Reflecting on Whedon: Buffy

/ TV /

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is perhaps Joss Whedon’s most brilliant work. With it, Whedon explored human nature and took viewers on a journey of incredible highs and despairing lows. I never thought a show about vampires could be so intuitive and deep. I never thought it could touch me and leave me wrestling with my emotions like it did.

Buffy probably isn’t my favorite Whedon show (I think that honor goes Firefly), but that doesn’t mean that I find it lacking. Buffy was a fantastic journey and once I got started, it was almost impossible to stop. I literally just requested one disc after another from Neflix until I had seen the whole series.

I suppose I could sit here and write an in depth analysis of what the series means to me, but that doesn’t sound like a lot fun. Instead, I’m just going to list out some of my favorite things from the show, because I like making lists and it’s a hell of a lot easier. Oh, and if you haven’t already guessed, spoilers ahead.

Favorite Season: Season 3

This was a really hard choice. I chose Season 3 mostly because it had a whole lot of Faith and she was an awesome character, but also because I felt like the show really hit its stride that season, producing a slew of very good episodes.

I also considered seasons 2 and 5. I really liked season 2 because it had a lot of funny episodes and Spike and Drusilla were possibly the best villains in the series. Season 5 was great because it had an excellent ongoing story arch and brought some new and interesting elements to the show.

Least Favorite Season: Season 6

Season 6 was just depressing. Buffy came back from the dead and was miserable; she dated Spike despite the fact that she loathed him; poor Tara died at the hands of a really crappy villain; and Willow went bad. There really wasn’t much that I did like in terms of plot. It was still Buffy, so there were always positives that I could take away from each episode, but it was a major letdown after an excellent season 5.

Favorite Episode: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

I don’t really know if that was my favorite episode, but it was fantastically funny and stands out in my mind as a very enjoyable 42 minutes.

Another episode that really stands out in my mind is Prophecy Girl, the season 1 finale. I would say that episode was the one that really sold the show for me. Up until that point, season 1 was mostly campy fun with some occasional deep episodes. The finale, however, made me realize how much potential that the show really had.

Least Favorite Episode: Beer Bad

Just really lame. Enough said.

Favorite Character: Xander

Really, I liked most of the characters in the show a great deal. The characters were definitely one of the best parts. They were just so well written and developed. Buffy, Willow, Giles, Angel, Faith, Spike, Drusilla, Xander–all great characters. I picked Xander because he was such a lovable loser, one of the only characters with no special abilities. He was the guy that you could always relate to, the guy you could count on for a laugh, and one of the only good male characters in the later seasons.

Least Favorite Character: Anya

I could never really get into Anya as a character. I just always found her to be annoying. For the first three seasons, I always thought that Willow and Xander would pair up, but, well, that prospect was crushed in season 4 for other reasons. Nonetheless, Xander and Anya was not nearly as cute and Xander and Willow would have been.

Favorite Villain: Faith

Faith was an awesome villain, a slayer gone bad, an equal to Buffy in deadly skill. She really was a sad case and you could feel for her–she wasn’t your typical villain, but she still kicked some serious butt.

Spike and Drusilla (from season 2) were definitely a close second.

Least Favorite Villain: The dudes from season 6

Yeah, they could be somewhat humorous, but I’ve always felt that one of the reasons that season 6 wasn’t as good as the others was because there wasn’t a good villain. Plus, the whole Tara thing made me pretty mad.

Well, I think that pretty much tells why I loved watching this show. After writing this, I feel like I need to add seasons to my Netflix instant queue and watch some of my favorite episodes.

Reflecting on the Work of Joss Whedon

/ TV /

I’m currently watching the fifth and final season of Angel, and when I finish watching the series, I will have watched all of Whedon’s television series in full. Now, with just seven episodes left, I’ve been thinking back to how I first ventured into the vast and beautiful universe of Joss Whedon, lovingly dubbed the Whedonverse by his countless legions of fans.

It was back in college–2005–when I first discovered Whedon’s work. I was in my senior year and I saw a trailer on TV for Serenity. I thought it looked terrible, so terrible in fact that I later checked rottentomatoes.com just to see how bad everyone else thought it was. What I found blew me away. The reviews were incredibly positive, one even going so far as to compare it to The Empire Strikes Back, my favorite movie.

Needless to say, I grabbed a friend and went straight to the movie theater and, yeah, it was awesome. When I learned that it was based on a TV show, It was really excited, because that meant I got to see more of the stellar crew of the Serenity.

A short time later, I acquired the series on DVD and burned through Firefly it no time. Then I took a break from Whedon. At some point I discovered that the creator of both Firefly and Serenity was also responsible for Buffy and Angel, but I didn’t feel compelled to dive into those series. Buffy was a show that the “weird” kids in high school watched and I had no love for vampires. (Later, I would see the err of my ways.)

Then three years later, in 2008, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog came around and was a web sensation, going viral instantly. I watched it. It was amusing, but I wasn’t blown away. (Later, however, I wound find myself playing the audio regularly at work.)

So when I heard about Dollhouse, Whedon’s latest creation, a short time later, I was intrigued. The concept sounded pretty cool and I had loved Firefly and Serenity so much that I thought it would be worth checking out. I’m so glad that I did. No, Dollhouse, won’t go down as my favorite piece of the Whedonverse, but after watching the first season (which wasn’t even half as good as the second), I was intrigued enough by Whedon’s work to snag the first disc of season one of Buffy with my newly acquired Neflix account.

