TV Review - Supernatural and Other Sci-Fi Shows

Jensen Ackles (left) and
Jared Padalecki in "Supernatural"

Supernatural is now in its sixth season on the CW. It was supposed to end after its fifth season, but the network decided to renew it. It stars Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester, and, Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester. I didn't see any of those previous five seasons, which might be a deterrent from watching the sixth, but it's not. I started watching the sixth season cold and I was able to follow it. I even fell in love with the series and made it a show I watched week-to-week.
Without getting into the plot details, Sam and Dean are two brothers who ride around the country and solve crimes that have a demonic connection like vampires and werewolves or ghosts or etc. They're essentially demon hunters. They have relatives who are also demon hunters and they are aided by a very powerful angel named Castiel. The show has a tone and aesthetic that's similar to The X-Files meets Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. It's dark and creepy, occasionally scary and often action-packed, as well as ironic and funny.
Supernatural is probably the best TV series featuring sci-fi and fantasy elements currently on the airwaves or even cable lines. The worst was thankfully cancelled. It was NBC's The Cape. Created by Tom Wheeler, it starred David Lyons as Vince Farrady, a cop who's framed for a crime he didn't commit. Keith David co-stars as Max, a carnival magician who gives Vince an alter ego and trains him in the ways of the magician. Vince becomes a crime-fighter known as the Cape.
The pilot episode was so irritating that I never watched another episode after. That first episode tried to be like Batman Begins. The first hour crammed a lot of plot down the audience's throat. It wasn't like the series it replaced, which was Heroes. The origins of the characters' abilities in Heroes evolved naturally. It didn't have cliché montages. In the second hour, the pacing slammed on the brakes, and the show took an extreme detour. It then introduced all this complicated and convoluted stuff that made things even more lame, which might have been tolerable, if the powers of Vince weren't themselves extremely lame.
No Ordinary Family was the other, more successful, superhero series. The show was a live action version of the animated film The Incredibles. Created by Greg Berlanti and Jon Harman Feldman, it focused on the Powell family that during a Brazilian plane crash develop super powers. Jim Powell, the father, played by Michael Chiklis, has super strength and invincibility. Stephanie, the mother, played by Julie Benz, has super speed. Their daughter Daphne is telepathic and their son JJ has super intelligence. It started out like Modern Family where the characters talk to the camera. Immediately, it settled into a fairly decent, comic book realization with mystery, intrigue and well-done action, occasionally.
V was one of three sci-fi series on this year that was all about an alien invasion. It was ABC's remake of the series of the same single-letter name back in 1984. It starred Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) as Erica Evans, a FBI agent who is assigned to investigate when several alien spaceships descend and hover above all of Earth's major cities. The leader or Queen of the aliens is Anna, played by Morena Baccarin. She claims to come in peace, but secretly she's plotting to takeover the planet through colonization and cross-breeding.
Season One of the series centered on learning what the aliens truly were as well as recruitment of 5th column, which is a group secretly working to stop the aliens. Season Two, which aired in 2011, centered on the aliens being undermined by the 5th Column and the consequences that result. The show is filmed mostly against green screen, and the special effects lean toward gross out moments or intense violence.
The Event on NBC was cancelled after surviving for barely one season, but it was the other TV series about alien invasion. It's not as obvious as V. It's more covert and is a conspiracy theory that slowly rolls out bit by bit. It's tone and structure has been aptly compared to 24 and Lost. It manages to maintain a fairly, high-octane energy episode-to-episode where you never know where it's going to go.
Because the show was cancelled, the ultimate plot may never be resolved, but the wild ride that the audience experiences was surprising and thrilling. A wealth of stars bolstered it, including Blair Underwood as the first Afro-Hispanic American President and Laura Innes, as the leader of the aliens trying to takeover the Earth. The show in many ways was the perfect setup for the new series on TNT called Falling Skies, which will kick off the summer TV season and will be the third series within six months about alien invasion. Falling Skies, however, doesn't have the star power as the NBC series, except for the fact that it is backed by Steven Spielberg and has the look that it might be a weekly War of the Worlds.
Fridays at 9PM on the CW.
Five Stars out of Five.
The Cape
One Star out of Five.
Available online and on DVD.
No Ordinary Family
Four Stars out of Five.
Available online at Amazon and iTunes.
Four Stars out of Five.
Available soon on DVD.
The Event
Five Stars out of Five.
Available online at Hulu.


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