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Saturday, 10 December 2016

Supernatural S12 (First Act)

Series 12 (First Act)

Okay, full disclosure: While I made an earnest attempt to watch every episode of this series that has aired thus far, I couldn't bring myself to actually complete most of them. They're just so boring, guys. Horribly, tearfully boring, to the point where actually sitting through them for forty minutes at a time is nearly impossible. I did, however, reluctantly force myself to watch all the plot important episodes in their entirety, so I guess that's something? Probably?


In this year's series of Supernatural, Sam and Dean run afoul of the British Men of Letters, who wish to utilise their particular methodology to cleanse the US of monsters and demons. With their now revived mother Mary in the mix as well, the two find themselves running up against a potentially even bigger problem: Lucifer, who is using his newfound freedom to do -- something. Egh. We'll get to that, I'm sure.

In the interests of having to talk about this series as little as possible, here's what I said on What We're Watching after the first episode -- because it still holds true, and in fact has been shown to hold even more true as the series goes on.

But first, an image.

Good news! It's even worse than you could possibly reasonably expect. It's boring, the dialogue is tired, and the main actors look increasingly like they'd rather be anywhere else.

Still, this series gives us two separate plot strands to work with, so we may as well talk about each of them in turn.

The first is the British Men of Letters storyline, which functions as a poorly veiled jab at things like gun control and the NHS -- which is not altogether surprising, Supernatural is and has always been a startlingly right-wing show (there's a reason it has preposterously high viewing figures in the Deep South), but it doesn't make for solid ground to build an entire plot. Unfortunately, it is the only thing that storyline has. "In the UK, nobody dies from monster attacks," says a British Men of Letters evilly as they smoke from an evil cigarette holder and torture someone. "We just want to share that with the US." Somewhere, in a writer's room, a man winks at the audience and waggles his eyebrows.

But that's all it has, which might explain partly why the series is so loathe to actually dwell on that storyline much. The more it features into an episode, the more apparent it becomes that the writers' thought process started at 'Nuh-huh-uh, gun control bad, analogy' and then promptly ended there.

Which leaves me without much to say about it. It's an Alt-Righter's wet dream, but then, that's what Supernatural has always been, and always been intended to be.

Yadda yadda yadda torture etc.

Which leads me onto the Lucifer plotline, which is a sitcom. Ah, no, you could actually make the argument that it's a soap opera, in that way in which basically all of Supernatural is a soap opera, but there is such a consistent emphasis on comedy that I would definitely say it's a sitcom. Unfortunately, none of it is good comedy -- there are two jokes at play in this storyline: Either Lucifer is comically inept at pretending to be the person he's masquerading as in any given episode, or he's making veiled, punny references to how he's the Devil.

That's it. Those are the jokes. Neither of them are executed well in the first place, but even if they had been, they would have grown old after the first ten minutes.

Again, I'm not being given a lot to talk about here. It's a sitcom about Lucifer hopping between bodies. That's it. There's no sense of threat, or mystery, or really anything that might compel a viewer to keep watching, it's just two jokes played out over and over again, for forty minutes, in a limited range of different scenarios.

Mary is in some episodes probably I guess.

The show goes so far as to clarify early on that Lucifer has absolutely zero motivation or plan, which they try to play off as being super dangerous, but given that the worst he does is kill a few people over petty reasons, just comes across as 'we couldn't be bothered to think of a plotline, so we're just going to say he doesn't have a plan.'

Time and again, I am struck by the level of scorn and disdain Supernatural's writers have for its viewers, as it regurgitates the same stuff again and again, each time with even less effort put into it, and each time with an even more assured expectation that viewers will lap it up. Worse still, that scorn appears to actually be somewhat warranted, given that they've yet to be proven wrong.

So that's the first act of Supernatural's twelfth series. It's awful. We all knew it would be. Maybe if we're lucky, it'll get cancelled before the second act has a chance to start airing, but I wouldn't hold out hope.

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