Thursday, January 31, 2008

Buff-gel Wednesday

30 January 2008

I've got a lot of episodes to cover and very little time I'm willing to dedicate to it, so let's be off. Our man Tim Minear wrote the first "Angel" episode of the evening. It was called "Epiphany."

It picked up exactly where the last one left off, and tyranist and I waited in butt-clenched anticipation to see if they were going by "Angel" rules or "Buffy" rules on this one.

Darla gleefully goes to Angelus's side, but . . . the verdict is "Buffy" rules. Angel still has his soul. He apologises for not being able to save her, try as he did, and tells her she needs to leave before he has to kill her. That's actually pretty common after sex, haven't you observed?

Angel rushes over to Policewomanofficer Kate Lockley's apartment and bursts inside, finding her unmoving on the floor (having taken a bunch of pills with alcohol). He takes her into the shower and somehow revives her with cold water. Nice; I was somewhat convinced she had been written out of the show.
Cordelia gets to the house of the rich woman who called her and finds the whole family dead. She gets a vision of a demon attacking someone . . . someone who looks suspiciously like Cordelia Chase. As soon as the vision is over, demons step out from their hiding places and attack her. The demons call Angel Investigations murderers, and we realise they all have third eyes on the back of their heads. These demons impregnate human hosts with their spawn, which burst spectacularly out when they've matured.

The leader of the demons seeds Cordelia with one. This seems to happen to Cordelia more than most people I know (but then, I've lived a really sheltered life).

Angel goes to the karaoke bar and talks to Lorne, who tells him that his friends are all in danger. Indeed, Angel gets to still wheelchair-bound Wesley just as the third-eyed demons attack. Wesley invites Angel in and he kills the demons.

Wesley is pleased that Angel has returned to his normal "friendly" self, and en route to the office, catches him up on the situation. Cordelia isn't there, but has noted where she was going. Gunn arrives and is a little more hesitant to embrace Angel, but is willing to help Cordelia. He also mentions a pickup truck that's been driving by.

Third-eye demons attack them and Angel gets out of the car to take care of them while Gunn and Wesley drive on to save Cordelia. Angel confronts the demons, but a pickup truck comes along and drives into him.

Turns out that after Angel kicked Darla out of bed, she went back to Evillawyerdude Lindsay and told him her tale of woe. He got in a pickup truck and now we're caught up.

Lindsay gets out of the truck and pounds Angel with a sledgehammer. But Angel ends up taking it away and beating Lindsay like a cross-eyed foster child, shattering his prosthetic hand and driving off in the truck.

At the house where Cordelia's being held, Gunn and Wesley have been captured, and are soon to join Cordelia for the third eye and the morning sickness. But Angel drives Lindsay's truck into the house, saving all three of his former employees from the demons.

When it's all over, Cordelia tells Angel he's still a feminine hygiene product and she doesn't forgive him.

Angel has a heart to heart with Kate Lockley, and both of them feel they've been given a second chance. She also mentions that she never invited Angel into her apartment, so either the rule was broken as a minor miracle or Kate was dead and it's a less minor miracle. Hopefully they'll get closer in future episodes, and I wouldn't mind if she joined the Angel Investigations team. She's got to have experience and contacts the others don't have, right?

Angel goes back to the office and tells the others how sorry he is for his behaviour. Instead of being their boss, he offers to come work for them. The end.

This was nice stuff, a good episode, and I'm sorry I didn't do it justice. I just gotta be quick about these recaps.

The next "Buffy" up was called "Forever," written and directed by Marti Noxon. Preparations for Joyce's funeral are going on and Buffy feels overwhelmed (though it appears Giles is doing a lot of the heavy lifting) and Dawn feels excluded.

Spike comes over to the Summers house with flowers, but Willow and Xander won't let him in, thinking he's just trying to get back in good with Buffy. He tells them they were in memory of Joyce, who was the only one of them who ever treated him well and throws the flowers down.

The funeral happens. I just realised that we're never going to see Joyce's gallery now. (I can't figure out why movie Gwen and Captain Stacy would go to Harry Osborn's funeral in SPIDER-MAN 3. Did that seem odd to anyone else?)

Dawn asks Buffy if she can go to Willow's for the night. And once there, she asks them if they will help her resurrect her mother using magic. Tara, and Willow, to an oddly lesser extent, are horrified by the notion and try to explain that death is a part of the natural order and not to be interfered with, even through magic.

Buffy stands by her mother's graveside all day long, until night comes. When it does, Angel steps from behind the trees and takes her hand. Despite all the bad blood between them in their last two--or is it three?--crossovers, Buffy lets Angel comfort her as though everything is back to the way it was. And that's maybe the only seemingly stupid part of this episode that I'm willing to overlook. Death has a way of bringing people together.*

For example, Xander and Anya have sex. In bed with Xander, Anya starts talking about how people have sex to create children, turning something beautiful into something dirty.

Elsewhere, Ben the handsome male nurse/god runs into one of Glory's minions, who I believe are referred to in the next episode as looking like hobbits with leprosy. Ben lets it slip that the Key is innocent, leading the minion to understand that the Key is in human form. I started shouting at tyranist's television for Ben to kill the minion, 'cause really, that's what you gotta do. And after a long-ass time, Ben pulls out a knife and stabs the minion in the stomach with it.

Later it is revealed that he failed, and that the minion survived and got back to Glory, and that is just irritating. If Ben had had any kind of medical background he would've known that stomach wounds are rarely quick deaths. I guess we can let that go, since he couldn't possibly know things like that.

The next morning, Tara and Willow are going to breakfast, but are brilliantly leaving Dawn alone in their room with all the magic books. Even more brilliantly, Willow uses magic to make a particular book stick out so Dawn will grab it once she leaves the room. There are quite a few explanations for this (besides the obvious: this was a really badly-done episode), and the one I chose at the time was that Willow has been doing magic for years and knows that a novice like Dawn couldn't possibly pull off something as complex as a resurrection spell.**

Dawn goes to the magic shop and asks Giles questions about spell books (under the guise of wanting to help out there). The second his back is turned, she steals a particularly dangerous book and the ingredients for a forbidden spell.

She waits till nightfall, then goes to her mother's grave and gets dirt from it to use in her ritual. Spike sees her doing this and offers to help (there are several possible reasons he does this, such as an honest affection for Dawn, hope that this could actually comfort the Summers girls, or the fact that he's evil)(tyranist offered another possibility: The episode is badly written).

He takes her to Jennifer Grey's father, an older man named Doc. Doc is very friendly and knows a great deal about this kind of magic. He tells them that they need to get a dragon's egg (okay, it's a demon, but this one was, cooly, an animatronic monster) and a photo of the one to be resurrected. He warns her that these spells don't always work the way you want them to, and to break the spell she should destroy the photo. Just before they leave, Dawn notices Doc's eyes are all black, not a good sign.

At her hideout, Glory's injured minion goes before her and tells her that the Key is in human form. Glory is thankful for the news and heals the toadie's injury.

Spike and Dawn go underground, where the dragon demon lives. He distracts it while the girl grabs an egg, but she breaks it. He then fights the dragon demon while Dawn steals another egg. She gets it back to her room and alone there, begins the spell. It is a particularly evil-sounding one, invoking the god Osiris.

We don't see what comes out of Joyce's grave (but W.W. Jacobs does, in his famous story "The Monkey's Paw") as Dawn finishes, but Buffy goes upstairs and discovers what her sister has done. She tries to explain the wrongness of this act, but Dawn is anxious to see her mother again.

Buffy is afraid that Joyce could be . . . wrong, and outside, we see feet walking--shambling?--toward the house. Dawn tells Buffy that she's been ignored and pushed away and that Buffy hasn't stopped to grieve and that Buffy doesn't even care that their mother is dead. Buffy slaps her, then cries, telling her of her confusion and desire not to be weak in front of her. This communication was vital between the sisters, and they both share tears.

And then something knocks at the door.*** Buffy is actually hopeful that her mother could have returned, but Dawn recognises the mistake she has made. As Buffy opens the front door, Dawn tears up the picture of Joyce. There is nothing at the door ("the streetlamp flickering opposite shown on a quiet and deserted road."). The end.

Boy, this one just did not work. There was way too much shoved into this one episode, and though Buffy disappears for most of the show (where was she that second day?), we never see her doing the things her sister accuses her of. Except pass her off to her lesbian or librarian friends the day after they buried her mother.

I don't know. While I didn't find it as bad as "Restless" (which I've continued to hear people love), it made little sense and had a great many contrived and predictable moments, which is something I never expect from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Tyranist, if possible, disliked the episode even more than I did. Which is strange, because I utterly despised the afore-mentioned last season ender, and he had no problem with it.

The next "Angel" in our rotation was written by David Fury. With a title like "Disharmony," it could only be about one thing. Er, person. But I'm not at all a Harmony fan, so I expected not to like the episode. It was a lot of fun, though.

Angel Investigations has (logically) moved back to the big hotel location and Wesley is now in the office Angel used to have. Angel is now getting coffee and shining shoes, his penance for being a dick. Cordelia still hasn't forgiven him yet, still unhappy about the betrayal (and the fact that Angel gave away her clothes).

She has a vision in which some hooded vampires attack a couple in the park and Angel, trying to be empathetic, tells Cordelia to take the rest of the night off. After the three men go to check out the park, Harmony Kendall comes in, very happy to see Cordelia, and appearing to be her normal, shallow (non-vampiric) self. She tells Cordelia she just broke up with someone and needs a place to stay. The two of them gossip and laugh and Harmony still doesn't let on that she is a vampire.

Angel and the others find and kill a couple of hood-wearing vampires and Angel tries to figure out how to get back into Cordelia's good graces.

Harmony sneaks into Cordelia's bedroom with the intent to bite her, but Dennis the Friendly Ghost slams the door and wakes Cordelia up. She mentions, rather hilariously, that she has a ghost, but puts two and two together. Obviously, the reason Harmony was sneaking into her bedroom like that is because she's become a lesbian.

Cordelia tells Harmony she's cool with her "change," and as soon as she gets some time alone, she calls Sunnydale and . . . Willow, of all people. Her great pal Willow tells Cordelia about Harmony's transformation into a vampire and Cordelia breathes a sigh of relief, having thought Harmony had gone all lesbo on her. "Oh, you're what? Wow, that's great."

So, Cordelia is literally cool with Harmony's "change," and they paint each others toenails. I guess working with a vampire has made her see the silver lining in that particular cape. So, Cordelia takes Harmony to work with her. Angel is much more patient with her than, well, anyone I've ever known could be, and gives her some of his yummy, yummy pig's blood. Which she promptly spills on Cordelia's computer, shorting it out for some supernatural reason.

Cordelia takes Harmony to the demon karaoke bar for advice. She sings quite awfully. Lorne tells Cordelia she needs to take Harmony to find her destiny (he may really have just wanted Harmony out of his bar). The vampire claims she wants to turn over a new leaf and be good now, but Angel doesn't trust her. When he tries to warn Cordelia that her friend hasn't got a soul, she reminds him that he does, yet he still let her down in recent episodes.

