Sunday, May 31, 2009

Speed Racer (2008)

Queued up the DVR this morning (now that it is empty from the regular TV season) and recorded Speed Racer, the technocolor high-action, high-speed live-action adaptation of the old 1960's cartoon. I used to watch that cartoon as a kid - wasn't a huge fan by any stretch. It was okay in a minimalist animated sort of way. And when we saw the trailers for the film last year in theatres, I knew we would go as a family as it would have quickly made my wife motion sick. So, we skipped it - and waited for it to hit cable. I must say - it was an okay film. Liked the story, but the bouncing around back and forth with past and present was annoying. Also too, the heavy color palette took a lot to get used to. And I thought Dick Tracy from the late 80's was over the top in that area. Still, I could see how it was made to appeal a lot to today's modern generation of kids - with their outlandish video games and short attention spans. It was worthwhile to pass an couple hours on a Sunday afternoon (and it didn't cost my son and I to watch it - so win-win).

DVD review - Angel season 1 episodes 20, 21 and 22

Concluding my viewing and reviewing of season 1 of Angel...


A1-20: War Zone

Synopsis: While working a blackmail case, Angel encounters Charles Gunn, the leader of a gang of street kids battling a nest of vampires who've settled in their neighborhood. (written by Garry Cambell, airdate 5/9/00)

First, why do all the computer guys who play AD&D have to be portrayed as socially inept nerds? Just asking. Love Cordellia's innate sense at "smelling money" and I totally laughed when she considered "prostituting" herself to David Nabitt (only she could consider justifying that). Luckily Wesley wasn't buying that. Oh, and the idea of Madame Dorian's demon brothel - so makes sense and a nice addition to the background that is Angel's LA. Of course, the main plot is the whole vamps-in-the-hood plotline with the introduction of Charles Gunn. The story showcased this new character nicely, showing the problems he and his group have endured and what lengths they'll go through to protect their turf from the vampires (loved their gauntlet of traps in their hang-out). Of course, the character has to go through a tragic event to show us how strong he is and how far he'll go for his cause. Even if that means dusting his own sister who gets vamped. Ouch. That's one hardcore guy. Of course, Angel respects Gunn for what he had to do and offers help. Gunn, of course, doesn't think he needs it - but Angel is thinking he just might need Gunn's help someday. I am hoping we see more of him. I liked the character a lot.

A1-21: Blind Date

Synopsis:Lindsey McDonald, a young lawyer at Wolfram & Hart, teams up with Angel to stop the killing of three blind children who are said to be a threat to the firm. (written by Jeannine Renshaw, airdate 5/16/00)

This episode is all about find one's place in the grand scheme of things. Angel starts out with doubts after being nearly beaten by the blind Vanessa Brewer. Lindsey has his doubts about his place in the firm after finding out what Vanessa's next assignment is. He turns to Angel, forming an unlikely alliance for a dangerous mission to get information from the firm's vault. I really enjoyed the focus on the firm, giving us more details of their inner workings and the types of resources they have at their disposal. I like how Angel gets Charles Gunn to help out, with a much needed distraction. Of course, then there is the prophecy scroll which tells of Angel and his purpose. In the end though it is mostly about Lindsey - his past, his present and the future that Holland offers him. He appears to take the offer - which could bode for some interesting conflicts down the road in the season. Oh, and best line of the episode - after the mind readers pinpoint Lee as talking to another firm - Holland says "terminating an employee is never pleasant", right after the security guard blows Lee's brains out. Ouch. That's some harsh conditions of employment there.

A1-22: To Shanshu in L.A.

Synopsis: Angel turns to Gunn for help when Cordelia and Wesley are attacked by a demon - although that is just the first creature Wolfram & Hart plans to send against Angel. (written by David Greenwalt, airdate 5/23/00)

Continuing the events of the previous episode, Wesley is trying to translate more of the prophecy scroll and Wolfram & Hart summon a Vocah demon to get it back. Loved the return of David Nabitt, in his dungeon master's cape no less, just to hang - awkwardly. As a season finale, we get some Kate and Angel scenes where she vows to rid the city of his kind, and Angel stands up to her saying that if she wants them to be enemies then he is fine by that. Of course, the main crux of the episode is brought with the Wesley and Cordelia discussion of Angel and his connection (or lack thereof) to life. They want to try and help and find what he needs to connect. But, the truth turns out to be that they are what he needs to connect. They are his closest friends, his confidants, his "family". When they are attacked, it brings out the fire in him. The Vocah demon can destroy his home/office, but he attacks Wesley and Cordelia, it is now very personal and the gloves are off! Lindsey shows Angel that he chose the dark side when he finishes the Raising ceremony. Wolfram & Hart get the prize, but Lindsey loses his right hand, literally, when he tries to stand against Angel to destroy the Prophecy, the one thing needed to save Cordy. In the end, Wesley realizes that "shanshu" does not mean death but instead life - that Angel's final reward after all the coming will be to become human once more. But, will Wolfram & Hart let that happen? Not when what they raised turns out to be Darla, the very vampire that sired Angel centuries ago. This was a great set up for season 2.

Overall, season 1 had highs and lows for me. The show definitely was feeling its way a bit but I think the direction really focused around episode 10. My personal favorites this time were definitely episodes 3, 5, 8, 10 and then wrapping up with 18 through 22. That's nearly half of which I totally loved so a good batting average.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

We finally got around to watching a film that had been sitting on the DVR for months - Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It was one of those films my wife and I saw the trailer for and said "oh, that looks funny". Now, I am a huge fan of Jason Segal. Have been since Freaks and Geeks and love him each week on How I Met Your Mother. And since he wrote this film, we figured it would be awesome.

It was very enjoyable, but definitely something to watch when the kids aren't around (which was this Friday night for us when our son was away at a scouting overnight). It's very R-rated and typical of the Apatow comedies of late (which seem to always have an "unrated" version on DVD - how much more "unrated" do we really need?).

We even get some funny stuff from Paul Rudd, who starred with Jason in this years I Love You, Man. I kept waiting for him to say "slappin' the bass". LOL.

Loved that Jason decided that he'd take the front of the full-frontal nudity in the film. None of the female leads bare all (okay, Mila Kunis from That 70's Show does have topless input but I wonder if was actually her or not). Kristen Bell finds herself in some very funny "moves" with hilarious Russell Brand but nothing in the nudity realm. The whole films draws from the same well as many of the recent trend of relationship comedies do - language, sex, etc. - but I don't think this one was as over-the-top as others.

Plus, how can you not love a musical about Dracula with puppets (done by Jim Henson's company no less)? That is just all kinds of awesome. The scenes done in Hawaii were also very pleasant - gave the film an interesting locale to play out most of the comedic situations and drama.

All in all, I enjoyed it a lot. Worth the wait to finally see it.

Comics of the Week (5/28/09)

Batman: the Brave and the Bold #5 - again, a fun comic for kids or fans of the TV cartoon (I'm the later, of course). A rather typical use of Captain Marvel in a story where the villain is after a bunch of kids and adults can't break in.

Green Lantern #41 - more of the Agent Orange arc as we learn just what the Guardians wanted in exchange for giving the Spider-Guild free reign of Vega System. Again, Johns does a great job of filling in the little pieces of missing GL history. Nice.

