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Supernatural - The Complete Eighth Season: BD Review

Sep 4th, 2013

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The Winchester brothers are back, and after a few seasons of mis-steps, they're back in fine form....

Warner / 989 Minutes / 2012-2013 / Unrated / Street Date: September 10, 2013

We were all ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it came to Supernatural, but somehow this Complete Eighth Season was able to tweak some ill-formed story arcs and reinvent a certain dramatic energy for itself. The result is a season of television that doesn’t exactly hearken back to the good ol’ days of the show’s glory days, but one that very successfully embraces its new mythology and – more importantly – makes fans of the series respond to its fresh direction. Consider Supernatural very much alive and well.

It’s such a risky yet eventually rewarding setup that I hesitate to give too much away. For those of us who have followed brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) through so many trials and tribulations, to see deeply-felt narrative elements throw a new set of challenges for them is really something. Let’s just say there is a complicated return from Purgatory for Dean, a piece of information that informs the boys that they’re part of a generations-old secret society, and a finale that has some serious significance (let’s just say the heavens actually start falling down on them…).

If the sixth and seventh seasons brought us Supernatural episodes that were clearly vestiges of a series limping along on its last legs, it’s fair to say that The Complete Eighth Season is a bold, ambitious return to form. It’s not the same show it once was – what series ever is, really? – but very few sci-fi/fantasy efforts effectively reconstitute themselves after they’ve jumped the shark, and while we’ll need to wait and see how Supernatural winds out its overall run, this TV addict must admit to being surprisingly taken with this latest round. They lost me a while back, but their tractor beam ha pulled me back in. I’m as surprised as I am happy to be back. 

Video: How Do The Discs Look?

As was the case with the sets before it, these 1.78:1 1080p transfers on Supernatural: The Complete Sixth Season are rock-solid. Black levels are air-tight, color definition - both in terms of skin tones and darker hues - is exceptional (they particularly hold up well in darker sequences), and there are simply no evidences of edge enhancement or compression artifacting to mention. Black crush is kept to a minimum, to boot, and finely detailed textures come across with the punchy finesse of real high-definition savvy. 

Audio: How Do The Discs Sound?

A show like Supernatural really benefits from a lossless sound presence - with increased fidelity and a panoramic dynamic range, these episodes simply come alive on the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mixes included here. Surrounds are exploited frequently - and quite well - and atmospherics are inviting and moody. Dialogue is, of course, clean and audible throughout. 

Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0 and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are included, as are English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese subtitles.

Supplements: What Goodies Are There?

We get a set of screen-specific audio commentaries featuring producers of the show, some deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and three featurettes: Finding Supernatural Angel Warrior: The Story of Castiel, and For the Defense of Mankind: The Tablets Revealed.

Ultraviolet Digital Copies of all the episodes here are included, as well. 

Final Thoughts:

We once complained that Warner kept saddling their TV-on-BD titles with minimal bonus features and gross lossy sound mixes, but that thankfully isn’t the case anymore. Supernatural: The Complete Eighth Season is a sturdy, good-looking high-def release, one that is as technically assured as it is heavy on supplements. Fans of the show will be thrilled.

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