Supernatural: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Ethan Stevenson (30th August 2010).
The Show

Lawrence, Kansas – 1982. A young father named John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his two sons – Sam, who’s but a baby, and Dean, no older than five or six – have just had the worst night of their lives; or at the very least, the first, and hopefully worst, of many, many nights terrible nights to come. Mary, the boy’s mother (and John’s wife) has died, by being burned alive, in a horrible fire that also completely destroyed their family home. Their childhood – their destinies – would never be the same from that night forward, and it would be only later when they learned what actually killed mommy dearest was not a mere fire, but a horrible demon. For the Winchesters, perhaps yes, there actually are things that go bump in the night.

Flash-forward two decades and Sam (Jared Padalecki), the younger Winchester brother, is a right smart boy – top of his class, and contemplating graduate school. He has a girlfriend, Jessica (Adrianne Palicki), and things are getting serious. Despite his troubled upbringing, I’d wager that Sam has done all right for himself. Sam’s elder sibling Dean (Jensen Ackles) however, is, decidedly, less accomplished. He’s a thief, and a conman, who makes his living running credit card scams and swindling pool players with his father – or at least he did. Oh and he’s a demon slayer too, if that means anything. As the series begins properly, after the ’82 prologue, John Winchester has gone missing and Dean enlists the help of his younger brother to help find him. They track their father to a town in California, only to uncover his old motel room that looks like it hasn’t been lived in for weeks, and a mess of paperwork that looks like the scribblings of a crazy person. Stuck at a seemingly dead-end, as the pilot closes, Sam and Dean part ways, but when Sam’s girlfriend is killed in an eerily similar fashion to his mother, he reteams with his brother to find out what the hell is haunting them from their past. Armed only with their father’s journal – a massive book full of notes on mythical creatures, demonic possessions and other terrible supernatural things – Sam and Dean, in their stark black Chevrolet Impala, travel across the US, fighting off creatures, confronting monsters and overall, trying their best to solve the mystery of just what their father had been up to.

I never really realized just how much I missed having new episodes of “The X-Files” (1993-2002) to watch each week; that was until I was introduced to Eric Kripke's “Supernatural.” That’s not a knock – “Supernatural” is a wholly original being (even if it does “borrow” from older TV series, like, for instance, “Route 66” (1960-1964), which Kripke admits is a major source of inspiration for his show) – just an observation, and, I think, not a terribly outrageous (or damning) one. So “Supernatural” works like “The X-Files”, but that’s not a bad thing; “The X-Files” was a great, truly great show (for it’s first five seasons at least) and was one of the most consistently balanced programs in terms of what we’ll call “monster-of-the-week” episodes to pure “mythology” episodes (again, for the first five seasons anyway). It’s in that same way that Kripke’s dark horror series works – for every 43-minutes that viewers spend with the brothers and their standalone adventures, we get another forty-three of excellent character back-story and archical progression toward, what, at this point, we do not know, but something big, that’s for sure (apparently, grander, more religious-themed things about fallen angels). Similarly, again much like “The X-Files”, “Supernatural” lives and dies based on the chemistry between the two main actors – which is exceptionally natural and realistic. I’m not sure which one is the Scully and the Mulder, but nevertheless, Ackles and Padalecki have the same type of realistic relationship, which makes their characters, and thus the dialogue they speak, and the actions that they act out, feel all the more genuine. And, if a series has believable, realized characters that feel genuine, you can’t ask for much more (even so, “Supernatural” delievers above and beyond the characters, and that’s why it’s something special).

Now, a word on Warner’s menu system for this (and in fact all their TV on Blu-ray) release(s), which is awkward. The Blu-ray menu gives viewers the option to play through the disc completely via a “play all”, with the several chapter stops per episode available only when using the skip buttons on your remote. The menu also sports an “episodes” tab in the place of “scenes” but these individually selectable episodes also play through, just like the “play all” option, from that particular episode to the end of the disc, once selected. This is incredibly annoying. Hypothetically – or not so figuratively as I planned on doing this for my review and thus ran into the problem – if I wanted to only watch the "Pilot" with commentary, but instead of using the commentary tab via the menu, started the episode from the “episode” tab and switched audio tracks with my remote, “Pilot” plays with the secondary audio and then continues right on going to “Wendigo” (defaulting back to the 5.1 mix) and goes on until the eventual FBI and Interpol warnings that round off the very last seconds of the entire disc. (For reference, if you use the “commentary” tab, the episodes with commentary play by themselves and return to the menu when finished). This is kind of a double-edged sword; because of the lack of Java programming and the discs continuously play “feature”, Warner has provided an easy form of bookmarking. However, if you plan on watching only one episode, it’s kind of a drag, and even more bothersome when you just want to watch a single episode, and then do something else (or even watch another non-consecutive episode). “Supernatural: The Complete First Season” presents all 22 episodes from the series’ debut on four discs, including:

