Skip to content

Why We Can’t Wait for Supernatural Season 9 (Part 2): It’s A Family Affair

September 15, 2013
Warner Bros/CW

Warner Bros/CW

Last week, we confessed that we were ridiculously excited for Supernatural Season 9 after spending some time with Jared and Jensen and hearing how excited they were. We also got to chat with some of the Show’s amazing creative team while we were in Vancouver – which only made us even MORE excited. At this point, it’s a miracle that we’re still managing to go to work every day instead of just watching the S9 promo vids over and over and counting down the hours. Does anyone else feel that way?

One of the main themes of our first book on SPN, Fandom At The Crossroads, was the reciprocal relationship between the creative team who bring Supernatural to life and the fandom who keeps it that way. In Vancouver, the strength of that relationship was clear. Producer Jim Michaels and location manager Russ Hamilton did a Q and A onstage, and producer/director Bob Singer joined Jensen and Jared for a charity auction. But many who weren’t appearing onstage were there just to support Jared, Jensen and Misha, and because they wanted to meet the fans they constantly thank for the Show’s success. Kevin Parks, his lovely wife and their beautiful dog Kuma were there to greet fans – Kuma had a photo op line almost as long as the official ones. For obvious reasons.

Kuma does photo ops

Kuma does photo ops

Director of photography Serge Ladouceur. production designer Jerry Wanek, and VFX miracle-workers Adam Williams and Ryan Curtis came by too. The creative team seemed as excited to meet the fans as we all were to meet them, with lots of heartwarming mutual appreciation to go around. The day after the con, the VFX team even held a special gathering at the Storm Crow Tavern for a group of fans and shared some of their secrets – a podcast of that fascinating talk is here. The day before the con, we joined a small group of fans for a walking tour of filming locations with John Marcynuk, which gave us a behind the scenes glimpse of just how challenging it is to find locations that work (and a great workout as we traversed Gastown!)

Some of the locations held a strong emotional resonance for us, as we remembered the pivotal scenes that took place there. Like the alley where Dean and Sam said goodbye to their father for the last time. Excuse us while we sob a little and pine for Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

No, it's not JUST an alley...

No, it’s not JUST an alley…

Writers Adam Glass and Robbie Thompson also came to the con on Sunday, and stayed to chat with some of us who are as interested in the writers’ insights as we are the actors. For those of you who are spoilerphobes, we’re keeping this very spoiler-light, fyi – no spoilers about episode titles or content.

Adam Glass is an executive producer on the Show as well as a writer. He also teaches at the American Film Institute in New York. Adam reads over a lot of the submitted scripts as they come in and then consults with Bob Singer. We asked him about “the new guy,” Robert Berens.

Adam: Bob is great! He sent his first script in, and Bob Singer was like, woah.

Us: Oooh, that bodes well!

Both Robbie and Adam talked about the importance of ‘writing what you know’. They can tell, when they review scripts from new writers, that sometimes they’re not doing that, and it shows. (We certainly have followed that rule in publishing our own books, which explains why most of them are about Supernatural and its fandom. One track minds, what can I say?)

Adam also had good things to say about Andrew Dabb, who has really found his voice and established himself as one of the main writers. Dabb is writing the spinoff episode that will happen in Season 9. The close relationship among the writing team, something that seemed to be in evidence during the “Kripke years” as well, is another reason we’re so excited about the new season. Adam gives some of the credit for that closeness to one of our favorite writers, Robbie Thompson. When Robbie came on board, Adam said, the writers really started to work as a team again. They constantly break story ideas together and toss ideas around. Robbie and Adam are particularly close – in fact, they like to tease fandom by referring to themselves as #Robdam on twitter, a ‘ship’ portmanteau designation that they came up with themselves, and use with the utmost respect. There’s just something about this Show that draws everyone closer together – cast, crew and fandom alike.

Adam: I write the #FEELS, Robbie writes the quirky episodes.

