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Supernatural: The Complete Third Season(TV) (2007-2008)
Sam Winchester grew up hunting unearthly horrors. But now law school and a normal life beckon. That is, until Sam’s estranged brother Dean appears with troubling news: their father has disappeared, a man who’s hunted evil for 22 years. So to find their father, the brothers must hunt what he hunts... and Sam must return to the life he’d rather leave behind.
For more about Supernatural: The Complete Third Season and the Supernatural: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray release, see Supernatural: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on August 21, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Jim Beaver, Ty Olsson, Mark Sheppard
» See full cast & crew
Supernatural: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and lots of demon killing, in the third season of 'Supernatural.'
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, August 21, 2010
Of all the subjects Hitchcock's Psycho both exploited and shattered, one interesting one rarely gets mentioned. It flits by almost as an afterthought as Anthony Perkins' Norman Bates meets Janet Leigh's Marion Crane, namely the fact that business at the Bates Motel has been hobbled by the creation, in 1960 then still relatively new, of the Eisenhower interstate system. Suddenly all sorts of towns and even cities which had been on such vaunted byways as US 99 or Route 66 found themselves shuffled off into out of the mainstream waysides. Burgs became backwaters, often somewhat dilapidated and more than a bit creepy at times. My wife and I just took our collective souls in hand and drove across country with our two sons from Portland, Oregon to the north woods of Wisconsin to visit my wife's parents in their rustic secluded cabin. This was the first time we had ever taken a road trip as lengthy as this, and it was also a new experience for us in that we didn't have a planned itinerary or hotel reservations along the way. Yes, we are mad. That "free and easy" approach led to some fun spur of the moment decisions, as when we decided on a lark to take the southern route through South Dakota in order to see Mount Rushmore (leading to my wife's recent insistence that we have to show our boys another Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest). On the downside, it also meant we had a few nights in extremely (as in extremely) small towns (albeit next to such supposedly major thoroughfares as I-90 or I-94), often at Mom and Pop motels or hotels that looked like they could have sprung from the fertile imagination of Robert Bloch or Joseph Stefano. And so I well understand Supernatural's creator Eric Kripke's decision to cast his sort of "X Files meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer's brothers" series as a kind of demented (indeed demonic) road trip featuring brothers Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles), a road trip wandering the figurative (and sometimes literal) back alleys of lesser traveled byways. While X Files especially exploited the almost subliminal fears that lie just beneath the surface of many modern metropolises, Supernatural has been a little more rural in its approach, all the more fitting as Kripke obviously has modeled the show, and his lead characters, on ideas from the great American west.
If X Files managed a largely successful (at least in its early seasons) dialectic on such much debated subjects as faith versus science, at the hands of its lead characters Mulder and Scully, Supernatural has made no bones, skeletal or otherwise, about its setup, not hesitating to come down firmly on the side of, well, the supernatural, with little to no fretting about scientific or even quasi-scientific explanations. There's therefore more emphasis on texts like the Necronomicon than any obtuse medical journal, a la Chris Carter's magnum opus. As season two of Supernatural came to its cliffhanging conclusion, Dean had made a deal with the devil (or at the very least, one of his underlings) to save Sam, a deal which started the clock ticking down on Dean's mortality. While season three doesn't exactly milk this aspect, it crops up usually at least once per episode, giving this season an overall arc that helps maintain some dramatic momentum, even while individual outings might rightly be seen as a "Demon of the Week" episode.
While Supernatural does its best to deliver a season throughline, the show itself is somewhat hobbled by being foreshortened by the Writers Guild of America strike which dealt such serious blows to so many shows that season. Limited to only 16 episodes, some of the longed for character development gets offered in shorthand doses, with Dean's transformation from wisecracking ne'er-do-well who hides his impending fate under a façade of lascivious bravado to a thoughtful, introspective type (well, at least relatively speaking in terms of Dean's character) seeming a bit abrupt and heavy handed. A few extra episodes could have helped smooth this out considerably.
