The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester
By Nicholas Knight
Over the course of seven seasons of Supernatural, demon hunting brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), have gone from the continental United States to other dimensions, other times, hell and even purgatory. As a hyper-exaggerated, ultra-gritty metaphor for life, their endless encounters with demons, vampires, shape-shifters, hellhounds, angels and even Lucifer himself acclimate them to an imperfect world where plans rarely work out the way we hope they will, leaving the journey itself to define meaning.
Nicholas Knight's absurdly comprehensive and elaborate coffee table book on the series details this journey quite vividly. Broken up into seasonal chapters, providing an overview of the events, themes and plot arcs throughout each, the book features still photography from behind the scenes and from the show, contextualizing the synopses and exposition.
But what makes The Essential Supernatural a must-have for true fans of the surprisingly dark and gory, perpetual road trip, of a series, is the intense attention to detail.
Throughout the book are deconstructions of the various elements that go into making the show. The multiple cars used on the show, as well as the various motel room designs (posters and sets), props, artwork and weapons are all given their own sections, often with pull out postcards and stickers to make the reading experience more interactive.
Postcards and hidden envelopes pop up sporadically, filled with mock-up posters of the various monsters and other still imagery from the show, giving a "hidden treasure" dynamic to the text. And though some of the writing is quite repetitive and rudimentary, the various stylistic flourishes, when detailing the many types of demons and angels on the show, add enough dimension to the material to compensate, adding appeal for the wandering eye.
Because the actor and creator interviews and factoids are so involved and extensive, it's unlikely that anyone would walk away from the book claiming not to have learned something new about the show. The Essential Supernatural is a rather impressive amalgamation of creative ideas and investigative research that makes an excellent companion piece to a consistently good TV show.
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