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Old February 17 2011, 09:29 PM   #1
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Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/read

Since Buffy season 8 finished last month with the (wonderful) issue #40, I decided to do a big rewatch of Buffy and Angel, as well as read all the other canonical BtVS/AtS comics. Well, in fact, I started the rewatch because there is a rewatch group for BtVS on the SlayAlive forums that started recently, but I've meant to do it for some time. And I'm going to be more serious and make it the full rewatch/(re)read of the entire Buffyverse canon. At least I think so, although I haven't been that keen on reading "Angel: The Fall" series, since what I did read of it didn't seem very interesting to me (mostly just a lot of action and naked chicks).. But we'll see about that when I get there.

Buffyverse confirmed canon consist of:

The 1992 movie is not canon (plus, it sucks), so I'm going to ignore it; instead, I'll start with "The Origin" comic, which tells the same story. With everything else, I'll follow the order in which the episodes or comics were released. When it comes to the comics, I've only read season 8 before, so everything else will be a first time read.

There will be lots of spoilers and mentions of things from the entire series runs and the comics I've read in my reviews. I'll spoiler tag all the mentions of the series comics continuations in my TV episodes reviews. Of course, this will stop when I get to the actual comics.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "The Origin” (Dark Horse comics, parts 1-3, September 1999)

This is a comic adaptation of Joss Whedon's original script for the movie, which is supposed to be much more faithful to it than the 1992 movie was. Whedon has confirmed it as “pretty much” canonical, although he said he had some issues with it. http://buffy.wikia.com/wiki/The_Origin

I don't remember the movie in detail, but from what I do remember, the main difference is not so much in story as in tone, which is much closer to the show. The movie was a summer teen comedy, while "The Origin” is much more of a drama/horror with comedy elements. Buffy here, of course, looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar rather than Kristy Swanson, while Merrick looks like Richard Riehle, who played him in the series, but is portrayed as a much stronger, sterner and more determined figure than he seemed in the short “Becoming" flashbacks. Pike bears a slight resemblance to Luke Perry, but has a white hair and goatee, and Lothos has no particularl resemblance to Rutger Hauer.

The biggest differences in the plot are Merrick’s death - he isn’t killed by Lothos as in the movie, but shoots himself to prevent Lothos from turning him and using him to find out about Buffy; and the burning of the school gym, which happens here in the end (as referenced in the series). Also, Buffy is a freshman here, rather than a senior (obviously, as the movie version doesn't fit with the series canon). The end of the comic is an attempt to link it more closely to the series - the whole story is framed as Buffy talking about her past to Willow and Xander. (We also get a bit of non-info about Pike - just that Buffy hasn't kept in touch with him.)

One detail from this comic that hasn't been hinted at in the show is the portrayal of Buffy's parents. This is the time when Joyce and Hank were presumably still getting along, but according to "The Origin", Buffy’s home life wasn’t that great even back then: they’re portrayed as yuppies who tend to leave Buffy alone all the time, which she isn’t happy about.

The biggest problem with the comic is the inconsistent portrayal of vampires - many of them (except for Lothos and the newly sired vamps) are green - yes, green - with pointy ears?! This mistake is hard to understand since the comic was published after season 2 of the show.

Other than that, it’s a pretty solid first chapter in Buffy’s story, showing how she learned that she was a Slayer, came to accept her calling and went from a popular girl to an outcast in her first high school, Hemery High. Her dreams about past Slayers play an important role, as Merrick only manages to make her believe him when he mentions the dreams. Buffy’s character development from a shallow valley girl that we got a glimpse from in the “Becoming” flashbacks (who, however, shows traces of her later self even early on, when she clearly can't stand her boyfriend's and his friend's sexist attitude), to Buffy the Slayer we know from the series is well done for such a short comic. It would however be nice to have a longer version of the story with more than 3 issues (I’d in particular like to see have insight into Buffy's home life).

Rating: 3- (out of 5)
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Old February 17 2011, 09:31 PM   #2
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Onto the TV series...

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

1.01. Welcome to the Hellmouth


This episode still feels like a really good pilot, just as the first time I saw it, despite some really cheesy fights scenes, effects (particularly the vamp dusting) and low-budget production values that look quite bad compared to the later seasons of the show.

