Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Are We Scared Yet?

Tonight was the premiere of the new WB series, Supernatural. I have been looking forward to this show since they first starting airing the promos a few months back. What is it they say about too much build-up to an event making the actual event anti-climactic? Whatever they say, it's just about right.

Now, I'm not saying that I hated the program. I'll probably watch it again next week. Pilots aren't always the greatest indicator of how a show will turn out. The basic premise is interesting enough - two boys head out in pursuit of a supernatural force that killed their mother years prior. The boys' father raised them to be something like spirit-world serial killers, and together they have destroyed countless "forces" while on the hunt for their mother's "murderer".

I am usually a sucker for ghost stories and the like. But they have to be done well. I'm very particular about what I'll allow to scare me. I can't remember the last TV program that was genuinely engaging and spooky. For that reason, I generally get my kicks watching the real ghost stories on Discovery or TLC. I don't watch that crappy ghost hunter show though, because there's only so much night-vision, shaky camera work and screaming at nothing I can take. "So much" meaning less than one minute.

My first impression of Supernatural isn't really bad, but it's not "super" either. First of all, I'm annoyed by the way the mother died. It's as if the writers were trying to concoct some bizarre killing method that hadn't been done before, as if that in itself would make it shocking and scary. The scene went as follows: Daddy thinks he hears a noise and goes to the baby's room to investigate. Daddy sees baby smiling and cooing peacefully. Suddenly drops of blood are found on baby's blankie. Daddy looks up to find Mommy pinned to the ceiling, looking as if someone had stabbed her in the stomach, because there is a line of blood across her abdomen. Then, for no reason, the ceiling bursts into flames and the whole house eventually catches on fire. Wow that was so shocking, I may have blinked more than twice. Come on, that was just something that Freddy Kruger and Firestarter cooked up one night over drinks. When will these writers learn that they don't have to keep coming up with unique ways of killing people? Unique stories will suffice.

And because the story so often hinges on the characters telling it, good acting is also key. It's especially important in a "strange tale", because it's easier to believe what is inherently an unbelievable situation if you buy the actors' performances in it. I was only hoping that the cast members wouldn't just be some mildly good looking people who were skilled in screaming and looking afraid. In this area, I was pleased. The two brothers are played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, and I liked both of them. They had a nice, genuine chemistry. I especially like Ackles. Ah, I remember when little blondie used to be on Days of our Lives. He really brings out the cradle-robber in me. I have no idea how old he really is, but he looks like a 16 year old pretending to be 18. Hey, I wouldn't ask him for ID. But I digress.

It looks as if most of the episodes will deal with different legends and folklore myths. The premiere revolved around what seemed to be a mixture of the Woman in White and Vanishing Hitchhiker legends. I am a big urban legend buff, so I was interested to see what they did with these tales, especially since the "vanishing hitchhiker" is one of the most widely known. I wasn't completely satisfied with their rendering. Basically, what I know of the story of the woman in white is that her husband was unfaithful to her which caused her to go mad and kill her children, and finally herself. The legend went that her ghost could be seen roaming the streets looking for her children. The updated version for the WB is that the woman went mad and drowned her children, then jumped off a bridge. Her ghost walked the road at night, looking to get picked up by men. If they proved themselves to be "unfaithful" by giving into her advances, she would kill them. The bodies of the men were never found.

Now, herein lies my major gripe with Supernatural. How the hell can a ghost physically kill someone? I realize that all spook stories require some suspension of disbelief, but if a ghost isn't tangible then it couldn't possibly use its hands or a weapon against a human. Didn't we learn this stuff from watching Casper as kids? I've heard tales that ghosts can scare you to death, possess you or steal your soul, but never physically assault and/or kill a person. Of course, there are the "poltergeists" that just like to throw things around and make a big old mess, but that's a different entity. Anyway, it was discovered that this hitchhiking ghost killed her victims by reaching into their chests and pulling out their hearts. As far as where the bodies went later, well, that was never explained. It was just a little bit ridiculous. I was hoping for something a little more otherworldly, not the pointless violence and gore that has become "scary" by today's standards.

Overall, I grade the first episode of Supernatural a C. Some of the story elements were lame, but it managed to hold my interest most of the time, was well-acted and seems to have promise. I guess I'll see what the ghost-hunter boys with the cute butts have in store next week. They better step it up though. I suggest finding the real Bloody Mary or getting some vampires in there. I've always had a fascination with vamps. Though I prefer the hot ones like Billy Wirth in The Lost Boys over the aesthetically challenged, old-school ones like Nosferatu.


Mario Sergio said...

must wait 'till WBBrasil starts playing it for us

The Zombie Lama said...

Oh, I TOTALLY agree here. I was quite disappointed. The show had such potential too. I'll give it a couple of more viewings, but it better get good quick. I mean, what was with the guy shooting the gun at the ghost and her reacting to it??!?!?!?

Actually, there is a "Woman in White" story that I remember growing up in Albuquerque (it's probably in quite a few places, but I haven't heard anyone talk of it outside of there) that has the woman drowning her kids. Her name is La LLorona ("The wailing woman"). She wanders the areas near the ditches looking for her children.

Great post! I love urban legend stuff. Hmmm... might have to steal the idea for my next post... bwahahaha

Lee Ann said...

I didn't see it, but that is a great synopsis. And I would have to agree with you about how does a ghost physically kill someone? Excellent point.

Anonymous said...

God I forgot how HOT Billy Wirth was in The Lost Boys. :)


The Everglades said...

You said you couldn't deterimne his age. It is my belief that the WB will either cast a young teen as a 26 year old, or an actor in their late 20's to play a kid in high school. I mean, didn't James Vanderbeek have to shave like twice a day on set to look like a high school doofus?


Lavinia said...

rofl Blake! I remember how wierd it was seeing those actors playing teens in shows like Dawsons Creek and Popular.

Wow, there are so many rubbish 'horror' shows out there. The TV adaptation of the Dead Zone is one such abberation.

I must admit that I have liked Buffy and Angel since my highschool days. Not becuase they were 'scary', they were just addictive and camp in their own way.

teletart said...

Ah beckeye, you did indeed punish me for TTI and beat me to the punch with this excellent post. Strangely, I liked the show (my embarrassingly late review - the shame, the shame - is up today) but I think that's cos I had no expectations - I wasn't even really aware of it until recently. Guess we just don't get deluged by those WB promos up here in The North. Is that a good thing?

Masha said...

OMG I LOVE the WB...

ck said...

I remember him from Days too...so many pilots seem bad once they're a few shows or even a season into it. Even the first X-files weren't THAT great. We'll see :)

-E said...

Hmm, I was at a movie Tuesday night and didn't set the TiVo to record this. Perhaps I'll catch it next week. I AM a Gilmore Girls fan, so it shouldn't be hard to catch both.

Johnny Retail said...

I love ghost stories, and I agree with you it's hard to find good shows that relate to the supernatural. I use to watch a UK show called "Most Haunted", but it seems staged and they never catch anything great on camera or sound. I watched a few shows of John Edwards and thought if he was for real he is pretty good.
Take care.

An80sNut said...

As much as this sounded like a good series, I decided to hold off on watching it. I think it's the "ghost/monster of the week" that the WB seems to have a woody for in many of their other series. I hope to be proven wrong over time and catch up on a box set.


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