I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Serenity

It’s all Laremy [name removed to protect the innocent*]’s fault. I know, sounds like a made up name, but this is apparently a real guy, a fellow Seattle movie reviewer who emails me all the time. As you know I am one of them lone wolfs they got, so I don’t want any part of no critical community or nothin. So I’ve made kind of a sport of dodging this guy’s kind offers to go to critic’s screenings with him. He sees alot of the same movies I do, but weeks early and for free. So I really oughta go but I told him look bud, I like to see the movies with my man Joe Public. (Joe Public actually is a made up name, it is symbolic of regular individuals such as you or I and not critics. Just to be clear. I think you knew that though sorry)

Anyway, Laremy gives me a heads up on alot of these, and he has a pretty good track record. He told me about 40 Year Old Virgin, he warned me that Lord of War was not as good as hoped, and a couple other ones. So I took him seriously when he said “SERENITY will be HUGE. Nice flick, nice laughs, nice action, well done all the way around. Summer Glau is highly doable as well.” When I asked him if that was that one space ship movie he got a little more thoughtful and warned not to get too excited because “it’s better with no expectations, like peyote.”

SerenityWell I gotta agree with Laremy again although I’m not sure which one it was that somebody was gonna “do.” This is a well put together space movie, all made out of familiar elements but not feeling like your typical hollywood space picture you would expect to see in a theater these days. The story is about the crew of one medium sized spaceship (a little smaller than Hans Solo’s ship) which is called Serenity. That is why the movie is also called Serenity, it is the name of the spaceship. Anyway there’s maybe 7 or 8 people on this ship but the important ones are 1. the captain, who will serve as our rogueish hero and 2. a babbling/maybe retarded teenage girl named River who is wanted by the space government because they made her into a psychic/kung fu killing machine and she may or may not know their secrets.

And then the other most important character actually doesn’t have a name for me to forget, but he is a super secret black ops type deadly assassin motherfucker who works for the space government. And he has a sword. Not a light saber, a sword. He’s trying to kill the retarded psychic but they won’t give her up on account of morals so he starts massacring everybody they know. Alot of innocent people die in this movie.

This is a weirdly old timey kind of future. Yeah they got spaceships and planets and what not but they still use bullets and knives. They punch alot. And they talk this kind of cowboy talk like “reckon” and what not. But it’s also kind of current because they still have silk screened t-shirts, vibrators and other modern conveniences, not space-ified. This is maybe the first ever non-porno space movie to have a reference to a vibrator. Unless I missed something in 2001.

Also this story is based on the civil war, only in space, and not about slavery, so the south are the good guys. The captain and another member of the crew were veterans of the war, on the losing side, before they became smugglers or whatever it is they do now when not running from the nameless space assassin sword guy.

I like the idea behind this movie because it’s real different from the STAR pictures. Unlike STAR WARS it’s not a huge epic. No princesses or chosen ones. I admit they do take on the government and accomplish something big, but they really do seem like regular space joes. They just stumble upon it. And it’s not like STAR TREK because the “federation” (I think it’s called the alliance here) is the bad guys. Not comic book Darth Vader bad guys but bureaucratic government asshole bad guys. The movie does a good job of explaining this with the opening narration which tells about the war between the civilized worlds and the savage outer rim planets. And then you realize the narration is biased, it’s a history lesson being told to a classroom of rich kids. And history is written by the victors. Stupid victors.

Also, the heroes aren’t goodie two shoes. They shoot first, they like to kill, and they start off the movie by pulling a payroll job. They’re the heroic criminal types, which is one of my favorite types.

And maybe the most surprising thing for a modern sci-fi movie: not a single alien! Everybody is human earthlings that speaks English and Chinese. They do got these bastards called Reevers though, named after Keanu Reeves I believe. They’re roving bands of self mutilating cannibal rapist space savages. They’ve gone completely crazy so not only do they rape and pillage and eat people alive, they decorate their space ships with body parts and they roar like snorks. Or whatever those inbred troll guys in Lord of the Rings were called.

So you got some genuine threats in here. I don’t think anybody ever had to worry about getting raped in space before, although that Harvey Keitel robot in SATURN 3 was a real pervert and I didn’t trust him. Anyway there’s lots of tension which is good for a movie that is basically a series of chases. It’s a well paced movie with a good build escalating into a fun action/character climax.

But more importantly you got some good characters, likable and reluctantly heroic, played by good actors you never seen in anything before, except one guy I think was on Barney Miller. It’s a little bit scarier than a STAR WARS picture but it’s light-hearted and has some funny lines I think, although I’m not totally sure because of the trenchcoat wearing ponytail motherfuckers in the audience laughing over every god damn punchline cause they’d already seen the fuckin thing 3 times earlier in the day.

Which brings me to what and why it’s all Laremy Legel’s fault. Actually, it’s Laremy’s fault I saw the movie but in truth this one’s on me. Laremy gave me a chance. I could’ve seen it with a safe group of critics you never heard of before. But no, I had to stand up on some abstract outlaw critic code of honor, I had to pay money to see it myself. On opening night. With nerds. Stupid bastard.

You see, I’d rather not go into it because they explain it in every review, but it turns out SERENITY is based on a failed tv show. Actually nobody could miss this fact because it’s the whole emphasis of the advertising. “The cult phenomenon beloved by millions” I believe is how how some breathless narrator described it on the trailer. I checked imdb – this filmatist worked on shows like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE and ROSEANNE, so I guess that’s where he gets the fanatic following. The newspaper ads are all about how now YOU can be A PART OF the NEW SCIENCE FICTION PHENOMENON. You will be able to tell your grandchildren that YOU WERE THERE, you saw SERENITY. Fuck the Berlin Wall coming down this is god damn SERENITY. The cult phenomenon beloved by millions.

I thought that was just some pathetic horse shit cooked up by some marketing wackos, but then I waited in line to see this movie. I ain’t seen a collection of nerds like this in years, and that includes Star Wars 3 and the time the International Math, Chess, Video Game, Role Playing, Rennaissance Fair, Lord of the Rings, Robots, Virginity and Matrix Convention came to town. To be fair there were no sword fights, but there were many costumes, pins, novelty hats, suspenders, home made t-shirts. They say if you’re going to see Skynyrd or whoever, you don’t wear the band’s t-shirt to the show. Not the case with SERENITY. You want people to know you fucking know. Alot of people were talking about how many times they’d seen it already and whether or not there were enough people in the line. I got a sense they were doing their part for humanity, voting with their dollars by seeing the movie as many times as they could take. I’m sure they’re nice people (they passed around pizza) but I can’t quite comprehend these evangelist types. They have a dream for their children and grandchildren, and that dream is SERENITY PART 2. I mean I guess I would understand if it was DIE HARD. Or BLADE. Or GHOST DOG. I mean that would be different. But this space shit–

I don’t know. Maybe if it was THE LIMEY or POINT BLANK. LONE WOLF AND CUB. The MARIACHI series. Maybe KILL BILL. Something with DMX. Or anything with Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Bruce Lee or Toshiro Mifune.

Oh my God, I think I almost do understand now. I better stop thinking about this before it’s too late.

I consider myself a brave man but more than once I found myself eyeing the fire exit. I was planning my escape and it wouldn’t have been a daring one like in the movie, it would’ve been more like when Old Dirty Bastard fled the hospital without checking out.

Inside the theater was worse. There was a singalong of a folk song about the characters. There was people trying to talk in space cowboy talk. There was a trailer for DOOM, the new movie by the director of CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE, and these people were laughing harder than I’ve ever head anybody laugh, ever. It was like laughing gas was being pumped in through the A/C vents and only I was immune. I thought, are these assholes belittling my man The Rock? Until I realized that DOOM is based on an old videogame, and between this audience literally hundreds of thousands of hours of DOOM had been played. It’s a video game thing, I wouldn’t understand.

When the movie started it was troubling too because everybody would laugh HARD at every god damn thing anbyody said, often before they said it. It was like a movie with a laugh track. And no matter how good a movie is it’s hard to watch with a group of people that are clearly enjoying it WAY more than you are. I guess they love these characters and want to show their support. It’s an image projected onto a flat surface using light, though. I don’t think they can hear you. I could be wrong.

The director of this movie, who must get around because they all seem to be on a first name basis with him, I think he hates these people too. Because he makes sure some of their favorite characters get it bad. But he does appreciate them enough to make a decent movie for them. That is a sure sign of respect because I’m sure he could’ve just done a movie of himself taking a crap (in space) and they would’ve still gone to see it more than once. To support him.

Anyway I’m not trying to belittle these freakos. Like I always say, don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to The Rock. They are obviously happy. Very, very, happy. All I’m trying to say is, those ads are no joke. I didn’t pick up on it until it was too late, but those ads are a warning to non-members. See this movie, but for God’s sake not on the opening weekend. Believe me, you don’t want to be a part of this science fiction phenomenon/cult/beloved etc. You just want to see the movie and then go home.

*If you are googling Laremy please understand that he’s a nice guy and should not be associated with my anti-social behavior, etc. just because my review came up when you typed in his name. I don’t like having to change my review because of you judgmental potential employers, landlords and stalkers. I vouch for Laremy, or don’t vouch for him, whichever is more impressive to you. If you need a letter of recommendation or something let me know.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 1st, 2005 at 8:00 pm and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

196 Responses to “Serenity”

  1. […] and painful nature of witnessing Firefly fandom. Outlaw Vern commented on Firefly fandom in his review of the Serenity movie: I consider myself a brave man but more than once I found myself eyeing the fire exit. I was […]

  2. That article is hilarious. Completely fails to mention that those quotes are in the context of a very positive review. You gotta love the Internet.

  3. Oh geez, who wrote that? Was it somebody who comments here? I don’t want to criticize somebody who linked to my writing, but that was as obsessive as the people I was talking about in the quote. I’m not sure why the guy watched all the episodes, I think he should’ve stopped. I mean he’s not hurting anybody but I think he’d be happier if he didn’t worry so much about what other people are into.

  4. He mentions nihilism about a million times in there, but I’m not sure he knows what it means.

  5. Yeah, I’d say they believe in a whole bunch of shit on Firefly. I just skimmed it, but the gist I got was “It wasn’t explained enough! It wanted to be realistic but it wasn’t! Sometimes the character’s showed unexpected qualities which I consider to be inconsistency! People like things that I don’t and it makes me angry and defensive! I’m not stupid! Nihilism!”

  6. Considering that the whole moral of the movie is that you need to believe in something and work to accomplish it, no I don’t agree that the whole thing is meant to be “Yay, Nihilism!”

  7. My sister wanted to see this opening weekend. I went along with her. At the time, I had no concept of Whedon or Firefly or any of that shit; I just sort of liked the previews because it had spaceships and guns. We never saw any costumed nerds.

    Last year after I discovered DR. HORRIBLE, I realized there was a particular name responsible for these movies I liked and I finally watched Firefly, in the company of no one but my tv. Again, I never dealt with any costumed nerds.

    My SERENITY movie experience was excellent and most importantly singalong-free.

    I apologize to Vern for recommending DR. HORRIBLE on this websight. I understand now why you can never see it. I didn’t realize it would bring up such traumatic memories.

  8. What I find interesting is that the American trailer for this is all about “Wow, this generation’s STAR WARS, with gazillions of fans and if you don’t watch it, the rest of the world will laugh at you for not being down with da coolness of FIREFLY!”, the German trailer focuses more on the fun aspect. The trailer is all about wisecracking guys with guns, who take on The Man and have fun. They even play Apollo 440’s CHARLIE’S ANGELS remix, that they did for the McG movie in the trailer!

  9. I remember neither that hyperbolic trailer nor the ads Vern mentioned. I’m quite glad none of that gibberish affected my reception of the movie. Tabula rasa is what I like when I buy my ticket.

    I’m certain we’ve established that you are much more of a nerd than me, CJ, yet I believe I enjoyed Firefly more than you. I mean, once through its epically canceled season is enough, but it was better than almost any other tv show I can recall. I wish I could muster the anger to debate you on why it’s so great, but I lack that nerd passion.

    Also, I don’t watch much tv.

  10. Don’t worry, man, I probably didn’t love it, but I liked it enough to not start nerd fights with people, who enjoyed it more.

  11. CJ – I think you and I are soul-mates (in a purely platonic way, of course).

  12. …And if you take the legions of slavering fans in loincloths with spears out of the question (I’ve never met one but that’s the impression I’m getting here) then what exactly is supposed to be wrong with “Dr Horrible”? I thought it was great.

  13. Oh wait… to “NOT” start nerd fights? I thought you said “TO” start nerd fights.

    CJ, we are no longer soul-mates. Please don’t cry too much – everyone has at least one rejection in their lives like this, and learning to deal with it is what makes you stronger.

  14. Damn, Paul, I can live with your rejection (nothing personal, I just got enough self esteem), but now you made me read my sentence so long until I got no idea if it was clear, what I wanted to say with that simple line.
    So my intention was:

    – I liked FIREFLY, but not that much (for more detailed, but badly written reviews, click on the link in my name and look for the DISCOVERING FIREFLY posts);

    – If anybody likes it more than I do, I’m okay with that and accept it without starting a discussion;

    – Hence “NOT starting a nerd fight”. (Especially because whenever FIREFLY is the topic, it can get ugly quick, which is weird, since everything else Whedon did, doesn’t seem to provoke that strong and violent reactions from the fans.)

  15. CJ – yeah, it was clear upon second reading. It’s also clear, though, that you and I see the world a little differently. Y’see, I only pick nerd fights with people who agree with me. Why would I pick fights with people who disagree with me when they’re clearly so intellectually inferior?

    (And I hope I don’t have to clarify that that last sentence was meant sarcastically, but I’m sure there’s at least one guy here who took it seriously and accuses me of overweening arrogance. Which may occasionally be true, but isn’t in this instance.)

  16. I hate to start or participate in nerd fights, because today’s nerds seem to be too negative and cynical anyway and I don’t want to be part of the downfall of modern geekdom. So I try to be all “Hey, live and let live”, when it comes to such topics.
    Unless of course they talk about the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA remake (which is for me the sad nadir in today’s nerds’ we-eat-every-shit-up-as-long-as-it’s-dark-and-brooding mentality) or THE BIG BANG THEORY (which is so disgustingly discriminating in its portrayal or nerds and geeks, that I’m surprised that it doesn’t feature a band named “The San Diego Basement Virgins”, if you get what I mean. [Hint: BAMBOOZLED]).

  17. Yeah I never understood why nerds seem to like The Big Bang Theory. It’s somehow insulting and pandering at the same time while also being about as funny as two and a half men – and nerds fucking hate two and a half men. Maybe the geek demographic has gone neglected for so long by mainstream TV that they’ll watch anything that name-checks Jonathan Coulton, just because it’s nice to know that someone gives a shit.

  18. I can’t agree with you on Galactica though, which I thought was pretty great at the time but has no rewatchability whatsoever.

  19. BSG is dark but also good. Very good. I can understand the declining enjoyment from repeat viewings, though. Once you know where it’s all going it loses any dramatic oomph.

  20. NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERD FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHTTTTT!!!!!!!

    Just kidding. But here, for those of you who have never read any of my explanations why I hate BSG so much, some of my main problems in no special order:

    – Horrible acting (Except James Edward Olmos)
    – The visual aestethic of America’s Funniest Homevideos
    – Bad writing, full of unbelievable character motivations and stupid plot devices
    – They tried to be the ultimate post 9/11 show, but in the end never did anything with that premise, other than ripping popular catchwords from the headlines (Suicide bombing! Torture! Religious fanatism!) and using them in the most hackneyed and ham fisted ways possible

  21. BSG took itself way too seriously. I mean, I get it: humanity is about to go extinct. Still, every episode involves people doing those brooding whisper arguments of “Don’t you frakking know the human race is at stake?” while another character shockingly pulls a gun out. It got old, fast. I could forgive a lot of the angel / cavemen sex / characters constantly acting contrary to who they are if the show could at least make me give a damn about anyone. It’s pretty miserable.

    Firefly is OK. Had I seen it before I saw Buffy I probably would have loved it. I couldn’t look past how every character on Firefly was just an exact rehash of a character from Buffy. Bland and cynical hero leader? Old dude who gives advice and has a mysterious past? Hot and trampy girl who becomes likable? Quirky girl who is largely ignored but is actually way cuter than the girl who is supposed to be hot? Generic white dude who is insecure because he does nothing really special?

    I’m not sure how fair that criticism is, but it just got in the way of my liking the show. The aesthetics were cool, though.

  22. Yeah BSG is dark and brooding and takes itself seriously but that was pretty refreshing at the time. Star Trek, with all it’s perfect people living in some ridiculous commie paradise had a near monopoly on mainstream TV Sci-fi for at least a decade, it was way past time for the pendulum to swing the other way and shows like BSG and Firefly were the result. It’s no secret that Wheadon set out to make the anti-trek, I’m pretty sure he said as much at the time.

  23. The original Battlestar Galactica is so insane. The human race is virtually wiped out, and their response is: “It’s so horrible. Let’s go to a space casino!”

  24. But when FIREFLY came out, there where already shows like FARSCAPE or LEXX on air, so the anti-Trek-train had already left the station.

  25. I really enjoyed the Battlestar Galactica remake but I agree that there were points where the dark and brooding thing got a little trying at times. Its not a show like Lost where you can easily rifle through like 6 or 7 episodes in one sitting simply because the show is so damn exhausting to watch. It really is a downer. I can only think of a coule of episodes that actually made me smile. How many times do I have to watch Edward James Olmos get drunk, start throwing things, and start crying? So yes, it did take itself too seriously, almost to the point of being smarmy in a way.

    Still, the show is very well made, the special fx are great, and i thought pretty much everyone did a great job as far as acting. The season 3 finale is fucking incredible. All in all though, if i had to choose between watching an episode of Firefly or Battlestar i would choose Firefly simply because its more enjoyable to watch and it doesn’t rely so much on an overarching story. Plus, Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks shows up in a few episodes looking like a fucking goddess so that helps. There were some damn fine good looking women on that show. Between Firefly, Buffy, and Dollhouse, Joss Whedon has a good eye for casting the ladies I must say.

    Yes, Battlestar came out post Star Trek but wasnt Star Trek Enterprise out at the time? Still, even Star Trek Enterprise was post Star Trek in a way.

  26. Man, I was conductor of that train. I was anti-TREK way before it was cool to be anti-TREK.

  27. The thing with TREK was that it was around the time TNG came out, considered as “cinematic television”. Even “serious” critics constantly praised its writing and I think it even grabbed a few “Best Drama Series” Emmy nods. And they deserved it. It doesn’t hold up that well today, especially compared to today’s “cinematic” television shows like BREAKING BAD, but if you are into it, it’s still watchable.
    Then it peaked with DS9, the show that was on the anti-Trek-train, before any other show (well…maybe BABYLON 5) was, with its dark depiction of greed, terrorism, genocide and war in space. Unfortunately VOYAGER was a hollow cash grab and when ENTERPRISE really showed the audience its potential, it was already too late and got cancelled.

  28. Thomas: My biggest problem (of many) with DOLLHOUSE was how awful I thought the lead actress was. I didn’t feel she sold the concept of the show at all. I liked the Australian actress better, but there was still something sort of mid-brow smarmy about everyone involved. They’re the kind of actors you’d expect to show up in a guest spot on BURN NOTICE. It’s too bad. I liked the idea the show was trying to develop.

  29. I’ve only seen the first season but I agree, Dollhouse is a pretty bad show. I like Eliza Dushku but man, her acting was pretty bad. It was laughable at times. The show didn’t get interesting until Alan Tudyk showed up later in the season but by that time, it already lost me. Apparently Fox butchered the show, (like many of their shows), so maybe that was the problem? The best episode of the season is the unaired season 1 finale which is on the dvd/blu ray. I’ve never seen a show completely flip the script and lose its mind like that. It’s pretty awesome. It almost made me want to watch season 2. Almost.

