Thursday, April 30, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 3

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and season 1 of Angel...


B4-3: The Light Of Day

Synopsis: As Buffy begins a new relationship, Spike returns to Sunnydale in search of a fabled ring which allows vampires to walk unharmed in the light of day. (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 10/19/99)

A great theme for this episode that works on many levels. First, there is the parallels in relationships: Buffy with new college guy Parker Abrams, Xander with the returning Anya, and returning Spike with now vampire Harmony. Buffy falls for this guy and sleeps with him, only to find out a day or so later that it didn't mean as much to him as it did to her (in fact, he even uses the same line on another girl). For him it was just "fun". Anya can't seem to get Xander out of her head and thinks having sex with him will do that. Jokes on her - it doesn't, and she seems even more in love with him afterwards. Harmony finds it boring to be a vampire except for being in love with Spike, but to him it is just a side note. He really wants a ring that will allow him to walk in the light of day. When he gets that, he's done with her. The "light of day" shows the true nature of all three couplings, leaving all three girls lonely and confused. There is a great fight between Buffy and Spike when he has the ring - but she manages to get it from him. And, in a moment of brilliance, knows what needs to be done with the ring rather than it being destroyed (see Angel episode 3...). The whole episode holds together very well and points out the complexity of young love and the emotions of giving yourself to someone who may not feel the same way in return. That's something viewers can relate to if they've had similar experiences in their past. Parker gives a very telling line - "huge events are about regular people making choices"; he is referring to what he finds fascinating by studying history but the same can apply even to when couples come together and fall apart.

A1-3: In The Dark

Synopsis: Oz arrives in L.A. with a ring from Buffy which must be kept from Spike at all costs - and which would allow Angel to walk in the light of day. (written by Douglas Petrie, airdate 10/19/99)

Nothing like a few guests from Sunnydale to make a winning episode! First, loved Spike's rooftop narrative - I was cracking up with his commentary. Then, here comes Oz bearing gifts. If Cordelia wasn't already excited about printing an invoice, here she can get news from home - delivered in Oz's typical short, concise manner. When Oz explains why he is here, Doyle seems more excited about the ring than Angel. Ah, but Angel knows what it represents as well as what Spike will do to get it. The two have an awesome fight, but Angel isn't giving up the hiding place. When Spike finds out that Cordelia is also living in LA (love how cordial he is with her - bet he learned tons about her from his last skank-squeeze Harmony), Doyle needs to take her into hiding. Here we learn a few more things - like Doyle may appear to have some debt issues (gambling?) as well as how much Cordelia was paying attention in Sunnydale. Spike, meanwhile, has an ally in Marcus, the vampire who loves torture, and Angel learns first hand how deadly this guy can be. When the physical doesn't work, leave it to Spike to try psychological torture by bring up Buffy and Parker's trist. That bastard! That is why we love to hate and hate to love Spike. He is so awesome! Speaking of awesome, nice to see Cordelia wielding a crossbow. Interesting too that Doyle, in demon form, can appear to smell items of magic. Nice skill. The dynamic sidekicks offer a trade but, of course, Spike goes against the deal. Good thing they have a back up plan - Oz to the rescue! They escape but so does Marcus with the ring, leaving one pissed off Spike. Loved his rant about going solo until his head starts afire. Must have been his impersonation of Michael Jackson in that Pepsi commercial. LOL. Even hurt, Angel knows he must do the right thing - stop sicko Marcus before he snacks on some kids in the light of day. Convenient that under the boardwalk is shadowed so the two can have a fight to the death. Smart of Angel to pull that stake-and-take, dusting one nasty bad guy who could have made for another interesting tale or two. Angel enjoys one day with the ring (Oz is right - he is very pale - but then again Oz looked pale too) only to do what is right - destroy it. He speech about being the only one to protect those from the nasties of the night is a good one, and that cements the premise of this series. I'm definitely getting more on board as every episode goes by.

Monday, April 27, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 2

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and season 1 of Angel...


B4-2: Living Conditions

Synopsis: A series of nightmares involving a soul-sucking demon leave Buffy convinced that the best way to deal with her overly perky college roommate is to simply kill her. (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 10/12/99)

After a rocky start, for me, this season kicks in nicely with something everyone of us who went to college can relate to: living with a roommate for the first time. Ah, I remember that fondly - freshmen year. My roommate Steve (God rest his soul) and I had some stuff in common but also some differences too. We did the whole window-open-window-shut routine. He liked to listen to music to study while I was more of the quiet study person. He liked to hang out at the room while I came and went at all hours on the weekend. So, this episode really capture a lot of that for me again - I smiled a lot at some of the same things. Okay, he didn't listen to Cher over and over while ironing - it was more Quiet Riot while ironing. And I wasn't going on patrol and having to keep it a secret. Nor did we do the clothes borrowing thing like Cathy did with Buffy (guys don't borrow each other's clothes - that's an unspoken rule). Buffy certainly was acting more and more protective about stuff - clothes, friends, potential boy friends - but we soon learn the reason why. There is more to Kathy than meets the eye, and Buffy's instincts, as misguided and over the top as they were, were right. Loved when the guys got the drop on her to keep her from doing something rash - only for Oz and Xander to get knocked out a bit when Buffy broke free. In the end, the demon is dragged back home by "Dad", and Buffy and Willow end up as roommates - something that will certainly make things a bit easier for all (or will it?). Wonderful episode and my favorite of the season, so far.

A1-2: Lonely Heart

Synopsis: Another of Doyle's visions leads the newly formed Angel Investigations to a trendy bar where they face off against a worm-like demon who eviscerates its victims. (written by David Fury, airdate 10/12/99)

Okay, so series premieres can vary so maybe the second episode would be better. Yes, it was a bit better. I think I realized what it is though that has me "off" - the tone of this show is different, more somber, more "mature". It doesn't have the playful humor mix in it that Buffy episodes have. Here we have Doyle and his non-specific visions. We have him fancying Cordelia but not really knowing where to go because he's half-demon. We have Cordelia living in poverty - something like a harsh reality there. And we have a brooding, lonely Angel. This whole episode gives a look at the bar scene in the big city - lonely people bumping in the night trying to make a connection. It was all sort of slow. It isn't until we find out that one of these lonely hearts is a worm-like demon looking for the perfect body and that we find out that the woman Angel first talks up in the bar is in fact a cop. Clearly Kate is going to be a re-occurring character as the vigilante hero needs the police connection, even if she doesn't learn the truth about the perp (i.e. that it was a demon) or that Angel is in fact a vampire. That'll come down the road I am sure.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 1

I'll be doing something a bit different now - going back and forth on Buffy season 4 and Angel season 1, watching them as they aired. This way I can experience things as they had been broadcast. As always....

