Category Archives: TV

Goodbye 2017

Let’s start with


Unfortunately, I finished not a single one of the 10 600+ page books I had as my original goal, as I found it difficult to get into long books during school (especially while completing my thesis), and harder to lug them around on the subway after I started working. My new goal was to read 42 (because, why not?), and I’m happy to say that I managed 43. Hurrah.

This was a great year for books. Nine 5-star reviews (more than I’ve given in any other year), a few old favourites, several new favourite books and authors, three total duds, and plenty of amazing, memorable reads that I’m sure I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come (notably: Shrill, NOS4A2, What Happened, Moneyball, Big Little Lies, Being Mortal, The Female of the Species, and The Hate U Give).

For fun, I took note of the amount of ebook/hard copy books (19/24), female/male authors (23/20), and fiction/non-fiction genres (18/25) I read this year, and was unhappy with the ratio of the latter. Goal for next year: read more fiction. Also, I think for next year I’m going to try to read only books I’m currently reading, and not start any new ones until those are done. I’m “in the middle” of more than 60, according to Goodreads, and that’s just nonsense.


The Last Jedi, Thor: Ragnarok, Three Billboards, The Big Sick, Lion, Moonlight, Lego Batman, What We Do in the Shadows, When Harry Met Sally = the good
Sister Act, Kingsman 2, Ant-Man, Big, Hocus Pocus = the mediocre
Halloween Town = the ugly


The Good Place, Big Mouth, Stranger Things, Jane the Virgin, Fargo = the good
The Crown, This Is Us, 70000th re-watch of Friends (including s6-10) = the mediocre
The Gifted, Murdoch Mysteries = the ugly


Ugh, where to begin. I’m not going to go into politics and current events. We all know it’s been an utterly exhausting, infuriating, emotionally draining shit show. Much of my personal year was along similar lines – depths of depression I haven’t had to reckon with since 2010, changes in meds, school issues, personal drama, endless job interviews leading nowhere, money troubles, York, the TTC, fucking SHINGLES. Around June or July, I was reading some old WordPress articles for some reason (some actual reason, I just can’t remember what it was) when I came across my post on my decision to run a marathon for my 100 Things To Do In 1000 Days project back in 2013. I read this:

Right now, I have had no luck finding a job. I find myself in the default setting of the modern 20-somethings these days: drifting. I’m living at home again. I’m not ready to go back to school, but I’m not ready to settle into a career. I’m over-qualified for the work I want to do right now, and under-qualified for the jobs that everybody thinks I should have. I’m trying to save money for the next step, but in which direction is that step going to be?

You know. The usual.

I’m really good with big ideas. I’m really bad with figuring out how to make them happen before spiraling into an overwhelmed basket-case of depression and self-utter-loathing. “How dare you set yet another goal for yourself and not achieve it? God, you’re utterly useless.” I want to be a marine biologist, or a travel writer, or a photographer, or a genetic counselor. Or all of those things. I want to be finished my B.Sc. I want to finish writing my book. I want to start that travel website. This isn’t a new thing. Sometimes my life feels like a trail of half-finished or discarded projects. […] I’m just filled with the best of intentions.

I’ve always wanted to be doing big things, great things. I tested high in IQ, and I thought that meant I’d be finished grad school by now. Instead, I can’t even get hired by McDonald’s. I don’t apply for awesome internships or challenging workplaces because I cannot see myself succeeding in them. All I see is myself letting everybody down. I see in my future an under-realised life. I’ll work temp jobs for a while, I’ll be the crazy aunt in scarves, I’ll end up getting a small apartment and dying alone with my dogs, probably in a bit of debt. It will have been a reasonably happy, mostly mediocre life. My family and friends will be sad, and in 5 years, it will be like I was never on Earth.

My god, you guys. I fucking BAWLED. “Four years later and it’s all exactly the same.  I didn’t even run a full marathon. Nothing has changed.  I’ve done nothing. I’m a loser. McDONALD’S STILL WON’T HIRE ME EVERYTHING SUCKS AND HAS ALWAYS SUCKED AND WILL SUCK FOREVER MORE.”

It’s not like everything changed all at once. This was pre-shingles, after all. But after deciding to end my schooling, at least for the time being, in August, things started looking up. I got a job, a job that pays money, a real, adult job, with benefits. Starting paying down some loans. Read a lot. Remembered I had friends and indulged my social life. Looking at that old post today, at the end of December, there are some things I’d like to celebrate.

Yeah, I still live at home, and I don’t have my B.Sc. I haven’t gone anywhere in 2 years and have no current plans to, no matter how desperately the travel bug itches. I’ve put on some weight, and I still kind of suck at remembering to talk to people.

But look here, you. (me.) You haven’t done nothing. Since that post, you got a TESOL certificate and taught English in Korea. You also went to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Japan (twice), Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao, San Francisco, Hawaii, and New York. You climbed mount Fuji, ran a half-marathon, went bungee jumping, made hundreds of new friends, all over the world. Since 2013, you’ve read 142 books. This year, I wrote a thesis, got a job in a journalism-related field (who’d have thunk?), finally got my driver’s license, and had a lot of good days (I’d like to remember the ax-throwing, cider-tasting, 30th birthday surprise, Sister Act musical, Jurassic Park in Concert, and the Torgo-tastic uncut Manos, in particular). What more can you really ask for?

I’m so grateful for my friends and family, who dragged me through the bad days and helped me make the most of the good ones. Good bye 2017, you mixed bag of fury, despondency, joy, love, life. Looking forward to making your acquaintance, 2018. May you be heavier on the latter than the former.


100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/71: Watch all of Blackadder. Black Adder. BlackAdder? Whatever.

BlackAdder_UltimateEdMy last few posts have been rather long, and I still have a memo on sleep and dreams in British literature to write, so today, it’s time for another Half-Assed Review from a Lazy Person!

Series 1 (The Black Adder):

  • Ep 1 – The dead king ghost is vaguely amusing, as are some of the elaborate insults, but otherwise – bah.
  • Speaking of bah, the baaaa made me laugh out loud. So that’s one.
  • Ep 2 – meh.
  • Ep 3 – I laughed! parts were fully enjoyable! Progress!
  • Ep 4 – also okay!
  • Ep 5 – I did NOT like this one (witch smeller was a pain in the ass)
  • Ep 6 – this one was alright; I liked the closing theme; also the ending to Cougarton Abbey makes sense now.
  • That was really…underwhelming. But the theme song is the ear-wormiest thing I have ever heard. I go humming it around the house, at dinner time, at parties.

I bought the complete series on DVD, and after watching the first series, I was beginning to regret my investment. But certain friends talked me into giving the rest of the show a chance, and I’m glad I did.

Series 2 (Blackadder II):

  • Ah, we’re off to a much better start. I actively enjoyed the first episode (except for Lord Flashheart, who can bite me, and not in the way he’d want to), and have already laughed out loud twice at second. Way to go for meeting the bare minimum of comedy, Black Adder!
  • I pity the loss of smart Baldrick, but smart Blackadder is plenty entertaining (and…kind of weirdly attractive).
  • New lyrics every episode?? Excellent.
  • Also, the queen character is weird as hell, but…you know how when sometimes things annoy you for no reason you can name, you say they “rub you the wrong way”? Well, she rubs me the right way.
  • The last episode of s2 was best so far. Am I biased because Hugh Laurie had a major role? Only perhaps.
  • As for the special features: the commentaries are decent but unremarkable.

Series 3 (Blackadder the Third):

  • Wait, Hugh Laurie’s in ALL of s3? Excellent. This is now my favourite season.
  • The music isn’t as good as the first two, though.
  • Also s3 has more clunkers than s2. Really didn’t like Nob and Nobility (even if it was nice to see Percy again) and…um, one of the others. Can’t remember which.
  • Amy and Amiability was good, though. Also liked Duel and Duality. Although it didn’t end with Blackadder and everyone else dying, so I’m not sure it was the right episode.
  • Overall, I think I’d rate it about the same as s2; more uneven on the one hand, but regular dosage of Hugh Laurie on the other.
  • Commentaries are better in s3 as well.

Series 4 (Blackadder Goes Forth):

  • He’s in all of s4 as well??? I AM OVERWHELMED WITH RICHES!
  • Ah yes, series title. I see what you did there.
  • I think part of the reason I like Tim McInnerny so much is because he reminds me of Michael Palin. I’m glad he’s back full-time.
  • Enjoying s4 best (British M*A*S*H* is the obvious comparison…except that I’ve never seen M*A*S*H*. I know, I know) but I miss the credits of s2. I think I’m mentioning that I miss them now just because it’s been two whole seasons without them, instead of just one, and I’m really feeling the loss.
  • There’s a bit of Bertie (Wooster) in both of Laurie’s main characters, and a bit of Jeeves in Atkinson’s Blackadder the Third butler. And references to the name Bertie. But imdb tells me that Blackadder came first, so I guess it’s just coincidence.
  • Yes, this one is definitely my favourite, and one I can see watching over and over again.
  • Commentaries are also quite enjoyable.

The Specials:

  • As nice as it always is to see Stephen Fry, the Cavalier Years felt like a bit of a waste of time.
  • Christmas Carol was decent, though.
  • I know I’m in the minority, but I really did enjoy Back and Forth. Like, a lot.
  • Might as well say it here: Before Blackadder, I’d known Rowan Atkinson from Mr. Bean during vaccination days at school, and Rat Race. So his ability to speak in complete sentences was surprise enough, but to see how funny he can be as straight man? Damn my North American ignorance!

EMBARRASSING CRAZY SIDE NOTE: As if I needed it, I have been well and thoroughly reminded of how much I love Hugh Laurie, how amazing and talented and funny and tall and blue-eyed he is, and how much everyone else in the commentaries and interviews thinks so too. And how adorable his relationship with Stephen Fry is. So now my obsessive little fangirl heart has been reignited and validated. So thanks for that.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/75: Watch all of Spaced.

DIMNote: This series has inspired, and hired, a LOT of awesome artists, so do yourself a favour and run a quick Google search to see some amazing stuff. Seriously, Spaced is like the giving tree of cartoon porn (eyeball porn, I mean, not genital porn, although you could probably find some of that, too).

I shall begin with the traditional:

Ok. So.

I’ve liked Simon Pegg since 2006. I know this, because it was in the fall of my first semester at university that I was introduced to a little show called Doctor Who by a woman in my philosophy class with exquisite taste in TV (thanks to her also for Firefly, Stargate, and MST3K. Seriously, I owe her my sanity. Or lack thereof. It doesn’t matter. Moving on.) And in the seventh episode (The Long Game) of this strange new series, a man with bleached blonde hair played a character called “the editor” in an otherwise not-very-remarkable episode. I had never seen him before, but he made such an impression on me in that small role, that I immediately went out and watched everything of his I could get my hands on. Which wasn’t all that much, to be honest. But still. I watched Run, Fatboy, Run for you, Simon! And as the years went on, I’ve never forgotten my love for Simon Pegg, and his turn as Tim in Spaced is just as memorable, if a bit more endearing. Then I found out that he held a bit of twine for the Bloggess, and, well…perfection.

