liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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Buffy-Verse Guilty Pleasures, Part 1

Spent most of the day out and clearing the head.

Then came home and felt like some televised comfort food.

Unfortuantely, Netflix (fie on them, fie I say!) failed to send me Disc 5 of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and instead sent me Disc 6. I cannot watch this series out of order, thankyew.

Good thing I had the Buffy Chosen Collection to fall back on, hunh?

So, I decided to indulge in some "guilty pleasure" episodes — you know the ones. The episodes everyone seems to hate, but you with your terrible taste absolutely love?

Instead of going the easy route and viewing the guilty pleasures from S1 through S3, I decided to make a little bit of a challenge for myself.

Guilty pleasures from S4 through S7.

I still love 'em. And know what? I realized a few things.

The pre-S5 fight scenes totally rocked and kick the asses of all the fight scenes in S6 and S7 put together. The S5 fight scenes were okay, but nothing compared to the season before. The lighting in S4 and S5 actually looked like professionals did the job, instead of the interns at the rent-o-stage hands housed on the UPN lot. The film editing on the pre-S6 episodes was done on a real Avid by professional editors, instead of a college student using iMovie. It was possible for the Scoobs to have scenes with each other that didn't focus on Buffy. ME did a charisma-ectomy on the entire cast in the summer between S5 and S6. Oh, and ME sucked out all of the talent from the entire cast while they were at it.

Also: I would've totally watched a show with just the Scoobs and minus Buffy. All of Buffy's past, current, and future boyfriends had better chemistry with everyone than Buffy. It's a crime the Spike-and-Xander show never successfully spun off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I liked Riley. Anya and Xander really were doomed from the start. I remembered that I was totally an Anya/Spike 'shipper during S4. I liked Dawn in S5 when I thought she'd be the one to die at the end of the season so the Scoobs could get their memories back. S4 may have had a sucky arc, but it had awesome MotW episodes.

Oh, and my retroactive dislike for Willow is much stronger than I thought. She eclipses Spike now. Astounding.

S4: Beer Bad

So much hate for this episode, which I never got. I mean, c'mon. It's college and beer flows like water during that first year. I didn't see any After School Special here (unless we're talking a subversion of the genre). I basically saw a reflection of college student life, the early years.

I have so much flipping love for this episode. Buffy's bewilderment over being used like a tissue and her increasingly elaborate daydreams. Minimal Willow. Xander-and-Giles bickering. Cave Buffy! Parker getting bonked. Xander desperately trying to be somehow part of Buffy's and Willow's lives and bragging he found a way by getting a job as a bartender, even though he doesn't know the first thing about mixing drinks, nor was he legal to serve drinks.

Also awesome: The owner of the bar has a magic user brother-in-law. It makes you wonder something. How many people in Sunnydale actually knew the truth, but deliberately turned a blind eye because they were somehow profiting off of it either directly or indirectly through "family connections?" It's an intriguing (and somewhat dark) notion, isn't it? How many of these people would turn on Buffy and the Scoobs if they knew what they got up to at night?

Oh, if only, if only, if only the show teased out this idea instead of foisting the trio off on us during S6.

I have to admit that it's not the funny that makes it for me. It's the scene where it's Xander's first night on the job and he's flirting with the sorority sisters and one of the fraternity brothers butts in and "puts Xander in his place." The acting from everyone in that scene is pitch-perfect, despite the anivilly dialogue.

Ahhhh, for the days when BtVS put some care into casting the one-shot characters, hunh? Actors who can actually, y'know, act.

Frat boy sounds like quite a few upper-class twits I went to college with. The sorority sister looks mostly uncomfortable and little disgusted with frat boy. She stops flirting with Xander, but she doesn't even talk to frat boy after he puts on his little show. Meanwhile, NB, without saying a blessed word, manages to somehow shrink right in front of your eyes without even slouching. His attempt at asserting his blue-collar authority at the end of the scene is impotant even before he's undercut by his boss. Of course we later learn that the boss does this so he can exact his revenge on his college patrons. Then he makes the mistake of thinking that Xander would be perfectly okay with this.

Like I said: What if more people knew what the Scoobs got up to after dark, hunh? I think more than a few of the locals would get their backs up about it.

Adored the Giles-Xander bickering. I always called Giles treating Xander like an equal in S5. I may have to revise that to S4. 'Cause there's the two of them verbally sparring with one another on an equal basis. I cannot imagine the Giles of S1 through S3 putting up with this. I can't imagine Xander of S1 through S3 continuing to argue with Giles after Giles had snapped at him (in this case for serving Buffy any beer at all).

