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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Supernatural - The Complete Third Season
Supernatural - The Complete Third Season
Warner Bros. // Unrated // September 2, 2008
List Price: $59.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 30, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Series:

There have been a lot of really good TV shows that have popped up in the past few years.  A fair number have been cancelled during or after their first season, never really reaching their potential.  A few like Heroes and Prison Break were renewed, only to take a dip in quality in their second or third seasons.   I was really expecting Supernatural to follow those other programs and jump the shark in its third season.  The main story that they had been telling since the show opened had been concluded, and while there were some interesting storylines to wrap up, I really felt that the show had said everything it had to say by the end of season two.

How wrong I was.  Not only is season three just as strong as those that preceded it, but it expands the world that Sam and Dean inhabit and fleshes out their characters even more.  Overall this is a great set of shows that ends in a particularly surprising cliffhanger.



Background:  Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki & Jensen Ackles respectively) are hunters. They don't hunt animals for food or sport however, they hunt supernatural creatures. It all started 23 years ago when their mother was killed by a demon with yellow eyes. Their father John (ably played by Jeffery Dean Morgan), an ex-marine, vowed to hunt down the monster that killed his wife.  He spent the intervening years searching for it while ridding the world of other evil creatures that he encountered. John Winchester raised his children to follow in his footsteps, teaching them to track, stalk, and kill monsters wherever they found them, and they learned the lessons well.

Warning: The next three paragraphs contain information about the first two seasons.  If you'd prefer avoid spoilers, skip down to here.

In the first season, John turns up missing and Dean and Sam spend most of that first year looking for him. Much to my surprise, they do find him and the demon that killed their mother. The demon escapes, but he's taken his toll on the three Winchesters:  They were all hurt and Dean was near death.  John did the only thing he could think of to save his son's life:  he sold his soul to the same demon that he had been hunting all those years and dies.

In season two, Dean has to come to grips with the fact that their father dead, and suffering in Hell, because of him.  It's a tough burden to bear, and the strong, silent Dean has a tough time with it.  He sends his energy tracking the demon.  At the end of season two, Sam, who is actually a pawn in the demon's grand plan, becomes mortally wounded.  Having lost his father, Dean knows he can't live without his brother and sells his soul for his brother's life.  In exchange for his brother's life, Dean will get one year to live and then go to Hell.  If in that year Dean does find a way to weasel out of the deal, Sam's cure will revert and the younger Winchester will die.



Together the two brothers corner the demon they've been looking for since they were children and kill him, but not before the portals of Hell open up and hundreds of demons escape to earth.  It's clear that the boys have their work cut out for them.

Season Three:  This season has Sam and Dean tracking down the demons that escaped, while trying to stay one step ahead of the same.  The demons know that the Winchesters are serious trouble, turn proactive, and hunt the hunters.  They have a little help this season however, in the form of Ruby (Katie Cassidy).  She's an attractive girl who has a knife that can actually kill demons.  The only catch is that she's a demon too.  She follows Sam, giving him cryptic hints as to what demons he's about to face and claiming that she only wants to help him, but Dean doesn't trust her at all.  Does she really have Sam's best interests in mind or is she planning something else.



The other new reoccurring character is another attractive woman, Bela Talbot (Lauren Cohan).  She also has extensive knowledge about the supernatural, but unlike Sam and Dean she's only interested in money.  Bela is a thief who steals relics and other powerful totems and sells them to the highest bidder.  Their paths cross a few times, and the mysterious woman often ends up getting the better of the brothers.

The main story for this season is Sam trying to discover a way to get Dean out of his deal.  The only problem is that Dean doesn't want to break the bargain.  He knows if he does that Sam will die, and he'd rather face an eternity in Hell than that. This causes a lot of strain between the two siblings.  Dean just wants to kill monsters, get laid, and have a good time.  As the deadline approaches however Dean gets much more serious, and reckless while hunting.

This was another wonderful season with some great new supporting characters.  I was sorry that Jo and Ellen from season two didn't return, but the new characters made up for that.  Bela is one of those people you love to hate, and while I had to suspend my disbelief a bit (after a while you'd think that Dean would just kill her) the episodes she appeared in were always interesting.



