Monthly Archives: March 2012

I suppose it’s appropriate that I’m at a loss for what to say about “Hush.”  It’s not that I lack opinions on this brilliant piece of television, it’s that, ironically, it’s elicited more conversation than any other episode of Buffy.  With so much material already out there, adding something worthwhile is a bit of a challenge.  Luckily, the conversation itself may have provided an answer.  If you’ve read any Buffy criticism outside of this blog then you’re likely familiar with Rhonda Wilcox, co-editor of Slayage and author of Why Buffy Matters.  Her analysis of “Hush” is one of the most thorough I’ve come across but one thing she mentions, the desire to write “an entire piece on the mothers and fathers in “Hush”,” struck me as odd.  Parenthood isn’t something that I normally associate with “Hush” and as I don’t think Wilcox has gotten around to writing about it, and as I can’t find anything else of the sort on the internet, this seems like a niche I could fill. Continue reading

The Wheel

Alright, I'll buy it

Well, here we are.  Mad Men’s season one finale has unenviable task of concluding the season arc after last week pulled the rug out from under us.  We spent nearly twelve episodes thinking that we were unraveling the threads of Don Draper’s identity when, in fact, we were watching him stitch that identity together.  The masterstroke of this swerve is in making us rethink the series up until this point; the risk is that it becomes a stopping point for the story.  That could’ve been easily addressed by making episode twelve the finale, but the creators made the bold decision to give us one more and this episode, delightfully, manages to move forward in the vein of self-construction while still integrating with the episodes that preceded it. Continue reading

Is that it? Am I done?

Francis, we hardly knew ye

Character death has become the new normal of the post-Lost TV landscape.  It’s an easy but effective means of convincing the audience that “no one is safe” and a welcome sign that TV execs may have accepted the fact that we want our expectations to be thwarted at least as much as we want them realized.  I don’t lump Whedon in with these imitators as he was racking up bodies long before Shannon got shot.  In the case of “Hero,” however, I will lump him in with the deaths that detract from, rather than adding to, the story.  After eight episodes that have mostly ranged from bad to worse, Doyle’s exit just looks like more flailing from a series that doesn’t know what it wants to be. Continue reading

Well, it’s almost like you’re my father-in-law, isn’t it?

Hilarious in every detail

And here I thought “Pangs” was a return to comedic form.  “Something Blue” puts its predecessor to shame in the humour department and is certainly the funniest episode of season four thus far.  Using a story this hilarious to explore the fallout from Oz’s departure is a surprising choice but, ultimately, it’s the right one.  Yes, losing your first boyfriend must deliver its share of pain, but our melodrama quotient has already been met by Buffy and Angel, and the fresh take is very much appreciated.  About the only criticism I have of this episode is that it took too long to arrive; Oz left a whole three episodes ago, making this feel more like a revisit than a continuation.  Still, that’s a small quibble about an otherwise exceptional piece of television. Continue reading

Nixon vs. Kennedy

Exciting, but not really the point

“Who cares?”  Alright Weiner, ya got me.  After weeks of equivocating reviews I must finally bow down and acknowledge Mad Men’s genius.  It’s not that my complaints about the show’s emotional void were addressed, it’s that a character looked into the camera and told me they were irrelevant.  The anti-climax of “Nixon vs. Kennedy” flies so confidently in the face of narrative convention that I have little choice but to sit back and accept it.  This show simply isn’t about telling the type of story I want or expect and there’s no longer any room to do anything but sit back and appreciate its complete originality. Continue reading

Oh boy, I really was jonesing for another heartbreaking sewer talk

Deja vu all over again

Many fans see “I Will Remember You” as one of the few bright spots in the otherwise dark days of Angel’s first season.  For my part, I can’t stand it.  Rather than give yet another explanation of why I don’t like Angel and Buffy as a couple, I’ll just say that this episode perfectly encapsulates their relationship.  If you enjoyed that, best stop reading now.  If you’re like me, you were rolling your eyes within the first few minutes.  All due respect to Joss, but this episode is a clichéd, saccharine, predictable piece of indulgence which feels like a cross between bad fanfic and a tired rehash of the story we spent three years watching. Continue reading

I haven’t been evil for a long time

It's alright, Willow said I could

I’d say that “Pangs” is one of Buffy’s more underrated episodes.  Commonly thought of for its humour (which is superb) this episode also delivers a thoughtful, subtle, look at vengeance and redemption.  The problem is that the nuanced themes get buried behind some seriously clunky and unnecessary dialogue between Giles and Willow.  Having the “issue de jour” play out both between characters and among the monsters is something that Buffy normally does well, but the two just don’t intersect in an interesting way here.  There’s certainly some meat to be found in pitting Buffy against a villain whose only motive is avenge past wrongs but, at the end of the day, there’s never any doubt that the Chumash needs to be slain and it’s a real stretch that Willow would continue to argue otherwise while the bodies continue to mount.  It’s also an unnecessary piece of conflict when there’s real moral tension to be found elsewhere. Continue reading

Indian Summer

How blue should I go with this joke?

Just one episode after Mad Men finally found some emotional weight, it returns to the cold detachment that’s characterized its other 90%.  To be fair, one can’t expect a show to deliver that much intensity every week; efforts to have the payoff without the buildup can only yield train wrecks (like True Blood), but I really thought my new way of looking at this series would yield some more investment in what’s going on.  Sadly, Mad Men, it’s not me, it’s you.  Stories involving emotionally detached characters are only really interesting when they’re about emotional detachment.  Roger’s health, Don’s career, Pete’s ambitions, the Drapers’ marriage… none of these things make good fodder for a narrative when I’m not invested in the characters. Continue reading

You shouldn’t be trying to eat my friend’s brains, you horrible ugly demon people

Funny? Yes, but not enough to carry an episode

Remember when I said I wanted Angel to put more of a focus on Doyle?  This wasn’t what I had in mind.  While there are some things to like about “The Bachelor Party,” it actually reduces rather than expands the background of the only new character in Angel’s core ensemble and that’s pretty… well, “stupid” is the only word that comes to mind.  Once more, I seem to be falling into the trap of criticizing a show based on what I want it to be, but Doyle’s been teasing us with glimpses of some sort of seamy underbelly of the demon world since his first appearance.  And not the old blood-drinking, apocalypse-bringing, sensitivity-spellcasting underbelly we’re familiar with.  Doyle’s world looks a lot like the seamier side of our own.  It’s a very different take on demon-kind and I was excited to see more of it. Continue reading

Maybe she’s Canadian

It happens to all vampires, right?

Some of you may have noted my omission of Maggie Walsh and her Nancy Ninja Boys from the season four write ups thus far.  Buffy actually did a reasonable job building up The Initiative before the big reveal, showing us just enough to get us intrigued.  The problem is that, now that I know where this is going (or, where it isn’t going), I’ve been utterly uninterested in all those fatigue-wearing lurkers.  This season hasn’t been particularly strong and I’ve tried (where possible) to focus on what each episode’s had to offer on its own.  Sadly, the season arc has now asserted itself and I need to address just how lackluster it is. Continue reading