General Open Thread – TV Shows (2)
13 April 2015 at 11:31 #39574
@purofilion — no worries. Just wondering. In Angel, you’ve got a few more standalones and then it really kicks up a gear for the finale. (Which is an interesting comparison to the pretty arc-centric final season of Buffy. Oh, and you will cry. There will be much crying, I predict.)
Yes, Giles is kind of a spare part in this season, isn’t he? As I said on the blog, it would have worked so much better if they’d had the courage to kill him off in this season. It would have given Buffy a stronger motive, emotional drive.
My problem with the Turok Hahn (aside from sounding a bit Star Trekky for my liking) is that they start off being well-nigh unkillable to becoming easily dustable by the likes of Giles or even Andrew. I found that irritating.
It will be interesting to see if your take on Faith is different now that you’ve seen what she was up to immediately beforehand in Angel s4. For me anyway, it made me far more sympathetic to Faith and far less to Buffy. And that’s surely a funny situation to be in.14 April 2015 at 08:22 #39583Anonymous @
yes, you’re right with the T.Hahn: I’ve never seen Buffy quite so broken when she’s completed a fight with this imposing primitive creature. And then to easily have the potentials (made Slayer, I understand, but still ‘new’) destroy hundreds of them without dropping a sweat bead. Difficult to compute.
Giles’ ability to defeat the bringer (who was clearly seen to behead him -or heavily imply it!) was surprising to Boy Ilion who assumed that Giles wouldn’t have survived the onslaught when focussed on his dying friend and the important message being told him.
I can see that normally Giles underwrites the solace and comfort in the show and his latter defiance of Buffy and disagreement with her tends to make me a little dry -he used to trust her implicitly but I can better understand @pedant‘s irritation with this version of Buffy who, in the middle set of episodes, isn’t teaching her potentials anything, neither is she leading, furthermore seems on ‘mope’ mode, defaulting to a ‘pout’ setting -with the face and the voice in that nasal category, not uncommon with the mid-twenties trend -set of Hollywood actresses: I don’t know what age she was at this point in the Buffyverse but I’ve peeked at written accounts of her admitting she was exhausted after years of uninterrupted work (I imagine with the pedantic Joss this would be understandable) -whether as the ‘slayer’ or as a full time young actress pushing your body thru some extended workouts and dealing with comic-con and fan based stuff which requires a steady stream of ‘happy yappy’, mindless interviews together with ‘grin, gin and gowns’ for the camera. Boy, what a life!
Still, as you said, he’s a ‘set piece’ and not really given any particular role beyond questioning Buffy’s activities, which, with the more positive and less exhausted Faith showing up, I can understand. Wes has given her the necessary tutelage in Angel (when facing Angelus) so she can deal with this new Big Bad (playing on one’s emotional weaknesses is a good plan -not dissimilar to the S6 motivation) with a devious mind meeting pure violence with violence and stripping down the person to its bare bones -all the pouty self-examinations aren’t going to defeat The First and I think Faith, having chatted with Willow on the ride up (across/down?), must know this. I would guess Buffy would be glad of the help -but does she show that Faith turned herself in after the mayhem in both Sunnydale and LA? Otherwise the dreadful battle at the end of S3 wouldn’t be easily eclipsed. But Faith’s tough and very resourceful: more so than Buffy, I think; a stint in the women’s prison must be like coming up against a few hundred vampires!
And why is Andrew kept about, really? What can he know that the scoobies and Giles will need? I’m trying to get some traction on that this time thru and I haven’t gotten it – yet.14 April 2015 at 10:56 #39585Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip
And why is Andrew kept about, really?
Because he’s funny (in the real world) and in the Scoobie world because he has no-one to look after him. This time, they’re not making the mistake they made with Faith.14 April 2015 at 11:06 #39586
@purofilion — I think Andrew is about to take up the role that Xander vacated as the comedic dweeb, now that Xander is a bit burdened by his own baggage and has also become a bit more on the cool side. But Andrew is a problematic character. He’s a killer and yet this is not taken as seriously as with just about every other character. But having said that, I can’t help but like him a little.
RE. Buffy and Faith. I think my issue with Buffy by season 7 is that she does seem to have a bit of ARSE about her herself. Since her return from Heaven and the understandable bit of angst over that, as a character she kind of stands still. As a character that is — she still ‘does’ stuff like fight the First and so on. And the same is true with Giles too. He has a great comeback at the end of s6 — one of the best moments in the show — but after that he really has nowhere to go. He should have died. (And does in s9 of the graphic novels.)
Compare this with both Angel and Faith. I think I said in one of the Angel blogs that Angel doesn’t stick around in the Buffy finale because he’s essentially outgrown Sunnydale. He doesn’t fit anymore. He’s not the devoted lover anymore — both Darla and Cordelia have complicated that role utterly now. (When you think about it, what did Buffy and Angel’s relationship actually amount to? A lot of mooning about in graveyards and one bout of sex that ended, well, badly. Angel and Darla had a history that went back centuries, Cordelia has experienced every moment of his evil and Faith took a trip right into his psyche to save his soul. For me, it puts that whole cookie dough nonsense into perspective.)