- "Pilot: Take me home' - Along a lonely California highway, a mysterious woman in white lures men to their deaths – a terrifying phenomenon that may be the Winchester brothers’ first clue to their missing father’s whereabouts. A solid episode that features may of the eventual staples for the series, including a fairly light, sarcastically comedic tone, while still maintaining a bit of effective horror.

- "Wendigo" - Deep in the Colorado woods, deep in horror. Sam and Dean’s search for their father, and the evil that killed Jessica, leads to the blood-soaked path of a Wendigo – a cannibal spirit of Native American lore. In short, not a great episode, but not a terrible one either – just feels awfully rushed, which sort of makes sense, considering that it was according to the supplements (episode two was originally supposed to be “Bloody Mary”, but the network didn’t want to female demons in a row).

- "Dead in the Water" - Are a series of drownings in a Wisconsin lake the work of a vengeful spirit? A young eyewitness, traumatized into silence by the shock he experienced, may have the power to prophesy the next drowning – that is, if Dean can get the mute child to open up. “Dead in the Water” is a decent, if imperfect episode with some pretty interesting cinematography.

- "Phantom Traveler" - A plane reservation is a ticket to terror when a phantom traveler, a demonic being hell-bent of killing, forces an Airliner into a crash landing. Knowing the phantom is on another flight, and has plans to bring the plane down at all costs, Sam and Dean board to attempt an in-air exorcism. This is still a tinkering episode, which unknowing established a few key special effects and ground rules for the series demonic possessions, but it’s also a pretty solid one.

- "Bloody Mary" -
“Bloody Mary,
Bloody Mary,
Bloody Mary”
An incantation uttered during a game of truth or dare unleashes a ghoul who lives in mirrors… and kills by gouging out the eyes of her prey. The Winchesters find out the truth behind one of the oldest urban legends in pop culture. The writers tackle a fairly well known legend, but put their own twist on it, somehow making what should be fairly formulaic still feel fresh and unique.

- "Skin" - A demonic shape-shifter adopts the likeness of Sam’s college buddy to commit a gruesome murder. When the brothers investigate, the being “borrows” Dean’s form to continue it’s killing spree, leaving another dead and Dean wanted by the police. This is really where “Supernatural” starts to find itself; dry comedy, incredibly creepy creature effects (including a truly horrifying skin-shedding sequence) and a tight, thriller-based storyline.

- "Hook Man" - In a quiet Iowa college town, a minister prays to protect his parishioners’ children. But another minister – a two-centuries old madman with a hook for a hand – wants them terrified, slashed and dead. Sam and Dean uncover the story of The Hook Man, a legend long lost and forgotten, but oh so dangerous. In short; crappy – borderline retarded – folklore gets a very mediocre episode.

- "Bugs" - After a construction worker is killed by a mass of insects burrowing into his brain, the brothers investigate a town’s history and find that a new housing development is being built on sacred Indian land – with a curse attached. Basically, this is episode is part “Poltergeist” (1982) and part “War of the Coprophages” and unquestionably one of the weakest episodes in not just this season, but the whole series.

- "Home" - After 22 years, Sam and Dean return to their childhood home, and the terrors that reside there. Now, another young mother lives there and, if Sam’s nightmares are correct, she may be threatened by the same evil that killed Mary Winchester. After a surprisingly long gap of monster of the week type episodes, “Home” turns the plots focus toward the mythology of the Winchester Brothers and their terrible childhood – while still offering a standalone monster, which provides a bit of thrill.

- "Asylum" - The brothers investigate a long-shuttered mental hospital that has the power to drive intruders mad… and murderous. While Sam and Dean try to save two trapped teens, each soon begins to believe that the other brother is trying to kill them. Sam gets a bit of much needed character development in this psychological tale of mistrust and darkness.

- "Scarecrow" - If it only had a brain… A malevolent scarecrow could be why strangers to Burkitsville, Indiana don’t get out of town alive and Sam and Dean investigate the series of disappearances, which could be tied to ritualistic sacrifice. On a side note, this is probably the most X-File-y episode of the season, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or all that unexpected given the fact that it was written and directed by John Shiban and David Nutter respectively, who both worked on Chris Carter’s series extensively for many years. (Oh, and the “Cancer Man” guest stars!)

