Wednesday 30 December 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 1, Episode 2

The Harvest

This episode picks up directly from the end of Welcome to the Hellmouth (honestly, they should be watched back to back). Buffy and Giles introduce Xander and Willow to the world of vampires with a lengthy infodump session, before Buffy leaves to try and rescue Jesse who has been taken by the vamps. While she is away Giles and Willow try to discover more about the Harvest - mentioned by the mysterious stranger that keeps popping up when Buffy is alone. The end denouement sees the vampires take over the Bronze, while Luke (hench-vamp to the Master) becomes the Vessel in order to try and release the Master from his mystical imprisonment. Again, I would rate this as a solid entry in much the same vein as Welcome to the Hellmouth.

A few thoughts:

- nice little use of the cross that Angel gives Buffy when it saves her from Luke at the start of the episode. Intriguing that despite being frustrated by him and protesting that he is 'good-looking in an annoying sort of way' Buffy wears the cross he gives her immediately.

- I had some amusement at the fact you need to seriously suspend disbelief and ignore plot-holes to truly enjoy this series - the idea of one girl being created to handle *all* the vamps in the world is vaguely ridiculous. Will Europe be over-run by vampires while Buffy is the Slayer and stays mainly in America?

- that computer looks so dated! And Giles' self-conscious reference to the Net is slightly cringe-making - although it does fit his character of being a complete technophobe.

- once again Whedon throws in off-handedly a theme that will reoccur many times - in this case it is the way Xander doesn't really have a role to fill. Giles is the monster expert; obviously Buffy is the Slayer; and Willow slots right in with her computer knowledge - but Xander immediately feels like a spare part.

- I was oddly amused to see a vampire called Collin.

- when Joyce says: "if you don't go out, it'll be the end of the world" it is a lovely irony that it actually would be the end of the world if Buffy doesn't get out of the house.

- just a comment: never thought that Cordy would be the type to go in for rock music. Always saw her as preferring manufactured plastic pop. Just goes to show.

Most frustrating? A few candidates in this episode. The first is the Master - considering he is this evil ancient bad guy who holds Luke and Darla in thrall, he seems a little... whiny. I never really got in these first episodes why he was considered *so* bad. Xander is an annoyance in this episode as far as I'm concerned - first he takes on board all the vampire stuff a little too quickly and goes all gung ho, then he shows the ultimate stupidity by following Buffy when she explicitly tells him not to. Lastly, I have no idea why Angel tells Buffy she really shouldn't go into the lair of the vampires when he well knows that she is the best equipped to deal with them.

Quote of the episode:

Giles: For as long as there have been vampires, there has been the Slayer. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One...
Buffy: He loves doing this part.
Giles: This world is older than any of you know, and contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons, demons walked the Earth, made it their home, their Hell. In time, they lost their purchase on this reality, and the way was made for mortal animals. For Man. What remains of the Old Ones are vestiges: certain magics, certain creatures.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 1, Episode 1

Welcome to the Hellmouth

This the the first part of the season 1 opener (the second part being The Harvest).

We are introduced to Buffy Summers, a blonde sixteen year old girl just trying to fit in at a new school in Sunnydale. Over the course of the episode she is revealed to be more than she first appears - a vampire slayer. This episode introduces the mythos of the Buffyverse and the recurring characters in a neat manner, using both snappy dialogue and action sequences to define them. Considering the episode is only 40 minutes duration, Joss Whedon effectively showed us a glimpse into Buffy's history (being kicked out of her previous school; evidently being popular at her old school); the quirky and cute relationship between Xander and Willow that will play such a huge part in future seasons; the fatherly attitude of Giles towards Buffy; the wonderfully realistic relationship of confused mother and hormone-y teenage girl in Joyce and Buffy. He also finds the time to shoehorn in the Master and Darla - two recurring characters over the course of the first season - and shows us Angel for the first time.

This episode is tremendous mostly for being the start of something amazing. Held up on its own, it is a solid but not wonderful entry into the world of Buffy. We are mostly shown glimpses of the brilliance that is to come, in some of the dialogue between the characters. In all honesty, if it were to be shown for the first time today, I would be interested enough to tune in for the next one, but not blown away and raving about it to all my mates.

Just a few thoughts:

- love that the first part before the credits subverts the usual cliche of the baby-voiced girl being weak and in trouble.

- the Buffster is wearing loads of make-up here! And could her skirt get ANY shorter?! I like that she is more curvaceous than in later seasons - is this a commentary in general on how women have become more and more obsessed with size zero over the years since BtVS was first aired?

- amusingly, this is the first and only time we see Xander on a skateboard (maybe because he is so bad at it?)

