by Charlotte Marsh
The closest I ever came to writing a fan letter was 1993, and I was Forever In Love with Jonathan Brandis. I agonised over that letter, making sure it would stand out from the crowd, thus securing me a surprise visit/marriage proposal/Happy Ever After. Lofty goals for a pre-teen? So it would seem – especially as the carefully-constructed, origami-heart tome never made it further than the kitchen bin. My concerns that I had done myself out of a Fairytale Ending lasted only as long as it took the next edition of Teen Beat magazine to hit the shelves. In those pages, the boy who had spurred my pen to paper, quipped a dagger that has castrated my instrument ever since: “They all start the same way: ‘I’ve never written anything like this before.’ It’s pretty funny really….” Yup, the opening strains of my heartsong, cliché and trite as they were (hey, I was 12, whaddya want from me??), were ripped asunder and laid bare in all their inadequacy. I vowed never to give in to my adolescent whims again, and eschewed all forms of fandom on the spot.
Cut to 12 years later. [I like to mentally insert “Wayne & Garth”-type musical interludes in moments such as these]
So, what could entice an otherwise level-headed, twenty-something mother-of-one to relax her vows and wallow in the glorious mire of fangirl! depths? One word: Supernatural. Want some more? Try: Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Now, we’re talking.
I hadn’t even seen an episode of Supernatural (SPN to us regulars) before I was hooked. Having always been someone who would head straight for the Horror/Thriller section of the video store when it was my turn to pick the movie (we’re talking from five years on, here – I gave my poor father reason for concern from a very early age), the idea of a chiller a week, wrapped up inside of a 60-minute bundle, was too tempting to pass up. Throw in the Hot Guy from Dark Angel and lovable Dean Forester from Gilmore Girls, and I was a registered, card-carrying member of the IMDB Supernatural family before I’d met either my own, or Eric Kripke’s, baby.
It wasn’t until my son was successfully popped out and sleeping through the night that I actually managed to sit back and enjoy the show that had already become the focus of my online social activities (read: social activity, fullstop). From that moment on, the weekly visit from Sam & Dean Winchester became the highlight (read: sole) of my ‘grown up time’ and held a very important place on the schedule. Right up there with ‘feeds’ and ‘changes’.
Over the years, those boys have taken me on many adventures, and together we have weathered many storms – the least of all not being my own metamorphosis from Dean!Girl to Sammist (in truth, I’m Bi-Brotherly. Shh). I have grown to regard Jim Beaver’s Bobby as one of the greatest characters ever created, and yearn for the (mythical) day when JDM (that’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan; keep up) returns to reprise his role as Papa Winchester. I have laughed, cried, jumped, sighed with those boys, and along the way I have shared the highs and lows with fellow members of The Board – that ragtag crew of loyal & lethal legions.
I guess this is the part where I should share some personal highlights? Maybe insights? A few delights, even? Well, okay then.
Chemistry, Car, Cameos, Quips. That was my brainstorming for this piece (piece of what is still up for debate), so let’s break it down that way, whilst all relishing in the allure of alliteration…
Chemistry: Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. That may actually be enough elaboration for some readers (any of you still hanging in there?), but for the sake of argument, I’ll expand. J-a r-e-d P-a-d-a… I kid, I kid.
Take a couple of Texan boys who have never met, throw them together for longer periods of time than most married couples spend mingling, add the harsh climates of an unfamiliar landscape, and you could be mixing up a recipe for disaster. Or, you could be (Evil Genius?) Eric Kripke.
It can be fairly claimed that, with his ambrosial smile, Jensen Ackles would have ‘chemistry’ with a brick wall. Let us forget for a moment that some of his ‘for the week’ Leading Ladies have been described as just such and give credit where it is due to the one-two punch of J-squared. A sapid smirk may carry you along for one or two episodes (yes, episodes, have you SEEN those leads??), but without something rather more tangible to get your hooks into, you’d soon be flirting with Thieves territory. Didn’t see it? Don’t worry; nor did anybody else. All pretty, no pith is not enough to get you renewed [sticks fingers in ears and closes eyes to blot out knowledge of Smallville, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and, quite frankly, far too many other shows. Yes, I did just completely negate my own point, but that’s only because I choose to inhabit a world where such programming does not exist. I am happy in my space, so leave me be]. The energy produced when these two get going bounds off the screen, and for proof that it isn’t just an on-screen charade, check out the Special Features from the DVD Box Sets, or watch/read any interview they have ever given together. The commentary from Season 1, Episode 4, “Phantom Traveler”, recorded whilst the show was still in its infancy, has some nice insight into their off-screen brotherly bond.
Car: The 1967 Chevy Impala (fan-dubbed Metallicar) has become the dream car of many loyal SPNites. A cracking arsenal of old-school metal rock; the Winchesters; an actual arsenal of all things needed to fight the bad guy, get the girl and save the day handily located in the trunk; make this the ultimate Muscle Car. Chances are, if you see one driving along the road, there’s a Boardie at the wheel.
Cameos: Well, maybe not ‘cameos’ per se, but ‘guest stars’ didn’t share [pause for the nagging familiarity of Thieves to surface. You’re thinking, “Wasn’t Stamos in that one?” Why, yes he was. It was actually fairly decent, in a fluff way – much like this piece. Refresh your memory then let’s move on] the same sense of occasion that I was going for. Linda Blair in the season-two episode, “The Usual Suspects”, gave me a happy feeling. Sure, I loved The Exorcist (child of the genre, remember?), but it’s Repossessed that I regard as Blair’s best.
The grunts of approval let out by X-Philes when Mitch Pileggi showed up in season-four episode, “In the Beginning”, were audible the world over. Or, possibly just in my living room. But I’m betting it was the first one. His spine-chilling performance was matched in antici…pation [What I did there will be clear in just a moment; read on] only by Barry Bostwick’s [It is clear now, yes? No?? Philistines!!] spine-chilling-in-a-whole-‘nother-way appearance in the largely meh “Criss Angel is a Douchebag”, later that season. Yes, SPN does have its share of the not-so-laudable efforts. I can admit it.
Quips: Each chapter manages an intricate mingling of the character-driven, heartfelt and largely-believable-despite-the-premise relationship of the Brothers Winchester, with sometimes-caustic, sometimes-cheesy and always (mostly) winning one-liners. Never has a “Bitch”/”Jerk” repartée been so compelling, or has a call to arms stirred me so as “Salt & Burn”.
My favourite episode for quotable quips would probably be “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”, from Season two. “Damn, that dead chick can run!” gets me every time. Favourite for showcasing the depth of intimacy the team of writers has with their characters, along with some superb performances, would be the remarkably dialogue-light “Mystery Spot”, Season three. An episode that blends the comedic with the dramatic in a way that SPN fans have come to demand from The Writers’ Room.
In short (do yourself a favour and skip to this part), I’ve been seduced into watching, caring about, talking about and anticipating the return of this little gem of a show. If you aren’t watching yet, well my inane ramblings aren’t going to tempt you, so let’s just instead close with a moment of silence for the late-and-still-loved Jonathan Brandis. I really wish I’d sent that letter when I had the chance.
Bio: Blonde, grey-eyed, twenty-something, mother-of-one seeks amusement not inclusive of The Wiggles, play group or sand pits. Readers will be literate, appreciative of self-deprecating humour and hold a working knowledge of sarcasm.
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