Anyway, about Spaced.

Two series in two days! Helps that they’re only 7 episodes each.

It took a while to grow on me, I’ll admit. I was a good half way through season 1 and still writing notes to myself like, “Well, I still love Simon Pegg. But Daisy is annoying me, and other than FEAR PAIN AGGRESSION, I literally did not laugh once until episode 4. Let’s see where this goes.”

Well, Daisy got a lot less annoying with the addition of her dog, and the last few episodes of the first season were quite good. And mid-way through season 2, I found myself writing, “Aw, Daisy’s the best.” Well, that was a turnaround. I don’t know if it was that I was getting familiar with the characters and sense of humour, or whether the show legitimately became about 200% better in season 2, but I’m a full-on fan now. Now, it’s not even in the same league as Black Books, which I still can’t even think about without cackling like a loon (STRIPPING THE CHICKEN!), but when I realized I was on the last episode, I was genuinely sad. I like these characters, and I want to spend more time with them. I can’t wait to watch all the special features on my DVD.

So yes. Yes, I think season 2 was better than season 1, and I think Tim and Daisy are adorable together. I’m sorry for being such a plebeian North American. And you’re all invited to bite me.

Favourite episodes:

  • Chaos
  • Ends
  • Help (The only time I found the clubber remotely bearable.)
  • Gone
  • Leaves (The last episode was excellent. Lovely and *spectacular* and low-key. And I have such a soft spot for dogs, so thank god they (er, spoiler?) never killed Colin.)

Least favourite episodes:

  • The first three only had moments, but maybe I’ll like them better on rewatch
  • Dissolution (I couldn’t really deal with Dissolution’s end, because Martha was too sad, and that gorgeous and thoughtful cake was too wasted, but the stuff surrounding it was good.)

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/69: Watch Slings and Arrows.

My favourite of all the new TV shows I’ve watched for this project. God, I’ve enjoyed this show.

slings and arrows

The writing is great and the acting is great, and best of all, it’s fucking hilarious and sweet. And it’s Canada, so they’re allowed to swear.

And talk about fellatio.

This amazed me, until I realised that it had broadcast on what is, essentially, the Canadian version of HBO.

At any rate, let’s get to the reviewing.

One of the things that struck me most in the first season, there’s almost no music. When the great revelation comes and this time the actors are REALLY acting (it’s a show about theatre), you can tell because they’re doing a damn good job; they don’t need to rely on music and staging. And the actors in this show are pretty much uniformly amazing – everyone is at the top of their game.

The first episode was a bit boring, but I had a good enough time that I could see why people recommended it. And mid-way through the second episode (I won’t spoil anything, but it was due to the appearance of a green cooler), I realized I wasn’t going to get to sleep that night.

Season 2 I was willing to give a pass for the use of music because they were making a point theatrically with Macbeth.

Season 3 was probably my least favourite, but I loved the ending. Part of what I loved about season 1 was the lack of music or people telling you what to feel. It seemed that each season they trusted the audience less and less. There’s a moment while watching the climactic scene when Geoffery and Oliver discuss how heartbreaking a performance is. We know, and if we don’t, it’s because it’s not heartbreaking enough. There were some other small things – they were a bit hard (though hilarious) on musicals, and the seasonal patterns were becoming a bit obvious by this time (something keeps Geoffrey and Ellen apart, Richard follows people stupidly, and there’s a romance between a male and a female pair of the younger actors, etc). But I really did love it all, and season 3 is not as good as seasons 1 and 2 in the same way that a billion dollars is not as good as a billion and one dollars.

There are only 6 episodes per season, and each season is about putting on a different Shakespearean play, and they’re just so tightly plotted and paced that each season is impossible to stop. Thankfully, the END of the season IS a decent stopping point. And because there are so few episodes, and because the writers knew what they were doing from the beginning, it has that all-important thing in a Donna-approved show: spectacular continuity.

Did I mention this show is Canadian? I’m so proud of us.

In an excellent piece of timing, I found out my second day of a four day binge show-watching that the AV Club is doing write ups of the series every Wednesday. In the fourth episode, there is a great discussion in the comments about Ellen’s character. AV Club comments are usually quite funny, but I’m especially enjoying the Darren Nicholls quotes that keep popping up, and how much everyone loves Anna. Because she is amazing (Anna/Priest Guy for life!). So if you’re interested (and, if you like TV, then YOU SHOULD BE), take a look.

And now, the Quote Section:

Cyril[singing] Cheer up, Hamlet; chin up, Hamlet; buck up, you melancholy Dane! So your uncle is a cad who murdered Dad and married Mum. That’s really no excuse to be as glum as you’ve become! So wise up, Hamlet; rise up, Hamlet; perk up and sing a new refrain. Your incessant monologizing fills the castle with ennui. Your antic disposition is embarrassing to see. And by the way, you sulky brat, the answer is to be! You’re driving poor Ophelia insane. So shut up, you rogue and peasant; grow up, it’s most unpleasant; cheer up, you melancholy Dane!

Cheryl: He’s not crazy.
Geoffrey: Not anymore.
Owner: You attacked me with a knife!
Geoffrey: Oh, that was a prop.

Richard Smith-Jones: Anna, I can’t comfort you. I’m on hold.

Darren Nichols: I am Darren Nichols. Deal with THAT.

Richard Smith-Jones: Darren, everybody cries when they get stabbed. There’s no shame in that.

Geoffrey Tennant: I would’ve cut my throat, but you’re not allowed to do that in front of subscribers.

Guard: Are you a suicide risk?
Geoffrey Tennant: Isn’t everybody?

Richard Smith-Jones: Darren, let me take you to breakfast and we can discuss the incident.
Darren Nichols: You make it sound like an ill-timed fart. I was stabbed!

Cyril[singing] Call me superstitious or cowardly or weak, but I’ll never play a character whose name one dare not speak. I’ll play Hamlet in doublet and hose or either of the Dromios but, sorry, I won’t play Mackers. I’ll play Richard the Third with a hump and wig, or Henry the Eighth (that selfish pig) but, sorry, I don’t do Mackers. Every soul who plays this role risks injury or death, I’d rather sweep the bloody stage than ever do Mac-you-know-who. So gimme King Lear, Cleopatra, Romeo, Juliet, doesn’t mattra – I’ll play them all for free. But I’d be crackers to take on Mackers. You see, I’m skittish about the Scottish tragedy. (Och, aye.)

Richard: So Nadine’s neck is broken? Is that what you’re saying?
Anna Conroy: Yes!
Richard: We’ll have to find a replacement.
Anna: Yes! And her neck is broken! Which is much worse than having to find a replacement director!
Richard: Yes! I’m not being insensitive, Anna! I’m just thinking ahead, OK? Let’s send her some flowers, alright? A basket – big. Let’s pray she doesn’t sue.
Anna: Of course, because that would be truly horrible.
Richard: What? I’m not heartless! I’m just… I’m detail-oriented.

Geoffrey: Which would you prefer: an empty house with a great play, or a full house with a piece of garbage?

Cyril[singing] When life takes its toll, when fate treats you bad, you used to be king, but now you’ve been had, alone with your Fool, you think you’ll go mad— it’s nice to take a walk in the rain! A stomp through a storm is what I’d advise, when people you trust tell nothing but lies; and kidnap your friend and gouge out his eyes—it’s nice to take a walk in the rain! Your older daughters are evil plotters; a pitter-patter shower will keep you sane. When all has been said and all have been slain, it’s good to take a walk in the rain, for several hours. Helps to have a howl in the rain, without your clothes on. Nice to take a walk in the rain.

Darren Nichols: I must say, I’ve fallen in love with the musical genre. It’s the art-form of the common man. If you want to communicate something with the proletariat, cover it in sequins and make it sing. It’s noisy, vulgar and utterly meaningless—I love it!

Geoffrey Tennant: I have a responsibility to the entire company, to the festival. This is about theatre ethics.
Oliver Welles: Theatre ethics? That’s like saying “whorehouse morals.”

Ellen: This isn’t a sitcom.
Geoffery: Oh well yes actually, it is. I have a broken wang and there is a lizard queen living downstairs.

Oh this is no good, now all I want to do is watch it again…

Note: Special thanks to Patrick for helping me get this post together in time for my deadline. My stupid, poorly timed, self-imposed deadline.
Also note: this series takes the place of Ashes to Ashes on my List, because I was having some trouble finding it for my viewing pleasure. And because I S&A was on Netflix and amazing, and I am lazy.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/72 Cont’d: Watch all of Buffy. And Angel.

AngelIntro(Buffy review available here.)

For completeness’s sake, I started watching Angel in conjunction with s4 using this as a watching guide. Again, spoilers ahead.

I had no interest in the show before because Angel bores (or, I guess I should say “bored”) me, and I’m generally pretty skeptical of spin-offs (this is what kept me from watching Futurama for ages, though, so shows what I know). On the other hand: Cordelia – I didn’t even realise she was in it until a friend convinced me the show was worth watching. Which was a bit of work. “Why bother watching Angel? He’s SO boring, I hate Wesley, and surely Cordelia can’t carry a show,” I said. But Wesley got good, Cordelia got great (seriously, I love her so much), and Boreanez got funny, so – problems solved.

Before I get to the seasonal review, there are a couple of things I want to get out of the way.

One: Angel on Netflix is WEIRD. The sound mixing is bizarre – it goes way too quiet and then way too loud in the same scene, and the music is always blaring. Plus, for about half of the first season episodes, a black screen where commercials should be went on for about 10 full seconds. So not the best viewing experience.

Two: Joss Whedon. Man, I have such mixed feelings about Whedon. Almost as though he’s an actual human being with faults, instead of the idol I prefer to pretend my celebrity objects of affection and admiration are. I often feel like I’m watching a different show than the one he thinks he’s putting on. Like, you can’t keep re-writing people’s characters and motivations (not to mention the rules of your supernatural universe and the actual history of your show), and expect people to roll with it. Or maybe you can, but you SHOULDN’T. His shows are like Jessica Chastain’s fashion choices. So close. And yet…

Seasonal Review

The first episode was surprisingly funny, if a bit slow, so I was, if not hooked, then at least vaguely intrigued right from the beginning. Here are the notes I had about season one:

  • I’m getting a bit tired of characters telling me how hot Angel is. He’s no Giles.
  • Is every episode of Angel about some poor, down-on-her-luck, abused blonde woman being taken advantage of by a guy?

Answer: by Hero, no. But until then (and a good deal after), good freaking grief.

Seasons two and three had my favourite Cordelia – recognizable as herself from Buffy, but with the more thoughtful, caring traits highlighted. There was a great moment on Buffy where she mentioned that she ran away from some fight or another, only to realise later that no one was chasing her. It was a surprisingly introspective moment, but one that (as well as some tough love advice for Buffy and friends, her entire relationship with Xander, and her intelligence) makes her transformation on Angel entirely believable (to me, anyway).

