When it was originally on: 2005-2020 (series finale scheduled for this May)
Original Network: The WB (became the CW in 2006)
Where you can stream it now: Netflix
Had I seen it before: I’ve seen the episode where they’re stuck in a time loop and they keep playing “Heat of the Moment” by Asia. It made little sense to me having never seen another episode. Hopefully watching the pilot can help things make a little more sense.
What IMDb says: Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as hunters, fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds, including monsters, demons and gods that roam the earth.
Why I picked it: Any show that stays on the air for 15 years is noteworthy, regardless of whether or not it maintained its level of quality throughout those 15 years. Supernatural always seemed like a show that might not have the biggest fanbase in the world, but people who love this show freakin’ love. this. show. And while many people lost interest in some of the later seasons, there’s no denying that Supernatural inspired a level of enthusiasm many shows can only dream of. Premiering 2 years after Buffy ended, it also helped prove that there would always be demand for YA fantasy on television, potentially paving the way for stuff like The Vampire Diaries.
What I liked: Sam and Dean play off of each other quite well. I love the idea of one brother being fully committed to the family business since he was a young child and the other brother wanting to build a new life for himself but is dragged along for the ride nonetheless. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the dynamic we saw between David and Nate in the Six Feet Under pilot, even though these seem like wildly different premises on the surface.
The fact that the brothers have such different attitudes towards demon hunting makes for added layers of tension. They are simultaneously partners, but also obstacles to each other. Despite this, we can totally understand why each brother has the attitude they have. Sam has a gorgeous girlfriend and an exciting job interview lined up. He also isn’t old enough to remember his mother’s dramatic death. Dean DOES remember that death, and so far doesn’t seem to have any other career or general life prospects. They’re butting heads, but neither is the bad guy. They’re both endearing for different reasons, there’s constant tension between the two, yet I never doubt that they will have each other’s backs if need be. In other words, they have the exact chemistry you need to play brothers effectively.
I also think the show did a good job of gradually raising stakes and complicating things as necessary. We start with a pretty general premise of hunting demons, but by the end of the episode, we’ve zeroed in on a specific type of demon that comes about when a specific type of person dies under incredibly specific circumstances. I can already envision how the show will stay procedural for the most part, but how the world of demons can vary enough that there’s still mystery involved in every episode.
What I didn’t like: You know how I JUST said that I like how it felt like Sam was just dragged along for the ride? How he didn’t seem fully committed to the demon hunting idea, and that made for added complexity that made for a more rich narrative? Yeah, so at the end of this, the pilot takes away any motive he had for not wanting to hunt demons anymore. Both brothers are throwing demon-hunting shit in the car, and Sam (the one who just wanted a normal life) says “we have work to do.” He means demon-hunting work.
So yeah, one of my favorite things about this pilot appears to not be as much of a factor in other episodes, but if you’ve seen more and I’m wrong please let me know. A good pilot accurately indicates what kinds of struggles I’m going to see in future episodes, so it feels like a bait-and-switch that so much of this first episode is based on to-hunt-or-not-to-hunt. If that’s NOT going to be a big deal later, maybe the pilot shouldn’t have spent so much time on it.
It just seems that If both brothers are 100% buying into the premise of the show, it just won’t have the same layers of tension that made the pilot good. It would be so easy for Supernatural to just turn into a pretty standard monster-of-the-week show which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also felt like it had the potential to be more than that, only to take that potential away.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: Sort of? I am curious to see if/how the show maintains conflict and tension between the brothers if both of them are on board to hunt demons. But I also know that fantasy/horror procedural isn’t exactly a think I ever feel like I need in my streaming rotation, but this seems cool if you’re into that sort of thing.