Faith too has constantly evolved. By the time we see her in Season 7, we’ve seen her go through a lot. Prison. Defeating Angelus. And Wes has rather ruthlessly shown her what a Watcher — and what a Slayer — really is. It makes me far more sympathetic to Faith than it does to Buffy when they butt heads in s7. Because she’s earned my respect by that time. Buffy hasn’t. She’s just been demanding it as her right.14 April 2015 at 14:01 #39588Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip
He’s a killer and yet this is not taken as seriously as with just about every other character.
Blame Tom Lenk. I think the original intention was to kill Andrew off, but everyone just plain liked Tom Lenk too much, and he’s so funny, and really good at impro, and why don’t we just keep Andrew. 🙂
It’s rather like the ‘Spike/James Marsters’ effect; (another character they couldn’t bear to kill off) no wonder they had those two end up sort-of-mates.14 April 2015 at 16:39 #39592
@bluesqueakpip — a bit like Emma Caulfield then. And I’ve no complaints. I like Andrew as a character. Mostly. However, it does make a mockery of the whole ‘killing a human is a line you cannot cross’ thing. It probably has to be amended to ‘unless you happen to be terribly amusing in which case it’s probably OK’.19 April 2015 at 09:21 #39629Anonymous @
@janetteb not sure if you’re fan of Midsomer Murders? But in scanning an old episode, I saw Death in Chorus including Peter Capaldi -he does a pretty good job of the overworked (and overdone) conductor!
Kindest, puro19 April 2015 at 17:57 #39633
@purofilion Oh, yes, thanks! I am slowly working my way through MM, partly for the scenery, partly for the weirdly stylized stories and the rather massive body count (who will die how this time?). It has its charms, but a little goes a long way — and there’s such a *lot* of it! I did come across that episode, and liked it. But that must be about the third time (so far — I’m only into S6) they’ve used the “villages in friendly competition but to the death(s)” set-up. The whole thing is like a compendium of all the ways you can use different plot elements with the “cozy English village mystery” template.
And what beautiful villages! But of course that’s the point, isn’t it — beautiful, idyllic looking places, full of evil, scheming, mostly middle-to-upper class people; what could be more delicious? Though I imagine that to afford those places now, you’ve got to be downright rich, which tends to mean also duller in that it’s so homogenous (the working class people who service the place live well outside the pretty bits, most likely, as with our US pretty enclaves of wealth).
Oh, on that front, I saw a BBC announcement that “Vera”, that series set in Newcastle with a sort of female Columbo, has been signed up for two more seasons — lovely! Best outdoor cinematography I’ve seen in forever, in the first two series, so I hope they’ve got their same camera and production crew. That show was a stand-out for me in ways that none of the others I’ve sampled have been, and I hope the renewed series maintain the originals’ quality.
Also watching “Dalziel & Pascoe”. I loved Reginald Hill’s books, even at their most baroque, and sometimes the twisty stories get away from the TV writers, a bit, but I still like them. Warren Clarke was a magnificently homely actor, not really fat enough for them to keep referring to him as “the fat man” and “fat Andy” (and besides, the suits!), but really with that mug on him, all he really needed to do to maintain the character was remember to scratch his belly or groin now and then, in an absent-minded way.20 April 2015 at 09:10 #39649Anonymous @
@ichabod I agree -warren Clarke what a great actor -never mind the mug, the accent! Brilliant, that.
I don’t know Vera at all -should check it out.
on MSM, we seem to be overloaded with various eps, old and new: John Nettles is unsurpassed as the DCI. I know Brian True-May is the producer but I hear that Nettles’ wife is the exec producer of MSM? I did like those old episodes with dear Joyce and her casseroles; a bit “oh Cully [what sort of name is that?] we don’t have to eat Mum’s casseroles, there’s always the pub!” stuff which is a bit downputting (as my mum would say)20 April 2015 at 18:25 #39653
@purofilion Oh, yes, that casserole thing got old after a while, but they didn’t push it very hard, thank gods.
I just noticed — the”Script Editor” on the first two series of “Vera” is listed as “Elaine Collins”. That’s Capaldi’s wife, isn’t it — I read somewhere that she’s an actor who works on the production end of things too.4 May 2015 at 00:11 #39795
Greetings from Uncomfortably Close To Wales
While flat sitting for my cousin I have been watching The Good Wife (courtesy of her Netflix account). It is surprisingly moorish (and not in a ‘driven out of Europe by Charlemagne’ way).
Also Lilyhammer, featuring Steven van Zandt (of the E Street Band) is very quirky and fun.
And the first 4 eps of the US version of Les Revenants is pretty much a shot-for-shot remake (but I gather that changes soon)
If you haven’t seen Les Revenants then YOU MUST. It is marvellously intelligent storytelling.4 May 2015 at 03:53 #39803Anonymous @
@pedant ah-hah! Welcome back -Wales? Or near to? Wee-hay!
Shall do (re: Les Revenants and others).
Nearly finished Angel -about 8 eps to go and rather enjoying the change of pace in this particular season. I did ask myself did the child of the parent show ‘take it away’ so to speak and improve on Buffy? No, and I think my little quotable quotes book as well as my acknowledgment of some of the production limitations (and use of what little cash they may have had) lends me to think there is nothing finer in the Buffyverse than Buffy itself. Certainly both S3 and 5 hit the sweet spot -that the Scoobies seem a little lost and bedraggled by the end of S7 is probably part of the wound associated with choosing to continue the series and have characters face seemingly insurmountable odds which question the veracity of their natural obligations.
