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Supernatural? More Like Hangin' with Mr. Coopernatural! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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December 17th, 2006


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06:41 pm - Supernatural? More Like Hangin' with Mr. Coopernatural!
This has been a weird year for me. Because I am quite opposed to not starting a show from the very beginning. I don't like just jumping in without having seen all the necessary backstory. But, er, then I did it with Entourage. And then later I did it with Avatar. But in the middle, I did it with Supernatural.

I didn't intend to, really, but so many people on my flist kept talking about it, and I was surprised that it was apparently OMG SO GOOD, but I was also turned off by the fandom's obsession with incest.

And then they had to go and have Alona Tal on the show. So I thought, okay, I'll watch her episodes. And maybe other ones in between to keep up with what was going on, right? I didn't really have time for another show.

So I tuned into the second-season premiere and found it incredibly boring and unexciting and talky and redundant and bah. But I gave it the benefit of the doubt because I recognized that it was a really, really bad first episode and was designed for people who had seen the first season. The second episode, which was more typical, was more enjoyable, and Kripke seemed to want my viewership in particular by making reference to demons from Hindu mythology. I gave him props. I did notice, however, that Sam and Dean sure did talk about their damn feelings a lot, and while I recognized it as Not a Subtle Writing Technique, it was actually sort of refreshing because it kept me from having to think. For a new viewer like me, it was great! They told me how they felt, so I could turn my brain off and just listen. Also, I think Supernatural has the best Previouslies of any show ever. They're often cut to a song like a fanvid, or they tell a deliberate "Here's the show!" story, and it's quite obvious they spend an effort on them. Plus, I got a kick out of the flaming THEN followed by a flaming NOW. Overall, I liked the show since it was like a mini-horror movie every week, and I enjoyed it more than Smallville, which I could barely pay attention to anymore. Yes, I know saying something is better than Smallville is not saying much. But, finally, I broke down and watched the first season.

I began to like the show a lot more once it finally sunk in that Supernatural is basically The X-Files with A) more research to back it up and B) character development.

I loved that each monster/ghost/spirit/demon the brothers faced was rooted in some actual folklore/mythology/legend. I mean, it's damn cool to hear things like "We're dealing with a Woman in White." When you can hear the capital letters. And the first season tackles some of the classic urban legends like Bloody Mary and Hookman. That's just fun, yo.

And remember how on The X-Files, character development was "Scully gets cancer" or "Mulder dies again"? It was all plot-based, basically. Sam and Dean Winchester are two very different characters, and they each go through their own personal travails as they yell at each other about A) their relationship, B) their relationship with their father, C) why they're hunting, D) what's worth dying for, and E) how much Sam needs to get laid. It's not overly complex, but it's all very true and emotional. I appreciate good brother relationships on television because they're so rare.

Also, I am a sucker for random pop-culture references, and it's really fun to play "Spot Where Dean Got Their Fake Names This Week" (and it's hilarious the one time he gets called out on it).

One other thing that endeared me to the show and the Winchester brothers is realizing exactly what it is they were doing: they were fucking risking their lives just to help people. They had no special powers. They just had special knowledge. And a shotgun that could shoot rock salt. But they were so committed to saving lives, to making sure that whatever evil being was terrorizing a particular locale would never kill anyone again. They felt a responsibility, once they got wind of it, to do something about it, and I thought that was amazing. It's not like they ever got anything in return. Well, there were the hot women in every town. For that, I was thankful.

The show uses a lot of classic rock, which isn't really my thing, but it works. It certainly makes it sound different from other shows out there. Kripke isn't averse to modern rock, however; there's a nice usage of "Hey Man, Nice Shot."

While the first season was largely stand-alones, it did keep a nice arc going as the boys searched for their father (it's sort of funny, actually, how when they don't make headway, their response is basically, "Well, as long as we're out..."), and the last couple episodes were really intense and ass-kicking. That's what happens at the end of a season, right? And, surprisingly enough, the second-season premiere is a lot better when you actually know what's going on and care about the characters!

Here's the thing, though, okay: the show is not great. It is very good, I will give it that. It doesn't set the bar all that high, but by God, it hits it, and, you know, sometimes that's all you need. Quality entertainment. I'm into it when I'm watching, and I get generally excited at the prospect of a new episode, but I don't need to spend hours thinking about it or discussing it with other people. Clearly, you can, because people sure have unpacked this text, but I can enjoy it on a surface level.