You can count me as one of the people who are not a big fan of s4 (as Skip would say, I didn’t love it). Part of it was the lack of Cordelia, part of it was the annoyingness of the by turns whiny and psychotic Conner, and part of it was the general lack of fun that was happening around this time in the Buffyverse (season four aired at the same time as season seven *spits* of Buffy). Jasmine was an interesting idea, but the way they got there – Jeebus. So this all powerful higher being needed to create an impossible vampire birth in order for that impossible child to impregnate a part-demon woman who spent some time on the same (?) higher plane as this being, because that’s the only way she could burst fully formed from Cordy’s thrice pregnant belly because…why? What part of that makes any sort of actual sense? Seriously. I just – what?

Season five, on the other hand, I flat out loved. I also loved the beginning of s7 of Buffy, though, so I was prepared for disappointment, but turns out I didn’t need to be. Of course, there were some major continuity problems (*sigh* as usual), but after 12 seasons in the Buffyverse, I just don’t care anymore. Plus, if you think of s5 as its own show, which I can’t help kind of doing, continuity isn’t much of a problem if the show started with “Conviction” (the episode, not the intensity of your belief system). Fred’s recognizable, but Gunn isn’t, Wes is back to late s2, early s3, and Angel’s a bit of a blank slate at the best of times anyway. But I like it. It’s got the self-assurance of later-season Whedon shows AND the light-heartedness of the earlier seasons. I even loved Fred in s5, despite being totally meh about her for the past two seasons. Plus, then sexy Adam Baldwin walked in, and it’s official, s5 is my favourite.

In fact, there were only about 3 or so episodes I didn’t particularly enjoy in the whole season. For every other season, individual episodes tended to be a mixed bag of things I loved and things I hated, which makes it difficult to pick out favourites for re-watch. If only they could have been s5 good when Charisma was still in the cast. Or kept her on through the season. Sigh. Well, you can’t have everything. Especially if Whedon’s involved. (And if you’re Wesley, you can’t have anything.)

Characters Notes

I’d always heard of Willow and Fred as being the big, well-loved female characters from the Buffyverse. Maybe that’s true, maybe I was hanging out in the wrong circles. I’d also heard of Buffy and Faith. But somehow, I’d never heard all that much about Cordelia, and what I did hear suggested that she wasn’t well-liked. So I’m glad that this “must read about everything I watch” business has led me to seeing I am not at all alone in my CC^2 love (and frustration). First she was bitchy and hilarious. Then she was entertaining and interesting. Then she was lovely and thoughtful. And then she was quiet, bizarre, and, finally, dead.

Frankly, I was one of those who really couldn’t freaking stand Wesley until around “Eternity” (no matter how little sense that episode actually made). And by “Sanctuary,” I thought I might actually like him, and was having trouble figuring out how to deal with it. Was this going to be another Logan Echolls situation? (Answer: yes, but less intense.) So I stopped hating Wesley around the time Faith tortured the shit out of him in s2, but I actively started to like him after his tortured reaction to Fred at the end of “Billy.” Damn, but Denisof can act. Plus, for some reason, his hair in s3 is really doing it for me.

I know some people still hate Wesley, and he’s not a very likable person, but I think he may be the most well thought-out, consistent character on either show. His ruthlessness, insecurity, self-loathing – he’s the only one who seems to avoid the episode-by-episode change of motivations that haunts pretty much every long-running series and especially the “I only care about the truth of the emotion, not the facts or the actual logical SENSE” of a Whedon series.

I love phantom Dennis, but is nobody going to at least point out that it’s vaguely creepy him scrubbing Cordy down in the bathtub? Another character I missed in s5.

Lilah – I didn’t start liking her until Linsday left. Probably because she was always getting one-upped by Lindsey and Gavin and the other big boys at Wolfram and Hart. I like her and Wesley together because they’re on equal footing. And while it could be said that Joss and Co. are making a point about being a woman in a man’s world, sometimes empowerment isn’t running around shouting about how empowered you are while punching guys in the face, sometimes it’s just being empowered.

I don’t know if Eliza Dushku’s grown up, or if Buffy’s just gotten so terrible, or what, but I’m liking Faith a lot in s7/s4. Even her “I’m so tough” act didn’t seem as forced (on the part of the writers and actor; I realise it’s supposed to be forced for the character). I didn’t have any patience with Faith when she was supposed to be Fun!Buffy, I didn’t have any patience with her when she was supposed to be a misunderstood sociopath, but her breakdown to Angel in Angel, I thought, was really effective, and started to explore a situation I’ve always been incredibly intrigued by – what happens when an essentially good person accidentally commits murder, an act that is so contrary to how they see themselves and the world that they choose to deal with it by going all in – the “I can’t deal with the guilt, so I’m just going to become fucking evil and be done with it” approach. The more people you kill, the less each life means, perhaps diluting the guilt, but only on the surface.

I like Gunn, and J. August Richards is hot, but they didn’t really seem to have a good grasp on the character.

I didn’t like Lorne, and thought the karaoke thing is stupid. But when he started hanging out at the Hyperion…well, by late s3 I liked him fine. And even though I was fairly ambivalent toward Fred, I really liked how much Lorne liked her.

The arc of Chantarelle/Lily/Anne was very cool to watch, really bringing home the second (and third, and fourth) chance thing that the series harp on.

A note on ‘shipping:

I don’t really care about Fred/Gunn or Fred/Wesley. I guess I lean toward the latter just because the series suggests that they’re meant to be and all that. As for Cordelia? I really do think that Buffy and Angel make sense together, but Boreanez is really adorable with Cordelia. He just looks so happy and fond of her all the time. They did a really good job showing the relationship progression between those two. I guess in terms of the characters the show thinks it’s putting on the screen, I’d root for Buffy/Angel, but in terms of what I enjoy watching more, it’s definitely Cordy/Angel. I just love her and want her to be happy.

A note on some favourite episodes:

Fav seasons (in terms of overall enjoyment): 5, 3, 2, 4, 1

Favourite episodes: Parting Gifts, Expecting, Sanctuary, To Shanshu in L.A., Guise Will Be Guise, Reunion, Reprise/Epiphany, That Vision Thing, Birthday, Loyalty/Sleep Tight, Awakening, Sacrifice, s5, Lineage, You’re Welcome, Smile Time (!!!!!), Origin

(Darla and Fool For Love are pretty good together.)

“Expecting” It’s not the best episode ever, but a great one for Cordy. It was nice to see how much all the men in her life valued and cared for her (so, since Fred got about 20 episodes of mourning, it would have been nice if Cordy got more than the last 2 minutes of one). She just keeps getting better on Angel, managing to mature and become sweeter without losing her character. (Well, that’s what I thought UNTIL some of s3, and ALL of s4, but this was written before that). Her reactions to her situation in “Expecting” and “Parting Gifts” are wonderful, and she’s becoming more empathetic, shown in her clumsy but well-meaning talking-to of Angel at the end of “Somnabulist.” And I hope Phantom Dennis sticks around forever (*sigh* again, written before season 4/5).

“Billy” felt weirdly exploitative to me, despite what it was obviously trying to do, especially by implying that all men have inside them a primal hatred of women just waiting to be let out (actually, I’m not sure it was implied so much as outright stated…). And how dare Angel not let Cordy take care of Billy herself? It would have been a nice bookend to the opening, where he tried to be supportive (but was ultimately condescending) by not training her to kill because he’d be there to swoop in and save the day.

A kinder take on the message of Billy (although I don’t really agree): “What Billy reminds us of, as I wrote when discussing him last year, is that anyone has the capacity to be a misogynist. Anyone has the capacity to be evil. It is not that people are intrinsically bad, but that people are shaped by the people and environment around them. Even a ‘nice guy’ can be contaminated by the touch of misogyny, and internalise it along the way. The question in ‘Billy’ isn’t ‘how do you identify and protect yourself from a misogynist,’ but ‘how do you resist misogyny and find new ways to fight it?’”

“Reunion” was kind of kick ass, and while Dru’s loopiness is kind of hit and miss, I thought she was all hit that episode. And Julie Benz’s simper may make me want to hurt things, but she is a beautiful human being.

Anyway, “Loyalty” is another favourite Angel episode (the hamburger! Loa! Darth Burger!). I thought it would be painfully ridiculous with bad CGI on top, but instead it was funny and disturbing and affecting, just like the episode. Way to go. If all eps were like this, it could have been an all-time favourite series. Plus, it was around this time I stopped finding Lilah tiresome.

“Sleep Tight” was also effectively creepy. However, I thought they were going to address the perfect happiness problem, and instead all we got was a father drinking his son’s blood. Still creepy, though.

“Lineage” was good. I gasped out loud about three separate times in the last 10 minutes. Maybe I was tired or just gullible, but still.

“You’re Welcome” is another one I could watch over and over. I forgot how infectious Cordy’s smile and bubbliness could be. One episode doesn’t make up for a whole season of mistreatment, but it was so, so nice to have the old Cordy back. I just wish there’d been some, any acknowledgement of her death in the next episode.

Seriously, I don’t even know what else to say about this episode. It’s just the best.

Picking Some Nits

  • Inconsistencies are driving me CRAZY. If a drug simulating “bliss” can cause perfect happiness, why the fuck would the effects wear off? Once he feels happy, the soul leaves the body, done. It doesn’t return when the drug wears off. Was Angelus climaxing the whole time he was evil on Buffy, or was he happy once, then done? The latter. THIS IS NOT HARD.
  • And how long does it take to drain a body anyway? Sometimes, people are dead within seconds, and sometimes they’re, er, sucked on for ages and still live to see another day. Not to mention that half the vampires we see running around that used to be humans could not possibly have been sired.
  • If vampire hearts don’t beat, why would a heart-paralyzing dart affect Angel? How would it be spread throughout his bloodstream? What difference would it make? I kept thinking he would reveal he was just faking the effects of the poison.
  • What do you mean demons don’t work with vampires? Do you watch your own show? Come on, Joss. Get your life together.
  • Like, do they ever think things through? Why does everybody act like Angel just up and decided to change his ways one fine day? (or night?) He was re-souled. That is an actual, obvious, external event that happened. So I’m not sure it’s all that fair or accurate to compare his journey so closely to Faith’s, or, as Wesley says (and then Angel acts all bizarrely offended by it): “We’re supposed to believe he’d change his modus operandi overnight?” Well, yes. Overnight, something big changed (i.e. A SOUL WAS ADDED), and he became a different person. And when he goes evil, it’s not because he just changed his mind about humanity. It’s because his soul is no longer in that body. Or it is, but somehow doing drugs makes it go away because who needs silly things like sense and continuity?
  • In “Happy Anniversary,” the aliens are all, “He is the one, the one we were waiting for, the only one…who can write gibberish on a blackboard that we can later erase and replace with the correct calculation because WHAT THE FUCK?” SERIOUSLY. I KNOW 22 HOUR-LONG EPISODES IS A LOT, BUT COME ON. That episode was entertaining, but conceptually awful. Like a lot of this show.

