For Sam fans, as promised, I'm taking on the common concerns many have voiced over the younger Winchester brother recently. I've been struggling with this analysis for a week now, unsure how to capture my views into coherent thought. Then I saw "Criss Angel Is A Douchebag" and all the pieces fell in place. Poor Sammy!

First, the ground rules. Any analysis of Sam's character will not come at the expense of Dean. This isn't pitting one brother against the other. Second, I won't be blasting the writers, Kripke, directors, casting, etc. I'm going off what we've been given, and will avoid comments that harp on supposedly lazy writing.

This works simply: I list a common complaint in bold and then give my analysis.

The best horror shows I’ve ever seen were psychological thrillers, where some twisted bastard skillfully freaked me out with mindbending twists as opposed to a hockey mask and a chainsaw. So, I had to admit the idea of Supernatural tackling such a concept in "Dream A Little Dream of Me" was pretty intriguing. How could I not embrace a story that involved the Winchester boys doing a little mind screwing of their own?

The episode didn’t disappoint me, delivering a thriller with a strange combination of vivid imagery, a very creepy yet believable villain, Shaman folklore involving Silene Capensis, big character development, a shocking look into Bobby and Dean’s heads, and a scarier glimpse of what Sam can do if in one’s head.

In preparing for this review, I thought about how I could wow everyone with some intense dream analysis drawing from the vivid symbols provided in this episode, but I backed away as soon as I tried to explain peacocks on the wall and sex with Bela. Some stuff just needs to stay unexplored. The writer of this episode was Cathryn Humphris, who stepped in to finish a story first started by Sera Gamble. I wonder if, when she was given the concept "Sam and Dean go dreamwalking in Bobby’s head," her first instinct was to run screaming. Or maybe it was homicidal, and the multiple uses of a baseball bat as a weapon might be a subtle message of her own about being tasked with this theme.

Sure, it was a repeat, but weren't we all a little excited on Thursday to go to the TV Guide and see our beloved show Supernatural listed in the lineup again? I got a little emotional, and I didn't even care what episode was on. The CW played a cruel joke on us for six weeks, and I'm glad it's over.

The episode chosen for repeat viewing was "Malleus Maleficarum", a graphically gross tale about shallow suburbanites who unwittingly sold their souls to the devil via witchcraft all in hopes of getting a better mortgage rate. The writer of this episode was Ben Edlund, who makes my short list of writers whose warped mind I most want to emulate when writing my own stuff. This wasn't his best script (that honor belongs to season two's "Nightshifter"), but I still enjoyed his unconventional view of witches and demons, and he delivered plenty of drama for the Winchester boys. There was one element in particular that made this episode stand out from others, but first let's cover the other stuff.

Wow..whoa...erm...geez...I guess that's one approach to family therapy.
 
From the word go, in the previews nonetheless, the message is this is gonna be an angry one. Another clue, the title, "Sex and Violence." There's definitely that.   
 
I didn't get to see this one live, much to my dismay. While traveling I kept looking at the clock once it approached 9pm, frowning, wondering if I could convince some bar owner in the sticks to put it on for me. The next day I downloaded the episode from iTunes and luckily I was busy at the New York Comic Con that day, for it took five hours over the slow but free wireless connection. That evening the hubby and I huddled by the laptop and watched with anticipation.
 
Once we picked our jaws up off the floor, we watched it again. 
 
This week's theme is not uncommon in the history of man. Underneath sex and violence lays mistrust, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, and restlessness. Put it in the Supernatural universe though and the results are downright explosive. Cathryn Humphries is no stranger to depicting the Winchester brotherly strife in her scripts and again she went deep and raw. Unlike her brilliant "Metamorphosis," she didn't need obvious parallels, finding the perfect antagonist to screw with needy men and bitter brothers.  
Kim Manners, Executive Producer and Director for Supernatural, as well as long time Producer and Director for The X-Files, died on Sunday evening after a battle with lung cancer.  Below is the official statement and reaction from Eric Kripke. 
 