**** SPOILERS ****

B4-1: the Freshman

Synopsis: Buffy's initial trouble adjusting to college life is soon overcome when she discovers the only difference between high school and college is that the mosters are bigger and badder. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 10/5/99)

I remember the excitement and trepdiation of starting college - going from a small pond to a bigger one. For those not ready, it can be a little of adjustment. This episode tried to capture that feel. There is the contrast of Willow who is prepared and ready and of Buffy who seems to be lost. Add that Willow has Oz while Buffy has lost Angel just emphasizes some of the alone feelings Buffy has. I get all that - I just felt it dragged out. Not even new roommate who snores and worships Celene Dion could help the situation. Buffy finds everyone has adjusted, even Giles who has a female guest and Joyce who is using Buffy's room for storage. It isn't until Buffy encounters Xander at the Bronze does the energy get its feel right. Xander, the energy source - who'd a thunk it? :) It takes his pep-talk and "let's do it" attitude to kick Buffy out of her funk, to find out what happened to Eddie and where the campus-vamps are hanging out. Then it started to feel like the old Buffy again. Big mystery: just who are those guys with the stun guns and camo that took down the vamp at the end? I think we may have the foundation of the season's overall arc. In conclusion: this season opener was like the season 3 opener for me - just so-so and out of the groove a bit.

A1-1: City Of

Synopsis: Newly arrived in Los Angeles, Angel is befriended by a half-demon named Doyle whose visions lead him to a powerful vampire whose next victim just may be Cordelia Chase. (written by David Greenwalt & Joss Whedon, airdate 10/5/99)

For me, this series debut episode was also just so-so. I liked how we started with Angel drowning his sorrows in a bar, harking back to his pre-vampire drinking days of old. He rescues a couple women from some vampires but then has to retreat home before sunrise. His digs are cool - office above and dwelling in the basement. It is a nice set. There he finds Doyle who plays "this is your life" and then tells Angel that his visions will help the vampire on the road to redemption. I wasn't sure where the Tina stuff was going until it led to the Hollywood party where Angel runs into Cordelia. For me, the energy ramped up from this point (funny - Xander's arrival on Buffy and now Cordy here kicked in the shows for me). Charisma just adds a dimension needed to this dark, brooding show. Cordy puts on a good front but truth is she's living in squaller and struggling. I loved her attempts at positive affirmation - remember when that was in vogue? Even she doesn't buy it. That makes her a perfect mark for vampire Russell Winters who goes after Cordy after killing Tina. I love that it takes her a while to realize the truth - she's smart, she just needs to not focus on herself so much to see the truth sooner. Luckily, Angel comes to her rescue as he seeks vengeance on Russell. The vengeance has to wait another day - but boldly he storms into Russell's office and makes him "see the light" (a nice visual of the falling and flaming out LA mover-and-shaker). Of course, the true villains of the season are going to be the law firm of Wolfram and Hart. They should prove to be interesting rivals.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Comics of the Week (4/22/09)

Last month we got Power Girl previews in all issues. This month it is previews for the Last Days of Animal Man. It just seems like every issue is shorter by five pages. This might be one I have to look into.

Batman: the Brave and the Bold #4 - love the two-page team-up with Sugar and Spike. Don't get to see them that often any more - fun. The main story is a team-up with Aquaman that ties into Earth Day, which happened to fall this past week. Nice. It was a cute story - a good message for young readers.

Justice League of America #32 - the League fosters on even after Black Canary disbands it, using the headquarters and striking out on their own. Dr. Light thinks she and Firestorm can handle interrogating the Shadow Thief only to find they are in way over their heads, as Starbreaker comes a calling. Can this reduced line up face him down? We'll see.

REBELS #3 - Vril Dox once again uses manipulation to coerce others into his plan. The new Wildstar is born, a hybrid of two LSH heroes we debuted in the 70's. A nice twist. We also get the return of Strata and the Omega Men fighting. So far, so good with this series.

Trinity #46 and #47 - two weeks worth (to catch up from my vacation) and the story moved along well. The Trinity battles the villains and gets some unexpected help across the board. Then, Alfred receives a surprise message from another unexpected ally which he needs to relay to Batman in order for the heroes to triumph over Krona and his cronies. The mini is racing to its conclusion nicely.

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episodes 21 and 22

Concluding my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episodes 21 and 22: Graduation Day (parts 1 and 2)

Synopsis: To distract Buffy and keep her from interfering with the Mayor's Ascension, Faith shoots Angel with an arrow whose poison can only be cured by the blood of a Slayer. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 5/18/99)

Synopsis: Buffy, her friends and all the students of Sunnydale High prepare to face off aganst the Mayor and his hoard of vampires in a seemingly hopeless battle to save their town. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 7/13/99)

First, I am so glad I could watch these two back to back and not have to wait two months in-between as viewers did back in 1999. Talk about cliffhanger.

Part 1: Love maroon robes - my graduation cap and gown in high school was maroon. Sunnydale rocks the right colors! Xander is right - it does make one look more noble. Loved the yearbook exercise where you get folks to sign it, even those you've hated for for years. Something about that finality of school that brings out the goodwill in everyone. Except, maybe, Faith. She keeps doing killing errands for the Mayor by offing Professor Worth and, in her own words, she never even thought to ask why. Just shows how much of a killing machine and puppet she has become. I liked the bit with the teacher using the last day of school to keep the kids busy by playing "Hangman". We've all been there. So true so true. Anya hitting on Xander was a nice growth for that character, and having her know about Ascensions was even more interesting. Of course, the Mayor has to break up the party. A good father vs. father bit there with him and Giles. Some great moments then follow: Buffy and her mom (she wants to save Joyce by having her leave town), Oz and Willow using a time of crisis to become closer (very closer!), Buffy with Angel as she goes all "chick" on him again (thanks, Mike, for giving that a nice term) - she doesn't want him to just leave but she doesn't want him to stay (make up the mind, Buffy), then Anya expressing her feelings to Xander but he won't run away because his friends need him (go Xander!). Two good confrontations: Buffy and Giles taking a stand against Wesley and the Council (our little girl has grown up and won't take orders any more) and then the much needed Buffy vs. Faith fight. So fitting that Buffy takes Faith out with her own knife - but then loses the body so she can't get Faith's blood to heal Angel. be continued...

Part 2: Opens with showing us how shaken the Mayor is about Faith. There's that human weakness that'll be his undoing later. Cordelia makes an ironic statement about Buffy always thinking about herself when, in fact, Cordy is talking about her own selfish wants for Wesley to stick around. Way to go deep, Cordy! A nice and powerful scene with Angel refusing to take Buffy's blood to save himself and her forcing him into a feral rage to take it. Talk about ultimate lover's sacrifice. He lives, and then he rushes to make sure she will too. Of course, in the next room in the hospital is a comatose Faith - allowing us to have an Angel/Mayor confrontation. Nicely done. Both sides plan for the big battle with some good character moments. Buffy makes Xander and Angel work together. Cordelia and Wesley learn there is no fire to follow the sparks. Willow and Oz find time for one more romp, just in case their world ends tomorrow. Finally, graduation day - and the Mayor delivers the address. Of course, he'd rather go on about Sunnydale's centennial and "change" and "ascension". When the eclipse comes, the time for speeches is over. He morphs and Buffy gives the single battle cry "Now!". You can feel that moment where all the students come together despite any differences or cliques to band together and save the town from this monster. Awesome, awesome battle. Snyder gets snacked upon (couldn't happen to a nicer guy - that's what he gets about telling kids to spit out their gum or nagging about a gesture!). Buffy, of course, goes for the psychological versus the Mayor by reminding him that she killed Faith with her own knife. Calling him "dick" was just a nice added measure. He wants to snack on her and blindly falls right into the trap in the heart of the library - BABOOOOOOOM! In the end, the monster is destroyed as is the school, Giles gets a moment to be the proud "father" to Buffy, and Buffy and Angel has that silent goodbye with a large distance between them. Oz's comments in the end are so fitting. "We survived." No, not the battle - high school. The perfect metaphor for graduation, a marking point of survival.

