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'Supernatural' goes south in a hurry

WB hunks are not a very elusive species. They're easily spotted flocking through prime time all week long, their shiny brown hair recognizable even to the untrained eye. With their silky-smooth voices, sensitive eyes, and brooding brows, they're among TV's most common birds, rivaling even the ubiquitous Bruckheimerian Rubber-Gloved Detective.

Two more WB hunks take a regular perch this week on ''Supernatural," beginning tonight at 9 on Channel 56. The new series stars a pair of WB grads, Jensen Ackles from ''Smallville" and Jared Padalecki from ''Gilmore Girls," as brothers who fight ghosts while trying to solve their mother's decades-old murder. True to their WB hunk roots, Ackles and Padalecki are generic cuties who hold their lips together tightly, except to utter the word ''Dude." And as such, they do very little to distinguish their show, which is as unimaginative as its title.

''Supernatural" aims for B horror-movie thrills, as the Winchester brothers comb the country chasing evil spirits in their 1967 Chevy Impala. Basically, Sam (Padalecki) has tried to escape the ghost-busting business of Dean (Ackles) and their dad, who devote their lives to solving ethereal mysteries. But tonight, after Dad goes missing, Sam agrees to leave his academic seclusion to help Dean. He gets sucked back in. Each week, the Winchesters will do grim battle with a different demon -- tonight, it's the bitter ghost of a woman in white -- while gathering little clues about their mother.

The first episode does contain one or two twists that are moderately creepy. But there's nothing about the central family story in ''Supernatural" or its bland actors that makes it addictive. It's horror rehash that never quite takes flight.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at

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