The new drama Supernatural (WB, Thursdays, 9:00 ET) is another variation on what has become a familiar television theme: Beyond our everyday material world is a spiritual realm that impinges upon our lives.
Classic horror tales set up conflicts between evil and good, the demonic and the godly, Satan and Christ. Today, the conflict tends to be between the supernatural and the natural. The demonic realm is arrayed not against God, but against human beings in human terms.
Supernatural is about two brothers who hunt ghosts, poltergeists, women in white, and other scary denizens of folklore and legend. Their weapons? Not prayer and the Word of God. Guns. Knives. Martial arts moves.
The saga begins with a flashback showing their father's horror when mom gets impaled on the ceiling, which then bursts into flame. We learn that he dedicates his life to tracking down the supernatural being that did this. He gives his two boys weapons training so they can help. He bags lots of minor spirits, but the big one keeps getting away.
Then we see the two boys grown up, one ready to leave the dark realm of horror for the sunny realm of law school, until his live-in girlfriend also gets impaled on a ceiling that bursts into flames. He takes up the quest.
This series targets the WB network's market niche, a teenage audience, so instead of good vs. evil, we have cute vs. evil. So far the series lacks the appeal of the best of the ghosthunter genre, The X-Files, whose plots hinged on interesting mysteries and philosophical puzzles. Supernatural just tries to be scary but remains earthbound. As if a jump kick could stop a spirit.