Review: Supernatural Season One DVD

by Paula R. Stiles

Kripke, Eric, et al. Supernatural Season One [DVD]. Burbank [CA]: Warner Bros., 2006. 936 min. US $49.98/CAN $32.99.

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Sam Winchester is just a normal college student: going to Stanford; applying to law school; has good friends, a loving girlfriend…and is just a bit odd. Just a bit of a lone wolf. Then one night, someone breaks into his apartment. It’s his feral older brother, Dean. Sam’s family are professional hunters of the supernatural ever since his mother died in a mysterious fire. Now, Dean wants Sam to come back out on the road with him to find their missing father and, after a personal tragedy, Sam is more than willing. But there are a few things Sam doesn’t know about himself. Things like the prophetic dreams he keeps having, and the odd circumstances of his mother’s death, who died, bleeding on the ceiling above his crib when he was only six months old…

Welcome to Supernatural.

supernatural3dThe Supernatural Season One DVD shares some traits with other season-one DVDs. It has a wider variety of special features (though not necessarily more special features) than later seasons and takes more pains to give a broad-based introduction to the show proper. Still, whether you want to start with season one does depend a bit on what you prefer in a show. If you like standalone episodes and/or starting from the beginning, you should start with season one. If you like serial tales, seasons two or four might be a better bet.

It also depends on which brother you favour. If you like Sam, start with this season. If you like Dean, you might want to start with season four and go backwards. Dean is lots of fun in season one, but it’s not really his story. Yet. Oh, and if you hate cliffhangers, get this and season two at the same time. Season one has a doozy.

Now to the DVD. It comes in a fold-out case with a chrome-style dust-jacket. Six disks, single-sided, pretty sturdy. The show is in widescreen and so is the DVD. You can get a Blu-ray version that is HD. That isn’t the one I’m reviewing here, though. In season one, the subtitles are, inexplicably, in French, Spanish and Portuguese (for episodes only) not English. However, if you have a flatscreen TV, try turning on your Closed Captioning feature. The disk does have CC in English. All disks but one (for this season, that’s Disk Five) have features, though Disk Six has the most.

Disk One has two commentaries: one for the Pilot and one for 1.04, “Phantom Traveler”. The commentary for the Pilot (by Series Creator Eric Kripke, Director David Nutter and Producer Peter Johnson) is very useful if you’re curious about the origins of the show. For example, the Pilot was filmed in California (so, it’s quite a bit brighter than the rest of the season-one episodes), but they later moved production up to Vancouver. The production teams for the Pilot and the rest of the series, therefore, are quite different. If you pay attention, it shows. One really annoying thing about this commentary – it is sexist as all get-out. Every single time the actress playing La Llorona shows up and displays her ample cleavage, Kripke, Nutter and Johnson practically drool over her. Really, guys, we all get that “She’s a beautiful girl” really means “Look at those magnificent breasts.” What’s really sad is that she was a good actress who generated some serious chills in her role, but I have to say that this commentary clears up a few things about the subject matter of Supernatural‘s second comic series, Rising Son, which Johnson wrote.

The second commentary is much better. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles don’t so much comment on “Phantom Traveler” as MSTK it, which is hysterical even though it’s a great episode. “Random” doesn’t even come close to their thought process. And nary a boob comment in sight. This is the best commentary of the entire DVD series, with the one they did with Kim Manners for “In My Time of Dying” in season two coming a close second.

All of the disks save for Disk Five have cut scenes. A lot of these in the Season One DVD are actually alternate cuts, especially for 1.07 “Hook Man”. Alternate cuts of what appeared on screen are not canon, obviously, but you should consider anything else to be part of the show’s history. Cut scenes such as Dean turning the car around in the Pilot and the brothers talking to their father’s old partner in “Home” have since been referenced, or at least not contradicted, in subsequent seasons. Incidentally, the episodes in season one are somewhat longer than later seasons – budget cuts. And there is more rock music than in later seasons. What’s on the show also makes it into the DVD, so no worries about any WKRP in Cincinnatti or Tour of Duty muzak situations.

Finally, there is Disk Six, which has two featurettes (A Day in the Life of Jared and Jensen and Supernatural: Tales from the Edge of Darkness), a gag reel, a stills gallery and a DVD-ROM weblink to the Warner Bros. website. This link used to have the original script (though not anymore), and some files of Sam’s. There is still a listing of hunter blogs, though the only one they wrote was Jo Harvelle’s (you meet her in season two). The DVD-ROM thing is out-of-date and, honestly, a bit of a pain at this point. But the featurettes are a hoot. The first is basically just a look at what Padalecki and Ackles do in a given day on set. The second is an overview of the show’s urban legends up to that point. And the gag reel is great. A lot of shows stick gag reels on the DVD as padding, and they aren’t very inspired, but fans look forward to Supernatural‘s gag reels. Whether it’s Padalecki snarking offscript (“I think that midget stripper gave me herpes!”) to make his costar laugh or Ackles doing Lon Chaney impressions as creepy dolls and lady cops, the gag reel is a definite highlight of the DVDs.

If you’re a fan of the show, let’s face it, you probably already have this. If you’re thinking of becoming a fan of the show, this should be on your Christmas list. It’s fairly easy to find good deals on it, so check it out.

Interested in purchasing this DVD? You can buy Supernatural Season One from Amazon.com. If you liked this review, please order from our site.

About Paula R. Stiles

Paula is not at all paranoid about government conspiracies after six years in EMS, two years in Africa for the Peace Corps, a few summers with the Park Service, and ten years studying the Knights Templar. She's seen governments in action. They couldn't cover up a toy picnic table, let alone evidence of alien visitation. Writes about science for fun, history for money, and zombies for the company. You can read her sober-as-a-judge book about Templars in medieval Spain, Templar Convivencia, on Amazon. You can find her homepage at: http://thesnowleopard.net.

Paula R. StilesReview: Supernatural Season One DVD