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 Street. He 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.
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 canâ€™t believe weâ€™re already up to â€œBad Day at Black Rockâ€ 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 Iâ€™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. Thereâ€™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 rabbitâ€™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 seasonâ€™s â€œNightshifterâ€). He must have dusted off the manual â€œHow To Write Great Comedyâ€ 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 â€” perfectly timed physical comedy. Granted a writer doesnâ€™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.
Reviewing episodes after seeing the rest of the season creates an interesting challenge. I try to judge the episode on its merits alone as if I was watching for the first time, but I can't avoid recalling post episode subplots that cleanly tie into the one up for review. "The Kids Are Alright" is one of those episodes. It sets the framework for Dean's season three character development, yet also carries over the sentiments first revealed in "What Is and What Should Never Be". So, forgive me, but this episode is going to be judged on how it bridges the gap between that stellar season two episode and the latter part of season three. It's a key piece to Dean's intense personal struggle, the one he tries to hide from the surface, but one that also defines him.
Before I start plowing through this better than average episode (a huge improvement over the season premiere), I would like to take time to honor this episode's writer, Sera Gamble. I like profiling writers as many of you have noticed from my previous reviews and somehow I've overlooked the show's head writer. As a writer myself I've learned throughout the years how to appreciate the precision and careful crafting that goes into creating a work of art such as a script. There's way more to it than meets the eye, and with a television script in particular, every word counts. There are only 40 minutes to tell the story, thus so much needs to be said with so little.
Sera Gamble is a master of her craft, and has consistently provided one gem after another that upon deconstruction gives us so much to ponder. Her strengths lie in the character development and bringing out the raw emotional elements of the relationship between the brothers. She wrote the tear-jerkers like "Faith" and "Heart", stories that exposed deep inner layers like this episode, "Houses of The Holy" and "Dream A Little Dream of Me", and explored deep character dilemmas in "Salvation", "Bloodlust" and "Time Is On My Side". Remember though, this is also the evil woman that killed Sam Winchester and made him kill his lover after his first hot night of passion in a while, so torture and despair isn't lost on her either. Come to think of it, she came up with the mellon baller to the eye socket too. Seems like she relishes in putting Sam through the ringer. It's all done in love though, I'm sure.
Reviewing "The Magnificent Seven" is weird since I'm going from something unbelievable like the finale last week to this episode, easily one of the worst of the season. Last week I marveled at the awesomeness of the Kripster for his flawless script in "No Rest For The Wicked", and now I get to ask what the hell he was thinking for this season three premiere. I forgave him for this misstep a while ago though since nobody is perfect but still, it pains me to be so harsh. I suppose there are pitfalls to being a critic. Forgive me Master Kripke.
Before I go on, I want to send a huge thank you to everyone that sent a "Damn You Kripke!" in honor of last week's still jaw dropping finale (Dean!). The response was far greater than I expected, and it just goes to show how great this fandom is. I love you guys!
On a personal note, I was able to confirm from Jared Padalecki at the "Salute to Supernatural" convention in Chicago that he does indeed cringe when he sees your name on a script. In his words, he's either "naked, crying, or naked and crying." Do you take some twisted pride in that?
Jared is hilarious. The thing I actually do take pride in is writing to our actors' strengths. The reason I can write Jared and Jensen such emotionally demanding scenes is that I know they'll nail them. They're victims of their talent. And before people make the joke, I am so not talking about the naked thing. Come on. In all seriousness, our show isn't even in the running when it comes to the implied-nudity competition on network television. We're positively restrained. All right, now that I've said that you're all free to go ahead and make the joke.
Is approval of what goes into the mythology happening by panel, or from Eric Kripke himself?
Mythology arcs are mostly hashed out in brainstorming sessions, headed up by Eric. As for approval-- creatively, the buck stops with Eric. Thus has it ever been.
Eric Kripke. Madman or evil genius?
Both of these seem kind of negative to me. I wouldn't say he's entirely mad... or completely evil. He is, however, utterly dedicated to his work. Did you see Twilight? You know how Edward is with Bella? That's how Eric is with Supernatural.
Great comparison! I should explain that question. It came to me after watching Mr. Kripke with cheerful delight reminisce about creating "the most violent, brutal, anti-holiday holiday episode ever" in his closer look at "A Very Supernatural Christmas" on the Season Three DVD set. I do so love his mind (and that episode). Thank you for pointing out how dedicated he is to the show, for often some fans forget that.
As someone who has been there since the beginning, have you seen his enthusiasm increase throughout the seasons? Have there been times where he's questioned why he does this to himself?
I don't know what happens when it's just Eric, a bottle of whiskey, and a long lonely night. But in the writers' room he's always been into what he does. I think what's happened over the seasons is that all of us have relaxed. We're more confident with the voice of the show. I think at a certain point everybody said, "Fuck it. Let's have fun with this." That kind of attitude always comes from the top down.
The Fan Questions
Erin from Nevada asks:
Hi Sera! "I Know What You Did Last Summer" is such a pivotal episode that I'm sure you're inundated with questions about it. My questions are:
First: What are some theories you and the other writers have, addressing how Ruby could reanimate, maintain, and possibly heal a dead body so that it functions as if alive?
Demons on our show possess dead and injured bodies all the time. That's why you have to exorcise them, deliver a lethal stab with Ruby's knife or shoot 'em with the Colt. Regular killing methods don't even slow them down. The demonic force animates the body and keeps it together. But as soon as the demon evacuatesâ€”if the body was thrashed, it'll drop. The rule has been consistent since Season One, but if you want to hear a moment we say it out loud, check out "Jus In Bello." If memory serves, there's a Demon Rules 101 convo in there.
