Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stupid Thing of the Week

Merrill and I watched BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: RAZOR on the Sci-Fi Channel the other night. It was the TV movie that's supposed to make it okay that the show isn't coming back until April of '08. But as they went to commercial, they had these really strange, often perplexing bits of narration, supposedly answering questions that had been posed in some sort of online contest.

I wish I could express to you the surreal and offensive moment when the announcer voice came on and announced, "It has been revealed: Helena Kane and Gina Inviere are LOVERS. Brought to you be Quiznos. Mmmm, mmmm, mmm, mmm, mmmm . . . toasty."

I shit you not one little bit.

I was reeling afterward and Merrill had to rewind it a time or three to make sure we hadn't both had a brain aneurysm at the same time. I'm thinking I ought to come up with something stronger than just a Stupid Thing of the Week in the future, since STOTW just doesn't do this one justice.

Rish "Mmmm" Outfield

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Buff-gel Wednesday: Special Edition

27 November 2007

Because the spell-checker doesn't accept "Xander" as a real word, I found I used it thirty-four times in the last entry. Also in my last entry, I used the word "Gunn" seventeen times (spell-checker doesn't think that's a word either). This trivia is vitally important, isn't it, kids?

In order to help this station become operational as planned, tyranist is here with the first of his "Buffy" blog contributions. It was only after he completed his assignment that he let me know there would be no Buffy Wednesday this week, and no reason for me to get behind schedule. Hmmm.

So Rish talked me into guest blogging an episode of Buffy for him, something about if I didn't force him to watch so many at once . . . Anyway, I get to do "Out of My Mind." Not the best episode, but that probably has a lot to do with my problems with Marc Blucas, er, I mean Riley.

So Buffy is slaying vampires and Riley is showing up to help her even when she hasn't asked for it. Spike is still trying to interfere, but is discovering that he loves Buffy, which he and I think is totally wrong. Harmony, having been handily defeated two episodes ago in "Real Me" is deathly afraid of Buffy and thinks she's being hunted. Not true, because Buffy doesn't even see her as a threat, but there you go.

Dawn makes herself useful in this episode by being present when Joyce collapses
(right before her episode, she looked at Dawn and seemed not to recognise her, finally mirroring every single "Buffy" viewer across the country. It's unclear what caused her to pass out, or if it was the knowledge that Dawn shouldn't be there that did it. --Rish) and by finding out that Riley's heart is beating much faster than it should. Apparently all the drugs the Initiative had Riley on are starting to kill him by pumping adrenalin into his system constantly.

Riley likes it because it makes him strong, Buffy hates it because it will kill Riley, I like it because it will kill Riley.

In swoops the organization that was formerly the Initiative but is now just an anonymous government entity to help Riley out. He refuses and beats them up. Buffy decides it's for the best though and sends Spike to find Riley in the old Initiative caves. Predictably, he goes after the doctor instead and intimidates him into taking the chip out of his head. Buffy heads to the caves (even though she sent Spike there and is seemingly oblivious to the fact that Spike didn't show up at all to help her like he said he would), finds Riley, and convinces him that she'll love him forevah, even if he turns into a girly man because he won't have so much adrenalin running through him.

Subsequently, there's a fight, Spike doesn't get the chip removed, Riley is saved by the doctor (even though the doctor said it was too late to save him at least twice in the episode), Buffy is happy again, and Spike has this mad dream in which he and Buffy snog.

Not my favourite episode and we're only four into the fifth season. Mostly I disliked it because it dealt with Buffy's two love interests: Riley and Spike, more than it dealt with the normal monsters and villains. I've never really liked the Buffy love interest episodes though, so this shouldn't surprise anyone. Except maybe Rish who inexplicably prefers them to good episodes.

Also, and it is unfortunate that I know this, there is a ton of setup for future stories in this episode. So many that the episode is probably more meaningful down the road when all of those storylines come to fruition. All I can hope is that the next episode gives us a little more of what I love.

Thanks, tyranist. He's right, I like "Buffy" relationship episodes just fine. Something about living vicariously through Joss's characters or something. I also a) can't wait for Spike to get that damn chip out of his head, and b) can't wait for Spike to proclaim his love for her, just to see what will happen.

At the end of the show, Buffy finds Spike in his crypt and is going to kill him for his treachery. He dares her to do it, to put him out of his misery (living in a world where he can't kill and where she foils his every plan). And then, he kisses her. Spike tells Buffy he loves her, and then Spike awakens, particularly horrified by this "nightmare." It had to have been the best part of this episode.

I was worried that tyranist would use his blog opportunity to make me look like an idiot, but then he reminded me that the best way to make me look like an idiot would be to let me open my mouth. So, here I am, to sum up "Untouched," the last "Angel" episode we watched. This one was written by Mere Smith, her first episode. But apparently far from her last.

Evil lawyeress Lilah Miller chats with Darla over at Wolfram & Hart. It seems that Angel has been drugged (presumably a mystical drug) into sleeping all the time and allowing Darla nocturnal access to him. It seems unlikely, at this point, that anyone outside our core group know about Angel's "pure happiness=no soul" trick, which is good.

Back at Angel Investigations, Cordelia gets a vision of a red-haired girl being chased by a couple of sleazy dudes. Just as they are about to reach her, she uses her mind to slam an iron dumpster into them, turning them into Knott's strawberry jam. Angel arrives at the scene and finds the girl hiding in (yet another) abandoned building. He tries to calm her and explain that he means her no harm, but she freaks and "Carrie White"s a pipe into his chest. When she sees he's still alive and he offers her his card, the girl flees.

Turns out that she is staying in the apartment of evil lawyer Lilah, who recruited the girl to maybe become an assassin for the lawfirm. The girl's name is Bethany, which is not an unusual name, but I can't honestly remember ever knowing a Bethany.* Bethany has little control over her powers, and lashes out when she becomes tense or afraid. She has a bad dream, causing a lamp to fly at Lilah. Embarrassed/distraught/afraid/mortified, she runs out and goes to Angel Investigations to ask for help.

She has a lot of issues and quite a nasty attitude, and something in her words tells Wesley that she was sexually abused, probably by her father. When he confronts her with this possibility, her powers strike out again, flinging him (and Angel) across the room. Angel tells Wesley to leave, and he assumes that means he is fired. Turns out that Angel just wants him to leave, as Bethany is really hostile toward him right now. I was impressed by this.

Angel offers to help her control her abilities, showing her how to focus on an object by standing on her hands and levitating R2-D2. In return, Bethany offers to be his bedmate. He declines, upset about her mental state. Elsewhere, Gunn has been sent to check out the dudes who Bethany flattened in the alley earlier (he's now an official employee of Angel Investigations). He learns that they were on someone's payroll . . . a certain slightly-eviler-than-the-rest lawfirm that wanted her to use her power to kill.

Cordelia tries to befriend Bethany, but the Wolfram & Hart guys interrupt that by first trying to kidnap her, and then by sending her father to Angel's hotel to confront her. At seeing him (I believe he was also Katie Holmes's father on "Dawson's Creek"), she does lose control, shattering all Angel's windows and flinging him out of them. At the last moment, though, she mentally catches her father and does not kill him. 'Twould seem that Angel got through to her after all.

Angel accompanies Bethany to Lilah's place, where she gets her stuff to move out, but Angel can't enter due to not being invited. He smirks and tells Lilah that she'll have to find somebody else's mind to screw around with. She smirks right back, since, after all, she does. The end.

Another solid "Angel" episode, directed, I believe, by Mr. Whedon himself. Is that right? Hmm. I liked this one because both Bethany and Lilah are sort of grey-area characters. Neither one is evil--well, except for the lawyer aspect--but both have obstacles that keep them from being entirely good. I've met very few people in my life I'd characterise as evil, and only one person entirely, 100% good**. But hey, I've only met eleven people ever, so I'm not the best example.

Rish "Social Butterfly" Outfield

*Even odder, I DID know a girl named Bethel once.

**That would've been Shad Tobler, a real prince of a guy. I'll never forget the last time I saw him: it was midnight and he was digging holes in his backyard. He told me he had a lot of mulch to bury, and when I saw several garbage bags full by his feet, I made up an excuse and went back inside. I always wish I had helped him with his gardening because I found out two days later that his wife had walked out on him, just up and disappeared without a word to anyone. He really could've used a friend, I'll bet.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stupid? Thing of the Week

I've not listed a Stupid Thing in a long time. Not because I've not done or said anything stupid, but because . . . well, I don't know why. Maybe I'm just not very smart.*

Anyway, there was a Stupid Thing today that, as I thought about it, didn't seem all that stupid. I went out to dinner with my family, and my niece was ranting about this doll she wants called "Baby Alive," that is remarkable in that it urinates and, get this . . . defecates on command.

My niece wants one, and the store shelves tend to be empty, so a lot of others do too. And she says that her chief reason for wanting this doll is that it "pees and poops." Heck, it says it right on the package.

You know, that alone merits an entry here, believe me.

But afterward, my brother and I started riffing on spin-off toys they could make from Baby Alive. He suggested Crack Baby Alive (self explanatory). I suggested Baby Dead (which would do nothing). Maybe they'd make a bedridden grandparent doll that was also incontinent.

And then I thought about Baby Undead. They could make a series of zombie babies, with different features (such as bleeding or dismemberment or fresh from the autopsy table) and differing levels of decomposition. You could squeeze them and they would moan or say, "Braiiiiiins!" Or you could remove body parts, and like the old Cabbage Patch Dolls, they could come with a death certificate. Maybe a headstone.

We laughed about this sick idea for a few minutes, and then my mother ruined our fun, not by telling us we were eating or that this was in bad taste, but by saying, "You know, you ought to market that. I think something like that would really sell. And not just for Halloween either."

