In honor of Supernatural starting in US second run syndication on TNT today, I thought that since I didn't start writing reviews until season three, when I actually started watching the show, for each season one and two episode aired I'll write a quick 500 word review. It's a nifty little challenge because once I get my analytical hat on, 500 words becomes impossible. Even for bad episodes like "Bugs" there's plenty to rant about.  Still, I'll try, for brevity with older episodes that already have been overanalyzed is probably desired.  Naturally, first up is The Pilot. Word counter starts"¦now.
 
A pilot is supposed to be the attention getter; the episode that establishes enough of the premise and character quirks where you'll want to tune in the next few weeks to see where it's all going. I've seen plenty of pilots yet very few have sparked my interest enough where I gave the show my undivided attention in the weeks following. Even one of my all time favorites, The West Wing, lost my attention initially and I had to catch up with season one in summer repeats.   When re-watching the Supernatural pilot today for the first time on a network, I put myself back into the viewer's shoes circa 2005. How did it measure up?
 
For starters, the plotting is outstanding. Kick starting with the suspenseful Winchester family tragedy is a great move. This sequence is ideally executed from beginning to end where we're on the edge of our seats the entire time. The outcome is certainly shocking, even for those that have watched almost every genre show. The final visual of John and the boys is the heart tugging moment that sends a powerful message.   This family is now broken.

Brokenfamily

The real attention getter though comes the instant Jared and Jensen hit the screen together. Sam and Jess are fine, but the real fireworks happen when the brothers reunite.  They haven't missed a beat and still know how to work together, despite their estrangement.   I can't think of an on screen duo that's grabbed attention so effectively since Mulder and Scully. Every single scene the brothers are in together is a big winner (thanks in part to the perfect lines) and the weaker scenes happen when they're apart. For instance the brotherly confrontation on the bridge generates the best drama but cocky Dean at the jail is mildly amusing. Sam interrogating the Woman in White's husband fails, thus making the story lose some of its luster. Then again, Eric Kripke and team figured out by mid-season ghost stories weren't what sold the show and luckily had a team of writers that knew how to write brother perfectly. 
 
DeanconfrontsSam  

I'm still stunned over the ending "gotcha," Sam coming home to find his girlfriend a tragic victim to the same demise as his mother. This shocking twist is every bit as jaw dropping as the beginning. What's even more appropriate is Dean is there again to take his brother out of harm's way, thus highlighting the tight bond between these two.   It also opens up plenty of mystery that fans delightfully wish to explore in future episodes. 

Wehaveworktodo
 
The Pilot did its job brilliantly. Introduce characters and back story enough where we want to watch every week? Check. Show an intriguing and unique premise that will have viewers hunting for clues in the upcoming weeks? Check. Set the eerie tone of the series so viewers know what themes they can expect each week? Check. Considering this episode secured series pickup, I wasn't the only one that recognized the potential. Overall grade, A.     
 
 

Comments  

BagginsDVM
# BagginsDVM 2010-01-04 21:08
I've watched from the pilot & was hooked immediately. I knew of the guys individually from Gilmore Girls & Dark Angel & Smallville, but was riveted by their chemistry together. It reminded me of the 80's detective series Simon & Simon, with 2 very different brothers, yet devoted to each other & their family.
Dawn
Lulu
# Lulu 2010-01-05 03:45
Great review Alice. Totally loved the pilot and is on my frequently watched episode list.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-01-05 08:04
Alice, the pilot will always be one of my favorite favorites, ha! For me, some years back, it was the beginning of an adventure in tv-land I had not expected. Not at all. Just as you described, the first scenes caught my entire attention, as they already were a promise of the unique quality to come.

Rarely I have been taken in in such a captivating and intelligent manner. The chemistry of the two leads enthralled me from the first scene they were in together. Instantly you know they are brothers who have had a full and complicated history. It’s immensely difficult to portray people in a long-term relationship.
As an actor you need to establish their history with so much more than mere dialogue, and Jared and Jensen have done that marvellously and have continued getting better and better actors ever since. It’s a shame this show is constantly overlooked by the ‘big’ awards in terms of ‘actor in a leading role’…

Agree with you in all points, Alice. This pilot set high expectations for this show, and Supernatural has always achieved to live up to those standards. Given that some episodes might be ‘weaker’ than others, this show is still the best show on today’s television, even though it’s somewhat redundant to say that again.

Thanks for this nice 'mini-review', Jas
Randal
# Randal 2010-01-05 13:06
Most pilots (at least it seems that way) are a microcosm of the new show finding it's way. Sure, there's some of that here, but this was, and remains, an exceptional episode, the key being, for me, the believability of Sam and Dean's relationship. Sure, there's some backstory exposition, but never enough to bog the story down. Here they are, there's some tension, now let's go. It's real. You know, with monsters.
warriorgal
# warriorgal 2010-01-05 14:54
Gonna de-lurk for a moment.

I have watched this show from the Pilot on and have not missed a week. Those who know me know not to call or come on Thursday nights. Hee!

This is the only show that has keep and held my attention from the very first episode.
Most of the shows that I stared watching from the beginning I don't watch anymore or on a fairly regular basis, they stopped being appealing to me for whatever reason.

Kudos to Jensen and Jared. From the very beginning you truly believed that they were brothers on the screen and from the get go have drawn me to the show every week.
Anene
# Anene 2010-01-05 17:04
You sure hit the nail on the head Alice. You reminded me why i love this show so much. You also forgot to mention the awesomeness of the fight scene in Sam's apartment. That was delicious to watch till Jess interrupted it in her skimpy PJ's. I still love the following conversation but the magic spell had been broken. That had been where the great talking with the eyes Jared and Jensen had perfected very much was born.
Suze
# Suze 2010-01-06 06:44
Ghost stories might not sell but this totally creeped me out ... Unexpected dead people in the rear-view mirror, Aaaargh!
elle2
# elle2 2010-01-06 08:52
Alice, great challenge you've put yourself to (and I didn't count!)

I agree that the pilot does lose some steam when the brothers are separated. Cocky, snarky Dean holds his own all right especially since the journal is introduced and we're aware via his reaction that this is big but it doesn't zing along as other scenes have. Sam's scene with the father is flat, nothing against Jared, it's just exposition/inve stigation that is dry, not much anyone could do with that. Fortuantely the writers have gotten much better at how they get some of that exposition/inve stigation onscreen (notably that much of it happens between the two leads or with really excellent guests)

The Pilot is likely to remain one of my favorite 'go to' episodes to...go to.

:-)
Sablegreen
# Sablegreen 2010-01-06 10:31
The pilot is one of my favorite episodes, and even though J&J have really honed the roles in 5 years, their performance here aptly brought across the brother's relationship.

I agree with elle2, this is one of my favorite 'go to' episodes. Always lifts my spirits.
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-01-06 15:48
I love the pilot and the more I watch it, the more I love it. For us, it is the very beginning of the story of the brothers, and the two J's sold it entirely.

The fight, the talk, the wall bashing, the fun (you smell like a toilet!)LOL! I find the whole episode altogether delightful viewing. :lol:
Karen
# Karen 2010-01-06 22:57
Hi Alice
I love the Pilot, it will always be my favourite. I’m forever finding myself going back to it when there’s nothing else on, or just because... It’s my comfort episode.
Thank-you for the mini review.
Corco
# Corco 2010-01-07 14:58
I love that you mention Mulder and Scully. I had been searching for a show and characters that could "grab" me the way the XFiles did and lo and behold Supernatural did that and SURPASSED it! Thank you for another brilliant review!