Well done, Joss, well done.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episodes 19 and 20

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 19: Choices

Synopsis: The Mayor imprisons Willow after Buffy and Angel steal a box containing demonic energy, which the Mayor needs for his Ascension Day. (written by David Fury, airdate 5/4/99)

This episode does two things very well. First, it ups the ante on the Mayor's Ascension plot with he and Faith at their most diabolical to date. In twisted Daddy mode, he gifts his dark slayer with a knife which she uses well to procure an item coming to town. The Scoobies get wind and decide to go on the offensive, which was a great thing to see them doing - being pro-active. It almost works too, except for that fault winch and Willow getting left behind. As the group debates the merits of a trade (Wesley is such a pain in the ass - luckily Oz quietly ends the debate by breaking the cauldron, thus forcing the trade), Willow goes on the offensive too - moving from damsel in distress to full-blown ally. Not only can she do spells to break barriers, she can stand up to Faith and deal the psychological damage (now if she could just take a punch). And in the end, she comes through one step further by providing actual pages from the Books of Ascension. Go Willow! You rock! But the Mayor does get in one bit of wicked psycological damage himself - by pointing out to Angel and Buffy how wrong they are for one another. When Snyder busts in with the police and some of nasties get out of the box, it again shows what evil we are dealing with. "Raise your hand if you're invulnerable" indeed. None of them could handle the box creatures. Even Faith has a brief pause of doubt before she leaves with the Mayor. I think she's having second thoughts.

Episode 20: the Prom

Synopsis: Buffy battles three fearsome hell-hounds that another classmate has programmed to attack students during the Sunnydale High's senior prom. (written by Marti Noxn, airdate 5/11/99)

Marti once again ups the relationship emotions in this episode. The writing is brilliant, second only to Joss. We get the talk between Angel and Joyce, the shocking dream for Angel, the break-up, the broken hearted girl, the dedication then of Buffy to ensure everyone else has a good prom AND Xander comes through for Cordelia when he learns of her recent downturn (go Xander! That's the man-way - do the good deed and let it go unsaid!). Heck, Xander even bit the bullet and took Anya to the prom. He deserves a medal. But in the end, after beating back the hell-hounds and donning her gown, it is Buffy who gets the award from the class with such a moving speech. I'll admit, I was getting a little teary there. Damn pollen allergies. ;) A fantastic episode that combines the teen drama, typical high school moments, and slayage to boot. Last note: Angel tells Buffy he has decided to leave after they stop the Mayor's Ascension. In the context of the story, it makes sense because the two would have a tough time making the relationship work and it is too hard for them to be "just friends". And, of course, we all know he has to leave so he can do the spin-off show. Nice how that all worked together. ;)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episode 18

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 18: Earshot

Synopsis: After slaying a telepathic demon, Buffy is bombarded with the thoughts of everyone around her - including one student who appears to be planning mass murder. (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 9/21/99 - aired during season 4 because Columbine happened just days before the episode was supposed to air in April of 1999 - ten years ago this week)

This one is a filler-episode with little major connection to the season long arc. Still, it isn't a bad one. It deals with something everyone has thought of wanting at one time or another - the ability to read the thoughts of those around them. But what it helps illustrate is two things: first, be careful what you wish for and, two, every teenager had thoughts of inferiority and uncertainty. The episode did highlight a couple good things about the gang, though. First, vampires' thoughts cannot be read, much to Buffy's dismay. Next, we are shown extensions of the gang's personalities through their thoughts. Willow is shown to be worried about her place as Buffy's friend. Xander is shown to be a typical horn-dog male. Oz is shown to be an introspective thinker. Cordelia is shown to be the type of person who speaks her mind exactly (loved that!). Of course, we also get confirmation of the biggest secret of all - that Giles and Joyce did it, twice, on the hood of a car back in "Band Candy"! We also get to see Jonathon get a bigger part, as his actions help illustrate one of the themes from the episode - that for many high school has its sucky moments. And, finally, Xander gets to be the big hero - saving everyone from the real killer (go Xander!).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episodes 16 and 17

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 16: Doppelgangland

Synopsis: While casting a magic spell to help Anya regain her powers, Willow and Anya inadvertently summon Willow's evil twin, a vampire, from an alternate universe. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 2/23/99)

Just as "the Zeppo" spotlighted Xander, this episode does so for Willow. And it rocked! Feeling down on herself as being "reliable", "dependable" and such, our Wiccan redhead decides to do some dark dabbling for that sneaky Anya who we first met in "the Wish". What happens? How about pulling alt-Willow from her world just before alt-Oz staked her and allowing her to roam free in the true Sunnydale? Wicked. Loved how Allyson played up both parts brilliantly - even when she has to do Willow doing alt-Willow to save everyone at the Bronze. Nice! And Cordelia gets a moment - to have a heart to heart with the woman who took her man, only she gets the wrong one. Luckily for her Wesley is there - and thus gets her back into the "saved damsel falling for her protector" mode. Poor confused Cordy. What is most telling is what our Willow does in the end - she stops Buffy from staking her alt-self and offers the evil one a chance at redemption. Does it work? That mouthed "oh $%#@" when she returns to her own world only to be staked tells the tale. Brilliant! Definitely a top 20 episode for me if not top 10. Thank you, Joss! This redeems the Christmas cheesey snow.