I have found that Denisof’s voice, even in native accent tends to be awfully nasal -in interviews etc. An interesting chap -not one I can easily work out for some reason. Imagining young Allyson with Denisof gives me the ‘ick Willies’ (not sure why)4 May 2015 at 04:24 #39808
@purofilion I agree on the mom’s bad cooking; it was stretched out way too long, and I was drying for her to pull a great reversal on them all and sneak off to France and return as a Cordon Bleu chef and knock their socks off; but no, alas. Not so far, anyway (I’m still mooching around at S13 or something — well, the one about the collapsed tunnel and the wild guy in the woods, “The Green Man”, which I liked quite a bit.
I caught “Les Revenants” accidentally last year, the French original, and found it amazingly compelling, for a complete enigma; also fun, with all those French actors moping about smoking and being triste, as French actors are wont to do. Loved the style of it. So I looked in on the American remake, “The Returned”, and pretty much hated it — clunky, full of FBI and other nonsense, just way, way off. In another country, you might say. Actually, I preferred “The Leftovers”, American from the get-go and with its own brand of enigmatic creepiness, a much better match for Les Revenants IMO than “The Returned” in all kinds of ways.
Afraid I never made it very far into “The Good Wife” although it’s good TV. The problem was — lawyers. Another damn show about lawyers. I was all lawyered out (we’ve had so many of these over the past couple of decades!) and just kept switching channels to get away from them. My sister loved the show and tried hard to convince me, but erg. Maybe in part it’s because my husband was a lawyer, and I spent a bunch of time in his offices downtown typing out my first couple of novels in the Word Processing Center . . . I dunno. I like spooky stuff better anyway. A *haunted* lawyer, now that’s more my speed! And to think they’ve just rolled right over that possibility in “Better Call Saul”! Which I don’t watch either. More lawyers.4 May 2015 at 10:08 #39815
So I looked in on the American remake, “The Returned”, and pretty much hated it — clunky, full of FBI and other nonsense,
Nope, that’s Resurrected (which did not acknowledge the source material, despite lifting heavily from it). The Netflix remake is exactly that, and properly acknowledges Haute et Court productions, with Camille, Lena and the whole shebang.4 May 2015 at 14:27 #39823
@pedant Oh, you’re right! Thanks! I got the two series confused, maybe because I don’t watch on Netflix, so I must have seen the remake on regular TV just as I did “The Resurrected” — ? So all 3 “versions” have run into each other in my brain like undercooked scrambled eggs.5 May 2015 at 16:11 #39881
BTW, although I take your point re The Good Wife, it isn’t really a lawyer show – it is about Chicago politics and that is what gave us Obama, so interesting from that POV (also Alan Cummings kicks arse)5 May 2015 at 17:53 #39885
@IAmNotAFish You know, the political part was just as much a turn-off for me as the lawyer part. I’ve been steering clear of politics for a while now. Pressures at home and watching the apparently unstoppable decline of my nation (“a republic, if you can keep it” but apparently we can’t) has been wearing me down, and I’m supposed to be minimizing stress. Basically, I’m just not up to it these days, but hope for rebalancing and recovery in the near future; then I can tell the kids that a couple of seasons of TGW on DVD would make a great and welcome Xmas present!6 May 2015 at 10:16 #39913janetteB @janetteb
If anyone is familiar with the novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, you will be pleased to know that the BBC adaptation begins on Sunday 17th. (It will probably be shown in the U.S at the same or about the same time.) It has been a ten year wait for this so I am very, very excited about it. The trailers look fantastic. I think it is going to be a real treat and help pass the time until August.
Janette7 May 2015 at 08:55 #39937Anonymous @
I am quite enjoying Angel right about now. I thought in the earlier episodes (before Harm’s Way) that it had stalled somewhat and I wasn’t excited about catching up. Since the arrival of Dana, the potential turned Slayer (subsequent to the prophecy in Buffy), tortured as a child, now randomly killing and the watcher in the shape of ANDREW with mad hair returns, I was spluttering with laughter and crying all at once!
You know what? There’s other stuff at play too, not just the tatt driven Lindsay pretending to be Doyle (bastard) but Cordelia’s wonderful return: happy, jumpy, running, fighting. I realised I’d totally missed her -the pre-pregnant Cordelia who isn’t as one note as Fred can sometimes be. Her last gasp was a sad one but I predicted she was a guest star -and one last great episode would be the swan song. And boy, did it bring back memories -particularly with the real Doyle on video. What lovely memories!
But back to other stuff at play: what’s up with Gunn? So, pro W&H and that damn growl in that surreal episode? Also, as Wes was doing his ‘mojo’ to release Lindsay to the Senior Partners, there was something in Fred’s eyes. Something different. Something …I dunno. But something is up. And there are word plays too (reminding me of early Angel and Buffy S1-3) which I love and keep me thinking. I suspect other than Cordelia’s death, there’s more to come…..more pay off….and it will be a kick in the gut!
It’s very tight at the moment. , Unlike Buffy S7, Angel is basically racing to the finish line with a clear vision rather than disparate ends limping along.