The opening scene with Darla and her victim is excellent, and the misdirect really well done. Whedon said he wanted to subvert the conventions of the horror genre, by making a show about a tiny blonde teenage girl - typically a helpless victim of monsters in horror – as a hero who is fighting and killing monsters. But the first scene of the show is another type of subversion – the seemingly scared tiny little blonde “schoolgirl” is the monster, rather than the “bad boy” she hooked up with. The contrast between the sunny world of “Sunnydale” and the "Hellmouth” underneath is very effective. It’s interesting to learn from the start that Sunnydale vampires have not just their own hierarchy and rules, but even a sort of religion (Luke prays and even says “Amen”). Of course, this is very season 1, and we will see something completely different in season 2 with younger and more rebellious vampires.

It's funny to see everyone as they were at the beginning of the show and compare them to the people they would become in later seasons. At this point, they're closer to stereotypes: Giles is particularly stuffy (and has a bad haircut - sorry, it had to be said), Xander is being really geeky and awkward/trying too hard in conversation (and not making a great first impression on Buffy), Willow is nerdy, shy and insecure to a painful level. AH still pulls it off. I've seen the original unaired pilot - the one that Joss considers so awful that he doesn't want anyone to see it (tough luck, Joss...) - and rightfully so, because that version was really awful... But one of the things that stood out is just how lame and bland the actress who was originally cast as Willow, Riff Regan, was. It really makes you appreciate just much charm, personality and genuine emotion Alyson Hannigan brought to the role. Cordelia is funny in her bitchiness from the start and has several memorable lines (“What’s your childhood trauma?”)

Buffy is instantly likable with her passionate, straightforward personality and no-nonsense, wisecracking attitude. It's a little sad to see this bubbly teenage Buffy that hasn't yet been worn down by years of responsibility, trauma and loss. But while I really like the early Buffy, I just love the hardened, emotionally damaged and closed Buffy of the later seasons. Buffy later said she was a lot like Cordelia in the Hemery High - I wonder how much this was really the case: she might have been as shallow, but from the first moment she obviously dislikes the way Cordelia is putting down the "geeks" and "losers" like Willow.

One negative thing I have to say about her in the episode is that she gets bit too wrapped up in wisecracking instead of dusting Darla, just in time for Luke to attack. When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk!

Besides Buffy, Giles, Willow, Xander, and Cordelia, several recurring characters are introduced here: Darla, Angel (not a regular in season 1), Principal Flutie, the Master. I barely remembered Flutie except for his gruesome end - he was overshadowed by the much more fun and love-to-hate great antagonist Snyder - but he's pretty good here, as a principal that likes to be seen as friendly to the pupils but isn't really that friendly.

Angel is the only character whose introduction doesn't quite match his later personality. He first appears as a mysterious guy (we don’t even learn his name in the episode) stalking Buffy and lurking in the shadows (OK, not much difference there), but he's cheeky and wisecracking. (Among other things, he says he thought Buffy would be taller - but as we later learn, he already knew what she looked like. Maybe he just wanted to annoy her.) For those who have read season 8 (#36 comes to mind), how funny is it that he calls Buffy "ma'am" in his very first line? The very next thing he says is that he doesn't bite. (Liar, liar, pants on fire...) I like the moment before Buffy knocks him to the ground – it's shot in such a way that it looks like someone is hanging from above like a bat, you’d expect it to be a vampire before you see it's Buffy. Having seen/read all 8 seasons, it's ironic that Buffy at first assumes that Angel is a friend of Giles' - but at this point they are both mysterious and creepy older men who offer her unwanted cryptic advice about her calling. Buffy is very hostile to Angel at this point, which brings me to my first regular feature (which is going to be very useful in later seasons)…

Buffy protesting too much: After describing Angel as “dark, gorgeous in an annoying sort of way”, Buffy emphatically says that she really doesn’t like him. It looks like Whedon was going for B/A as a belligerent sexual tension at the beginning, before it turned (halfway through season 1) into a very different dynamic. Of course, Whedon would later find a better vehicle for BST (amped to the 10th degree) with Buffy/Spike.

Best lines:
Buffy: Mr. Flutie...
Principal Flutie: All the kids here are free to call me Bob.
Buffy: Bob...
Flutie: But they don't.

Worst lines:
Willow (about her really awful outfit): My mom picked it for me.

- Yes, we get that she is a nerd, but this was a bit too much.

Foreshadowing (?): Cordelia says she'd kill to live in LA.

Buffy’s Seize the Moment speech to Willow (“, 'cause tomorrow you might be dead”), apart from obviously foreshadowing Buffy's first “death” in the season finale, also makes one think of Faith in season 3.

The first thing Giles does when he meets Buffy is show her a book about vampires.