Cordelia has another vision and we find out that the vampires in hoods are all part of a hilarious multi-level marketing campaign where vampires go out and "recruit" two other vampires and bring one to their big hideout for food. The potential snacks are being kept in a big cage.

Our heroes (all five of them now) get in Angel's car and find the entrance to the building seen in Cordelia's vision. Inside, there's a big pyramid-scheme meeting going on with dozens of vampires, and Angel is afraid he'll be recognised if he tries to go in himself. So, Harmony volunteers to go in and observe, then let the others in through a back entrance.

Harmony does so, and when the group goes inside, they find themselves in a trap. It would seem that Harmony found her destiny and joined up with the other evil vampires. Cordelia takes this badly and starts to fight her. The others take their cue and begin battling vampires as well. Angel ends up lopping the head of their leader off, but Cordelia doesn't dust Harmony. She tells her to get out of L.A. and she does so.

In the end, Angel finally gets back into Cordelia's good graces, not by turning over a new leaf, or apologising, but by buying her some new clothes.

Like I said, this was good stuff. Amusing and light and that can be appreciated, even on a dark show like "Angel."

That should've been the end of the evening, really. Tyranist and I talked for a moment about the bad "Buffy" episode, and then he said, "No, I'm not throwing you out on your puffy behind yet. We're watching another episode." I didn't really get it, but he said he didn't want to end our night with the two "Angel" episodes being better than the "Buffy." You have to admire his principles.

So, the last "Buffy" of the night was written by Jane Espenson (who tends to write darn funny episodes****), and was called "Intervention." I didn't think of it until just now, but I really should've split this into two posts. Ah well, too late now.

Some time has passed since the last episode, and Buffy and Dawn are trying to cope with the lost of their mother. Giles is trying to help out, and I often wonder what his relationship to Dawn has been over the "years." Obviously, Buffy is closer to him than to her own father, but is Dawn? In the back of my mind, I imagine that Dawn has been living with her dad in the episodes prior to this one, but that doesn't seem to be the case. It's hard for me to get my head around.

Anyway, Buffy confides in Giles that she has withdrawn emotionally and worries that she's turning to stone. She wonders if her mother knew she loved her and tells Giles she loves him (then does the same to Dawn . . . many times). Is a Slayer supposed to love? Giles tells her there's a sort of ritual they could perform so she can seek advice and answers to her questions.

Spike has gone to Warren the Robotmaker's house to pick up his special order. We meet the Buffybot, who looks just like her, and has been programmed with Buffycentric knowledge, but wears pink and is in love with Spike.

At Glory's hideout, she is complaining about how unfair her life is and how she can't find the key. Since she knows Buffy is protecting the key in human form, she tells her minions to watch her and find out who is a new part of her life.

Giles drives Buffy out to the desert and tells her to do a little walkabout while he performs a ritual to give her a guide. The ritual is a silly one, involving dancing and rattling gourds (yes, like your Friday nights).

Spike pretends to fight the Buffybot, but their battles always end in making out and the beast with two backs. As nice as it is, Spike notices the limitations of the Buffybot, and doesn't want her to be the perfect lover. He wants her to be Buffy.

Glory's minions spy on Buffy's friends as they go about their lives. With Buffy out of town, they have taken over the patrol duties and Xander and Anya run into the Buffybot, who has gone out to patrol while Spike is asleep.

The Buffybot has files on all her friends and tries to make conversation with them. Her speech patterns are very funny (though not as funny, in opinion mine, as the other robot chick a few episodes back), but as odd as the robot is, they don't seem to notice.

Spike awakens and runs out there just as a couple of vampires appear. They fight them, but the Buffybot is very protective of Spike, verbally more concerned with him than anything else. From afar, Glory's minions witness this and decide they have their Key.

The vampires destroyed, "Buffy" dismisses Xander and Anya, and begins to get it on with Spike right there in the cemetery. Anya and Xander see this and are, well, more than a little disturbed.

The gang hears the news and thinks that Buffy has lost her mind, or that due to her grief, she has let Spike take advantage of her. Xander goes down to Spike's crypt (Spike makes the Buffybot hide when he hears someone coming) and confronts him, just as Glory's minions arrive, knocking out Xander and grabbing Spike.

In the desert, Buffy encounters The First Slayer, from last year's "Restless" episode. Buffy asks her if she's losing her power to love. The reply is that she is full of love, she needs it, and it will lead her to her gift. I don't get it either, but hey, I always hate characters who speak in riddles.

The Buffybot comes out of hiding and goes looking for Spike. She goes to see Willow. Willow is Buffy's best friend and is good with computers and is currently gay. Willow asks about Spike, and sure enough, the Buffybot tells her about all the ways in which she's had sex with him. She also points out that Angel is lame (which I had to mention here).

When Xander gets there, he tells them that Glory's toadies took Spike, and everybody follows the Buffybot as she goes to rescue him. Oh, except Tara, who stays behind to protect Dawn.

The First Slayer tells Buffy that death is the gift she referred to. Buffy, having just lost her mother, doesn't think it's a gift. But the "guide" disappears, leaving Buffy as alone as me on a Frid . . . well, any night, really.

The minions present Glory with Spike, but she knows the Key is not a vampire (the Key is pure, it would seem). The minions insist that Buffy is uber-protective of Spike, and when Glory asks why, Spike tells her to sod off. She reacts negatively to this, and begins to pummel him.

Xander, Willow, and Anya follow the Buffybot to her house, where they load up on weapons. The robot doesn't know where Glory is, and is so obsessed with rescuing Spike that the others decide it's time for an intervention. At that moment, the flesh and blood Buffy arrives.

She also has a negative reaction at the revelation that she's been boffing Spike. He shagged her, baby. He shagged her rotten. Everything becomes clear when the Buffybot walks back into the room. Buffy is disgusted that Spike had Warren build him a Buffy robot, and is further disgusted that her friends couldn't tell the difference.

The Buffybot reminds them that her beloved Spike is in Glory's clutches, and Buffy realises that he knows who the Key is and could be telling her right now.

Well, actually, at Glory's hideaway, the Blond Beast is beating the bloody blazes out of Spike. She's torturing him to find out what he knows, cutting off his flesh and sticking her finger into his stomach.

Buffy leads everybody to where that giant snake was killed in "Blood Ties." She knows Glory lives around there, so everyone splits up and checks the area.

Finally, Spike breaks under the torture and tells her that Bob Barker is the Key. The minions start off to attack and retrieve the host of "The Price is Right," but Glory stops them. She unleashes all of her fury on Spike, and he manages to stumble into the elevator and collapse.

Buffy and Xander arrive and begin to fight the minions. Not long after, Giles and the robot arrive. The Buffybot assists the mangled Spike, but is damaged by the minions.

Giles and Xander carry Spike out and deliver him to his crypt. Buffy and Willow take the robot back to the magic shop and Willow thinks she can repair it. Buffy still doesn't know what Spike told Glory, and they need to know if they have to get Dawn out of the city.

So, in our final scene, an unbelievably damaged Spike is surprised when the Buffybot comes in. She is concerned for him and confused at why Glory hurt him. He tells her it was because she wanted to know who the Key was, and tries to explain to the Buffybot that nothing can be allowed to happen to Dawn. If anything were to happen to her, it would kill Buffy. Spike explains that he was willing to let Glory kill him first.

The Buffybot kisses Spike and he realises, as we all have, that it's Buffy pretending to be the robot. He asks about his robot and Buffy tells him it was obscene and not real. What he did for her and her sister, now that was real. The end.

Holy Elisha Cuthbert in Maxim Magazine, this was a fine episode! I hate to forgive tyranist for making me write such a lengthy recap, but I was pleased as spiked punch to see this one, which was funny, light, and oddly moving at the end. Of course, I'm partial to Spike and his episodes, but I can't imagine someone not liking this one.

I've just been told that we're only a handful of episodes away from the end of the season. I both dread and anxiously await this. Sadly, by the time we see season six's musical episode, I will have learned every single song.

You should too.

Rish Outfieldbot

*Or maybe he was just there when she needed someone. Perhaps if Spike had stepped out of the shadows, she would've let him comfort her the way she did when she found out about her mother's brain tumor. Regardless, Angel is Buffy's one true love (even I can see that), and that's not something a few angry words can erase.

**Right? My second thought, though, was that we know almost nothing about Dawn and what she really is. Perhaps being the Key gives her abilities we have not yet discovered, magical or otherwise.
You could also claim that Willow didn't think Dawn would be able to do anything about the spell, since the book she referred her to was just a history of magic.
But more plausable (though the badly-done episode theory has to be at least considered) is that Willow has shown, in past episodes, a bit of an irresponsible streak when it comes to magic, and like that "Pet Sematary" indian burial ground, this kind of dark spells keep calling to her, regardless of her better intentions.

***I'm showing my Horror roots here in the way I'm describing it, but the episode just wasn't scary or effective (though Doc's black eyes were pretty great), despite how it might have read on the page.

****Though so does Marti Noxon, and her episode was decidedly not.

Monday, January 28, 2008

And The Devil Laughed I

28 January 2008

Today, I'd like to start a new segment here at Rish's Ramblings. I'm going to call it, "And The Devil Laughed." I'll do a little drawing and stick it on here every time I post one (which may be just this once), maybe changing it up every time.
Today's ATDL is the news that the sub-moronic movie parody MEET THE SPARTANS (by the Rhodes scholars who brought you EPIC MOVIE and DATE MOVIE) was the number one movie in America over the weekend, earning more than eighteen million dollars from shamelessly stupid, really depressing moviegoers.

With that, we're one step closer to Armageddon, and rightly so.

Bond Top Five

So, I've been trying to do a Top Five every week (what can I say, I enjoy it) and I thought that, in honour of BOND 22 getting a title, I'd do a James Bond-themed list.

But what? I thought about a Bond Girls list, a Villains list, a Theme Songs list, even one for the Titles (which, in retrospect, should've been the topic for this week). But the year is not over and my soul cancer hasn't seemed to metastasize yet, so I may get back to them when the first trailer hits or in November.
Basically, I asked what everyone's favourite Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, and Barry Nelson/Peter Sellers et al/George Lazenby/Timothy Dalton Bond films were, then asked for everyone's five favourite James Bond films overall.