- it is lovely seeing Giles being patient but slightly exasperated and overwhelmed - this Slayer is definitely NOT what he expected. It is great that Whedon introduces from the get-go the conflict that Buffy faces as a Slayer who just wants to be a normal girl - this sense of reluctant duty will be taken through the whole seven seasons.

- Willow is so cute! I especially love the reference to her and Xander breaking up because he stole her Barbie.

- Wonderful foreshadowing when Buffy says: "It's not like I have fluffy bunny feelings about them" when referring to vampires.

Biggest frustration? Angel's introduction. Later we find out that Angel has already been watching Buffy for a while, so why act as though he's never even seen her? The mystery of who and what he is was handled quite clumsily at this early point. Honourable mention goes to Jesse, who is never referred to again after these opening two episodes, despite the fact that he and Xander seem to be quite close friends.

Quote of the episode:

Buffy: Dead?
Cordelia: Totally dead. Way dead.
Xander: It's not just a little dead, dead?
Cordelia: Don't you have an elsewhere to be?

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Sherlock Holmes - A Film Review

I went to watch Sherlock Holmes the day after Boxing Day as an antidote to too much family time. I had been idly looking forward to the film, having a huge fondness for Robert Downey Jr (okay, let's be honest, a massive girl crush - I want to have his babies). I confess to a) not having read any Sherlock Holmes (despite the fact I live near Portsmouth and Doyle lived around here in his time) and b) not knowing much about the film before I went into the cinema, apart from those filling the starring roles.

I do believe that might have been a blessing, in retrospect. I have since been on the blogosphere and various websites to find out other peeps opinions on the film and there was a most definitely mixed reception. Many people were screaming about the fact that it wasn't a faithful adaptation and there was too much action and blah blah blah.

Personally I loved it! It was fun, and RDJ seemed excellent in the role - a quirky, hyper-intelligent, eccentric English gentleman. He was backed up ably by Jude Law (an actor I have never been fond of, but I enjoyed his spiky performance here). I also enjoyed the villain, Blackwood, who had gravitas and brought great menace to the screen.

I felt that it was definitely a buddy movie, and that the role of Irene Adler was under-used. McAdams tried her best with limited material, but did seem very much like a modern girl wrapped up in a Victorian dress rather than making the effort to fit into the surroundings of the film. The chemistry between RDJ and RM was excellent, though!

For me there was a lovely balance between action and dialogue, but most of my favourite scenes did favour the latter.

I loved the dreamy colour pallette used for the film, and the beautiful cityscape shots were just stunning - although I do feel the London geography was just a tad off!

I thoroughly enjoyed this good-natured romp and will definitely go to see any sequels, but I don't know how closely it did correspond with the source material. The film must have done something right, though, because I have picked up some work by Arthur Conan Doyle to find out more about Sherlock Holmes!

Monday 14 December 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 2, Episode 5

Reptile Boy


Giles is pushing Buffy in her Slayer training, her mother’s rules are becoming more and more strict, and Angel is growing more over-protective. Buffy is feeling pulled apart. When Cordelia’s college crush shows up on campus with a friend who has eyes for Buffy, Cordelia convinces Buffy to come with her to the frat party. But the party soon turns sinister, and Buffy learns the connection between the fraternity and the local girls who have recently gone missing. Xander, Giles, Angel and Willow must crash the party before all Hell breaks loose.


This is not one of the stronger episodes of Buffy, especially in Season 2, when there was a string of unbelievably good storylines that dominated the latter half.

We have a Monster of the Week episode here, which barely deals with any of the ongoing issues of the Season - such as Spike and Drusilla's presence in Sunnydale, or Buffy and Angel's burgeoning relationship.

There is some clumsy commentary on the evils of drink - Buffy decides to take an alcoholic drink, which just so happens to be spiked and she ends up becoming the offering to a rather phallic-shaped demon. Kids, be warned what happens when you drink! This is not the first time that a Buffy episode handles the drink=wrong slant.

The over-riding theme of the episode is Buffy struggling to deal with the responsibilities of being a Slayer while attending high school and wanting to be a normal girl. This is handled sensitively with some excellent scenes between Giles and Buffy. Here we see Giles taking on the fatherly mantle for the first time - and there is a very lovely conclusion to their conflict at the end of the episode.

Quote of the episode:

Buffy: I told one lie, I had one drink.
Giles: Yes, and you were very nearly devoured by a giant demon snake. The words "let that be a lesson" are a tad redundant at this juncture.
Not a great Buffy episode, but still better than a many series on television even at its slowest points!

Tuesday 1 December 2009

I won. That is all. Thank you.