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Classic rock, classic cars, guns, snark, shoulders, dimples, hands...
on May 22, 2008
Despite a few stutters by the writers on racial and gender issues, Supernatural's third season follows the show's established tradition of cranking the intensity a notch higher than in the previous season. The crew, as always, have outdone themselves in set design and dressing, locations, props, and camera technique. Lighting, which began the season as the network wanted, brighter and more colorful, was found to be less effective. By mid-season it returns to the familiar moody noir-ish look that provides shadow and mystery to things we never completely see, and is something of a signature look for the show. The effects departments, both physical and digital, are up to their usual standards, always bringing the viewer movie-quality visuals. Veteran directors Phil Scriggia, Robert Singer, and Kim Manners bring their unique styles, perspectives, and knowledge of the world the characters inhabit to their episodes.
The actors surpass their performances in previous seasons. Ackles, always a gifted physical actor, delivers some of the best facial acting anywhere on film today. And Padalecki, after years as a dependable male ingenue, has matured into his craft. Physically imposing, he uses his body as an instrument, drawing in to present Sam as self-effacing and non-threatening or, where it's called for, using his height and impressive wingspan to intimidate and dominate. His facial acting has refined with maturity as well, to the point where he can hold the screen with his costar. The emotional reaches these two young actors take their characters are deeply affecting for the viewer, breathing life into characters on a page.
The themes the series returns to time and again, family, alienation, rescue, surviving in a hostile world, helping the less fortunate, are solid themes whether set in medieval Italy, on a planet in a distant star system, or in an urban sitcom. The background of ordinary, uniquely American life overlaid on an unsuspected realm of myth, legend, and theology is merely the setting for these themes to develop and unspool. This crew of writers, technicians, craftspeople, directors and actors is able to establish and invite the viewer into this created reality. It's an invitation worth taking.