(Clearly Adam did not see us sobbing our eyes out over Charlie reading The Hobbit to her dying mother. ALL THE FEELS does not even do justice to how many tissues we needed.)

Adam’s precocious young son joined us for a while, and proved himself an avid Supernatural (and Dean) fan. If he got a little nervous around “Dean,” we certainly know how he feels.

Here’s our friend @Bardicvoice in a Robdam sandwich at VanCon, and looking pretty damn happy about it. Who wouldn’t be, right? The thing is, Adam and Robbie look every bit as excited about meeting her in person as she is to meet them. #SPNFamily — it’s not just a hashtag.

Bardicvoice and Robdam

Bardicvoice and Robdam

We spent some time with Robbie the next day and talked more about the way he sees the Show and some of the characters. As he and Adam both said, the story is about the brothers. Robbie would, however, like to see more strong female characters on Supernatural – and frankly, everywhere on television. (Us too!) He particularly loves Jody Mills and Charlie, who are just that. (Us too!)

Robbie takes a lot of pride in creating Charlie as a female character who’s fully rendered and not defined by her sexuality. She’s smart, strong, geeky, gutsy, sassy, and lesbian. It’s an important part of her identity, but not all of her, just as sexuality is for all of us, and it’s addressed matter of factly. It’s no secret that Robbie based Charlie on himself, gender aside. He also was read The Hobbit at bedtime, which makes that scene even more poignant. How many of us were emotionally overwhelmed at that scene, our own memories adding to its intensity? (My grandmother read me and my little brother The Wind In The Willows, so yeah, I needed a lot of tissues for that scene. In fact, telling Robbie that made me reach for them all over again. Yes, I’m overly emotional when it comes to this Show. This should be news to exactly no one.)

Robbie and Adam were both in Vancouver to consult on episodes they’d written which were currently filming – as Vancon ended, Episode 9.04 (written by Robbie) was wrapping up filming, and Episode 9.05 (written by Adam) was about to start. When one of the writers is on set, they’re periodically called in to consult about dialogue or a scene that worked well on paper but isn’t working quite so well in reality. How handy is that, to have the writer right there to make impromptu changes?

IMG_20130826_150233_352

Robbie gets why it’s so emotionally important to the fans for the boys to (finally) have a home. And what a home it is! The Men of Letters bunker takes up the entire Stage 2. Unlike most of the other sets we’ve seen constructed and then rapidly deconstructed for SPN, this one is much more permanent. Although it doesn’t have a solid ceiling, in order to allow filming from above and from all angles, other than that, the bunker looks and feels real. Heavy wooden doors and hallways leading from room to room, where the cast sits while awaiting their call. Protective sigils carved into floors and ceilings and light fixtures. Stained glass lamps that give it a sense of time past as well as beautiful lighting, bookshelves with some real books mixed in with the ‘fake’ ones. Beakers and test tubes of colorful liquids, microscopes on desks, shelves full of jars and cans and notebooks. Even the ventilation grates are intricate and beautiful. There are some rooms that haven’t been seen on screen yet that have the potential for glimpses of the Winchesters really being “at home”. Robbie said this realism was intentional, that it allowed the actors to really lose themselves in the moment, to feel like they are really “there.”

Robbie: They try to make it look as real as possible to help the actors believe it.

Both Serge and Jerry told us that while it’s weird not to be doing motel room sets as much, everyone loves the MoL set. Pretty sure we can count all of fandom in with everyone!

We asked about Robbie’s interaction with fans, since he and Adam are fairly prolific tweeters. Robbie said the writers are often caught between fans’ conflicting demands, but they are always very grateful for the passion the fans feel, and very upset when they make a mistake. (Yes, they are STILL bothered by the Grand Canyon thing…)

Robbie: Maybe Sam was hallucinating…

Lynn: That’s what I decided.

It amused us that the writers talk about their own “headcanon” as much as fans do.

