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I continue to revel in the joys of watching genre shows on television. Sure, most genre shows are short lived, and even worse, insulting to the intelligence of genre fans. Occasionally, a genre TV series such as THE X-FILES and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER will take hold, find an audience and gain itself a long-term place on a network television schedule. This brings us to SUPERNATURAL, the latest genre series to strike the right cord with television audiences. I am not sure how it got the ingredients just right, but SUPERNATURAL combines elements of shows like THE X-FILES, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER and does them all one better. Where most shows would be happy to be a retread of a successful formula, SUPERNATURAL continues to go its own way for a fourth successful season, maintaining its edgy and hip, dark and brooding spin on the world of things that go bump in the night.

The basic premise of SUPERNATURAL follows formerly estranged brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) who were reunited after their father disappeared while hunting the supernatural creature that killed the boys’ mother. Over the years, "hunting" has become the Winchester family business, with the boys following in their father’s footsteps and killing every supernatural beastie that they encounter along the highways and back roads of America. Season four of SUPERNATURAL finds Sam and Dean returning to the road, after one of the brothers was quite literally dragged out of hell by something more powerful than any demon either of them has faced before. Additionally, over the course of the season, the brothers discover they will play a role in a coming apocalypse, which involves demons breaking the sixty-six seals that will release Lucifer and unleash him upon the Earth.

SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON ($80) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired during year four: Lazarus Rising, Are You There God? It's Me, Dean Winchester, In The Beginning, Metamorphosis, Monster Movie, Yellow Fever, It's The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester, Wishful Thinking, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Heaven And Hell, Family Remains, Criss Angel Is A Douchebag, After School Special, Sex And Violence, Death Takes A Holiday, On The Head Of A Pin, It's A Terrible Life, The Monster At The End Of This Book, Jump The Shark, The Rapture, When The Levee Breaks and Lucifer Rising.

Warner Home Video has made all twenty-two episodes from SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentations are quite marvelous and render the series intended, stylized and slightly gritty look without a hitch. Image sharpness and detail are quite strong, plus there is a nice level of dimensionality. Close ups render the strongest level of fine detail, with the stubble on the actors faces being clearly visible. Again, the process work appears a little weak in comparison to shots without any visual effects, but it never really detracts from the overall presentation. Colors are a little changeable, depending upon the intended look or mood of a given scene. Hues always appear stable, even when fully saturated. Additionally, season four offers a black and white episode that is an homage to the look of old monster movies. Blacks are deep the whites appear clean. Contrast can be a bit edgy and continues to push the envelope for typical broadcast fare. Grain/video noise is noticeable, but keeps the presentations organic.

All the episodes that comprise SUPERNATURAL: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtracks. Personally, I would have preferred lossless soundtracks, but the standard Dolby Digital gets the job done reasonably well. As this is a television series, the sound designs are a bit front heavy, especially during the talky passages. However, the sound mixes that do deliver more than their fair share of directional effects, which engage the outlying channels rather well. Fidelity is respectable where the musical component is concerned and the sound effects are fairly convincing. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English and French subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some supplemental materials that have been spread throughout the set. Running Audio Commentaries are featured on three episodes: In The Beginning, When The Levee Breaks and Lucifer Rising. Next is The Mythologies Of Supernatural, an hour long, multi-part program, whose content is self evident from the title. Extended/Unaired Scenes and a Gag Reel close out the supplements.

Season four SUPERNATURAL provides one devil of a great time for genre TV fans and season four could be the show’s best. The Blu-ray release maintains the intended look of the series, in addition to alleviating the compression hiccups that detract from hi-def broadcasts. Highly recommended.



Supernatural: The Complete Fourth Season [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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