"Supernatural" executive producer & director Kim Manners passed away last night in Los Angeles, following a battle with cancer.  Below please find a statement from "Supernatural" creator & executive producer Eric Kripke: 
 
Everyone at 'Supernatural' is walking around in a daze, shocked and absolutely devastated.  Kim was a brilliant director; more than that, he was a mentor and friend.  He was one of the patriarchs of the family, and we miss him desperately.  He gave so much to 'Supernatural,' and everything we do on the show, now and forever, is in memory of him. 

When I first started watching Supernatural, little did I know that I was reuniting with a director whose work I'd been watching most of my adult life.  Something about the episodes he directed seemed very familiar, and one quick visit to IMDB told me why.  His fingerprints were all over a wide variety of shows.  He directed 52 episodes and was a producer for one of my favorite programs, The X-Files.  It's funny how when I watched TV back then, I like many others only paid attention to Mulder and Scully, and cursed the name of creator Chris Carter when the mythology ran amuck.  I seemed to gloss over the other names in the credits.  

Apparently I did a ton of glossing over.  One of the first TV shows I ever got into was 21 Jump StreetHe directed nine of those episodes.  The hubby and I are avid fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I was stunned to find his name under the directing credits for the episode "When The Bough Breaks."  I remember being forced to watch the awful The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. at my friend's house one evening, complaining how that was an hour of my life I'd never get back.  Kim Manners even did seven episodes of that.  Hey, a man's gotta work.   

Kim Manners always got the call for the season finales and season openers of Supernatural, his name tied to landmark episodes like "Devil's Trap," "In My Time of Dying," "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II," "No Rest For The Wicked," and one of his last episodes, "Lazarus Rising."  He was known for taking episodes and at pitch perfect moments giving them intensity, heart, sensitivity, humor, and using every possible element at his disposal to deliver a story that kept viewers deeply involved from beginning to end.  Sure a director usually can pull that off here and there, but when Kim Manners managed to do that each time in a medium where there's no time or budget for perfection, his record is stunning. 

He had a gift for telling the story by filming the maximum emotional impact, using unique camera angles and close-ups and setting the perfect mood so that more came from the characters than just the lines on the page.  Two scenes of perfection that instantly come to mind are Dean's somber vigil over Sam in "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II" and the closing act of "Mystery Spot."   

He had the distinction of helming one of the most controversial episodes in television history, the disturbing tale of inbreeding in The X-Files' "Home."  It bothered people so much it was banned from FOX after it aired.  He also proved his ingenious ability to rehash the Groundhog Day premise, directing The X-Files' "Monday" and Supernatural's "Mystery Spot," both considered to be among each series' best.  He was also the director for both parts of the final X-Files episode "The Truth," and we all knew his name was etched on Supernatural's finale as well.  We can't fathom anyone else taking that spot behind the camera when that time comes.  

He also knew how to seamlessly unfold the plot and keep audiences engaged even with the weakest of scripts.  Many forget that he was there when Supernatural was finding its footing, drawing the short end and being forced to direct what many consider to be the worst episode of the series, "Bugs."  However, "Bugs" also provided some of the most amusing behind the scenes stories, some told by Mr. Manners himself.  
 
"They bring in six hundred bees, or however many bees, and I was like 'Oh my god, I can't wait to see the dailies!` But you watch the dailies and you can't tell there's one bee in that room - they just don't read on camera or they were too sluggish. (...) And you just start laughing because you put your crew in a room with hundreds of bees and then you can't even tell if there are any bees on camera. It's a bizarre job sometimes."  

Bizarre job indeed.  The fact is he could do it all.  One of his first directing gigs was Charlie's Angels.  His name is also attached to two Baywatch episodes as well.  Given the fact he was largely responsible for pulling off the very steamy Sam/Madison sex scene in Supernatural's "Heart,"he obviously had plenty of gratuitous experience to draw from.  He could do complex scenes like that as well as action, suspense, horror, comedy, romance, scifi, and mystery, cementing his reputation as one of the most versatile television directors in history. 

Lucky for him he also had several outstanding actors at his disposal and knew how to work their strengths.  Just look at a few of those that have been on the other side of his cameras.  Robert Wagner, Stephanie Powers, Jaclyn Smith, Cheryl Ladd, Johnny Depp, Brian Keith, Fred Dryer, Gerald McRaney, Jameson Parker, Patrick Stewart, David Hasselhoff, Michael Chiklis, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Mitch Pileggi.  Throw in two young actors by the name of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, both growing substantially from his years of brilliance, and I have my TV dream list.  It was likely his too.   

