Supernatural’s Latest Spoof is Spot On

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Fri, Oct 30 - 12:16 am EDT | 4 years ago by
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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?


SUPERNATURALOver 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.

SUPERNATURALFrom 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.

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  • Sasha

    Thanks for this little peak. I know you said, you didn’t want to give too much away but just a little clarification on something I already took from the recap: are their names in the Grey’s spoof really Dr.McSexy and Dr.Brilliant? Teehee.

  • teffy

    Jeffrey Dean Morgan was on Grey’s and Supernatural at the same time. Grey’s didn’t steal him away.

  • Cynthia

    Actually, Teffy, JDM’s role on Grey’s was the one that catapulted him to fame, and with that his availability and price range made it very difficult for Supernatural to bring him back. So, I’d still say, they stole him away.

  • immie_8

    You LUCKY woman, getting to preview and episode! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, I can’t wait to see this episode!

  • Nic

    You’re really very lucky!
    This made me a little worried, though:
    “everything she says has a double meaning and then it takes a turn for worse.”
    Can you tell us if it’s about the brothers, their relationship or something else, please?

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  • mak

    actually Cynthia, its has been widely reported by Kripke, Bob Singer and the late Kim Manners that JDM NEVER asked for more money to reprise John Winchester…. it was a labor of love and he has always worked for scale wages. So his fame on GA, or in movies NEVER stole him from SPN, financially.

  • nora

    You are SO lucky! It sounds great and should be fun, despite the fact that I really am so tired of the “gimmicks” lately. Can’t wait to see Jensen on CSI. :) I imagine CSI(Miami right?) and Grey’s spoofs must have been especially fun to write and film, given they have aired against Grey’s and the original CSI for the last 4 years.

  • Deej

    Don’t know about Jensen and CSI:Miami, but the preview showing Jared being that David Caruso guy was a spot on jab and quite a hoot. I’m quite looking forward to this one– Love the Trickster, and I really hope there’s something in there that ties back to the last time we saw him in Mystery Spot. That’s an episode that needs some serious follow-up!

  • Abyassee

    I am a child of the television era from way back, too–probably a lot further back than you!–and I am really looking forward to this episode. I love the pop culture references and inside jokes on the show, and while they may get a little overdone sometimes, they usually fit nicely into the frame of the episode and the current arc. I’m looking forward to seeing the Trickster again, too, and seeing where he fits into the Apocalypse mythology. I would speculate that he isn’t exactly thrilled over the whole thing, what with the angels and demons threatening to mess up his playground!

  • Donna

    This may be the first episode ever that I skip.I won’t get half the in-jokes,and I’m tired of this writing staff taking time out of a limited season to parody much more successful shows than theirs.
    There had better be some substantial movement on the apocalyptic front in this one ( although I don’t see how) or I’m going to be thoroughly annoyed.

  • Cheryl

    In this episode’s trailor clip, Sam and Dean on the tandem bike looked like it was taken straight from the opening theme montage of the comedy show “Laverne and Shirley” The brothers even had the girls leg actions down pat!

  • AmberUK

    I don’t understand the defensive/aggressive attitude displayed in some of the comments so far – love loved JDM in Gray’s and still love Gray’s Anatomy, but that doesn’t stop me loving SPN as well… It’s obvious that JDM’s time was taken up with other things (one of which was GA, others included big film breaks like Watchmen) and so it would always be difficult for a low budget relatively cult show like SPN to get him back. Get over it!
    Interested in the reviewer’s perception that international audiences won’t get the references – come on – these shows they are parodying are on every channel in most countries worldwide, we are not backwaters in the rest of the world you know!
    And I for one, can’t wait to see where they go with this one, though I was glad to read that the overall myth arc is going to be taken forward too, as I prefer to see this developed rather than waste too much time on “fillers”

  • Cynthia

    “Interested in the reviewer’s perception that international audiences won’t get the references – come on – these shows they are parodying are on every channel in most countries worldwide, we are not backwaters in the rest of the world you know!”

