Category: buffy the vampire slayer

Help Save Angel: Somebody Convince Me to Keep Watching

Angel: Seasons 1-5 (Collectors Set)Dear Angel,

First off, I wanted to say how I think you’re totally cool and all. Really noble, in a pained sort of never-know-when-you’ll-turn-evil sort of way. So go you! But that said, I’m sorry. Things just aren’t working out with us. I’ve given you 29 episodes, and I know you have like 80 more to offer me, but I don’t know if I want to keep watching you.

What’s the matter? You’re just too darned broody. Nothing but mope mope mope, all day long. At least in Season One, you had Cordelia to inject a bit of light and fun into things, but now you’ve gone and given her a plot arc that made her grow up and mature, and . . . she’s becoming boring, too. And don’t get me started on your buddy Wesley. I didn’t like him in Buffy, and you dragged him back for your own series. Snoozeville.

Last night, I found myself watching the episode all about Darla’s history, and I kept wondering what else I could be watching. Maybe we should just call it quits. If you don’t have anything other than doom and gloom to offer, then you go your way and I’ll go mine. But if you get better–more interesting, less self-absorbed–than could you please let me know? And if you can’t let me know personally, then if one of your friends could leave a comment telling me why I shouldn’t give up on you, that would work, too.

Because I want to like you. But you’re making it hard on me.



Angel Season One (and Don’t Forget March Madness!)

Angel - Season OneDenisa and I have been going back in Buffy time to watch Angel now, and we just finished Season One. In retrospect, it was a mistake of us to watch Buffy by itself and ignore Angel until after we were finished. I’m still enjoying the show, but I think I would have liked it even more if I were watching it concurrently. The shows weave together so closely, with characters bouncing back from one to the next, that I just think it makes more sense. Of course, doing it that way would be a bit more work–especially if you’re trying to stream it on Netflix or watch it on disc. It makes me wonder if it wouldn’t be worth it for them to release a Buffy and Angel Complete Series set, with all of them intertwined. That would be pretty cool.

So what do I like? I missed Cordelia when she left Buffy, and it’s nice to see her back at it. Also nice to see some character growth. I like how the show keeps you on your toes. You never know who’s going to die–or come back to life–next. (Of course, in a world where pretty much anyone can come back from the grave, it sometimes diminishes the tension. There seems to be a way to save just about anybody in this show, if the characters just put their mind to it.)

The humor’s pretty good, and it gets stronger as the season progresses. The characters are good, the bad guys entertaining. The writing is fun. It’s a good series.

Things not to like? Angel is his broody old self. I wasn’t that sad to see him leave in Buffy. Sad for Buffy, but not sad that he was gone. Spike’s just a lot more fun to be around than Angel. Even the theme music to this series is dark and brooding. I just wish the guy would lighten up once in a while and stop moping so much. But hey–he’s been doing that for hundreds of years, why change now?

I also would have liked a bit of a better overarching plot. There wasn’t much to tie the season together as a whole like there was in Buffy, but this is more of a quibble.

Anyway. Fun show, and we’ve already started Season Two. Thumbs up from both of us.

And if you missed it yesterday, don’t forget to check out my blog’s March Madness pool! Fabulous prizes! (sort of)

Buffy Season Seven

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Seventh Season (Slim Set)Concluding my run of Buffy reviews, it’s finally time to get around to season seven. Denisa and I finished this a few weeks ago, actually, but my comments on it had to go on the back burner as I had other things (book deals, agents, etc.) to blog about. We’re in a lull in that news right now, so I can return to Ms. Summers and the series finale. What did I think?

Season six was better.

But that’s okay. This wasn’t a bad season by any means. There were things I liked quite a bit–Spike’s character arc, Buffy’s progression. It was still fun stuff and interesting to see it all play out, but my biggest complaint is that it got a tad too soap opera-ish for me. (Some spoilers ahead)

There’s only so long that a show like this can run before it starts reusing plot lines one time too many. All the Slayers showing up? Got kind of annoying. Mutiny against Buffy? Lameville. There were episodes where it felt like they were spinning their wheels again, drawing out the series to fill their quota of episodes, and that’s never a good thing. Even worse, there were times when the characters seemed forced into actions that served the plot first, rather than their character. Xander and Willow turning on Buffy, for example. It makes 0 sense that after all those three have been through, they let the Slayerettes come between them. That was stupid and irritating. It was also irritating to see how arbitrary some of the damage was. Xander getting his eye gouged out? If the Big Bad had time to sit there and gouge out an eyeball at leisure, he had time to kill the kid. Why didn’t he? It bugs me when one of the main reasons the bad guys don’t kill everyone when they have a chance is that “they’re just toying with them,” and that was used too often in the Buffyverse. She’d killed how many ginormous evil things, and yet more evil things continued to decide to toy with her?

Talk about stupid evil things.

In any case, we still enjoyed it, and I’m very pleased I finally stuck with the show long enough to get hooked. It turns out that a slew of my friends, tons of fans and scholars were right, after all. Buffy’s a good show.

Thanks for the recommendation, all. 🙂 And a very special thanks to Raisinfish, who gave me the final shove necessary to start watching. It was appreciated.