Random Thoughts

  • Oh please, please, please let Angel get a dog and name it Charlie.
  • Darla’s at her best when barely tolerating Dru.
  • I LIKED that swami guy. Why has no one ever brought up that convertible thing before?
  • What happens to Cordy and what happens to Fred is very similar. So. Much. Rape/forceful penetration and sublimation themes. Maybe if I don’t like it, I should just go watch shows by a different show runner.
  • Sahjhan and Skip and now this new demon – I’m getting a little tired of the ‘hilariously incongruent-slang-speaking bratty evil demon’ thing. It was vaguely amusing the first time, now it’s just tired.
  • Did Angel seriously just say “supposably“?!
  • Also, why does Wesley always speak like he’s talking to someone on their deathbed?
  • The TWoP recappers really do take some of the joy out of watching the later seasons of Buffy and the earlier seasons of Angel, but I will say this; one of them mentioned that no matter how hard they try, Angel will never be as kinky as Farscape, and I have to “hear, hear” that statement, because dude. Don’t even try.
  • Between the Trio and David Nabbit and Willow’s offence at being called a nerd, I’m getting a little frustrated here.
  • The Dinza is my favourite Angel demon, but I thought it was interesting that Gnarl, who seemed very similar to me, appeared around the same time. Gollum! And then there was the spider monster.
  • I liked “Tabula Rasa” better than “Spin the Bottle,” actually, because the framing device bugged me (even if it was eventually explained, 38 episodes later), and it was never clarified how Lorne knew what he knew (and why he randomly went unconscious AND didn’t lose his memory when everyone else didn’t, and did). So that I couldn’t enjoy the otherwise fun episode fully. But it was awesome to see so starkly how much Cordelia and Wesley have changed over the course of Angel.
  • Fred and Willow together was actually adorable.
  • Poor Charisma Carpenter for anything she has to do post season 3. I guess Cordelia only gets 3 good seasons per series. Which is a pity, because Giles, she, and Anya are my favourites, and they are all being marginalized. BORED NOW.
  • I love that Fred points out to Wes (and, many episodes early, Cordy to Angel, although that clearly didn’t stick) how condescending and annoying the mens’ “I should have protected you, I should have known better” bs is when talking about grown ass women. Speaking of putting people in their places, I miss Cordy.
  • TWOP isn’t perfect, but I loved this: “On the bright side, if there’s any justice, a few weeks from now Cordy’s ghost will inexplicably materialize in Italy and start bugging the hell out of Buffy.” No one’s ever dead for real on a sci-fi/fantasy show.
  • Actually kind of cool to see Amy Acker playing a different person; she did twitchy and crazy well, and she does Illyria well, too.
  • Illyria sounds like 7 of 9.
  • I mean come on. I need that puppet.

Feminism RARGH!

I had a whole long thing here about feminism and Joss Whedon, but I think that’s a topic for another post (if I ever get it done). Anyway, I think my feelings have been made fairly clear in these last two posts.

Random Quotes

Cordelia: “I probably look really scary. I finally get invited to a nice place…with no mirrors and…lots of curtains…Hey — you’re a vampire!”
Russell: “What? No I’m not.” (In the most Monty Python, “I think he’s dead”/”no I’m not!” way.)

Wesley: “For your information, I lead a rich and varied social life.”
Cordelia: “Oh, I know. Every night it’s Jeopardy, followed by Wheel of Fortune and a cup of hot cocoa. Look out, girls, this one can’t be tamed!”

Cordelia [as Angel]: “Oh, no, I can’t do anything fun tonight. I have to count my past sins, then alphabetize them. Oh, by the way, I’m thinking of snapping on Friday.”

Wesley: “I even spilled it on her in front of Mr. Fat Chow… Chow.”
Cordelia: “Chow. Yun. Fat!” (Ok, the quote’s not funny on paper, but the way she said it…)

Again, not a quote, but Cordy’s happy jumping and singing when Angel buys her new clothes. And then he joins in!

Fred: “I never understood that saying-right as rain. How is rain right? Or wrong for that matter? Okay, I suppose if there’s a flood it’s wrong, and speaking of floods, or just being overwhelmed, what’s it like to have a vision?
Cordelia: “Wow. Y’know, next to you, I am downright linear.”

Cordelia: “Hey! Do you like bribes?”
Guard: “Do I ever.”

Cordelia: “She’s got the big puppy love. I mean, who wouldn’t? You’re handsome and brave and heroic, emotionally stunted, erratic, prone to turning evil, and let’s face it, a eunuch.”
Angel: “Hey! How can you…I’m not a eunuch.”

Angel: “I was just thinking about things. People. You know, how they relate. Take you and me, for instance. We’re very different. Very different. Obviously. [points at Cordy] Human, [points at self] vampire. [points at Cordy] Woman, [points at self] man… pire.
Cordelia: “Has someone been putting vodka in your blood?”
Angel: [chuckles] “See? You’re funny! And I, well I get off a good one every once in a while, but you…”
Cordelia: “Angel, are you trying to say you love me?”
Angel: “W-What?”
Cordelia: “I love you too.”
Angel: “You do? When did this…”
Cordelia: [calling into Wesley’s office] “Angel loves me! I love him!”
Angel: “Oh, my God!”
Cordelia: “You guys love us and we love you!
Wesley, Fred, Gunn: [offscreen, in chorus] “We love you, Angel!”

The three-headed scream when Wesley, Gunn, and Angel see Lorne’s head. The Pylea arc was unbearably cheesy, IMO, but it had its moments.

Connor: “What’s a zombie?”
Angel: “It’s an undead thing.”
Connor: “Like you?”
Angel: “No, zombies are slow-moving, dimwitted things that crave human flesh.”
Connor: “Like you.”

Lorne: “Can’t fight kyrumption, cinnamon buns. It’s fate. It’s the stars. Kyrumption is…”
Angel: “Stop saying that. And stop …calling me pastries.”

Fred: “I’m also detecting brainwave activity.”
Angel: “On Spike? Hmm. That *is* weird.” Hee hee. Although really, look who’s talking.

Angel: “Yeah, I never told anyone about this, but I–I liked your poems.”
Spike: [dismissively] “You like Barry Manilow.”

Angel: “What happened?”
Spike: “Oh, I just thought I’d see what it was like to bounce off the pavement. Pretty much what I expected.”

Angel: “You just like stabbing me.”
Spike: “I am shocked – shocked – that you’d say that. I much prefer hitting you with blunt instruments.”

When everyone shouts “Hip Hip Hooray” for Spike, and Angel walks away sadly, pushing a mail cart in “Soul Purpose” – BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Fred: “That other girl. I couldn’t save her. I was arrested. They got her. She’s a slave. She’ll die!”
Angel: “Oh, Cordy. No, she’s fine. They made her a princess.”
Fred: “They… really? Oh. When I got here they… they didn’t do that.”

Lindsey: “Boo-hoo. Let me wipe away the tears with my plastic hand!”

Lindsey: “Stop it, evil hand, stop it! I just can’t control my evil hand.”

Woman’s voice: “Hi, you’ve reached the Tittles. We can’t come to the phone right now. If you wanna leave a message for Christine, press one.”
Man’s voice: “For Bentley, press two.”
Demon’s voice: “Or to speak to or worship Master Tarfall, Underlord of pain, press three.”

Lorne: [singing] “Go to sleep, lullaby, you’ve been fed and you’re sleepy. You’ll be with uncle Lorne, who in no way resents not being asked to go to the ballet. And is certainly, not thinking, of selling you to the first vampire cult that makes him a decent offer…”

Lorne: “They came out of your what? Okay, okay, well, did they get up there themselves, or was this part of a, y’know, a thing? No, I’m not judging!”

Groosalugg: [upon hearing Angel’s cellphone] “Angel, your coat is singing.”

Lilah: “Look, Angel, I know you’ve been out of the loop for a while, but I’m still evil. I don’t do errands. Unless they’re evil errands.”

Wesley: “Probably best we avoid brand names.”

Gunn: “Three-fifths of the world covered in water, the rest covered in me.” Best Gunn quote ever? Not quite, because there’s still Wesle, but still.

Gunn: “How’s Fred doing?”
Wesley: “I’m sure ‘Knoxy’ will take wonderful care of her. Don’t you think it’s a bit unseemly adding y’s to the ends of people’s names?”
Gunn: “Does that mean I have to call you ‘Westle’?” And then I died.

Probably liked Buffy more for longer, but Angel left a better taste in my mouth, and more prominently featured my favourite character in the Buffyverse (Ms. C. Chase, if that wasn’t clear). So let’s call it a tie?

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/72: Watch all of Buffy.

(Angel review available here.)

It only took, like, four months, but I did it! Copious spoilers ahead. I seriously cannot stress that enough.

I belong to the younger outskirts of the Buffy generation, but I’d never really seen the show. I’d catch it in the background at a friend’s house or while channel surfing. I’d definitely seen enough to know I loved Giles, and that Buffy slayed vampires. In university, after watching “Once More With Feeling,” I decided to give the series a try, watching the first two seasons at my friend Alex’s house, but I didn’t make it all the way through.

Certain images stuck with me from that first viewing – Jenny and the skylight, Sunday and her lair (don’t ask me why), Faith unconscious on the truck, Vamp Willow, and Willow’s wave to Oz, Giles breaking into some place with an axe and a tiny fear demon, Willow’s veiny face in the woods (although that one I saw on TV by accident, years ago). Turns out I stopped watching mid season 4 (which is also, I think, when I stopped watching Six Feet Under, and when I pretend How I Met Your Mother and The Office ended, so…) And now I remember why. It was the episode after Oz left, and I just lost interest in the aftermath.

This time, however, I was going to make it all the way through. And, to be extra thorough, I was going to watch Angel episodes at the appropriately matched times. What follows is a review, of sorts, of both shows, assorted thoughts I thought while watching them, and favourite episodes and quotes for myself, for future reference. Since it’s so incredibly long, I’ve separated Buffy and Angel, and labeled each section.

Buffy-T-V-Intro-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-21610009-906-609You know the short from the Incredibles? Jack Jack Attack. You know by the end, when the overworked and whelmed Kari answers the door to Syndrome and hilariously, maniacally introduces herself by yelling, “I’m Kari, the baby-sitter!” Well, when ever I say the title in my head, it’s always to the cadence of, “I’m Buffy, the vampire-slayer!” I just thought you should know.

Anyway, the show itself.

Seasonal Review

Season one is REALLY rough. The only episode I truly enjoyed was the finale, “Prophecy Girl”; the other ones I merely endured. I guess “Angel” was okay too, but it was probably better the first time around, when the twist was actually a surprise and not just, “Oh joy, more BOREanez.” Still, there were a couple of kick-ass moments that gave hope of things to come – hyena packs eating the principal, actual brain- and heart-removal from students, having there be no cure for the invisible girl, and so on.