On the plus side, the brothers Winchester receive ample support from series regular Jim Beaver as Bobby Singer, the patriarchal archetype of the show, a sort of weathered gunslinger who's been there, slain that and has the wrinkles and other wounds to prove it. New this season is a sort of quasi-Buffy character, Ruby the not-just-a-vampire-slayer, played archly by Katie Cassidy, daughter of former Partridge Family teen heartthrob David Cassidy. Cassidy is both alluring and a bit sinister in the role, adding a delicious new element to the series, especially once her real proclivities become known. The interplay between Padalecki and Ackles continues to bristle with good natured sibling rivalry, with Dean's roving eye providing several running gags.
This season of Supernatural is filled to the brim with references, all of them fairly obvious and actually celebrated in some of the extras on this three disc set. The opening episode, for example, is called "The Magnificent Seven," in this case not exactly the Sturges epic, but those deadly sins of legend and lore (it's just one of several episodes to take a familiar film title and then spin it into unexpected territory). Throughout the season, though, other cultural, film and television antecedents fly by with the speed of a vampire bat, pointing to everything from horror flicks (naturally) to, perhaps a bit more unexpectedly, things like Groundhog Day. While this might be seen by some as a sort of laziness on the part of the teleplay writers, it's actually more often than not done with a great deal of creativity and cleverness, adding to the sort of daffy charm the series has in abundance. While there's certainly a strange lighthearted aspect to a lot of Supernatural, Dean's predicament bubbles just beneath the surface, adding a suitable amount of gravity to the proceedings.
By the time the season comes to its own expected cliffhanging conclusion, the scales have tipped rather dramatically in the opposite direction from the end of season two, when Dean had to save Sam. Now the roles are reversed, in more ways than one. Mr. Macho is now Mr. Sensitive, and vice versa, but is it all too late? Supernatural sets up a whole new slew of questions and conundrums that will probably leave most fans of the series screaming for the few minutes before they can get Season 4 in their players to provide some answers.
Supernatural: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Supernatural is one of the sharpest looking television series being broadcast, perhaps not quite up to Lost standards, but very close much of the time. Offered here in a mostly sterling VC-1 encoded 1080p 1.78:1 transfer, the show looks suitably grim and desaturated a lot of the time, relishing in tones of gray and black, adding just the right touch of chiaroschuro to make everything just slightly scary. On the other hand, the series is just as prone to hypersaturated gorgeousness, as in the opening scene (complete with the old CBS "Special Presentation" card) of the very funny Christmas episode. Detail is by and large superb, with some amazing depth of field in outdoor location shots, and everything from the creative set design to less eye popping things like the leads' workaday wear offered in sharp and clear images. One thing that comes off a bit disappointingly is some of the CGI, which just seems hastily assembled and sometimes not very effectively rendered. This may have been the result of the foreshortened season where production was rushed and what few episodes there were had to make do with what could be done under excessive time constraints, but unfortunately the Blu-ray points out these shortcomings fairly dramatically at times. Otherwise, this is a polished and extremely enjoyable video presentation.
Supernatural: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
If you're an audiophile who insists that the only good audio is lossless audio, you won't be satisfied with Supernatural's third season, no matter what I say. If you're a bit more forgiving, there's a lot to love about Supernatural's quite excellent, and often extremely robust, Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. This is a show full of remarkable foley effects, with everything from blood splatter to heads rolling (literally) thunking and oozing around the surround channels. In fact several of the more frenetic battle scenes are near reference quality in terms of immersion, with a wealth of spectacular surround effects. Dialogue is always crisp and clear and both underscore and source cues are well mixed into the proceedings. Still, for you persnickety lossless freaks (and you know who you are), I'll demote this mix a full point, if only to get Warner's attention that Blu-ray releases, even of "mere" television series, merit lossless audio.
Supernatural: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Some good to excellent supplements (all in SD) dot the landscape over the three discs of this season. They include:
Supernatural: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Supernatural is a show that manages to be crazy funny and crazy scary in pretty much equal doses. While this curtailed season makes a lot of the character arcs seem like Reader's Digest versions some of the time, there's a lot to enjoy here, including some very clever riffing on a host of cultural references. Everything comes to head in a well constructed climax that finds the lead characters almost changing personalities, almost like those, er, supernatural horror movies of yesteryear. This Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic (despite there being no lossless audio), and this season of Supernatural is highly recommended.
Supernatural: Other Seasons
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