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Supernatural Fodder

Supernatural: Playthings ... Homages?


I really liked this episode, not so much for the story line, but for the several homages, some of which seem familiar, but I just can't place them.

The Shining

One that was easily placed was Dean in the hotel bar with Sherwin. It's almost a dead ringer for a similar scene in the Shining. There were several other homages to the Shining, which also took place at a haunted lodging place (for those of you who don't remember). These homages were more to do with the way the scenes were shot. Stanley Kubrick, the director of The Shining, used a lot of crazy camera angles in his film. My theory is this was a way to put the audience off kilter, to suggest that things were crazy in the world he was bringing them into.

I'm not sure if the shots in this episode were a homage to Kubrick, or if they are something the cameraman is attempting overall for the show. I've noticed the same off-level camera shots a few times in recent episodes.


In several places in this episode, a lot was made over the dolls. Even in the final scene, the two spirits were jumping rope, and their audience was dolls - life-size, or nearly so. This seems familiar.

"Circle of Fear"

I looked up an old 70s TV show last year while researching Richard Matheson - a prolific TV writer and novelist who wrote episodes of The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Night Stalker... too many things to list.

The show was a horror/mystery anthology show titled "Circle of Fear" ("Ghost Story" outside the US). It lasted only a single year, but it had the reputation of being well-acted (featuring such then TV personalities as Meg Foster and James Franciscus, and even Sebastion Cabot (Mr. French from Family Affair and the voice of the narrator in the Winnie the Pooh cartoons) as the host, and well-written. It definitely made an impression on me. I was only about 7 years old, and I remember it still, though the details of the different episodes are now mostly lost.

The pilot episode of this show featured the ghost of a little girl who vowed never to be evicted from her home.


Finally, even my wife noticed the homage to Psycho, with Norman Bates' "mother" in a wheelchair, and silhouetted against the attic window.


But what about the writing of this episode?

Not much to say about it. I thought it was a nice balance between the longer term storyline and the present episode. That's difficult to do well, but I thought they pulled it off. It's nice to have a little reminder what is going on long-term, otherwise it seems as if you have an episode that's just pulled out of time, like it could have happened any time during the series. On the other hand, you have to try to make it "organic". It has to flow out of the events of the present story. I thought Sam's angst at not being able to save Ava and the guy who hanged himself was pretty believable, and it brought up his need to prove himself "good," and what the consequences are for Dean if he doesn't. I also thought the writers did a good job of not pretending Ava never existed. We got the 5 minute summary right up front, and it led us into the episode.

As far as conflict, this was one of the better episodes in making the brothers' efforts high-stakes. I was in real doubt even at the end whether hey were successful or not, and because they used the "kids in danger" technique, it ratcheted up the stakes just a bit.

Overall, a nice addition to the season's episodes.


Interesting that Night Stalker and Richard Matheson should come up again. Night Stalker could have been the inspiration for the episode "Rashasa". If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, a writer could do worse than flattering Richard Matheson, who is pretty much considered one of the masters of television horror.

Posted by Miller on January 24, 2007 11:18 AM
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