Monthly Archives: July 2011

TV Show Personality Quizzes

For a different twist, and since this is a weekend post, I thought I’d try something fun. BuddyTV just followed me on Twitter, so I stopped by their site and tried out a few of their TV show personality quizzes. I thought I’d share the results here.

No surprise here, though I think I might be more of a Ted if this was more of an internal personality test with less lifestyle questions.

Yay – I love Hardison!

I got Jane the first time, but I think Maura’s a better fit.

I do see quite a few similarities in our childhoods.

Don’t think this is really me, but I love the show!

Hmm, I usually get Zoe on these.

But – she’s not coming back next season!

Not who I was expecting to get.

I’m so glad they didn’t cancel this show!

Hmm – think the description should be a bit more gender-neutral.

I had a sneaking suspicion that I’d end up with this result.

Yeah, this was a pretty easy guess too – but an awesome result!

This was a no-brainer too.

I’m definitely more of a season 1-3 Willow.

Just the character I would have picked.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Dark Age

Aside from the “so over-the-top it’s corny” music at the beginning of this episode, “The Dark Age” is pretty much perfect. We know the scared guy walking in the night isn’t just an ordinary victim as soon as he asks for Giles (by the way, whatever was in his metal briefcase?). We know the creepy dead woman isn’t just another zombie as soon as she dissolves into a blue puddle.

And of course Giles’ past comes back to haunt him at the worst possible moment – just when things are going well with Jenny. Was this the start of Joss Whedon’s mean streak? I feel so sad for Giles at the end of this episode, but at least Buffy knows how to lessen his pain a little:

Buffy:  And you know what? I have just the perfect music. Go on, say it. You know you want to.
Giles:  It’s not music, it’s just meaningless sounds.
Buffy:  There. Feel better?
Giles:  Yes. Thanks.

I’m glad they finally did a Giles episode. Up until this point, he’s mostly been the smart one who gets made fun of:

Xander:  Giles lived for school. He’s actually still bitter that there are only twelve grades.
Buffy:  He probably sat in math class thinking, ‘There should be more math. This could be mathier.’
Willow:  C’mon, you don’t think he ever got restless as a kid?
Buffy:  Are you kidding? His diapers were tweed.

Of course, they only pick on him because they love him. Even Jenny gets in on it:

Jenny:  Yeah, y’know how you have to dog-ear your favorite pages so you can go back to them?
Giles:  Uh, uh, uh, what?
Jenny:  Well, I mean, I practically had to fold back every single page. So finally I just started underlining all the pages I really wanted to discuss.
Giles:  U-u-underlined…?
Jenny:  But then, of course, I spilled coffee all over it, I can’t even read it…
Giles:  It’s a first edition!
Jenny:  I’m lying, Rupert. The book’s fine. I just love to see you squirm.

And Willow gets to go into teacher mode and yell at people again (is it any wonder Alyson Hannigan is a teacher on How I Met Your Mother?). This time it’s Xander and Cordelia, and for a moment, they look like they might kiss (though that’s not far away).

The pain that Giles feels because a demon has taken over the woman he loves seems to foreshadow the story of another Watcher, another innocent woman, and another demon, in another show. (Though that time Angel can’t save the day without terrible cost.) While this episode pales in comparison to “A Hole in the World,” you have to take into consideration that this is only the twentieth episode of Buffy, and Jenny survives. (“Passion” would be a better episode to compare “A Hole in the World” to.)

I think that Ethan Rayne makes almost as good of a villain as Spike (perhaps British accents are clouding my judgment? I’ve already determined that Mark Strong is far scarier with one). He’s a genius at out-of-the-box evil plans, like tattooing someone else to throw off a demon. And when a character introduced himself as Ethan Rayne on a recent episode of Burn Notice, I felt a tingle up my spine. Despite only having 4 episodes in Buffy, he makes it into the video game and the season 8 comics.

Does your favorite villain have an accent?

Community – Laughter and Paintballs

Community didn’t do that great of a job winning me over with the show’s initial promos. I remember being bored and confused with the teaser. Maybe it was a better hook for those familiar with Joel McHale.

I don’t remember what pushed me to watch the first episode – perhaps a later, better ad. But I liked the show enough to keep watching, and eventually enjoyed it so much that I pre-ordered the first season months in advance.

I love how each of the characters has their own type of humor, and how different characters take turns pairing up in each episode so the dynamics are always fresh. Of course, my favorite pair is Abed and Troy. I love their 30 second clips at the end of most episodes – and those make a great introduction for people new to the show.

The show’s second season wasn’t quite as consistently good as the first, but the season’s best episodes really shined – and none more than the two-part season finale.

