Kripke, you magnificent bastard.
The long, painful summer is finally over, and in compensation for our agony our reward is a pure gem. Eric Kripke does love us. Sure, Dean getting out of Hell is a forgone conclusion, but in coming up with a plausible explanation, the opportunity is seized to veer this show in drastic new territory, opening up a world of possibilities. We have a whole new show, and it's awesome.
The script for "Lazarus Rising" is sheer perfection. Every little element transitions seamlessly, a remarkable juggling act considering what's packed into this episode. On top of the flawless construction, the storytelling is vastly superior and the pacing extraordinary from the word go. Couple this with "No Rest For The Wicked", and Eric Kripke the writer has risen to master of his craft. Not that the acting, directing, set decoration, visual and special effects, etc. are shabby. Every single part comes together for full circle brilliance.
I'm going to try a new format this season, one that worked well with my analysis of "A Very Supernatural Christmas"; detailed recaps broken into two part segments. Granted, an episode might come along that won't warrant such scrutiny, but not that's not the case with this one. Kripke and company gave us plenty to ponder.
Yesterday on my doorstep was the best cure to a rotten day at work ever, courtesy of Warner Brothers Television. As my jaw hit the floor once I saw what was inside I knew that somehow, after writing obsessively about Supernatural for months, I've made an impression.
Inside was a black box, sealed with a symbol that will be the target of my Internet searches today. After carefully peeling back the seal (I didn't have the heart to break it), I found a Holy Bible (King James Version), with a custom made Supernatural bookmark wedged at the beginning of The Book of Revelation. The scripture on bookmark was from Revelations 5:2, "Who is worthy to open the book and break its seals". Throw in a DVD sleeve with Sam on the outside with the quote, "I don't know if what I'm doing is right", and Dean on the inside with "We have work for you", all clues point to our boys being smack in the center of the Apocalypse.
Wait a second, a DVD sleeve? That means there must be a DVD. Whoa! The first two episodes of season four. As someone who's only been exposed to light season four episode summaries, watching these episodes as a preview might be considered the ultimate act of giving into spoiler curiosity. So I held it in my hand, contemplating do I watch or wait? Yeah, the debate lasted about five seconds as I threw the DVD into the player. The hubby and I shuffled the kids to bed, poured a drink (which is never advisable for this show unless you like cleaning up messes), and dimmed the lights just before hitting play.
So, after watching "Lazarus Rising", due to air this Thursday at 9pm, I can give my full critical preview. Ahem.
Note, 7/2/09 - Please note, this list is very outdated. I did this during the Season Three Hiatus. I know it needs to be expanded to a top ten and updated with season four episodes. In the meantime, enjoy what I thought back then.
Here we go. I'm placing my head on the proverbial chopping block and waiting with defiance for the guillotine to fall. In other words, I've made my "Best Episodes of Supernatural" list, and I'm ready for the cavalcade of dissent.
In pouring exhaustively through the remaining 54 episodes that didn't make my worst list, I found seven met my lofty standards. My judgment involved looking at scripts that delivered all the perfect elements needed for Jensen and Jared to take their craft to new heights, a story with a blueprint that let the entire crew go beyond their wildest imaginations, and a plot that sucked us in from the beginning, holding on tight until the very last shot, leaving us tattered and screaming for more. Picking the seven was easy. Ranking them was impossible.
While I still sob profusely over Sam dying in Dean's arms, "All Hell Breaks Loose" doesn't make the cut because it's uneven in its entirety. While "Faith" is an outstanding tear jerker, parts of the episode didn't live up, like the terrible villain Sue-Ann Le Grange. The pilot won't be on this list either, because as outstanding as it is, it's meant to introduce a premise. The show has come too far since then.
Now that the ground rules are in place, the list can begin, in order of best to the absolute greatest.
Itâ€™s Christmas in July! What a better way to celebrate than to re-experience for only the second time the twisted, gory, heart-wrenching, fast-paced, cynical, and downright brilliant version of Christmas the Supernatural way. Kripke and Co. are a bunch of sick bastards, and we love them for it.
I tried in an exhaustive number of ways to get this review down to a reasonable length, but this episode contained an overwhelming attention to detail, and itâ€™s impossible to overlook most of these elements that made up one of the most outstanding episodes of the series. It went all out, beyond the usual great writing and acting, giving us several unique camera shots, extreme set decoration, a brilliant cast of supporting characters, loads of eye catching background details, and even a clever cover story as to why Ypsilanti Michigan was looking so lush in December.
