Supernatural: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
Directed by Kim Manners et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:11080pVC-1 codec
Running Time: 651 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English; 2.0 Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
MSRP: $ 79.95
Release Date: November 11, 2008
Review Date: November 5, 2008
On first glance, the CW’s cult hit Supernatural might be assumed to be merely an updated version of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. A monster of the week is on the loose and our heroes go into battle with it hoping to bring it down. However, once one gets into the thick of this devilishly clever and entertaining horror series, one sees there is far more here than merely a ghoul-of-the-week. Yes, there are all sorts of demons, witches, and other monsters at play each week, but the stakes for the protagonists are real and personal. More than once their lives have been on the line and sacrifices have had to be made for temporary salvation. The show’s writing staff plays fair with its audience: there are always consequences even for the good guys.
At the end of season two, several important events occurred: demon hunters Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester inadvertently opened up Devil’s Gate, a mausoleum that housed hundreds of the world’s nastiest demons and set them loose upon the Earth. Even worse, to save his brother Sam from death, Dean made a deal with the devil: one year of life on Earth before being taken to hell. Throughout the third season, Sam tries over and over to find a way out of this deal for Dean, and after half of a season of denial, Dean realizes he himself doesn’t want his life to be over and becomes desperate enough to begin seeking ways for salvation. The dash to the finish line of the season was curtailed a bit due to the writers’ strike, but a knockout conclusion is reached making for quite an interesting jumping off point for season four.
Among the adversaries Dean and Sam must do battle with during the shortened third season are the seven deadly sins (the sins you’ll recognize but their earthly incarnations are something of a surprise), changelings, a rabbit’s foot that’s more than just a good luck token, a coven of witches, a trickster, and an ever-growing assortment of demons. Along the way, Sam and Dean often draw strength and muscle from their surrogate father Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), and this season a renegade demon Ruby (Katie Cassidy) and an arrogant wheeler-dealer Bela (Lauren Cohan) also insinuate themselves into the boys’ monster hunting operations on occasion. But it’s Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki who deserve the lion’s share of the credit for the appeal of Supernatural. Besides their own natural charisma, they make a very believable pair of brothers, and the writers give them enough hip dialog and tongue-in-cheek quips to have viewers chuckling between the genuine gasps of some of the genuinely frightening moments the show is capable of generating. By the time we get to the season ending episodes, there is a tremendous sense of impending doom for Dean and a great desire that some miracle will arrive to cut short his gruesome fate. Kudos should also go to the show’s superb production designer and special effects wizards who make these stories so atmospheric and populated by all sorts of fantastical creatures. On this television budget, there is some truly impressive effects work being generated every single week.
Here are the sixteen episodes which are on the three discs in this Blu-ray set.
1 - The Magnificent Seven
2 - The Kids Are Alright
3 - Bad Day at Black Rock
4 - Sin City
5 - Bedtime Stories
6 - Red Sky at Morning
7 - Fresh Blood
8 - A Very Supernatural Christmas
9 - Malleus Maleficarum
10 - Dream a Little Dream of Me
11 - Mystery Spot (my favorite of this season’s episodes)
12 - Jus in Bello
13 - Ghostfacers!
14 - Long Distance Call
15 - Time Is on My Side
16 - No Rest for the Wicked
The program is broadcast on the CW in 1080i, and these 1080p transfers replicate the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of the original broadcasts. Overall, these are beautifully delivered transfers with exceptional sharpness, good color saturation (and eye-popping color tinkering with both under and over saturation in the “Dream a Little Dream of Me” episode), and excellent black levels. There is an occasional soft shot, and I glimpsed a couple of very thin edge haloes, but the remainder of the set is glorious to watch.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (640 kbps) comes through loud and clear (though it’s disappointing there is no lossless audio choice). There are plenty of atmospheric touches added to the mix to heighten suspense and scares though most of the sound activity is spread across the front with the rears underutilized. There are some LFE in the mix but not nearly enough for a show of this type.
Seven of the episodes contain a “Closer Look” featurette which contains comments of from 2-4 minutes from a behind-the-scenes staff member about the making of the episode. Not as effective as a well done audio commentary, these, however, are welcome tidbits of information about the making of the episodes in question. These are presented in 480p.
“‘Ghostfacers’ Confessionals” is a 16-minute set of improvised interviews with the cast members making the “Ghostfacers” television show which frames episode #13. Though a few of their comments find their way into the finished episode, most of these comments are heard here for the first time, and there are some genuine laughs. These are presented in 480i.
“From Legends to Reality: Supernatural Effects” is a 23-minute discussion of the three areas of special effects which come into play with most episodes: visual effects, special effects, and makeup effects. Interviews with the show’s creator, various directors, and the three department heads clarify this most important aspect of each week’s broadcast. This featurette is in 480p.
“Supernatural Impala Featurette” spends 5 ¼ minutes discussing the different incarnations of the famous 1967 Chevrolet Impala that the boys use for transportation each week. The brief featurette is presented in 480p.
A Season Three gag reel showing some flubbed lines and many hijinks on the set from the two stars is presented in 480i and runs 8 minutes.
Also inside the case is a code that allows the user to download a free digital copy of Season 3 of Supernatural.
The user menu also allows the viewer to turn off if he chooses the recaps that begin each episode.
An extremely entertaining and at times frighteningly good horror-comedy, Supernatural is aces on Blu-ray with a beautiful picture, solid sound, and enough bonus features to please fans of the show. Recommended!