September 2005

Whedon Week Recap

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Uncategorized

Here are all the links to RazorFine’s first ever theme week which celebrated the the crazy worlds and ‘verses from BtVS and Angel to the soaring Friefly and Serenity all from the mad mind of Joss Whedon (seen here with the lovely and talented Amy Acker).  Hope you had as much fun as we did!  Full list of links inside the Full Diagnosis.

N/A

Enjoy all the BtVS/Angel/Firefly review goodness!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season One

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Two

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Three

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Four

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Five

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Six

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven

Angel Season One

Angel Season Two

Angel Season Three

Angel Season Four

Angel Season Five

Firefly: The Complete Series

Serenity

 

 

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Can’t Stop the Signal

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Serenity
  • IMDB: link

“I would rather have a show that a hundred people need to see than a thousand people like to see.” —Joss Whedon

serenity-posterHere’s a peculiar story, a television show that only aired for four months and was cancelled after a dozen episodes has been made into a movie. Joss Whedon’s short lived, but much beloved, Firefly told the story of Malcolm Reynolds and his crew in the distant future, got the whack from Fox Television.  Cancelled after only half a season into its run it produced big numbers when released on DVD and Whedon was asked to revive the franchise on the big screen.  So what’s the result?  Damn good if you ask me.

The movie begins four to eight months after the last episode of the series Objects in Space took place.  Captain Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and his crew are still doing what they do, trying to make a living, legal or criminal, out in the blackness of space.  The crew includes firstmate Zoe (Gina Torres) who served with Mal in the war for independence, on the losing side, her husband and pilot of the ship Wash (Adam Tudyk), the ship’s mechanic Kaylee (Jewel Staite), and the rather dim-witted muscle Jayne (Adam Baldwin).

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From Beneath You It Devours

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Uncategorized

It’s about power.  The final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer brings the series full circle as Buffy returns to Sunnydale High School, old faces return, and the Scooby Gang gathers all their forces to deal with The First!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 7
Custom Rating

This is it folks, the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and what a season!  Season Seven goes back to the beginning and returns many familiar faces including a great villain from the Season Three episode Amends.  Okay, for one last time, let’s take a look…

It’s not about right, not about wrong,
it’s about power

Returns are a big theme in Season Seven.  Spike (James Marsters) has returned to Sunnydale after being reinsouled and is living in the basement of the new high school where Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) has begun her freshman year.  The First returns to Sunnydale to declare war on Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and the entire Slayer line including all the girls who potentially might be chosen as the next Slayer.  Both Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Giles (Anthony Stuart Head) will return from England to join the fight.  Jonathan (Danny Strong) and Andrew (Tom Lenk) will return from hiding out in Mexico.  Even Faith (Eliza Dushku) and Angel (David Boreanaz) will show up to lend their support to the final battle.  Buffy and the gang band together with the potential slayers as they fight off The First which is impossible to destroy and has legions of followers under its command including Ubervampires and potentially Spike himself.  The biggest battle of the series will take place as the army of the chosen lines up against the First Evil.

The First is one of the most interesting villains of the series because it can be stopped, but never defeated.  Although incoporeal it appears as any person who has died, including Buffy herself.  One nice thing is that we get to see some of the old Buffy villains used as guises of The First including Warren (Adam Busch), The Master (Mark Metcalf), Glory (Clare Kramer), Drusilla (Juliet Landau), the Mayor (Harry Groener), and Adam (George Hertzberg).  The first has an army of Bringers, the Ubervamp (Erik Betts), a crazy Spike who has been triggered to go off at precisely the right moment, and a preacher (Nathan Fillion) who very much dislikes young girls.

The Scooby Gang

The season arc will take us back to the beginning, returning us to the mission statement of the series – It’s about Power.  The final arc gives us loads to watch and cheer about, even if some of the potential Slayers get annoyingly whiney.  One of my favorite moments of the series is Xander’s (Nicholas Brendon) speech to Dawn in the final minutes of Potential about the role of those who aren’t chosen.  Other great moments aplenty, here are a few…

Converstations with Dead People

Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Jonathan and Andrew, and Spike all have their own stories that do not intersect, but have something in common.  Each of our characters is put in a situation where they discover something frightening that may or may not be true.  Dawn is visited by Joyce (Kristine Sutherland), Buffy meets a vampire she went to high school with, Willow discusses Tara with a friend of Dawn’s who has recently died (Azura Skye), Andrew talks with Warren, and a lovely but unlucky lady has the misfortune of meeting The First controlled Spike.  Great episode, and only one of two that the title is actually aired at the beginning of the show.

Ubervamp

Never Leave Me / Bring on the Night/ Showtime

This is the arc that brings back Giles and the potential slayers to Sunnydale, has the gang realize the enemy they are up against, reveals the final fate of the Watcher’s Council, and introduces the character of the Ubervamp as one of The First’s weapons.  The final battle between the Ubervamp and Buffy at the construction site works on so many levels, and hey, anytime you can throw in a Thunderdome reference, that’s pretty cool too.

Lies My Parents Told Me

Great storytelling as Giles and the gang explore Spike’s mind to difuse the trigger in his brain and free him of The First’s control.  We get flashbacks to the Spike and Drusilla relationship as well as Spike’s killing of his second Slayer in New York who is Wood’s (D.B. Woodside) mother.  Giles and Wood decide to go behind Buffy’s back and kill off Spike which creates some heated tension and a break in the Slayer / Watcher relationship.  As Buffy tells Wood after he fails, she doesn’t have time for vendettas “the mission is what matters.”

The Plan

Chosen

This is it, the finale of Buffy and damn does she go out with a bang!  Awesome episode as Whedon reaches back on all the Buffy mythos and finds a way to give us something completely new yet fall perfectly in line with the show’s mission statement and the theme of the season.  Also of interest to fans of the Whedonverse, all three stars of Whedon’s three shows appear in this episode: Gellar, Boreanaz, and Fillion.

The final package of Buffy includes commentary for seven episodes including Whedon’s take on the series finale Chosen.  Also included is a DVD-ROM demon guide, a look at the Buffy fans, outtakes, and the final season overview.  We also get a short featurette of Whedon waxing nostalgic about the show intercut with clips of his favorite ten episodes, a featurette on the Slayer potentials, and a sneak peek at the wrap party.  My favorite extra is Buffy 101: Studying the Slayer a critical look at the series, it’s accomplishments, and the lasting effects of Buffy.  A nice farewell set to make your collection complete.

I love this show and was disappointed to see it end, but the way it went out was awesome!  Season Seven does justice to the series by returning to the original themes of the show and giving us new and interesting stories.  The extras make this a must have for Buffy fans.  The show is neatly wrapped up, yet there are always more stories to be told.  Will we ever see these characters again?  Who knows; I’m just thankful I’ve got seven seasons of Buffy DVD to watch whenever I want to see and remember how good television can be.