The writer of this episode, Jeremy Carver, gives us his first solo script here, and I must wonder how many Andy Williams Christmas specials heâ€™s seen in his lifetime (I assume enough to drive him crazy). As with his other masterpiece, â€œMystery Spotâ€, this script is very diverse, offering snappy and outrageous (in a good way) dialogue, a multitude of jabs at the history of Christmas culture, a progression of scenes going at a wild yet seamless pace that blended laugh out loud moments, powerful emotional ones and very disturbing ones, and a compelling story involving Pagan lore that sucked us in from beginning to end. Plus, it ruined Christmas. What could be better?
Before I get started with this week's recap, I want to send my thanks to all of you who read and sent comments regarding my little copout from last week for "Red Sky At Morning". The feedback was fantastic and it seems many of you agreed with my choices for worst episodes. The best episodes list will be coming in a few weeks, and I'm sure I'll get far more disagreement on that one.
Anyway, "Fresh Blood" holds a special place for me, since it's the very first Supernatural episode I saw live. As I've mentioned before, I spent most of October and November catching up on season one, season two, and the first six episodes of season three. As a matter of fact, the hubby and I watched "Red Sky At Morning" on the TiVo that night before taking on "Fresh Blood", holding up our arms in triumph that we finally reached the pinnacle.
I tried. I even forced myself to watch "Red Sky At Morning" again, hoping to find someway to do a review that didn't sound like an insensitive berating of what is clearly the one off episode of the season that every show is allowed. Even Eric Kripke himself admitted that this was not a good one, so for me to give a detailed criticism of something that is already known to be bad would be the equivalent of doing a restaurant review on McDonalds. Pointless.
My mind instead got distracted by a nagging question during a mood of reflection (really, it was an intentional diversion from another boring day at work), just how bad was this episode? Did it compare with the truly stinky from the other seasons? When I look at this episode in that light, turns out, it wasn't the worst. It was the best of the worst. So, I present the top five worst episodes ever of Supernatural, from bad to just plain awful.
Episode five already? Wow, time is flying toward September, er October, er we really don't know. Just to keep everyone in the loop about the latest controversy, we don't know exactly what date Supernatural will be back in the fall. Initial reports had it the same week as when all the other CW shows premiere, the first week of September. Then, TV Guide reported last week the date for Smallville and Supernatural was actually TBA. Now Spoilerfix and The Futon Critic have it listed tentatively as October 2nd. To throw even more accelerant onto the confusion, Jared Padalecki said recently they are going to start filming early, on July 2nd. But, speculation is that's because of the potential SAG strike and many shows are going back early and not because of an earlier premiere date. So who knows? My conclusion, it's an agonizing wait no matter what.
Before I get started, I beg for a few paragraphs of self indulgence to get an issue off my chest. This is something that has been stewing for a while now, but considering it's still happening during repeats, well, I just feel like bitching. If you just want the episode review, please skip down to the next heading.
Ahem. Enough throwing Gossip Girl in my face CW! If I see another promo for Gossip Girl obscuring my view of a Winchester, I'm driving to LA and smacking Dawn Ostroff myself. I'm not in your target demographic and have no interest in your all teen network. I wouldn't even be watching this silly network if it wasn't for Supernatural, Smallville, and Reaper being pitifully stuck on it, left to flounder on their own while all I read is about is how the ninth ranked show is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Last week The CW only aired two original shows, Friday Night Smackdown and Farmer Takes A Wife. They were one and two respectively in the ratings last week, but Smackdown (4 million) is going away in September and Farmer Takes A Wife barely drew 2 million. It was almost beat out in the ratings by a Supernatural rerun (1.83 million), one that aired for the third time. Their precious Gossip Girl barely cracked a million on Monday. How is that the most buzz worthy show on the network?
I hate The CW. I hate how a brilliant, incredibly crafted show, with its fantastic acting, top notch writing, great directing and jaw-dropping story telling, not to mention critical and fan acclaim, is stuck with a network that insists on shooting itself in the foot. I saw the overall ratings statistics for all of the networks for the 2007-2008 season compared to 2006-2007, and with the exception of Fox, everyone has double digit declines. The CW, however, has declines in all demographics of 20% or more, making it easily the champion for most bleeding of viewers. Their precious 18-34 demographic lost 26%. This is the coveted market? They've thrown all their network resources toward a target demographic for a 26% decline? All networks are reporting increases in advertising upfront dollars except The CW. They stayed flat. Face it CW, most cable stations are kicking your butt in the ratings and revenue department right now, let alone other networks.
This network, no matter what image they like to project, forgets that Smallville and Supernatural are their top two scripted shows, yet they continue to alienate viewers by telling us we want to be watching teen trash instead. Reaper drew much higher ratings than Gossip Girl but almost got cancelled. Smallville is likely in its last year, or it should be considering it's clearly run its course, so I beg you Warner Brothers and ABC Television Studios, for all decency and fairness, find Supernatural and Reaper a new home and let this network crash and burn with their elusive and fickle teen demographic.
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