Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DVD review - Angel season 3 / Buffy season 6 episode 9

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 3 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6...

*** SPOILERS ***

A3-9: Lullaby (written by Tim Minear, airdate 11/19/01)

Another outstanding episode - for a lot of reasons. First, major dimensions to the character Holtz (I just knew what he was going to have to do when he returned to his home in 1764's flashback - brutal). In the present, great stuff with Lilah interacting with Holtz and the translator, with Fred spouting off possible scenarios and continuiously have to slap Gunn, the deep emotion and discussions between Angel and Darla, the fact that Caritas gets trashed (AGAIN!!) and of course those final scenes in the alleyway. Man, Darla did something very redeeming in the end and Holtz's response was very interesting indeed. I love how this show continues to keep me hooked.

B6-9: Smashed (written by Drew Z. Greenberg, airdate 11/20/01)

This show waffles for me this season and even within this episode. On one hand, you've got the campiness of the Trio (I swear, they are like a lame version of the worst comicbook rogues gallery ever). Their only redeeming bit was when Spike shows up and threatens their Boba Fett. Too funny. Spike: "help me out, Spock - I don't speak loser". Bwahahaha. Of course, I put two and two together long before Spike and realized that it wasn't the chip that was the problem - that it is Buffy. The fact that the two fought hard and then fell into the passion that literally took the house down was rather interesting (and the way that they consumated the relationship - bordering on the graphic, of sorts). This stuff felt more like classic Buffy as did the stuff with the Scoobies as well. The Tara and Dawn scenes worked too - to show how maternal Tara had gotten for the teen while Buffy was dead. Then we get the very concerning side - Willow hanging with the now restored Amy (loved how she was disoriented after losing three years of her life) and the two throwing around magic as if it were no big deal. Uh...this can't be good at all. Willow is falling into the dark side - more so than Buffy's dallying with Spike (at least she's been with a vampire before and Spike does love her).

Monday, June 29, 2009

DVD review - Angel season 3 / Buffy season 6 episode 8

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 3 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6...

*** SPOILERS ***

A3-8: Quickening (written by Jeffrey Bell, airdate 11/12/01)

Baby, baby, who is going to get the baby? Will it be the telekinetic ninja that Lilah sends? Nope. He became vamp food. Will it the cult of vampires looking at Darla's baby as the miracle child? Not with Angel and the gang standing in the way. Will it be the commandos that Wolfram and Hart sent to the hotel to lie in wait? Nope - Holtz and his minions turn them into ground-round. Will it be Holtz himself? I think he only cares about getting to Angelus and Darla themselves - though killing their child would be a nice form of vengeance for what they did to his in 1764. Will the baby boy be delivered in the backseat of Angel's convertible? Tune in next episode of "As the Womb Turns"... ;)

B6-8: Tabula Rasa (written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner, airdate 11/13/01)

Okay, if the Trio wasn't campy enough, now we get a loan shark demon who actually looks like a shark? Cheesy, guys, really cheesy. The bigger problem is Willow's over dependence on magic. After the gang is all concerned about their pulling Buffy away from Heaven, Willow offers to do another spell. Tara is again upset, especially since the woman she loves has already messed with her head once. Willow swears she can go a month without doing magic - Tara figures she should start with a week and go from there. Of course, Willow can't even go a day or so. She is using magic for simple things like getting dressed. And then she decides to use the forget spell again on Tara and on Buffy too, to help ease their pain. But, things go awry once more and everybody in the gang forgets who they are. Hijinx ensue. The funniest has to be Spike, in disguise to hide from the loan shark's thugs, thinking his name is "Randy" and son to Giles. Next funniest is Giles and Anya, believing they are engaged, and bickering like a disfunctional couple. In the end, Xander breaks the crystal by accident and returns all their memories. But the damage is done. Giles is still going back to England so Buffy can stand on her own two feet, and Tara is leaving Willow. Sad.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

DVD review - Angel season 3 / Buffy season 6 episode 7

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 3 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6...

*** SPOILERS ***

A3-7: Offspring (written by David Greenwalt, airdate 11/5/01)

Once more, we get a related flashback - this time with Holt torturing Angel until Darla comes to the rescue. In modern times, Darla ends up in LA as pregnant as can be. This seems to put a kink in the growing connections between Angel and Cordelia (heck, even Fred can see it - but then again, she is brilliant in an odd way so she tends to see patterns and flows of things). Cordy is upset at what Angel has done to Darla - having been pregnant herself (albeit by a demon). They all end up at Caritas - where we get another appearance by the Furies (gotta love them). Cordy luckily snaps out of her anger at Angel when Darla attacks her and he, once more, comes to her rescue. Angel finds Darla and stops her, owning up to the fact that this child (which has a heartbeat and thus a soul) is his responsibility. But all could be wrong about the prophecy - is it the coming of the child or the return of Holt of which it speaks? Looks like things have gotten a bit more complicated.

B6-7: Once More, With Feeling (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 11/6/01)

Ah ha - the musical episode. This one clearly must have been fun for everyone involved (except Allyson who does not appear to sing much). This one was fun in that it did two things: first it moved along the plots by exposing everyone's deep-seated secrets - Spike's love for Buffy, Giles' concern of standing in Buffy's way to growing up, Willow's use of magic on Tara to forget the fight, Xander and Anya's concerns/fears about marriage, and Dawn's stealing; and then second, why not do it in a genre never done before - a musical. Loved the numbers, especially Anya's rocking out about "Bunnies". And, wow, can Amber and Emma sing! (we already knew Anthony could and I had an inkling about James) I enjoyed this one a lot - definitely instantly in my Top 5 Buffy episodes easy. Is it number 1? Sorry, I still have to give that one to "Hush" right now. But, if I do go back and review them again after the entire first viewing run is done, I might reconsider...maybe...

DVD review - Angel season 3 / Buffy season 6 episode 6

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 3 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6...

*** SPOILERS ***

A3-6: Billy (written by Tim Minear and Jeffrey Bell, airdate 10/29/01)

I loved the scenes with Angel training Cordelia. She wants to become more self-sufficient and be able to handle herself when need be. She does need some of that later in the episode when she tracks down Billy Blim, the guy Angel was forced into rescuing from the Powers by W&H. Cordelia feels responsible, and this gives her purpose, focus and strength. Billy's touch causes problems all over: with Gavin Park attacking Lilah Morgan, one cop killing another, a cabby killing his female fare, and causing Wes and then later Gunn to turn on Fred. Alexis played the stalking Wes very well, and this episodes puts some tension between Wes and Fred (more on his end and not on hers - she forgave him). That could lead to some interesting dynamics down the road. All in all, a good episode with suspense and character interaction.

B3-6: All The Way (written by Steven S. DeKnight, airdate 10/30/01)

Halloween episodes on Buffy tend to be very good. This one was no exception. The show seemed to be getting back into the old groove with this one. We have great Anya moments (her dressed as a skating Angel for the sale - complete with Farrah hair, her dance of Capitalist Superiority and all her excitment over the upcoming wedding), great Xander moments (for all his bravery, marriage is the one thing that scares him - interesting), tension mounting between Tara and Willow over the laters over use of magic for simple things (and the concern is well-founded as Willow does a "forget spell" at the end - not a good sign), and of course Dawn's first kiss (and first staking too). Oh, and once again Buffy leaves it to Giles to handle things she should be doing (i.e. talking to Dawn about sneaking out, etc.). Definitely a good episode.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

DVD review - Angel season 3 / Buffy season 6 episode 5

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 3 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6...

*** SPOILERS ***

A3-5: Fredless (written by Mere Smith, airdate 10/22/01)

First, how funny was it to see Cordelia and Wesley act out the meeting between Buffy and Angel. I know neither show referenced this - and I believe there was an online comic called "Reunion", written by Jane Espenson, that also touched on this. Cordy and Wes were so good in their roles. Of course, the real focus of this episode is Fred and how she reacts when her parents roll into town from Texas. I enjoyed the scenes with Lorne at Caritas - the place is still a wreck and Lorne clearly is still mad at Gunn for what his former gang did. The monsters this time were very cool - very nasty. Loved when Angel came in with the demon head and later when Gunn handled said head. The end was cool too - and "Fredless" rhymes with "headless". Nice word play. In the end, I'm glad she decided to stay with the gang. She really does add something to the mix of the team, and they all seem to care quite a bit about her.

