Supernatural Begins A Record 12th Season

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This past week the 12th season of Supernatural premiered on The CW. That’s right, 12th season. It is incredible to believe that this show has been on for over a decade without a break, which makes it the longest-running American genre show of all time. Supernatural still has some ways and seasons to go before it can match Doctor Who’s record run, but 12 seasons is a rarity these days in TV, especially when you consider that Supernatural airs more than 20 episodes per season.

So why has it been so successful? An easy answer is that it airs on The CW, a network that is way more lenient with its TV shows in terms of ratings. Supernatural’s seasonal ratings averages about a one point one share. In normal networks that would put the show in danger, but these days, the ratings are respectable and in The CW Supernatural is one of its highest rated shows. Even though it isn’t a ratings bonanza or the number one topic at water coolers and forum boards, Supernatural has built up a solid core of support from its fans.

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Early Haunts and Scares

When Supernatural first premiered back in September 13, 2005 on The WB network, George W. Bush was the president and the country was still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq War. Not much note was given to the show when it came out, but word quickly spread over how surprisingly creepy and scary it was. Focusing on two twentysomething brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles), Supernatural followed their adventures as they traveled flyover country in the U.S. and fought monsters, demons, ghosts and other supernatural entities. The representations of these creatures were often low-tech, but effective. More importantly, the episodes took time to develop the brothers and their relationship with each other. We witnessed the pain and loneliness they experienced in their missions as Hunters as they were forced to live on the outskirts of society. At the same time, we couldn’t help but chuckle at the ease of how they impersonated government agents with pseudonyms that gave nods to genre actors and rock artists.

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The arc in the early seasons dealt with them finding the demon that killed their mother during their childhood. That later led to an epic storyline where Lucifer (Mark Pelligrino) was unleashed on Earth and the Winchesters had to prevent the Apocalypse. Along the way, they picked up some memorable allies who became beloved supporting characters. The best of these was Castiel (Mischa Collins), a stoic angel in a rumpled trench coat who, when not being an episode’s deus ex machine, kept us amused with his reactions to modern day civilization. Another noteworthy character was Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), a middle-aged mentor/father figure to the Winchesters whose working-class demeanor often disguised his enormous heart and fortitude.

Post Apocalypse

After the epic Apocalypse storyline ended when the fifth season concluded, the series’ creator Eric Kripke departed the show and the fifth season ended in a way that provided a sense of closure for the Winchesters. However, the show by now had developed a strong following and good ratings and The CW (formerly The WB) continued the saga of the Winchesters. Regrettably, the quality of the show suffered in some of the following seasons as storylines became repetitious and lackluster villains showed up (the less said about Rowena the witch the better). Drinking games could be made based on how many times Sam and Dean Winchester quarreled with each other because one of them made some sacrifice without telling the other.

But the mythos of Supernatural expanded castiel-crowley-and-dean-winchesterand some stories still delivered even if the scariness and darkness of the early seasons wasn’t as present. Part of that mythos included the demon Crowley (Mark Sheppard), who became a series regular and a foil for the Winchesters and Castiel. Conniving, sardonic and quick with comical putdowns, Crowley became a sort of anti-hero, if not a particularly threatening villain. Often, he provided a humorous presence during scenes where he interacted with the Winchesters or as he calls them “Moose” (referring to Sam’s height) and “Not-Moose” (the smaller, but scrappier Dean).

In recent seasons, we and the Winchesters learned they are descended from a secret society called the Men of Letters. After finding the vanquished society’s hidden bunker with its vast library about supernatural beings, the brothers used the place as their base of operations. These newer episodes led to some interesting stories that functioned as backdoor pilots for new characters, but to date, none of them went further.

amara-vs-chuckRecent Resurgence

Supernatural had a very strong eleventh season which was about an ancient entity called Amara (Emily Swallow) or the Darkness. She turned out to be God’s sister and wanted to destroy his creations. This in turn led to the introduction of God Himself in the guise of Chuck Shurley (Rob Benedict), who was MIA for years but decided to come to Earth to confront Amara. Many episodes were decidedly unique, take the episode “Baby”, which was told from the POV of Dean Winchester’s beloved Impala. Another one was “All in the Family” where the Winchesters finally meet God/Chuck and Dean has a poignant conversation with Him and asks why is so much misery allowed on Earth. The answer was simple and thought provoking. The episodes and characters in the eleventh season proved that Supernatural still had  life and while the Amara storyline may have ended anti-climatically, it was a good change of pace.

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Now, the 12th season has begun without any indication, so far, that the show will conclude. Unlike past season openers there wasn’t a clear super baddie to give the Winchesters and their circle headaches. Instead, Lucifer, who returned to Earth last season, is on the loose and Crowley is hunting him. Meanwhile, the Winchesters are dealing with more personal threats. The British chapter of the Men of Letters showed up and kidnapped Sam because they are not happy with the American branch of the society. Now Dean and Castiel have to find Sam. Joining them is Mary Winchester (Samantha Smith), the brothers’ long-dead mother, who was resurrected as a thank you to Dean by Amara. This opens up a new dynamic for Sam and Dean Winchester being that she will be around for this season and it’s already paying off. Mary has shown that she still has the tough chops of having being a Hunter, but is finding out that adapting to the modern world to be perplexing.

