Warner Bros. // 2008 // 651 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // November 26th, 2008
Dean Winchester's soul has reached its expiration date.
Presumed dead upon given the Thursday 9pm time slot, Supernatural has forged out a rabid following of supporters and critical admirers who tune in to watch a couple of twenty-somethings deal with dark forces and mystical beings, in X-Files like fashion, while driving a really cool car. The first and second seasons wound up being pretty decent as far as story material goes, so is the third season an additional charm?
After selling said soul to a demon at the end of Season Two to bring his brother Sam (Jared Padalecki, Gilmore Girls) back from the dead, Dean (Jensen Ackles, Smallville) has run-out his one year to live and hellhounds are on his heels looking to drag him down under. Sam is by no means happy about the metaphorical Sword of Damocles hanging over Dean's head and has been looking for a way to get Dean out of the contract. However, if Dean tries to renege on the agreement, Sam is a goner. Oh, and we can't forget that last season's season finale had our favorite supernatural hunters Sam and Dean opening the gates to Hell, which released a few hundred or so demons into the world that, next to saving Dean, are priority number one for the Winchesters. In the beginning of Season three, Sam's worried that Dean isn't worried about dying, but throughout the season, Dean's nonchalance over the future of his soul breaks down.
It's a situation fraught with, um...issues.
But they have some help. Of course, they can always count on Bobby (Jim Beaver, John From Cincinnati), a fellow hunter and family friend, but there's someone new that's demanded their attention, Ruby (Katie Cassidy, Click), who is not exactly a candy striper. She's a demon with a suspicious fondness for humanity...and a really cool knife. In the not-so-helpful category is the new thorn in the Winchester's side, Bela (Lauren Cohan, Van Wilder 2), a British chick with a penchant for hard-to-find objects that she can sell to the highest bidder, often leaving Sam and Dean high and dry when it comes to important magical trinkets. But will Sam save Dean while dealing with friends and enemies alike? Well, see for yourself!
Judge David Johnson hit the nail on the head for Season Three, when he talked about how the formula of the show branched out from the normal "fight the spooky bad guy" and moved more into the familial dynamic between the two brothers, and just how well it worked. Ackles and Padalecki have a chemistry that works very well, and in episodes like "Mystery Spot" (which, like Dave, is also my favorite episode of the season) it shows very well. The more serious episodes which also help drive the overall season's theme of borrowed time by Dean are great as well, notably "The Kids Are Alright," "Fresh Blood," and "Malleus Maleficarum," all of which are all subtle nods at Dean's mortality in the season. Combine these ingredients with the flat out fun that the characters have, and you've got two likable kids that you want to see not get killed, or at least badly bruised.
Technically, the Blu-ray presentation reduces the amount of discs from five standard definition to three Blu, and the 1.78:1 widescreen presentation looks good. I've already seen the standard definition discs and was very impressed; the Blu-ray copies are a slight improvement, with more detail in the tight shots and deeper blacks, which is a necessary in a "things that go bump in the night" show like this. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is a lot like the standard definition set, with ample (and surprising) low end engagement from the subwoofer and speaker panning that sounds very effective when it needs to. Overall the sonic experience is better than average for a television show, and it translates well to Blu-ray.
On the extras, the Blu-ray set has the same extras that the standard definitions set has, namely two to five-minute looks at a particular scene or episode with the writers or visual effects producers, while "Ghostfacers" is pretty boring, the "From Legends to Reality" piece covers the visual effects and other show components in pretty good detail, running a little over 20 minutes. The gag reel is extensive, and we witness Ackles' interpretation of the dramatic chipmunk, while a shorter featurette covers the boys' Impala which they drive in for the show. The entire season is included as a download for your iTunes or Windows Media Player, if you're that kind of person.
So Warner releases this Blu-ray set now, two months after it's been released on standard definition, with no new supplemental material, and the same Dolby Digital soundtrack found on the standard definition edition? Does someone want to try explaining this decision to me in a way that doesn't make it look like Warner Bros. is trying to double-dip the most ardent Supernatural fan?
I remember getting the first season of Supernatural a couple of years ago, and while I had a mild case of the shakes initially about the stars and the material, Padalecki and Ackles have become very comfortable in the roles of Sam and Dean and are willing to explore every inch of their characters, which helps the writers give them some very interesting material. If the CW didn't know it before, they've got a network staple on their hands. Keep them happy, 'cause they're keeping us happy in the process.
Review content copyright © 2008 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 651 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Inside Looks
* Gag Reel
* "Ghostfacers" Confessionals
* Digital Copy
* Official Site (Warner Bros.)
* Official Site (CW)
* Supernatural TV Fan Site