B6-3: Life Serial (written by David Fury and Jane Espenson, airdate 10/23/01)

First, the title reminds me of "Life cereal" (he likes it - hey, Mikey!). Doesn't mean anything though. Loved Willow's line "I'm a breast girl - but I guess you already knew that". Lesbian humor. So, the Trio decides to test the Slayer using each of their skills in a competition of sorts. Warren uses technology and gives us a couple Logan's Run shout-outs too boot. Nice. That time-jump chip was pretty serious stuff if he can get the tell-tale buzzing resolved. Andrew's pan pipes turn Buffy's good day on Xander's construction site into a melty mess. And, seriously Buffy, what guy is going to admit he was cowering the corner? Especially when you've shown you can lift steel girders better than most of them. Jonathan's magic skills seem pretty challenging - that looping until she satisfied the customer had Buffy most definitely befuddled. Another great bit was Buffy doing shots with Spike and then commenting on the poker game (where kitties are used in the kitty - bwahahaha). The Trio's full on geeking and debate over Bond nearly got them busted, that is until they make an escape. Best line: "Jonathan, grab your magic bone". Bwahahaha. The end was touching with Giles helping Buffy out with a loan - though when she says he'll always be there for her does he start to realize that maybe his goodwill gesture might have been more harm than help. Hmmmm....

DVD review - Angel season 3 / Buffy season 6 episode 4

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 3 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6...

*** SPOILERS ***

A3-4: Carpe Noctum (written by Scott Murphy, airdate 10/15/01)

Carpe Nocum - latin for "seize the night". That's exactly what Marcus gets to live out every guy's fantasy - a great body, drinking martinis and bedding gorgeous women. Two things - first he's a senior citizen and second he is using some magic artifact to borrow other guys' bodies to live this wild life, until the bodies burn out. But he certainly gets a lot more than he bargained for when he hijacks Angel's body. Then the fun (and comedy) ensues. Poor Lilah and Fred, both caught in the crossfire of Marcus' actions, not to mention that awkward moment with Wesley (he's just not that into you...bwahahaha). Of course, it is Wes that figures out what is going on with all the strange behavior, and the gang comes to the rescue of poor Angel who is stuck in the retirement home with no way out and in a body that could giveway any time due to a heart attack (certainly an odd experience for a vampire not used to having a beating heart to begin with). A fun filler episode. Oh, and I've noticed that Amy Acker is starting to lay on that southern accent for Fred. I think I'm liking that.

B6-4: Flooded (written by Douglas Petrie and Jane Espenson, airdate 10/16/01)

Clearly, Buffy is not a leaky-pipe slayer. Nor is she a understand-fiances slayer. Life is about growing up, learning to manage money and putting the nose to the grindstone. Slaying, not to Anya's suggestion, does not pay the bills. Lots of good character bits here: Anya mad at Xander for delaying the announcement (again) of their engagement, the return of Giles, the tense discussion between Giles and Willow regarding her use of serious magicks to return Buffy to life (I heard that threat, Willow - that can't be a good sign!), and Spike's being there to make Buffy feel at ease. Then we have the Tweeby Trio - Jonathan, Warren and Andrew - and their To-Do List and plans to run Sunnydale like a group of super-villains. If they are this season's "big bad", I think the bigger "bad" is more likely to be Buffy still trying to adjust being ripped out of heaven.

Friday, June 26, 2009

DVD review - Angel season 3 / Buffy season 6 episode 3

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 3 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6...

*** SPOILERS ***

A3-3: That Old Gang of Mine (written by Tim Minear, airdate 10/8/01)

First, I am sorry to see the character of Merle go. I liked his being around every now and again. Still, he went for a good cause - to show Gunn just how far his gang has gone without him there to lead them. New guy Gio shows up from Miami and has them going from protectors to poachers. As soon as they said they were hitting a "nest", I immediately knew they were planning to hit Karitas. Jerks! Still, the tense situation showed a lot of character in the main crew. We also learn, thanks to Cordy's side mission with the Furies, about how the sanctuary spell is in place in the karoake bar. And those Furies - lots of fun. "uuuuuuummmmmm" I hope we see more of them again soon. I'd love to know more about Angel's past with them.

B6-3: After Life (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 10/9/01)

So, the return home of Buffy and the reuniting with the gang isn't all the sunshine and lollipops one would expect. That makes for a more interesting story. First, we get the hitchhiker demon - the consequences of the magic spell - to deal with. That was creepy enough. But then we learn in the end the truth as to why Buffy is still a bit sullen/depressed even after being brought back to Sunnydale: Willow's spell tore her away from heaven. Youch. That can't be a good thing for one's morale. I like how Buffy has to turn to Spike to confide the truth. It sets up something only they two can share. I forsee lots of angsty drama this season.

Comics of the Week (6/24/09)

Batman: the Brave and the Bold #6 - a fun little team up with Kid Eternity. A nice introduction for the character for kid readers who are unfamiliar with him. I like how the comic is giving us some team-ups we have yet to see on the cartoon.

Green Lantern #42 - the art on this issue looked severely rushed. I know the book tends to ship late (i.e. not monthly) and it is key to setting up the big summer crossover, so I am guessing that's why it was what it was. Bring on the Blackest Night.

Justice League of America #34 - the all-ethnic League manages to bring down Starbreaker, with a little more help from Hardware and Icon. I understand that McDuffie will be moving on from the book soon, so it is likely we'll stop seeing the Milestone characters so heavily in the League's book.

Justice Society of America #28 - again, Ordway doing the double-chores of writer and artist again took me back to the days of All-Star Squadron. Even the villain, Kung, is from that era. The arc concludes here - just in time for a new creative team to come on board full time. I'll be sad to see Ordway go. Something about his art just brings back those old days of Earth-2 for me.

Teen Titans #72 - I continue to enjoy this book month after month. We have most of the team acting like teens would out of costume. We have Wonder Girl showing why she's got the stuff to lead this team. And the new Ravager back-up series has an interesting start here. I'm starting to like these second features added to the books - even if I have to pay an extra $1 for them. Reminds me of the old days when books had back-up features regularly.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 6 episodes 1 and 2

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6...

*** SPOILERS ***

B6-1: Bargaining, part 1 (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 10/2/01)
B6-2: Bargaining, part 2 (written by David Fury, airdate 10/2/01)

When the show moved over to UPN in season 6, they opened it up with a two-part, back-to-back showing of two new episodes. On the DVD set, it is presented as one whole story. Thus, the joint review here on my part.

First up, no Giles in the credits - a big change. In the episode, it is explained why in that Giles is going back to England since he feels his work is done (and feels he has failed in his Watcher duties because his Slayer died in action - the worst thing ever). He doesn't leave though until he has one last vamp hunt with the whole gang, where Willow shows she has taken command due to her magical skills and determination to continue Buffy's good work (a way to deal with the grief). He also turns the Magic Box over to Anya, to run the business in his absence (to which she is delighted to do). The farewell scene at the airport is moving in that the "father" has to bid his kids goodbye. Loved Tara's gift - "grrr, argh...".

Of course, the big focus is Willow's determination to bring Buffy back from beyond. Though they buried Buffy's body, Willow feels her soul - her essence - is still out there. And even though she and Tara have taken to raising Dawn and she has become primary repairer of the Buffy-bot, Willow is still feeling survivor's guilt over Buffy's death. She descends to the dark arts and to killing an innocent fawn all in prepartion to save her lost friend. There is no doubt that Willow's heart is in the right place. And she even knew the spell would test her - with physical manifestations. She knew and she told Tara, knowing Tara would keep Xander and Anya focused so the spell could work. But, that darn Buffy-bot and its homing circuit - it leads the biker-demons back to the graveyard to disrupt the spell.

I get Buffy's shock and fear when waking up inside her coffin. I've had dreams similar to that - a lot when I was younger. That helps add to her disorientation when she finally claws her way to the surface. I like how the camera showed us "her vision" wasn't clear when we saw things through her eyes. Of course, it is Xander who quickly realizes they screw up - that they didn't unearth Buffy's coffin first. They were to blame for part of the trauma she was feeling. It takes Dawn to help Buffy's head clear, when they talk on the tower. Only when Dawn is in true danger does Buffy fully snap out of it - to save the person she sacrificed her life for at the end of season 5. So, she's back but it clearly isn't a happy thing for Buffy. I can't imagine someone would be completely recovered in an instant from all that - it'll take time. That sets up the season nicely.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DVD review - Angel season 3 episodes 1 and 2

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 3 (which started two weeks prior to the 6th season of Buffy, the later show having moved over to UPN...)