  30. Considering I think the lead actor was routinely awful, there must have been something that kept me watching that show. I thought the second season was a big improvement on the first, but still really flawed. I remember really liking how well the actor who played Victor performed when the brain of the tech guy Scooter or whatever his name was got downloaded into him. That was a bravura performance. And Alan Tudyk, of course.

    I seem to remember reading something that confirms your point: they had to rush to resolve six season’s worth of plot into that last season due to studio interference. Made for some loopy episodes. The show “losing it’s mind” is pretty much all of what that season is about.

  31. Damn, somebody finally writes about Joss Whedon, our generations greatest storyteller, and I can`t join the debate since I`m in the middle of Buffy 4 / Angel 1 – marathon. Anyway, Joss Whedon is god, Buffy is the best tv-show ever, Firefly kicks BSG ass, Summer Glau is my favorite badass bitch and Dollhouse is terrible underrated. And now I have to find out if Buffys peppy roommate is really a demon from hell. Yay!

  32. I generally don’t have a problem with Eliza Dushku, but her role in DOLLHOUSE is, like, one of the all time most egregious examples of miscasting. When casting a character who is given a different personality in every episode, why would you pick an actress who has given basically the exact same performance on every show or movie she’s been in? Dushku can do one thing, and she does it well: the spunky, spirited tough girl. She is not an actress of significant range.

    It gets a lot better in season 2 when they finally just give her a consistent personality that plays to her strengths as an actress. And I agree that the show was still pretty strong overall, got better as it went along, and is underrated. This might be heresy to some, but I think it was a much stronger show overall than FIREFLY was. I rewatched that one and the movie over the summer, and I just don’t understand why something that inconsistent, that never really lived up to its potential, is so fervently loved.

  33. “Star Trek, with all it’s perfect people living in some ridiculous commie paradise had a near monopoly on mainstream TV Sci-fi for at least a decade, it was way past time for the pendulum to swing the other way and shows like BSG and Firefly were the result.”
    STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE was swinging the other way a bit with how it was dealing more with the politics of a the strained relationship between a recently emancipated native population and their former oppressors and would actually question how “perfect” the Federation was, and put it into a war where some principles were compromised. Plus it had Avery Brooks as the most badass of the all the Trek Captains.

  34. Casey – never noticed that about “Firefly”. Don’t think it would bother me much though.

    I also didn’t like “Dollhouse”, but I love how it ended. (If anybody saw it through to the end, they’d know what I meant.) It had one of those stupid final twist bad-guys that these shows always seem to have (also see: “Castle”, “The Mentalist”, the first episode of “Fringe”, etc) where the least likely guy turns out to be suddenly evil, which makes no sense whatsoever and they never explain it. I HATE it when they do that. The “real” ending, though, was genuinely great. It’s good to see a series like this embrace the implications of its technology / supernatural stuff, which almost never seems to happen. (By the end of “Buffy”, you’d expect the demons to be pretty much running the world, but it never actually happened.)

    What ruined “Dollhouse” for me wasn’t Dushku (she seemed to get better and better as the episodes went on) but rather the FBI agent, Ballard. This could very easily be the worst character Joss Whedon has ever written – there was no reason, ever, for him to be there, he was pure “fanservice” for the female viewers who weren’t turned on by the prospect of Eliza Dushku mind-controlled to do whatever anybody wanted her to do.

    Oh, and I love Alan Tudyk too, which makes it that much more frustrating that he’s playing a whiny neurotic who repeatedly gets his ass handed to him by a girl. Not by any means the worst villain ever, not even the worst in the Whedon-verse (I think “Buffy’s” Adam or Glory would share the crown there easily) but pretty damn bad.

  35. Stu-

    Yeah DS9 was definitely the best of all the Trek shows, and probably my favourite TV sci-fi. It was just so different from everything that came before or after it (sadly) that I have a hard time thinking of it as part of the same franchise. I still have it on the TV all the time while I’m doing other stuff just because I like spending time with those characters. I can’t think of many shows since that have the same effect on me (that one show notwithstanding).

    Dan-

    I think the tragedy with Firefly is that it never really had the chance to live up to its potential. Most (if not all) of Wheadon’s shows began with a pretty rocky first season and then suddenly found their footing half way through the second. Firefly definitely had the potential for greatness and looking back I’d much rather it was BSG that got shitcanned if I had to choose.

  36. dna — I cannot, in good conscience, sit here and allow someone call Joss Whedon “our generation’s greatest storyteller.” Not even in jest. Whedon’s a smart guy and a witty dialogue writer, but for god’s sake. If Whedon even cracks the top twenty greatest storytellers alive today, human culture is even worse off than I feared. Let’s keep that kind of hyperbole on AICN.

    Everyone knows our generation’s greatest storyteller is Matthew Vaughn.

  37. Mode7

    I agree that FIREFLY probably, like Whedon’s other shows, would have gotten a lot better over time. There’s a lot I do like about it, but I’d say of the half season of the show that actually exists, half those episodes are duds or mixed bags, and there’s really only 2 or 3 really good to great episodes. I remembered really liking the movie, but I rewatched it this summer too and was disappointed to find that 1) Whedon isn’t that strong of a director (he’s not terrible, either) 2) The first half or so is kinda patchy, and 3) it suffers from a lot of the same problems the show had, most obviously that it’s overstuffed with major characters, and at least 4 of them aren’t very interesting or entertaining. (Admit it, you know which 4 I’m talking about).

    BUFFY started getting good in season 2 and was inching to greatness by 3, DOLLHOUSE got pretty damn good by end the end season 1, and I just recently saw ANGEL season 1 for the first time and it was good, if inconsistent, and every tells me it gets fucking awesome as it goes along. So, yeah, I definitely think FIREFLY could have become an excellent show if it stayed on the air. But based on the episodes that did air, its at best a seriously flawed show with a few great elements. One of my best friends from college is a brown coat, and I could just never grasp his obsession with it.

  38. I watched ALIEN RESURRECTION again recently and honestly cannot say if that film even had a story, let alone a story that was told well. I saw the SERENITY movie and thought it was clumsy haphazard junk, but I’m told that I need to sit through the television series before the charms of the movie become apparent.

    Whedon’s stuff just seems so amateur to me. I’m not having the easiest time getting through that TERMINATOR television series right now, but at least it seems like it was put together by adult professionals. Whedon’s stuff always seems like community improv theater to me, which wouldn’t really bother me so much if he didn’t strive for Big Hollywood Thrills at the same time. Gilliam knows how to make a ramshackle aesthetic work for him; I don’t get the same sense that Whedon does.

  39. Jareth, I’m not the biggest Whedon fan but I’ll say that your community improv comment is kind of the exact reason he’s so popular. His characters do have a laid back, home grown quality to them that appeals to folks. “Hey everyone! Let’s put on a show! Let’s all fight evil Vampires! Let’s all play Robin Hood in space! But let’s all have an ironic stance about it! After all, the real drama lies not in what we do but in what we say to one another while doing it!”

  40. I get the community improv-vibe, but as in most actors in Whedon-series really get to try different things, swapping characters, becoming possesed, being brainwashed, turning evil, etc. It`s one of the reasons I love Buffy and Dollhouse, they are really the actors shows, and even if not all of the cast is up to it, it`s fun to watch. Èspecially Dollhouse really give it`s supporting cast a chance to shine.

    And Whedon is a marvelous director; Waiting in the wings, Once more with feeling, Hush, The Body etc are some of the best tv I´ve ever seen. The Body had me crying like a little bitch for it`s entire running time.

    I`ve never really been into televisionshows, I love Sopranos, Rome, Twin Peaks, Cracker (uk), Invader Zim, South Park and a lot of anime (ghost in the shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Paranoia Agent), but I`ve never been addicted to a tv-show like Buffy before. I`ve actually watched the entire series in the last month. I love how it switches genres in a blink of an eye, covering fantasy, horror, action, comedy, romance and drama.

    – Jareth

    I hated Alien Ressurection, but Whedon didn`t have a lot to do with the shooting script. He did co-write Speed and Toy Story, though.

  41. Wasn’t Joss Whedon the only credited writer on ALIEN 4, while he was one of several names on the TOY STORY script and even was uncredited on SPEED? Just saying.

  42. – CJ

    Yes, but he claims they ruined his script. I don`t know, it might have been crap anyway, that doesn`t change the fact that he created some of the finest tv-shows ever. (imo, off course…).

    But if you need some gasoline for your hatred, I might add that he also wrote the worst line in the history of cinema; “what happens to a toad when it gets struck by lightning..?” And I don`t think he always handles the deaths of major characters quite well (Anya in Buffy and several characters in Serenity). But, on the other hand, his episode “The Body” is maybe the most accurate description of what it feels like to find out that you have lost a close one. And I didn`t expect that from a televisionshow about a teenager fighting vampires.

  43. I don’t HATE him, I just don’t get the hype surrounding him, especially after I watched FIREFLY and concluded that more unpredictable shows like FARSCAPE wipe the floor with it in almost every aspect. Also I never got the hate for the “What happens with a toad” line. I guess the same people who declared it the worst ever, are also responsible for turning “It’s a trap” into a popculture punchline. Oh well.

    And I like ALI4N. It’s definitely not the best of the series (oh hell no!), but it’s the one that I rewatch the most. The first two are masterpieces, which I don’t wanna ruin by overwatching them, but part 4 is a wonderful, surreal b-movie with a great cast. (Ron Perlman, Leland Orser, Brad Dourif and Dan Hedaya in one movie! How did we get so lucky?!?)
    And to be honest, Whedon’s constant whining about how “others” have ruined his script is making me like him less. Especially when he claims to have written it as a comedy, but the actors played it all serious. Uhm, first: How DARE you to write an Alien sequel as a comedy and think that it is gonna work out?! Second: Did you even watch the movie? The only one who took it serious was Sigourney Weaver and she found exactly the right tone.

    So I have to say it again: I don’t hate Joss Whedon, I just don’t get his cult status. He is a capable writer and director, but from what I’ve seen of his work, he did nothing that others haven’t done as good or even better than him.

  44. Well, you know, only a browncoat deals in absolutes (cough-cough).

    I enjoyed Alien 4 in the cinema, but it gets worse and worse everytime I watch it. Alien and Aliens just get better and better (and I`ve watched once a year for almost 15 years, maybe longer…)

    I haven`t seen Farscape, I`m not really into television, but you should give Buffy season 1-3 a chance.

    I don`t really judge a filmmaker by his failures, only a few out of thousands can deliver masterpiece after masterpiece. Tobe Hooper, George A Romero, Dario Argento, Takashi Miike, Peter Jackson, George Lucas etc are still great directors despite making horrible movies in recent years. I get disapointed with them, but my love doesn`t grow cold. I feel the same way about Whedon. A lot of his shows doesn`t always work, but when they do, they blow my mind.

  45. I actually really like the way Whedon kills off major characters on his shows. Most action/adeventure-y shows never kill off major characters at all (unless the actor leaves the show, or something), but Whedon’s shows have more of a genuine sense of excitement, because he’s proven himself willing to kill off nearly anyone, no matter how great the character is or how well-loved they are by fans. (Of course, true to his comic book influences, he’ll also frequently bring them back from the dead, or have the actors return in flashbacks, or in other clever ways).

    SPOILERS FOR SEVERAL OF HIS SHOWS THAT YOU SERIOUSLY DON’T WANT TO READ IF YOU’VE NEVER SEEN THEM I actually really loved the abruptness of Anya’s death on BUFFY. And although they telegraphed it a little, Tara was like the last person you’d ever expect to get killed off on the show. One of the great things about the end of DOLLHOUSE is that when they knew it was ending, they decided to clear house. I think like 4 or 5 major characters die in the last two episodes.

    Then again, I do get sick of Whedon’s proclivity for melodramatic, noble sacrifice type deaths. It worked for Spike on BUFFY because his redemptive character was a huge part of the final seasons, but Doyle on ANGEL just seemed kinda pointless and underdeveloped (he doesn’t even appear to be in need of redemption until the very episode i which he dies), and Topher’s redemption on DOLLHOUSE basically all takes place offscreen, so his sacrifice doesn’t really emotionally connect. Plus it’s just an overused cliche. I prefer the abrupt, tragic, pointless deaths of characters like Anya, Tara, Buffy’s mom, Paul Ballard, Jenny Calandar, Wash, etc etc. Those really hit you in the gut more.

  46. This is one of the problems that I had with FIREFLY: Absolutely nothing bad that happened to the characters had any consequences! In one episode the Captain’s ear gets cut off but by the end it’s glued back on and they even mention that there won’t be any scars, so that the actor don’t have to spend any extra hours in the make up chair, I guess.
    Then one of the major characters turns out to be a dirty traitor, but when it seems like he regrets what he did, he avoids execution and nobody ever mentions it again.
    Another character, who obviously has no experience in traumatic situations, gets nearly tortured to death, but by the end of the episode he apparently has already forgotten about it.
    And the only two main characters who got killed in SERENITY, never did anything interesting in the series anyway. One of them even had just an extended cameo in the movie anyway.
    So I won’t rule out that maybe BUFFY is a great show. I only saw a few episodes out of context. But judging by his other work, I can’t see why Joss Whedon is supposed to be a genius or something like that.

  47. (And one day I just HAVE to learn to really read what I write, before I hit the “Submit Comment” button. )

  48. CJ,

    BUFFY is fantastic, but it takes a real commitment and might not really be worth it for everyone. The show really needs to be watched in order, in its entirety for its full impact, but I’d say it takes at least a good 20 – 25 episodes before it goes from “mostly fun but sometimes kinda crappy” to “hey, this is actually getting kinda ambitious and interesting.” By the end of season 2, it’s a really entertaining comic book-esque adventure series with a surprising amount of darkness and nuance to it, but I’d say it doesn’t start consistantly being really good-to-great until season 3. So that’s like 34 episodes or something before you’re truly watching something special, which is a serious time commitment, and not one I would have been if it weren’t for several trusted sources of mine insisting that I should stick it out.

  49. I totally agree, but SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER it`s the other characters reaction to their deaths that sometimes piss me off. Whedon usually handles it really well, but it Anyas case, nobody seems to care. Taras death is handled perfectly in Buffy six and seven (Yes, Conversations With Dead People also made me weep a few manly tears..), Angel death in Season 2 is perfect, even Summer Glau`s death in Dollhouse is schocking and devastating and have profound consequenses for Toffler. Also, Taras death must be the best cliffhanger I`ve ever seen. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER I love how they spend an entire show making fun of the bad guys, and then one of them suddenly freaks and pulls a gun and starts shooting, Buffy and Xander getting hit, cut to Willow in her badroom, who gets splashed with blood, Tara falling over with a wound in her chest, and then Willows eyes turn black… Cue credits. That`s entertainment!

  50. dna,

    MORE BUFFY SPOILERS GUYS SERIOUSLY STAY AWAY Well, bear in mind that Anya goes maybe 10 minutes before the end of the final episode of Buffy. So it’s not like they had a lot of screen time to show the characters grieving. But honestly, I thought Xander’s conversation with Andrew when he finds out (“She was incredible. She died saving my life.” “That’s my girl. Always doing the stupid thing.”) was touching and provided a nice sense of closure to their characters/relationship, in a distinctly Xander-ian way.

  51. Another thing I forgot to mention about BUFFY though, is that in a weird way the inconsistency/sometimes mediocrity/sometimes crappiness of the early episodes pays off, because when the show starts getting great it really blindsides you and blows you away. Like, it’s this clever but kinda silly show aimed at teenagers, but then suddenly Giles starts brutally torturing Ethan Rayne and you’re like, holy shit when did this show get so dark and crazy? Or the endings of “Lie to Me” or “I Only Have Eyes For You.” How did this goofy show suddenly get so unique and heartfelt? Its like the good stuff hits you even harder because up until that point you weren’t expecting it.

  52. Anya was my favorite female character on the show (which is my favorite show ever, by the way) and I don’t have a problem with how the show treated her. The characters had just escaped what they were pretty sure was certain death and were just happy to be alive. I’m sure Xander wept plenty for Anya after the credits rolled, but that was not the time.

  53. My experience with Whedon is similar to CJ’s point: I don’t mind the amateurishness, but I think it needs some thematic gravity in there somewhere to sustain my interest.

    When I watched ALIEN RESURRECTION again recently I was surprised how many neat elements there were in that film, and how the tone was fairly well established, yet the script failed to string them together in a compelling way. Jeunet really made that film look good with his set design and camera placement. The only cast members I had a problem with were Nick Tortelli (too broadly comedic) and Winona Ryder, who was physically perfect for the role but probably wouldn’t ever be mistaken for an actor based on this particular performance.

  54. Mr. M,

    I noticed you qualified her as your favorite female character. Who was your favorite, then? I’m guessing Spike. Because he WAS the best character.

  55. Jareth,

    I’m no Whedon devotee, but I definitely think there’s real thematic heft to some of his works. BUFFY turns into a really heartfelt, sometimes moving, sometimes honest and difficult (in a good way) show about growing up and facing responsibility. DOLLHOUSE raises a lot of nifty philosophical ideas about the nature of personality and consciousness, mind vs soul, etc etc. FIREFLY is more muddled, but I think there’s some good stuff in their about the need for human connection vs the instinct for self-preservation.

    Also, as others have pointed out, Whedon has basically disowned ALIEN RESURRECTION, and I too have heard that the final shooting script is quite different from what he actually wrote. I’m not sure what the whole story is, but it seems a little unfair to judge the guy on something he may have only had a small part in.

  56. I think Wheadon’s greatest strength has always been the way he defines onscreen relationships. The way his characters relate to each other and their motivations for behaving the way they do – good or bad, always seem totally believable to me. friendship, Love, Hate, jealousy, bitterness, insecurity – it’s all handled perfectly and with a lot of subtlety.

    He’s also great with metaphor and symbolism and that kinda thing – most of his shows are working on multiple levels at the same time. Something he doesn’t get enough credit for because a lot of seriously minded critics find the subject matter unworthy or something.

    dna –

    Agreed re: “The Body” Wheadon somehow gets across complete emotional numbness. Any other show would have been death in the family = sad people, but not here – here we have a sense of genuine loss, confusion and anger that I haven’t seen articulated so perfectly before or since. For anyone saying Whedon’s an average director, I recommend seeking out that episode.

  57. Judging Whedon by ALIEN 4SURRECTION is like that time Paul said Jet Li was overrated because of ROMEO MUST DIE.

  58. Dan –

    Agreed that Spike was the best character *spoilers*. A man of pure evil desires to posses the only one that can destroy him, only to then fall in love with her. He then goes on a quest to regain his soul so that she might love him back and gives his life for her knowing she never will. –That is some Shakespearian shit right there.

  59. I dig “The Body” a lot, but much like “Once More With Feeling” I think it gets a tad overrated because of how different and unexpected it is. There’s a lot of touching, honest stuff in “The Body,” but there’s also some missteps. Like, what’s up with Anya getting so upset? Her speech in the episode is great, but she barely knew Buffy’s mom. It just seems to out of character for her to react this way. Or Xander punching a hole through a wall out of frustration seems more like the kind of thing that happens on TV more than an honest look at the grieving process. In fact, the whole gang kinda overreacts in the episode. I understand that they all care about Buffy, but they were barely ever shown interacting with her mom during the serious. Obviously they’d be upset, but I don’t know if this would really, like, tear their souls apart like it seems to.

    And what’s up with Buffy fighting the vampire at the end? It made me wonder if the network insisted that there had to be at least a LITTLE action in the episode. It comes out of left field and doesn’t really seem to tonally fit with the rest of the episode.

