(This was originally posted on Blogcritics.org in 2008. It is no longer on that site. A copy of the first page of the review with all the original comments can be found here. I'm reposting here in order to have a full archive of my reviews.)
Once upon a time, before there was an exciting fan convention in Chicago that completely dominated some of our lives, a somewhat epic and mind-boggling Supernatural episode aired. One that people in New York and New Jersey as well as other places (Mississippi?) couldn’t see until Saturday thanks to the NFL.
As I went back to write the review, I vaguely remembered the episode involved drunken Sam angst and hot demon monkey sex, but the rest was a blur. So I had to force myself to sit down and re-watch “I Know What You Did Last Summer”. Yeah, that was tough. I’m back up to speed now and now that everyone has had a chance to see the episode, let’s review what we’ve learned.
In honor of Impala die cast miniatures going out this week with the Supernatural Season Three DVD set at Best Buy, I'm devoting space this week to gush over the third main cast member, the always dependable car of Dean Winchester, aka the Metallicar.
I'm sure there's a few of you going, "How can you do a character breakdown of an inanimate object?" There's no character growth or evolution, just a thing. The answer is because the creative minds of this show have given the Impala/Metallicar life. She's (yes, Dean said her a few times) as vital to the Winchester family as Sam and Dean, and still going strong when most others from that year are scrap in junkyards.
The Impala caters to our romantic notions of cruising cross country in an awesome classic car. We love the car because it's as pretty as the men riding in it and together, they rock.
Writing this week's recap was a bit of a difficulty, because I'm still laughing or crying over various scenes. To say the least,"Wishful Thinking" was a stunner. Stunning in more ways than one. I like being pleasantly surprised though, and a great way to win my heart is through the device of black comedy. Ben Edlund wrote it, Robert Singer directed, so it has to be interesting.
This show has kept us on our toes all season, and this week's opening was no exception. A woman is in the shower and the camera cuts wildly in between the water running and the unsuspecting woman lost in her hair rising unaware of what lurks. This is only the most common setup in the entire horror genre, so few of us are scared by the boy who appears on the other side of the frost glass and than disappears into thin air. She gets out of the shower, so we won't be getting a Psycho recreation. The invisible hand swipes the glass, so trouble is coming!
The creepy score echoes as woman goes to the sink, and wet footprints work their way across the linoleum. Oh I can feel the suspense. Woman turns, calls out, and gets no answer. She takes the towel off her head, throws it across the room, and it lands on the head of invisible man. Busted! Then he talks with the broken voice of a young teenager. "œHello Mrs. Armstrong." She screams. Psych!
Birds of the apocalypse, and I'm already scratching my head over where this one is going.
(This review was originally posted on Blogcritics.org in 2008. It is no longer on that site. A copy of the first page of the review and all the original comments can be found here. I'm reposting here to preserve the history of my SPN reviews.)
Be careful what you wish for! It’s dark comedy done Supernatural style and with anything using this genre, the side splitting laughter usually comes with a dark and cynical sentiment by the end. Dark enough to even make a teddy bear want to blow his brains out.
Despite the sinister territory, the execution of “Wishful Thinking” is perfect. It’s a slower-paced yet very entertaining episode that felt familiar, probably because it’s written by the wacky yet brilliant veteran writer Ben Edlund. Robert Singer is the director, adding to the comfortable flow and feel of the Winchester’s latest mind-boggling adventure.
This week’s locale is postcard perfect and the breathtaking scenery managed to greatly enhance this bizarre episode. I was told this is the same place where Men In Trees was filmed (the fictional town of Elmo). One Google search later and the name of the actual town is Squamish, British Columbia. Here it’s Concrete, Washington. What, they couldn’t use Elmo? No matter, for Squamish is going on my places to visit list.
It's the afternoon, I've spent all morning cleaning the house and running errands, after spending all day yesterday cleaning the house and running errands, after spending Monday"¦
Anyway, it's mid week and I find myself in a deep blue funk of futility. Whenever this happens, there are two choices. Go dig through the kid's bag of Halloween candy, or pull out the Supernatural DVDs. After wisely opting for the later (I do have a figure to maintain), it's time for an afternoon of spiritual cleansing.
My selection is vast. 60 episodes on the DVDs and 7 from season four on the TiVo. What do I choose? For me, it's rather simple. I draw from the "blue funk" list.
The what list? For me, by stringing certain episodes of a season together, an emotional impact is delivered in a way that's much stronger than by pouring through sequential episode viewings. Below are the combinations by season I always turn to when I'm very down. These often aren't the best episodes, nor are they the worst, but somehow together they soothe enough emotional baggage where I'm ready to face a new day by the end.
Blue funk episodes by season:
Season 1: "Bloody Mary", "Home", "Nightmare".
Why these? Anyone that reads my reviews knows I have a huge soft spot for poor Sammy. These episodes when viewed together chronicle the very beginning of his battle with that demon blood pumping through his veins. It's so fascinating to watch his early reaction compared to how he's dealing with it my season four. What's even better, is Dean's reaction as well. He doesn't let on, but whatever is happening to Sam scares him.
