Dear Mr. Dabb,

Supernatural: Bloodlines. Your project…your baby. You dedicated yourself to it for months. Pitching the idea, creating the new Bloodlines universe, picking the setting. Then draft after endless draft of the story - what to put in, what to leave out. I’m sure everyone involved with Supernatural and the CW gave you input that they all thought was extremely helpful. Then so much was riding on the casting. This wasn’t just an episode, after all. It was hopefully casting a new series. Were you thrilled to finally see it all come together? Were you bursting with pride when it finally aired? Were you hoping for an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the SPN family? Had you been warned that those closest to you are often the last ones to accept something different?

I am not going to give you an overall rating for the show that I saw. There are plenty of reviewers who will analyze and judge, being either gushingly supportive or brutally critical of the show. I’ve watched the show twice. To be honest, I wasn’t blown-away by my first viewing. In fact, I was bored. Then I watched it again and saw the intricacies of the set-up and heard the subtleties of the writing. So I thought I would share my first, and second, impressions with you. Admittedly, these opinions are very personal to me, but an audience is, after all, built up from millions of very personal impressions of a show…

Top Things I Liked about Bloodlines (in order):

1.       It was filmed in Chicago. The background shots of the cityscape surrounding the Chicago River were breathtaking, but they always are. The back drop of the dual levels of downtown streets like Wacker Dr. and Michigan Ave., the water ferry stops, the lights of the city far off in the distance behind the action, even how the elevated trains wound through the urban neighborhoods all combined to give Bloodlines a completely different feel from the sites of Vancouver and the surrounding rural counties that we have seen for nine years. It was wonderful.  [Ok, honest disclaimer…If anyone doesn’t know it yet, I’m a Chicago native!].

2.       I was markedly impressed with Lucien’s performance. I thought he held his own in scenes with Jared and Jensen, which wasn’t easy given their experience together and their confidence with the show. More than that, though, he decidedly established his character’s personality, motivations and emotions throughout every scene. He was believable, and I was on board.

3.       Ennis tricked the shifter version of his mentor cop into revealing that he didn’t know Ennis’ dad was dead, then Ennis used his phone’s camera to see “what” was in his living room. Fast learner! Sam had only mentioned once that cameras can reveal non-humans. It said “smart guy” to me in a convincing, subtle way.

4.       David had some snappy lines! “NRA Christmas”, “Buffy”, “I’m a shape shifter. We shift our shape – it’s kind of all there in the name”, “It’s kind of my go to” and so many others. Great humor! Love the snark!

5.       Ennis (ala Sam) was introduced to hunting because his almost fiancée was killed. When Sam said, “I get it. Believe me, I’ve been there” it took me a few minutes to realize he had been exactly there.

6.       I liked how Ennis and David are recombinant versions of Sam and Dean. Ennis has Sam’s heartbreak and his habit of researching his quarry, combined with Dean’s drive to live up to his Dad’s image. His dad knew about monsters and was obviously in more than one type of “law enforcement” (the silver bullets). There was even the phantom phone call from his “dead” father. The cop’s speech to Ennis: “Nate Ross was a great cop. Taught me everything I know…but his temper never did him any favors. Look, you had a tough break losing your dad as young as you did… but if you go off half-cocked spouting this monster crap or doing something stupid, I can’t help you any more Ennis.” was a great call-back to John Winchester and slick character set-up. Ennis even had Dean’s “awesome” down already! David is going to be the snarky one (ala Dean) combined with Sam’s reluctance to fulfill his destiny.  David ran away from the family business three years ago (wasn’t Sam at college for four years?) and was trying to live a human life before being sucked back into the vortex of violence. Nice use of a proven formula.

7.       The music alternated between a blues atmosphere (ala Chicago Blues) with “A Broken Heart is Blind” and a 1920s flapper feel (family blood feuds from Chicago’s prohibition era). Again, skilled adaptation of Supernatural’s legacy for music.

8.       The explanation of the title “Bloodlines” was well done. I thought it helped establish the premise of the show.                                                                      

Top things I didn’t like (in order):

1.       It is based in Chicago. I am deeply disappointed that the show’s premise is built on an age-old stereotype that Chicago is run by mobsters (Sorry, did I get one letter wrong? You said monsters, right?), the cops are all corrupt (the families have them on the payroll) and at any minute, Chicago’s streets will erupt in an all-out war. I watched Bloodlines film on the Grand Staircase at Union Station where the classic baby carriage scene in the movie The Untouchables took place. The scene in Bloodlines ended up being cut, but was it a coincidence that you also used Union Station in the pilot, or were you trying to remind us of that era, or even the movie that epitomized that short span in Chicago’s history so many years ago? Dean termed the situation “Godfather with fangs” to reinforce the blood feud, gangster image. Chicago has so much to offer, but this type-casting of the city is tiresome and insulting. Please don’t build your new world entirely on an overused characterization of a complex, vibrant city.

2.       I really, really didn’t like starting out the show with a group being chauvinistic pigs, sorry, dogs. I was revolted at the physically and emotionally abusive scene of “You’re the bitch in this pack, princess, and your job is to be pretty and silent…you don’t get a vote.” When Violet said “I’m a bitch. We don’t matter”, I recoiled as much from the idea that the females of the species were going to be lesser creatures, as I did hearing those words come out of the mouth of a brand new female character. Trite characterization and lazy use of an overdone plot line. Please, please drop it.

3.       So many of the characters had predictable, shallow motivations. I felt like I was watching a soap opera (maybe that’s the idea? Soap operas are successful, long running stories after all), or Romeo and Juliet (Dean even called David “Romeo”).  With time, I trust you to make each character more original and complex. The challenge of writing a pilot versus writing for an established series?

4.       The new Bloodlines cast was a little stiff. I chalk that up to nerves and pressure, and it is unfair to compare them to the Js. Even so, the chemistry between Jared and Jensen was visible in their pilot. This group has to let their talent shine through. Patience, Grasshopper.

5.       Sam and Dean didn’t belong in this episode. That seems odd to say since Supernatural is their story, but they seemed out of place every time they appeared. It was really uncomfortable watching Jared and Jensen being crammed into this situation where they were the interlopers. That isn’t so much a reflection on the storyline of the potential series as it was a problem with the decision to make it a back-door pilot.

6.       This is a minor quibble, but it was a little hard to keep up with the bar scene. It was a baptism by fire into the new world! Are they all vampires? No wait, there’s a Djinn. That other guy is a shifter, and he’s arguing with a… werewolf? Now Freddy Krueger joins the party? Who’s who in the zoo? That was a lot to absorb so quickly, but hey, why not jump right in? You only had 42 minutes to build a universe, right?

7.       Why don’t Sam and Dean have one of those lock picking guns? Would have been handy for the past nine years.

Andrew, you might have gotten some rather negative reactions right after the show aired. It was hard to like this Supernatural episode because, well, it wasn’t Supernatural. It was very, very different. That’s what you wanted, right?

