VANCOUVER, BC. Three weeks ago, I had a position on the 200th Episode Gala red carpet for The CW's “Supernatural,” a little-show-that-could that has gone from being seemingly near cancellation a few years ago to taking a regular place as one of the network's steadiest hits.
Over the course of nearly two hours of red carpet time, I had swift and efficient conversations with many of the people who make the '67 Impala that is “Supernatural” hum and purr.
I talked with stars Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, who have anchored “Supernatural” from the beginning, but also with co-stars including fan favorites Misha Collins and Mark Sheppard and Internet favorite Felicia Day, plus a trio of writers and producers.
With the 200th “Supernatural” episode airing on Tuesday (November 11), I'll be running those quick Q&As in three parts, starting this this series of red carpet chats with a slew of the key creative forces from “Supernatural” past and present.
“Supernatural” has gone through several writers' room waves and I talked to featured players from several of those waves starting with series creator Eric Kripke, who ran the show in its infancy, but then went off to work on other projects, including NBC's “Revolution.”
I also chatted with Robert Singer, who has been a “Supernatural” writer-director-producer from the very beginning, providing continuity through several showrunning administrations.
And I gabbed with Adam Glass, an EP and writer who counts as a relative newcomer because his first credits didn't come until 2010.
Check out the trio of producer Q&As… And stay tuned for separate stories with the supporting actors and then the stars…
HitFix: What is it like seeing your little baby all grown up at 200?
Eric Kripke: I would say it's surreal and very humbling. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would go to 200 episodes and I'm just so grateful to the fans. They really brought the show this far.
HitFix: When you look at the show now and you think back on your original conception, how do you reflect on the evolution and how things have changed over the years?
Eric Kripke: I'm proud of it. Honestly, I look at “Supernatural” as like the kid I sent off to college. I'm not in charge of its decisions anymore, but I'm so damn proud of what it's doing. It's a really durable structure and one of the things that I'm most proud of is that it's able to support new creators and new writers coming in and putting their imprint on the show. Sera's tenure on the show is different from Jeremy's tenure on the show, which is different from my tenure on the show. Each one has its own vibe and its own energy and yet is still always about Sam & Dean and Jared & Jensen and their connection. I'm just really proud that it keeps evolving. I think one of the secrets to its longevity is that it never gets repetitive.
HitFix: Talk a bit about those people you chose and the people you were able to watch nurture the shows as individuals. Talk about the different imprints Sera, Jeremy, etc have left.
Eric Kripke: I think Sera has always had an emphasis on character and emotion that, frankly, I've never been as good at and I think she was really able, I look at her seasons as really being able, to just kinda dimensionalize The Boys. And Jeremy has this sense of humor and grasp of just kinda a rollicking paced mythology that I think he brought to it, a snarky banter that he's able to bring. So yeah. I'm proud as hell of both of them.
HitFix: One thing I like is how consistently you guys have been able to make fun of those early seasons and specifically those early episodes. What was the moment at which you started being able to do that?
Eric Kripke: I would say the first time we really started taking the piss out of ourselves was “Hollywood Babylon” in Season 2 and that was the first time we were starting to poke fun at the actual show, so we were doing it early, from the middle of Season 2. But I'm a huge — It's obvious from watching the show — but I'm a huge fan of meta. I think meta is hilarious and being able to show that you know your own faults and you know your own blemishes and you don't take any of it too seriously is, I think, healthy and we're happy to communicate that.
HitFix: But how about within the writers' room? At what were you able to go, “OK. Maybe that wasn't the show we wanted to be making, but now we're making the show we want to be making.”
Eric Kripke: We've always been making the show we wanted to make. We just always knew that you have good episodes and bad episodes and we're just not afraid to poke some fun at the bad episodes.
HitFix: There was the moment at which the show was shipped off to Friday nights and that's generally considered the Kiss of Death. What kind of odds would you have given me at that time that you'd be at a part like this?
Eric Kripke: I mean, right now I think the odds are two percent that I would be here. I've never counted my chickens before they've hatched. Every season, I thought, was going to be the last season. I've always said at the beginning of every single season of the show when I was running the show in the writers' room, “This is the last season, so let's smoke 'em if we've got 'em.” And that's always been our attitude. There's always been a recklessness that we always thought we were about to die, so we might as well go crazy. So I'd say I thought the odds on Friday were the same as when we premiered, as the same as whenever they moved us. I always was sure we were about to be canceled.
