Two brothers wage a war on evil, fuelled by their loved ones taken from them prematurely and the legacy left to them by their father.
Wow. So dramatic? Already? On the one hand, that really is Supernatural in a nutshell. It is an ultimate battle against demons, wraiths, succubi, ghosts and, yes, the occasional vampire. It is what I like to call “conflict with a capital K (for Killing)”. It is pure drama.
With all those other-worldly baddies, though, it’s also a perfect opportunity for some nail-biting, pillow-clutching horror. Very rarely have we had a chance to see good horror on television. There have been attempts but, really, since the early demise of American Gothic in 1996, nothing has come close.
So we’ve got the drama and we’ve got the scares. There’s a rule of three in storytelling and the third thing here is comedy. The comedy is mild, wry and sometimes relies on knowledge of the characters and their history. That’s not a bad thing. Instead of the comedy being a draw card to the series, it’s more like a prize for long-term viewers.
There is so much to love in Supernatural, it’s hard to imagine why it’s not one of the more popular shows on TV. While it’s a great show to watch, it’s possibly a hard show to sell. It doesn’t have the novelty factor of something like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Channel 7 kept spinning that around the schedule until it found a home amongst the insomniac university students who kept it alive in a late-night slot.
1970s and 80s heavy-metal ballads, muscle cars, leather jackets and scowling faces on the backdrop of the American mid-west does not really make for appealing teaser production from an Australian point of view. It’s not about police and it’s not about lawyers or set in a hospital. In fact, on a surface level it’s not about anything that a new audience can identify with.
What it is about, though, is good old-fashioned horror, action and thrills. It’s a comic book on the screen. Heroes save people in peril and sometimes get into peril themselves. In that sense it’s predictable. But so what? Every now and then we need a little escapism. We need adventure and we need good guys kicking bad guys’ arses. Supernatural gives us that but with a style and sense of Americana unlike anything we’ve seen.
Supernatural started the year after Lost and the year before Heroes. It really should appeal to audiences of both and especially those who loved the former but found the latter lacking in any substance. Unlike Heroes, it tells a big story by focusing on a small portion of it. It builds suspense rather than forcing mystery and disseminates information as required rather than creating artificial and soulless reveals.
Mostly, though, it’s fun and intelligent entertainment. Supernatural is exactly the kind of escapism we should be inviting into our homes.