Justice League of America #33 - I am enjoying this new mixed line up without the big three and others who have books. A lot of focus on using the Milestone characters as well but that's to be expected since McDuffie had his hand in creating that line back in the 90's. It does make for some refreshing reading.

Justice Society of America #27 - Jerry Ordway is drawing on what he knows best - past stuff from Infinity Inc. and All-Star Squadron. This is good in that this book should draw from the rich history of the DCU every now and again. After all, this is THE legacy team book. Nice.

Teen Titans #71 - mostly this is about how a square peg like Ravager can't fit in with the team, allowing for her spin-off in her solo feature next issue. Still, the line-up is refreshingly different from previous Titans incarnations, making it something new to read. This creative team continues to grow with every issue and I am enjoying it.

Trinity #52 - the final issue with a great gatefold cover. Busiek and Bagley manage to tie-up all the loose ends with a fun narrative framing. This was a good series even if, for the most part, it may not have huge ramifications on the rest of the line overall. It was like reading weekly chapters of a grand novel that tried to celebrate as much of the DCU as it could while still focusing on the real point - the importance of the big three. If you didn't read each issue, the trades might be the way to go (certainly a bit cheaper).

Friday, May 29, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4 episodes 20, 21 and 22

Concluding my viewing and reviewing of season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...


B4-20: the Yoko Factor

Synopsis: As Spike and Adam plot to drive a wedge between Buffy and her friends, Angel returns to Sunnydale only to be attacked by Riley and a group of Initiative commandos. (written by Doug Petrie, airdate 5/9/00)

Got love Spike, the master of manipulation. With some properly worded references, he manages to make Giles feel like a total incompetent (right after startling the ex-Watcher in the middle of a "Freebird" jam session and leading to some wonderful drunken antics and lines), to make Xander's insecurities of not belonging resurface again, and to make Willow upset about her recent life changes (magic devotion versus computers, and being with Tara). Of course, he doesn't have to work much on Buffy - the meeting of Angel and Riley plus Xander's spilling untold details to Riley about Buffy's first love was enough to tip the Slayer over the edge. This all leads to a huge blow up for the Scoobies. I'm dismayed that Anya and Tara retreat to the safety of Giles' bathroom - those two have the most level heads at this point and either one could have easily spilled out the name Spike. But they didn't, and the group falls apart. Loved how Spike explained it as the Yoko Factor to Adam, and Adam's response regarding the Beatles is that he likes "Helter Skelter". So fitting. The shocker, though, at the end is when Riley bolts after learning of Forrest's death and goes straight to Adam. To be continued? Arrrrgh. Time to change my viewing habits and finish off Buffy season 4 first.

B4-21: Primeval

Synopsis: Xander, Willow and Giles join forces to magically imbue Buffy with supernatural powers in order to do battle against Adam and overthrow his plans for creating a "demonoid" army. (written by David Fury, airdate 5/16/00)

Wow - so even dead we get another Professor Walsh shocker. She chipped Riley and planned a whole army of Adams. Adam plans to continue the work by converting his "brother" Riley. And he's already done it to Forrest. Ewwww. I love how Spike realizes his plan screwed up and then he later forget and says something about the gang splitting up to Buffy (she never mentioned it). Buffy puts two and two together, gathers Willow, Xander and Giles, and together they make amends to face the big bad foe (based on Xander's suggestion no less). The big battle of demons versus soldiers is well done, while the heroes power up Buffy to take on Adam. I loved how Riley realizes what he must do to get out of Adam's control - it shows how he can make the hard decision for what is right. He even has to kill his old friend who really is beyond saving at this point. I do love how Spike ends up saving the warn out spellcasters from becoming easy demon prey - just to show, again, how he'll flip flop to whatever side is best for him. Overall, a great payoff to the year long subplot involving the Initiative.

B4-22: Restless

Synopsis: After battling Adam, an exhausted Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles all experience dreams in which they encounter a strange, savage woman - and the Cheese Man. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 5/23/00)

This one just blew me away. So much weirdness in the dreams, so much symbolism. I'm going to need to watch it over again just to see what all I missed. Well written by Joss. It was very dream-like. Some high points: in Willow's dream, the curtains reminded me of Twin Peaks and nice touches that she is going to take drama but has a performance fear and Harmony is there and Giles is directing; in Xander's dream, it is a lot about sex as guys his age often think about plus his trying to figure out where he is going but always ending up back in the basement; in Giles' dream, his being a father to Buffy and the gnomes about Spike's crypt and his singing the revelations from stage and Anya doing horrible stand-up; and finally Buffy's dream where Joyce is in the wall and Tara communicates for the first Slayer and Buffy figures it all out and renounces it, breaking the cycle and saving the others. A fantastic episode and a nice way to end the season on a different note.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 19

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


B4-19: New Moon Rising

Synopsis: Oz's surprise return to Sunnydale causes complications in Willow's current love life and leads to his transformation into a werewolf and subsequent capture by Riley. (written by Marti Noxn, airdate 5/2/00)

This episode is all about how people change when they are apart. Oz physically changed with all of his world travelling and studies to keep his werewolf side under wraps. Willow however has emotionally changed, over the heartbreak of Oz's leaving and discovering new love with Tara. When he comes back ready to pick up where they left off, Willow cannot. Someone is going to get hurt. And it was almost Tara when Oz smelled Willow's scent on her and realized what was going on. But the tension here is paralleled too by the tension between Buffy and Riley, given that Buffy had yet to tell him about her past with a vampire. Also moment of awkward when Buffy realizes that Willow is batting for the other team, but in the end she accepts it as a good friend should. I liked how Riley stepped up though when he realized the wolf was Oz and how he risked his own career to try and break out the gang's friend. The gang, of course, has to do their own risky operation to get into the base and spring them both. They, of course, didn't realize Spike and his unseen new partner, Adam, made it a bit easier for them. Poor Anya - if she found out she wasn't as good a computer hacker she'll never get another high five. LOL. Allyson gave a great performance here as the one torn between two lovers - and that ending scene with Tara was played out well (simple and subtle, fade to black - to avoid any network censoring issues).

A1-19: Sanctuary

Synopsis: Convinced Faith is capable of changing her ways, Angel tries to help her even as Kate, the Watchers Council and Buffy continue to hunt her down. (written by Minear and Whedon, airdate 5/2/00)

Only Angle can understand what Faith is going through - how she has to deal with what she has done, accept it and make amends in order for the healing process to happen. He's done this for over 100 years. Angel risks his friendships with the beaten Cordelia and Wesley over it because it is about saving souls, and Faith qualifies. But it won't be easy. Not with Wolfram & Hart sending a demon to kill them, or with Lindsey then going to Kate to use the police and proper channels to solve W&H's problems. And not with the Council finding Wesley and trying to use him to get their revenge on the Slayer who made a mockery of them. Just as Angel is about to make a break thru, Buffy shows up and ups the tension quota. Wesley returns, but to warn them - because he can't, in good conscience, betray Angel no matter Faith did. But the warning isn't soon enough, leading to a huge throw down with the Council. Buffy has to put her anger aside to help Faith, and Wesley proves his loyalty once more. When Angel is arrested by Kate for harboring a fugitive, all are surprised at what they find - Faith has run but turned herself in. She makes that one step towards redemption. That doesn't stop Buffy and Angel for having one more final argument - but Buffy lacks the maturity to see it all for what it is, and Angel, despite years of wisdom, blows his cool and tells her to go home. Is this their final talk? Can it end on this note? I'm thinking not. Definitely a solid episode, very powerful and emotional. I expect nothing less when Joss is involved in the writing.

