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Supernatural Season One

TV Binge

Supernatural Season 1 DVD 001I spend so much time watching TV series, binging on entire season in one go so I thought I may as well write about them. I cannot see how to avoid spoilers since even the presence of a character in one episode is often a spoiler to previous episodes, especially in this series. I’ll give an overview of the season as a whole before discussing the episodes in more depth in later posts.

Supernatural is about two brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester who travel around the United States hunting down dangerous supernatural creatures or phenomena and putting a stop to them. They have been raised in this life by their father John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) after their mother Mary (Samantha Smith) was killed by the demon Azazel in Sam’s nursery when he was a baby. Azazel’s signature method of killing is to slice his victims open and pin them to ceiling then set the place on fire. This scene is recapped at the start of every early episode so they really get their money’s worth out of it.

Sam and Dean are very different. Dean is the older brother and never lets Sam forget it, always calling him Sammy just to annoy him. He’s brash and straightforward while Sam is more studious and thoughtful. Dean is totally committed to his family and sees their life as hunters as an important task in itself while Sam hopes to see an end to their troubles and a return to normal life. Dean is always trying to live up to what he thinks his father wants while Sam questions his father in everything. These differences lead to a dramatic tension that runs through all the seasons.

Each season does have its own story arc but in the earlier ones most episodes are standalone “monster of the week” episodes where the Winchesters discover something strange is killing people and they figure out a way of putting a stop to whatever is happening. Although the episodes stand on their own there is often a development related to the main story arc and there’s usually an important lesson for one of the brothers.

The story of the first season is about the quest for vengeance for the murder of their mother and Sam’s girlfriend Jess (Adrianne Palicki). First they need to find their father who has been on this same quest for 22 years. He has left behind his journal with details of all the supernatural creatures he has dealt with over the years and it contains many scribbled notes and newspaper clippings and is one of their most valuable sources of information.

After ten episodes of running all over the country Sam starts getting the impression their father is keeping them out of the way. John does finally contact them only start giving them orders but his only pisses Sam off and he goes off on his own which is something that seems to happen at least once every season. He wants to find John right away while Dean carries on with the job that John gave them. While he’s gone he meets a young woman called Meg Masters (Nicki Aycox) who is actually possessed by a demon. Meg is a recurring character in this show and is actually working for Azazel. As soon as Sam thinks Dean is in trouble he rushes back to rescue him but the episode marks a change to increased emphasis on the search for a way to kill Azazel.

John discovered the existence of a revolver created by Samuel Colt that  according to legend can kill any supernatural creature and this is what he needs to kill Azazel. Acquiring the Colt and keeping it out of the hands of Meg and her demon buddies is a good part of the end of the season and leads to a very violent and intense climax.

This series really got off to a strong start with its first season thanks to the main characters that really get fleshed out. Sam is a fiercely independent man on a mission of vengeance and is much more similar to his father John than Dean is and this why they are always butting heads. Dean is much more committed to his family than the mission and is not prepared to see either Sam or John throw their lives away for vengeance. Dean’s the joker, the jock, the lad but that is really a front for someone who is terrified that those who he loves will leave him.

There are a few important supporting cast member who often return but none are more important than the grouchy old drunk Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) who in later seasons becomes like a surrogate father to the boys as well as providing important knowledge, helping to back up their cover stories when they are on jobs and having to listen to brothers bitch about each other. He only appears in the very last episode of the season but it is nice to see him

There is nice mix of stories with some more serious than others.There is quite a bit of humour in the stories mostly from Dean quipping and making references to films and making jokes at Sam’s expense. Late in the season in the episode Hell House the boys meet a pair of ghost hunters called Harry Spangler (Travis Wester) and Ed Zeddmore (A.J. Buckley) who think they are experts because they have website. They return in later seasons so we can enjoy seeing the brothers taking the piss out of them again. The more serious side comes in episodes like Faith in which Dean is dying and Sam takes him to faith healer. It is the first time that the series actually discusses the beliefs of the brothers.

This is series where bingeing on one season is not enough for me and I often go on to watch all the available episodes again

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Review: The Possession

 

A horror film from Sam Raimi is always a must see for me so I’ve been looking forward to this since I first heard about it. For this film Sam seems to have reigned in his wild imagination and though it is a good solid film it’s nothing special and not as much as I would have hoped from the creator of The Evil Dead films.

The film introduces us to the dybbuk box kept on shelf of an elderly woman. Just from her reaction to the box and whispering sound of her name from inside we can tell that it’s malevolent. She is about take a hammer a spike to the box when it attacks back, and her face hangs loose like she’s had a stroke. Then her body seizes and she has a violent fit that smashes her face into a table and throws her around the floor.

Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is a basketball coach who is divorced and has joint custody of his two daughters, 12-year-old Em (Natasha Calis) who is bright chatty and cheerful and 16 year-old Hannah (Madison Davenport) who puts on a pose of disinterest. The one dark spot in Em’s life is her parents’ divorce and she still has hope that they will get together again. When Hannah casually crushes that hope at dinner it really affects Em badly and it’s like light goes out inside her. She leaves quietly and Clyde tells off Hannah for talking to her like that. Hannah’s indifference falls away to reveal her anger at him for the divorce.

Next morning they go to a yard sale and Em spots the dybbuk box and right away wants to buy it and Clyde agrees. This is the yard of the old woman from the start of the film and we see her in her bedroom badly injured and tended by a nurse. Em is interested in the box because of the mysterious Hebrew inscription on its surface and it doesn’t have any obvious way of opening it. When they get home Em is impatient to get the box open and see what’s rattling around inside but Clyde gets distracted by a phone call about a job interview so Em takes the box up to her room and finds the catch that opens the box which sighs as she lifts the lid.

Em’s behaviour starts gets increasingly strange and she gets more obsessed with the box. Clyde and his ex-wife Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) at first think Em is reacting to the divorce and Stephanie’s new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show) but her behaviour gets more violent when Clyde tries to get rid of the box and Stephanie gets granted sole custody by the court when Em fakes being hit by him.

Clyde investigates the box and is told that it’s a dybbuk box used by some sects of Judaism and it’s meant to contain a spirit and it’s not supposed to be opened because then it can escape and possess people. Clyde is sure that is what has happened to Em and he has to get her exorcised before the dybbuk takes her over completely.

This is really just another exorcism film only it’s from a Jewish perspective so it’s a rabbi not a priest they need. It plays out with very few surprises for me and although it does a good job building up the tension the exorcism at climax of the film was not as epic or brutal as the one in The Exorcist, but I suppose very few films can reach that high standard. The more modern effects do look good but they are missing the visceral horror of old-fashioned gunk.

The cast are pretty good and Natasha Calis in particular is very good but it is the type of family drama by numbers: divorce, tension between parents and between them and their children, a new partner, job commitments. I did enjoy the film but I was surprised by how ordinary it was. It claims to be based on a true story and I think I can see what elements were true: a superstitious man may have believed that his daughter’s illness was caused by a demon from a box and he sought help from a rabbi to exorcise it. If you want an exorcism film that is not too intense you may like this one

Rating 7.0/10

 

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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