Onwards.7 May 2015 at 11:13 #39938
Yes, I’m quite glad that Cordy got one last great send-off (and interestingly the only one of the original Scoobies who doesn’t make it through to the end of the TV tenure). There were still some tensions behind the scenes but they didn’t show onscreen and the episode also serves to ramp up the stakes for the second half of the season.
RE. Soul Purpose. There are lots of little clues in this episode for what’s to come. A great many of them are rather oblique, some not so much. The growl probably falls into the latter category. Let’s just say that Gunn is not heading to a good place.
But, yes, s5 definitely has a drive that was missing from Buffy s7. You’ve got a couple more slightly water-tready eps and then the sparks are going to start flying….8 May 2015 at 09:29 #39973Anonymous @
“let’s get Special ops on to this. Red Alert. See if they crack!” This with Angel as puppet…
First we had Lawson and the poor American marine being sired by Angel in order “to get the boys home”.
Not a bad episode but I saw Ben Edlund in the next episode and twiddled my thumbs….thinking “where have I seen this guy’s name before?” Of course, Supernatural and some previous eps of Angel.
No wonder it won a Hugo award! Not bad fun at all.
But Gunn, I’m not stoopid folks, first it’s “I’ve forgotten key law but I’m tired” to “I’ve filed the wrong motion”. Is he losing his eer..law? Ooh , he’s getting worse!!!!! Poor Gunn.
But those creepy puppets. We have a “quality standard of edu-tainment to uphold here” Great metaphor when the puppet visits Nina in the wolf cell!8 May 2015 at 09:38 #39974Anonymous @
Oh and come on, if Acker wore that thing she calls a skirt to an actual law firm she’d be sent home. At least wear hose and not summery sandals.8 May 2015 at 11:14 #39976
@purofilion — I must admit I’m not as massively in love with Smile Time as most others seem to be. I think it’s often in danger of veering into that s7 Buffy ‘trying a bit too hard to be wacky’ camp. But it’s got some great moments. And it’s serving to hammer home the ‘Angel as puppet’ trope of the season.
Plus it serves the purpose of a bit of light relief before the game-changer that’s coming right atcha….
And I think it’s a great skirt.9 May 2015 at 00:53 #39997Anonymous @
The skirt lover!! Bah! A game changer?? ooh! Can’t wait. Finally Wes and Fred have their quick kiss but by golly I think that Wes is going to lose anything he ever finds! He’s just doomed. And Gunn, asking for a new ‘law brain’. Not smart. He could have been tough guy…. That would have been sufficient. To give him such a great mind and then after 4 months for it to be removed -and them knowing that it would slip away was dreadful. But, what do you expect…What were their motivations I wonder?9 May 2015 at 10:30 #40018Anonymous @
@jimthefish Ah F*ck how on earth can Fred die? This is catastrophic and strangely it was Knox I hated more than anyone in the Buffy and Angelverse. Vampires? Nothing! Compared to his showing of the lab to poor Fred right at the end of S4 and explaining that he “simply worked for the Head which is you, of course”. All nice and “aw shucky”. I could have ripped out his intestines and made him eat them with gruyere.
And then Gunn. That awful curse. Dr Sparrow was wonderfully evil -as I always expected him to be.
That ep, directed and written by Whedon was classic. In the Buffyverse it’s possibly the best episode I’ve ever watched (excepting the last ep of S5 Buffy)
Some classic lines from both Angel and Fred as she dies and becomes the truly terrifying Illyria.
“nothing from W & H is ever free”
“what they lack in strength they make up in extraordinary sneakiness” (Knox)
“That after everything you can still be surprised” (Wes). Poor, poor Wes holding little terrified but brave Fred in her arms and then trying to smash Illyria’s head in and her not noticing at all! That, I admit, was quite funny.
And it’s that humour -particularly with Spike’s confident presence -that gives me hope in these last episodes -and releases a memory of how great this show was -at times.
Oh Christ, the kid is evil! The kid???? He has a 12 gauge shot gun for Cripes sake.
And now Gunn’s stuck in hell suburbia forever! Oh this is nasty payback and I will not sleep tonight.
“Damn he is dressed well” They’ve been screwed royally with the new liaison for W & H, me thinks.9 May 2015 at 10:52 #40019Anonymous @
This is what I hear when I click into the commentary of A Hole in the World:
“heheheheheehoop” “heheheheheho-ho ho-oop”.
This is Acker’s fuc*in contribution to the ENTIRE commentary. What is it with you men? And American women? These small breasted, skinny legged, GIGGLY brunettes !!!!!! Why is this remotely appealing?? Through the ENTIRE commentary as long as Joss is talking about really important things (which is why I like his commentaries) we have the ridiculous Acker giggling thru the whole. Goddam. Thing.
Seriously, put in the DVD and listen to it “hmmhmhmhmhehehhhoooop” laughter.
The reason, the whole reason I put up with this woman was because I actually thought she was putting on this shit giggling character. But, clearly she was never acting. She’s actually like this in REAL LIFE. Is she stoned? Happily rich and high on life? @bluesqueakpip surely you would hate this? Wouldn’t you? Women of the world do not think giggling is the ‘thing to do’. Grr.
OK. I’ll stop shouting. But truly in some small way I prefer Illyria now.