I wonder what happened to Jesse and Luke in the Wishverse, without Buffy coming to town. I assume that Jesse was vamped there as well and managed to sire either Xander or Willow or both, or turned one of them and then Xander sired Willow or the other way round. Willow probably didn’t go with the guy who turned out to be a vampire since she here did it prompred by Buffy's speech. But what happened with Luke?

Things that don't really work in retrospect: Darla asking Buffy who she is. She knows about Slayers, she should guess.

Amazingly inconsistent strength: Luke is much stronger than Buffy. I don't remember if there was an explanation why he is so strong. But if some vampires (other than Turok-Han) are that much stronger than a Slayer, how can the Slayers be stronger than vampires, as we later get told (e.g. Angel in AtS "Sanctuary" says that Buffy is stronger than him)? Or are the differences between individual vampires that big? What exactly determines the strength of a vampire? Do they become stronger with age? But that doesn't seem to be the case with most vampires whose 'age' we know (Angel, Spike, Darla, Drusilla). Spike is one of the "younger" vampires out there, but his fights with Buffy were always evenly matched and he came close to killing her a couple of times. I've seen people claim that Buffy is "much stronger" than Spike, based on the Thor Hammer thing in season 5 (Buffy being able to lift it with one hand), which is one of the stupidest moments in the show and makes absolutely no sense in the context of the everything else on the show, like the aforementioned B/S fights.

Other observations: I’m not sure if Cordelia’s coolness test really makes sense for the time period, was James Spader really that popular in the late 90s, or is it an 80s reference that Joss had to sneak in? Anyway, Buffy apparently likes him, so does this give us our first idea about her taste in men? Spader is mostly known for playing jerks, kinky characters, or morally ambiguous guys with a lot of issues...

Our first glimpse of Buffy in the show is of her having a prophetic Slayer dream (which includes many scenes from season 1 episodes, including a shot of the Master.

Giles deliveres the speech that will become a part of the credits for the next couple of seasons ("Into each generation, a Slayer is born...")

Giles tells Buffy that a Slayer should have the ability to spot a vampire. But she had met one earlier (Angel) and had no idea what he was.

Brian Thompson, who played Luke, will later return as The Judge. He’s a pretty scary guy so I’m not surprised that they couldn’t resist casting him for a second villain role!

Is it me or is both Buffy’s and Joyce's hair darker blonde than later in the show?

All in all, a solid pilot. Not great and not yet on the level the show would be in the next seasons (but the majority of season 1 isn't), but a good introduction to the show and the characters. It was certainly good enough to draw me to the show when I first saw it - especially after the really bad 1992 movie which I saw on TV some time before I ever even heard that there was a TV series - even though I certainly didn't expect the show to be a great drama and one of my all-time favorites. I was just pleasantly surprised by it and thought it was a smart, fun, witty and a bit campy show that had enough self-aware irony to keep it from being cheesy.

Rating: 3.5
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Old February 20 2011, 04:47 AM   #3
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

1.02. The Harvest

The second part of the two-parter is weaker than “Welcome to the Hellmouth”. It has many of the typical weaknesses of season 1 that are much more obvious here that in the pilot. The actors aren't completely comfortable in their roles yet (apart from Alyson), background music is very cheesy, some lines (like Angel's "Good luck!" or Master's "Nooooo!") are overdramatic, and the ending is too upbeat (and worse, it's like they're trying too hard to make it upbeat and funny) - especially considering that Xander and Willow have just lost a close friend. Still, it has some really good moments.

It also has several first times. The first apocalypse stopped by the Scoobies. The first time in the show that the word "Hellmouth" is used - we learn from Giles that it was (in Spanish) the original name of the town of Sunnydale. We see people making rationalizations about a vampire attack they have witnessed for the first time in the show (in a similar way that it happened in the movie). The fight at the Bronze is the first fight in which all four of the Scoobies take part. And maybe the most interesting thing in the episode, the first time in the show that we see and get to compare a person as a human and then after they become a vampire.

Some of the good in this episode: We get to see that Buffy using her brains rather than just brawn to defeat enemies - first figuring out where the vampire nest is, and later defeating a physically stronger opponent, Luke, by tricking him into thinking that a lamp is sunlight just long enough for him to be distracted and allow her to dust him.

We also get to see Xander being brave and following Buffy into the fight despite his lack of experience and superpowers. Earlier on when Buffy didn't want to allow him to go into the fight with her, he felt that as a slight against his masculinity. (Xander's insecurity in his ability to help Buffy in fight, due to his lack of superpowers, is something that will still haunt him even in later seasons - see "Hell's Bells".)

