Article Index

Where does the time go?  With only one week left before the season 7 premiere, I realize that I still have four! visual reviews to do in order to meet my goal of reviewing all the episodes before the new season.  Think it can't be done?  You're probably right.  But I'm going to try, gosh darn it!  So here's the first of those, a visual review of "Mommy Dearest."  This episode was directed by John F. Showalter, his fourth for the show, and he also directed "Let It Bleed," which is interesting because that's only two weeks apart!  Good turnaround, Mr. Showalter.  And this episode was interesting to go through because there was a lot if dialogue and conversing and whatnot and not a whole lot of room to be extremely creative with locations and stuff, so a lot of shots you're going to see are examples of how to be creative and create visual interest with angles and set dressing.


Very cool angle here on Mommy Dearest's entrance to the bar.  It almost feels like the audience is a security camera on the wall or something, like we're stuck up in the corner.  So that's a pretty good way to start things off.


Just look at all that stuff!  First off, I love it when they show ammo getting made or guns being cleaned or any sort of hunter maintenance because it reminds us that hunters do that crap all the time, and it's rote and routine for them, but it's part of their lives, so it's good to see it.  Also, of course Dean is making the shells here becuase he's just such a hands-on person.  I think he'd take ammo-making over research any day.  And lastly, there's just so much to look at on that table, from the measuring utensils to the knife to the bottles to all sorts of ammo detritus.


Oh, hey, Bobby's house!  We haven't had a cool shot of Bobby's house in a while.  Consider that remedied.  This is what I mean by creating visual interest with set dressing because how many times have we seen Bobby's house?  But with the crushed cars and weeds and car parts shoved into the foreground, this feels like a whole new take on the place.  Boy, Bobby really does have a lot of crap, doesn't he?  I think Ben Edlund should write a funny episode about all the junked out cars coming alive Transformers-style and going on a rampage.  Bobby and the Winchesters would be so screwed.


This was a cool use of editing in this scene.  Sam, Dean, and Bobby are all moving around the basement, and they're sort of whisping here and there in a classic display of time elapsement.  But it makes for some cool still shots when you can see a couple instances of Sam and Dean in there all ghostly.


If you go back and look at this scene, you'll notice that everyone is pretty well-lit except for Cass, who's over in the shadows.  Now, I don't know if this is on purpose or not, but it seems like the closer the show gets to the end of the season, the more shadowed Cass gets.  That will probably all change in the next episode when we find out what he's been up to, but while his motives and actions were getting shadier and shadier, so was the lighting.  Also, I can't tell you how much I love it when they do that half lighting on Sam, Dean, and especially Cass.


This is a great shot through some shelves and a wall or I don't even know what that is, but the framing of this is excellent.  And hey, Cass is totally in the light, thus negating what I was just talking about!  I'm like Willy Wonka: Strike that, reverse it!


Here again we have a great overhead angle, and it's even more pronounced in this shot.  It has to be a crane shot, which are rarely used on this show and therefore even neater when they are.  Plus, it's like the only time on this show that you can actually see the top of Sam's head.


Here's another really cool shot of our heroes in the diner with all sorts of fun stuff in the foreground and them sort of just sitting there in the back.  If we didn't know who they were, we'd be forgiven for thinking they were just random patrons.  It's kind of nice, actually, the normalcy of this.


The carnage!  Oh, the carnage!  Are we sensing a theme yet with the shots in this episode?  I like all these long views with all this stuff in the foreground.  It just gives the viewer so much to look at and really shows off the incredible work the props department and set-building teams do.


This overhead angle is especially cool because of the reflection in the mirror.  That's some great framing right there.  Bonus points to Cass for trying to be all casually leaning on the doorframe and failing.


Shots through blinds are always welcome.  This one makes it look like Cass is trapped in some sort of prison.


And yet another excellent overhead angle.  I feel like I'm just repeating myself at this point, but these all are really just neat.  This show usually shoots from a more straight-on angle, so it's different to see so many overheads in one episode.


Just look at the swagger on these badasses.  It's a thing to behold, isn't it?  If I didn't know that they were all going to be bested like two seconds from entering that diner, I'd think that whatever they were headed for was in serious trouble.


We haven't had a whole ton of streaming light in this episode, but here's some!  Through blinds, too, hooray.  This was just a good episode for shots of the fab four here just doing their jobs and hunting something.


Let's end on another long shot with Cass in the deep background and the diner carnage in front of him.  It's a good look at the mess that gets left behind, and one we usually don't see once the Winchesters skip town.  I also like how harsh the overhead lights are, almost like they're overlit.  It's like that diner is trying so hard to be cheery and bright, and that contrasts wonderfully to all the dead bodies lying around.

Okay, that's a wrap on "Mommy Dearest."  What did you all think about the great overhead shots and all the crazy stuff happening in these sets?  Or locations, but, you know what I mean.  My three favorites this week were 13, 8, and 6.


Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-09-16 22:43
I loved the ghost images of Sam and Dean. It's such a neat shot. The action may get the attention, but I love the look at their daily mundane (for them!) tasks that gets overlooked sometimes.

I love seeing the overhead shots, too. It gives us such a different look and feel, but it's nice to see the straight on and be in the midst of that action, too.

The blinds shots are so cool, too.

Thanks for pointing out these shots. It goes by so fast when you're just watching and being affected by what's happening. I never seem to see this type of stuff on my own.
# nancyL 2011-09-17 15:11
Why does Bobby's place have so many boarded up windows?
Ardeospina, did you call the Impala 'crap'? :lol: Just kidding.

Who is tall enough to see the top of Sam's head? :lol: Maybe if he is sitting down. :lol:

Ardeospina, I have faith in you. Three episodes, six days, it can be done. ;-)
# Marilyn 2011-09-19 20:25
Good luck with the three episodes in 6 days; I am rooting for you. :lol:

Again, thanks for bringing so many cool details to my attention. I just love Dean loading ammo, cleaning guns, any of those manly things. The shots in the basement were really awesome; especially the ghost ones. It probably wasn't technically important, but my favorite scene in the episode is when Dean whips around with the empty shell and explains to Eve how he drank the phoenix ash. Classic, ballsy Dean. ;-)
# Yirabah 2011-09-20 04:58
Transformers on Bobby's lot. I definatly want to see that.

Since Alice informed Ben Edlund about our zombie Alligator, I am hopping someone might be able to pass the idea of the Transformers on to Ben too.