HitFix: But now you're confident you'll make it to the 200th episode?
Eric Kripke: I don't know. We're gonna see how the night goes, but I'm hopeful we can make it to the 200th.
HitFix: So “Fan Fiction” is the title of Episode 200. Talk about the line between honoring fans and pandering to them…
Robert Singer: I don't think we've ever pandered to fans.
HitFix: Which means you know what the line is…
Robert Singer: Well, in general we, at least I don't, I don't pay much attention to what goes on online. When we're sitting sitting in the writers' room and we're breaking stories, we rarely say “I wonder what the fans are gonna think of this.” We just wanna tell the best story. We get feedback, their reaction to things? Pretty much, we're here with 200. So we have great respect for our fans. We want to keep it fresh for them. But we're not taking the directions from them.
HitFix: Sure, but what is the approach that you want to take to acknowledging the fans and hugging the fans through their TVs?
Robert Singer: In the 200th we're probably more out-there about it than any episode we've done in a very amusing and humorous and the boys making fun of themselves, but at the end of the show, without getting into anything specific, they go, “OK. We have our story. They have theirs.”
HitFix: You've been with the show from the beginning. Talk a bit about the evolution of the show with its different showrunners as you've been party to it.
Robert Singer: Well, first with Eric, it was five years probably as good creatively as I've had. We had a wonderful partnership. I hated it see him go. The two years with Sera were good, good years. Jeremy had worked with us before, left to do another show and they came to me because I was thinking, “Well, maybe I'm done” and they said, “Well, suppose Jeremy came back” and I go, “OK, that's appealing to me.” And we have a great time together. If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't do it.
HitFix: Well what was it at that moment when you were thinking you might be done and how are you feeling now?
Robert Singer: I've been really energized over what we've done the last two-and-a-half years. When Sera left us, she left Dean in Purgatory and we didn't know where the hell we were gonna go. But that's kinda the challenge of the show. We get asked a lot, “Well, how far ahead do you plan?” We've never planned — and Eric and Jeremy will tell you this as well — we don't know what the hell we're doing the next year. Dean's in Purgatory? Alright, well that's a challenge. Dean's a demon? Well that's a challenge. And then we just kinda try to work it out.
HitFix: What's been the role of network executives in allowing you to operate in that way?
Robert Singer: They've been great, especially since Mark Pedowitz got there. I don't think they've ever come to us and said, “Oh, don't do that episode” or “Oh, we're really worried about this.” They've been really supportive. The more success we've had with the crazier ones, whether it's “French Mistake” or “Monster Movie” or “Changing Channels,” they really do well, so I think they trust us that we're not gonna offend anyone or screw it up. And it keeps us kinda busy, keeps our minds fresh.
HitFix: With all of the big, high concept episodes you've had over the years, what was the hardest one to actually execute?
Robert Singer: We had good directors on all the high concept ones, so they weren't inordinately hard. I directed “Monster Movie” and I just changed my style a little bit to reflect the 1930s black-and-white look, so I had to kinda do a mind switch. But other than that? Charles Beeson did “French Mistake” and he did a fantastic job. That's one thing we've actually done is, when we know we're gonna do one of these, to try to get one of our good directors in place, somebody that we trust.
HitFix: And why was Philip Sgriccia the man to direct the 200th?
Robert Singer: Phil is a stalwart. He's one of the best. Phil and I worked together for 26 years, so I trust him implicitly and know he'll do a good job. Although he goes overtime a lot.
HitFix: Talk to me a bit about why you think “Supernatural” has earned the ability to go meta in the way that it has over the years…
Adam Glass: Because I think we've always been a show that turned around and didn't take ourselves too seriously. I think when you do that and you know and you're in on the joke? We realize… True story: The first time my wife, who did not grow up loving horror movies and loving genre stuff, came and watched the first episode of Season 6 and totally didn't get it. I remember going home with her and she said, “Are you sure this is the show for you?” I said, “Are you kidding me? I love the show. You're not in on the joke. You don't get it. We know what we're doing. We turn around and know.” That's what I love about these characters. How many guys that come off as macho as Dean can sing songs? How many boy-tears can we cry? We've always been a show that has not ever taken ourselves too seriously and I think that's why we can turn around and do meta episodes and poke fun at ourselves and do all those things.