My list would have to be (though it was hard to decide on a number one and five):
1. Your favourite Sean Connery Bond film
2. Your favourite Roger Moore Bond film
3. Your favourite Pierce Brosnan Bond film
4. Your favourite Barry Nelson/Peter Sellers et al/George Lazenby/Timothy Dalton Bond film
5. Your five favourite James Bond films

Merrill was first out of the gate this time (sending his response at the same time as last week's Heath Ledger poll), with:
1. Favourite Sean Connery Bond film - Never Say Never Again.
2. Favourite Roger Moore Bond film - Octopussy (I just like the title)
3. Favourite Pierce Brosnan Bond film - Goldeneye
4. Your favourite Barry Nelson/Peter Sellers et al/George Lazenby/Timothy Dalton Bond film - License to Kill (That had Grace Jones in it didn't it? I mostly just liked the see through dress in the poster, it was better than the whole movie)
5. Your five favourite James Bond films - Goldeneye, Casino Royale 2006, The spy who shagged me, Goldmember...and Alotta Fagina

Sorry man, I'm just not a bond guy, this isn't really my thing. I tried though. Most bond movies I've seen were terrible. But Goldeneye and Casino Royale were rather good.
My cousin Ryan was second with his responses (he actually sent me two different lists for some reason, maybe one for each of his Harvey Dent personalities), which were:
1. You Only Live Twice
2. For Your Eyes Only
This one was hard, as I really like the Moore Bond films (those that I've seen). Live and Let Die was great, I liked Moonraker (there was a Batman: The Animated Series episode that had a similar plot (though the bad guy's base wasn't in space), For Your Eyes wins because Fiddler on the Roof was my father's
favorite movie while I was growing up, I've probably seen it more times than anything else (even Star Wars), so it was really fun to see Topol in a roll very different from the Jewish character I knew him from. Plus, the Greek chick is totally hot.

3. On Rish's recommendation I will never see Die Another Day, so I can't claim to have seen all the Brosnan films, but I'd have to say Tomorrow Never Dies was my favorite. It was actually the film that hooked me on Bond films, the first one I ever saw.
4. I've only seen License To Kill, so I guess I'll list it as my favorite, though I didn't care for it a whole lot - except the line - He disagreed with something that ate him.
5. 1 Tomorrow Never Dies
2 For Your Eyes Only
3 Live and Let Die
4 You Only Live Twice
5 Goldeneye
6 Casino Royale was good, but I missed all the neat/impossible gadgets

Jeff the Sexual Predator wrote:
Connery film: Dr. No. - Quintessential spy thriller.
Moore Film: Moonraker - My first Bond film (saw in the theater) and I just liked Jaws. "He kills people".
Brosnan: Goldeneye - For whatever reason, they seemed to try harder with this one. Die Another Day COULD'VE been my favorite of all of them, but it munched carpet for the last half.
Other: I'll have to say Lazenby in "Majesty's Secret Service". Not great, but better than the rest. (though I didn't see the latest one with Daniel Craig)
Top 5: that's tough... The older ones all sort of run together in my memory, and I don't really care for most of the newer ones. Dr. No is certainly there. From Russia w/ Love is a maybe (which one was the Thunderball look alike? I liked the first version) Moonraker.

Octopussy, Never Say Never, and View to a Kill certainly are not on the list.

Prison guard John was a little late in getting back to me, and when he did, it was just his top five. Still, it's a lot better than nothing.
1. From Russia with Love
2. For your eyes only
3. Goldeneye
4. Casino Royale
5. A View to a Kill

Tyranist is a huge Bond fan (he came damned close to naming his firstborn son Oddjob). His list:
1. You Only Live Twice
2. Octopussy
3. Goldeneye
4. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
5. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Casino Royale
You Only Live Twice

This has been quite a surprise. Of those who responded, it looks like our winners (of the Top Five, which I really should've asked in a separate post) are:

James Bond Top Five will return.

Outfield, Rish Outfield

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Today I got my Christmas card from the William Shatner fan club. I guess they still have my old address. I will put the unsigned form letter from The Shat in my basement shrine to him . . .

. . . and we will never speak of this again.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Angel Wednesday (January 23rd)

I brought it upon myself. We've gotten behind on "Angel" episodes again, so there will be no Buffy until next week.

No big deal, though. After the last "Buffy," I can afford to wait a bit (turns out 2001 audiences had to wait almost two months, so two weeks in't so bad). Our two "Angel" episodes from this Wednesday were "The Thin Dead Line" and "Reprise."

The first was written by Jim BOOGENS/RUSH HOUR/SNOW DOGS Kouf and Shawn "The Shield" Ryan. It's interesting how different the show is now from when it started. Makes me wonder where the show will go in the future.

At the Angel-free Angel Investigations, a rich woman brings in her (mute) daughter who has sprouted a third eye on the back of her head (third eye total, she didn't already have two eyes back there). Wesley assures her they can remove the eye and he is my favourite character on this show by far.

We get to see Anne again over at her teen shelter (I found myself really attracted to Anne in this episode. Is that weird?). Apparently, it's overflowing with young people and she's the only employee (don't know where that two million dollars went, exactly). So when a couple of twenty-seven year old kids show up, having been attacked by a streetcop, she lets them inside, though there's no room at the inn.

Apparently the police are being even rougher than usual in the 'hood, 'cause it's not an isolated incident. Anne goes to her friend, Gunn, to tell him about the trouble. Angel, still seeming awfully stalky to me, follows Anne, watching her from the street.

Suddenly, a cop tries to arrest Angel. Angel fights with him and kicks his head off. I'm wondering, if he hadn't been a zombie, wouldn't this have been a little excessive for Angel?

Angel goes to PolicewomanOfficer Kate Lockley, who is slightly warmer to him than usual (but still not first season warm), and gives her the zombie cop's badge. They look it up and find he died six months ago.

Gunn calls some of his homeys (I know they don't use that term anymore, but some of these guys are so comically "black" that I wouldn't be surprised if they used words like "honkey" and "blud" in everyday conversation) to go out and wander the streets until they find one of these over-enthusiastic cops. One of the homeys will videotape the others presumably being harassed and/or beaten for no reason, and then, well, it'll be used to juice up their MySpace pages or something. Wesley and Cordelia aren't thrilled with this plan, and he follows them, in case they need some stodgy British backup.

Sure enough, they run into a pudgy stereotypical moustached cop who wants to arrest them for being black after ten pm. Gunn continually asks what they're being charged with, and the cop won't answer. Wesley steps out and asks the same question, and the cop shoots him.

The cop is in turn shot by one of the homeys, but he gets right up again. Gunn gets the wounded Wesley to an ambulance, but a trio of police cars arrives, and they open fire on the ambulance, hitting the driver. Gunn drives the ambulance, evading the cops, and going to the teen shelter instead of a hospital.

They take Wesley inside, and he's doing badly. Everybody else boards up the windows and doors, and the zombie cops arrive, combining NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, and try to get inside.

Meanwhile, back at the police station, Kate Lockley tells Angel who the captain of the zombie cops is, and gets Angel in to confront him. The cop tells Angel that he's cleaning up the streets, and sure, he used black magic to do so, but it's not so different from what they did in ROBOCOP, and everybody loved that movie.

The captain then shoots Angel, but because he's a vampire, he doesn't die. In fact, he smashes the statue that's reanimating policemen

The zombie cops have broken into the teen shelter, and mayhem is ensuing. Suddenly, they all drop dead again, rotting and very probably stinking up the place.

Kate and Angel talk about the stresses of her job, and she reveals that the neighbourhoods where the zombie cops were patrolling have had far fewer murders, muggings, and rapes since this started.*

Gunn, who has become very protective of Wesley, gets him to a hospital, where he is going to be alright. In a nice turn, those two appear to be friends now. And in another turn, Angel comes to the hospital to see about Wesley, and Cordelia tells him they don't want his presence or need his help (which is almost the lyrics of a Crowded House song), and sends him packing. The end.

Good stuff. But, we're a little behind, so let's continue.

"Reprise" was written by our man Tim Minear and directed by James Whitmore Junior, who used to direct all the "Quantum Leap"s. Picking up from the last episode, Wesley (who is in a wheelchair recovering from his gunshot wound) has managed to remove the third eye from the rich mute girl, but her mother refuses to pay her bill, claiming that it was all just a set up and so dark the con of man and quoting the hotel manager in GHOSTBUSTERS ("I had no idea it would be so much; I won't pay it.").

Meanwhile, over at Wolfram & Hart, everyone is gearing up for "The Review," which is when the high-ups at the organisation determine who is beneficial and who is expendable.

Angel prevents a couple of employees from a sacrifice to protect them, and goes to talk to Policewomanofficer Lockley. She has been getting all kinds of problems at work due to what happened in the last episode, and has discovered that the door to Holland Manners's wine cellar was locked from the outside (presumably by Angel). Hence, all her good feelings from the last episode are gone again.

So Angel goes to Lorne at the karaoke bar. Lorne has been getting a ton of W&H employees at his bar, all worried about The Review, and none of them like Angel. Turns out there's a senior partner on the way up from . . . well, you know.

Evillawyerchick Lilah tells Evillawyerdude Lindsay that they should team up to prepare for The Review, but he doesn't seem particularly worried. Turns out that Darla has been crashing at his place while she recovers from the burns Angel inflicted on her. He's been bringing her blood, but she's not nearly as weak as she pretends to be.

Angel needs a book that's in Angel Investigations's possession
and when he goes to "borrow" it, Cordelia tries to throw him out. Wesley tears some stitches telling Angel to take the book and get the smeg out.

Angel goes back to the bookstore he went to in the 1950's flashback episode about the hotel ("Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been," I think it was called) and the proprieter remembers him. In fact, he's overjoyed to see him, having changed his life half a century before with their encounter. He tells Angel that the Senior Partner will be wearing a ring that lets him travel to and from the underworld, and that he just happens to have a supernatural glove that can protect Angel from the Senior Partner.

This guy is great, really. So great that I was saddened when Darla stepped out from behind the bookshelves and skewers him with a sword ("Killed me, Mal. Killed me with a sword."). She takes the glove, titters, and runs away.

Internal Affairs has Kate Lockley before a review panel and we can tell that they've been pouring over all her recent actions with a razor-sharp-toothed comb. In fact, it's one of those silly stupid bureaucratic formalities when the whole point is to take her gun and badge and fire her. One of the panel even goes as far as to say, "If your father could see you now," which I hope ensures he is eaten by fistula demons in a future episode.

Kate Lockley goes home, trashes her police trophies, and gets good and drunk.

Wesley and his girlfriend Virginia are sharing a quiet moment together, with her talking about his dangerous lifestyle, struggling to tell him something. He lets her off the hook and
tells her he knows she's breaking up with him. He calls Cordelia afterward and finds her depressed as well. Wesley and Cordelia talk on the phone, both depressed about their lives right now.

Cordelia gets a call from the rich woman with the previously third-eyed (but still mute) daughter. She has changed her mind and will pay, if Cordelia comes over to get the check. Little does she know that there's a demon standing beside the woman, coercing her into the phone call.

Angel goes to the Wolfram & Hart building and enters the room where The Review is taking place. The alarms go off, revealing a vampire in their midst. But hey, it could be Darla, who is also there, skulking in the shadows. To make things easier for the security guards, Angel tosses some holy water on Darla and the men tackle her. Angel gets the magic glove away from her and uses it to attack the Senior Partner who arrives in a hooded, unviewable form. The Senior Partner is destroyed in roughly .00072 seconds, and Angel crashes through one of the windows and falls to the ground below (no one down there notices).