*** SPOILERS ***

A3-1: Heartthrob (written by David Greenwalt, airdate 9/24/01)

Hail, hail, the gang's all here. And we've got Amy Acker joing the cast full time (in opening credits and everything) as Fred, the young physicist recovered from Pylea who is still having a hard time adjusting to life back on Earth (did you see Angel's silent reaction to all the writing on the walls?). Angel returned by Sri Lanke where he was attempting to handle the grief over Buffy's death (Gunn was right, he should have gone to Vegas). Loved Cordelia's reaction to her gift ("it brings out my breasts" - too funny and so straightly delivered). The visions, of course, see to be causing Cordy some stress. We get another great flashback of Angel's past - this time to learn about James and the vampire that was killed, James' love Elizabeth. The story then spins into a whole revenge-for-love thing which played out well with a nice fight on a subway train. In the end, we get a great talk between Angel and Cordelia about Buffy's death - which should be expected as these two really knew her the most of all the gang in LA. It sort of provides that closure that we all needed to see on this. Oh, and last scene - Darla is pregnant!?!? Lucy, you got some 'splaining to do!

A3-2: That Vision-Thing (written by Jeffrey Bell, airdate 10/1/01)

This episode gives us a full introduction to Gavin Park, the latest in W&H lawyers, and one who seems to be a new rival for Lilah Morgan in Special Projects. His plan is to hit Angel where it hurts - with building code violations. You can't fight City Hall, right? Speaking of Lilah, she goes for the throat by using a weird brain-dude to mess with Cordelia's visions, giving her physical manifestations. Why? So Lilah can get Angel to do her leg work and to free a prisoner being kept by the Powers of Good. Angel reluctantly complies, because he can't stand to see Cordy suffer worse. Loved how both Fred and Lorne are working into the team, adding extra skills to round out the group nicely. Good dialogue with Angel and Skip, the jovial guard, just before they throw down. That was a nice change of pace. In the end, Angel delivers the prisoner and Lilah makes good on reversing the maladies Cordy has suffered. Then Angel shows Lilah he's not the type to be messed with like that twice, by making a nice brain kabob! Just business indeed. I am sure that the guy W&H got rescued will play a bigger role in future episodes - like how we didn't get a name or he didn't even speak. Mystery. Oh, and Darla's visit to the shaman doesn't end up the way she planned - so it is time to head back to LA. Another sign of things to come. I'm liking the stacking subplots.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

DVD review - Angel season 2 episodes 20, 21 and 22

Completing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 2 (it made sense to view these all in a full block):

*** SPOILERS ***

A2-20: Over the Rainbow (written by Mere Smith, airdate 5/8/01)
A2-21: Through the Looking Glass (written by Tim Minear, airdate 5/15/01)
A2-22: There's No Place Like Plrtz Glbb (written by David Greenwalt, airdate 5/22/01)

I must say that I loved the three-part adventure in Pylea. It really held together well, had a lot of elements you'd expect in an adventure where the gang goes to a fantasy realm, and it flowed very evenly across the writers (as opposed to the Buffy season 5 final three episodes).

Before the guys get there, we get some great stuff. Lorne and Gunn not wanting to go, but the former's psychic friends Aggie (played by one of the regular actresses from Girlfriends) tells him he must to save Cordy and the later decides his friends really need him. Added cool points - using the car when passing through the portal to keep them all together (very Back To the Future-y).

Once there, I love the twists of this dimension. Sure you have a ruling class with an evil council of priests - that's a must. But, you have the males as "mothers", the supposed monsters and cursed one's being the most beautiful, the fact that Angel's typical vampire curses are gone (can be in sunlight, have a reflection) but when he does go vamp he shows his true beast side (eeeww), Cordy being made a princess (she did deserve it after all), the ancient books with the symbols of a wolf, ram and hart (i.e. Wolfram and Hart). We get humor here too: Cordy doing the heel click to try to get home, the monster being more a pet-dog, the whole dance-of-shame and dance-of-joy, Angel enjoying not being on fire and checking out his looks, Cordy wanting to take the jewels and such when trying to escape the castle, the whole teaming of Cordy with Lorne's head, etc.

Of course, alls well that ends well. They managed to free the slaves, put a new person on the thrown who will help Pylea move to a new age, rescue Winifred who we learned about in episode 19, and get home in one piece.

Then reality crashes back into them as Willow is waiting there, to fill them in on what happened in Sunnydale in episode 22 of Buffy. A nice touch.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5 episodes 20, 21 and 22

Completing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy season 5 (it made sense to view these all in a full block):

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-20 Spiral (written by Steven S. DeKnight, airdate 5/8/01)
B5-21 The Weight of the World (written by Douglas Petrie, airdate 5/15/01)
B5-22 The Gift (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 5/22/01)

Episode 20 was a bit out there, for me. Okay, first we get that looney tunes moment (thanks for pointing it out, Anya) when Glory asks "Any last words?" and Buffy says "Truck". That was cute. Anya then suggests running and Buffy agrees. So, it's the roadtrip from hell in the worst camper ever. I love when Xander drops the comic references for us geeks (with Sgt. Rock, twice) and the fact that he gets car sick on roadtrips. Then, it gets surreal with the Knights on horseback chasing down the camper. Saving grace: "Aim for the horsies". Giles gets impaled (shades of Walsh!), causing the wreck. Then they have to hold up in an old gas station with only Willow's ever growing magic to keep the army out. It all just felt so odd to me. And, of course, we have to get Ben there so he can become Glory and take Dawn. Not a good one for me at all.

Episode 21 was a bit weird too with the whole catatonic Buffy and Willow going into her head. Sure, we get to find out why she hasn't been up to par, how all this has been weighing down on her, and a reminder that "death is Buffy's gift". The back and forth of Glory and Ben fighting with herself/himself was really out there too. At least this one had more focus than the previous one did, for me. In the end, Giles points out that the only way to stop Glory is to kill Dawn - the very last thing that Buffy does not want to do.

Episode 22, of course, is written by Joss as most season enders are (and it was the 100th episode to boot). He gets to pull it all together. This one, I understand, was first considered a series finale so why not go out with something big. Of course, we all know it wasn't - but it had pieces of that there. We get elements from earlier in the season brought back in (the Dagon Sphere, Olaf's Hammer, "Summers blood") as well as resolutions needed: Willow using her powerful magic to not only slow Glory down but to restore Tara, Spike being allowed back in Buffy's home - a sign of how far their relationship has come, Xander and Willow having one final romp before the end of the world (just in case) and then his proposing to her, and one more appearance by Doc (Joel Grey). The fight was good, as was Giles doing the one thing heroes don't do: taking care of Glory while in Ben form. The sacrifice Buffy makes and her speech was very moving (okay, I teared up a bit - I am such a sap) but it seems like there will be a lot of mess to clean up afterwards - some nasties did bleed out when the portal between realms was open.

All in all, mostly a good season with a few clunkers in there along the way. Naturally, things are going to be a bit different when season 6 starts. But that's what gives the show new blood.

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 19

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-19: Tough Love (written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner, airdate 5/1/01)

It is time for Buffy and Willow to really grow up and be responsible. Buffy has to be more firm and structured with Dawn, so social services don't come and take her away fromher. Willow, meanwhile, has a fight with Tara causing the later to go off alone - making her the perfect target for Glory (since Tara is the newest one to the group). Glory shows her truly twisted evil by crushing Tara's hand, but Tara won't betray Dawn. When Glory concludes that Tara is not the key, she scrambles her mind before Willow can arrive. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, though! And Willow goes to the darkest of magiks to get some payback. But it looks like Glory has the last laugh - finding Willow, Tara, Dawn and Buffy and raining on their picnic lunch. Befuddled Tara, who can now see the truth, tips off to Glory (unintentionally) Dawn's true nature. Uh oh! This doesn't bode well at all.

A2-19: Belonging (written by Shawn Ryan, airdate 5/1/01)

This episodes finds all of the gang a bit out of sorts. Wesley can't seem to impress his father despite the fact that he is in charge of the agency. Cordelia gets a national commerical only to realize that garbage she has to put up with from the director. Angel tries to defend Cordy's honor and only causes more problems. Gunn is not there for his friends in the 'hood, and he loses another one to the vampires. Then, there is Lorne, the karoake host. His past comes showing up from his home realm when portals open up, the first unleashing a demon and the second bringing along his clan-cousin. Even as they track down the beast, Angel finds he is best served as the warrior while Wes finds himself questioning his position. In the end, they defeat the beast and plan to send the cousin home - but something goes awry. In the words of Cordelia, now on Lorne's home turf - "oh crap". Indeed. Looks like this is a nice set up for another episode to follow.