And go and eat something Acker. Honestly 🙂9 May 2015 at 11:33 #40020
@purofilion — aw, you’re being a little hard on poor Amy, don’t you think? You’re talking about one my big Buffi-Crushes there. I think Acker’s contribution to this show has been pretty huge. Fred brought something to the mix that really cemented the show’s whole dynamic. But as a character, she had probably run her course and she’s gone on to be just as great as Illyria. She’s kind of a Seven-of-Nine of the Buffiverse and clearly taking her cues a little from Dark Willow too maybe. And I’ve often wondered if she somehow represents something of what would have been intended for Cordy’s character if RL hadn’t spiralled out of control in s4.
But A Hole in the World is without a doubt one of my favourite episodes of either show and one of the s5 ones that Spike is integral to, rather than seemingly tacked onto the end (Damage being another one, of course.) His ‘No. Not this girl.’ is great and is the moment he becomes committed to life in LA.
And Acker and Densiof really knock this out the park. Wesley’s helplessness is heartbreaking and Fred’s plaintive ‘why can’t I stay?’ never fails to tear me up. And then we’ve got the more damaged, bad-ass Wesley back. His stabbing of Gunn an interesting reversal of s3, where Gunn was not exactly understanding of Wesley’s betrayal. It’s like a long-delayed payback, or at least evening of the scales.
Should probably point out that it’s not only Fred who’s getting hollowed out and destroyed by these events. Look at where Lorne is going these days. I never fail to find him punching Eve a shocking character beat.
Yes, Hamilton the new liaison is quite formidable. Adam Baldwin is another refugee from Firefly, where he’s brilliant as Jayne, and again I feel he’s slightly miscast here but he does give it his all.
End game now, Puro. Just half a dozen or so eps to go….9 May 2015 at 13:09 #40022Anonymous @
Yep. that was a massive strop! :Cough:
I know what you mean about Lorne -utterly impressive the way he changed on a coda. Of course, the alcohol, the stress of W & H was killing him. It was as Lindsey said “you think there was gonna be a gong for the Apocalypse? The firing gun started ages ago”.
We could see it moons ago when Lorne asked for sleep to be removed and with Gunn begging Sparrow to give him “the law” -quite happy to drive a devil’s bargain. It wasn’t even a case of “good people doing nothing for evil to exist” as they did plenty. But they were distracted; and who would refuse W&H’s offer? They were vulnerable at the end of S4, Cordelia in a coma, Connor part of the new deal and found the oozy welcome totally overwhelming. Lorne and Fred, both. It’s hard to argue that anything else could have happened really. If there’s ever a convincing argument that the fates got involved, then this was it. It was fate.
I agree about Fred and Wesley; I was a mess. A totally ‘blow it out of the park’ episode and as Spike said, “no. Not this girl”, I also went “ahh”. It was note perfect. As was the opening where the two of them (Angel and Spike) are arguing. Boreanaz’ comedic timing is magnificent now. He’s matured as an actor from his time on Buffy which I see as a master class in practise acting by comparison.
That argument? Caveman vs astronauts? Marvellous. Of course, there’s metaphor a plenty but I expect it was just David Fury and Joss having some fun with the actors!10 May 2015 at 04:12 #40039Anonymous @
:rubbing hands with glee: Angel is getting exciting!
Jayne as the liaison to the senior partners has that delightful blend of tricky business/salesperson mixed with charm and workmanlike efficiency “I won’t be making love to you on that couch, Angel”. Okaay then.
I really liked the episode where the Fell Brethren make an entrance with the pregnant Amanda. A parallel with the Angelettes offered tickets to a successful life, being “made whole” just as the Fell promised Amanda’s husband would be, providing she signed over the child. Gunn could feel the weight of his own pact and we reflect on Angel’s own purpose opting for W&H, initially, in order to make Connor whole again. It wasn’t so obvious a parallel, as these things offer are, tied in to a tight episode and an unpredictable conclusion or near resolution with Illyria as she rhetorically asks of Angel “are you so much a slave to this insane construct [of life]?”
Wes, after breaking the Connor’s container of memories in the previous episode, is crawling on the floor with his books, obsessed with Illyria, questioning the extent to which we are the sum of our memories -even our fabricated, illusory ones. That we “push reality out of our mind to endure truth”. In that point when he’d recognised how Angel had tried to kill him, how the prophecy had been manipulated, how he’d abducted Connor, it must have had a sudden, monstrous impact upon him: at a time when the shell of Fred continuously reappears in front of him; a malicious taunt. How he hasn’t become utterly mad suggests an enormous strength, a diabolical strength only a true watcher must have. I’m aware of just how full and developed these characters are and how even Gunn, who caused the loss of Fred, is fully prepared to endure his hell dimension without resorting to more deals. His atonement is nearly complete.
I liked the deviation of time, how Illyria’s power, so dominant, could cross thresholds of linearity as easily as stepping off the sidewalk, but as she’s deconstructing, her life is being re-stitched like swathes of fabric out of sequence: “pure, unadulterated vertigo.” This could be seen as a place holder episode before the final three but I don’t think so: it enabled us to encapsulate all that we knew of these characters over the past three or more years. Gunn, getting down to business, Lorne, worn out but still loyal, Wes looking to ancient works to provide a solution and Angel devising a strategy (I assume) which will bring about a final confrontation with the Senior Partners.10 May 2015 at 10:40 #40042
@purofilion — good point about Wes being obsessed about ‘what’s real’ and ‘what’s illusory’. That’s definitely going to be ‘a thing’ in these last few episodes.
