it makes us feel like we are heading somewhere.

We have nothing against procedurals when they are good. That means the cases each week and the temporary characters in them have to be interesting. That’s almost never the case with Supernatural standalone episodes. It just turns into a ghost or slasher story that’s usually fun, but mostly unoriginal and dragged out. It’s like those episodes don’t have enough plot to sustain a 42-minute running time, so the episodes drag. When the show good, it’s really good, and when it’s bad, it makes us hate it. We never really want to stop watching it though. Even after the last two sucky seasons, we still want to watch more.

We think one of the things that makes Supernatural so addictive is that it plays like fan fiction. It gives the viewers what they want. Sure, there has been no Wincest and Dean/Castiel are gay together, but other than that? Yeah, it’s like fan fiction. There are fun weddings, people randomly come back from the dead just because viewers miss them (and if they can’t come back, the boys will time travel to see them), the show acknowledges the fandom, and we get a ton of back story and time travel, even when we don’t need it.

Season breakdown: Season one is sooooo cheesy and slow. Season two strikes a perfect balance between procedural and serial, but it was pretty average. We missed John Winchester after season one, but you have to admit, that dude was kind of a dick. Season three was really good, and we liked the blonde incarnation of Ruby. The new one was prettier, but Katie Cassidy had more snark and charisma. Seasons four and five were the best. Season six dropped back to season two quality. Season seven was a complete mess in almost every way due to lack of continuity. But hey, it’s tough to top the apocalypse when you had it in the middle of the show.

We don’t think the show should be cancelled. There’s a new showrunner taking over for season eight. Thank God because whoever ran season seven (we know it was Sera Gamble) did a real hack job. It still has life in it and it can still do what it does best (and maybe do it even better), but only if they add some new blood and do the following:
  • Look at what the good seasons did. Do that.
  • Have more continuity and fewer cases of the week, as per the strongest seasons. Stop with the standalones. Standalones aren’t for longtime fans. Those are for catching viewers. All they have are caught now. Maybe the show can win back older viewers who dropped out in the last two years.
  • Make Dean suffer, not Sam. For some reason, when it’s Dean’s soul, life, or sanity on the line, it makes for a better season. When Dean is in pain, the audience wants it fixed NOW. Again, the best seasons had Dean on the ropes, not his brother.
  • Get a better, scarier Big Bad. You have to top the apocalypse, Eve, leviathans, demons, archangels (which were awesome), and the devil. So you’re really left with three options. If it’s not going to be the last season, have a really powerful actor. Maybe a wizard that has tapped into another dimension and can bring some scary crap here, but make him a charismatic, complicated, Hannibal Lecter-type presence. But end with either God or the devil as the antagonist. Wow, did religious people just write that? Yeah, we did. But it would fit the rest of the show to have Sam and Dean disagree with God about something. It would have to be written and ended very carefully though. Let’s face it, they’d probably fudge it. They’d need to get Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Rob Bell to meet and write it if they wanted God as a Big Bad to pan out in a good, intense, intelligent, and deep way. The actor they have for the devil is good and enjoyable in that role, but he’s more amusing than scary. God would be better. If that's too controversial or risky, make the devil scarier and bring him back. 
  • Please don’t make the Big Bad Crowley or the vampire king. The latter was hinted at as a future big enemy in season seven, but let’s all admit that the vampire alpha turns every episode he’s in into a nasty bore fest.
  • Stop killing people then bringing them back. It kills the intensity if everyone comes back. How many times has Dean Winchester died? It was only necessary in the Groundhog Day episode and the time he went to hell. It seems like everyone on this show has been dead and come back in some form.
  • If you are going to bring people back, we want to see either John Winchester or Pamela the psychic. We’d rather them not bring anyone back though.
  • We need another good side character, particularly a new good female character. Thank God wet blanket Lisa is gone. Ben was a cool kid though.
  • Bring on the manhunts! Prison is an actual threat to these guys. Have them arrested and let one of them stay in prison for a while so that it’s an actual consequence.
  • Have shorter scenes
  • Don’t drag things out. We need a Vampire Diaries writer on this, pronto.
Season One: C
Season Two: B-
Season Three: B+
Season Four: A
Season Five: B+
Season Six: C+
Season Seven: C-
Show Grade, So Far: B-


  1. I started watching Supernatural just because of Jared Padalecki. Rory's Dance was the first ever Gilmore Girls episode I saw and I looved him. I know you guys are on the Rory/Jess team. In my defense, I was only a kid at that time. But when I started Supernatural, I forgot all about him. Honestly, after Season 4, they could have just dropped Sam or kept him trapped in Hell and continued the show with Dean and Castiel. Season 3 was good but mostly because it was a short season and they didn't have the chance to drag it. Awesome finale though. And another problem with this show, horrible female characters. Not a single one was memorable enough. Weirdly I can remember the first crossroads demon girl in Season 2 with whom Dean made a deal or something. Maybe. I marathon-ed it a year back. Season 7 was total crap. Exploding off Castiel was a bad move. Bringing Bobby back was a cowardly one.

    All in all, I don't regret watching the entire series. There have been some awesome episodes. Like the Trickster one or the flashback one where Dean's Mom made the deal with Azazel. And luckily I don't remember the bad ones. Btw, is Misha Collins coming back?

    1. We wish we were on the Dean/Rory team. He was the nicer guy and was better to her. Plus, Jared seems like a cool guy in real life. For some reason though, Dean on GG didn't really do it for us. That's one of the reasons I avoided Supernatural for seven years.

      I agree that it would have been ballsy and cool to leave Sam in hell. I like all the Trickster episodes.

      Misha Collins will be in at least eight episodes of the next season. Thank God. We're totally gonna start following him on Twitter.

  2. Just found this show via Netflix. Sucked up two weeks of my free time, but I think it was worth the effort. The X-Files for Gen Y. I find it absorbing. It's like a salad bar of sci-fi/horror; something there for everyone. Pretty much agree that when the show is great, it's GREAT, but when it's bad...ugghh (ah, just like X-Files). Castiel, Bobby, and Crowley are my personal favorites.

    Half way through Season Six, and it is weaker than previous efforts. Still, one of the better shows of it's ilk, and after tragedies like The Event and V I am a big supporter of it's continued existence.

    1. Nice! I should have thought you'd like this show, but it didn't cross my mind. There really is something there for everyone, and yeah, it's a lot better than the sci-fi we usually get.

      Hopefully season eight delivers, but if it's the same as 6-7, there are still worse ways to spend your TV time.