Boy, if I had seen these back to back on 5/2/00, I would have felt totally drained. A great TV night to be sure.

Monday, May 25, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 18

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


B4-18: Where the Wild Things Are

Synopsis: While Adam is recruiting an army of vampires and demons, Riley and Buffy's passionate lovemaking unleashes a group of poltergeists inside a frat house. (written by Tracey Forbes, airdate 4/25/00)

I echo Xander's comment: what is up with the SU Frat houses? Season 2 the guys worshipped a giant-snake. Early in season 4, one got all haunted. Now this. I didn't like it initially but I thought about it overnight and realized this was a good way to spotlight the gang by keeping Buffy and Riley out of it (doing the deed that caused the chaos). I loved the dynamics of the Xander/Anya relationship - especially with them discussing it in the ice cream truck where Xander is doing neighborhood deliveries. Can he ever hold down a job for more than a week? Not by having that discussion in front of a crowd of customers, including kids. LOL. Some good conversation between Spike and Anya as they commiserate about love. Of course, when all things go crazy at the frat house as everyone is getting hormonal, the Scoobies turn to Giles - who is off singing at the Expresso Pump. Wow - just wow. Anthony does have a pleasant singing voice. And when did Rupert start wearing an earring (I just noticed in this episode)? Great stuff with Mrs. Holt, the woman responsible for the pent-up frustrations of the dirty little spirits. Loved Xander's "she who smelt it dealt it" come-back. In the end, great teamwork - Tara leading the spell with Willow and Giles while Xander and Anya hack their way into breaking up Buffy and Riley's heated antics.

A1-18: Five By Five

Synopsis: Wolfram & Hart approach Faith with a promise to get all the murder charges she faces back in Sunnydale dropped in exchange for one small favor - killing Angel. (written by Jim Kouf, airdate 4/25/00)

Once again, I enjoyed the flashbacks that flesh out Angel's past with Darla. Seems she ended up being his downfall by bringing him a gypsy to feed on - thus leading to the curse and her final revulsion of him when he has a soul. A good parallel, of sorts, to the today storyline of Faith coming to LA, causing tons of trouble and then being approached by W&H to get rid of the thorn in their side. At first, I thought the writer didn't have Faith down - it seemed off - but eventually it started to gel. Loved how phantom Dennis tried to warn of Cordelia and Wesley. Of course, Faith is going to take Wes as both bait and torture. She feels he is the reason for her failures as a Slayer, because he wasn't as good of a Watcher as Giles is to Buffy. This picks up on Faith from B4-16 "Who Are You?" when Faith has her breakdown of self-hating. She is trying to be bad because that is what she thinks everyone expects of her. Good for Wesley to resist her - showing a ton of character. It parallels in ways when Giles stayed strong to Angelus' torture in season 2 of Buffy. In the end, Angel arrives and knows that Faith needs to work it out - and he lets her mostly by not putting up as much of a fight. Wesley is ready to kill her if need be but doesn't - realizing his boss understands Faith's torment and is probably the best person to help her get through it. Solid episode.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 17

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


B4-17: Superstar

Synopsis: Buffys uspects reality has somehow been altered after an unpopular former Sunnydale High student named Jonathan becomes the coolest and most popular person in town. (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 4/4/00)

Interesting how all of Sunnydale (including the opening credits) was infected by the Jonathan-mania after our favorite high-school-extra dabbled in an augmentation spell. Nice touch. I was okay with this filler episode because it really kept all the rest of the subplots going (Willow/Tara, Buffy/Riley, Adam, etc.) while taking this week-off tangent. Some good moments too - like Anya going on about shrimp (and making a prawn joke), Giles having a Jonathan calendar hidden under the desk blotter, etc. A serviceable episode but I am ready to get back into the full blown regular stuff of the season.

A1-17: Eternity

Synopsis: A young actress seeking protection from a stalker takes a sudden personal interest in Angel after she discovers he's a vampire. (written by Tracey Stern, airdate 4/4/00)

Okay, the line "I heard Ernest Borgnine is a skilled lover" was so much more funny after that recent moment EB had on FOX and Friends that is all over You-Tube. LOL. I thought this one said a lot about aging TV stars and being stuck in a role after some time and not being able to get past it because you got older. I like how Rebecca decides to use the information about Angel being a vampire to try and help herself, only for it to go crashing back on her horribly. I always enjoy when Cordelia is thinking about how to advance her own career, even by spilling too much information about her boss (which she tends to realize, as always, that she did it a bit too late). David does play Angelus with such gusto - enjoyed that a lot. A lot of hurtful things came out of it too - but for Wesley and Cordelia, but that adds to the layer of the relationship between the three. Loved the last bit, especially when no one would unchain Angel after he reverted back to normal. Definitely the better episode of the two, for me, this time around.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Comics of the Week (5/20/09)

Brave and the Bold #23 - this issue makes up for the lame fill-in over on Booster Gold this month. Dan Jurgens was here doing a BG/Magog story which was clearly meant to be part of the main title as a storyline. I am guessing their pulling the original four/six issue introduction of the Red Circle characters out of B&B and into their own mini left a void that needed to be filled. A good issue.

REBELS #4 - the space saga of Vril Dox and company continues as we also get bits from the various alien races behind the old Invasion mini too. Nice. The book is shaping up well as an interesting read each month. I like the writing and art on this one.

Trinity #51 - the penultimate issue. Lots going on and one issue left to wrap it all up. Let's see if Busiek and Bagley can pull it off.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 16

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


B4-16: Who Are You?

Synopsis: After magically switching bodies with Buffy, Faith pays a visit to Riley - leaving Buffy in the hands of the Watcher Council Special Ops Unit who've come to take Faith back to England. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 2/29/00)

First, kudos to Sarah and Eliza playing the "other" so well. Nice acting there. Some very interesting stuff as "Buffy" learns her knew body and struggles with not knowing who everyone is. The interchange with Spike was especially fun. Then she goes and leaves a little mess with the Buffy/Riley relationship. Nice to see Tara play a bigger role - figuring out that "Buffy"'s energy was off and being Willow's anchor during a very sensual spell. I liked how "Faith" convinced Giles of her story - giving just too much information to make it unfakeable by Faith. We get yet another great Buffy/Faith fight as we realize why Faith didn't skip town. She had to come back, had to save the hostages from the vampires, had to be "the one true Slayer" because, deep down, she hates what she has become. Tragic indeed but it shows there is a slim chance for her salvation some day. Nice. But can Buffy and Riley's relationship also be salvaged after he "slept with Faith"? Leave it to the woman to argue those semantics - and she doesn't even know he said "I Love You". Oh, the drama.