Second: It seemed to me that when Ruby first appears to Sam (riding the body of the blond secretary,) she is caustic and sarcastic as before, but when she returns as "coma-girl," her demeanor is markedly milder. Was this difference scripted to be intentional, as if Ruby rethought her behavior towards Sam, or was this just an accident of casting and/or directing?
The first time Ruby reappears, she's got another of Lilith's demon with her, so she's got to keep up appearances - until she kills that demon. That scene is the most "Season Three Ruby;" we calibrated it carefully, and discussed it with Charles Beeson, the director, who did a great job juggling all the levels and all the Rubys in that episode without ever missing a beat. That Ruby is a little more vulnerable once she's alone with Sam in the car. Every actress is different, of course, so they'll feel different onscreen. But by the time Ruby is in the body we've seen her in for most of this season, Genevieve's, she's dealing with Sam in a very different way that before. The choice is intentional.
Hi, Sera! On your website, you note that you broke into the Hollywood writing scene as a finalist for "Project Greenlight." That documentary series was backed by some powerful names in the industry. Can you tell us a little more about the process that led you to participate, what impressed you most and least about the competition, and what you learned from the experience?
My writing partner, Raelle Tucker, and I had been trying without success to get an agentâ€”to even get agents to read our work, actually. We had a vague notion that if we made the finals of a competition, it might help persuade a few people to crack open our screenplay. Greenlight was the first one we entered, so we were a little shocked that everything went so well, so quickly.
What impressed me least was having a camera follow me around while I "acted natural." That was ridiculously stressful. Definitely worth it, but I learned that I am not career reality-show-contestant material.
What impressed me most was the genuine intention behind the project. They - Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Chris Moore - really were all about helping young writers and directors who didn't have the benefit of connections within the industry. This wasn't profit-driven or a vanity project for them, they could have been doing something else with their time, for a lot more money. It seemed clear to me that they were motivated by generosity and a sense of gratitude for their own success. And it worked: they helped launch several extremely solid careers.
Also from your site, I see that you are a fan of Frenchies. Do you have any of your own? If so, which character(s) from "Supernatural" do(es) he/she/they most resemble, and why?
Yes, I have a French Bulldog. His name is Mojo. He is super chill but occasionally spazzes out with awesome power, so I'm gonna go with Uriel.
1967chevy (Jane from Colorado) asks:
I love your work and enjoy all of your scripts. I also love Raelle Tucker and miss her "voice" on the show terribly. What is it like for you now that she's no longer around?
Raelle's hands down one of the most talented writers I know, and her departure was definitely a loss for Supernatural. But I'm thrilled that she was hired to work on True Blood and feel her voice adds hugely to that show. My own adjustment had little to do with her being around our show, actually, writers come and go; it's the way of TV. She and I were writing partners for many years before we started work on Supernatural, and had decided it was time to dissolve the partnership and pursue separate projects. So the weird thing for me was about moving into the next stage of my life as a solo writer. It was a big step for both of us, and it has helped me tremendously to watch her do so well. I'm one of her biggest fans.
Yasmine From Jacksonville FL asks:
In "I Know What you Did Last Summer", Ruby said "We need you to take the bitch out." So who's we? I know you guys don't do much by mistake so who's we?
Ruby and Sam.
Will we ever find out what happened between Dean and Bobby to make Dean see him as a father figure as opposed to an uncle or family friend?
A flashback episode revealing more backstory is always possible. But also, Bobby has just consistently been there for the boys. And he's certainly stepped up since John died. Filled the father role in many ways. For my money, better than John did.
Will Sam ever realize how much he is following in his dad's footsteps in the obsession department?
Very much so.
Will Dean ever recover from his PTSD? Will he ever get a more positive self worth?
Dean will certainly try to move forward from his hell experience, but we'll provide him with some setbacks. In general, yes, I think this season brings Dean a more positive sense of himself. Or at least a less crushingly negative one.
I see from your bio that you love discovering new music, as do I. I know that it is not Supernatural-related, but I'd love to know any new bands/artists you have recently discovered.
This happens to be a terrible time to ask me this question, because when I'm working on a project, I tend to listen to the same music over and over. And over. Not while I'm writing, but while I'm driving around brainstorming (which, since I live in LA, amounts to a couple of hours a day). Eventually, this becomes a curse. Say, around month five. But it cannot be helped. Right now, I'm working on a screenplay that calls for Jacob Golden's "Revenge Songs". And I'm writing a slightly sci-fi cable pilot that mostly demands Radiohead (not new, I know, but at least they have a more extensive discography than Jacob!) with some Sia and Great Northern thrown in.
When I manage to stop thinking about work, I've lately been digging on Amanda Palmer's new solo album. Also Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Raphael Saadiq, and Glasvegas.
You seem to not write a lot of the stories dealing with Urban Legends and such. Is there a reason for that or does it just happen that's the way the stories work out?
We all pitch urban legends. I end up writing whichever episode I get assigned; it's usually a matter of scheduling. But from inside the show, it doesn't feel like I'm separate from episodes I'm not writing. We're all helping each other out.
If you were to write the very last episode of Supernatural, how would things end?
I'm so glad I don't have to figure this out. Also, I like Eric's ending.
Thanks again so much to Sera Gamble for taking time to answer these burning questions, and we can't wait to see what the writers have in store for us for the rest of the season. January 15th can't get here fast enough!