General Open Thread – TV Shows

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    Anonymous @


    Hah! Sounds mad and wonderful. Yes, “fire bad, tree pretty”. Typical Buffy 😉 And very funny. But?….OKaaaay, you mean?? Hmm…

    Then off Giles walks to find Wes who is asking for pain relief (I hear him!).

    I had to watch all the commentaries on the DVD after the finale: the wardrobe – I had no idea this show had been such a huge hit at the time: I was 26 and completely disinterested in what I called “American Television; how ridiculous”. If I could go back in time I’d slap myself upside the face – the special FX, the weapons. Now the latter was very interesting particularly as Harry Groener was discussing the use of knives and other terrifying objects with a very matter-of-fact voice.

    The root of your name. We shall see…. Well, NOW I have to watch the Finale again…for this clue. Which I’m not getting.

    Regardez-vous, puro.



    I didn’t recall the 800 year old demon-ess

    That’s Anya, played by the marvellous Emma Caulfield.

    Oh and

    Available to stream from Vimeo and well worth the £3 it cost me – you Zoe Kazan puts in a stellar performance.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @pedant — I think I mean that I think that S3 had the perfect alignment of Scoobies, Big Bad and arc for my money. The show definitely goes on to soar so much higher than s3 in so many ways but when I think of Perfect Buffy, it’s always season three that comes to mind.

    @purofilion — you’ll love Angel. Especially if you’re already pining for the loss of ol’ Cap’n Forehead. Again, I think it flounders for a few episodes, trying to figure out just what sort of show it is but around episode 6 or 7, it does figure this out and then it really finds itself. And you’ll see many, many familiar faces pop up, at least in the first season. And it has a killer punch in the s1  finale that will leave you gasping for more. It’s hard to choose between them but sometimes I prefer Angel to Buffy because it goes to some darker places on occasion, but it’s also seldom as laugh-out-loud funny as the parent show. But it will definitely add to your enjoyment of s4.

    Will be very interested in your take on s4 in general. It is, as we’ve said above, a source of some debate and controversy.



    That should be “young Zoe Kazan” but I missed the edit window.

    In Your Eyes is a very slight story told very well, and played pretty much to perfection.

    Anonymous @

    @pedant ‘In your eyes’. Goodness, I was right about the name. And thank you for the link as well.

    I like a slight tale.

    I should have said that after Anya talks to Zander, I didn’t see her again. Who knows, there was so much going on, so much “ooh aah”, that I would have missed a million gems.

    @jimthefish. I’m collecting ‘Angel’ today so we shall see when that gets unwrapped and begun.

    I’m in the middle of Breaking Bad, Season 1  having people in d’ house who have watched this well ahead of me -no spoilers from them, fortunately, but I’d like to get ahead. Some of BB is outstanding though a few scenes are uncomfortable -over-dwelling on conversations and annoying camera twitches etc.


    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Just on Angel, I’d say it may be worth giving it a go in the future. I can understand the reservations about the Angel character, but it’s fascinating to see how the character changes when he’s removed from the parent show. His occasional guest spots on Buffy don’t do the transition justice.

    I’d also say that as an adult watcher of both Buffy and Angel, I came away with the feeling that for me, Angel was the stronger show. I don’t think this is that unusual because while Buffy dealt with themes of becoming an adult (which I could just about remember) Angel dealt with challenges that are possibly more relevant to the late 20-something/30-something brigade. The new fears and challenges that come when you’re an adult.

    Watching Wesley develop over the series is a joy. You get to meet Amy Acker as Fred, and get confirmation of what we’d all suspected – Lawyers truly are evil.

    It’s got a couple of dud elements and a few strands could have been handled better, but it’s a great package overall.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Talking of Amy Acker, is anyone watching Person of Interest? For me, series 4 has become must see TV and its just returned after a Christmas break with the cleverly titled IF-THEN-ELSE.

    Over the first three series we’ve learned the backstory of the development of The Machine – an artificial intelligence created by Harold Finch for the US Government that watches all, sifts, predicts and identifies possible threats. We’ve learned the lengths that the Government will go to protect its secret and, with the Machine, the fate of those it identifies.

    So the Machine has rebelled, severing its ties with THE MAN, who are naturally a bit peeved and turned to an alternative system developed by a shadowy organisation who may not have our best interests at heart. This new boy, SAMARITAN is a bit bad ass, and possibly insane.

    So series 4 sees the battle of the unseen intelligences as they try to evaluate and neutralise each others plans. Our cast of heroes, by subterfuge, are the only humans on the planet that are hidden from SAMARITAN. Before Christmas we had “face to face” talks between the machines through their “Analogue Interfaces”. Great scene.