  60. Just realised I’ve been spelling Whedon’s name wrong. Either that or he doesn’t know how to spell his own name. Yeah I’ll go with that.

  61. Spike is probably my favorite character ever. He’s badass, hilarious, pathetic, sexy, selfish, cruel, loyal, intuitive, wise, stupid, sentimental, blase, evil beyond measure, and in the end, heart-breakingly decent. He’s got more character than the entire cast of three other shows combined, and more importantly he somehow makes that ridiculous haircut look good.

  62. – dan

    Yeah, guess you`re right, but Willow could at least had given him a hug or something. She was a their friend for almost 4 years.

    SPOILER SPOILER

    Just remembered another great moment in that episode where Anya murders a bunch of fratboys and ends up fighting Buffy, finally getting stabbed in the stomach and they cut to a musical number from Anya and Xanders apartment, culminating in her opening the door to the balcony in her wedding dress, while the music swells and the camera pulls back and… hard cut to her body hanging lifeless on a wall with a sword through her belly. Ouch.

    And Buffybot is my favorite character. Next to Cave-Buffy. And maybe Evil Willow. Oh well…

  63. Dan – My memory’s a bit fuzzy but I thought Anya was so freaked out because she was up until recently immortal and this was the first time she actually understood what death really meant. The Xander thing seemed about right to me, I dunno If you’ve ever been in a room like that but people just kind of feed off each others emotions. Most of the people might not of known Buffy’s mum that well but they did know Buffy, and seeing her like that is enough to fuck everyones head up.

  64. dna,

    That cut back to Anya’s body is awesome, but then they blow it by having her turn out to be alive. Honeslty would have been one of the all-time great moments on the show if Buffy had actually killed her.

    Mode7,

    I just love how drawn out and hard fought Spike’s redemption is. When he gets chipped in season 4, I was thinking “oh I get it, now they’re going to suddenly make him a good guy.” Instead, it’s a long, hard , deliberately frustrating road. Ditto his relationship with Buffy, with I sense annoyed some people, but I really loved how the writers never took the easy way out with it. Right down to their final exchange, with is just so heartbreakingly truthful I can’t hardy stand it.

  65. I was always kind of ambivalent about Spike’s return in the final season of Angel. On the one hand it was nice to see him again and there were some great moments between him and Angel, but it does fuck up the poetry of his grand sacrifice at the end of Buffy.

    Favorite spike moment (Again, it’s been a while): Spike comes home to find the world destroying, invincible demon he and Angel have spent all season summoning sitting in front of the TV eating M&M’s – “Will you get off your bloody arse and do something?!”

  66. Mode7,

    Yeah, except (to get all continuity nerd on you here) we learn in season 7 that Anya was human before she was a demon. So I’m not sure that really makes sense. I guess you could argue that she spent so long as a demon that she forgot about what grief was like, or something, but it still seems weirdly out of character for her. Especially considering how aloof she is the rest of the time, and considering that season 7 confirms that she was always strange, disconnected and overtly literal even before she was a demon. Though I guess I can’t fault the body for season 7’s retcons.

  67. Yeah, all their reactions were dead-on. Willow had a need to be there for Buffy, hence her obsession with trivial details like what sweater to wear. It distracted her from falling apart. Xander wanted to find an enemy to fight; in its absence, he punched a wall. Mr. Wall and I used to be arch-nemeses so I can relate. Tara, having known Joyce the least and generally being the strongest one emotionally when shit really hit the fan after a lifetime of being a doormat, stayed tough and tender for her girl, as always. And Anya, despite being a thousand years old, was still adjusting to the emotional chemistry of a very young woman dealing with death in a real, substantive way for the first time. None of these characters had parents of their own they could stand to be around, mind you, and I think the flashback scene to a happy Thanksgiving dinner shows that Joyce was as much a parental figure for them as for Buffy. When she died, a symbol of stability and the last vestige of their adolescence died with her. Not to mention the fact that they were all sad for their friends who’d just lost their mother. So yeah, I’d say they all reacted appropriately on what was one of the worst days of their lives.

  68. Also, Xander kind of had the hots for Joyce so his emotions were complicated.

  69. – mode 7

    My favorite moment, if my memory serves me correct, is Spike confessing his love to a lamp dressed up as Buffy, working himself into a rage and finally beating up the lamp.

    He should have stayed dead after Buffy Season 7, though.

  70. I haven’t seen any ANGEL past season 1 yet, but I already knew that Spike comes back in season 5. I’ll reserve judgment until I actually watch it, but it does seem like it kinda ruins the perfect way that Spike’s story plays out on BUFFY. Doesn’t it kind of diminish the emotional power of his death, and the closure of his relationship with Buffy?

  71. ANGEL Season Five is possibly the best season of TV Whedon has been associated with, and having Spike there is part of it. He plays so well off of Angel, working on his insecurities. They do address the fact that his resurrection lessens the impact of his sacrifice, but the point is that a hero doesn’t get to say when he make his exit. He keeps fighting, even when he thinks he’s done, because the fight never stops. That’s what the entire run of ANGEL is about, and Spike’s story slots perfectly into it.

  72. Oh, and it doesn’t affect his relationship with Buffy at all. He never sees her again so the power of their last scene together doesn’t get diluted. That’s still the end of the road for them. And really, that’s what that scene was about, wasn’t it? Who was he sacrificing himself for: the world or her?

  73. Using writer’s credits on a movie is the worst way to figure out who actually wrote it…especially on big blockbuster movies. Most movies have so many writers, yet you normally only see one or two listed…usually the ones who came up with the concept. And they take the credit because it means more money, even if they hate the shit out of the final product.

    I thought Firefly was Whedon’s best show, actually. Don’t get the amateur comparison…maybe Buffy seemed like that, but Firefly looks great. Whedon’s a good director, compare Serenity to alot of other movies. He’s not AMAZING, but he does consistent good to great work…and in episodes like The Body he actually is amazing.

    As for the Toad line…it’s true that’s horrible, but Whedon once explained in an interview how it was said wrong, and exlained how it should have been delivered. And I said hey, that actually works. But what can you do, Halle Berry’s a shit actor. Give that line to Jack Nicholson and watch it suddenly be good.

  74. Oh and Dan per your problems with The Body…clearly they all knew Buffy’s mother well. They were over at her place all the time.

    Also, I thought her fighting the vampire at the end worked great, because of this…no matter what happens and you have to grieve, life goes on and doesn’t give a shit. Like, I know someone who’s baby just died a little while ago. You take a few days off and then it’s back to work. You don’t get to just stop, and the vampire at the end was pointing that out.

  75. Angel was a great fucking show. I didn’t bother watching it for years after it was on (no Buffy -what’s the point?), but soon came to realise that it probably is the better show. I’ll always hold Buffy in higher esteem because it got me through my teenage years (I was born in ’81 same as Buffy), but it’s Angel that I revisit the most. It’s tone gets really dark at times – some episodes almost have a Clive Barker vibe to them, genuinely creepy and fucked up.

  76. Yeah, but writing credits give at least an indication to who did how much in a script, because the WGA doesn’t hate anything more than writers who don’t get enough credit. So when only one writer is credited, it means that at least most of his script is in the movie. In SPEED Whedon is uncredited, because he only worked as script doctor, maybe tinkered with some dialogue and tightened or cut some scenes out.
    The TOY STORY credit goes:

    Written by
    Joss Whedon & Andrew Stanton
    and
    Joel Cohen & Alec Sokolow

    which means that the final movie based at least for the most part on a draft by Joss Whedon & Andrew Stanton and a draft by Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, which was most likely the shooting draft.
    Of course there might have millions of other writers worked on it before, because mostly only the last writers get the credit. (Which is why only 3 writers are credited for CHARLIE’S ANGELS, even though reportedly more than 20 worked on it over the years.) BUT if they changed anything substantial, they usually get credited, which is why I don’t get Whedon’s complaining about changes, when he is the only credited writer. So either dozens of people changed lots of little things or he lied.
    Also…really? Now he even blames Halle Berry for the unpopularity of the Toad line? Is there one single interview where he takes the blame for something on himself? I know, I said several times that I wouldn’t like him, but becomes more and more unsympathetic with any minute.

  77. That’s a bad line, but somebody who wasn’t the worst actress who’s ever won an Oscar, somebody who was able to speak in a consistent accent for entire sentences at a time, somebody who didn’t seem embarrassed to be there, might just have noticed that the line was supposed to be an anti-joke, something that’s funny because you’re expecting something witty and instead you get a bald statement of fact, perhaps delivered with a self-deprecating intonation that deflates the pomposity of the Scwarzennegarian one-liner. It’s the kind of thing Sarah Michelle Gellar would have gotten away with, but Halle Berry is no Sarah Michelle Gellar.

  78. CJ, it REALLY doesn’t. Where do you get this information? I personally know writers who had barely anything in a script get credit (they usually hate the movie too). I also know writers who wrote most of the thing but got nothing because they didn’t create the characters or basic plot outline…even though they wrote all of the dialogue and story beats. The originator gets credit a lot of times. There are a number of Hollywood writers who blog about this stuff, go read them and see how it works. It is NOT cut and dried. A lot of times it’s this way because the WGA wants to protect a writer…fearing that a producer will come in, rewrite the thing, and want to take credit for it. And so even if that happened, that producer wouldn’t get credit.

  79. Majestyk, excatly. If you gave that line to any of the cast members of any Whedon show, they would have sold it.

  80. I guess I shoulda done Nerd Shit Episode 2. It’s funny reading all this because my main thought is “Hey, I like ALIEN RESURRECTION.” I understand they changed it from what he planned but he got alot of good shit in there, most importantly making the resurrection of Ripley a painful, fucked up process so there’s some gravity to bringing her back.

    Also, I think it’s self-evident how the Toad line was supposed to be delivered. She’s trying to say something cool but then doesn’t have it. But if somebody asked him to explain it I don’t see why he should plead the fifth.

  81. Mr Doc, most of my knowledge of the WGA comes from conversations (and reading interviews) with writers too, so with your knowledge about the topic and my knowledge about the topic I guess we can settle with “Everything is possible”.
    But I still think it’s suspicious that Whedon never says “Well, I screwed this one up, sorry for that”.

    And Vern, no need for NERD SHIT 2, so far. I mean at least we talk about Joss Whedon underneath the review for a Joss Whedon movie.

    P.S.: I also think I got a draft of the Ali4n script somewhere on a hard drive. Or at least I read it once. I only remember that the ending was way different, with the Humalien growing wings and Ripley fighting it on earth, but I try to track it down and read it again.

  82. I thought Whedon’s original punchline to the Toad line was “It croaks” but it got changed in another draft?

    Another BUFFY moment that I thought was really great, but frustrating in its lack of followup was

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
    Giles kiles Glory’s human host, because he knows Buffy can’t, and that if left alive, Glory will come back. I would have really liked to have seen them explore Buffy finding out about it and how she’d have reacted, because Buffy had a strict “no killing humans, no matter what” rule, for most of the season(I’m not sure how that holy order of knights who wanted to kill Dawn factored into that though. They sure looked human, and Buffy had no problem killing them), and the fact is that the victim in questions wasn’t really a bad guy, just someone who couldn’t bring himself to commit suicide for the greater good.

  83. How Whedon explained the Toad line from AV Club: Joss Whedon (On the toad line from X-Men): Everybody remembers that as the worst line ever written, but the thing about that is, it was supposed to be delivered as completely offhand. [Adopts casual, bored tone.] “You know what happens when a toad gets hit by lightning?” Then, after he gets electrocuted, “Ahhh, pretty much the same thing that happens to anything else.” But Halle Berry said it like she was Desdemona. [Strident, ringing voice.] “The same thing that happens to everything eeelse!” That’s the thing that makes you go crazy. At least “You’re a dick” got delivered right. The worst thing about these things is that, when the actors say it wrong, it makes the writer look stupid.

    That line is totally Buffy style, where they delivered that shit week after week and it worked just fine. Whedon is right, delivered correctly that line works…not the greatest but it works. As shot, it’s fucking crap.

    And it isn’t always the last three writers who work on a film who get the credit. A LOT of times leeway is given to the original writer, no matter how many come after. George Clooney quit the WGA because he thought they screwed him out of completely rewriting a 20 year old script (Leatherheads). Did he actually do that much work? Who knows, but that jibes with what I hear a lot of times.

  84. Stu,

    SPOILERS

    Yeah, I think the problem was that the actor who played Giles sorta semi-left the show the next season, so they didn’t really have the time to deal with all the implications of what happened. Giles killing Ben is still one of the top “oh, shit!” moments on the show, and in a lot of ways speaks for itself even without it getting any follow up.

    I guess you could say there is some resolution in that by season 7 Buffy has come along more to Giles’ point of view, what with her willingness to kill Anya, or saying that she’d now be willing to let Dawn die if it meant saving the world. Buffy at the end of season 5 would have been horrified by what Giles did; Buffy at the end of season 7 probably would have killed Ben herself.

  85. I think I was the one who wrote that they changed the shooting script for Alien 4. Correction, they didn`t, the only cut the ending due to a smallish budget, but Whedon pretty much wrote what`s on the screen, he just think they got the tone all wrong. I even read that he wept all the way during his first screening. What a girly.

    Also, Buffy is clearly badass. She does martial arts, shags demons and saves the world a lot. She even does the Indiana Jones-pose when she can get away with it. How does that qualify as nerd shit?

  86. – Stu

    Giles was supposed to bring it up in “Conversations with dead people”, when he has to tell Buffy that he doublecrossed Spike, but they cut it. It would have made a lot more sense if they had kept it, and it would have justified that she later turns her back to him. It always seemed pretty cold to me that she started ignoring his advice in season 7, but it would have made more sense if she knew that Giles had killed an innocent and defenseless human being in Season 5.

  87. Buffy embodies The Badass Juxtaposition.

  88. “She’s a hero, you see. She’s not like us.”

    So subtle, so chilling. Ripper is a bad, bad man when he makes his mind up about something.

  89. The key word being “us.” Ugh. Right there, you know what’s about to go down.

  90. Wasn’t there supposed to be a prequel show revolving around Giles in the ’70s or something? What the hell happened to that?

  91. It was going to be a BBC Drama, originally called The Ripper, then later supposedly The Watcher, and would be about Giles’ work in britain after the point he left the show as a regular. It never really came about.
    I always had a bit of a problem with Buffy’s “no killing humans” rule in itself though, because it meant she automatically considered humans to be “people” more than she did demons, even though the show made it clear there were plenty of them that were sentient and capable of good. She even had that demon snitch too.

    Also, did anyone else find it weird that in the whole of the series, she never had to fight a single vampire that was originally a Slayer? Wouldn’t that have a been not only a worthy physical match, but a real psychological one, since it represented a possible outcome for her calling? Hell, you could have even had it so that either Angel of Spike had been the vampire who had turned her, and they’re now comfronted with another monster they’ve made.

  92. I prefer my badass lady heroes in real life. And I’ve been waiting weeks for an excuse to link this:

    http://www.bust.com/blog/2011/08/12/the-real-wonder-woman-wwii-hero-nancy-wake-dies-at-98.html

    Now continue nerding out, fellas.

  93. Mouth, please do get over yourself immediately. You like SERENITY and DR. HORRIBLE. You love musicals, Broadway, High School, and otherwise. A film in which attractive beige people engage in melodrama and dance-offs in three dimensions is your favorite thing ever. You are a fan of heavy shit folded into pop fluff. You have been known to enjoy hot chicks and kung fu. The only reason you might have to continue not devouring the entirety of BUFFY is that you’re being obstinate.

    You’re better than that. Drink the fucking Kool Aid.

    How about this. You watch BUFFY, I’ll watch STEP UP 3: THE UPSTEPPENING. Deal?

  94. I consider myself of the nerds but above the nerd fray.

    I finally broke down and watched episode 1 of that meth lab show the other day since everyone raves about it. I don’t know how the fuck I could have time for all this shit, not while there’s still kung fu movies I ain’t seen. And I like the visual-aural ecstasy of anything that pops off the screen/stage, not the kiddie plots, philosophies, and years-long emotional attachments that this thread celebrates.

    But if there is enough hot chick kung fu-ing in this series you love, I shall commit to it. Right after I watch the new Jean Vigo Criterion release. (NetFlix has everything!)

  95. I’m fully prepared to accept that the script for a big franchise movie like ALIEN RESURRECTION gets a lot of work done on it once it has left the credited writer’s hands. That seems sad but inevitable when so much money is at stake.

    Does that sort of thing also happen to indie films or art films? It’s difficult to imagine David Lynch or the Coens or Charlie Kaufman surrendering their script in such a manner.

  96. Standard addendum for any BUFFY recommendation: If you’re not down by the time it gets to THAT PART in the middle of the second season, you can quit with a clear conscience. But not until then. You’ll know when it happens.

  97. “I consider myself of the nerds but above the nerd fray. ”
    I think this is acceptable. We could use a man of your…skills as a leader come Nerd War I, and you’d be picking the right side…the one with all the hackers.

    Would the fact there’s a famous musical episode in Buffy speed your watching of it along? Great twist on it in that they’re aware it’s a musical because of a spell that’s making people sing and dance…until they die!
    Least spoilery number(as it’s just Buffy killing Vampires while singing about her state of mind): http://youtu.be/tO7J2knk4Ew

    Can I say too how much I enjoyed season 4 of Angel in terms of how much action they crammed in and that whole run of episodes involving The Beast and Faith coming back and all that stuff?

  98. I guess it’s a good thing that kung fu movies are known for their excellent plots, so Mouth can watch them with a clear conscience.

  99. Stu, I’m already a hacker myself, but I shall accept command when the time comes. With the right equipment, I can control satellites & data transmissions better than anyone outside Meade or NASA, so we’ll dominate the conflict before the non-nerds know what hit them.

    Yes, I’ll be watching the show. Destiny has spoken — the first episode is called “Welcome to the Hellmouth,” which refers to my favorite old Anglo stage convention/prop as well as my namesake. I might post up in this thread and liveblog the goddamn thing, episode by episode, because I think that’d be funny, until Vern kicks me off.

    Mr. Doctor, I might have been unclear before. I don’t ever require a plot to enjoy asskickery. I hope I’ve never stated otherwise. My old VHSes of BLACK MASK & RUMBLE IN THE BRONX grew ragged from all the fast forwarding between fight scenes. I like the visual thrill, being a spectator to people who do things that I am not capable of doing. As I said a couple weeks ago, good fights is like crack, and I’m an addict.

    If I’m going to really enjoy a plot- or character-driven movie, it generally must be either very witty or an immersive experience and it must compare favorably to a good book. That’s why SERENITY was a pleasant surprise; I liked the characters, how they talked, how their world had real dangers & consequences, and how the expansive space scenes were as well shot as the nifty interior sequences.
    I understand some tv series do these things, but back in the 90s & early 2000s I never had the time or means to commit a particular hour each week to a tv show.

    I do have a clear conscience, because I was busy doing sports, acing classes, getting high, and chasing girls back in those days. Now that I’m settled down a bit and now that my job often requires me to hang out in an office with a gazillion monitors, I am glad to use the power of NetFlix to catch up & embrace what some of you fine people enjoyed years ago, just like how Vern someday will get a hold of some HBO dvds and discover some awesomeness.

  100. Shit. This means I’m actually going to have to watch STEP UP THREE: THE HARD WAY, doesn’t it?

  101. Existential fear drives many of my decisions. I don’t want to die having failed to experience as many experiences as possible. I’m desperately selfish like that. If I’m in town and there’s something for which people are buying tickets, I want to be there. If there’s a Riesling on the menu I haven’t yet tasted, I’m ordering it. If there’s a free art exhibit, even if it’s on the campus of Bob Jones University, I’m going to it. If there’s a war, I want to go to the war zone & blow something up. If there’s a chick playing guitar on the sidewalk, or a homeless guy poking at a xylophone, I’m going to stop & listen for at least a verse.
    The fear stems from the potential regret I would feel if I missed something that could have been fun, that could have enhanced my short life. Nothing original there.

