Once you go to Hell, what do you do for a follow-up? If you’re Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles), the sibling stars of TV’s “Supernatural,” you use that second chance for the good of all mankind by trying to prevent an upcoming apocalypse. That’s the crux for “Supernatural”‘s fourth-season story arc, but for me, it’s still the brothers’ battles with the freak of the week that makes this show worth watching.
Among the 22 episodes here, the standouts tend to come when the show plays around or pokes fun at itself. “Monster Movie” is in black-and-white, with retro credits and archetypes of the Universal Monsters. It gets meta in “The Monster at the End of This Book,” when Sam and Dean learn that there are graphic novels and books based on their adventures, with details only they would know (in real life, the show has crossed over into these fictional formats).
Sometimes this self-deprecating approach makes the show’s attempts at seriousness ring false (i.e. “I’ve got demon blood in me, Dean!”), but “Supernatural” compensates with images of small-screen horror, such as bringing the ol’ razor-blade-in-the-Halloween-candy urban legend to gruesome life.
In more straightforward but no less entertaining eps, a suburban man morphs into a monster, much to the dismay of his wife (Joanne Kelly of “Warehouse 13,” which also treads similar territory well), while other married men fall under the spell of demonic strippers.
“Supernatural” may be the most fun show that most of America isn’t tuning into “ something this six-disc set can remedy. If the leads weren’t so handsomely baby-faced, I suspect critics would be falling over themselves to deem it a worthy successor to “The X-Files,” because it is. Special features include extra scenes and commentaries, but don’t miss the 10-minute gag reel; the series looks like it’s as much of a blast to make as it is to watch.