A1-16: The Ring

Synopsis: An investigation leads Angel to an underground gladiator-like arena where he is captured, then forced to fight to the death with other demons in order to win his freedom. (written by Howard Gordon, airdate 2/29/00)

First rule about fight club - don't get tricked into investigating fight club only to end up one of the participants. Clearly Angel missed the memo and stumbled into the trap. Though he tries his best, he realizes that none of these demons are willing to turn against their enslavers and would prefer to do 21 kills and done with it. Luckily for Angel, Cordelia and Wesley can put aside their debate between high-tech vs. ancient tomes research to do a little investigating and undercover work. How cool was one-shot Wesley with the cross-bow against the bookie? Very! And then, quick thinking Cordelia in scoring them tickets to the fight event so they could find their boss and try to figure out a rescue plan. The introduction of Lila Morgan, attorney at Wolfram & Hart, proved interesting - here they are willing to buy Angel's freedom in exchange for having him in their pocket. Glad he told them where they put their offer. Wesley and Cordelia manage to figure out how to get the cuffs to open, mount a rescue (only to have Wesley bumble and lose the key - but it worked out) and the revolt is on. So glad Darren got what he deserved. The heartless bastard killed his own brother for crying out loud. He got the just punishment in the end. And, as our trio realize they've done good and saved the victims, you can see the look on their faces - "damn, you know we're likely to run into these guys again and have to stop them". Yeah, way to go team! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 15

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


B4-15: This Year's Girl

Synopsis: As Riley joins Buffy in the hunt for one of the Initiative's creations called Adam, Faith awakens to find she's been given one last gift from Mayor Wilkins. (written by Douglas Petrie, airdate 2/22/09)

As if this season didn't have enough with a secret organization, a new boyfriend and a homocidal cyborg-demon, the writer's decide to bring back Faith too. Wow! Let's really kick this up three more notches. I am sure all the fans were ecstatic to have her back as she adds a lot of energy to the cast. All those dreams she had in the coma just go to show that she's still in a very dark place, and the fact that she'd pick a fight with Buffy in broad daylight on the campus just brings that home. Some great character bits in this one as well - Xander struggling with the broken blaster early on only to have Riley get it going in a few seconds, Willow bring along Tara to do recon for Faith, Giles and Xander working together only to find Spike who has to point out that he really hates all of them (he'd love to point a loose cannon like Faith at them), three men from the Council showing up at Giles' place, and Faith showing loss when she views the Mayor's video tape. Then, Faith goes after Joyce - giving a speech about them being the "forgotten" ones - ironic since Joyce hasn't had much air-time this season either. Again, nod to the fan speculation I am sure. In the end, Buffy saves her mother but the Mayor has the last laugh with the gizmo he left Faith. Holy mind swaps, Batman! How will Buffy get out of this one and how much damage will Faith do in her body until she does? Looking forward to the final third of this season.

A1-15: The Prodigal

Synopsis: An attack by a normally peaceful demon on a subway train leads Angel to a disturbing connection between Kate Lockley's father and an illegal drug warehouse. (written by Tim Minear, airdate 2/22/00)

I like when we get flashbacks to Angel's past - in this case to 1753 when he was Liam and what happened to him just before and just after Darla sired him. It is a needed story to how Angel embraced his dark side and why he seeks redemption. It also helps to parallel the parent-child issues with Kate and her retired cop father. I liked that Angel couldn't save him, not having been invited in, when the drug demon's thugs attack. But as soon as he can enter, he goes for them and then is out for blood entirely. Kate and Angel will never see eye to eye, now after this event further drives the wedge between them. It will be strictly business, an uncomfortable alliance at best. That makes for a nice twist in the storylines and character development.

Monday, May 18, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 14

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


B4-14: Goodbye, Iowa

Synopsis: A death inside the Initiative tests Buffy and Riley's relationship and reveals that there are sinister and deadly aspects of the organization that not even Riley knows about. (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 2/15/00)

Just when you thought the Initiative and Walsh were creepy enough creating Adam from pieces and parts, we find out that they also were behind manipulating Riley and his fellow commandos. Riley's whole world comes crashing down around him to the point where he is threatening normals. He doesn't understand why Buffy and the gang would be harboring Spike, he can't fathom why Walsh is accused of what she did, he can't even relate to his former team either. A complete crisis of faith, with physical side effects too without the meds they were pumping into him regularly. Some good moments with Xander once more using that military knowledge he picked up a few Halloweens back, with Anya showing how protective she is of her Xander, with Spike finding out the consequences of hanging out with the Scoobies for too long, with all of them hiding out in Xander's basement, and with Willow and Tara attempting a demon-locating spell (what is up with Tara bailing on the spell?). Of course, we also see how purely evil Adam is - killing a child with little regard and returning back to the underground complex to deliver details about himself (part man, part demon, part machine) as well as the truth behind what they are doing to the commandos. He's definitely going to be a tough threat to take down as the season continues.

A1-14: I've Got You Under My Skin

Synopsis: An exorcism Angel and Wesley perform on a young boy possessed by a demon takes an unexpected turn when they discover just how much the demon wanted out. (written by Greenwalt and Renshaw, airdate 2/15/00)

The drama of the family takes some unexpected twists and turns which eventually all make sense as the story plays out. The mother is in denial about her son and the father is acting strange just to be protective. What balances out this story of demonic possession and exorcism are great character moments with our core three. Wesley realizes that sometimes Angel knows more about demons than he. Both realize how bad a cook Cordelia is. Angel and Cordelia have the begins of a serious talk about Angel's grief over the loss of Doyle. Angel shows that he actually has a way with children. Angel is uncomfortable in a church and a nun recognizes his true nature. Wesley tries to prove himself by exorcizing the demon, and must combat some of his own doubts and insecurities. Cordelia learns that when it comes to magic substitutions are not the best option. And, of course, the tension is still there between Angel and Kate. A good episode standalone episode that kept my attention through out.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 13

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


B4-13: The I In Team

Synopsis: As Spike tries to elude the Initiative's commandos, Buffy gets a look at the Initiative's underground complex and discovers she's not as welcome as first thought. (written by David Fury, airdate 2/8/00)

Lots of good plot movement here. Buffy gets invited down to the undeground complex (love how impressed she is by its hugeness) and apparently welcomed by Professor Walsh. But Walsh keeps a wary eye. She does not like all the questions Buffy asks (she'd prefer the Slayer was like Riley - one who never questions, just does) during debriefing and even less when she watches the post-battle sex between her main boy and the newcomer (thanks to hidden cameras in Riley's room). Man, she's one for keeping track of everything, perve she is. But those very cameras come back to bite her when she sends Buffy to the sewers for re-con alone, re-con that is really a trap! Walsh is in the middle of telling Riley that his young love is lost, only to have Buffy call her out via the video link and reveal that the little trap didn't work. Not only is Walsh's operation compromised, but she loses another that means so much to her. Karma is a bitch, professor. Ready to up the ante by bring in her creation Adam to eliminate Buffy turns out to be not so smart either. Double whammy by Karma! Nice. Meanwhile, with the Scoobies, Xander has a new job shilling power-bars, Anya barely hides her dislike for the Initiative guys (being an ex-demon and all), Spike wants nothing more to do with the group UNTIL he needs help getting a tracking device removed, and Willow turns to Tara for company and companionship (an all-night thing too...hmmm). Lots of great stuff.

A1-13: She

Synopsis: Angel, Cordelia and Wesley are caught in the middle of a war of the sexes when a femal demon from another dimension rises up against her male oppressors. (written by Greenwalt and Noxon, airdate 2/8/00).