Between both these endings, it might be time to finish off a season on one and then the other. Ladies first...

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 18

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-18: Intervention (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 4/24/01)

So, Buffy goes on her quest in the desert (minus any peyote) and gets the advice that "death is your gift". Okay, that doesn't sound like it will bode very well, does it? Meanwhile, Warren delivers to Spike the Buffybot, and it is exactly what the vampire ordered. Ewwww. Of course, the real fun starts when the 'bot interacts with Xander, Anya, Willow and the others (I loved how Giles is appaulled that Spike didn't even bother to have it programmed with the correct pronounciation of his name - LOL). The best part though - when the minions snag Spike, thinking he is the key, and Glory tortures him brutally Spike shows his true loyalty. He won't betray Dawn because it will hurt Buffy. I love that Willow loves the challenge to fix the broken 'bot and that Xander feels sorry for Spike having to lose his toy after getting beaten up so bad. Buffy does a great job pretending to be the 'bot to find out where Spike's loyalty lies. Though disgusted by his feelings, she can't deny that he has stood by her.

A2-18: Dead End (written by David Greenwalt, airdate 4/24/01)

Interesting character studies here. First, focus on what visions do to Cordelia - how they keep hitting her until the situation is resolved. That is having some wear on her. (Note: over the past couple episodes I've noticed Carissma's tramp-stamp tattoo, given the clothes she has been wearing.) Of course, the biggest focus is on Lindsey - how he goes day to day with just the one hand, how W&H decide to invest in him to get a mystical transplant, how well he plays the guitar and sings at the karoake bar, oh - and how you can't be sure just where that hand has been. LOL. I love how Angel and Lindesey have to work together, reluctantly, but they did make a good team. In the end, they both realize what must be done with W&H's body bank (ewwww, ick place). I also love Lindsey's "performance" at the review meeting - beware "I've got this evil hand" thing - very nice. He manages to get himself off the hook, stick it one last time to Lilah (by giving her the job) and gets to walk away from it all. Final great touch - the scene at the truck when Lindsey is ready to leave town (and Angel's little "farewell" gift). A good episode.

Friday, June 19, 2009

DVD review - Angel season 2 episodes 16 and 17

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Angel season 2...catching up after two Buffy episodes.

*** SPOILERS ***

A2-16: Epiphany (written by Tim Minear, airdate 2/27/01)

While the opening scene is meant to evoke deja vu from an early Buffy episode (after Buffy and Angel slept together), this time Angel's soul remains intact. It is time to turn the corner, go from the moment of clarity and move on. But he has amends to make first. Like saving Kate from killing herself, and then saving his former employees from the three-eyed demon spawn that killed the Sharp family. I really love how it takes a bit for Wesley and Gunn to come around - and how Cordelia still holds a grudge. It shows that it isn't going back to the status quo of things. That's good. Change is good. Oh, and Lindsey touches back to his roots - going all redneck crazy with the pick-up truck and the sledgehammer. Luckily Angel is made of much sturdier stuff. Too bad the same can't be said for Lindsey's replacement right hand.

A2-17: Disharmony (written by David Fury, airdate 4/17/01)

Angel does indeed realize atonement is a bitch as he has to get coffee for the others (he did say he wanted to work for them). But Cordelia is still hurt. What can make her feel better? How about a visit from an old high school friend - Harmony? Yeah, where our favorite ditzy blonde vamp shows up chaos is sure to follow. Loved the scene where Cordelia mistakes Harmony for a lesbian, then gets it straightened out by Willow, and then Cordy steps in it about "lesbos" with her old Scooby friend. Awkward. Love the touches of Harmony getting on everyone's nerves (gum snapping, defacing old books, ruining computers, talking blood sensations). Oh, best line comes from Lorne (the Host) - "your friend should reconsider harmony" - bwahahaha. The "Tony Roberts" wannabe vamp and his sect - too funny too. "Turn two - the rest for food" - would make a great T-shirt. Harmony tries to help but, in usual fashion, she is easily swayed and sets the gang up for a trap. Good thing they fight well together. Cordy has to make a decision about killing Harmony and instead decides to give her a chance, as long as she leaves LA. In the end, Angel helps Cordy heal their friendship by doing the only thing he hasn't tried yet - buying her new clothes to replace the ones he gave away to Anne's shelter. There's the shallow Cordy we all know and love - forgive and forget when there is a new wardrobe involved.

DVD review - Buffy season 5 episodes 16 and 17

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5...breaking the normal here by watching two Buffy episodes back to back, but they just had to go together. I'll do two Angels after this.

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-16 The Body (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 2/27/01)

Wow! This one picks right up after last one's cliffhanger - with Buffy finding her mother dead in the living room. Joss does an incredible job with this one - first by removing all musical cues, etc. - so we just have real life, real sounds for a very real episode. Death happens to everyone, unexpected sometimes and hard to deal with always. We see that in Buffy's confusion, Xander's anger, Willow's uncertainty, and Anya's questioning. All very real aspects, all there through the cast. We see how a child (Dawn) has to face it and how Buffy has to try to be the responsible one. We see a bond form between Buffy and Tara that had not been there - Tara having lost her mother at age 17. I don't know if it really needed the vampire coming back in the morgue and attacking Dawn - it just pushed the fantasy realm into this so real episode. But, then again, it probably was there to put a thought in Dawn's head for...

B5-17: Forever (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 4/17/01)

First, so glad I didn't have to wait six weeks to see this. I would have gone bonkers. This episode deals with the events right after Joyce's death and her funeral. Spike coming to pay his respects rang so true for the character - she was the only one who never judged him. It was sincere, but Xander couldn't see it. Angel returns after sundown to be there for Buffy, and that makes sense. She needed his strength to get her through. Meanwhile Dawn does what any child would do - want to get her mother back, even if it means dabbling in the dark arts. Willow means well to help by pointing her to a book after she and Tara stand firm not to mess with the spells. Dawn shows her resourcefulness on getting more on a resurrection spell and the ingredients, and her courage to get the eggs from the Gorrah demon (with Spike's help). Her magic succeeds to bring back Joyce - though how so we're not sure. Buffy finds out what she's done, the girls argue and then bond over tears. Dawn realizes finally that Buffy will be there for her and cancels the spell before they find out if Joyce came back okay or not. Nice touch there. Very "monkey's paw" like ending.

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 15

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-15: I Was Made to Love You (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 2/20/01)

First, gotta love puffy Xander (he gets beat up by a frustrated Buffy and then still dispenses great advice and hope). Then April, the robot girl, shows up at a party looking for Warren, her creator. She pretty much has no one fooled when she throws Spike through a window and then tosses Buffy as if she's a doll too. The Scoobies can sure spot a robot when they see one. If that wasn't entertaining enough, we get to hear about Giles' adventures in babysitting (that could have been a whole episode on its own) and then watch Joyce tease Buffy about leaving her bra in her date's car (see, Mom's can tease too, girls). Poor Xander realizes that the group is woefully lacking in male participants as none of the girls can appreciate a guy's position over building himself a sex-bot. Of course, Warren is pretty much a slime for building April, playing with her for a bit, then leaving her behind in his dorm room when a real girl gives him attention. Go figure. After a good fight, Buffy has a surreal conversation with April - about boyfriends and the need to be needed and that there is always hope, that is until April's batteries run out. Final scenes set up big events - Glory realizes Ben (i.e. her other half) tried to set up a date with Buffy, Spike hits up Warren to build him a Buffy-bot, and Buffy comes home to find Joyce dead on the couch! I'm sure this last one rocked fandom back in 2001. I'm still reeling.

A2-15: Reprise (written by Tim Minear, airdate 2/20/01)

Reprise - a return to the original theme. That's kind of what this episode did, sort of. Angel is still on his vendetta against Wolfram and Hart, but he isn't getting a lot of help. The Host only gives him bits and pieces. He has to take a book from Wesley to seek answers he needs. Lindsey hides Darla but she's in fact faking her state to spy on what the 75th anniversary review is all about. Virginia breaks up with Wesley because she can't handle the reality aspects - like gun shots. The Sharps welch on paying for the removal of the girl's eyeball (from last episode) but then they set up Cordelia to arrive when a demon is there. Kate is fired from the force and is attempting to kill herself with alcohol and pills. Angel succeeds in getting the ring from the "senior partner" only to take a trip (via an elevator going down) with dead Holland Manners to nowhere. In short, evil is everywhere - always has been, always will be. Angel doesn't seem to care any more - so much so that he'll sleep with Darla if it just makes it all go away. But does it? Does it? And here I thought that night's Buffy ended with a shocker. Man, do Jane and Tim know how to serve up a double-header or what?

