"Supernatural - The Complete First Season" Blu-ray Review
June 11, 2010 by Zach Demeter
As many TV shows as I watch, Supernatural was never one of them. The CW network, for me, has never been home to a lineup of “must-watch” shows, which is mainly due to Smallville being such a disappointment over the past four or five seasons. In any case, I never even thought about watching Supernatural if only because the premise seemed so similar to Angel and it had a guy from Smallville in it that got to be a bit annoying. In any case, that’s in the past—when the third season arrived on Blu-ray (and subsequently on my doorstep), it was time for me to take up watching another new show, which is probably the last thing I needed considering I’m already up to twenty or so now. Now with the first season on Blu-ray for the first time, I can watch (again) how it all started…goofy haircuts and all.
The Creepy. The Demented. The Unexplained. The Unearthly. Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) grew up hunting such terrifying things. But that’s all past. Law school beckons him. So does safety and normalcy. That is, until Sam’s estranged brother Dean (Jensen Ackles) appears with troubling news: their father has disappeared, a man who’s hunted evil for 22 years. So to find their father, the brothers must hunt what their father hunts…and Sam must return to the life he’d rather leave behind. Hold on tight for all 22 Season One Episodes of the edgy, hip series that has viewers in its grip and critics enthralled. Confront the Supernatural!
Though I’d originally started with the third season, it didn’t take me long to work my way back into the first two (and then I was watching week-by-week for the past two seasons). Truth be told my memory of the first season is a blur as I think I watched it in about three days and then immediately followed it up with the second season (damn season one cliffhanger ending). As such it’s all just kind of a jumbled mess as to what I remember, but this season was truly exceptional still in that it was able to lay the ground work for what would eventually become a six season (possibly more) series.
The key element in this season is really just building up the relationship between our main characters. While it’s pretty desolate on the road with just Sam and Dean looking for their Dad (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan), we do get to see some of the more typical demons and such than we did in later seasons and it surprises me how little the dynamic of the show has changed over the years. Yeah, the physical appearances of our leads has shifted through the generations (mainly just with Sam’s hair…that man has gone through some changes over the seasons), but the real draw is how they interact with one another. While in recent seasons it’s gotten a bit melodramatic at times, these earlier seasons are really not all that different either…just less serious all the time because there isn’t the apocalypse looming overhead.
In any case this first season is ultimately kind of futile, not only because of the cliffhanger it ends on but also because it really extends straight into season two without much of a break. Throughout the twenty-two episodes we get a mixture of stand-alone stories as well ones that deal with to overall yellow-eyed demon storyline, with a heavier leaning towards single focus stories. It’s fine though, as you not only get to see more of the Supernatural universe while watching these stand-alone stories but it’s also in these less-concerned outings that you are able to see more of what the Winchesters were trained to do.
Overall this first season is, obviously, the perfect starting point for anyone looking to get into the series. Though it is a bit dated in the effects area, the series really kind of hit its stride within the first few episodes of the season—a rarity, but it’s obvious from the series creators’ initial five-season plan that they had everything kind of hashed out from the start. Highly Recommended.
Arriving on a four-disc set with a cardboard slipcover housing the double-wide Viva Mult-Pak case, Supernatural comes complete with a booklet noting the contents of each disc and the episodes contained (as well as descriptions, show information, and original airdate). It’s a pretty basic setup, but it’s one that matches the other seasons released on Blu-ray perfectly—now all we need is the second season to complete the Blu-ray set!
Video for this release arrives in a VC-1 encoded 1.78:1 transfer, which looks absolutely fantastic. Although the show itself is pretty dark, there are still plenty of colorful bits to pick up, as well as a lot of character detail (count the stubble on Dean’s face!). TV shows continually surprise me with just how good they can consistently look and Supernatural is no different. Although there is some grain present, Warner didn’t wipe anything away so there’s still plenty of detail to witness from this image. I was surprised how closely this first season matched the third season in terms of clarity—granted they were only a few years apart, but it still looked good. Unfortunately the audio is a standard DD5.1 mix, which is the same as the DVD edition so for those of you who wanted some monster mashin’ in TrueHD, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Not that it’s really a bad thing as past seasons have sported only DD5.1 tracks on Blu-ray as well. There is a decent surround field (surrounds are mostly occupied by the shows rock soundtrack, however) and some decent bass here and there, but overall it’s what you’d expect from a (fairly) recent TV show.
New! The Devil’s Road Map: Interactive Map Guide to Season One’s Urban Legends and Unusual Facts
New! Paley Festival Panel Discussion Featuring the Cast and Creators
Commentary on the Pilot by Series Creator Eric Kripke, Director David Nutter and Producer Peter Johnson
Commentary on Phantom Traveler by Co-Stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles
Two additional featurettes: Day in the Life of Jared and Jensen and Supernatural: Tales from the Edge of Darkness
Hooray, new Blu-ray extras! While there are only two new extras in the above list, they’re fairly lengthy in what they make up. The “Interactive Map” is kind of the usual Blu-ray gimmick trivia track type of setup, but the “Panel Discussion” is new…well, kind of. It’s an hour long but was originally included as a “bonus disc” in some Season 1 DVD sets. So while it’s been seen before it is, technically, new for the mass-production release. Kind of tricky, but still nice that they’re giving it to everyone who ponies up to buy this set.
Speaking of which…is it worth it? Well for Supernatural fans…yes, it is Recommended. The show is really quite fantastic in HD and considering it can be had for under $40 as of this writing, it’s a pretty decent deal for a four-disc set. Newcomers may want to rent it first, but I really don’t think you can go wrong with purchasing it either.
Supernatural – The Complete First Season arrives on Blu-ray on June 15th.