I would hope that if you're planning to watch the fifth season of any show, you wouldn't need an introduction to the show's premise and main characters. But in case you're an atypical viewer who doesn't watch a story chronologically (fiend!), I'll do it anyway.
Supernatural follows demon hunters and brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki, Friday the 13th) and Dean (Jensen Ackles, My Bloody Valentine) Winchester as they spend their days fighting evil. Generally, brainy Sam is the thoughtful one while brawny Dean's attitude is more along the lines of Nike's slogan "Just Do It." And what is "it" exactly? It could be anything from hatching a plan to kill Lucifer to cavorting with angels to preventing geeky teenagers from practicing satanic rituals.
In the fifth season, which most viewers thought--and were led to believe by show creator Eric Kripke--would be the last, Sam and Dean have their hands full after inviting Lucifer to come play on earth at the end of Season Four. To make a long story short, by torturing another soul while in Hell, Dean broke the first of the 66 seals that were keeping Lucifer in Hell, and Sam broke the last by killing Lilith (an upper-class demon). Presto-chango, here's Lucifer (played by the enigmatic Mark Pellegrino from Lost), who seeks to use Sam as a kind of vessel since other human bodies can't contain his magnificence for long.
But where there is evil, there's also good, supposedly. Season Four introduced Angel Castiel (Misha Collins, Over Her Dead Body). Castiel plays a big part in Season Five and helps guide Dean and Sam in a variety of directions, which include Dean potentially becoming a vessel for the Archangel Michael (the Montague to Lucifer's Capulet), as a way to defeat Lucifer. What? Brother versus brother? Neither can live while the other survives? Those muggles! However, bad angels exist, too. These angels stumping for the dark side are pro-apocalypse. After all, once you get rid of the people, whom God evidently favors over his angels, the earth is a pretty cool place to have a mojito.
Fortunately, the boys find another way to defeat Lucifer. They just have to conquer the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, take their rings, and use them to open a kind of underworld prison to trap Lucifer. Piece of cake. So, here's the big question for season five: In the battle of good and evil, who wins?
As the season unfolds, I can't say that Season Five and its 22 episodes (spread over six discs( were fantastic. I used to be a regular weekday viewer of the show, but I let the episodes pile up on DVR because the angel/God/Lucifer storyline was just a little bit too much to follow. Good versus evil is a simple concept, but you have to keep it mostly uncomplicated. There were several more characters than in typical past seasons, which muddled the playing field a bit.
I think the most interesting episodes--or stories--are ones where Sam and Dean deal with inner turmoil and their relationship as brothers, and other things that everyone can understand, such as emotions, fate, and questioning your existence. This season focused more on external activities, like finding Michael, rather than internal struggles, which is what I think really challenges actors. I should say though, that in season five, Sam was fighting his addiction to drinking demon blood, which is obviously an internal process. I don't know many alcoholics (okay, none), but I'm not sure whether I really believed Sam's addiction.
Now this isn't to say that there aren't a few episodes of season five where the content clearly tested Padalecki and Ackles and produced a successful outcome, but I didn't see a lot of what I think makes Sam, Sam, and what makes Dean, Dean. For you new viewers, that won't really make sense, but if you watch the show from season to season, you start to get an idea of who Sam and Dean are, and I just didn't see their true personalities shine through in this season.
As mentioned earlier, Season Five was originally supposed to be the last, though Padalecki and Ackles were signed through Season Six. But because Kripke had made it clear that the story he wanted to tell would end after five seasons, I think the everyone involved assumed the show would end. In fact, if I recall correctly, in an interview with the actors, I think they said that they were looking forward to the end; they have families and girlfriends, and wanted to get home. After hearing that, it's difficult to believe that Season Six will be all that fantastic. No one wants to hear "Sure, I guess we could go incinerate the bones of this ghost, but I'd rather just go home." I will say, though, that the final scene of the last episode of the season served as promising punctuation for Season Six, which new show runner (and executive producer) Sera Gamble says will focus on the brothers' relationship. Season Six premiered on September 24, 2010.
Supernatural is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen consistent with the broadcast format. There is a decent amount of visual effects in the show but they look decent without pixilation or picture distortions, and the source material looks pristine. Flesh tones look good and blacks are more than acceptable for a television show. There wasn't any noticeable edge enhancement to distract from viewing and film grain could be spotted from time to time. All in all this was quality viewing.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. The show's always loved throwing in some form of music and it does so from time to time during Season Five, and the action sequences are robust sonically, with even a hint of subwoofer activity on the low end. Dialogue sounds clear and without mosquito noise, hissing or other artifacts to distract from the soundstage.
Not many, and really, there's only one worth watching. The ones that did make the DVD include producer/writer commentary on episode four, titled "The End"; an unaired scene from episode nine, "The Real Ghostbusters"; Ghostfacers: The Web series; Apocalypse Survival Guides: Bobby's Exclusive Video Collection; and a gag reel that is nowhere near as entertaining as the one from season four.
The commentary discusses an episode focused on the croatoan virus, a demonic disease that spreads via blood exchange that initially came from an idea used in a season two episode, "Croatoan." In the episode, Dean travels into the future. Sam's there too, but he's not exactly himself. It's actually a well done piece of the season--one of the best. Kripke, Executive Producer Robert Singer, and writer Ben Edlund were very active and informative, with not much dead air. The original idea for the episode was to have Sam and Dean meet their clones, and they were going to title it "Clone Wars." For those interested in the behind-the-scenes creative activities involved in bringing an episode to life, you'll want to listen to this.
The unaired, two-minute scene comes from "The Real Ghostbusters," which features Chuck Shurley, the show's prophet and series writer of Supernatural adventures, as he throws out a bunch of what seems like adlibs while hosting the Supernatural Convention. It's cute, since I like Chuck.
Ghostfacers: The Web Series, with its 10 parts totaling about 30 minutes, showcases, Real World-style, the ridiculously ridiculous Ghostfacers team, a paranormal investigative group that originally appeared in Supernatural in season one and later in season two. In this web series, the group records their adventures. I'm not quite sure why they included Ghostfacers in a season in which there was no mention of Ghostfacers, but hey, points for novelty?
The apocalypse survivor guides come courtesy of Winchester family friend and fellow hunter Bobby (Jim Beaver), as his voice takes the viewer on a tour throughout his house, highlighting the relevant pieces of research. This research includes actual historical information on Lucifer, the Four Horsemen, the apocalypse, as well as interviews with Kripke, Gamble, Ackles, and a variety of others. Just browse through the house with your remote, and be sure to check out the many features available. It's really well thought out and possibly the best extra I've seen in this series. Highly recommended that everyone interested in the show check this out, particularly if you're interested in where the ideas for the episodes come from. Most of the clips seem to run about 10 minutes or less.
Lastly, we come to the highly anticipated gag reel that runs for about 10 minutes. Unfortunately, it's not as great as the previous season, which really set the bar in terms of quality humor. As always, the funniest stuff happens when Dean and Sam are together. Interestingly, the crew is given some time on the gag reel. And as lovely as the crew is, they're not really the ones harnessing the hilarity.
I asked my wife once why she went to see Twilight when it was reportedly done so poorly, to which she responded, "I'm invested." This makes sense now. Because even though this season wasn't the best of the bunch, I love the characters, and this adds another piece of the puzzle to the question, who are the Winchesters? If you give me the chance to get to know Sam and Dean a little better, I'm in. What can I say? I'm a collector of stories. The more supernatural they are the better.