Well, our conversation puttered to a halt after that, but I do wonder, was my mother right? Would people buy something like Baby Undead? Or would only the sickest of adults (like me) find that amusing? And wow, imagine the outcry from parent and religious groups. People like my aunt, perhaps armed with pitchforks and torches, would thirst for the manufacturer's blood. It would be like high school all over again.

Ah well,

Rish "Barely Alive" Outfield

*Actually, there was a post a while back that I started to make, then didn't publish, because I looked like such an a-hole in it. I wrote it, but never stuck it on here because, as much as I dislike myself, there was just too much to dislike in that one. Maybe I'll reconsider, I don't know.

Buff-gel Wednesday (21 November 2007)

Earlier this year, I started blogging about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on its twenty-fifth episode. I sometimes wonder if I shouldn't go back and review that first season and a half, just for completion's sake.

But even if I did (which will never happen), I wouldn't be able to recreate that fresh first-time viewing experience, where characters and situations are introduced with no hint as to where they'll be going, and I find myself surprised and amused in ways only my mother (who instantly forgets anything she's seen) can repeat.

First up was "Buffy" episode "The Replacement," written by Jane Espenson. I was introduced to her as the editor of two essay books about "Firefly," as well as the writer of the episode "Shindig" from that series.

In this one, Xander is tired of living in his parents' basement (like a buttmonkey) and goes apartment hunting. He and Anya and Buffy and Riley find a really nice apartment that Anya loves, but Xander is worried about money (his construction job is ending soon) and thinks he ought to turn it down. Anya throws a little fit about this and Buffy and Riley go to the bedroom to get it on.

Before even opening the magic shop, Giles is attacked, this time by a cool-looking demon who wants, big surprise, to kill the Slayer. The demon's name is Toth, and is described as being pretty resourceful.

For reasons I don't recall, the group goes to Sunnydale's dump (we called them "junk yards" where I grew up, I wonder what the difference is*), where they encounter Spike, gathering garbage up for use in his home. You know, I'm starting to relate less to Xander and more to Spike as the show goes on. If they could only get Jonathan back. The demon Toth attacks, aiming a sort of wand/stick/rod at Buffy and firing. But Xander gets in the way of the blast and is knocked to the ground.

The demon has vanished, and the gang help the barely-conscious Xander up and out of there. Once they're gone, it is revealed that there is a second Xander, knocked out, among the trash. We will call him Dirty Xander (which I've been told is a revoltingly perverted act that only Thai prostitutes and Paris Hilton will perform), because when he wakes up the next morning, he's kind of grimy, having used several diapers as a pillow. He makes his way home and finds, to his horror, another Xander there. This one we'll call Clean Xander, since we first see him fresh out of the shower and combing his hair.

Dirty Xander follows Clean Xander, trying to figure out what is going on. Tyranist and I were sure that the demon had taken Xander's form and was now impersonating him, though in retrospect, that doesn't make any sense, really (since he was aiming at Buffy, presumably to kill her in a roundabout way). Clean Xander goes to his construction job and is called into the foreman's office. Dirty Xander spies at them, gleeful at the duplicate being fired rather than him (no, this also makes little sense, but real life never does), and is shocked when Clean Xander is not only kept on, but given a promotion for all his hard work.

Next, Clean Xander goes to the apartment they checked out, and not only gets the flat, but flirts so hard with the real estate woman that she needs to change her underclothes afterward. He then calls Anya, who is angry with him, and tells her he has something he wants to show her. Dirty Xander is convinced the other one is an evil twin, perhaps a robot**, using mind control to get his way.

The two Xanders finally meet face to face, and Clean Xander is forceful, direct, and ambitious, while Dirty Xander is timid, callow, and paranoid. Tyranist mentioned that he didn't like Dirty Xander much. We are no longer friends.

Dirty Xander runs to Giles's place to tell the gang about the evil duplicate, only to find Clean Xander there, telling the others what he saw. He claims that Dirty Xander is the double, and should be killed on sight. It begins to rain, and Dirty Xander goes to the dorms to see Willow (who, though I haven't mentioned it, is now living with Tara). He is able to convince Willow to believe he's the real one and confides in her that his evil twin is doing a much better job with his life than he ever did. Then he remembers Anya, and that Clean Xander is probably mounting her at that very moment. He heads to her place, and finding her not there, he gets into her drawers (her literal drawers, as in dresser drawers, not . . . never mind) and removes the pistol she has hidden there.

I believe it was at this point that I began to really hate tyranist. But let's look at this logically: Anya spent hundreds of years as an immortal being making men miserable, it's only natural she be afraid of dying and afraid of the many enemies she surely made along the way.

Speaking of Anya, she is at Xander's new apartment with Clean Xander. He's patched things up between them and comforts her about her anxieties. Suddenly, Dirty Xander bursts in, telling Anya to get away from the evil duplicate. He pulls out her pistol and points it at him.

Buffy and company arrive also (good timing). Giles has done a little research about what the Toth demon did to Xander, and reveals that neither is an evil twin (or a robot): the blast split Xander into a strong and a weak half, the same way Captain Kirk was in "The Enemy Within." Oh, and Giles doesn't mention Star Trek. That part was me.

It turns out that one cannot survive without the other, and Toth's plan was to kill the weak version of Buffy after they'd been separated. At this knowledge, the two Xanders stop fighting and begin to interact, finding a strange sort of delight in having a twin.***

The demon Toth arrives at the apartment and a battle ensues. Riley and Buffy slay him and then Willow comes up with a spell to reunite the two halves. But not before Anya proposes a three-way between them. Sadly, that scene was not included on the DVD.

Xander, now clean and dirty in one, moves his stuff out of his parents' basement and Riley assists him. In a head-blowing moment, Riley mentions to Xander that he's almost envious of his relationship with Anya, because as much as he loves Buffy, he knows she doesn't really love him back. The end.

With this, tyranist surprised me by saying, "Wow, I actually feel sorry for Marc Blucas." I'm sure he meant Riley, but he always refers to him by the character name. There's growth there.

This episode was fun, and despite my almost overwhelming desire to kill tyranist, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

As is tradition, we followed up the "Buffy" with an "Angel" episode, this one called "First Impressions," written by Shawn Ryan, who went on to create the hit FX show "The Shield."

At the end of last season, after Cordelia had been cursed with that deluge of suffering visions, she seemed to have turned over a new leaf. Gone was the selfish, money and fame-centric Cordelia of yesterday, and there was a new one on the scene. In the first two shows of this season, we got the same old Cordelia (though I'm referring to the same old Cordelia from "Angel," who is much less materialistic, shallow, and arrogant as her "Buffy" counterpart).

In this episode, Angel has been dreaming a great deal about the OTHER woman from his past, Darla. They meet, they dance, they kiss, they moonbathe, they kill together. Ah l'amour. And I gotta say, though I'm not a fan, Darla was looking damn fine. Angel drags himself out of bed later and later each day, feeling more and more tired, while Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn do what they can around their new office in the no-longer-haunted hotel. Nabbit the billionaire shows up as well, happy to have friends and excitement, and offers to help Angel out with property investment advice. I like Nabbit.Gunn has been having problems with a demon named Deevok, and Cordelia has one of her visions, this time of Gunn in trouble, and apparently quite afraid. Wesley is busy and Angel is sleep-humping Darla, so Cordelia takes Angel's car and goes to Gunn's hideout to rescue him. As she enters, she finds Gunn in the middle of combat, so she hits his assailant over the head with . . . if I recall correctly (but how could I?) a battle axe. Turns out, though, that her victim was just a friend of Gunn who was training with him. The guy, apparently, will be okay, and Gunn is none too pleased about a) Cordelia's presence in his "crib," b) Cordelia beating up one of his pals, and c) Cordelia thinking he might need her help. He marches her back to where she parked, only to find that she left the keys in Angel's car, and it has been stolen.

Angel's still dreaming of Darla, and Wesley has to wake him up to tell him Cordelia is gone (as is his car). Luckily, Wesley has his motorcycle, and a sissy pink helmet he forces Angel to wear (after all, it is the law).

Gunn and Cordelia go looking for the car, checking out the area's known car thieves. At the first one's auto shop, he tells Gunn that Desmond is the man he wants, and where he is partying. As they leave, Deevok steps out, planning general naughtiness. The unlikely pair ("Gunn and Cordelia, they're the original odd couple!") go to the party, where Gunn runs into a chick, Veronica, who I assume is an old girlfriend of his.

Suddenly, a bunch of vampires crash the party. Gunn and Cordelia do battle with them, but Veronica gets her neck cut, and Cordelia tries to stop the bleeding as they rush her to the hospital. The doctors are able to stablise her, and mention that Cordelia's actions likely saved her life. Gunn is distraught that she nearly died, and even refers to Veronica by his dead sister's name.

Angel and Wesley get to the party a little late, amid cops, paramedics, and shocked partiers. Angel grabs one of the survivors to ask her what happened, then headbutts her (watch out British censors!), revealing her to be one of the vampires. He finds out Deevok was behind it and how to locate him. Gunn and Cordelia are already at Desmond's chop shop, where Angel's stolen car has been taken. Deevok is probably the most revolting demon we've seen on the show (except for the maggoty one from the previous season-ender), with rot and exposed bone in his face. He tries to kill Gunn and Cordelia sprays him in the eyes with mace. Wesley and Angel arrive and everyone does battle, eventually, Angel slays Deevok with Cordelia's axe.

Gunn seems frustrated he didn't get to do it himself, seething with unreleased anger, and Cordelia theorises that the danger he was in in her vision was from himself. She vows that she's going to save him, even if it takes really big boobs to do it. Gunn, though not thrilled with the idea, seems to have warmed to her a bit (indeed, it was pretty entertaining to see them bicker, and they've got a dynamic I like, so why not?), and we'll see where that goes.

