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December 24, 2003

Anya in re Santa Claus
Posted by Teresa at 02:43 PM *

Buffy, Season 5, Episode 16

DAWN: My nog tastes funny. I think I got one with rum in it.

WILLOW: That’s bad.

XANDER: Yeah, now Santa’s gonna pass you right by, naughty booze hound.

WILLOW: Santa always passes me by. Something puts him off. Could be the big honkin’ menorah.

TARA: (to Dawn) Oh, did you write him a letter?

XANDER: What’d you ask for?

DAWN: Um, guys, hello, puberty? Sorta figured out the whole no Santa thing.

ANYA: That’s a myth.

DAWN: Yeah.

ANYA: No, I mean, it’s a myth that it’s a myth. There is a Santa Claus.

XANDER: The advantage of having a thousand-year-old girlfriend. Inside scoop.

TARA: There’s a Santa Claus?

ANYA: Mm-hmm. Been around since, like, the 1500s. He wasn’t always called Santa, but you know, Christmas night, flying reindeer, coming down the chimney—all true.

DAWN: (smiles hopefully) All true?

ANYA: Well, he doesn’t traditionally bring presents so much as, you know, disembowel children, but otherwise…

TARA: The reindeer part was nice.
Comments on Anya in re Santa Claus:
#1 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 06:09 PM:

Sigh. I miss Tara.

#2 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 11:37 PM:

Wait. Is season 5 out on DVD? How'd I miss that?

#3 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2003, 11:53 PM:

It is. With perfect timing, it came out just as we were running out of Season 4 episodes.

#4 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 02:27 AM:

I92m so tempted to tell people to stop after Season 3.

#5 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 03:03 AM:

I believe the release date for Season 6 is actually my next birthday.... Avram, there's good in each season, and I'd hope folks wouldn't stop before season 5 at least. I mean, we didn't get the musical until much later!

#6 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 04:20 AM:

And, I'm sorry, but if the musical is the high point of later Buffy, that's a pretty dramatic condemnation of the later period of the series.

#7 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 12:28 PM:

the last one of all, which we taped last week, is actually pretty good. But the whole thing did turn into fanfic of itself. I really want to write an essay about Mary Sue as the destructive goddess of late twentieth century popular art.

#8 ::: Chubby Pecker ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 02:50 PM:

The worst thing to take is this scene is the teaser to "The Body", one of the best and hardest to watch episodes of BtVS.

The commentary on the DVD is worth it though.

#9 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 02:56 PM:

I didn't much care for most of S4, I admit, but I thought S5 was terrific. S6 would have been much better if it had taken the existing storyline and compressed it into half the season (with a bit of tweaking on the drug metaphor), and they'd done something better the rest of the way through. Plus I absolutely adore the musical and Tabula Rasa. S7 suffered the same problem as S6, but had better villains (because the Terror Triplets were just underused, more than anything).

I like Buffy herself, by the way, or at least I like her most of the time. There were parts of S6 and S7 I wanted to slap her repeatedly during, admittedly. But Willow and Tara (separately and together) remain my favorite characters. And Glory remains my favoritest villain ever.

And despite having issues with S4, it contains one of my favoritest episodes ever, so I wouldn't even wish that season away.

And I don't care if "favoritest" isn't a word.

#10 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 02:57 PM:

Addendum: Let me strengthen that a bit. I didn't just think S5 was 'terrific'. I thought it blew even S3 out of the water.

#11 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 05:34 PM:

A very wise (actually, not wise at all -- intelligent, but with the good sense of a sack of especially insensible hammers (but it's OK, because this following statement is quite wise)) once said to me
"Let's not start talking about little tiny things that could have improved the last third of Buffy vastly. If we do, we'll be here all night."

This is the failing of late Buffy. Little tiny things that turn something very good (make no mistake: seasons 5-7 are excellent telecision, better than almost anything else on) into something that disappoints (by being better than almost everything, but not as good as it could have been).

Little things. "If Only"s. If Only the dilemma's of Dawn and Glory's identities had been given more than an episode a piece. If Only some metaphor other than drugs were used for Willow's slide into temptation. If only Noxon, a superb scriptwriter, had not been handed control of seasonal plot and character arcs. If only she and Joss could fet past their respective issues just a little bit

Tiny things. To look a plot synopsis of S5or7 one cannot help but think "Wow! That sounds great!." The execution, however, while not failing outright, fails to live up to the standards of earlier seasons.

