Supernatural: The Complete Sixth Season
Release Date: Available now
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Four-disc Blu-ray case with slipcover
Running Time: 22 episodes, ~15 hours
|THE EPISODES||SPECIAL FEATURES|
|Video||1080p high definition 1.78:1||High definition|
|Audio||DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: Portuguese 2.0||Variable|
|Subtitles||English SDH, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese,||Variable|
The Season: 4.5/5
It's been a year since the chapter-closing events of the fifth season, in which Sam (Jared Padalecki) threw himself, the archangel Michael and Lucifer into "the Cage," effectively putting a stop to Armageddon. In that time Dean (Jensen Ackles) has settled down with his girlfriend Lisa (Cindy Sampson) and her son Ben (Nicholas Ella), and has given up the hunter lifestyle for a regular job and existence.
But then Sam unexpectedly returns, just in time to save Dean from the poisonous influence of a band of Jinn looking for revenge, and though it seems like a genuine wish fulfilled, Sam's reappearance leads to some obvious questions.
The most difficult to comprehend of the answers is that Sam has been back for as long as Dean believed him lost, demon hunting, of all things, with their grandfather Samuel (Mitch Pileggi) and his crew of distant relations. Though Dean initially resists the call back to the life he gave up, circumstances - namely the upending of the natural order of the demon world thanks to the unprecedented events of last year - force him back.
Soon enough Dean's life of 9-to-5 normalcy is but a distant memory as the team goes on the hunt, specifically for an "alpha" vampire that seems to hold a connection to something much older and more powerful. Samuel in particular seems to show an unusual interest in tracking the creature down, though it's Sam's uncharacteristic behavior that gives Dean the most pause. From a more aggressive mien to an uncommon coldness, the Sam who's returned from Hell is clearly not the same Sam who went there. The angel Castiel (Misha Collins) could provide some insight into the mystery, but there's civil war brewing in Heaven with the loss of Michael's leadership, and their old ally seems to have little time for the concerns of mortal humans. Nevertheless, the Winchesters have been fighting the good fight long enough that they will undoubtedly help shape things in both the heaven and the hell that is to come.
The fact that creator Eric Kripke only planned on "Supernatural" lasting five seasons meant its somewhat unexpected sixth could have fallen victim to a lack of direction. The transition of longtime writer Sera Gamble to showrunner could have been more fuel to the fire, but the series continued as it always had, with compelling character development, powerful story arcs, and some truly outstanding standalone episodes (e.g. "Weekend at Bobby's" and "The French Mistake"). The seamless transition from one "big bad" to another, ultimately leading to the most unexpected - and even heartbreaking - development of all, was incredibly well-charted. So much so that even after six years of the Winchester Boys chasing the supernatural, there's not much that's obvious leading into the seventh season. Like the hunter life it depicts, the series has proved to be anything but predictable.
"Supernatural: The Complete Sixth Season" on Blu-ray includes all 22 episodes that aired on the WB Network from 2010 to 2011. The seventh season is scheduled to air on Friday September 23, 2011 at 9/8c.
Video Quality: 4.5/5
The series is accurately framed at 1.78:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. Contrast is noticeably stylized, with crushed blacks and sometimes blown out highlights, creating a stark, high contrast image that suits the dark and sometimes gruesome material. As a result, black levels are consistently deep and inky, though shadow detail is often lacking. Fine object detail is excellent, particularly in skin and hair textures, and grain structure appears intact with minimal signs of reduction. There are moments of posterizing in background areas, but they are momentary and visible only under close scrutiny. Overall "Supernatural" has a great looking image that improves on its original high definition broadcast and most certainly its DVD counterpart.
Audio Quality: 4/5
Past seasons were presented in lossy (though relatively high bitrate) Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, but the sixth season now gets a lossless track. I can't say there's a dramatic improvement with the switch, but the change is appreciated on sheer principle.
Dialogue is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. Support for the score in the surround channels is balanced and seamless, as are the sometimes aggressive atmospheric and directional effects. LFE is deep and robust, though - like the surround activity - somewhat measured in its application.
Special Features: 5/5
The extras are spread across all four discs, though the bulk of them can be found on Disc Four in the "Hunter's Guide" interactive feature. Covering a wide range of topics and a variety of materials on every episode, the piece alone would be considered thorough, but the addition of two solid audio commentaries, additional behind-the-scenes pieces, and a hilarious gag reel make for an excellent all around package.
Episode Booklet: Includes descriptions, original air dates, and writer and director information for each episode.
Jensen Ackles: A Director's Journey (26:46, HD): Chronicles, through detailed behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, the process and challenges behind Ackles's first directing gig, the humorous and deconstructive "Weekend at Bobby's."
"Clap Your Hands if You Believe" Commentary: Sera Gamble, Robert Singer and Ben Edlund provide a detailed background behind the writing and production of the season's ninth episode, a clever homage to "X-Files." Gaps of silence are rare, though the jokey atmosphere sometimes moves things off-task; overall though the information is interesting and the group shares some amusing anecdotes.
"The French Mistake" Commentary: Sera Gamble, Robert Singer and Ben Edlund provide a detailed background behind the writing and production of the tongue-in-cheek, alternate reality fifteenth episode.
"The French Mistake" Trivia: Pop-up trivia track runs through the length of the episode and offers additional information around the production of the show, with tidbits around what's real and what's been embellished for dramatic purposes.