    Concurrently, an ever-present, burdening compulsion to make the world a better place drives a lot of my other decisions, from working against religious fanaticism to charitable donations to choosing to drive my car only if I can maximize the efficiency of my errand-running. I spend a lot of energy and resources on saving the world and helping the less fortunate, but honestly I spend a lot more time absorbing as much quality entertainment as my senses can process. It’s a measured hedonism, I guess. If I have an Oskar Schindler “How many more lives could I have saved if I had sold this pen?” type of moment, it’s more likely to be “Why did I never go to Bonnaroo? And why did I only see STEP UP 3D thrice in theatres?”

    And so, when that universally personal existential fear meets the overwhelming recommendations of almost the entire pop culture segment of the internet, what arrogance, what twisted sense of removal from a culture I once perceived to be populated by my inferiors, could possibly convince me to hold out on the chance to share this enjoyment, to understand the artistic source of the internet’s obsessive fandom if not to come to be afflicted by its same zealous Whedonism?

    Episode 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar’s tits, is a damn entertaining start to what could become a well spent {*calculating… sigh*} ≈103 hours. (+ hours of Angel? Maybe. Fuck!)

    I remain conflicted on the decision to do this Buffy-a-thon, but Destiny again seems to have Her say, messing with my head by somewhat serendipitously titling episode 1 “Welcome to the Hellmouth” and by having Buffy state her motto — “Life is short. Seize the moment.” – as though she were talking to me here & now.
    Like my existential fear & my liberal guilt, the motto is unoriginal, as Buffy admits, but it is apt to my mentality. Do I seize the moment by continuing to enjoy this tv show everyone loves? Or do I seize the moment by finding a more productive use of my time? Fuck it, just the fact that this bit of dialogue made me think myself in circles indicates there’s something good going on here. And I’m not like that pussy who recently quit halfway through her quest to swim from Florida to Cuba.

    Partially accurately remembered hi-lites & notes from episode uno:

    -“What’s the sitch?” (short for “situation” – This could get annoying.)

    -“Sorry to interrupt your downward mobility…” (spoken by popular girl when she encounters new hot girl talking to unpopular kids)

    -Older guy: “What do you know about this town?”
    Buffy: “Uh, it’s 2 hours to the nearest Neiman Marcus.”

    -Brian Thompson does not require that much makeup to play a vampire. Give him some colored contacts and leave well enough alone, and by well enough I mean scary ugly striking awesome. Please don’t hurt me for calling you ugly, Brian Thompson.

    -I wish there were more fighting. (I fear this will become a theme.)

  102. – mouth

    Oh, I envy you this journey. Ah, to be a young man and take his first wobly step into the buffyverse, full of bewilderment and wonder. I might even join you if you keep this up, starting all over again, but with the hindsight, reflection and maturity that seperates the man from the boy. And with the added excitement of seeing this fresh new world through the innocence of a child, offering kind advice and companionship. (Also, you`re supposed to watch episode 1 and 2 together. Everybody knows that. The even originally aired the same night. What sort of nerd are you anyway? Bad nerd! Bad!!)

  103. {*winces from nerd flogging*}

    Thanks, dna. (<<also what I say to myself when I look in the mirror)

  104. Mouth: I’m glad you’re not hating it so far. I admit that the first season can be a bit tough to get through as the show struggled to find its feet and overcome its obvious budgetary shortcomings. I worried that the crappy photography, awkward staging, and embarrassing ninetiesness would put you off. If you can get through the pilot without any of these things irritating you, you should be okay for the duration.

    Also, baby-fat Buffy is the hottest Buffy.

    You’ll probably like ANGEL more, by the way. Better combat, less romantic angst, and a more badass overall philosophy.

  105. I like how Buffy lets a guy run & stab himself just offscreen with a pool stick but without her breaking it into a sharpened pool stick stake first.

    That’s some clever, get-around-a-low-budget-and-around-network-tv-violence-standards photography.

  106. – mouth

    I`m glad you enjoy it so far. I had the show recommended by friends for years, but never bothered due to it`s length and ..well, how lamed it sounded. I started with season 2, which is still my all time favorite season, and kept watching till season five, before I bought season 1. (buffy-fans apparently agree the season 1 is the weakest season). But Season 1 is just so happy and funny, compared to what lies ahead, that I really enjoy it. But, as everybody says, it really gets the ball rolling around season 2.

    I must say I vastly prefer Buffy over Angel (of which I`ve only seen season 3-5), especially when it comes to kicking and punching and throwing vampires into glasscabinets. They had a really good stunt-coordinator (Jeff Pruitt) on season 2-4. He also did stunts on Black Dynamite.

  107. Here’s some notes I typed in about 12 minutes with very little editing; sorry if I overshare, but this historic trip through The Best tv Show EVER! demands it:

    Episode 1 ended with a “To Be Continued…” as Buffy lay face up straddled by a vampire in Brian Thompson makeup in a coffin in a walk-in tomb. I like 20 year old Sarah Michelle Gellar and all, but I’m not into this kind of thing. I don’t know what kind of sick shit you guys like, but when I do missionary position I prefer not to be sharing the bed with a skeleton.

    Luckily the opening shot of episode 2 alleviates all that awkward cliffhanger necrosexual tension by immediately bringing Jesus Christ & the crucifixion into the picture.

    Brian Thompson was trying to kill Buffy, actually, not do her, but you know how American network television is, you can’t show real sex so you have to use subtle metaphors, like physical assault in a sarcophagus and other more family-palatable substitutes for the ole beast with 2 backs. Kind of like how in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL or the TWILIGHTs, the kids will be in a bedroom alone together, but nothing happens except the screen rotates and a shitty alt-rock-pop song plays, but when they talk about kissing or they share a Dr. Pepper, that’s secret screenwriter code for “They’re fucking right now, this is my PG-13 sex scene, but I’m not allowed to show that, so connect the dots you Puritanical monkeys.”

    Anyway, it turns out vampyrs don’t like crosses, which send them into anti-gravity mode away from the wearer of the cross. Who knew?

    But that’s cool, I forgive the vampire clichés, or well-worn mythologies you might call them. But actually I guess Whedon or the show’s producers are the ones who quickly grow impatient with all the vampire stuff, because BUFFY pulls a TWILIGHT sequel and starts adding other monster types into the show starting with episode 3. That’s right, Whedon not only beat TWILIGHT & TRUEBLOOD to the vampires-are-cool scene by like 10 years (15 if you count the Buffy movie, which I haven’t seen), he even managed to precede TWILIGHT’s expansion from vampire-centric plots into other demon thing-centric plots. And he beat that UNDERWORLD series to this premise, too. Shit, this guy *is* a fucking visionary.

    So anyway episode 3 is about a witch and magic spells and FREAKY FRIDAY Harry Potter shit, there might have been a theme about mothers & daughters and deferred ambitions and aging, whatever, and Buffy tries out for cheerleading, which should be awesome, seeing her do splits & such, but really she’s equally magnetically sexy every second she’s onscreen. Varying costumes elevate her voluptuousness to greater degrees of hotness sometimes, but it doesn’t matter what else is going on with the mise-en-scène – if Buffy is in the shot, I’m focused on her, with occasional glimpses of the other female cast members just to reinforce what I already know, which is that they are not as hot as Buffy. There could be some important visual plot revelation going on on the other side of the frame, and I might miss it because I’m not taking the chance of missing a second staring into Buffy’s perky yet well-rounded self through the tastefully eyeshadowed windows of her soul if it means I’ll accidentally look at the mousy band camp ginger from AMERICAN PIE instead.

    The doofus male lead, Xander, is also crushing on Buffy, can’t blame him. Episode 4 starts with his fantasy of slaying vampires & winning Buffy’s affection (which by the way reminded me of our friend Alfonse G‘s comment http://outlawvern.com/2011/09/28/drive/#comment-1338700 ), showing that he’s pathetic in a lot of ways, but not that creepy. All guys with functional hormones have had a variation of the dream of roundhousing a punk and in the process earning the love of the hot girl. Like the fantasies at the end of STEPBROTHERS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbfxGN3AxGg .

    Xander has a dream that he uppercuts a Buffy attacker, throws a stake in a vampire’s heart like Statham hitting the bullseye in EXPENDABLES, then says something like, “Before I go on kissing you, I have to finish my awesome solo,” then hops onstage, straps on a guitar, and wails.

    But this dork doesn’t even know how to play an instrument, best I can tell, and he alternates between being really stupid and being a supreme pussy when it comes to facing evil. I don’t get this. If you believe being a guitarist will help you pick up chicks, learn to play the fucking guitar. Don’t dream shit up and mope to your Plain Jane platonic ladyfriend about how you wish Buffy would notice you. Take up boxing. Grow a pair and do something of merit. Fucking no-confidence nerds.

    Anyway, the episode gets real weird real fast, with a decapitation that is discovered to be the work of a MILFish substitute teacher who is also a giant praying mantis preying on young men, an issue that continues to be in the news today ( http://thehairpin.com/2011/07/a-praying-mantis-walks-into-the-florida-marlins-dugouthttp://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/bizarre/news-10-amazing-images-sexual-cannibalism ).

    When the girls figure out the bad guy in this Scooby Doo mystery, one of them conveys their findings in the most obvious plot exposition possible by exclaiming, “He’s got a crush on a giant insect!” but they all keep a straight face somehow, so it’s knowingly funny, but also everything is fast-paced enough so I don’t feel like Whedon is elbowing me and reminding me how funny it’s supposed to be, so that’s good.

    Same thing when Xander is captured and drugged and he sees the monster mantis for the first time. He groggily says, “Your hands are really… serrated.” It’s ridiculous, funny, intentionally goofy, but it’s followed up by some violence and another twist, so I don’t get trapped into thinking about the silly dialogue too much, just enough to giggle and move on. I assume this is the big secret to Whedon’s success, being clever but having everything move along quickly enough so that viewers don’t linger on the cleverness long enough to turn against it, like how this post, this paragraph, this very sentence even, goes on & on even though I’ve made more than enough points about this tv show, but I’m doing this for the dna’s & Majestyks & Stu’s of the world who wish to re-live that thrill of 90s WB tv, don’t judge me.

    Also there’s a Mortal Kombat 2 Baraka type character (fast forward to 2:28 or 4:45 for some scary shit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_gMRjL_6l8 ) who comes out of nowhere and has virtually no significance to the plot whatsoever. I like that.

  108. – mouth

    I`m totally reliving august 2011 where I watched this season for the first time. It`s fun to read, though.

    I must say I`m really enjoying my Buffy 4/Angel 1 cross-over marathon, based on original airing dates and other nerdy research. The 2 shows really compliment each other and the buffyverse actually feels complete now. Cordelia Chase is fast becoming my favorite character in the buffyverse. She`s so funny. Wes: “I`m a rouge demon hunter”. Cordelia: “Wow! What is a rouge demon?”

    I think you`ll enjoy season 4, Buffy dating a special ops guy and all.

  109. Damn, I have SO MUCH to say about these shows that I grew up with. I don’t even know where to start, really. I could write about five hundred pages on “Buffy” and “Angel” and “Firefly” and “Dollhouse” (even though I really didn’t like “Dollhouse”, which frustrated me to no end). I grew up with these shows (well, not “Dollhouse”). I could write massive missives about what I loved about them, and, yes, what I hated about them (and there was a LOT that I hated. Chiefly Glory, Adam, Dawn when she was actually doing stuff and not being the interested outsider that Xander used to be, and Anya.)

    But the point is, I would totally do it. (Sorry, touch of “Halloween” there.) I would write massive essays on these shows because – at heart – what I really want to see in films / TV shows is AMBITION. (If my ten-page love-letters to “Hostel” and “Kill List” didn’t make that clear enough.) Thematically, in terms of scope, in terms of character, Joss Whedon has that quality burning through him, and it shows in all of his best work. Where he sticks to the well-trodden and conventional is where he drops the ball. Where he really shines is where he “goes there”, wherever “there” might be, as long as it’s a place where nobody else would go. Nobody else would THINK of going.

    I mean, who the fuck would write an essay on “Alias” or something? Who would care enough? Don’t get me wrong, “Alias” was okay, but compare it to any of Whedon’s shows – even the bad ones – and there’s no comparison.

    I mean, just one of Joss’s seasons of Angel (the best one in my opinion) involves a main character becoming a Goddess, returning to earth, turning evil, and giving birth to a demonic force that takes over the world. (Not “tries” to take over the world. This one succeeds.) Meanwhile the central protagonist turns into the antagonist and stays that way for half the season, eventually killing his own son. In the very first episode the nicest character in the series goes all Guantanomo Bay on another main character (although he REALLY deserved it) and Wesley sacrificed his blood for the guy who’d thrown him out of his life. This is some – serious – shit. Good shit, you understand. Good shit.

    DNA – please learn the difference between “Rogue” and “Rouge”. Unless Joss Whedon had a race of lipstick-wearing demons that I’d forgotten about (and I think I’d probably remember them), you are most definitely doing it wrong.

  110. – paul

    Anya and Halfrek wore lipstick. Just saying.

  111. DNA – yeah, but the cosmetics kinda wore off when they went all veiny.

  112. – paul

    Not when Helfrek went to Anyas wedding… Wait, is this turning into some sorta never retreat, never surrender-sorta deal? Cause if so, I ought to point out that my defense of my typo doesn`t save the punchline I were quoting and therefore utter nonsense in an meta-ironic sorta way? Also, that old woman with the penishead in Doubblemeat Palace wore lipstick. And so did Lorne in Angel. I`ll get my coat…

  113. Paul-“Not “tries” to take over the world. This one succeeds”
    Not the world. Just LA.

    One thing talk of the opening 2 parter reminds me off though…Xander’s best friend who got killed. I think he only ever gets mentioned again like once. Some friendship.

  114. I was able to watch some Buffy over my recent month-long business trip, mostly on a laptop between international flights or while waiting to clear vaccinations/blood draw in certain places that Mr. Majestyk might be able to guess if he pays attention to the news & remembers our conversation at the saloon. Where’s my STEP-UP 3D review, motherfucker?

    So anyway I wasn’t always mentally 100% or in the optimal viewing environment while watching season 1 of the BEST TV SHOW EVER!.

    But this is THE NERDENING OF AMERICA, an important chapter in our great country’s history, and I emulate Vern’s commitments to excellence and being honorable and all that so I took some notes. For example, my notes tell me episode 5 takes place in a funeral home.

    Memory, a less reliable form of notes, tells me Buffy was trying to hook up with a sensitive poet type guy in that one, but by the end of the episode we learn that he is borderline necrophile. Emily Dickinson is mentioned a few times, probably as shorthand for “sensitive poet type.” Buffy doesn’t even notice this disturbing obsession with dead bodies this guy has, so she blames herself and her Slayer duties for why she can’t have a real relationship.

    Moving on, episode 6 features the most intense game of dodgeball ever. Also, for Vern’s viewing pleasure, it features the show’s first group-walking-toward-camera-in-slo-mo shot. It’s about a Sunnydale High bully clique and Xander becoming possessed by a hyena spirit that causes them to bully, ridicule, maim, and kill. Heavy shit, there’s real emotions, real bloodshed, and one of the guys looks just like a more Irish Paul Rudd.

    It’s at this point I realize the formula for this show will involve any character taking wild turns toward danger, cruelty, evil, possession, etc. for any reason, and that resolutions for these wrenching conflicts in each episode are not likely to occur until the final 2 minutes. There’s little character purity in terms of not getting one’s hands dirty or not having nasty things in one’s personal history. Yeah, you can blame it on the Hellmouth, but. . . Xander knows he did some awful shit, and he even lies about not remembering it at the end, hoping his friends will forgive & forget as he blames the evil spirit for everything like some of us do with alcohol.

    I don’t remember episode 7, which I’m sure was a good one, but I took this note:

    female bad guy: “You know what the saddest thing in the world is?”

    Buffy: “Bad hair *on top* of that outfit?”

    I love hearing girls talk shit about each other’s hair & clothing. It’s on the same level as watching a guy physically slap another guy, like Luke Wilson does in the best moment in OLD SCHOOL.

  115. mouth

    ONE OF US! ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

    Just kidding, keep watching and writing, it`s fun to read. I had the impression that you were way into season 2, since you mentioned a certain rocket-launcher? I hope you have the stamina to finish the show before the nerdening of America is complete and your country implodes (may 2012). Oh yes, Joss is an evil mastermind and the final step in his grand scheme, The Avengers, will turn all you yankees into overveight cookiedough eating comic-reading social misfits. Muhahaha. That’ll put marzipan in your pie plate, Bingo!

  116. Mouth: Your commitment is admirable. I’ll reward it with a STEP UP 3D review, probably next week. I need to make sure I’ve acquired the proper safety equipment to prevent my face from getting rocked off. It’s not much of a face but I’ve had it since I was a baby so I’m kind of partial.

    Oh, by the way, Xander didn’t kill anyone in that episode. He was mysteriously absent from the scene where his fellow werehyenas ate Principal Flutie, probably because the showrunners didn’t think they’d be able to maintain audience sympathy for him if he devoured a guy in the fifth episode. I am confident that if this plot had taken place in, say, Season Six, he would have been there, though. Pretty much everybody on the show was a murderer by that point so he would have fit right in.

  117. P.S. To my eternal shame, I am not a news kind of guy, so I’m guessing you’re either doing black bag work in Syria or you’re the sonofabitch who took out Heavy D. Which is not cool, bro. No cool. Now it’s just Salt & Pepa up in that limousine.

  118. Ep. 8
    Remember when some dipshit here called Whedon “the best storyteller of our generation,” Gen X/Y/Z’s Chronicler, or something? Well, this episode proves that Whedon is either not very forward-thinking or is not afraid to be very much of his time. Or maybe he is ahead of his time because this episode explores the dangers of semi-anonymous, lying assholes online who prey on vulnerable people in chatrooms.

    The script has several funny moments, ranging from his signature dry matter of fact statements about demons at high school to Buffy worrying about her hairdo after being almost electrocuted to respectful & clever references to HAL 9000. There aren’t many times when I spot an allusion to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and enjoy it, like in The Simpsons; usually that kind of thing enrages me, like in IRREVERSIBLE, or just annoys me, like every time a tv commercial uses “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

    Anyway, there’s dialogue that sounds like leftovers from HACKERS or the goofy science lab parts of DARKMAN or JOHNNY MNEMONIC, like when a high schooler chides the square, 40something librarian/Watcher Giles for not being “jacked in.”

    The way the no-name actor delivers these lines, you can tell it’s meant to be humorously over-intense: “The printed page is obsolete. Information isn’t bound up anymore. It’s an entity. The only reality is virtual. If you’re not jacked in, you’re not alive.”
    And it’s funny to me because I couldn’t help recalling this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUs7iG1mNjI

    Giles has a Vern moment, praising his own older school methods and complaining about the conversion of books into scanned copies of books and intertubesites and kids playing on his lawn, and everyone attacks him for not being with the modern times of 1997. A computer science teacher literally says, “Soon you will join us in the 20th century, with 3 whole years to spare.” And she rattles off some stats about how more e-mail was sent in the most recent 2 year span than regular mail, what we now refer to as “snail mail” since we’re now cleverer than ourselves of 14 years ago (114 years ago if you’re now reading this on your iGoogleEyeLidNetPad, powered by a synapse-operated pluzonium biobattery, in the next century. Don’t say I wasn’t ahead of my time, historians!).

