ScreenSpy - big news from the small screen
Don't Miss

TV REVIEW: Supernatural “Bloodlines” Fails to Impress

By on April 30, 2014

Image @ The CW

Spin-offs are a funny thing.  A spin-off can either tell a compelling and new story that will spark the interest of viewers or they can confuse and fall flat, not delivering with enough narrative to garner an audience.  Unfortunately, Tuesday night’s Supernatural: Bloodlines backdoor pilot fell into the category of the latter.

Let me rewind for a moment and recap the episode before we get into the logistics of why this episode didn’t work.  After the death of his girlfriend, newcomer Ennis Ross was hell-bent on finding and killing the person or thing responsible.  Through an investigation of his hometown of Chicago, Ennis learned that there were five unique monster families who run Chicago.  With the help of Sam and Dean, Ennis discovered shapeshifter David and his Romeo & Juliet love affair with werewolf Violet, a secret VIP monster club, and a whole lot of shenanigans that weren’t really divulged in the short hour.

This episode wasn’t to so much set up the five different monster families of Chicago as it was to cement Ennis’ new found hobby of hunting.  After tracking down the Freddy Krueger-clawed thing responsible for killing his girlfriend, which it turned out was only a human who was seeking revenge for the death of his young son, Ennis knew his new purpose was to continue to hunt and explore the newly discovered factions.  To Sam and Dean’s dismay Ennis had made up his mind.  The episode even ended with a John Winchester-esque phone call from a mysterious man who begged Ennis to give up before he even started.  Ennis, shocked, knew that voice belonged to only one person — his thought-to-be long dead father.  Cue credits.

So, let’s go back to why this backdoor pilot fell flat in all the wrong areas.  First, this episode was meant to establish five different monster families that run Chicago.  And I get it; there was only one hour to divulge all the information possible while still keeping the tone of a usual Supernatural episode.  Except this episode didn’t even feel like an episode of Supernatural, not even with Sam and Dean mixed in. Instead of using the short time to introduce at least one member of each warring family, the episode chose to focus on David and Violet and their tiresome Romeo & Juliet love affair, which had ended several years prior when David’s slain brother forced Violet to leave him at a train station.  Apparently Violet was now being married off to another werewolf family, but one would forget that easily as the only person who really made that clear was her dick of a brother who had very little screen time in the first place.

Another factor that hindered the success of the pilot was the lack of compelling characters.  No one’s motivations seemed particularly clear.  The only person who really had a purpose was Ennis and the man who was killing these monsters as revenge for the death of his child, whom Ennis shot and killed for his own revenge.  David and Violet seemed mundane, Violet’s brother had potential to become a true villain, but really just seemed like a power hungry spoiled brat a la Viserys Targaryen on Game of Thrones, and David’s sister came off as almost robotic.

This Chicago seemed to exist outside of the current Winchester fueled world.  How would five very powerful, seemingly outspoken monster families go unnoticed by the likes of Sam and Dean or even John and the other hunters for this long?  The monsters seemed to be a little more, what’s the word I’m looking for here, pretty for the usual monster filled world.  We’ve met shapeshifters, werewolves, and djinns before, but the notion has always been that it’s not exactly glamorous to exist as one of these monsters.  Remember when shapeshifters had to shed their current skin in order to shift into a new being? Yeah, not so pretty.

Listen, if Supernatural: Bloodlines gets picked up to series I’m not so sure I would completely count it out.  As stated before, an hour is hardly enough time to cement a full world of monsters and things that go bump in the night.  I wasn’t a huge fan of The Originals backdoor pilot, but ended up loving the series as a whole.  The only problem was that The Vampire Diaries had already established a majority of its spin-offs characters.  I had already grown to love the Original family over the course of three seasons and watching an entire show about them was appealing from the beginning.  Not to mention that the general plot for this new spin-off is already very similar to The Originals (they only have four warring factions though).

With Bloodlines we are being introduced to a mess of new characters we’ve never met before.  Can these people be just as compelling as the Winchesters? Castiel? Even Crowley?  Looking at the series to fall in line with the current Supernatural timeline will be a tricky goal.  Bloodlines was ambitious with its jumping off point and it will be interesting to see if The CW feels it deserves more time.

One Comment

  1. Abbey White

    May 1, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    I’ve seen this critique of the bdp quite a bit, which isn’t good for the show. I think the most interesting part about it though is the fact that there were expectations of this being something similar to what Supernatural started as, however, there’s little acknowledgement that the show isn’t currently being run by the man who created the original universe. There were definite flairs of Carver in Bloodlines which I liked, but again, he’s not Kripke and he’s been running a show off of a Kripke idea. I feel like that plays a huge part in why people felt that Bloodlines didn’t share that typical Supernatural tone they know and love (i.e. feeling like it’s a different universe).

    To also be fair, Sam and Dean became really compelling with time. They are very defined characters but that’s because they’ve had 10 years to get (and stay) there. If I recall correctly, Supernatural had been sitting on The WB pitch table for around 5 years before they gave it a shot. The execs weren’t too excited about it but over the seasons the larger narrative — and the main duo — got increasingly better.

    I’m probably not going to watch this (as I haven’t really been a fan of the show since Kripke ran it), but I do wonder if perhaps the expectations for what this was going to be weren’t presented well enough to viewers? I also agree with your statement about TVD establishing its spin-off characters before the actual spin-off (definitely gave it a leg up). I’ve seen a lot of fans disappointed over something that I perhaps feel should have been made a bit more obvious to them.

Hottest Stories from Around the Web