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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 Ryan Keefer | posted September 10, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Movie:

Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles, Smallville), and his younger brother, Sam (Jared Padalecki, Gilmore Girls), have fake credit cards, no girlfriends, are wanted by the police, live like truckers (but with a nicer rig), and have the toughest jobs around; they're demon hunters.

After selling his soul to a demon at the end of Season Two to bring his brother Sam back from the dead, Dean was given one year to live, and Season Three follows the last several months of this agreement. Sam is by no means happy about the metaphorical Sword of Damocles hanging over Dean's head, and he believes Dean should be a little more concerned about going to hell than he appears. Throughout the season, though, Dean's nonchalance over the future of his soul breaks down, and Sam fights hard to find a way to get Dean out of the contract. However, if Dean tries to renege on the agreement, Sam is a goner. And it can be difficult to find time to research the demon that holds Dean's contract when they've had their hands full with the few hundred demons are so that were released into the world after Sam and Dean opened the gates to Hell at the end of Season Two.

But they have some help managing and disposing of the hellions that have infiltrated the globe. Of course, they can always count on Bobby (Jim Beaver, John From Cincinnati), a fellow hunter and family friend, but there's someone new that's demanded their attention, Ruby (Katie Cassidy, Click), who is not exactly a candy striper. She's a demon with a suspicious fondness for humanity ... and a really cool knife. In the not-so-helpful category is the new thorn in the Winchester's side, Bela (Lauren Cohan, Van Wilder 2), a British chick with a penchant for hard-to-find objects that she can sell to the highest bidder, often leaving Sam and Dean high and dry when it comes to important magical trinkets.

Only a few of the episodes were really disappointing. There's no question that Ackles and Padalecki can act; it was great to watch the normally macho Dean and the softer Sam switch personas through the season as Dean's time on earth was coming to a close. And while I was interested in the overarching storyline on Dean, episodes like "Bad Day at Black Rock," were among my favorites because of how Sam was dealing with the potential life without Dean, and because Ackles and Padalecki appear to be natural at comedy, this definitely played to their strengths. That particular episode focuses a lot on Sam, who is a great character embodied so well by Padalecki. The season's 16 episodes are spread over five discs, and the episodes are as follows:

Disc One

"The Magnificent Seven"

The seven deadly sins arrive in semi-human form, paving the way for the questionably helpful Ruby and her most definitely helpful supernatural knife. Considering this was the season premiere, I expected a quality story. This was a little boring.

Grade: C

"The Kids Are Alright

Dean gets a lot of leeway from Sam because of his impending death, but it pays off when they visit an old flame of Dean's and discover that her son, who's a ringer for Dean, and other kids in the neighborhood, aren't acting like themselves. Here we get the first inklings that Dean isn't ready to die; he imagines that he could have a son and a family.

Grade: A

"Bad Day at Black Rock"

Sam and Dean are alerted to a break-in attempt of an unknown storage locker owned by their dead father, also a demon hunter. A cursed object is stolen, and it leaves mostly bad luck wherever it goes. Not only do we meet the wretched Bela, but we get some lighthearted amusement from the brothers in the form of: Dean getting an ice-cream headache after winning free food for life; Sam looks like he's 9 years old when he complains that he lost a shoe; and Dean says the greatest line ever: "I am Batman."

Grade: A

Disc Two

"Sin City"

Bobby works on fixing the only gun guaranteed to kill a demon (a.k.a., the colt) and gets some help from Ruby, while Dean gets trapped by a demon but then proceeds to have a civil and even philosophical conversation with her about life in Hell. Not interesting enough for me, but it moved the story along well enough.

Grade: B

"Bedtime Stories"

Grimms' fairytales are reimagined ... and gross. Original fairytales, as it turns out, were more gruesome than ones we all know today, and murders around town are conspicuously reminiscent of a few well-known tales. Sam goes to the crossroads demon that made Dean his deal. Just to talk, of course.

Grade: B

"Red Sky at Morning"

Every 37 years, a ghost ship appears to "special" people. Those people end up dead. Bela could be one of them. Yay! This was one of those episodes, that was superfluous to the main storyline.