Episode 17: Enemies

Synopsis: With the help of the Books of Ascension, Faith and the Mayor plot to steal Angel's soul then get him to kill that other Slayer - Buffy. (written by Douglas Petrie, airdate 3/16/99)

True colors are revealed in this episode in a number of ways as Faith shows she is firmly on the dark side with the Mayor for the long haul. The fact that she'd try to steal Angel from Buffy and use him to kill her is low indeed. Sadly for her (and gladly for us), the gang turn the tables entirely on her and find out all they need to know about the Mayor's plans (or at least all Faith knew). Nice! I almost bought the the whole thing - kudos to Douglas Petrie for turning it on its ear with the whole betrayal angle. But, there always has to be some fallout and once again it is more strain on the Buffy-Angel relationship. They may always love one another but that doesn't mean they'll always be together. Angst, angst and more angst. Perfect for a teen drama. Loved it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episodes 14 and 15

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 14: Bad Girls

Synopsis: When Buffy's new Watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, arrives, Buffy takes off with Faith on a rebellious rampage that ends with the staking of the Deputy Mayor. (written by Douglas Petrie, airdate 2/9/99)

Talk about awkward exchange between Faith and Buffy at the start of this one. Faith is talking about sex with Xander (without revealing she has done it) - again, nice continuity nod. The introduction of the new Watcher for Buffy and Giles' contempt for it makes for a lot of fun this time around. Here they are so alike is so many ways, yet at the same time so different. I love Faith's response to it - "screw that!". Nice. Buffy takes a trip down the dark side as Faith shows her a way of doing the job and not caring - and it gets them both in a heap of trouble with the police as well as a weird cult. And, what up with Jabba-the-lard?!? Talk about one freaky demon! Too funny. Every time they were pouring water on him I kept thinking of someone basting a turkey, an ugly turkey! In the end, Faith kills an innocent which will have ramifications to be sure. And the Mayor now is invicible! Oh, that can't be good, not good at all. All just an item on his daily checklist though. That's one cool villain.

Episode 15: Consequences

Synopsis: As detectives investigate the death of Deputy Mayor Finch, Faith's continued denial of any wrongdoing convinces Angel he must help her see the error of her ways. (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 2/16/99)

Buffy's dream of Finch's death and Faith's cavalier approach weighs heavy on her mind. I like the drowning symbolism that ties back to Buffy's first "death" in season 1. The introduction of Wesley to Cordelia was a lot of fun, especially when Giles walks by and says "she's a student". So subtle, so funny. Faith is not above putting Buffy's head on the chopping block with hers, just showing how she thinks of her own survival first and foremost. The investigation of Finch by the Slayers reveals a lot to them, given how the Mayor is in cohoots with Mr. Trick. It also helps to illustrate clearly the difference between Buffy and Faith morally. Luckily Buffy can turn to Willow for confidence and guidance, but when she goes to Giles - damn if Faith hasn't sold her out to dry. Man, if you weren't hating Faith before that, you were now. I was! Then, bam, Giles tells Buffy that "Faith has many talents but lying is not one of them". No one can fake out Giles - no one! He's the man. Xander offers to talk to Faith, only for everyone to awkwardly figure out why he thinks he can. Poor Willow - my heart was breaking for her as she sat in her knowing silence and trying to show no emotion about it. And then, poor Xander, as Buffy points out Faith's use-them-and-lose-them stance about men. Then Xander's heart sunk to the floor. Ouch. Xander still tries to help, despite how he is feeling, and what happens? Damn if Faith doesn't go all psycho on him and nearly kills him. Luckily someone else is there to help, the last person Xander would want help from - Angel. Our resident vampire tries to help her by talking to her about things he can relate to, only to get caught off-guard by Wesley and his goons. But the new Watcher again shows his naive nature when Faith gets the drop on him to escape. In the end, Faith helps Buffy when she is about to be killed, but her actions afterwards - when she offers her services to the Mayor - just continues to show how conflicted she is.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Comics of the Week (4/08/09)

Booster Gold #19 - When the issue opens with Rip Hunter making sure Starfire's history remains as it should, you are already starting with some good stuff. I hope we see more New Teen Titans stuff in future issues. Some good character development with Booster's sister in this one. Booster talking with himself was a little crazy, but time travel allows for that kind of stuff.

Green Lantern #39 - Shifting the spectrum, we now get more about the Orange Lanterns who seem to represent greed and selfishness. Hal wrestles with the implications of the Blue Lanterns and the Guardians anger about that. Despite the lateness each month, this still remains a solid title with Johns and company expanding the mythos that has been around for almost 50 years.

Secret Six #8 - gotta love it when villains go out on a double-date, especially when some promise no killing! Gail delivered another solid issue. The "Ragdoll Dreams" bit seemed like filler and was a bit off the wall. I hope we don't see more of that anytime soon.

Solomon Grundy #2 (of 7) - for someone who grew up on the Challenge of the Super-Friends cartoons, the bringing together of Grundy with Bizarro anticipated fun times with DC's answer to "Dumb and Dumber". Instead, it was a pretty mindless slugfest. It was okay, just not great. After having Grundy pound it out against the Demon earlier in the issue, this seemed like more of the same. Couple this with Grundy/Cyllis coming to grips with his own grim death - it was just all and all pretty dark. I'm starting to think I should view this as a dark comedy of sorts.

Trinity #45 - the villains make one final attempt at the power, this time going to Krona. Betrayl ensues. Seven more issues to bring it all to a close.

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episode 13

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 13: the Zeppo

Synopsis: While the gang battles creatures from the Hellmouth, Xander has his own adventure when he encounters a group of reanimated corpses out to blow up the high school. (written by Dan Vebber, airdate 1/26/99)

Xander takes a much needed spotlight in this episode as he wrestles with his own identity, purpose in the group and self-confidence. I must say this was a very interesting episode - sort of having a feel of that 80's film "After Hours", the 1985black comedy about a man's trials and tribulations in NYC after hours which starred Griffen Dunne. Poor Xander - everyone thinks he'll just get in the way as the big nastiness is about to arise from the Hellmouth. He tries to impress chicks with a car and instead ends up in a heap of trouble. Of course, things are so crazy that no one has time for Xander and he can't get anyone to tell him he is needed so he can get out of the mess he's in. So what does he do? Get in harms way! In a big big way. This one had a lot of dark humor and craziness. In the end, not only does Xander get used (and abused) by a horny Faith but also ends up saving the day (sort of) without anyone being the wiser. And does he gloat about it to Cordelia in the end? Nope. He keeps it to himself. That speaks volumes for him. I love the fact that this was two episodes in a row that Xander made a Superman reference (last time types of Kryptonite, this time Jimmy Olsen).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episodes 11 and 12

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 11: Gingerbread

Synopsis: After Buffy's mother discovers two dead children marked with a symbol linked to the occult, she begins a campaign to rid Sunnydale of witches. (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 1/12/99)

First off, MOO? Bwahahaha! Nice acronym. I really enjoy that we get to see Amy again as well as seeing Willow's mother for the first time. Also, nice nod to the tension between Giles and Joyce - going back to "Band Candy". You so know that the two did it and are refusing to discuss that again, because of what it means for the two most important people in Buffy's life. I really like how it all ties in with the classic fairy tale as well as how mob mentality can get overboard without ever getting the full details of a situation. This episode really played well into that point. What sickened me was what was used to start the fire - those had to be Giles' books, right? I can't wait to see how that little detail plays out in future episodes - you know it has to.