Angel goes back to his hotel room and dreams of more romance and bloodletting with Darla. While he sleeps, we see that it's no dream: Darla is there, in his room, crawling on top of him. The end.

You know, this is all good stuff. People say that it took "Angel" a couple seasons to find its tone, but I'm really enjoying it, not in the same way as "Buffy," but in a different, but nearly-equal way. By introducing a half dozen characters besides the original three, they've got a lot of faces I enjoy seeing from week to week, as "Buffy" has been for years.**** If "Angel" truly does get better as it reaches season three and beyond, then perhaps it won't be quite as sad when "Buffy" reaches the end of her run.

We'll see,

Rish Outfield

*Of course, we also called chickens "pets."

**Grunt. Mark my words: the day this show actually sinks to having a robot version of one of our characters is the day I finally achieve studliness.

***I had no earthly idea how they pulled off some of the doubling, even with computer effects and double-passes. Later, an evil angel came to me in a dream and told me that Nicholas Brendan has a twin brother who also appeared in the episode. That really pissed me off.

****I nearly put "years" in quotation marks, because I've only been watching "Buffy" since February or so, but I feel like I've known her, well, a little longer than that. I wonder how I would feel had I been watching five, seven, or ten years ago.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Stupid Thing of the Week

Here's a stupid thing... I haven't listed a Stupid Thing of the Week in months.

It may be because everything I do and say is so stupid it doesn't really stand out from the rest of things.

No wait, I thought of one.

I was helping my mom--or trying, anyway--to get everything ready for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and at one point she asked me to go out and move her car from her driveway.

"Why?" I asked.

So that people could park there.

I said, "Why should you move your car? It's your house? They should move their cars." She said, "Fine, I'll ask someone else to do it." And walked away.

Suddenly, I was fourteen years old again. The rage nearly overwhelmed me and, like I was fourteen, I slammed the door and seethed. It was probably an hour before I was back to, well, "normal."

You know, I don't think I'll even publish this one. It's just too unpleasant.

(I didn't publish this one. Not for a couple of months. Mostly because it hardly paints me in a positive light and frankly, I'm embarrassed about stuff like this. But then I thought, "Hey, this blog is all about me and the stupid things I do. If I can talk about performing home abortions in church parking lots, I should be able to admit to losing my temper around my mother." So, here's the post. Sorry about it.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Angel Season Two Begins

19 November 2007

The other day, tyranist threw his two cents in about my recent blogging. I realise that some of the things I say in these "Buffy/Angel" posts may be a little inflammatory. Some of it may well be unfunny and/or untrue. But adulthood has made me opinionated.

It may well do the same to you, someday. Consider yourself warned.

We made it through "Angel" season one (a much better first season than "Buffy" had, though it had its weaknesses), and I was happy to start the second season this week.

The first episode was called "Judgement," and I'll be darned if I didn't think it was spelled with only one 'e' all these years. The episode was written by co-exec David Greenwalt, with a story by Greenwalt and Joss Whedon (I found it surprising that of the four episodes we watched, none were directed by Whedon and this was the only one he got a writing credit on).

We are reintroduced to our three main characters at their various hangouts, and with a shock, I see that Gunn (J. August Richards) has been added to the opening titles. Angel calls them together to put a stop to a human sacrifice a couple of demons are having. Afterward, Cordelia gets one of her patented visions, this one of a pregnant woman and a big unidentified demon. It doesn't stay unidentified for long as Cordelia describes it to Angel who sketches it for Wesley who looks it up in a book.

To discover where the demon may be found, the gang goes to a karaoke bar that caters to demons. This is where I wish I had spent my formative years, kids. They meet green skinned Lorne, a smooth-talking gay demon who hosts the entertainment and is able to read the destinies of those who sing at the bar.

Angel gets the information he needs and goes to (yet another) sleazy part of town to find the demon, and presumably, the pregnant woman too. He does, and attacks the demon. They fight, but Angel is easily victorious. It's only after he's killed it that he learns that the demon was PROTECTING the pregnant woman. It would seem that her unborn daughter will be of great importance, and demonkind wants her terminated. Angel feels bad for his mistake, and tries to make it up to the woman, who has more than a little difficulty trusting him.

Over at Wolfram & Hart, Lilah Miller and Lindsay McDonald fill us in on what's been going on with the newly-alive Darla. She has regained her memories and is almost strong enough to go after Angel, who, if we recall "Buffy" season one, killed her in the episode that explained his origin.

Angel enlists the aid of Gunn, who delivers a talisman they found on the dead Kyle Reese demon to Wesley to study. Angel leads the pregnant woman to a crumbling old hotel, and he is attacked by more terminator demons. He tells her to go to Cordelia's house, and there is an extended fight. When Angel gets to Cordelia's the woman isn't there, so he's forced to go back to the karaoke bar (I looked it up and it's called Caritas, which is Mexican for "little faces") to ask Lorne for help.

To get the help, Angel has to sing. He chooses Barry Manilow's "Mandy," and is supremely awful. Afterward, Lorne tells Angel that the woman is facing a tribunal of sorts, and that the slain demon was her champion to fight for her survival. The talisman is the champion's calling card, and Angel goes where Lorne tells him to and throws it down just as the pregnant woman was about to be killed.

Angel fights the other champion, another demon astride a horse. We get to see Angel ride--and joust--on a horse, and is knocked off, then stabbed by the evil champion. But Angel, being a vampire, doesn't die, and when the evil champion turns his back on him, Angel kills him. The pregnant woman and her unborn child, who we can only presume grows up to be that really cute girl from "High School Musical," are safe.

The next day, to my surprise, Angel goes to visit Faith in prison, where he gives her words of encouragement while she does her time and attempts to learn to control her violent tendencies. Forget monasteries, the American prison system really is the best place for that. The end, though we get an amusing credits sequence with David Boreanaz continuing to sing "Mandy" most awfully.

Good stuff, and fun. This was a fairly light episode, which, being "Angel" is still darker than most "Buffy"s. They've started their second year strong, with a bit of tasty subplots that hopefully will pay off soon.

And soon came in the form of "Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been," an episode title not taken from a song (for once), but referring to the McCarthy hearings of the 1950's. A good chunk of the show is a flashback, and I really like those.

Turns out the hotel Angel went into in the last episode was significant for him. He asks Wesley and Cordelia to do some research on it, and we flash back to the Fifties, when Angel was a tenant there. We get to see the racism of the time, a very little of the glamour of Los Angeles, and the assortment of odd tenants of the building, all amid the backdrop of the H.U.A.C. coverage on television. Beyond that, there seems to be a creepy voice in the hotel that sometimes tells people to do bad things, like kill themselves or hide bodies or text message in movie theatres.

A detective-looking guy is snooping around Angel's floor and Angel discovers a young woman in his room, hiding from the man. When the dude comes to his door and demands to come inside and get the woman, Angel decks the block and I get that little familiar thrill I get whenever people find out the hard way that Angel ain't human.

Back in 2000, Cordelia and Wesley delve into the mysterious history of the hotel, with unexplained phenomena and deaths, and a photo from 1952 with Angel in it. Even then, he had really good hair.

In '52, Angel's next door neighbour has shot himself in the head, and the hotel manager decides to stick the body in a meat locker, since it's the third death in a row and hey, that kind of publicity is bad. The guests wonder if it wasn't suicide after all.

Angel talks to Judy, the woman he rescued. Turns out she's wanted for stealing money from a bank in the Midwest where she worked. She was fired when it was discovered that she's really a light-skinned Negro just passing as a white woman (this is sad, since even if being black were a crime, if you couldn't tell by looking at her--not to mention if her coworkers got to know her--then why not just let it go?*), and stole a suitcase full of cash out of fear or anger. Angel takes the bag down to the hotel's basement and hides it up in the rafters. While he's there, he hears the creepy voice telling people to do bad things, which explains why he appeared in VALENTINE shortly after this.

In the present, our trio visits to the run-down, abandoned hotel (still there because it's a historical monument or something, like your house). Angel goes downstairs and finds the money still there. He also finds the creepy voice still there, and tells Cordelia and Wesley that it's a demon that feeds on peoples' insecurities.

In the past, Angel goes to a bookstore where they have the sorts of occult books you don't find at Barnes & Noble, and reads about a ritual to make the hotel demon materialise/corporealise so he can kill it. When he gets back to the hotel, he finds the Judy being accused by the detective-looking guy of being brown on the inside. Before the guests can respond badly to this revelation (oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the hotel's owner seemed to have a whites only tenant policy), Judy immediately accuses Angel of being his neighbour's killer, pointing out that he has blood in his room (a yummy bottle conveniently marked "human blood" on the label).

Egged on by the demonic whispering, the tenants lynch Angel, hanging him from one of the banisters, breaking his neck. Almost immediately, the thrill is gone, and everyone wanders off to . . . I don't know, not surf the internet. Angel pulls himself free and as he's walking toward the door, the demon appears to him, laughing about its victory. It found the paranoia of the tenants delicious, and especially the betrayal Judy fed it. Angel tells the demon its welcome to the tenants, and leaves.

Back in 2000, Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn help Angel perform the ritual to corporealise the demon. It is cool-looking (though at this point, they pretty much all are), and Angel fries it with the fuse box. After the demon is dead, Angel goes upstairs and finds Judy still living in her room, now an old woman. She hasn't got much of a mind left, but apologises to Angel for what she did, and he comforts her as she dies.

When Angel goes downstairs, the gang is happy to be getting out of the hotel, but Angel decides it is going to be his new home. The end.

