timetravellingbunny: (Buffy Spike Spuffy Tarot)
I've just finished season 2 of True Blood and started season 3 (I've only seen up to 3.1), and I've got very mixed feelings.

WARNING: Spoilers for the first 2 seasons of True Blood; small spoilers for The Vampire Diaries (mostly season 1), mild spoiler for season 3 of Being Human UK (nothing related to the main characters os big arcs).

I'd appreciate if you didn't reveal spoilers for episodes of True Blood after 3.1, except to generally tell me if my conclusions still hold for the rest of the show. My views of the show have changed quite a bit since season 1.

I think that TB is becoming my least favorite representation of vampires in recent fiction, bar Twilight. Sure, a lot of fiction gets to mix its vampire metaphors and those metaphors aren't perfect (BtVS and AtS did it, Being Human does it) but I think they're all over the place in True Blood and it's become really problematic.
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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)
This was the season where the show become great rather than just good, and it’s stood the test of time. I’d even say it seems even better now that it did the first time I watched it. I always appreciated the great episodes and the Angel-goes-bad arc, but now I can see how even the standalones that apparently have nothing to do with the arc reflect on the main themes. It’s certainly one of the best seasons of the show.

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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)
When I was about to watch this episode, I wondered if I can still be affected by it, since I’ve seen it several times. Of course, this is one of the most important and iconic episodes of the show, but can it still move me when I almost know it by heart? And…it didn’t exactly make me cry this time, but it’s still an awesome episode you could watch over and over,.

As a season finale, it’s one of the best. It perfectly resolves so many storylines from season 2: Buffy’ s strained relationship with her mother, Snyder’s attempts to find a reason to expel Buffy, Willow’s relationships with Xander and Oz, the Spike/Dru/Angel triangle, the B/A romance and the “Angel loses his soul” story; and in the best tradition of bittersweet Whedon finales, it manages to have Buffy defeat the Big Bad and stop an apocalypse, but leaves her emotionally devastated.

Throughout the episode, things just keep going wrong for Buffy, with just an occasional break. First cops want to arrest her for Kendra’s murder and she has to run away, then she finds out that Willow is in hospital with a serious head injury, and that Giles is kidnapped; Snyder uses the opportunity to expel her from school, and later her mother tells her not to come back home, all while she has an apocalypse to stop. If episodes like Prophecy Girl and School Hard were about Buffy surviving because of her connections to family and friends, this one is about coming to the point when you only have yourself to rely on. As foreshadowed by Whistler’s voiceover in part 1, this is where she finds out who she is. And that’s someone who never gives up and keeps fighting, even in the most desperate situation:

Whistler: In the end, you’re all you’ve got.

Buffy: I have nothing left to lose.
Whisler: Wrong, kid. You’ve got one more thing.

Angel(us): No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what is left?
Buffy (stopping his sword with her bare hand): Me.

To make things all the harder for her, she’s put in the position where she has to kill the man she loves to save the world (well, sort of, since Angel gets sucked into hell, but doesn’t actually die). But the emotional cost is too high, and the season 2 finale ends in both triumph and despair, as Buffy runs away from her life, trying to become someone else.

For an episode with so much pain and drama, it also has an amazing amount of humor, sometimes even at the same time. There are two scenes (Buffy and Spike coming up with the lie that they’re in a band, and Joyce and Spike trying to make small talk) that I would rank among the funniest in the show. There’s self-mocking humor even in show’s ending credits this time, as the Mutant Enemy monster doesn’t growl “URGH-ARGH” but whines “Ooh I need a hug!”

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timetravellingbunny: (Tarot Buffy tower)

I should have really posted one of these reviews a month ago, and the other 2 weeks ago. In fact, parts of the text here is what I posted back then and in the meantime on BF and other forums. I intended to expand those into real reviews and post them on LJ and Dreamwidth, but due to a combination of being really busy and getting distracted with other stuff (and maybe some laziness), I never got around to it. So why now? Well, because it's the last moment, Angel & Faith #4 is going to be released soon ,and 'm the kind of person who does everything at the last possible moment - but I still get it done.

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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)

So there it is, finally, the season 2 two-part finale. This season has been really amazing, especially its second part, or more precisely the arc about Angel losing his soul and going bad; and Becoming is a near-perfect finale.

There is a big theme of Destiny vs Free will running through this two-parter. As the title says, it is all about transformation, about becoming someone/something else; but part 1 is full of flashbacks that show people becoming something new due to fate, to circumstances they couldn’t control, to something that someone else did to them, or to an intervention of higher powers, while the present day plot is about what is done to our heroes, the situation they’ve been put in – while part 2 is about people making their own choices, choosing how to deal with the situation they’ve been put in.

Review of part 1 )


timetravellingbunny: (Tarot Buffy tower)
There's very little discussion on LJ or any of the Buffy/Angel forums I frequent  about the comics that Dark Horse has published in the past that are set in the Buffyverse universe, while not being a direct continuation of either of the two shows. .

