I have made a mistake. As some, or a few, or several, or none (I really have no idea) may have noticed, I never wrote a review for both â€œAdventures In Babysittingâ€ and â€œTime After Time.â€ While I had given myself a few good reasons for not doing this, it was only this week that I realized it was all a bunch of bunk.
Truth be told, I felt like the reviews had gotten kind of stale lately. I thought my â€œDeathâ€™s Doorâ€ review was one of the best ones Iâ€™ve ever written, but then again I had some extraordinary material to work with. The real challenge came with the lesser, aka â€œfillerâ€ episodes. My criticisms were going on to be a broken record. I start writing and pretty soon Iâ€™m humming Herman Hermitâ€™s â€œHenry The Eighth I amâ€ to my self (Second verse, same as the first...). A lot of repetition with little substance.
It was also words that a dear friend of mine, Maureen Ryan, said in her parting review for Supernatural that got me thinking. I talked at length with Mo at the Salute To Supernatural con in Chicago in October and her frustrations with the show were very clear. She even that weekend wrote up a tough love intervention based on our discussion along with Lynn and Kathy of Fangasm. Instead, with that article and a review she did for "The Mentalists" she got an earful from vocal fans that shouted her down for excessive negativity.
Moâ€™s issues with writing reviews were the same as mine. As she said in her article, "Why I Gave Up Weekly Winchester Reviews," "...The show used to be a model of consistency. It never really strayed outside of certain quality parameters.â€ Once it strayed, the happiness of the reviews strayed as well. It was this point though of Moâ€™s that made me step back from writing reviews. â€œThe lack of consistency in the writing is leading to more arguments among fans.â€
Iâ€™m an analytical person by nature. I donâ€™t just judge an episode on whether or not Jared or Jensen rocked it that day (and they always do). I have always thoroughly analyzed the writing and it really kills me that theyâ€™ve given me plenty of ammunition in the last two seasons. Iâ€™ve always looked at directing, lighting, set decoration, hair, the total package, as well as the writing and acting. Iâ€™m always more impressed with an episode that involves a total group achievement. These past two seasons, Iâ€™ve tended to not to look at all those other elements as closely because the writing has become so baffling. Itâ€™s like trying to figure out the color of the carpeting when thereâ€™s a giant elephant filling the room.
Bottom line, I wasnâ€™t sure I was doing a service anymore to this fandom by writing reviews. I couldnâ€™t pretend to be the upbeat happy fan. Iâ€™ve always chosen to tell it like it is, and it felt like I was pissing off a lot of people recently. Thereâ€™s a massive flaw in that logic though. Unlike Mo, I canâ€™t quit. I am the creator/administrator/head writer for a successful Supernatural fan site. I built a reputation first at Blogcritics and then here for being a strong Supernatural episode reviewer. Iâ€™m the only person that has been writing reviews since we started, and to this day Iâ€™m still the most popular (Iâ€™m not bragging, Iâ€™m talking known statistics). We have a wide spectrum of reviews on this site and having a critical thinker only adds to our variety. Thatâ€™s the type of edge weâ€™re losing by me not doing reviews.
I went through a lot of my old reviews to remind myself how I used to do them. It wasnâ€™t always pure Supernatural love. When I loved an episode I said so, when I had issues with an episode I said so, when the episode stunk like the piles of dog crap in my yard I said so. I was always cautious of tone though. In order to produce a seemingly objective review (a hard plight for a hard core Supernatural fan) criticisms need to be well worded and fair. As for praise, itâ€™s okay to let the inner fan girl slip once in a while. Girlfriend needs to be unleashed from her box once in a while.
So, what Iâ€™m really trying to say through all this self indulgent monologuing is, I need to be giving you all fair reviews that involve total honesty. Ones designed to make you think, even though Iâ€™m aware most of you rarely agree with me 100 percent. Thatâ€™s actually an awesome trait with this fandom. â€œAgree to disagreeâ€ is a favorite term of mine. Anything else is a cop out and not worth mine or your time.