I'm not sure what they cut out of this episode for syndication. I think they trimmed a few of the Willow scenes in the Bronze with Oz, and a little bit with Willow and Parker, and I'm pretty sure they cut most of Verucca's song.

And now...the episode plot hole.

The Black Forrest beer that was spiked by the caveman drug. I got the impression that it was a popular beer. Yet only Buffy and the four frats were affected? Shouldn't there be more than just these five running around all caveman-like?

And remember kids! What did we learn about beer from this episode? "Foamy!"


S4: Pangs

My major problem with this episode is that it's very obviously written by a bunch of people suffering from white guilt. Look, I'm all for doing something about the piss-poor way the First Nations in the U.S. get treated, doing something about prejudice against First Nations people, and helping to improve the lot of people living on tribal lands. But, honestly, I felt like I got beaned by an anvil in this episode. I get it. We bad (and not the good kind of bad). But I'm with Buffy here. I ain't giving up the turkey without a fight to the death. And if you think anyone in New England is going to give up Columbus Day Weekend (aka — regional holiday where we fleece the non-New England autumn leaf peepers of all their cash), you better think again.

Everyone is comedically pitch-perfect in this one, from Harmony and Angel all the way up to Buffy herself. Poor Riley gets stuck being the straight man to everyone in his too-brief appearance.

I honestly don't know why Buffy comes in for so much shit from fans in this episode. As soon as she finds out that Xander's sick from just about every disease mythical Shumash tribe died off from, she's immediately on board with killing their vengeance spirit. Giles and Willow are the research people, so for heaven's sake, let the woman worry about Thanksgiving dinner while her two smartest Scoobs research the threat. She didn't say she wouldn't kill it, it's just that her role comes in after the braniacs tell her how to kill it. They didn't know how to kill it yet, so what is she supposed to do? Wander around Sunnydale blindly with a stake? She tried that and got whammied into being frozen in place while the bad guy escaped. She already knew that tactic wasn't going to work, so why is she going to do it again?

Ahhhh, S4 Buffy. You were so needed in S7. Granted, S3 Buffy would've been better, but you'd do if S3 Buffy was too busy to stage a coup.

The one who I ended up glaring daggers at was Willow. Yo! Miss conscience! Your supposed "best friend" is dying from multiple diseases. Keep the vengeance spirit alive, and he dies. And there you are arguing against killing it non-stop. You don't get on board with the killing until you were attacked. I really want to smack you silly for this one.

Love the running joke about Angel being evil again. While I thought SMG and DB had okay chemistry, I always thought he bounced better off ASH, NB, and AH when he had scenes with them. This just reinforces my personal bias on that front.

The bittersweet Anya-and-Xander-is-doomed certainty rears its head. Anya is funny and sweet and I'm totally charmed by EC's acting. Storm clouds are already present when Xander blurts out that vengeance demons should be killed and Anya takes serious exception while Xander attempts the, "But you're an exception, honey."

Ahhh, hypocrisy, thy name is Xander. Just wait until S7. This "everyone except Anya" deal is so going to bite you in the ass.

Also, guys? Maybe you really need to rethink going ahead with this relationship because, seriously, I see some disconnect here.

I've also changed my mind on "You made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!" It really is a hilarious line in context. It was nice to be reminded why Spike was once my number 2 favorite character. I can understand some people's frustrations with Wacky!Neighbor!Spike!, but honestly? I love honestly evil Spike. Does this make me an evilista?

The casting department screwed up here. The actor playing the Shumash vengeance demon really kind of sucked. It's no wonder the majority of cuts involved his dialogue. Also, I think they trimmed some of that hilarious bike ride to the rescue.

Another thing to note: The make-up department did a pretty shitty job covering up NB's cross tattoo. You could see it bleeding through in some shots.

And the plot hole!

I have two for you in this episode.

1) Angel gets a warning from Doyle to go save Buffy, right? Can someone explain why? Did they ever explain why? Angel doesn't have enough issues to deal with L.A.? Other than the fact that the network wanted a quickie crossover.

2) So, we establish early on that Xander is so sick he can barely stand. NB's make-up early in the episode makes the character look like he's hovering on death's door. Then, *poof,* he's not only well enough to run over to the dean's house, he's well enough to snark at Angel, ride a bike back to Giles's apartment at a faster clip than either Willow or Anya and hold his own in a fist fight with two super-strong vengeance spirits. Then, he has the presence of mind to distract the main Shumash vengeance spirit while he's in bear form so Buffy can kill it. Hunh? Am I the only thinking that this does not compute at all?

So, what have we learned from this episode? Pie is good.

More tomorrow because it's mega late.

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