One of the things this show really outstanding at doing is mixing horror with humor.  The show is very funny, mainly due to the bickering between Sam and Dean.  One of the best episodes in this season was a spot-on parody of reality shows in general and Ghost Hunters in particular.  In Ghostfacers Sam and Dean run into Ed and Harry once again.  You may remember these two geeky paranormal investigators from the episode Hellhouse in season one.  They've now moved from blogging about the supernatural to creating their own reality show where they investigate haunted houses.  For their pilot show however, they've selected a real haunted house that Sam and Dean are also investigating.  Told mainly through the video cameras the Ghostfacers are using, this episode has a Blair Witch feel to it, and the ghost sections are very suspenseful and eerie.   It contains some of the more scary scenes of this season, but it also has a lot of comedy due to the wonderful skewering of reality shows.  The catchy Ghostfacers theme is outrageous:

Ghost - Ghostfacers! We face the ghosts when other will not
Ghost - Ghostfacers! We stay in the kitchen when the kitchen is hot
Ghost - Ghostfacers! We face the faceless, we face the DEAD!

The other standout episode also mixed humor with serious tones.  Though it starts off like a stupid takeoff on Groundhog Day, Mystery Spot ends up being one of the more moving episodes in the season.  While investigating a Mystery Spot roadside attraction, Dean is accidently killed.  The next morning Sam wakes up in the same hotel room, but Dean's alive and kicking.  He changes Dean's actions so that he avoids that fatal accident, only to watch him die in other fashion.  Day after day Sam tries to save Dean, and day after day he fails.  It's laugh-out-loud funny in parts, such as when Sam tells his brother that he was hit and killed by a car to which the elder Winchester asks "Did it look cool like in the movies?"  At one point however, viewers get to see what Sam is like without Dean around.  The nice and likable one of the pair turns cold and angry and lives a miserable life without joy.



Once again, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles did a wonderful job in the main roles.  Their characters were much more nuanced this season, and both of them had scenes that were much more difficult to pull off than what they did previously.  Both rose to the challenge remarkably.  Much of the show's success is due to the wonderful chemistry these two actors have.  After watching a couple of shows you'd swear that they were real brothers.

Like all of last year's TV series, this one was cut short by the writer's strike.  That means there's only 16 episodes, but all of them were very good.  The last installment felt rather rushed, but it did wrap up this season's storyline and leave a lot of room for more stories.

The DVD:


Audio:

This season the show gets a DD5.1 mix. Like the earlier two seasons, the original music was kept in tact as far as I could tell. The background music mainly consists of classic rock by groups such as AC/DC, Boston, and Styx, among others, and it goes a long way towards creating the show's unique atmosphere. I'm very pleased that it was included. (Presumably producers are now including the DVD rights when they clear a song for use in a TV show, which is a good thing.) As for the sound quality, it was very good. The dialog is crisp and clean and the sound effects are never overpowered by the music. Distortion, hiss, dropouts, and other audio defects were absent.

Video:


The 1.78:1 widescreen anamorphic image looked very good. The show was shot and mastered in HD and the resulting standard definition DVD has a good amount of detail. The image is sharp and the blacks are deep and dark. The show has a dark atmosphere with a lot of scenes taking place in sewers, dark warehouses, and abandoned buildings late at night. These low light scenes were reproduced very well, with details still present in the shadows and colors appropriately toned. On the digital side, things also look good with only a little minor aliasing in a few scenes. Overall a nice looking set.

Extras:

There's some nice bonus items included in this set.  Seven episodes have "A Closer Look" featurette, where a writer, director, or producer discusses certain scenes from the show.  This was nice since you get a lot of information about what they were trying to do and why in a short and sweet segment.  There's also "Ghostfacers! Confessionals" where the Ghostfacers talk about themselves and give their opinions of Sam and Dean.  It's quite funny and originally appeared on the Ghostfacers web page that CW hosts.  There's a nice featurette on the special effects, "From Legends to Reality", and a fun look at Dean's car, "Supernatural Impala."  The set is rounded off with a gag reel that was pretty amusing.  



Also, for those who want to watch the show while on the go, there are digital copies of all 16 episodes included.  The only down side is that you have to download them all in one session as the activation code only works once.  

Overall this is a very nice set of bonus material.

Final Thoughts:

This show keeps getting better and better.  I have to say that this is my favorite season so far.  The stakes are higher, the battles more intense, and the characters grow in unexpected ways.  The fourth season starts in only a few weeks, as I write this, and having plowed through these episodes in record time I can't wait to see what happens next.  It looks as if I'm going to *gasp* actually watch season four as it airs instead of waiting for the DVDs like I usually do.  This season comes Highly Recommended.

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