Supernatural: The Official Companion: Season 1 by Nicholas Knight
Review by Paula R. Stiles
Knight, Nicholas. Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 1. London: Titan Books, 2007. 159pp. US $14.95/CAN $19.95/£14.99. ISBN: 1 84576 535 4.
I’ve had mixed success with season companions. A lot of them are flimsy things slapped together with some pretty color photos and fawning interviews, interspersed with episode synopses that you could probably find cheaper online. But every so often, you get a season companion that’s worth your time and money. Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 1 comes from the latter category. Never fear, it also has the obligatory pretty color photos in a center insert, as well as numerous black-and-white photos. Some of them are even not of the show’s stars, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles.
The main draw of the book is that it discusses in detail the behind-the-scenes making of the show. Author Nicholas Knight, who also works on Supernatural Magazine, looks at the nuts and bolts of the production, ranging from the writing to the acting to sets and locations to the guys who make the incidental music. He also gets interviews from people in all of those areas.
The table of contents includes a foreword by show creator Eric Kripke; a chapter about the creation of the show called “Manifesting Supernatural”; Closer Looks at each episode and their respective MOTWs, including an “in depth” treatment of season finale “Devil’s Trap; sections/interviews on the major characters of the season (Sam, Dean, their father and mother John and Mary, demonic nemesis Meg Masters, and Dean’s beloved Impala), a chapter on the crew (“Meet the Crew”); another on cast and crew’s beliefs about the supernatural (“Do You Believe?”); fan reactions (“Supernatural Reaction”); and a humorous endnote, “22 Reasons Not to Go On a Road Trip with My Brother by Sam Winchester”. Each episode section has a quick Did You Know? trivia note and a list of the music used in the episode, as well as a cast and crew list, a synopsis of the episode, and a “making of” section.
Don’t expect brilliant prose, here (it is a tie-in), but Knight does pull together the different elements very well. Some things get a little too much depth (the extensive treatment of the incidental music for each episode probably wasn’t necessary) and others not enough (aside from the pilot, we get relatively little about individual directors aside from regulars like Kim Manners). Some of the questions posed to the interview subjects could have been a bit more inspired, and Padalecki and Ackles (Padalecki, especially) get relatively few quotes. There is almost too much coverage of the writers’ various thoughts on individual episodes–which I didn’t think was possible, but there you go. There is also so much random trivia that, like The Supernatural Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons, and Ghouls, Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 1 could have used an index.
But even though you’re not likely to get every question you ever had about the show answered by this relatively-slim book, you’ll learn a lot you hadn’t even thought about. This is a worthwhile book, both for fans of the show and anyone curious about how a show like Supernatural is put together. It helps that the book is reasonably durable for a paperback with a glossy-photo insert, so it won’t fall apart on you, even after repeated readings.
Interested in purchasing this book? Buy Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 1 from Amazon.com or purchase it from your local bookstore.