Some of the conflicting demands that end up on the writers’ twitter doorsteps are about either Sam having more story line or Dean having more story line, often at the same moment in a seemingly mutually exclusive way. The writers genuinely seem to love both characters equally and to care about the relationship between the brothers as much as fans do. But where there’s great passion, there’s likely to be great longing for whatever it is each fan wants to see in canon – and since we all want something different, it’s unlikely everyone will end up happy. We’re sworn to spoiler secrecy, but suffice it to say that at least some things will be explored more deeply for both brothers and for Cas this season.

Robbie: I think canon should be open to interpretation; the story is what the viewers make of it.

We agree. One of the things we love most about fandom is fannish creativity, and the million and one ways that fans make the Show their own. Supernatural is one of those rare shows that gives you characters and a world fascinating enough to make you want to know more, but lets you fill in some of the blanks yourself to craft that world into whatever floats your boat. That said, the very fact that fans are passionate means that we’re often upset about something. Sorry, writers!

Robbie: What else are fans upset about? We know about the Samulet, and I get that.

Lynn: (perhaps bouncing a bit excitedly) Could it be back?

Robbie: Nothing’s outside the realm of possibility, but there has to be a reason for it in the story.

Lynn: (pondering) Pretty sure I could point you to some fanfic that would give you some excellent reasons….

Robbie: (laughing) I bought a Samulet at the con. I call it the Robulet and keep it in the trash can.

Lynn: (wryly) That sounds appropriate.

Robbie used a whiteboard to write all the notes for Episode 9.04, which was not only gigantic, but covered with notes! Writers get notes on their scripts from multiple sources. From the other writers on the team. From editors. Then from the director. Then from the studio. It takes a month, from start to finish, from pitch to teaser to outline to actual screenplay. Pretty impressive. Robbie is currently working on Episode 9.17, and Adam will be writing another script for Season 9 too.

Keep writing, guys, we’re waiting impatiently!!!

In the meantime, you can kick off Season 9 with Fangasm, available now on Amazon.
And if you’d like to read our more academic exploration of SPN and fandom and our analysis of WHY we’re all so passionate, for better or worse, you can buy Fandom at the Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships now on Amazon.

We’re headed to DallasCon this Thursday, so check back for photos and news on Jared, Jensen, Misha and more – we’ll live tweet as much as our fingers will allow!

21 Comments leave one →
  1. Jules permalink
    September 15, 2013 2:43 am

    In 2012/3 gay and bi men made up 65% of the LGBT characters on network TV shows according to the GLAAD report “Where we are on TV”, so your statement that networks are more averse to portraying queer men than queer women is untrue.

    Can we just celebrate Charlie, without the rider of the disappointment that she’s not a gay man? Unfortunately what is more common is the perception by fans that lesbians somehow dont count as gay representation as much as men do. Yeah Charlie is fine, but give us some “real gay”.

    • spnfans permalink
      September 15, 2013 3:05 am

      It did sound like that as written, with only a few bits of conversation juxtaposed – edited to celebrate Charlie as she so richly deserves!

  2. September 15, 2013 2:50 am

    I was SUPER happy to be the center of a #Robdam sandwich! Thanks for sharing the pic!

    And thanks to both Robbie Thompson and Adam Glass for hanging out with fans for hours on end, talking about our favorite shared topic, “Supernatural.” Their being at the con, along with Bob Singer, Serge Ladouceur, Jerry Wanek, Jim Michaels, Russ Hamilton, Ryan Curtis, Adam Williams, Werner ten Hoeve, and Christian Blaze, just to name a few, made VanCon a uniquely delightful experience!

    • spnfans permalink
      September 15, 2013 3:04 am

      Great photo, Mary! It was wonderful that so many of the creative team came to the con to hang out with the fans and share their expertise🙂

  3. September 15, 2013 3:56 am

    Awesome article as usual! I am avoiding spoilers like the plague, so I am so grateful you are keeping those secrets! I just got the “Fandom at the Crossroads” from Amazon yesterday and am headed to the tub to get it started! Looking forward to meeting y’all at HomeCon in Dallas! Hubby and I will be there with Renegade, our Impala!!