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 14

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-14: Crush (written by David Fury, airdate 2/13/01)

Once again we get an episode centered around Spike - this time about his love for Buffy. He convinces Harmony to play "Slayer" to get him in the mood after Buffy blows him off at the newly opened Bronze. That's kind of twisted right there. Then Dawn comes to visit after school because she finds Spike interesting; Buffy tells her it is a crush but Dawn is smart enough to see Spike only has eyes for one Summers girl. Xander finds this very hilarious until he realizes that Dawn's crush on Spike means she doesn't have a crush on him any more. Poor Xander. Then, poor Spike tries to get Buffy alone on a fake vamp hunting trip so he can profess his love and she wants nothing to hear of it. He needs a woman who understands and wants him - so enter Dru, back from Los Angeles in order to get him to come help her and Darla against Angel. Spike will have none of it but Dru shows him he can beat his chip if he wants. He tries, but when Buffy comes to call he decides to chain up both Dru and Buffy. He's even willing to kill Dru to prove his love for Buffy - what a guy. And she won't accept it (women, who can figure them out? Certainly not Spike.). Of course, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, or in this case Harmony with a crossbow. We get a double fight - Spike vs. Harmony and Buffy vs. Dru, but when Spike hits Dru to save Buffy he shows where his heart lies. Dru bolts quietly. Harmony bolts with lots of words. Then Buffy trashes Spike good. He can't win for lose, can he? And when he tries to follow Buffy home he finds an unwelcome spell thoroughly in place. The Summers house is off limits. Ain't love grand?

A2-14: The Thin Dead Line (written by Kouf and Ryan, airdate 2/13/01)

When zombie cops hit the streets and start to brutalize everyone for no reason, the gang and Angel each work two different sides of the case. Unfortunately, Gunn's brilliant plan puts Wesley in critical condition. The whole cop thing attacking on the shelter was straight out of night of the living dead. Though the police captain behind it was trying to do the right thing, dabbling with the dark arts always leads to trouble. Luckily Angel was able to save the day at the last minute by destroying the idol. Some good character moments through out: Angel and Kate in the cemetery when she is worried about her father having been raised, Cordelia seeing one of the shelter girls in her blouse (which Angel gave to Anne two episodes back), Gunn and Wesley bonding over the unfortunate accident, and Cordelia telling Angel off in the hospital (he walked away so he should just stay away from them). While I like that she stood up to him, I do hope that the band gets back together soon. I like it when they all work together as one. Oh, and the gang's other case - the girl with the eyeball in the back of her head - creepy! Hopefully that will get resolved later on too, just because I am really curious there.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 13

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-13: Blood Ties (written by Steven S. DeKnight, airdate 2/6/01)

I really like how the show makes note of Buffy's birthday every year. This is her 20th, and what a party it turns into. Prior to it, Buffy and Giles tells the gang that they know where the key is - and that makes them all a little awkward around Dawn at the party. She realizes they are all keeping something from her and sneaks out, only to run into Spike. He goes with her to the Magic Box to protect her, and instead learns as she does (from Giles' notes) that Dawn is in fact the key. Now, what 14 year old wouldn't freak out as she did after learning out that her whole life was a lie? She then runs away again and ends up at the hospital, where one of the Knights tells her that the key must be destroyed. Freaked (again, who wouldn't?) Dawn runs into Ben who, as soon as he realizes what she is, leads his sister Glory right to Dawn. Smart girl, though. If she's going to die she wants some answers - and almost gets most of them. But when Glory goes to drain her brain, the gang busts in to save the day. Everyone does their part to help Buffy, but the MVP goes to Willow (with Tara's help) to teleport the psycho god away in time. In the end, Buffy convinces Dawn that no matter what they are sisters. Blood is thicker than anything else.

A2-13: Happy Anniversary (written by Whedon and Greenwalt, airdate 2/6/01)

Why must Gene be a science geek in love, with someone who is no longer in love with him? Boy, that sucks - but using your theories to freeze time to stop everything during that sympathy "bone" is not smart - especially when some demons want you to end all of humanity. I enjoyed the teaming of Angel and Host to solve this little case. They played well off one another. Loved that the Host sees everything in terms of music and song, while Angel is focused on the hell and brimstone. Of course, they pull the plug in time and save the world - that's what heroes do. Along the way, though, the Host gets Angel to open up about his no longer caring about his friends and such. Good. This should start him back on the road to redemption again. Oh, and the Everly Brothers tune by the demon and his parasite was a great visual gag! Meanwhile, Virginia brings a case to the new Angel Investigations - and Wesley gets to do a great bit of Sherlock Holmes deduction on who was using a demon to off a family member. That so worked for Wesley. Another good one-off episode, but I want the fantastic four back together again soon.

Comics of the Week (6/17/09)

The Brave and the Bold #24 - Black Lightning and Static together for the first time in a book - you'd expect it to be good, right? Well....not so much. The Howard Porter art was okay by Matt Wayne's dialogue seemed a little out of joint at times. It felt like a rushed book just to have a done-in-one. I was not thrilled by it.

Power Girl #2 - ugh. Why did writers Palmiotti and Gray think Ultra Humanite needed yet another origin rewrite? I hate when books do stuff like this. It threw the entire issue off for me. This book gets two more issues for the keep-or-drop decision. It is very heavily leaning towards drop at the moment.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 12

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-12: Checkpoint (written by Petri and Espenson, airdate 1/23/01)

The second half of the season kicks off with a bang. The Council of Watchers come to down to "assess" Buffy - by interogating her friends, analyzing her fighting skills and even threatening Giles. You can see at the beginning it throws her. But once Glory shows up and threatens her family, and then the Knights attack her - all wanting to get "the key", the lightbulb goes off in Buffy's head. She knows what they all want - the power she has. And she spells it out to the Council just how it is going to be - they work with her or get the hell out of her way. Loved her speech, loved the support of her friends and Giles. Even Spike helps out, in his own way - whether he wants to or not (oh, and he does because he wants to show Buffy he cares). The little character bits are also good in this one - Willow and Tara being questioned together, Xander and Anya "I'm not a demon, I was born on the 4th of July" being questioned together, one of Spike's questioners having written a thesis on him, and Spike and Joyce sharing a love for "Passions". All these things, while small, just add to the rich tapestry that is this show. Oh, and the revelation that Glory is a god - that's going to take some time to absorb.

A2-12: Blood Money (written by Ryan and Smith, airdate 1/23/01)

We don't get a lot of the three amigos (Cordelia, Wesley and Gunn) this episode - but what we get is a nice counterpoint to the main episode plot. Angel is on a quest to defame Wolfram and Hart, and he finds a way via Anne, who runs a teen shelter that W&H is using as a front. Angel finds out they plan a fundraiser to "benefit" the shelter but ultimately it will see only 5% if lucky. The plan is brilliant with lots of twists and turns, putting Lindsey and Lilah in the cat-bird seat. I really like how this one played out and it shows Angel still is on the side of helping others while discrediting his enemies. That last fews scenes bring it all home: Lilah and Lindsey find out why Angel must not be killed (and that they are expendable - burn!), and Angel and Boone settle their match once and for all (with Anne coming out the winner!). A nice one-off episode.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Go Old School This Summer!

Get ready to go Old School this summer...with Wacky Packages Old School! With art done by my good buddy Dave Gross, these are a must have for all Wacky Packages fans. The flier and promo were given away last weekend at a NYC comic-con (click on images to see full sized). More details soon.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 11

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-11: Triangle (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 1/16/01)

While Giles is away consulting with the Watchers Council about Glory, Anya is left to run the Magic Box. Naturally, when Willow starts playing with spells while to two are continually bickering, chaos ensues in the form of the summoning of a troll named Olaf that Anya once dated. I love seeing the tug of war between Willow (the best friend) and Anya (the girl friend) over Xander. It plays out nicely here - even to the point when Xander puts his own life on the line to keep the two from being killed by crazy Olaf. He won't choose which one gets to be killed when Olaf gives him the ultimatum. Buffy's rage over Olaf's suggestion that Anya and Xander won't last is enough to detain him until Willow can banish him again. Definitely a lot of inter-character dynamics going here which made it fun. I even liked Spike and Xander hanging at the Bronze briefly. A nice standalone episode from the season long plot.