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Astronauts or Cavemen? : Angel Season Five

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Uncategorized

Angel and the crew try to control the evil law firm they’ve accepted control over without being swallowed up themselves.  Old friends and enemies return for the final season, and Angel gets turned into a puppet.  Oh yeah, Spike turns up too.

Angel – Season 5
Custom Rating

Angel and the crew have taken control of the Wolfram & Hart offices in Los Angeles and now have to figure out how to use the evil power at their fingertips to do some actual good.  Oh yeah, and a certain platinum haired vampire with a soul stops by to be a tremendous pain in Angel’s ass all season long.  Fun, fun, fun!  It’s the last season of Angel folks, let’s get to it!

 

Season Five picks up with Angel (David Boreanaz) having accepted the deal to take control of the West Coast offices of Wolfram & Hart and now are trying to decide how to use this incredibly evil business to do some good.  So tension is already high when an amulet from Sunnydale arrives and out shoots the ghost of Spke (James Marsters) who will haunt Angel, quite literally, for the first few episodes.  As Spike is finally made corporeal new problems arise as now there are two world saving vampires with souls walking around the halls of Wolfram & Hart.  After beating each other into a bloody pulp, Angel and Spike form a kind of uneasy truce as Spike walks out of the law firm and goes to work on the streets fighting the good fight.  He is approached by Angel’s old nemisis Lindsay McDonald (Christian Kane) who is calling himself Doyle and pretending to have visions.  Lindsay hopes to create enough confusion in Angel that he can sweep in and finally take control of Wolfram & Hart.  Another old friend will return for a single episode as Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) shows up to remind Angel who he was and put him back on his path.

The Gang

Things return to normal until Fred (Amy Acker) is infected by ancient sarcophagus and the gang, even Angel and Spike, band together to save her.  In the end Fred dies and her body is made into the new vessel of Illyria (again played by Acker), an ancient and extremely powerful old one.  The ramifications of this change will shake the characters, especially Wesley (Alexis Denisof) and Gunn (J. August Richards) for the rest of the series run.  Illyria learns that her followers have turned to ash millenia ago and has no other option to try and live in this world and asks Wesley to be her guide.  Things come to a head as Angel becomes acting much more like the CEO of Wolfram & Hart and the gang gets information that Angel may have sacrificed Fred for more power and to inducted into the Circle of the Black Thorn.  The confrontation reveals the truth and the gang decides to declare war on Wolfram & Hart and take out all the members of the Circle thus stopping the mechinism for the senior partners plans on earth, if only for a short time.  Some of the group are successful, but more will fall before the end as the Senior Partners will unleash hell on earth for revenge.

Season Five returns to the original style of the show with more stand alone episodes with shorter story arcs.  We do get the Spike / Angel arc which evolves over the season, the Illyria arc, and the final arc of the series which involves the gang taking down the Circle of the Black Thorn.  And the show stays true to form, with Buffy each season is a possible bookend for the series, but Angel differentiated itself early on by deciding the cliffhangers are the best way to end and this one is a doozy.

Destiny

Spike vs Angel

Spike is made corporeal by a mysterious package in the mail and the universe is sent into wackiness because we now have two vampires with souls who can lay claim to the Sanshu prophecy.  They race each other to drink from the cup of perpetual torent and cement themselves as the chosen one.  Wonderful stuff here as the huge battle between Angel and Spike is intercut with scenes from their first meeting and we finally get some of the background causes of the animosity between the two.  And it’s great see Juliet Landau reprise her role of Drusilla.  What’s even more interesting is that for the first time ever Spike wins the fight, defeating Angel and leaving him to wonder “What if I’m not the guy?” and us to wonder should the show be called Spike?

Lineage

An oddity here because it’s a Wesley episode which we don’t get very often.  Wesley’s father Roy Dotrice shows check out Wolfram & Hart, but really to steal a mystical item that will allow him to control Angel.  Wesley has to choose between the mission and family, a choice that is made all to easy when daddy threatens Fred.  Great episode that creates some more bonding and understanding between Angel and Wesley, and will a catalyst as Fred begins to look at Wesley in a new light.

A wee little puppet man

Smile Time

Here’s the set up – Angel gets turned into a puppet.  The children’s show Smile Time is run by demons who have taken the form of puppets and are draining life force from children through their television screens.  Angel goes to investigate and he becomes as Spike so perfectly puts it “a wee little puppet man.”  Written and directed by Joss Whedon this episode just rocks in all kinds of ways.  My favorite scene involves Spike discovering what has happened to Angel and the puppet beating down the incredulous laughing vampire.  The scene where Angel is attacked by werewolf Nina (Jenny Mollen) who rips out most of his stuffing is also quite good.  Also of interest to longtime watchers of the show, this episode marks the moment that Fred and Wesley FINALLY get together, but you know Whedon doesn’t like his characters to be too happy so….

A Hole in the World / Shells

Fred is infected by a sarcophagus of an old one, an acient race that lived on earth well before the age of man.  The old one burns Fred from the inside out to use her body as its new vessel.  Spike and Angel travel to England to the Deeper Well, a gigantic hole going through the center of the earth where all the remains of the old ones are kept.  Grogan, the keeper of the well informs them that the only way to pull Illyria out of Fred would involve killing hundreds of thousands.  Fred dies in Wesley’s arms and Illyria is reborn in her shell and prepares for the coming of her army to destroy the infection of humanity.

After discovering her worshippers are long dead she wanders unable to find any solace in this new world.  She asks Wesley to be her guide, and because she is the closest thing to Fred that still exists Wesley accepts.  Great two part episode that involves the most heartwrenching death scene in any Joss Whedon episode as Fred slowly falls into oblivion.  Gunn is faced with his part in her death as he learns he is responsible for getting Illyria’s sarcophogus through customs and delivered to Wolfram & Hart.  Angel and Spike come to the realization that as much as they love Fred they cannot sacrifice thousands for her.  Wesley must not only deal with the loss of Fred, but now the responsibility of teaching Illyria about humanity.  Amy Acker is wonderful in a totally new role as the mysterious old one who is now lost in this world of humanity.

The final season of Angel gives us a featurette on the 100th episode of the series You’re Welcome which brings back the characters of Cordelia and Lindsay.  We also get a short featuretee for Smile Time, a featurette on the making of a stunt scene, a final season overview, a gag reel and commentary for seven episodes.  To comemorate the season we also get a look at Whedon’s favorite episodes and a featurette on the recurring villains of the series.  A nice set to finish your collection.