#12 ::: Vera Nazarian ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 07:20 PM:

I am also watching Buffy on DVDs for the first time ever, so now waiting impatiently for Season 6 to come out. My favorite thing is the Spike storyline....

#13 ::: Janice Dawley ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 08:00 PM:

For an alternate take on the existence of Santa Claus, see this article cribbed from Spy Magazine.

Re: the relative merit of Buffy seasons. I think season 3 was the most coherent, well-written of them all, but all have standout episodes. Even season 7, which I thought really suffered from creative burnout on the part of the writers and main cast. (Might explain why my favorite episode of that season starred the newish character Andrew the geek.)

Grr. Argh.

#14 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 09:23 PM:

Sure, lots of good bits in every season, but as a whole, the series completes the narrative arc implied by its premise with the end of Season 3, and never really recovers. It looked like it might have with the first few episodes of Season 7, but then wastes much of the season shuffling the chess pieces around on the board, and then finishes up by over-concretizing its metaphors.

#15 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 10:15 PM:

I watched a little of it during the first season, and realized two things. (1) It was a really good show, and (2) I couldn't possibly invest the time to stay with it and follow the story arc.

Every now and then, I'd see some of it, and think, this is a great show. Too bad I can't, etc., etc.

Some day, I'll end up with a chunk of time on my hands, and I'll borrow the DVDs (or XVDs, or memory cubes, or whatever) and immerse myself. When I have time to do justice to it, you know?

Until then, my favorite episode is the one with the talent show and the ventriloquist dummy, and anybody who disagrees is just... well, better informed than me, I guess.

#16 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2003, 10:19 PM:

Kip, the ventriloquist dummy episode is the first one I ever saw, in a laundromat. I said to myself Hey, those people who92ve been recommending this show may be right after all!

#17 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 01:00 AM:

The ventriloquist dummy episode ("The Puppet Show"), although not my favorite from S1, definitely is one of the better ones. Especially that bit at the end.

I don't think I would've gotten hooked if I'd started watching from the beginning. The first episode I saw, after a year of being told I'd like the show, was "Becoming Pt 2", which re-ran immediately before the S3 premier ("Anne"). That hooked me. S2 might've been able to do it.

I disagree S3 was the last of the Overall Arc seasons and point again to S5, which I think could've made a reasonably good series ender (it may have needed a post-finale episode to do it but it could've ended there).

More favorites:

S1: "The Witch", "Nightmares"
S2: Serious -- "What's My Line", "Surprise/Innocence". Less Serious: "Ted", "Bad Eggs"
S3: mmm... "Lover's Walk", "Earshot", "The Prom", and most of the rest of the season
S4: "Beer Bad", "Superstar", "Hush"
S5: "The Body", "The Gift", and less seriously, "Triangle", and most of the rest of the season, too
S6: "Once More with Feeling", "Tabula Rasa", "Gone"
S7: Since I've only seen most of the S7 episodes once, this one's harder, but... I liked the first two episodes, and though I've rarely liked Anya, her background episode.

I'm a confirmed Buffy-holic. I own the majority of the tie-in fiction, and a number of the non-fiction books, and pretty much will stop and look at nearly anything with the name on it, and the one and only fanfic I've ever written is in the Buffyverse (it's an expansion of the series finale, and someday I should post it).

#18 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 01:56 AM:

"The Puppet Show" was also the introduction of Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder. That was some great casting.

#19 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 04:15 AM:

I watched BTVS from the beginning. One hit and I was hooked. And I am not generally a television person -- I've lived without one, or without watching, for the majority of my life. When Buffy came on, I was living with someone who had a TV, and I don't even remember why someone suggested I watch it.

What kept me coming back was that the show is witty, funny, and intelligent. Less so as time went on, but often enough. (Did anyone else notice that Joss W wrote proportionally fewer episodes each season? And directed less?)

#20 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 07:48 AM:

Fans of "Once More With Feeling" might enjoy this Tolkien version:

"Once More With Hobbits"
http://omwh.gloria-mundi.net/

#21 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 12:20 PM:

Joy: "Once More, With Hobbits" has been a Particle for three days.

#22 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 03:48 PM:

We got hooked on "Buffy" during summer repeats in S3. I think the first episode we saw was the second part of the graduation episode, and we said, well, this show is all right, we'll keep watching.