I would really like to see your pilot succeed. It would be nice to have a spin-off perpetuate the Supernatural legacy. It would feel oddly validating that the “littleshowthatcould” spawned another series. I mentioned the pressure the cast felt, but I can only imagine the pressure you feel. Family is always the last to see the potential of something new and different from one of their own. Maybe the SPN Family isn’t even your target audience. Maybe you are shooting for a Vampire Diaries or Dallas demographic. Either way, good luck. You’ll hear honest, if not harsh, feedback from your family, but in the end, do what you think is right. After all, it is your show…and we’re all family here.

*******

How about you? It you hated the pilot, have you tried to rewatch it a second time? Have your impressions changed at all? If you liked the pilot, please let your voices be heard! What would be your top likes and dislikes? If you list a disappointment, can you also list something you liked? We are SOOO protective of our show, its reputation and the franchise. Do you think this might work for a different audience?? Give it a go!

Comments  

digyd
# digyd 2014-05-01 10:40
Brava. Nicely done, I have been very scared to read anyone's writing. I need to get over to @bookdal's piece and I will, but I have been hesitant because I basically know what will be said and I don't want to add to my already low feelings about this episode. I have been a staunch advocate for these past 2 seasons and this disappointed me, but at the same time I am thinking, "Why should I feel disappointed? I KNEW it was a pilot. I knew set up had to happen. I knew Sam and Dean wouldn't be part of that new show so I should have dialed back my expectations." And I tried, but I didn't succeed. So not seeing the boys for what? 3 whole scenes maybe? That hurt. But at the same time I am kicking myself for letting myself get hurt.

I did watch it twice and with my expectations now gone, I too could see the beauty behind it and the parallels and truly appreciate them as well as the snark. I can see I am going to like David - IF I allow myself to peek at that new show when it starts. I do like the start of his chemistry with Ennis. It COULD work. But at the same time I get that slimy lovey-dovey, soap opera, yes Dallas! -good analogy! - feeling when I watch this and I HATE that. I was thinking to myself Sam and Dean didn't belong in this ep at all. I still don't know why they were there in the first place! Did anyone say what brought them there? What did they do really? I guess give Ennis the low down and that is it. That's all they really did.

I think they should have just started the new show separately, although I wish the word Supernatural wasn't in the title. I think that too doesn't belong. Maybe they will drop it before it airs. The Originals look pretty good to me (haven't seen it yet) although I never cared to watch TVD, so hey, anything is possible.

Nightsky, you were super fair here and I appreciate how even in your list of what you didn't like, there was an openness to what could be a good show. This episode is going to be like Bugs for me. It'll make me cringe every time, but I will probably occasionally come back and fast forward just so I can see Dean telling that cop, "I could give you the details...but I won't." And to see Sam following his every lead. And to see them talking against the impala, and pretty much ALL their scenes, no matter how out of place they really were.
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-01 15:23
Thanks so much for the compliments about the letter. I couldn't in all honesty be blind to the pilot's shortcomings, but I didn't think it was fair to ignore its potential either. Don't feel bad for being disappointed in it. That only means you care passionately about the show and feel very protective of it and Sam and Dean!
The Dallas reference actually came from I think Jeremy Carver. They were trying to make it a pining type of show!

I love your idea of dropping "Supernatural" off the final title if the show gets picked up. That makes me feel so much better!! Then the show can be judged on its own merits without reflecting back on "our" show. Everyone knows it was a spin-off, yet dropping the Supernatural tag says clearly that it is an entirely different show, with a potentially different audience. I wonder why they didn't do that already!

And I agree with how much I loved the few scenes that included Sam and Dean. We are all so desperate for them to get along that we notice funny one-liners from Dean ("but I won't" was just superb) and even small smiles from Sammy.
Penny Jaime
# Penny Jaime 2014-05-01 10:43
I think they tried to put to much into the episode. They didn't have to introduce so many characters out of the gate. Slowed it down. I'm waiting for the actual show to make up my mind
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-01 15:27
It was a lot to absorb. I wonder if it had something to do with screen testing the chemistry of the characters, or maybe even putting them before us to get the audience's reactions to each one. After all, we are giving them a lot of feedback about every little detail! Free focus group testing!

I'm glad you are going to give it a try. That's very fair.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-05-01 11:04
I did watch it twice. Unfortunately for me it got worse. I really think that it was marketed to the wrong audience. SPN fans are very hardcore and very protective of their show and its characters. This might have worked better if it was a pilot for a new series brought to us by the people who brought us Supernatural. Because many fans don't read interviews from writers and producers there was probably a misconception as to what this episode was trying to accomplish. If there was going to be a true spinoff of the show they could have gone so many different ways. If there is going to be a whole new show maybe it should have been marketed a different way. Aside from promotion issues this would not be a show for me. I don't care for TVD, TO or even Arrow. I don't watch soaps and melodrama. I really wasn't the intended audience.
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-01 15:32
A lot of the Supernatural fandom is expressing the same feelings you have. I wonder if the producers were testing who they should market it to. Maybe a test balloon to gauge our reaction? I can't believe they understand so little about the Supernatural audience, so the only alternative was that this was intentional. Yes, it is cheaper to pilot a show within an existing series, but is it worth the negative reaction? I think it was, because we are giving them a wealth of feedback.
percysowner
# percysowner 2014-05-01 11:05
I have to admit my major complaints were 1) with the treatment of women. Having Ennis's girlfriend fridged was annoying. Violet breaking free to save David then not being allowed to be strong enough to kill her tormentor, because the men have to handle those things. David's sister (and it's a real symptom of the problem that in order to actually give her name I'd have to look it up) was the typical "if a woman gets in power, she will not be suited for the job" and it is obviously setting it up so poor, disinterested David must take over the family business to save it and the city of Chicago from that lunatic sister of his, because "men rule!".

I was also disconcerted by the villain. Here's this poor guy, whose daughter was killed by a monster, who finds out that Chicago is run by FIVE monster families. He's not a hunter. He has no idea there is a hunter network that can help. So he does WHAT EVERY SINGLE HUNTER in the history of the show has done, makes it his crusade to kill all the monsters to protect regular people AKA saving people, hunting things. Yes he accidentally killed Ennis's girlfriend, but it wasn't intentional involuntary manslaughter at best. But Ennis, A POLICEMAN murders him when he really is no longer a threat. I'm afraid my real reaction was that his only real sin was being old and regular looking because if he had been young and hunky he would have been a recurring antagonist/ally . Basically Ennis starts out all kill all the monsters, Dean has been kill all the monsters for years but this guy is wrong for being kill all the monsters.