He puts on the ring he got from the Senior Partner and an elevator door opens in front of him. In the lift is Holland Manners, looking the same as always (save a bit of a vampire bite). Turns out he is still contracted to work for Wolfram & Hart, and offers to take Angel to the home office. Angel agrees and the elevator doors open to reveal the home office . . . the same Los Angeles they left half a minute before.

Angel, it may be, knew this all along (but the dude has been to Hell before, so I don't know why this bums him out so much), and wanders out into the night, seeing suffering and greed and pain and hate all around him.

He goes back to the hotel just as Kate Lockley calls and leaves a drunken message on his machine about taking a bunch of pills. He doesn't react to this, but goes upstairs.

Darla is waiting for him. Instead of kicking her (admittedly-lovely) arse, he grabs her, kisses, her and flops her onto the bed. A bit of boffing ensues.

Afterward, Angel's eyes open and he awakens. But is it still Angel? I don't know, it was the end.

This episode was another good one (heck, they both were), but with all the talk about THE SENIOR PARTNER!! and such, I thought it was going to be a big two-parter (or maybe even three). It may well have been a more satisfying episode were that the case.

But ah well.

I thought we could watch one more, wanting to know if Angel had become Angelus again, if they were going by the "Buffy" rules of "a moment of true happiness," or the "Angel" rules of "no sex for Angel." But Tyranist showed great restraint and kicked me the sod out of his house. At least until next week.

Rish "Crowded House" Outfield

*Tyranist pointed out that it's probably because people were so damned afraid of the cops that they didn't report any of it. I thought that maybe people would be so afraid of the cops that they wouldn't steal or rape. Could go either way.

No Screening For Middle Aged Boys

Today, Jeff and I saw NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. I had made him a deal a couple of months ago, when he was most obsessed with seeing the film, and since it was sort of re-released for Oscar season, I owed him a trip up north.

We went to a very nice theatre, the kind that make you pick your seats in advance. The spot we chose was dead center, away from any others that were taken (the computer showed where the available sections were). Well, right after we got settled, one of the titular old men and his wife came in, sitting right next to me. Of all the free spots, they had apparently chosen the two seats to our immediate left, and because it was reserved seating, they weren't about to leave the customary empty chair between us.

No huge deal, except that apparently, the guy and his wife had decided on recording their own audio commentary for the film . . . without telling me.But a strange thing happened: instead of irritating as hell, as the ubiquitous text messaging has become, it started to become amusing. The old dude would comment on the kind of vehicles, the kind of weaponry used, the colour of the sky, and explain what was going on in the movie ("That car's on fire" and "Wow, he's one mean sumnabitch," and "Looks like that guy got shot," that sort of thing).

But there was something oddly endearing about the way he did it, and instead of infuriated, I found myself smiling to hear it. And every time he made one of his comments, often with lovely down-home profanity that was impossible to hate.

At one point during the film, the woman's cellphone began ringing. She got it out and her husband said, "Just open and close it." She did. "Now put that goddamn thing away," he grunted, and I just laughed and laughed. Jeff seemed to be enjoying it too, but it might've just been gas.

I'm not going to give my usual rant about insensitive assholes ruining movies for me and people like me. Yes, ninety-six percent of the time, it's about as uncool as me in the ninth grade, but every once in a while, it ain't so bad.*

Rish "Mister Brightside" Outfield

*By this reckoning, however, I have at least until 2013 before this happens again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

I went to a meeting today where the woman speaking said, "If you can't make it to your appointment, we are more than happy to reschedule."

And it occurred to me what an odd saying that is. More than happy.

Have you ever been MORE than happy?


Now I'm embarrassed.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's just a strange thing to say, to be more than happy about something that really, you shouldn't even be happy about. I can understand someone not being angry about rescheduling an appointment, not at all irritated, or even fine with it. But more than happy about it?

I'm rarely happy, let alone MORE THAN HAPPY. I can't imagine what that would be. Thrilled or ecstatic, I suppose. Orgasmic with delight at the opportunity to move your appointment from this Tuesday to next Tuesday.

Anyway, it was just something I thought about for a moment, then put it out of my mind.

So, just now I was with my uncle and he was telling me he was going on another one-day trip to see his kid on Thursday, and I said, with no forethought whatsoever, "I'll go, if you want. If you need somebody to drive, I'd be more than happy to help out."

I don't believe it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quantum of Solace cont'd

I just don't get the title.

But hey, there's a lot of things in life I just don't get.

I've been watching HEARTS OF DARKNESS: A FILMMAKER'S APOCALYPSE, the documentary on the making of APOCALYPSE NOW, and there's a point where Francis Ford Coppola comments on Marlon Brando's sprawling, nonsensical dialogue, saying he doesn't understand what any of it means, and people seem to think it's filled with artistic, powerful, meaningful statements, but it just seems to be the madness of Marlon Brando ad-libbing with the cameras running.

I hate to feel dumb, and I remember feeling dumb when I first saw a lot of APOCALYPSE NOW (and especially the Kurtz scenes with Brando's dialogue). Now I feel a little better knowing that it's not just my own ignorance getting in the way of my enjoyment of the film.

Maybe I don't like QUANTUM OF SOLACE because it makes me feel dumb.

I realise that it's from an Ian Fleming story, and I've read the comments from Daniel Craig about its meaning. So, yes, I think there's probably something very profound in the words "Quantum of Solace." But it still sounds abstract to me, artistically obscure to the point of alienation.

People always talk about SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION not being a hit due to its heady, confusing title, and they say so about good movies like THE HUDSUCKER PROXY and bad ones like BALLISTIC: ECKS VERSUS SEVER. A title means a lot to a film, at least to me. Bond titles always seem to have a lot of thought put into them and have a tendency to feel like Bond titles, the way the opening songs usually just feel like Bond themes.

LIVE AND LET DIE, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, A VIEW TO A KILL, hell, even NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, there's just something about these titles that sound like Bond titles. Some sound less so, like THUNDERBALL, OCTOPUSSY, GOLDENEYE, even CASINO ROYALE, but maybe that's a personal preference. I had a hard time as a kid getting my head around THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, and it still sounds odd, but a couple of months ago, when tyranist told me "Devil May Care" was the title of the next Bond adventure, I thought, "Dang, that sounds pretty good." He explained a moment later that it was the title of an upcoming book, not the new movie, but it sure sounded right.

I've asked tyranist, a huge James Bond fan since before I met him, to help me understand why I shouldn't hate QUANTUM OF SOLACE, and I hope he doesn't just say, "Because Fleming wrote a story called that, that's what the movie's called, and you shouldn't be a douchebucket."

He said:
I like the title. As I see it, the next Bond movie is a revenge flick and a quantum of solace would be a measure of comfort. Bond is looking for revenge in the hopes that it will quiet the demon that says he couldn't protect Vesper. It's a bit of a stretch I know, but now that I've read the story I like it even more. I highly doubt the story will factor in to the movie though.

You can hate it if you'd like, after all you hate many things. I just think there are worse titles. I like that they are sticking with a Fleming title, even if it isn't as flashy as some. And, I think we should trust them to make sense of the title. I can imagine a scenario in which it works and I'm willing to see if they manage to prove themselves up to the challenge. Also, I'm very heavily biased toward loving all things Bond. Plus, you really should read the story, it's quite good.

Tyranist is a smart guy. Even smarter than you are, so it shouldn't surprise me that he enjoys a title that makes the average joe want to turn on monster truck coverage, but he did say it took him a good twelve hours to get used to it.

Maybe there's hope for me too. Maybe.

Rsih Otufelid

Epoch of Succor

So, they announced today the title of this November's JAMES BOND 22. It's going to be QUANTUM OF SOLACE.

Is this from the same guys who deemed LICENSE REVOKED as too obscure and intellectual for American filmgoers?

I realise that I'm usually pretty negative in these little rant posts (and there's nothing I can say about "Quantum of Solace" that won't be said better by an uneducated fifteen year old message board poster), so I'll not repeat my complaints about INDIANA JONES AND THE LAND OF THE FABLED KINGDOM OF THE LONG THOUGHT MYTHICAL CRYSTAL SKELETON HEAD here. That I think QUANTUM OF SOLACE is a worse title than INDY IV may come as a surprise, but it's not for any of the reasons I hate INDY IV's title.

Oh, except one, it's just not cool.

Regardless, I am 97.48% sure that the new Bond film WILL be cool, regardless of its title. About Indiana Jones I'm not as hopeful.

Rish "License to Smell Mildly Unpleasant" Outfield

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Top Five Heath Ledger Movies

In honour of his untimely passing, I've asked my little sewing circle to give me their Five Favourite Heath Ledger Films.

Mine would have to be:

Wow, that's all I've seen. I pity my poor cousin Ryan when he sends me his list.

Ian the Friendly Lawyer sent (once again, faster than anyone else):
1. A Knight's Tale
2. Lords Of Dogtown
3. 10 Things I Hate About You
4. Monster's Ball
5. The Patriot

Me cousin Ryan wrote:
1. Dare I list The Dark Knight?
2. 10 Things I Hate About You
3. Knight's Tale

Jeff the Sexual Chemical Engineer gave me:
1. Patriot.
2. Brothers Grimm. Not a horrid movie.
3. Kinght's Tale.

Tyranist's list:
1. The Patriot
2. 10 Things I Hate about You

Prison Guard Johnny wrote:
1. A Knights tale
2. The Brothers Grimm
3. The Patriot
4. 10 Things I Hate About You
5. Batman the Dark Knight

Beta Ray Charles said:
Patriot and Brothers Grimm

After I'd already posted this, my "buddy" Merrill sent me the following:
You know how I know you're gay? You did a top five Heath Ledger Movies list.

Rish Outfield's List
Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain 2
Outfield's Brokeback Wet Dream

Ah, friendship.

Anyway, Merrill's List ended up being:
1. The Dark Knight
2. Brother's Grimm
3. Lord's of Dogtown
4. 10 things I hate about you
5. Knight's tale

So, in looking things over, our winning answers look like this:

I'm sure, though, that had DARK KNIGHT already come out, it would've eased past THE PATRIOT with little effort. What can I say, Batman is cool.

Anyhow, I sent this request the day Ledger died, and got to thinking. All in all, I'd say he accomplished more that day than I did.

Rish "Mr. Brightside" Outfield

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why So Serious?

22 January 2008

I got home from lunch with tyranist this afternoon and my lawyer friend Ian, back in L.A., had sent me a link to a story about Heath Ledger being found dead. I had heard nothing, so at first I thought it was a hoax, maybe tied in to that strange viral marketing campaign for THE DARK KNIGHT. But immediately after, tyranist IMed me to tell me the news. I turned on CNN, and that was that.

