5.08 Changing Channels

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Promo pic for 5.08.jpg
Title Changing Channels
Episode # Season 5, Episode 8
First aired November 5, 2009
Directed by Charles Beeson
Written by Jeremy Carver
On IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1511910/
Outline When Sam and Dean get trapped in a series of TV shows, they suspect the work of the Trickster
Monster Archangel Gabriel
Location(s) Wellington, Ohio
[[{{{prevep}}}|« Previous Episode]] | [[{{{nextep}}}|Next Episode »]]


Sam and Dean investigate a death where the wife swears her husband was killed by the Incredible Hulk. They soon work out that they are dealing with the Trickster, but he manages to lure them into a trap and plant them into a series of TV shows including a hospital drama of which Dean is a fan (Dr Sexy M.D.), a Japanese game show, an ad, and a sitcom. Castiel manages to appear at one point but is banished. When he reappears, Castiel is bloodied and bruised, and says he thinks it may be something more powerful than the Trickster - who appears and again banishes him. The Trickster says he is trying to drive home the lesson that they must play their roles as Michael and Lucifer's vessels and finish the apocalypse even though it will destroy the Earth. Dean tries to find out which side the Trickster is on, but he denies he is allied with either Heaven or Hell. Sam and Dean continue in TV until, during a cop show, they think they spot the Trickster, and they stab him with a stake dipped in blood. But, while it momentarily appears things are back to normal, when Sam appears to have been transformed into the Impala, it is obvious they aren't out. They've merely changed channels again. Finally, acting on a hunch, Dean sets a ring of Holy Oil and entraps the Trickster, who reveals himself to be an Archangel - Gabriel. Gabriel reveals he left Heaven and took on his disguise as the Trickster because he couldn't bear his father (God) and brothers (Lucifer, Michael, and the other angels) fighting. He says that Sam and Dean are destined to be the vessels, because they mirror the relationship between Michael and Lucifer. Dean is like Michael - the loyal son obeying the absent father - and Sam is like Lucifer - the rebellious son. He says it has always been predestined.

Dean gets Gabriel to bring Castiel back, and then they leave after setting off the fire sprinklers so Gabriel will be released eventually.




In 5.08 Changing Channels the Supernatural Sitcom Theme Song plays over opening credits which mimic those of 70s and 80s sitcom like Laverne and Shirley and Full House.

The lyrics were: Town to town, two-lane roads
Family biz, two hunting bros -
Living the lie, just to get by.
As long as we're movin' forward
There's nothing we can't do
Together we'll face the day
You and I won't run away
When demons come out to play
Together we'll face the day!

Download the song
* "Move You by Anya Marina" plays on while Dean watches "Dr Sexy, M.D.)
  • "Not A Through Street by Anya Marina plays when Dean and Sam enter the hospital.
  • "Something Real" by Renee Stahl
  • "Love To See You Happy" by Robbi Spencer - plays while Sam is stitching up Dean.
Grey's Anatomy has become known for its use of indie pop music and each episode is named after a song. This is precisely the type of music Kripke didn't want used in Supernatural. In an early draft of the script for the Supernatural Pilot he wrote "CUE MUSIC And you can take your anemic alternative pop and shove it up your ass. Dean plays bass thumping, pile driving Zeppelin, and he plays it loud." (See Music for more). In this episode, great care went into choosing the music. Kripke said “We share a music supervisor with ‘Grey’s,’ Alex Patsavas, so she made sure we had the perfect type of songs. I think a few may have even been used on ‘Grey’s.’” (Source).
The music used in the "crime procedural sequence" echoes the opening theme to CSI:Miami which is based on "Won't Get Fooled Again" By The Who.
The music playing when Sam becomes the Impala aka Sampala is very similar to the theme from Knight Rider


Dean: Hey there Sam. What's happening?
Sam: Oh nothing. Uhm... Just the end of the world.
Sam: What are you watching?

Dean: A hospital show - "Dr Sexy, M.D.". I think it's based on a book.

Sam: When did you hit menopause?
Dean: That's doctor Piccolo. Doctor Ellen Piccolo, the sexy, yet earnest doctor, at... Seattle Mercy Hospital.

Sam: Aah... Dean? What the hell are you talking about?
Dean: The doctor get-ups, the- the sexy interns, the 'seriouslys'... It all makes sense.
Sam: What makes sense? What's going on?

Dean: We're in Dr. Sexy M.D.
Dean: And there's Johnny Drake. Oh he's not even alive, he's a ghost in the mind of... of her. The sexy, but neurotic doctor over there.

Sam: So... this show has ghosts? Why?

Dean: I don't know. It is compelling.
Sam: I need a pen knife, some dental floss, a sewing needle, and a fifth of whiskey. Stat!
Game show host: No, no - Mr Trickster does not like pretty boy angels.
Trickster: Oh, you know... Sam starring as Lucifer, Dean starring as Michael. Your celebrity death match!
Sam: You've got to calm down.
Dean: Calm down? I'm wearing sunglasses at night. You know who does that? No talent douchebags. I hate this game. I hate that we're in a procedural cop show and you want to know why? Because I hate procedural cop shows. There's like 300 on television, they're all the freaking same, it's like 'oh... a plane crashed here.' Oh shut up!
Forensic guy: Well... aside from the ligature marks around his neck, he has what appears to be a roll of quarters jammed down his throat.

