Supernatural Re-Watch

A while ago I started re-watching Supernatural. I started from the beginning and only skipped one episode (Bugs) because I really didn’t like that one. Spiders and me just … no. I suppose if I ever really want to write a horror book I’ll just cram super-spiders in there and let them take over the world, but I digress.

I just finished with Swan Song last night and, due to the way instant video works, watched the most recent episode of the new season via Amazon as well. It’s amazing to see how Sam and Dean have changed in ten years, and how they have stayed the same.

Physically speaking I’d have to say that Sam (Jared Padalecki) has changed more than Dean (Jensen Ackles) but in terms of character motivations and what have you, both have been on a roller-coaster. Of course, they’ve both died a bazillion times and visited Hell or Heaven or Purgatory, not to mention the whole apocalypse thing, so you kind of expect them to be different now.

But as I was watching the show last night (About a Boy, which was wonderful, by the way) I couldn’t help wondering what it was about this show that hooked me. Why do I keep coming back to this story?

Supernatural is currently in its 10th season, which is amazing in and of itself. Shows don’t normally last this long. I’m not supernaturalcomplaining or anything, I love these guys. I love that it’s not the run-of-the-mill drama you find on television these days, rife with broken romances and people trying to find their place in the world.

Sam and Dean know their place. There might have been some question earlier on in the show, but when push comes to shove they’re built to “help people” and “hunt things” and while they might take a break from time to time they always come back to it.

But that’s not why I keep coming back to this show.

I keep coming back to this show because I would love to just hang out with Sam and Dean. They’re regular guys who make me laugh. Castiel and Crowley can come along too, though if you ask me they’re just as attracted to the very “humanness” of these brothers as I am.

What it comes down to is character. Dean’s jokes and Sam’s careful observation, the brokenness of both men from crap they’ve dealt with in the past or are currently dealing with today, it all adds to this complex brotherly relationship that is both common and extraordinary.

And on top of all that we get ghosts and monsters and the occasional apocalypse.

So … yeah. Supernatural is my favorite running show for all the reasons above. I’ll keep watching, and re-watching, for as long as I can. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to look it up. Currently you can find it on Netflix or you can go the Amazon route.

“Swan Song”

As with all the shows I watch, I had to pick out my favorite episode of Supernatural.  For Doctor Who it was Midnight.  For Quantum Leap it was the last episode — though I haven’t watched that show in ages so I might change my mind after a re-watch.  And for Supernatural it has to be “Swan Song.”

I’m not going to give any spoilers — I hate spoilers — but I might hint at some things.  If you catch on because of my hinting I sincerely apologize and give you permission to revoke all my Netflix rights for a month.

Now then, let me tell you why I loved “Swan Song” the best.  If you’ve already seen the show then you know all about the whole Apocalypse problem Sam and Dean (our two intrepid heroes) were struggling with.  The writers of the show managed to take a global threat — the end of the world — and turn it into the most intimate of problems by pitting Sam and Dean against each other.  (Kind of.  Watch the show and you’ll understand.)

But the reason I love that episode the most is because of one line delivered by Dean.  One simple, heartbreaking line:

“It’s OK, Sammy.  I’m here.”

No, Sam’s not dying at that moment.  You’d expect that line to be delivered by someone holding their brother’s guts in with a towel or something, but that’s not what happened.  Not remotely.  In fact — mild spoiler alert — the line is delivered while Dean is getting the snot beat out of him.

It was beautiful.  Everyone told me I’d start to cringe at the show when Angels showed up, but they were wrong.  The path the writers put these two characters on sort of required the other end of the spectrum to come into play (i.e. Angels and the God question) so it made perfect sense.

(By the way, we can thank that nasty flu bug for me getting through all 7 seasons of Supernatural in the past three weeks.  I couldn’t concentrate to get any writing done and I barely managed to keep up on my homework, so that left a lot of hours to kill whilst bedridden.  I’m better now, so don’t worry.  Edits on Dead Magic are progressing at a steady rate.)

So!  Swan Song is my favorite Supernatural episode ever.  It’s not one you can watch without seeing the road leading up to it, though.  If you’ve never seen the show, you should.  Start at the beginning and plow right through.  (It’ll help if you’re sick or something and can’t do much else.)  I promise, it’s worth it just to get to that moment with Sam and Dean.

Supernatural — The TV Show

All right, so it seems I’m really late in coming to the scene with Supernatural.  It’s been running since 2005 and, if you’re not familiar, follows two brothers as they fight … well … supernatural forces.  Now, if you’re a critic or a fan of the show then I’m asking you not spoil anything for me.  I think I’m still in the first season and I’m enjoying it.