A2-11: Redefinition (written by Mere Smith, airdate 1/16/01)

Gunn, Cordelia and Wesley have to figure out where to go from being fired, and they turn to the demon karoake bar. Great interplay between the three as they get drunk and then sing. The Host won't give them a reading because he knows Cordelia will get a vision - which means they have to help someone. This gives them direction and guidance, realizing they have to fight the good fight. It really shows how much they gel as a team. Angel, meanwhile, is training for a war - a war that Dru and Darla plan to start by raising an army of demons to cause chaos in LA. The big surprise is they kept Lindsey and Lilah alive (while killing Holland and the others). Darla sees that Wolfram and Hart might be able to offer them connections, money and power. Of course, Angel shows how bad he can be - taking out vamps and demons alike. By setting a trap for Dru and Darla and nearly burning them alive, he shows his former vamp-gals that this is an all-new Angel they are about to face. Things are about to get seriously ugly. Oh, and don't count Lindsey and Lilah out - being made co-VPs is likely to lead to some serious competition and a lot of fallout damage before the season is through.

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 10

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-10: Into the Woods (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 12/19/00)

Marti excels at writing stories that are lower key and more on a personal level, and this episode qualifies. We have Joyce recovering from surgery, Xander and Anya watching over Dawn for a night while Buffy and Riley celebrate their own way (all the while lovesick Spike waits outside her house). Spike, however, discovers Riley's little secret of sneaking out and getting his kicks by paying vampire women to suck his blood; and Spike can't resist letting Buffy know the truth. His logic comes forth when Riley threatens Spike: Riley just doesn't have enough monster in him for Buffy. Of course, Buffy is hurt by Riley's betrayal and takes it out on the vamps' hangout and then them as well (nice javelin throw dusting!). Of course, it takes Xander's words to help Buffy realize that if Riley leaves with his army buddies that it is her choice. She choses to forgive but is too late. Xander, meanwhile, makes sure Anya knows how much he really loves her. Nice character bits all the way around.

A2-10: Reunion (written by Minear & Ryan, airdate 12/19/00)

This was another awesome episode. Angel realizes that now that Darla has been bit, the only way to save her is to dust her when she rises. But how to find her? Drusilla is her usual trippy best - love the whole references to Darla as both grandmother and daughter (as Gunn put it, that's one messed up family tree). Gunn shows how to think out of the box by realizing the "nursery" Dru wants to prepare is a true plant nursery. But Angel arrives too late and a great three-way fight ensues with Angel, Dru and Darla. The ladies escape only to end up at Wolfram and Hart, and Holland is foolish enough to let them both walk out. The girls have another fight and then make up once Darla has fed. Then, they do what girls do best - go shopping! In the end, karma comes back to bite the special projects team at Holland's little wine tasting party. Turns out, Dru and Darla have other tasting in mind - and Angel facilitates by locking them all into the converted bunker and letting the girls feast!!! Naturally, Gunn, Wesley and Cordelia are shocked by his behavior and point out that they are the only ones keeping him morally ground. So he fires them! Wow. Just wow. Great stuff here and a nice twist. So glad I don't have to wait a month between episodes like the folks in 2000/2001 did. I would have gone crazy wondering what would happen next.

Kung Fu Panda (2008)

The family sat down for an hour and a half yesterday afternoon to watch last year's animated film from Dreamworks - Kung Fu Panda. It is the story of Po, an out-of-shape panda who works in his father's noodle shop but longs to be a kung fu master like his idols the Furious Five (no, not the 80's group lead by Grandmaster Flash...). When he stumbles into the ceremony for chosing the Dragonmaster, his whole world changes.

The film was pleasant enough. Good kids fare with a lot of action and solid characters. The animation is amazing and the voice work fits (Jack Black isn't nearly over the top as Po as I thought he might be). The film has a great life lesson too without being too preachy. All in all, enjoyable.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 9

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-9: Listening To Fear (written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner, airdate 11/28/00)

This one felt, for the most part, like a filler episode. We have this weird Queller demon fall from the stars and attacking mental patients. Sure, we see some subplot movement on Riley's allowing vamps to feed off him, and we have the gang doing some patrolling and research, but it still felt "off". Even Spike's sudden arrival at the house seemed out of place. The only things bring it back around is the movement towards Joyce's impending surgery, Buffy having a moment to break down, Joyce's realization (affirmed by Buffy) that Dawn is not hers but that they need to proetect her, and the juicy tidbit that intern Ben actually summoned the Queller demon in order to clean up Glory's mess (which he's had to do all of his life). Still, not a great episode. I'd put it worst of the season so far by a mile.

A2-9: The Trial (written by David Greenwalt, airdate 11/28/00)

Daaaaamn! That was a great episode! We've got Wesley and Cordelia upset and skeptical about Angel's obcession with over Darla (rightly so - he had Gunn out looking for her, and Gunn comes through), we have Wolfram & Hart back involved (with Lindsey clearly in love with her and willing to do anything to save Darla), we have Darla now dying from the syphyllis that was killing her back in the colonial days, we have a return to the karoake bar for a reading from the Host (and damn, can Julie Benz sing!), we have an awesome set of trials for Angel - who proves he'll do anything to save her ("death is the final challenge" indeed) only to discover she can't be given yet another chance, and finally we get that awesome last few moments (damn! Drusilla is back and does the one thing that Angel couldn't and that Darla wouldn't let him do now that she saw how devoted he was). This was the perfect episode.

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 8

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-8: Shadow (written by David Fury, airdate 11/21/00)

Joyce's catscan reveals what is going on in her head, something natural and therefore not something that Buffy's abilities can even help with. The Slayer is forced to face a foe even she can't fight - cancer. So, she does what any one would do, find a way to take out the frustrations. In this case, it is taking on Glory's cobra-creature and beating it down. While the story pulled at the emotional heart strings, we also get some great character moments too. First, Spike sniffing Buffy's sweater only to be caught by Riley was worth the admission (and then he snags her panties when leaving - that Spike!). Then, Giles sells Glory the items she needs to perform her magicks right under the entire Scoobie gang's nose, only to later get chewed out by Anya (have I said how much I'm loving her as retail-girl? She rocks!). Lastly, Riley's obcession with pushing the limits goes even further when he lets a vampire almost drain him before staking her. I think the young man is not handling the whole "Buffy is keeping me at arm's distance" thing too well. Could be trouble.

A2-8: the Shroud of Ramon (written by Jim Kouf, airdate 11/21/00)

Oh, that Ramon. Nothing like leaving your power behind in your death-shawl and it being so strong that anyone with a certain vicinity starts going insane. The way this story is told is different than most - as we get the after with Wesley with the police before we learn the whole tale. Angel staking the Vegas vamp and then taking his place was funny - love when he has to come out of shell and be the extrovert. The tension seems to be building between Gunn and Angel - neither of these alpha-males likes to have their authority questioned. This could foreshadow problems down the road. Of course, the heist for the Shroud is frought with the usual fun and games and interesting characters. Poor Wesley - first smacked by Kate and then by Angel. Angel bites Kate to save her but did he do himself any favors? Is it, like Wesley and Cordelia supposed, that his taste for human blood is back? We'll see. Oh, side note: Cordelia got her hair cut - ten days ago. Yeah, I thought you might have missed that. I prefer the longer locks myself on her, but that's me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Comics of the Week (6/10/09)

Booster Gold #21 - Dan Jurgens is back after the fill-in last time with a new arc involving the recent death of Batman. A trip to the Batcave to retrieve some pictures leads to an encounter with the new Batman and a reason to jump into the timestream once more to do what he does best - fix temporal issues. The new second feature begins this issue with the Blue Beetle (who recently lost his title). This should be a good fit - I liked the art on this.

the Flash Rebirth #3 - another solid issue as the return of Barry Allen is explored. The art is great, the story is engaging and the rich DC history is present. Just what I like in a comment. I hope the creative team sticks with the title a long time when it moves from mini to regular series.

JSA vs. Kobra #1 (of 6) - ugh. I'm a regular follower of the JSA but I did not like this first issue at all. The art was fine but the story did not jazz me as much as I hoped. I'll give it another issue to decide if it stays on my pull list or goes.

