Warner Bros. // 2008 // 924 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 1st, 2009
"Because God commanded it. We have work for you to do."
The Winchester brothers saddle up and prep for the looming apocalypse. But this time they won't be alone squaring off with demons -- this go-round they'll be running with Heaven's warriors and, you know, that's awesome.
Things weren't going terribly well for Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), when we last saw him. And by "weren't going terribly well" I mean "homeboy was impaled on hooks and strung up in Hell." Back on Earth, his brother Sam (Jared Padelecki) has taken the demon-hunting personally, desperately trying to track down a bigshot Hellspawn named Lilith who's been orchestrating most of the metaphysical shenanigans. The last thing he's expecting is the sudden, mysterious reappearance of Dean, freshly unearthed and apparently ripped from the guts of the pit by an unknown powerful being.
Enter Castiel (Misha Collins), a guy wearing a raincoat and a perpetual grimace but sporting mojo that neither Winchester has ever seen before. Turns out Castiel is an angel, sent from Heaven to spring Dean from Hell and prep him for his substantial role in the apocalypse, which, unless the good guys can stop it, will be unleashed when Lucifer himself escapes his eternal prison.
I'm a big fan of this show and, despite the fact I maybe the only male follower of the Winchester adventures, I am happy to proclaim Supernatural as one of the finest shows on TV right now. I've been with it since the beginning, when it was a monster-of-the-week endeavor, and got super involved in the mythology as it progressed into more season-arc-storytelling. Now the very best season has hit and it's a whopper.
When it was announced that angels were going to be introduced into the series, the fan community reacted with skepticism. But when the stunning Fourth Season premiere wrapped, I knew creator Eric Kripke and his creative team had hit paydirt. Bringing angels into the mix and setting up a Revelation-inspired storyline was genius, pumping a staggering amount of new energy into the show and giving the writers tons more building blocks to play with. Plus, it introduced one the coolest supporting characters I've seen in a while -- Misha Collins's Castiel, a superb creation and someone who endeared himself to the fanbase almost immediately. I'm going out on a limb and say that's because he's a great actor portraying an interesting character, and not because he's got dreamy eyes.
As dependably great as the cast is -- Ackles and Padalecki now wear their roles with ease -- it's the compelling narrative that separates this season from its predecessors. Maybe it's because, as a God-fearing gent, I can appreciate this particular storyline. I mean, come on, Lucifer, God, archangels, war in Heaven -- that stuff is just the bee's knees. Regardless of your inclination towards the Judeo-Christian belief system, you have to admit there's some cool mythology to work with here. If you're not of the religious persuasion, don't worry, this isn't preachy. In fact, in the accompanying interviews, Kripke goes out of his way to mention that the series is governed by humanist themes, where it's all about family and there's no higher form of destiny, which pretty much runs counter to Christian orthodoxy. I don't mind, because a) the writers actually take this stuff seriously, and b) who cares because angels are @#$%#&%#$ decapitating demons!!!
Finally, a shout out to the humor. As hardcore and heavy-duty as the show gets, there are many flashes of humor. Whole episodes are geared towards comedy (typically penned by the great Ben Edlund) and work exceedingly well; "Yellow Fever," "Monster Movie," "Wishful Thinking" (featuring a giant suicidal teddy bear) and "After School Special" being the standouts.
During its broadcast run, Supernatural was one of the best-looking shows in HD. On Blu-ray, the visual fidelity shines. Episodes receive gorgeous 1080p, 1.78:1 widescreen transfers, rich in detail and pumping out a crystal-clear resolution. The show has a gritty look that lends itself well to the stark levels an HD facelift offers. I doubt you have seen such perfectly rendered five o'clock shadows. You get a regular old Dolby 5.1 mix, which falls short of the lossless action that's become Blu-ray standard, but it still pounds. Extras: Select episode commentary, a handful of so-so deleted and extended scenes, a slick and interesting deconstruction of the religious mythology used in the show (nice and multicultural too), and a gag reel.
Biggest disappointment of the season: "Criss Angel is a Douchebag," possibly the greatest episode title ever, but the clunkiest show of the lot.
Funny, bad-ass, and smart, Supernatural: The Complete Fourth Season is the strongest of the series and Blu-ray is the way to see it.
Not Guilty. Carry on wayward sons.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; 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)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 924 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Episode Commentaries
* Deleted/Extended Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Official Site