Supernatural: The Complete Sixth Season (Blu-ray / DVD)
Starring Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Jim Beaver
Directed by Various
Distributed by Warner Home Video
“Supernatural” has always been a snake in the grass among quality TV shows. While programming such as “Breaking Bad”, “The Walking Dead”, “Dexter” and “Game of Thrones” garner much acclaim from fans and critics alike, I don’t have a problem citing “Supernatural” as an equally excellent television experience. Sure, it was a little rocky in the beginning – with the “ghost of the week” plotlines paling in comparison to the over-arching storyline – but damn if this series didn’t find its footing in the third season. Since 2007, the series has been nothing if not top notch, delivering quality writing, surprising moments and excellent performances on a consistent basis.
When series creator Eric Kripke left the show at the end of the fifth season (where it was originally intended to conclude), there was much speculation around the ensuing quality. Admittedly, Sera Gamble had some pretty big shoes to fill when she was chosen as the new show runner, but fears were alleviated as season six hit the ground running with a brand new storyline involving a newly minted Sam Winchester, straight from hell and without any memory of it.
Season six impresses for a number of reasons: Most importantly, it never feels like a tacked-on addendum to the previous years. It explores a few lingering threads (ie- the fallout from Heaven’s civil war) as the logical progression of events. Sam’s re-acclamation to Dean comes off a bit awkward in the beginning – an element I mistakenly (and prematurely) identified as weak writing and acting. Turns out it’s all a means to an end in revealing why Sam was allowed to escape from hell, and exactly what’s wrong with him. Before long, a possible weakness becomes one of the show’s major strengths as it reveals Jared Padalecki to be an extremely capable actor. His “Odd Sam” and “Regular Sam” are very different entities and it’s a credit to the writers and actor that they pulled it off so perfectly.
It’s also quite unpredictable. Nothing progresses as expected, with the eventual confrontation with what’s assumed to be the season’s “big bad” turning out to be … something altogether different. That a show in its sixth season is able to keep things fresh and fun is a real testament to the creative team involved. Of the earliest episodes, “Weekend at Bobby’s” is easily the most memorable. Directed by our own Jensen Ackles, fans are finally treated to a Bobby-centric show that chronicles his daily routine. As an added bonus, the great Steven Williams reprises his role as Rufus, sharing some wonderful camaraderie with Jim Beaver. It’s a completely irreverent show, one that has the cajones to progress the season storyline further while always cracking a smile.
“Caged Heat” is another winner. Here the Winchesters make an uneasy alliance with their favorite demon, Meg, launching a desperate attack on Crowley’s compound. It’s a fast-paced and exciting episode that offers all the double-crosses and confrontations you could ask for. There are some major revelations along the way and it’s an instrumental episode in establishing the path for the rest of the season. The “mythology” episodes of “Supernatural” are always great, and this ranks among the best.
Among the most delightful episodes in the history of “Supernatural” is “The French Mistake”, the wonderfully meta storyline that forces Sam and Dean out of their world, and into one where they inhabit the bodies of actors Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. As expected, it’s non-stop hilarious. Between the actors’ countless jabs at their past careers and egos, the presence of Misha Collins as himself and an angel who goes on a mass shooting spree, claiming Eric Kripke as one of his victims, it just never stops.
Hot off the heels of that comes “…And Then There Were None”, an episode of fear and mistrust that, unsurprisingly, features more tension and suspense than the recent (and misguided) Thing premake. It finds Sam, Dean, Bobby, Samuel and Rufus trapped, and at the mercy of what’s dubbed a “Khan Worm”. An invasive little parasite that slips into a victims ear, turning them psychotic and hostile. It’s the kind of no-nonsense horror that reminds us of the show’s roots, and how it’s never really been afraid to kill of some of its “important” characters for the sake of good drama. Simple, yet effective, this is a thrilling experience.
The season’s final stretch is absolutely terrific: time travel (complete with Back to the Future part III nods), preventing the Titanic disaster to get rid of the James Cameron movie and the Celine Dion song (the most brilliant motivation of ALL time), a confrontation with Eve (of Adam and Eve), a Castiel-centric episode (the expertly written “The Man Who Would Be King”) and a conclusion loaded with surprises, it’s amazing how well the sixth year turned out. Knowing the behind-the-scenes drama beforehand, I was certain this would be a lacking season, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Instead, “Supernatural” offered a season perfectly in step with its predecessors. Other shows may reap far more prestige, but this one holds up as well as anything else on television. On its own merits, it’s fast, fun and more entertaining than any genre stuff we’ve seen in theaters this year. With no signs of slowing down, I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Winchester boys.
Technically speaking, the Blu-ray of “Supernatural: The Complete Sixth Season” looks/sounds amazing. It’s a stunning show on HD, with rich, black shadows that give the show LOTS of atmosphere. Detail is through the roof, with actors' pores clear as day. Audio reproduces dialogue with perfect clarity while the kickass soundtrack is wonderfully textured. I also was able to sample the SD presentation. It’s pretty solid for SD, though black levels and textures just aren’t up to snuff. If SD is all you’ve got, however, this presentation is no slouch.
“Supernatural” always comes to home video with fun, if unspectacular, special features. Season six is no different, boasting two audio commentaries right out of the gate. “Clap Your Hands if You Believe” and “The French Mistake” are this season’s beneficiaries and both talks are fun stuff. Robert Singer, Sera Gamble and Ben Edlund deliver thoughtful, enjoyable discussions on keeping the show (and its quality) going strong. And while Jensen Ackles didn’t record his own commentary for his “Weekend at Bobby’s”, we do get a 30 minute documentary called Jensen Ackles: A Director’s Journey. It’s a fun little piece that shows how Jensen acquainted himself with a director’s responsibilities, and how he settled into the routine.
Another documentary is Supernatural and the Quest for the Soul, a largely pointless discussion with religious and occult folks who weigh in on the existence of a soul. Meh. There’s a few outtakes from “The French Mistake” as well as the now-legendary outtake reel. There’s also the inclusion of two episodes from the “Supernatural” animated series. These were exactly what I expected and, to be honest, not enough to make me want to check it out.
Finally, there are two Blu-ray exclusive features. A picture-in-picture informational track that is available on every episode. Very cool stuff for those who want to know everything there is to know about the world of “Supernatural”. Then there’s a trivia track on “The French Mistake”, containing all sorts of commentary-like information surrounding this episode. Pretty fun.
It turned out to be another excellent year for “Supernatural” with the sixth season. As usual, Warner Bros. does the show right on home video, offering superb PQ/AQ and an amiable assortment of supplements. The storytelling hasn’t suffered under the watch of new show runner Sera Gamble (and season 7 has been fun thus far as well), who successfully maintains the right elements to keep this one of the best shows on TV. Highly recommended.
4 out of 5
3 out of 5