If this becomes a series, I will give it a chance because it could have potential. I've seen worse pilots and if I take this as not quite being part of the Supernatural universe it could be alright.
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-01 15:42
You bring up several good points about how they treated the rest of the female characters in the show. I wondered why David stopped Violet from killing the nut-case guy, but I chalked it up to preserving her good heart. I also noticed how glad everyone was to have David re-assume the family's patriarchy, but I chalked that up to them knowing he was a good guy and his sister was a megalomaniac. I don't think they found a good balance in any of the female characters. Violet was too weak and not allowed to assert herself; Margo was illogical, power hungry, sneaky, untrustworthy, etc. Both of them sickened me, but then I don't watch soap operas for exactly that reason. I think Digyd has the answer: Don't call it Supernatural, and I am Ok with it becoming whatever the CW needs or wants it to become.
McD
# McD 2014-05-01 11:19
Yes, I was not impressed on first watch, and even less so the second time. And I really really wanted to like it. I knew it was a pilot, I did't expect much SamnDean but I also knew the whole mobster family thing was not my cup o tea, so I realized I may not like the premise. I did expect to enjoy something but my head was awash with trying so hard to keep up with way too many characters for a short pilot and the back breaking work of actually caring about these characters that seemed to have so little depth.
Yes, I know there is an audience for this type of fare, I can see that by the popularity of many young soapy dramas, and not just on the CW. But I was still expecting that this pilot was not going to be directed at tweenies viewers, but maybe maintaining the adult viewers of supernatural. I was wrong, it is not for me and this makes me sad. Is SPN such a once in a lifetime thing that it can never be equaled? Maybe that's why Revolution is only tolerable ? Even Kripke can't pull this off? Although much of the success of a show has to do with pure luck (the right cast, crew, FX, writing, directing) and Supernatural has the best. But I don't gauge pilots based upon SPN, I try to find some potential in the story, hell I gave Alphas 4 episodes before giving up! And I would have given Finders a chance after a pretty good back door pilot if it hadn't been for the cast being mixed up to go with a younger female (once you say that, you will never get me to watch).
So I consider myself open minded about these things, and understand it could be a success with a different audience, and could improve as it grows, but I won't be watching it.
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-01 15:48
"...the back breaking work of actually caring about these characters that seemed to have so little depth." LOL! So very true!!

"Is SPN such a once in a lifetime thing that it can never be equaled?" I think this pilot may have highlighted for us once again just how special Supernatural is. The chemistry and talent on our show is so unique that its appeal crosses age demographics and genre demographics, and has withstood the test of time. I'm beginning to think that, yes, it really is that special.
Monster Factory3
# Monster Factory3 2014-05-01 11:50
I had mixed feelings about the back door pilot. There were some things I liked and things I didn't like. The episode seemed poorly put together but I'll jot that up to being under pressure. Nathaniel would be a welcome character given his character Kol is dead. It wasn't off to a great start but I do see potential here. I don't know if The CW will pick up the series (and I have a pit in my stomach that says they won't) they would have to do some MAJOR re-writes. Those who watched the Back door Pilot either loved it or hated it. It really depends on how much of a fan you are of Supernatural or if you're new to the series and want to see a younger cast take the reins. Besides we know that Supernatural will end eventually, which is only a matter of time. I guess The CW wants to keep Supernatural fans on the hook.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-05-01 12:18
If the intention was to keep SPN fans on the hook they should have made a spinoff with characters from the show. We didn't care about these characters when the episode started and for me even less so at the end. I agree with Percyowner the kill by Ennis was really wrong on just about every level.
By the way even though I knew going in that this was not going to be a show I would enjoy I really wanted it to be good just for the people behind it. They have given us so many wonderful years of the best entertainment on TV. I wanted it (and maybe it will get a major overhaul) to be successful. I really feel bad for everyone involved.
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-01 15:57
"Those who watched the Back door Pilot either loved it or hated it." I have read tweets from some Nathaniel Buzolic fans who really liked the show. Have you read any raves from Supernatural fans, though? I'm curious because I haven't seen too many. I have seen negative and "I'll be open minded" reactions, but not too many over-the-top happy reactions. Is everyone just drowning out the gleeful fans? I love hearing everyone's reactions, even those who might be too timid to say they loved it! I bet Andrew would like that too!
Anno
# Anno 2014-05-01 16:21
This is the first and only comment I will make about the spinoff because it seems fairly obvious that the target audience for that mess was not adults, but mindless teenagers with low standards. An audience like that is mostly interested in pretty faces and silly, predictable storylines which don't require any thought. The only reason I hope it succeeds is that maybe the lousy writers currently working on SN will jump ship, work on the new show, and create vacancies at SN for highly skilled, creative writers, who have the ability to return the show to the high quality program it once was. The potential is there. I think Carver has some wonderful ideas, but unless they bring in better writers, all of those ideas are going to be wasted.
maximus3311
# maximus3311 2014-05-01 17:05
I haven't posted in a long time...but this trainwreck made me log in to add my thoughts.

First of all I think your review was more than fair. This wasn't awful...but it wasn't Supernatural. It reminded me of how the rest of the CW shows look. Lots of pretty people staring blankly/grimly off into the distance. Our show is everything but that.

I think the big difference for me (and what grabbed me in the first episode) was that J2 seemed "real". They were unique individuals with realistic motivations. And given their screwed up childhood both seemed believable with their respective neuroses.

The characters in Bloodline...ugh . David was funny enough I guess and out of all the new characters I suppose he was the only one I enjoyed. Missed most of the characters names...but the characters weren't "unique" like J2. They're just cardboard cutouts of stereotypical characters. Potential girlfriend was wooden and passive...but sad. Older sister was power hungry maniac. Ennis was just brooding/angry/ pretty stare off into the distance/wounde d type. Werewolf fiance guy was just a jerk. Hmmm...who else. Oh yeah missing father who mysteriously shows up. That coupled with dead fiancee...sound s a little too familiar.

The only really interesting character was the "bad guy" who was just a crushed and grieving father. But the "hero" killed him with nary a word of protest from anyone else. Didn't really make sense. The old guy was a monster because he was trying to do exactly what J2 have done throughout the balance of the show? Or was he a monster because Ennis' fiancee's skull was apparently made of rotten eggshell? I suppose it might have been a bit different if the fiancee was brutally murdered instead of death by accidental head-bump.

Honestly the feeling I got was that they were trying to completely replicate our show...except in Chicago instead of on the road. And with pretty younger people (i.e. standard CW fare) instead of grittier older actors. Dead fiancee. Missing father. I can't help but feel like it's just a poor imitation. But unlike when Supernatural started there isn't any mystery or wonder. Just a monster war coupled with a buddy drama.

There are so many better ways they could have gone.

Sorry if I came off a little harsh...but trying to tie this to our show is a joke. This as a standalone would probably be fine. Not my type of show but nothing wrong with that. This just wasn't Supernatural in any way, shape, or form.
lkeke35
# lkeke35 2014-05-01 17:54
Incidentally , I'd like to take a poll of just how many women on film and Tv die from hitting their heads on something. I just realized how many shows I've watched where we see women whose heads are tender as pastries. Sam and Dean get clunked on their heads in nearly every other episode, sometimes multiple times and their still gunning but most women in visual media only need to fall on something to break their necks or jsut inexplicably stop breathing. Why are women in movies and show so incredibly delicate?