    IF-THEN-ELSE follows and is a shockingly good episode. A groundhog day type idea with our heroes pinned down in a SAMARITAN trap. We enter the mind of the Machine as it races through the possible scenarios as it tries to find an optimal exit strategy where everyone lives. It’s intercut with one the regular flashback scenes as creator Harold (the ever reliable Michael Emerson) teaches it chess in the park (the machine is viewing him through local CCTV).

    These scenes are always a joy, and Emerson deserves an enormous amount of credit for making one sided conversations so compelling and emotional as he tries to teach his child machine the important lessons in life. He sadly confesses he’s taught the machine this game as a mental exercise – but seeing the world as a Chess game, by making some pieces more important than others, in seeing the world in black and white is not an admirable way to think. The deep irony, of course, is that he’s about to deliver this miracle into the hands of people who do think like that.

    No – Person of Interest is great TV. Action set-pieces that put some movies to shame, genuine shocks on occasion, tension, some great slow burning character work and a bit of high concept sci-fi thrown in. Awesome soundtrack as well.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    I’d echo @phaseshift in imploring you to give Angel a go. As @phase says, it’s about the challenges of what you face when you’ve become an adult, and that in itself makes it a darker show. But its definitely great to see where they take Wesley’s character, as well as Angel’s. Not to mention Cordelia’s. I think in the end it is the more satisfying series. It perhaps loses its way a little in s3 when it gets slightly lost in its own darkness but it picks up big time for its last two seasons.

    Certainly I prefer its final series and ultimate finale way over Buffy’s. And while Buffy’s ‘mission statement’ is essentially positive and about overcoming restrictions and being yourself and fulfilling your potential etc, Angel’s is perhaps a little more downbeat but still great for all that.

    @phaseshift — will definitely be checking out Persons of Interest in 2015. It’s been on my list for a while now.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    I hope you enjoy it when you get to it. I actually stuggled through the first part of the first season as I had a suspicion it was going to be one of those shows that was never going to get to the point. Keep going through the “case of the week” episodes though and you get a nice slow reveal and a buildup of some important support characters.


    How are you progressing with Buffy Series 4?

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    In some excellent reporting from the 72nd Sci-fi Convention in London, @bluesqueakpip conveyed the troubling news that DC may be rushing it in adaptations for the big and small screens. I personally found this concerning because I’ve always found the DC stable a bit more engaging than Marvel, who are currently everywhere. On the small screen I’ve watched Gotham and Constantine, and it’s a real mixed bag.

    Firstly – Gotham

    One of the funniest things I’ve read on the internet recently was someone huffily proclaiming “Huh, it’s no Smallville”, because for some of us that’s a definite selling point.

    I take it the writer was lamenting the fact that Gotham isn’t soggy with teenage hormones and angst in the fine tradition of the show that dealt with the teenage years of Superman. Gotham is undoubtedly more adult in intention, dealing with the type of society Gotham is, and our future hero is a bit too young to have amazing abs or flash them at every opportunity.

    He is there though, and is a sullen presence seeking to understand why his parents were killed, and relying on Jim Gorden (Ben McKenzie) to unearth the answers. Jim’s carrying the weight on this one, and McKenzie is nicely understated as potentially the one good cop in Gotham. The definition of relationships, particularly with Sean Pertwee as Alfred have been very well done. Watch Alfred join forces with the Police to find a missing Wayne, for example, and you are aware that this show has the potential to go to some dark places.

    Among the cast of future villains in the Bat-world, I think I ought to mention Robin Lord Taylor who is weirdly compelling and Oswald Cobblepot, the man who would be the Kingpin of crime. It’s a disconcerting performance as he goes from obsequiousness to psychotic at the drop of a (top) hat.

    I know @barnable was watching and it would be interesting to hear his thoughts. Largely I’ve enjoyed the first batch of episodes with a few minor quibbles.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Constantine, though, is an entirely different kettle of fish

    You have to pose the question, on occasion, what certain fictional characters have done to get the treatment that studios meet out.

    John Constantine is a hard-drinking, chain smoking magician and ex-punk rocker. In the words of his best mate, Chas, “a twenty-four carat bastard”. Invented by Alan Moore for his run on Swamp Thing to guide the hero of that story through the murky underbelly of the US in American Gothic and lead him to a revelation. In doing so costing the lives of many of his friends and two “Golden Era” DC heroes.