Hopefully this 12th season of Supernatural will continue to delight and thrill viewers as we follow the never-ending saga of Sam and Dean Winchester.

Lewis T. Grove and José Soto

 

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Top 13 Supernatural Heroes

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The horror or supernatural genre is noted for its deadly monsters and evil creatures of the night. But genre also has its fair share of heroes, who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect us from the forces of darkness. Whether imbued with supernatural powers themselves or just plain ordinary folks, these are the greatest heroes of the supernatural.

ghost rider13. Ghost Rider (Ghost Rider): Noted for his flaming skull, a kickass fiery motorcycle, and a passion for vengeance, Ghost Rider is no doubt the flashiest antihero on this list. After selling his soul to Satan, motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze became the terrifying Spirit of Vengeance as he meted out justice against evil with his hellfire and penance stare.

12. The Crow (The Crow): James O’Barr created this haunting anti-hero for a series of moody comic books. In them, Eric Draven came back from the grave to avenge the killing of his girlfriend by vicious thugs. Adapted into a cult hit film starring the late Brandon Lee, the Crow has grown in popularity among fans.

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11. Abraham Van Helsing (Dracula): The original vampire slayer and archenemy of Dracula has been a staple of many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. Played by a host of reputable thespians like Peter Cushing, Anthony Hopkins, Sir Laurence Olivier and even Hugh Jackman (as Gabriel Van Helsing), Van Helsing is the one human match against the King of the Vampires.

10. Blade (Blade): Feared among vampires, the blade“daywalker” is actually a half human, half vampire hybrid with all of a vampire’s strengths, and without any vampiric weaknesses. Originally an obscure Marvel Comics character, Blade became super popular after Wesley Snipes played him in a trio of high-octane films.

9. Hellboy (Hellboy): A demon who was summoned as an infant by Nazis during World War II, Hellboy (Ron Perlman) was recovered by Allied Forces instead. Once grown into a red, hulking super agent with sawed-off horns, Hellboy has fought on the side of humanity ever since against supernatural forces with a sense of humor, a big gun and the heart of a hero.

ash8. Ash Williams (The Evil Dead): After mistakenly unleashing demonic forces into the world, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) valiantly fought against the malicious spirits with desperate and manic gusto in Sam Raimi’s acclaimed trilogy. While The Evil Dead films are noted for their off-the-wall scares and gore, Ash is the slightly goofy heart of the films and gives us someone to root for.

7. Castiel (Supernatural): First introduced in Supernatural’s fourth season, the angel Castiel quickly became a fan favorite. Brilliantly played by Misha Collins, Castiel is a genuine deus ex machina for the Winchester Brothers, while being the source of many amusing scenes thanks to his literal, stoic attitude and naive demeanor when dealing with humanity.

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6. Doctor Strange (Doctor Strange, Strange Tales): Marvel Comics’ premier sorcerer is truly the Master of the Mystic Arts. Once a cocky and selfish neurosurgeon Stephen Strange suffered a debilitating accident and in trying to find treatment wound up on a mystical and redemptive path. After becoming the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange is our dimension’s greatest defender against dark forces thanks to his powerful, magical powers.

5. Carl Kolchak (Kolchak: The Night Stalker): Adorned with a cheap suit, a bulky recorder and a fragile camera, kolchakCarl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) worked a lonely beat as a hustling, streetwise reporter who investigated supernatural incidents. Kolchak was forced in each episode (and two TV films) to put aside his fears and confront deadly supernatural dangers, usually without any help since he couldn’t convince anyone about the true nature of the threats.

buffy angel4. Buffy Summers and Angel (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel): While Buffy first made her debut in the film Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon made the character soar in the TV version, which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as the titular character. Quirky and full of spunk, Buffy bravely took on vampires and other supernatural forces that threatened humanity. The TV show also introduced viewers to the tortured vampire Angel (David Boreanaz), who fought alongside Buffy, as he tried to reclaim his humanity.

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3. John Constantine (Hellblazer, Constantine): This working-class, British sorcerer and occult detective is one formidable foe against the supernatural. First appearing in the pages of Swamp Thing comic books in the ’80s, Constantine won over many fans with his world-weary attitude, questionable morality and snarky cynicism. Even though his soul is damned to hell. he continues the good fight against evil while going through many cigarettes.

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2. Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon, and Michonne (The Walking Dead): Among the many heroic figures featured in the comic book and TV versions of The Walking Dead, these three are the deadliest walker killers, as well as the most intriguing. Michonne (Danai Gurira) with her katana and Daryl (Norman Reedus) with his crossbow fall into the silent, deadly types, who change for the better as the stories progress. Meanwhile, with each experience, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) fights an inner struggle to maintain his humanity, while grappling with a post-apocalyptic world overrun with zombies and deadly people.