I prefer the wide sweeping story arcs of Seasons Three and Four, but I must admit that this season is one of the best.  The Angel / Spike relationship is a wonderful way to shakeup the series chemistry.  Boreanaz and Marsters work so well off each other it’s really a shame we didn’t get to see more with these two.  The season also meets my requirement of the best seasons having meaningful deaths, and oh boy does this one have it in spades.  Before the end we’ve lost many of the characters who made this world so interesting to watch.  As the series has done since the end of Season Two, it leaves us on a cliffhanger that would make a great opening for a Buffy / Angel movie.

The End???

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Into the Blue

by Alan Rapp on September 30, 2005

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Into the Blue
  • IMDb: link

Into the BlueWhat can you say about a movie that strives to meet your low expectations? Into the Blue is not really a bad film, just a mediocre one. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, a group of mostly honest people find something valuable, but to get it they will have to bend or break the law.  As the pressure mounts the group begins to fracture with distrust, but in the end everything will turn out swell and we’ll have all learned a moral lesson.  If you haven’t seen that movie, I dunno, like a hundred zillion times then you’re in luck, because here’s your film. And hey, Jessica Alba spends almost twenty minutes in a bikini.

Sam (Jessica Alba) and her beach-bum boy-toy Jared (Paul Walker) live somewhere on beautiful beaches of what appears to be the Bahamas making a living in various tourist attractions while hoping that one day they might find some buried treasure in the deep of the ocean. Old friend Bryce (Scott Caan ) shows up with his new lady Amanda (Ashley Scott) and they go out for a boat ride and low and behold they stumble onto something.

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Firefly : The Complete Series

by Aaron on September 29, 2005

in Uncategorized

Frankly, Fox Network’s scheduling snafus aside, I can see why this fan-favorite was cancelled, as it’s a show that doesn’t know what it wants to be, nor does it handle its unwieldy ensemble cast well. However, I think had it been given life on a network with a better track record of stewarding young shows, Firefly had the potential to become a rather solid piece of storytelling and a mainstream success.

Firefly : The Complete Series
2 & 1/2 Stars

Let’s get this out of the way right now: What I’ve seen of Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn’t impress me, and am not to be considered an overall fan of creator Joss Whedon’s work. Some of my acquaintances consider that strange, since he and I are of the same age and grew up with all the same comic book influences, but the fact remains that I’ve yet to really be impressed with Whedon overall. So when we decided to spend a week discussing his work here on RazorFine, I volunteered to review Firefly, as it was a show I knew nothing about and hadn’t seen.

So what’d I think? Frankly, Fox Network’s scheduling snafus aside, I can see why it was cancelled, as it’s a show that doesn’t know what it wants to be, nor does it handle its unwieldy ensemble cast well. However, I think had it been given life on a network with a better track record of stewarding young shows, Firefly had the potential to become a rather solid piece of storytelling and a mainstream success.

But before we get to those aspects, let’s just cover the basics.

 

Firefly takes place near’bouts 500 years from now, when human beings have been forced to find a life in a new solar system. Overseeing this life is a Sino-American Alliance made up of the remnants of the last two superpowers China and the US. Though we’re not given much evidence of it, we’re led to believe that the inner planets are high-tech and as futuristic as you’d imagine, but the outer planets are barely livable rocks that aren’t that much different from Deadwood.

Scrapping together a tenuous existence in this wild west of space is Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and the crew of the Firefly class ship, Serenity. Reynolds and his second in command Zoe (Gina Torres) fought on the losing side of a separatist war with the Alliance, and they’ve no compunction about breaking the winning side’s laws. The crew of Serenity hits all the typical character types with only slight variations: the tortured leader (Fillion), the no-nonsense soldier (Torres), the wise-cracking cowardly pilot (Alan Tudyk), the dumb strong-man (Adam Baldwin), the cheerful mechanic (Jewel Staite), and the haughty courtesan (Morena Baccarin). It’s an unlikely group of people living and working together to say the least.

In the pilot episode (which Fox, in all their wisdom, decided to air after the show was already cancelled) Serenity picks up a few more passengers in the form of Shepard Book (Ron Glass from the great Barney Miller), a wandering missionary who may be more than he seems, and siblings Simon and River Tam (Sean Maher and Summer Glau), who are on the run from the Alliance for reasons that (in Whedon style) won’t be made clear until much farther along in the season.

Over the course of 12 episodes, the crew of Serenity take pot shots at the Alliance, bicker among themselves, and pull illegal smuggling jobs that invariably go awry. Occasionally there’s some backstory on the various characters, but mostly we’re asked to just accept the characters as they are, which is where some of the problems set in.

Whedon sets up Reynolds as kind of a Jesse James in Space. He’s a rebel both figuratively and literally, but without any political beliefs (or say holding any socially unacceptable practices like slavery) to bog down or give a reason for why he was fighting the Alliance in the first place outside of a vague concept of ‘freedom’. Having lost the war, Reynolds contents himself with being a criminal (running black market cattle, stealing payrolls, smuggling goods), but his morality won’t let him get away with pulling a job any more criminal than the harmless pranks Bo and Luke Duke pulled off in Hazzard County every week. Once it comes to behavior that would truly make him a bad guy, the morality kicks in and the crew of Serenity invariably does The Right Thing, sometimes at the urging of Shepard Book, but often due to an inscrutable changing of mind from Reynolds.

It’s easy to dismiss Firefly as a ‘what if’ take on Han Solo, except for the fact that Han Solo actually was a bad guy. Remember kids, that whole bounty thing came about because Han dumped a shipment of drugs he was smuggling. And he didn’t dump ‘em for moral reasons. Whedon has pretty much admitted as to what influences he’s cribbing from, but it’s done in a fan-boy homage way, so that element isn’t bothersome outside of it’s diminished quality. Maybe an easier comparison would be ‘What if the Sci-Fi Channel had come up with Deadwood?’ There’s a lot of the same double-dealing and bucking against the authority of yonder city folk, and there’s no escaping the fact that this show was far more a western than it was a Sci-Fi show.  Occasionaly that causes some problems even though those two genres have historically been easy to reconcile, but the real issues lay in some more basic areas of screenwriting.

This is an ensemble show, but all too often the supporting characters are left behind (and both literally and figuratively) to make room for more internal angst from Reynolds. While each character has maybe one episode with enough of a subplot to steal the spotlight, the show is firmly and fully focused on Capt. Reynolds, which ultimately proves a disservice to the show as a whole. Any backstory is filtered through his perception, and even in those moments where the show is focusing on another character, it’s always Reynolds who acts as the catalyst.  Sure he’s the captain, but he’s one with a very tenuous grip on his crew, who act more like a rather eccentric extended family than wiling followers of Captain Reynolds.

