Why Supernatural Season 1 Is So Much Better On DVD Than Streaming

"Carry on Wayward Son": the Kansas song has long been a rallying cry for "Supernatural" fans. I love classic rock, and though I'm not a fan of Kansas in particular, I have to admit, the track now holds a special place in my heart. Used for almost every single one of the beloved show's fifteen seasons to sum up each respective year before the finale, I now can't help but associate it with Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean's (Jensen Ackles) mission of "saving people" and "hunting things." Thanks to their family business, the brothers have spent time in Heaven, Hell, and pretty much everywhere in between. They've fought angels and demons alike, cheated death many times over, and even came face to face with God himself. Plus, they did it all with a kick ass soundtrack. "Supernatural" may have ended, but it will always live on in our hearts — and a prequel is on the way.

Many people got rid of their DVD collections long ago, though honestly, I could never. Still, there's not much reason for most of us to dig them out these days. However, "Supernatural" season 1 is one experience better had with the now antiquated media format, rather than a steaming platform. Why, you ask? Well, it's about that kickass soundtrack.

A good reason to buy DVDs

When it comes to the first season of "Supernatural" you'd be much better off shelling out a few bucks for DVDs than you would hitting "play" on Netflix, or any other streaming service for that matter. It turns out DVDs are the only way to watch season 1 as it was intended to be seen: with the original music. Pretty much all the music on Netflix has been replaced, certainly all of the tracks you know and love. Whether it's your first or 50th time watching the series, believe me, this is not the way to go.

"Supernatural" stars Rob Benedict (Chuck/God) and Richard Speight Jr. (Trickster/Gabriel) have a pretty great podcast called "Supernatural Then and Now," in which director and executive producer Phil Sgriccia explained what happened with the music rights for season 1. He said that though none of them realized it at the time, in year one of the show they only had the music rights for DVDs and television broadcasting. In subsequent years, the deal would be redone to include streaming, but in 2005, no one was really considering such things. It's unclear how much this had to do with the first year of "Supernatural" airing on The WB, which became The CW before season 2, but it would certainly make sense if that was a factor. Sgriccia said that even the digital versions of the episodes, such as the ones on iTunes, don't feature the original music either.

What's a road trip without a soundtrack?

Music has been part of the DNA of "Supernatural" from its inception, with creator Eric Kripke having spoken about its relevance on many occasions. During the commentary on the "Supernatural" pilot Kripke discussed how vital his music choices were to the story he was trying to tell. It was incredibly important to him that the music he listened to be featured on the series, rather than the music that was typical of the network at that time. Apparently, his friends call him "Old Man Kripke" because he only listens to classic rock.

In fact, the musical selections were such a major concern for Kripke that he wrote Dean's music taste right into the pilot script, with Sam saying to him that his cassette collection needed a major update. When Dean asked why, Sam replied, "Well for one, they are cassette tapes, and two — Black Sabbath? Motörhead? Metallica? It's the greatest hits of mullet rock." While I'm deeply offended to hear Sabbath referred to as "mullet rock," obviously, Dean's musical taste mirrors Kripke's own. Sam's favorite bands have never been revealed.

It's probably also worth noting that classic rock meant something different in 2005 than it does in 2022. Sure, I bristle at the idea that Nirvana is considered classic rock these days, but here we are. Kripke's favorite band is Led Zeppelin, who he made Dean's favorite band as well. The group have been referenced many times throughout the series, though because the show could never afford to license any of their tunes for "Supernatural," those references are all we ever got. Honestly though, it could have been awesome. Just imagine how epic it would've been if "What Is And What Should Never Be" or "When The Levee Breaks" got to be more than merely episode titles.

Time for a rewatch

The first time I tried to do a rewatch of "Supernatural" on Netflix, I had something of a rude awakening. I'm a huge music nerd and I'd seen the DVDs of those first five seasons quite a few times, so I recognized pretty quickly that the pilot was not as I remembered. There was no Allman Brothers or AC/DC to be found, just some unmemorable sounding rock — sorry Netflix bands! I can be lazy about digging out DVDs, so at first I tried to muddle through, but the show just isn't the same without its classic rock soundtrack. The more I thought about it, the more I knew I couldn't watch the series this way.

The real moment of truth came during episode 6, "Skin." From the tense opening moments that definitely did not unfold to Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" to the shapeshifter shedding his skin while soundtracked by something other than Filter's "Hey Man, Nice Shot," the episode did not hit the same way. When I finally busted out those old DVDs, I was struck all over again by some of the utterly perfect song placements, whether it's Blue Öyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" in "Faith" or CCR's "Bad Moon Rising" in "Devil's Tap." Trust me on this one, you want to watch season 1 on DVD.

Don't worry, after season 1, you're good to stream and hear and all that classic rock goodness. You've got The Rolling Stones, The Doors, Bob Dylan, Supertramp, and so many more, not to mention other acts as varied as Robert Johnson, The Kinks, David Bowie, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Don't worry, there's some pure cheese in there too, for all you REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, and Styx fans out there!