Monthly Archives: October 2011

This is not a good town

The astonishing blind spot that Sunnydale’s residents have regarding the supernatural occurrences in their town is both a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand, it allows Buffy & Co. to existing in a bit of a bubble, having adventures each week without being overly concerned with their wider ramifications.  This allows for more storytelling freedom and works thematically as supernatural occurrences are metaphors for teenage problems that parents just don’t understand.  On the other hand, this conceit prevents Buffy from putting the supernatural in any sort of social context and exploring the storytelling possibilities that offers.  “Gingerbread” allows Buffy and Sunnydale to occupy the same space by using a supernatural element to make the town aware of (and afraid of) the supernatural.  It’s an effective trick that allows for expanded storytelling without destroying one of the show’s essential elements. Continue reading

Faith, you put it in the wrong things…

Now comes the time in Dexter’s season where I must admit that I’m part of the problem.  I think that it’s fair at this point to not be cutting the series any slack (it burned through all its good will awhile ago), that that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be appreciative when it actually offers us something great.  “A Horse of a Different Color” finally tied Dexter’s faith in Harry and his code into the ongoing religious questions of the season while giving Dex a couple of abject lessons in why dad’s no substitute for an actual higher power.  It’s not that this episode’s flaws (and it sure had them) overrode all this good stuff, it’s that I couldn’t really bring myself to care about the good stuff. Continue reading

Vampires, probably not that big on Christmas

You know the series is in its genre-bending prime when it manages to breathe new life into the tired conceits of a holiday episode.  The real triumph of “Amends” is in seamlessly integrating a Christmas story into the season arc.  Angel’s haunted not to get him to reform, but to turn him to the dark side and his ghosts of slaughters past make the usual regret of this story-type pale in comparison.  We’ve wanted to know how/why he was brought back for some time and the First makes a compelling claim to responsibility.  The minor miracle that saves Angel could’ve felt tacked onto another story, but snowfall at the end of a Christmas episode is to be expected. Continue reading

You’re kidding yourself

First off, let me say that this episode was much better than the season’s first two.  “Smokey and the Bandit” gave us a monster of the week that actually had something to teach Dexter, a conceit that’s been sorely missed since season four.  Not that Walter Kenny’s lesson wasn’t something Dexter already kinda-sorta learned in… season four, but it was still good for the writers to give us some reason for the kill scene beyond the fact that we all enjoy a good kill scene. Continue reading

Because it has to be

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with alternate universe stories.  While they’re a fun opportunity for creators, cast, and audience to step outside the norm, they often become self-indulgent affairs that present something utterly disconnected from the series “prime” (I’m looking at you, Star Trek).  Luckily, “The Wish” remains rooted in the ideas that define BtVS, smartly turning the initial premise, “What if Buffy never came to Sunnydale?” into “What if the Scooby-family had never formed?”  The former question is what provides all the fun twists on old characters, but it’s the later that makes those twists relevant. Continue reading

You know about daddy’s box?

First, let me apologize for the delay in this week’s Dexter review.  Second, let me rant for a moment about the dumbest, laziest, most contrived moment this series has ever given us.  For those of you who don’t think the nonsense with Julio is worth getting pissed off over, consider the fact that Dexter was once a series able to balance air-tight plotting with remorseless devotion to character; now it’s a series that introduces superfluous characters who make stupid decisions for the sole purpose of creating visually engaging but emotionally weightless payoffs. Continue reading

I may be love’s bitch, but at least I’m man enough to admit it

“Lovers Walk” is one of those episodes that make you wonder just how well Whedon had Buffy’s continuity planned out.  While Spike’s behavior is certainly in keeping with what we already know, it truly resonates with things we won’t learn about him until season five’s “Fool for Love.”  The nice part about not particularly caring about authorial intent is that I’m free to see William the Bloody Awful Poet all over this story, whether that background actually existed at this point or not.  We never doubted that Spike loved Drusilla, but his despair over losing her reveals a sensitivity we haven’t seen before.    Combine that with his unique insight into Buffy and Angel’s relationship and you’ve got a character with the soul of a poet. Continue reading

It’s a miracle I graduated without killing anyone

Well, that was fun.  It felt a bit more like watching Revenge of the Nerds than Dexter, but it was still fun.  Revenge-fantasy is a cornerstone of this series and, in theory, I don’t mind it taking that in a comic direction, but “Those Kinds of Things” felt particularly weightless.  Continue reading

Final Thoughts: Lilah

I’ve talked a lot about season two’s enabler throughout these write-ups, making this post feel more like summary than insight.  Overall, I think that Lilah’s unfairly maligned by most fans and critics.  The real problem is not with her character itself, but with the failure to integrate her into the (far more interesting) hunt for the Bay Harbour Butcher.  While Brian appealed to the Dark Passenger by advocating murder unrestrained by the Code, Lilah called for its integration Dexter’s everyday life, claiming that the cold, selfish, manipulative sociopath is the “real” Dexter.  It’s an effective evolution of the temptation narrative but, good as the themes are, they have little to do with the slowly tightening noose of Lundy’s task force. Continue reading

Angel tortured me… for hours… for pleasure

I’ve found “Revelations” to be a surprisingly divisive episode of Buffy.  I took the Scoobies’ reaction to Angel’s return as justified, even expected, which is why I’m always so surprised to hear fans coming to Buffy’s defense.  Perhaps my lack of enjoyment in the Buffy/Angel pairing is influencing my judgment here, but I still say that murder, torture, and near-Armageddon aren’t things that should be forgiven quickly.  I guess that the debate works nicely with the episode’s “who to trust and how much?” questions, but I still come away thinking that Buffy’s done her friends a disservice here.  Fortunately, I don’t think that the episode lets her off the hook completely. Continue reading