I was a bit skeptical when I heard they were doing another paintball episode. Hadn’t they already covered that well enough in the first season? I was afraid it would simply be a rehash of “Modern Warfare,” but, boy, was I wrong!

The first of the connected episodes, “A Fistful of Paintballs,” put an Old West spin on the slinging of color. The gang is dressed up for a Western-themed end-of-the-year picnic (with free ice cream), when a paintball competition, complete with six-shooters, is announced. The prize – $100,000 – sends the school into a frenzy. Add in a tale of alliances and betrayal, and epicness ensues.

The second episode, “For Few Paintballs More,” changes things up when hostile paintball assassins invade the school wearing white gear and masks. Yes, they look like Stormtroopers. Add in a Star Wars-esque rolling intro, tiny robotic paint launchers on wheels zipping through the halls, and Abed acting like Han Solo (complete with vest), and you have the best mashup of space opera and western since Firefly. (I’ll have to find out if Cowboys & Aliens tops it later.)

Community is just about tied with The Big Bang Theory for my favorite comedy show, and I really hate that they both air at the same time. So I won’t fault you if you don’t watch this on Thursdays this fall – but be sure to catch it online later!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Lie to Me

Joss Whedon recently gave the reason why the seventh episode of his shows’ seasons were often so pivotal and powerful – that was usually the first episode he got to write, and he “saved the best stuff” for himself.

“Lie to Me” is no exception. It’s where the season takes a darker, more serious turn. We find out Drusilla and Angel’s history and the reason why she’s insane. Buffy learns of her existence for the first time.

Buffy’s past also comes calling in the form of her old friend (and grade school crush) Ford. Xander, of course, is immediately jealous, but it’s Angel who senses that something’s off about him, and in a surprising move, turns to Willow.

Angel:  I guess I need help.
Willow:  Help? You mean like on homework? No, ’cause you’re old and you already know stuff.

And you have to love a show that’s not afraid to make fun of itself:

Angel:  Things used to be pretty simple. A hundred years, just hanging out, feeling guilty… I really honed my brooding skills.

A key aspect to the story is the wannabe vampire society. (Now they’d just be Twilight fans. By the way, I love that the Spike comics make fun of Twilight.) It’s the first appearance of the girl who will later be known as Anne on Angel. I find it somewhat humorous that a group of people so into vampires doesn’t even notice when one’s in their midst.

There are still plenty of funny moments even though this episode is more somber than previous ones (something I miss in many episodes of Angel). I love how Xander keeps saying “You’re not wrong” when Ford says things that hint at Angel being a vampire. And I love how Willow is terrible at keeping secrets and how her mind goes off on fun tangents:

Buffy:  Okay, Will, fess up.
Willow:  What?
Buffy:  Are you drinking coffee again? ‘Cause we’ve talked about this.

Willow:  Okay, but do they really stick out?
Xander:  What?
Willow:  Sore thumbs. Do they stick out? I mean, have you ever seen a thumb and gone, ‘Wow! That baby is sore!’
Xander:  You have too many thoughts.

Cordelia only makes a brief appearance in this episode (to ignorantly identify with Marie Antoinette), and Jenny is only there to give Giles a surprise date:

Buffy:  Sorry to beep you guys in the middle of… stuff, but it seemed really weird.
Giles:  No, you did the right thing. Absolutely.
Jenny:  You hated it that much?
Giles:  No! But, but, uh, vampires on campus is, could have implications. Very, very grave…
Jenny:  You coulda just said something.
Giles:  Uh, honestly, I, I’ve always, I’ve always been interested in, uh, monster trucks.
Buffy:  You took him to monster trucks?
Jenny:  I thought it would be a change!
Giles:  It was a change.
Jenny:  Look, we could’ve just left.
Giles:  What, and miss the nitro-burning funny cars? No, couldn’t have that.

This episode nicely sets up “What’s My Line,” with the stealing of the book and Drusilla playing a larger role.

Spike:  The bird’s dead, Dru. You left it in a cage, and you didn’t feed it, and now it’s all dead, just like the last one.

Ford:  Oh, c’mon! Say it! It’s no fun if you don’t say it.
Spike:  What? Oh. (rolls his eyes) You’ve got thirty seconds to convince me not to kill you.
Ford:  Yes! See, this is the best! I wanna be like you. A vampire.
Spike:  I’ve known you for two minutes, and I can’t stand you. I don’t really feature you livin’ forever. (to Drusilla) Can I eat him now, love?