Know what is sad? When the best part of the episode is the opening couple minutes (Cordelia's party is a hoot what with Wesley making Elaine Bennis look like Barishnakov and Angel commiserating with Dennis the ghost) and the closing credits (with both Angel and Wesley in their lame dance modes). Other than that, we get Bai Ling as a demon princess basically doing an underground railroad to save oppressed women and a bunch of male demons trying to round them up and return the neutered. Yawn. Didn't care about the main plot. Angel basically shows them that he won't tolerate either of them causing problems in his dimension and he busts some heads to do it. Beyond that, again, yawn. Problem was that I didn't care about the people in danger. They were alien to me (no pun intended) and, hopefully, that's the last we see of them. Just didn't work. A shame too since Marti Noxon usually works great magic with her writing. Ah well. Gotta have some clinkers every now and again.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 12

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


B4-12: A New Man

Synopsis: Feeling suddenly old and useless, Giles drowns his sorrows at a pub with an old friend and sorcerer Ethan Rayne and winds up with much more than just a simple hangover the next morning. (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 1/25/00)

First, I love how this show every season marks Buffy's birthday (this one # 19). It is another aspect how the show moves in real time. Of course, the party helps Giles realize he's growing out of Buffy's loop (of course, her failing to him about Riley's secret - which Giles is appauled that Xander and Willow and even Anya and Spike knew) doesn't help either. This sets him up for having a bad falling in with Ethan, who always causes trouble whenever he's around (which is why we love him so!). Leave it to that rat to joke about slipping poison into Giles' drink but instead really slipping him a mickey - a transforming mickey. That's not the way I'd want to wake up after a night of drinking - the hangover would have been better. Great scenes through out this one: Xander kicking Spike out of the basement with Anya have some good lines, Professor Walsh being proud of Riley's mere 17 kills - which is like a really slow week for Buffy, transformed Giles seeking Xander for help but unable to communicate with him, Giles finding he has to ally with Spike who does understand him (and all that great car stuff), Giles taking a moment to terrorize Professor Walsh because of how she put him down the day before (nobody tells Buffy's surrogate father that she doesn't have a strong male rolemodel in her life!), Willow and Tara doing magic alone in the wee hours, and the well done fights. I love the way that Buffy knew the demon was Giles even without words. Again, it further emphasizes their "father-daughter" type relationship. Great lines, great character moments - Jane really delivers once again. Oh, and the warning about the demons all freaked about "314" and that being the number of Professor Walsh's office in the Initiative lair - just perfect. I'm loving how this season's arc is shaping up - new, different, exciting.

A1-12: Expecting

Synopsis: After a night out on the town with her new boyfriend, Cordelia wakes up eight-and-a-half months pregnant with something decidedly inhuman growing inside her. (written by Howard Gordon, airdate 1/25/00)

The theme night of "the morning after" continues with this Angel as Cordelia and her friends find out they are carrying litters of demons. Got to love that cross-show marketing, eh? Once again, we get the angle of guys worshipping a demon in exchange for wealth and prestige - in this case, guys acting as surrogates to seed unexpecting women with demon-spawn. Luckily the developing team of Angel-Wesley are on the case. Loved the pre-natal exam scens where Cordelia and Wesley pretend to be a couple. The whole "birthing ceremony" was so weird, but we get great teamwork here (Wesley providing the stalling tactics, Angel providing the special shower "gift" to give us one flash-frozen-father, and then Cordelia delivering the final, shattering blow. In the entire episode we see the great chemistry of Angel, Cordelia and Welsey. Together, they show can deliver the funny, the creepy and the sensitivity all in one package. This proper mix is what I found lacking in the earlier episodes. Now it is here it is making the show a much better viewing for me. Wesley seems to bring out Angel's fun side (much needed - got him out of all the dark brooding). Cordelia brings out Angel's very sensitive side (he's like a big brother to her - "family" as he says in this episode). Wesley provides the scholarly side of the equation. Angel provides the strength and conviction. Cordelia provides the heart. It clicks. Oh, and I cannot leave out how much I love it that Cordelia has Dennis, her own ghost. That so adds a unique element not present over on Buffy. The last scene is very touching - with Cordelia showing how much she appreciates the two men in her life who care so much for her. A great episode.

Friday, May 15, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 11

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


B4-11: Doomed

Synopsis: As Buffy and Riley struggle to come to terms with each other's secret identity, a Vahrall demon begins gathering objects for a ritual that will reopen the Hellmouth. (written by Noxon, Fury and Espenson, airdate 1/18/00)

First, I love how this one picks up right where "Hush" left off. Buffy and Riley are forced in this episode to understand what the recent revelation means for their relationship. Lots of great interchanges (Marti Noxon's specialty) giving us both sides, pro and con. But it takes working together to really convince Buffy that it could work. Equally enjoyable are the continued exchanges between Spike and Xander, with Willow later thrown in the mix. She is still dealing with the loss of Oz but has her compassions (she won't leave Spike alone so he can try to commit suicide again). Interesting dicotomy between the Scoobies and the Initiative team - on how they assess, research and track (I'd put my money on the Scoobies). Even though Spike tries to undermine Xander and Willow's worth to the team, they come to his rescue after he realizes he can fight demons/evil during the battle at the Hellmouth. This gives Spike a whole new perspective and purpose, as freaky as it is. A very nice twist. And, of course, Willow and Xander prove Spike wrong when they too realize what Riley really is. It was also nice to see old Sunnydale High, still charred and falling apart. I love Willow's comment - "high school seems so small". We all can relate to that after we've been away. All in all, a great mid-season turning point episode as things are going to change (as evident too by the addition of Riley to the opening credits).

A1-11: Somnambulist

Synopsis: Kate discovers Angel's secret after he comes to her assistance when a vampire from his past shows up in town and begins a killing spree. (written by Tim Minear, airdate 1/18/00)

The night of secrets revealed continues. This time, one of Angel's old proteges is in town doing the same-old-same-old and Kate is on the case. Angel has to reveal his own secrets to that he can use the police to help track Penn down. But Kate ends up being a victim, prompting Angel to come to her rescue. We get some more flashbacks into Angelus' past as well as some great moments today with Wesley and Cordelia. She is proving to be true asset to Angel, even without the visions aspect. And Wesley is still the collaborative ally but focusing on his own approach too. The big battle where Angel must save Kate from being kidnapped is a good one, as is how Kate figures out how to end the battle - without ending Angel too. A decent episode - the show continues to gain momentum with each passing episode. It just needed some time to find its rhythm.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Comics of the Week (5/13/09)

Booster Gold #20 - a weak fill-in issue by guest writer Keith Giffen. I don't think Keith has been following what Dan Jurgens has been doing with the book. It just felt "off" as Booster goes to 1952. Not even the one panel gag at the bottom of page 17 was very well delivered. Poor.

Secret Six #9 - Gail ties into the "Battle for the Cowl" by bring Bane, Catman and Ragdoll to Gotham City. Some good stuff here, lots of twisted fun. Good issue.