That said, I can say one good thing about this show. I liked the chemistry between Ennis and David. That is the only relationship in the show that l;ooked like it had real potential.
eilf
# eilf 2014-05-01 17:48
Well speaking as a mindless teenager with low standards I didn't really think it was THAT bad.
It wasn't GOOD, but it has potential.
It is potential they won't even try to live up to sadly, but that will be their own fault.

If I had the job of retconning for episode 2 I would make Violet an 'ok I am not putting up with this anymore' co-star major character. She has the basic core to be tough, if it turned out she secretly had brains as well ... and didn't need to be rescued every episode .... that is a character that would be interesting.
Ennis and David need a little work to be as three dimensional as Sam and Dean were by the end of their first episode.
I would bump-off the missing daddy figure, or at least take awayy his cell phone so he can't call and be cryptic! That last line made me groan, it was so, WHY??? Dad Winchester's disappearance never made any sense either, we just accepted that it was necessary for reasons that were never explained, this is just going to draw attention to that.
Maybe they could have a major war between the families to start with and then have the show be a 'post apocalyptic' style thing so as not to be some sort of Sopranos rip off.
It needs WAY more atmosphere. It is very bland and police-procedur ally at the moment. That would help a lot.

I thought they should come up with rules for the monsters that would work on a week in week out basis and stick with them, and it seems like they have done that.

Making it a backdoor pilot was a bad idea.
Making episode 20 of the SPN season a backdoor pilot was a very bad idea
Sam and Dean should have been in it more, or not at all, they just looked shoehorned in.
I honestly don't understand why they didn't make it a 6-10 episode mini-series and run it during the summer and see what happens. As it is it is going to be the entire summer before it comes back (if at all) and people will have forgotten everything except their initial impression (good or bad) by then.

Overall I don't think the show is really aimed at SPN watchers, but SPN watchers don't really fit any sort of demographic that the production companies understand so it is hard for them to come up with something that will work for us.
E
# E 2014-05-01 19:07
Quote:
I think they should have just started the new show separately, although I wish the word Supernatural wasn't in the title. I think that too doesn't belong.
Yes, yes! With the word Supernatural in the title, it was natural to assume that the spin-off would be geared towards the Supernatural fan base. Clearly it was not. The episode had more in common with Gossip Girl, TVD, Dallas 90210 etc.. than it had any bearing on Supernatural. I think that's why so many fans have had trouble with the episode. If it was just a pilot, not connected to any of their other shows, it might have made more sense or at least caused less upset. I found the "parallels" to Sam and Dean more lazy, uninspired writing than any kind of flattering homage to be honest. And don't get me started on the way in which the women were treated; it was absolutely deplorable and not a smart move given how many women fans Supernatural has. :(

I am beginning to wonder though if much of this episode suffered from meddling from the brass? Dabb has been with Supernatural since season 4 and has penned some very good episodes: Yellow Fever, After School Special, Frontierland, and Plucky's, to name a few. He knows this show, it's feel and it's fans. The spin-off was just that.. off. Instead of using Supernatural as a model, they went with the familiar tried and true formula and it makes me wonder if that is NOT what Dabb had in mind? I'd be curious to hear, but I bet we never do.
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-05-01 19:25
I think what bugged me the MOST was that the name "Supernatural" was attached to it. As I said in some of my other comments, it may have some potential as a series. It just did not keep me interested. I was annoyed that it took a late season slot from the mytharc stories. It needs to go form it's own separate identity and drop the "Supernatural" from the title and get judged on it's own merits. I might check that out if it goes to series. Anyway Nightsky you have done a fair review and good on you for that! I wish I had enjoyed it more, I know they all worked hard. Maybe it will flourish as a series, that would be awesome. Based on this spinoff I won't be beating a path to the premiere but I will keep an open mind! That's all I can promise.
strawhair
# strawhair 2014-05-01 19:36
The misogyny of the werewolves bugged me too. Just a couple of months ago, in an episode I loved although a lot of other people didn't, we had a woman leading a werewolf doomsday cult. Evil, sure, but also a go-getter. The idea that female werewolves are constantly put-down and disrespected comes out of nowhere, and in this case also put a damper on an appealing actress.

If Bloodlines goes to series it does have a good couple of leads, even if their characters seem kind of lightweight now. The premise, though, is kind of dumb. Not that goofy premises can't be made to work, but if you're a fan of the monsters on SPN popping up in all sorts of situations, it doesn't follow that you'll want to see them in a re-do of the Aaron Spelling vampire show from the early 90s.

The main problem with this episode was the need for constant exposition, some of which was painfully on the nose. (e.g. "You're father who was a cop always had a problem with his temper too" or words to that effect.) As a pilot it might have been better off on its own. As an episode of Supernatural I think it would have been better as a one-off parody of nighttime soaps. It did have that lush, campy look. And it's amusing that all the brother-sister confrontations played out like the prelude to passionate incest.
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-01 20:01
There have been a number of comments that assume the Bloodlines cast is significantly younger than J2 and that is what the CW was going for. Let me give you some interesting stats:
Nathaniel (David) is 30 years old - just one year younger than Jared. One year.
Danielle (Margo) is 26 - the exact age Jensen was when he did the Supernatural pilot.
Lucien (Ennis) is almost 22 - the same age Jared was when he did the Supernatural pilot.
Melissa (Violet) is 21.

I don't think the issue is their age. As many of you have said, Supernatural appealed to many different age groups when it debuted. I think the issue is more complexity of the characters (or lack there-of), script, premise, chemistry, experience. We are judging the pilot by Supernatural's standards because the writers/produce rs put that name on the title, but by all measures, it is not Supernatural. IF we assume SPN will be taken off the title and we judge this as a stand alone show, then it's second hurtle is that it was premiered to the wrong audience. The SPN fandom likes complexity, depth, mystery, etc. This show wasn't written to have that (obviously). So IF we take Supernatural out of the title AND we show it to a different target group, it might work. I personally still have the same objections (treatment of women, Chicago, predictability, etc), but those are my standards. Someone else may have different standards. I can't abide Duck Dynasty, but many people like it. I don't like reality talent shows, but millions of people do. Maybe this is a really good show to the right target audience. So, CW, why did you show it to us then?
KG_SPN
# KG_SPN 2014-05-01 21:34
Thanks so much for writing this letter Nightsky. I had started a conversation on Sofia’s review and was going to put this comment there, but I think it fits better here. Please note (as I don’t want to be misunderstood): these comments are not directed specifically at you or any of the people who’ve commented here. It’s just my thoughts about the fandom as a whole…

A friend told me last night that I’m much more forgiving than her when it comes to assessing TV shows and movies. Perhaps it’s because I know what it’s like to be so attached to a piece of writing, so I always try to find positives to soften the blow of the negatives. I’m a glass-half full type of person in this regard.