- "Faith" - A faith healer named Roy Le Grange (Kevin McNulty) cures Dean after an electrical accident leaves him near death. However, Dean soon learns that for every life Le Grange saves, another –quite possibly his brothers – must end. This episodes creep factor is surprisingly high considering it takes place in mostly daylight; perhaps it’s the whole idea that an old, blind preacher has command of a horde of invisible “reapers” (who dress like funeral directors and have really bad acne) that steal people souls? Yeah, that’s probably it.

- "Route 666" - The devil’s down in Dixie, and he’s driving one hell of a scary truck. Sam and Dean investigate when something wheeled, metallic and evil forces a series of African-American drivers off the road to their deaths. We get a little glimpse of Dean mysterious past via an old girlfriend too, which adds another layer to the persistently building mythology of the series.

- "Nightmare" - The brothers pose as priests to gather information at a house visited by sudden death – a death Sam saw in a dream. But precognition may be just the start of preternatural powers Sam suddenly posses, as the younger Winchester continues to unravel secrets about their past. This is another good balancing act of mythology and standalone. Also, check out the deleted scenes for this episode – they involve a few graphic deaths that (unfortunately due to the strict rating policies of broadcast television) didn’t make it into the final cut.

- "The Benders" - A nice decoration for the wall, perhaps? Meet the Benders – backwoods family of hunters who likes to stuff and mount their kills on the wall of their home. Only they don’t hunt deer; they prefer a more dangerous sort of game – humans. Oh, and they’ve got Sam. Another Shiban episode with more “X-Files” undertones; this is a good episode, made better by the underlying message that sometimes monsters don’t have to have supernatural origins, and might just be living next-door.

- "Shadow" - In Chicago, Sam has the “luck” to run into Meg, a pretty young blonde that he met a few weeks earlier at a bus stop in Indiana (in episode 11, “Scarecrow”). But it may be bad luck, especially if Meg is connected to a demon that’s wreaking havoc and death upon the Windy City. Great episode overall, which established one of the shows first great villains – Meg, who isn’t at all what she seems; also, this is another wet-dream for cinematography nuts like myself (noirish overtones galore)

- "Hell House" - Get the hell out of Hell House! Sam and Dean defy a homicidal spirit haunting a residence, but a pair of goofball paranormal investigators who hope ghostbusting will get them girls encumbers their efforts. Weak plot mean an overall weak episode, but it has some memorable humor and the first appearance by “The Ghostfacers” who would get their own spin-off (and continue to reappear in “Supernatural”) some years later.

- "Something Wicked" - “Thy Angels watch me through the night, and keep me safe ‘til morning light.” A little girl’s prayers are no match for a Shtriga, a powerful witch with terrifying ties to the Winchester brothers’ childhoods. “Something Wicked” is another very solid episode this season that mixes mythology and monster-of-the-week themes perfectly.

- "Provenance" - A portrait of a long-dead family is amazingly lifelike. Maybe that’s because one of their likenesses is alive… and lethal. When Sam and Dean begin investigating the mysterious death of the young couple that recently bought a hundred-year-old portrait, they discover that the same fate has fallen on each one of the paintings previous owners. On a side note: there is something incredibly unsettling about demons manifesting themselves as little girls – am I right?

- "Dead Man’s Blood" - After an aging spook hunter, and John Winchester’s mentor, Daniel Elkins (Terence Kelly), falls prey to the vampires that he though he had long ago destroyed, Papa Winchester joins his sons to battle the bloodsucking creatures – and retrieve an unearthly gun created by Samuel Colt that they possess, which has the power to kill anything of supernatural origin. “Dead Man’s Blood” runs away – I think – as the best overall episode of the season. Father and sons finally reunite to fight a well-known adversary, plus there’s back-story and character development. You can almost feel while watching that everything just sort of clicked when making this episode, and without it we wouldn’t have the set up for the show’s terrific run to the finish line.

- "Salvation" - Meg (Nicki Aycox) is back – again. And she wants the gun that John and his boys just retrieved. She starts killing the elder Winchester’s friends, one-by-one, until he agrees to hand over the weapon, even if his doing so means leaving his son’s alone, and without the means to battle the demon that killed their mother.

