Thursday, April 30, 2009

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

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


B4-3: The Light Of Day

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

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

A1-3: In The Dark

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

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


Michael O'Connell said...

I'm not behind you on watching, just behind on adding comments! Been wrapped up in a writing project with all my writing time - when that "flow" hits you, you just have to go for it, because it won't last. I'll let you in on that when there's more to know.

BUFFY (THE LIGHT OF DAY): Crossover! Yeah!!! Ah, the wonders of having two shows on the same network back to back. Wish Joss and the WB hadn't butted heads over Buffy and gotten it moved to UPN for its last two seasons. We could have seen a lot more of these.

Yes, I thought this was a nice exploration of "young love" (I hate to think of college as "young", damnit). From what I heard, Buffy hooking up with Parker so soon sent a rage through the fan base...all those Whedongals out there that wanted nothing to come between Buffy and Angel (wait until she starts sleeping with a whole other network, gals!). I really dug how it was handled, the Buffy part. It would have been too easy to make Parker "evil", or a complete and blatant jerk. First, that would have been kind of an insult to Buffy, wouldn't it, that she'd go for him in the first place? Second...that's just how it is with some people. College is quite filled with casual, meaningless sex...just for "fun", then moving on to the next person. Some people don't see it that way, and see it as complete intimacy, and meaningful, a serious connection. A lot of illusions get shattered in college. That's one of the big ones. Some people don't care about true love and happy endings. And Buffy was also still very vulnerable after the whole Angel thing, emotionally, so it was a bad time for this to happen. This ep showed nicely, through her, that it doesn't matter how together you think you are, or actually are in other parts of your can jack you UP.

Anya...yes!! Had a feeling we hadn't seen the last of her, didn't you? :) Love her don't-get-social-norms brain, a character who can't help but speak whatever's on her mind. As with, say, hooking up with Xander. Again...what IS it with that guy's hookups? Could they BE any more demonic? Plenty more comedy with Spike and Harmony, showing just what a bad, destructive relationship looks like (though most girls don't get staked in the process). I've seen, and continue to see, too many relationships like that (like the one I keep having to experience with my college neighbor and her jewel of a boyfriend). All different views on young love...nicely done. And loved the shot of all three of them, lost and confused and wandering.

And a nicely done A-story as well, the whole ring of Amara. Neat artifact. And an awesome fight with Buffy over it, which she thankfully won. And thumbs-up for Buffy thinking like a gamer! So now you've got the ring that makes vampires unkillable. Destroy it? Turn it over to the authorities? Nah...why don't I just get it to (whoever Angel's player is) so Angel can use it? Cut to the GM, who hadn't thought of that: "Uh..."

ANGEL (IN THE DARK): Part two! Spike hits L.A., and hits us with a hilarious opening scene of Angel-mocking. And then...Oz!! Yes! I was disappointed that there wasn't MORE Oz, but there was a lot going on in this ep, and only so much time to use him. Know what really creeped me out more than anything about the pyscho vamp? The actor - because I knew him too well from playing a scientist in "Bio Dome" (which I'm sad to admit I've seen a number of times. I can't explain why, but it just kills me). He was crazy with a side of fries. Very evil. Man, they really went to town with all those torture scenes. Painful to watch. Oh, forgot to mention - I love when Spike first fights Angel, saying that he had this big grand plan - but then he got bored. Awesome. Also - loved the conversation between Oz and Angel ("In town long?" "Not really" "Oh".). Very funny.

Hooray for the gang pulling the save - especially crossbow-packing Oz in the van! MANNNNN moment! But Angel can't let evil beasty walk in the sun. Wasn't that cool seeing our gang out fighting in the sun, with, like, a crowd around? Not sure why, but it's nice to see them on location every once in a while to keep the show feeling "real". Great burst-into-flames Angel stunt! And a great fight. Sadly, the OAF limitation ends up, once more, NOT being worth the cost savings...

They handled the thing with Angel getting to wear the ring VERY well. I really believed his reaction, imagined what it would feel like to feel the sun on your face for the first time in a couple of centuries - walk on the beach, feel the ocean breeze, be among people in the light of day. And the sunset on the roof was the perfect end, showing that he knew it was going to be his only day wearing it, and that he took advantage of every minute up it right to the end. I can understand his choice, destroying it. Realistically, would you or I have made the same choice in his place? Probably not. But yeah, the speech summed up his reasons, and it was a great character moment. And a nice Angel/Doyle bonding moment, too. Good episode - funny, touching, horrific, painful, exciting...really strong one.

Back with more comparative comments ASAP. But now, out to the patio to write more! Maybe I'm watching too much Angel, because I'm starting to keep his work hours...

Martin Maenza said...

Can't wait to hear about what you've been writing about. I totally get that comes first.

As for me, I'm a lot slower these days in watching (didn't get any in tonight, for example). Should catch up a bit on the weekend.

You are right - Xander has had some of the freakiest hook-ups ever. Except for Cordelia, every chick he's been with has something odd going for her. Okay, Willow doesn't - but she is a witch in training and dating a werewolf.

I do remember the whole casual-sex aspect of college quite well. There were plenty of times either I was totally into the girl and she wanted casual OR I was into casual and she was looking for more. It was difficult to find that mesh when you're both in the same place, especially at that time of life.