I find it interesting that Spike kept his promise to turn Ford into a vampire, even though Buffy ruined all their plans. Was he that honorable, or did he do it to get back at Buffy? Either way, it nicely sets up the closing scene, as Buffy and Giles talk while waiting for Ford to emerge. It’s one of my favorite conversations of the show:

Buffy:  Nothing’s ever simple anymore. I’m constantly trying to work it out. Who to love or hate. Who to trust. It’s just, like, the more I know, the more confused I get.
Giles:  I believe that’s called growing up.
Buffy:  I’d like to stop then, okay?
Giles:  I know the feeling.
Buffy:  Does it ever get easy?
Giles:  You mean life?
Buffy:  Yeah. Does it get easy?
Giles:  What do you want me to say?
Buffy:  Lie to me.
Giles:  Yes, it’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.

Supernatural – Dead in the Water

I approached this third episode of Supernatural feeling a little ambivalent about the show. The pilot had been amazing and almost too creepy. The second episode had been a bit of a dud. But for most shows, the third episode plays a pivotal role – after episode one establishes the premise of the show, and episode two establishes the “formula” of a normal episode, episode three usually gives the best picture of the rest of the season, and sometimes the rest of the entire show.

(Hmm, just to prove that theory to myself I looked up the third episode of some of my favorite shows – so many awesomely fun moments – from John Casey throwing a microwave at a bad guy in Chuck to Spike making fun of Angel to Beckett grabbing Castle’s ear when he tries to overhear her phone conversation.)

So after the “previously on” section played (I seriously hope they don’t show clips of the pilot in front of every episode this season), the episode opened with a victim’s last moments while the credits blinked up on the screen. I saw one name and immediately got excited – this episode guest starred Amy Acker!

Best known as Fred from Angel, she’s also in Dollhouse and even a couple episodes of No Ordinary Family. I think it was brilliant to cast Amy so early in the show – Angel had only been off for a year, and Supernatural was aimed at similar viewers. And the show was nice enough to make her an integral part of the episode – not just a cameo walk-on.

This episode did a great job of making ordinary moments creepy, and the Winchester brothers played off each other much better. They actually seem like a team. The dialogue steps up a notch, too, with Acker delivering a fun zinger:

Must be hard with your sense of direction – never being able to find your way to a decent pickup line.

The brothers introduce themselves as Agents Ford and Hamill, a Star Wars reference it took me a bit to catch. And Dean shows a bit of his vulnerable side, but I’m still not feeling why thousands of fans are gaga over these characters. I’m hoping that will become more apparent soon, as the brothers are this show’s only constant so far.

Yet in all, I loved this episode, and am definitely looking forward to more Supernatural!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Halloween

It’s my third time watching this episode, and while the simplistic plot failed to capture my attention during this viewing, I’m in awe how much the writers packed into a single episode.

First, we get a new reoccurring villain and our first hint of Giles’ past. In his initial moments on screen, Ethan Rayne seems to be nothing more than an ordinary store owner, with a kindhearted streak to persuade Buffy to get the Halloween costume she really wants. Instead, he’s into dark arts with a gift for creating chaos. In this episode, it’s having people turn into whatever they dress up as for Halloween.

That chaos is a perfect opportunity for Spike, who has been having his vampire minions videotape Buffy so he can study her. (And it’s kind of fun watching the minion mess with the dying camcorder.) This explains why we haven’t seen Spike and Drusilla at all for past two episodes. Having them as secondary villains in this episode is a good setup for the rest of the season. And Drusilla’s insane ramblings are hilarious.

Drusilla:  Do you know what I miss? Leeches.

I was surprised that Cordelia didn’t know Angel was a vampire until this episode, so while rewatching up until this point I took note of their earlier interactions – nope, no game face slip-ups or conversational allusions (anything said was too vague for Cordelia to come to that conclusion). Having now seen all 5 seasons of Angel, I was curious to see if there was any hints about their future relationship. Even though Cordy and Angel do share a laugh in this episode, it’s far easier to see foreshadowings of Spike and Buffy’s future.

Spike:  (chuckles) She’s tricky. Baby likes to play. You see that? The way she stakes him with that thing? That’s what’s called resourceful. Rewind it again.

Buffy:  (to Spike) Hi, honey. I’m home.

And all of the core four have story arcs in this episode that will influence the future:

Giles is hiding his past, dealing with his evil counterpart (who will return), and showing that he does have some fighting skills of his own.

Willow learns to be more confident and stop hiding, and it’s fun to see her take charge of the situation while the others forget who they are. And Oz gets another glimpse of her (and we get another glimpse of Oz!).

Xander goes from having Buffy rescue and embarrass him to rescuing her (and getting to beat up the guy who threatened him). Plus all his soldier knowledge will come in handy later on.

Xander:  A black eye heals, Buffy, but cowardice has an unlimited shelf life. Oh, thanks! Thanks a lot for *your* help.
Buffy:  I think I just violated the guy code big time.
Willow:  Poor Xander. Boys are so fragile.