The last episode he directed for Supernatural was the stunning "Metamorphosis."  Like others I wondered why the show's top director was missing from the credits for upcoming episodes, but none of us knew he was ill.  We thought he was taking a break; after all he'd earned it after his storied career.  The announcement of his passing crushed us all, and we are having a hard time picturing the show without him.  

To the family of Kim Manners and everyone who were close to him not only at Supernatural but at other shows as well, you all have my deepest sympathies.  As Eric Kripke so eloquently said, everything done on the show now and forever is in memory of him.  The same can be said for television in general.  A brilliance like his will be sorely missed.     




 
It's time to share the Friday evening treats that Warner Brothers is always so kind in delivering.  Three clips this time.  Enjoy!

Clip #1 (One you've seen before, but its a goodie!)
Clip #2
Clip #3
Bonus! This recap covers the Sam scenes the CW forgot to show! You know, the ones that gave Sam some action and a plot. I even get to reveal the alternate ending!
 
While "Family Remains" was a decent filler episode, there just wasn't enough to it where deep analysis on my part is required. It's just some good ole slasher fun. Plus, several of these scenes were so dark I couldn't make out what was happening.  So, forgive the fewer and very dark screen caps. 

Lately I've been spending a lot of time working with all sorts of multimedia tools in order to get this website close to my vision.  I'm not there yet, but in my dabbling this weekend with video editing tools, I found a whole new appreciation for these fans that manage to put these videos together.  The time it takes is staggering!

I don't spend a lot of time on YouTube seeking out Supernatural videos, nor do I pay much attention to the recs on livejournal.  There's just not that much time in my life.  However, there are three in particular that I've been sent links too, and find myself repeatedly going back to them.  So, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, I'm sharing them here.  

MaloventMe did an absolutely gorgeous Sam centric video to Annie Lenox's "Dark Road".  This made me pretty weepy and the lyrics are perfect for Sam. 
 




Here's a great one to counter the weepy one.  It's a hysterical and brilliantly edited Supernatural montage (plus one Gossip Girl bit) featuring a few songs from Flight Of The Conchords (which I love) as well as some other ones.  Even my kids laughed their asses off on this one.  The creator is maichan2 and it's titled, "Fun With Real Audio PART VIER."  


 

Finally, this is the video that won the video contest at "Salute To Supernatural" in Chicago.  This one is stunning, and my jaw drops everytime.  It's by GentlesideofFury and simply called "Supernatural - Series Recap" covering seasons 1-3. 



So, what videos do you recommend? I'm looking for your absolute favorites, ones worthy of repeated viewings. I'm sure there's plenty more than these three.

I can’t believe we’re already up to “Bad Day at Black Rock” in the repeats list. It seems like the finale was just yesterday. Oh, it was, because I watched it again for the hundredth time. Is it September yet? No? Okay, I guess I’ll kill time with this review.

Be prepared, this is a long one. Why? Because this episode gave me the opportunity to carefully examine all the elements required for compiling a brilliant piece of comedy. There’s far more to comedy writing, directing, and acting than we realize. It requires precise timing, proper wording, consistency, expressions that sell the funny more than a piece of dialogue ever will, and a clever plot to weave through all the madness. 

I can only imagine that when the idea of a rabbit’s foot as the foil was pitched, the assignment went to Ben Edlund because of his gift for taking something simple and creating a complex situation that spirals out of control (see last season’s “Nightshifter”). He must have dusted off the manual “How To Write Great Comedy” because all the rules are here. First rule is to pick the type of humor, and he wisely chose what often works with this show, dark humor, but introduced that in combination with something that had never been done with Supernatural before — perfectly timed physical comedy. Granted a writer doesn’t sell physical comedy alone; much of that credit goes to the stunt coordinator, the director, and the actors, but to see this done so well after trying it for the first time, his risk obviously paid off in gold.

The first few scenes of the episode are there for story exposition.