    Season 1 of Buffy must have been a real tipping point in the zeitgeist, when people started using the word “zeitgeist” every time there was something new that made both lots of money & magazine covers, when we saw most clearly the evolution from the charms of the slower, less-connected world to the insane hyperconnectivityness of today as the internet & home computers spawned cyberwarring multitaskers as well as little punkasses who hate everything that lacks an on/off switch.

    Also, this episode starts in the year 1418 with an evil vampire being magically captured in an ancient magic/religious book, and the book ends up in the 1997 Buffyverse (Am I using that word right?), so there’s probably supposed to be a theme about changes among generations. I don’t think Giles or Vern should be denigrated as a 15th century type, though. That’s not fair to those pathetic old geezers to equate them with Vlad the Impaler. All pre-America human beings were assholes.

    Ep. 9
    No vampires, this one was about a ventriloquist dummy or something.

  119. Congratulations, Mouth. You just got through the worst episode in BUFFY history. (Yes, I am counting “Beer Bad” and that one where Willow gets the DTs from magic withdrawal.) It’s all uphill from here. Past this gauntlet of unbridled ninetiesness lies the glorious future. Here there be lesbians.

    I would like to proactively apologize for the Season 7 episode guest starring Ashanti, however.

  120. I do enjoy a good lesbian plot, Mr. Majestyk. You & dna, et al, say the good stuff is forthcoming, but I’m patient, plus I enjoyed season 1, so everything’s coming up Millhouse on my end so far.

    Oh, that reminds me, I saw NAKED KILLER finally, per suggestions on the PRIEST 2D thread, and there was no nudity after the opening credits! Not in the version I saw, anyway. I mean, I can deal with that, I’m no Griff, whatever, but it all seemed misleading is all. There was plenty of groping & fondling and some amazing outfits, but bare nipples did not make an appearance, very strange. Still, it was an insanely fun movie.

    I love the debut of the older lady assassin’s skills. The ridiculous things she does to all those guys in the parking garage could have been better filmed/edited, but it’s fast & furious fun that only the Chinese seem willing to do with the grace & straight face that such absurd action requires. She frisbees her crown like she’s Mortal Kombat 3’s Kung Lao or James Bond’s Oddjob, and proceeds to dominate in ways no high heeled human being should: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DARzZ-UsSRU&feature=player_detailpage#t=557s

    Also, the cop who can’t touch a firearm without puking reminded me of a certain comedy classic’s hero’s “drinking problem” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl4plPGRG8o ), but it’s funnier to imagine that NAKED KILLER isn’t supposed to be a comedy.

    Back to Buffy:
    Ep. 10
    Got some fucked up dreamworld shit going on here, some pre-INCEPTION, post-WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE business. The nightmares here are darker and more painfully emotional than anything in the Freddy Kreuger stories. There’s yet another dig at Cordelia’s hair-related narcissism, which I continue to find very funny. Xander gets almost completely naked, which is probably the best move for distracting everyone from his grungy, junior high haircut.

    Buffy has a nightmare encounter with her father, who tells her basically that he doesn’t love her and she’s a burden and a mistake. My god, that was awful. Even I was desperate to wake up while he was spewing his cruelty. It struck me as the inverse of the time in the first TWILIGHT movie where Bella says mean things & shuts out her father, who couldn’t be nicer and more loving but has a twit for a daughter. People are so mean. Is this why shows with a laugh track were so popular in the 80s & 90s?

    And in one scene there’s swastikas spraypainted on the wall, what the fuck!

  121. You’re totally getting it, Mouth. BUFFY is all about real emotional shit coated with a thin candy shell of utter ridiculousness. If it was just vampires and snark it wouldn’t be worth recommending to anyone.

  122. Ep. 11 & 12:
    The grand finale to Buffy Season 1

    Buffy finds the bad guys, dies for a minute, is resurrected, kills the bad guys, and saves the world (spoilers).

    Is this season-ender an epic blockbuster? No, it’s a late ‘90s tv production. Does it try to be epic, since it’s dealing with demons taking over the world and opening evil alternate universe portals or whatever? Sort of. I liked it.

    There’s this one shot near the end where one of my favorite action filmatistical beats rears its beautiful head. A lot of people probably find it cheesy, probably don’t like it, and maybe it’s become associated with cheap ‘80s action and overwrought Michael Bay type of action drama nowadays, I’m not sure, but the thing I’m talking about is when the hero has made up her mind and starts decisively walking toward the camera, sort of Aaron Sorkin hallway dialogue-style, accompanied by a strong musical flourish, which in this case is a couple of measures from the BUFFY theme tune.

    For a brief, forceful moment, the music almost overpowers the shot. It’s borderline distracting, but it’s fun & rousing, like the moment in a good kung fu joint when the good guy gets really pissed off and finally allows himself to bend his dead master’s rule about never using his skills for violence & vengeance. I’m like, “Fuck yeah, Buffy, that’s your song, been waiting 11 & ½ episodes for this, unleash the crane-kick!” So now I expect that same musical cue to let me know when it’s climactic action asskicking time in the final episode of each season. It’s like a whole separate character imposing itself on the action, not subtle at all. I bet Paul loves it.

    Buffy’s assertiveness is refreshing. Too many pussy hero types out there in our fictional entertainments try to overstrategize, try to incorporate the assistance of their pussy friends, play politics, have to find inspiration & strength in some personal emotional tie to the conflict. Not Buffy. Though her simple directness means she sometimes falls for traps & demonic deceptions, she’s very good at efficiently developing & executing her #1 plan, which tends to be:

    -Determine location of bad guy[s].
    -Grab weapon[s].
    -Transport self to objective location.
    -Roundhouse, stab, one-liner, repeat.

    It’s beautiful. I’m kind of jealous of her. I remember a bunch of times my team wanted to undergo this kind of direct planning & execution but the guidance from Top would tell us we had to tow along some dweeb Civil Affairs guy or we had to complete a secondary follow-on mission of assessing & photographing some plot of land or we’d have to hand out claims cards to locals when we accidentally broke their windows & doorframes.

    I find the Buffy approach to combat vastly preferable to that of many other superheroes. Consider the X-Men movies. I don’t remember all the specifics, but I am confused why they decide to wait until the big finale (Actually, I’m not confused – I know the reason it happens this way is because the script & narrative arc demands it to be so.) to use the full force of their powers to win the fight. Why don’t they just be more proactive once they figure out who the troublemakers are? It doesn’t need to be a team fight. Storm can generate a badass hurricane and wipe out the bad guys, too easy. But then the movie would be, like, 30 minutes long.

    Why deploy a sniper-supported infantry platoon on the ground when you can just tell an Apache to fire 2.75” rockets or a HELLFIRE from hundreds of meters away? Keep the grunts in reserve and send in the birds. Rest the walkers and send in the choppers. Keep it simple, stupid, etc.. Buffy is the heavily armed helicopter and Xander/Willow/Giles is the puny ground soldier team in this metaphor. Sometimes teamwork is unnecessary. Fuck teamwork. Pass the ball to Lebron and clear out, losers. (Buffy is Lebron James and Xander/Willow/Giles is most of the 2003-2010 Cleveland Cavaliers in this metaphor.)

  123. “It’s beautiful. I’m kind of jealous of her. I remember a bunch of times my team wanted to undergo this kind of direct planning & execution but the guidance from Top would tell us we had to tow along some dweeb Civil Affairs guy or we had to complete a secondary follow-on mission of assessing & photographing some plot of land or we’d have to hand out claims cards to locals when we accidentally broke their windows & doorframes. ”
    Yeah!! Fucking oversight and consideration for collateral damage potential, spoiling all the fun!
    You’ll be sad to know that as the series goes on, it becomes more of a group effort and the rest of the Scoobies play vital roles in the final fight and coming up with plans, though you may get a kick out of how Buffy deals with sub-villain The Judge(played by a returning Bryan Thompson) in series 2 thanks to her friends’ help.

  124. Yes, I’ve already seen through 3.1, and the rocket launcher kill is glorious. If you’re gonna kill Brian Thompson for a 2nd time in one tv series, you better do it with a respectful & awesome bang, and they did. I loved it.

    Season 2 recap will be much shorter, probably just one post, but it’ll probably be more philosophically meandering.

    And then, to Vern’s delight, I will attempt to post episode-by-episode reflections for season 3 onward.

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  126. Buffy
    Background poster inspiration:
    “Abstinence lets *you* choose your future.”

    Episode 2.1:
    “When She Was Bad”
    Pre-episode recap reminds us of some highlights, like: “I may be dead, but I’m still pretty.” (followed by fall & stake through a demon’s heart)

    -Scene 1 is Willow & Xander gabbing & playing a “name that pop culture reference” game where they quiz each other on semi-famous movie quotes. Then Xander plays some semi-smooth ‘ice cream on girl’s nose’ trick to try to get him closer to his ladyfriend of the moment, the one on hand, but the sleazy thing is, he’s clearly still semi-infatuated with Buffy, who is mysteriously absent, even as he plays around with Willow. At this moment, I like this guy’s style, except he’s still kind of a bitchass, but at least his hormones are leading him in healthy multi-directions.

    -And then there’s a vampire attack and etc.. Moving on. . .

    -Opening credits indicate that this episode stars a “Robia La Morte.” Hmm, funny name. Oh wait, that’s the hot computer science teacher chick. Sweet. Still a funny name, especially in this context.

    -It takes about 5 seconds for the creepy principal guy to refer to his student charge as “locusts” and “hormonal time bombs.” The funny thing is, Ms. Calendar & Giles totally devolve into little freshman would-be lovebirds literally behind the principal’s back as he’s self-speechifying about his stupid, lusty underlings. What’s the romantic-y equivalent of BADASS JUXTAPOSITION? Cuz that’s what this scene is.

    -BURNING MAN reference! Must have been a big deal in 1997-1998, when presumably only Rolling Stone subscribers had much of an idea of what that was.

    -Training montage! Tight pants! Demon flashbacks!

    -11:30 mark brings the first vampire gathering dialogue of Season 2, and a cut to the creepy little kid who stands to be the #1 evil bad guy.

    -Another brutal dream sequence, replete with Iceberg Slim-style backhand and uncaring, grinning friends looking on while Buffy gets helplessly choked the fuck out. Christ.
    This tv show is not very Christmassy.

    -Charisma Carpenter shows up to blab some season 1 exposition gibberish about classified monsters, to which Buffy responds, “Chordelia, your mouth is open, and sound is coming from it. This is never good.”
    I laugh.

    -“Bronze” scene nitpick: I don’t take issue with Whedon’s musical taste, but I do wonder why the band in this sequence features a keyboardist who’s working with a mini sub-44 key instrument. C’mon, they sound like a Tricky-Maxinquaye/Radiohead-King of Limbs wannabe group, I think they’d have more than an amateur ‘s mini black&ivory pad.

    -Chordelia has the best dialogue in this episode. It’s especially great because she’s going so against previous [season 1] characterization so far, sounding very reasonable & therapeutic & on-the-ball.

    -I’ve not mentioned many humorous lines of dialogue in this episode, as comedy generally doesn’t translate well to transcription, but Buffy fans surely can back me up in my assertion that this episode is spiked with some damn funny lines & snarkasms. Sorry, that right there sounds like me impersonating Mitt Romney impersonating Stephen Colbert pretending to be a dry Mitt Romney.
    (Note to historians reading this a century+ from now: that last line makes sense in terms of a satirical take on 2012 American micro-politics.)

    -Buffy to Angel: “I can’t trust you. You’re a vampire. Oh, I’m sorry, is that an offensive term? Should I say ‘undead American’?”

    -Around the 31:00 mark, Buffy’s provocations toward Angel (“You wanna fight me?”) (“Come on. Kick my ass.”) remind me of pugnacious me, and they remind me of Rathbone (just watch the first 11 seconds http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HGPvXccM3I ) in David Dobkin’s great, criminally underrated SHANGHAI KNIGHTS.

    -Bottom line is, this is a fucking great episode of some great television. I haven’t seen any WALKING DEAD on the AMC (aka, the cable channel that exposed my mom to DEATH WISH 3), but when I read about Vern’s & you guys’ angst & general disappointment toward that show, I think of this episode and I think of how clean & interesting & striking & violent & funny & persistent & ironically disposable the evil bad guys are in this tv show, and I wonder if any of you would find old BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER to be essentially a superior zombie feature than current WALKING DEAD. Just a thought. When you see the cut at about the 32:20 mark, you’ll see why I wonder this.

    -Remarkably curt transition from semi-haha tone to all out tragic, bloody tone (a signature Whedon-y transition trick, we’ll learn) that happens to bridge in conjunction with what was the commercial break back on the WB in 1997 or 98 or whatever.

    -This is what the fuck I’m talkin bout:
    Angel: “We need you to distract the vampires.”
    Buffy: “Right.”
    Xander: “Buffy, what are you gonna do?”
    Buffy: “I’m going to kill them all.”

    -As I described in my Season 1 write-up, and as Stu so kindly unkindly commented on, this is the preferred strategy of a hardcore, salty combat operations soldier like myself. Though it may sound like I’m a “Soldier of Fortune” right wing blood-thirsty crazoid who loves the kind of direct action that Buffy prescribes here, I actually don’t get an erection at the prospect of this attack strategy. It’s not that serious, but I do approve of it, and I would train juniors to its standard. Speed & violence of action — that’s what they teach you at infantry school, and that’s what Buffy is all about. Tis beautiful.

    -Here’s the thing: the action is adequate, but there are so many missed opportunities. I don’t care that Buffy is played 30% of the time by a stunt/elbow-punch double in the fight scenes, but it does hurt my action-loving soul when Angel morphs (≈38:00 mark) into a vampire-demon and attacks an oncoming baddie in a clumsy, quickie triple-cut sequence that easily could have been an awesome beast-meets-beast moment, perhaps even with some rad slo-mo to appeal to the Pauls of the world.

    -Here’s something fucked up: Buffy has to smash the skeletal remains of Season 1’s big bad demon, and it’s a cathartically sad moment for her. But how about the fact that the Scooby Gang, though they did their best, failed to contain the evil spirit of that motherfucker? Sure, they buried him, and they did the burial ritual to contain his spirit, to make the soil super hot to the demonic touch, but, for whatever reasons, it wasn’t good enough. The bad guys still dug him up and used his evil being for more evil shit.
    And later in Season 2 and Season 3, Buffy is going to run away from Sunnydale, and all her friends and her mother are going to give her shit for running away , for not being mature or not being ballsy enough to stick around through hard times or for being soft when Angel is annihilated (spoiler), but none of these motherfuckers are going to remember, “Oh yeah, remember when the big bad guy who killed you and we did a proper spell to send his bones & spirit to be locked in hell forever and it wasn’t good enough and you had to come and fix our mistake for us?” Yeah, they conveniently forget all that. Buffy can do no wrong, in my opinion. Her friends are weak, and it’s slightly annoying to me that they will continue to be integral to plots that she should handle herself.

    -Buffy to Giles: “I was a moron.”
    Mouth: No you weren’t.
    “I put my best friends in mortal danger on the 2nd day of school.”
    Mouth: Bullshit.

    So that’s how I recap episode 1 of season 2. That’s my method. I got Methods.
    http://soundcloud.com/jaq78/charizma-peanut-butter-wolf-methods

  127. – mouth

    Keep em coming, mouth, it´s a pleasure to read.

    When you get to Season 4, you should start watching Angel, the plots, characters and themes starts intervining and watching the two shows in the intended order, makes the story so much better.

    I`ve made a correct viewing order-list for my personal use, let me know if I should post it here.

    I`m currently in the middle of Buffy season 4 / Angel season 1, which has a lot of crossovers, and characters who go from Sunnydale to Los Angeles and back. I think that Buffy goes at least twice in order to resolve some pretty important story-arcs.

    I don`t wanna spoil anything, but a lot of the issues I had with Buffy season 7 got cleared up when I finally watched Angel Season 4, and discovered that the supporting characters arcs are incomplete unless you watch both shows in the intended order (and not the order they aired, in some cases..)

    Also, Angel is a really good show, sometimes as good as it`s big sister.

  128. “And later in Season 2 and Season 3, Buffy is going to run away from Sunnydale, and all her friends and her mother are going to give her shit for running away , for not being mature or not being ballsy enough to stick around through hard times or for being soft when Angel is annihilated (spoiler), but none of these motherfuckers are going to remember, “Oh yeah, remember when the big bad guy who killed you and we did a proper spell to send his bones & spirit to be locked in hell forever and it wasn’t good enough and you had to come and fix our mistake for us?” Yeah, they conveniently forget all that.”
    Not to mention Angel might not have been annihilated if Xander hadn’t intentionally forgot to mention to her that they were going to restore his soul, for reasons that weren’t entirely clear(because there was too much at stake (no pun intended) to risk it, or because he still had a thing for Buffy and didn’t want Angel in the way?).

  129. I’m not sure it would have made a difference. As soon as Angel opened the swirly late-nineties screensaver inside the big papier mache statue dealie, only his death would close it. So the only way he could have been spared would have been if Buffy had gotten there earlier. Maybe if she hadn’t spent so much time on her hair, she wouldn’t have had to send her lover to a seeming infinity of torment. But you know. Priorities.

  130. BTW, I might give Buffy a 2nd try soon. I mean, I ended up liking FIREFLY a little, even though I downright hated the pilot on first viewing. Okay, I hated the BUFFY pilot even more (and I saw only part 1 of it), but…I don’t know. Maybe next week’s release of THE AVENGERS made me soft.

  131. “Maybe next week’s release of THE AVENGERS made me soft.”
    I think you’ll find that in europe, the movie isn’t called that. It’s THE ASSEMBLERS: VENGEANCE.

  132. What is this “next week’s release” shit? You Europeans need to know your place and quit getting American blockbusters in theatres before I get to see them first.

  133. We don’t get THE RAID till next month, even though it’s directed by a WELSHMAN. Seems a fair trade.

  134. Oh come on, we didn’t get movies earlier until last year, when THOR started two weeks earlier. And it’s still not the norm. (You get PROMETHEUS much earlier than we do!) Also the UK is the only country, that changed the title of THE AVENGERS.

  135. Season 2 is where BUFFY becomes BUFFY. Thats where the metaphor for real life kicks in and the clever dialogue kicks in. I quite liked the ANGEL show too. One day when I am legend I’m going to watch them both from the beginning again. And ALIAS.

  136. “Oh come on, we didn’t get movies earlier until last year, when THOR started two weeks earlier. And it’s still not the norm. (You get PROMETHEUS much earlier than we do!)”
    Pixar movies tend to come out months later here as well, including this years Scotland-set BRAVE. Also, you keep stealing all our actors to star in your TV shows and films.

  137. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 21st, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    How the fuck did I miss this thread?

    Mouth reviewing Buffy episodes one at a time… absolutely priceless.

    And by the way the ventriloquist dummy episode is one of my personal faves of “Buffy”. But the general standard does get far, far, FAR higher in Seasons 2 and 3.

  138. Buffy 2.2 “Some Assembly Required”

    This episode is about a couple of loser nerds taking dead cute girls’ body parts to construct an undead female. Neither the script nor the mise-en-scene ever gets very scientific or convincing as a modern day Frankenstein update/perversion, and the Hellmouth is a lame semi-excuse for why it’s happening, but the pain & tragedy conveyed by the episode’s one-off characters is real, so I guess zombie Mary Shelley (author of the greatest literary work ever penned by a female, and a book everyone, especially horror & sci-fi fans, should read twice) should be flattered.

    **************************************

    This exchange confuses me —
    Xander: “Alright, but if you come across the army of zombies, can you page us before they eat your flesh?”
    Giles: “Xander, zombies don’t eat the flesh of the living.”
    Xander: “Yeah, I knew that.”

