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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Supernatural: The Complete Fifth Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Supernatural: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
    Directed by Robert Singer et al

    Studio: Warner Bros.
    Year: 2009-2010
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p VC-1 codec
    Running Time: 915 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Portuguese
    Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, others


    Region: no regions listed
    MSRP: $ 69.97



    Release Date: September 7, 2010

    Review Date: September 11, 2010





    The Series

    4/5




    At the end of the fourth season of Supernatural, the producers announced that the fifth season would be its last. And such a decision made sense since the fifth season was going to deal with the apocalypse; what better way to wind up a series except with the duel to save the Earth or destroy it? Halfway through the superlative fifth season, however, the WB announced that Supernatural would be coming back for a sixth year. Wow! Talk about changing the game plan! No, the season still revolved around the coming apocalypse: the ultimate showdown between Lucifer and his older brother the archangel Michael though human vessels. Somehow, when the smoke cleared, there would have to be plot threads to support a sixth season. Be that as it may, in many ways, the fifth season of Supernatural has turned out to be its greatest season. The show’s hip factor and its ability to poke fun at itself and its genre were running on all cylinders all season long except maybe for the somewhat anticlimactic face-off between angel brothers in the season finale. How ironic that the scene the series spent the entire season building toward was probably its least effective moment! Not terrible, mind you, nor shark jumping, but just the tiniest bit of a letdown.




    Apart from that small slip-up, however, season five ranks high not just among genre shows like Buffy or The X-Files, but among all series on television. As has been the case for the past three seasons, the episodes one after another set amazingly high standards for brazen imagination, quirky and diabolical fun, and sometimes over-the-top sass and, naturally, occasional outsized gore which is part and parcel for a show that features various murderous entities week in and week out. As with many shows that are somewhat serialized, a season-long story arc is worked into most episodes while each week’s show also contains a close-ended story in which brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester usually do battle with some sort of evil supernatural forces. The season long arc involves the appearance of Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) on Earth, seeking to destroy the planet by battling with his powerful brother Michael. The combat will take place with each angel utilizing a Winchester brother as his human combat vessel. Dean is slated to be Michael’s receptacle while Sam is touted to belong to Lucifer. Of course, the Winchester boys spend the entire season doing everything they can to prevent such a confrontation, even being forced to confront the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in separate episodes in the lead-up to the final confrontation. They’re continually aided by a character added in season four which really turned the series into something special: the fallen angel Castiel as played brilliantly by Misha Collins. As always, the boys’ surrogate father Bobby (Jim Beavers) assists them with his vast knowledge of the supernatural world even though for most of the season he’s hampered by being paralyzed and in a wheelchair.




    As for the weekly conflicts, the boys go up against their fair share of angels (Gabriel, Uriah, Zechariah, Joshua) and demons as well as the antichrist (who turns out to be an eleven year old boy), a he-witch, their old friend the Trickster (or is it?), varied ghosts, reapers, a wraith, Cupid, and the Whore of Babylon. All of these occur prominently in several episodes, some of which constitute the zenith of the series. Among the best: “The End” finds Dean five years in the future interacting with himself (a stupendous job of acting a dual role by Jensen Ackles) as the croatoan virus begins to wipe away the world. “The Real Ghostbusters” features the boys at a Supernatural convention led by their author/nemesis Chuck Edlund (Rob Benedict, delightful as always) and lots of their own doppelgangers. “The Song Remains the Same” is a heartrending piece as Sam and Dean go back in time to 1978 and meet their parents while their mother was pregnant with Dean. And in the season’s greatest episode “Changing Channels,” the brothers find themselves trapped inside a succession of television shows in which they play themselves in terms of sitcom (think Friends), a medical drama (a Grey’s Anatomy clone), a Japanese game show, a hygiene commercial, Night Rider, and CSI: Miami, all hysterically funny and with satire so dead-on that the antagonist they’re facing almost becomes immaterial in comparison to the zingers that are being shelled out en masse toward these types of programs.




    Here are the twenty-two episodes which are contained on four discs in this fifth season set:




    1 – Sympathy for the Devil


    2 – Good God, Y’all!