Episode 12: Helpless

Synopsis: As Buffy's eighteenth birthday approaches, she loses her Slayer powers just as she must go up against a crazed vampire who has kidnapped her mother. (written by David Fury, airdate 1/19/99)

Wow - talk about a coming of age tale. The fact that the Council expects a Slayer to defeat a crazed menace without her powers AND expect her Watcher to set her up for it is just twisted. So hate them. Still, it shows a lot of character in both Buffy and Giles. For her, to be able to summon up the courage to save her mother even though she is at her most low is amazing. And for him, he shows that he is indeed the very surrogate father she has needed. Overall, this episode had an incredibly heavy tone to it - very much horror more so than most. The intensity of the events in the old abandoned hotel was very high indeed. I had no idea how it would end. I liked that. It really kept me on the edge of my seat. In the end, Buffy passes but Giles fails - and that is going to open up a whole can of new worms. In the meantime, Willow is still trying to restore Amy back to normal. Again, great continuity nod to the previous week's episode. Good job. I like that.

Friday, April 17, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episodes 9 and 10

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 9: The Wish

Synopsis: After Cordelia tells her new friend Anya that she wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, she suddenly finds herself in a reality where vampires control the town. (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 12/8/98)

Nice to see an episode that focus more on Cordelia as she wrestles with the break-up from Xander. Looking her most awesome, she tries to go back to her old group of friends but Harmony and company would rather ridicule her. You can feel the alienation she is going through, ostrosized from her old group and not wanting to associate with the Scoobies due to Xander and Willow. Willow, meanwhile, is trying to patch things up with Oz but it isn't going as quickly as she would like. Creepy Anya makes Cordelia's wish come true - and boy, is that one messed up "what if" change! Vampires run amok and the Master is alive. Alt-Xander and Alt-Willow allow the actors to play it evil style and Alt-Angel is a whimpering sap without Alt-Buffy around. Poor Cordelia - even here she's a victim, killed by those who would have been her friends. Alt-Giles manages to get Alt-Buffy, who is kind of more like Faith is in the normal reality, and she manages to kick some butt. But, in the end, everyone ends up dead - which says a lot. Buffy was needed to keep them all safe. Luckily Alt-Giles shows his nerve and saves the day, cancelling the wish and reverting things to normal with no one, except a confused Anya, the wiser. A solid episode. I'm a big fan of alternate reality episodes and this was a good one - well thought out and well acted by everyone.

Episode 10: Amends

Synopsis: As the Christmas holiday approaches, Angel is tormented by visions of his past victims, including Jenny Calendar, who want him to kill Buffy. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 12/15/98).

Joss' second episode for the season was much better than his first ("Anne"). This one deals with a lot of character moments as various folks make amends. Willow and Oz move towards being a couple once more, and Oz shows wonderful depth as he tells Willow he wants them both to need to be together rather than they do so because Willow thinks they should. Giles and Angel sort of make amends as shown how Giles is willing to help Buffy find a way to help the torment Angel is going through. Xander seems to be making some amends too toward Angel by also helping Buffy. Buffy and Faith seem to have gotten over the rough patch as they begin to spend Christmas eve together. Finally, Buffy helps Angel see that he isn't a monster and that, to be strong, means he needs to work at overcoming whatever internal torments abound and fight them. Nice to see "Jenny" again, even if she was a manifestation of Evil (capital E). Okay, the miraculous snow at the end was a little over the top - I get it is a symbolic thing but it just felt a little cheesey, even for a Christmas episode. A couple points off for that one, Joss.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episode 7 and 8

Continuing my review of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

*** SPOILERS ***

Episode 7: Revelations

Synopsis: With help from Faith's new Watcher, Buffy tries to destroy the legendary Glove of Myhnegon before it falls into the hands of the demon Lagos. (written by Douglas Petrie, airdate 11/17/98)

Any episode that starts with uncomfortable coupling and syncronized slaying is going to be a lot of fun. Add that to Faith's new Watcher, Gwendolyn Post, showing up before we even get to the credits and you know this one is going to do a lot. Interesting that Angel knows about Lagos and how to find the missing Glove. He really wants to help Buffy to further return into her life. Willow and Xander continue to wrestle with the attraction between them - luckily Giles is always with his nose stuck in a book to catch them. Faith goes it alone and gets her butt handed to her by Lagos. Xander goes it alone and discovers the secret that Buffy has been keeping. The gang intervention showed a lot of everyone's personalities - Oz staying laid back, Cordelia showing self-concern, Xander showing jealousy, Willow showing her good-natured helping and Giles showing his complete disappointment in Buffy's judgement. Xander realizes how to manipulate Faith to do the dirty work - to kill Angel, but everyone is caught off-guard by the other betrayal. Mrs. Post was definitely one of those untrustworthy souls. In the end, Buffy and Faith appear to have some trust issues of their own - which can't be good.

Episode 8: Lovers Walk

Synopsis: Spike returns to Sunnydale and kidnaps Willow so she can create a magic spell that will make Drusilla love him once more. (written by Dan Vebber, airdate 11/24/98)

I loved everyone's reactions to the SATs. Spike returns to Sunnydale exactly in the same manner as his debut in season 2 - running through the town sign with his car. But this time he is drunk, depressed and thus dangerous. Nice touch with Oz and the PEZ dispenser gift - perfect. Even cuter was Willow wanting to find a little Werewolf one so the Witch and he can date. No surprise: the Mayor knows Spike is back in town and wants something done about it. The line that he'd sell his soul if he hadn't already speaks volumes. This is a fun character this season. Back to Spike and his plan: kidnap Willow and make her create a spell to get Dru's love back. Not even heroic Xander can stand against this vampire scorned. Great scene with Spike and Joyce - funny he'd go talk to her of all people, but I guess he sees her motherly ways and needs that. Loved how Angel was stopped short at the door - that is until Buffy invites him back in, thus reversing the "keep out" spell from season 2. I loved that Oz could smell where Willow was - now that is love! The teaming of Spike, Buffy and Angel was an interesting one - as the trio kick vampire butt and Spike schools them about the ways of love. He knows he is "love's bitch" and that Buffy and Angel can never be "just friends" at this point. In the end, the fight makes Spike realize what he's been doing wrong - he doesn't need a spell. He just needs to man-up and force Dru to see why she should love him. Ah, vampire love. Willow and Xander are found out, with Oz getting hurt emotionally and Cordelia getting hurt both physically and emotionally. Damn - I almost fell for the classic "funeral fake-out" - for a couple seconds. In the end, all of the lovers walk as the three couples all fall apart and everyone is left alone. Sad indeed.

Monday, April 13, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episode 6

Continuing with my reviews of Buffy season 3....