Buffy Time: Review of Season Six

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Sixth Season (Slim Set)I know, it’s been forever since I wrote a good Buffy review, and I’m sure you’re all in withdrawal. One of the reasons for the hiatus is that I’ve been otherwise occupied. Denisa and I have just been too busy to have time for Buffy. But we’ve returned to our current favorite hobby: staying up too late devouring pop culture. And what a fun hobby it is.

Season Six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has to be my personal favorite so far. The character arcs for all of the characters were really well done and mostly believable. The great thing about sticking with a show this long–a show that actually knows what it’s doing–is that the payoffs just keep getting better. You know the characters, and you know their histories. Because of that, the actions of the characters mean a whole lot more. If someone betrays a friend, you understand just how harsh a betrayal that is. That’s what really appealed to me about the later seasons of Lost, and it’s what made this last season have such oomph for me.

Favorite (spoiler-free) parts?

Spike’s arc was really well handled. As a character, he’s been one of my favorites from the very beginning, and it’s always entertaining to see where he ends up next.

The Trio as bad guys–consistently funny. I loved the endless stream of pop culture references. A lot of the time in my writing, I hold back on pop culture (despite how many people see nothing but pop culture in the end result). With the Trio, the writers held nothing back. Those guys are immersed in pop culture. The references were quick and as obscure as possible. Good times.

Anya–I really like her character and the set up of it. I enjoy her performances and was involved in her story every time it took

The core three–Buffy, Willow and Xander all had nice developments in this season. This isn’t some static soap opera, where the same issues are dealt with week after week after endless week. Where in earlier seasons I had criticized the pacing at times–how it seemed some plot arcs took forever to develop and come to a resolution (Buffy and Angel, anyone?), in this season, everything seemed well placed. The writers never dwelt on a topic for too long, and they never ignored an issue for too long, either.

It all adds up to a great season. Not sure if it would be the same if I had started with this one, but that’s okay. A show like this depends on faithful viewers. Buffy is worth the time investment, no doubt about it.

In Which I Detail My Gripes About Buffy

The Long Way Home (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Vol. 1)Okay. So I’ve had the “I’m a Buffy Fan” post, and let me say right up front that I’m still a fan. Denisa and I continue to watch two or three episodes a night (sometimes more, if we’re particularly in the mood for ice cream), so how could I call myself anything but a fan at this point?


The show has a few issues that really rub me the wrong way. Some of this is, no doubt, a matter of enlarged expectations. I’ve been hearing how wonderful the show is for so long, from so many people, that in some ways it sort of reflects the experience I had watching Citizen Kane, where the expectations were so high, I don’t believe any movie could have lived up to them. What are my gripes, you ask?

Read on. (Some spoilers, but I’m assuming by now, spoilers are fair territory in a series that’s been over for years.)

The biggest complaint I have is that the show is clueless about how to start a season (at least for the first three seasons that I’ve watched). I’ve said I like the characters a lot, and I do. (I must–otherwise some of them wouldn’t be able to annoy me as much as they do. I’m looking at you, Xander. Or you, Buffy’s mom–who I really hate to see arrive in an episode, because she brings a giant bucket of stupid with her wherever she goes.) However, a big draw for me is also the fun the show has. I’m okay having some of the character delving into big Emotional Problems, but when they have everyone being mopey and stupid . . . it gets tiresome. In all three of the beginning so far, the writers get bogged down in conflicts that don’t really go anywhere. I’m willing to forgive the first season, where the show seemed to still be finding its legs. The second season starts off with everyone moping about Buffy having been gone, and it’s just far too much of a downer. It only picks up with the death of that stupid child vamp and the arrival of Spike. (Thank goodness!) The third season recycles the “everyone moping about Buffy having been gone” plot from the second season, except this time it has everyone resent her when she finally comes back.

Let me get this straight: Buffy and Angel fall in love, but they unwittingly complete what’s gotta be the Lamest Curse Evar (I mean come on–he’s cursed by regaining his humanity, only to lose it and turn back into super evil Vampire if he’s ever 100% happy? Sure, Gypsies–let the guy you supposedly hate so much come back to life to terrorize people a hundred years later. Genius.) And Angel goes on his killing spree, and everyone blames . . . human Angel and Buffy, instead of the idiots who came up with the stupid curse in the first place. It would have been different had Angel and Buffy known what they were risking. They didn’t. But still, so much of the beginning of Season Three is devoted to people whining that Buffy abandoned them, then whining that she misses Angel.

Less whining. More slaying.

My second complaint is that overarching plots continue to advance at a glacial pace. Buffy pining for Angel. Xander and Willow. Cordelia doing stupid things. Sometimes these characters seem trapped into doing the same mindless thing for episodes at a stretch, waiting for the time when their plot can finally advance and they can grow. Which leads me to my third and final complaint–the characters seem to be at the mercy of the plot far too often. Too many times, they seem to be behaving a certain way because the writers needed them to behave that way for the episode to make sense. (The brain-dead Gypsy cursers being a prime example of this). If you can see the plot churning, it ruins the effect.

But like I said–I still enjoy the show. There are single episodes that are just brilliant. Band Candy was great, as was Lovers Walk. It’s the brilliance that makes the boneheadedness worse by comparison.

Am I off base here, or am I just finally arriving to the party, expressing thoughts everyone else hashed over years ago?

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