This episode was written by Tim Minear and was another good one. It was nice to see such an ugly side of people, since you don't expect it, and 1950's Angel abandoning them to the hotel was another unexpected twist . . . which I've come to expect from this show. Having never seen an episode, I never said I wouldn't watch "Angel" (no, that would be tyranist), but I was pretty wary of it. So whoever would've guessed that tyranist and I would not only still be watching the show into its second season, but be looking forward to it?

And speaking of looking forward, I think I'll have tyranist as my guest blogger in my next post, just to see how he . . .

Actually, I'm just lazy. There's no other excuse.

Rish "The Blog Princess" Outfield

*But hey, I'm something of a product of my times; I can't really imagine what the "good old" segregation/racism days were like, or the mindset of the people then.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Buffy Season Five Begins

17 November 2007

So, this Wednesday, I got to see Buffy face Count Dracula, as tyranist and I begin Season Five.

"Buffy vs. Dracula" (why don't they capitalise 'versus' again? Is it a legal precedent?) was written by Marti Noxon and begins at the end of summer. Buffy is still with Riley, but sneaks out of his bed to go vampire-hunting. She encounters Count Dracula, who has come to Sunnydale in search of Buffy Summers.

Dracula is vaguely European, with long hair and has that sort of Antonio Banderas effeminate sensuality that women tend to respond to. He has the fabled ability to entrance the ladies with his gaze, and when Buffy tries to stake him, he turns into smoke, and later, a bat.
Giles, meanwhile, has decided that, rather than sit around and make a glorified cameo in each episode, he'll go back to England. He tells Willow this, and she spends the rest of the show trying to get the others to appreciate him (without explaining why).

The credits have neat new visuals, as they always do at the beginning of a season. Anya is now in the opening titles. Which reminds me, tyranist has begun to hate Marc Blucas. I think his despising of her is on the same level of my despising of Harmony Kendall. It'll be interesting to see if that changes (for either of us).

That night, Xander runs into Dracula walking home. The Count uses his charms to entrance Xander, "Renfielding" him to be his servant. Dracula also visits Buffy in her bedroom (she's living with Mom for the summer), coming in and doing the whole seduction thing. He tells her she has a dark side and that her slayer abilities make her a creature of the night like him, all with the Fabio hair. When Buffy starts giving in and letting the vampire bite her, tyranist and I knew that it was just a dream.

But Buffy wakes up the next morning with bitemarks in her neck, which she hides with a scarf. Turns out her mother saw the handsome European man and invited him in earlier that night. At Giles's place, nobody notices Xander eating spiders or referring to Dracula as "the master." Riley, however, does notice something odd going on with his girlfriend, and everyone is shocked to see that she has those deep hickeys from the night before. Willow and Tara go to put a protection spell on Buffy's house, Giles and Riley go looking for the Count, while Xander suggests Buffy hide out at his place.

Xander locks Anya in the closet and takes Buffy to Dracula's castle. Yes, there's now a castle in Sunnydale. But there's probably one in yours too (I know for a fact that there's a castle in tyranist's hometown), so don't worry about it. Confronted with Dracula, Buffy tries to break free of his spell, but it's real hard. Dracula promises to make her immortal like him, and begins monologuing.

Giles and Riley find the castle and go inside, splitting up to look for the Count. Riley finds Xander, who he floors with one punch. Giles finds the trio of vampire women he refers to as "the three sisters." They are evil and attractive, and begin pawing at Giles, who is almost as helpless against them as I would be. Not you, of course, no, you're too strong and pure for that sort of thing.

Riley rescues Giles (the three babe vampires seem to have escaped), and they head down to save Buffy. It's too late: Dracula cuts himself and gives his blood to Buffy to drink. As she tastes it, though, she gets a barrage of memories that are very similar to one of Doyle/Cordelia's visions, and it snaps her back to reality. They battle, and Buffy stakes Dracula.

The spell on Xander is also broken, and he is angry at what happened, and tired of being everybody's buttmonkey.* They leave the castle triumphant.

But then . . . the dust that was Dracula reforms! Buffy is in the room, though, telling him she knew he was going to do that, and stakes him again. Poof! He is dust again.

But for how long? For . . . how . . . long?

Afterward, Giles tells Buffy he has something to tell her. She has something too and he lets her go first. She tells him what almost happened and how she's got a dark side and how much she's missed his teachings and asks him to be her Watcher again. Giles is unable to go back to England now, but is happier for it.

The last scene of the episode is Buffy about to leave on a date with Riley. She sees a strange Harriet the Spy-looking girl in her room. "Make sure you take your sister," her mother says. The end.

Good show. Pretty light, I think, but hey, that's Marti Noxon's strength.

I already knew who the sister was, though tyranist now claims (lies) that he wasn't the one who explained it to me, so the ending wasn't really a surprise to me. But I can imagine audiences of September 2000, though, scratching their heads or shouting "What the f--?" even louder than they did with the Jonathan episode.

But hey, they never said Buffy didn't have a sister. Perhaps Dawn was living in L.A. with her dad this whole time, and they just never mentioned her before. I'm imagining the week of anticipation was filled with all sorts of speculation and probably a lot of doubt that the addition of a new Summers was a good idea.**

Well, all those questions are answered in "Real Me," the next episode. It begins with Giles telling Luke "Feel the Force flowing through you" while she balances on her hands. She is interrupted by her still-unnamed sister and Buffy, some white crystals, and R2-D2 all fall over.

In the Summers home, we see the morning ritual of Joyce getting ready for work, Buffy getting ready for her day, and Dawn messing things up for her. She is told to take her sister to get school supplies while she's off training with Giles. Dawn writes in her diary about the people in her sister's life. She resents Buffy greatly, considers Willow a role model, Giles a geezer, and Xander a manly, dreamy hunk.

At this point, there have to be millions of "Buffy" watchers wondering what the hell is going on with their show. Who is this girl? Where was the introductory episode? How come the characters look at her like she's always been on the show? Why is she in the opening titles already? After being be-effed by the WB with two previous episodes, my money would've been on yet another episode they didn't show, one that explained just what the devil is going on with this Dawn character. Due to the magic of DVD (and time travel), tyranist and I are only somewhat confused.

Dawn reluctantly goes along with Buffy in Giles' new convertible, and they stop by the magic shop where they see Tara and Willow. Inside, the magic shop owner is lying dead--murdered by vampires is good--and Buffy asks Dawn to wait outside while they investigate. Outside, she encounters an unbalanced-looking man (that we don't know) who tells her she doesn't belong there.

Giles admires the magic shop and what a good business it would be while they see that the vampires stole books on Slayer lore and a pretty unicorn statue. Tara goes out to be with Dawn and comforts her, telling her that she knows what it's like not to be a part of the group. Giles decides to buy the magic shop and run it while also training Buffy and defeating demons and monsters every week.

Well, it turns out that the unicorn was for Harmony Kendall, who is still living under Sunnydale, and is still a vampire. But now she's got a group of really dumb vampire followers (my guess is that three of them were scientists and one was a Rhodes Scholar until they tasted of Harmony's blood) that she calls minions. They stole the books so they could figure out how to kill Buffy. And Harmony has a plan.

That night, Dawn is unhappy about having to be babysat that night while Buffy goes patrolling with Riley and Joyce goes to her still-unseen gallery. She's less unhappy, though, when Buffy gets Xander to sit her, but is disappointed when Anya comes over too (Anya treats her like a little child, though not as unkindly as you'd think). A rock is thrown through the window, and Harmony and her minions are there to call Buffy out (as you know, the vampires can't enter the house without an invitation). Xander tells Harmony that Buffy's not there and that she sucks, and Harmony starts calling everyone names. Dawn says, "Oh yeah? Why don't you come in here and say that," breaking the protection on the house. Xander is luckily able to chase Harmony away, though I can't really remember how.

Buffy has spent the whole patrol complaining about her sister, and when she gets home, she is furious at Dawn for inviting Harmony into their house.*** Dawn hears Buffy calling her irresponsible and immature and worthless and pretty much all the pet names my father had for me, and runs outside to . . . well, be captured by Harmony's minions. Anya, of all people, tries to protect the girl, but she is knocked unconscious just inside Buffy's door (so the vampires can't do evil shtuff to her). Riley and Xander take Anya to the hospital.

Buffy finds Spike and threatens him with bodily . . . well, death, if he doesn't tell her where Harmony is. Dawn, meanwhile, has been taken down to Harmony's lair and tied up. Harmony begins complaining to the girl about her life and how unappreciated she is and how difficult it is to be stylishly undead until her minions decide to kill her and eat the girl.

Then Buffy arrives. The vampire thugs attack her and Dawn watches her sister in action as she dusts one, two, three, four of 'em. All but Harmony, who, damn you episode writer David Fury, escaped. She takes Dawn home before Joyce gets back from work, and both of them make a deal not to tell their mother what happened to them. The end . . . with still no clue as to where Dawn came from.

This was another really fun episode, despite the dual frustration of Dawn's unexplained appearance and Harmony's disgusting reappearance.

One of the three big signs of a TV show "jumping the shark" is the addition of a cute new child to the family. But I gotta say, I find Dawn absolutely delightful. I realise that's not the straightest of words, so I try not to say it much, but it's really the most appropriate word. I love that kid.

It is vexing the way she's been introduced on the show, but hey, I'm along for the ride on this one.

Rish Outfield

*For once, this isn't my own silly distortion of the text. Xander actually uses the immortal word "buttmonkey."

**Which reminds me, X-men just added a new Summers sibling too. I wonder if Buffy got her last name from the X-men.

***Like me, Dawn is a constant screw up. Unlike me, Dawn is fourteen years old.

Trilogy Special Edition 2

I somehow coerced my buddy, Beta Ray Charles, to participate in a few Top Five lists too. Hey, anything to speed along this prison sentence.