    3 – Free to Be You and Me


    4 – The End


    5 – Fallen Idols


    6 – I Believe the Children Are Our Future


    7 – The Curious Case of Dean Winchester


    8 – Changing Channels


    9 – The Real Ghostbusters


    10 – Abandon All Hope


    11 – Sam, Interrupted


    12 – Swap Meat


    13 – The Song Remains the Same


    14 – My Bloody Vanentine


    15 – Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid


    16 – Dark Side of the Moon


    17 – 99 Problems


    18 – Point of No Return


    19 – Hammer of the Gods


    20 – The Devil You Know


    21 – Two Minutes to Midnight


    22 – Swan Song





    Video Quality

    4.5/5




    The program is framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the VC-1 codec. The visual look of Supernatural is very slightly desaturated to give the show a bit of a melancholy tone. Despite this, however, color is pleasingly low key (except for reds which really pop) and sharpness is exemplary. Black levels are really rich and inky, and shadow detail is among the best on television. Each episode has been divided into 8 chapters.





    Audio Quality

    4/5




    As with their Blu-ray of Smallville, Warners has opted to provide only a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix for the series set instead of a lossless encode. The action-oriented series makes excellent use of its soundfield with lots of things that go bump in the night coming from various front and rear speakers and music nicely threaded throughout the various channels. The LFE channel gets a vivid workout with most episodes while the dialogue is well recorded and placed properly in the center.





    Special Features

    3.5/5




    An audio commentary is provided for the episode “The End” with producers Eric Kripke, Robert Singer, and writer/producer Ben Edlund. There is a fair amount of talking over one another as each has different jokes and amusing anecdotes to relate, but despite all the hilarity between the three men, there is only a small amount of information provided between all the chortling.




    A deleted scene from the episode “The Real Ghostbusters” runs for 2 ¼ minutes in 480i.




    The season’s gag reel runs for 10 ¼ minutes and is presented in 1080p.




    Supernatural: Apocalypse Survival Guides” is an interactive tour of Bobby’s home which houses a collection of videotapes and books concerning paranormal activity and discussions about differing aspects of religion as dealt with on the show. There are four videotapes: all them are staged pseudo-authentic televised interviews from around the country and the most substantial bonus on this set. “Lucifer and Michael – Brothers?” runs 13 ¼ minutes, “Apocalypse Preparations” is 16 ¾ minutes, “Demon Visitations” lasts 16 minutes, and “The Search for Lucifer” runs for 17 ¾ minutes. On Bobby’s desk are two volumes which actually contain material specific to the preparation of this year’s season of the show: “Ride of the Horsemen” features the production team discussing the adaptation of the Revelations verses into Supernatural terms for 11 ½ minutes. “Kripke’s Guide to the Apocalypse” features show creator/writer/producer Eric Kripke and other members of the production team and star cast discussing the season’s story arcs and highlights for 10 ½ minutes. In Bobby’s dungeon are two additional short featurettes: location manager Russ Hamilton discusses Supernatural’s new backlot town where many memorable episodes were shot (3 ½ minutes) and Eric Kripke discusses this season’s sensational one-off stand-alone episodes for 2 ¼ minutes. All of these features are presented in 1080p.




    Ghostfacers: The Web Series” features ten episodes of the internet series where the gang finds a ghost haunting an abandoned movie theater. The episodes may be played individually or in a 31 ½-minute grouping. They’re in 1080p.




    The disc is BD-Live ready, but the only content relating to Supernatural is a repeat of the discussion of the stand alone episodes from an earlier bonus feature.





    In Conclusion

    4/5 (not an average)




    The fifth season was the best season yet for Supernatural, a genre show which doesn’t get the respect it deserves (few of them ever do). Though bonus features are relatively superficial, the video and audio encodes are stellar, and fans of the show will be delighted with the quality. Highly recommended!








    Matt Hough


    Charlotte, NC
     
  2. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    I have been watching the reruns of this show on TNT and find it to be an excellent, excellent show. I tried to skim through some parts of your review just to make sure I don't spoil anything for myself since I am only mid-way through the third season, but you have me excited to know the show only gets better!!!

    Thanks for the great review.
     
  3. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Thanks, Neil. You have a lot of great viewing aheaad of you. Seasons four and five are my absolute favorites as the series really delves into deeper emotional family bonds and serious conerns with spirituality despite all of the hilarious, wise-cracking one liners from the guys.
     
     

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