Distilled to a quippy sound bite, my opinion is this: I think it's overrated by the fans but underrated by the critics. Because there's a good show here, but it doesn't seem to get recognized very much, from what I can tell.

So if you're into saving people, hunting things: the family business, I say give Supernatural a shot. Of rock salt.

(Har har.)
Current Mood: scaredfree to be scary
Current Music: System of a Down - Nüguns

(64 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:05 am (UTC)
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If I wasn't already watching SN, I might be tempted to check it out.
Hey, thanks!

One of my big beefs with the show last season was the lack of other regular characters.
I think that was both a strength and weakness at the same time.
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From:gymble
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:01 am (UTC)
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Here's the thing, though, okay: the show is not great. It is very good, I will give it that. It doesn't set the bar all that high, but by God, it hits it, and, you know, sometimes that's all you need. Quality entertainment. I'm into it when I'm watching, and I get generally excited at the prospect of a new episode, but I don't need to spend hours thinking about it or discussing it with other people.
Hey, that's how I feel! As usual.

There's something to be said for a show that's just good entertainment and doesn't require me to think too hard. Also, because it's not trying to be the next whatever show, it generally achieves what it sets out to do. I'm rarely left thinking good concept but ... Studio 60 is the obvious opposite of Supernatural. But I still don't get how people can analyze it or think about it non-stop. It just doesn't seem like that kind of show, at least for me. Cute boys are cute, but they don't inspire me to engage my brain, generally speaking.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
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Hey, that's how I feel! As usual.
Hee.

Cute boys are cute, but they don't inspire me to engage my brain, generally speaking.
For me, it's "Hey, they killed some evil thing! Cool! So...that's it, then." Yeah, there's good character development, but it's pretty much all right there on the screen, so you acknowledge it and say yay.
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From:latropita
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:01 am (UTC)
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I began to like the show a lot more once it finally sunk in that Supernatural is basically The X-Files with A) more research to back it up and B) character development.
But see, Scully is the SKEPTICAL ONE. Don't you GET IT?
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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:08 am (UTC)
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Wait wait.

Does that mean Mulder is the BELIEVER?

This is very confusing.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:08 am (UTC)
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It's totally a cheeseburger! Except I don't eat beef.
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From:inigo
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
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I watch because a friend likes it, but I find it ultimately unsatisfying. It's rare that I don't know where the story is going within the first five minutes and I find the Unsubtle Writing Technique cloying. I don't want every emotion acted out, every feeling writ large, only to end up changing nothing. That sounds harsher than it should, because it is entertaining enough, but there's no substance there. The guys are pretty though.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:11 am (UTC)
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I don't want every emotion acted out, every feeling writ large, only to end up changing nothing.
I don't think it changes nothing. The changes aren't often majorly noticeable, but I like that you can really see the evolution of how Sam and Dean feel on the particular issues I mentioned.

I agree that there isn't a whole lot of substance, but there's enough. Like I said, I do think it's underrated by the people who have just dismissed it. It does depend on what you're looking for, I guess, but it's a good show for what it is.
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From:cofax7
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:35 am (UTC)
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In the last few years I have found room in my fannish heart for shows that are not as ambitious as Buffy or BSG or Veronica Mars or Farscape. The Stargates and Supernatural all, in their way, aim a little lower, and as a result end up maybe a little more consistent in the long run. And yeah, they're easier to watch in some ways.

My expectations aren't that high for brilliant plotting or brilliant writing (and omg the writing on SPN is occasionally/often anvillicious), and so long as the characters come across as (a) not stupid; and (b) generally likeable, I'm along for the ride.

I will say that SPN in particular has taken the fannish love of character to heart, though--the show is all about the emotional relationships that so seldom get shown in most action shows (like, say, the Stargates). And that's what's got me watching, because I'm not really much of a horror fan. But give me a meaty tangled messy loving relationship like that between the Winchesters (all three of them), and show me the important moments, and I'm yours.