*** SPOILERS ***

Episode 6: Band Candy

Synopsis: Sunnydale's adult population begins acting like immature teenagers after eating candy bars being sold to finance new high school band uniforms. (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 11/10/98)

Given that my son, a band member himself, is in the middle of a band candy sale right now, this was a very timely and fun episode. So many great parts - like Snyder forcing Buffy and the gang to sell candy even though they aren't in the band, like Trick doing his first assignment for the Mayor - causing chaos with the help of returning Ethan Raines to cover the true motive which is getting tribute for a demon that the Mayor provides to "keep Sunnydale safe", like Buffy lying to both her mother and Giles so she can be with Angel only for the two of them to catch her as she uses each as an excuse to another, like Willow and Xander playing footsie under the desk while carrying on a seemingly innocent conversation. Then there is the whole "what would they have been like as teens" of Joyce, Giles and Snyder. All very insightful looks into these three characters as they behave like youth gone wild. Lots of laugh out loud moments including Xander's gem "I don't get while they're acting all immature - I ate a ton of candy and I saw no change in behavior...oh, right, nevermind."

All in all, an awesomely fun episode. Buffy gets to battle briefly with Mr. Trick before having to save Giles from the demon, allowing the villain a chance to flee (as they Mayor did quite a few minutes before). In the end, an awkward moment between Giles and Joyce - did they or didn't they? I'm going with "did".

Saturday, April 11, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episode 5

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 5: Homecoming

Synopsis: As Buffy and Cordelia vie for the Homecoming Queen title, they are targeted by a group of killers preparing for "SlayerFest '98". (written by David Greenwalt, airdate 11/3/98)

This was a fun, fun episode. First, there the whole "how will I be remembered" angle that every high schooler faces at some point. Mix that with the competive angle of the annual Homecoming Queen competition and you have something any of us can relate to (due to our own high school memories). Now, mix in a different sort of competition - SlayerFest '98 (love that title) where a bunch of various loonies are out to bag the local slayers and that makes for a more interesting set of events.

I love the interplay between Buffy and Cordelia, both during the vote-getting campaigns and later when they are fighting for their lives. Cordie and the spatula - that was pure comedy. Throw in the return of the Goluch brother and his bride - and how Cordelia stood her ground to him (hilarious).

Two other great points - the first appearance of the Mayor and his bringing in Mr. Trick to be part of his "team". That can't bode well to be sure. And, most importantly, that "moment" between Xander and Willow as they can't fight that long building attraction between one another. Hopefully they won't give in to this right away as I like them coupled with Cordelia and Oz respectively, but I know eventually it will come back up.

Friday, April 10, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episodes 3 and 4

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episodes 3: Faith, Hope & Trick

Synopsis: A charismatic Slayer named Faith shows up in Sunnydale and quickly wins over Buffy's mother and all of Buffy's friends. (written by David Greenwalt, airdate 10/13/98)

The first scene, with the gang at school forcing Willow off-campus for lunch with Buffy, was a sign that the show was back to what I love - the gang and the interaction. I loved the whole "And...uncouple", complete with girls now on one side and guys on the other.

The arrival of out-of-town vampires at the Happy Burger was a nice scene, and I am really like this Trick guy ("work locally, live globally"). I hope he's around for more of the season. Then we find out why they are here - they followed Faith. Faith - now here's the way to introduce a new character. She is a stark opposite of anyone we have in the gang, she has her own unique voice (the way she speaks - "vamps", "5x5", "B" - you just know her dialogue without needing to hear it) and she's a great way to shake up the mix. She has potential for story - with her Watcher having been killed, etc. And she causes tension in the group - Buffy doesn't like the Slayer competition, Cordelia doesn't need another place for Xander's eye to wander, etc. I look forward to seeing more.

Of course, the final moments are key - the return of Angel from Hell! Oh, this just gets better and better. A++ episode.

Episode 4: Beauty and the Beasts

Synopsis: Buffy's fear that Oz could have killed a student during a full moon is compounded when she runs into Angel, violent and feral, during her nightly patrol. (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 10/20/98)

An interesting commentary on the abusive boyfriend and girls who stay with them. The whole Jekyll/Hyde transformation reminded me of Jim Carey and "the Mask" - but what can you do.

I love the character focus on Oz and how the gang all support him every month during his "time of the month". He had so many awesome lines of dialogue, and Seth's delivery of them is just perfect.

We also have Buffy trying to help Angel, even though she knows he could be in a horrible state and never be the man she loved. I guess that parallels the main theme as well. The "demon dimension - time passage" from episode 1 this season ties in so we know Angel was tortured in Hell for hundreds of years. But he fought to escape and to be with Buffy, and in the end it appears he might be back on the road to being the vamp-man he was. Solid.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episode 2

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episodes 2: Dead Man's Party

Synopsis: A Nigerian mask that Buffy's mother has acquired from the gallery has the unique power of resurrecting the dead. (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 10/6/98)

Buffy returns home and finds her friends have picked up the slaying duties. Despite their attempts, she shows them how it is done - a bit more efficiently, but she still is slightly out of practice. When they all go see Giles, we have a great moment when he is in the kitchen - he nearly tears up at her return (very British, can't allow others to see that). In fact, he has a number of great moments in this episode - his hot-wiring the car, his threatening Principal Snyder to get Buffy back in school. All good stuff.

Interesting how the group turns the welcome home party into a "hooten-naney", per Oz's descriptions. Unfortunately, that's not what Buffy wanted or needed. It just helps to emphasize the distance between her and her friends as Buffy still doesn't feel all right about being home. Only after the attack of the undead and a good talk with best-friend Willow does things clear up a bit. And that's good - you could really feel the distance between everyone as Buffy came to terms with being home and her coming to terms that life did move on without her while she was gone.

Loved the tribute to zombies in this episode. Lots of great lines as well.

Monday, April 6, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episode 1

Beginning my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episodes 1: Anne

Synopsis: Now living in the big city, Buffy helps a woman whose boyfriend has mysteriously disappeared, while back in Sunnydale her friends battle the forces of evil on their own. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 9/29/98)

After season 2's finale, it made sense to have a Buffy-on-her-own episode so that she can realize that she is who she is and has to do what she has to do. I think part of the problem for me was the "villains" - I didn't care much about them, I didn't get their complete motivation and Buffy really didn't stop them (she just rescued a dozen or so of the newest recruits). Sure, the portal closed but who is to say they can't open another one. It just felt incomplete.

This episode was okay, but I quickly realize what was missing - the friends and allies. Buffy is best when she has the others to play off of - Giles, Willow, Xander and Cordelia. Luckily, we got a glimpse at the gang trying to carry on, rather hilariously at moments, defending Sunnydale in Buffy's absence. Those scenes, as few as there were, made this episode much more enjoyable. Thankfully, Buffy came home at the end so now we can get back to business as usual - defending Sunnydale from whatever crawls out of the Hellmouth.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Comics of the Week (4/1/09)

First, what up with almost every book have four pages of previews for the new Power Girl series starting in a month or so? While I understand the push, do they have to push it in every book?

the Flash: Rebirth #1 (of 5) - wow! Now this was a packed comic book. Lots of story from Johns, lots of great art from Van Sciver. It serves as a great primer for someone not familiar with Barry Allen and even a lot of the Flash legacy, and it is a great recap for those of us that have been on board for decades. We get a good feel for how Barry has changed now that he's back, changed in a good way. My hope is at some point he can take a moment, as Hal suggested, and appreciate everything. But for now, I'm glad he's back and I know he is in good hands.