Also good point about the Fell Brethern and Amanda’s choice. And, yes, Time Bomb was quite timey-wimey in its own way, wasn’t it? And yeah, we’re definitely in ‘tying up loose ends’ mode here now before the finale.10 May 2015 at 13:43 #40044Anonymous @
@jimthefish knackered now but happily thrilled. I’ve finished it! I got to the end without too many tears. Must read your blog tomorrow! I was tempted a few times but so glad I didn’t. Oh, poor poor Wes. Not Wes. Sigh 🙁10 May 2015 at 22:44 #40060
@purofilion — well done. It’s quite the achievement. Yes, shame about Wes. But really how else was it really going to go for Unluckiest Man In The Buffiverse (TM)….10 May 2015 at 22:51 #40061Anonymous @
@jimthefish Yes, I know…but I was holding out some hope. Ever hopeful is Puro. My boy, typically, thought the end was ‘lame’ but with endless explanations I eventually got thru to him. I felt that it was very possibly better than the season finale of Buffy -or maybe not. Have to let that percolate, though questions of ‘what wins’ aren’t necessary.
just ‘met’ a Scotsman on a show called Top of the lake a NZ, Jane Campion prod’tion with the wonderful Dave Wenham. A mystery but gorgeously put together as Campion’s stuff generally is-if you can stand some of the NZ accents. Generally, though there are Americans, an angry and scary (possibly criminal) Scot and a handful of Aussies like Wenham.
I’d recommend it. Drama this side of the ocean is rare and when you get a good one you hold on to it. Mind you, 30mins in only -it could be shite next week.10 May 2015 at 23:14 #40062
@purofilion — You’ll not be surprised to learn that I think the Angel finale is far superior to the Buffy one. It’s very much a Wild Bunch-esque ending in my opinion. Everyone goes down but goes down fighting. Again, I think it goes back the speech in s2’s Epiphany — the winning of the battle is not the point. The battle will never be won. It’s the continuing to fight that’s the point. All of s5 was just to illustrate that point.
Top of the Lake is fab and well worth sticking with. The Scotsman in question is the mighty Peter Mullan, a writer/director/actor from Glasgow, who does a nice line in psycho-nutters.11 May 2015 at 03:14 #40068Anonymous @
@jimthefish Yes, I think you’re right on the Angel finale -well worth a re-watch for me. But I must read your overall opinion on the blog.
It occurred to me as I watched Top of the Lake that isn’t new at all! What gave it away? The ‘ancient’ phones! No-one has a coloured screen. It’s all ‘old’ Nokia phones -as I still have and get by quite happily with. Typically, I blab away about this new show or that only to find everyone else has seen it, their channels purchased it awhile ago etc etc…
Peter Mullan… a writer and director. Good stuff. The “psycho-nutter” line is seemingly absolutely right. As far as I recall I haven’t seen him in anything else but that could be my brain whirring past without giving someone a proper thought.11 May 2015 at 07:23 #40071
@purofilion “Top of the Lake” was shown in the states several years ago — the year after “The Killing” wound up here, I think. Then came “The Bridge”, which I think is a US remake, and then the French zombies, and most lately “Fortitude” — all part of a whole new level of hyper-realistic-seeming material with a distinctly European flavor that’s been very refreshing and not at all soapy — a sort of anti-Masterpiece style, heavy on grit and gore and general angst. “Red Riding” was part of that wave, and keeps popping up again as re-runs.
It’s hardly surprising. Our days are dark on so many fronts lately, with no help from political systems that seem bent on falling back into policy positions that seemed to be losing their outworn grip around the turn of this century; but like vampires, they’re roaring back again. The only really bright spot that I can recall was the first season of “Breaking Bad”, which had a really hysterical take on the “Fish Out of Water” template. Then it turned into just another criminal low-life saga, better written and acted than most but basically a U.S. Western cousin to “The Sopranos”, and I wandered off.12 May 2015 at 05:21 #40085
@janetteb “J Strange and Mr. Norrell” sounds really intriguing to me — I have to admit that I tried to read the novel and just could not get a grip on the thing, so I’m delighted that it’s coming in TV form!12 May 2015 at 06:24 #40086janetteB @janetteb
@ichabod It will premiere on BBC America on Saturday June the 13th. It starts screening in the UK this Sunday. I really loved the book but I think I was fortunate to be bedridden when I read it. I know a lot of people find the first part to be bit of a slog. When you are busy, I find, a book has to be really engaging from the off set. I have that problem with Wolf Hall. I have never been able to “get a grip” on it but I am certain that if I had the time I would really enjoy it.
The trailers for the series look fantastic so fingers crossed. It is a category defying book so will be interesting to see how it fares with viewers.