So, in conjunction with the last post, here are my five WORST additions to the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition:

1. Luke's Emperor scream. By far, the most patently offensive addition to the SWT:SE, made all the more shocking by the fact that a lot of other people didn't even notice it.
2. Hayden Christensen's leering face replacing Sebastian Shaw's. People have tried to explain it to me, but no matter what bullshit excuse they or Lucas gives, it doesn't explain why Anakin is twenty-one years old again, yet Obi-Wan and Yoda are really, really old.*
3. Greedo misses Han at point-blank range ("At that close range, we won't last long against those Star Destroyers." "We will if they shoot like Greedo!")
4. The INCREDIBLY bad Jabba the Hutt in the 1997 Special Edition.** Holy Teebo, it not only didn't look like the 1983 Jabba, but wasn't remotely up to snuff with the special effects ILM created for JURASSIC PARK four years previous. It's like Lily said in FIRST CONTACT: "You didn't even try!" And Han stepping on Jabba's tail the way he did . . . what's the opposite of cute?
5. "Jedi Rocks." Ick. Even the name is obnoxious. At least "Lapti Nek" sounded like it could be a song title in their universe.

And Beta Ray's WORST Special Edition Additions:

1. Greedo Shoots First
2. Hayden Christensen in ROTJ
3. Jedi Rocks
4. Emperor Scream
5. Jabba in ANH

These lists were really quite easy for me to think up. Kind of impressive that we listed the same damn five in separate lists. I sense a conspiracy.

After additional prodding, I was able to get my cousin Ryan to compile his list (of four):

1. No Han shoot first.
2. Jedi Rock
3. McDiarmid in ESB - it's really cool to have him in it, I liked the new lines,
but there was nothing wrong with the old lines, nor even monkey-eyed-old-lady-Clive.
4. Jabba at Docking Bay 94 - it doesn't give us any information we don't already know, so it's bad cause it just repeats info, but it's kinda cool to have an intro to Jabba, once they fixed him up a bit.

Even Ryan listed three of the same ones, so maybe I'll forgive him for his earlier "George Lucas has no flaws and is a god among men and when he poops the room actually smells better than it did before" comments.

Rish "The Unspecial Edition" Outfield

*Dude, it doesn't. The next time someone tries to tell me, "Well, Anakin Skywalker died when he became Darth Vader, hence his spirit blah blah blah," I will stab them in the genitals, then ask, "Okay, then who killed the Emperor, then?"

**Now, I will grant you that they fixed him up for the years-later DVD release. That Jabba still doesn't look as good as the ROTJ one, but he doesn't make me fumble for my usually-handy bottle of rat poison.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Trilogy Special Edition 1

The other day, I went to Target, and I ran into my old Film teacher. He had, more than any other, infuriated me with his opinions, while enlightening me with them as well. He was the teacher I most think of when I go back in my mind to those days, and I remember how much he hated STAR WARS and how he'd constantly bring it up, either to get a rise out of the fanboys or just 'cause he despised it that much.

It was a little over ten years ago now, when the "Special Edition" just came out, that I saw him on campus and thought I'd ask him what he thought of the changes Lucas had made. He said, "I haven't seen it. What did you think of the changes?" I told him parts were really cool, but there was nothing wrong with the film in the first place, and I wished that they'd just left it alone. He then smiled and said, "So, how many times have you seen it?" "Three times," I told him. "Three times," he repeated. "So do you think Lucas really cares what either of us think?"

That was one of those reasons I despised him, but also one of the reasons he changed my thinking. He was the one who would always say, "You vote with your dollar."

So it was all the sadder that I bludgeoned him to death in the Target parking lot.

Okay, that part's not true, but I did think about the countless discussions my friends and I used to have about STAR WARS and Lucas's tinkering with them, and how much joy mixed with despair that used to bring me.

What's funny is, though I loathe the Prequels quite a bit, it's the Special Editions that bother me the most. I shouldn't still be so irritated, since it's now relatively easy to get a copy of the original versions (though not in nearly as high quality), but it was the SE changes that most rattled me, especially those that change the characters or tone of the Original Trilogy, still my favourite films of all time.

So, here are my five BEST additions to the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition (but this was really difficult. When I think of all the silly, stupid changes, like removing blaster hits on Imperial officers or switching "You're lucky you don't taste very good" to "You were lucky to get out of there," I get half angry and half sad):

1. Nice new X-wing/TIE Fighter visuals
2. Addition of Biggs reunion scene (well, most of it)
3. A couple of extended congratulations scenes at the end of JEDI (involving Wedge and Lando and Chewie and Pruneface)
4. Vader's lightsaber is red as the blast doors close
5. I don't know, a nice, realistic Wampa in a couple of shots?

I then asked my friend Beta Ray Charles for his list as well, and this was his response:
1. Improved shots of Cloud City
2. Biggs Scene reincluded
3. Tractor beam controls no longer English
4. Cleaned-up lightsabers in ANH
5. Improved land-speeder effects in ANH

I also asked my cousin Ryan, who you could call a Lucas apologist, for his five best and worst changes. He honestly said he could not come up with five bad ones*, but here are his five best changes:

1. Removing Palpatine's scream from Luke at Bespin
2. No Nyub Nyub/celebration additions.
3. Wampa
4. Cloud city scenes
5. Sarlac improvements - I guess.

I put the good ones first because . . . well, I don't really know. I don't really know why I do a lot of things.

Rish "Future Serial Killer" Outfield

*Funeral services will be held Saturday, from 10 to 1.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Elton John Songs

November 15th, 2007

Good news. Not only has tyranist tentatively agreed to contribute a "Buffy/Angel" blog in the future, but he seems amenable to doing more Top Five lists. As I've said before, nobody but us read this blog, but that means at least fifty percent of my readership is excited by this.

So, to kick it off, here's my Top Five Elton John songs:

1. Your Song
2. Someone Saved My Life Tonight
3. Tiny Dancer
4. Written In the Stars
5. Candle In the Wind

I love Elton John, for some reason, and it's a fairly recent phenomenon. I never owned a single record, tape, CD, or mp3 by him until I saw ALMOST FAMOUS. Now, I find it difficult to narrow them down to five. Sadly, I had to drop "Levon" and "Daniel" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Rocket Man" from my list, though I love them all.

Here's tyranist's list:

1. Your Song
2. Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me (as sung by Roger Daltrey)
3. Candle in the Wind (Marilyn version)
4. Come Down in Time (as sung by Sting)
and . . . uh
5. Rocket Man?

I'll get to work on other Top Fives right now. This may be fun!

Reginald Dwight Outfield

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The End of Angel Season One

8-13 November 2007

To make up for our indulgence a couple of weeks ago, we had three "Angel" episodes to catch up on. Turns out, we couldn't have chosen a better little trilogy, as the three interconnected quite satisfactorily.

First up was "War Zone," written by Gary Campbell (?). I have to say, I wasn't digging on this episode in the slightest. At first.

It starts with a young woman being pursued by vampires, and just as they're about to get her, a sort of street gang of young people jump out and kill the vampires. The gang is led by Gunn, who is the brother of the pursued girl, Alana.* It would seem that there's something of a turf war going on in the abandoned warehouse district where both the vampires and the gang live, and there are casualties on both sides. Gunn does have a big gun mounted on the back of a truck that shoots two-foot long wooden stakes. Now I know what to get tyranist for Christmas.

Meanwhile, back in the world of our regular characters, Angel, Cordelia, and Wesley go to a fancy party to meet a new client. We're introduced to a stuttery, backwardly earnest geek of a man, prompting tyranist to say, "This is what Hollywood's perception of an internet billionaire is." I resisted the urge to kill tyranist with his own footrest when Cordelia introduces the guy, David, as an internet billionaire, who has thrown the party but doesn't really have friends there or know how to mingle with his guests. He's a nice guy who is being blackmailed by a dude who took compromising pictures of David going to a demon brothel.** Much to Cordelia's delight, he has offered to pay Angel Investigations a great deal to make sure those pictures don't end up, I don't know, in his mother's hands.

Angel goes to the brothel and eventually tracks down the sleazebag who took the pictures, threatening him within eyeshot of Gunn and his gang. The photographer sics a demon bodyguard on Angel, and Gunn sees Angel in vampire mode as they fight. Angel stomps the demon, manages to get the photos, and is immediately attacked by the gang of vampire hunters. He gets a stake through the gut and only 'gel's mad skillz keep him from gettin' the slay put on him. He tells the gang that he's not their enemy, but Gunn is dubious.

Angel is actually pretty badly hurt there, I guess. He is aware of a vampire hideout and is worried that the humans get themselves killed. He goes to warn Gunn, but Gunn not only doesn't want Angel's help, but locks him in a meat locker. The vampires attack the gang's hideout during the day, wearing full body covering like biohazard suits. They gas the building and capture the people who flee, Alonna among them. Gunn runs after them, trying to catch up with the van they stuck his sister in, but fails.

He and his gang regroup and decide to attack the vampire lair, but for some reason I still don't understand, wait until dark. I don't know, maybe it was ten minutes to sundown when Alonna was snatched, I really can't say.

Angel, meanwhile, tries to punch his way out of the improvised prison he's stuck in. Just as he's about to escape, Cordelia and Wesley arrive to open the door. They ask him why he didn't call them on his cellphone, but it never occurred to Angel that he had it on him the whole time.

Again, for reasons I don't understand, Gunn goes by himself into the vampire lair (which appears to be an underground parking lot--not that there's anything wrong with that). Alonna is waiting for him. She tells him how nice it is not to have any guilt or any fear or any of the many weaknesses human beings struggle with everyday. Gunn is very reluctant to kill her, especially since she seems so much like the old Alonna. Finally, she offers to share her "gift" with him, and he is forced to stake her.