- "Devil’s Trap" - Sam and Dean seek the help of Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), an old family friend, to set a trap for Meg and rescue their father from her clutches. With a terrifying exorcism, relentless warfare with packs of demons and a shocking double-twist ending, the season finale never lets up. Rewatching the finale is a bit bittersweet; on one hand, the episode is probably the best of the season – a total amalgamation of everything leading up to this point in the series. On the other hand, the shocking double-twist ending is a lot less shocking and way too gimmicky when you realize, with the foreknowledge that we have now, (that the show went of for another five seasons) there’s no real suspense as to who lives and who dies in the finale’s smash-cut car crash.

“Supernatural”, at least in it’s first season, may not be the absolute best of what the television series has to offer, but it’s damn close. As you expect from a series finding it’s footing, there are a few weaker episodes, and a couple just plain bad ones – but again, the series is still finding it’s own, unique, voice throughout the first season. In the end, however, despite a few faults early on, the show is well written, exceptionally well acted by the two leads (and they have a chemistry rarely found between two characters), and most importantly a whole lot of Big Damn Fun. Honestly – and I think many already know this, the show’s been on for six years at this point and it’s remains one of the top-rated programs on the CW; plainly the show has found its audience – “Supernatural” is just a great show. It has good horror elements, solid comedy and even a nice dose of character drama. What more could you ask for – and don’t say good production value, because this show has that in spades.

So then, what does this new Blu-ray offer people who are already fans of the show, already know that it’s good, and likely already have the first season on DVD? Well, read on to find out.

Video

“Supernatural: The Complete First Season” arrives on Blu-ray with a 1.78:1 1080p 24/fps high definition widescreen VC-1 encoded presentation. Warner’s transfer of the show’s debut season is plenty faithful to the source, and looks quite nice (actually nicer than I thought it would). However, those unfamiliar with the series’ aesthetic might be in for a bit of shock and be left wondering just how many of the Blu-ray’s, lets call them “peculiarities” – such as often-dense grain, extremely dark, shadowy images, and completely unnatural colors and contrast – are intentional. The simple answer is that all of them are. For the first three seasons, “Supernatural” was shot on 35mm film (from season four on, the series has been shot natively at 4K, primarily with Red One cameras, and mastered in high definition); and on grainy, fast film stock at that, because so much of it takes place in low-lit locations. The grain then, is organic and at all times looks filmic and not the least bit noisy. Beyond the various film stocks, the series’ DP's and directors have also employed a variety of filters (both in camera and digitally in post-production) to further the show’s special look. This is especially true in season one, where the crew worked to define a distinct visual style for the program. Take for instance, episode two, "Wendigo", which is basically sepia-tinted the entire time, or episode three, “Dead in the Water” which is so colorless and has such high contrast that the show almost takes on a monochromatic look. Some episodes are less showy than others, and eventually the series, towards the end of the season, does begin to solidify its visual style (overall, stark and dark). But colors are almost always desaturated, grain is consistently present, and blacks are as black as can be – to the point that they frequently crush, and shadow detail is almost nonexistent.

Regardless of the unique style, the Blu-ray is still fairly exceptional. Facial and clothing detail is nearly always – as in, unless it’s shrouded by dark shadow – exceptional. Contrast, tweaked as it may be, is spot on. And although Warner has crammed six (approximately) 45-minute episodes on each disc – that’s almost 4 and a half hours of high def content – I never really noticed any sort of compression artifacts or motion blur, nor any bit-starved scenes which noticeably struggled to maintain a sharp high-def appearance. The discs don’t even show any serious evidence of banding, even though the series is heavily color graded and manipulated via digital intermediate. In short, “Supernatural: The Complete First Season” looks great. The Blu-ray bests the original DVD set (which always seemed to handle the dense texturing, frequent grain and severe color grading rather poorly) and even CW’s 1080i high definition broadcast considerably. I’d even go as far to say that this is without a doubt one of the strongest TV on Blu-ray offerings – in pure video terms – from Warner Brothers at the moment.

Audio

Although Warner continues to overlook lossless audio on their TV product – which is aggravating at times, especially when shows like “Supernatural” and “Fringe” (2008-Present) have motion-picture quality sound design and deserve to be heard in lossless – “Supernatural: The Complete First Season” in high definition still sees an upgrade over the previous DVD release, even if it isn’t a very large one. This is because when the show hit DVD, it contained a frail 2.0 Dolby Digital surround mix, and not a full-blown English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround (48kHz/640kbps) mix like the one included on the new Blu-ray. The sound design is solidly impressive and clarity and dialogue reproduction is acceptable, but I couldn’t help shake the feeling that, in TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, the show would be even better – clearer, sharper, less compressed feeling. My “B-“ is awarded partly on principle. Warner is the only studio that continues to steadily provide discs with lossy audio on Blu-ray at any regularity; that’s clearly unacceptable; even some of the small guys like E1 Entertainment, a considerably less financed operation, provide lossless audio on their TV seasons. But my score is also partly awarded on the quality of the mix – it just doesn’t sound as robust or clear as it’s plentiful lossless brethren. I have no doubt that if Warner included TrueHD tracks on their TV shows, they would sound much better – “Supernatural” especially.