Trinity #50 - Krona meets with the Worldsoul and gets a trippy experience he wasn't expecting. Sort of filler with two issues left to wrap everything else up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 10

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


B4-10: Hush

Synopsis: From out of a fairy tale comes a group of murderous creatures known as the Gentlemen. First they steal everyone's voices, then they begin to collect human hearts. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 12/14/99)

Wow!!! I had heard from folks that this was one of their top episodes of Buffy ever, but I questioned if it would live up to that kind of hype. It exceeded it! My heart was pounding for at least twenty minutes after I finished watching it - it was that scary and that good (yes, I jumped when Olivia was looking out Giles' window at night and one of the Gentlemen sailed past). The design work on these monsters and their lackey were awesome - and the fact that they pretty much eliminated the one thing that could kill them made them very deadly. Not to be forgotten is the work of the folks on the musical score. The music was outstanding on this one - showing how much goes into scoring a show like this with just the perfect mood setting. We forget that a lot with the usual witty dialogue this show is known for. Speaking of - communication versus language. The actors really have to shine in this one as they can't use witty dialogue to get the point across - they have to reply on body language, facial expressions, actions. It worked great. Sure, some great silent jokes got in there - Willow miming heart while Xander thinking she meant boobs, and Buffy miming staking but realizing quickly what it looked like and having to pull out Mr. Pointy to get her real point across. LOL. Speaking of LOL, Giles' transparency presentation as a whole. Hilarious. The first bit reminded me of the Chik-Fil-A commercial with the cows and the transparency projector. Then the fact that Giles cannot draw well - too funny. And Buffy's outrage of being drawn with too wide of hips. Funny. And Anya just eating popcorn. She delivers. Later too when Xander thinks Spike killed her and takes on the vamp, she is so proud of her man that she lets her hands show Xander what she wants to do (loved that little bit - this ex-demon is not subtle at all). Not be left out, Spike delivers his great sarcastic tone - even when he can't say a word. That's incredible and perfect. Of course, we also are introduced to Tara, a witch like Willow, who figures out she and Willow can be stronger together. Hmmm...I am sure this is leading somewhere. Of course, we have the big fight where Riley and Buffy realize each is more than they thought. In the end, when all is back to normal, they say they have to talk. Then, silence for a minute or two before fading out. Perfect. They now can talk and they don't know where to begin. Outstanding episode and easily in my top 10 after just one viewing.

A1-10: Parting Gifts

Synopsis: As Cordelia struggles with the unwanted gift Doyle passed on to her, a leather-clad Wesley Wyndam-Pryce roars into town claiming to be a rogue demon hunter. (written by Fury and Renshaw, airdate 12/14/99)

I was ready for another outstanding Buffy lead-in to overshadow the Angel episode. Given how great "Hush" was, did this Angel stand a chance? Well, it certainly tried its best. First, we get the follow up to Doyle's sacrifice last time when Cordelia learns that his kissing her passed on his gift: the visions that are sent by the Powers That Be. While we lost a great supporting character, we got his abilities in one I enjoy a lot. Cordelia with this new gift is wonderful. We also get further growth in her as she deals with the grief of her loss. Angel deals with the loss of his friend his own way, showing how much Doyle meant to him. Then he must help a demon named Barney who says he is being hunted. Turns out the man tracking Barney is Wesley, former-Watcher recently sacked by the Council. Huzzah! Another Buffy cast member coming over to this show, adding a much needed nuance to the team mix. He tries to be all leather-clad-rogue-demon-hunter but he hasn't changed much. He is still the by-the-book intellectual that is very useless in a fight (loved him trying to pull the knife from being taped too well to his leg). Turns out that Barney is in fact harvesting demon parts for an auction, and he wants to add Cordy's seeing-eyes to the docket. A Wolfram & Hart lawyer wins the bid only after Cordy's outrage at such a low bidding starts a nice bidding war between two others (funny stuff). In the end, Cordy ends up saving Wesley's life - but ultimately he finds a place to call his own, as part of Angel Investigations. Solid episode and I really applaud the direction the show is taking by bring Wesley on board.

Monday, May 11, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 9

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


B4-9: Something Blue

Synopsis: When Willow casts a spell in hopes of getting over the pain of losing Oz, the exact wording she uses causes mayhem among her friends. (written by Tracey Forbes, airdate 11/30/99)

I love episodes where magic goes horribly wrong (hey, it worked for seasons on Sabrina the Teenaged Witch), especially when Willow is in the center of it. Again, we have her pain over losing Oz and attempting to make it all go poof. Instead, the spell goes a different way and her comments cause problems for her friends (Giles going blind, Buffy and Spike getting engaged, Xander being a true demon magnet). Spike continues to shine as he interacts with the team, even when chained in Giles' bathtub (talk about the Odd Couple). And the fact that he can see clearly Willow's pain when everyone else can't just shows what wisdom and insight living hundreds of years can do for you. Another favorite supporting character, Anya, gets some moments too - plus we see the return of Tahoffran, her patron demon, when the later decides Willow might make an excellent vengeance demon. I love how she politely refuses the offer. All around fun episode.

A1-9: Hero

Synopsis: Doyle gets a chance to atone for his past when Angel agrees to help a group of mixed-heritage demons from being hunted by violent pure-blood demons known as the Scourge. (written by Gordon and Minear, airdate 11/30/99)

We go from Cordelia's narrative for a commercial ("the Dark Avenger" indeed) to the tragic sacrifice by Doyle (didn't see that one coming!). In between, we get the story of the half-demons (with Doyle flashbacks) and the Nazi-like pure-demon organization called the Scourge. It really had the whole WWII sort of feel to it in a way for me. Angel tries to get the halfs out of the country and ends up having to pretend he hates them to get in deep with the organization. When he sees first hand the devastating power of their beacon, he knows he has to warn the halfs on the ship. In the end, Doyle decides it is his time to be a hero and does so - but first he kisses Cordelia. Wow. And her she was ready to accept he was a half-demon and go out with him. Argh, so frustrating. Oh, and I love too early on how Angel shares with Doyle how only he remembers the bliss he had with Buffy for 24 hours (last episode) and then how Doyle conveys it to Cordelia (so much for secrets). I think it will come in handy for her to know Angel's sacrifice, especially after Doyle's sacrifice this episode. Good episode.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 8

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


B4-8: Pangs

Synopsis: Warned that Buffy may be in great danger, Angel returns to Sunnydale just as the spirit of a Chumash warrior rises to avenge the death of his people. (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 11/23/99)

Ah, nothing like a rousing Thanksgiving themed episode with heated debate about the wronging of the native Americans and anxiety over the perfect meal with friends to add up to a lot of fun. Throw in Angel, back because of Doyle's vision, to protect Buffy but remain unseen by her and you've got a nice recipe for a good episode. Anya once again delivers the goods - first with her lusty thoughts over Xander doing some digging for the groundbreaking ceremony and then her later providing caregiving, of sorts, when he comes down with ancient illnesses from the buried mission. And how about Xander - the only disease on the list that freaks him out is syphyllus (we know what Xander thinks with). Willow and Giles provide the heated debate over the wrongs to the ancient Chumash tribe, while Spike, now homeless and hungry - even Harmony kicked him to the curb, provides the only clear view of the situation (gotta love when Spike spills out the truth, whether you agree with it or not). Throughout, Buffy is like a woman possessed in trying to make for the perfect Thanksgiving meal (don't ever come between the chef and her meal, trust me). The seige of Giles' home brings all parties together - and watching as Spike helplessly gets shot with arrow after arrow tops it all off very humorously. Angel, of course, departs without a word to Buffy (which I am sure freaked out all the fan-girls with the "so close and yet so far" reunion) - but leave it Xander to spill the beans just before the fade-out. A nice crossover of sorts between the two shows.