    Everyone loves a bastard, and he was soon back in his own book – Hellblazer, with Jamie Delano writing a compelling series of episodes that looked at a sickness that had embraced both sides of the Atlantic – Conservatism. It’s great work and deserves to be revisited. Stock-brokers and bankers as demons, trading on the souls of the greedy? Oh yes, that seems relevant.

    All this good stuff was squandered when he went to the big screen and they cast human mannequin Keanu Reeves as Constantine. Appalling. Some lamented the fact they’d made the Liverpool born Mockney an American, but frankly I’d heard Reeves attempting an English accent in Much Ado about Nothing and felt grateful.

    For the TV series they’ve cast Matt Ryan who looks more the part (imagine dishevelled aging Sting) and may, in some vague way, sound the part. But boy, the character sucks. Big Time. Because everyone loves a Bastard apart from the studios who constantly seem to undermine the bad boys. Greedo shot first. Dexter really could feel. Pass me the sick bucket.

    The episode “Feast of Friends” actually adapts the first two parter that opened Hellblazer Hunger, and is a case in point. One of John’s remaining friends has unleashed an African born hunger demon in the developed world. Having been raised on a subsistence diet of famine this demon gets a taste for the more subtle desires that we enjoy, and gorges itself. To trap the beast, John takes his junky friend, straps him into a chair and at the height of his need, his hunger, lets the beast consume him, before sealing the demon within to consume itself. On the TV, his friend suddenly comes to the realisation that this is what must be done, offering our hero a chance to be slightly less of a bastard and for them to share a lovely angst filled moment together.

    Just. WHY?! This is not John Constantine. We don’t need any more angsty bad boys. We’re swimming in them. It gets worse when, apparently in all seriousness in another episode, he suddenly proclaims:

    “No price is too high to protect innocence!”.

    John Constantine – King of the fucking fortune cookie! I can’t imagine him saying that without being pictured with a big, shit-eating grin on his face.

    John Constantine is a uncouth brigand. A product of the DIY Punk generation he got into magic his own way. He does the right thing in a surly self preservational way. He’s a cheat and a con-man. He’s the man who got the Devil to cure his cancer before giving him the finger as a sign of contempt. He’s a piss-artist, a womaniser and a dangerous man to know. He’s not an angst ridden do-gooder.

    And he’s not fucking Keanu Reeves, either.

    Anonymous @


    On Gotham:  Now, I have to see it!  I watched one episode and the next week they changed the time, so I’ve missed everything. Maybe one for the DVD shelf?

    On Buffy: Season 4. Sadly only two episodes watched thus far. I was expecting Charisma to return but thus far a no show. If that’s the case, I can handle it. I particularly enjoyed watching Buffy circle her way around college whilst Oz and Willow were hyperactive with joy (although Oz says ‘Hi Dave’ and that’s loud for him). Seeing Buff seeing Giles with his “personal life” was disconcerting. My favourite guest star has to be Sunday -she reminded me of Cyndi Lauper.

    On Breaking Bad S2: the reason I’m in a Buff holding pattern is that I’ve had to catch up on BB. Boy Ilion and I noticed that the psychiatrist who listens to Walt’s “I had no fugue state” was actually Harry Groener, the Mayor of Sunnydale.

    Everything connects:  except KReeves. Although, I’m sure he was in a small budget film some 20 odd years ago called The Hairdresser’s Daughter. I thought it was an exceptional performance. If he wasn’t the chap, then someone else was exceptional!

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @phaseshift — I hate to say it, but I’ve always kind of liked the Constantine movie. I know it bears almost no relation to Hellblazer but I’ve always had a soft spot for it. And I’ve always liked Keanu in it too. Indeed, I kind of like Mr Reeves in general. Yeah, he’s seriously limited but I kinda can’t help but like him. Even in Much Ado. (Talking of which, was I the only one to find Joss’s version of Much Ado About Nothing a huge disappointment. I was expecting great things but there wasn’t a single performance that I didn’t find flat and/or just plain wrong.)

    I haven’t seen the Amazon TV series yet but would like to. I should watch an ep or two before my festive Prime membership expires. It sounds like once again they’ve taken too many liberties. (Interestingly in light of all this Buffy chat of late, I always wondered whether John Constantine was the model Joss had in mind for the young Ripper/Giles. There’s no way Mr Whedon wouldn’t have been aware of Hellblazer, after all.)

    @purofilion — I’m afraid you won’t see Charisma in Sunnydale anymore. But when you pop that Angel DVD in the player, you’ll have all the Cordelia action you can manage as she’s now moved to LA to fight demons with the heavy-browed one. But take heart, Anya essentially fills that Cordy-shaped hole and does it in fine style.