The fact is Mal just isn’t that interesting of a character.  Angst only goes so far as a character trait, and it damn well should never be used as a plot device.  Gina Torres’s Zoe is passionately dedicated to Mal, but we’re never given any clear reason for her devotion, outside of the fact that they fought together.  More than once I thought ‘she’d have left him for that’ after a couple of particularly boneheaded choices by Mal.  Sounds like they’re together, doesn’t it?  That did make for one of the more interesting episodes in which Zoe’s husband (the oft-wasted Tudyk) takes his wife’s place on a mission to see why she’s so devoted to Mal, but in the end no sufficiently offered.  Maybe the focus on Mal was due to the rather thinly sketched out nature of the rest of the cast, as they all fill pretty standard (okay, cliched) roles.  The wise man, the thug, the gear-head, etc. etc.  It’s sad really, because a writer more focused on exploring the dynamic might have come up with some very compelling stories to explain why these people stayed together as a crew.  It’s even more sad that such great actors were delegated to such bare-bones characters.  The potential of Firefly’s cast is astounding, and I for one would have like to see that promise made good.

 

I’d like to think that, had Whedon been given time to develop his concept (and characters) more fully, Firefly might have evolved into a truly engaging and entertaining hunk o’ television, but my experiences with the rest of his body of work doesn’t lead me to put much faith in that.  Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, as I’ll soon be giving in to some of my fellow RazorFine reviewers suggestions and sitting down with the entirety of Buffy and Angel, but seeing as Firefly was his third television show I think that will take some serious convincing.

At the end of the day, Firefly can still be entertaining, but it’s far from being among the best of either the Sci-Fi or Western genre.  (It’s certainly not going to win any ‘opening theme’ awards from me, either.  I died a little inside each time I heard the atrocious theme song. Joss, stick to dialogue.)  There are some chuckles to be had as well as some interesting episodes, but mostly it’s just kind of ‘okay’.

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Reign of Fire: Angel Season Four

by Alan Rapp on September 29, 2005

in Uncategorized

The sun is blocked out, the sky rains fire, Angelus returns, the unstoppable Beast smashes and crashes through L.A., and that’s just in the beginning.

Angel – Season 4
Custom Rating

So much happens in this season it will make your head spin.  The quest for Cordelia, the rise of The Beast,  the rain of fire and permanent midnight, the return of both Faith and Angelus, and the arrival of an ancient power who first takes control of Cordelia and then all of Los Angeles.  A packed full season that is one of the series best.

You just treat it all like it was up to you,
the world in the balance, because
you never know when it is.

Both Angel (David Boreanaz) and Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) are missing in action as Season Four begins.  Angel is finally freed after months at the bottom of the ocean by Wesley (Alexis Denisof), and will deal with the betrayal of his son Connor (Vincent Kartheiser).  Cordelia returns from her stint as a higher being, without her memory, just in time for everything to go to hell as The Beast (Vladimir Kulich) burrows his way up from hell, makes the sky rain fire, and blocks out the sun.  No one knows how to stop The Beast, all records of his existance have been destroyed in this dimension.  The only one who might know someting is….Angelus.

Since Angel cannot remember that specific period of time the group decides to bring back Angelus and find out what he knows.  Yeah, kind of like solving a bruised elbow by ripping off the arm and throwing it to the wolves.  Of course Angelus escapes and the group enlists the help of a Vampire Slayer, no not her, the other one.  Faith (Eliza Dushku) returns to help stop The Beast and bring down Angelus.  World saved right?  Well, not exactly.  Everything would be just fine except Cordelia turns out to be The Beast’s master and pregnant to boot.  The creature inside Cordelia gives birth to herself, an angelic Jasmine (Gina Torres) who creates a Utopia as any who see her or listen to her fall under her spell.  Slowly the gang is forced out of the delusional paradise and embark on a mission to end world peace…I mean Jasmine’s control.  Finally they return to the hotel to find an old friend who offers them a deal of a lifetime.

Whew, you get all that?  We also get new characters such as the wonderful and wickedly sexy thief Gwen (Alexa Davalos) as well as the return of several familiar faces including Faith, Skip (David Denman), Lilah (Stephanie Romanov), and Darla (Julie Benz).  This season also asks the question, can you copy from yourself?  If Spin the Bottle looks familiar it because Buffy did it much better in Season Six with Tabula Rasa.  And if House Always Wins gives you a sense of deja vu you might want to go back and look at Double or Nothing from Season Three of Angel.

Aside from those misques, there are some great episodes here and although I prefer The Beast / Angelus story arc to that of evil Cordelia / Jasmine there is much to enjoy in both.

The Beast

Apocalypse Nowish / Habeas Corpses / Long Day’s Journey

The Beast burrows his way out ouf hell to arrive in Los Angeles and reak havoc.  First he tosses around Connor around the alley like a ragdoll, then dispenses the Angel crew without breaking a sweat.  Can a guy made out of rock sweat?  What next?  Well he makes the sky rain fire, but he’s just getting wamred up as he walks into Wolfram & Hart and kills everyone he sees stealing the power of the conduit to help him block out the sun.  The rain of fire is spectacular and The Beast is a powerhouse of a villain.  Whedon’s trademark for turning things sideways is in full force as The Beast doesn’t join the evil law firm, but massacres them.

Salvage / Release / Orpheus

Angelus has been brought back to learn how to defeat The Beast, but he escapes the hotel and roams Los Angeles enjoying the havoc permanent night has brought.  With no other options Wesley calls on Faith to track down Angelus and capture him alive.  The scenes between Wesley and Faith show how much each character has changed since Season One.  The method of capture is paticularily interesting as Faith and Angelus are trapped in his mind as the group, with the help of Willow (Alyson Hannigan) tries to recapture and restore Angel’s soul.

 

Inside Out / The Magic Bullet

Darla

My two favorite episodes of the Jasmine storyline.  The first is the birth of Jasmine where Kartheiser gives his best performance of the series.  I especially love the scene between Darla’s “ghost” and Connor; the scene ends showing how irredeamable Connor has become.  That final shot of Darla looking up at him is heartwrenching.  The other episode involves Fred versus the world as she is the only one who can see through Jasmine’s spell.  Some great conspiracy monments here and I really enjoyed Patrick Fischler as the owner of the conspiracy bookstore.  I love how the cast reacts to knowing and understanding that they now know the truth, yet acknowledging how each of them still craves the lie.

The collection contains commentary for seven episodes (Spin the Bottle with Whedon and Denisof is pretty funny stuff, and I can almost forgive them for ripping off the Buffy episode).  Also included are a season overview and a collection of outtakes.  A set of featurettes about the Hyperion Hotel, Wolfram & Hart, and the Beast storyline round out the collection.  The Wolfram & Hart featurette is especially interesting as it gives you a look back and helps set the stage for Angel and the gang’s new surroundings in Season Five.  In all a pretty good collection of extras.