A1-8: I Will Remember You

Synopsis: When exposure to demon blood causes Angel to become mortal, he must decide whether or not to renew his relationship with Buffy. (written by Greenwalt and Renshaw, airdate 11/23/99)

I guess the above mentioned fan-girls got what they wanted then with this episode, the follow-up of the crossover night. Buff comes to LA, upset that Angel was in Sunnydale but never spoke to her. They talk, they fight (a demon, that is), they talk some more, Angel fights solo, then Angel turns mortal. You know that allows the writers a chance to give the couple a taste of normalcy - and boy do they taste (not just talking about Angel being able to enjoy real food again either)! I loved seeing Cordelia being her usual snarky self where Buffy is concerned and her being concerned about her own possible unemployment. Way to focus on yourself, Cordy. Of course, Angel has to be the true example of selflessness - sacrificing his own new found mortality so that he can be there to save Buffy in the future when he is needed. The Oracles grant his request to turn back time 24 hours, but he will be the only one who remembers what happened. More angst and dark brooding for our vampire hero as only he knows what true bliss he and Buffy shared but cannot again. Tragic indeed, but a good episode.

Comics of the Week (5/06/09)

the Flash: Rebirth #2 (of 5) - I'm loving seeing Barry Allen with more of a CSI feel to his police business. That's a perfect fit for the character. The mystery continues with the Speed Force, Barry's return and what impact it has on the other speedsters. Johns and Van Sciver are doing a fantastic job on bringing this character back for a whole new generation and us old time fans from the Silver Age.

Power Girl #1 - I got this new series because of the JSA tie and a long time love of the character. The issue was okay - not thrilled with the art so much. Oh, and the breast jokes need to be toned down a lot. Yes, we get it - she has huge knockers. Don't beat us over the head with it, guys. I may give this book six months to gel - if it doesn't, it is drop city.

Solomon Grundy #3 (of 7) - this issue Grundy takes on Poison Ivy. I'm continuing to enjoy Scott Kollins's take on the character, but I am glad this is only a mini. Grundy could get boring after awhile as a full time series.

Strange Adventures #3 (of 8) - this follow up by Starlin and company is okay, but not great-great. Still, it is good to see DC's space heroes active regularly and these mini's seem a good vehicle for that. Starlin is definitely a big picture guy so it might not all make sense until we get closer to the end.

Trinity #49 (of 52) - okay, more battle with Krona but the end is a doozie. Trying to figure how Busiek and Bagley will resolve this one with three more issues to go. Looking forward to it ending in three weeks.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 7

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


B4-7: The Initiative

Synopsis: Buffy begins a relationship with Riley Finn unaware that he is part of a military organization tracking down and experimenting on the demons and vampires of Sunnydale. (written by Douglas Petrie, airdate 11/16/99)

Some really outstanding moments and scenes through out this episode. Let's start with Riley and his buddies - turns out they are part of the commando squad that is rounding up the monsters of Sunnydale behind Buffy's back. Their operations are located in the underground of the Frat house and who is in charge? That woman professor! Damn! Didn't see that coming. Of course, all hell breaks loose when Spike wakes up in captivity and wants out (thinking Buffy is behind it all with some heavy backing - gotta love his one-track hatred of the Slayer). He gets out with his usual style, showing he is out for number-one when he sacrifices an fellow captive to make good his escape. He runs back to Harmony and then dumps her butt again. That leads to the next funny stuff: Xander and Giles. What a team these two make! Talk about opposites attract. Love Xander's military novel narrative to which Giles responds "oh shut up". Then they split so Xander can have another great scene - a slap fight with Harmony, and he loses. Bwahahaha. Love that Xander. She spills about Spike being back, so Xander runs to tell Buffy (as a good follower would do). Where is she? Out at a party with Willow, trying to cheer Willow up after Oz left. Great scenes here and earlier between Willow and Riley - she giving the bitter woman's view but still helping him ("she likes cheese" and "she has a stuffed pig named Gordo"). She heads home before Xander arrives with the news. Buffy makes an exit. Riley and the boys need to go too due to Spike's escape. Riley and Buffy have that awkward "I'm pretending to be normal" conversation but each is really after the same thing - Spike. Where's our favorite villain vamp? Attacking Willow - but he can't. Loved that conversation - even in a deadly situation Willow is trying to make someone feel better about their performance (or lack thereof). Big fight in the dorm - no one can see so Buffy and Riley don't realize they are fighting one another. That's going to suck when the truth comes out, eh? In the end, we do find out that Spike's "problem" is due to an implant that suppresses his ability to do violence. Nice. He's going to be so pissed. Great episode all around. Oh, and James took Seth's place in the credits. That is with mixed feelings - yeah, more Spike but boo, less Oz. Ah well.

A1-7: the Bachelor Party

Synopsis: Doyle nearly loses his mind when he and Angel are invited to attend a bachelor party given by his ex-wife's new fiancee, an Ano-Movic demon. (written by Tracey Stern, airdate 11/16/99)

Revelations about this episode about Francis Doyle ("Francis" - LOL). First, he has a wife (of four years - not yet divorced), married when 20, presented as a demon at 21, used to teach 3rd grade and volunteered at soup kitchens (the later two Cordelia learns at the ex-wife's shower). So, he is more and more complex - like that. Doyle realizes as the episode goes on why the marriage didn't work - it wasn't that he was a demon (she's going to marry another one and she likes to study demon culture) - it was him. Cordelia too sees a new light in Doyle when her dull date who is rich and handsome (her usual) turns out to be a coward too - Doyle has to save her from a vamp. She fears she might be going down the 'Xander Harris road' again. Shout out! She needs a Xander-type, the yin to her yang. The bachelor party has a nice twist, thanks to the Ano-Movic tradition of the new husband to be eating the brains of the previous husband (so he can share the love the first two had as well). Ew, sick. And so casually presented here. Hilarious and sick. Doyle realizes he has to embrace his demon side to escape and help Angel stave off the demon-men, but it is the ex-wife who puts in the final blow - she won't marry someone who embraces such a pointless tradition. A good episode but clearly lacking in comparison to its lead-in (again).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 6

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


B4-6: Wild At Heart

Synopsis: Willow's feelings of jealousy over a sexy singer at the Bronze are confirmed when she discovers the woman is a werewolf who has her on Oz. (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 11/9/99)

Marti's signature is all over this episode - strong characterization and relationship drama - and she does it so well. Add to that the acting of Allyson and Seth and we're treated a wonderful, heart-breaking episode. Kudos all around. Besides the culmination of the Veruca story arc (really, could it have ended any other way than Oz putting her down permanently? But even in death, she had the last laugh - putting a final nail in the relationship-coffin of Willow and Oz - for now, at least), we get some great smaller character bits too. Buffy's disappointment that vampires don't even enjoy her well crafted puns. Spike's big speech about being back, only to get tagged out by the Initiative guys. Giles hanging out at the Bronze and Oz's giving him props on his music collection. Willow going to see Xander for a guy's perspective and him giving her good, old friend advice - talk about the problem with each other. Finally, Giles watching Jeopardy and calling the contestant an idiot when he gets the question wrong. All outstanding stuff. A very solid episode all the way around.

A1-6: Sense and Sensitivity

Synopsis: A sensitivity seminar for Kate's police squad backfires with near disastrous results when Angel tries to discover who has taken a contract out on Kate's life. (written by Tim Minnear, airdate 11/9/99)

Ugh - this was not a good episode. Sure, I appreciate the focus on the character of Kate, the increased working relatiohship between she and Angel, and a futher look into the manipulative abilities of Wolfram and Hart. BUT, the whole sensitivity training and the use of that, with magic, to cause chaos at the police precinct just to break out Little Tony was kind of lame. And, did you notice: during the training session everyone else had their first name on their tags but moderator Allen Lloyd had "Lloyd" on his? Can you say "prop goof"? This one just didn't do it for me at all. The worst of the season so far by a mile.