The rest is pretty much history. Since then, I’ve watched all seven seasons of Buffy and moved onto Angel. I’ve also watched all of Dollhouse and the second season, largely thanks to Whedon alum, Summer Glau, was fantastic.

Now, Dollhouse is over and I’m almost done with Angel. When I finish the series, I suspect it will only leave me looking for more. What am I going to do? Whedon’s work has pretty much been a staple in my life for like the last two years. The incredible writing, the drama, the humor, and, yeah, the action…I’m going to miss it.

Perhaps I’ll jump into the graphic novels. I think Buffy, Angel, and Firefly have all spurred graphic novels written by Joss and some of his family members. I’ve heard some of them are quite good in fact. I’ve never been a huge comic guy, but I might just have to make an exception.

Another thing that will keep me occupied for a little while is Supernatural. This show is fantastic and reminds me a lot of Whedon’s work. It has great dramatic themes and just the right amount of wit. Unfortunately, I’m pretty far along and it won’t keep me occupied for long.

Perhaps there is no substitute. Perhaps the only thing I can do is rewatch my favorite episodes of those amazing shows (like I’m doing with Firefly now). Whatever I do, I’m really glad that I made the journey through the Whedonverse. It was far more powerful, wonderful, and humorous than I ever would have guessed. Whedon’s work spoke to me in ways that no other show ever has.

Thank you Joss for making my life a little shinier. My hat’s off to you.

Mutant Enemy

/ TV /

So the other day I was at work and I was listening to music on my iPod. I had just added a few albums that I hadn’t heard in awhile and found myself listening to Yes’ Close to the Edge album, which is a progressive rock masterpiece of epic proportions. (Whoah, just geeked out a little hard on that…but really it is good stuff if you’re into that sort of thing.)

Anyways, I was listening to “And You and I” and caught the phrase “mutant enemy” and thought to myself, “Wait, isn’t that the name of Joss Whedon’s production company?” You know, the guy responsible for all of those awesome tv shows like Buffy, Angel, and Firefly? Why yes, if fact it is.

So after referring to the ever-trustworthy Wikipedia entry, it turns out that Joss was or is a big Yes fan himself and took the name from that very song. I thought that it was pretty cool that I actually made the connection, that is until I realized how many times I’ve heard the song and totally missed it.

Here’s the verse where it’s used:

Said preacher nailed upon the colored door of time
Insane teacher be there reminded of the rhyme
There’ll be no mutant enemy we shall certify
Political ends, as sad remains, will die
Reach out as forward tastes begin to enter you

Wow, those are some pretty weird lyrics and I’m not even going to try to figure out what they mean at this time of night, but that’s Yes for you.

Well, that’s it for today. Grrr. Arrrgh.

Comic-Con Recap #5: Sunday

/ Geek Stuff /

Sunday was kids day at Comic-Con and everything was scheduled to be wrapped up at 5:00 PM. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the Sunday panels and overall atmosphere. After three days of pure glory, the convention kind of went out with a fizzle. I actually think I would prefer to just eliminate Sunday scheduling and go out with a bang (or maybe next time I would just skip Sunday).

The other part that was weird was that almost all of the panels were geared towards kids, but there weren’t really many kids at Comic-Con. And what kid wants to sit through an hour long panel anyways? I give them credit for trying to introduce a kid-friendly atmosphere, but I just didn’t think it worked very well.

Comic-Con exclusive LOST figures
(atop a beautiful hotel comforter)

So what ended up happening was that the Exhibit Hall was a zoo, largely because all the adults that had four day passes still showed up and needed something to do. That is exactly what happened to my brother and I. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely cool to finally spend some time in the Exhibit Hall and finally pick up some souvenirs, but I would have liked to sit in on a panel or two.

Now that isn’t to say we didn’t try to sit through a panel. My brother and I are both huge Harry Potter fans so, naturally, we showed up at the Harry Potter fandom panel. Admittedly, I was nervous about there being an army of 14 year old girls in attendance, but we needed something to do and decided to give it a shot.

To be perfectly honest, about 15 minutes in, I was already thinking that it was the worst panel that I had attended. I guess I thought that the panel of well-known Potter fans would, you know, talk about the upcoming movies and perhaps discuss the footage shown in Hall H on Saturday. Instead, the panel opted for long-winded soliloquies about why the Potter fan community is still so strong.

Comic-Con exclusive Star Wars figures

But just when I thought I might doze off, it got worse. The crowd started singing the words to one of the songs of the Harry Potter musical and shortly afterwards they opened it up for fan questions. I got nervous when a dozen teenage girls sprinted to the microphone in the middle isle, but I didn’t actually walk out until the third consecutive “shipper” question was asked. Yikes.

I had been thinking about attending the Buffy musical screening, but after the Potter fiasco, I was scared to go anywhere near Ballroom 20.

Overall, Comic-Con was completely awesome. I definitely want to go again, but I’m not sure if it will be next year. If I lived in southern California, I think I would go every year. A lot of people that had been going for several years complained about the lines and the crowds (which was certainly understandable), but they were manageable if you planned things out and just accepted that you weren’t going to see every cool thing at the convention.

Well, I think that is it for the Comic-Con recaps. I’m out. Godspeed.