Plus, okay, pretty. Even though I'm not sold on Alona Tal... it's not her fault, but Jo's not well-written yet and I'm hoping to god they do something interesting with her before pairing her off with one of the boys, because if they don't, half the fandom is going to go up in flames. Hell hath no fury like a slasher whose OTP is being screwed with.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:47 am (UTC)
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as a result end up maybe a little more consistent in the long run.
Yeah, there's something to be said for having little room for disappointment because, hey, what did you expect? They're just running around killing evil things!

brilliant writing (and omg the writing on SPN is occasionally/often anvillicious)
I may have rolled my eyes a little when the Location Du Jour of "Salvation" turned out to be...SALVATION, Iowa.

But give me a meaty tangled messy loving relationship like that between the Winchesters (all three of them), and show me the important moments, and I'm yours.
It is certainly a big mess, eh? But it's an interesting mess.

I'm hoping to god they do something interesting with her before pairing her off with one of the boys, because if they don't, half the fandom is going to go up in flames.
I heard that Kripke and Co. may be taking the fandom hate to heart and writing her out, unfortunately. At least, I read that he was at least aware that the character wasn't executed/received how he'd hoped, and changes may be made. I think that would be lame because, er, she's the reason I started watching!
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From:raelee
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:54 am (UTC)
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I just had to comment on you being turned off by obsession with incest because I also find that extremely off-putting and I've been a fan of this show since the beginning. You already know I'm more about the week to week stories than the overall emotional arc. Not that I don't like to see the characters grow, etc., but I'm here for the week to week smaller stories more so than anything else.

I also see it as quality entertainment that I don't really have any desire to analyze it much. I like their continuity, the music, pop culture references, and devotion to the history of the legends but I rarely have much to say about episodes than to point those things out. I can see how others, like Seanan, can dig deep into the myths, etc., but I prefer just to soak it in each week.

I dunno if I agree that it's overrated by fans because a fan's opinion is just that... opinion. How can your opinion ever be overrated? If enough people love it, then there must be some merit to that love. I suppose I feel that way partly because I love some shows that others rag on all the time and I don't think it's fair to say that something a good number of people love isn't worthy of their love just because you don't love it as much (or like it at all, as the case may be).

Ok, sorry, I got off on a tangent there. Nice review, Sunil. I'm glad you like the show and that Alona pulled you over to the dark side. ;)
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From:raelee
Date:December 18th, 2006 04:00 am (UTC)
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Also, your mood amuses me.
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From:athenacqd
Date:December 18th, 2006 04:05 am (UTC)
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Totally agree. I like Supernatural, but it isn't must see t.v. for me. Which is fine. Very few tv shows are. Something like Heroes or Veronica Mars is something I have to watch immediately. Supernatural often sits on my DVR for a few days. I like it, but it's sold through the chemistry between the actors because it's not a particularly well written show. A lot of the dialogue is pretty pedestrian, which is unfortunate considering that the *plot* of the show is written for them through catalogus of urban legends and old mythology. The character writing could be stronger. But Jared and Jensen do a terrific job and it's certainly entertaining.

The fandom obsession with Jared/Jensen slash freaks me out a bit, though, and as a result, I don't follow the fans opinion too closely so I'm not sure if fan opinion is overrated or not (though I disagree with Rae in that opinions can overrate a show).
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From:raelee
Date:December 18th, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
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HEY! ;)

I think that, as with anything, you have to consider the people behind the opinions of things and weigh the person to the opinion but this whole thing is sort of like the chicken and the egg debate. What comes first? Does a show have to be great to be considered great or does it being considered great by the masses make it great? And that's not even the best way for me to say that because the word "great" doesn't always apply. Maybe "popular" is a better word? Still, when is it ok to tell people that their opinion isn't good enough to count? And I say that knowing full well that I get frustrated by people loving 7th Heaven and watching that but never giving VM a chance so it's not that I don't see where the "overrated" argument comes from. I guess I just don't like implying that anyone's opinion isn't valid and shouldn't be counted even if I don't like or agree with it.
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From:roniabirk
Date:December 18th, 2006 04:31 am (UTC)
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Psshhh! You know you love it because it is AWESOME.
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From:orangesky33
Date:December 18th, 2006 05:02 am (UTC)
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Firstly, your subject title made me fall out of my fucking chair. Oh, nostalgia.