Season two, on the other hand, is really good stuff, and everything involving Angelus was phenomenally effective. Although I did have some issues with the “pure happiness” of it all. I’ve heard a lot of people complain that Angel becoming evil after sex is a ham-fisted abstinence lesson, and/or that it’s offensive that “pure happiness” is equated with orgasm, and at first, as much as I have some issues with Whedon’s status as a feminist god, I didn’t think that was the case here. We see the transition happen after he’s been lying contentedly in bed with Buffy, not (excuse my frankness) mid-climax. However, Mutant Enemy then spends all of season three making sure that we know orgasm=pure happiness. So okay, fine. Whatever.

Despite this, about a third of the way through s2 until the end of s3 is probably the best stretch of Buffy, and s3 is probably my favourite season overall. The mayor was the best villain, I was excited to watch each new episode, and all the characters were at their most human(e) and likable. High school life wasn’t all that believable (though this was probably not helped by the fact that I started watching Freaks and Geeks at around the same time as beginning the Buffy project), but hey, nobody’s perfect.

The rest of the series is a little rougher. I actually liked season four okay (“Hush” is possibly my favourite episode of the entire show, maybe the Buffyverse, save for “Smile Time”), and found Riley boring (like so many of Buffy’s love interests) but bearable UNTIL the whole Adam thing happened. It only just barely made sense, it was incredibly ham-fisted, it was boring, and the storyline kicked into gear mid-season, which up until that point had usually been the time during a Buffy season where things get more exciting, not less. Also, while I find the meeting of science and the supernatural, fantasy and sci-fi, a fascinating topic, I think it was poorly explored here, especially considering the appearance of these weirdly all-powerful “chips.” But I’ll get to that later. As Noel Murray from the AV Club puts it, “I still love the idea of Adam and the idea of The Initiative. But for the most part I’ve been putting together a version of the show in my head where these ideas make more sense.” I mean, do the people involved with the s4 arc of Buffy have any idea where, or even what, the central nervous system actually is?

Season five was another mixed bag. I think it’s fair to say that I was coming into this Whedon-viewing extravaganza fairly unencumbered by outside bias, especially since I’ve never spent any time among the fandom. So I think it’s also fair to say that my opinion is not being clouded by others’ when I state that Dawn, after one episode, was almost enough to turn me off the damn show. And I stuck with it through Adam. And yes, the sibling bickering is fairly realistic, but isn’t Buffy, like, 20 at this point? She’s old enough to get the fuck over it. Dawn had her moments in later episodes, and there were times when I actively liked her, but when she was first introduced – gah. They did want people to enjoy watching the show, right?

Old favourites have also been given whatever irritation treatment Dawn underwent to give her such superpowers in annoyingnesss. Giles, for example. Has he regressed into Wesley? Just when I’m starting to not hate Wesley on that other show? I personally think the world would be fine with no old Wesleys, we don’t need one to take his place, thanks. And WHAT was the point in s5 making Riley not just bearable, but likable (thus proving that it was possible, so why didn’t they do it from the start?), only to immediately turn him into a dick (Who cares about your mom possibly dying? Why didn’t you think about MEEEEE?) with an inferiority complex and break them up? Oh, right. Functional relationships don’t make good television and no one gets to be happy. Sorry, I forgot.

Plus, the special effects in this season are weirdly AWFUL. (That snake with arms? Good grief.)

Season six was a slog. It also contains the first episode I out and out hated while I was watching it. Things like “Inca Mummy Girl,” “Beer Bad” and “Bad Eggs” get, well, a bad rap, but god “Wrecked” was terrible. Did ham-fisted even have a definition before “Wrecked” aired and gave it meaning?

Which leads to the problem I have (like so, so many) with the magic = addiction storyline. I suppose, if it were consistent with Sunnydale as we know it, it might not have been so obnoxious (the writing would still have had to be better, though). But how can the way we’ve seen magic used in seasons 1-5, for actual functioning spells, be reconciled with, basically, magical drugs? Equating the two conflates the character traits of hubris and abuse of power that had been built up in Willow over the last three years with a much more straightforward body-need trippy ecstacy scenario, and it doesn’t work for so so many reasons. The after school special episodes of Buffy were never the strongest (e.g. “Beer Bad”), and s6 was all after school special. It also had more of that problematic magic/technology interaction.

In s5, I mourned the loss of He Who We Knew As Giles, but in s6, I started to really miss Old Willow. I understand the need for character development and change, but, much like Rory Gilmore, these quiet nerds lost a huge part of what made them unique when they “evolved” into assertive, sexy, out-going, entitled brats.

Lots of people think Joss Whedon’s an ass for refusing to show a long term happy couple on his show, and for randomly and painfully killing popular characters, but I think one of the cruelest things he ever did to fans was to finally show Amber Benson in the opening credits (which fans had been clamoring for for ages) and then immediately kill her. I suppose you could say he did it because it would be her last chance to be in the credits, and it was a gift to her, but I bet you he did it just to make the death all that much more shocking and unexpected. Prick.

I knew going in that while season six had its defenders, season seven was pretty much unanimously considered terrible. Here’s what I wrote as I started watching: “I know season seven has an awful reputation, but the first episode was like a breath of fresh air, all the way back to [season] two again. Plus, it was cool to see all the villains appear again in Spike’s hallucination (or whatever it was). And now I’m up to episode five and still enjoying it.” Sigh, and it was going so well. After “Selfless,” it’s all whiny, boring, character-bastardized (GILES! WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOU?), repetitive (how many stirring speeches can Buffy possibly make?) crap. If I’m feeling charitable, maybe I’ll extend the run of not-terrible to “Sleeper,” but latter half of the season was the worst run of Buffy, and a pain in the ass to get through. And Conversations With Dead People is way overrated.

Season seven also features the Britta of villains. God Caleb is talky. And at this point, I was thoroughly sick of all the misogyny on Buffy. Beating women into the ground and having men support them as they claw their way up is not “feminist” television I find enjoyable to watch. And don’t tell me it’s empowering to knock ’em down to watch them get back up. Not like this. This is just dreary torture porn disguised as empowerment. Seriously, I thought people were exaggerating about the awfulness of s7, but fuck it. It’s terrible.

Part of the problem with the later seasons is summed up in this quote from Ace at TWOP: “I fail to see the entertainment value in putting beloved characters through years of unrelieved misery.” Yes, growing up is hard. Yes, people get depressed. But it’s not all relentless agony, and we find new ways to have fun. And maybe this is why I haven’t been big on the dramas lately, but I don’t watch TV to observe a bunch of dead-eyed gloom monsters I used to like go through the motions of life. That’s not storytelling. There are ways to create drama other than misery, suffering, and despair (preferably relationship-related), or you’re just a one-trick pony. That, or a talentless hack.

Characters Notes

Favourite characters: Giles, Cordelia, Oz, early seasons Willow, Spike whenever he’s with Joyce, and Anya, but I am truly unable to tell if it’s her character, or my raging girl-crush on Emma Caufield (why isn’t she in anything anymore??). Anyway, in no particular order:

I always liked Willow, but her doormatty wallflower act pissed me off some, this time around. But then Oz showed up, and all was good (“I have my own fun.” Oh, Willow). I think Alyson Hannigan is a really good actor. Some people say she always plays the same character, and I disagree. I think she has a very unique style (and the baby voice), which stands out and makes her memorable, but, for example, Lily and Willow are not the same character at all.

Xander‘s doofery annoyed me, too, although I think I always disliked him. Or maybe I was just in a bad mood in general in 2012. For example, I remember finding Spike fabulously entertaining and a breath of fresh air, but this time around I felt like staking him from the beginning. Maybe it’s the fact that now that I know his accent is fake, it’s all I can hear. Having completed the series, looking back, he did have some fabulous lines and deliveries, but overall, I kind of hate his character. He was fun as a bad guy, but sleazy, gross, and annoying as love’s bitch.

Cordelia, however, will always make me laugh. I love her so much. I remember when I first started watching Buffy from the beginning, thinking that this stereotypical, bitchy mean girl was actually kind of hilarious and fun to watch. And then she turned into a real person, too, and it just kept getting better. Charisma Carpenter doesn’t get enough credit.

And Giles. Giles is my favourite. Sigh, older British guys. His fighting ability seems to wax and wane with the episode. I think it goes without saying that I like it better when he’s winning. (Side note: Am I the only one who thought Willow and Giles would have been cute together? Go nerd love!)

Funny, I only started actually liking Tara the episode she broke up with Willow. Probably because she finally developed a personality. And in “Older and Far Away, she turns AWESOME with her needling of Spike.

Regarding Glory: Oh, god, and I thought Adam was bad.

But you know who isn’t? Riley. Or at least, not until mid s5. He’s kind of a doof, but whatever, you put up with 7 seasons of Xander.

I had absolutely no patience for Faith in s3, but in later episodes, she’s actually quite sympathetic and enjoyable.

I take it I’m not the only one to have noticed that Anya is always blond when she’s with, or trying to be with Xander, and brunnette when she’s not?

Buffy was never a favourite, but I always liked her fine, even identified with her, especially during seasons 3-5 (and bits of 6). However, her “leadership” of the mini-slayers turns her into the most insufferable person on this show, and was at least 70% of what made s7 such a chore to watch. In later seasons, she comes down with what I like to call a major case of HP Book 5 Syndrome, which maybe isn’t fair, because I’m pretty sure the Vampire Slayer came first, but still. I buy her depression and emptiness and I think the show and actor do a good job portraying it, with all its false recoveries and everything, but that does not make it fun to watch (much like OotP is not all that fun to read. KILL THE UMBRIDGE KILL HER TO DEATH OH MY GOD.)

Now, let’s talk about Spike. Reading my notes, it was almost comical to see how wildly my feelings toward this character changed through the seasons. As I mentioned above, his accent and try-hard Bad Boy persona pissed me off originally, but some truly hilarious lines (“They don’t have a rock this big.”) slowly won me over. During s5, I even wrote: “I will say, with Spike, that I’ve never found creepy stalking so entertaining.” But then came s6.

I mean, seriously, how can anyone ever, ever be Buffy/Spike? He’s a pathetic, grovelling, whiny little sap who can’t take “not a chance in hell, and I’ve been there, buddy” for an answer. I mean, it’s entertaining as hell and Marsters is hot, but seriously. Their relationship is wrong and gross. Viewer/Marsters I can understand, but really, I can’t even get behind Viewer/Spike. I mean, he’s abusive to Harmony, he’s a giant stalker, he doesn’t know who he is if he’s not mooning after a woman, he’s a pathetic wannabee badboy, even as an undead hell beast. At least when he was evil you could revel sadistically in it, but post-chip? Post soul? The rape scene was the most horrible and uncomfortable thing I have ever seen on the show, and the fact that we watched Buffy in past episodes repeatedly say “no” while either being ignored or not meaning it just made it worse. The only thing Spike has going for him apart from a couple of good speeches is that he’s played by the very well-built, very charming Marsters, and that has absolutely nothing at all to do with the character. Like stalking and almost-rape are such great bases for relationships. And at my wedding, I definitely want the toast to end, “…and he finally wore her down.” So again, I stress – I am enjoying watching it (well, until “Seeing Red,”) but I do not understand anybody who seriously thinks “Spuffy” belong together. I do not get it.