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1. Sam and Dean Winchester (Supernatural): There are many supernatural-based heroes out there, many of whom don’t have any powers and must rely on their wits to persevere against supernatural threats. But these two brothers (played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) are the most down to earth and carunassuming of the bunch. Raised to be hunters (of the supernatural) by their father, these two roam the country’s back roads with a cache of conventional and mystical weapons and tackle all sorts of opponents, whether they be ghosts, demons, vampires or malevolent angels. What makes them stand out is not just their modest nature (and Dean’s hedonistic ways), but their bravery, witty banter and brotherly love; which are all their best weapons.

Lewis T. Grove

New Fringe & Supernatural: All Is Right!

Ah, last night was great for TV watching. Wasn’t home to see the new episodes of Fringe and Supernatural but I DVRed them and finally caught up to them today. Wow, both new episodes hit the mark(s) with some amazing, wonderful and disturbing developments.

Fringe began its run of the final eight shows for the season (and maybe the series unless Fox renews it for a fifth season) with “A Short Story About Love.” There were basically three storylines; one about Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) realizing the memories and feelings from the Olivia of Peter Bishop’s (Joshua Jackson) universe were supplanting her own. The problem is that Peter’s Olivia is in love with him, while the “regular” Olivia has no romantic feelings towards him. Meanwhile, Peter is following clues left behind by the Observer that apparently died in the previous episode. The third storyline was pretty average procedural junk about a deformed madman out to create a love potion from killing lovers. It was the kind of stuff you may find in a typical X-Files episode. Luckily, this storyline didn’t dominate the show.

The big reveals were pretty surprising. It turns out (SPOILERS AHEAD) that Peter is in fact in his own universe so that Olivia’s new feelings for him is probably the universe correcting itself. Luckily for us soft-hearts, Olivia independently decided to give in to her new memories and feelings and the end was so blissful and romantic. It was a heartwarming reminder to us cynics that love is the greatest force in the universe. Even on Fringe.

Supernatural began airing new episodes last week, and just as it all seemed hopeless for the ally-challenged Winchester brothers, Sam (Jared Padelecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Castiel (Misha Collins) returned!

Yay! Our favorite stoic Angel that supposedly died earlier this season (and gave rise to those dumb Leviathan baddies) is back. In this week’s episode “The Born-Again Identity” Sam is committed to a psychiatric ward because the Lucifer hallucination in his head has driven him crazy. Desperately calling anyone for help, Dean finds out about this genuine faith healer. So when he goes to the guy’s place it turns out the healer is none other than Castiel. It turns out that he lost his memory and doesn’t remember being an angel or anything else.

Anyway, he decides to help Dean out. It was so great to see our pal Cass, it helps that he’s easy on the eyes LOL. Eventually, he remembers who he is and is wracked with guilt over his previous actions when he tried to play God. He gets to Sam in time to save him from a demon. But it turns out he can’t cure Sam of his hallucinations so in an act of self-sacrifice he transfers the debilitating hallucinations onto himself and he winds committed. Frankly it sucks that they had to leave him there in that ward. I guess the producers still wanted the brothers on their own to take on those Leviathan. Still sucks anyway because I know Castiel would kick the Leviathan’s butt all over the place. It just makes me wonder why can’t the Winchesters find some supernatural allies to help them with the Leviathan? Hopefully, they will be done with when the season finale comes around.

Annette DeForrester

 

Requiem For An Angel

Alas, poor Castiel. Everyone’s favorite Angel from the CW’s Supernatural apparently (click away quick if you don’t want to be spoiled!) bit the dust, consumed by the Leviathans that he inadvertently absorbed at the end of season six.

Such a waste really. Sure Castiel had to pay the price for taking over as God (who regular viewers know has left the building in the show’s mythos) and carrying on a destructive path in this season’s premier episode. But he was arguably the best character on the show, he took it to a whole new level when he made his debut back in season four. Castiel was so popular he even became a regular.

Played in a deadpan manner by Misha Collins Castiel almost seemed like a character from Star Trek. We could easily see him as a stoic alien who is fascinated by humanity and becomes a champion of sorts. How many times did he pull Sam and Dean Winchester’s butt out of the fire? The guy was a literal deus ex machina, but most of all he was quite a badass with liberal doses of modesty and naivete.

According to Sera Gamble, the show’s executive producer,  Collins is due to return later this season but is ambiguous as to what role he’ll play. But please don’t make him out to be the Big Bad that is being mentioned by the Leviathans. Only if some part of Castiel’s good nature comes out at the eleventh hour and conquers this season’s enemies. However cool that sounds remember folks, that is basically how season five ended when Sam took brief control of his body for Lucifer to be defeated.

What should’ve happened is that spinoff show should have been created. Starring Collins as Castiel it would’ve taken place sometime after the apocalypse was averted. That way the entire War in Heaven could’ve been explored more fully instead of being given to us piecemeal last season. Think about it, there could’ve been crossover episodes with Supernatural. Special guest stars, the works. But this is the CW wannabe network we’re talking about. Cas, we know you’re coming back somehow but for now, we already miss you and that rumpled trenchcoat.

Lewis T. Grove