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.
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.
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.
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.