For the record, Warner has also provided Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (48kHz/192kbps) dubbed mixes in French, German, Spanish and Portuguese with optional subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Castilian, Portuguese, Danish and Finnish.

Extras

All of the material that first appeared on the original DVD release of “Supernatural: The Compete First Season” has been carried over to this new Blu-ray edition, including multiple audio commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes and bloopers. Warner has also created a few new Blu-ray exclusives – detailed below – that will make the high definition upgrade all the easier for fans (surely, better video and audio are enticing but, the new features are sure to tip the scales for even the most fickle owners of the DVD). The only downside is that most of the video based bonus material is presented in standard definition.

DISC ONE:

Things begin with an episodic audio commentary on “Pilot” by series creator Eric Kripke, episode director David Nutter and producer Peter Johnson. This is a fairly typical, mostly technical track in which Kripke discusses origins and influences, Nutter talks shots, effects and cinematography (and a little “X-Files” too, woo-hoo), while Johnson mostly sticks to casting. There are some gaps, but the commentary is mostly worthwhile and informative.

Another audio commentary is included on “Phantom Traveler” with costars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. This track is far less technical, not as serious and a whole lot of fun. The fictional brothers are very jokey and pretty much spend half the track spouting BS. Nevertheless, they still discuss their characters and how their off screen friendship translates to good chemistry on screen, and there's a bit of serious talk; not too much though. Casual fans will probably get more from this track, while techies and more serious fans should probably stick to the track on"Pilot" (or listen to both).

Under additional scenes (480i) you’ll find a series of deleted, alternate and extended scenes from various disc one episodes:

- “Pilot” SC 13: Sam, Jessica and a friend walk to the Halloween party, and Sam confesses that he’s not a big fan of the holiday. 47 seconds.
- “Pilot” SC 89: An alternate, extended take on one of the final scenes of the pilot, in which Sam returns home to find Jessica dead. 1 minute 13 seconds.
- “Pilot” SC AA94A: Another alternate take. While the broadcast version of the pilot ends on a slam-cut trunk shot, this one ends on a crane shot of the brothers driving away into the night. 1 minute 1 second.
- “Wendigo” SC 28: Sam, Dean and the campers take a break. Ben, the youngest of the group finds old Indian markings carved on stone. 1 minute 1 second.
- “Phantom Traveler” SC 34: Sam and Dean race to the airport. Sam kindly reminds his brother that he’s armed, and should probably put the guns in the trunk, or they might have some problems getting through security. 51 seconds.

Finally, a bonus trailer for "Warner Blu-ray" (1080p, 1 minute 44 seconds) precedes the menu.

DISC TWO:

Under additional scenes (480i) you’ll find a series of deleted, alternate and extended scenes from various disc two episodes:

- “Hook Man” SC 4-8: The hook man terrorizes an alternate couple; I think the take seen in the episodes final cut is better. 3 minutes 55 seconds.
- “Hook Man” SC 9: Sam and Dean talk about finding their father, and then Dean stumbles upon the case of the terrorized couple. This same scene is in the final cut with minor differences – namely, the shots and references to the article detailing the terrorized couple. 2 minutes 1 second.
- “Hook Man” SC 32: a throwaway scene where a sorority sister finds a condom wrapper in a basket of dirty clothes. 27 seconds.
- “Home” SC 19: Sam and Dean talk to an old acquaintance of their father. 54 seconds.
- “Home” SC 23: an extended take of the phone call that the woman living in the Winchester’s old house was having. 38 seconds.
- “Scarecrow” SC 24: Dean talks to a couple in a restaurant about his thoughts on the disappearances of many of the tourists who visit Burkitville. 2 minutes 14 seconds.
- “Faith” SC 7-8: a reaper watches a man while he swims, ready to take his life, while Dean looks to healed by the preacher. 2 minutes 55 seconds.