Janette12 May 2015 at 18:05 #40090
@janetteb Right, thanks — I’ll be in San Francisco for a grandchild graduation the weekend of June 13, probably won’t see Strange & Norrell then, but they tend to re-run new show debuts for several evenings during the week after one is first aired, so I watch for it. Yeh, slog is right — I’d heard so much about the book, was very disappointed in self for not being able to find a foothold in the early parts of it (and it looked way too complicated to jump in at the middle). I think the chances of success are high, given the increasing amount of fantasy showing up on prime time TV!12 May 2015 at 23:13 #40096
Anyone been watching W1A by any chance? By rights I should hate it for being so smug and self-referential but the script is so tight and the performances so spot on that I can’t help but enjoy it.16 May 2015 at 11:31 #40122Anonymous @
WA1 -not sure what that even is, Jim!
Okaaay, I have Firefly and it be in ma possession. It be absolute shite.
Honestly, Fillion and Baldwin (?) inhale the screen. The production values are like a film -in fact better than some films. I love the earthy, texture of it -the detail. Also the thing with dialogue in books at least, of a fantasy nature, is the need to explain the concepts we wouldn’t see in Century_____:”We’re humped” and “the reavers…”. Eventually, we can work it out. Same as “companion”. Not sure what gave her role away? 😉 The opening took my breath away, really. The fact the main character uses religious motifs, kisses a cross and then later, around The Shepherd, is mildly indifferent….during ‘grace’ and after suggests a loss of faith, of some kind.?
Love Jayne: isn’t he enormous? I suppose with Boreanaz and in a suit, Baldwin didn’t look quite so ‘I’m gonna flatten you with my hands the size of hens”. Also, during the ‘torture’ (which didn’t happen) of the Fed Agent, some of the lines were great:
“what do you think I am, a back-birth?” I think that was Jayne -ah, who cares! Great fun. So the first ep is a pilot? So far, 1 hour and 2 mins in to flight time. 🙂
Whoo-hoo.16 May 2015 at 14:15 #40125
W1A is a kind of mockumentary comedy series about the inner workings of the BBC. As an Aussie, your best reference point is probably The Games, except it’s about the Beeb. It’s rather hit and miss, but worth it for the hit bits.
Yay. You’re Fireflied up. Shiny. Yes, I think loss of faith is a definite thing with Mal. There’ll be more than a few call-backs to the battle in Serenity Valley over the episodes. It’s a defining moment for Mal and the show is as much about the people in his life now helping Mal reconnect with his faith in people at least.
First episode is a double-length job and was actually only first shown by the network after the show had been cancelled — no, seriously. The whole backstory of Firefly is a tale of woe that you won’t actually believe.
Notice that the Fed Dobson is played by Carlos Jacott, doing a Whedon triple here, appearing of episodes of Buffy, Angel and Firefly. As is the Fed in the Alliance starship in the opening of the episode. Nice Who link with Mark ‘Canton’ Sheppard playing Badger — in a part originally intended to be played by Joss himself.
And, yes, the production values are high. The CGI of the space shots still stands up to this day — and the docu-handheld style pioneered here has been pretty much ripped off from every SF show that followed.17 May 2015 at 07:16 #40138Anonymous @
Oh yes, Sheppard! So slim and boney! Great style -as usual. And I noticed the Fed. I said “I’m sure I saw him in Buffy” and I thought, “no, everyone is in everything. Can’t be right”. Only it was.
OK: the first ep is heavy going -for sure, intense and the humour is adult and dead pan. I think I’ll be watching this alone. The Boy is finding it a bit difficult. It seems very real unlike the pastiche style, grab a bit of a set from here and there and piece it together like Buffy and Angel. Also, I think there’s no single heroic figure guiding it. It all seems very in your face with a great depth to every character causing you to be on your toes every moment. Can’t watch it when I’m tired. I think I could become disillusioned. As if I was living their actual lives. Testament to Joss and the production designers that I feel so invested already.
So I think pedant mentioned the first ep being aired later. I think that’s very strange. And then the film afterwards, yes?17 May 2015 at 09:01 #40140midnyt @midnyt
been a while since i’ve been here. life got in the way.
so does anyone watch Arrow/The Flash? I was watching the preview for the spinoff “Legends of Tomorrow” and about squealed myself to death.
jump to 1:57 for the best part!17 May 2015 at 11:43 #40141
@purofilion — yes, it’s a big cast and I think that’s part of the problem that the network had with it. Similarly, like you, they felt there was no obviously heroic central figure. Thus the second episode The Train Job you’ll find is like a second ‘mini pilot’ and is tonally lightened up considerably. Mal is a lot less dark and brooding and becomes a more heroic and roguish figure and there’s a higher bantering ratio. Plus more obviously rough n tumble action.
Serenity (the pilot) is slow and leisurely and essentially takes its time unfolding the characters to you. From The Train Job onwards, the dialogue is lighter and the pace more frenetic as it adopts a ‘caper of the week’ format, held together with the ongoing River arc. And you get a flat-out higher number of humour-centric episodes than either Angel or late Buffy managed, by the time you get to the likes of Our Mrs Reynolds and Jaynestown. I think Boy-llion could well get to enjoy it.
It’s certainly true that compared to Buffy and Angel, Firefly is creating its own world rather than operating on the tropes already established by popular and horror culture. But there are are more pop cultural reference points than you normally get in SF shows like say BSG and Star Trek. The obvious ones are Westerns, especially later revisionist and spaghetti ones. Jayne is essentially Western staple usually played by Eli Wallach or Warren Oates. Mal is more Gary Cooper and quite a bit of James Garner than he is John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. But he’s also essentially Han Solo too. As will be revealed in the commentaries, there’s quite a bit of Firefly that’s actually a commentary on some of the established tropes of both Star Wars and Star Trek.