Secondly, yay to your liking the first season! Admittedly, I think it gets a little draggy at parts and, first go round, I didn't really jump on board totally with the show until the finale. However, I am obsessed with the show now, and in expressing the view of an obsessie, I will say that I know the show has issues. However, the thing that really makes me know I love it is that I just don't care about them. I agree it's not the best thing in the history of ever writing-wise, but darn it, the brothers are just so satisfying. I get more from them than I do a lot of characters on TV. Oh, and FUCKING WORD about the previouslys.

"Also, I am a sucker for random pop-culture references and it's really fun to play 'Spot Where Dean Got Their Fake Names This Week' (and it's hilarious the one time he gets called out on it)."

Ha, totally! I have to say my favorite is "Niguel Tufnel", though.
Also, that is the thing I love about Dean; every reference he makes movie-wise is just RANDOM AS HELL. You can totally tell the kid spent a lot of lonely days watching TBS when he was a wee one, that's for sure. Though, my favorite random reference was in season two when Sam just out of the blue mentioned Dean thinking OJ was guilty, and then Dean was all, he was, dude. Which was then followed by THE BOYS MOVING ON WITH THEIR CONVO WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT. Oh, this show.

Yay! You mentioned the rock salt!

I am sad to hear Jo may be no more, since she is ALONA and all. Also, though I'm a minority, I *like* Jo, even outside of the Alona-bias. Darn it.







[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:December 18th, 2006 05:13 am (UTC)
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Firstly, your subject title made me fall out of my fucking chair. Oh, nostalgia.
Hee. One of the comedy clubs in SF has "Mark Curry Mondays." So...at least he has a regular paycheck?

However, the thing that really makes me know I love it is that I just don't care about them. I agree it's not the best thing in the history of ever writing-wise, but darn it, the brothers are just so satisfying. I get more from them than I do a lot of characters on TV.
Yeah, it's just...good. I can't really bother asking for more, because I'm fine with what they're giving me.

Oh, and FUCKING WORD about the previouslys.
I think the bestest one so far was the one for "Everybody Loves a Clown." The song was way creepy, and they edited to the beat of the song, and it was awesome. And then when they made their SOON promo, that was sweet, too.

Also, that is the thing I love about Dean; every reference he makes movie-wise is just RANDOM AS HELL. You can totally tell the kid spent a lot of lonely days watching TBS when he was a wee one, that's for sure.
Ha. They're random, but they're so appropriate! Like the time he references "my man Jack" twice in two minutes.

Yay! You mentioned the rock salt!
I didn't understand it until I saw the first season, but I love it. I mean...they're shooting SALT. How cool is that? I get a kick out of all the salt. It's amusing. Because I think, what, the ghost can't just throw something at the INCREDIBLY ROBUST CIRCLE OF SALT and scatter the particles?
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From:vonniek
Date:December 18th, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)
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Hey, you feel pretty much the same way I do about the show: it's entertaining, occasionally affecting, with lovable characters overcoming often anvillicious writing. But the sheer amount of fannish flailing going on about the show leaves me scratching my head a bit, because while the boys are pretty, the show isn't... well, it's not that great. It's good, clean fun, but brilliant? No.

I know you don't read fanfic, but I think one of the reason that it's so popular in fandom is because the show is so very ficcy. It revels in the emotional porn: all that emphasis about how the Winchesters will go to unimaginable lengths for one another -- it's like fanfic writ large. The lack of subtlety in the writing sort of goes along with that.

Overall, I'm glad it's giving my friends so much joy, even though I am not deeply fannish about it. Now, if they write in more interesting female characters, my opinions may change, because while I liked Alona's character more than most, the lack of non-victimized women is a major stumbling block for me to enjoy the show fully.

The car kicks ass though. *flashes you the Impala icon*
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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 18th, 2006 06:09 am (UTC)
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Hey, you feel pretty much the same way I do about the show
Wow. THAT NEVER HAPPENS.
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From:beeker121
Date:December 18th, 2006 06:14 am (UTC)
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Welcome to the dark side my friend! This show is actually in my top five these days, though I agree that it isn't necessarily aiming for the high bar. But it has pretty boys, and good scares, and makes me happy. And sometimes that's all you want out of tv.