A note on ‘shipping:

I have interesting shipping feelings from Buffy in that, for the most part, I don’t really care (generally, I like to get invested in the love lives of my TV characters). I feel like Buffy and Angel may as well be together, what with all the destiny, and actually caring about each other. Spike as a character is more entertaining (I initially refused to watch Angel because he bored me so. very. much.), and James Marsters is more attractive to me, although I don’t particularly care for either of them (although Spike did look damn good in his 70s punk gear). But, well, see above for how I feel about Spike and Buffy together, so by default and history, Buffy and Angel are the pair I’d root for, if I really cared all that much about Buffy’s love life. I guess the only couple I really cared enough to actually root for was Oz and Willow. Sigh. Oh, and Giles/Me. Obviously.

A note on some favourite episodes:

Favourite seasons (in terms of overall enjoyment): 3, 2, 5, first third of 7, 4, 1/6, last two thirds of 7

Favourite episodes: Angel, Prophecy Girl, pretty much all of s2 and s3, Surprise, Innocence, Becoming I/II, Band Candy, Dopplegangland, Earshot, Graduation Day I/II, Fear Itself, Pangs, Something Blue, Hush, A New Man, The Body, Life Serial, Once More With Feeling, Tabula Rasa, Selfless, Storyteller (Jane Espenson and Joss Whedon wrote an inordinate amount of these episodes.)

“Hush” is probably my favourite episode. I know, I’m so original. The music and creepiness gave me a very Doctor Who vibe. Also, it’s surprisingly hilarious, and I love everyone in it.

“A New Man” was okay, but Giles in demon makeup just isn’t as attractive to me as Giles in his regular human get up. What can I say, I’m shallow. I always love to watch him beating up Ethan, though, and it was nice to see the Scooby Gang remember how important he is to them (the scene when he finds out how Buffy knew it was him is one of the sweetest moments on the show; another is in “Hush,” when he greets her and Willow.)

“Once More With Feeling.” The first full episode of the show I ever saw. I can’t decide whether it ties with “Hush” as The Favourite, but it definitely is my most re-watched episode. At one point, I’m pretty sure I had the entire thing memorized. Standing makes me cry. So does Give Me Something to Sing About. I don’t particularly like the song – I don’t listen to it on my mp3 player or anything, but it’s incredibly affecting to watch, knowing what came before – the way SMG sings, or pleads, “please” – it just gets me, okay? This episode was also way better when watched in context (as much as I enjoyed it the first time). Dawn’s “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it,” sounded so awkward and out of place the first time; Anya’s bunny thing, it turns out, was not just a throwaway joke, and the Chumash tribe was an actual thing in an actual episode!

ASH, Marsters, Benson, and Caufield can sing really well. My favourite lyric is probably “The battle’s done and we kind of won, so let’s sound our victory cheer/Where do we go from here?” I think at least part of the reason I like this episode so much is because it’s written for people who can’t necessarily sing particularly well, and so the songs are actually pretty easy to sing along to. I love singing along to my favourite musicals, but have you tried singing along with Les Mis? My vocal range is about 3 notes wide, okay?

For ONCE I actually agree with people who say the lack of polish is part of its charm, despite my OCD aversion to imperfections. It’s not a bombastic and slick professional musical; it’s people we’ve spent almost 6 years with (or 3 condensed months) putting on a show. It makes it feel smaller and more inclusive. I just love this episode. I understand people who think it’s overrated, but it’s my go-to rewatch episode any day.

“Selfless” was excellent (but we already know I adore Anya, so that’s not a surprise) – I loved the “Once More With Feeling” callback (her voice!), and having Xander’s lie to Buffy from s2 finally exposed.

Picking Some Nits

Continuity error! Continuity error!

Consistency and continuity are the two most important things to me in storytelling, and I think that may be one of the reasons I was never fully on board with Whedon. There were so many continuity questions by the end of the series that I stopped listing them, but now I kind of want to again, for completeness’s sake. For example (and in no particular order):

  • Vampire’s don’t breathe. How can dunking Spike’s head under water bug him in any way, shape, or form? Oh, what horrible torture.
  • Buffy died in s5, and no new slayer was activated. How come in s7 everyone goes on and on about a potential being activated when she died? It’s amazing how good with the troll logic and Xander lies call-backs they can be on the one hand, and how out of touch with basic sense and continuity they can be on the other.
  • Does NO ONE remember that a vampire is actually a demon in a former human’s body? I can buy that a return of the soul effectively returns the vampire to his/her human self, but this point seems to be forgotten.
  • I also wish they’d done a better job at establishing the way potentials were paired up with Watchers and trained. Kendra was separated from her family and trained specially even before she was “activated,” yet people like Buffy and Rona find out once their powers actually kick in/the world is ending. So…explain, please. And the earlier seasons weren’t free of this sort of thing, either. Medicine has been advanced enough for long enough that there could very easily have been other slayers who “died” but were then brought back to life, so why was two slayers such an utter shock for the counsel?
  • Another obvious continuity problem: Spike proves that Tara’s not a demon by feeling pain when he punches her. Because it’s no longer about his brain and whether he THINKS something is a demon or not (as seen in other episodes), but the chip is now magic. ARGH.
  • Sigh. So in the new implanted Dawn memories, Buffy was a slayer from childhood and Joyce always knew about it?
  • Amy hexing Willow doesn’t at all explain how she knew about the potentials and who Kennedy was. Does anyone read through the scripts anymore? Just once?

Random Thoughts

  • Willow’s happy little wave to Oz, and his subtle relief, in Dopplegangland is one of my favourite moments of the series. Even if it’s a little far-fetched that no one else wises up to what’s going on until she screams.
  • Thank you AV Club for pointing this out: “The poster on Buffy’s door: chocolate. The poster on Riley’s: balls. Make of that what you will.” I noticed the Balls one (because…wtf), but putting the two together, naturally, made me think of this:
  • Looks like in S5, Xander finally grows up. And apparently, we shall never speak of him again, until he makes inexplicable alter-abandoning decisions in s6. “The Replacement” and “Into the Woods” are the most I’ve ever liked him.
  • “Blood Ties” – YES! Seeing Spike paint his nails makes this whole season worth it no matter what happens. This whole episode is a showcase of many of Buffy (the show)’s strengths: we’ve got good family scenes, some real acting from Trachtenberg, continuity showing excellent planning throughout the season, and Spike being useful. If only we had some more quality Scooby interaction, we’d be golden.
  • Dammit, Spike, stop it with the Monty Python references. I refuse to like you!
  • Giles’ and Spike’s reactions to Joyce’s death I found especially touching. The musical call-back to Band Candy and the flowers. Spike’s relationship with Joyce was always enjoyable to watch.
  • Dawn’s bearable, even fun, in the sidelines, but turns into an utterly horrible brat whenever she’s the focus of an episode.
  • Intriguing concept of the death wish, in terms of needing the uncertainty to end. It’s nice to see your more twisted philosophies played out on the small screen. Other people get it, too!
  • I really liked Katrina’s normalness and no-nonsense attitude. So naturally, she has to die in the most degrading way.
  • I’m not really buying Jonathan’s turn from sweetly depressed bestower of “Class Protector” award on Buffy to supervillain wannabee. Also, within the span of ONE episode he goes from “we can’t hurt her – she fights evil and saved my life” to “let’s find out her weaknesses and destroy her” with absolutely no explanation. The latter seems to be the inconsistency, though, because he’s back to basically good and out of his depth for the rest of the season.
  • The way Anya and Halfrek speak makes me think of classic movie actresses.
  • WHAT is happening to Giles? I was so excited that he would be in more episodes this season, and then he comes back as this dour, grouchy, uptight pain in the ass. Buffy’s been a bitch for most of this s7, but she’s not wrong that THIS Giles has nothing more to teach her.
  • This is just the Buffy and Spike show, and while I think it’s interesting and daring that they’re willing to go so far into his mommy issues, the fact that we as the audience seem to be asked to forgive or forget it is incredibly disturbing. It’s also hard to tell what’s purposeful when everything seems so clumsy – has been re-ensouled taken some of the fun out of killing, or is he still willing to murder Faith just because Buffy is (for once) unjustly pissed at her? Which is it?
  • I will never forgive the weaselly sheep Andrew for killing Jonathan. Storyteller was a nice try, and there are moments I can enjoy him, but no.
  • NOOOOO, not Anya and Amanda! Ugh, why couldn’t Kennedy have died instead? AND MORN HARDER PEOPLE. GOD.
  • A pretty good overview on the finale’s use of Slayer abilities as a metaphor.
  • “She didn’t get a big, maudlin send-off, it was very quick and to the point – very Anya in that respect.” – that’s a nice way to look at it.
  • The most pleasantly creepy thing in Buffy is the gentlemen.
  • The most disturbing as fuck thing in Buffy is Anya slashing her face in “After Death.” S6 had a lot of creepy imagery.

For most long-running shows, I like to pick a sort of retrospective end-point. For example, the last few terrible seasons of How I Met Your Mother have driven me to declare the end of season four as the show’s REAL ending, and while I continue to watch this alternate reality version of what could have become of characters I once loved, I don’t consider new episodes part of my show anymore. Friends ended after Monica and Chandler’s wedding. And Buffy ended at the end of season three.  Willow with Oz, the high school chapter is complete, Spike hasn’t been emasculated, etc. And because this is my own personal lunacy, I also get to decide what bits and pieces from later seasons probably occurred in the “real” reality I made up. For example, the sexless inkeeper still happened in HIMYM. “Once More With Feeling” somehow still happened in Buffy, as did all of Anya’s existence (I’m sorry, I just love her. Her and Cordelia. My huge love for them doesn’t make sense, but it exists). But most of the rest of the episodes don’t exist, thanks. I suspect Community will have DonnaEnded after season three as well, but that’s just because I have no faith in anything. And I flatly refuse to acknowledge the existence of the Buffy comic books, because of a certain character death that NEVER HAPPENED.

Random Quotes

Cordelia: “What is your childhood trauma?!”

Cordelia: “Buffy. You’re really campaigning for bitch-of-the-year, aren’t you?”
Buffy: “As defending champion, you nervous?”
Cordelia: [scoffs] “I can hold my own. You know, we’ve never really been close which is good cause I don’t really like you that much. But you have been known to save the world on occasion, so I’m going to give you a piece of advice.”
Buffy: “Which is?”
Cordelia: “Get over it.”
Buffy: “Excuse me?”
Cordelia: “Whatever is causing the Joan Collins ‘tude? Deal with it. Embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet, whatever, but get over it. ‘Cause pretty soon you’re not even gonna have the loser friends you’ve got now.

Cordelia: “I came by to tell Buffy to stop all of this craziness and found you all unconscious … again. How many times have you been knocked out, anyway? I swear, one of these times, you’re gonna wake up in a coma.”
Giles: “Wake up in a c… ? Oh, never mind. We need to save Buffy from Hansel and Gretel.”
Cordelia: “Now, let’s be clear. The brain damage happened before I hit you.”