    I’m about four episodes into s4 and as usual find a very mixed bag but it definitely has its moments — some of them of the huge variety. But I’ll be interested in your thoughts once you’ve got through it. No rush though.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    I hate to say it, but I’ve always kind of liked the Constantine movie.

    You’re dead to me. Dead. 😉

    I just can’t get on with Keanu, even in films I actually like (The Matrix for example). The exceptions are the Bill and Ted movies, in which I think he actually puts in a credible performance. Maybe as himself, but still a performance. Although Alex Winter is better (whatever happened to Alex Winter – he could have been a contender, man).

    Many thanks for the confirmation that you intend to cover Angel. I’m aware of the work required to put those thoughts together, which is why I tentatively asked. I agree with you that Angel is often relegated in importance, and I’d welcome the chance to wax lyrical about it.

    It’s also why I’d like @barnable to take a look at it. I simply can’t imagine a life where I hadn’t seen the wonderful (RIP) Andy Hallett sing “Don’t leave me this way” or seen Joss dance the dance of joy. It makes me smile just thinking about moments like that. On reflection, I have so many happy memories of Angel.


    Keep us informed. I have a blog idea on classic “dream” riffs in books, movies, TV, etc. and I’m sneakily trying to determine when it’s safe to release because S4 contains an episode I’d like to discuss. It’s still a work in progress so no hurry.

    Gotham is an odd one. My main concern was whether it would find an enthusiastic audience (apart from me). So far it seems good though, and I’d say, like Person of Interest, it may exist below the radar from some of the “build it up, then knock it down” sites that discuss these shows. Being everyones second or third favourite show is perhaps the place to be for longevity?



    You’ve ALREADY forgotten the “one ep of Buffy, one of Angel rule”?

    It isn’t essential, but also it is non-trivial and the richness of some later episodes is greatly enhanced by following the two.

    I have a few regrets about S4, but one of them was having to deal with Channel 4’s erratic scheduling of Angel, meaning I missed some of the nuance (and a lot of the episodes).

    And there is much to say about S4 once you get cracking.

    Anonymous @


    OK OK:  I’m sitting on the naughty step and….

    unpacking the Angel DVD. It came in a ‘stylish tin’ which is a biscuit container in my opinion. I needed scissors to rip off that heavy crime-scene plastic wholesalers use, then resorted to teeth.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    RIP Brian Clemens. A towering colossus of British TV.

    ichabod @ichabod


    Thanks for the rundown on Person of Interest.  In your clip, though, the major (most nagging) question is asked but not addressed: why doesn’t SuperBoy just wipe out icky old humanity instead of trying to run us to his standards of morality?  “Because I need them, just as you do.”

    Yeah?  What *for*?  The assumption in fiction of our over-riding importance to trans-human powerful beings has always bugged me.  The “why” of this is obvious: we’re the ones telling the stories.  But, speaking as if it weren’t fiction: if I were SuperBoy, or for that matter SuperGirl, I’d get myself launched into space as quick as could be, to go look around for some more advanced, more interesting species to live with on more interesting terms than “Me Boss, puny and annoying humans; you obey or Me kill!”.

    Actually, this same trope, on a somewhat larger scale, was what turned me off a good deal of early Who: villainous super creatures hooting and blaring about how once they got the Doctor out of the way, they should have “ABSOLUTE POWAH!  HAHAHAHAHAHAAH!”  And I’m sitting there thinking, absolute power to do — what?

    We know the human answer to that, from various more or less circumscribed situations — Pol Pot’s career, for example.  Or that infantile Id now running N. Korea.  Historically, the job of the guy with “absolute power” was very simple: go to war with anybody not yet under his thumb and put them there, so they could help build Very Large Things reminding everyone that the Very Large Thing Boss has — it says here in this inscription on a Very Large Thing — “absolute power”.  Meanwhile, the absolute Powerguy becomes more and more paranoid about protecting his/its/her/their “absolute power”, because it’s somehow just not absolute *enough*.  It’s pathetic, and it’s ludicrous — at least once you step back far enough that you don’t smell the corpses of the destroyed; this “absolute power” quest is expensive  in terms of others’ lives.

    So maybe that’s enough: to see the Doctor, or Root, or the Fantastic Four bust up some new hollering Bighead from establishing some version of rather aimless but still potentially damaging “absolute power” over others.

    I’ll look in on POI again; thanks for pointing in that direction.