He died of, as far as people know at this point, a drug overdose. Intentional or not, there was a bottle of sleeping pills next to him, when he was found by a housekeeper. Creepily, one of the headlines CNN had going over the bottom of the screen was "Actor Heath Ledger found dead in Mary-Kate Olsen's apartment."*

I told my little sister the news a few minutes later. I took her to TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU when she was ten or so, and that was our introduction to the Australian actor. I later saw him in THE PATRIOT (as the title character), which was, I believe, my favourite movie of 2000.

He became really famous a couple years back with BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, as you know, which garnered him an Oscar nomination, a fiance, and a kid.

And his fame would've really grown next summer with the release of THE DARK KNIGHT, where he would've been this generation's Joker (still will, I suppose), probably coming back for future installments (I sure would've). The reinvention of the Batman franchise seemed to be for the long haul, so that's the kind of part he could've been playing for a dozen years.

And now he's dead, at twenty-eight years old.

I called my pal Merrill, who works for Fox News, and we spoke about it until my cellphone died.

My cousin Ryan and I talk about Batman often, so I let him know too. I suspect he isn't really familiar with Ledger beyond his Joker role, but that's okay, I only know about Hitler because of World War II.

And the Holocaust.

And that late great cartoon series, "The Young Hitler Chronicles."

But I'm digressing.

Strange to lose Brad Renfro and Ledger, both actors in their twenties, in the same week. I don't know what Heath Ledger's legacy will be. It could be that he'll be one of those James Deans or Marilyn Monroes, who died young and are always remembered as glamorous and attractive. Or he could be among the River Phoenixes and Brandon Lees, who died leaving people wondering what great heights they might have reached.

Or he could join Freddie Prinze and many other actors who died young but aren't really remembered anymore. I doubt it, but it's possible.

I never met Heath Ledger (it was the other BROKEBACK guy). He seemed cool. But most Aussies are.

Rish Outfield

*Apparently, this was refuted later in the day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Buffy Wednesday Part Two

16 January 2008

I'm actually writing this first, before I've written the first half of my Buffy Wednesday recap. While it is fresh in my mind, I'd like to say a little bit about "The Body," the hardest episode I've ever had to watch of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

I knew it was coming. As I told tyranist afterward, I was working at a Los Angeles video store when this episode aired, and people were talking about it, enough that I still remember the talk. Joss Whedon himself used to come into the store from time to time, and although we talked about BTVS the movie, we never spoke about the show, which I'd never watched. I wish I had been a fan, as I often do seeing these (and writing about them) . . . maybe we'd have had something to talk about other than ALIEN:RESURRECTION.

So, "The Body" was written and directed by Joss Whedon, and it didn't pick up where the last episode left off, it actually played the ending of that episode again. Then the damn credits rolled.

Buffy comes home and finds flowers sent from her mom's recent date apparently, things went very well indeed). Buffy goes into the living room to ask her mother about it. But Joyce is lying on the couch, stiff, her eyes open in a completely dead-looking expression. "Mommy?" Buffy says, looking very young, very small.

Suddenly, it's last Christmas. Joyce is giving everyone dinner and Anya is explaining to Dawn how Santa Claus is real and he often disembowels children. Buffy, Giles, and Joyce are together, laughing, reminiscing, cutting a pie.

And then Joyce is on the couch again, staring up at nothing, her face as pale as rice paper.

Buffy dials 911 and the operator tells her to perform CPR on Joyce while she waits for paramedics. Buffy does so, and breaks at least one rib, but gets no response. Joyce's body is cold.

Buffy hangs up and calls Giles. She simply tells him "She's at the house," which I have to think he interpreted as Glory, and hangs up when she hears the ambulance.

A pair of EMTs come in and find no pulse. Buffy doesn't know how long her mother's been like that, but they go to work giving Joyce CPR . . . and suddenly, she starts to cough. Joyce is alive!

We flash to her in the ambulance, and telling her daughter, "Thank God you got to me in time."

And then we flash back. The paramedics stop working on Joyce, who has not recovered, and they call the time of death. The miraculous save was just in Buffy's mind.

She is told that the cause of death was likely a brain aneurysm and there's probably nothing she could have done. The paramedics get another call and have to go, but Buffy is told to wait for the coroner to come pick up the body. Buffy is left alone . . . or alone with her mother, I don't know which is worse.

She is in shock and a moment later, she vomits on the floor. While she cleans it up, you can hear kids playing outside, birds singing, windchimes, all the elements of regular life.

Buffy looks awful when Giles arrives. He is confused, then sees Joyce's body. He puts his arms around the Slayer and tries to comfort her, but she is still in shock, thinking about how to tell her sister.

Dawn is crying in the bathroom at school. We find out, a moment later, it was because a girl is spreading rumours about her and boy she likes thinks she's weird. Late for class, she pulls herself together and goes to art class, where she shows a great deal of drawing talent. She sits next to the boy she likes and he seems impressed that she's weird. Maybe life isn't so bad after--

Buffy comes into the class and asks if she can speak to Dawn. They go into the hall, within sight of everyone in the art class, and Dawn doesn't want to go someplace private with her to find out what she's there for. So, Buffy tells her there's been an accident, and we don't get to hear the rest. We (and everyone at school) see Dawn's reaction, and the poor child drops to the floor in anguish.

Willow and Tara are in their dorm room, preparing to go to the hospital. Xander and Anya are on their way to pick them up, but Willow can't decide what is appropriate to wear. She keeps changing her mind, becoming frantic over such an unimportant thing. Tara comforts Willow, kissing her and trying to calm her down.

Xander parks in the middle of the street and they go up to Willow's place. They hug. Anya mentions that Xander cried and it weirded her out. Xander wants to blame someone. He thinks it might have been Glory, and is angry to the point of punching his hand through Willow's wall.

Anya is asking typically insensitive questions about death and Joyce's body, and finally Willow snaps at her, telling her to shut up and ____ (this is where I would add an unfunny pop culture reference, which would be inappropriate for this episode). But Anya just doesn't understand how death is permanent, and Joyce is gone, and how she feels, and no one will explain it to her. The four of them exchange a moment of shared pain. Willow changes her blouse again, while Xander's car is being ticketed outside.

An autopsy has been done and the whole gang (minus Spike) is in the hospital waiting room. Dawn wants to see the body, but now isn't the appropriate time. Joyce died of an aneurysm as a complication of the surgery. The doctor tells Buffy that Joyce probably felt tired and died with no pain (but Buffy hears things differently).

Giles is filling out forms for her. Anya tries to express her condolences, and Buffy accepts them in the spirit in which they were given. Tara tells Buffy how she lost her own mother a couple of years back and they have a nice moment.

Dawn says she needs to go to the bathroom and reacts negatively when the gang asks if she wants someone to go with her.

Instead of that bathroom, she walks to the back of the hospital, where the morgue is dark and unattended. She approaches the sheet-covered bodies, and a reanimated corpse rises up from behind her and attacks.

Back in the waiting area, Buffy realises Dawn didn't come back. Immediately, she knows where she went.

In the morgue, Dawn is struggling with the monster as Buffy bursts in. Buffy grabs a bone saw and cuts the creature's head off. It turns to dust, so I guess it was a vampire.

On the slab, Joyce is lying, staring into nothingness. Dawn reaches for her, perhaps to shut her eyes, perhaps to feel that she is real, perhaps to say goodbye. Just before she touches her, the episode ends.

As I said before, this was the hardest episode to watch of them all. It was also really hard to recap. I found a couple of websites where people had summed up the episode, and they stressed different things and interpreted things differently than I did. Also, there was one I found that was ridiculously detailed, like reading a transcript, and it both encouraged me to go into more depth and made me feel foolish for doing so.

I've talked to a couple other people about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" since getting into the show less than a year ago. My friend Merrill has decided to watch the DVDs (hopefully with his wife) due to my constant rants about it, and my cousin and I will sit down one of these days soon and talk about his feelings about the show.

I went to message boards, which I try not to do as a rule ("Best Willow Girlfriend," really?), and found out how much this episode touched, resonated, and scarred die-hard viewers (among whom I hope I can consider myself), and read a little bit about what Joss had to say.

In light of all that, I probably should have kept my recap short and just focused on my feelings about the episode. That's ultimately more important. I probably should've asked tyranist for his feelings too, and maybe I will next time I see him (or just send him an email).

I was quiet for a few seconds after the show ended. I wanted to say something, but at the same time, I wanted tyranist to speak first, since I had nothing worthy of saying. I did end up speaking first, but it was a hollow, "That was a hard show to watch." He agreed, possibly even more affected than I had been.

When the paramedics managed to bring her back, I felt such a relief that the tears that had been threatening to come just started moving. And then, when that is revealed to be in Buffy's mind, dude, I cannot express the awfulness of that. But that's how the brain works.

I told tyr that I could've done without the Romero zombie in the morgue, but I'm sure it was there for a reason (and yeah, I'm aware that it was supposed to be a vampire, though it wasn't). He didn't seem to have a problem with it, so maybe it's just me disliking the mundanacity of it all (and the fact that it was something out of RE-ANIMATOR rather than BTVS).

Tara struck me as particularly wonderful in this episode. I'd never really thought of her that way, but I believe I now love the character, and I hope she continues to develop. More than the witchcraft or the lesbianism or her somewhat unusual look, I like the sweet, stuttery outsider aspect to Tara. She's just a vulnerable person, and 21st Century entertainment tends to shy away from, or give the finger to, vulnerable people.

I didn't realise until the end credits that there was no music in this episode. I can't honestly say the show would've been more emotional with a score behind it, and it's actually possible it would've been less emotional. But I don't know for sure, I'm not the artist that Joss is.

My parents are both still alive, but death is something that nips at the back of your neck from childhood on. Despite my mockery of her, I'm a big fan of my mother, and I'm one of those sick kids who lives vicariously through television and movies, relating to certain characters as though they actually exist in our lives.* Though, chances are, the world will be rid of me long before my mother dies, she's gotten to the age where she starts talking about her legacy and what's to be done when she dies. It freaks me out, but it's there, somewhere on the horizon, as it is for pretty much any of us.

I caught it that this was the first time we'd seen Willow and Tara kiss (since the last "season ender" cut away from it so laughably), and nearly asked tyranist if that was so. We didn't talk much during the episode, though. I wondered if they had some problems with the censors or were absolutely forbidden to go there, and this was their way around it. Regardless, it was just nice, the kissing, and significant in that it was not a sexy, romantic, or notable moment for it.

One more thing: I don't know other "Buffy" fans (except my cousin who used to watch it while monitoring campus cable feeds for naughty bits), but it's possible that people don't like the addition of Dawn to the cast (knowing human nature, I'd say it's a certainty**). But without a doubt, this episode is all the stronger for Dawn's presence on the show and in the family. Had "The Body" aired in Season Four, I'm sure it would've been great, but not this great.