The thing that has dismayed me SO MUCH MORE than the actual pilot is the SPN fandom’s overwhelmingly negative reaction. I’m not saying that I don’t agree with some of it because there are things I didn’t like about the pilot… but I will rarely lead with those... and I’ll try to be balanced in my criticism. So I really appreciate the way you’ve presented your assessment of Bloodlines here.

Also, if it’s disheartening for me (as a fan) to read the negative tweets, and all the negative comments on these popular fansites, I hate to think how soul-destroying it is for Andrew Dabb (and I sincerely hope he’s not reading them).

A common complaint has been that Bloodlines shouldn’t have been a backdoor pilot. Point taken. In hindsight, maybe that’s the case. But this is how it aired and it can’t be undone… so why not take a look at the concept of the NEW show and assess the characters and the actor’s performances?

It’s not SPN. It was never meant to be SPN. Not everyone will like it, but there is some audience crossover of people who like SPN, TVD and The Originals. Just because some people might not like it, doesn’t mean that it’s bad or that it doesn’t have potential or that it won’t get an audience. Like you just said in the comments thread, we all have different tastes. I loathe reality TV shows and will never watch them… but I have friends who love them. Who am I to say that they are bad?

You talk about the SPN Family in this piece. But honestly, I really hesitate to refer to the SPN Fandom as Family right now. We love to talk about how supportive we are of the Show, its creators and fellow-fans. But how much support has been thrown Andrew Dabb’s way? I sensed negativity about this spinoff before it even aired… and now I feel like some people are rubbing their hands together with glee.

As a friend tweeted to me: I hoped fandom would be generous enough to support the creators of SPN in a new venture. It’s 44 minutes of our time!

And, as Kim Rhodes so eloquently tweeted: Okay. After mulling this over, I’ve decided: I may not like something if it’s not what I already love. BUT when someone I love created it… I shall remember love grows into its own thing, not what has already been done. My official stance is let’s see Bloodlines fly!

That’s all I can say. I didn’t immediately fall in love with Bloodlines, but I will give it a chance if it goes to series… and I congratulate Andrew Dabb and the SPN creators for their monumental efforts.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-05-01 22:34
I don't think anyone here is blaming Andrew Dabb for the decisions of the CW to air this episode the way it was done. Most fans probably didn't read the interviews with the writer and the producers about what this episode was going to be about. This is the problem I think most fans are having. Since Supernatural gets little to no promotion their was little to no information about the ep. Most fans probably assumed that it was going to be a spinoff. Most spinoffs have something to do with the original show. Now I know because I did read the interviews that Bloodlines was going to have very little to do with SPN (and honestly Jared and Jensen should not have been in the episode at all). But many fans had no clue. That is why there are so many suggestions floating around on what the fans would have liked to see in a spinoff. When you market a show to a particular audience it would be wise to make sure the show is going to be viewed by that audience. This episode was definitely made to appeal to a younger market in line with many of the CW shows. I don't believe it was ever intended for the hardcore SPN fans, which is what you have on most fan based websites. What I hear mostly is that Andrew Dabb is one of SPN most respected writers. I think most fans wanted it to succeed. Yes there is always going to be the online bitching (but honestly I hear almost the same amount of complaining after every episode.) I really think the biggest complaint is the way it was marketed not about the effort that everyone put into Bloodlines. I have nothing but respect for everyone who worked so hard to put out this product. I have said this before but I knew going in that this episode was not intended for me so I didn't expect it to be my cup of tea. Having said that I did expect a higher quality of story telling, acting and directing than what was shown. I think the premise might have promise if there is a major overhaul and maybe a different audience. I would love for anything associated with Supernatural to be a success. If this gets picked up I wish everyone the best.
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-05-01 23:07
Hi Cheryl nice post. I completely agree. I think we had all hoped for a better product. No one means to demean the people responsible for this. But it should not have been launched on the back of Supernatural and it's fans. I will pull for it to succeed. It is also not fair to chastise the fans for not liking it. I gave it a shot and didn't care for it. That is my right. Twitter can be a place where people are called haters for not agreeing with someone's else viewpoint.That is not OK either! As long as people are respectful in their criticism no one should judge another persons views. That being said I urge people who didn't like it to not wish ill will on the new series or be unkind to the people involved. Luckily most posters here do not engage in that kind of thing. I respect the opinions of those who liked it and agree with those who didn't. Both sides have that right.
SueB
# SueB 2014-05-01 23:38
Nicely balanced review.

I'll echo your comments -- it deserves a re-watch. I've watch 2 1/2 time. The second time a pure re-watch and I found it much better. The 1/2 was skipping about for some details I wanted to understand.

I've posted elsewhere about the shows strengths and weaknesses, I'll limit my comments here to three topics:
1) I actually found Ennis and David to have chemistry. I think Davis is instantly likeable but Ennis has great potential. I think Ennis' character suffered from the early fridge of the Fiancee. Tough to breakout the series-motivati on tears in the teaser. Lucien handled it well but that was a difficult sell.
2) The role of women was atrocious! I truly admire Andrew Dabb and believe he is one of the best story tellers. But after the last re-watch all I could think of is what HORRIBLE message we are sending regarding women with this series premise. If it gets picked up, this MUST be changed.
3) I think this could shape up into something much better so I hope Dabb & company get a chance.

PS. I actually had an Uncle Elmer gunned down in the streets of Chicago in the 1930's (my lineage is complicated) when a black car drove by. Elmer was a little shady so ... no big (and yes, this really happened). And in my Midwestern hometown we had an 'family' in the '70's who reported to Chicago (that were always nice to us because of that lineage thing). Now they ARE gone now -- sometime in the '80's I think, when the money dried up -- but it wasn't just Prohibition from my POV. I'm not saying your wrong, because there IS more to the city but if they are going to do Mobster Monsters, I'd have picked Chicago.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-05-01 23:44
Honestly I think if anything this episode will make most fans of Supernatural realize how very fortunate we are to have the J's. They can sometimes make a mediocre script look like Shakespeare. This idea was always going to be a hard sell. Supernatural isn't like any other show on the CW and the fans aren't like any other fans. The SPN fandom is judgmental, possessive, obsessed and with 9 years of a relationship excruciatingly critical of every single detail. I mean honestly look at all the hoopla over the reapers. Bloodlines being marketed to this type of fan base was always going to be a hard sell. It just fell way too short IMHO.
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2014-05-02 08:40
Thanks for being so fair minded Nightsky. I liked your lists of likes and dislikes. I for one did not enjoy the episode, mostly because is was being touted as a spinoff of SPN. A spinoff should have characters from the show it's being spun off of. I'll agree with many posters that if the show does get picked up, the writers need to get off the sexist bandwagon. Hearing Violet call herself a bitch made me cringe, and I'm not usually so sensitive to things like that. Basically, the women being portrayed were, the überbitch, the damsel in distress and the shrinking "violet" (hey, maybe that's where her name comes from)! :D I will tell you two things that I liked though: Chicago and the actor playing David. I might give it a watch if (and that's a big if) it gets picked up, but I don't think I would become a regular.