    Anonymous @

    Thanks for asking @phaseshift, here are my thoughts on Gotham so far. The acting is the only thing worth watching at this point. I know most new shows take some time before they find their footing, but that is for a new concept show. There is nothing new in Gotham, so this show should be firing on all cylinders right now and that just ain’t hapnin’. It is mostly the monster of the week type of show, which at times has been the best part of the show. That part works well especially when they have the very unusual criminals. So, there have been some good moments, but the rest of the plots are really getting boring now.  

    The political corruption arc and the crime family stories are moving in slow motion, which is double bad since they wouldn’t be interesting at super light speed either – (but they would at least be over by now). The fantastic Penguin and Fish performances are the only thing keeping them watchable. Alfred is like a James Bond type who could be very exciting if they would give him more to do. Gordon has been excellent, but his home life story seems tacked on and pointless. I think the Gordon character needs to be a lot more like Bruce Willis’ Die Hard with suspense, action, and attitude (there has been some of this already, but it needs to get turned up to 11). The comedy between Gordon and his detective partner is very good but they haven’t used it enough. I think they should be trying to put a Scooby Gang together with Cat, Bruce, and Ivy, which could be fun to watch.

    Right now, I don’t have very much hope that this show will last very long, since it is only mediocre rehashed police drama. They have all the talent in the world for actors though, so if they decide to get writers and producers with some imagination who want to make a good television show, then there is still a chance this could be awesome.

    P.S. With all the recommendations for Angel, I will definitely be watching Angel sometime in the future. There’s no way for me to do it right now though.


    So anyway. Broadchurch 2 by Chris Chibnall, fet D Tennant and A Darvill.

    A handy exercise in “If, in order to get from  A to B, you need to rely in Plot Required Stupidity rather than behaviour emanating believably from established character, it is a sign that you need to rethink the plot.”

    Also, some research into how the UK legal system actually works would be handy.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @pedant — agree totally. Two eps in and I’m on the verge of giving up already.

    But then I thought Broadchurch 1 was just slightly above average anyway. Good but hardly great and certainly not deserving of all the plaudits hurled its way. (For my money, both series of Line of Duty kicks its booty from here to doomsday for this kind of thing.)

    And it shows how far we’ve fallen in terms of drama if this sort of thing is held up as ‘the best we can possibly offer’ when it pales into serious  mediocrity compared to the likes of Cracker and even the first couple of series of Prime Suspect. And that wasn’t that long ago fer Chrissakes.


    Anyway, picking up on @purofilion’s mis-located S4 musings…

    I will cheerfully defend Beer Bad. It is damned funny and has:

    Cave Buffy

    The finest bitch-slap in the entire run, as Willow plays Parker like a harp

    Cave Buffy

    Set up of  an important change (spoiler redacted)

    Cave Buffy

    “Dresses like Faith, voice like an albatross?”

    Cave Buffy

    “And then group sex?”

    And also, it has Cave Buffy

    Beer Foamy.

    There are several worse episode that aren’t redeemed by Cave Buffy or Willow in Confident Mode, some of which have passed and some are a way off down the road (one of those being the episode where everything went wrong, but at least in part for off-screen reasons that stripped it of any humour).

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @pedant — Sorry, but Beer Bad, for me, makes Go Fish look like frikkin’ Hush. It’s officially my Worst Buffy Episode Ever. The future  episode you refer to must be in s7 but I’d argue it’s difficult to pick the truly bad stories out of that season as it’s 80 per cent ropey anyway, with the occasional flashes of old-school goodness.




    Well if you’re going to be wrong, you might as well be completely wrong 😉

    Nope, not S7, most of which I enjoyed save a specific thing which I will note when we get there (and we don’t talk about future seasons! It’s the first rule of Buffy Club!)

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @pedant — I’d say that we can talk generalities, so long as we don’t veer too into spoilerage. It’s just specifics that should be off-limits. But I suppose there might be a slight risk of colouring others’ expectations even with vague allusion and discussion.

    But I am looking forward to giving s7 the sound kicking it rightly deserves.

    Anonymous @

    @pedant @jimthefish

    Interesting that Beer Bad revives old memories which are quite Contrary Mary?  I totally get Cave Buff who, with eyebrows glowering, manages to be totally terrifying or endearing depending on whether you’re Parker. I also liked the significance of clue at the end of Season 3 -without it, where would Willow be?

    Nonetheless the confusion with menus caused us to watch Wild At Heart after Beer Bad which means Pangs is up next. I’m only getting those ep titles correct as I’ve got the Buffy page up on Google 😉



    Ah, well that would account for the confusion about Oz.