DISC THREE:

“‘Supernatural’ at the Museum of Television & Radio’s Paley Television Festival” (480i, 1 hour 12 minutes 39 seconds) is a lengthy Q&A panel discussion with many of the cast and crew. Panel members include director Kim Manners, writer/producer John Shiban, stars Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, executive producer Robert Singer and creator Eric Kripke. This supplement was first included in a special limited edition package of the First Season on DVD only available at select Best Buy locations. Warner has now decided to include the revealing feature on all Blu-ray copies of the show’s debut season. It’s a standard discussion panel, delivered in question-answer format as a dialog between the audience and the cast and crew of “Supernatural”, in which the participants discuss their characters, writing the series, origins and influences, and many other topics.

Under additional scenes (480i) you’ll find a series of deleted, alternate and extended scenes from a disc three episode:

- “Nightmare” SC 23: this scene involves a fairly gruesome shot of a knife being telekinetically forced through someone’s eye – safe to say that’s why it never made it to air. 1 minute 1 second.
- “Nightmare” SC 23A: an alternate telekinetic death, this time at the hand of a handgun, which results in a headshot. 1 minute 2 seconds.

DISC FOUR:

“Supernatural: Tales from the Edge of Darkness” (16x9-enhanced 480i, 22 minutes 53 seconds), is your basic EPK-style making of featurette, with cast and crew interviews from the usual suspects including Eric Kripke, Ackles and Padalecki, executive producer McG, producer Peter Johnson, director David Nutter and more. For the most part “Tales from the Edge of Darkness” plays out like a semi-condensed version of the audio commentary on the “Pilot” – there’s lots of discussion about the genesis of the show, but it slowly moves past the origins and into how they made later episodes. Personally, if you didn’t have the time for both, I’d go for the commentary instead of this. And even then, some of the featurettes in “The Devils Road Map” are better than this.

“A Day in the Life of Jared and Jensen” featurette (16x9-enhanced 480i, 10 minutes 37 seconds) will have the fan-girls (and boys) screaming – or perhaps not. The overly fluffy featurette is a glorified gag reel of the two actors hamming it up on set, offset and just being goofs in general. It’s not the funny, not at all interesting and most of all, old as all hell, because it was included on the original DVD. If you haven’t seen it, and are dying for more screen time for the stars, by all means, this is a goldmine. But most others, I advise a skip.

In the second entitled "Additional Footage" we get, ah yes, the obligatory gag reel. If I’m honest, this one isn’t too bad, and has some genuinely funny moments. But it’s also a bit long, running 7 minutes 44 seconds.

The cryptically titled “Extras” hides something very special for fans – an all new interactive experience exclusively produced for the Blu-ray edition of “Supernatural: Season One”, called the “Devil’s Road Map.” “The Devil’s Road Map” (1080p, various runtimes) is a massive interactive database and guide full of interviews, featurettes, and text-based material, all presented in glorious high definition. The layout of the oft-cumbersome feature is a simple map of the United States complete with pinpoints noting the Winchester Brothers exploits throughout the first season, each marked by an Impala icon. All twenty-two icons, or markers, include information about the particular episode, and the location at which the episode took place, starting with the West Coast (“Pilot”) and moving zigzag across the US. It might take you a couple of days to navigate the entire thing, partly because there is a lot of new information, and partly because the interface is a bit too overly complex and becomes pretty tiresome after awhile... but, hey, that’s the name of the game with Blu-ray interactivity, it seems. I definitely recommend taking some time too look around. Each “Impala” includes drop downs that house a featurette and text-based “Location Information” which details local myths and histories. Several episodes also include a “Journal” entry, which offers further information about Sam and Dean’s father and the book that he left behind as a guide for his boys. A further look at the database reveals:

Upon starting “The Devil’s Road Map”, viewers are presented with an introduction by series creator Eric Kripke inviting viewers to explore the all-new interactive experience. This runs 1 minute 41 seconds.

The “Pilot” episode marker includes:
- A brand-new featurette with Eric Kripke, David Nutter, Peter Johnson and executive producer McG. They discuss Kripke’s original script for the pilot, which the network threw out completely, shooting Mary Winchester’s death scene, casting, the series’ visual style, locations, the original woman-in-white legend, and the overall “mid-western” atmosphere that Kripke wanted to convey. A densely packed 5 minute 14 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Palo Alto, CA. 1 page.
- “The Journal: Origins” is an interview in which Kripke and Nutter briefly discuss how the Journal came about. 1 minute 29 seconds.

