Warner Bros. // 2006 // 903 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // June 27th, 2011
Good. Evil. And everyone in between.
Fans of both the CW horror series Supernatural and Blu-ray can finally rest: with the Blu-ray release of Supernatural: The Complete Second Season, every season of the show (save its most recent) is now available in HD.
Assume some spoilers for the first season of Supernatural to follow:
When we last left the Winchester brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki, House of Wax) and Dean (Jensen Ackles, My Bloody Valentine 3D), they had finally reunited with their dad (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, The Losers) and tracked down the demon that killed their mother. Unable to shoot his own father, though, Sam allowed the demon to get away; to make matters worse, the three are in a horrible car wreck that hospitalizes two of them. That's were we open Season Two, and everything changes from there. Sam learns more about the reasons for his visions and learns that there may be more like him. Dean is given a very special assignment by his father. The pair encounter vampires, werewolves and rival demon hunters, growing closer to learning about their destinies and what that might mean about their battle with the forces of evil. To say much more would spoil some of the twists of Season Two, and I wouldn't dream of doing that.
Here are the episodes that make up Supernatural: The Complete Second
* "In My Time of Dying"
* "Everybody Loves a Clown"
* "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things"
* "Simon Said"
* "No Exit"
* "The Usual Suspects"
* "Crossroad Blues"
* "Houses of the Holy"
* "Born Under a Bad Sign"
* "Tall Tales"
* "Road Kill"
* "Hollywood Babylon"
* "Folsom Prison Blues"
* "What Is and What Should Never Be"
* "All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 1)"
* "All Hell Breaks Loose (Part 2)"
Sometimes, it's good to be patient.
Last summer, I reviewed the HD release of Supernatural's freshman season, which, incidentally, was also my first exposure to the show. While I had a lot of positive things to say about it, my overall impression was one of moderate disappointment -- for a series I had heard so many good things about for so many years, I found Season One curiously flat. It relied too heavily on "monster-of-the-week" plotting, and the character motivations of the Winchester Brothers were too often reduced to "Let's go find Dad, we just missed him." I wanted a show that devoted more time and energy to building its own world that existed from week to week rather than resetting. I wanted Supernatural to begin developing its own mythology.
Well, here it is one year later and I'm finally catching up with Season Two (yes, yes, I know; fans of the show have already watched six seasons and are way ahead of me), which brings Supernatural much, much closer to being the show I was hoping to find in the first season. Season Two finds the horror series (and it is genuine horror, not the "CW version" of horror, which is terrific and makes me feel like they're getting away with something) becoming more serialized, so that each episode flows into the next more smoothly. Sure, there are still a lot of self-contained episodes and "monster of the week" detours, but even those have gotten better at finding moments in which to explore the characters and expand on the season's larger story.
Right off the bat, the stakes are raised for the series in the season premiere. Picking up immediately after the car accident that ended Season One, most of the episode is devoted to a sort-of lame plot in which Dean has an out-of-body experience in the hospital; even then, though, the pieces are moving into place for what would set up the next 22 episodes. By the end of the premiere, major changes have come to Supernatural, and things have been kicked off in an exciting way. Already it was apparent that Season Two is much more confident and assured than the first season, and that focus in both the storytelling and character drives most of the season. There are a handful of disposable episodes that would have felt more at home in Season One (right after the great, stakes-raising debut is a bad episode about evil clowns), which are even more noticeable because they break up the momentum built up by the better shows. On the whole, though, Season Two finds Supernatural a much stronger and more confident series -- one that I will most definitely want to continue watching.
It's the raising of stakes that gives the second season its power. The motivations of Sam and Dean were clear in the beginning, but also stunningly basic: let's find Dad, let's get that thing that killed Mom. Things get much more complicated in Season Two, and it's to the betterment of the show -- now, Sam and Dean are running from something (a couple of things, actually), while at the same time still chasing after the ghosts and demons that they've sworn their lives to hunt down and kill (the fact that they want to destroy evil not out of a sense of protecting the innocent but out of anger and hate is still one of the things I like best about the show). The brothers' relationship also begins to really take shape, with each taking on very specific roles; the performances by Padalecki and Ackles are better, too, probably because each has more of a character to play. It's also a testament to just how well the creative team has found its voice that they're willing to play around with the tone a little this season, with episodes that get away from grim intensity and lean more towards comedy. The X-Files, in some of its best moments, was able to pull off the same trick. That's good company for Supernatural to be in.
The 22 episodes that make up Supernatural: The Complete Second Season are spread across four discs, all presented in their original 1.78:1 aspect ratio in full 1080p HD. The show looks pretty great on Blu-ray; though the color palette is very washed-out and subdued, the format handles the darkness of the show's photography very well, with solid blacks and lots of excellent fine detail in every shot. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. has continued their bizarre trend of not providing Supernatural with a lossless audio track on their Blu-rays of the show, but the regular 5.1 surround track is still good; dialogue is clear and the track does a good job of ramping up the tension and amping up the shocks when needed. Audio purists who have come to expect lossless tracks on the format will likely be a little miffed, but fans of the show should have little to complain about. Hopefully Warner Bros. will remedy this choice going forward, but I don't exactly have my fingers crossed.
Like with the release of Season One on Blu-ray, only one (partially) new extra has been included for the HD debut: the "Devil's Road Map" interactive map includes some new HD footage that didn't appear on the original standard def release. Otherwise, all of the bonus material has been carried over from the DVD release, including three episode commentaries (on "In My Time of Dying," "What Is and What Never Should Be" and "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1"). Also included are some deleted scenes, a gag reel, footage of Jared Padalecki's original screen test and some behind-the-scenes "webisodes" originally intended for fans to watch on their cell phones, I think.
Supernatural: The Complete Second Season demonstrates a pretty big leap forward in quality over Season One -- enough of one to get me hooked and wanting to continue the story of Sam and Dean Winchester. Though the Blu-ray looks terrific, the lack of a lossless audio track and new special features means that it's probably not worth the upgrade for fans who already own the DVDs, but those who have been collecting the seasons on Blu-ray should rejoice that their collections can now be complete.
Review content copyright © 2011 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 903 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Interactive Map
* Official Site