Buffy: “I didn’t jump. I took a tiny step, and there conclusions were.”

Buffy: “We’re not friends. We never were. And I can fool Giles, and I can fool my friends, but I can’t fool myself. Or Spike, for some reason.”

Buffy: “Sure. We can work out after school. You know, if you’re not too busy having sex with my MOTHER.”

Buffy: “When Giles sends me on a mission, he always says ‘please.’ And afterwards, I get a cookie.” SMG is really, really underrated you guys. She made me cry several times. And she killed it as Faith, I was really impressed.

Buffy: “Well, if this guy wants to fight with weapons, I’ve got it covered from A to Z — from ‘axe’ to… ‘zee other axe’.”

Buffy: “Didn’t anyone come here just to make out? Oh, that’s sweet. You run.”

Buffy: “Hey… how’ve you been?”
Amy: “Rat. You?”
Buffy: “Dead.”
Amy: “Oh.”

Buffy: “Oh, Dawn—”
Dawn: “I know! You never know what’s coming, the stake is not the power, To Serve Man is a cookbook. I love you. Go away!” If only Dawn was always like that…

Holden: “Oh my God!”
Buffy: “Oh, your God what?”
Holden: “Oh, well, not my God. Because I defy him and all of his works.”

Buffy: “I sacrificed Angel to save the world. I loved him so much, but I knew what was right. I don’t have that anymore. I don’t understand. I don’t know how to live in this world, if these are the choices, if everything just gets stripped away. I don’t see the point. I just wish- I just wish my mom was here.”

Buffy: “Dawn, listen to me, listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles… tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I’m okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other.You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world-is to live in it. Be brave. Live… for me.”

Buffybot: “That’ll put the marzipan in your pie plate, Bingo.”

Buffybot: “If you want her to be exactly she’ll never be exactly I know the only really real Buffy is really Buffy and she’s gone who?” I liked the Buffybot.

Xander: “I laugh in the face of danger. And then I hide until it goes away.”

Spike: “Oh, balls! You didn’t say he was a Glarghk Guhl Kashmas’nik!”
Xander: “‘Cause I can’t say Glarba…”

Oz: “Hey, I may be a cold-blooded jelly doughnut, but my timing is impeccable.”

Oz: Nobody deserves a mime, Buffy.

Oz: On the plus side you’ve killed the bench, which was looking shifty.

Oz: “So, I’m wondering, do the other cookie animals feel sorta ripped? Like, is the hippo going, ‘Hey, man, where are my pants? I have my hippo dignity!’ And you know the monkey’s just,’I mock you with my monkey pants!'”

Buffy: “Stop! You’re saying it wrong. I think that Jonathan may be doing something so that he’s manipulating the world and we’re all, like, his pawns.”
Anya: “Or prawns.”

Anya: “But I don’t understand! I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I knew her, and then she’s— there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead… anymore! It’s stupid! It’s mortal and stupid! And… and Xander’s crying and not talking, and… and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

Buffy: “Anya, that thing you created burst through solid pavement and ate her dog.”
Anya: [anguished] “Oooh, puppy!” I knew there was a reason I liked Anya

Anya: “It’s not like I’m snooping around for proof that you’re some sort of whacked-out serial killer. I don’t know why I said that. Forget I said that. It’s craziness talking, it’s just nerves. Nerves. Nerves and horniness. Oh, just shut up, William, and take me. Take me now.”

Principal Snyder: “There are no dead students here. This week.”

Principal Snyder: “My predecessor, Mr. Flutie, may have gone in for that touchy- feely relating nonsense, but he was eaten. You’re in my world now. And Sunnydale has touched and felt for the last time.”

Principal Snyder: “That’s the kind of wooly: headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.”

Principal Snyder: “You… all of you… Why couldn’t you be dealing drugs like normal people?”

Principal Snyder: “It’s worth nothing, Harris. Whatever comes out of your mouth is a meaningless waste of breath, an airborne toxic event.”

Principal Snyder: “One day, the campus is completely bare, empty. The next, there are children everywhere…like locusts. Crawling around, mindlessly bent on feeding and mating. Destroying everything in sight in their relentless, pointless desire to exist.”

Principal Snyder: “A lot of educators tell students, ‘Think of your principal as your pal.’ I say, think of me as your judge, jury, and executioner.”

Principal Snyder: “Summers!! You drive like a spaz.” Possibly the best thing I have ever heard.

Principal Snyder: “Congratulations to the Class of 1999. You all proved more or less adequate.”

Spike: “It’s a big rock. I can’t wait to tell my friends. They don’t have a rock this big.”

Spike: “You hit me with an ax one time. Remember? Uh, ‘Get the hell away from my daughter!’?”

Spike (to demon!Giles), in the world’s most hilarious sympathetic drawl: “Hooww you feeling, mate?”

Spike: “Spike had a little trip to the vet and now he doesn’t chase the other puppies anymore.”

Spike: “You made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!” HAAAAAAAAAA

Spike: “And I should do what with my spare time? Sit at home knitting cunning sweater hats?” I didn’t realise Spike gave Jayne’s mom the pattern for her cunning hat!

Angelus: “It lacks. . .poetry.”
Spike: “Doesn’t have to. What rhymes with ‘lungs?'”

Willow: “I have my own fun.”

Willow: “I haven’t been a nerd for a very long time.” Hey, Willow, there’s nothing wrong with being a nerd. Own it, live it, love it.

Willow: [describing Anya] “1000-year old capitalist ex-demon with rabbit-phobia.”

Willow: “I am Willow. I am Death. If you dare defy me, I will call down my fury, exact fresh vengeance, and make your worst fears come true! Okay?”

Giles: “For god’s sake, man, she’s 18! And you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone. Just have at it, would you? And stop fluttering about.”

Giles: “Demons after money. Whatever happened to the still beating heart of a virgin? No one has any standards anymore.”

Xander: “Am I right, Giles?”
Giles: “I’m almost certain you’re not, but to be fair, I wasn’t listening.”

Jonathan: “We’re not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t noticed you. We don’t talk about it much, but it’s no secret that Sunnydale High isn’t really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here. But whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you, or helped by you at one time or another. We’re proud to say that the Class of ’99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history. And we know at least part of that is because of you. So the senior class offers its thanks, and gives you, uh, this. It’s from all of us, and it has written here: Buffy Summers – Class Protector.”

Jonathan: “Yeah, it was sexy the way she touched me real hard with her fists.”

Warren: “We’re your arch-nemesises…ses. You may have beaten us this time, Slayer, but next time… um… uh, next time…”
Jonathan: “Maybe not!”

Andrew: “It eats you, starting with your bottom.”

M’Fashnik: “You can’t pay me with paper, tiny king.”

Dracula: “You are strange and off-putting.”

Young Woman Vampire: “Is that all I was to you, a one-bite stand?” Quoting this only because – for six years you resisted.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/66: Watch Terriers.

So. Terriers. As a self-described TV fanatic who supplements her habit with a considerable dose of online discussion, recaps, and trivia, I had heard a lot about Terriers before deciding to settle down an actually watch it. Terriers was one of those well-beloved but little-watched shows that were given one season and an unsuccessful “Save The Show” campaign to make their mark on the television landscape.

I love a well-acted drama and a well-told story, but I think, in the case of TV, I tend to wait until a heavy dramatic series has finished its run before actually watching it through. Same with books – I refuse to read Game of Thrones until the series is complete. So although I consider myself a TV fan, I haven’t seen Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire, Friday Night Lights, Deadwood, The Shield, Game of Thrones (now it just looks like I’m a pretender to the throne! I swear I’m not – let me list all the TV I DO watch! You will be amazed! And, somehow, I will still wind up ashamed…), or a dozen other critically acclaimed shows that the television connoisseur must watch if she wants to keep her reputation. Also, while watching TV, much like while reading, I tend to get overly invested in characters and situations. I find it much more fun this way – what’s the point in NOT allowing yourself to get all absorbed a story? What’s the point (especially when watching drama) if you’re NOT going to care about what happens? You may as well spend your time doing something productive.

I’m like Abed – I like liking things.

But when you let yourself care and get carried away with fiction, it can be draining. I need to have a certain amount of a specific type of energy stored up within myself if I’m going to be immersed in the worlds of The Wire or Six Feet Under.

I watched Terriers in two bursts – the first 6 episodes a few weeks ago, and the last 7 episodes a couple days ago, both times sitting at my computer for about 5 straight hours.

The acting is phenomenal. Donal Logue as Hank Dolworth, especially, blew me away. The long- and short- term arcs were well-planned. The series is beautifully shot. I loved Hank, I cared about Britt and Katie, the cases of the week were mostly effectively portrayed. But I don’t think I really liked the show. I’m not sure I’ll ever watch it again. I’m not really sure why – at one point, while writing this, I was prepared to say “Terriers is overrated” and have done with it. But that’s not really true. All the praise heaped on the show – I can’t argue with any of it. I’m glad the show exists, I don’t begrudge anyone’s enjoyment of it (in contrast, I DO begrudge people’s enjoyment of Two and Half Men). And it’s not as though I hate thinking about a show after I turn the TV (or computer) off. Maybe I just didn’t find it as funny as many who watched seemed to – so maybe there wasn’t enough lightness there to balance out the bleak worldview and messy, minor victories. I didn’t find some of the plot twists as clever and unexpected as many did – and I’m not being haughty; you can’t fool everyone all the time, and I’m usually not especially great at guessing good twists advance, so maybe my brain just works in a similar way as the writers’*. Maybe it just didn’t gel with my personality, I don’t know. I’m not sure I would recommend the show – it’s certainly worth checking out for the reasons listed above, but personally, watching it gave me very little joy.






* SPOILERS AHEAD: For what it’s worth, Jason’s death shocked the hell out of me, and the reveal of the real rapist was very effective in playing with crime TV conventions and audience expectations.

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/68: Watch Better Off Ted.

Ok, now that I’ve watched BoT a second time through, taken note of my favourite quotes and episodes, and made sure to watch all available special features, I feel comfortable listing this one as complete. It occurs to me I may not be able to watch all shows as thoroughly – Buffy the Vampire Slayer did have seven seasons, after all, and not half-baked, Britishy 13 episode “seasons” either.

As I mentioned in my last post, Portia de Rossi’s Veronica is my second favourite character on the show, but Phil Myman has to be number one, because every single line delivery he has is absolutely golden. So many of my favourite quotes look completely dull when written down, but coming out of Phil’s mouth, they have me rolling (case in point: “it’s working”). It’s not going to crack my list of top five favourite shows or anything (off the top of my head, that would be 1: Futurama, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in any random order: Doctor Who (seasons 1-4), Top Gear, Community, and, oh, South Park? Sure, that could be right) – I usually find the Veridian Dynamics commercials a bit too on the nose – but it’s a worthy way to spend 9 hours, and who knows how great it could have been if it had gotten a couple more episodes? I would love to learn more about Wisconsin’s cheese farms and Veronica’s feelings on the Dutch.