    I thought zombies did eat flesh of the living. Brains, and the flesh that surrounds brains, no? Anyone wanna correct me on something here? I mean, they kill you via their attack, so after their initial biting/clawing rampage, yes, they are munching on dead flesh, but a lot of their diet is living flesh, too. What else do zombies eat?

    **************************************

    Efficient visual character development:
    -simple shot of older lady inhaling on a cigarette, blank stare as she watches old video footage of her dead football star son, exhales smoke through nostrils, as though it’d require too much effort even to part her lips to finish the nasty part of her nicotine habit, as though she doesn’t even want to hint toward her living son that she’s about to say something to him, to break her pathetic trance as a zombie-like tv watcher

    **************************************

    Xander: “Speaking of love. . .”
    Willow: “We were talking about the reanimation of dead tissue.”
    Xander: “Do I deconstruct *your* segues?”
    The joke’s funnier when you actually hear it in the show. But anyway, this is a 1990s example of Whedon’s penchant for self-aware dialogue, obliquely winking at the audience by having the characters wink at their own dialogue while maintaining a fairly believable non-winking tone & dialogue within the story itself. Good shit.

    **************************************

    This episode, like many other Buffys and many sci-fi/supernatural stories, is about fantastically literalizing normal psychological problems, in this case converting the anguish & regret that originates from the loss of a stud sibling into a depiction of that dead sibling as a risen, literate zombie/Frankenstein’s monster guy, and having the living mourner sibling reluctantly construct a female zombie companion for him because he promised to try to make him happy.

    Couple issues with this episode, though:
    1) At one point, Chordelia is all squeamish b/c she comes in contact with severed body parts, and she insists Angel accompany her home because she is too fragile to be left alone at the time.
    Oddly, she’s later attacked in the locker room, hands tied, in the midst of being kidnapped when Buffy saves her, but 2 seconds later Cordelia shakes it off and continues her cheerleading gig like it’s no big deal. “They’re doing the pyramid, I have to go, I’m the apex.” So she’s not fragile at all.
    Inconsistent levels of trauma & reaction to traumatic events, and only some of it had to do with her unconvincing attraction to Angel early in the episode.

    2) I don’t buy Daryl the zombie’s rationale for demanding a high school age Wife of Frankenstein corpse bride. He’s undead, sure, and he would almost be 19 years of age, but he’s still aware of his place in relation to his brother, and he still has the mentality and presumably the sexual leanings of an 18 year old, so when you think about it it doesn’t make sense that he really really wants a monogamous zombie bride.
    “We’re gonna be together forever. You’re mine!” and all that shit. 18 year old jocks don’t think like that. That’s how old lonely people and scary creepy dweebs think.

    **************************************

    Also fuck scary creepy dweebs, especially ones who use their amazing knowledge of science and savant-like faculty with scalpels & bunson burners to maim corpses and try to kill cute cheerleaders to design undead sexual partners. Get a life or get a fake ID so you can buy porno & liquor like a normal person seeking a sexual outlet, weirdos, what the fuck. Yeah, I get it, your mom isn’t handling the untimely death of her son very well, doesn’t excuse you from trying to get through high school by becoming a violent pervert.

  139. Holy fuck how long have you motherfuckers been over here talking about my FAVORITE SHOW OF ALL TIME without me? Goddammit. I’ve got some reading to do…

  140. Looks like it’s been going on since the last week of September, 2011.

    I can’t remember why I came here initially, must’ve followed a link or was looking for a reason to plug DR. HORRIBLE. I might diversify my Buffy coverage with some pre-PROMETHEUS, pre-AVENGERS thoughts on the ALIEN RESURRECTION script here in the next few days. I know Vern’s excited to see me expand my journal of my journey through Whedon here.

  141. Were Potpourri not broken I would have defended the shit out of ALIEN RESURRECTION when it came up.

  142. FT – Why do people hate albino alien babies?

  143. Buffy 2.3 “School Hard”
    New character intro is a truck crashing through a “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign, zoom in low at driver door, black boots hit pavement, pan up to reveal all black attire, metal-rock music blares, pasty blonde demon lights a cigarette, turns head, “Home sweet home” in British-ish accent

    Cheesy shit, but I like this guy alright.

    This motherfucker Spike clowns this other vampire for saying he was at the crucifixion, then he tells a joke about feeding on an acid-tripper at Woodstock, then he does a Bruce Lee rear perpendicular punch on a vampire trying to run up on him, then Spike addresses the head honcho demon by saying, “You’re that anointed guy.”

    I like this guy.

    And he has a cute girlfriend.
    I might like Drusilla better than anyone else on this show. She has an air of not giving a fuck, combined with a fragile sensitivity and a brutal wickedness that I find hilarious & fascinating. She’s clearly a tourist of the present, and she knows her immortality makes her superior. Spike’s kind of the same way, but he’s more ambitious, perhaps needlessly so.

    I never know exactly what Drusilla is going to do, so she’s among the very few characters I’ve ever seen who, when I watch her, doesn’t seem like she’s just going ‘And then she does A, and then she does B, and then she. . .” There’s no predictable pattern, yet it’s far from chaos. It’s not that she’s, like, free-forming her way from plot point to plot point, whimsically driving an arc or theme. It’s more like, she exists, and the demands of the plot will meet with and conform with her existence, following her rules, though she’s too gentle & breezy to impose rules or force the action. She’s the focus of all of Spike’s ambitious endeavors, which is all very important to the plot and to this couple’s happiness, yet Drusilla is quick to utter comical non-sequiturs.

    “Miss Edith speaks out of turn. She’s a bad example, and will have no cakes today.”
    She says this while playing with her dolls. It has no effect or meaning related to the episode or any other episode. It’s just Dru being Dru, living in her little awesome dreamworld in the in-between moments when Spike isn’t giving her explicit guidance on their next move. Others would say “she’s not all there.” I’d disagree. She has exactly as much interest in our world as she should, and in fact we are all the deficient beings while only Drusilla makes any sense.

    -21:30 mark = crossbow sighting!

    -Spike bio, according to Giles via the kind of text-reading quickie expo dump a story can get away with only when it’s performed by a character who’s a librarian:
    Spike’s barely 200 years old, other nickname “William the Bloody,” does nasty things with railroad spikes, has killed 2 slayers in the last century

    -Spike calls Angel an “Uncle Tom.” That’s some funny, fucked-up shit right there.

    -Nobody ever used the crossbow in this episode. Booooooo!

    This might be the most overtly action-suspense oriented episode so far, with an organized, satisfying, violent school intrusion led by Spike, who knows how to establish a localized kill zone but apparently didn’t rehearse the mission enough with his subordinates. Good operational tactics ruined by a pre-operational tactical mistake. Classic sin of omission in the planning & conduct of a cordon or raid mission — you should spend at least twice as much time planning/rehearsing the mission as you devote to actually conducting it.
    Spike’s either too proud, too sure of himself, or he’s too much of a cherry lieutenant. He needs a good senior NCO to help him through the tough decisions and get his troops in order.

    Buffy’s mom saves her daughter by striking Spike with the broad side of an ax blade. Sigh. A few degrees difference on the angle of that blow, or in the alignment of her wrists & grip, and Spike would have been maimed in the face, if not killed. Instead Mom uses an ax as a simple club. That should be a violation of a basic principle of action cinema, but it’s acceptable in a weekly tv show, I guess.

  144. Spike’s a great character, and not un-attractive either according to the look on my wife’s face when we’re watching the show. Too bad really that Marsters was so good an actor that the producers started using him more and more as the clown who cries on the inside.

  145. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 25th, 2012 at 4:49 am

    Spike started off SO well, didn’t he? Aaaaaargh…

    Mouth, you’re about to see “Lie to me” for the first time, and I’m jealous.

  146. Buffy 2.4 “Inca Mummy Girl”
    Something about a 500 year old 16 year old girl who comes to life and sucks the lifeforce from people to regain her vitality. I guess she’s a scary parallel to Buffy, since they both have special powers, sacrifices, no one understands their unique fate, etc. They have to live together as part of a mixup and a student exchange program, then at the end they fight each other (spoiler), so, you know, it’s just like FACE//OFF with the mirroring characters and stuff, because themes.

    Not as fun as the movie LIFEFORCE.

    Xander has now hooked up with 2 females who turn out to be murderous monsters. When I was in high school I was attracted to this one girl who invited me to her house adjacent to a swanky golf course late at night and then it turned out she liked to drunkenly spray me with peach schnapps to ruin my clothes, so I know exactly what Xander’s going through, I guess.

    Speaking of mean girls, Willow for some stupid reason dresses up like an Eskimo for a cultural celebration dance shindig, which reminded me of when Lindsay Lohan dresses up like an ugly witch for Halloween in MEAN GIRLS, not realizing that it’s expected of her to slutify herself. Except Lohan is uberhot behind those fake teeth. The point is, Halloween is my favorite holiday, and there should be more costume parties during non-Halloween days. Let’s make this happen, society.

    Xander’s jokes are flat, Willow’s meekness is annoying, Chordelia’s narrow-minded faux-airheadedness is obnoxious and racist, the episode’s guest monster’s mom jeans outfits are ugly, even by late 1990s standards, and Dr. Evil’s redheaded son plays guitar for a shitty band at the Bronze.

    This episode needed more Spike & Drusilla, is what I’m saying.

  147. Is this your first time watching the show in chronological order Mouth?

    I haven’t read through the entire thread yet so my bad if you already answered that. The reason I ask is because ooooh boy you’re in for the best shit ever once you hit season 3. That shit was wonderful TV damn near all around. The show’s true peak. A shame about the next 2 seasons though. I had to check out after 5.

    I outgrew this show tbh. I saw it every monday when it first aired though and it was one of the more sacred pieces of media for my generation when I was a teen. It was a soap opera that had cool shit that guys could enjoy too. It’s probably the one show my female cousin’s and I had in common.

  148. Damn, ok, I’ve read through all the comments now, I’m up to date, and this is awesome. Mouth, your writing is entertaining, please do continue. I just finished up the series about two months ago, third time watching it through, this time for the purpose of showing my roommate. He was skeptical initially, but was a good sport and kept with it, getting sucked in around season three. Got to the point where he’d be calling me up telling me to come home from wherever I was or he was gonna watch Buffy without me. Good shit. So as a confirmed Buffyphile it is a pleasure to read through somebody else’s detailed thoughts and reactions to the individual episodes. Fascinating.

    I’m sure I’ll chime in more. There’s a couple episodes I’m embarrassingly excited for you to get to. Buffy love is fucking infectious. It must be shared to be properly appreciated.

  149. I forget that most people still think of Seth Green as Scott Evil. He’ll pretty much always be Oz for me.

    True story, I once used some of his dialogue almost word for word to get a girl’s number. She had no idea what I was referencing, but it worked like a charm anyway. I call it the Oz Gambit.

  150. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 26th, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Mouth – don’t worry, you will GET more Spike and Drusilla. It’s around about the episode I quoted above, “Lie to me”, when things start getting very, very interesting.

    There are only three or four really bad episodes in Season 2, and you’ve seen two of them (“Inca Mummy Girl” being probably the worst apart from one that’s coming much later on… I won’t spoil that one for you.)

  151. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 26th, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Although I did laugh like a drain at the “What kind of exchange student has a mummified corpse in her luggage, but doesn’t have any lipstick?” line.

  152. Laugh…like a drain?

  153. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 26th, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    …I guess it’s a British expression.

    Yeah, now you point it out, I have no idea what it means either!

  154. Back to the Nerdening of America, counting down 9 hours til AVENGERS showtime

    Buffy 2.5
    “Reptile Boy”
    Frat guys are dicks. College parties and alcohol consumption are scary things.

    Buffy 2.6
    “Halloween”

    Unedited, semi-random observations & notes:

    -Okay, here we go, a decent little fight scene to start things. Not bad for late 90s network tv. And one of Spike’s subordinates is filming it. Good, another reason to like Spike. Like I pointed out in the REAL STEEL (asimovlives translation: REAL STOOL) thread, the so-called bad guys don’t have to be lowlifes. Here’s an antagonist who has his shit together, scoping out the competition, using technology to his advantage, actually making an attempt to improve his chances, STRIVING FOR EXCELLENCE.

    Contrast this approach with the in-your-face half-sarcastic message we see in the first shot at Sunnydale High: VOLUNTEERS ARE WINNERS. What anti-capitalistic tripe this is. At least it’s presented as a joke, a message from the out of touch old folks to the kids.

    -Buffy: “You’re never going to get noticed if you keep hiding. You’re missing the whole point of Halloween.”

    Willow: “Free candy?”

    Buffy: “It’s ‘come as you aren’t’ night. The perfect chance for a girl to get sexy and wild with no repercussions.”

    Kind of an odd attitude to take the episode right after she and Cordelia were drugged and, though they technically avoided being raped, were offered to an underworld god as helpless sacrifice. I guess Buffy wasn’t properly traumatized, because she clearly didn’t learn a lesson from that whole “all frat guys are douchey, pervy, drunken, mean, hypocritical, rapey, abusive assholes” thing.

    But still, this is a wonderful attitude toward my favorite holiday. I’ve always been aware of the special privilege I’ve had by growing up in this time period in a warm environment in the USA, just a year or 2 younger than Buffy, right when society decided that girls my age should dress as provocatively and sluttily as possible most of the time, especially on Halloween. Mini-skirts, sexy boots, mid-riffs, the belly piercing fad, visible bra straps, booty shorts, form-fitting this & that – all this stuff really skyrocketed among American girls around 1997-2000, when I was at peak horniness, when most pop & hip-hop music abandoned all conservative pretense at being anything less than a call to thoroughgoing 24/7 sexuality, when the good times of the peaceful & profitable Clinton era lent a widespread air of success and the accompanying not-giving-a-shit-about-anything-but-looking-good-&-riding-the-success-wave national attitude. Bless Buffy for contributing to the fashion zeitgeist of being fashionably “sexy and wild with no repercussions.” That “sexy & wild” spirit still thrives today every October 31st. I love it.

    -Drusilla: “Miss Edith needs her tea.”
    “Do you love my insides?”

    More beautiful, glorious nonsensical non sequiturs from my favorite character.

    -So this episode has most of the town of Sunnydale getting cast in a costume-based spell that inverts their realities into their costume. Whatever they wear, they become, assuming they bought the costume from the creepy pagan Janus worshipper guy. Decent comical premise with satisfying execution, especially Xander’s professional soldier character and the shot of Chordelia in her leopard costume running away from a Sasquatch. That part was pretty goddamn funny.

    And the part where Giles/Ripper inflicts some pain on Ethan was pretty goddamn intense.

    -This Halloween episode includes my favorite non-Drusilla line of the series so far.
    In the beginning of the episode, Xander confronts some dickhead high school boy saying mean things about Buffy, and the 2 are about to scuffle when Buffy grabs the bully’s arm and neutralizes him. This, a girl coming to his rescue, humiliates Xander. So, much later in the episode, when Buffy is a helpless 18th century princess and Xander a Vietnam-era Army soldier, he rescues her from a violent rogue pirate (as if there is any other kind) and wallops the bad guy pretty bad while Buffy looks on helplessly and admiringly. Xander is victorious, but he should be clueless as to the full meaning of this fight, this moment of rescuing the girl that he likes from danger, this manly redemption his character is achieving. Yet, while still not himself, he utters this great line,

    “It’s strange, but, beating up that pirate gave me a weird sense of closure.”

    This is one more example of the writing playing with its own relationship with the audience, with the characters’ sense of their own relationship to the script and character expectations that the characters themselves shouldn’t even be aware of, to their own meta-characterizations & arcs that are not contained merely within the textual, onscreen narrative, relationships that travel outward to Charlie Kaufman territory, but are expressed in ways that are breezy enough that you never get hung up on the clever mindfuckery of it all. It’s all the good stuff we liked in THE CABIN IN THE WOODS in one line.

    And it’s just a really fucking funny line.

    -Oz’s van’s steering wheel is on the wrong side.

    -“Halloween” is the most entertaining episode of BtVS so far.

  155. Excellent stuff. I love how Whedon sets up a lot of important stuff in the monster of the week episodes and then you feel all clever and stuff when the pieces start to fit together and the actual arc of the season suddenly kicks you in the balls. I`m currently rewatching season four (watched HUSH last night, damn it`s good!!), and important plotpoints and character-traits in season 4 originates from this very episode. And when you watch season 6 and Willow… nah, don`t wanna spoil anything.

    Also, Willow is really hot in her Gabrielle-outfit.

  156. Buffy 2.7 “Lie to Me”

    Our boy Paul seems to like this episode, but I’ll try not to hold that disturbing fact against it.

    -The titleistical theme pervades in every scene. Almost every exchange, even the innocuous conversation about monster trucks, features at least one lie or deception.

    Every bad guy shows shades of being a good guy, and every good guy shows he/she’s capable of deceit &/or undue violence. From a script analysis standpoint, this all resembles a math problem, or a chemistry equation –
    Take character A,
    establish attributes
    subtract expectations via catalyst of particular narrative obstacle
    yields surprise, nuance
    defies base attributes
    Re-establish base goodness/badness of character before next catalyst/obstacle
    Repeat for Character B. . .

    I see through to the skeleton of a formal writing exercise here, though these episodes often possess enough of an overlapping fugue quality that I shouldn’t oversimplify the thing. But it’s not all that dry, of course. If you want, you can kinda see in this episode the Topic Sentence + 3 supporting sentences format, going point by point to substantiate the “Lie to Me” motif, but the work is strong enough on a more emotion-based level that one need not admire or deconstruct the structure. Whedon will do plenty of deconstructing without our help, and we’ll participate regardless of whether we deliberately choose to break the narrative down in an academic fashion.

    There’s some more subtle writer’s craft stuff going on here, too, not just in the syntax & structure of the overall episode & the dialogue but in the subtle contortion of names & identifiers. The one-off character Billy Fordham and Buffy call each other by their last names; this is unique to this point in the series, so it is jarring when we hear “Sommers” instead of “Buffy.” It tells us this relationship is different, and that the parameters of who each of these characters are in this episode will be different. Also, I am reminded of JRR Tolkien’s THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, in which, iIrc, the concept of knowing a person’s true and various names indicated one’s power over that person/elf/wizard. (I had to read it in college. Bacdafucup, nerds.)

    While we’re mulling over what the change in names might mean, the episode features some moronic teen vampire admirers who refer to vampires as “the lonely ones” and to the undead’s immortal status as “another plane of consciousness” or something. You see, there are more examples of subtle shifts in modifiers & identifiers, and I don’t think Whedon dug into the thesaurus just for the purpose of mixing up the lexicon. The teens’ pro-vampire club is a sympathetic lot, but they’re losers, and we know they’re losers largely due to their insistence, expressed in their explicitly wrong-headedly optimistic vocabulary, that vampires are fluffy, enlightened beings who will guide them to a false ideal of immortality. I think there are a couple of references to The Doors, too, (“This is the end. No one here gets out alive.” And allusions to a different plane of consciousness that could maybe be twisted into “Break on Through to the Other Side.”), whatever that was about. Also there’s one dweeb who wears a polyester cape.

    -The final scene is a dandy, getting all philosophical to wrap up the emotional mini-journey we suffered along with poor Buffy the previous 41 minutes while also making a clever, clear comment and meta-comment on the nature of storytelling, fiction vs. real life, good guys vs. bad guys vs. good/bad guys, and the desire to make black & white that which is perpetually gray. Yet again, there’s subtle, comedic winking at the audience (Contrasted with much less subtle nudging earlier in the episode, like when Ford insists that Spike follow a stupid script for an artificial badass dialogue moment, and when he mouths Jack Palance’s lines as Count Dracula, and when he & Buffy talk about “This is how it all played out in the story in my head.” or something like that.), but, yet again, it’s managed in a way that is audience-inclusive, participatory rather than off-putting. Impressive shit, I must say.

