Ten Deep 06.20.13: Top 10 Supernatural Shows
Posted by Mike Gorman on 06.20.2013
From The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Supernatural, Tales from the Darkside and more, 411's Mike Gorman counts down the top 10 supernatural TV shows of all time!
"Top Ten Supernatural Shows!"
HBO's True Blood returned this week and when I sat reeling from the cliffhangers of the first episode I began to think about other supernatural series that made an impact. I realized that each of the best had some similar characteristics including some clearly defined heroes and a well-developed mythology, or back story that would drive the overall plot of the show as it progressed through its run. I also noticed that often times, these types of series seem to go downhill towards the end of their run as they are kept around for the sake of the fans and not necessarily for the story potential. Regardless of how rocky things may have gotten towards the end of their adventures, each of the shows on this week's list certainly shined as outstanding examples of their genre. More shows of this type seem to be popping up every day if the previews for this fall's new series seem to be any indication. Before we get into the new though, let's revisit some of the best that have already graced the small screen…
It seems only appropriate to kick off the list with a show that features this week's topic in its title. Supernatural has grown from a throwaway series about brothers fighting monsters to a long standing show with a rabid fan base and a deeply entrenched mythology. I will admit that I originally passed on this show after watching the first few episodes but a recent revisiting of the property has changed my opinion. Sam & Dean have proven themselves flawed yet fearless fighters in the face of Armageddon time and time again. The show's unique take on the battle between Heaven & Hell is a cornerstone of some of its strongest episodes. Supernatural also tries to lighten its own somber mood as you can witness in this bloopers compilation from the first 6 seasons.
A friend who knows I am a rabid fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer recommended that I watch the BBC series Hex. She said it was "like Buffy but British." I am not so sure that the description is completely accurate but I am glad it opened me up to checking out this series. It tells the story of a young witch at a private school in the English country side seduced by a fallen angel played by Michael Fassbender. As it is with most BBC series, this one moves quickly and no characters are truly safe as the war between good and evil progresses to an earth shattering conclusion. Below is a quick taste of the show's first episode. Check it out and if you like it, the rest of the episodes can be found for free on You Tube!
8. Tales from the Darkside
I wanted to be sure to include one of the many supernatural anthology series on this list and had a hard time deciding which one to include. I ruled out The Twilight Zone as I felt it dealt more in the realm of Science Fiction, as did The Outer Limits. I knew I wanted to include one of the Tales shows, be it Crypt or Darkside. Tales from the Darkside won out because as a whole I felt the series provided more of a real set of scares and a wider range of supernatural experiences. The opening credits alone of this one used to freak me out. There are many full episodes of this series available on You Tube and I encourage you to check them out. Here is a favorite of mine…
7. Poltergeist: The Legacy
Much like the short lived Friday the 13th: The Series, Poltergeist: The Legacy had nothing at all to do with its namesake and that is perfectly fine. While a series about ghosts that terrorize television sets would be fascinating this story following members of The Legacy as they tackle supernatural situations of all sorts was a great drama that started on Showtime and ended its run on the SyFy (Then Sci-Fi) Channel. The show, like many on the list, had a rich mythology that drove the story of this group, headquartered in San Francisco, forward. Below is a clip from Mark Calaway's guest appearance on the show in its final season. Calaway is better known at the WWE's Undertaker.
Three sisters charmed at birth, rebuild their relationships as they discover their magical birthright. Great premise, and a great show, and not only because it brought Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano back to us all. The series at first seemed like many of the shows on the WB, pretty people doing pretty things but it eventually showed us it had much more than that to offer drawing us into a world of magic that yes, often borrowed heavily from other properties (ie. The Magic School appearing at the same time Harry Potter's popularity swelled!), but also provided some pretty entertaining adventures. The show even delivered some off screen drama of course with Shannen Doherty involved. Her departure led to the introduction of Rose McGowan and eventually Haley Cuoco. The show's last season was a bit rocky but in my opinion delivered a pretty satisfying finale.
5. True Blood
Vampires, werewolves, and fairies… oh my! True Blood has introduced us to a world where magical creatures live amongst their human counterparts, some openly and others hidden. That world has grown over the past 5 seasons as a show that started out seemingly based around a forbidden love story has developed into a much more complex drama that will literally explode into an all-out war between humans and vampires in the recently begun 6th season. Filled with unique characters and strong performances, True Blood has done a bloody good job at building a rabid fan base.
Angel got off to a rocky start as a series struggling to step out of the shadow of the show it spun off of, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It wasn't until Angel told Buffy herself to stay out of his city, that it seemed the show started to stand on its own two feet. However, once it did, the series developed its own new set of characters and mythology that complimented its origins but spoke more of its future development. David Boreanaz proved that he could indeed stand strong as the lead of a program here growing from Buffy's love interest into a hero in his own right. Yes, like many supernatural shows, Angel did lose focus as the seasons piled up but that does not take away from the solid episodes that preceded the end. This tale of a vampire with a soul in a heartless city is one that I believe will stand as a strong example of this genre for years to come.
Mad TV Rusty on the set
3. Being Human
While I am actually a big fan of the SyFy network's version of Being Human, this placement is definitely in reference to the much superior BBC original. The story follows a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf living together trying to be, well, human. I know it makes no sense to describe something using the words already in its title but in this instance believe me, it makes complete sense. The series, for the first few seasons at least, was about how these three beings struggled to live as normal a life as possible in abnormal circumstances. The performances and production were spot on as well. The SyFy's network version definitely deviates from the original's storylines so if you have not seen this show I highly encourage you to check it out. Below, an interview that gives some insight into the show's lead vampire.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
If you know me at all, you are probably aware of how difficult it was for me not to put Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the top spot on this list and call it a day. I love the show and am a diehard fan, so much so that I will even honestly say I loved most of the final season and the finale. That said, I had to be honest to the spirit of the list and put it where I think it actually belongs, keeping emotion out of it. The story of the chosen one and her friends applied a very supernatural metaphor to the process of growing up and from it blossomed one of television's most unique series. If you have somehow never seen Buffy & her Scooby Gang in action, I encourage you to stop what you are doing and get to watching Season One, stat!
Cast reunion 2008
The show I have selected to occupy the top slot this week could just as have easily done the same if this list was about the top ten science fiction television series. And yes, while much of the X-Files storylines and mythology revolved around aliens, some of its strongest moments were when the show delved into the realm of the supernatural. Allowing the show to exist as a supernatural series, made it quickly rise to the top of those around it. One of the first genre shows to truly rely heavily on recurring villains, mythology, and deeper character development, the X-Files earned every fan it captured during its run and inspired a loyalty greater than most other series can claim. One of my favorite supernatural themed episodes, "How The Ghosts Stole Christmas," guest starred Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin as cranky spirits Mulder and Scully crossed paths with and were almost killed by one fateful Christmas eve. I definitely encourage you check that one out if you have never seen it. Below is a very interesting documentary on the series, that is worth the 45min of your time if you're so inclined.
Inside the X-Files Doc
Did this week's list grant your wish or will you be cursing me as soon as the sun goes down? Let me know which supernatural series I missed out on. I certain expect to hear from some rabid Teen Wolf fans!
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