What We’re Watching – 4/5/2011

Also, I’ve been on a major Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon as of late.

To let you all know my history with this franchise, I went to the theater and saw the original movie when it came out. I never thought it was very good, so when a TV series version first came on I thought, “The movie sucked, why would I want to watch a lame TV ripoff of it?” So I passed on it. After a year or two, when it became a phenomenon and everyone talked about how good it was, I felt that I was too late to jump on the bandwagon, so I let the whole thing go.

When Firefly came along, however, I was one of 3 or 4 people that actually watched it while it was on. That series famously was killed before its time, but that did give me a good intro to the mind of Joss Whedon. I’ve since watched all of Firefly and Serenity a few times and will always love it. Now it’s got a whole cult of Browncoats surrounding it, and I doubt you’ll ever be able to stop that signal.

As of late, however, Buffy and Angel have been available on Netflix streaming, so it finally seemed like time to take the plunge. My family and I are just about to finish Season 6 of Buffy and we are in the middle of Season 3 of Angel. It’s all been pretty fun and terrific. Whedon’s dialogue is self-referential, laden with pop culture, and yet still drives the characters. Also, I have to say how impressed I am by this group of actors. They often have to sell some pretty ridiculous situations, whether it be a killer ventriloquist dummy, a demon who hosts a karaoke bar, or the famous musical episode. But Sarah Michelle Gellar and the gang are always up to the challenge. They make you care and believe in the Scooby gang. Also, there is no question that of all the things she robbed, Stephanie Meyer severely stole from these series when creating her Twilight saga. Buffy has vampires that have tortured souls and are in love with the main girl. It has a werewolf who is a really good guy vying for the attentions of another of our main characters. And relationships, relationships, relationships…all in a small town high school setting. Sound familiar?

I do have a few nits to pick. Sometimes I think the budget got in the way of the show a little bit. Since it was on the WB and UPN, I’m guessing that Buffy never had the biggest budget on TV. Sometimes a scene is staged so that characters have to repeat the plot a couple of times while stuck in one room, probably to eat up more time by using less sets. Sometimes they can use that to their advantage, like the birthday episode where a spell keeps everyone stuck in Buffy’s house. Pretty funny. But other times this limitation can make an episode drag a little bit.

Also, originally Sunnydale is supposed to be a small town where nothing is going on (except for demons coming out of a hellmouth, of course). Yet, by my reckoning, they have a Metropolitan sized art museum, a major set of shipping docks at the waterfront, a college, and apparently an international airport. Granted, the gang only seems to ever go to one night club, The Bronze, that they have been frequenting since freshman year of high school, but still patronize in their adult lives…but still, that’s a lot of stuff in a small town. Oh well, at least they only seem to have one cemetery.

Meanwhile, one of my only complaints with Angel is the character of Gunn. While I appreciate that they at least tried to bring in a non-white presence on the show, his drama concerning his street gang that fights demons feels forced. It feels like a white guy trying to create a black character. Basically, it feels like a fakey gang you find in a TV show, not the kind that exists in real life.

On a final complaint, my daughter is starting to find Dawn whiny and annoying.

But please, let me brush that all aside by saying Joss Whedon is my Jedi Master now, as well. Both of these series are remarkably good fun. The cast and writing are the main sources of greatness, and honestly, those are probably the most important things on any show. So I look forward to finishing both of these shows in the next few weeks.

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I'm a family man who got his Drama degree back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and now works at a desk. I love movies of all kinds, and I am still working my way through the list of 1001 movies you must see before you die.

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