This episode established some of the basic vampire mythology early on - or rather, the Watcher's Council's take on it. It's the first time that the Old Ones are mentioned and that it's explained that before humans, there was no paradise on Earth, there was hell. According to Giles, a vampire is just a human body (the spirit is not mentioned) infected by the demon - a stance that we'll later see reiterated in "Lie to Me". This theory has been completely debunked by later seasons of BtVS and AtS, but even this early, we get a big hint that it's just an explanation suitable to the Watchers' official ideology but that the truth is a lot more complicated. Vampire Jesse can pretend that he's still human so well as to fool his best friend; he talks like Jesse, has all of Jesse's memories, still thinks of himself as Jesse, and still wants Cordelia. But he's changed: he feels stronger, liberated (similar to what Spike said in "Fool for Love" - that becoming a vampire made him feel alive for the first time), "connected to everything", feels superior to Xander, and despises his old human self as a loser. In other words, he is Jesse - an evil version of Jesse, stripped of human morality and inhibitions and indulging in his violent desires. His lust for Cordelia has turned into bloodlust - the first hint we get in the series of the sexual overtones of vampire biting. It's also worth noticing that Cordelia, who used to mock Jesse a loser she wouldn't look twice at, is immediately attracted to the new, more confident and aggressive Jesse. While Giles tells Xander - trying to make it easier for him to dust Jesse - that he should remember that it's not his friend anymore, but a "demon who killed him", Xander doesn't seem to really believe him, probably because he has actually talked to Vampire!Jesse - he still thinks that there is some Jesse left in there. Which may be understood in the sense that there is still some humanity in him left - and Xander might have hit the mark there, since Jesse replies by taunting him to "put me out of my misery". Sarcastic - or maybe not entirely.

Xander is saved from having to actually make the decision to dust his friend, which may be a cop-out, but I like the irony of Jesse's death being an accident caused by a random club-goer.

Some other observations about the mythology of the show
:

Giles' belief that that a Slayer should be able to spot a vampire (as he said in the pilot) is further proven wrong: Buffy fails to realize that Jesse has become a vampire until he goes into vampface.

Despite his exceptional strength (which hasn't been explained), Luke has never killed a Slayer - he says he always wanted to. Killing a Slayer, even just one, is something that is regarded as a special feat among vampires. But if most Slayers die very young, as we're told later in the series, then surely there must have been quite a few vampires who can boast that they killed one Slayer at least?

We learn that Sunnydale vampires live in the sewers -and Buffy implies that they are feeding from rats. So it's not just souled Angel living as a bum on the streets?

Things that don’t work in retrospect: Some serious inconsistencies with the later mythology regarding the use of the word "soul". Giles says that first vampires were "a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul". Huh? And then later we see the Master performing the ritual of making Luke his 'vessel' with the words "My blood to your blood, my soul to your soul"?!?! They obviously hadn't decided at this point yet that vampires normally don't have souls.

And there's another instance of amazingly inconsistent powers with Buffy effortlessly leaping over the very high schoolyard fence.

Darla's portrayal here doesn't quite add up to her later characterization. She doesn't come off as a very strong character and is shown trembling in fear in front of the Master. Her backstory in AtS explains her loyalty to the Master, but she is later portrayed as much tougher and more assertive vampire.

Angel continues with his cheeky attitude, but it’s just not working - maybe it was David Boreanaz's acting, but he seemed to be trying too hard, it didn't come off as natural the way it did with James Marsters. It was a good idea they changed his persona to a broody one, which he was more convincing at playing. We learn his name and get the first bit of insight into his life and personality when we find out that he probably doesn't have any friends, based on his reaction when Buffy sarcastically asks him if he knew what it was like to have friends. This was also the first moment she was nicer to him, realizing that she's really hurt him. Angel claiming that she can’t go fighting with Buffy because he’s afraid is very odd and seemed to be a lie even back then. He was probably afraid that Darla might see and recognize him, and he didn't want Buffy to know he was a vampire.

Best scenes:

Willow repaying Cordelia's uber-bitchiness ("Excuse me, who gave you permission to exist?") by tricking her into deleting the computer program she’s had to do for the computer class - the first time we see Willow's vindictive streak, but here you just have to love it, as Cordelia really deserved it.

Joyce telling Buffy that she can't go out and "it's not the end of the world". Joyce is right that teenagers all feel that "everything is life and death", except that in Buffy's case it is literally true, which may be why it's so easy to relate to Buffy and her friends: their lives and fights with monsters are metaphorical representations what teenagers go through, and we can identify with her because our parents and most adults never took our problems seriously.

