When last we saw The Brothers Winchester, Sam was standing over Dean’s body, which had been ripped up by an off-screen hellhound, while Dean was apparently in Hell, which looks like a neuron map. No, I’m not making that up, and if it sounds strange to you, you’re missing the best scary time on TV.
Supernatural follows the exploits of the aforementioned Winchesters, demon hunters and messed-up good guys. In a previous season, rebel with a cause Dean (Jensen Ackles, Smallville and Dark Angel) had negotiated for straight arrow Sam’s (Jared Padalecki, Gilmore Girls) life by offering up his own, and last season was all about how to stop that bill from coming due. One of the things that makes this show fun, however, is their willingess to go as dark as TV goes–the heroes failed, the debt was collected, and Deano’s in Hell. They must find some way out, as tonight’s season premiere is called “Lazarus Rising” and descriptions of it suggest that Dean wakes up in a pine box, apparently free of his demon overlords. The boys’ friend Bobby (Deadwood‘s wonderful Jim Beaver), that rare demon hunter who has survived to a reasonably old age, is suspicious, however–what new bargain has provided this little gift, and what new debt is ripening?
Supernatural does a nice job with overarching story arcs like this, but they’re just as good at creepy one-offs that focus on the real origins of fairy tales or ancient links to Christmas creatures that want to eat more than cookies left by the fireplace. Unlike recent entries to the goosebump genre (Fringe, I’m looking at you), Supernatural benefits from heaping spoonfuls of dark humor–we’ve mentioned previously that The Tick‘s brilliant Ben Edlund is on the writing staff, and it shows. Supernatural has the bad luck of airing opposite the terrific NBC comedy block (or, for people outside of TV Bacon’s immediate circles, CSI: Original Flavor) but it’s premiering a week earlier than its competition so you have a chance to dip your toe in their scary, dangerous, invisible universe. Give them a try–but leave your lights on. Tonight and every Thursday at 9pm Eastern/Pacific on the CW.