A nice collection of extras and some pretty damn good storytelling make this a great little set to add to your Buffy / Angel DVD collection.  The Beast and Angelus storylines are particularily well done, and the Jasmine storyline is interesting as it shows us a completely different type of villain.  One thing Angel does as a series is show how much the characters live in shades of gray, can be tempted, and often make bad decisions.  And bringing Lilah back to point out that by stopping Jasmine they effectively ended world peace and have thrown the world into chaos is cool.  They had to stop Jasmine, but did stopping her actually improve the world or did they do more harm than good?

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Of course, I dig darkness and insanity in my entertainment, so Angel works well for me. Sure, there are many cringe-worthy attempts at humor throughout the show that just don’t make it (it is a Joss Whedon show, after all!) and some sickeningly gaggable lovey-dovey moments that made me feel embarrassed in the privacy of my own home, but the cool stuff definitely makes up for all of that twaddle.

Angel: Season 3
Custom Rating

Dark, Brooding… Daddy?

So I feel like I’ve just crashed a party.

I kinda know three of the party-goers but the setting is completely foreign. There are two people there that I’ve never met before, which combined with the fact that everybody’s been boozing it up for the last seven hours and I’m completely stone sober makes me feel a little uneasy. But, hey, I’m a sucker for a good party so I hang with the crew, am often confused about conversations that go on, but soon settle into a nice but never quite comfortable evening of vampire slaying, demon hunting, and hell dimensions.

That’s how I felt being dropped into the world of Angel at the beginning of Season Three without having ever seen an episode of the show. Ok, my party analogy kinda lost it there at the end with the vampire slaying and all, but I think you get the picture.

I was familiar with the characters of Angel, Cordelia, and Wesley from Buffy, but even a few things had changed about them. So when the hell did Cordelia start getting visions? Why is there a ghost that draws her bath? And the “new” people (well, new to me) – why is there some skinny hick chick babbling on about formulas and stuff and writing all over her walls? Etc.

After Alan filled me out on this stuff, I settled into what has probably become my new favorite show. Buffy is still great, but judging on what I’ve seen in Season Three of Angel, this bastard stepchild of a series isn’t too far behind. It has an underlying sense of darkness and perversity coursing through its veins that Buffy only had in its sixth season, but with much more cruelty and insano situations arising for the characters to deal with. Maybe I’ve forgotten what watching twenty three episodes of Buffy in a very short span of time is like, but the main feeling I get after watching an entire season of Angel in just a few days is that its storyline has a greater complexity than its parent show.

Of course, I dig darkness and insanity in my entertainment, so Angel works well for me. Sure, there are many cringe-worthy attempts at humor throughout the show that just don’t make it (it is a Joss Whedon show, after all!) and some sickeningly gaggable lovey-dovey moments that made me feel embarrassed in the privacy of my own home, but the cool stuff definitely makes up for all of that twaddle.

Anyway, for me Angel (the show) is a winner. I was leery at first because of the clash of the familiar and unfamiliar, but everything worked out in the end. I really can’t wait to bum the other seasons off of Alan (that’s a plea, man) and immerse myself in the silly and wonderful world of this wacky show. I’d better stop now before I pass out from the adrenaline rush the last episode just gave me. Thanks for reading, and keep reading what our other fine Razorfine writers have to say about the wild world of Joss Whedon.

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I’m Dark and Brooding, Guess Who I Am.

by December Lambeth on September 29, 2005

in Television Reviews 

The dark and self-pitying side to Angel starts to show halfway through this season. Instead of being concerned with the helpless he gets hooked on Wolfram & Hart. His obsession with Wolfram & Hart leaves the rest of the gang to fend for themselves and the helpless; Wesley, Gunn, and Cordy try to keep up with their clientele without Angel. The gang barely flying by the seat of their pants to the point of getting seriously hurt or killed, Angel steps in at the last minute to save the day and return to his normal self.

Angel: Season 2
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The dark and self-pitying side to Angel starts to show halfway through this season. Instead of being concerned with the helpless he gets hooked on Wolfram & Hart. His obsession with Wolfram & Hart leaves the rest of the gang to fend for themselves and the helpless; Wesley, Gunn, and Cordy try to keep up with their clientele without Angel. The gang barely flying by the seat of their pants to the point of getting seriously hurt or killed, Angel steps in at the last minute to save the day and return to his normal self.

Angel Season 2 has a great deal of turning points. Angel starts out on the path he originally chose in Season 1, but halfway through turns into a real bastard and goes after Wolfram & Hart and then turns back into a good guy towards the end. We see him fire his crew, let Kate try to kill herself, allow Darla and Dru to eat most of the Wolfram & Hart lawyers, and get it on with Darla. Then we witness the gang trying to make it on their own without Angel, Wesley got shot and a girlfriend, Cordy got a haircut and a third eye and Gunn questioned his loyalty towards Angel Investigations and his old crew. Kate finally comes to grips with Angel being a good guy and accepts that he has helped her more than hurt her and he is not at fault for all the evil in the world. Lindsey fell in love with Darla, but was rejected and in return tried to kick Angel’s ass and looses and then finally quits the firm and leaves LA. Lilah gets the job and a little more power in Wolfram & Hart. Angel sees how things really are and that is no matter what the fight is there will always be evil, but it’s the one act of kindness that makes the dent in the plan. Darla is brought back and then she’s dying again and then Dru comes in and turns her to a vampire. Angel rights his wrongs, saves the crew and goes to work for them instead of them working for him. Cordy becomes a princess and finds herself a hunk of a man, but in another dimension. Cordy’s visions are becoming stronger and stronger and starting to take over her wellbeing and health. Angel, Wesley, Lorne and Gunn jump into another dimension to save Cordy and brings back a new member to the gang, Fred, for the 3rd season of Angel.

Season 2: The Gang

Characters:

Angel:(David Boreanaz) Angel becomes hung up on Wolfram & Hart’s control and mind games. He gets darker and darker throughout the season, becoming closed off from the group and more concerned about him. Most of his problems do stem from Wolfram & Hart and he plays right into their game at times.

Cordelia:(Charisma Carpenter) Cordelia’s visions are getting stronger and stronger; they are taking over her life and mental/physical health. The gang shows concern, but she backs away from them not sharing the truth about how strong her visions are getting. Cory’s character has grown by leaps and bounds, no longer looking for the shallow acting career and completely putting herself into the saving the innocent business.

Wesley:(Alexis Denisof) Wesley becomes a major player in “watcher” form and slaying form. He studies up on the demons that the gang must fight and he stands next to Angel and Cordy in the battles. His character grows more and more with each episode; he comes into his own towards the end and plays a major role in the prophecy that states how Angel is to become human.

Gunn:(J. August Richards) Gunn starts out as a hired hand, but ends up as much of a part of Angel Investigations as the rest of the team. He leaves his street family to help Angel fight the good fight.