I've said a lot, and yet don't think I've said much at all. Maybe the best thing I can say is that after seeing this episode, I went out and picked up the BTVS "Chosen Collection" boxed set so I can have all the episodes. Even if it's all downhill from here, the ride has been well worth the price of the DVDs.

Rish Outfield

*I once asked Alley Mills if I could call her "Mom," and she surprised me by saying that guys around my age are always asking her that. Isn't that one of the sicker things you've ever heard?

**In the days between starting this post and finishing it, I have discovered, at least on the internet, that there are a great many folks who dislike Dawn and were unhappy with her introduction in the show. That's too bad.

Friday, January 18, 2008

That's very wrong, Cole

Seems like they get started younger every year.

Buffy Wednesday (January 16th)

Oh yeah, and "Buffy." Our intention was to watch one each of "Buf-gel," and call it a night. Our plans weren't even best-laid, but they still went astray.

First up was "Crush," by David Fury.

The gang is at the Bronze, and everybody's having a good time except Buffy. I suppose she's the only one without a significant other right now, but guess who happens by? Your friend and mine, Spike. He tries to buddy up to Buffy, but she swats him away like the buzzing mosquito she sees him as. But what to her wandering eyes should appear, but Intern Ben in the Bronze just having a beer. Buffy goes up to him and chat for a while, and Ben gives her his phone number without any guile. "Maybe we could get coffee," he says, "Me and you. Just to talk. I'm a fan of coffee and I'll bet so are you."

A train pulls up to Sunnydale Station and everyone on it has been slaughtered (exactly like I was slaughtering poetry just now). Nobody knows who did it, except that it probably wasn't Glory. Well, it turns out the murders were committed by Drusilla, who's back in town. Oops, was that a spoiler? Did I ruin the surprise, the way they did by sticking "And Juliet Landau as Drusilla" in the opening credit? Sorry.

Spike is still sleeping with Harmony, it seems, but what really gives him a thrill is a little role playing. He has her dress up like the Slayer and . . . well, you know.

I don't know when it happened*, but somehow Spike has eclipsed Xander to become the character I most relate to on the show.

Dawn is still feeling odd about being a Martian, so she goes to hang out with the one soul who treats her like a normal person: Spike. Did I say soul? In his crypt, he tells her about slaughtering children back in the good old days, and asks her about her sister.

Buffy is not at all happy about this turn of events. She discovers, to her dismay, that Dawn has something of a crush on Spike. But it gets worse when Dawn reveals Spike has a thing for Buffy.

This icks Buffy out the way imagining the Smashing Pumpkins making a comeback icks me out. And worse, when she gets home, she finds Spike there, chatting it up with Joyce and Dawn, making cookies or something.

Spike tells Buffy he's there to help her find the vampires who killed the train passengers, and they go to a warehouse where a couple of vampire dopeheads have made their home. They run when they see her, and Buffy quickly deduces that these are not the guys. She asks Spike what's up, and he tells her he wanted to help her because . . . well, he loves her.

Buffy does her best impression of that urban legend girl with cockroach eggs inside her bouffant, and heads for the hills.
Spike skulks back to his skulking place and finds Drusilla (speaking of roaches) waiting for him there. She wants him back, by her side, in Los Angeles. He tells her about the chip in his head and she thinks he can be the old Spike even with the chip

Harmony comes home from her Jazzercise classes or whatever and thinks Spike is trying to initiate a three-way (again). When she realises it's Drusilla, she's mad at her for breaking Spike's heart, but doesn't stay mad for long as he promptly throws her out and declares the old Spike is back.

Buffy tells Xander and then her mother about Spike's feelings, and Joyce tells Buffy to make it clear she could never feel that way for him. I wouldn't think it was possible to make it any clearer, but Rish reminded tyranist that Buffy has had ample opportunity to kill him and keeps staying her hand. Plus, Buffy reminds us that Spike considers her beating him up as practically getting to third base.

Spike and Drusilla go to the Bronze and spy a couple making out up in the rafters. Drusilla kills them both and each get one to drink from. Yum.

Meanwhile, Buffy has gone to Spike's crypt looking for him, and finds the sub-basement, where he keeps a bunch of pictures of her and the mannequin he's dressed in her clothes. Drusilla and Spike discover her there, and Drusilla zaps Buffy a couple of times with a cattleprod, knocking her out. Spike does not join in, but uses the cattleprod on Drusilla instead.

When Buffy comes to, she is tied up on one side of the room, with Drusilla tied up on the other. Spike tells Buffy how important Drusilla is to him, and how she taught him everything he holds dear, rescuing him from the mortal mediocrity of his past. But, he tells her, his love for Buffy is so strong that he will kill Drusilla to prove it to her. All Buffy has to say is that she feels something for him too.

Buffy won't, and he threatens to free Drusilla and let her kill Buffy if she won't admit the attraction.

Buffy demeans him, insults him, and when he tells her not to mock him, she tells him to go mock himself.

Spike flies into a rage, one that is interrupted by Harmony's return. She shoots Spike with a crossbow and he fights with her. Drusilla pulls free of her bonds and crosses to kill the still-chained Buffy. Spike pulls Drusilla away and unchains Buffy while the vampire women berate him. Harmony and Drusilla both abandon him and Buffy? Well, Buffy punches him in the face.

Spike tries to make up with Buffy, following her home and explaining his actions. She ignores him. He tells her he knows there's something special between them and she can't shut him out, but when she goes into her house, he can no longer follow--she's revoked the invitation he's been exploiting for so long. The end.

A nice, fun episode and I sure gotta admire Spike's tenacity. I myself would've thrown myself on a broken chairleg long ago, maybe the moment I met Harmony. But that's just me.

I was weak, and allowed tyranist to skip "Angel" so we could watch "I Was Made To Love You," written by Jane Espenson. It was ultimately the funniest episode of the season (and perhaps ever), though there were times when I was laughing and I didn't know why.

So, Buffy is training on a punching bag, expressing to Giles how infuriated she is at Spike and how revolted she is by his actions. She's angry at herself too, thinking she might've done something to lead him on. She's really letting the bag have it, and then it's revealed that the bag is actually Xander in a sumo outfit. Puffy Xander is pretty beat up from the "training," but tells Buffy that it's not her fault, and that she's great enough that the right guy is bound to come along soon.

Back at the Summers house, Joyce has been asked out by a guy she met at the (still-unseen) gallery, and is showing off the new dress she got for the date. Dawn gets a funny line in (at the end of the show literally everybody will have gotten at least one good joke in, even Tara and Giles) and both sisters are happy to see their mother excited about something.

Oh, a dubiously hot chick in a pink dress arrives in Sunnydale and wanders around asking strangers if they've seen Warren.
Anya and Tara seem to be becoming friends, and in the park, the pink dress chick robots up to them and asks if they know where Warren is. They don't, but pink dress chick goes off, merrily asking everyone she meets.

There's a party on campus that night and they go to it. I just realized that it's there that Buffy runs into Ben and chats him up and he gives her his number. Sorry about that, when you get to be my age, forgetfulness becomes your most faithful companion.

Second most faithful? Super-absorbent adult diapers.

Pink dress chick robots up to the party, looking for Warren, and a guy there tells his date that they have to get out of there right now. Two guesses what his name is.

Now, it's when pink dress chick is observed by Tara, Anya, Willow, and Xander that I started to laugh like a stoner watching "Go Diego Go." I don't even know what it is, really, but watching this insanely hot girl robot over to people will this big Marie Osmond smile, asking about Warren was just about the funniest thing I've seen all year. And the gang's reaction . . . just awesome.

And it's not just me and my imbred heritage, tyranist laughed too, and his parents are only SECOND cousins.***

And guess who else came to the party? Spike ambles up to Buffy and tells her he's not going away. If anything, this just pushes her faster into Ben's direction.

Spike becomes jealous and decides to put the moves on pink dress chick. He whispers something in her ear that causes her to pick him up and throw him through the nearest window. She already has a boyfriend, you see, and his name is Warren. Lucky Warren.

It turns out that pink dress chick has a name: April. Buffy tries to talk to April, but all April cares about is, you guessed it, finding Warren. She throws Buffy across the room too and robots out the door.

Buffy goes home and relieves Giles of his babysitting duties. Joyce had a really good date and gets her joke in (about leaving her bra behind).

The gang talk about April, and decide, almost of one accord, that she must be a robot (Dawn remembers when her mother was going out with Ted, and that just blows my mind, but I hope I'll get my brain around it someday. Willow thinks she can check the school records and such for anyone named Warren.

There was a student in high school with them named Warren, and he went away to be a robot engineer at university or something. Maybe he built the robot. Xander explains why someone would want to have sex with a robot. Tara gets her joke in about April having "Genuine Molded Plastic" stamped on her right buttock. Giles jokes that he has many books on robots for Xander to rummage through, just to see the poor guy squirm.

I've got to think that all this frivolity was for a purpose, that it was intentionally keeping us laughing, keeping us cheerful so our guards would be down. But down for what?

Buffy decides to call Ben's number, and he answers the phone a moment after transforming back from Glory. He's still in her red dress as he makes his date with Buffy.

Warren is in town on spring break from college. He's got an impressively bitchy girlfriend named Katrina, and is telling her they've got to pack and get the hell out of Dodge.** She wants to know why, but he won't say.

Buffy arrives at his door, telling him they need to talk. Katrina stomps out, angry that Ben won't tell her what's going on. Warren remembers Buffy from high school, knowing that she's the Slayer and warns her that he has shocking information about April . . . something you'd never ever guess . . . wait for it . . . she has a dong. No, sorry, it's that she's a robot.

Back at the magic shop, Spike runs inside under a blanket and finds more hostility than Larry Flint at the Lilith Fair. They've all turned on him (due to his infatuation with Buffy or due to him chaining her up and almost letting Drusilla eat her?) and Giles growls at him, "We are not your friends," and "Clear out of here," that had me bummed out. Tyranist was thrilled with Giles's backbone, but even Dawn seems to hate Spike now (is there a comic book somewhere explaining this to me?) and he is sent packing.

Warren sits down and tells Buffy his life story (he knows she is the Slayer, having gone to school with her), and that he was lonely and he built April to a) love him, and b) fit really well into a pink dress. Amazingly, but realistically, he grew bored with her, and after he met Katrina, who was unpredictable and unfriendly, he fell in love with her instead. He didn't tell April because she wouldn't understand. Eventually, he just left school without telling her, figuring on her batteries running down before she caught up with him.

April finds Katrina and robots up to her, asking if she knows Warren. When Katrina tells her Warren's her boyfriend, April starts to crush her.

Buffy and Warren arrive to stop her. Warren tells April he doesn't love her, but she can't really process this. Warren points at Buffy and tells he she's his new girlfriend. April attacks her and they fight. Katrina comes to and runs off. Buffy damages April and Warren follows after Katrina, trying to explain.

April's batteries begin to give out and they stop fighting. Buffy sits down with her and talks to her.

