Oh brother, bring on more of the evil spir­its

Su­per­nat­u­ral 8.30pm, Ten

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

DEMI Moore has a lot to an­swer for. As Molly in the 1990 chick flick block­buster Ghost, her enor­mous tear- filled eyes, her con­vinc­ing emo­tion­al­ism and her mostly dead hus­band, Sam ( Pa­trick Swayze), made the af­ter­life a dod­dle, a brisk walk in the park. That is, af­ter you’ve set­tled your scores and bumped off your mur­derer. ‘‘ The love goes on,’’ Sam tells Molly as he dis­ap­pears, fi­nally, into a white light more blind­ing than the one Steven Spiel­berg used at the end of 1975’ s Close En­coun­ters of the Third Kind.

With­out Ghost and its puerile black- and- white moral­ity ( the good go benev­o­lently up to the light, but the bad are dragged kick­ing and scream­ing down through the ground by hellish black fig­ures), we may not have had to en­dure Jen­nifer Love He­witt in Ghost Whis­perer , The Sixth Sense , and tonight’s es­pe­cially spooky treat, Su­per­nat­u­ral .

Yes, yes, I know. Ghosts go back farther than that. Two gen­er­a­tions ago there were treats such as Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit ( 1941), and we could look all the way back to Shake­speare, who loved a good spook ( as when Ban­quo ap­pears to Mac­beth) and wasn’t above the su­per­nat­u­ral him­self: ‘‘ Is this a dag­ger which I see be­fore me?’’

Back in the 21st cen­tury, we are stuck with the lu­di­crous ad­ven­tures of brothers Dean and Sam Winch­ester ( Jensen Ack­les and Jared Padalecki), who travel across the US look­ing for their miss­ing fa­ther, bat­tling evil spir­its along the way.

The Winch­ester boys’ prob­lem is ge­netic, and mir­rors Sam’s in Ghost. Ever since they were boys their dad was ob­sessed with find­ing the evil forces that mur­dered his wife. What chance did they have?

This un­likely premise has en­dured to a third sea­son, due in no small mea­sure to the charis­matic per­for­mances of the boys. ( We love brother sagas. What other rea­son would there be for Prison Break to en­dure?)

And, as with Ghost, which had a larger- than- life char­ac­ter in the form of Whoopi Gold­berg for comic re­lief, Su­per­nat­u­ral is not with­out lev­ity.

Sam: ‘‘ So, burn­ing the body didn’t do any­thing?’’ Dean: ‘‘ Sure it did, now it’s pissed!’’

On it goes, through a land­scape much like the one pop­u­lated by peo­ple suf­fer­ing from schizophre­nia. The brothers see, hear and de­stroy things oth­ers aren’t even aware of. In tonight’s episode, they deal with vam­pires, wres­tle demons, and con­front spir­its and ogres of ev­ery hue and creed.

Su­per­nat­u­ral is es­sen­tially a road movie in which ev­ery day is a new town with a new set of spooks. And the boys are res­cuers who fre­quently free peo­ple from eter­nal suf­fer­ing. Saints, then, not su­per­nat­u­ral sin­ners.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

Sib­ling chivalry: Jensen Ack­les, left, and Jared Padalecki

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