I should note that the bar for TV quality is set pretty low in our house over the summer. We are addicts, we have our Minimum Daily Requirement of TV, and during the summer (and Christmas/New Year's week, too, bleah) we'll shoot up all sorts of crap to get our daily fix, it can be diluted with bleach and Drain-O, and floor sweepigns and we'll inject it into our veins anyway because we HAVE TO WATCH SOME TV.

So we watched one or two more episodes, and then came the episode where Spike comes back to Sunnydale in search of Dru, and there's all that wonderful stuff with him allied with Buffy and Angel and giving them advice like a toughlove-talking blood-brother even though he's their mortal enemy and sworn to kill them, and then there's his triumphal insight about his own relationship with Dru, and his exit from Sunnydale. And we were hooked.

Who did that cover of "My Way," anyway? The Ramones?

Chubby Pecker: The worst thing to take is this scene is the teaser to "The Body", one of the best and hardest to watch episodes of BtVS

I hear that a lot about "The Body," and I just don't get it myself. I thought "The Body" was nothing special -- or, rather, it was Very Special, it was a Very Special Episode of Buffy.

The problem with the episode is that it was too realistic. It realisticaly captured the immediate aftermath of the death of a loved one, but the problem with that is that the immediate aftermath for death is, for most people, kind of tedious. You still haven't processed the death of the loved one, you have occasional moments of deep grief but you mostly are just moving along, with your mind and emotions wrapped in a thick layer of Saran Wrap that keeps the world from touching you. Meanwhile there are lots of things to DO, funeral arrangements to be made, people to notify, mourners coming in from out of town who need to be put up and fed.

The real emotional pain comes after a few days have passed, or even -- in Jewish tradition -- after the week-long mourning period is over. You no longer have the ceremonies and legal procedures of death to distract you, the mourners have all returned home, and you're just there alone with the big absence in the place where a loved one was. But "The Body" didn't show that.

#23 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 03:55 PM:

I believe that cover of "My Way" was the Sex Pistols. (They've certainly done one, I just am not positive that was the one being played.)

"The Body" didn't show the aftermath, no, but the subsequent episodes did touch on it here and there. And people liked it, at least if I can judge by myself and my circle of friends, because they did do a good job of showing that sort of fugue state, post-death, little-things-distracting-one, dealing-with-stupid-forms thing that most people have been through to some degree or another.

Also, I have a liking for it in part because it was a natural death on a show known for supernatural deaths, and watching people have to deal with that in a well-written, well-acted way was... well, I hate to use the word 'enjoyable' about death, but it was. Intriguing, too. And one of the few moments in which I liked Anya.

#24 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 06:25 PM:

Sid Vicious's immortal performance of "My Way" starts with him singing in a horrible, wavery low voice for one verse. Then the beat kicks in and he gives the rest in a sneering voice with a heavy accent that conceals some naughty words. Giveaway line: "Today / I killed a cat / and may I say / not in a shy way..."

The Talent Show episode was a great show, and the epilog was the icing on the cake that made further adjectives necessary. Heh.

#25 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2003, 10:42 PM:

"The Body" also introduced a new way of looking at Anya. She has a brief monologue that with one substitution (change "mortal" to "grownup" each place it occurs) could have been said by any six-year-old.

Oh, I said when I saw that. Anya is a child. Sure, she's 1100-mumble years old. But she has the emotional maturity of a child. The other characters realize this too, or something similar; they stop chastizing her for asking inappropriate questions. And treat her differently in later episodes, too.

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 09:24 AM:

Every time I watch Anya, I find myself thinking that the writer must know someone with high-function autism. I think my favorite response to one of her off-the-wall inappropriate remarks is Xander saying "You are attractive and have many good qualities."

And Mitch, if I hadn't already been hooked, the episode where Spike comes back to Sunnydale would have done it, especially his parting speech:

Oh, God! It's been so long since I had a decent spot of violence. Really puts things in perspective. ...

I'm really glad I came here, you know? I've been all wrongheaded about this. Weeping, crawling, blaming everybody else. I want Dru back, I've just gotta be the man I was, the man she loved. I'm gonna do what I shoulda done in the first place: I'll find her, wherever she is, tie her up, torture her until she likes me again.

Love's a funny thing.

#27 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 03:07 PM:

TNH - That was also the episode where Spike said, "I may be love's bitch, but at least I'm man enough to admit it," which is sort of his slogan.

