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After eight seasons, show creator Eric Kripke’s (TV’s Revolution) The CW paranormal drama Supernatural has gone way off tangent from where it started. A series about two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester, who hunt and fight all the things that go bump in the night, like vampires, demons, witches, and chupacabras, jumped the shark some time around when the mystery of who or what killed their mother was revealed and the pair became caught up in the battle between heaven, hell, and the fight to either bring on or stop the apocalypse. Yet, despite the loss of crucial characters like the cantankerous Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), and the entire storyline which was the reason for the series to even exist in the first place, The CW has kept Supernatural alive.
It has maintained some of its appeal in the creature of the week episodes that have been a mainstay of the series from the beginning, like this season’s episode where the brothers chase down an immortal who has made a pact with a Mayan god and must sacrifice two humans a year by eating their hearts in order to keep living. Or, in the episode “Bitten”, Supernatural hops on the “found footage” bandwagon as three college kids take center stage with their cameras and become the victims of a werewolf.
The crux of season eight, however, is a battle over “the word of God” written on two tablets that only the newly minted prophet, Kevin Tran (Osric Chau reprising his role). One tablet, “The Demon Tablet” tells how to destroy all evil creatures and close the gates of hell forever, and “The Angel Tablet”, well, that’s the opposite, as one might guess. Crowley (Mark Sheppard), now the King of Hell, with the Devil out of the way, wants those tablets, and Kevin along with them. Heaven – and a certain angel controlling Castiel (Misha Collins) – wants them for themselves.
All the post-biblical battling, fallen angels, demons, powerful tablets, and quests in this season might leave you scratching your head, especially if you lost track of Supernatural for a while. One can only assume that, given the small size of its home network, that Supernatural is getting by with a meager audience that might not cut it on the big three, or even on HBO or Showtime, at least not for eight seasons. Heck, HBO canned Bored to Death and Hung, two brilliant comedy/dramas after only just two seasons.
From season 6 and on, Supernatural has been shot on the Arri Alexa in high definition, but it looks almost just as film-like as it did in its first 3 seasons when it was shot in the Super 35 film format. This Blu-ray release of Supernatural: The Complete Eighth Season comes with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement that is clean, free from digital anomalies, and has lots of detail and shadow nuance – great for a series that likes to linger in dark places. Crush and, on the other side of things, clipping, are not problems while the present video noise looks mellow and organic.
An English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) is supplied alongside a Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 dub. The 5.1 mix, apart from sometimes sounding just a little bit harsh and overly aggressive in the lower high registers and just a bit unnatural in the atmospherics, does the trick in surrounding you in the world of Supernatural’s aural effects with good balance, clean dialogue, and a decent amount of low end.
Apart from a few audio commentaries, most of the featurettes on here are standard promotional, press kit type fare, but hardcore fans might appreciate them nonetheless.
- Finding Supernatural: Creating the Found Footage Episode (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:25:53) – A fun look at the challenging storytelling and production techniques used to create “Bitten”, the found footage episode.
- “Hunteri Heroici” commentary with writer Andrew Dabb and producer Todd Aronauer
- “As Time Goes By” commentary with executive producers Bob Singer, Jeremy Carver, and Adam Glass
- “Everybody Hates Hitler” commentary with executive producer/director Phil Sgriccia and consulting producer/writer Ben Edlund
- For the Defense of Mankind: The Tablets Revealed (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:20:13) – Producers and cast explore the season mythology surrounding the decoding of the tablets and the impact on Sam and Dean.
- Angel Warrior: The Story of Castiel (1.781; 1080p/24; 00:19:34) – An in-depth examination into the origins and evolution of the angel Castiel.
- Gag Reel (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:08:55)
The Definitive Word
It’s not that Supernatural: The Complete Eight Season is a bad show to sit through, it’s just that the series, in general, has lost its way. However, if you’re new to this series, you won’t notice these things and the clever way the writers work in rock and roll references in the Winchester’s cover names when they’re on a “case” and so forth help keep it lively. Plus, you never know what sort of weird beast they are going to come across, but the season’s mythology and story arc are way over-the-top at this point. Thankfully, the Blu-ray release is still top notch, regardless.
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