Lorne:(Andy Hallett) Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan, aka “Lorne” is an anagogic demon that can sense people’s thoughts through singing. He plays a small role as a host in a safe haven bar that gets destroyed over and over again, towards the end Lorne finds himself just as much of the gang as the rest.

Fred:(Amy Acker) This character shows up at the end of the season and plays into a love triangle in season 3 between Gunn and Wesley. She helps save Angel while the gang is trapped in Lorne’s dimensional world, Pylea, a place where humans are slaves and demons rule.

Kate:(Elisabeth Röhm) An annoying and self-pitying character indeed. She is an L.A. police detective who takes a great deal of undeserved anger out on Angel. Most annoying character in the show.

Lindsey:(Christian Kane) A squirmy little lawyer who works for the evil firm of Wolfram & Hart. Angel has many disputes with Lindsey throughout the season.

Lilah:(Stephanie Romanov) An evil witch of a lawyer who works for Wolfram & Hart. She always has the evil plan, but it never works out. Angel and her are always battling it out, a constant cat and mouse game.

Darla(Julie Benz) She comes back from the dust with the help of Wolfram & Hart to cause havoc with Angel. Her purpose is to turn Angel back to Angelus. Darla realizes that she is dying in her human form, tries to get Angel to turn her so she can live forever, instead Angel goes through a test putting his life on the line to save her. She can’t be saved; she was already brought back once.

Cordy

Crossovers:
Willow:(Alyson Hannigan)
Spike(James Marsters)
Willow(Seth Green)
Faith(Eliza Dushku)
Drusilla(Juliet Landau)

Episodes:
Judgment

Angel mistakenly slays a demon who is protecting an innocent pregnant girl, he has to sing karaoke in order to find out how to make things right. He sings the standard song “Mandy” by Barry Manilow. Darla recovers from her resurrection and Angel discovers he may not always be eternal. Angel makes a visit to prison to have a chat with Faith.

Are you Now, Or Have you Ever Been?

Angel travels back in time to 1952 where Angel isn’t the Angel we know today. He lives in hiding scared of the tortured souls around him. Angel rids the hotel of the demon that still haunts it and releases the soul of the one girl he cared about from the past.  The Angel Investigation team moves into their new offices at the Hyperion Hotel after the mystery is solved.

First Impressions

Cordelia has a vision of Gunn being in danger and after not being able to get a hold of Wesley nor Angel she goes to protect him herself. While doing this Angel is having nighttime visits from Darla in his dreams or is it for real. We start seeing more of Wolfram and Hart and their evil little games to control Angel. Cordelia loses Angels car and in the search for it she and Gunn get in a battle. Cordelia realizes Gunn is his own worst enemy; she can’t save him, but can be there to help him when he needs a little support.

Wesley

Untouched

Angel helps a young woman with uncontrollable telekinetic powers. Angel’s sleepless nights are distracting him during his working hours and he is still oblivious to Darla paying him visits in his room while he sleeps at night. The young woman, Bethany, with telekinetic powers is tangled up with Lilah and Wolfram & Hart, but doesn’t know they want to use her for evil. Bethany starts losing control over powers due to abuse from her father and Angel helps her get through it and gain control of her life.

Dear Boy

Angel finally gets a glimpse of Darla while awake and when he tells his gang this they all think he has lost his mind until they see her with their own eyes. All the while they are afraid he might fall for that one moment of bliss with Darla return to his evil ways. Kate appears and plays super bitch and doesn’t want to listen to the truth from the gang, they try to explain to her that Darla is setting up Angel and he is trying to do what’s right. She won’t listen, only all to willing to blame Angel for all the wrongs in the world. While the gang is dealing with Kate, Angel is below ground trying to talk a little comment sense into Darla, trying to get her to realize that her soul will start eating away at her very insides. Darla won’t listen to reason and runs off and figures out the pain the hard way. All of these events start to turn Angel to brooding mean guy who starts to wrap his days up with Wolfram & Hart and less with the innocent. He starts to forget his true purpose in L.A. and why he’s fighting the good fight.

Guise Will Be Guise

Wesley gets to play Angel and tries to save a young girl. Angel goes to find out about his haunting dreams from a mystical swami. Wesley hooks up for the first time with his occasional love interest, Virginia Bryce.

Darla

Flashbacks of Angelus and Darla’s rein pepper this episode, showing us what evil they possessed together before Angel was cursed with a soul. Darla is loosing her mind with her new soul and memories of what horrors she committed. Angel is desperate to save Darla from Wolfram & Hart’s death grip on her, but fails in the end.

Lorne

Shroud of Rahmon

Angel and Gunn pose as robbers to help demons steal the Shroud of Rahmon, but Kate jumps in on the robbers at the last minute. Kate’s involvement forces Angel to bight her and whisper in her ear to fake dead so the demons don’t do the job themselves. She falls to the floor and they escape with the Shroud. Later Angel burns the Shroud and Wesley tries to take the fall for the robbery. Kate comes in to the questioning and tells the police to let Wesley go, he had nothing to do with the robbery. Kate, even after Angel saved her, still won’t forgive him and Angel sits down at the end to think about how Kate tastes.

The Trial

After Darla ran out a couple of episodes ago Gunn finds her, but not before Lindsey. He takes her back to Wolfram & Hart only to find out that she is dying from the same disease she had before The Master turned her in her former life. Finding no possible way to cure Darla, Lindsey contacts Angel to see how he could help. Angel takes Darla to Lorne to sing and help them find a cure. It’s a life or death situation, Angel must win a challenge to save her life, but finds out after all the hell he goes through that it was all a waste of time. Darla spends her time trying to get Angel to turn her and save her life, but he won’t. In the end the two are sitting in a sleazy hotel and Wolfram & Hart break in with Drusilla and she turns Darla.

Reunion

Angel tries to save Darla before she rises as a vampire, but gets there too late. Darla and Dru fight Angel off and run off. The two go on a bloody shopping spree and end at Holland’s little get together. Holland is the head guy at Wolfram & Hart, you could call him the puppet master. Angel shows up at the party, but does nothing to stop Dru and Darla from going on a lawyer luncheon, a true massacre. Angel and Darla have a few words and he shuts the door and lets the two vampires have at it, they kill everybody in the room, but Lindsey and Lilah. Angel goes back to the gang to tell them what he did and they told him that he was wrong in his actions. He agreed and then fired the whole lot.

Gunn

Redefinition

Dru and Darla kept the two lawyers alive so they could have a link to Wolfram & Hart, they want to take over LA and they need the funding. Lilah and Lindsey find themselves duking it out for their lives and top spot at the firm. Angel muscles up to take on Dru and Darla and their little gang of soldiers they are trying to put together. The two vamps show up to gather the troops to find them dead and Angel smoking a cigarette. He lights them up like fireworks on the fourth of July and walks away. Darla puts busts open a fire hydrant and saves Dru and herself. Angel goes back to the hotel to keep training and Wesley lets him know how wrong he is and that the gang was still going to keep to the mission even though Angel has given up, or they think he has.