HitFix: When it comes to sorta acknowledging fandom, what is the line between honoring fans and pandering to them?
Adam Glass: Ha. That's an interesting question. Look, I love to hear what the say, because I think that's the right of every fan. I also write graphic novels. Some people love them, some people hate them. Critics? There's nothing wrong with having a voice. At the end of the day, though, I think that you can get off the path if you don't listen to your own stuff and you don't listen to your own path in what you're supposed to do. Suggestions are great, but they're not always necessarily… You know, they're not in the room. They don't know what we do. I think that's sometimes the frustrating part. So much thought and time goes into every single thing. We never do anything half-cocked. So some people don't like it? When you put out something to masses that's gonna happen.
HitFix: So Robert was saying he doesn't pay attention to the things that are said out in the world. It sounds like you do. What's the breakdown in the writers' room of people paying attention and people not?
Adam Glass: I think when you say “pay attention,” I think… Look, some of us are more Twitter savvy and social media savvy. It's part of being in our generation and all that stuff. I have young kids, so I'm involved in all those things. So you get to see it, but to sit there and say, “I go every day and I search and troll what people are saying,” wouldn't be right. But I do, do, do love our fans. They're a passionate group and they're the reason we're here, so I hold nothing against them for turning around and speaking their minds.
HitFix: Have there been any major fan uprising that you've very clearly disagreed with?
Adam Glass: I don't think so much a fan uprising. Look, once again, people turn around and there's always gonna be, in any group, there're gonna be people who have their own agendas and that might not necessarily be the agenda of the show or it might not necessarily be the agenda of the other fans and I think you have to sorta take them all with a grain of salt.
HitFix: How about when it comes to breakout supporting characters on the show? Whose breaking out has surprised you?
Adam Glass: I wasn't there for Misha, but obviously he's an amazing fan favorite and, look, an amazing actor and the character of Cas is one of my favorite characters. It's funny, we just brought back Kate,from “Bitten” and the fans, Robbie Thompson always used to joke and say, “No one saw that episode,” but the love outpour for her coming back has been tremendous. We didn't expect that. We were joking internally like, “Is anybody gonna remember… When he says, 'Deano, Kate,' is everybody gonna be like, 'Who?'” But the fans have really spoken on social media and seem to really want her back.
HitFix: Do you have any characters from those early years that you personally would like to bring back?
Adam Glass: Look, I love Meg. I always loved Meg. She was such a great character. I would love to see her again. I always liked Chuck. Chuck is another — Great actor, great character, a lot of fun. I'd love to see him again. We just recent killed a character that I love, Abaddon, Alaina Huffman, and I'd love to see her again. And you know, on our show? Dead isn't dead, necessarily. So you never know. You've just gotta convince everyone to bring them back.
HitFix: The show has done so many high concept episodes. In your time on the show, which has been the toughest to take from concept to execution?
Adam Glass: A lot of times I think what you have to remember is that we're not a movie. We don't have $50 million, so you have to do things… I think sometimes what you learn is like, people always joke and say, “Why is that in a warehouse?” It's like, “Because that's what we could afford.” It forces you actually to write some really interesting stories and do some interesting things. I did an episode, I think it was “Man's Best Friend.” I did a dog episode and that turned around and was much harder than I think we anticipated and I remember we got in the editing room and we had to lose and get rid of some stuff because, at the end of the day, getting dogs to do exactly what you want them to do? It's not so easy.
HitFix: This has always been a show that looked back with very clear focus at the things and episodes that didn't work. Do you look at that episode as one that didn't work? Or do you look at it as something where you did the best you could?
Adam Glass: Oh, I thought we did the best we could. It's funny, because I really love that episode. The idea was turning around and doing an episode where I thought, “OK. What if the monster was a dog in your house?” I thought to myself, “This a no-brainer. This is a great idea.” Kripke thought so, too. I remember we did it and the fans just didn't like it. I was so heartbroken. I was like, “But this is a great idea! Here's the dog! He's in your family! He's a shape-shifter! He watches you sleep! He could get into the bathroom while you go to the bathroom…” And I don't think the fans ever enjoyed the episode as much as I did.
The 200th “Supernatural” episode airs on Tuesday, November 11 at 9 p.m. on The CW.