    -I kind of wish I hadn’t learned so much about Drusilla’s past, the origin of her insanity (Angel killed her family, severely traumatizing her and driving her to a convent, and then he turned her on the day she was to take her nun vows.), because I enjoy having her just floating around in her personal dreamworld with no apparent reason or central impetus to behave in any other, more normal way.

    -My favorite part is when Drusilla tries to have a conversation with a dead caged bird.

  157. I noticed in AVENGERS that when Captain Rogers says, “It appears to run on electricity,”
    Tony Stark snarkily responds, “You’re not wrong.”

    iIrc, Xander a couple times says the same thing, “You’re not wrong,” in the same sassy tone around the pool table near the beginning of Buffy 2.7 “Lie to Me.”

    Just an observation. Whedon’s borrowing from his old self. Or maybe Robert Downey, Jr., is a Buffy fan.

  158. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 4th, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Mouth, I thought “Martha Marcy May Marlene” was excellent. Does that not mean I deserve a little slack?

    “Lie to me” to me is the start of when Buffy became great. From this point on there are a few bad “monster of the week”-style episodes, but it’s mostly about character development of the scoobies from here on out. Plus the monsters become less “random insect / vampire / mummy / demon conveniently disguised as human” and a shedload more genuinely unsettling.

  159. My guess is that Joss Whedon’s affection for [the visual of] relayed fired projectiles, which I saw earlier today when Iron Man bounced his energy charge palm-bullet off Captain America’s shield into a bad guy in Manhattan, may have originally been manifested in ALIEN: THE NEW TESTAMENT, as I just watched a guy point his gun toward the ceiling, then MacGuyver-calculate a ricochet effect, then fire a round which bounced off 2 curved surfaces before blasting the human target in the face.

    This, the billiards shot magic bullet, is not a bad Auteur Signature to possess & propagate.

  160. I noticed some kinda weird typecasting, and IMDB confirms — This fuckin guy Leland Orser has played the exact same character in at least 3 movies:

    -distressed man in massage parlour in David Fincher’s SE7EN (1995)
    ***Crazed Man in Massage Parlour: He-he put that thing on me…! He made me wear it!… He told me to fuck her, and… and I did! I fucked her! He had a gun in my mouth! The fucking gun was in my throat! FUCK! Oh, god, oh, god… please help me. Help me. Please help me. ***

    -distressed man with alien in his chest in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ALIEN: RISE OF WINONA (1997)
    ***Purvis: [shouting] What’s in-fucking-side me?
    Ripley: There’s a monster in your chest. These guys hijacked your ship, and they sold your cryo tube to this… human. And he put an alien inside of you. It’s a really nasty one. And in a few hours it’s gonna burst through your ribcage, and you’re gonna die. Any questions?
    Purvis: Who are you? ***

    -distressed pilot in Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998)
    ***Lieutenant Dewindt: Yeah, Brigadier General Amend, deputy commander, 101st. Some fucking genius had the great idea of welding a couple of steel plates onto our deck to keep the general safe from ground fire. Unfortunately, they forgot to tell me about it until we were just getting airborne. Well, that’s like trying to fly a freight train. OK? Gross overload. Trim characteristics all shot to hell. I nearly broke both my arms trying to keep her level. And when- and when we released, you know I cut as hard as I could, tried to gain some altitude and still keep her from stalling. We came down like a fucking meteor. And that is how we ended up. And the others, they stopped easy enough OK, though, you know? We were just-we were just too damn heavy, you know? The grass was wet, downward slope and all. 22 guys dead.
    Captain Miller: All that for a general?
    Lieutenant Dewindt: One man. ***

    Dude’s got the mid-90s traumatized, scared character market cornered.

  161. Do you think that was a scripted moment in ALIEN RESURRECTION or a Jean Pierre Jeunet idea?

  162. FT – either is possible. I mean Jeunet did claim credit for that whiskey machine idea.

  163. I gotta switch sim cards and iPads and data-thingies here, and I do not cross-pollinate web histories on my different devices, so I’m going offline from the Verniverse for a few days.  En route to Atlanta, then to DC for some prep work for an overseas assignment that’ll bring me back to the jungle for a few weeks later this summer as a guide/liaison/bodyguard for an awesome women’s rights-focused NGO.  It’s kind of a dream job for me.  

    Also the lady who got me the job is a hot, kinda wealthy Jordanian friend, and she just invited me to stay with her and some friends in Vegas this weekend.  Hopefully we can see a show, eat overpriced fish, and compare bikini lines at the outdoor pool lounge.  If you’re in town, catch me at the Palazzo’s $25 minimum blackjack tables if I’m sober, the $100 minimum tables if I’m not.  

    Anyway, point is, my BUFFY THE VAMPIRE journal will be on hold, but I should have a few slow May days in the office before I jet down to another vacation, Spoleto Festival, and maybe a few days after that before I take off for my extended business trip.  

    Then after that I’m probably quitting this Carolina office gig and moving to Beverly Hills or somewhere thereabouts, so who knows when I’ll finally have time to proceed to the era of ANGEL’s spinoff.  Maybe around the same time Vern finally reviews DR. HORRIBLE, which he should. Don’t know if I’ve mentioned that.  

    I’ve seen through part of season 3, but most of my time watching season 2 was defined by insomnia and poor living conditions — mostly I was watching on a laptop in a transient tent adjacent to a foreign, rundown vaccination center — so, being a good wannabe nerd, I’ve obviously committed to going back episode by episode.  

    Vern will have to pay me a little more for this thorough reporting and higher word count, but hopefully it’s worth it.  Y’all keep telling me you enjoy this shit, so.  

    Here’s my sparse, disjointed notes & memories from some upcoming episodes, just so there’s something left of my project in case it’s a long time before I resume it or in case I suffer a horrible machete accident in the jungle: 

    *** “So, do you guys steal weapons from the army often?” ***

    *** Angel kills Ms. Hot Teacher Callender with a breakneck move that resembles JCVD’s elbow uppercut in BLOODSPORT.  ***

    *** “Killed by Death” :
    definite Freddy Kreuger homage *** 

    *** Swimmer bully’s tat looks like Abe Simpson’s Flying Hellfish tat.  ***  

    *** I heart Drusilla. ***

  164. The killing of Jenny Calender was a big moment in Buffy for me. It was one of the first time’s I remember feeling like nobody was safe. Evil Angel will do that to you. God he’s a good character. Funny, edgy, dark, tragic, quippy without being overly blase, and just straight horrible to our beloved protagonist. Great television that.

  165. Buffy episode 2.8 “The Dark Age”

    There’s that damn Buffy Sommers doing aerobics in some Sharon-Stone-in-TOTAL RECALL-garb. And Rupert Giles is 10 feet away, reading books. Hella will power. He has the sexual instincts of a castrato, which is a good quality for a guy in his position. I guess the duties of a Watcher override his lust, which is never an issue. He’s a professional librarian, can’t be messing with students, obviously, but shit man you can’t deny what’s in front of you, all the time, at odd hours, wearing tiny garments.

    Also he’s been hooking up with Ms. Jenny Callender, who’s pretty hot (She has this cute sideways bobblehead move she does — makes her upper body move like a snake, fluid and ready to shed her clothing.) and has made explicit her desire to do adult things with him. She almost seems *too* into him. Hmm.

    Unfortunately this episode reveals that Joss Whedon is not a Seagalogist, or wasn’t back in 1997-98, b/c there is a scene where Buffy & Angel break up a black market transfusion baggie transaction between hospital workers & vampires, an excellent opportunity to make a “blood bank” crack, and no one makes it. As is the case in most movies, sadly, I had to insert my own imaginary Mason Storm to add badass humor to the moment.

    Lot of good dialogue in this episode. Chordelia gets the best lines.

    Giles: “Is everyone okay?”
    Chordelia: “Super. I kicked a guy.”
    &
    “This is what happens when you have school on Saturday.”

    I like how this episode uses the qualities of Angel as a dead being as more than shallow fodder or a source of angst. His deadness is a key part of the solution to defeat the demon at the end, and David Boreanaz gets to beat himself up pretty good in a special effects sequence. He’s no Nicholas Cage transforming into GHOST RIDER, or Jim Carrey wailing on himself in the bathroom in LIAR LIAR, but it’s a good scene, hopefully he got paid extra for the head trauma.

  166. Buffy 2.9 “What’s My Line: Part 1”
    In which Buffy fights this ridiculously good looking Barbadiana
    http://images.wikia.com/buffy/images/7/78/BuffyKendra.jpg

    &

    Buffy 2.10 “What’s My Line: Part 2”

    In which Buffy teams up with Slayer2, who might actually be Jamaican. Whatever. I’m a fan.
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_mizP3-WUr24/TCTtjJwZOuI/AAAAAAAAAM4/nHzVAgIOlAY/s1600/Kendra.jpg

    Drusilla continues to be the best. I’m formulating some kind of Mega-Acting Theorem to apply to her character. Not fully developed, but it’s safe to say that she is not unlike Cage as vampire.
    http://outlawvern.com/2009/12/18/vampires-kiss/
    She’s having just as much fun as Cage, lives in her own separate world like Cage does in his best roles, but she’s *slightly* more restrained. Slightly.

  167. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 18th, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    “The Dark Age” has to be one of my all-time favorite episodes of “Buffy”, right up there with “The Wish”, “Fear Itself”, and “Conversations with Dead People”. They skip the punch-banter-punch pattern that marks the worst excesses of episodes like “Inca Mummy Girl” and go straight for the jugular. Emotionally speaking.

  168. Oh man, Kendra. Cute, but easily the worst actress the show ever featured. Her Jamaican accent is actually worse than Boreanez’s Irish accent. It’s almost a better Irish accent than his, since it goes a little leprechaun from time to time, as faux Jamaican accents are wont to do.

    You got a helluva run of episodes coming up, Mouth. Shit’s about to get real.

  169. Buffy 2.11 “Ted”

    Some fucked up shit in this episode. It made me feel stuff, wouldn’t let me keep my distance from the abuse & violence, wouldn’t let me laugh. Got all dramatic and serious and shit. I’m against it.

    And I think Joyce Summers is too good for a blob like the late John Ritter as software salesmen/techie. I’m against that, too. Good episode, regardless.

    The best part is Xander’s reaction when he opens a closet that presumably contains 4 dead bodies. You can see the shift in tone from his usual chirpy snarkiness to a much darker mentality, and he doesn’t go all mopey because of it. He’s devastated by the carnage, but he immediately takes action, decisively telling the girls to exit the basement with him without delay.

    The boy’s got confidence, suddenly. Probably part of that Army training he got in the Halloween episode. Fuckin hooah.

  170. Buffy 2.12 “Bad Eggs”

    At one point a cowboy outlaw demon says, “Yippee ki-yay,” so this is a good episode.

    More nonsensical continuity issues: Last episode, Buffy was proven right about her mom’s boyfriend, an abusive robot psychopath, yet this episode, Buffy’s mom evidently forgets about all that and grounds her 16 year old daughter, treating her inexplicably harshly and lecturing her on “responsibility.” Fuck, man, no carryover street cred from that time a few days ago when your daughter became a murder suspect and then you believed your ugly blob of a short-term boyfriend over the word of your own kin until he finally smacked you and Buffy saved the day?

    These thoughts probably weren’t as much of an issue during the show’s initial run, before NetFlix and dvd marathon sessions magnified the episode-to-episode characterization & flow, or lack thereof. Also, my parents never grounded me. As long as I made a phone call before, like, 10:15, I could do whatever whenever, even on school nights, so I can barely relate to this overbearing mommy shit.

    Also, Buffy’s mom tries to kill Buffy with a pickaxe. Like I said, this is a good episode.

  171. Xander has many negative qualities, a couple of which will only intensify over time (many never forgave him for the emotional devastation of “Hell’s Bells”), but cowardice or indecision in the face of mortal danger is not one of them.

  172. Buffy 2.13 “Surprise” and 2.14 “Innocence”

    Brian Thompson’s triumphant return to the small screen.
    Season 1 Brian Thompson: http://images.wikia.com/buffy/images/2/2d/Luke.jpg

    Season 3/4/5/6/7 Brian Thompson?: http://www.isnanchordesk.com/autos/pix/BrianThompson2.jpg
    (fingers crossed; that looks interesting)

    For the purposes of this write-up focusing on an episode in season 2 Brian Thompson looks like a roided out smurf with horns.
    http://images.wikia.com/buffy/images/9/90/Thejudge.jpg
    He’s an ancient being who judges people, anyone with any human traits, and in most cases destroy them or suck their souls or something. He deems you righteous or empty or too prideful or possessing of jealousy or whatever sin or human trait that makes you unworthy of avoiding his version of the anti-Rapture, and his touch burns you to nothingness, unless you’re already a soulless nothingness like vampires. He’s The Judge. It’s awesome.

    Except it’s less than awesome, as Spike repeatedly notes. He & Drusilla go through all this trouble to assemble The Judge and bring him into their world to act as the ultimate weapon against Buffy (since the Order of Turaka didn’t get the job done), and then when he gets there he has to sit & rest.

    It’s like if you’re expecting a party bus with strippers and lights & loud noises, but then when it’s finally your birthday you end up staying in, playing Tetris & shooting Bacardi 151 with your roommates. Very sad.

    And even after resting, The Judge’s powers are never at full, uh, power, so instead of being able to zap people at a distance he has to physically touch them up close.

    Spike & Dru must feel like they ordered a gatling gun and instead they got a butterfly knife.

    Meanwhile Angel finally finds the perfect situation to go all the way with Buffy. She loses her virginity. Doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, but this tv show has a compelling way of imparting to me that it is indeed important. Namely, there are several scenes of realistic girl gab.

    Most of us probably don’t know what the fuck that is, don’t regard it as an important concept to grasp, but now that I think about it, it’s really really important in young American girls’ lives to talk to each about everyfuckingthing. Willow & Buffy do this. Dudes would never do what they do, walking shoulder to shoulder and dissecting literally every word said between girlfriend & boyfriend the night before.

    “OMG, how did you feel when you said that? Should you have said this instead of that? Did he mean he likes you less because of the verb tense he used in that one thing he said? Did he look at your eyes when you said that?”

    They discuss all this ridiculous minutiae that I would never in a million years consider unless I’m trudging through some Virginia Woolf fiction or reading the juicy parts of my beloved Cosmopolitan magazine. I don’t know why I never much thought about this before. As Vern has mentioned, it’s one of the foundations of ubiquitous “women are like this, while men are like that” comedy acts, and I noticed this kind of girl-girl repartee in Amy Heckerling’s masterpiece, CLUELESS, but I just saw it as comedy, not a realistic depiction of how girls gab.

    Anyway, all this high school girl jibber jabber is important to the story to establish the advanced sweetness of the Bungel, as the cover of US Weekly would call this relationship, which is important to establish the utter biting cruelty of what follows their first shared orgasms.

    Oh, the cruelty.

    I mean, this motherfucker Angel goes full on misogynist after he busts his nut. Turns out there’s a curse, not unlike that of the gorgeous psychic lady in THE SCORPION KING, that says if Angel experiences one moment of pure happiness then he’ll lose his soul and become a fully evil undead vampire again and it’s bad for everybody, especially Jenny Calendar, who belongs to some gypsy tribe who was victimized by Angel and vowed to never let him etc.. Something like that, I dunno, if you want a more complete synopsis why don’t you watch the fucking show yourself, shit.

    There’s some interesting horror conventions at work — teen virgin has sex, then she & her partner are immediately punished. I don’t know, we already discussed all this shit at the CABIN IN THE WOODS thread and other places. I don’t know if Whedon is presaging himself or if he just really likes dealing in & messing with horror tropes. It’s entertaining, it makes you think, and it results in fighting onscreen. Win win win.

    More interesting to me, however, is Angel’s sudden transformation from proto-Pattinson TWILIGHT angsty perfect boyfriend to emotionally manipulative monster. He says the meanest possible things to Buffy once he loses his soul. Cruelty has rarely been more explicitly filmed. Mel Gibson’s THE TORTURE GOSPEL: PORT OF CALL CALVARY CROSS never approached this. Scorsese’s AGE OF INNOCENCE came close, when we see Countess Olenska rejected by most of New York’s high society, but was never this sharp.

    The brutal, twisted climax of Neil Labute’s brilliant IN THE COMPANY OF MEN might be the closest equivalent of the awful shit that happens here. Aaron Eckhart smiles. And Angel laughs. Fucking ouch.

    He says mean things about Buffy to Spike, even when he’s not necessarily intending to say mean things. “She’s stronger than any slayer you’ve ever faced. Force won’t get it done. You’ve gotta work from the inside. To kill this girl, you have to love her.”

    From the inside! I’ll say. Sexual-psychological double entendre, and such cruelty. Gross, dude. Icky. Icky & evil.

  173. Oh yeah I forgot the most important part, the rocket launcher.

    http://escapepod.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/ea_b_rlaunch.jpg

    Not enough tv shows climax with a rocket launcher attack. I support this.

  174. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 18th, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Mouth – I thought I was the only person who liked “Bad Eggs”. So I’m gratified you thought it was a good one also. Buffy does the Bodysnatchers, just as a concept, has me in fits of ecstasy (in case you guys haven’t gathered yet, my absolute favorite genre of movie is the bodyshock horror genre) and I thought they pulled it off pretty well.

    I agree with everything you say about “Surprise” and “Innocence” (the character work from pretty much everyone there is pitch-perfect) but I’d add that I don’t think “Innocence” would’ve worked without Spike to take Angel(us) down a peg or two. I don’t know whether Whedon already had it in mind that these two had pretty much despised each other for the past hundred and fifty years, but they both really showed their mutual dislike in “Innocence”. Without that, I think Angelus would’ve come across as something of a caricature, instead of the crazy stalker he actually does come off as.

    I liked “Twilight” (the first one) because I saw it knowing literally nothing about it and thought you were supposed to hate the anti-heroine Bella. But I gotta admit, it would definitely have been improved by the introduction of a rocket launcher. I think their contribution to culture is as underrated as nunchakas are overrated (because every time an action star gets his or her hands on one, they have to spent at least twenty pointless seconds doing that spinny thing where they swivel the weapon around their body, instead of, you know, actually FIGHTING SOMEONE with it.) My favorite scene in “Commando” was the one where it was demonstrated what happens when you give a rocket launcher to somebody who doesn’t know how to use one. (Well, ok, that and the “I eat green berets for breakfast… and I’m very hungry” line, and the resulting fight-slash-porno shoot that results from it.)

  175. Yeah, Spike says a lot of interesting shit, and he’s a great character, but I’m not trying to go into every character’s dynamics every episode here. My approach to this Buffy journal is more like what Jay-Z says in “The Ruler’s Back,”

    ***Just my thoughts man – right or wrong
    Just what I was feeling at the time***

    Yes, I’m comparing my scribblings here to the best hip hop album of the last 12 years.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-6_WMgmphs

  176. COMMANDO is probably my favorite movie to watch as an interactive speak-along experience. It’s one of my favorite movies period, of course, but I especially adore everything about its script, all the one-liners, *except* that Green Berets line. That was over the line. Too macho (as Rae Dawn Chong immediately points out), too hyperbolic. There was no reason for Matrix to elevate himself by claiming to be a devourer of SF operators. The men at the tip of the “De Oppresso Liber” spear are presumably on his side and they deserve better.

    I prefer how Shane Black handled the male need for shit-talking about spec-ops guys for whom you lack respect. Detective Sergeant Riggs: “I ran into some of those Shadow Company pussies in Saigon in ’69.”

    Call out a single Company for being “pussies,” or shit-talk the mercenary in front of you. Don’t generalize about the edibility of all Green Berets, Matrix. That’s offensive in my opinion.

    Buffy 2.15 “Phases”

    There are werewolves in Sunnydale? Whaaaa?

