Monthly Archives: August 2012

I Look like Frankenstein

I feel bad for Arthur, and I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing.  Art’s newfound love of green energy is clearly more about his ego than the earth, but having his life story portrayed as a comic farce (yes, that’s Terry’s plan) is probably the worst thing that could ever happen to him.  Considering the fact that he’s an unrepentant murderer, I should probably enjoy seeing him humiliated but it’s not something I’m actually looking forward to.  It’s not that Arthur’s suffered enough (again, unrepentant murderer) but what I think’s going to happen to him just seems… unjust and, given what series this is, I’ll say that even Frobisher, perhaps especially Frobisher, deserves justice.  Whatever his many appalling faults, Arthur has always served as one of the most human villains ever to grace the screen (a benchmark that Kendrick, Pell, and now Tobin have all failed to live up to) and seeing this humanity turned into caricature just isn’t something I want. Continue reading

Now we’re Soul Mates

Prom Photo

“Darla” is yet another excellent episode of Angel, only slightly diminished by the necessary comparisons to “Fool for Love.”  These episodes do a masterful job intercutting the cross-over flashbacks, and play off each other’s explorations of pretense and identity.  “Fool for Love” does a better job with these themes because it’s incredible, not because of any shortcomings with “Darla.”  Get passed the “which is better?” question, and you just have two episode which are stronger for being connected.  Where Buffy’s entry explores the pitfalls of constructing a new identity for yourself, Angel’s looks at what happens when that identity is taken away. Continue reading

Is There Something I Can Do?

Turning Badass to 11

For a very long time “Fool for Love” was my favourite episode of Buffy.  I’ve cooled on it, somewhat, now preferring more generally acclaimed fair like “Hush,” “The Body,” or “Once More With Feeling,” but this episode is still shamefully absent from most people’s top ten lists.  While it may not be as “groundbreaking” as the other episodes I’ve listed, I defy anyone to find a better constructed story on this or any other show.  I’ll probably meander a bit in this review, as there’s no part of this episode I don’t enjoy, but the point I’ll try to come back to is that every element of this story serves to support not one, not two, but three surprising, powerful, and contradictory character moments. Continue reading

You Haven’t Replaced Me

Better Damages, much better.  It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes this episode exciting where its predecessors fell short, but I think it has something to do with what I said last week about expectations being both served and thwarted.  There weren’t any mind blowing twists here, but it did feel like the narrative took some smalls steps sideways, and that’s a very good thing.  Even better, most of the shifts are character driven, either in surprising reveals or unexpected actions.  It’s more than enough to keep me engaged while I wait for the big mysteries to unfold. Continue reading

You’re Reflected in the People Around You

Take a vacation, your understudy can handle it

Just as it’s important to provide the occasional “en route” payoff in a serialized story, it’s also important to take the occasional detour.  “Guise Will Be Guise” isn’t essential to the Angel/Darla narrative, but it provides some necessary comedic breathing room after last week’s intensity.  What’s more, the episode smartly links its themes of appearance and identity with Angel’s recent crisis.  The crux of the “Darla Dilemma” can be seen as a question of who Angel is; a man fighting a demon inside of him or a demon pretending to be a man?  But, as this episode demonstrates, this need not be an either/or question.
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Nothing like getting your ass kicked to make your ass hurt

That’s right Amy Adams, you’re not a demon, just a bitch

It’s a shame that “Family” isn’t a better episode. The seeds of the first (and only) Tara-centric episode were planted way back in season 4, and that much buildup demanded a much better payoff than “she thought she was a demon, but she’s not!”  I’ve always suspected that the original plan was to give Tara some sort of demonic connection, a story-line that certainly had some potential, but ultimately wasn’t the direction the character naturally moved in.  Unfortunately, there was still that spoiled spell from last year to account for, so we get an episode where the stakes are purported to be high, but which is really just about playing continuity clean up while maintaining the status quo. Continue reading

Don’t Forget to Thank Mr. Zedick

Wow, so Louis Tobin’s partner in crime was Junior Soprano.  They do a good job disguising Dominic Chianese, but this really is a distracting piece of casting.  It’s doubly unfortunate because Chianese is a very talented actor and does fine work here, but Zedick feels way too much like a mob boss for it to work.   There’s a similar problem with the rest of the episode in that it all feels pretty predictable; Joe’s scavenger hunt, Tom recital rumble, even Alex’s conjugal visit, none of them serve to move things in an unexpected direction, and I’m left thinking that this one I could’ve merely read a recap for rather than watching. Continue reading

God still doesn’t want you… but I do

I’ll kick your ass if you don’t Wang Chung

I always thought that this was a good episode, but it still far exceeded my expectations.  Serialized television (at least, great serialized television) builds multiple mini-payoffs into its structure as the larger story continues to build.  It’s difficult to sustain tension over 10-12 episodes, let alone 20-24, so the audience gets some catharsis along the way in order to assure us that all this is going somewhere.  This episode is a pitch-perfect example of this, offering a satisfying emotional payoff to the past few episodes in Angel and Darla finally meeting while simultaneously promising even greater drama to come. Continue reading

She’s not my sister?

Ghost Dawn

“She doesn’t know that.”  I always thought that the response to Buffy’s question, and the one the audience has been asking for the last four episodes, was pitch-perfect.  The fact that she’s a mystical key being pursued by an all-powerful-bimbo-demon is only so much flobotnam to drive the plot forward.  The fact that she’s unaware of this and believes herself to be Buffy’s younger sister is what convinces Buffy she should still care about her.  There needed to be more to protecting Dawn than the Slayer’s usual obligation to protect the innocent.  Dawn doesn’t just need saving in general, she needs saving by her big sister; a need that is real even if the sisterhood is not. Continue reading

It’s Not My Birthday

The bizarre dream sequence has become a bit overused in the post-Sopranos world.  Well, maybe more than a bit, which is a shame considering that the imagery surrounding Patty’s tainted innocence is actually pretty great.  It just doesn’t feel as creative as it ought to… which is a criticism I’m tempted to level at this season as a whole.  I still really like the show, but with five episodes down I have yet to be amazed and that’s well below standard for Damages.  Perhaps I’m grading on an unfair curve here, but the quality of television these days is such that I can afford to be unfair.  If a series isn’t “great,” I’ve got a half dozen ones that are waiting in my “to watch” pile. Continue reading