REBELS #5 - there is a lot going on in this book with an every expanding cast of characters, but it works. A space epic title can usually pull of far-reaching exploits. The story line is interesting, and I am enjoying the spin they've done with Starro. Not a top tier title but still an interesting read.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 7

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-7: Fool For Love (written by Douglas Petrie, airdate 11/14/00)

Buffy gets hurt, staked by her own weapon, by a vamp. While Riley and the gang go after the attacker (loved the bit with the chips with Willow and Xander, and even Riley going back alone to take the group of vamps out - his way), Buffy realizes that Giles' books don't ever tell about the final battles of Slayers. Who would know this stuff? Spike! This episode really adds a lot of dimensions to the character. We see him first as a love-struck, poetic intellectual who is made a joke by his social circle in London of 1880). Poor William ("the bloody" due to his bloody bad poetry) is found by Druscilla who sees his mind, heart and imagination - and sires him. We see how Spike's new found confidence leads to problems for Angel, Darla and Dru - forcing them to often run to avoid exposure. But when Spike finds out about Slayers - oh boy! - the man is up for the challenge! This leads him and the group to China in 1990 and the Boxer Rebellion. While the world outside is in chaos, he tastes first blood of a Slayer and finds it to be a powerful aphrodesiac. This clearly shows the demarked difference between the couples - Angel and Darla versus Spike and Dru. They counterbalance one another - precision versus passion, mental versus emotional. Of course, Spikes tale about facing his second Slayer in NYC in 1977 gives Buffy the lesson that all Slayers have a death wish and that Buffy's will come soon enough. Buffy rebuffs him, pushing his advances away in an echo of the words of William's first love - "you're beneath me". This enrages Spike to the point where he plans to kill her with a shotgun. But, when he sees Buffy crying on the back porch (having just found out Joyce is going in for a catscan), he can't pull the trigger. Instead he comforts her. He is very much the title's "fool for love". He was in the beginning when he was William, he was with Dru and he is now with Buffy. Even Dru knew that when they were on the run in South America in 1998 - she could smell the Slayer all over him. Granted, is that any reason for her to dally with an antler-headed freak demon? What is Dru thinking? LOL.

A2-7: Darla (written by Tim Minear, airdate 11/14/00)

Again, the symmetry of the two shows back to back. In this one, we get many flashbacks revealing key moments in Darla's past, from her siring by the Master in the Virginia Colony in 1609, to critical moments with Angel (his meeting with the master in 1760 when she leaves with Angel because he promised her everything, 1880 just before Dru sired Spike, 1898 in Romania after the gypsies cursed him, and 1990 in China). I love how we got to see extra tie-ins to Spike's flashbacks in the earlier Buffy episodes - and it really gives a better view of the two couples and where they were in 1990. I had forgotten the Boxer Rebellion was two years after Angel was cursed, and he was trying to make amends with Darla (until he realized he could not prey on the innocent any longer). In the present, Darla needs Angel as her soul is staring to effect her. Lindsey tries to help, falling for her, and Holland Masters uses him to allow her to escape. The project isn't pulled as Lindsey is first lead to believe - it is going exactly as Holland wants. He wants Angel distracted, and it is working. In the end, though, Angel has to turn a deaf ear on Darla's pleas - he won't "return the favor" or damn her as she did to him. And, as a result, she runs and doesn't want him to find her again. Powerful stuff.

Again, kudos to both creative teams for putting the synergy into these two episodes. They really add the dimensions to the Spike and Darla characters, showing why they are rich parts of the two series. I was very impressed with both.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 6

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-6: Family (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 11/7/00)

Joss once again shows why these are his characters. This episode was outstanding as it focuses mostly on Tara, her relationship with Willow, and her relationship with her family. Sure, we get the importance of "family" with Buffy acting upon the news she learned last episode about Dawn - how she turns to only Giles (her surrogate father) to share the truth, and how she tries to keep Dawn protected even at the risk of alienating Riley, the man she loves. But the key here is Tara and how her father, brother Donny and cousin Beth show up just before her 20th birthday to take her home before the "evil" in her is revealed. He has her convinced she'll revert to a demon form without their watchful eye, but the true "demon" is revealed by, of all people, Spike when he strikes Tara only to feel pain. In his usual role as speaker of the truth, he points out that this is clealry a family legend made up just to keep the women in line. Who's the evil here? Joss hits us with those classic heart-string moments - first when Buffy and the others declare that Tara is "family" to them and her father would have to go through all of them if he wants to take her against her will. The second falls at the birthday party Willow put together - as we get a very honest, emotional moment between she and Tara as they dance. The actresses sell this scene and the one that opened the show with the two in bed. It is a tender, honest relationship built on love. It works and the viewer feels it. Bravo. Oh, and Spike fantasizing about fighting the Slayer while having sex with Harmony - that's just so wrong in so many ways but oh so right too. Gotta love Spike.

A2-6: Guise Will Be Guise (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 11/7/00)

Keeping with the theme of the night (birthday parties), Jane serves us up a hilarious Angel episode. Alexis is outstanding at slap-stick and really shines as Wesley posing as Angel (and here I thought Cordy's impersonation of their boss was good). The jump-back before entering Bryce's house, the choking down some blood, the faked furrowed brow - LOL funny. The actress who played Virginia was great too, and the chemistry with her character and Wesley's was wonderful (I hope we see more of her). Of course, the scenes with Angel and the "swami" were funny too - analyzing his car, his clothes, his hair product - it seemed to be a commentary on the character, a funny one. Now, the fish hook in the lip - YOW - that had to hurt. And the best line from Angel - "you were in Virginia?" - oh how true how true. The only glitch I caught - Cordelia's blouse kept changing back and forth in a couple scenes when she clearly hadn't been changing out of her lawyer clothes yet. I'll forgive it though as this one was very very entertaining. Great job, Jane.

Monday, June 8, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 5

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-5: No Place Like Home (written by Douglas Petrie, airdate 10/24/00)

I really loved some of the smaller things in this episode. First, Spike actually waiting around for quite awhile outside of Buffy's house just so he could "be passing by". Then he acts like it isn't on purpose, but we all know it is. It reminded me so much of junior high crushes and things boys would do to catch of a glimpse of a girl they liked (hey, I remember doing this). Next, with the opening of the Magic Box, Giles quickly realizes that retail is a lot of work. But, he has a savior of sorts in that Anya seems to be a whiz at it (pricing, ordering, gift wrapping - okay, her customer service after the order is done leads a little to be desired of...). It just gives us another aspect of the character we never would have expected. (Okay, Giles' opening day costume was a bit over the top but fun - too bad Buffy poo-pooed on it.) Of course, the true meat of the episode falls on Joyce's still unexplained ailment as well as who or what Dawn is. Buffy's investigation helps her find out that Dawn isn't some evil but instead something she needs to protect and keep safe. She's the "key" that new bad-girl Glory is after. And Glory doesn't seem like someone that will be easy to dispatch. So, Buffy has to keep things on the hush (for now) and try to be a better "older sister" to whatever Dawn is.

A2-5: Dear Boy (written by David Greenwalt, airdate 10/24/00)

This show is picking up the steam nicely. This episode had it all. We get some flashbacks with Drusilla too (nice!). We get a return visit to the karoake bar (always fun to see David sing badly). We get Wolfram and Hart up to their manipulating best, and that includes using Kate as an unwitting pawn in their set up (so glad she was never a romantic interest material). We have Gunn finding out about Angel's past (love his reaction to it). We have Wesley and Cordelia playing off each other as they always do (I think it is fall-out from their lack of sexual energy for one another). And then, we have Darla - delicious, devious and now oh so human Darla with a soul. Will she feel the torment that Angel predicts she will? I don't think so. This woman is unique, and she knows what she wants. She wants her man back, her wicked and wild man. Angel is going to have his hands full. He certainly did hurt her though with the "you never made me happy" bit. Oh, and another great line from this one: when Lindsey says "we should have our own series". LOL. That would be a very different kind of law drama to be sure.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 4

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-4: Out of My Mind (written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner, airdate 10/17/00)

A new writer name to the pool with this episode. Her debut takes on two big threads: Riley's relationship with Buffy and how he fits in, and Spike's big problem with the neutralizing chip in his head. These two story lines come crashing together in a way that leads to a big couples fight: Buffy vs. Spike and Riley vs. Harmony. But those two aren't the big parts of the episode. The first comes early on when Joyce has a lapse and wonders who Dawn is before collapsing (aren't we all wondering that?). The second comes at the very end when Spike awakes from a dream/nightmare when he realizes what his true feelings for Buffy are. These two things are really going to propel the season further along. Other great moments: the gang working together to help fix up the Magic Shop and a suitable place for Buffy to train, and the whole dialogue during the surgery on Spike's head. Harmony is so much fun as a character in this new capacity.