Monday, May 4, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 4/Angel season 1 episodes 5

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


B4-5: Beer Bad

Synopsis: Buffy starts behaving strangely after sharing a pitcher of Black Frost beer with a group of fellow college students at the campus pub where Xander bartends. (written by Tracey Forbes, airdate 11/2/99)

Ah, the much-needed lesson of drinking in college (albeit a little heavy handed on the moral lesson). Buffy learns the hard way that feeling all depressed over Parker (constantly daydreaming about getting back together with him) combined with underage drinking can lead to no-good. Especially when the no-good is augmented by a magical spell by the bar owner to the Black Frost beer that some know-it-all guys like to drink. Beer bad indeed. The episode quicky digresses into all Quest-For-Fire-y in no time flat. But it gives Xander, now with on-campus purpose as a bartender at the local pub, a chance to play the hero/protector. Amazing how he is such a master of "caveman-speak", isn't it? Willow, meanwhile, is all worried about Oz's newfound interest in mysterious singer Veruca. However, she is willing to talk to Parker and tell him exactly what he has done to hurt Buffy. She almost seems to totally get where he is coming from, but he then tries to make a move on her. Luckily our Willow is too smart to fall for that neanderthal way of thinking. But, when the converted caveboys crash, all hell breaks loose with fire and smoke. Even in cave-mode, Buffy recognizes a friend in need and plays the hero - even if she has a little fun doing it (clubbing Parker once - novel, clubbing Parker twice - hilarious). Hopefully she's now gotten him out of her system and can move on. There are plenty of great guys on campus if she just looks in the right place (like Riley, perhaps?).

A4-5: RM W/A VU

Synopsis: While Doyle deals with a demon who has come to collect on his loans, Cordelia and a ghost battle it out for the right to live in a gorgeous rent-controlled apartment. (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 11/2/99).

Jane comes over to the Angel writing crew for an episode and gives a much needed focus on Cordelia with a little Doyle thrown in too. Doyle's past catches up with him as some demon heavies want repayment for loans. We don't find out what and why - Doyle isn't ready to spill the past yet to Angel. Meanwhile, Cordelia's life hits the rock bottom when her apartment is infected with roaches. After crashing at Angel's, he agrees to try to take care of Doyle's problem if Doyle can find Cordelia a place to live. He does find out, but it turns out to still have a leftover resident. We see Cordy attempt to be strong (girls from Sunnydale don't scare easy) but after the ghost tricks her into coming back and nearly kills her, Cordy loses it. The demons show up before the ghost can be disspelled and all chaos breaks loose. Cordy must face the ghost on her own and finds her inner strength (the bitch is back indeed). But that inner strength comes from another source - the spirit of Dennis, the son the woman killed and walled up alive. By destroying the wall she was going to take out anyway, Cordy frees Dennis to banish his killer mother. In the end, Cordy gets the dream apartment and a little ghostly roommate besides. Cordy is back! I'm so happy about that.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Comics of the Week (4/29/09)

Legion of 3 Worlds #4 (of 5) - after many long months we get the next chapter of this Johns/Perez epic. Well worth the wait. Last issue we got the return of a certain young speedster. Well, the surprises aren't over yet! Another hero returns this issue and we learn a startingly truth about an old time LSH foe. Lots of action, lots of character moments, lots of fun. Can't wait for the final issue. I know it will be good.

Green Lantern #40 - the second part of the Agent Orange arc continues as we learn more about this new branch of ring-wearers. All of this is building up to this summer's huge event - Blackest Night! Very enjoyable title, even if the monthly book tends to come out every six or so weeks. This huge epic should pay of nicely.

Justice Society of America #26 - Geoff Johns bids the JSA goodbye in this final issue of his run. It does not go out with a loud bang but, rather, with a nice character driven story about Stargirl and coming of age. Given that he created the character many years back, it is nice for him to focus on her in his final (for now) JSA script. Lots of great character moments here. And the three-part cover is nice too (I got the one with GL, Flash and Stargirl - among others - on it).

Teen Titans #70 - this issue is the third part of the "Deathtrap" crossover running through this title, Titans and the new Vigilante title. Not reading the other too, I felt a little lost with this one. In the past I would have been sucked in to the cross-title marketing but not now. I'm older and wiser. I'd rather be lost for one issue then to spend money on four more issues of books I don't read. Next issue should be better as we get back to normal.

Trinity #48 - this issue focuses mostly on the big battle with Krona (but it doesn't end here, that should be in the next issue or so). We're getting to the finale with, I would suspect, the 52nd issue focusing mostly as an epilogue of sorts. It has been a big ride, lots of characters, lots of action, lots of fun. It has been nice to read a weekly title again, but I am looking forward to the break over the summer (I'm not getting Wednesday Comics as the creative teams and titles in it don't thrill me too much).

Saturday, May 2, 2009

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

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


B4-4: Fear Itself

Synopsis: A Halloween party at a campus frat house takes a firghtening turn with the sudden appearance of blood-sucking bats, zombies and a demon that plays on everyone's innermost fears. (written by David Fury, airdate 10/26/99)

Halloween episodes are so much fun. This season we get the patented haunted house ala a frat house party where the guys accidentally paint the symbol to summon Gachnar and Oz's blood is enough to start the spell. The fears of the gang, as illustrated by earlier in the episode come to manifest nicely: Oz fearing his becoming a wolf and going to a dark place, Willow fearing her skills as a wicca have peaked and that she may not be able to go to next level, Xander fearing him being invisible to the others because he isn't attending college, and Buffy fearing being alone after Parker's rejection of her. But with all this fear and scary, we get great humor too. Frat guys using any holiday (except Arbor Day) to get laid, Giles and his costume (replete with sombrero that looks like a fringed chandelier), Anya gleeful to date Xander and then dressing up as a bunny (bunnies frighten her), Giles with the chainsaw (how else do you make a door in a house that seals the gang inside?) and, of course, the arrival of Gachnar himself (actual size indeed - bwahahahaha). A fun episode all around.

A1-4: I Fall To Pieces

Synopsis: Angel aids a woman being stalked by a deranged surgeon who has the unnatural ability to track the woman's every move with the aid of his detachable body parts. (written by Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt, airdate 10/26/99)

Leave it to an obcessive doctor stalking a woman he only had one date with to provide a weird case for Angel Investigations. This Ronald Meltzer knows all about Melissa, where she goes and what she does. How does he do it? Does he have his eye on her constantly? The answer, in a very sick way, is yes. And his hands too. Creepy creepy creepy. He takes psychic surgery to a whole new level. The whole firm gets into the act with Doyle providing security, Angel doing some undercover work and Cordelia too (though her lousy skills as an actress come showing through - good thing she has this business management to fall back on, if the firm can only get paid). No amount of duct-tape can keep Dr. McCreepy out though. But when his victim confronts him finally and tells him she is no longer afraid of him and what he can do, he goes to pieces - literally. Sick sick. Hey, Dr. Ron, you do realize that Arms-Fall-Off-Boy was a LSH reject, right? Guess why? Yeah, your powers sucks. LOL.