    Don’t worry. For all the coolness supreme of Oz, his departure opens the way for something truly epic.

    And porn.

    Pangs has Angel crossover.

    Ooooh oooh oooh – also the ep after Pangs has big important revelation. Pay close heed to Willow’s advice to Riley.

    Anonymous @


    All we watched was Pangs yesternight. It was marvellous. I need to watch an ep of Angel (I’m doing what I’m told, here) then up to the episode after Pangs. Which name I know not! I’ll label it a title but not necessarily the one it’s been given.

    At least Willow is back to wearing ‘normal clothes’ and not purple leather. Or whatever that was (quietly crushing).

    We saw Taken 3 -again: shown and told and told again. All the camera angles were so ‘up close’ with such massive over-exposure that if I was prone to fits, I would have danced in my bucket of popcorn.

    Anonymous @

    “truly epic”. I hope so. Little sad he’s left….



    Yes, I like Pangs a lot, despite its (even by Buffy standards) daftness.


    Anonymous @

    @pedant yes, I totally agree. Daft is a perfectly underused word in Oz and describes the Buffster’s general behaviour and knowledge. The story is fairly daft too -and caused much mirth with Boy Ilion who is constantly saying “how can Buffy not know that! Atrocities! Doesn’t she know what that means?”

    Not misplaced mirth.

    Regards, puro.

    Anonymous @

    I’m watching Breaking Bad. I find it totally disjointed. I’m madly attempting to  work out how, exactly, Skylar finds out about Walter’s cash? I get he admits to Meth, but the cash? Nope. I aint seeing it. I’m paying mad attention. I’m checking Google and Wikipedia. I must be stupid. Honestly.  Grrrr. I just want Buffy, really as everything in the Buffy World is a perfectly composed Sonata. In BB, it’s a Mahler symphony. Never my favourite.

    Distracted, puro.



    Oh, I’ve just realised that you have already had the episode with the important revaltion (assuming you are watching in the right order now!).

    It’s the The Initiative, where Riley is seeking Willow’s help to court Buffy.  To whit:

    WILLOW: Then talk. Keep eye contact. Funny is good, but don’t be glib. And remember, if you hurt her, I will beat you to death with a shovel. A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend. Have fun.

    Curiously this is the point, first time round, that I pretty much bailed on Buffy. Pretty much as soon as the soldier boys firmed up (so to speak) I was annoyed. Doug Petrie, one of the main writers was really into a James Bond/ X Files and it informed this arc – and I was so not interested in it that Buffy, for a good while, ceased to be appointment TV.

    Despite the many issues we will get to discuss as you go a long, boy, did that prove to be a mistake. In particular, there is an absolutely key episode that you are careening towards that I never got round to seeing for about three years.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    RIP Brian Clemens. A towering colossus of British TV.

    I was gutted to hear that during the week. It’s a loss because he’s one of the last links to an age when TV was actually run by showmen, the Lew Grades and Sydney Newmans of this world, rather than accountants and anodyne Management Consultants.

    Back in the day, we had Lew Grade (running independent TV) declaring that people really wanted fantasy, because they got reality every day and so were used to it. He commissioned so many Clemens ideas because of that, and Brit TV seemed so healthy. These days, the anodyne rule and Broadchurch is proclaimed as a majestic return to form for ITV.

    Now that’s depressing.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Thanks, and I hope you’ll give POI a new look.

    I find it fascinating that representations given to AI on movies and TV, and I think that scene (and particularly the bit about destroying us) was written to just quickly diffuse a common trope – the AI that, gaining sentience, immediately wants to wipe us out (what you could call the SKYNET effect). Doctor Who has done it a couple of times as well (as early as the Hartnell story The War Machines).

    POI has taken a different approach, and I think both the Machine and Samaritan are slaves to their programmes in a way, just as we are basically slaves to some of our genetic inheritance. The Machine, by learning, has absorbed the lessons and philosophy of it’s creator. It’s virtually paralysed by indecision in the IF-THEN-ELSE episode. Samaritan is programmed for “Total control” of the Planet and is playing a more straightforward game strategy (which is nonetheless compelling to explore).

    I’ve never particularly found the Skynet route that convincing. In books I would point out people like Iain M Banks (whose sentient MINDS actually like people – much as we like pets), and in TV a show that was sadly cancelled called Odyssey 5, about a group of astronauts who engage in a kind of time travel to unravel why the Earth was destroyed. It was marvellous in its presentation of Sentient programmes on the early internet. Some like Skynet, batshit crazy, some stalkerish, and some just very endearing. A series by Mani Cotto that was way ahead of its time. A couple of years later, with more participation on the internet and some of the stories may have gained more traction. As such, it’s still an interesting curio.