As with everything I enjoy, I zeroed in on what could help me as an author.  And in this case, it’s the relationships on the screen.  Both Sam and Dean are very strong characters and engaging on their own, but when you put them together … Yeah, that’s when the really fun stuff happens.

Yeah, they run around fighting ghosts and demons, and that’s interesting — if not creepy every once in a while — but watching them interact as brothers is what really keeps me glued to the screen.  I like them.  Not just Sam and not just Dean, but Sam and Dean together.

Now, as an author this might pose a problem.  Because every book tends to require at least one “MAIN” character that we follow and root for.  One of the first questions that I have whenever I start reading a book is; “Whose story is this?”

And then; “Why do I care?”

But really, let’s just focus on that first question.  Or rather, I’m going to propose that we throw that rule out the window.  Because sometimes the more compelling story isn’t given by the “main” character, but a couple of characters and their relationship with each other.

Supernatural could very well have gone and followed the father figure in the story, who runs off on his own hunting a particularly nasty demon.  Then we’d be focused on the one character and the fights he has.  But because they chose to focus on the brothers the show has an emotional depth that wouldn’t be there otherwise.

We see Sam and Dean as vulnerable people with real issues.  Issues that are expounded by the fact that they are hunting the supernatural, but in the end they always get back in the car together.  Their relationship as brothers pushes them forward.

So, as an author I’m happy to have finally started watching this show.   Seriously, no spoilers.

Tragedy

As I’ve been consumed by Doctor Who for the last few weeks I couldn’t help but start dissecting what it is about that show that I truly love.  Aside from it being funny and quick, the Doctor stands as one of the most tragic characters I’ve encountered.  He is alone, the last of his kind, floating around all of time and space in a blue box that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, and armed with nothing more than a sonic screwdriver and an indomitable hope for humanity.

In the midst of all the fun and quirky bits of the show, Doctor Who maintains his tragic streak.  Perhaps the most profound episode I’ve found so far is the one titled Midnight by Russell T. Davies.  This one is in the middle of the fourth season and I have to admit that Davies is a genius.

WARNING : There are spoilers ahead.  If you haven’t seen that episode, don’t read further.

Davies put the Doctor in a little box that is not bigger on the inside than it is on the outside with a group of strangers on their way to see some diamond falls.  And then he broke the box — Davies, not the Doctor — and watched as the human elements of the story spiraled out of control.  We get the lady Sky suddenly possessed by some other kind of life-form that learns very quickly by mimicking the people around it.  Granted, it is creepy to have someone copy everything you say as you’re saying it, but the real genius of the story isn’t the alien trying to learn so much as the reactions of the rest of the people on board.

Basically, we had a whole show that didn’t really move out of the box and managed to remain intense and profound.  By the end we’ve seen a breakdown in humanity as the focus turns from stressful “Well, now we have to wait for rescue” to “Survival of the fittest” until nearly everyone is trying to throw the Doctor out of the ship (where he will die).  The tragedy of this story isn’t necessarily the death of one of the characters, but the ugly desperation that infected everyone.

These humans that the Doctor finds so much hope and affection for are also capable of horrible things.  He’s not naive enough to not be aware of their capacity for evil, but there is so much disappointment in him when he sees them turn the wrong direction.  So the tragedy comes around when his hope for the best in humanity is tarnished by the actions he sees.

Dr. Who & The Sonic Screwdriver

So I finally got Netflix and I was watching Star Trek Voyager when I realized that … Holy Cow!  I could be watching Dr. Who!  So I started watching it with my son, who actually seems to enjoy it.  In fact, he picked up a laser pointer that we use to play with the cat and proclaimed that it was his sonic screwdriver.  He now “unlocks” all of our doors with it.

I’ve managed to get through the first two seasons and half of the third.  (These being the set that started back in 2005.  I might try the older generation later, but right now I’m too busy trying to catch up.)  And I have to admit that I am still a Chris Eccleston fan.  He played the Ninth Doctor and while I like David Tennant, the character sort of lost something in the transfer.  Eccleston had more gravity to him.  He felt a little more dangerous.

But, well, we’ll see how I feel after I’ve finally caught up on all the seasons.  (I do have a loooong way to go yet.)  I did cry at the end of Season 2, which startled my son enough that he gave me the pouty lip.  I had to spend the rest of the night laughing and giggling with him about how Mommy got all emotional over a silly TV show.  (He was properly assuaged via Oreo cookies, so I’m fairly certain he hasn’t been emotionally scarred.)

That said, I’m pretty much addicted to the show now.  Thank you BBC, you give me all the fun stuff to love.