April was programmed to be the perfect girlfriend ("Crying is blackmail") but Warren didn't love her back. Buffy tries to comfort the robot, and she/it gets a semblance of peace before dying altogether.

Buffy thinks about April's obsessive need to have a boyfriend and it causes her to call Ben back and cancel. She gets his machine and leaves a message, which Glory is listening to, displeasure on her pretty-constantly displeased face.

The last scene is of Warren back home, trying to explain to Katrina on the phone. She won't listen, and when he turns around, he finds Spike standing there. He's taken his pictures of Buffy and boxed them up to give to Warren. He's got a special order for the robot maker to do for him. The end.

But wait, there's, oddly enough, another scene after that.

Buffy comes home and finds flowers from her mom's date. Apparently, things went very well indeed. She goes in to ask her mother about it, and finds her lying on the couch, stiff, her eyes open in a completely dead-looking expression. "Mommy?" she says, looking very small.

I don't even know how to talk about "I Was Made To Love You" in any light or cheerful way. The show was great, the April girl was hilarious and yet pitiable at the same time (oh yeah, and insanely hot), and a fine time was had by all. Until . . .

I suspect that this abrupt, unfrigginbelievably dark ending wasn't originally in this episode, but Joss decided my groin needed a little kicking and stuck it on there. I've often said that I'm jealous of the millions of you "Buffy" fans out there who got to see these episodes for seven years when they were new on the air, but I do not envy the poor bastards who had to wait seven days to find out what happened next.

Tyranist and I sure as sod weren't going to wait, so despite him having to get up at quarter past five the next morning to pay for yet another house, we stuck it out and watched on.

And you would've too.

Rish Outfie . . .

*Oh wait, I remember when it happened. It was the Spike origin episode, "Fool For Love," a little at the beginning, and a lot at the end.

**I'm not a cowboy and have little tolerance for people who are, yet I never get tired of saying, "Get the hell out of Dodge." I really wish they'd up my medication, but when I ask for meds, they lower the dosage. This place is like a madhouse.

***I asked tyranist if he had any explanation as to why we were cracking up during that scene the way we did and he said, "It was a combination of her unrelentingly cheery disposition, her odd way of speaking, and her perseverance that had me laughing." Somewhat robotic response also, if you ask me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sarah Wednesday (January 16th)

We watched the first two episodes (or extended pilot, as some are calling it) of the TERMINATOR series tonight, though I sort of wanted to stick a couple of "Buffy"s in between to space things out. Tyranist had TiVoed them, and seems to take joy in deleting things I'd like to watch again immediately after we see them, but keeping forever stuff no one should ever watch. But I digress.

I ought to say something about "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," as they're calling it. I'd been talking to a couple of my friends about the show and what it might be like, what I hoped they didn't do, and what I'd do if the show were mine. My pal Matthew and I spent a good hour or so after TERMINATOR 3 talking about its faults and how we might have done things differently, and it's an exercise I get a lot of creative joy out of, even when I recognise that a) it's futile, as it's already beenmade; b) it's pointless, as I'm not going to write my own version of somebody's movie, and could never get paid for it if I did; c) it's a waste of time I could be writing my own thing; and d) it's exactly the sort of thing I hated other people doing to my own work.

Yesterday I was at lunch with tyranist, telling him of how they MIGHT do the show in a cool way, and he told me I was ensuring that I would hate the show, since it was sure to deviate from my own ideas. I told him that wasn't necessarily true (and I still believe that), but then thought of STAR WARS: EPISODE III, and how I'd come up with half a dozen ways the movie could go before it came out and how unhappy I was of how it did go when it was released.

But I was willing to give the show a chance, since a lot of people were anticipating it and it got great ratings. And I was very pleasantly surprised.

The acting was good, the writing was good, the special effects were nice (though it's all so damn cheap nowadays, if we ever get a shot as bad as the plane crash in AIR FORCE ONE again I'll be really surprised), and there was some violence consistent with James Cameron's universe.

The show was well-conceived and well-thought-out (two things TERMINATOR 3 seemed to lack), and I found myself laughing quite a bit at its cleverness.

They seemed to have thought things out (such as time traveling to 2007 so as not to mess up the dates Cameron set--though they did make that same mistake T3 did and claim the second film took place in 1997, when it took place in 1994), and created a palette in which you could do many different things in a series that goes more than a dozen episodes.

Even though Schwarzenegger got top billing in T1 and T2, they were more about the human characters (Sarah and Reese, and John and Sarah) than the cyborgs. So it didn't really throw me to see an Arnold-free "Terminator" show. Plus, the bloody T-800s kept showing up, seemingly even more resilient than the old Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 was, so you got plenty of action.

And Summer Glau was quite excellent, though I'm admittedly biased toward her.

Oh yeah, and "Buffy." Our intention was to--

Nah, screw it. I'll do "Buffy" in another post. It's looking to be long enough as it is, with the clock nearing four a.m. and me still working on one recap.

Rish "T-001" Outfield

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Films I Hate That You Love

My friend Merrill and I watched BATMAN BEGINS the other night. It was the first time I'd seen it since the theatre. A great deal of it is really, really good, but I still didn't love it. I don't know what more to say about that.

Except that it reminded me of my list of popular films I don't care for. I thought about it on the drive home and came up with another list and a half.

So, here are Five More Movies I Hate that You Love:

I pretty much despite Reese Witherspoon now. This may have been the first movie that did it.

A hateful, soulless piece of crap. That it made two hundred and sixty million dollars is incidental . . . but it helps.

I've mentioned before that I got to interview its director a few months back. He was a really nice guy. But man, this movie made me want to kick children.**

I actually hated this one on opening night. Walking out, I found that my good friend quite liked it. Still, I've never wavered in my loathing, even when I met a couple guys on the set of THE GOOD GERMAN who had nothing but praise for the film. One of them said, and I quote, "You're kidding. That's one of my favorite movies ever."

This is another I saw in the theatre, back when going to the cinema meant something. But instead of getting angry, it made me very sad. I went to college with people who really, really liked, people like you. Funny, I have never hated Bill Murray in a movie before or since.

*Consider this a warning that a third list should be coming in early February.

**Got any?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Stupid Thing of the Week

I have a couple of options for Stupid Thing this week (but hey, I nearly always do).

The one I've chosen is my shopping trip with my mother. We went to the mall together today, because she had planned on getting me a new pair of pants for Christmas, and it never happened.

But today was a Saturday and we tried to get it done, along with dropping something off at the mall where my aunt works. We went to three different stores, and I think I tried on eighty pairs of pants. In one of the changing rooms, instead of returning the unwanted clothing, people had just piled them in the corner. The pile was (seriously) half a meter high, towering to the point that when I added my blue jeans to it, it tipped over and lives were lost.

Do people use the term "blue jeans" anymore? I can't remember the last time I heard someone say it outside of an old movie or song lyric.

I have absolutely no fashion sense, and had it been me, there would have been three factors in picking a pair of pants, which would have taken approximately four minutes. They would have been, in order of importance: a) really, really cheap price; b) more or less my size (I often wear pants that don't fit right because, hey, I already paid for them, 'be darned if I'll let them go to waste); and c) a colour I don't hate.

My mother had different criteria, including brand name and style, fadedness and godawfulness, as well as preferring colours that better suited either gangland or flower children. Pair after pair that she handed me (in fact, the entire selection from one store) were purposely made to look used, with a faded, pre-worn look. People tend to think that is cool, to wear pants that look like they were stripped off a homeless vet.

But I appreciate that my mom wanted to help me with this, since my buddy Merrill's mother is dead, my buddy Matthew's mother is hopelessly insane (apparently Doctor Jonathan Crane is trying to help her at his . . . clinic), and my brother's mother likes me better.

So, I tried on pair after pair, attempting to get something that makes me look less like Bea Arthur and more like Rue McClannahan. And nothing was pleasing her (though a couple pairs were comfortable--and on sale--which was enough for me). She kept saying they were too baggy, or too unflattering, or too much like the pairs I usually wear. Apparently, my pants aren't nearly Tom Jonesy enough.

And here's the rub: she wanted me to start wearing pants that not only have a slimming effect, but are unnaturally tight around the groin and buttocks.

It happens every day, no matter what they say, boys and girls, hearing my mother use the word "sexy" may go down as one of the more disturbing moments of my life.

Rish "It's Not Unusual" Outfield

P.S. We ended up not buying any pants at all (but she now knows the brand and style she likes), so it looks like this experience will be repeated in the near future. Oh joy.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Buffy Wednesday (9 January 2008)

This week, tyranist and I were able to catch three episodes, which was nice. Two "Angel"s and a "Buffy."

First up was "Blood Money," by Shawn Ryan (who wrote the second-to-last episode) and Mere Smith (who wrote the last episode).

In it, Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn are all bored without work to do,* and they decide to just create their own P.I. business, without Angel. Cordelia still gets visions, right? Like the one she has in this episode of a fire-breathing monster in the sewers that we never see.

Angel "accidentally" bumps into a blond woman named Anne who runs a shelter for wayward/runaway/troubled youths. She is attractive. It's funny, I commented to tyranist that Anne was Buffy's middle name, but I didn't make the connection that this was the same girl from the episode of the same name (who was also the second season chick who thought vampires were cool).

Well, it was no accident, as Angel seems to be stalking this woman, taking her picture, following her around, and stealing her wallet.
Suddenly, Angel and I seem more alike than ever before.

It turns out that Wolfram & Hart have befriended Anne (specifically Prettyboylawyer Lindsay McDonald), and are really excited about hosting a celebrity banquet to raise cash for the center.

Angel goes to interrogate Merl, a demon he's gone to before for information. He tells what he knows. Afterward, Angel goes to see Anne and convince her that W&H are up to no good, and will steal that money, either most or all of it. She doesn't believe him, and is less than enamoured when she finds out he's been following her, but he says he has proof.

A craggy-faced demon named Boone* shows up, asking about Angel (immediately, I thought he was the vampire hunter from that last unresolved flashback, but I was wrong), strongarming him to talk. Everybody strongarms Merl. He tells what he knows.

Angel shows up like a serial killer in Evillawyerwoman Lilah Morgan's back seat, seemingly just to toy with her. Boone also shows up at Wolfram & Hart, volunteering to kill Angel for them. They have a past, and he has a grudge, and even though the senior partners have decreed that Angel not be killed, Lindsay can't pass up the chance to have Angel out of the way.

Lindsay and Lilah drop in on Merl and threaten him. He tells what he knows.

Oh, looking in on our other main characters, having had a success in the offscreen confrontation with the firebreathing Rosie Perez, Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn decide to rent an office for their new business.

Lindsay also arrives, claiming that Angel is the baddie here (and pointing out that he's a vampire). Boone also shows up after a tussle, and Angel heads out the door.

