Yeah, I have a bit of a weakness for these companions ever since I committed the full Star Trek: the Next Generation (all 7 seasons) companion to memory in my younger days (to the point I could identify episodes I’d never seen before). This companion to SPN season 4 confirms my theory that great art requires great adversity. Season 4 was, without a doubt, one of the best seasons ever, but in this guide, you learn just how much the cast & crew had to fight and overcome in order to get the show made. Especially the loss of the awesome Kim Manners; several times through this book it’s hard to keep a dry eye as everyone remembers him.
As far as the rest, I am tempted to call this book the “best of the magazine”. Why? Having kept up with the SPN magazine for a few years now, I recognized more than a few passages in the book were drawn from different issues – which isn’t surprising since the writer, Nicholas Knight, writes for the mag as well. If you need a SPN trivia game for REAL hardcore fans, grab a paragraph from this guide and see who can identify the magazine issue it originally appeared in.
Really, it’s tough to write a review without spoiling so much of it that you no longer need to buy it (and it’s not that bad of a book that I’d do that). By far the best parts are the behind-the-scenes glimpses. The “closer looks” at the monsters in the show aren’t bad but the best one by far is the entry on angels as it gels a lot of what we’ve seen on the show but they haven’t been able to convey yet on screen. Sometimes, the “sucking up” on the pages gets a little tiresome. For example, in the discussion on the episode Family Remains, the director talks about how wonderful all the guest stars were. Nothing wrong with that, but I’d like to see more details in how they were wonderful, what ticks and touches they brought to the scene.
Although… I can’t complain too much since about the back 3rd of the book is entirely behind-the-scene talk with the actors and the crew – I did geek out a little over all that. And for the ladies, there are a LOT of color photos of Jared & Jensen (guys only get a pic of Genevieve Cortese and the young Mary Campbell – where was Julie? She shall be avenged!) Plus the description of Jared’s & Jensen’s off camera antics is always fun. I swear they could do an entire half hour show of just the two of them “torturing” everyone.
All in all, casual fans probably won’t want this book as much but for those semi to hardcore fans, it’s not a bad addition to your library.
(note: my copy had two typos in it, which actually made me laugh – I won’t tell you where they are in order to make it a sort of game, but there’s one near the front and one in the back)