If Wikipedia and Buffy Wiki are right, they are canon. Well, Fray (definitely canon, due to the crossover with season 8) and the compilations Tales of the Slayers (with characters that are referenced in "The Chain") and Tales of the Vampires (at least one story is referenced/followed upon in season 8) seem to be.

In fact, Dark Horse have actually continued to release comics like this during season 8, only now they were loosely putting them under the season 8 banner - like "Tales of the Vampires: The Trill" one-shot and the web-comic "Carpe Noctem", both of which would work as a part of another Tales of the Vampires book. Or for that matter, "The Chain", which despite being a numbered issue, would fit in the Tales of the Slayers (except that it's better than most stories in that book).

So, have you read any of those comics, and did you like them? Would you like to discuss them?

Read my thoughts and impressions )


timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)

This is the kind of standalone episode that would fit well in season 1 – an obvious but still effective metaphor about some particular aspect of the dark side of school life (Witch, The Pack, Out of Mind, Out of Sight). This time it’s a heavy-handed “don’t take steroids, they’ll frak you up” message, with a realistic portrayal of other unpleasant things that surround school sports: ruthless, over-ambitious coaches (something that The Pack already touched on), the entitlement and arrogance of the members of the sports-team (including the pressure put on the teachers to give them better grades even if they are blatantly disinterested in studying or homework), sexism and rape culture. Well, “realistic” apart from that thing where this particular brand of steroids (mixed with fish DNA) makes the swimmers literally turn into fish monsters similar to the Creature from the Black Lagoon (which actually gets name-checked). Incidentally, it just occurred to me that this kind of story about humans turning into mutans after being injected some other species’ DNA is exactly the kind of story I hate when Star Trek does it – but BtVS is a whole different story, since it’s not a science fiction show and never pretends to take the “science” of it seriously; it’s a fantasy and it’s all about the metaphor. First we see at the athletes have been acting as aggressive jerks because of the steroids (psychological effects, just the same as in real life), then we see them turn physically into monsters (the disastrous effect of steroids on the body).

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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)
The second part of season 2 just keeps breaking you heart, doesn’t it – after Passion, here is another moving, dark, haunting (no pun intended) episode. While no main characters die in this one, this is one of those episodes that make me cry every single time. Both for its ghost story about the 1950s tragic romance between Sunnydale high school student James (young Christopher Gorham) and his teacher Grace, which ended in a murder and suicide that gets replayed several times by different pairings of actors – but loses none of its poignancy – and for the way it resonates with the Buffy/Angel story in an unexpected way. And this time it was no different, I started bowling my eyes out since the scene where Buffy is over-identifying with James, to the 1950s scenes between James and Grace, to the climactic resolution as Buffy and Angel get possessed and replay the fateful scene. Writer Marti Noxon has said that the ghosts were really a metaphor for repentance and second chances, and this is exactly what the episode conveys.



timetravellingbunny: (Tarot Buffy tower)

This issue seems to be real opener of the season, the one where the plot and themes of the season are really introduced (which is something that happened in BtVS seasons 2,3,4 and 5, where the season premiere was character-driven and either dealing with fallout from the previous season, or it was s standalone hinting at future character issues, while the arcs and main characters of the season were introduced in episode 2, 3 or even 7: When She Was Bad / School Hard in season 2, Anne /Faith, Hope and Trick in season 3, The Freshman/The Initiative in season 4, Buffy vs Dracula / Real Me and No Place Like Home in season 5).

The issue is great in plot and introductions, and just OK in characterization. I liked the previous issue better. It was more layered, while this one is mostly straightforward and occasionally too on the nose, as when Buffy’s narration includes lines like “What does the real world have against me, and why doesn’t it want me to live in it” when she complains that everyone is having a “normal life” but her. Issue 1 conveyed that by showing her desperately trying to think of any possible careers she might have, or by that “everyone is making out except Buffy” panel. Some things are already feeling a bit too repetitive: Buffy wishing for a normal life and complaining she can’t have one; Willow complaining about the Seed; Spike warning Buffy that something dangerous is coming for her.

I would probably like this issue better if so many of the revelations of this issue weren’t things that have already been guessed and discussed long time ago on various forums, thanks to writer interviews and released covers and solicitations.

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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)
My belated thoughts about Angel & Faith #2 (that I didn't post before for no other reason than that I didn't find time for it).

I'm more ambivalent about this issue than about #1, because there are things I really loved, and some things I was bothered by - in the sense that they show how the series might go wrong. However, it all depends on how the series is developed later.