    • spnfans permalink
      September 15, 2013 7:36 pm

      Thanks so much, can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Fandom At The Crossroads — and to meet you in person in Dallas!

  4. Jane permalink
    September 15, 2013 11:32 am

    Why do you think you have to squeeze Cas and/or Misha in everything that is really just ‘the boys’ ‘the Winchesters’ and/or ‘Jensen and Jared’. This show will forever just be about the Winchester boys and the stars/leads of this show are Jensen and Jared. You don’t have to keep mentioning him like he’s equal to them when it has to do with this show.

    • spnfans permalink
      September 15, 2013 7:38 pm

      We agree that the brothers are the heart of the show, but Cas is a regular this season, so we expect he’ll play a significant role too. Hopefully everyone will be happy!

  5. September 15, 2013 1:37 pm

    Wonderful as usual! Would LOVE to have a chat with the writers. I love writing and the show, so . . . win/win!

    I have to say I have another perspective on the story/fan interaction. I think it’s part of how we make meaning that we fill in the gaps of the story with our own experience–and there are always gaps in the story. Storytelling will always be interactive in that way. But I think the story tellers not only can but should have a clear sense of the story they are telling–we’ll still find the gaps and make it our own. I think Kripke’s clear sense of his story made the first five seasons incredibly cohesive and rich. So I hope this group of writers feels the same sense of power over creating the story, rather than leaving major story points vague and undefined, because fans can create their own head canon. I felt season 8 suffered from some vague story telling at times.

    • spnfans permalink
      September 15, 2013 7:40 pm

      I agree, and I think the writers feel the same. They’re very invested in telling a coherent, cohesive story – of course when you have a team of writers, there will be mistakes sometimes, but I feel hopeful that the increasingly closeness of the writing team will lead to more cohesion in the story. You’re so right, there will always be enough gaps for fans to fill in, no matter how tight the storytelilng is🙂

  6. Kathy Wilkins permalink
    September 15, 2013 7:34 pm

    Are you in any way affiliated with the syfy series Fangasm? I love you guys and saw the ad and thought hhhmmmm????????????

    • spnfans permalink
      September 15, 2013 7:41 pm

      Nope. We’ve had the name for five years, but you can’t copyright a book title, so they can use it too, though we feel fairly certain they heard it from us first! But no, it’s entirely a separate project and we have no idea how it will be.

  7. Mae permalink
    September 15, 2013 8:38 pm

    Thanks for this! Great insight! Although, why must they be so teasingly cruel re: the Samulet??

    I am so very wary that the SPN writers are on Twitter. It feels too much like we have scaled the 4th wall. I have (yet) to tweet @ either Adam or Robbie, but I occasionally scroll through their @ replies..and that is a scary place. I feel like the feedback the writers get via Twitter is not anywhere in line with what the fandom / SPN viewing audience as a whole generally thinks or wants. It is all either moar Sam!, moar Dean!, moar Cassssss! So it is comforting to know that the writers don’t take fans feedback too seriously & don’t let it influence the way they write SPN.

    “Supernatural is one of those rare shows that gives you characters and a world fascinating enough to make you want to know more, but lets you fill in some of the blanks yourself to craft that world into whatever floats your boat. We’re sworn to spoiler secrecy, but suffice it to say that at least some things will be explored more deeply for both brothers and for Cas this season.”

    …but…what does that mean?? Give us more!😉 In all seriousness, I don’t know if it is the way you wrote it or not, but the line about filling in the blanks to whatever floats your boat makes me slightly nervous. I’m over any fan-service that creates Tumblr shipper fodder. It’s just not what SPN is about.

    Happy to hear that Robbie gets the importance of the bunker being a home to the brothers. I didn’t particularly like the spoilers that came out over Comic Con about only Dean seeing the bunker as a home, not Sam. I find that odd, but I’m sure that will be explained this season.