For what it’s worth, as much as I enjoy Andrea Anders and Linda, I liked Ted better with Veronica. Their friendship and chemistry was just so much more entertaining to watch. And actually, I like Linda better with Phil and Lem – it gives her another note to play other than surprisingly forth-coming love interest.

Top ten thirteen quotes (I couldn’t narrow it down it neatly mirrors the number of episodes each season got) to get you non-watchers hooked on the show (if only to enjoy your inevitable crushing disappointment when you come to the final episode):

  1. Chet: Don’t worry, I’ve never hit anyone with a golf club. *beep* At least not on purpose. *beep* Hey, what’s this fun machine? Phil: It’s just a random buzzer. *beep* It’s working!
  2. Veronica: Anything that starts with “wee” is just a fun suggestion. Like the constitution. And “weee the people.”
  3. Phil: Ted is like the angle opposite the hypotenuse: he’s always right.
  4. Ted: I’m going to say no to the meat blob getting a mouth. Mostly because I don’t want to hear what it has to say.
  5. Phil: Richie and Fuzzle? Their knowledge of microfabrication technology for vascularised tissue engineering vis a vis bovine muscle protein is SO-ho-ho LAST YEAR.
  6. Phil: Oh god, Lem, you’re using science for no good. We took an oath we would try to do that less.
  7. Ted: But everybody’s equal. We don’t see disabled people. Well, we see them, we just don’t care. Well, we care, we just don’t treat them differently. Although they do have their own parking.
  8. Lem: Good news, Ted. We took a vote, and made you the new king.
    Phil: And then we took another vote, and you died. Gloriously in battle.
  9. Veronica: You’re always coming to me with a problem. Just once, I wish you’d greet me with a sparkler and cotton candy and tell me I have the number one album in America.
  10. Bamba: As I recall, you were the only one who ran from the octochicken.
    Linda: Well it freaked me out when it came down from its web.
  11. Lem: Fireflies. The flaming plates of the insect world.
  12. Ted: Technically, Mr. Cynical can’t be happy. It’s his power and his curse.
  13. Veronica: I don’t hate the Dutch. I love the Dutch. That’s why I hold them to a higher standard.
Seriously, watch it.
And feel free to stop reading now.

For future Donna, who may someday wonder which episodes to rewatch, here are my favourites:

From season one:

  • Win Some, Dose Some
  • Bioshuffle
  • Jabberwocky

From season two:

  • Love Blurts?
  • The Great Repression (mostly the second half)
  • The Impertinence of Communicationising (no qualifiers, this one is genius)
  • Mess of a Salesman (the non Ted’s brother parts)
  • It’s My Party and I’ll Lie if I Want to (because of Phil)

And here are my favourite quotes:

Ted: Nature is a fantastic killer of things

Ted: I’m going to say no to the meat blob getting a mouth. Mostly because I don’t want to hear what it has to say.

Ted: What does it taste like?
Jerome: despair

Lem: Don’t name him or you won’t want to eat it. Remember Chester the carrot?
Phil: Yeah. I miss him.

Phil: You have been on me since I got out and I. am. sickofit.

Phil: Richie and Fuzzle? Their knowledge of microfabrication technology for vascularised tissue engineering vis a vis bovine muscle protein is SO-ho-ho LAST YEAR.

Ted: The fact that you thought I was going to go wash Rose right now makes me think you may not know that much about children.
Veronica: I know they need to be cleaned.

Veronica: I know everyone’s name.

Phil: Next we were looking at what would happen if we dropped a…bunny from an airplane at 30,000 feet. At that altitude, the bunny would…cuddle everyone within a two mile radius. Within four miles, everyone would be…snuggled so badly they would have to be hospitalised with severe burns.
Ted:  Thank you everyone. For those of you not sure what’s happening, we’ll have this meeting again tomorrow.

Veronica: Here, I brought you some briefs. The boxers you were wearing didn’t highlight your assets. Penisly speaking.

Veronica: Well, I’m different than other women, Ted. And by different, I mean better.

Lem: It gets dark when you leave the room.
Phil: Well how can I stay mad at you when you say things like that?

VD Commercial: Diversity. Good for us.

Phil: He’s like a god, only it hurts more when he judges us

Ted: But everybody’s equal. We don’t see disabled people. Well, we see them, we just don’t care. Well, we care, we just don’t treat them differently. Although they do have their own parking.

Linda: EAT THEM.

Ted: You stole a baby?
Linda: Only for a few seconds. Turns out just because you wrote your name on something doesn’t mean you get to keep it.

Veronica: You’re so competitive it’s sick
Ted: Not as sick as you.
Veronica: That’s right. I win. Again.

Veronica: I don’t like it down there. It’s chilly, the people are odd, and it smells like science.
Linda: Well I’m not a huge fan of that place either. Last time I was down there, I got chased by some weird eight-legged bird.
Veronica: Ah, the octochicken. We had such hopes for that.

Veronica: If you have any issues at all, come see me. Although that would be a huge admission of failure on your part.

Bamba: As I recall, you were the only one who ran from the octochicken.
Linda: Well it freaked me out when it came down from its web.

Linda: Vaginas everywhere.
Security Guard: Oh my god, I love those!
Linda: Right!?

Phil: Oh. Your ears are always throwing up about something.

Lem: Good news, Ted. We took a vote, and made you the new king.
Phil: And then we took another vote, and you died. Gloriously in battle.

Lem: Rick. It’s me. God.
Phil: This is what it would be like if god was insecure.

Phil: If I wanted to get it on with refracted light, I would.

Lem: If you like lame, you should meet me for a drink tonight after I have dinner with my mom and pretend to go to bed.

Phil: Oh god, Lem, you’re using science for no good. We took an oath we would try to do that less.

Phil: I can write a program that’s triggered by an acid buildup. A sort of acid interface, or “ass face” for short.
Lem: I’m not sure these abbreviations are really worth the time they’re saving.

Linda: He has more problems than you, and you poop in your air.

Phil: I am proud of my time as a syphilitic conquistator. That was the team name. They wanted something the locals found frightening.

Lem: You went to the university of Aruba?
Phil: Where knowledge is king, and clothing is optional.

Bamba: My goodness, how I love the drugs.

Veronica: Ted, you don’t have to do all this. Just say the word and the election’s hers. We did it for Iceland, and we can do it for your kid.

Phil: Ted is like the angle opposite the hypotenuse: he’s always right.

Phil: My head was screaming “nooo” but my mouth was chewing gum.

Lem: Fireflies. The flaming plates of the insect world.

Phil: I’m a scientist, Lem. I’ve been a threat to humanity, the environment, even Jupiter once, but never to a hot girl’s boyfriend.

Ted: Technically, Mr. Cynical can’t be happy. It’s his power and his curse.

Veronica: Anything that starts with “wee” is just a fun suggestion. Like the constitution. And “weee the people.”

Lem: I don’t want Veronica to be the mother of my children. I might like my children.

Lem: He must never know about AquaTed.

Phil: This must be how a baby lion feels. When its mom yells at a receptionist to get its medical records. (Actually just that entire scene. I love Veronica.)

Ted: I know you don’t like to eat children, but it’s that kind of talk, and your cottage in the woods made of candy, that keeps those rumours alive.

Phil: Why do animals get all the best stuff attached to their body?
Lem: I would love to have a blow hole

Phil: Yes, I think you’re sexy. Yes, I don’t have a lot of grown-up drinks, and yes, I wish I had a third yes, and yes I don’t.

Phil: You love the laundry people. You take their side in everything.

Linda: No one likes a pointer. Even in the dog world they’re seen as insufferable.

Lem: If only I hadn’t tried to protect my eyes when it burst, I might have been able to save it. Stupid reflexes.

Most things about the cheese mines in Wisconsin.

Phil: It’s like the Texas chainsaw massacre if someone massacred the chainsaws.

Lem: Don’t worry Chumley. He’s only jealous because your smile is permanent, and his only comes when he’s happy.

Veronica: In 10 years, honey, you’ll look back on this moment and think, “Oooh.” (God I love Ted and Veronica together.)

Linda: Shh. Did you hear that? Somewhere, a but if being smacked against its will. A feel is being copped. A well-endowed woman is being asked if she gives fries with that shake. And so, that is where I’m needed.

Lem: Ultimately I would have chosen you. And I’m not just saying that because you’re the one who survived.

Veronica: Children. They have so many uses. They’re like adorable swiss army knives.

Veronica: You’re always coming to me with a problem. Just once, I wish you’d greet me with a sparkler and cotton candy and tell me I have the number one album in America.

Phil: Now I know what a beard of fingers would feel like.

Phil: WHO DO WE KILL! (Pretty much Veronica’s whole Carl Gordon Jenkins speech.)

Lem: Together, we’re a thing of beauty. Like a swan.
Phil: But on my own, I’ll be like half a swan. All I’ll do is make a big mess and DIE.

Phil: You know what might brighten your day? A peek at the smallest squirrel science can make.
Lem: But we’re going to have to ask you to wear a face mask. He’s crazy easy to inhale.

Phil: I’ve never been this close to your neck before. It is the perfect pedestal for your head.

Veronica: I don’t hate the Dutch. I love the Dutch. That’s why I hold them to a higher standard.

Walter: The Dutch don’t smear herring on half the things you say they do.

Phil: As a child I was beaten up constantly. The best comeback I ever came up with was, “You’re right! I will work on that.”

Veronica: I’m thinking I might need new breasts. These are covered in sadness.

Phil: Your breasts should be on display at the Swiss museum of miniatures.

Veronica: I backed over his foot when I was leaving, which, according to our relationship math means tonight’s the night.

Phil: Give a man an insult, he can hurt people for a day. Teach a man to insult, and he can hurt people who tease him because he never learnt to fish.

Veronica’s babies babies babies commitment speech.

Phil: You have been Philibustered.

Lem: That’s it. Fill up your canker-blossomed hole you ale-soused apple john. That was the Elizabethan model.
Phil: Ye have been served.

Phil: We just got Teducated.

Lem: Ted, we need your help.
Phil: We were working really hard in the lab…
Lem: …and we had this piñata.
Ted: Piñata. That doesn’t sound like really hard work.
Phil: It was stuffed with science.

Phil: Please don’t hurt us, we’re not like you.

Phil: We once meant to buy six four inch petrie dishes and instead bought four six inch petrie dishes.
Lem: It was crazy how slightly bigger it was than we needed.

Veronica and Linda’s head butting conversation with Ted.

Everything to do with Phil and the beeping machine.

Chet: Don’t worry, I’ve never hit anyone with a golf club. *beep* At least not on purpose. *beep* Hey, what’s this fun machine?
Phil: It’s just a random buzzer. *beep* It’s working!

Ted: I thought you hated him.
Veronica: I did. But then he grabbed me by the ankles and attacked me with a piece of wood and everything changed.

(Unsurprisingly, that’s:

  • Phil: 38
  • Lem: 20
  • Veronica: 18
  • Ted: 12
  • Linda: 9

I REALLY don’t want to write this essay.)

Note: There apparently was a website for Viridian Dynamics at one time, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be working now.