Review: Supernatural: The Official Companion: Season 3

Supernatural: The Official Companion: Season 3 by Nicholas Knight

Review by Paula R. Stiles

Knight, Nicholas. Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 3. London: Titan Books, 2009. 159pp. US $14.95/CAN $16.95/£9.99. ISBN: 9781848561038.

Season three of Supernatural was decidedly messy (and short by six episodes), what with the Writers Strike. Yet, Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 3 is my favorite of the three season companions for the show so far.

It’s not the format, so much, which is the same basic one from Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 1 and Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 2. Main differences are relatively small. Veteran Supernatural writer Sera Gamble writes the forward. Chapter two (the ironically-named “Focusing Supernatural“) discusses the Strike and its destabilizing effect on the show almost as much as the major storyline of Dean’s deal and eventual descent into Hell. The chapter shows why it’s probably this storyline, and the left turn into Revelation territory in season four, that helped the show weather the Strike better than any other genre series. The episodes section has an extra Closer Look: “The Demon Hierarchy”. The “Meet the Crew” section focuses on “Special Makeup Effects”, “Location Managers” and “Property Master”. There’s an extra focus on the third Supernatural tie-in novel, Bone Key (which we will review in coming weeks). There’s also an extra “believers” section called “Scary Stuff” about what scares various members of the cast and crew. The last section is “16 Things to Do Before I Die, By Dean Winchester”.

What sets this book apart from the other two is a chattier, more relaxed tone. Maybe it’s because the Strike forced everyone to take time off, which made them more available for the author to interview them. At any rate, we get a thorough discussion of why the writers decided to go with the season’s downer cliffhanger ending to Dean’s deal, as well as why they got (and got rid of) the character of Bela Talbot. It’s nice to see them admit and discuss in detail why Bela didn’t work, though this honesty is offset by their unreserved praise for Ruby the Friendly Demon, an equally fail-worthy character with fans.

Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 3 also has more input from the show’s leads, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Oddly enough, there’s fairly little of Padalecki until later on (in “Scary Stuff”, for example, where he discusses his fear of earthquakes), though he does talk about his scene with former girlfriend Sandra McCoy (the Crossroads Demon) in “Bedtime Stories” and pranking Jim Beaver (Bobby) in “Dream a Little Dream of Me”. His shyer, more reserved costar is downright chatty for the first two thirds of the book. Especially entertaining are Ackles’ input on the Christmas episode (he picked up his crack-like addiction to eggnog in LA and feels no need to try fruitcake, ever), a nasty story about maggot burgers and bad clams in a Japanese restaurant, and the crew’s extended semi-apology for the now-infamous Hell scene (apparently, it was a rougher shoot for Ackles than anyone else). Both actors discuss their recurring costars, Lauren Cohan (Bela) and Katie Cassidy (Ruby). Padalecki tells an amusing story about his wet-dream scene with Cohan in “Dream a Little Dream of Me”. Ackles, meanwhile, gives a surprisingly candid assessment of why Bela didn’t work in the section on “Time Is on My Side”, while being careful to praise Cohan. In her defense, Cohan seems like a good actress who was saddled with a lousy role.

Worthy of interest are sections on the Ghostfacers and Victor Henrickson, several quotes by the late and lamented Kim Manners, the surprisingly informative “Location Managers” subchapter, and the subsequent “Property Master” section. If you ever wondered where Supernatural shoots, and (more importantly) why, you’ll get your answers here. For example, Vancouver fans often wonder why the show has no desert settings when the B.C. interior has plenty of desert. The answer is that it’s too far away (three hours drive) to be practical for a shoot. Meanwhile, the “Property Master” section has a long discussion of the creation of the show’s two most famous props: the Colt and Ruby’s Sparkly Spork o’ Doom, as well as “Bad Day at Black Rock”‘s curse boxes.

Of final note is the interview of Richard Speight Jr. (the Trickster), both in his character section and the one on episode “Mystery Spot”. Speight sounds like a good interviewee, even if he seems strangely afraid of Padalecki’s dogs. What kind of trickster is afraid of dogs?

Interested in purchasing this book? Buy Supernatural: The Official Companion Season 3 from Amazon.com or purchase it from your local bookstore.

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