Buffy:  Hey, look, Xander… I’m… really sorry about this morning.
Xander:  Do you mind, Buffy? I’m trying to repress.
Buffy:  Okay, then I promise, from now on I’ll let you get pummeled.
Xander:  Thank you. Okay, y’know, actually I think I could’ve t…
(Buffy is distracted and walks away.)
Xander:  Hello! That was our touching reconciliation moment there!

Buffy doesn’t quite pull off the damsel-in-distress role (can’t imagine what Sarah Michelle Gellar would have been like as Cordelia), but she makes a good effort and really shines in a few places (including her scream when she sees that Angel is a vampire). The uncertainty in her relationship with Angel finally seems to settle as the episode ends – which is the first time that they really seem to be boyfriend and girlfriend.

I love how Xander acts with the kids he takes trick-or-treating:

Xander:  Okay, on sleazing extra candy: tears are key. Tears will normally get you the double-bagger. You can also try the old ‘you missed me’ routine, but it’s risky. Only go there for chocolate. Understood? Okay, troops. Let’s move out.

If the Buffy comics go on long enough, I think it’s going to be fun seeing Xander with kids of his own. I also love Willow and Buffy trying to research Angel’s past:

Willow:  True. It’s too bad we can’t sneak a look at the Watcher diaries and read up on Angel. I’m sure it’s full of fun facts to know and tell.
Buffy:  Yeah. It’s too bad. That stuff is private.
Willow:  Also Giles keeps them in his office. In his personal files.
Buffy:  Most importantly, it would be wrong

I love Giles’ reaction when ghost Willow walks through the wall in the library. Though the episode does have a major goof when Giles and Willow confront Ethan in his shop. Giles tells Willow to leave, and we see her move the curtain as she turns, then we hear her footsteps and the shop door opening and closing as she walks out.


Alphas – Pilot

I watched the pilot of this show based on three things:

1. Its basic premise. Though many are claiming it’s a ripoff of Heroes or X-Men, I never got into either of those so it doesn’t matter to me. I did see similarities to Fantastic Four and the movie Push – but when you have people with superpowers teaming up, it’s hard to find new ground.

2. Camy Tang liked the pilot and recommended it on GetGlue.

3. The show stars Ryan Cartwright (who played Vincent Nigel-Murray on Bones. I miss his British accent, though!).

I enjoyed the pilot. While it didn’t scream at me to watch the next episode, it intrigued me enough that I probably will. The guy in charge of the team (Dr. Rosen) is played by David Strathaim, who reminds me a bit of Dustin Hoffman. Azita Ghanizada has appeared in quite a few of the shows I watch (NCIS: Los Angeles, Castle, Psych, How I Met Your Mother, Veronica Mars, and Bones) and Laura Mennell has an impressive list of speculative appearances. And while I didn’t recognize him, it was fun to find out that Malik Yoba played Yul Brenner on Cool Runnings (18 long years ago).

One of the things I really liked about the pilot was the side effects/drawbacks the powers had. The guy with super-strength can only use it for about 5 minutes. The girl with enhanced senses has to block out her other four while magnifying the one.

The visual effects throughout the episode were fun to watch most of the time. The characters were distinct, and had a good blend of camaraderie and conflict. While the dialogue didn’t strike me as exceptional or witty, it wasn’t bland and there were a few humorous moments that held promise for future episodes.

One of the reasons I’m not anxious for the next episode is that the pilot tells a complete story. In a way I’m glad, as it seems Hulu won’t be getting more episodes for a while and I’m not sure I’ll be trying to find it elsewhere in the meantime (so many shows, so little time). But part of me thinks they missed a great opportunity for a good hook. It fits if every episode is going to be pretty much self-contained, but I would much rather see an overarching story. The ending of Hicks (Warren Christie) joining the team had pretty much been established by promo pics. However, many of my favorite shows have self-contained pilots, so that won’t hold me back from continuing to watch the show.

I just hope they’ll have a bunch of fun guest stars to spice things up.

Added note: I wrote this post before this article was posted, which has details on geeky guest stars (including the awesome Summer Glau) AND discussion on episodes being self-contained. I feel a bit psychic.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Reptile Boy

This is such a fun, classic Buffy episode – laughable monsters, corny moments, plenty of puns, and a solid moral ending:

Buffy:  I told one lie, I had one drink.
Giles:  Yes, and you were very nearly devoured by a giant demon snake. The words ‘let that be a lesson’ are a tad redundant at this juncture.

I love the beginning of the episode where Buffy, Xander, and Willow are trying to decipher the plot of an Indian movie (sans subtitles). That’s one of my favorite parts of the show – the three of them hanging out together.

