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).


Michael O'Connell said...

BUFFY(THE INITIATIVE): Yes! Some fans actually disagree on the whole idea of the initiative and didn't care of its introduction at all. I loved it! A cool James Bond base hidden under the campus, demon-fighting military commandos, government experiments on vamps and demons? I'm sold! I don't know about you, but up to this point, I was kind of confused at the reason for Riley being around. He just wasn't that great of an actor, doing the conversational stuff, and I felt they could have done better if they wanted a new love interest for Buffy. And then he made his first speech to his troops, and I got it - they hired him for his Captain America side, which he does really well. What an awesome moment, huh, when he and his buddies got scanned in the mirror and went down the secret elevator? You're like, "What?!" Though even more so with Maggie Walsh behind it all. Revelations abound.

Yes, solid ep in all its parts, from that Initiative stuff to the great character moments (Xander + Giles = awesome) to the great action. Oh, and the comedy...specifically the really-scary Spike on Willow moment that turned, after the commercial, into the comedic Viagra moment. I was glad they kept Willow in such a funk about Oz being gone. And yes, I too felt it when the opening credits replaced Oz with Spike, that final moment of "Nooooooo!". Love Spike and all, but where's Oz?! Awesome fight in the dorm with the neither-of-us-know-we're-here thing. And the Spike chip - I sense more comedy coming...

ANGEL (THE BACHELOR PARTY): More Doyle is good!! I'm a big fan of my semi-demonic Irish brother, so I loved getting a lot more backstory on him and dipping into his past life. And yes, the ep where Cordy finally starts to take notice of him, just in time for - the wife! D'oh! Here's an interesting piece of Whedonverse trivia: the actor who played her fiance, Richard, is named Carlos Jacott. And he's the only actor to be in Buffy, Angel, AND Firefly. I'm sure you remember him as Ken the evil homeless shelter demon guy from the Buffy season 3 opener, and also probably from the Firefly pilot, where he was the evil Alliance guy aboard Serenity that Jayne wanted to torture.

I enjoyed the fun of the ep, especially the way the demon stuff was played off so casually by the demon family (wait a minute - charades?!). An interesting look at cross-cultural marriage. This ep did a good job spelling out, for me, where Angel (the show) shines, and that's in exploring demon culture, not just vampire stuff, as Buffy largely did. They get a lot more fun story possibilities for moments like this one. All the wedding cliches were hilarious, from the shower to the bachelor party. And my favorite part about the big fight at the bachelor party was the camera mounted on the thing holding Doyle, showing just his head as he's being shoved around. Anyway, I had a good time. I agree - it was "Initiative".

Martin said...

I do like that Angel focuses more on the demon aspects - that allows the show to be different from Buffy a lot. A lot of fun ways you can go with demons too.