The “Wendigo” episode marker includes:
- In a nearly all-new featurette Kripke, McG, Nutter, Johnson and more sit down to talk about the series’ second episode, budget and time constraints, what they originally had planned for the second episode, and why that didn’t work out. There’s also some really cool footage dealing with creature and make-up effects. 3 minutes 22 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Lost Creek, CO. 1 page.
- The Journal: Fighting a Wendigo. 42 seconds.

The “Dead in the Water” episode marker includes:
- Episode writer Sera Gamble and others talk about the Hawaiian legend that “Dead in the Water” is slightly based on, the difficulties of working with actors in a giant lake, and the fact that this was Kim Manners' first episode of “Supernatural.” This featurette runs 2 minutes 30 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Lake Manitoc, WI. 1 page.

The “Phantom Traveler” episode marker includes:
- Writer/producer John Shiban, executive producer Robert Singer, and creator Eric Kripke talk about “Phantom Traveler’s” unique place within the series; only three episodes in and, as Kripke states in this featurette, they unknowingly established much of the groundwork for some of the show’s major elements – how an exorcism works, what a demon looks like, and how to tell if a person is possessed. 2 minutes 47 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Catasauqua, PA. 1 page.
- The Journal: The Ritual Romano. 1 minute 16 seconds.

The “Bloody Mary” episode marker includes:
- In this featurette Eric Kripke, who wrote the episode, supervising producer Philip Sgriccia, and McG talk about their wish to tackle one of the most well known urban legends in modern pop culture, the difficulties of working extensively with mirrors (how to hide the crew?) and a few of the little references that Kripke threw in as a nod to the episodes locale – Toledo, Ohio – which for many years he called home. 2 minutes 24 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Toledo, OH. 1 page.

The “Skin” episode marker includes:
- John Shiban says, in this featurette, that “Skin”, which he wrote, is his favorite episode of season one, because it proved to him that “Supernatural” could be more than a simple horror show (he likens the episode to more of a thriller). Shiban talks about his original pitch to Kripke and the episodes most iconic scene – an utterly disgusting moment when the shape-shifter shifts-shape. 3 minutes 17 seconds.
- Local Information (text): St. Louis, MO. 1 page.

The “Hook Man” episode marker includes:
- In this featurette John Shiban, Robert Singer and Philip Sgriccia discuss the legend of the hook man, reshoots which added a bit more blood and gore to the episode, and Shiban’s belief that development is a good thing – even for one-off characters. 2 minutes 50 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Ankeny, IA. 1 page.

The “Bugs” episode marker includes:
- Philip Sgriccia takes him time in a featurette to talk about the difficulties of working with real live insects, and how the finicky bees needed to be CG-enhanced to seem even remotely threatening. 1 minute 42 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Sapulpa, OK. 1 page.

The “Home” episode marker includes:
- The “touchstone” episode’s featurette focuses on the writers realization during the production of this story that “Supernatural” lives and dies, not by the quality of the monsters or the horror, but the chemistry and family history between Dean and Sam – a statement with which I totally agree. 3 minutes 9 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Lawrence, KS. 1 page.
“The Journal: Design” is a featurette with prop master Christopher Cooper who walks viewers through the look of John Winchester’s journal, and McG and Eric Kripke who offer more thoughts on the books purpose. 1 minute 8 seconds.

The “Asylum” episode marker includes:
- In this featurette Eric Kripke, Sera Gamble and McG discuss Sam and Dean’s complex relationship and how having characters with so-called “mommy and daddy issues” can be plenty interesting to explore. 2 minutes 24 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Rockford, IL. 1 page.
- Journal: Inside Roosevelt Asylum. 58 seconds.

The “Scarecrow” episode marker includes:
- McG, John Shiban and Eric Kripke discuss another crew-favorite episode in this featurette. Per usual, there’s talk of the lore behind the monster (in this case the titular scarecrow), as well as Kim Manners' excellent direction. 2 minutes 19 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Burkitville, IN. 1 page.

The “Faith” episode marker includes:
- Robert Singer says that this is his favorite episode, because of the dialogue. That may be true, but I found Kripke’s comments, which take up most of this featurette’s runtime, to be more enlightening – he talks about the addition of the Reapers to the story and how the troublesome makeup was counteracted by an “avant-garde” super-bleached color timing, to the point where the episode almost looks black and white. 3 minutes 38 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Nebraska. 1 page.

The “Route 666” episode marker includes:
- Peter Johnson, Philip Sgriccia, Sera Gamble, Robert Singer and McG discuss this episodes role in, and focus on developing Dean’s mysterious past. This featurette runs 2 minutes 45 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Cape Girardeau, MO. 1 page.