"The French Mistake" Alternate Takes and Outtakes (4:28, HD): Most of the material comes from the hilarious sequence where the two main characters are trying to act.
Episodes from Supernatural: The Anime Series: Sample episodes give a taste of the anime version of the series, originally created for Japanese television. The selections are smart ones as they show how the treatment draws from the series, remaking the final two episodes from the second season, but also puts its own spin on things.
- All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1 (22:44, HD and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio)
- All Hell Breaks Loose Part 2 (22:45, HD and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio)
The Hunter's Guide to Season Six: An interactive hunter's journal provides a reference for the show's major production and story elements. The feature includes behind-the-scenes featurettes with cast and crew interviews and on-set footage, photo galleries and various other production elements. While the interactive component is well implemented, it would have been nice to have a "play all" button to get through the material a bit more quickly.
Episode One: Exile on Main St.
- Breaking the Season (3:20, HD): Writers talk about the season's major story arcs.
- Slide Show (:50, HD): Images from production.
- Production Design (3:34, HD): A look at the show's production design and sets.
- Featurette (:32, HD): Writer Adam Glass describes the inspiration for the episode.
- Props (3:21, HD): A look at the season's various props, from the Staff of Moses to Samuel Colt's journal.
- Slide Show (1:00, HD): Images from production.
- Creating Bobby's World (2:49, HD): Cast and crew talk about the genesis and development of the Bobby-centric episode.
- Jensen Ackles on Directing "Weekend at Bobby's" Audio Clip (:49): The actor explains his motivation for being a director.
- The New Writers (3:41, HD): The producers and writers describe what a new complement of writers - including Adam Glass, Brett Matthews, Eric Charmelo, and Nicole Snyder -brought to the show.
- Brett Matthews on Writing "Live Free and Twihard" Audio Clip (:34): The writer talks about the inspiration for the episode.
- Creating Spells (3:15, HD): The writers talk about the inspiration for the truth spell in the episode and the creation of spells for the show in general.
- Slide Show (:41, HD): Images from production.
- The Campbells (3:21, HD): Cast and crew talk about the main characters' extended family, the themes explored through them, and the actors who played them.
- Mitch Pileggi on Suggesting an Alternate Line Audio Clip (:34): The actor shares an anecdote about how a nickname came to be.
- Cinematography (3:00, HD): A look at the work of Director of Photography Serge Ladouceur.
- Interview (:33, HD): Ackles talks about working with Ladouceur on his first directing job.
- Visual Effects (3:58, HD): Highlights of the season's digital effects work.
- Interview (1:08, HD): A look at the props used in the episode.
- Misha Collins "Castiel" (3:24, HD): A look at the character's development and the Collins's approach to playing him.
- Misha Collins on Pranking Audio Clip (1:06): The actor shares a story about practical joke played on him for his birthday.
- Creating Sam Without a Soul (2:39, HD): The cast and crew talk about the character's 11-episode character arc.
- Slide Show (:37, HD): Images from production.
- Post Production (3:20, HD): A look at some of the season's editing strategies.
- Interview (:42, HD): Writer Adam Glass talks about the genesis of the story.
- Sam and Dean's Bond (2:41, HD): A brief analysis of the characters' fraternal relationship.
- Jared Padalecki on Working on "Unforgiven" Audio Clip (:36): The actor shares what he enjoyed about the episode.
- Lisa and Ben (2:54, HD): A look at the mother and son characters and the part they played in the season.
- Interview (:39, HD): The writers talk about the inspiration for the episode.
- Creating the Episode (3:55, HD): The cast and crew talk about the inspiration and highlights of the episode.
- Slide Show (:37, HD): Images from production.
- Music (4:13, HD): Highlights of the season's musical cues by composer Jay Gruska.
- Brett Matthews on Writing "And Then There Were None" Audio Clip (:28): The writer talks about the inspiration for the episode.
- Creating the Episode (2:25, HD): The writers talk about the inspiration and development of the story.
- Slide Show (:49, HD): Images from production.
- Locations (3:08, HD): Senior Location Manager Russ Hamilton takes viewers on a tour of various shooting locations around Vancouver, B.C.
- Interview (:34, HD): A description of one of the episode's stunts.
- Costume Design (2:50, HD): Highlights from the wardrobe department.
- Interview (:55, HD): Writer Adam Glass talks about the episode's major turning point.
- Ben Edlund, Director (2:11, HD): The writer talks about his experience directing the episode.
- Slide Show (:56, HD): Images from production.
- Sera Gamble, Showrunner (2:20, HD): The cast and crew talk about Gamble's work as the series' new showrunner.
- Photo Slide Show (:49, HD): Images from production.
- Wrapping Season Six (3:08, HD): The cast and crew talk about the conclusion of the season and its major developments.
- Slide Show (1:07, HD): Images from production.
- Creating Supernatural Souls (2:34, HD): Writer Ben Edlund explains how demons and angels enter our world and the significance of the soul.
- Finding Purgatory (1:58, HD): Showrunner Sera Gamble explains the show's take on Purgatory.
- Exploring Death (2:48, HD): Writer Ben Edlund talks about the major themes from "Appointment in Samarra."
Gag Reel (11:11, HD)
The Season: 4.5/5
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5
Warner Home Video turns in an excellent presentation for "Supernatural's" sixth season, and includes an impressive complement of extras going behind the scenes. Based on the strength of the season and the quality of the release, fans of the show should consider this a must-buy.