So… what do you do for fun?
There were an awful lot of component parts that went into making Dexter such a great show, but the central pillar, in my opinion, was its ability to blend a thoroughly relatable Everyman narrative with visceral revenge-fantasy. We love Dexter because we can see ourselves in him, even if he can’t see himself in us. We also love Dexter because he does what we can’t, taking out the trash that the law overlooks. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” finds the overlap in these two conceits, exploring Dexter’s anxieties about fatherhood while also giving us an explicitly paternal kill. Continue reading
Listen, I’ve got an early meeting…
I’ll admit to some personal bias in my love for “Epiphany.” Angel’s response to Holland’s philosophy is nearly a one-to-one match with my own moral outlook. Wolfram & Hart’s denial of any greater moral framework for the world is hard to dispute, particularly in the context of all the pain and suffering we experience, but their answer, to work within this amoral framework, isn’t the only one. We can accept that the world is an immoral place without accepting that we ourselves should be immoral. Quite the opposite; if there’s no moral order to the universe, then it’s even more important for us to create one for ourselves. Continue reading
Why can’t she get back in it?
Well, here we are, season five’s masterpiece. “The Body” presents much the same problem that “Hush” did in that, while I have much to say, little of it hasn’t been covered elsewhere. As one of the best known Buffy episodes, it’s also one of the most discussed, a fact that strikes me as somewhat ironic as I write it in that it’s decidedly unlike a Buffy episode. Not “unlike any other Buffy episode,” in a series this diverse there are a dozen that warrant such description, eg: “Once More With Feeling” is unlike anything else on the show while still feeling like Buffy. “The Body” doesn’t. This episode isn’t just singular in it superb writing, acting, directing; it’s set apart in that it sheds itself of virtually all of the vibe by which we recognize this show. Much of the genius stems from the fact that this isn’t a Buffy episode at all. Continue reading
This will end well, I swear
“Finding Freebo” should’ve been the season premiere. The few minutes that mattered from the first episode could’ve been squeezed into it and it would’ve served as a vastly superior introduction the series. This episode introduces the season’s real central question, “what if someone discovers and supports what Dexter does?” without getting distracted by other half-baked ideas. Dex killing the wrong man ought still to have been a bigger deal, but the search for Freebo delivers a lot of fun while ignoring the issue and is an effective way to get the audience to move on and start anticipating what’s really at stake this year. Continue reading
Pretty smug for a corpse
“Reprise” and “Epiphany” form one of my favourite Angel stories as I find them as definitive for the series as season one’s powerhouse two-parter in “Five by Five”/”Sanctuary.” It’s a near thing, but I’ll call this season’s outing superior if only because it’s able to build on what came before. Where “Five by Five” and “Sanctuary” crystallized Angel’s character, “Reprise” and “Epiphany” do the same for his opponents. The genius of this story is in
acknowledging embracing the futility of Angel’s mission while still finding the hope within it. These two episodes form such a complete package that I thought it would be difficult to limit my review to just the first; instead, I find myself almost entirely focused on one scene. There’s plenty to love about this hour, and I’ll get to it in the Final Thoughts, but, for now, I want to talk about Holland Manners. Continue reading
Don’t pretend you wouldn’t
Episode fifteen is yet another of season five’s hidden gems. I think that the awesomeness of “The Body” tends to dwarf a lot of the other awesomeness the was going on around it. “I Was Made to Love You” isn’t going to wind up on anybody’s top ten Buffy lists, but it’s still an excellent monster-of-the-week, bringing the funny while effectively tying into the the characters’ lives. “Good Girlfriend = Robot” is your classic Buffy
mystical sci-fi metaphor made flesh and it works as well here as it ever has. Continue reading
I’m also a sugar junkie
Who’d have ever thought we’d see the Miguel era as the good old days? Actually, I always felt that season three was a bit underrated, but I do acknowledge that it has some big flaws. I’ll get into those as the season goes on but the premiere does illustrate a few of the problems to come. By no means a bad episode, “Our Father” seems to put its focus in the wrong places. Dexter’s not nearly as thrown as you’d expect after he kills the wrong man and Oscar’s drug-fueled culpability serves as an easy out so that he can focus on getting chummy with Jimmy Smits. That’s probably a bit harsh, but it seems odd that Dexter would use such a great hook to pull us into such an okay story. Oh well, at least Debra hasn’t started wanting to bone him yet. Continue reading
My father died, remember?
“The Thin Dead Line” does a far better job of exploring Angel’s doubts about his downward spiral than “Happy Anniversary” did, mainly by tying it’s case of the week back to Angel’s core themes. Angel’s not being drawn back into being a champion because that’s what the writers need him to do, but because it’s what his friends need. Firing his support network was always his real mistake and it’s fitting that they be the ones to bring out the best in him. It’s also fitting that their rejection (via Cordy) is what pushes him back out into the cold. Continue reading
Spike’s dating duds
“Crush” is another one of those oft-forgotten Buffy episodes s that’s actually exemplary of just how bold the series could be. Not bold in the sense of “Hush” or “Once More with Feeling,” but in the sense of having an uncompromising commitment to the characters. Even when that commitment meant they couldn’t give us the story we really wanted. This might sound like storytelling 101 but, in the realm of TV (network TV especially (network TV ten years ago most especially)) this was a damn ballsy approach. Even on today’s “premium” cable, who characters are is far too often ignored in favour of whatever story the writers want to tell (see Dexter). Buffy wasn’t immune to this (see “Triangle”) but, far more often, it was willing to give us episodes like “Crush,” ones that felt real even if they really weren’t what we wanted to see. Continue reading
This was definitely the weakest season of Damages thus far. While still a very good show in most respects, the series seldom reached the heights that characterized its first two years. The finale was the only episode I’d consider up to past standards, and it did a lot to redeem what came before, but there were still too many stretches along the way when I wasn’t particularly interested in what was going on. Continue reading