The “Nightmare” episode marker includes:
- Director Philip Sgriccia, executive producer McG, and Sera Gamble talk about much in this featurette; mostly they focus on the scenes that didn’t make it to air from this episode (which are included in the deleted scenes section on disc three, although in standard definition). 3 minutes 6 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Saginaw, MI. 1 page.

The “The Benders” episode marker includes:
- John Shiban talks about this episodes Bender family, and how they were actually based on a real clan of frontiers-era innkeepers who would kill any rich person who came to stay, or eat, at their home. Robert Singer also talks, briefly about the casting of the family. This featurette runs 2 minutes 32 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Hibbing, MN. 1 page.

The “Shadow” episode marker includes:
- Kripke and McG talk about noir influences in this episode’s featurette, which runs 2 minutes 19 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Chicago, IL. 1 page.

The “Hell House” episode marker includes:
- McG and Robert Singer talk about the introduction of the Ghostfacers, who got their own spin-off about five years later. John Shiban talks Tulpa mythology. This featurette runs 2 minutes 44 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Richardson, TX. 1 page.

The “Something Wicked” episode marker includes:
- In this featurette Kripke talks about he and Singer’s fight with the network to produce this “depressing, serious episode about talk key kids” the way that they wanted. Again, his reasoning (that the flashback heavy episode about Sam and Dean’s past is exactly what most fans, who watch the show for the two characters relationship, want) is totally sound. 2 minutes 28 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Fitchburg, WI. 1 page.

The “Provenance” episode marker includes:
- Robert Singer, Peter Johnson and Philip Sgriccia discuss the Dorian Gray aspect of the episode, the visual effects and the origins of the supernatural tale in this featurette. 2 minutes 22 seconds.
- Local Information (text): New Paltz, NY. 1 page.
- “The Journal: Dad’s Voice” is an interview with Eric Kripke who explains the journals role in the first season. 58 seconds.

The “Dead Man’s Blood” episode marker includes:
- John Shiban talks about the reasoning behind the reluctance of Vampire lore – up until this point – and how the crew wanted to put their own spin on the overdone concept. Kripke also talks about the genesis of the Colt – the show’s “Jedi Lightsaber” so to speak. Finally, Sera Gamble talks about the addition of Jeffrey Dean Morgan took the show up a whole notch. In all this is probably the best featurette of “The Devil’s Roadmap”, which is fitting, as “Dead Man’s Blood” is one of the season’s best episodes. 4 minutes 9 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Manning, CO. 1 page.

The “Salvation” episode marker includes:
- In this featurette Peter Johnson, John Shiban, Sera Gamble and Robert Singer talk about the wind-up (or down) to the season finale. They reflect on the first season, and what they learned during production. 2 minutes 58 seconds.
- Local Information (text): Blue Earth, MN. 1 page.

The “Devil’s Trap” episode marker includes:
- Kripke and Shiban talk about the many happy accidents that forced the finale into its final form. In this featurette the reveal that Sam was the one originally kidnapped by the yellow-eyed demon and that the car crash smash cut that the finale cuts to black on didn’t work out exactly how it was planned. 5 minutes 1 second.
- Local Information (text): Lincoln, NE. 1 page.

Lastly, disc four of “Supernatural: The Complete First Season” is also equipped with Warner Bros. BD-LIVE enhancement, although, at this time no exclusive content pertaining to the actual series is available for download.

Packaging

“Supernatural: The Complete First Season” comes to Blu-ray the standard-Warner-way: a thicker Elite style case houses 4 dual layer BD-50's (and a booklet). This is further covered by an outer slip-box made of thick cardboard, which slides sideways over the standard Blu-ray case. The outer box features an attractive foil effect on the artwork, which gives a slight 3D-like texture to cover, and in turn a somewhat more high-class feel when compared to the regular flat artwork and thinner cardboard that we usually see on TV on Blu-ray product. Like most Warner Blu-ray releases, “Supernatural: The Complete First Season” is region free.

Overall

Strong video, improved, although still slightly disappointing, audio and a wealth of new (if frustratingly implemented) extras make the upgrade worth it for fans who already own “Supernatural: The Complete First Season” on DVD. The relatively low MSRP ($50 for 22 episodes) isn’t too shabby either. Newcomers are in for a treat – the series is wonderful, well made fare, and if you choose to take the dive, I’m sure that you’ll chomping at the bit for Season Two in HD in no time (so Warner get on that second season Blu-ray!). Highly Recommended.

The Show: A- Video: A- Audio: B- Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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