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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)
After my "top 10 best opening titles" list, here is the list of my favorite songs used in the opening titles of a TV show. Two two lists somewhat overlap, but not too much. Note that the criteria was both the song itself, and the way it is used in the credits and fits the show.

the list! )

timetravellingbunny: (Default)
Some of my favorite TV shows have opening titles that are just OK. But sometimes the opening titles and the theme song are among the first things that drew me to a TV show, and that I enjoy watching every time.

This isn't just about the theme songs, but about the visuals and the song. Stay tuned for my top 10 best theme songs in a TV show, which is going to overlap a little, but not too much!

see the list! )
timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)
I know that a lot of people hate this episode, but it’s an OK little early seasons horror story with some nice moments between Buffy, her friends and her mom, although nothing particularly important happens and it could be taken out without the story suffering at all. Nothing puts it above average for BtVS but nothing puts it below either.

When Buffy comes down with flu, we learn she is scared of hospitals because of a childhood trauma when she saw her cousin Celia die in a hospital. It’s the first time we hear anything about any relatives of hers other than her parents. Being rushed to the hospital against her will (after Angel[us] used her condition to beat her about in the graveyard) proves to be a blessing in disguise as it allows her to investigate a series of suspicious deaths of children, not as natural as they seem.

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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)

One of the high points of the show and its first really heartbreaking episode, this was the moment when I first realized BtVS was one of the greatest dramas on TV. Having Angel go evil was a bold move, but the real game-changer was having him kill a character we know and care about and cause great pain and loss to a core Scooby member.

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timetravellingbunny: (Tarot Buffy tower)
So, finally, after a long wait, three preview pages, lots of craziness in the fandom caused by spoilers and a couple of weird early reviews and people's general tendencies to read their own preconceptions and obsessive peeves into the text and several really bizarre quasi-controversies with some things blown way out of proportion, I finally read the first issue of Buffy season 9 and liked it, though it's not as impressive as #40.

I'll add some belated thoughts about the first issue of Angel & Faith, which was out 2 weeks ago.

timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)
This episode is mostly known for the wacky love-spell-gone-wrong comedy, but I find it a bit overrated as comedy and actually like the parts before the spell much better. The stuff with Xander and Cordy’s relationship is really good for the first 20 or so minutes, and another plus is that the darker B-plot with Angel is woven nicely into the fabric of the episode together with the comedy parts. Once the spell kicks in, it’s fun, but I don’t find it nearly as funny as Band Candy, Something Blue or Tabula Rasa. But it’s the resolution of the Xander/Cordy storyline that bothers me, and takes half a point off from my rating. Cordy breaks up with Xander out of a shallow reason – her social status in school – but the reasons she takes him back, not just in spite of, but because of his stupid, irresponsible actions, are very misguided.

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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)

I guess it had to happen: with all other kinds of monsters in the verse, sooner or later we had to meet a werewolf. The twist is that it’s Oz, the nicest and by all appearance calmest and least aggressive man in the show. And of course it’s right after Willow started dating him, because there has to be some sort of complication in the most stable relationship, which means that Buffy is not the only one with a man-monster for a boyfriend. Although this monster, as it turns out, is a lot more manageable and less dangerous.

 

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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)
Now this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer in all its greatness. It is of course, an iconic episode, but I had forgotten just how great it is. Well, there are a couple of plot points that don’t make an awful lot of sense… but I’m willing to overlook it, because it just keeps delivering emotional punches, from start to finish.
 
I’ll start by making my thoughts clear on a certain issue:

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timetravellingbunny: Angel's duality (Angel Tarot Temperance)
The start of the tradition of Buffy’s disastrous birthdays, and the first part of the game-changing two-parter, this episode works great as a setup for Innocence, but in itself it’s a mixed bag. There are some great moments in it, but the problem I’m having with it is that the Buffy/Angel romance, which is dominating the episode, is here crossing the line into really schmaltzy, while Angel is more than ever acting like a cardboard romantic hero. Watching him I was at moments relieved that he’s going to lose his soul by the end of the episode.

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timetravellingbunny: (Default)
Despite this episode’s bad reputation, I didn’t find it as awful as it’s cracked up to be. I can’t say that there was anything that especially annoys me about it – its only problem is that the main story is a little thin. The Texan vampire brothers Gorch are a comic relief red herring, and the real danger turns out to be in the eggs that the kids get to keep as a part of a school task to learn to take care of children – a possible unwanted consequence of sex. It’s another episode with a typical cheesy SF-monster plot (like Some Assembly Required and Ted), this time it’s possession story – the little parasite babies’ using the humans to lead them to the Mother. The title could be referring literally to the eggs, or metaphorically to the Gorches (who were always bad eggs, even as humans), or even Buffy, who’s a bit of a ‘bad egg’ in Joyce’s eyes. We’ve had a phallic monster earlier (Reptile Boy) and now the main monster is the big mom, a…uterine monster? While the other “villains” are the “children” possessing their surrogate parents. Overall the episode feels like a blatant metaphor about careless teenage sex, responsibility and pregnancy.

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