Angel reveals himself, having witnessed the exchange, and tries to reassure Gunn that he did the right thing. The vampires and gang confront each other and Angel tries to prevent bloodshed by offering the undead a truce: if they leave his city, never to return, they are free to go with their lives. Their leader balks at this and insinuates that Angel's show isn't nearly as good as "Buffy" is. Angel nods, clarifies that the offer didn't apply to the leader, and stakes him. The other vampires make a run for it, hoping that the Titty Twister is still running down in Mexico.

That night, Gunn is looking out at the city, thinking his thoughts. Angel shows up and talks to him, hoping they can work together in the future. Gunn tells him he doesn't need Angel's help, and Angel, in a nice moment, says he might need Gunn's. The end.

This was a pretty good episode, mostly because of unexpected moments, and the unusual focus on Gunn and his sister. They gave Gunn the surly, inhumanly tough, heartlessly independent personality modern film always insists on stamping on black characters . . . but then, something weird happened: I ended up liking him. So much so that I was pleased to see him show up again in the next episode.

Which was "Blind Date." It too surprised me, even more than "War Zone" did.

It was written by Jeannine Renshaw, who co-wrote the best episode of the season, "I Will Remember You."*** It starts out with Angel running into a blind woman in an alley. Instead of her being in need of his protection, she starts kicking his arse. I couldn't explain it either, but she seems to have superhuman abilities, two letter D's on her chest, and seriously effed-up Meg Foster eyes. That is revealed when her sunglasses come off and she disappears.

Angel has Wesley and Cordelia look her up on the computer and it turns out she not only has a police record, but is currently on trial for murder. And guess what law firm is defending her, for free?

In my previous "Angel" post, I referred to two of the Wolfram & Hart lawyers as Prettyboy Lawyer 1 and 2, respectively. To my surprise, they're both back in these episodes, so I guess I should've used their actual names. Prettyboy Lawyer 1 is named Lindsay McDonald, a crafty young man with tons of ambition, and Prettyboy Lawyer 2 . . . well, I think I'll keep calling him that, just to avoid confusion.

The next day, Blind Vanessa is in court, with Lindsay defending her. He explains to the jury that she couldn't have killed the because, just look at her Meg Foster eyes, the woman is blind! At that moment, Angel pops his head into the courtroom and throws Blind Vanessa's sunglasses at her. She scoops them out of the air like Shamu catching a halibut, and Angel takes off again.

It turns out that Blind Vanessa is as blind as Marlee Matlin. She works for Wolfram & Hart as a sort of enforcer, and can see a different part of the spectrum than we do.

At the lawfirm, we are introduced to Holland Manners, played by big-time familiar face Sam Anderson. Manners is one of the bigwigs at Wolfram & Hart (jeez, has Sam Anderson EVER played a good guy?), and he congratulates Lindsay and getting Blind Vanessa off. He must've performed some kind of miracle, but then, both Lizzie Borden and O.J. walked. They talk about the future, about Lindsay's previous failures concerning Angel, and Manners says, "Your mama sure does care about your schoolin' boy." Okay, actually, he doesn't say that, but he does express an almost paternal interest in Lindsay's success.

He also tells Lindsay to come up with a gameplan for defending Blind Vanessa in the future, as there's some pesky children coming to town that she's going to "pay a visit" to.

Back at Angel Investigations, the group is disgusted that Blind Vanessa was acquitted and how powerful that lawfirm is. At that moment, in walks Lindsay, who has come to switch sides.

Angel's as suspicious as I would be upon hearing a compliment from my father, but Lindsay tells Angel what he knows, specifically about the children in danger. He also explains that he grew up in poverty and pulled himself up by determination alone, seeking power, but seeing how much W&H's power corrupts. Angel suggests he go back to the firm and swipe the files on these children. Lindsay explains that there are shamans and nutcrackers and mind-readers at the firm and he's afraid to go back. After more skepticism from Angel, Lindsay agrees to go get the files, and that if he's killed, then Angel can be convinced he's legitimately changed.

They make a plan, and part of it involves Gunn from the previous episode. Lindsay goes into the W&H building and goes down to the records office, leaving a pass for Angel there. He runs into Lilah Morgan, who tyranist and I both thought was a more likely turncoat than Lindsay, but explains his presence away. Lindsay goes to the surveillance area, and is looking in the monitors when Gunn and a couple of his gangbuddies walk into the lobby and shout at all the evil white people. They bring in a large bundle which immediately sets off the vampire detectors. At that moment, Angel comes into the building via the sewers. Our boys let the vampire out and vamoose as the security guards produce stakes from their billyclubs (a brilliant device) and slay the vampire. By the monitors, Lindsay distracts security while Angel uses Lindsay's pass to get into the W&H vault. There, he snags a couple of data discs and sees a scroll on the wall, which he also grabs.

An alarm goes off and Angel barely makes it out of the building as everything is shut down. Lindsay tries to leave, but Manners ushers all the lawyers into an office, bringing in the vaguely-Eastern Europeon mindreaders to look everybody over. Lindsay, Prettyboy Lawyer 2, and Lilah are all scrutinised by the mindreaders, and we're sure his goose is cooked, when Manners accuses Prettyboy Lawyer 2 of planning to leave the firm with some clients, and has him shot in the head.

He dismisses everybody but Lindsay. Once they're alone, Manners reveals he knows what Lindsay has done, but that he still believes in him. He offers Lindsay a few days to decide whose team he wants to be on, and as Lindsay leaves, I was sure he'd push a button and the floor would drop out and Lindsay would be fed to the sharks. But he isn't.

Angel makes it back with the files, and they get started decrypting them. He shows Wesley the parchment, which has Aramaic writings on it that will have to be translated. Cordelia calls Willow back in Sunnydale (who we don't see), and decrypts them that way. Turns out Blind Vanessa was trained by a bunch of monks to see with her heart, not her mind, and there are three children with similar--but greater--powers in L.A. that she is about to kill. Lindsay shows up and he and Angel rush to save the children.

Blind Vanessa has already killed the children's bodyguard and--my god, they all have Meg Foster eyes too!!--is about to kill them when Angel arrives. Lindsay is no match for her, but because Angel has no body heat, he is able to thwart her by striking and then holding still (at least that's what I got out of it). Impressively, Angel kills Blind Vanessa.

Angel goes back home. Wesley has translated some of the scroll, and found that it's a prophesy. It talks about the three children and a vampire with a soul.

Lindsay also goes back home, returning the stolen discs to Wolfram & Hart. He apologises to Manners, but says that he had to save those children. Manners seems to understand this and tells Lindsay that he always saw a lot of potential in him. He offers Lindsay a junior partnership in the firm, lots of money and power, and enough cocaine to recreate the famous blow scene in SCARFACE. Lindsay considers the offer, and then . . . stays. The end.

Like I said before, I was really surprised by this episode. I was surprised that they'd have a blind woman as a villain (and have Angel kill her), I was surprised that Lindsay betrayed the firm, and then surprised when he went back again. But you know, this whole show has been surprising, from the great revelation that the possessed kid in "I've Got You Under My Skin" was ALREADY evil, to the way Angel has been both empathetic and likable throughout the show. And they say it only gets better.

But wait, there's more. We've still got the season finale, "To Shanshu in L.A.," which gets high marks for the cleverness of its title, but also for referencing a Wang Chung song. It was written and directed by David Greenwalt, co-creator of the show.

Continuing from last week, Wesley is translating the scroll when he comes upon the word "shanshu." Angel, apparently, is prophesied to shanshu in his attempts to stave off Armageddon. The word means "live and die." Cordelia mentions to Wesley that Angel's life is stagnant because he wants nothing out of life, and pretty much has nothing to look forward to. I can certainly relate, except I won't live forever like he will.

Back at Wolfram & Hart, Holland, Lindsay, and Lilah summon a demon named Vocah, who wears a mask over part of his face. Vocah is there to do something called a "Raising," but first must eliminate those who would prevent this from happening.

David the internet zillionaire comes over, but no one will play with him. Cordelia has a vision that sends Angel after a slime demon (I'm guessing Parker Posey), and Angel saves an old woman from it. Policewomanofficer Kate Lockley arrives, looking quite attractive, but is more than a little hostile towards Angel. It seems she now blames him for her father's death (despite Angel being at her side when she confronted those responsible), and will not rest until all vampires are in a vaccuumable state.

Vocah the Demon goes to visit the Oracles, who we haven't seen since "I Will Remember You" (I believe), but they tell him to take a hike. Vocah can apparently pass unnoticed, as he slips into Angel's place as he's locking the scroll into a cabinet. This ability comes in handy as he goes after Cordelia, walking right up to her and touches her hand. Suddenly, tons of excruciating visions come screeching into Cordelia's head like a Bjork song and she drops to the ground in agony. She is taken to the hospital, where she writhes and suffers, leaving the doctors dumbfounded. Angel arrives at the hospital, declaring himself her family, and is told that whatever's wrong with her, it will kill her if left untreated.

Wesley, back at Angel's place, sees that the cabinet has been torn open and the scroll stolen. In its place is a bomb, which explodes before he is able to get away. Angel Investigations lies in ruins, but Angel finds Wesley injured but alive in the wreckage. As he takes his friend to the hospital, Kate Lockley shows up, evidently just to be a butt, and Angel tells her he needs more of her crap like he needs a suntan.

Angel enlists Gunn again to protect Wesley and Cordelia while he gets to the bottom of things. Gunn again proves himself a useful addition to the show and I am impressed. Angel goes to see the Oracles too, to ask for their help, but they are dead, dead, dead. Still, the ghost of the female one rises long enough to tell Angel that he needs to retrieve the scroll again to break the spell over Cordelia.