Blood Money

While Wes, Gunn, & Cordy discuss their new agency and what to call it, Angel is out for revenge on Lindsey, Lilah, and Wolfram & Hart. He spends his time tracking their every move and finds a charity ball that they have to be a scam. Hiring somebody to help him, they steal the money and give it to Anne, the woman who runs the shelter that the charity was set up for. Anne doesn’t care if it is blood money, it helps either way. Angel gets a little twinge of what wrong he is doing by being so self involved, but not enough to change his ways. Lindsey wants him dead, but the higher ups at the firm say that Angel plays a big part in the apocalypse and they want him on their side when time comes.

Happy Anniversary

Lorne drags Angels ass out of bed and forces him to do what he is suppose to be doing all along, help the helpless. A young scientist with a crush has found a way to freeze time so his girlfriend won’t break up with him, but this would cause the end of the world and it must be stopped. Lorne gets Angel to open up to him and explain why he fired the gang, Angel said that they were not up for revenge and that was all he wanted. Lorne explains to Angel that he is a champion and it’s a very dark place that he is headed towards and he should turn back. Wesley’s new girlfriend gets the gang a job and the drudge forward without their fearless leader.

Angel won’t kill Fred

The Thin Dead Line

Zombie cops are killing and beating up on everybody. The gang gets stuck at Anne’s shelter surrounded by the mean ass zombies. Wesley and Gunn sneak out to check out the story and find it to be true, Wesley gets shot and just about bleeds to death. Angel has stopped stocking the firm long enough to find out what’s going on and works with Kate to put an end to it. He goes to the hospital to make sure that Wesley is okay, but Cordy gives him what for and tells him they are doing just fine without him and to get out.

Reprise

This is a big turning point for Angel, this episode cover a great deal. Darla has been faking ill and shaking up with Lindsey. As she is snooping through his things she finds a report that says every so many years a senior partner will come in for a review of the staff, Angel finds the same information out and decides he is going to kill the senior partner. He goes to a shop that he had visited in the past to find out how to kill the senior partner and gets more info about a ring that will take him to the main office so he can kill the rest, the main office being in hell of course. The shopkeeper gives him a glove that should do the job, but Darla steals it from him and runs off. He gets the glove back from Darla and goes after the big guy. After killing the senior partner, Holland’s “ghost” shows up behind an elevator door and offers to take Angel to the head office, leaving him exactly where he got on, in LA. Angel walks back realizing all the violence that is going on around him and it would do absolutely no good to fight anymore, because people are naturally evil and are going to go after each other with or with out the supernatural evils in the world. While all this is going on, Angel has a confrontation with Wesley and Cordy and Wesley pulls his stitches out and goes home leaving Cordy in the office alone. They had a client that wouldn’t pay at first, but called back for Cordy to come pick up the money and walk right into a trap. Angel goes back to the hotel, to find Kate on his answering machine confessing to committing suicide. Angel ignores the cry for help and goes up to his room to find Darla standing in the corner. The two of them go at it like wild monkeys in heat and as Angel is lying in bed next to her he gets an old familiar feeling, is his soul being ripped away from him again and will Cordy live through her kidnapping?

Dru

Epiphany

Angel’s pain isn’t his soul leaving his body, but a harsh moment of epiphany. He realizes all the wrong he has been doing and it’s time to patch up the bridges he has burned with the gang. Darla is pissed that she couldn’t give him his one moment of true happiness and he tells her to leave. He is sorry, but he doesn’t want to see her ever again or he will kill her. Angel heads over to Kate’s apartment to save her first and then he goes to find the gang and realizes that Cordy is in trouble, he gathers Gunn and a wounded Wesley to go save Cordy. Along the way they run into a gang of demons and Angel stops to fight them and tells Wesley and Gunn to save Cordy. After the demons run off from Angel, Lindsey shows up in a beat up pick-up truck and tries to kill Angel. Angel beats Lindsey with a bat and apologizes that Darla couldn’t love him. Angel shows up just in time to save the whole gang and beg for forgiveness. Afterwards Kate shows up to thank Angel for saving her and lets him know that she will never try to kill herself again because she believes in a higher power, after all she never invited him in and he was able to get into her apartment and save her. Angel lets her know, that even though it won’t do a great deal of good, he is going to go back to helping the less fortunate, because the strongest thing to demonstrate is a pure act of kindness and that is all that matters. Angel goes to the gang, but they tell him they don’t want to work for him, but he says that he wants to work for them.

Vamped Angel

Disharmony

A vamped out Harmony shows up to rekindle her friendship with Cordy and tries to find a new lease on life, after being dissed by Spike. She works at being a good little vampire, but fails when she joins a vampire cult and turns the gang over to them. The gang kicks butt and Cordy lets Harmony live only if she leaves LA and never comes back.

Dead End

Wolfram & Hart gives Lindsey a surrogate hand that once belonged to a murderous man and it’s still possessed. Lindsey goes to Lorne to find out why his hand is acting all weird and finds that Wolfram & Hart’s little gift is essentially broken. While singing Angel and the crew come in to find out why Cordy’s visions are getting so strong and almost debilitating her. The firm is going to name who is in charge, but Lindsey lets them know how crazy his hand is making him and he could kill all, he told them to give it to Lilah and leave him be. At the end Lindsey leaves and Angel gives him a send off.

Darla

Belonging

Cordy has a vision of a girl in a library getting sucked into a portal and a portal opens up on Lorne’s bar. A demon comes through and Lorne asks Angel to kill him, the demon is there to battle a monster that had escaped from their realm, Angel and the demon fight the monster and the crew sends the demon back to his home. While the portal is opened, Cordy gets sucked in too.

Over the Rainbow

The dimension Cordy is sucked into just so happens to be Lorne’s old stopping ground, and she has been captured and sold as a slave. She has a vision while captured and the people believe her to be cursed and take her to the head council. The council uses a prophecy from a book with pictures of wolf, ram and heart on the front, the prophecy says that she is the chosen one and the turn her into their queen. Angel is going to do what ever he has to get into the dimension and save Cordy. Lorne doesn’t want to go, but a psychic tells him he has to so he can settle some bad scores with the family and save Cordy. Gunn wasn’t going to go either, but at the last minute changed his mind.

Through the Looking Glass

Now in a foreign dimension, Angel finds he can walk in the light, but he wants to focus on saving Cordy. The gang meets Lorne’s family and Angel runs into Fred, the woman sucked into the dimension in the library. He also runs into his true monster inside, Fred saves him from himself. Cordy saves the gang from death and later finds out her role, she is to mate with the Groosalugg. He is to take her powers, but she does not know that and he ends up falling in love with her.