Xander:  Hmm. And we thought just because we didn’t have any money or anyplace to go this would be a lackluster evening.
Willow:  I know! We could go to the Bronze and sneak in our own tea bags and ask for hot water.
Xander:  Hop off the outlaw train, Will, before you land us all in jail.

This episode’s monster puts a Buffy twist on the typical “secret fraternal society.” Burn Notice’s Coby Bell (Jesse) shows up for a brief minute as a new initiate.

A few things stretched credibility – like how Willow finding the exact right missing girls when other Hellmouth activity would be the cause of many more. But I love how Willow gave both Giles and Angel a talking-to. And how Willow and Xander react to Buffy fibbing:

Buffy:  Well, say it.
Xander:  I’m not gonna say it.
Willow:  You lied to Giles.
Xander:  ‘Cause she will.

For all the epicness of Buffy and Angel’s relationship, they’re not actually together all that much of season two. In this episode, they’re still in that awkward stage of never saying the right thing to each other. Buffy doesn’t want to be just friends any longer, and Angel knows dating will bring complications (though he can’t imagine the twist things will take).

Angel:  This isn’t some fairy tale. When I kiss you, you don’t wake up from a deep sleep and live happily ever after.
Buffy:  No. When you kiss me I wanna die.

And that’s a fitting intro to one of my favorite Buffyverse music videos (though I’m pretty surprised this quote didn’t make it into the video). It’s the first time I’m trying a video embed on this site. Like? Dislike? Let me know in the comments! And yes, there are plenty of spoilers in this video, so skip if you haven’t seen all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel yet.

Supernatural – Wendigo

So I finally got around to the second episode of Supernatural, and I wasn’t all that impressed. I’m still not feeling Dean and Sam as a team, and since so far they’re the only core characters, a lot hinges on the two of them and how they interact.

This episode doesn’t really have anything to distinguish it from any other monster-hunting show. Unwary campers are caught by an unseen creature, our two heroes come in and investigate, putting themselves in danger, and finally are able to defeat the creature and save the day. There’s the pretty girl to impress, and the stubborn guy who doesn’t listen and gets himself killed.

Aside from a decent soundtrack and a pre-Glee appearance of Cory Monteith, there really isn’t much to say about this episode. I’m not giving up on this show yet, since there has to be a reason it has such a cult following. I just hope I won’t have to get through all of season one before that becomes apparent. I’d put this episode on par with Smallville, to which I still haven’t returned.

I think the main thing I’m missing is humor. This show takes itself way too seriously. I think Joss Whedon has spoiled me. And the dialogue seems rather humdrum, too. I found myself wanting the brothers to find their dad just so the show could have a new character who might change dynamics.

The one part I enjoyed about this episode was the startling end to the dream sequence. It gives me a little hope for future episodes.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Inca Mummy Girl

Poor Xander. He always seems to fall for the wrong girls. This time, though, it’s hard to blame him. The mummy had everyone fooled that she was an innocent, sweet exchange student. And except for mummifying people to stay alive, that’s basically what she was.

One of the highlights of this episode for me was the introduction of Oz (Seth Green). I love how he notices Willow in her Eskimo garb, at a moment when she’s doing her best to be happy for Xander even while her heart is breaking. I wonder how the show would have been different if Oz stayed through season 4 and beyond. The episode also has the first appearance of Jonathan, who will affect events into season 7. I’m mostly familiar with Danny Strong as Doyle on Gilmore Girls. Looked up a bit of trivia on him – he tried out for the part of Xander, and also went to college (and was in school stage productions) with the George Hertzberg (Adam in season 4) and J. August Richards (Gunn on Angel).

Other than the introduction of two new characters and a sympathetic villain, there isn’t much remarkable about this episode. Even most of the dialogue seems to lack its usual sparkle, though there’s still a few good bits:

Xander:  What he lacks in smarts he makes up in lack of smarts.
Willow:  You just don’t like him ’cause of that time he beat you up every day for five years.

Buffy:  Oh! I know this one! Slaying entails certain sacrifices, blah, blah, bity blah, I’m so stuffy, give me a scone.

Oh, and since I keep bashing the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, I figured should at least finish it. I’d only made it through a half hour in the past. And now that I’ve seen the whole thing, I can say with authority – it’s awful. The only thing I liked about it was the actor who played Pike.

Psych – Humor and Hijinks

Psych is one of the few shows I began watching during my pre-internet-video days. My siblings found the first season at Target and I’ve been a fan ever since.

The show is chock full of funny moments that range from witty to physical comedy. Gus admirably plays the straight man to Shawn’s outlandish hijinks, and their friendship feels real, which only heightens the hilarity.