Being the librarian at a high school for girls, I can tell you from seeing what they like to read, that some of them will be interested in this show. Not that they are all "mindless teenagers with low standards", but because the people being portrayed in the show are close to their own age and they do love supernatural storylines. And I think that was the problem with trying to showcase "Bloodlines" to SPN fans, we are not the core audience for this type of show. We like our stories grungier and our heroes scruffier. :)
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-02 09:14
Question for serious TV watchers:
Which other TV spin-offs tested out their pilot in the main series ("backdoor pilots)? How many had the spin-off characters firmly established in the base series? I'm trying to put the Bloodlines strategy into a historical context. These are some of the spin offs that come to mind:

Buffy => Angel
Happy Days => Laverne and Shirley
TVD => Originals
Chicago Fire => Chicago PD
Stargate SG1 => Stargate Atlantis =>Stargate Universe

I don't think any of the CSI or NCIS shows needed to test a spin-off. They just expanded the franchise exponentially!
I know Star Trek Next Generation didn't test, because it came way too many years after the original. I don't remember the launch of Star Trek Voyager being tied into STNG, but maybe the doctor had made an appearance?

Other spin-offs?
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2014-05-02 10:19
don't know if these fit what you're looking fr...

All In The Family spun off a lot of shows
Cheers --> Frazier
Different Strokes --> The Facts of Life
Law and Order --> Law and Order, fill in the rest
Love, American Style spawned a whole bunch of shows
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-02 14:12
Do you remember which of those tested the spin-off within the original show (vs. the spin off just joined the line-up one day)?
I'm trying to figure out if the embedded test put Bloodlines at a serious disadvantage, or whether embedding in the existing series is what usually works well for spin-offs.
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2014-05-04 13:17
good question.. if I remember correctly, All in the Family spun off at least 4 shows - The Jeffersons (next door neighbors that moved on up to the east side, a deluxe apartment in the sky), Gloria, Archie Bunker's Place, and Maude (I think Maude was introduced as Edith's cousin with the thought of spinning it off). Then Maude spun off Good Times (Maude's maid who was popular and they eventually spun her off on to another show).

Frazier was obviously a major character on Cheers so that was a no brainer to spin off.

The number of Law and Order franchises hurts my head; I only watched the original one but seem to remember crossovers with characters; don't know if they were introduced in the first Law and Order show, though.

I have no idea about Different Strokes, and don't even know how I knew that since I didn't watch either of those shows; I guess there's a lot of useless crap rattling around upstairs :)

For those that remember, Love American Style directly or indirectly led to Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Joannie Loves Chachi, and probably others I can't remember.
love2boys
# love2boys 2014-05-02 11:29
This piece was great. Everyone here has great points.

But--can anyone tell me why even tho I'm having flashbacks to Man's Best Friend during that bar scene, why do I keep hearing the Star Wars cantina theme at the same time? Painful!!! Anyone else getting that??? Or just me? Ow. :)
meistergedanken
# meistergedanken 2014-05-02 12:23
Hey guys – found your site about six months ago and have been reading it ever since. Keep up the good work!
I have to say, my wife and I are both solid Supernatural fans, and both of us simply loathed Bloodlines. My wife even quit watching it about 40 minutes in. I won’t go into all the various criticisms, my primary point is that last night I went to the show’s FB page and read through over 400 of the 1200 or so comments about ‘Bloodlines’ and it wasn’t pretty – the ratio was about 10 – to-1 against the show, perhaps worse. Many were going to pretend they had never seen it, others wanted an apology for their wasted time, and several demanded that the episode be “salted and burned” so that it would never pose a threat in the future. Probably about 50 stated that it was the worst episode ever. The CW, or whoever cooked up this abomination miscalculated badly – and especially if they thought they would scoop up Supernatural’s fan base without effort. In a way, it was heartening to see my own complaints repeated dozens of times; clearly others felt the same way (other people were definitely pissed about how they ignored the previous mythology about shapeshifters, for example). What the hell were Bloodlines' creators thinking?

Besides: we already have a show about different monster factions ruling a city from behind the scenes: it’s called Grimm (which is actually decent. For example, the Trolls control the construction industry in the city - you know, because they like to live under bridges!).

Worst moment of the pilot:
New character: “Hey, if she still has her cell phone we could track its signal to locate her!”
Sam (seemingly wincing at the stupidity of what he is supposed to say in a genuine and non-sarcastic manner): “Yeah, that might work! We should try it.”
Really?
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-02 14:23
Thanks for giving us the insights on what is happening on the Bloodlines Facebook page. That is very interesting, and disheartening.

I still have to wonder: Did the CW seriously misunderstand and underestimate the SPN fandom? Did they truly expect an overwhelming positive reaction or did they recognize we were not their target audience and are getting exactly what they needed - free feedback from a worldwide focus group? They need to very carefully consider their next press release about the pilot. I am so curious if they are totally surprised by the split of our reaction. One thing is for sure - this can't be the easiest week for Andrew, Bob Singer, Jeremy or the Bloodlines cast. I know this is a tough business, but everyone was SO excited when I saw them filming in Chicago. This has to be a let down.
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2014-05-04 13:24
I'm not sure what TPTB were thinking, dropping this in at the end of the season when all of the story lines are supposed to converge and gel. It just felt strangely out of place; might have made sense to show this as a one-off over the summer, outside the Supernatural story line. I didn't particularly care for it but, IMO, the level of criticism has been over the top; very nasty and vindictive.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-05-02 17:15
I think by the cell phone moment I had mentally checked out of the show. Totally missed that. And I'm sorry but why did everyone get out of the car? Did Sam eat a burrito?
ThisOldBag
# ThisOldBag 2014-05-02 13:49
After further reading of comments from those that loved or like this on various sitesI realized that some comments, including my own, may have been badly worded. I think this pilot was geared to the CW core audience, that it was full of very youthful faces specifically for that purpose. When I think of the very youthful Sam & Dean in the pilot, there was a reason, they were playing their age. This pilot had a group of characters of various ages, yet the cast, in general, was very young. That tells you who they were going for and it was totally unnecessary.

If you, of any age, liked or loved this, that is your right, nothing at all wrong with that and I will defend that to the end. Hell, some of my best friends love reality shows.
But my point is that if you have the ability to be diverse, why cram every character into a particular box, in this case 20-30 years old. Since it is supposed to be from the SPNverse, most monsters will age. Shape shifter may be able to hide that, and Vamps live until beheaded but the rest seem to have lifespans in the human range. Which means most of the main players in this universe came to their roles at approx the same time. How odd. I would have been much more impressed with greater age, gender and race diversity.