Justice Society of America #25 - Johns and Ordway bring an end to the Black Marvel Family saga, with devastating results. I'm loving the direction this book is taking, and from what I hear Ordway will be picking up both the writing and art chores in the future. It'll be kind of the like the old days of All-Star Squadron and the beginning of Infinity Inc. again - which I loved. Good reading.

Strange Adventures #2 (of 8) - things continue to get weird (and even the Weird is acting weird). No one but Adam Strange sees stars disappearing, Captain Comet is forced on the run, and Bizarro is still being persued. This easily could have been called "Mystery In Space" - maybe that's the next mini they'll let Starlin do.

Teen Titans #69 - remember all those left over heroes at the end of the Terror Titans mini series? Well, they all end up at the Titans Tower and are offered a chance to rest and join the team if they want. What follows is an issue of interactions, confrontations and general character development. In the end, the team roster has grown from four to eight which helps make the team more viable. The final pages where one of the heroes who didn't join gets into trouble leads directly into...

Teen Titans Annual 2009 - which is a prelude to a crossover event called "Deathtrap" with the regular TT title, Titans and the Vigilante title. While I liked the annual well enough, I'm not inclined to seek out other titles I don't buy. I think I'll get the general gist from the one book I do. This was really sort of the standard "divide then attempt to defeat" tale - a good primer of who's who in the new group.

Trinity #44 - the big three continue to be cold and stand-offish, despite the efforts of their friends and family. They seem to have embraced the change, concluding that their old way of doing things wasn't enough. Uh oh. Two months left in this weekly epic. Something big should be coming as the final act begins to close.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 2, episode 21 and 22

Concluding with my viewing and reviewing of season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episodes 21 and 22: Becoming parts 1 and 2

Synopsis: Kendra returns to help Buffy when Angel plots to revive an ancient demon bent on sweeping everything on Earth into Hell itself. Then, while Angel tortures Giles for needed information concerning a ritual, Spike strikes an unlikely alliance with Buffy to keep Angel from destroying the world. (written by Joss Whedon, airdates 5/12/98 and 5/19/98)

Another great two-parter and a perfect way to cap off this season.

First, love love the flashbacks from various time periods so we learn more about Angel - his being sired by Darla, his torturing of Dru, his cursing by the gypsies and finally his meeting with Whistler who then shows him the newest slayer. That later was especially cool as it kind of allowed SMG to do some of the movie scenes, from a different viewpoint.

In present time, lots of couple action with Cordelia-Xander and Willow-Oz. Great moments throughout there as this is a show with teens in love. Then there is the whole Buffy-Angel relationship that goes through further hell only to culiminate in a great fight and a final restoration/heartbreak. Love that emotional rollercoaster ride.

Of course, the diskette with Jenny's notes on the restoration are found, and Willow takes a step into the arcane - with some amazing results. This character is definitely changing and adding more layers thanks to this. I love the tension of the group as some (Willow, Buffy, Giles) want to restore Angel while others (Xander, Cordelia, and the returning Kendra) think it is a bad idea. Speaking of Kendra, she never should have given "Mr. Pointy" (LOL) to Buffy - she could have used it when having to face off against Dru.

With all the chaos and the police and such, Buffy has to reveal everything to her mother. Great scenes and great tension. Like her mother could actually forbid her from doing what is her destiny - Buffy must be a slayer, no matter what.

Speaking of Dru, she rises to new heights and sinks to lowest levels when she seduces Giles to get the secret of the ritual from him. Even Angel and Spike think she's enjoying it too much. Of course, that triangle explodes when Spike has to attack Angel while Buffy comes to the rescue of Giles. He definitely owed Angel some payback and got it in well. I hope that's not the last we've seen of either Spike or Dru.

And, again, Buffy's ultimate sacrifice in the end of the episode is pivotal and shows the evolution she's gone through all season. No longer is she this simple 16 year old girl. She's become a woman, had to make some very hard choices, and her life will never be the same. But that's what a hero does, even if it costs their own life and happiness. Like last season, this one ends as if it could have been a series finale. Luckily, there are five more seasons left to go. I'm looking forward to more, especially with how Angel will get rescued from Hell (guy can't have a spin-off show without that...)

Friday, April 3, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 2, episodes 18, 19 and 20

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 18: Killed By Death

Synopsis: While hospitalized with a severe case of the flu, Buffy battles a demon that sucks the life out of sick children. (written by Des Hotel and Batali, airdate 3/3/98)

Even the hospitals in Sunnydale are scary places. Sheesh. This one was just okay for me - kind of a filler, standalone thing. Sure, we have Angel dropping in and Willow, Cordelia and Xander holding their own against him while Buffy is flu-struck. And we have Xander standing up to Angel on his own that the hospital. And, we have some great Cordelia moments - her using her feminine wiles on the security guard while Xander snoops in the files, her calling Xander out on his Buffy-butt obcession, and her being the one to figure out who the demon is. Willow shows off her medical knowledge, even if she never "played doctor" the right way. And, of course, the way this demon "fed" was pretty twisted in the effects department. Still, it was just so-so for me. Sorry, they can't all be landmarks.

Episode 19: I Only Have Eyes For You

Synopsis: Sunnydale High is haunted by the ghosts of a former student and teacher who reenact their tragic romance through the bodies of the school's current inhabitants. (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 4/28/98)

Nice to see the school in focus. Willow is still doing the sub teaching, and Principal Snyder is still on Buffy's case. He even has to cover the whole snake incident ("sewer backup - happened down in San Diego last week"). But clearly the police chief keeps him in line - the City Council expects Snyder to contain things, otherwise he'll have to speak to the Mayor. Oooh - that scared Snyder and made me wonder "hmmmmm....". Poor Giles - he wants to believe it is Jenny's spirit involved, which is a nice showing that he is still grieving. The juxtaposition of James and the teacher with Buffy and Angel (complete with gender reversals) really worked well. That was a finely acted scene and moved the plot line along on where the couple now stands. Speaking of moving things, the tension between Angel-Dru-Spike builds to a fever pitch, and explodes when Spike now can walk(!). Ooooh, this isn't going to bode well. I expect fall-out in the final two episodes of the season.

Episode 20: Go Fish

Synopsis: Xander goes undercover on the Sunnydale swim team after members begin turning up dead, after apparently being skinned alive. (written by Fury and Hampton, airdate 5/5/98)

A nice twist on the whole "jocks deserve special treatment" aspect of high school. Snyder wants Willow to let one slide in classes, and Buffy gets in trouble when she defends herself from one getting too familar with her. Love seeing Conchata Ferrell in the role of "Nurse Ruthie" - too bad she won't be making a return appearance. Yikes. I love how Xander takes the undercover assignment and how Cordelia finds it strangely appealing. But when the truth comes out about the nature of the beast(s), Xander totally freaks out! I would too. Nice touch on how the transformations were happening and who was behind it. Cordelia again gets to deliver a heart-felt speech when she thinks the one in the pool is Xander (she really does love the big dork). In the end, I like how the coach got his just desserts (as did the swim team members). Definitely a "filler" episode, but a good filler episode none the less.