    Wow, so much tension over such a small TV review. My comment came from two international friends who told ME they didn’t get some of the references because they weren’t familiar with the TV shows covered. I think everyone will get the general joke, but there are some very specific jokes (Such as the one about JDM) that unless you watch Grey’s and followed the whole Denny is a ghost storyline, you won’t get. It’s still funny, but the second layer of the joke will be missed.

    I’d say it’s less likely that a person in Brazil is going to get the “what’s happening” reference than someone raised on American sitcoms here in the states. It was the same with Monster Movie, everyone understood the premise but not everyone got the deeper layer of the jokes – you couldn’t, unless you were a fan of old Universal monster pictures.

    But, unlike the dialouge on Supernatural, there’s no deeper, hidden meaning to what I’m writing. It’s just my opinion.

  • immie_8

    @AmberUK: Like Cynthia said, GA is what catapulted JDM into stardom, though – so it’s kind of responsible for taking JDM away from us. (Not that I begrudge his success, I just miss seeing him on SN.)

    I have to admit at being a little miffed at GA not so much for capulting JDM into the spotlight, but for taking up most of his spare time last season with that ridiculous sounding “ghost-sex” storyline. I mean, seriously, what a waste of his talent!

  • AmberUK

    Hi Cynthia – no offence taken at the international comment, I just wanted to point out that Grays is big over here in the UK and shows like CSI are repeated endlessly. There are always ‘pop cultural’ US references I don’t get in lots of US shows and you are right – this rarely spoils the enjoyment. A few in jokes are always likely to get missed – it’s nice to find there are lots of websites that often pick these out and explain them if something really bugs you. For instance I had no idea what the Monster at the End of the Book reference was about until I read a review somewhere.
    It didn’t matter.
    Didn’t mean to sound annoyed in my post!! I wasn’t.
    And point take about Brazil etc – non English speaking countries are likely to miss more of the nuances.

  • Ellie

    After catching that half a minute of Jared doing Horatio, I was sold. I will probably not care for the rest of the episode, but hot damned, Jared did Horatio perfectly.

    Damned him to lure me back to the show with half a minute’s performance that had me in a helpless giggling paroxysm.

  • crypto

    Loved, and love, your comments. But I wouldn’t be too sure international viewers won’t get it. Sadly (or gladly, deepending on your views)almost all good and mediocre American shows can be seen on cable TV all over the world. And when I say ALMOST I mean: the best show on AmTV right now! is not on many cable TV’s around the world. Why? because it is not about quality but about distribution. And the most powerful distributors are the Majors. Just the same, SPN has managed to collect a world wide fandom and DVD buying following some other so called “famous shows” would love to have.
    Money, not quality, makes the world go ’round… sigh!

  • Tash

    Thank you for your review Cynthia, wow lucky lucky you. I have a question, if I make a guess on the big reveal is it possible for you too email me to tell me if I am close or not. Feel free to delete this post if you would rather. What I am guessing from various things I have seen about this episode is that the guys were put in this situation for a reason. I think that reason is for Dean to remember something or come to some kind of realisation. Is Dean Michael? Not a fallen angel because Michael didn’t fall but a lost angel maybe. So will Dean come to remember much like Anna did? Ok I am probably way off the mark here but there has been spec that Dean is Michael around and I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the case.

    This episode does sound fantastic, thanks again!

  • Heather

    Thank you for your review, I’m now looking forward to this episode.
    Two really not too spoiler questions if you want to answer them email please do.

    1) Does Dean have a GA nickname, if so do tell =).
    2) Another reviewer mentioned Dean’s answer in a Japanese game show, please tell me it’s not too humiliating.

  • cuddy

    thanks for the reviews!

    omg, dean being michael would be so ridiculous..!

    honestly, i just need a push like that to stop watching!