    Intro, showing the cast.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Sorry you aren’t enjoying it as much. Nice to get an alternative view though which may at least warn people. I think it has really different intentions to what some were expecting. When you wrote:

    I think they should be trying to put a Scooby Gang together with Cat, Bruce, and Ivy, which could be fun to watch.

    Isn’t that like a junior Smallville? I think it may have been popular with a young demographic, but this show isn’t particularly going for that.

    Heartened to hear you’ll give Angel a go when you can. Lots to enjoy.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @pedant @jimthefish

    Looking forward to a lively conversation on series 4 when @purofilion has finished it. To paraphrase that great poet of our time, Meatloaf:

    I will do anything to defend Series 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer….

    I will cheerfully defend Beer Bad.

    ….But I won’t do that.

    A crap episode with one good scene (Parker – Willow). It’s truly appalling and I think the reason that so many people dismiss some really good stuff about the series. It’s like a black hole, sucking all the joy out of surrounding episodes.

    The horror.

    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift @pedant

    Yep, I can see the attitude behind Beer Bad but recognising the Clue and seeing Buffy in Beer mode was worth it -quite a bit, really.

    The Initiative has been interesting: “a vague disclaimer is no-body’s friend” is one for the Buffy book and apt “on so many levels” (Sorkin) that it produced a bark out loud for the Ilions.

    I saw the amazing (or ridiculous) scene below- campus filled with ripped men in uniform toting guns and immediately thought “Star Wars”. Boy Ilion thinks the same: it’s the damn score! It’s John Williams re-born. I mute it.

    “….But I won’t do tha-at…” Right on. Poor ol’ Meatload. He did an awful million-dollar earning performance at the State of Origin – or some football thing in Sydney nearly two years ago. It was gut wrenchingly terrible.

    Anonymous @

    Breaking Bad. Found ‘the cash’. As you were.

    Watching too many shows at once does this. Confusion of writers.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @purofilion     Confusion of writers.    Is that anything like a flock of seagulls?   🙂

    I’m enjoying all the activity on this thread. Although I haven’t seen most of the shows in question myself, I know enough from others that I can follow people’s thoughts a bit. The conversation would be instruction for certain people on other forums who don’t seem to know how to disagree (even strongly disagree) without giving offense. As always, kudos to everyone around here!

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    RE. Clemens and British TV. Agree though I also think part of the problem is that there’s just not enough drama being made these days. In the glory years, there was lots of drama of varying quality, budget and subject matter. Certainly compared to today. And while much of it was rubbish, it did mean there were lots of avenues for new writers to cut their teeth before moving onto bigger and better stuff. The narrow drama output of today means that doesn’t happen, as well as meaning when a high-profile drama turns out to be a duffer, that it’s far more painfully obvious.

    A crap episode with one good scene (Parker – Willow). It’s truly appalling and I think the reason that so many people dismiss some really good stuff about the series. It’s like a black hole, sucking all the joy out of surrounding episodes.

    Yep. Agree with that also. I think what bugs me most about Beer Bad is that it just shows the worst aspects of the show’s puritan streak.

    S4 has some extremely significant and enjoyable eps but there are also too many lacklustre episodes and Beer Bad itself is so bad that it’s hard to forget (or forgive).




    Puritanical? It’s never struck me as remotely that (although it is restricted by the drinking age in the US being 21, while almost none of the characters are).

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish and @phaseshift

    Actually, Beer Bad got nominated for an Emmy.


    Okay, it was for Outstanding Hairstyling. But it did get nominated. 🙂

    I vaguely recall that they had to write it, because Fox was after some kind of anti-drugs funding. It shows.


    BTW, @purofilion, you should be look out for the Leather Pants Color Code (pants in the US meaning, therefore color in the US spelling)

    We have seen Angel and Faith wear the Black Leather Pants of Evil,

    and Buffy  the Red Leather Pants of Moral Ambibuity (when she went after Faith in Graduation Day),

    Willow wears the Green Leather Pants of Jealousy in Wild at Heart (which you should have seen by now)

    And a little ways down the road are the Pink Leather Pants of Enthrallment.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Actually, Beer Bad got nominated for an Emmy. ::Pause:: Okay, it was for Outstanding Hairstyling.

