Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Buff-gel Wednesday (22 July 2007)

So, despite my being out of town for Comic-Con, and tyranist being out of town the next week for genital skingraft procedures, we managed to get one more Buffy night in before August. Sometimes I wish I weren't blogging about it, and we could just watch five or more episodes in a row, but one day, it will all be over, and I'll be sad that the only "Buffy" episodes left to me are in comic book form, or calling themselves "Hex."

The three episodes we saw were "Fear, Itself" and "Beer Bad," and the Angel episode "I Fall to Pieces."

Hey, before I continue, I gotta say something about the "Buffy" season four opening titles. I have complained, I believe, that I don't like the Nerf Herder song much. But it fits the show and has a great drumbeat. Anyway, the second shot of Willow, when they credit Allyson Hannigan . . . it may be the greatest thing television has ever brought to viewers. Tyr and I have watched five episodes with that shot in them, and we laugh EVERY time.

So, whoever chose that particular shot for the opening credits gets my thanks, and I hope they got a big raise.

So, "Fear Itself." With excitement and joy, tyranist and I saw Emma Caulfield's name in the credits for this episode as well. There has not been an episode with Anya in it that hasn't been great, and I pray to Cthulhu that I can say that six months from now.

The second season Halloween episode was probably the best show I'd seen up to that point, so I had high hopes for this one. In it, AllHallow's Eve is in the air, and even Giles has gotten into the holiday mood (apparently, real-life demons and monsters don't tend to come out on that night, as they consider all our festivating to be in bad taste).

Buffy is still bummed out over what happened with her and Parker (who tends to show up everywhere Buffy is, but always with a chick and a manly, guileless grin. The gang decides to go to a party at the local frathouse, and Anya wants to go too, so Xander tells her to meet him there, and to wear something scary.

At the frathouse, one of the guys copies a spooky-looking symbol from a book onto the floor, and it starts to bring things to life within the house (like a fake spider starts crawling around, grapes turn into eyeballs, a plastic skeleton is no longer plastic, Cordelia's chests turn real, etc.).

Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Oz go into the frathouse, and find things a lot scarier than they were intended . . . and there seems to be no way out of the building.

Anya does show up, wearing a huge, awkward rabbit suit. Later, when questioned about it, she says, simply, "Bunnies frighten me." When she is unable to get into the frathouse , she goes to Giles and tells him what's happening. I'll give you a dollar if she becomes a main character . . . not because I don't think it will happen, but because a dollar doesn't seem like a lot to pay for that happening.

Inside the house, each of our characters starts having their worst fears come true. Xander is unseen and ignored by everyone, Willow's magic attacks her, Oz finds himself wolfing out, and Buffy ends up doing a terrible movie called THE RETURN.

Giles uses a chainsaw to get into the house and finds the whole gang in the attic, where the evil symbol had been drawn. Turns out, it's a portal to produce a frightening-looking demon . . . who happens to be about eight centimetres tall. Buffy squishes him and they all go somewhere quiet to eat their Halloween candy. Fun stuff.

The next one was called "Beer Bad." I've heard people call this one of the weaker episodes, but I didn't much see it.

Buffy is, amazingly, still bummed out about Parker, and fantasises that she saves his life and he comes crawling back to her. Xander, in an attempt to stay relevant, gets a job as a bartender and . . . would an eighteen year old really be able to get a job in a bar, let alone as a bartender? I don't suppose it matters, as nobody I.D.s Buffy when she goes to the bar.

There are a bunch of pseudo-intellectual douchebags* there who belittle Xander and then hit on Buffy, who seems to hit it off with them. One of them is Kumar from HARMAR AND KUMOLD GO TO WHITE CASTLE. They all drink the same brand of beer, and enjoy themselves . . . though mysteriously, nobody paws Buffy. Do I need to rant about that?

Oh yeah, also, Oz seems oddly drawn to the singer of a band at the Bronze named Veruca, which vexes our Willow.

Well, the beer basically causes Buffy and her male friends to devolve into a caveman-type form, complete with grunting and hunching and simian behaviour associated with those who say Harry Potter is "just a book."

Turns out the owner of the bar is getting revenge on the college kids who taunted him all these years, the same way they taunted Xander. And probably you, if you're reading this.

Meanwhile, Willow encounters Parker the Ladykiller and confronts him for his behaviour with Buffy. He lays on the charm and explains his motivations to her in a way I (but not tyranist) found to be valid and believable. It appears that he'll be working his own brand of magic on Willow, but she sees through it.

At that point, the cavedudes burst in, inadvertently starting a fire, which threatens the life of everyone inside. Xander, Giles, and CaveBuffy manage to save Willow and Parker and the others, and before reverting to her normal self, Buffy gets to hear a grateful Parker tell her how wrong he was. And then she decks him.

Okay, this was a bit more didactic than the episodes we usually get, but it was fun, and that works for me.

"I Fall to Pieces" was the "Angel" episode we watched, and it's nice to see that I'm not the only one who names his stories after song titles.

Amazingly, this is only the fourth episode of "Angel, and it told of a young woman who is being stalked by a surgeon with the ability to mentally separate and control parts of his body, such as his floating eye or crawling hands.Angel takes the case, and it turns out to be their first paying customer. The surgeon did work on the woman, Melissa, and became obsessed with her. Now, she lives in constant fear of him, and the theme of the show is how she'll never be free as long as he holds that kind of power over her.

I thought the villain of the episode was actually pretty interesting, and it was neat that he tries to kill Angel and fails, not knowing that Angel is, well, already dead. We also get an appearance by Kate, the policewoman** from the second episode, and who knows, maybe she and Angel will have some kind of romance.

I'm not sure I want to say any more about the episode. Is it just me, or is the premise of this show severely limited? I don't know what it is, exactly, but the idea of a teenage girl and her friends doing battle with the forces of evil seems infinitely expandable, while that of a handsome, mysterious dude protecting young women from supernatural bad guys seems like a single season-type show to me.

Maybe I'm wrong, there was this one time in the past that I thought I had made a mistake. Turns out I was wrong on that one, though.

Rish Outfield

*Quite literally, I assure you; I believe Giles recognises the smell the vinegar at one point during the show.

**Sorry if I'm not allowed to say "policewoman" anymore.

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