I must admit, most of the 80s references go over my head. Though I’m a child of the 80s, I left the decade behind before turning 7, and a sheltered homeschool life hampered my pop culture knowledge further.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen an episode, but that’s simply because of the long wait between seasons (I hope to write about the show more in-depth once it comes back on). Season 6 doesn’t even begin until October, but I recently read a fun article about what viewers can expect.

A Clue episode. I took a while to warm-up to the movie, but I think I’ll love Psych’s version of it, especially if they do bring back Tim Curry (my absolute favorite actor that plays I’m-evil-just-because-it’s-fun villains).

A vampire episode. I really hope they do amazing stuff with this episode. They mentioned a bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer homage, but since they’re bringing in Kristy Swanson, it’s to the movie, not the incredibly superior show. I hope they can at least bring in one or two characters from the show (James Marsters? Pretty please?), and I’m curious which iconic vampires Shawn and Gus will be dressing up as. (Please, no Twilight. Unless you really make fun of it.)

And there’s an Indiana Jones episode. A musical episode. A baseball episode. A looney bin episode. A superhero episode. A cult episode (with Diedrich Bader – will be fun seeing him again since Outsourced isn’t coming back). A new Despereaux episode.

I can’t wait for October!

I was really at a loss for what category to put this show under. I ended up with crime drama, with all the murder and much of the show being set at a police station, but it could have just as easily fit under comedy. What do you think? If enough people think it should be under comedy, I’ll move it!

Bonus: links to two new Psych promos and a music video!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – School Hard

Enter Spike.

This is my fourth time watching this episode in about as many months, and I still enjoyed it immensely. I used this episode to introduce my sister to the show, and still think it’s a great first episode for those people you know won’t watch the whole series. Spoilers abound below!

Up until this episode, the evil vampires have been rather boring, comprised of ritualistic leaders and dumb lackeys (with the possible exception of Darla in the last of her 3 episodes). Angel has been his angsty self. And then along comes Spike, punching vampires, making jokes, and giving Drusilla his jacket. With a fun British accent to boot.

Spike:  I was actually at Woodstock. That was a weird gig. I fed off a flowerperson, and I spent the next six hours watchin’ my hand move.

Angel may be the one who turned vampires into romantic heroes, but Spike made vampires cool.

I think it’s amazing how many of Spike’s numerous and conflicting facets make it into his first episode. His violence. His impatience. His signature attire. His romantic side. His arrogance toward authority. His underlying need to be part of a group (seen mainly in his conversation with Angel – he wants them to be “family” again). His tendency to get knocked to the floor by attacks he doesn’t see coming. His sense of humor. His love of rock music. His charisma.

While most villains tend to have motive and a personality quirk or two, Spike starts out as a fully fledged character who just happens to be a bad guy. It’s no wonder they decided to keep him on the show.

It’s fun looking at Spike and Buffy’s interactions in this episode, knowing what the following seasons will bring. His first words to her are, “Nice work, love.” And right before they fight, Buffy tells him. “No, Spike. It’s gonna hurt a lot.” That makes me think of the episode in season 7 where Spike tells Buffy, “Meaning I have come to redefine the words pain and suffering since I fell in love with you.” Hey, at least she warned him.

Even as an evil vampire, Spike has his good points. He cares for Drusilla. He respects Buffy as a fighter, and even honorably drops his weapon first. He does lure Sheila in and give her to Drusilla to kill, but he also sets up one of the vampires for Buffy to kill. He snaps a teacher’s neck, but also gets rid of Collin. Yes, he had selfish reasons for both, but the demise of the Annoying One should be celebrated by Scoobies and viewers alike.

In addition to Spike (portrayed awesomely by James Marsters), we get Drusilla (Juliet Landau) as another unorthodox vampire. She’s weak, gets visions, and is completely insane.

The main part of the episode is great, too. I didn’t get that the title was in reference to Die Hard until I read it in a review. But Buffy doesn’t spend all that much time crawling in the ceiling and taking out bad guys unexpectedly. The episode focuses on her trying not to disappoint her mother on parent/teacher night and trying to balance school, friendships, a budding relationship, and vampire slaying.

Xander:  As long as nothing really bad happens between now and then, you’ll be fine.
Buffy:  Are you crazy? What did you say that for? Now something bad is gonna happen!
Xander:  Whadaya mean? Nothing’s gonna happen.
Willow:  Not until some dummy says, ‘as long as nothing bad happens.’
Buffy:  It’s the ultimate jinx!
Willow:  What were you thinking? Or were you even thinking at all?

Giles:  This Saturday’s going to need a great deal of preparation.
Willow:  Well, we’ll help.
Xander:  Yeah, I’ll whittle stakes.
Willow:  A-and I can research stuff.
Xander:  And while I’m whittling, I plan to whistle a jaunty tune.

