While you were watching “The Curious Case of Dean Winchester,” I was watching next week’s episode courtesy of a tricky-little demi-God with a wicked sense of humor. Need I say it?
Over the years, Supernatural has done an amazing job with their parody episodes. They recreated the world of the Universal monsters in Monster Movie, complete with black and white photography and fake-looking sets. One year they pulled out the hand-held cameras and took out the crew for a perfect recreation of a ghost hunting reality show.
This season it’s personal, as Supernatural pokes fun at some classic TV shows in an episode called “Changing Channels.”
When I heard rumors of Supernatural as a sitcom complete with laugh track and a visit to Dr. McDreamy, I was worried. I should have remembered the motto — In Kripke We Trust.
“Changing Channels” is mostly brilliant. It’s loaded with sharp dialouge, double-layers of meaning and terrific performances by the Supernatural crew. Oh, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are good, too but they really aren’t the stars of this episode. It’s the camera man, the lighting guy, the director and the editors that get the kudos for this little gem.
The show opens as a typical 70′s sitcom complete with bright lighting, playing to the studio audience and very broad jokes. We know Dean likes to eat, but in the sitcom world his sandwich is three feet tall.
“I’m going to need a bigger mouth!” he exclaims, then offers a patented sitcom smirk directly into camera. As they often do with these parodies, the typical Supernatural logo card is pulled out and replaced with an appropriate piece, in this case a full sitcom theme that tells the story of two ghost hunting brothers. It’s your basic humorous montage that includes (fangirls get ready) riding a tandem bike together, playing football, and racing mini-scooters.
It’s so spot on, it’s scary.
From there, we do spend a little time in the real world as the boys begin investigating a very unusual “bear” attack. Then it’s on to the next show, an excellent Grey’s Anatomy spoof complete with overly dramatic nurses, a face-transplant, Dr. McSexy and a ghost.
As Dean explains to Sam, the actor on the real show plays a ghost who can only be seen by one of the doctors who was in love with him. (Sound familiar?) To which Sam replies, THIS show has ghosts? Go figure.
With Supernatural fighting the ratings race against Grey’s Anatomy for so many years, and then losing Jeffrey Dean Morgan to the show, the barbs are well deserved and well placed.
By this point in the show, I began to realize how much the lighting, camera angles and the music contributed to the feel of what I was watching. It might be Sam and Dean on screen, but that sappy Norah Jones-esque music screams nighttime soap.
But don’t think it’s all about the laughs. The nurse in the piece may be talking about her imagined love affair with Sam’s Dr. Brilliant, but everything she says has a double meaning and then it takes a turn for worse.
Like all good Supernatural parodies, this one gets serious and none too soon. The Japanese game show NutCrackers (yes, it’s exactly what you’re thinking) was pushing the joke a little too far but I did love the spoof commercial that fell in where the real one should be.
Next, we cue the slowmo, dim the lights and slap on the sunglasses — the boys are pushed into CSI Miami and that’s where Kripke takes a moment to really shove home his opinions about the lack of original programming on TV. The funny thing, there’s a moment where Dean is completely into the CSI character of it all and he fits. Or, I guess more accurately, Jensen does. It’s a fantastic parody inside a parody.
I don’t want to give it all away but I know the fangirls are going to love Sam’s “uncomfortable” reaction to Dean digging around in the trunk, Castiel being referred to as a “Pretty boy, angel,” and several mentions of brotherly love.
For me, “Changing Channels” hits the spot, but then I’m a diehard TV junkie and have been since I was little. I got all the jokes. Younger viewers, and international viewers aren’t going to pick up on the nuances and I’m sure some people will put the episode on the bottom of their favorites list.
I say, go in watching for what it’s meant to be — another great Supernatural homage that also happens to be one of the big pieces of the puzzle.
“300 channels and nothing on,” says the Trickster.
I beg to differ.
Watch Supernatural: Changing Channels, next Thursday at 9:00 on The CW.
Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW ©2009 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.