#28 ::: teep ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 05:07 PM:

I am watching Buffy on DVD. I never saw it on real tv because I don't have a real tv. (I watch the DVDs on my laptop.)

Watching television via DVD is good because the storylines and 'big picture' are a lot more obvious to me than they would be if I watched the episodes as they are doled out on regular TV.

There are also no commercials with DVD, which makes me entirely too happy.

Finally, it's possible to watch the show until the shark-jumping moment and no further, which is why I do not have any idea what happens to X-Files after they stopped filming it in Canada. (The last season we have is the one with Mulder in the desert painted red.)

According to my sources, by season 5, Buffy has not yet jumped the shark. My sources, who are way, way, way too fond of the Buffy-Spike dynamic, are probably not impartial observers. However, since I'm also way too fond of the Buffy-Spike dynamic, I am not complaining.

#29 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 06:39 PM:

Actually, I dont think Buffy ever did jump the shark. I remember reading all this moaning over there when the final season was being aired, about how awful the pacing was, how it was dragging, etc., but that was because you were getting - what? - two new episodes followed by a bunch of repeats. I saw the episodes pretty much back-to-back, and the pacing was pretty much perfect. Although people complain it was never the same after series 3, I have to say I think all of them have their merits. If I was to rank them in order of personal preference, I think it would be: 3,2,5,1,7,4,6. This doesn't mean I disliked 6, however, just that the others were stronger.

#30 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 06:55 PM:

My husband used to complain about what he called Buffy's "seasonal allergies": at the beginning of every season, she'd be a complete bitch, and eventually she'd calm down and become human again. He also had a problem with the way that characters would learn something really important -- like "share information" and "trust your friends" and "you can't solve everything on your own" -- and, two episodes later, be doing the same thing all over again.

Having said that, I've been a Buffy addict since just about the beginning and often use random quotes and references as part of our regular conversation. When I was getting out of a bad relationship, it was a lot easier to tell people "it was very 6th season Spike and Buffy" than to go into sordid details.

#31 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 08:08 PM:

What Rob Said -- "Buffy" never really went bad. The final seasons weren't as good as the earlier seasons, but all the seasons had gems.

I'd say Season Seven was the weakest of all of them. On the other hand, it did give the series a satisfying ending and we finally get he whole story of the origin of the Slayers, which also turns out in a very satisfying way. In particular, the origin story addresses something about "Buffy" which occurred to me after a couple of seasons watching. I thought this thing was a central flaw of the series, a big-elephant-in-the-living-room that had to be ignored in order to enjoy the series, but that very thing turned out to be a central theme of Season Seven.

Also, there was much satisfying character development of Spike -- especially for viewers watching "Angel" at the same time -- once they got Spike out of the basement, that is.

Rachel Heslin: "When I was getting out of a bad relationship, it was a lot easier to tell people 'it was very 6th season Spike and Buffy' than to go into sordid details."

Jeez, if that's the case, I hope you had a lot of homeowner's insurance. :)

#32 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 08:11 PM:

One of the many cool things about "Buffy" and "Angel" is that the producers seem to like and respect the fans. They listen to what the fans say, and many themes of the show really seem to be part of a dialogue with the fans.

I can't think of any other TV show that has the kind of respect and liking for the fans that Joss & Co. have. Not even "Babylon 5," and certainly not "Trek." (Both fine shows in their own right, I hasten to add.)

#33 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 09:24 PM:

Teep wrote:

Watching television via DVD is good because the storylines and 'big picture' are a lot more obvious to me than they would be if I watched the episodes as they are doled out on regular TV.
There are also no commercials with DVD, which makes me entirely too happy.
Words can hardly express how much I agree with this. I've been TV-disabled for most of my adult life. I can't stand having to remember to watch at a particular time, having to put up with commercial breaks every nine minutes, and worst of all, having the storyline parsed out in tiny little weekly fragments. If I had to read novels at a pace of a chapter a week, I'd never read novels, either.

Yeah, videotape, and yeah, TiVo. But those also involve planning. And videotape basically sucks, anyway. Without top-drawer equipment, you get an image that's even crappier than normal TV. Which is saying something.

But getting! Entire! Seasons! Of television shows! On DVD! And watching them! On! Your high-resolution computer monitor! In gulps of 22 episodes over just a few days! I may never read a book again!

Okay, I'm kidding about that last. And yes, this is the sorry sight of a middle-aged guy suddenly getting a clue. But still.