    And hahah to Sam hallucinating the Grand Canyon story. I’ll accept that hand wave excuse.

    • spnfans permalink
      September 16, 2013 1:23 pm

      If it sets your mind at rest, we know nothing about anything coming up in the way of fan service. The entire creative team seems to understand that no matter how much we – and they – want something to happen, it has to have an organic reason for doing so. I think they care too much about that to do anything *just* because some people want it. That said, it’s part of the passion of fandom to want what we want very badly, and they get that too. Without that passion, fandom wouldn’t be nearly as much fun or be able to have such an impact on people’s lives, or the rest of the world! We all make of it what we need to make of it, that’s all we meant.🙂

      Oh, and I agree with you about the bunker feeling like a home to Sam. I absolutely think it does, and am hoping this is just Sam’s way of coming to terms with settling down ‘in the life’ – he needs time to define something that’s part of hunting as ‘home’ perhaps, having held a different definition for so long. I guess we’ll see. *crosses fingers*

  8. Jess permalink
    September 16, 2013 9:23 am

    I like these guys I genuinely do but how can the writers not understand the significance of something like the samulet a prop they came up with from day one and wrote a huge backstory for that basically represented the boys relationship in a material possession? To throw it in the bin and just joke about it, do they all just not get the significance or are they just mocking the fans and the history of the show by belittling it?

    • spnfans permalink
      September 16, 2013 1:17 pm

      No, definitely not. They do get it, and I think several of the writers would LOVE to bring it back, because they do take seriously the boys’ relationship and understand the symbolism of it — to the fans, as well as to the brothers. The joke was absolutely not meant to belittle, but I think meant to acknowledge the wrongness of something so important in a trash can. There is no mocking of the fans or the history, far from it – they really do care. Remember that it was not these writers who had Dean throw it away – that was in season 5. But bringing anything back (Bobby, the Trickster, the Samulet, etc) takes an organic reason to do so, and a storyline that won’t feel forced or like just fan service – and I think they take that seriously too. We’re all on the same side here!

      • September 24, 2013 4:49 am

        This is the one subject that I actually wouldn’t mind a retcon for. If they decided to write in a retcon of Sam fishing the Samulet in the trash and then holding onto it for all of these years without Dean knowing about it, I’d be all for it. Say Dean is in Sam’s room in the MoL Bunker looking for something and just happens to find it tucked inside of a drawer or something along those lines. He’d immediately feel like crap, for sure but also remember that the significance of the Samulet was never about finding some absentee God. It was about his brother giving it to him because he was (and still is) the most important person in his life and wanted to somehow offer Dean some protection the way Dean has always protected him.

  9. September 17, 2013 12:16 pm

    thanks(as usual!!) for this! so glad to meet you Lynne in Vancouver! will see you in Dallas where the yeehawing will be loud!

    • spnfans permalink
      September 17, 2013 12:17 pm

      So great to meet you too — will join you in yeehawing this weekend in Dallas!!🙂

  10. September 18, 2013 3:46 pm

    I am not sure if this is the right thing to do or if I am breaking ethical rules here, but I just don’t know how else to establish a voice for Winchester Family Business, which is a site I know many people who came here support. I am not sure if anyone has heard, but Alice is having untold problems. The result is that WFB has shut down and it may be permanent. But if we have learned anything as avid fans of SPN, we stick together. So please if there is anyone out there that can help recover the database or offer support in any way to Alice, there are many many people out there that would be most grateful. Please help
    Kaz1

Trackbacks

  1. Mesopotamia is Canonically Bigger Than the Grand Canyon » A Supernatural Meta Project

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Longreads

The best longform stories on the web

P.O.P.

Getting Along in a World Full of People.

Pondering Fandoms

From a fangirl perspective

Archaeology and Material Culture

The material world, broadly defined

The Fan Studies Network

Keeping fan studies scholars connected.

%d bloggers like this: