Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back and Forth

Just to keep things fresh here at That's a Wrap!, we'll be mixing things up to add some content besides our standard reviews. First up, Jim and Billy banter about one of their new favorite shows, Supernatural, and discuss the state of its latest and likely final season. The conversation ran over the course of Monday morning through Wednesday night.


So, while I'm working on my extremely late Supernatural review, I thought we could do the email discussion thing you were talking about before. I'm not sure what you want to discuss first so we may as well begin with Supernatural. What's been your favorite thing about this season so far?

-- JIM

If it helps, my review for Mad Men is running late too. I still need to watch the episode. The Red Sox just destroyed me Sunday and I was no use to man nor beast. Start with our favorite things? What are you trying to do, write a puff piece? Let's talk about our biggest problem. Besides crowding up my already busy Thursday nights, I've been worried that we might miss out on all the fun. By that I mean breaking up the main season story with isolated and lighter fair like "Criss Angel is a Douchbag", "Ghostfacers" and "Hollywood Babylon". As far as season long arcs go, the apocalypse is kind of heavy on the doom and gloom and I'm worried that amidst all that they might loose the feel for the fun episodes. And it really isn't a good sign for cutting back the angst every now and then considering the Winchester brothers are (as mentioned in your reviews) the most important people on the planet and being hunted by the forces of heaven and hell. That's heavy, Doc.

Humor is always in the background, but some of my favorite episodes ever are the concise stand-alones where I don't have to think about all the other episode plots and backstory to enjoy things. Occasionally, you want to shut your mind off a little and watch Dean die a couple hundred times in "Mystery Spot". The episode you are probably working on the review for even now, "Fallen Idols" sort of solves that problem with the idea that they should stop fighting and arguing about who is responsible for starting the end of the world. But it guest stars Paris Hilton. They nail some of the humor, I mean ever since I saw Fight Club, I wanted to see somebody fight Ghandi. But it guest stars Paris Hilton. It's creepy and funny and I loved the James Dean stuff. But it guest stars Paris Hilton. And how cool is it when they kill Paris Hilton? But it guest stars Paris Hilton. I guess I'm not too worried, but want to see a humorous episode that doesn't involve stunt casting one of the most annoying pop culture icons ever know. Ya know?


In Hilton's defense, she was LIGHT YEARS better than Britney Spears was as a guest on How I Met Your Mother. '"Fallen Idol" was a step in a humorous direction, but honestly as funny as the Ghandi stuff was I just wanted to get back to the apocalypse storyline. I feel like the stakes have been raised too high and now I want to ride this high tension roller coaster to what is inevitably going to be an awesome finale.

I love the funny episodes. I just rewatched "Mystery Spot" and hearing "Heat of the Moment" kills me every time but the fact is the humor needs to spring from the characters and in this show it does -- often. We don't exactly need a gimmick episode to deliver the laughs. It's nice every so often to have these episodes but when the fate of the world is on the line I think it would be disingenuous to jump into a comedy episode.

For me, I think the big mistake this season is twofold. First, I'd like to see more of the apocalypse, prove to me (aside from a few characters mentioning that they've noticed signs and omens) that the world is close to ending. Second, and admittedly this is a problem the series has had the entire time, I want to see the hunter culture at large. I want to see what the other hunters are doing to prevent the Earth's destruction. We've gotten small, tantalizing glimpses at this with the return of Jo, Ellen and Rufus, but they disappeared just as soon as they returned.

-- JIM

First off, they did dedicate some screen time to the hunters that Bobby sent to help a temporarily inactive Sam. I think it's likely now that the other hunters know what Sam did, that plot will be revisited in a future confrontation. But it seems we have our first substantive divide here between us when it comes to the show. You're worried about keeping enough attention on the apocalypse part, while I worry about the non-apocalypse episodes maintaining their quality. But this show isn't like Lost where I'm fearing every episode that doesn't deal with the mythology of the show. There's no Jack's tattoo episode here. And don't you think it's a little daunting to have 22 consecutive episodes without diverging from the main mythology? I mean those stand-alone episodes might expose us to other hunters like you seem to want so much (and I agree, more Jo, Ellen and Rufus is worth seeing).

While I hope we see other hunters, it isn't necessary to contain to the apocalypse plot. We know Lucifer's endgame has two main plots: Streamline the Croatoan virus and get his permanent meat-suit, Sam. Given this I can understand how most of the action involving the Big-A directly revolves around Dean-Sam-Cas and few others. And is it me or is the wheelchair thing going to severely limit Bobby's involvement this year. I understand they wanted significant characters to experience permanent consequences for all they go through, but were they just making room for Cas at the expense of our third favorite hunter?


I have a strong feeling that Bobby's wheelchair problem will be solved before the end. I don't read spoilers so this is a pure hunch, but I don't think he'll be wheeling around for long. As for "22 consecutive episodes without diverging from the main mythology," I put forth "Good God Y'all" as proof that you can have an episode that is part of the bigger story but doesn't reveal itself as such until the end. "Fallen Idol" had a TINY bit of that with the Paris-Demi God explaining that she's only revealing herself because the Earth is doomed.

With the other hunters, you are right, we did get to see those hunters Bobby sent to Sam. And I loved what we got. It's always interesting to me when we find out what drives a hunter. Most of the time it's some personal tragedy but it's always compelling. We just need more faces in the hunter community so that the inevitable showdown near the end will have some recognizable people for us to see.

The lack of Bobby is a sticking point for me. I love Castiel and Misha Collins performance (anyone who played a Drazen brother in 24 is cool in my book), but Jim Beaver deserved to become a regular cast member before the new guy. It does strike me as odd that this happened AND they crippled Bobby. I understand they probably don't want to have Bobby in every episode because then he becomes the answer to every problem and question. It's like having John Winchester around -- why solve the problem when you can defer to the older and wiser hunter. So, I get that, but making an angel a regular? That's even worse. We've been shown just how powerful angels are, so we know Cas is strong and smart. He's a regular cast member and the writers have had to come up with ways to gimp Cas such as the sigils he carved in the boys ribs, meant to "keep other angels away" when in reality it's meant as a quick fix to keep Cas less powerful and helpful. It's very obvious that the sigils weren't dictated by plot, but rather the writers realized that they had to de-power Cas in some way. Everything gets a bit too convenient when an angel can pop in and save the day.

-- JIM

You're dead on about the sigils being a plot device. They've been in place only a few episodes and already Lucifer contacted Sam in a dream and Zachariah actually found Dean. It seems the only character that it does fully insulate the boys from is Cas. And yes, while taking NOTHING away from Misha Collins, I'd have a problem with that if I was Beaver and starred in a substantive amount of episodes for three plus years and hadn't been given the bump. I would speculate it might be financial. A non-regular is obviously cheaper, but perhaps they had to lock Misha up to prevent him from going somewhere else. All talking out my ass on that, just guessing. I've been pretty diligent about avoiding spoilers as well. I even stopped watching the "Next Week On" stuff, which I watch on just about every show out there. What makes this show so special to take those steps?


Making regular cast members reoccurring is something that's done for financial purposes all the time in television. Even if the actor is still listed in the credits they might not appear in very many episodes. Veronica Mars did this in season three to save money and Dollhouse is doing it right now for the same reason (Harry Lennix's Boyd seems to disappear randomly). So it's a little weird that a show like Supernatural would go about promoting someone to regular in this economy when it's lived as a two person cast for four years. Maybe you are on to something with your theory about locking Misha in for the duration.

I can't explain why this show would be the one that you stopped watching previews for. I know I was a spoiler-addict for many, many years. I remember trolling the AOL boards for The X-Files for spoilers. But I've seen cleaned up my act. The difference between then and now is the serial nature of television. Watch a preview for 24 or Lost and you might ruin the whole season. I don't suspect Supernatural would be as ruinable as those two shows, but part of what draws me to this show is the possibility of being surprised. It's always had the capability of surprising me.

-- JIM

Well it's easier for a show to surprise you when you're watching four seasons over the course of one or two months on DVD without the end bumpers (which yes, nowadays excluding Mad Men give away at least a substantive portion of the next episode). I'm sure if we watched the show from the beginning four years ago, we'd give each episode a bit more thought, but that's kind of besides the point. I suppose I avoid the spoilers here because I wasn't spoiled on the first four and would like to continue that if there is only one year left. And I can't imagine given the ratings that the show gets renewed again. It doesn't seem like a cheap project and it bottomed out as the lowest rated network show for the fourth consecutive Thursday last week. When you can't beat the disaster that is Jay Leno, you've got some serious problems.

But on a more optimistic note, I think this will let them end on a creative highpoint - completing Kripke's five year plan. I know a few other creators that would kill for a five year run nowadays and that it fits his original plan is a nice bit of synergy. Plus this isn't Buffy or Angel and when you are set in a less fantastic world where your main villain is Lucifer, aka Satan, aka the Morningstar, etc. you only get to do the apocalypse once. It's literally the worst fight Earth will ever see. What would you even do in season six? Aliens? Hmm.....


I do hate sounding like a doomsayer, but even on The CW the ratings are abysmal. I Really can't see this show getting picked up. On one hand I feel completely devastated by this thought, but on the other hand (and I know I make this comparison a lot), Babylon 5 had a finite story to tell and it worked WONDERFULLY. Once that show finished it's story and got another bonus year it lost all of it's momentum. Kripke should be proud of his five years that (God willing) tell one complete story.

I know that if The X-Files had been canceled after year five I would have been devastated. I followed that show from day one. I'm sure that many of the fans of this show have followed it since day one and will be devastated when/if the cancellation happens, and maybe I don't have the same perspective since I just caught up over the summer but some of my favorite shows like Battlestar Galactica and Lost have ended their runs or announced their end dates and that has only made them stronger. Famed comic book writer Brian K. Vaughan said once that endings are what give stories meaning and he's right. Five solid years with a spectacular ending...that's all I want.

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