Head Cases

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Get Your Kicks On Route 666

Before I get things started, I would be remiss were I not to thank the hundreds and hundreds of Television Without Pity regulars and readers who contributed more than $30,000 to the site's Hurricane Katrina relief fund. Every single one of you rocks.

And on a side note, when I learned I'd be contributing to this festival of "Recapper's Choice" items, I was torn between covering something cheesy and good, like Nip/Tuck, and covering something cheesy and bad, like The 4400. That is, until a friend of mine snagged a copy of the screener for this episode, because by the end of the hour I knew this was the one for me. And it wasn't because of the loving attention the show paid to Jensen Ackles's ass, believe it or not. Well, not entirely.

Because this is a series premiere, we're treated first to a rather low-tech title card sequence that's basically a rip-off of The Ring's entire general visual style, complete with lettering that jumps all over the screen, a couple of brief flashes of TV-screen snow, and a chorus of demonic Gregorian monks who AHH-ooh-AHH throughout as faux lightning zaps the word "Supernatural" into and out of our field of vision. A single tense string pierces the silence that follows as the words "Lawrence, Kansas" emerge from the black. Crickets join the string as the camera pans across the night sky to tangle itself up in the bleakly bare upper reaches of a tree as the caption amends itself with "22 years ago." The camera eventually manages to shake itself free of the gnarled branches to dive down the façade of a nondescript suburban two-story wood-frame colonial. Well, it would be nondescript were it not for the suddenly down-wailing strings on the soundtrack. And the ominous shadow of that dead tree snaking its inky tentacles around the outer walls, as if preparing to rip that second-floor corner bedroom away from the rest of the structure. Oh, and the forlorn dog barking in the background. There's always some goddamned forlorn mutt howling away in the background of these things, isn't there? A faint creaking noise joins the rest of the soundtrack's current racket as -- get this -- the tree's shadow constricts around that corner bedroom before the shot cuts over to...

...the interior of the imperiled corner bedroom, where the silhouette of a woman toting a mid-sized rug rat enters the dimly back-lit doorway with, "C'mon -- let's say goodnight to your little brother." The silhouette flicks at the wall switch, and the imperiled nursery's unusually low lighting reveals her to be a blonde in her late twenties, clad in a demure, polyester "lace"-and-"satin" peignoir she likely picked up at the Wal-Mart. The shot cuts briefly to her POV of the squirmy little thing in the crib before snapping back to Mama Blonde placing the larger rug rat on the floor. The larger rug rat, incidentally, has an enormous head. No, seriously -- it's as big as his mom's, for Christ's sake, and it can't be all hair, despite the fact he's sporting a wicked Danny-Lloyd-in-The Shining 'do. In any event, The Head That Ate Cleveland scuttles across the imperiled nursery's floor and hoists itself over the side of the crib to devour its little brother. Oh, sorry! The Head actually just perks, "Goodnight, Sam!" as it pecks the infant on the latter's forehead. And certain segments of tonight's viewing audience will no doubt be dismayed to learn that this is the only time the brothers kiss during the entire episode. Ooops. Spoiler!

Mama Blonde leans in to coo her own goodnight just as the children's apparent father pops up in the doorframe with, "Hey, Dean!" The gentleman's apparent paternity seems to be confirmed when The Head That Ate Cleveland races over into the gentleman's arms with an over-exuberant "Daddy!" And then, accompanied by appropriate geysers of blood, The Head rips off those paternal arms with its teeth. What? The show's called Supernatural, isn't it? Am I so wrong for wishing something befitting that title would happen already? In any event, Daddy! scoops The Head up and grins, "So, whaddya think -- you think Sammy's ready to toss around a football yet?" "Nu-hu-oh, Daddy!" The Head simpers, and even though I realize It could take off all of my fingers with one chomp, I want to smack It 'til It's silly for that. Daddy!, by the way, looks like Robert Downey Jr., were Robert Downey Jr. entirely straight and completely off the junk. For whatever it's worth, the guy's also wearing a faded USMC t-shirt and is sporting a tattoo on his left bicep that I can't quite make out at the moment. Hey, you never know what'll end up being important later when you're watching a pilot, right? Mama Blonde eases past the two into the hallway as Daddy! hugs The Head That Ate Cleveland close while murmuring, "Sweet dreams, Sam." Sam, in that unnaturally precocious way infants have on television, turns his head to gaze into his father's eyes by way of acknowledgement. Daddy! exits with a fond smile on his face, flipping off the lights as he goes.

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Head Cases

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