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Monday, November 28, 2011

Nightmares

[Updated April 29, 2013]

Nightmares is the second episode with an affirmative message for Buffy, this time in the form of Billy. The solution to Billy’s nightmares was, of course, to face his fears. Xander, Buffy’s metaphorical heart, showed the way on this when he turned around and punched out the clown.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Puppet Show

[Updated April 29, 2013]

After a series of episodes telling Buffy what she should not do, because false steps will impede her progress towards her destiny, we now get the first of three episodes which tell her the affirmative steps she needs to take.
The metaphor in The Puppet Show is pretty straightforward once Buffy discovers the plot twist: Sid, the dummy, is a demon hunter, ergo he stands for Buffy. The metaphor is the message.
Putting aside his “horny” shtick, Sid is very dedicated to his profession. He’s willing to sacrifice his own life to eliminate the final demon. He may have seemed a puppet, trapped by powers and circumstances beyond his control, but in the end he wasn’t a puppet at all because he chose his fate.
There are other metaphors here which I can’t discuss because of spoilers. I’ll have to cut this short and talk about this episode in more detail when we get to Prophecy Girl. I’ll only say that I don’t think the reference to Oedipus for the hilarious closing scene was accidental.
There are a couple of little things I love about this episode: Principal Snyder and the irony of Cordelia’s song choice.
Trivia notes: (1) The episode takes its inspiration from the movie Child’s Play. (2) Xander had the dummy “say” the word “redrum”. “Redrum” is the word “murder” spelled backwards, and comes from the movie The Shining. Nick Brendan adlibbed the line. (3) Xander asked if anyone else felt like “they’d been Keyser Soze’d”. Keyser Soze is (duh) from the movie The Usual Suspects. (4) Alyson Hannigan adlibbed Willow running off-stage. (5) Although I really like this episode, it was the lowest rated episode in the show’s history.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Hunger Games Movie Trailer


Since IRYJ (posted below) isn't the most exciting of episodes, I thought I'd prove how wide-ranging my cultural interests are by commenting on The Hunger Games. For those who haven't read the book, that's a joke, of course -- I can't imagine the book or the movie if it hadn't been for Buffy.
Spoilers for the book below. Also, I haven't read the other two books in the trilogy, so please label any spoilers if you mention them.

I Robot, You Jane

[Updated April 29, 2013]

After waxing enthusiastic about The Pack and Angel, I can’t find much good to say about I Robot, You Jane. It’s generally rated as one of the very weakest episodes by most fans, and I concur. Still, we should see what we can get from it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Angel

[Updated April 29, 2013]

Angel is the first of many “payoff” episodes. By “payoff” I mean that themes and plot points have been introduced in previous episodes and we now can understand that these were building up to what happens here. There’s a lot to discuss.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Pack

[Updated April 29, 2013]

I watched BtVS because my then-nine year old daughter wanted to watch and was worried that it would be too scary. I thought the first few episodes were cute and funny, oblivious to metaphors or growing up or anything else. The Pack was the episode which made me sit up and think there might be something more to this show. It’s really a dark episode – the male lead, someone we like, actually attempts to rape the heroine. Now, it’s done in metaphor, there’s an excuse given, and Buffy euphemizes Xander’s attack by calling it “felony sexual assault”, but I saw it as a daring and dark episode for a show which seemed so light in the beginning. I mean really – they ate the nice Principal Flutie?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Never Kill A Boy On The First Date

[Updated April 29, 2013]

The show is still very early, but it’s establishing themes which will last throughout its entire run and which you need to keep in mind as we go along. NKABOTFD demonstrates again that Buffy hasn’t really accepted her slayer role – she wants a normal life and she’d rather be dating or going to the Bronze than “going into battle” with Giles. Her desire to be a “normal teenager” means that various diversions from her destiny tempt her to leave the Chosen path. This is the first episode to offer such a diversion, but it won’t be the last.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Teacher's Pet

[Updated April 29, 2013]


Teacher’s Pet is widely considered one of the weaker episodes in the whole history of the show, an opinion I share. Still, and consistent with my view that all of S1 was carefully planned to lead us to the conclusion we’ll see in Prophecy Girl, let’s see if perhaps there’s at least some small point in its favor.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Witch

[Updated April 29, 2013]

One of the great things about BtVS is that it can be watched on multiple levels. The episode Witch begins a three year run of episodes satirizing high school. Joss Whedon had, as we say, issues with high school, and one theme of the show is that high school is Hell, in Buffy’s case literally. Many of the first 56 episodes make fun of the stereotypes of high school life, as Witch does here regarding cheerleading. I’m not going to talk much about this aspect of the show. It’s not that I think it’s wrong to watch Buffy for this reason – it certainly isn’t; I personally think the satire is hilarious – it’s that I don’t think I have anything to add.

When I first watched Witch I thought it wasn’t very good. The production values, as in all of S1, are sub-par, and I was disappointed that we seemed to have dropped the story about the Master. I’ve come to see that there’s actually a lot going on that I didn’t appreciate at first. Among other things, learning about the Master isn’t the goal of the show, learning about Buffy is. And Witch teaches us, in metaphor, about Buffy.