#34 ::: LNHammer ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 09:47 PM:

Eventually, I'm going to have to watch the second half of season 7. It got weak enough I simply lost interest (thus removing any reason to turn the television on in the first place). This after really liking seasons 3-5.

---L.

#35 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2003, 10:01 PM:

The guy at toughpigs said it best: DVD is turning us into a nation of completist geeks. Five years ago, wanting EVERY EPISODE of a series was obsessive and futile. Now, its easy and common. I also think it's improved the quality of TV -- something that is going to last forevever is more likely to be crafted as such.

#36 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 12:49 AM:

Five years ago, wanting EVERY EPISODE of a series was obsessive and futile. Now, its easy and common.

Does that make it harder for videomancers to gather charges?

#37 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 04:03 AM:

Rob: I'm with you on the rankings, except that I switch 2 and 3, and 1 and 5. This is a matter of personal taste: I liked Angelus better than the Mayor, and the Master better than Glory.

I was going to post about how I disliked most of season 6, but it would involve spoilers that PNH and TNH might not appreciate.

#38 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2003, 07:47 PM:

Avram: Overpriced Limited Editions are worth at least their weight in mojo.

#39 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2003, 10:24 AM:

I'm here in the "How on earth did I ever watch TV before DVD" camp. Steven & I almost never watch casually. On Saturday we tuned the telly to something other than CBeebies for the first time in months; the very final episode of The Office. But if we hadn't been reminded by other people that it was on, we'd have forgotten. On the other hand, DVDs are just lovely. All that great entertainment just sitting there waiting for you.

#40 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2003, 11:59 AM:

I found season 6 painful to watch, in much the same way that I found the most recent Harry Potter book painful to read. This is not to say that either one is bad - in fact I found both to be very good - but that while watching, or reading, I was frequently beset by the burning desire to step into the book or the TV screen and shake some sense into these beloved characters. I suspect that this is the main reason for the intense dislike that season 6 ellicits - every single character spent that year hurting themselves and the people they loved, and it was awful to watch. It was also, however, true and necessary. Buffy's season 5 is still my favorite, but I recognize that the challenges that she, and the other characters, faced during that year - challenges that forced them to be heroic, to make grand sacrifices - were not nearly so difficult as the challenges they met - and failed to overcome - in season 6.

So sure, it had its problems, but I will always have no end of respect for the Buffy team for daring to make season 6. They spent a year building Buffy up as the hero to end all heroes, and instead of simply providing her with another Big Bad for the year after, they dared to look past heroism, and to see that the next challenge Buffy needed to face was, in her own words, living in the world. They gambled that they could drag put their character - and viewers - through hell, and emerge stronger on the other side. As far as I'm concerned, they were right.

#41 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2003, 04:26 PM:

Season 6 had plenty of weaknesses, but Evil Willow was a great villain (just as Vamp Willow was). I was rooting for Evil Willow to continue as a real Big Bad. Not that Xander's talking her down from destroying the world wasn't one of TV's great moments.

#42 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2003, 08:01 PM:

Abigail writes: "I suspect that this is the main reason for the intense dislike that season 6 ellicits - every single character spent that year hurting themselves and the people they loved, and it was awful to watch."

Heh, no. I was good with that part. It was the redeeming feature of the season, in fact. It's just that I think they dragged out the storylines in ways they shouldn't oughta have been drug.

(Of course, you should see what I do to my characters.)

#43 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2003, 08:03 PM:

Oh, yes, and absolute Best Villain Scene of S6 is Evil Veiny Willow and "Bored now."

The people I was watching with cringed. I, on the other hand, said, "EXCELLENT!"

Hey... why is everyone edging away from me?

(She had a better line with the fight with Buffy, though, and Giles had the Best Arrival of S6 in the same scene.)

#44 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 12:47 AM:

Tina, wasn't that in season 3?

"Buffy" jumped the shark the moment that Buffy first kissed Spike for real, at the end of the musical episode in season 6. The accompanying line was "Where do we go from here?" The characters had no idea, and neither, it turned out, did the writers.

I don't expect anyone to agree with this, of course.

#45 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 06:37 AM:

Simon, the "Bored Now" comment was made by Vampire!Willow in season 3 (either The Wish or Dopplegangland, I'm not sure). That Evil!Willow echoes that line is, to my mind, far more chilling then what she does right afterwards.

