SUPERNATURAL just got renewed for its 12th season, which makes it not only the longest-running show on the CW (it has been around longer than the CW has been around), but it is one of the longest-running scripted dramas currently on the air. I’ve always thought that the secret to the show’s success is a brilliant blend of gore, lore, and humor. The series follows Sam and Dean Winchester, brothers who were raised by their father to be demon hunters. They don’t just hunt demons, but vampires, werewolves, witches, rogue angels, ghosts, demigods, fairies, and anything that goes bump in the night.
I have long felt that SUPERNATURAL has outlived its “mythology.” Every season, the Winchesters come up against a bigger threat, and every season they half-neutralize it, enough so that next season, it can turn into something bigger. I understand that this is how a lot of shows operate, but unfortunately, it has gotten a little dull. The boys have both died and been brought back to life more times than I can count. When you remove the risk of death, it lowers the stakes. This season, they are trying to fight something that simply goes by the name “The Darkness.”
The humor is what always captivates me about SUPERNATURAL. I find the strictly-serious episodes to, at times, be tedious. Luckily a team of talented writers break up the monotony with some clever, and utterly bonkers episodes. Here are five of my favorites.
“Ghostfacers” (Episode 313)
Before Tucker and Specs, there were the Ghostfacers: a wacky team of wannabe ghost hunters. They are shooting a pilot for their own reality show in a haunted house where a ghost comes back to kill every leap year. Sam and Dean show up to hunt the ghost and find something even more unwelcome: the Ghostfacers. The Winchesters are locked in the house with the Ghostfacers, so they have to put up with constant cameras while keeping everyone alive and trying to rid the house of the ghost. The Ghostfacers were so popular that the surviving members appeared in several other episodes of Supernatural, and had their own web series.
“Changing Channels” (Episode 508)
As someone who is obsessed with television, I love it when TV shows send their stars through TV tropes. “Changing Channels” sent the Winchesters into spoofs of CSI, GREY’S ANATOMY, KNIGHT RIDER, a Japanese game show, a sitcom, even a commercial for genital herpes, all with hilarious results. This episode gets bonus points for insulting both terrible Incredible Hulk films.
“The French Mistake” (Episode 615)
The “getting there” is a little hackneyed, but once they are there, boy, are they there. Sam and Dean get transported into another dimension, which turns out to be our dimension. They arrive on a TV set for a series called SUPERNATURAL… and in this universe, their alter-egos are actors named Jared Padalicki and Jensen Ackles. You see where this is going. It is a hilarious send up of the actors (Misha Collins is a Twitter-obsessed douche who tweets things like, “Hola Misha-migos”) and producers (Eric Kripke, the creator of the show, is trying to sell a show called “OctoCobra”). In this Earth 2, Jensen and Jared don’t talk to each other when they aren’t on set; Jared has a pet alpaca that is his baby; and magic doesn’t exist, forcing Sam and Dean to use the vast wealth of their counterparts to find a way home. It is fun, silly, and ultimately a very clever and very meta episode.
“Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie” (Episode 714)
Deaths seem to be centralized around a Chuck E. Cheese-like establishment, Plucky Pennywhistle’s. A terrifyingly cheery employee is getting revenge on neglectful parents after his brother drowned as a child when their parents weren’t paying attention. One parent is killed by a vampire octopus; another by a unicorn horn; the janitor is eaten by a shark in the ball pit. And poor Sam, phobic of clowns, is terrorized by clowns that bleed glitter. My favorite line from the episode has Dean asking, “Octovamp? Vamptopus? That’s crazy even for us. Right?”
“Fan Fiction” (Episode 1005)
In season four, Sam and Dean discovered a “prophet” named Chuck who had visions of their life as hunters, and wrote a series of cheesy pulp novels about their adventures. Throughout the series, the books gained popularity, even leading to an annual Supernatural convention. In “Fan Fiction,” the show’s 200th episode, the boys discover that students at an all-girl school are putting on a musical based on the books. The director wasn’t happy with where Chuck’s books ended, so her version is partially fan fiction, leading to strife among the actors who don’t think they should be doing anything non-canonical. Highlights include the director’s continued disbelief that Sam and Dean are real – even when confronted by them; a musical version of the classic “The Road So Far” montage that opens each season; a “Ghostfacers” cheer; and a high-school musical cover of “Carry On Wayward Son.”
The following episodes get a mention simply because they have awesome titles:
“Shut Up, Dr. Phil”
“Criss Angel is a Douchebag”
“Live Free or Twi-Hard”
“Mannequin 3: The Reckoning”
“Season Seven, Time For a Wedding!”
“Everybody Hates Hitler”