Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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

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


B4-10: Hush

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

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

A1-10: Parting Gifts

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

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

1 comment:

Michael O'Connell said...

BUFFY (HUSH): Wow, indeed. When Tim and I introduced A.T. to Buffy, there were two eps I really wanted him to see, and they were "The Zeppo" (because it so nicely showcased every character on the show and was an easy-to-follow piece of fun without you needing to have seen the show before) and "Hush". I just knew this one would blow him away, and I was right...especially as big of a Tim Burton fan that he is.

Total agreement on all your points, particularly on costume design and music, two things that made this one of THE most creepy things I've ever seen on TV. And more than just creepy, this ep had a lot to say (heh..."say"...) about how we communicate, how important our communication is to us and what a wreck we become when that connection is gone. And yes, on a show so known for its witty banter, the removal of that was such a nice challenge for Joss, as a writer, and for the actors. You hit all my favorite bits, there, with the slide show being my favorite on so many levels. And I loved watching society - even on just the Sunnydale scale - come apart without the ability to speak. And yes, the Riley/Buffy unveiling! Surprise! We're both super-heroes (you know, kind of). The explody conclusion (ewwww!) perfectly fit the creep factor - bravo! And the Riley and Buffy sit-down - not being able to find the words - absolutely perfect. Joss once again proves he is the MAN.

ANGEL (PARTING GIFTS): What the...Wesley?! My first reaction, the first time I saw this ep when it aired, was the same as Aaron's and Russ's. Anger. We loved Doyle, and Doyle was gone, and we had to get the guy Russ referred to as "Weazly" as a replacement? Needless to say, we didn't warm up to the idea right away, but believe me me, things turned around completely for all of us, and Wes would become one of the favorite Buffyverse characters ever in our eyes (he's got some growth coming). Yes, plucking him up for this show was brilliant. And what a great introduction, with him appearing as the Rogue Demon Hunter (tm) - which, in actuality, means a guy who's been fired from the Council and can't (as we find out in a later ep) even afford a ticket back to England. He quickly shows that he has NOT been through a massive character transformation, and is still the bumbling, though well-meaning, bookworm. And yet, we finally, here, get to see him as a character, not just as a plot device, and we find out quickly on that we like him in full 3D.

Oh, and re: Barney? Loved how they started the ep making us feel like this is Doyle's replacement on the show, and then drop the betrayal hammer on us. Sweet!

Great plot with the demon auction! I love that idea...and it's so L.A. Loved Cordy's interesting delaying technique. Oh, and of course, I forgot to mention the whole thing with Cordy getting the visions (and the hilarity of her kissing everyone in sight to try to get rid of them). What a perfect way to add some more depth to HER character. Oh, and I also loved the trip to the PTBs to try to get Doyle back. That made it feel real, because if you know some all-powerful people who could turn time back a day, wouldn't YOU do that to get back a fallen friend? It felt good to see him try.

Awesome ending over breakfast, with Wesley's not-too-subtle self-invite getting rewarded with eggs and toast. This moment, with the three of them around the table together, just seems to say, "Welcome to the new show".

And now the show starts moving in a new direction. Let's see where it goes...