Also, this verse was too clean, polished and coifed. What I enjoy about SPNverse is it's gritty. Monsters hide from hunters, move around to keep hidden and safe, here they remain blatantly out in the open, yet unnoticed. I really wanted to see more rough around the edges. If this is a very large group of monsters, they should not be so polished.

Are these monsters supposed to be good, are we to feel something for them when none had done much to deserve that?
Lastly, a human outright killing a hunter who accidentally bonked his girl on the head? Really? If she had been killed by a drunk driver, would he have pulled the trigger? And how many hunters have tortured and killed monsters, or unintentionally caused the death of an innocent? Is he going to hunt hunters too?

There was just so much wrong with this story and I really wanted to like it, I really wanted something to ignite some passion or hope in me. I know it will never be Sam and Dean, but someone to root for would have been nice. Now, if he had killed the human earlier and then ended up "accidentally" killing an innocent bystander later...that would have been interesting.

It would have been more my style if Ennis and his lady, working together, became aware of these monsters, sought help from Sam & Dean, and began their life of hunting together.

Either way, I am happy that some enjoyed this, I really wanted this wonderful production team to have a success.
kaj
# kaj 2014-05-02 17:29
Quote:
Are these monsters supposed to be good, are we to feel something for them when none had done much to deserve that?
Lastly, a human outright killing a hunter who accidentally bonked his girl on the head? Really? If she had been killed by a drunk driver, would he have pulled the trigger? And how many hunters have tortured and killed monsters, or unintentionally caused the death of an innocent? Is he going to hunt hunters too?

There was just so much wrong with this story and I really wanted to like it, I really wanted something to ignite some passion or hope in me. I know it will never be Sam and Dean, but someone to root for would have been nice. Now, if he had killed the human earlier and then ended up "accidentally" killing an innocent bystander later...that would have been interesting.
Agreed. That's exactly what tick me off.
kaj
# kaj 2014-05-02 17:01
It really occur to me that this pilot can be great if only David is written as a shapeshifter not only his physical being but his mind too. The core can be around David. He can be shown as kindhearted outside but really heartless and coldblooded monster inside that he only uses Violet as tools and really he is the mindset of all that happens. Testing the waters just to see where the mosnter stand if they really go to war. Ennis is just a fake lead, the true lead will be David. True monster that play other monsters like fiddle. Feed them to hunters whenever they come sniffing. Using the five families of monster as cover while actually he is behind all of that. That's why no hunter knows because no one live to tell the tale. "Bring it on hunters, this is my turf. Not even Winchesters can do anything." The last scene would not on Ennis but on David smiling coldly, shedding his darkness a little bit just to tease the audience. It's dark, it's mysterious, and it's gritty. If you can't set up good hero, then make great villain, make him an antihero.

What I mean is if you want to make other show, fine by me just don't piggyback on Supernatural. I don't read interviews and I don't know any of the writers. I don't have twitter and FB so, sorry if I don't get chummy with the writers. I watch simply for the story and the quality. I don't know who Andrew Dabb is. If he wants to create another show, fine. Just don't label it Supernatural. It's insulting and lazy. Don't use supernatural lore and twist it. It's lazy and also insulting. There I said it again. Shapeshifter change skin without shedding skin? Even the old lady in S6 shed skin although faster. The only ONE in Supernatural canon can do that is the Alpha, which is the strongest and the first shapeshifter. Now apparently all shifter can do that? what the heck! It's a wrong move. You'd probably do better if you air the pilot at different time and make it clean cut from Supernatural. No featuring Sam and Dean at all.
dellamirandola
# dellamirandola 2014-05-03 07:25
On CSI spin-offs - every single one of them began with a crossover episode - I think Grissom went to Miami to investigate a case and met Horatio Caine for instance. Was a bit different because the premise wasn't that these were novice CSIs but that the crossover showcased how the two series overlapped but were different, e.g. Grissom's 'rigorous scientist' encountering Caine's 'man of action'.

I thought it was interesting that you listed these as Andrew Dabb's highlights: Yellow Fever, After School Special, Frontierland, and Plucky's - in other words, shows that were never 'monster of the week' but shows which took Sam and Dean somewhat out of their normal modus operandi. Some I think worked really well (Frontierland and Plucky's) and some I thought were almost like he didn't 'get' what hooks people to these characters - Yellow Fever and ASS. When you see he also did Jump The Shark and Hunteri Heroici (one of my favourite season 8 episodes), you could almost say this isn't someone who enjoys writing 'the world of Supernatural', this is someone who enjoys playing with the world of Supernatural and taking the characters into unfamiliar worlds. He was never going to recreate the world of Supernatural for the spin-off I guess. Whereas I think for a lot of people, what you want is the world of Supernatural but with the kind of characters you can't get on Supernatural with its focus on Sam and Dean.

He also did Jump The Shark and What's Up Tiger Mommy - shows where someone completely different encounters Sam and Dean from something of an outsider perspectives.

And was the writer of Season Seven, Time For A Wedding, Unforgiven (where women who slept with Sam were bumped off) or Clip Show's killing of Sarah Blake ever going to be the best person to tackle the Supernatural Women Problem? Though I think this is interesting from his TV Guide interview:
Quote:
Supernatural," even though it's focused on Sam and Dean and lately Castiel and Crowley, we have had dynamic female characters on the show all the way from Ellen and Jo to Sheriff Jody Mills to Charlie. The only difference is that we're going to see them week-to-week on "Bloodlines." We are very focused on making the Margo character and the Violet character fully realized characters and people who carry their own storylines.
Everything they do will not be a reaction to a guy. That's been very important to us, particularly going forward in the series. That's going to be a huge focus for us and a great opportunity because one, the actors we have are great and two, we've had female characters on "Supernatural" that have been awesome but we haven't seen them on a weekly basis. In the new show, we can do that and really explore these female characters.
Does he even understand what the problem is?

The Supernatural pilot obviously lucked into something with Jared and Jensen - Jared was the perfect embodiment of the character through whom we get our introduction to the world - not stupidly naive but in some senses coming fresh to it, and of course Jensen took Dean's great introduction as the cocky cool kid and blew it up to stellar heights with all the hints that behind the front he was vulnerable. But the writing itself put the elements in place for that to happen - the beginning flashback showing that something had shattered this family, the whole 'Dean and Sam haven't been in contact - why?' mystery, the mythic plotline set-up of the two being on a quest to find their father and revenge Jess's death, the opposition between Sam being intellectual, rational, wanting a normal life he can't have, *and* being somehow not normal with his visions and the demon standing over his bed, and Dean being smart, emotional and embracing his outsider status *and* being the embodiment of essential instinctive humanity... it was a tough act to follow for a spin-off pilot.

Looking at other spin-offs - I think CSI Miami and CSI New York really pulled this off by making an attractive contrast between the CSI teams we knew and the new teams we were introduced to; Frasier did a perfect job of introducing us to the new set-up through Frasier Crane's return home to a family situation that was both funny and poignant. I don't think Bloodlines gave us either something attractively contrasting to the original or a real emotional hook for the story. Just think how they could have done that if they'd made Violet the protagonist of the series, for instance, or a set-up where in contrast to Sam and Dean, we had hunter protagonists who were in league with monsters?