Grade: C

"Fresh Blood"

The guys stalk a vampire who is creating family members left and right. Gordon Walker (Sterling Brown, Brown Sugar), a hunter convinced Sam is evil, interrupts the boys' hunting. Also, Dean is acting like he doesn't care about his soul. It's as if he's "already dead."

Grade: A

Disc Three

"A Very Supernatural Christmas"

Great intro here; the show uses the old "Special Presentation," titling as in the 70s and 80s (they would often use them before Christmas specials). People are dying around Christmas time, and a pagan God is expected to be the culprit. An anti-Santa, if you will. Thanks to the holiday, we get a couple of flashbacks that answer the question why Sam is not really a Christmas person. But, since it is Dean's last major holiday, maybe he'll give in.

Grade: B

"Malleus Maleficarum"

Dean hates witches. "All the bodily fluids," he says. But, who better to stop murderous witches than Dean and Sam. Also, Dean has a serious conversation with Ruby about Hell. "Hell is forgetting what you were," she says.

Grade: A

"Dream a Little of Me"

Bobby's in a gosh-darned coma after taking some dream drugs. The guys track down the drugs and take a little themselves to get Bobby to wake up. At first, Dean's dreams are the most normal and even sad, but they quickly escalate to the horrific, making him decide that he really doesn't want to die. It complicates things though, when they lose a seemingly important piece of the make-sure-Dean-doesn't-die plan.

Grade: B

Disc Four

"Mystery Spot"

Where the laws of physics don't apply. Sam is doomed to repeat the day Dean dies over and over. I counted nine actual deaths, but Sam later mentions that he'd seen Dean's death more than 100 times. What would Sam be like without Dean?

Grade: B

"Jus In Bello"

I believe the title of the episode actually means "justice in war." The boys find themselves in prison, surrounded by what could be a hundred demons. Ruby's come to help, but her solution involves killing one innocent person. Is such an act justified if it saves dozens of others? It doesn't matter really, because the "big bad" is finally introduced, and it's a powerful demon in the body of a little girl named Lilith. It's interesting to note that Lilith's eyes actually turn white instead of the typical demonic black.

Grade: A

"Ghostfacers"

Investigating a haunted house shouldn't be this difficult. But, I guess when you have to deal with amateur filmmakers, nothing is easy. I really disliked this episode. It wasn't fun, and it gave me nothing in the way of actual story.

Grade: D

Disc Five

"Long-Distance Call"

Dean thinks he's getting a call from his dad from beyond the grave (in his case, Hell), but we all know demons can mess with electronics. I think he's getting stupid because he's close to dying. Come on Sam, slap some sense into him!

Grade: D

"Time Is on My Side

A doctor from the 19th century is still alive after he discovered the secret to immortality. This theory holds quite a draw for Sam as he thinks about the applications of this procedure for Dean. Unfortunately, the doctor still gets old and has to continually replace organs, etc., when they fail. Gross. Bela can understand the temptation to live forever. She's got some secrets of her own that are discovered.

Grade: B

"No Rest for the Wicked"

Prepare yourself for what the whole season has led up to. Dean's time on earth is up, but the whole gang -- well, Sam, Ruby, and Bobby, are in for one last fight with the demon that holds Dean's contract, Lilith. And Sam just might hold the key to defeating her, inside him! And just because she's in child form, does not mean she's unintelligent; she's got a couple of tricks she's working on, too. This episode also gets a good grade because it left me with so many questions while eagerly anticipating the Season Four premiere.

Grade: A

The Disc:
Video:

There are times when episodes of this standard-definition set looks as if they are in high definition. Of course, I know that's not true, but the close-up shots still enable me to get a good view of Ackles' razor burn or a nice mole on Padalecki's face. Since this is the case, I can only imagine the high-definition version of this set (which will be available November 11, 2008), will be even more impressive.

Audio:

I had major issues with the audio. On the special features, especially, it was hard to set an adequate volume that you didn't have to adjust for blown-out sequences or other surprises. If the dialogue was recorded and leveled out properly, this wouldn't be an issue, but maybe it is to scare the crap out of you, I don't know.