  • CJ

    I can’t wait to see the episode! I watch CSI:MIAMI and actually it’s more cartoonish and humorous than dramatic. I love it that they’re doing a parody of this show. I can’t stand Grey’s, it was actually a good show a long time ago but now it’s just a sappy soap opera filled with annoying characters. Supernatural is more creative, original and entertaining.

  • Ozzie

    OK…my friends have a saying that goes ”Junk In The Trunk”, so the fangirls liking Dean digging in the trunk…means that Dean is going to be checking Sam’s trunk…as in his ARSE!Lol. I don’t think you mean Dean checking the trunk of his impala.

  • Kelly

    “international viewers aren’t going to pick up on the nuances”

    Really? You seriously underestimate how saturated we “international viewers” are with U.S. programming.

    I’m looking forward to brotherly hijinks with the cute Winchester brothers and that pretty-boy angel!

  • Clarice Hubert

    Cynthia I beg to differ in your comment about international viewers not understanding the subtlety of the show…

    Being an international viewer myself, so far nothing this amazing show has thrown at me was misunderstood, in fact, the more they the more I love it.

    Also, just a small comment the fan base of Supernatural out of the USA is big, I mean – huge – and I’m only talking the SPN Brazil fanatical and rabbit fan..

    So Cynthia tks for your concern, but I do believe we – international viewers – would be able to grasp the meaning and the complexity of this show, otherwise we would be watching Grey’s Anatomy or Gossip Girls!!!

    Have a nice weekend.

  • Cynthia

    Once again, let me say, that the comment people keep referring to had nothing to do with my thoughts about the sophistication of international viewers. It was in reference to some very specific American TV injokes. I watch a lot of British TV, but Graham Norton often makes references to Brit shows and the audience laughs, so I know I’m not getting the joke. It’s not insult to my intelligence or the quality of his show – it’s a cultural reference and I don’t get it because I haven’t been brought up on those shows.

  • raiko

    I can’t wait to see this ep … another hilarious ep ..I am loving all the best episodes of this Season..we ‘ve got a lot of fun episodes as Kripke said that Season5 is going to be a ‘Fun Apocalypse’ ..and he is so right about it by putting our boys on TV shows …how much fun will that be !!!ah!ah!!ah!!
    And it’s also the return of the Trickster far will he go this time using his evil tricks with Sam & Dean ….

  • nora

    All she said was that international viewers, as a whole, would likely not be as familiar with some of the US Television references. Yes you get a lot of US TV but it still isn’t the same. I think you overestimate how “saturated” you are with US TV, because guess what? It still isn’t as much US viewers are saturated with US TV. :D

    It just isn’t the same thing, so don’t look for reasons to be insulted. I wouldn’t be insulted if a UK reviewer said that some show was likely not to be appreciated as much by a foreign audience(and I have seen that in some reviews, UK reviewers thinking a show is very “British”).

    I watch a lot of UK tv shows through downloading and cable, I have since I was a kid, but I still wouldn’t expect to be as familiar as someone who actually LIVES with it in the culture which created it and who sees stories about it on all the entertainment shows and in all the entertainment magazines.

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  • Cynthia

    I’ll stipulate to the money issue – I did some research and what I found on a quick look was Kripke at Comic con saying we’d love to have JDM but have you noticed, he’s a big star now (which I took to mean out of budget, no time, just not in a position to do a small show like Supernatural when he has major movie deals).

    Misha, in an interview, said he thought JDM was too expensive now to return to the show.

    Many times Kripke has said that because JDM is so popular now, that scheduling him is a nightmare, thus the odd green screen use of him in the Yellow Eyes finale.

  • Cynthia

    Hey, it’s always about the brothers, their relationship AND something else.

  • Cynthia

    I don’t think Sam’s character was named specifically – so I’m using a little poetic license – but not much.

  • Cynthia

    This is going to sound insanely geeky but here’s how I saw it. Jared was playing Sam, spoofing David Caruso. Perfect. Jensen was playing a character on CSI. Also perfect in a different way