Angel goes to Wolfram & Hart just in time to see the lawyers leaving, heading to Forest Lawn Cemetery to perform "The Raising" (actually, I don't know what cemetery it was, unless there's one on the Fox lot). In an underground crypt, a big cage has been set up, with five vampires chained to it. Vocah the demon begins reading from the scroll, but Angel interrupts the ritual and fights him. We get to see that Vocah is a mess of decomposition and maggots under his mask.

While they do battle, Lindsay grabs the scroll and finishes the ritual. The five vampires are sacrificed and something appears in the cage. Manners has his men remove the cage immediately. Angel kills Vocah, but Lindsay won't give him the scroll, preferring to fight him instead. He grabs a long candlestick and attempts to stake Angel with it, and Angel uses the fallen Vocah's knife to cut off Lindsay's hand.

Angel rushes to the hospital and reads from the scroll, freeing Cordelia's mind from the visions. She seems to be a changed person, having seen how many people are in need of their help, and tries to make the wounded Wesley and Angel more comfortable. Wesley reveals that he mistranslated the word "shanshu" before. It means to live and die, yes, but in Angel's case, it would mean to die and live. In other words, according to the prophesy, in staving off Armageddon, Angel will cease to be undead and become human. Suddenly, Angel has something to look forward to. The end.

Oh, but wait, we've got a coda to this whole thing. Back at the lawfirm, Lindsay is seething about his defeat and loss of his hand (looks like he won't be able to play "Hellgate: London" either, Jeff), but Manners assures him that they'll be able to destroy Angel now, thanks to The Raising they performed. Inside the cage, miraculously resurrected, is Darla, the vampire who sired Angel. The end (really).

Boy, this was good stuff. Not just the last episode, though it was quite good, but the last bunch of episodes. "Angel" season one went out on a high note.

Something I've complained about, not just with "Buffy" and "Angel," but most TV shows, is their apparent need to list surprise guest appearances in the opening credits, spoiling the revelations and entrances they've worked so hard at setting up. I may have explained it all away as contractually obligated, but the final reveal in this episode blows that theory away, as they did NOT credit Julie Benz as Darla until the closing credits. Also, that should pound a stake into any excuses they make in the future when doing that annoying, annoying thing.

I commented to tyranist that the rise and fall of Lindsay was really interesting to me, and that I only wish that as much thought had been put into Anakin Skywalker's rise and fall. I'm not sure if I'll ever get over the disappointment of those three films, but then, I don't have the social life you do.

I'm very glad we chose to do it this way (alternating "Buffy" and "Angel"), and it's cool that tyranist gave in to temptation and bought all the remaining seasons for us to watch.

I'd say, without reservation, that not only was "I Will Remember You" the best episode of the season, but it was better than "Buffy"'s best episode of the season (and that's saying a lot). I was surprised, about six months back, to discover that I loved "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." But it's even more surprising to discover that I love "Angel" too. And we seriously considered avoiding the spin-off series sight unseen.

It's good to be wrong sometimes. I only wish my wrongness was always the pleasant kind.

And that was our evening. We talked, briefly, about the show (something we don't do nearly enough) and I got to hear my friend's opinions for a change. I wonder if maybe I could bribe tyranist to blog a couple of next season's episodes in my place, just to see how he'd do it. Then I told him that I really wanted to see Buffy fight Dracula, that it would only take fifty minutes, and that he wanted to see the Ark opened just as much as I.

For the first time, it was me clamoring for more, and tyranist had to make a stand, which turned out to be gesturing towards the door, first with his finger, then with his boot. Ah well, something to look forward to.

Rish "Often Wrong" Outfield

*I did look it up, and I guess the spelling was Alonna.

**I remember the place well. It was on Pico and Western. I could never get inside.

***Whoops, did I show my cards too early? Sorry, if you really cared what my favourite episode was. Come to think of it, who would even be reading this blog?

****I know you're thinking, "Rish, you disfigured idiot, they're referencing the MOVIE, not the song." To which, I say . . . disfigured, really? I thought I was just revoltingly ugly.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The End of Buffy Season Four

21 October Part II

As I type this, I am farting deadly. I just wanted to warn you.

When last we left our overweight heroes, we had just gotten caught up on "Angel" episodes, and Mr. Rish Outfield was ready to ride off into the sunset.

And then we put in the "Buffy" DVD again.

First up was "The Yoko Factor," written by Doug Petrie, who also wrote "Bad Girls," "Revelations," and "In the Dark," among other episodes. In this one, Spike is hanging out with Adam, the DemonCyborgGuy, and is complaining about how tough Buffy is to defeat, despite his having killed two Slayers in the past. What makes Buffy stronger, apparently, is her little cadre of friends and partners. This gives Adam the idea to separate Buffy from her friends, which Spike volunteers to do in exchange for Adam getting rid of the pesky chip in his head.

Speaking of her friends, Willow and Tara are getting pretty close, even bandying about the idea of rooming together next year. Willow doesn't think Buffy will care, as she spends most of her time with Riley now, and the two friends have grown apart.

Xander goes to Riley's hideout to bring him a change of clothes. Riley mentions Buffy telling him about her past with Angel, prompting Xander to complain about Angel's transformation after his "perfect state of happiness." Whoops, Buffy sort of left out that part.

Spike first goes to talk to Giles, offering to help him procure files from the Initiative in return for a guarantee of clemency (ie, he is never to be slain). He also comments on how Buffy has no more use for Giles, not as a Watcher, not as a librarian, not as a friend.

Next, Spike talks to Xander, voicing his inner fears that the gang considers him nothing more than comic relief, and that Buffy flat-out considers him useless.

Buffy comes back from L.A., where she was crossing over with "Angel" in the last Faith-centric episode, and is in a bad mood due to Angel's treatment of her. She goes patrolling alone and runs into Forrest (the black dude from the Initiative who also played D.L. on "Heroes"), who's also patrolling, and is somewhat hostile to her. Together, they investigate a cave where, to their surprise, Adam is waiting. They fight.

Buffy has her hands full with the DemonCyborgGuy, but Forrest doesn't stand a chance: he is stabbed by Adam's wrist claws and passes into that dark clearing at the end of the path. Buffy flees the cave, injured.

Spike comes back to Giles's place, having "procured" the Initiative's secret files, and finds Giles drunk and feeling as sorry for himself as Rish Outfield on a Tuesday afternoon. When Willow arrives to decrypt the files, Spike comments that Buffy seems to have developed an aversion to witchcraft. Willow doesn't understand, and Spike elaborates that Buffy commented that she disapproves of what Willow and Tara are doing together. As Spike designed, of course Willow realises what Buffy was talking about.

Riley hears the Initiative guys on their radio talking about running into a particularly tough vampire, and surfaces to lend a hand. He arrives at their location to find Angel there, wiping the walls with Initiative grunts. Riley thinks Angel has gone bad again (and all that entails) and they fight. Angel, upon discovering that this is Buffy's new boyfriend, fights particularly hard, and eventually leaves him a bloodied heap in an alleyway.

Angel goes to Buffy's dorm and confronts her, wanting to apologise for what he said in "Sanctuary." Riley bursts in on them and Angel is more than happy to stomp on him a second time* until Buffy breaks it up. She tells Angel she's sorry too for how things went over on his show and that she accepts his apology. Angel leaves, but mentions he doesn't like Riley and will be happy when he doesn't have to see Marc Blucas's name on the opening credits anymore.

When he's gone, Riley tells Buffy he was afraid Buffy had slept with Angel again, and that he lost his soul, and that, well, he'll have to go back to dating vapid, party-friendly freshmen who can't take him in a fight. Buffy clears things up, telling Riley that she loves him (not Angel), and oh yeah, I almost forgot, your pal Forrest is dead.

Riley rushes off, and Buffy returns to Giles's place. She finds everyone there angry at her, Giles is completely sloshed, and Willow is incensed that Buffy has turned everyone against her for her lesbianic tendencies. Neither Xander nor Giles were aware of this, and both respond . . . well, poorly. Buffy is furious at this reception, and tells the whole gang that she's better off without them.

She takes off alone to confront Adam.

But Adam, in his underground lair, is not alone. He has been joined by Riley, who he's been expecting. The end.

A good episode, with lots of interesting character dynamics. Angel's presence felt really contractual, really obligatory, really "you scratch my back, I'll shave yours," but that's ultimately alright. Giles was quite funny in this one, especially when drunk (when Willow talks about the nature of her relationship with Tara, you can hear him moan, "Bloody hell," in the background). I believe Anya was in this episode, but I don't really remember now.

It leads us directly into "Primeval," which we watched immediately afterward. We couldn't not watch it, since we had a cliffhanger, and DVDs are just so easy to keep watching. "Primeval" was written by David Fury, who, besides being the son of the longtime head of SHIELD, wrote "Doomed," "Helpless," "Go Fish," this season's Halloween episode, "Angel" episodes "Parting Gifts" and "Lonely Hearts," and some episodes of "Lost" and "24."

Riley has gone to Adam's side due to a chip that Professor Walsh implanted in his chest. It seems she considered him like a son and wanted her two "sons" to be together. Riley tries to fight it, but the chip pretty much controls him.** Adam takes Riley to a secret lab at the Initiative, where the zombified Professor Walsh has transformed Forrest into a DemonCyborgGuy too. Riley is to be next.

Xander still feels sorry for himself, but Anya makes him feel better. Willow too feels better when she decrypts the stolen Initiative files. They reveal Adam's plan: free all the demons held captive in the Initiative, pit them against the soldiers, and then sew all the pieces together to make a bunch of DemonCyborgGuys.