However, I’d also say that while visually and tonally they’re very different, there are similarities between Buffy/Angel and Firefly. You can (loosely) tie together member of the respective ensemble casts in the function they perform in the narrative:
Mal – Buffy/Angel – the hero
Wash – Xander/Lorne – the humour/heart/conscience
Kaylee – Willow/Fred – the lovable, unlucky-in-love nerd
Book – Giles/Wesley – the keeper of the word, the voice of learning
Zoe – Angel/later Wes – the fighter, the loyal back-up
Inara – Joyce/Tara/Cordelia – the nurturer, the ‘mother’
Jayne – Cordelia/Spike – secondary muscle, the voice of discord within the group
It’s interesting that you have some of the same reservations that Fox had. Perhaps that suggests there might have been something to these complaints. But it’s also worth bearing in mind that the format of Firefly slightly works against it in this regard. There are probably as many central characters introduced here as in Buffy’s Welcome to the Hellmouth but they can just flit in and out, show up at their locker in Sunnydale High, pop into the Bronze and then off again. In Firefly they’re all confined to Serenity and that means we have to know why with most of them straight from the off — and even at that we’re held off from really getting the back stories of Jayne, Wash and Kaylee until later in the series.
And, yes, the movie Serenity takes place after series as an interesting but I’d argue not wholly successful coda, although I do know people who like it as much as the series.18 May 2015 at 03:36 #40155Anonymous @
@jimthefish ooh yes, I can see similarities now: typically I write stuff after watching only an hour. I suppose I was getting at the fact it seems quite adult. It expects you as viewer to hop on board and get to know the characters much like a passenger would be required to do. There’s a lovely sense of suspicion surrounding the people: not everything is as we see it or believe it to be; there are grey areas and people are either lying or colouring over certain issues for particular reasons.
Certainly, it’s not so much a reservation as an observation? I like that it’s ‘in your face’ and intense. There’s no time to really wind it up and I enjoy that, though I wasn’t expecting it. I like the tonal colour and the absolute detail. Again, being set on a future time on board ship means I have no prior knowledge whereas hero in LA or heroine in a high school means there’s foreknowledge or some understanding: though of course with Buffy, nothing was as it seemed either!18 May 2015 at 12:33 #40171
@purofilion — I totally get what you mean, but the more trademark Whedon playfulness does emerge. And it’s certainly true that more than one member of the crew has skeletons in their closet that they’re just not talking about yet. And, yeah, it’s definitely much more of a ‘blank slate’ than the Buffiverse. But I think you’ll see over the episodes that all three shows are largely concerned with the same themes.
Now if you want real, intense, adult SF, you’re probably going to have to go to BSG.19 May 2015 at 00:46 #40197Anonymous @
As for themes, yes! I absolutely noticed a quotation that was SO reminiscent of the Angelverse that I was just about knocked over. Of course I can’t remember it now as it was a Sat night and, as such, accompanied by some awfully nice Margaret River red wine.
I would think that many shows tend to introduce a core of say, three or four main characters? Firefly differs and I like that. I be assuming that each character will have a fully coloured in backstory and will eventually compliment the other on the ‘stage’ of the show.
Again the amount and type of characters throw you on board -much like Who’s Midnight episode, so you need to get to know them quickly and there’s a definite feel that you’re accompanying them on their adventures -and that their trips are meaningful, socially and politically. The camera work probably illustrates that experience. I could smell the fear emanating from the characters when the Reaver’s ship ‘sailed’ quietly past. I was already invested. Sometimes I can watch a telly show and completely dislike the characters from the start -more, it’s a sense of indifference so I don’t really care if they live or die. S. King’s Under The Dome was one such show that I saw for its first (laborious and predictable) season!
I must continue my Firefly introduction but pesky RL intervened, and there was a thought provoking discussion on another thread.19 May 2015 at 01:33 #40200
@purofilion — First 3 seasons of BSG are top-notch, the final two, not so much. It veers from ‘serious’ into the merely ‘pretentious’ later on in its run. But it is very earnest. There’s not much of the light touch of the Whedonverse going on there. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.
RE. Firefly. The analogy with Midnight is probably a good one and it is a similar dynamic. I’m sure that if the show had continued we would have got a great deal of nuance and detail from the characters. (I also suspect the regular line-up would have changed over time. There’s at least one semi-regular you’ll meet who I think could well have ended up being a permanent fixture on Serenity had the show continued.) Unfortunately you should brace yourself for the fact that Firefly does get cut off in its prime and we barely really get to know these characters before they’re gone.19 May 2015 at 12:03 #40217
@jimthefish pretty much nails it with BSG – the initial mini-series is superb, but as the show goes on it falls into the Ronald D Moore problem of arbitrary changes to character to suit whatever point her wants to make.
Another from cousin’s Netflix: rewatching Dead Like Me. Only two seasons, but I had forgotten how enjoyable it was, despite many behind the scenes issues. (Georgia Lass, an aimless Gen Why? 18 year old is killed by the toilet seat from the de-orbiting Mir space station. Then her life begins. Now if that doesn’t tempt you I don’t know what will….)
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