I can see claiming that Buffy jumped the shark after season 5, although I don't agree with that claim, but why choose that particular moment? That only makes sense if you think Buffy and Spike's kiss was supposed to be romantic. To me, their entire relationship was the antithesis of romance, as Buffy tells us herself right before she kisses Spike - "This isn't real, but I just want to feel."

I felt really sorry for all the Buffy/Spike 'shippers throughout season 6. Supposedly they were having their every fantasy played out, but in reality it was an empty, hurtful, destructive relationship which demeaned both its partners.

#46 ::: Adam Lipkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 11:24 AM:

Teep said: "Watching television via DVD is good because the storylines and 'big picture' are a lot more obvious to me than they would be if I watched the episodes as they are doled out on regular TV. There are also no commercials with DVD, which makes me entirely too happy."

and then Patrick said: "But getting! Entire! Seasons! Of television shows! On DVD! And watching them! On! Your high-resolution computer monitor! In gulps of 22 episodes over just a few days!"

I was at a friend's house this past weekend (to get back into Dungeons & Dragons, which is perhaps a bit silly at 27, but never mind), and he had put Alias, the first season, on; so us there started watching, and the day became nothing but that. We watched 14 episodes straight through (nos. 5 - 18); 11 hours. I'd never seen the show, so it was all new to me, but I was converted (I think it was at the point where people started blinking Morse code at each other). I ended up buying the two season sets the next day.

Watching it in that way brought out the overarching themes and plotlines and story arcs incredibly well; it's just so easy to keep track of who was who and who was where and what was where and what was what. The fact that you can remember that there is a 'big picture' is a big plus. Not having to wait through weeks of repeats and no-shows is great. (And no commercials! And bits that were cut for syndication get put back in!! Brilliant!!!)

TV on DVD is probably the best idea the studios (or whoever) have had in a long time. Now if only they'd put out the shows I want... although happily I've been fairly lucky with that (e.g. Homicide, Kids In The Hall, Futurama, and Newsradio).

#47 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 01:43 PM:

Has anyone mentioned so far that watching whole seasons of a TV show in short order is helpful if the show is has an overarching storyline? Older shows with complete stories in each episode would probably get rather tiring rather faster, especially if they're half-hour light comedies. That's regardless of how good they are. Then there's old-style serials, which are worse: "Rocky & Bullwinkle" features endless recaps, and gets very tiring after a continuous half hour, I'm sorry to say, because I like it a lot.

Abigail, I don't think "Buffy" jumped the shark because Buffy & Spike's relationship was romantic. I think it jumped the shark for the reason you didn't like the relationship: that it was pure wish-fulfillment for fans.

Note that the show had already teased us with Buffy-Spike relationship stories that weren't "true": the spell they were under in "Something Blue", the Buffy sexbot, one or two dreams that Spike had, and so on. Making it "real" merely vitiated the humor of the earlier stories.

#48 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 01:55 PM:

But it was the complete opposite of wish fulfillment. Buffy and Spike's relationship was nothing like those fantasies you mentioned. It was terrible and hurtful, and I can't imagine any viewer but the least attentive not seeing that. Not only did the writers not give those fans what they wanted, they poisoned the well. Buffy's first kiss with Spike was a result of her feeling so numb that even his cold comfort was enough. The first time they had sex was brutal, and mostly about Buffy wanting to hurt herself. And then, of course, there's Spike's attempted rape of Buffy later in the season. Like I said, I felt sorry for the B/S shippers.

#49 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 04:04 PM:

There's nothing worse than wish-fulfillment that doesn't even fulfill.

Yet, the B/S groupies* I know didn't feel unfulfilled by this dysfunctional relationship. Maybe they wanted a dysfunctional relationship. They certainly couldn't have been surprised, considering the history of both characters. Or most likely they considered Spike such a dreamboat that it just didn't matter what kind of relationship he had with Buffy so long as he was having sex and/or liplock with her.

*I'm not familiar with this term "shippers" - is it short for worshippers?

#50 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 04:05 PM:

Anyway. Either way, success at wish-fulfillment or not:

Shark. Jump.

#51 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2003, 04:24 PM:

Simon -

"'shippers" is short for "Reationship(pers", a word I first heard regarding Scully and Mulder in the X-Files.