Sam: Well I say... jackpot.
Forensic guy: Heh. Also there's a stabwound to the lower abdomen there.

Dean: Well I say... No guts, no glory.
Gabriel: Where did you get the holy oil?
Dean: Well, you might say we pulled it out of Sam's ass.
Gabriel: You do not know my family. What you guys call the Apocalypse, I call Sunday dinner!
Gabriel: This isn't about a war. It's about two brothers that loved each other, and betrayed each other. You think you'd be able to relate.

Sam: What are you talking about?

Gabriel: (whistles) You sorry sons of bitches. Why do you think you two are the vessels? Think about it. Michael, the big brother, loyal to an absent father. And Lucifer, the little brother, rebellious of daddy's plan. You were born to this, boys. It's your destiny. It was always you. As it is in heaven, so it must be on Earth. One brother has to kill the other.

Trivia & References

Sitcoms have been around since TV began from shows such as "I Love Lucy" through to "Two and a Half Men". They were often aired with a pre-recorded laugh track, although in the last decade this has become a less common practice.
Dean: You might say you wouldn't like him when he's angry?

The wife of the first victim reports seeing "The Incredible Hulk" - and the line Dean quotes is a classic from the TV show and movies.

Lou Ferrigno starred as David Banner's (played by Bill Bixby, hulky green alter ego. Eric Bana played Bruce Banner in the 2003 movie "Hulk", and Ed Norton played him in the 2008 "Incredible Hulk". The actual Hulk was basically CGI in these movies.
Dean: A bloody violent monster and you want to be Facebook friends with him?
Dean has come a long way since a girl gave him her MySpace address in 2.08 Crossroad Blues and Dean asked Sam "Yeah, MySpace, what the hell is that? Seriously, is that like some sort of porn site?"
"Dr Sexy, M.D". - hospital show set at Seattle Mercy Hospital - is a send-up of Grey's Anatomy a medical drama which aired opposite Supernatural in the US on Thursday nights, revolving around the love lives of the staff of Seattle Grace Hospital. Dr Derek Shepherd, played by Patrick Dempsey, is nicknamed "McDreamy" by other characters on the show. The scenes and melodramatic dialogue mimic that of Grey's Anatomy - as can be seen in these video clips.
"Dr Sexy M.D." was first mentioned in 4.18 The Monster At The End Of This Book by the publisher as one of the reasons the "Supernatural" books went out of print.
The repeated use of phrase "Doctor" when addressing someone is a reference to the 1985 comedy Spies Like Us; in one of the film's most famous scenes, a group of doctors address each other repeatedly as "Doctor."
The character Johnny Drake on "Dr Sexy, M.D" is a take-off of the patient Denny Duquette on Grey's Anatomy. He had a romance with intern Izzie, but then died. Denny was played by none other than Jeffrey Dean Morgan aka John Winchester. In a classic case of Surprise JDM, he later returned twice to Grey's Anatomy as a ghost!
Japanese Game Shows are known for their weird, often humiliating and painful stunts. On the show Say This Right! Nut Cracker, contestants have to recite a tongue-twister, and if they get it wrong they get hit in the nuts with a ball on a stick!
The 'procedural cop shows" Dean refers to include shows like the CSI and Law and Order franchises. Like Grey's Anatomy, CSI aired in the US at the same time as Supernatural on Thursday night. They specifically reference CSI: Miami's David Caruso's character, crime lab lieutenant Horatio Caine. Sam and Dean mimic his mannerisms, demonstrated in this video clip and this one of taking his sunglasses on and off and turning to profile, and/or looking into the middle-distance as he makes makes pithy observation about the crime.

At Salute to Supernatural Chicago 2009 Jensen and Jared revealed that they'd watched the "Horatio" one-liners on Youtube in preparation for the scenes. They said that for years on Supernatural they'd been a running joke if a line was a bit "on the nose" that they'd send it up in this way. The lines "a plane crashed here" and "no talent douchebags" were adlibbed by Jensen. Source
Knight Rider was a 1980s series (recently unsuccessfully revived) about crime fighter Michael Knight played by David Hasselhoff and his intelligent car KITT. When Sam is turned into the Impala, there is a red light which appears behind the front grille which moves from side to side, just like KITT had. The Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, also have oscillating red lights on their helmets instead of eyes.

KITT, just like the Impala, is the epitome of a character-car. In the past, fandom has produced fan fiction that portrayed the Impala with a soul, and more often than not, a voice. See also Impala, Sampala and Crack fiction.
The ad for "Herpexia" is a spoof of the ad for Valtrex genital herpes treatment.


Jensen and Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey both appeared in the Marilyn Monroe biopic "Blonde" - a scene from the movie.
The mini bikes the boys are seen riding in the opening credits are actually mini bikes they ride around on set. See pics of them during the filming of 4.06 Yellow Fever.

Fan Reaction

  • The "Changing Channels" free for all meme was started by clex-monkie on LJ and produced fics after the premise of the episode, in which Sam and Dean are channel hopping to other tv shows than portrayed in the episode, among them Leverage, The Vampire Diaries and Glee. Source

Sides, Scripts & Transcripts