It’s interesting that Cordelia joins them in the library, helping carve stakes – the first time she’s helping when she hasn’t been thrust into the situation by some outside force. Of course, the gang saved her life in both of the previous two episodes, so she kind of owes them. And in this episode, Willow saves her yet again. I love her “in danger” prayer, though:

Cordelia:  And if you get me out of this, I swear I’ll never be mean to anyone ever again. Unless they really deserve it. Or if it’s that time of the month, in which case I don’t think you or anyone else can hold me responsible…

Snyder’s conversation with the police chief hints that there’s more going on here than meets the eye – something that won’t play out until the end of season three.

There are also a bunch of fun little moments throughout the episode. Spike asking if the Slayer is tough – and cut to Buffy saying “ow” while brushing her hair. Xander going through Buffy’s purse looking for a stake. Buffy catching Xander and Cordelia about to swipe veggies. The sugarless lemonade punch.

Willow:  We can’t run, that would be wrong. Could we hide?

What’s your favorite part of this episode?

Bones – The Parts in the Sum of the Whole

Spoilers ahead!

This special 100th episode of Bones provides a fun look back at Booth and Brennan’s first case together, but a sad look forward.

I love how the episode provides a logical reason for telling the story in the first place – Dr. Sweets assuming that the pilot episode’s case was their first, and Booth and Brennan correcting him. Since all the other major characters lived through the story (even Cam, in a different job), he was the only one who needed to hear the full story.

My favorite part of this episode was the origin of many things we accept as a natural part of the Bones universe: Booth wearing crazy ties and socks, Hodgins’ experiments, Angela working for the Jeffersonian, why they have the fancy computer-generated scenarios, Brennan working with bodies that haven’t been dead for centuries, and Booth correcting Brennan’s misuse of colloquialisms.

I didn’t like that the flashback case doesn’t match up with the pilot episode’s description of it. Booth says, “The last case we worked, she provided a description of the murder weapon and the murderer, but I didn’t give her much credence. Because she did it by looking at the victim’s autopsy X-rays.” But I like that this version makes their falling-out more personal. And while Cam’s interaction was minimal enough that Brennan wouldn’t remember her years later, the same can’t be said for Caroline Julian’s.

The ending of the episode is heartbreakingly sad. At first, I couldn’t understand Brennan’s reaction. The final episode of season 4 made it clear she’s in love with Booth. Why on earth would she turn him down, when even her most rational side would conclude they would be happy dating? But her telling Booth she doesn’t have his kind of open heart doesn’t mean she’s not in love with him – it means she’s scared. Scared to risk everything on a relationship that might not work out. What they have now – their working relationship and friendship – means everything to her. That’s why she mentions the FBI not letting them work together, and why there’s vulnerability in her eyes when she asks Booth if they can still work together. The closeness they share as partners is all she will let herself risk. It’s more than she’ll share with anyone else, but she knows it’s not enough for Booth. So she’ll keep loving him as much as she feels she can while they work together, and leave him free to find someone who will love him back in a way she believes she never can (though I’m fairly certain she’s wrong about that – she has grown a lot over the past years, and I believe that will continue until she’s able to love Booth back fully).

Wow, I didn’t intend to go all Dr. Sweets on the ending. But that’s far better than me hating the ending because I didn’t understand Brennan’s motivations.

Have you seen this episode? What do you think of it?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – When She Was Bad and Some Assembly Required

“When She Was Bad”

Season two starts off with an episode of Buffy being very un-Buffy-like, so much so that Cordelia gives her a talking to. The first time I watched it, I really got sick of Buffy’s ‘tude, but watching it now knowing she’ll get over herself, I was surprised how much I loved this episode!

It has the first Xander/Willow sparks, a glimpse of Hank Summers’ real personality to erase lingering hatred from the “Nightmares” episode, and brings Cordelia and Angel further into the group. Even the vampire scenes are less annoying than any other pre-Spike ones. And the dialogue is immensely quotable:

Willow:  That’s what it was! I mean, why else would she be acting like such a b-i-t-c-h?
Giles:  Willow, I think we’re all a little too old to be spelling things out.
Xander:  A bitca?

Snyder:  There’re some things I can just smell. It’s like a sixth sense.
Giles:  No, actually that would be one of the five.

Buffy:  ‘Come to the Bronze before it opens, or we make her a meal.’
Xander:  They’re gonna cook her dinner? (pause) I’ll pretend I didn’t say that.

Buffy:  Because I don’t trust you. You’re a vampire. Oh, I’m sorry, was that an offensive term? Should I say ‘undead American’?

Xander:  Well, we could grind our enemies into talcum powder with a sledgehammer, but, gosh, we did that last night.