Season 2: "The Usual Suspects" (alone). "In My Time of Dying", "Croatoan", "Hunted", "Born Under a Bad Sign", "What Is and What Should Never Be" (together).
I can't explain "The Usual Suspects" other than I like it. It was different, unraveled a good mystery, had a great guest star in Linda Blair, and this was the only episode in which separated Sam and Dean worked. It's a personal favorite of mine.
The others obviously were the more intense emotional episodes and a great story unravels when put together. "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "What Is and What Should Never Be" especially feature the best acting in the series. Often times, depending on my mood after watching these, I'll also watch the last five minutes of "All Hell Breaks Loose Part I", and the first fifteen minutes of "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II." Those scenes blend very nicely with the other episodes, but the episodes as a whole don't.
Season 3: "Bedtime Stories", "Mystery Spot". "A Very Supernatural Christmas", "No Rest For The Wicked".
"Bedtime Stories" is a very good look at poor Sam's unraveling psyche. I'm also a sucker for twisted fairy tales. The other three are not only the three best of the season, but three of the best of the series. No episode though turns my emotions more raw than "Mystery Spot". Then again, from my past reviews, that's no secret either. When it's paired with "Bedtime Stories", Sam's issues become very troubling and gut wrenching.
As for strong brotherly moments that make you break down into a useless pile of mush, "A Very Supernatural Christmas" and "No Rest For The Wicked" are the gold standard. One would think it's strange to put them together but try it. It's more powerful than you think.
Season 4: (so far), "Lazarus Rising", "Metamorphosis".
Same reason as the previous episodes mentioned. The brotherly moments and intense emotional impact are second to none. Season four so far hasn't featured a huge balance between both brothers (not that I'm complaining because it's been great), but this pairing does. Other great episodes like "In The Beginning" don't do that, so that's why I'll save it for other times.
I'm sure some of you are thinking, why not combine episodes from across seasons? This is only my personal hangup, but each season sets a very different tone. I find by mixing seasons, the overall feel can get jarring. This isn't always the case, like last season's pairing of "Nightshifter" and "Jus In Bello" proved but for my exercise , those combinations usually don't work for me.
So what are your blue funk episodes? Which ones do you kill an entire afternoon or evening watching to pull you out of the gutter? Which ones give you enough escape to face the day afterward with a new outlook? Are there combinations of episodes that work well for you, or just certain ones that stand on their own? Please share, for it's beneficial. Consider it group therapy.
Ah Halloween. That time of year where everyone gets together to celebrate peace, love, joy and the miracle of,no wait,that time where everyone puts on their spring floral best and gathers in harmony over bunnies and the miracle of,no wait,the time when leprechauns and green beer,no,ah yes, Pagans, rotting pumpkins, sorting through the countless racks of costumes at Walmart, and kids so strung out on sugar you're driven to drink to drown out the hyperactivity. That's the holiday!
I'm not sure I got why a horror show felt the need to do a Halloween themed episode, but they likely needed a reason to recreate the campy teen kills in all those bad horror films from the 1980's and 90's. Thank heavens this was a stunning mythology episode too, for if we only got homages to a genre that many of us giggle over rather than scream in fright, it would have fell flat far worse than what we got.
Before I get started, a belated Happy Birthday to Eric Kripke, who celebrated on Thursday. I only hope he wasn't stressing out too much about the airing of the latest episode and enjoyed himself instead. He shouldn't worry too much, for this episode was very well received.
"Ghostfacers" proved to be another of the great comical, standalone episodes this show manages to deliver once or twice every season. This one perfected the entire "mockumentary" genre, guaranteeing that it will be talked about for a while among the fans. These comedy episodes are usually fun for all involved, giving everyone a chance to let loose and forget about the mythology and intense character angst for a while. These episodes are always wildly creative, deliver memorable lines, and come with inside jokes that fans manage to catch with delight.
This episode is an extension of season one's "Hell House", the first of the light-hearted episodes to air for this series. As a reminder for the few that either haven't seen season one or don't remember that episode (how could you not!), we were introduced to the clueless ghost hunters Ed and Harry, the so called "Hellhounds", in Texas (the first time I saw that episode, I instantly noticed that Texas looked pretty lush, more like British Columbia). That episode let us know under no uncertain terms what happens when practical jokes, vivid imaginations, and the Internet culture collide. All I remember is Sam with itchy shorts and Dean with a beer bottle glued to his hand.
(This originally appeared on blogcritics.org back in November, 2008. Since then Blogcritics has deleted the entire archive of articles that I wrote for them, so I'm reposting those reviews here. Enjoy!)
What a concept! A horror show where one of the main characters accurately states, “For us everyday is Halloween,” opts to do a Halloween themed episode. Considering the Halloween season is a disastrous time in the Winchester family history, why not dress up the fact that this year isn’t proving to be any better for the brothers?
“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” paid fitting homage to the teenage slice and dice horror flicks of the 1980’s. You know, those countless films in which Halloween urban legends were depicted with horrifying gore (like razor blades in the candy) and enough campy teen kills during bad parties to make us wonder how a town didn’t notice the sudden drop in the teenage population. Maybe the motivation behind following that formula in this week’s episode was to confuse enough channel flippers into thinking they were watching Halloween (insert your terrible horror movie here).