DVD review - Buffy season 2, episode 17

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 17: Passion

Synopsis: Angel steps up his torment of Buffy and her friends even as Jenny Calendar searches for a way to restore his soul. (written by: Ty King, airdate 2/24/98)

The lesson of this episode is this: be careful what vampires you invite in when they are good, because when they turn bad you're in serious trouble! Buffy, Willow and Giles learn this lesson painfully well. But poor Jenny Calendar learns it worst of all. The Angel-Dru-Spike triangle continues to intensify. Angel's taunts like "spinning your wheels" and "I can use you when I need a good parking space" are going to cost him at some point when Spike gets better. You can see that rage seething behind Spike's eyes. So, as note, Angel is in full stalker-mode and Jenny has to go into gypsy/magic-mode but she's not fast enough. She loses the orb, her computer and her print out (though I am betting that fallen diskette at the end will be key later in the season - funny how back in 1998 everyone had diskettes, today it would be a burned CD-ROM - but I digress). Buffy keeps Angel out (loved the line "sorry, changed the locks" - door slam) but not before Joyce finds out the two had sex. That leads to the inevitable, and slightly veiled, mother-daughter talk. Nice twist fitting in with the show genre and all. Then, poor Giles - arriving home and thinking he's about to get some only to find the surprise Angel left him in his bed. What man wouldn't go off the deep end and try to take on the trio of evil himself? A pissed Giles is not one to mess with! Good thing Buffy is there for the last minute rescue, but the villains get away to taunt and haunt another day. I'll miss the character of Jenny Calendar - she brought something unique to the group and her departure will leave a void that should be felt for awhile to come.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 2, episode 16

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 16: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

Synopsis: When Cordelia breaks up with him on Valentine's Day, Xander has a witch put a love spell on Cordelia so he can in turn break up with her. (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 2/10/98)

Love is a difficult thing, especially when you're a teenager. All Xander is trying to do is show his affection, only to discover there is a higher power - peer pressure. Cordelia gives in to what others think when the other popular girls shun her, and that drives Xander to do the unthinkable - get Amy (daughter of the witch from season 1's "Witch") to cast a love spell. Naturally, Xander's unluck holds out and it gets botched - with disasterous results. Sure, every 17 year old boy wants to have every girl after him, but when it actually happens it is not all one thinks it to be. Of course, the guys aren't too thrilled with him now either - including Giles and Oz.

Of course, we do get a bit of the vampire triangle of Angel-Dru-Spike - you can just see that the tension is building each episode, and it will explode. I like how even Dru isn't immune to the love spell - luckily she's never been welcomed to Buffy's house so she can't pursue her "love Xander" when he and Cordelia take to the basement.

Two best parts: first, that Cordelia pretends the necklace is in her locker when she really still is wearing it and, second, when Cordelia tells Harmony that she is not a sheep like the rest of the girls and that she (Cordelia) can date whoever she wants, no matter how lame he is. Ouch. It speaks volumes about the character, adding further depth and dimension to Cordelia Chase. In the end, Xander gets back his girl.

DVD review - Buffy season 2, episode 15

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 15: Phases

Synopsis: Buff and her friends discover secrets about themselves as they battle a werewolf, its hunter and their own emotions. (written by Des Hotel and Batali, airdate 1/27/98)

First, love all the references to season 1 episodes: the eyes moving in the trophy (Witch), Xander relating to werewolves since he was once a hyena (The Pack), also mentions of events from Teacher's Pet and I, Robot...You, Jane. That's good continuity.

Next, lots of girl talk. Buffy and Willow early on, the Willow and Cordelia later on. Sure, there is guy talk too - Xander and Larry, but guys don't like to discuss what they discuss (especially when they get it wrong like Xander and learn TMI). There is even great exchanges, pre-kissing, between Xander and Cordelia at make-out-point - that is until a werewolf breaks it up.

Speaking of the wolf, no surprise Oz is kind of cool about the whole thing when they all look at Cordelia's car. Then, there is Cain - the biggest ego of a hunter ever. Man, he's annoying. Back to the wolf, causing chaos at the Bronze only to then have an encounter with Angel - a fang-off if you will - in the alleyway. When Oz finally wakes up in the woods, naked, he realizes what is happening to him and where it came from (the bite from his little cousin).

Willow shows her resolve to overcome her feelings and talk to Oz, only to see him do his David Naughton impersonation ("American Werewolf In London"). Still she saves the day, stops him from being killed and rampaging further. The last scene between the two of them was sweet, and we finally have her as part of a couple. Awwww.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 2, episodes 13 and 14

Continuing with my viewing and reviewing of season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


Episode 13: Surprise

Synopsis: On Buffy's seventeenth birthday, she and Angel must prevent Spike and Druisilla from reurrecting the Judge, a demon who has the power to destroy humanity (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 1/19/98)

Another two parter with back-to-back night airings (looks like Buffy changed nights of the week for the show with this story). Well worth it as together they packed a great punch. First, dreams that hint at the coming events. Love that. Then, the parallel party preparations as the gang plans to throw Buffy a surprise party while Dru is cooking up her own little fun. Speaking of Dru, she is bonkers still even after getting "better". Love it! Makes her a great character to look forward to. Back to surprises, we get one with the revelation of why Jenny is at the school. Damn! She had a secret too. No wonder she knows all about magic and such - its in her blood. The Judge, while sounding impressive, looked dorky as all get out. Sheesh. Still, I like the idea of parts that can't die and come together as a whole. And he has a cool power. The episode ends with a life-changing event - for both Buffy and Angel. Nice. That's kind of the way a first sexual experience can be when you're 17.

Episode 14: Innocence

Synopsis: Buffy must battle not only the Judge but also Angel, who has lost his soul after experiencing a moment of true happiness. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 1/20/98)

Now we have Angel back to his old ways, and he's much more unreserved this way. Like it. Even if he had to break Buffy's heart, like that's what she needed after making such a big decision to sleep with him. Loved the Angel-Dru-Spike triangle in force, and poor Spike is stuck in a wheel chair and can't do anything about it. Xander to the rescue with a plan - yes! The continuity points from "Halloween" worked well here and allowed him to be the big hero in coming up with a way to defeat the Judge. Great moments with Xander and Willow when she catches him and Cordelia. Great moments with Willow and Oz when he realizes what she wanted from them kissing but won't do it on her timetable - but he will do it sometime. Nice. In fact, I love how he dropped right into the group and fit in with the weirdness. Something tells me this isn't his first time at the rodeo. In the end, I like how both Buffy and Giles were cold to Jenny, but she did deserve some of that because she deliberately saw to it that Angel continued to suffer.

All in all, two great episodes. The show is continuing to evolve in complexity and character development. I like that a lot. Can't wait to watch more on Thursday night.