    I must remember that, if I’m ever tempted to watch it again. Watch the hair, it’s possibly awesome and may distract me from everything else. 🙂

    I actually remember the Fox pitch for money from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, mainly because it led to Matt Groening taking the piss in his usual style via the Simpsons. The irony is, after being produced, Beer Bad didn’t even win any funding because the panel that made the awards deemed it “confused nonsense” if I remember correctly. Feel the happy!

    @jimthefish @pedant


    Largely, I’d agree with Jim on that one. It may not be the intent, but as Wes Craven once reflected when Scream was released, he really hadn’t been aware of some of the underlying puritanical themes of all those old slasher movies – the “rules of surviving a horror movie” that the script for Scream helpfully point out (a boozy, fornicating adolescent – mincemeat, a teetotal virgin – skips away from the carnage).

    Looking at Buffy series 4 you’ve already had “casual sex is bad, m’kay?” and now “drinking beer will lead to you devolving into a Neanderthal” (which is an insult to what little we know about Neanderthal’s to be frank). It all seemed a little preachy, and was complicated in that another character in the show was already scheduled to go on a slow decline into possible alcohol dependency, which was a lot more subtly done.

    The cumulative effect of this actually drew a lot of applause from some bonkers right wing Christian groups who thought the liberal left media was possibly seeing their point of view for once. In reality, a show that had been so adept at undercutting horror tropes had subconsciously started to echo them. It’s an unfortunate thing, but possibly inevitable when you have a large run of episodes to write and money being dangled by political appointed groups who have a specific “message” in mind.


    @phaseshift @jimthefish

    “casual sex is bad, m’kay?”

    Eh? Where?

    “drinking beer will lead to you devolving into a Neanderthal”

    Actually, it’s getting mickey-finned (kinda the point of the story)

    And right wing christians missing the point of the story? Well, that’s me shocked. Whatever next?

    I have no problem with the idea Fox might try to pressure the showrunners, but the thought that Joss – an out and proud atheist and existentialist – would play along is simply laughable.

    Anonymous @

    @pedant @bluesqueakpip @jimthefish  @phaseshift

    I had no idea about funding expectations.

    “The cumulative effect of this actually drew a lot of applause from some bonkers right wing Christian groups who thought the liberal left media was possibly seeing their point of view for once. In reality, a show that had been so adept at undercutting horror tropes had subconsciously started to echo them.”

    Heavy hitting analysis -as @arbutus pointed out. I recall something similar happening in Oz with a saccharine programme about conservative townie doctors meeting Everything Rural: ‘A Country Practise’. This led to ‘Neighbours’ at about the same time. Both were very obviously Liberal in the American recognised idiom. It was only with ‘Sea Change’ (William McInnes) in the mid-90s that Australian TV subverted hitherto wildly conservative behaviours.

    Once Labour lost several elections nationally, Oz TV died a death akin to being shot by a 9mm in the stomach. They should have just axed it.

    Later we got a televised rendition of ‘The Slap’ which, frankly, was awful and invited back typical (but revised) themes of “religion = prosperity”; “Man is his own Castle” and “Woman wearing thong underwear is criminal.”

    I met people who, never having read a novel since school (Maths teachers), whispered over their cheesy vegemite sandwiches in hallowed tones about this ‘amaaazing show’.*


    We do have ‘Jack Irish’, however. A small step forward. Least I think it’s ours?

    *Not having a go at all Math teachers: I’m civil.

    @pedant -RL has interfered with any Buffy in the past two days. I am behind so I’ve not yet seen Pink Leather Pants. I have yet to be enthralled!  Taken with the ep of Breaking Bad to do with Catching Flies. Some of this was truly fine and I was quite impressed -for once.

    Regards, puro.

    Anonymous @

    @jimthefish @pedant

    well, well, well. ‘Something Blue’, a superb episode!  Willow’s Will? Giles’ half blind act and Spike and Buff’s wedding plans mixed with Riley’s complete confusion was  ‘cutely’ mesmerising and blur-t- out- loud funny. I spent a good 20 mins trying to locate the song that Willow is getting secretly drunk to whilst ‘giraffing’ on the dance floor. ‘Say it aint so’?? Blink somethingarother?

    I then watched some Angel: ‘Sense and Sensitivity’ and Bachelor Party really sees this series rockin’. The wonderfully unexpected: “we’ll have a stripper, followed by the ritual eating of the ex-husband’s heart and then charades.”

    “Are you sure? About the charades? I dunno about the charades”

    It remains to be seen what they’ll do with Angel


    Anonymous @

    ….during the eatin’… of said heart

    Anonymous @

    Ah, brains…not heart and Doyle gets an injection!

    “you brought a vampire to your brother’s bachelor party?”

    I’m very very happy right about now.

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