This review may be late, and certainly not welcome at this point, but I need to go back and right a wrong. I got started in this business with one simple rule, even if one person reads my stuff, Iâ€™m doing something right. That might be all I get this go around and thatâ€™s okay.
Without further delay, hereâ€™s my review for â€œAdventures In Babysitting.â€
Adventures In Babysitting
Supernatural has always done so many things right. I do find it mind boggling though that consistently every season this show has done such amazing mid season finales only to come back after a long break with mediocre filler. This episode really didnâ€™t have much to live up to. It was in the same class of episodes like â€œPlaythings,â€ â€œFamily Remains,â€ â€œSam, Interrupted,â€ and â€œLike A Virgin.â€ It so...didnâ€™t even live up to even those.
I certainly would not rank â€œAdventures In Babysittingâ€ as the worst of the many recent fillers weâ€™ve gotten. â€œDefending Your Lifeâ€ still takes that title. I actually liked that the episode didnâ€™t go for the anvils over Bobbyâ€™s death and instead chose to show two guys that were just silently suffering in their own ways. It goes to show that these losses still do hurt, but theyâ€™re far beyond the days of weepy melodrama that came with say John Winchesterâ€™s death in season two. (That's not a criticism. I'm just saying they've evolved).
It did hate however the â€œWeek One,â€ â€œWeek Two,â€ â€œWeek Threeâ€ shout out to Twilight (no, I donâ€™t know which movie) at the beginning. It just didnâ€™t seem appropriate here. Shout outs are best served during the lighter moments. Or when theyâ€™re totally badass, like when Bobby tells Robo-Sam with an axe â€œDonâ€™t say â€˜Hereâ€™s Johnny.â€™â€ Otherwise, theyâ€™re contrived. Twilight is contrived, so that should have been a clue!
This episode raised my doubts again about Adam Glass as a Supernatural writer. My concern with his past scripts is that heâ€™s always failed to get the real Sam and Dean. His characterization is weak and his dialogue is rather sluggish. I think he did that again here. Itâ€™s really no surprise that his best script by far is â€œMommy Dearest,â€ which is the farthest thing from a character piece heâ€™s done. He seems more suited for action plots and procedurals.
The best example of that point is the reappearance of Frank Deveraux. Compare Glassâ€™ Frank Deveraux with the sharp tongued, cynical, wacky motor mouth we got with Robbie Thompsonâ€™s version in â€œSlash Fiction.â€ Here Frank is not anywhere as interesting or eccentric and his scenes with Dean were slow. Sure, he did have some great lines (â€œGwyneth Paltrow is not a Leviathan...â€) but the field scene with Dean in a cherry picker lacked a lot of entertainment value that could have come from that. I mean really, Dean, cherry picker, that alone should have been enough, but it fell flat.
I did love Frankâ€™s very direct speech to Dean though about doing the job with a smile. Frank too entered this crazy underworld through tragedy, and itâ€™s the only thing thatâ€™s kept him going all these years. Dean needed desperately to hear a reason for carrying on with the life, no matter how thin. He even told Frank his reason. He isnâ€™t leaving his brother alone. That really is all Sam and Dean both need. Itâ€™s been enough for Sam, itâ€™s so good to see Dean say the same.
Samâ€™s storyline followed what we expected. He needed to work. The call from Chrissy, the daughter of a missing hunter, got his immediate attention. He wasnâ€™t going to let her down. Sam is so depressed though and I can see that heâ€™s barely managing to hold it all together. He was lacking that sympathetic spark with Chrissy that he normally has with other people heâ€™s trying to help. He was quite distant in his conversation with her in the apartment, choosing to take a professional tone. At the end when Chrissy wanted to talk to Dean, Sam was there and he choose to walk ahead and wait for Dean at the car. The boy ainâ€™t right. Avoiding people is a classic sign of depression.
