Monthly Archives: July 2011

*sniff* UGH!

Angelus’ brief appearance in this episode is cut short immediately after he takes a bite out of Gage Petronzi (Wentworth Miller in a funny-for-all-the-wrong-reasons guest spot).  See, Gage and his swim team buddies have been dosed with Soviet-developed, fish DNA-laced, uber-steroids in order to win the big meet.  Overcome by the foul taste in his mouth, Angelus exits the episode in disgust, no doubt seeking more appetizing fare elsewhere.  If only we could join him. Continue reading

You Got Your Prom Date Pregnant

One of the chief strengths of Damages is how dynamic the series is.  This is readily apparent as its twists continually force us to reassess the characters and situations.  The obvious aim is to intrigue and occasionally shock the audience but this dynamism isn’t limited to big swerves.  There are plenty of small shifts in the way we see things and they help make the characters seem more like living, breathing people.  Continue reading

Digital Distribution = Content Revolution

“If you build it, they will come” seems to be the prevailing attitude in Hollywood regarding digital distribution.  While there’s no denying that the internet will soon (relatively speaking) eclipse cable, satellite, and physical media as the primary source of entertainment, the discussions about this digital future should not be limited to its form.  Content has always been the primary driver of entertainment sales and its naïve to think that consumers will blindly follow it from one source to another.  The challenge is not that audiences will change their taste when they get online, but the fact that the internet already offers them an effectively limitless supply of video content.  For free. Continue reading

You don’t forgive someone because they deserve it; you do it because they need it

This episode illustrates the perfect integration of a monster-of-the-week episode into the larger season-arc.  “Killed by Death” did a fine job at maintaining the tension of the Angelus storyline without actually having anything to do with that storyline.  In contrast, “I Only Have Eyes For You” masquerades as an arc-focused episode.  The key ingredients are all here: Giles is coping (or trying to cope) with Jenny’s death, Buffy is still coping with the loss of Angel and the suffering he’s caused, and Angel is plotting how to cause yet more suffering.   This episode leverages all of these elements to tell an emotionally impactful story without really advancing any of them. Continue reading

They Had to Tweeze That Out of My Kidney

Well, it seems that I owe the creators of Damages an apology.  Uncle’s Pete’s suicide may have been and emotionally empty payoff, but his suicide attempt proved to be fertile ground for telling a great story.  Not only did we learn enough about Pete’s character to really care about what happened to him, we found out exactly why he’s so important to Patty.  We knew he took care of her after her dad bailed, but actually seeing the bond between the two (both in flashbacks and the present) makes it relevant to the story.  Pete’s predicament is no longer just a superfluous subplot, but a moral crisis for Patty. Continue reading

I thought I might try violence

“Killed by Death” is season two’s foray into “straight” horror and it’s hasn’t aged as gracefully as season one’s “Nightmares.”  The creature design on Der Kinderstod is certainly creepy and the hospital is a classic setting, but the kids are annoyingly generic and Buffy’s childhood trauma (never mentioned before nor will it be again) is a pretty lazy shortcut.  It’s also superfluous given that killing children (even bland ones) should be enough to get Buffy motivated.  “Avenging Celia” is a subplot that’s best ignored if we’re to appreciate what this episode has to offer. Continue reading

New York Sucks

This episode does a fine job advancing the season-arc while stumbling a bit in terms of the one-hour payoffs.  Uncle Pete’s story is certainly well executed in itself and the conclusion is one of the most hardcore moments of geriatric badass to ever grace television but it just doesn’t resonate the way it should.  Continue reading

Passion is the source of our finest moments

“Surprise” and “Innocence” may be “the” seminal episodes of season two, but “Passion” is my personal favourite.  This is the story that really sold me on the fact that Buffy wasn’t just some above-average fantasy-fair that I could casually watch; it was something special.  Character death has become a staple of serialized story-telling but, back in 1998, it was almost unheard of.  Lost is generally credited with introducing character-death as a means of advancing rather than resolving plots, but Buffy did it over a decade earlier.  Jenny’s death isn’t the culmination of any story-arc, its sole purpose is to let the audience know that that the shit just got real.  Angelus is not just Angel killing extras and saying mean things to Buffy.  He’s a monster whose crimes cannot be forgiven or forgotten.  The episode’s real genius is not just in turning a beloved character evil but in making the audience understand, and even enjoy, that evil. Continue reading

A Pretty Girl in a Leotard

One of the principal advantages of serialized drama is that the audience is conditioned not to expect immediate gratification.  The series can present events and characters that don’t necessarily work at first and have confidence that the audience will stick around for the payoff.  Shows build up credit with the audience by successfully paying off such suspect plots, thus allowing them to make even bolder choices the next time around.  That’s a very good thing for Damages as it requires all the credit this series has amassed in order for me to accept the return of Arthur Frobisher.  Continue reading

Got the love

Xander episodes tend to be the most reliably amusing fare Buffy has to offer and it’s a wonder the series doesn’t go to this well a little more often.  Then again, maybe it’s not.  “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” is a departure not just in putting the focus on a different character, but in having a more straightforwardly comic tone.  There’s still plenty of horror tropes here, and even a bit of character-drama, but there’s never any real sense of danger or pathos.  It’s a fun break from the usual Buffy fare, but it couldn’t be called such if it occurred more often. Continue reading