Extras:

The majority of this set's extras consisted of what were called "Scene Specifics," two to four-minute featurettes in which a member of the writing/director/producing team for a particular episode talked about hey, specific scenes and what was involved in their writing, directing, or producing. For the most part, it was pretty general information, but there was a few interesting things mentioned, such as the basis for "The Kids Are Alright," which came from thinking about how creepy children could be (Creator/Executive Producer Eric Kripke had recently had a child). The Visual Effects Supervisor in "Red Sky at Morning" had kind of an interesting task to create two people made out of water that crashed into each other. In "A Very Supernatural Christmas," Kripke mentions that he wanted to portray the most brutal Christmas ever, and that after the episode, his family called him and asked what was wrong with him. Here's the complete list of available "scene specific" featurettes, which are all on the discs with their respective episodes:

The Magnificent Seven: Scene specifics with Director Kim Manners, 2:19

The Kids Are Alright: Scene specifics with Kripke, 3:06

Bad Day at Black Rock: Scene specifics with Writer Ben Edlund, 2:41

Red Sky at Morning: Scene specifics with VFX Supervisor Ivan Hayden, 3:37

A Very Supernatural Christmas: Scene specifics with Kripke, 3:04

Dream a Little of Me: Scene specifics with Kripke, 4:04

Jus In Bello: Scene specifics with Writer Sera Gamble, 3:22

However, there were a few additional extras, including a 16-minute special on the episode "Ghostfacers!" In the episode, the amateur filmmakers film a pilot episode of their show. This extra is the cast of the "Ghostfacers!" show being interviewed as they prepare the pilot to send to network execs. There are some funny pieces of this, like when one of the cast members explains how networks determine what shoes to pick up is based on the Nielsen ratings. The other person in the conversation then asks why they are sending it to network people when they should just be sending it to Nielsen. There were volume issues on pieces of this extra, and it required some messing about with the receiver.

"From Legends to Reality: Supernatural" is the longest feature at 23 minutes on disc five. It combines looks at the visual, special, and makeup effects, and how those teams work together to complete what a scene needs. A few interesting things I learned: the effects guys use pieces of cherries in their blood to make it a little more visceral (in fact, there was a container I saw labeled: "thick chunks," which was pretty funny). This feature also covers the graphic part of the black smoke, which is the graphic representation of demons traveling.

The eight-minute gag reel isn't too bad. Maybe three minutes of it is really worth watching. Ackles and Padalecki (especially) do a ton of mugging for the camera. Padalecki has really got some creepy model look going, where he closes his eyes and sort of sucks in his cheeks like a fish. To use a line from Arrested Development 'How much can I pay you to not make that face?' Lastly, a five-minute look at Dean's famous 1967 Chevy Impala is talked about by those on the show that are in charge of the cars. There is even one guy on here whose title is "Picture Car Wrangler." That is hilarious. In a nice touch, the entire season is available for digital download via iTunes or can be downloaded and played with Windows Media Player.

I was a more than a little disappointed in the extras for the season. Getting the back story on the effects for the show was nice but certainly not groundbreaking. And it's hard to believe there were no commentaries included on any of the episodes or any interaction whatsoever with the two main actors, especially for a show with a seemingly cult-like following. Maybe next season could include a video of the time they spent at the July 2008 Comic-Con, in which I hear their presentation was well-received and they were actually interacting with the fans.

Final Thoughts:

There were some great episodes this season, including several light-hearted moments that really set off the creative humor of the writers, and the introduction of Lilith as the mega demon was a great change of pace, because let's face it, little girls ARE creepy! The season finale left a great cliffhanger that I'm sure sparked many viewers to begin the search online for Season Four spoilers. Season Three is a highly entertaining compilation of the predicaments involving my two favorite demon hunters.

There are more than enough monsters in this season to keep you (or get you) hooked on the show. But if you haven't seen it, hurry up already--you must get up-to-date before we find out what life is like for the Winchesters in Season Four!

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