The obvious sign was at the end in the car with Dean. Sam admitted he wasnâ€™t okay and just wanted to work. Then he turned away and went to sleep, because talking about it wasnâ€™t going to help. The brothers spent that three weeks alone not talking about their grief, and their little time apart didnâ€™t seem to change that at all. Deanâ€™s plight ended up just as sad, for he practiced smiling like Frank had suggested. I thought of Queenâ€™s â€œThe Show Must Go On.â€ â€œInside my heart is breaking, my makeup may be fading but my smile, it stays on.â€ You know what, the eyes tell it all. Dean is going to need a lot of practice at faking it until he makes it.
Quite frankly, both of these brothers are bumming me out. Thatâ€™s probably why this episode wasnâ€™t very satisfying. No, I didnâ€™t expect it to be all roses and candy canes given Bobbyâ€™s death. They arenâ€™t even talking though. Theyâ€™re swallowing their hurt and carrying on by going through the motions. That would be understandable if they were kicking ass and taking names before Bobbyâ€™s death. But theyâ€™ve been in this wimpy funk since late last season. Itâ€™s not only getting very uninspiring to watch, but Iâ€™m beginning to question what the hell the writers are doing to these characters. Theyâ€™re so...dare I say it...bland. Great looking, but bland.
Iâ€™m also in the camp though that misses Castiel, misses Bobby, and sorely sorely sorely misses the Impala. I understand the point, I really do, these boys are losing absolutely everything dear to them and have to fend on their own. All they have is each other. It does make for a compelling circumstance but it isnâ€™t just the characters that experience these great losses. Itâ€™s the fans as well. The motivation is if the fans feel this terrible loss, theyâ€™ll relate to the characters more. Okay, thatâ€™s good, except Iâ€™m not relating to the characters. Theyâ€™re more foreign to me than ever! Iâ€™m still trying to work out if thatâ€™s my problem or the writers are missing something.
To be honest, I really wouldnâ€™t even be anywhere near as sour on this episode if the MOTW plot had been interesting. It was figured out and resolved pretty easily. Sam investigates, Sam gets captured, Dean saves him (kind of), and Sam suffers physically in the process. Sure, Chrissy was spunky and I really liked her, but other than being memorable by falling in the â€œNew Kid In Townâ€ category for jumping the shark, Chrissy proved to be a far better hunter than the three older dolts chasing these Vetalas. When your lifeless heroes are challenged with â€œAre You Smarter Than a Eighth Grader?â€ it doesnâ€™t bode well in the trying to gain confidence in your characterâ€™s department. Or plot line.
Even the classic rock choices were a mixed bag. While Iâ€™m positively THRILLED we got not one but two classic rock songs, REO Speedwagonâ€™s â€œRiding The Storm Outâ€ took me back to the days when Eric Kripke would close a downer ending with the Impala riding off the the rocking music of the Scorpions. Not appropriate! There are thousands of better, more sentimental songs to play in reflection of the tragedy that we went out with in the midseason finale. Metallicaâ€™s â€œNothing Else Mattersâ€ comes to mind, but I know that can be quite expensive. Since The Scorpions has been used before, â€œWinds of Changeâ€ would have worked. Not my fave, but it would have been far better than â€œRiding The Storm Out.â€ If the excuse was â€œWe didnâ€™t want to open with a bummer,â€ perhaps they didnâ€™t read the script.
On the plus side though, Trafficâ€™s â€œMr. Fantasyâ€ couldnâ€™t have been more perfect. Itâ€™s the classic rock equivalent of grin and bear it. It suited Deanâ€™s mindset to a tee and itâ€™s the ideal road song for driving at night when your two main characters are way down in the dumps.
Overall, I give â€œAdventures In Babysittingâ€ a C-. I sincerely doubt itâ€™ll make my re-watch list. Coming up, my review of â€œTime After Time.â€ That one makes this fan girl much happier.