Buffy goes into the caves and finds Spike there, looking for Adam to take his chip out. She talks to him and realises that he is the reason her friends turned against her. Buffy gets her four main pals together and apologises. She needs her friends to defeat Adam. Only with Giles's language skills, Willow's witchcraft skills, Buffy's fighting skills, and Xander's smartass skills, can she do this.

The four of them sneak into the Initiative (rapelling down the elevator shaft), and are promptly caught by the skinflint colonel and his soldiers. He refuses to listen to their warnings about Adam, but then the power goes out, and all the containment units (ie, cages) open up, and like Lindsay Lohan's bedroom, the place is awash with demons.

Everybody fights. Buffy and Co. take advantage of the turmoil to get to Room 314, where Professor Walsh created Adam. They block the door behind them and discover a secret entrance to a secret laboratory. Giles, Xander, and Willow sit down and begin a ritual, while Buffy goes in and confronts Adam and his cronies. Forrest attacks her and Riley can only watch as his new lover, Buffy, fights his old one, Forrest (oh wait, I think they were just friends. Never mind).

Finally, Riley is able to grab a piece of glass and cut into his chest, removing his inhibitor chip. He leaps into action, making Professor Walsh dead again and taking over Buffy's struggle with Forrest so she can go after Adam.

Adam, it would seem, is even more powerful than he used to be: he's transformed his right hand into a combination hand/claw/knife/gun/dildo/rocket launcher. As he fires it at Buffy, the trio in the other room complete their ritual, and suddenly, Buffy has become Neo, only with more acting talent and glowing yellow eyes. She stops Adam's bullets and turns the rocket into harmless doves. She strides over to take out Adam.

In the next room, demons manage to break through the door, and one descends on the three who are in a trance, channeling their energy into the Buffster. At the last second, who should kill the demon and save them but Spike.

Buffy, immensely powerful, takes down Adam with very little difficulty, plunging her hand into his chest and tearing out his . . . what did they call it? His uranium power core. Adam, the CyborgDemonGuy, and big villain of Season Four, is dead.

As our heroes get to their feet, military bigwigs are surveying the damage via closed-circuit. Everywhere are the bodies of soldiers, demons, vampires, and Ewoks. The men in charge deem the Initiative a failure, and declare the project be terminated, the building be demolished, and all records destroyed. The end.

This was, to these green eyes, a riveting and satisfying end to a season full of storylines. Many new characters were introduced during Season Four, the majorest being Riley Finn and Tara (does Tara have a last name?), and though I felt a bit of a dip in quality during the year, there were just as many laughs and scares as I've become used to (a huge portion of those in "Hush," the scariest episode of the season). And speaking of "Hush," I think I'm going to declare it the best episode of the season, with "Who Are You?" a close second. Both were fantastic episodes, and make me want to buy this season's set. On the downside, with the addition of new characters, there were some, Giles usually, who didn't have much to do throughout the year. Also, there wasn't an abundance of emotion, I felt, in Season Four, but maybe I'm forgetting something.

Ah yes, I am forgetting something. And that would be "Restless," the Season Four finale, written and directed by Joss Whedon.

After their ordeal last episode, the four show principals go to Buffy's mom's house to watch a stack of videos*** and relax. Almost immediately, they fall asleep. At this point, tyranist expressed his worry that we were about to witness "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"'s first clip show. Instead, each character has a dream that lasts an act, and all are in danger from a mysterious force.

The dreams are inconsistently surreal, and may have deeper meaning, but may just be the awesome lyrical symbolism that made up that classic of modern cinema JUGULAR WINE.

Willow's dream is first, and she has the good-old actor's nightmare where a play is being performed, but she's not prepared. She's back in high school, dressed in her old nerdy clothes, and people are making fun of her, among them Xander and Oz.

Xander dreams that Buffy's mom is trying to seduce him, that Giles and Spike are the best of friends on playground swings, that Willow and Tara are lipstick lesbians who invite him to participate, that Giles is trying to explain something to him in French, and that Principal Snyder is Colonel Kurtz in APOCALYPSE NOW. Oh, and repeatedly, something is trying to get at him in his basement.

Giles dreams of his sort-of-girlfriend Olivia as his wife, and little girl Buffy as his daughter. They're at a carnival, and Spike is a celebrity. Anya is a stand-up comedian at the Bronze, and he gets up and starts to sing a song, in which he tells the other three about the danger they're in. Then he is attacked by what looks like a head-hunter or aborigine.

They make use of most of the standing "Buffy" sets, even showing how the high school set and Xander's basement set are connected, in the way you could only do in dreams.

Buffy's dream has all sorts of effed-up stuff in it, like Joyce being walled-up at the school, and Riley playing cushion forts with Adam in human form. Buffy finds herself in the desert. There, she faces their attacker: the very first Slayer, from presumably thousands of years ago, whose power they tapped into in the last episode. The Slayer tells Buffy that she shouldn't have her friends, that she's stronger alone, and Buffy tells her that her friends are everything to her, and she'll never abandon them.

The first-ever slayer seems satisfied by this, and all awaken from their dreams unharmed. Buffy goes into a bedroom that is not her own and hears a voice telling her to be back before Dawn. The end.

And at last, it has happened. While you and many like you may disagree, I found "Restless" to be the first truly awful "Buffy" episode since I started blogging them. I've often complained about the lousiness of the first season, but it may be that none of them were quite as bad as this one. I can't say for certain.

Yes, Giles singing was nice, and yes, there were a few laughs, especially in Xander's dream, but mostly, it was a totally pointless show, with no development, plot advancement, or milestones, and a lot of humourous moments that were not humourous.

This was an unbelievably indulgent episode. I almost wish it had been a clip show.

It was well-regarded, though, and I've heard it said that, until ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND came out, it was the best depiction of dreams in film. I know this is a popular show among fans, because, in July, I was invited to go to a two-episode screening of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" on the big screen. The two episodes chosen were, naturally, "Once More With Feeling," and this one. When I mentioned the title to people in line, they all knew what "Restless" was and were enthusiastic about it.

The screening was so popular that it sold out, a second show was added, it sold out, and a third show was added, late that night. Having missed out on the first two, I chose to go home instead. But my point is, a lot of people really like this episode.

Either that, or it was chosen because Giles sings in this one too.

I've heard a lot of Trekkers say that, if you're a real fan of "Star Trek: Enterprise," you simply ignore the actual last episode, and consider the second-to-last one the series finale. While I don't feel that strongly about the last "Enterprise" episode, I'd certainly be wont to consider "Primeval" the last episode of "Buffy"'s Season 4, pretending "Restless" didn't ever happen.

But hey, that's just me, and I'm certainly looking forward to November, when we'll get to Season 5.

Rish "The Vampire Watcher" Outfield

*Dammit, I'm doing it again: siding with Angel, a character I despise, instead of Riley. Oh, alright, I'll admit it. I don't despise Angel anymore. It just isn't fair.

**Just like evil controls me and Dr. Pepper controls tyranist.

***Not DVDs? Is there a reason for this? Was Apocalypse Now not yet released on DVD in 2000?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Robert Goulet

3 November 2007

I wasn't really a fan of Robert Goulet, outside of "Saturday Night Live"'s mocking of him. He seemed to be one of those old-time celebrities who was famous just for being famous, but he was apparently quite renowned for his Broadway work, gaining fame for performing If Ever I Would Leave You from "Camelot." He did various films, from TOY STORY 2 to THE NAKED GUN 2 1/2, where I believe he was the villain*. He was also a fixture in Las Vegas, where three of my mother's brothers and one sister live.

He died on this past Tuesday, October 30th, of pulmonary fibrosis. He was seventy-three.

I was never really a fan of his music, but Goulet set himself apart by showing he had a sense of humour about his famous persona, lampooning himself in "Police Squad!" and the golden age of "The Simpsons." It's cool not to take yourself too seriously, and believe me, I know cool.**

I did meet Mr. Goulet last year, on the set of "The King of Queens." He quite impressed me, and had no ego or unprofessionalism whatsoever. The man was so friendly and personable that several of us lined up to get a picture with him.

It's hard to take a picture of a picture, I've discovered. The above was the best version that came out. I guess reflections, lighting, the gloss, the distance from the camera, and the flash are all factors in photography. I'm learning.

And speaking of learning, I was told, upon mentioning his death, that Goulet was the only celebrity that Triumph the Insult Comic Dog could find no fault in. That's quite an epitaph, really.

Rish Outfield

*And mauled to death by a tiger.

**Hey, I'll have you know that there's a Twilight Zone-esque alternate reality, where I am the 21st Century equivalent of Fonzie.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

All Hallow's Eve Week Post 8: The End

1 November 2007

So, in my mother's old country, they call today Dia De Los Muertos. In this country, it's called, The Day The Stores Are Now 100% Decorated For Christmas.

This brings me to the end of my top five lists.

Although to me, it's enjoyable enough that I wouldn't mind doing it all the time. I'll ask tyr about it and see how many times he stabs me.

In the meantime, in honour of ending my week of lists, I present my five favourite Unhappy Horror Movie Endings. And tyranist's too.

1. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)*
2. Seven (1995)
3. The Fly (1958)**
4. The Omen (1976)
5. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)***

And tyranist's top five:

1. Seven (1995)
2. The Descent (2006)
3. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
5. The Wolf Man

I thank anyone who actually read these lists, and I thank Tyranist Meridius Maximus (father of a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife) for playing along.

Halloween is every day!

Rish Outfield

*I'd also like to qualify Invasion 1956, but that original unhappy ending is so rarely shown that it shouldn't even be considered.

**"Help meeee! Heeeeeeeelp meeeeee!"

***Yep, I listed it again. Speak to my lawyer.