Walking down the promenade, Lindsay and Lilah talk about Angel ruining their plans to bilk the shelter out of its money, and just as they start talking about their plans to kick blind people in the nuts and tear gas pet stores, they realise that Angel is probably recording them, gathering his so-called evidence. Whoops.

Angel does come back to Anne, and admits that he's a vampire, but one of the good ones. He tells her he has proof in the form of a videotape that he wants her to play at the fundraiser. She gives him a noncommittal answer and he tells her any cash from Wolfram & Hart is blood money. She says her people need that money.

The fundraiser appears to be a wild success. People, including soap opera stars, are donating generously, and a sweet/"sweet" tribute to Holland Manners is played. Evillawyerdude Lindsay has a hooded psychic in the wings to tell him if Angel shows up, but a few minutes later, the demon takes down his hood and is revealed to be Angel. Boone is also there, and they start to fight.

Anne decides to play the tape Angel gave her and Lindsay and Lilah make something of a scene rushing to stop it. Turns out, it's just another of Cordelia's awful audition tapes ("Duck, Magnum, duck!"), but the damage is done: everybody is looking at Lindsay and Lilah like they've shat their pants, including their boss.***

To make matters worse, Angel and Boone were just pretend fightin', and Boone has stolen all the event's donations.

Angel later confronts him and they fight for real. We don't see the fight, but Angel brings Anne the money, and it's got blood all over it. She gets to keep it all, and has no problem with it being blood money (quite literally, this time). The end.

This episode was a little uneven, but very entertaining. I like the darker, solo Angel. I surprises me they've kept it going this way so long, but I'm happy with it. We also find out in this episode that the reason Wolfram & Hart doesn't want Angel killed is because he has a major role to play (for good or ill) in the coming Armageddon.

So, then we got to our Buffy episode. It's interesting how certain "Buffy"s are better than their accompanying "Angel"s, and sometimes the opposite is true. I guess that means they've split the creative team pretty equally (if one show were consistently good and the other consistently crap, well, someone picked teams wrong)

The episode was called "Blood Ties" (wow, "Blood Money" and "Blood Ties," was that a coincidence?), by someone named Steven S. DeKnight. I looked him up. He's written five "Buffy"s and twelve "Angel"s, but this was his first (he also went on to write fifteen "Smallville" episodes too).

The conversation continues from last week's show (sans English bastards, however). Glory the Blond Beast is the god of a demon dimension (a hellgod, they call her), and she's in human form, sucking the sanity out of humans to keep her body. Yes, just like Demi Moore, kids. When the gang is worried about finding the key, Buffy decides to tell them all about Dawn being . . . whatever Dawn is.

Oh, this was a Dawn episode. Tyranist and I both really like her.

Due to this knowledge, the group all treat Dawn differently. Anya tells her she makes "a very pretty little girl." Giles has been writing his innermost thoughts in a notebook ("I feel terrible about it, but I find Christina Cole more attractive in that 'Buffy' rip-off than Buffy herself..."), but he hides it in a drawer when Dawn walks by.

Glory gets ahold of the Knights of the Bungpoolpottinghamnottingshire and kills or sanity drains them. More will come, though, apparently. This makes me sad.

Oh, I forgot, it's Buffy's twentieth birthday. And I didn't get her anything. She has a little get-together, and when Dawn gives her a picture of them from a vacation that never happened, everyone starts acting weird again. Dawn goes up to her room, and sneaks out the window.

She finds Spike standing in the front yard as usual, holding a box of chocolates for somebody. When Dawn takes off to steal Giles's notebook, Spike decides to go with her to protect the girl from rapists and vampires and Margot Kidder and stuff.

They break into the Magic Box, and read Giles's diary entry together. This is how Dawn finds out she's not really Dawn Summers, and that Giles refers to her as "The Key," and that crazy people know the truth about her, and that snakes want to eat her,
and that Glory wants to kill her, and that she gets paid less than all the other cast members.

She takes this badly. The first thing she does is go home and cut herself with a knife. How can she bleed if she's not real? The poor girl throws an absolute fit, throwing things, and screaming, and tearing up her diaries, and burning them in the trashcan. Seriously, it's like me when they canceled "The Single Guy" with Jonathan Silverman.

Buffy is mad at Spike, but he tells her she would've gone without him and hey . . . Margot Kidder? Buffy hears the smoke alarm going off due to Dawn's unusual bonfire, and finds that the girl has gone out the window again.****

Dawn goes to the hospital, to talk to crazy people about her origins. She finds one of the Knights of the B-word there and he says crazy stuff we don't really understand ("...she played Lois Lane once, but she was lurking in the backyard with no teeth"). Handsome intern Ben finds her and she tells him about being a Key. Maybe not the wisest course of action, because he tells her to run before Glory gets there. In a bizarre turn, Glory arrives THROUGH Ben's body, transforming from him into her.

She doesn't know what they've been talking about, though, and threatens Dawn to tell her what's happening. Dawn asks her questions about this Key she's searching for, but Glory realises the girl is seeking information rather than knowing it. She decides to suck out Dawn's sanity, but Buffy arrives just in time.

She punches Glory a couple of times, and the Blond Beast mocks her about it. Spike also tries to fight Glory, but it's Willow and Tara who are really the threat to her: they cast a spell Scotty-beaming her to another place.

It would be nice if she sent Glory to the world without shrimp, or wherever Vin Diesel's career went. But I have a feeling we'll see her again, and soon.

Dawn tells Buffy that Glory arrived while she was talking to Ben, but seems to remember him leaving and Glory coming in afterward, not how it really happened. Both of them injured, Buffy shows Dawn that they share the same blood, and that makes them sisters as much as anything else. The end.

I really enjoyed this one too. The girl (Dawn/Michelle Trachtenenenburger) is great, and I honestly do not know how they manage to present her as a believably willfull rebellious teen without making her a spoiled, infuriating, shrill, unsympathetic, self-absorbed, unwatchable little choad like teenagers in other media (like DAN IN REAL LIFE, or several sitcoms, or WAR OF THE WORLDS, or practically every other teen drama on the WB before or after). I gotta hand it Joss once again, and will continue to do so until something changes.

You know, it's hard for me to avoid spoilers, especially for a show that's been off the air for a couple of years. Mostly, they come from the internet, and I found out about Tara from a certain Joss Whedon himself, but tyranist gave me one (that may or may not have actually been a spoiler) during tonight's show. He told me that Handsome Doctor/Intern/Male Nurse Ben is Glory's brother, and also a god. When I bawled about the spoilage, he told me the show had already revealed that, and to kindly keep the mucus off his new couch. It may be that Ben's identity HAS already been revealed on the show (it certainly was in the episode we watched), but I hadn't caught it yet. Ah well.

Next he's gonna tell me that Dawn's not really Buffy's sister or that Buffy married Freddie Prinze Junior or something. Grain of salt, boys.

Last, we watched "Happy Anniversary," an "Angel" episode quite unlike the others. It was written by show runner David Greenwalt, and it felt like a pilot for another spinoff show to me (to both of us, actually), though I can't imagine that it was.

Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn have a new office and no cases. After a while, Wesley's girlfriend Virginia shows up and tells them about a case they could take. But that's the B-story.

A-Story: Lorne the destiny-reading karaoke bar host goes to Angel's hotel and tells him that there was a nerdy human singing the night before, and when he looked into the guy, he saw that the world will be ending pronto. Spider-man is out of town, so he came to Angel for help.

The end of the world singer is named Gene, and he seems like a geeky graduate student/physicist, except that he has a really attractive red-haired girlfriend.

It is their first anniversary that night, but she confides in a friend that she's going to break up with Gene because . . . I don't honestly remember. Was it that he wasn't dedicated enough to her or something? I could look it up, but then I'd have to figure out her name too and dammit, that's just too much work.

The girlfriend will sleep with Gene one last time, then drop the bomb on him. Unbeknownst to them, Gene has heard all this and heads off to work on his experiment again.

We also follow Angel and Lorne around karaoke bars, a college campus, a Pez dispenser repair shop, and a library, to track Gene down. Shockingly, they insinuate that Lorne is not gay in this episode. I have nothing worth saying about this turn.

The show seems to be more about Gene than anything else (along with a cast of supporting characters), which is why I said it seemed like the setup for a spin-off show.

Anyway, Gene has been working on this experiment that should freeze time in a bubble, but he can't quite get the formula right. Turns out there are a couple of demons that want humanity wiped out, and they change Gene's formula so that it will work.

In a jiffy (nobody says that anymore, isn't that sad?), Gene's device is fully functional, and he decides that he'll take his equipment back to his place and create a time bubble around the two of them together, thus keeping the status quo forever. This is every man's dream, folks. The status quo part, I mean (though the red-haired girlfriend in your bed part isn't far off). It is this time-freezing that will cause the end of the world.

Back on the Wesley/Cordelia/Gunn front, they have to stop a demon that's tormenting a very rich family. They do, and Wesley figures out that one of the family members employed the demon to do her dirty work. The Angel-less team does well for themselves.

The demons harass Angel and he and Lorne talk about the issues in his life right now (such as firing his staff, and the Darla stuff, and the bad dream he had that he'd be on a Fox show called "Bones" that was just like fifteen other shows on the air right now). They rush to Gene's place to stop him, but more demons show up and they have to fight them.

In bed with the woman he loves, Gene activates his device, and
the bubble appears around them. But then it expands, and threatens to envelop the whole world. Angel gets past the demons and stops the machine just in time. Time reasserts itself and Gene is distraught at almost ending the world. I guess his girlfriend still breaks up with him, but I don't really remember. The spin-off never got off the ground.

Back on the B-story, over at the All New, All Different Angel Investigations, a celebratory party is going on. A new client comes in during all this and needs their help. He asks which one of them is Angel, and Wesley says, "Oh, it's just a name."

Great ending. Tyranist and I have talked (okay, I talked, he just laid there, trying not to be sick) about how well these episodes seem to end, usually with a great line (sometimes funny, sometimes pretty darn sad), and then a black screen. I hope my life ends that way. And soon.

Although this was one of my poorer (and sillier) recaps, I can't really express to you how much I've enjoyed watching "Buff-gel." I'd say it was the highpoint of each week, but that's an exaggeration. There are no highpoints in my weeks.

Almost a tradition now, Tyranist always tells me "I'm going to kick you out now" at the end of our Buffy Wednesdays together. I'd find that amusing if it didn't end so often with a knee, shoe, or fist to the groin.

Rish "Midpoint of Your Week" Outfield

*Wait, doesn't Cordelia have an unrealistic acting career, and Gunn, doesn't he have cool urban gang stuff on his plate?

**I didn't realise it at the time, but Boone is played by Mark Rolston, who portrayed Drake in ALIENS and Boggs ("Boggs didn't put anything in Andy's mouth") in SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.

***I guess it gets them in trouble, but I didn't find their behaviour much more embarrassing than regular party antics.

****My little sister used to do this all the time (the window, not the bonfire), but I hope Dawn doesn't come back with a little Dawn nine months after all this.