My overall problem with Season 6 was the tendency of the writers (show-runner Noxon? I don't know) to back of from the Magic/Fantasy elements of the show. After a while, it seemed like the only Supernatural stuff in the show was used as an example of Evil, and the characters suffered for it. Spike all of a sudden wasn't a Vampire (impotent or not) so much as a Big Violent Jerk of a Male, Buffy wasn't a young woman who happened to be the Slayer, she became a Mean, Manipulative Victim, and Willow wasn't a witch with uncertain eithics, she was Addicted to Magic (an oversimplification which was quickly dispensed with by a line from Giles in season 7). And while I appreciated the realism in "The Body" (which is difficult to watch more than once, even though I think it's one of the best episodes of any tv show) I think making a whole season less Fantasy-ish drained a lot of the life out of it.

I think it mostly recovered in season 7 though.

And I too started watching it on DVD. I had enjoyed Firefly, and never seen Buffy, but then I caught Spike's debut, and was forced to start watching the DVDs. I'm glad I pretty much watched all of them together, without hiatus-es and season breaks, which would have driven me batty, especially in that 6th season.

#52 ::: Elise Matthesen ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2004, 05:06 PM:

Juan pointed out to me the interesting habit in Buffy of having the "bad guys" (I wouldn't have put the marks in , but then I thought Spike deserved that much, at least) tell the truth, whereas the good guys do not always. In fact, avoiding the truth, either by not talking about it or by not facing it enough to recognize it in the first place, is pretty much a hallmark of the ensouled mortal regular folks who are the, you know, touchstone of being human or something.

And TNH - I will mention your high-functioning autism comment to Juan, as he is a big Anya fan.

#53 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2004, 07:47 PM:

Elise - One great example of the evil speaking truth in "Buffy" is the S6 or S7 episode where each of four major characters gets into a converstation with a dead person (I think that the episode was called "Conversations With Dead People" -- by gosh that Joss Whedon can be obscure sometimes!) The Sunnydale-High-alum-turned-psych-student-turned-vampire was one of "Buffy's" best special guest villians, and the fight and coversation between him and Buffy was one of Buffy's best set-pieces.

Indeed, it seems that it was part of the First Evil's nature that he could not lie. At least, I don't remember him every lying. He just picked the worst parts of the truth to tell.

#54 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2004, 09:53 PM:

Um, folks, Season 6 of Buffy hasn92t come out on DVD yet, so I92m pretty sure P&T haven92t seen it yet, so you92ve just handed them a plateful of spoilers.

#55 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2004, 09:56 PM:

nerdycellist: A good reason for watching "The Body" again is Whedon's commentary on the DVD, full of interesting discussion of how he uses the camera to tell the story. (Somewhat similarly to his use of it in Firefly's "Objects in Space")

You caught Spike's debut? His original debut, where he walks in and says "If every vampire who says he was at the Crucifixion was really there, it'd have been like bloody Woodstock"? That was a choice scene, and probably a good place to start.

My problem with season 7 was that it was thin. Everything seemed to happen twice, or more.

#56 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2004, 11:58 PM:

Spike's entrance signalled a change in mood and direction for "Buffy." Until, Spike, Joss was still playing with an Anne Rice-influenced Goth vampire mythos, what with the Master and the eternal child vampire leader. Spike literally said that was boring, and took the show in a completely different -- and better -- direction.

#57 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2004, 02:02 AM:

Scripsit Avram:

"Um, folks, Season 6 of Buffy hasn92t come out on DVD yet, so I92m pretty sure P&T haven92t seen it yet, so you92ve just handed them a plateful of spoilers."

Actually, a mysterious stranger in a bow tie happened to hand us high-resolution MPEGs of seasons 6 and 7, all of which we devoured over a three-day period last week, so spoilers hold no terror for us.

Currently we're 2/3 of the way into Angel S2, so you can see we're really hard cases.

#58 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2004, 09:54 AM:

Angel's seasons 3 and 4 were better than the Buffy seasons that were airing at the time. Still, I'll grab Buffy s7 on DVD and sit through all the repetitiveness again just so I can have "Selfless."

Olaf: I've told you a thousand times, I have no interest in this Rannveig. Her hips are large and load-bearing, like a Baltic woman. Your hips are narrow, like a Baltic woman from a slightly more arid region.
#59 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2004, 01:23 PM:

Mitch: Agreed. And he did it with such panache. Took all of thirty seconds to let you know it was a different game now.

We're plowing through Angel. It has its dissatisfactions, but Holland seducing Lindsay Macdonald ("Blind Date", first season) is the most frightening thing I've ever seen on television that wasn't a news report.