Lilah

There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb

Lorne looses his head, literally, and Cordy tries to escape with head in hand. She meets the Groosalugg who is a very handsome hunk of a man, she changes her mind. Angel bonds with Fred in the woods and the gang is finding it very hard to get out of this dimension. Angel pulls himself together and fights the monster inside to save Cordy, he doesn’t know that she doesn’t need saving from Groo, but rather from the priests who are trying to steal her power. He fights Groo, but Cordy stops it and the find a way out and return to LA.

Lindsey

Kick ass transitional season for Angel, this is the last of the true helping and find the path of redemption. Many changes happen amongst Angel, Wesley, Gunn and Cordelia, both personal and as a crime fighting team. Angel and the group deal with inner demons and find that evil is all around, but it takes a village to conquer and they need each other to give the good fight. Angel goes through many ups and downs and even fires his entire staff, but realizes the mistakes he made and asks for forgiveness in the end. Season 2 introduces new members like Lorne the Host and psychic and Fred a quiet girl who had been trapped a slave and living like a wild woman in another dimension. All new and old characters bond and bring on a very strong and mysterious season 3. The show found its legs and Angel found his own identity away from Buffy and Sunnydale. I think season 2 is the best of the series.

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Buffy Season Six: Once More With Feeling

by Alan Rapp on September 29, 2005

in Uncategorized

Though much of the Buffy “fan-dom” views Season Six as mis-step, I couldn’t disagree more.  This is the season where I became a Buffy fan and supporter and I think it ranks as the best of the series.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 6
Custom Rating

Josh Whedon took some hits as Buffy fans, in general are not that fond of Season Six.  Let me just say that not only do I think this is the best season of the series but also that without it I would not be such a huge supporter of Whedon’s work.  Yes the season is dark and depressing but at the same time it includes some of the funniest episodes of the series entire run, and let us not forget a little musical episode as well.

 

The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.

As the season opens the Scooby gang has decided to resurrect Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) the consequences of which will effect the entire year.  Buffy is successfully brought back to life, but seems lost in a morose fog as she tries to readjust to the world unable to make connections and finds more comfort in the company of Spike (James Marsters) than with her friends.  Willow (Alyson Hannigan) starts to become addicted to the magic, which leads to her separation from Tara (Amber Benson) and a dark journey of her own.  Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) feeling abandoned and ignored by Buffy looks for and finds her own trouble.  Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Anya (Emma Caulfield) bicker about their appending wedding.  And Sunnydale will be terrorized by the new villains, the evil trio – Warren (Adam Busch), Andrew (Tom Lenk), and Jonathan (Danny Strong).  One of them will commit one of the worst crimes on Buffy and will cause Willow to become the “Big Bad” for the final arc of the season.

The theme of the season of being lost and disconnected works very well and plays on many aspects of the characters.  I enjoyed the Buffy / Spike relationship as well as Willow’s dark turn.  I mourned the loss of Tara, but her death led to some great storytelling well into Season Seven.  For me the seasons of Buffy that hold the most meaning are when people close to the group die and the characters are forced to deal with the consequences of those deaths.  Yet with the darkness there are great comedic moments, mostly from the evil trio which Joss Whedon himself admits as his favorite villains of the series.  Some of the funniest episodes of the series like Life Serial, Gone, and Tabula Rasa all take place in this season.

Something to sing about!

Once More With Feeling
This is simply one of the best hours of television ever.  What makes the episode so great is it is not a stand alone episode; it actually moves the storyline along and provides the situation (as Hush did in Season Four) for the characters to say and do the things that they could not have done in another episode.  Xander and Anya admit to their concerns over marriage, Giles finally comes to terms that Buffy might be better off if he left Sunnydale, and Buffy herself can finally admit that her friends didn’t save her from some awful hell dimension, but instead yanked her out of an idyllic heaven where she was happy and finally at peace.  Whedon provides some wonderful songs and the cast all perform their own numbers.  Great, great television!

Tabula Rasa

The very next episode in the run and just maybe the funniest episode of Buffy ever!  Willow’s attempt to make Buffy forget her time in heaven backfires and actually causes the entire scooby gang to lose their memories.  Hilarity ensues as Spike believes he is Giles son Randy, Giles and Anya think they are engaged, and the group is attacked by real life vampires!

Normal Again

Normal Again

Is Buffy Summers really the Vampire Slayer or just a confused girl in a mental institution in L.A. that has drempt all this?  The question is explored fully as Buffy is infected by a demon and starts to be concious of two realities, one where her parents are alive and together and she no longer has to worry about vampires and demons.  As Buffy must ask herself, which reality is more probable?  Truly cool, and the closing shot is perfect.

Of all the DVD sets this one is my favorite for features as it is stocked full of fun goodies.  We are given commentaries for six episodes including a wonderful commentary by Josh Whedon himself for the musical episode Once More With Feeling.  The musical also gives us a documentary that explores the creating and shooting of the episode and a short little sing-along for a couple of the songs.  Included is a season overview, outtakes, and a short entitled Buffy Goes to Work which talks about Buffy’s need to find employment and eventually work at the Doublemeat Palace.  The writing staff and producers each talk a little about their first real jobs.

Aside from these extras, Season Six also contains two more terrific extras.  The first is the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Panel Discussion that took place the summer after Season Six aired.  It includes Whedon, Marsters, Hannigan, Trachtenberg, Brendon, and Marti Noxon and set designer Carey Meyer.  Realy, really, really cool.

The second extra-cool extra is the documentary Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Television With Bite which takes a look at the creation of the Buffy character from Whedon’s original conception to the movie, and the creation and change of the show over time.  It’s a great documentary that may have been more appropriate to throw in on the Season Seven DVD set, but hey you get it here along with all the other extras for this season.

I freakin’ love this set.  An awesome collection of great episodes and packed full of wonderful extras.  My only real complaint is the two-part opening episode Bargaining 1 & 2 which ressurects Buffy and brings her back to Sunnydale.  It is probably the weakest opening episode to any season and it’s two hours.  Thankfully they have provided commentary for this one so you don’t have to pay attention to the demon bikers quite so much.  That said, from the very next episode on we get greatness throughout.  The passionate but doomed relationship between Buffy and Spike explodes, sometimes literally, on the screen.  Our season villains, the evil trio, give us some wonderfully funny moments as they try to take over the world and become Buffy’s “arch-nemisises.”  The season also ends on a poignant note as Tara’s death makes Willow go over the edge on a huge bender of bad magic and provides the unsung hero of the show the opportunity to save the day (and the world).  A wonderful set here for any collection.

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