Review by C.J. Bunce
The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Grimm, Warehouse 13, The Librarians. Now spinning off of 15 years and 327 episodes of Supernatural, CW’s new series The Winchesters is staking its claim as the next amazing high adventure series with a horror twist. The pilot doesn’t waste any time introducing the four key leads and jumping right in with the next Scooby Gang, complete with a Mystery Machine van (everything but a Great Dane). With a second episode arriving this Wednesday, the longest continuously running genre series of the century looks like it may have a worthy prequel. Best of all, it’s fun.
Meg Donnelly (American Housewife) jumps right in as Mary, TV’s next badass heroine, saving future hubby John Winchester (“stop helping!”), played by Drake Rodger (Not Alone)–both to one day become parents of the Supernatural brothers Winchester. Both about 19 years old, John is home from two years in Vietnam, and Mary is already well into a life knowing monsters, demons–all of it–are real. The year is 1972 and both Mary and John are trying to track down their missing fathers when they collide as a demon arrives.
Demons, vampires, monsters. And monster hunters. An abandoned “paranoid freemason” lodge serves as their Grimm van, Librarians’ or Sunnydale library, the Sleepy Hollow tunnel archives, or Warehouse 13. The pilot episode introduces a Hellraiser puzzle box that traps monsters. And they aren’t alone. Consistent with a university town in the 1970s, Mary has two diverse members of her monster club in Lawrence, Kansas: Nida Khurshid is another hunter named Latika, and Jojo Fleites is Carlos, a hunter who brings a Freddie Mercury vibe.
The formula is tried and true. The casting is perfect. Donnelly and Rodger have instant chemistry. By the end of the first episode viewers are invested in this new Scooby Gang. The Winchesters looks like a step up from similar CW shows targeting a similar demographic, like Charmed, Riverdale, and Smallville. Bring on the next mystery–and monster–of the week. Jensen Ackles runs the show and narrates. 1960s-1970s southern rock is the music of choice. Thirteen episodes are ahead in season one. The fast pace may indicate the showrunners plan to make full use of each hour.
Darker than Riverdale, but not as dark as Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This is familiar territory for CW viewers, and a fun update with new stories to look forward to for Supernatural fans. The Winchesters airs on the CW Wednesday evenings, and it streams on the CW Network app. The pilot is available now.