#60 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2004, 02:12 PM:

TNH - "Plowing through"? Uh-oh, sounds like you maybe might not be enjoying it all that much.

I'm afraid I don't remember Holland seducing Lindsay. I foresee a DVD rental in our future.

"Angel" had long stretches -- almost whole seasons -- of dreary stuff. The only thing the whole Darla storyline has going for it is the actress Julie Benz.

#61 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2004, 03:52 PM:

I dunno, Mitch, if Teresa's "not enjoying it all that much" then it's remarkable how frequently she wants to watch another episode, and then one more after that. On my computer,, too, may I had.

The scene Teresa is referring to is when Holland first catches Lindsay doing stuff that's against the interests of Wolfram & Hart, and does a fabulous job of enticing Lindsay back into the fold with a combination of blandishment and unstated threat. It's certainly one of the more realistic and creepy depictions of that sort of exercise of power that I've ever seen on a prime-time TV show. (Cue PNH rant, delivered at several writing workshops, about the lack of realism of political power-interactions in most fantasy and SF.)

#62 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2004, 04:02 PM:

Actually, Patrick, as an amateur fantasist and world-building addict, that's a rant I'd be quite interested to read.

#63 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2004, 04:51 PM:

Patrick: what Dan said.

#64 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2004, 08:29 AM:

I had problems with the earliers seasons of Angel, and even season 3 felt uneven to me, but with season 4 the creators of that show managed, very quietly, to do the miraculous - tell one continuous story that drew you in and didn't let go for 22 hours.

It seems that Angel is now veering away from that territory. I realize that the season 4 style isn't something that you can keep for very long (see 24, which hasn't been worth watching since the middle of the first season) but the pendulum seems to have swung too far in the other direction. The show now seems very episodic (plus, Amy Acker's skirts are slowly disappearing, and so is the character. I liked Fred so much last year).

Whatever happens, there's still season 4, and of course, the immortal "Numfar, do the dance of joy!"

#65 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2004, 08:34 AM:

Large parts of Angel: The Series are about the use and misuse of power. Most of the rest of it is about the problem of how to live well in an imperfect world. Not surprisingly, the show deals a lot more with the grey areas of things than Buffy does.

(And the Darla storyline in Season Two is one of my favorite bits. Mileage varies widely, especially in the Jossverse.)

#66 ::: Abigail ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2004, 09:22 AM:

I've never accepted the claim that Angel is supposedly darker then Buffy. Buffy's season 6 is so much darker and bleaker then anything we've seen on Angel - even Angel's flirt with insanity in season 2 or Wesley's arc in seasons 3 and 4. Plus, Buffy seems to have the courage to step away from the fantastic and look at the mundane (as I mentioned in an earlier comment, that's what made season 6 so powerful) which Angel has not yet dared to do.

#67 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2004, 09:58 AM:

Angel is "darker" in the sense that it plays, as I said, more with the grey areas of life and morality than with the stark divisions of black and white. The show also owes a great deal to the conventions of film noir and the hardboiled detective genre (Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett have a good deal to answer for), which may also contribute to the "dark" impression.

#68 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2004, 12:44 PM:

Here we have a fundamental disagreement. Angel S1 I liked quite a bit. S2 was terrific, even if the underlying premise was a little... strange; I never felt they bogged down, and then they did that lovely switch in focus later. But S3 and S4?

Guys, I almost stopped watching, both seasons. In fact, I did stop watching Angel last season, and didn't go back until the guest appearances from Buffy characters came up. S4 was terrible. S3 just started to bore the hell out of me, actually much for the same reasons Buffy S6 did (thus proving the same writers worked on both) until its end.

Since there are clearly people here, including our hosts, that haven't seen these seasons, I won't go into details, but with the usual single-episode and minor-arc exceptions, I'd rather just pretend Angel S4 didn't exist. Kinda like X-Files S7-9.

I'll be buying Angel S3 on DVD, but I'm not sure about S4...

(PS: S6 of Buffy may not be out in the U.S., but it is in other regions, so non-U.S. people, take note of spoiler comments.)

BTW, I'm miffed. My Buffy S5#4 DVD won't play on my PS2, currently my only DVD player. I've had some problems with other Buffy discs in the PS2, and on my computer before my DVD drive broke, but I'm especially miffed this time because disc 4 has several of the better episodes from S5...

#69 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2004, 02:39 PM:

Patrick: What Dan and Xopher said.

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