“Some Assembly Required”

Another great episode, with some foreshadowing of villains from seasons 4 and 6 (building a creature from parts and misguided geeks). Love-struck Giles has his first date with Jenny, hampered a bit by Xander and Willow, and of course, a bit of mayhem. Xander saves Cordelia’s life but ignores her gratefulness. Angel’s fighting skills don’t come into play as a lucky shovel strike sends him sprawling (stuff like that happens to Spike a lot in later seasons – I guess the writers don’t want them upstaging Buffy), and the jacket he wears throughout the episode doesn’t really fit his character.

Chris reminds me a bit of Oz (Willow even seems to like him a little), and is one of the show’s first “reluctant villains.” Even though his motivations are painted a bit broadly, it’s nice to have a change from “pure evil just for the fun of it.”

And this episode, like so many others, has great quotes:

Buffy:  You also might wanna avoid words like ‘amenable’ and ‘indecorous’, y’know. Speak English, not whatever they speak in, um…
Giles:  England?

Xander:  Simple deduction. Ms. Calendar is reasonably dollsome, especially for someone in your age bracket. She already knows that you’re a school librarian, so you don’t have to worry about how to break that embarrassing news to her.
Buffy:  And she’s the only woman we’ve actually ever seen speak to you. Add it all up and it all spells ‘duh’.

Cordelia:  Hi. Sorry to interrupt your little undead playgroup.

Cordelia:  Hello! Can we deal with my pain, please?
Giles:  There, there. (pats her shoulder)

Xander:  Y’know, this might go a lot faster if you femmes actually picked up a shovel, too.
Giles:  Here, here.
Buffy:  Sorry, but I’m an old-fashioned gal. I was raised to believe that men dig up the corpses and the women have the babies.

Xander:  And speaking of love…
Willow:  We were talking about the re-animation of dead tissue.
Xander:  Do I deconstruct your segues?

Giles:  Uh, Ms. Calendar?
Jenny:  Oh, no, please call me Jenny. Ms. Calendar’s my father.

Giles:  I just think it’s rather odd that a nation that prides itself on its virility should feel compelled to strap on forty pounds of protective gear just in order to play rugby.
Jenny:  Is this your normal strategy for a first date? Dissing my country’s national pastime?
Giles:  Did you just say ‘date’?
Jenny:  You noticed that, huh?

Xander:  Well, I guess that makes it official. Everybody’s paired off. Vampires get dates. Hell, even the school librarian sees more action than me. You ever think that the world is a giant game of musical chairs, and the music’s stopped and we’re the only ones who don’t have a chair?
Willow:  All the time.

Leverage – Modern Robin Hoods

This show arrived at the perfect time. I was looking for something new to watch in December 2008, and most shows were on hiatus. While other networks filled the month with repeats and Christmas specials, TNT made the bold move of debuting Leverage.

The pilot, “The Nigerian Job,” sets up the premise for the show (spoilers for the episode follow). Nathan Ford, a former insurance investigator whose life is in shambles, is hired to oversee three crooks while they retrieve stolen property. Alec Hardison (a gifted hacker), Eliot Spencer (an expert fighter), and Parker (a master thief) have one MO – they always work alone. But since the money’s good, they agree to do this one job. Nate is able to combine their skills and keep them on track to complete the mission.

When the man who hired them double-crosses them, they decide to work together and take him down. To do so, they’ll need a fresh face, so Nate brings in Sophie Devereaux, a grifter he pursued as an investigator for years. They manage to take down the bad guy, and even though the payoff is huge none of them want to retire. They work exceptionally well as a team, so the four crooks ask Nate to lead them.

Sophie: You pick the jobs.
Nate: My job is helping people. I help find bad guys.
Sophie: Then go find some bad guys. Bad guys have money.

The rest is history.

What really makes this show work is the chemistry between the team members. Despite all their differences, they work so well together that I was rooting for them to stay together from the start. The show doesn’t sugarcoat the rough patches as the criminals begin to focus on helping people instead the money and Nate grows more comfortable with coloring outside the lines. All of them are dysfunctional in some way (except possibly for Hardison, who seems to be the most normal of the bunch) and they all have secrets. They bicker and fight but always come through for each other.

The only main cast member I was familiar with was Christian Kane (Eliot), who played Lindsey McDonald on Angel (I’d watched the first season that fall), but I don’t remember that as being something that pushed me toward watching Leverage. I read something online about it, thought it sounded intriguing, and watched the pilot. From then on, I was hooked. I even bought the first season through Amazon Video on Demand so I could share the show with my family.

If you like con artist/caper movies like Ocean’s 11 and The Italian Job, you’ll love this show. While it’s a little more altruistic than, say, Burn Notice, the sentimental moments don’t overpower the smart dialogue and fun cons.

What is one of your favorite cons from this show (or another caper show/movie)?

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