A2-4: Untouched (written by Mere Smith, airdate 10/17/00)

Another new writer (must have been try-out night on FOX). This time we find out that Wolfram and Hart has another pet project. Lilah is trying to turn telekinetic Bethany into an assassin for the firm, unbeknownst to the girl. Angel and company instead get involved, and we have a story that involves a rape victim overcoming her situation and finding her inner strength. Things I liked about this episode: Cordelia again looking out for Gunn by wanting to pay him, she and Wesley bickering, Darla and her deliciously evil ways of influencing Angel's dreams and pretty much how the entire investigation team works well together, each doing what they do best. The pacing near the end was a bit slow - lots of set up and a very quick resolution. Pulling the father out of the blue to "pull the trigger" just seemed too convenient for the firm. Bethany should have let him splat on the sidewalk. Not sure if we'll see her again in the future - not sure I see a lot of potential in her showing up again other than in just a very very small supportive role. The character didn't thrill me.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 3

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-3: The Replacement (written by Jane Espenson, airdate 10/10/00)

Time to switch gears and focus on one of the gang this episode. Xander really needs to better his life. Living in the basement with his fighting parents above isn't working out. He doesn't think he can land a decent apartment and worries his construction gig won't last. He has doubts. Enter the Toth demon who wants to split the Slayer in two to defeat her (kill the less competant half and both die). Instead, Xander saves her from being hit. Of course, inept Xander thinks a demon has replaced him and is living his life better than he (the other gets a promotion, lands the apartment, gets hit on by the leasing agent, etc.). Luckily he can turn to Willow, the one who knows him best, and convinces her there is a problem. Luckily Giles figures it all out and that the two need to be restored, and Willow can handle that by stopping Toth's split-spell. Some great moments here-in. Love Giles' line after the gang gives him ribbing about the Toth demon walking out after besting him: "I'm not dead or unconscious, so good for me". Also, the moment between Anya and confident Xander when she admits her feeling vulnerable being completely human. Great character development there. Finally, Riley reveals to whole Xander how Buffy makes him feel but points out that he knows that Buffy is not in love with him.

A5-3: First Impressions (written by Shawn Ryan, airdate 10/10/00)

Angel seems off his game, distracted by the dreams of Darla he's been having. But it isn't dreams coming from his mind - she's influencing them. More on that later in the season, I am sure. No, the focus this time is on the team and particularly how Gunn interacts with the group. Seems he doesn't think much of them, calling Wesley "C3PO" and Cordelia "stick figure Barbie". Even when the team encounters some more vamps in the 'hood, Gunn isn't impressed by them. But he is forced to face his views when Cordelia, after having a vision about him, comes to his rescue. Then the episode spins out a bit - with Angel and Wesley and the pink helmet, and Gunn and Cordelia having to do the "dude, where's Angel's car?". Cordelia starts to earn some of Gunn's respect when she tends to Vanessa's injury long enough to get her to a hospital and stands by him when they finally find the car and the awaiting demon Devac. In the end, Gunn has to realize that Cordelia is going to be there, to help him from his own self-destruction. See, she doesn't quit on her friends - which shows how much she has grown from the self-centered snop she was back in Sunnydale. A good character study of them both.

Friday, June 5, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 2

Continuing my viewing and reviewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5 and Angel season 2...

*** SPOILERS ***

B5-2: Real Me (written by David Fury, airdate 10/03/00)

When TV shows decide to introduce a new, younger character out of the blue well into their run, it is usually a sign of the shark being jumped. The Bradys got cousin Oliver. The Cosbys got Olivia. Now the Summers have Dawn. But, remember what show this is. Reality has been altered due to magic a couple times already. In season 3, Anya helped Cordy experience a world where Buffy never came to Sunnydale. In season 4, Jonathon used magic to make himself a super-star. So, clearly there is some heavy duty force at work here that would allow reality of the Buffyverse to be altered so everyone is perfectly fine with a 14 year old little sister always being there. Okay, not everyone. Clearly the crazy man that Dawn runs into outside the magic shop knows she doesn't belong. Speaking of the shop, nice way to provide Giles a new occupation and to get the Scoobies out of his flat. But, back to Dawn as this episode is clearly about her and view of things. I love how she finds Willow and Tara cool due to their being witches. And how she crushes on Xander. But she screws up when Harmony and her gang show up. Pause - gotta laugh along with Xander and Buffy - it is too funny that Harmony has minions. LOL. Anyway, Harmony is a lot like Dawn - lost, trying to fit in with the world. Dawn seems to have some advantage though (again, that mystic reality altering will do that). So, I am sure the big mystery of the season is: who/ what is Dawn and how/why did she come into being? Her final line of the episode is revealing: "Boy, is she (Buffy) in for a big surprise". This should be fun to ferret out with the rest of the gang.

A2-2: Are You Now or Have You Ever Been? (written by Tim Minear, airdate 10/03/00)

This one had a nice change in the framing. We get a detailed story from Angel's past, circa 1952, when he was living in seclusion in the Hyperion Hotel in north Hollywood. The hotel set is well done, and the whole feel of the period - from the HUAC trials on TV to racial prejudice to closeted actors - is spot on. Love the concept of the demon in this one, one that feeds off of paranoia, hatred and prejudice. It all fit perfectly. Of course, the present day stuff is great too. Wesley and Cordelia piecing together clues of what might have happened, and then bringing Gunn into the mix. Definitely some "tension" forming already between Gunn and Wesley, of sorts. Of course, the ending is fitting as we discover what happened to Judy and why she was never found and why the demon is still residing in the hotel. Lastly, it works out well as Angel Investigations gets new digs. Call this the "secret origin" of their new headquarters. I like it. It has character.

Comics of the Week (6/3/09)

This week brought to you by the letter 'S':

Secret Six #10 - Gail begins a new multipart adventure for the team as they find themselves involved with some twisted individuals. This always makes for a fun adventure when our villains are equally matched in ruthlessness and bizarre ways by others.

Solomon Grundy #4 (of 7) - Grundy takes on the power of the mystic fire in Green Lantern Alan Scott's lamp. And if that wasn't enough, the last page just shows that next issue will be even more interesting.

Strange Adventures #4 (of 8) - the issue suffers slightly with Starlin stepping off the art chores. I hope he returns to it next issue. This new space-saga moves along at a good pace as we learn more about the Aberrant Six and who is a part of it.

Extra this week: a five page preview of Justice League: A Cry For Justice mini series that debuts on July 1st. Should prove to be interesting as Hal and his group go on the offensive.

Monday, June 1, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 5/Angel season 2 episodes 1

Starting with my viewing and reviewing of season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and season 2 of Angel...


B5-1: Buffy Vs. Dracula (written by Marti Noxon, airdate 9/26/00)

You knew it was inevitable - I am sure fans demanded it. Just how does Dracula fit into the Buffyverse? From Spike, we learn he's just any other vampire who happened to get famous, spill a lot of vampire secrets out to the public, and knows a bunch of gypsy parlor tricks to augment the usual vampire ways. Dracula of course can become a mist, turn into a bat or wolf, and exert mental control over others. Standard stuff in any other lore. Buffy's reaction to meeting him - "get out" (in a much surprised tone). Of course, the girls all get the sexy mystique - heck Anya even hung with him once or twice in her youth. The guys, naturally, act all jealous. Then poor Xander gets made into Dracula's bug-munching emmissary - but even he can't handle a single punch from Riley. Giles, meanwhile, has to deal with the three sisters who want to ravish him (poor guy). In the end, Buffy defeats the dark prince, as we all knew she would. And Xander declares that he "is finished being everyone's butt-monkey". In the end, Buffy realizes she needs Giles for her Watcher again, so she can learn about the history of being a Slayer (at least Willow will be glad she doesn't have to keep his planned leaving a secret any more). Now, that last scene leads to one question - "sister?". Joyce, you got some 'splaining to do!

A2-1: Judgement (written by Whedon and Greenwalt, airdate 9/26/00)

Be it Cordelia acting or Wesley hustling guys at darts, when the pager call goes out the team comes together - to bust the evils of health clubs. Okay, technically a sacrificial rite behind the mirrors of health clubs. LOL. Interesting that Lindsey is finding himself akin to the recently raised Darla - that could be an unholy alliance of trouble when she gets her strength back up. I just love the idea of a demon karaoke bar - hilarious. And the fact that Angel has to get up and sing to find the pregnant woman he has to champion after killing her protector was genius. "Mandy" because he thought it was pretty and knew the words. Funny indeed. This along with the final scene of Angel visiting Faith in prison salvaged the episode for me. The main story seemed just a little low key for a season opener for me. Oh, and David's karaoke over the credits was also funny too.