Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A season (or five) too many for Supernatural

Written By: Luke Mythen
Image Source: Amazon

Why Supernatural should have finished after season 5

I am the number one fan of the CW (Canadian Network) show Supernatural. I have watched it since its incarnation in 2005, all the way up to the present day. However, this has not been without its struggles, which I will go into detail on later.

The show revolves around two brothers fighting off demons, angels and even God himself as Chuck said at the end of season 5. We are now ten seasons and ten years down the road with these two brothers, with another season (season 11) already confirmed for September this year. Has the show run its course? Should the CW drop it off their slate before it’s too late for the characters and their fans?

The simple answer to both questions is: yes. In my opinion, the show has run its course. It should have ended five years ago when season 5 aired the final episode. As a matter of fact, when the show began back in 2005, the show creator Eric Kripke said that Supernatural was only going to air for three seasons, as he had a story arc that would run for three years. But due to fan demand and year-on-year rating increases, he added another two years to his arc, and decided that after the fifth season, he would walk away onto pastures new.

But the CW didn’t want this to happen: Supernatural was one of their highest performers each week, and it pulled in a lot of money from merchandise and so on. Despite plans for it to only last five years, due to increased ratings from the fourth and fifth seasons, the CW network renewed the show for a sixth series. Kripke did not return as show runner (he remained a hands-on executive producer), leaving longtime series writer Sera Gamble to take over the day-to-day production of the show.

Filming for the season began with the Jenson Ackles-directed episode "Weekend at Bobby's" to give enough time for pre-production. Kripke also wrote the season finale. Unfortunately, season six was by far the worst in regards to storytelling and plotlines. That being said, it still performed well in the ratings, and more seasons were confirmed. As each season went by, a new producer and show runner joined the team, leaving each season very uneven and lacking the co-ordination and slick story telling that seasons 1-5 had enjoyed.

Even the viewing experience for this US show was altered. The first four seasons of Supernatural were shown on ITV2 every Sunday night at 9pm; this was perfect as it gave me, the viewer, something to look forward to. The cliffhanger at the end of season 4 was brilliant, teasing the arrival of Lucifer himself. I looked forward to season 5, but then I learned that Sky had purchased the broadcasting rights, and were showing it on Sky Living. As someone who did not subscribe to Sky, I was very unhappy. Paying £2.99 to watch each episode on iTunes did not please me.

So, I was no longer enjoying Supernatural, and many others felt the same way. It's a shame because the end of season 5 was brilliantly set up by the show runners for Sam Winchester (Jared Padaleki) and Dean Winchester (Jenson Ackles) to face off against each other, Sam being controlled by Lucifer after Dean had said 'no' to the Ark Angel Michael. The idea of Dean living a normal life with a family (Lisa and Ben) and Sam being trapped in Hell because he was saving the world but, more importantly, having saved his big brother really worked, and it was the perfect way to leave the characters. Also, Chuck being revealed as God was a nice twist, as knowing that God had been secretly looking after them was satisfying. To me, this was the perfect ending to the perfect show for five years. I would have been sad to see it end its course, and the greedy side of me wanted the show to continue for years and years. However, it'a obvious that this moment should have been the climax of the show, even though it would have been very bittersweet. See it for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc4npswKs48.

Unfortunately the show didn’t end there and, as stated, season six was a huge let-down. The story was bland, the characters didn’t really accomplish anything, and even though there were 22 episodes where stuff happened, nothing consequential actually happened. Seasons seven and eight gradually got more interesting so that it became watchable, albeit not to the levels seen before.

But, overall, the show has passed its peak and is likely to continue for years to come, distancing itself from its glory days. As big a fan as I was and still am, in hindsight I really wish that the brain would have overruled the heart and that the powers that be would have allowed Supernatural to nicely fade away after season five. Unfortunately, while the show continuing is good for current fans, longtime supporters like me realise that the continuation of its run is doing more harm than good to its legacy.

And, to make matters worse, the viewing experience has once again been dented. Because of Supernatural’s dwindling support in the UK, the full season DVDs are no longer sold here, so to watch season nine, I had to import the DVD from America at a cost of $50 which I simply was not willing to do for a substandard series. And I refuse to watch it online as I like to watch TV in the highest possible definition and in maximum comfort; sitting crouched over a computer screen is not my idea of comfort. But good news! Channel 4 bought the rights of Supernatural and now show it on E4 every Tuesday night at 10pm. The ironic thing after all of this is that I now keep forgetting it is on and miss it every week.

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