  177. There’s everything in Sunnydale. Except leprechauns. Don’t be absurd.

  178. Buffy episode 2.16 “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”
    I inserted that Oxford comma in this episode’s title because it’s only right. Gotta have standards, goddammit.

    This one’s about Xander dominating the high school hallway and wetting all the gals’ panties via the power of pheromones, via the power of a magic spell.

    As far as stories about what would happen if a boy’s love spell made all the local females (except his hot girlfriend Chordelia, oops) fall in lust with him, this episode seems fairly realistic. It’s fun to see all the Sunnydale chicks oozing sexuality & desire, and it’s very fun to see those traits converted to jealousy & rage, especially with Drusilla. Also Willow attacks Xander with an axe. Fuckin’ female emotions, how do they work?

    This episode keeps it a little more classy than a Hype Williams music video, but not as classy as one of them nude black & white perfume advertisements.

    It’s always a pleasant surprise when you get to see a horny girl express herself with honesty & directness. Girls get a bad rap when this happens, because society, due to entrenched Puritanism & fundamentalism based on stupid ancient rituals & superstitions, has deemed them whores if they ever show a willingness to spread their legs for leisurely purposes. Hypocritically, society’s decided that guys don’t have that same reputation problem, because we are hunter gatherer with the sperm and the evolution and etc..

    Anyway, I’m a big fan of the Buffy-wearing-only-a-jacket look. It’s like when your flavor of the night rolls out of bed to take a shower or get a drink or whatever and the next time you see her she’s wearing your shirt and nothing else. Strange that that should be so sexy, since it doesn’t really fit or accentuate her curves (unless maybe it’s one of those little muscle shirts that some of the douchebag bodybuilder & metrosexual types like these days), but it works for me.

    Buffy has the best line in this one:

    “Funny. I know what you’re *face* wants.”
    {punch!}

    Maybe you had to be there.

  179. Buffy 2.17 “Passion”

    Pretty great episode. Moody Angel voiceover framing device really works in this one. You should see it, you’d like it. That’s all I got. Read this instead:
    http://outlawvern.com/2000/06/05/the-two-ps/

    Buffy 2.18 “Killed by Death”

    Holy shit, this is actually a pretty decent, scary little horror movie. Better than a hefty percentage of the horror crap that Vern reviews. Not that I think that’s a reason for Vern to stop reviewing so many horror movies, of course. His reviews of low budget slashers are always excellent.

    Xander gets a couple badass lines, telling Angel, “You’re going to die, and I’m going to be there.”

    Gotta love the claymation-style special effects on the weekly demon bad guy in this one. A lot of the episode takes a modified JAWS approach to horror, only showing hints of the creature until near the end, and then it goes balls-out with 2 separate p-o-v shots of the demon in full detail, daring us to ridicule the mini-Harryhausen-like effects. I like it. Gave me the willies.

    There’s definitely a Freddy Krueger NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET homage, both in the visuals of the demon, some German spirit asshole who sucks the life from sick little kids, and in the scene at the 38:40 mark, where there are shots of the demon in the shadows scraping his hands along a wall. Creepy! Sometimes filmatistical copycatism works.

    Really great ending, the final frame, made me laugh while also reminding me of the horror the little kids have suffered.

  180. Headed to NYC & DC for a long weekend of charity events and Secret Agent Man stuff, maybe check out the Manhattan shawarma scene, whatever. Mouth’s Buffy the Vampire journal will continue next week, maybe.

  181. Give me a call when you’re in town. I might be able to make time in my schedule for a teamup.

    Let’s forgo the traditional pre-bonding abilities-testing fight, though. That’s not gonna go well for at least one of us.

  182. NYC schedule was packed, and the stay was brief. Next time, mi amigo, and hopefully soon. There’s some more stuff I need to accomplish in that city, possibly this summer, and I’ll insist we team up again.

    Buffy 2.19 “I Only Have Eyes For You”

    More fucked up, scary shit in this episode, but it’s less of a horror story and more of a morality tale spiced up by the horrific, intrusive omnipresence of the Hellmouth. Innocent Sunnydalians get temporarily possessed by the spirits of a dead teacher-student couple from decades ago, and they follow a scripted argument until a gun appears in the guy’s hand and he shoots the lady.

    But the clever hook here is that Buffy ends up playing the male role while Angel plays the female role in the end (spoiler). It challenged my code of dry-eyed manliness, this teary sequence juxtaposed & mixed with Angel’s extreme soulless cruelty. Good cross-cut style editing between times, too.

    Fuckin a, this 42 minutes of network television has more emotional veracity, more earned angst, more compellingly depressing circumstances, more tragically thwarted love than almost any supernatural romance movie or series I’ve ever encountered. Giles’s misdirected love-y feelings for the late Jenny Calendar is painful to watch, and it’s intriguing to hear him talk about suspecting her ghost (which doesn’t exist… yet) for the mysterious deaths of high schoolers because most tv shows & movies don’t have dialogue that’s clearly wrong, misleading, and indicative of a temporary psychological blindness from a sane person.

    Few movies or shows trust the viewers to pay attention enough to realize that some of what a character says is flat incorrect. Confusion sets in — “Wait, what? That’s not advancing the narrative. Is it? Did I miss something?” — if you’re not paying attention or if you don’t understand the characters, and you’re likely to question whether it was a legitimate faux pas or if that part of the dialogue is just meaningless filler. In this case, it’s Giles making incorrect assumptions, which is unusual for him.

    Whedon kinda did the same thing in AVENGERS, when Fury and Captain America, among others, are discussing Loki’s weapons & powers. Rogers says something about the Tesseract and a presumed association with the WWII supernatural weapons he faced, seemingly contributing to the conversation, but Fury shoots his idea down immediately, saying something like, “No, that’s not it. This is something else…” I remember it struck me as bizarre, that a movie would even include a line that seems to be significant from a significant character, and then dismiss it as meaningless. Why even bother with that exchange? Why not edit it out? It doesn’t help the audience understand the problem they’re discussing. But it’s in there. I like it. It adds to Cappy’s character (being out of his time, not as smart or tech-savvy as the other modern Avengers, etc.), and it was refreshing.

    Like how movies never show people getting sleep or peeing or eating (though Mr. Majestyk tells us Detective John Safe does eat between fights in the new Statham joint http://outlawvern.com/2012/05/07/safe/#comment-2781885 ) — dudes go around saving the world, bouncing from city to city, enemy to enemy, and we never see them recharge or have a human moment. No one naturally coughs or sneezes. No one cups his/her ear and says, “What’s that?” when he/she doesn’t hear something properly. No one stutters unless a stutter is an important character trait. What’s up with that?

    Anyway, suspension of disbelief and all that. Ironically, this show about demons & teenaged “slayers” is better at facilitating that Coleridgian concept than most verite-style entertainments.

    If you’re going to see one (1) 19th episode of a 2nd season of a late 1990s tv show not called FELICITY (so I’ve heard), this should be it.

  183. Buffy 2.20 “Go Fish”

    Filler “monster of the week” episode, but it’s still pretty good, and the message about steroids among youth athletes was prescient and well handled.

    There continues to be the sporadic but well-placed joke about Sunnydale High’s ridiculous student mortality rate. It should take me out of the story, reminding me of how abnormal, hard-to-believe life around the Hellmouth is for otherwise normal, believable people, but I’ve made my peace with all that, just like how Batman aficionados & characters accept that every couple of weeks there’s bound to be some colorful new supervillain and corrupt cops who force the locals to summon a guy in a bulletproof rubber suit to stop crimes. You live in Sunnydale, you’re gonna see weird shit and have a few of your friends & neighbors disappear mysteriously; you live in Gotham, you’re gonna get mugged by a nightmarish Disney mascot thing if you go down an alley alone at night. Makes sense within the universe. Just keep calm & carry on.

    Cordelia is now my 2nd favorite character, behind Drusilla. I would totally be friends with Cordelia.

  184. The Original... Paul

    May 31st, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Paul’s comment of the week… I got nothing to add to what Mouth’s said about “I Only have eyes…” but I do wish it hadn’t been followed up by “Go Fish”. I thought the episode was ok when I first watched it, but then I saw it in chronological sequence, and boy oh boy is it out-of-place. Considering the episode that came before it, and the two that are about to follow it… the tone is just completely wrong for me. It gets unpleasantly creepy at times as well, and not in the good Angelus-Just-Returned way that Mouth highlighted above. The one-liner in the water pit was just SO forced, out-of-place, and completely wrong for the character. It was like something out of… well… season six of “Buffy”.

    But basically “Eyes”, this fantastic character drama, is followed up by an episode where Angelus is used for exactly one bit of exposition that doesn’t show him as threatening in any way. That, and the dialogue of “Go Fish”, is just wrong. When I referred earlier on to one episode that’s worse than “Inca Mummy Girl”, “Go Fish” was the one I was referring to. Definitely a low point in the series.

  185. Feel free to add more because “I Only Have Eyes For You” is some great stuff.

    You can see a line of saliva between Buffy & Angel when they kiss.  Their DNA is connected! But they can’t be together! Tragedy! Forbidden love!

    Also, possessed Buffy barks, “Don’t walk away from me, bitch.”

    That was awesome. And heartbreaking.

  186. Hi boys… Frequent reader/infrequent poster here. I wandered in here tonight after watching SERENITY which I had been wanting to do since seeing THE AVENGERS. BUFFY/ANGEL (I just consider the two one show) is my favorite series of all time. I’ve read this entire thread tonight and now I want to rewatched BUFFY and I want Mouth’s thoughts on THE BECOMING already!

  187. I’m working on it, bud. I guess I’m just so devastated by Angel’s season finale devastation that I can’t help but be truant from full time write-ups lately. I did enjoy that sword fight, though, especially when Buffy catches the blade between her hands.

    More coming, I promise. Thanks for reading. You give my online life purpose.

  188. Alright, THE BECOMING is fired up. Live blogging commences.

    Early thoughts:

    I love:

    1. The hook of the plot of this thing is based on the data contained in a 3.5″ floppy (hard) disk, the same storage device I used to load the old awesome Terminal Velocity and Mortal Kombat 3 video games on my old computer. Good times.

    2. Callback to Angel’s hardcore, uberviolent, JCVDesque killer uppercut on Miss Calendar.

    3. We’re in the 18th century now? Noice.

  189. Buffy 2.21 & 22 “The Becoming”

    It’s the titalicious blonde from Dexter, RAMBO, PUNISHER: WAR ZONE, and of course the earliest episodes of Buffy the Vampire —- never let it be said that Joss Whedon doesn’t reward his o.g. acting crew/cast.

    She plays (with more than a hint of the show’s one-offish finality) off Angel’s rogue Irish brogue quite nicely before, of course, biting him and offering up a bright bloodstream from her own heaving bosom, which he attacks with a hunger that wouldn’t be out of place in a 1983 Tony Scott (RIP, homey) film. Somehow this segues into Angel present day, smiling broodingly, evilly, & forebodingly as the sound bleeds into a 1999ish Sunnydale cemetery showdown twixt Sarah Michelle Gellar and some pale undeads.

    Have I mentioned what a phenomenal fucking television show this is? I couldn’t be more grateful to the internet nerds who insistently insisted I watch it.

  190. Buffy 2.21 & 22 “The Becoming”
    for real this time, no more copy&paste mistakes, here’s 1600 words on this important topic:

    Might be the first time that the dialogue has segued so purposefully seamlessly into the theme music.

    Angel says, “Yes, my love, it will.” and then the bass & percussion immediately pick it up on the same audio beat… I dunno, just seems like this is the episode, or duo-episode, where everything comes up Milhouse
    http://comingupmilhouse.com/
    , where the tv filmatists most certainly have a reach that extends their grasps, where Whedon & co. are clearly Striving For Excellence. Good swag.

    Buffy is absurdly hot, deep cut top and not wearing a bra, yet the darsh Sunnydale High principal is going to come to the lunch table and chastise the 2 gingers going ass-to-lap PDA style. I have to believe there is some thematic significance to Sunnydale’s older men’s inability not to be outraged or erectionized by super-hot Buffy at this point. It’s almost like an ongoing joke, the fact that she is somehow kinda desperate for a decent dude to give her some lovin’ and the fact that everyone (other than Xander in the early episodes) around her seems oblivious to her hotness.

    Ok, now we’re in 1860, and there’s a Drusilla sighting…

    It is important that this flashback, and that these characters, are set in England, not the US at this time in history, for obvious reasone s, since that would open up a whole different can-o-confederate-slavery-that-they-addressed-in-ABE LINCOLN:VAMPIRE HUNTER-worms.

    But anyway, this motherfucker Angel encounters Drusilla in the confession box RIGHT AFTER HE KILLS A MOTHERFUCKER IN SAID BOX. The sound editing on this mini-scene is priceless. This pre-dates BOONDOCK SAINTS by a couple years, and IN BRUGES by almost a decade, and Scott Adkins *IS* THE TOURNAMENT by roughly the same interval, and whatever the other Catholic confession stall movies you can name from recent memory.

    The thing is, I could drone on for 10s of pages of academic-ish gibberish regarding this scene between Dru & Angel. It’s… it’s that rich. I’ma give this portion of the episode the highest compliment I can give: I wish I had written this shit.

    At the 12 minute mark of the next to last episode of the 2nd season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a dialogue scene that could serve as the basis of a very lengthy Film Studies or Philosophy term paper. Angel is an evil being, literally pretending to be the voice & vicar of God, and doing a fine job of it, too. Dru is in the innocent stage of her earthly, humanly, womanly, girly confusion, mistakenly trusting & confessing to her fraudulent god surrogate. There is the symbolism & literalness of the screen between them. There is the futile emptiness of Angel’s absolution prescription. There is Dru’s contrition, juxtaposed with Angel’s slightly eager participation in this role-playing and mirrored by the quick cut to 1999 Dru’s smirky face, which resembles the quick cut to Angel’s smirky face at the very beginning of this episode. Is this supposed to evoke more empathy for Dru? Or less empathy for Angel? More understanding of vamp-kind? Or more of an idea of the challenge ahead of Buffy?

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these visual clues & flashbacks are a David Foster Wallace-ian compendium.

    An insanely grasping, pregnant scene that means everything to season 2 of Buffy & beyond.

    -Also Spike calls Angel a “ninny,” which is a great insult.

    -That damn Kendra. Coming thru in the clutch, wielding blades, telling the world that the best solution to Spike & Dru’s plan to send the world to Hell is to fight & stab him with a motherfucking sword. I’m for it.

    -More flashbacks, more backstory that adds much to several characters. We see Angel meet some demon street rat that surely is meant to resemble Dustin Hoffman’s character in Oscar Best Picture MIDNIGHT COWBOY.

    -“Right now you couldn’t go 3 rounds with a fruit fly.” A Jay-Z-esque line, but way before THE BLACK ALBUM.

    -35:28 mark is some classic Drusilla freak out subdued mega-acting action.

    -36:20 one of the weirdest scenes in the history of tv, an ominous demonic self-immolation.
    Like, seriously, this is some Clive Barker shit. Wow.

    -In the ensuing 2 minutes, we get some of the coolest dialogue ever – Kendra gives Buffy a special stake, which she calls “Mr. Pointy,” a la Homer calling the chief resident monorail possum “Bitey” in “MARGE VS. THE MONORAIL.”
    Then Buffy meets Angel in a graveyard, with a subtly perfect musical cue. He starts, “Hello, lover. I wasn’t sure you’d come.”
    Buffy responds, “After your immolation-o-gram? C’mon I had to show. Shouldn’t you be out destroying the world right now?” and so on.
    Banter ensues, and then she explicitly says, “This is a beautiful moment we’re having, can we please fight?”
    He banters back, then says, “Alright, we’ll fight.”

    It’s as simple and perfect as that.

    But of course this is Whedon, thus we have cross-cutting back to the other setting, the parallel action that you didn’t see coming. And sure enough Buffy, like the audience, has been fooled. It’s a trap, and that awesome mano vamp-a-chica slayer fight we see is bedeviled by something more human & dangerous back in the library, where Willow, Kendra, Xander, Giles, and my girl Cordelia are ambushed by baddies. As Angel says, when he realizes that Buffy doesn’t really want to end him, channeling the essence of the end of Zack Snyder’s SUCKER PUNCH, “This wasn’t about you; this was never about you… And you fall for it every single time!”

    -My girl Drusilla uses her fingertips and the power of mesmerism to end Kendra.
    Always sad when we’re confronted with hot girl on hot girl murder.

    -Side note: the fighting & violence here is well-filmed. We actually see stakes going inside human/vampire bodies, punches & roundhouse kicks landing. Kinda remarkable for a 1990s tv show, better than most contemporaneous dtv.

    -“The last time I tortured somebody, we didn’t even have chainsaws.”
    “I really want to torture you.”
    Angelus be evil, yo.

    -Now Spike is trying to team up with Buffy, as they support a common cause. Hella strain on their hatred for one another, and their mutual goal doesn’t stop them from punching each other and talking shit to each other’s faces. The important thing is, they both want to avoid/immobilize the cops, and that’s a notion we can all support at this point.

    -The line this show was made for: “Mom, I’m a vampire slayer.”

    Great scene in the living room. Ms. Summers & Spike chilling, silent while Buffy’s in the other room making a phone call, Spike vacantly checking out the décor like a dude who’s waiting on his high school date to finish her makeup upstairs, hoping the ‘rents don’t make it too weird for him before he can disappear with their hot daughter. This is the funniest thing I’ve seen on television in a long goddamn time.

    Mom: “Have we met?”
    Spike: “Uh, you hit me with an ax one time. Remember, ‘Get the hell away from my daughter.’”
    Mom: “Oh. {nods understandingly} . . . So, uh, do you live here in town?”

    -Joyce Sommers, Buffy’s mom, is a horrible character. Fuck her. Parents just don’t understand.

    Cordelia is a great character, more concerned with Willow’s hair than with her well-being while she lay severely injured in the hospital. She’s trite, but she’s there in all the most serious situations. Also, she can sure wear a top, hubbahubba.

    -Buffy gets to unsheathe a large sword and tell Principal Snyder, “You never got a single date in high school, did you?” All sorts of awesome anti-erotic, post-teen angst in this exchange.

    -Now we cut to Drusilla interrogating Giles. She favors, again, the mesmerism method, as opposed to Angelus’s proposal to escalate to the motherfucking chainsaw. Her massacre is more mental, more effective. And the gorgeous Ms. Calendar makes another appearance, as an airy figment. A lot of tortured layers to this torture sequence, especially for a pre-OIF/Abu Ghraib tv show.

    -VIOLENT CLIMAX TIME!
    We got double-crosses, we got surprises, we got Buffy doing that breakdance kung fu move to twirl her legs on her way up from the ground, we got the Bruce Lee quick-kicks, we got Drusilla attacking and then getting punched the fuck out by Spike, we got Xander coming out the woodwork to fulfill this fantasy:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-just-wants-to-throw-one-good-punch-in-his,2177/

    and most importantly we got Angelus getting fantastical with the sword and showing down with Buffy. “You’re going to Hell.”
    “Save me a seat.”

    To paraphrase the only great part of BOONDOCK SAINTS:
    And there was a sword fight!
    There is an awesome dramatic shot where Angel is about to impale Buffy, and she catches the blade twixt her hands. BLADE style!

    This sword fight might not quite measure up to the standards of Outlaw Community’s Sabreman (wherever he is now), and there are overhead shots of obvious body doubles, a la FACE/OFF, but it’s some good shit.

    Anyway, Buffy saves the world, kills Angel just after he gets his soul returned via Willow’s Latin jibber-jabber, proclaims his love, the apocalyptic demon thingy dissipates harmlessly, to be continued, etc..

  191. Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site
    is great, let alone the content!

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