Yellow Fever, After School Special, Frontierland, and Plucky's
nightsky
# nightsky 2014-05-03 10:48
Very insightful thoughts - thanks for adding to our conversation. I had not seen that TV Guide interview. Those remarks do seem odd considering the female characters introduced to us in the pilot. Those are NOT two women I would enjoy watching on a weekly basis.

Really smart people (Kripke, Carver, Singer) put a lot of thought into this pilot. There has to be something at play here that we don't understand. All of the comments posted here have respectful, good ideas on alternate pilots or ways that this pilot could have been improved. Alice's article on alternate pitches has some brilliant ideas! I really want to give the SPN people the benefit of the doubt and think that there must be something we're missing. We're amateurs - they are professionals who do this for a living (really well usually). I wish they would publicly comment with their thoughts on how it went.
dellamirandola
# dellamirandola 2014-05-04 16:38
Thank you!
Sadly I don't think we'll hear any comments from them until a decision is made about the pilot.
What concerns me is that Andrew Dabb may well be thinking '... but I gave you prominent female characters, isn't that what you wanted?' and not realise that what he created were stereotypes without complexity...
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-05-03 12:00
Do you think TPTB are laying low for now until all the furor dies down? They probably knew it was not going to go down well with the hardcore fans, so maybe they are waiting until other occasional fans check in. It's just that fact that this pilot has been universally slammed by almost every critic not just fans that has me convinced we may not ever hear anything from anyone. I really think it was not the way to introduce this show. But beyond that it was poorly written, directed and acted. Even Jared and Jensen looked a little confused. The ratings for the episode were great, it was such a great opportunity to introduce a show that would capture a ready made audience. I never thought before this pilot that the writers were so disconnected from their fanbase. Now I'm not so sure. Maybe they should read more fanfic, there really are some brilliant ideas out there. I was one that knew going in it wasn't going to be a show I would care for but I really wanted it to succeed for everyone involved.
Scullspeare
# Scullspeare 2014-05-03 12:56
One of the things I always admired about Kripke was his ability to admit when they messed up; it was either after No Exit or Red Sky at Night that he said something along the lines of, “Yeah, I wish we’d taken another pass on that one.” He wasn’t throwing anyone under a bus, but publicly recognized that there were issues with the episode.

The current showrunners seem far less willing do this, and that’s a shame. They're human, stuff happens and episodes don't always turn out as originally envisioned. Necessity being the mother of invention, sometimes that makes for a stronger story, but sometimes things just fall apart.

I’d love to hear Carver, Singer and Dabb’s honest thoughts on Bloodlines, especially “Here’s what really worked, here’s what didn’t and here’s what we need to improve.” That would tell us a lot. If they think what they gave us in the pilot was great as is, that's a problem. If they realize there are issues, then maybe something can be salvaged. Maybe.
Scullspeare
# Scullspeare 2014-05-03 14:15
After watching Bloodlines, I felt like my best friend had just shown up wearing a really ill-fitting, unflattering outfit and asked, “How do I look?” I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by bluntly saying, “Awful!,” but I didn’t want to mislead her or outright lie by saying, “Great!”

I was wracking my brain trying to come up with a way to put a positive spin on things, but everything was very yin & yang–for every positive there was a negative.

Let’s take the female characters: the bitch Margo and shrinking Violet–two cringeworthy stereotypes, made worse by the misogynistic attitudes the male characters. Ironically, from an acting standpoint, my favourite performer in Bloodlines was Danielle Savre, who played Margo. She had a real presence on camera that most of the other actors didn’t; it’s too bad there was simply no nuance to the role she was playing. And the helmet-head hairdo has to go. Why Hollywood believes the strength of a woman is directly proportionate to the amount of hairspray she uses, I’ll never know. :P

I loved that Bloodlines was set in Chicago, but the show didn’t have an urban feel to it. If you’re going to set a story in a fabulous place like Chi-town, make the city another star of the show. Why can’t Chicago itself be Bloodlines’ ‘Baby’?

The incredible Jerry Wanek created a fabulous set for the monster bar, but why was there a bar in the first place? The premise they’re trying to sell us is five monster families ruling Chicago’s underworld; these monster clans are either at war with each other or maintaining a tenuous truce, until war inevitably breaks out. So, in between killing each other they head to the bar, have a few drinks in the midst of these (im)mortal enemies, then head back out to continue fighting? That makes no sense. And SPN got rid of the Roadhouse because they realized it was illogical to have a designated place where hunters met up; it was too obvious a target. How is this bar any different?

Andrew Dabb wrote some funny lines, but most got lost with weak delivery.

And so it goes….

I recall reading an early interview with Eric Kripke, where he said that the casting of the J’s made him look like a genius; it was their chemistry that took a good script and made it great. Sadly, lightning didn’t strike twice. :(
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-05-03 15:34
Nice post Scullspeare. You said it very well!:)
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-05-03 14:54
A perfect way to put it. I was embarrassed for the show and everyone involved. Doesn't make me love the show any less just sad for Andrew Dabb.
Alice
# Alice 2014-05-04 22:41
Honestly, when looking at the idea on paper, from the beginning it had merit. I think why "Bloodlines" didn't work is because of execution. The plotting was slow, the dialogue was awful, the characters didn't leave a very good impression, and someone forgot to interject any personality into the story and plot. That's everything the SPN pilot was. Forget that Sam and Dean looked totally awkward in this universe, if the characters had even a small amount of depth and if the cast had any chemistry I think it wouldn't have gotten as horrible a reaction. No, chances are it could have never lived up to the SPN pilot, but it really could have been better. I mean, what happened to the humor and heart that Supernatural is known for?

The problem is, Mark Pedowitz got the script in January. They had to know there was something wrong with it. By that time and given the fact it was a planted pilot for episode 20, it was too late to fix. From my understanding, what aired was actually worse than the first script delivered. I do wonder if the network decided to count it's losses and just chalk it up to another bad SPN episode at worst, at best maybe the fans will like it anyway. Nope!

The experiment looks like it's not going to work, at least this go around. Deadline is reporting that Bloodlines is still in the running for pickup, but the chances are much slimmer now. Most of the other CW pilots are running stronger. Supernatural is not ending in season ten though, so I do wonder if they'll try again with another pilot idea down the road. Or, maybe they'll decided to rework Bloodlines into another episode or two and do better with it. I think that Supernatural has become such a valuable franchise, it would be a shame to give up on expanding it. But yes, they have to write something that's going to appeal to the fans (a majority anyway), not what they think the network wants. If they stay with the rich spirit of the original, any kind of a spinoff will work.

Oh, and from the history perspective, if you remember, the X-Files spinoff, The Lone Gunmen, failed as well. Some series just can't duplicate the original.