From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman
There’s a tenuous balance between teen-friendly shenanigans and gory thrills in “Supernatural.” The hourlong drama, which will premiere its sixth season on CW in fall, began its life on the dying WB network in 2005. That first season is now getting a Blu-ray upgrade.
“Supernatural” follows a pair of brothers, Dean and Sam Winchester (Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki), who hunt the unearthly, from ghosts to demons to urban legend fodder that’s quite real.
Despite the show’s fetish for dripping blood and a propensity to push the envelope on network TV violence standards, it’s got a foot firmly planted in the teen-oriented world of WB, evidenced most by the two leads — both are fresh-faced, with the teen-certified pedigree to match. (Padalecki had a major role in “Gilmore Girls,” and Ackles had arcs in “Smallville” and “Dawson’s Creek.”)
Perhaps what makes the show even more surprising that the it is able to deliver genuine scares on a regular basis. The archetypal horror set-ups are utterly familiar, but creepy atmospherics and solid effects go a long way in selling the terror. “Supernatural” is at its best when it relies on an episodic structure, with the brothers discovering evil around every corner.
What’s less compelling is the season-long story arc that has Sam and Dean searching for their father (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), while dealing with various personal conflict. Padalecki and Ackles might pass the swoon test, but they aren’t as equipped to sell emotional turmoil.
Still, “Supernatural” is more effective than its homogeneous parts give it any right to be. The show seems to have gone off the rails somewhat of late, but its first season remains a reliable source of clenched fists and sweaty palms.
The high-def upgrade serves the show well, bringing new clarity to its glossy, high-contrast look and better-than-TV-grade effects. The Blu-ray has some new special features, too, including an in-depth interactive guide to the urban legends featured in the show and a panel discussion with cast and creators.