Whee!
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From:zimshan
Date:December 18th, 2006 01:45 pm (UTC)
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And you already have a write-up up!

Oh, trust me, you're not the only one that was totally turned off by the show because of the Wincest. I didn't touch this show for the longest time because of it. And it's done its fair share in alienating bunches of people who might enjoy watching it. I'm able to laugh it off pretty easily and just avoid it all, but it's definitely the reason why I'll probably never actually get into this fandom.

One other thing that endeared me to the show and the Winchester brothers is realizing exactly what it is they were doing: they were fucking risking their lives just to help people. They had no special powers. They just had special knowledge.

HAPPY SIGH. Obviously, there are a lot of things that I love about this show. Heh. But this really might just be my favorite. :)

Ha, and here I was gonna say, you should rewatch the premiere if you thought it was so bad before, because even I thought it was pretty bad until I rewatched it later in the season. But I see you already did!

Here's the thing, though, okay: the show is not great. It is very good, I will give it that. It doesn't set the bar all that high, but by God, it hits it, and, you know, sometimes that's all you need. Quality entertainment. I'm into it when I'm watching, and I get generally excited at the prospect of a new episode, but I don't need to spend hours thinking about it or discussing it with other people.

And that's a totally fair conclusion. Deep down, I totally agree. The SPN writers definitely yield a hammer and really have no real clue a paintbrush even exists. Normally the bad writing is balance out for me by the editing and directing and acting. Mostly I just have completely irrational love for the elements that it does have. And it's sort of nice that it doesn't try to be something so big. It's just two brothers, their car, some tunes, and the road. And enough plot to make me care. I think it all kind of stems for how much I thought it absolutely sucked before I watched it. It's taken me by surprise how much I have been able to love it. But I've been wore out by the exhaustive last year with VM, and with my crazy school schedule this days, this element is precisely why it appeals to me so much right now. I can jump up and down and squee and love, and then get back to my work with a smile instead of feeling like I have to discuss it for hours on end all week long. For me, it's all 'Right Place, Right Time', I guess. :)
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From:cindywrites
Date:December 18th, 2006 02:36 pm (UTC)

The Wincest Has Kept Me From the Show

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I don't own slash goggles to begin with. I mean, I can see it when it's canon, or at least canon-y, like Lindsey/Angel or Faith/Buffy, but in general, I don't see it, even when people deconstruct scenes for me, and draw red lines, and point it all out. Fine. Whatever floats [someone's] boat. It's not my thing, but I've had no problem ignoring most of it, and when I haven't ignored it, it hasn't affected my own fannish enjoyment (although it threatened to, where LotR was concerned).

But the whole Wincest fascination in fandom killed any desire I had (when the series was brand new) to watch the show. My husband (blissfully unaware of 'Wincest' and unaware of slash and fan fic in general, other than what I've explained to him) thought it looked interesting before it ever premiered. We meant to watch it from the get-to, but screwed up recording the first couple of episodes, and then never managed to catch it on the right night, so we gave up.

I started noticing (last year) the SPN fandom growing, which revived my interest a little. I considered giving the show a shot.

I (simultaneously) noticed people posting about something called "Wincest" but didn't know what they were talking about, but it was obvious that the portmanteau had something to do with incest between characters who had a W last name. When I finally realized it referred to SPN, and that a large portion of the SPN fandom (that I was noticing) was into 'shipping brothers -- together -- I did not want to have any part of that.

Mind you, I'm not judging anyone for being into that. It's just that the idea of it so turns me off, yet it's not like I can erase that meta-knowledge about the fandom from my brain, if/when I watch the show. I don't want it in my head.

Is there much SPN discussion that isn't Wincest-centric?
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From:harper47
Date:December 18th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
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Wow - 47 comments. Wow!

Nice analysis. I got on board the Supernatural train from the get up as I'm a sucker for supernatural ambiance and I adore the brothers and their hunt. You laid it out all nicely I think. I think the thing that works so well with this show is it is cast perfectly. Padelecki and Ackles really own these characters. They make them work and they have now inhabited the characters long enough that they are adding nuances and suble touches that just amp up the enjoyment.

Glad you're on board.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:December 18th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
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Oh, yeah, I love all the little things that show how brotherly the two are, the way they share phrases and inflections and such.

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