Monthly Archives: November 2011

I hope evil takes Mastercard

While “Consequences” is an excellent episode all around, what really stands out for me is that it finally gives Angel something productive to do.  It’s odd to say that about one of the series’ regulars, but Angel’s done little more than brood and have drama with Buffy since returning from Hell.  His only real contribution to the Scooby gang has been some additional fighting skill whenever Buffy needs it.  Faith’s descent into evil presents a problem that Angel’s uniquely suited to help with and gives him an opportunity to connect with someone other than Buffy. Continue reading

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I like mundane

All due respect to Mr. Checker (though none for Mr. Ballard), but a twist is only as good as the show that surrounds it.  Don’t get me wrong, a good twist is one exciting thing to witness; not only surprising and delighting in its own right, but re-contextualizing all the action that’s come before it.  But a clumsy, obvious twist is a bit like a train wreck without the fascination; horrific in its own right and, if you’re not careful, leaving a swath of collateral damage behind it.  Wise DJs will make the twist just one dance among many; if it goes well, great; if not, then there’s still lots of other fun to be had.  While the Dexter writing room has proven itself devoid of any van Buurens this season, this episode may prove that there are a few Jazzy Jeff’s in there struggling against the din. Continue reading

No, you don’t get it. I don’t care

“Bad Girls” is one of those stellar pieces of serialized storytelling that moves the season arc a quantum leap forward by bringing everything that’s come before into focus.  There have been little more than sinister implications to the Mayor’s scheme thus far and Faith, while an interesting character in her own right, hasn’t had much of an impact on the Scoobies.  It’s a testament to the quality of the MOW episodes that the slow boil hasn’t been the least bit frustrating and a testament to careful planning and strong characterization that the sudden shift in pacing feels organic.  Episodes like this one are why I think Buffy was firing on all cylinders during season three. Continue reading

I’ve been lost before

The main reason I’m so critical of Dexter is because, despite its many flaws, the series still has the capacity for greatness.  “Nebraska” is a case in point as Dexter’s road trip proves to be one of the best stories it’s ever given us.  Brian’s presence brings back the tension that’s been missing this season as we wonder just how unhinged Dex will become.  An opportunity to bring some edge back to our protagonist lets Michael C. Hall do some of his finest work and Christian Camargo makes for the perfect wingman.  The only flaw with this story is that it’s a small part of Dexter’s wider narrative and concludes with a return to the mediocre status-quo. Continue reading

I like the quiet

Did I call “Band Candy” the high watermark for Buffy comedy?  I may have spoken too soon because “The Zeppo” is all kinds of awesome.  Season two’s “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” gave us a glimpse of Xander’s skewed perspective on the Buffyverse and this follow up plays it to the hilt by not having any mystical interference account for the change in tone; the only difference here is the eyes we’re looking through.  There’s also a pretty solid story about identity issues and manhood going on here, but I’ll save that for the Final Thoughts while I relish just how much fun this series is able to have with itself. Continue reading

“What ifs” are a waste of time

Ok… now we’re talking.  I was ready to write “Just Let Go” off as yet another empty, contrived “lesson” that wouldn’t really change anything and then, bam! we get an ending that defies the lazy, predictable series this has become and offers shades of the show it once was.  I actually used “shades” unthinkingly but, now that it’s on the page, Brian!  Sweet, beautiful, evil, creepy-without-the-gore Brian!  While Dexter murdering Nick surprised me, the return of the Ice Truck Killer is what sold me on the episode and has me somehow, miraculously excited about the rest of the season. Continue reading

Bite me

One of (if not the) most singular strengths of Buffy is its ability to do so many different things so well.  Part of what makes the series is so effective at blending genres is the fact each of the component parts are so bloody good.  That’s difficult to appreciate most of the time, as the show’s tone is so unique but, on occasion, it plays one of its genres straight.  “Helpless” is this season’s foray into straightforward horror and it delivers the goods.  Despite this, it still manages to makes some commentary on the horror genre while fully participating in it. Continue reading

We all have a light inside of us

Brother Sam’s conversation with Dexter “The Angel of Death” illuminates (pun intended) both the best and the worst that the series has to offer.  All this talk of passing light onto one’s children comes in the context of both the twisted parallels between Harry/Dexter and Gellar/Travis and Harrison’s obvious desensitization to death.  It’s tempting to fall back on my usual doubts about this series’ ability to pay such ideas off, but this was actually well executed enough that I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.  The only problem is… why the hell did this conversation even happen?  Continue reading