Best lines:

Giles: You have no idea where they took Jesse?
Buffy: I looked around, but soon's they got clear of the graveyard,
they could have just, voom!
Xander: They can fly?
Buffy: They can drive.

Cordelia: Senior boys are the only way to go. Guys from our grade,
forget about it, they're children. Y'know? Like Jesse. Did
you see him last night, following me around like a little puppy dog.
You just wanna put him to sleep. But senior boys, hmm,
they have mystery. They have... What's the word I'm searching for? Cars!

Worst lines:

Giles: Well, then help me. I've been researching this Harvest affair.
It seems to be some sort of preordained massacre. Rivers of blood, Hell
on Earth, quite charmless. I'm a bit fuzzy, however, on the details. It
may be that you can wrest some information from that dread machine.

Everyone stares at him. He looks back at them all.

Giles: That was a bit, um, British, wasn't it?



Creepiest (in a funny way) line:
Jesse: I, I can hear the worms in the earth!
Xander: That's a plus.

Creepiest moment, not in a funny way: The Master poking an eye of one of his minions with his long fingernails. At least we don't actually get to see it this time...

Other observations: Buffy saves Cordelia's life (I bet that Cordy would have preferred a male hero to her damsel in distress)...

It's interesting that Cordelia, after having one of her extremely shallow and vain speeches, says that she adores the song by the band at the Bronze (the Dashboard Prophets) that contains lyrics about "fighting the good fight". Another of their songs, "Ballad for Dead Friends" is also very appropriate for the scene of the vampires attack at the Bronze.

Xander's Hawaiian shirt with little mushrooms... a horror comedy of its own. Buffy, on the other hand, displays good fashion sense in the episode, I love her brown leather jacket.

Apocalypses averted: 1.

Recurring characters introduced: Harmony.

Character deaths
: Jesse, Luke. One of the things that hurts the episode is the upbeat ending and lack of any mention of Jesse's death, not just here but later in the show as well. It's one of the things that add up to the feeling that the show wasn't as serious in season 1 and that continuity didn't matter that much as it would later on.

Rating: 2.5
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Last edited by DevilEyes; February 20 2011 at 05:41 AM.
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Old February 20 2011, 04:57 AM   #4
OdoWanKenobi
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Heh. I've been doing a rewatch of Buffy and Angel myself. I'm currently near the end of season 5/2. Just finished The Body.

I did always wonder why Jesse was never ever mentioned again, even in passing. He was one of Willow and Xander's best friends. They seem to get over his death really quick and never even think about him again.

As for Luke's strength, the best explanation I can think of is that there is also a big gap in strength between people. Luke was a pretty big guy, so it goes to follow that he's stronger than average.

I agree with you about Darla. However, I can cut them some slack, as by this point she was only meant to recur for a few episodes and be staked. Her whole detailed back story with Angelus and her subsequent appearances on Angel hadn't even been conceived, yet.
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Old February 20 2011, 05:32 AM   #5
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

OdoWanKenobi wrote: View Post
I did always wonder why Jesse was never ever mentioned again, even in passing. He was one of Willow and Xander's best friends. They seem to get over his death really quick and never even think about him again.
Someone could have mentioned him one of the many times that Xander was voicing his dislike of Angel in the early seasons. That way, instead of the audience going: "Ah, Xander is jealous over Buffy again!", it would have come off more as "Xander can't forget how his best friend was killed and turned into a vampire and that he had to stake him [sort of]".
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Old February 20 2011, 11:47 AM   #6
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

I think these episodes are a pretty good start to the series. Yeah, some of it's a little cheesy and Jesse's death is swept under the carpet, but I've seen them multiple times and they're still fun to watch.

One thing that irks me slightly: at this point Giles is pretty much a stereotype - the sort of English character who shows up on American TV all the time.
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Old February 20 2011, 03:36 PM   #7
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

I liked the 2 hour pilot as it was a hint of things to come. The clever wit/humour, unexpected turn (Jesse dying).......it was reasonably well put together for a newbie show runner like Joss at the time. Granted, Jesse didn't get a lot of follow up, but he was just trying get his show past the first season. My wife and I have been rewatching the series with my oldest daughter (she's 16) who's never seen the show before right now so the episodes are still pretty fresh for me, though we're all the way up to "Once More w/ Feeling" when watch our next episode.

General season 1 thought. I know vampires became punching bags and even punchlines in later seasons, but at least in Season 1, there was a real attempt to get the horror aspect of the show in there and I think Season 1 and to a lesser degree season 2 was generally scarier than the later season's portrayal of vamps. Sure, there's the occasional scary episode here in there like hush, but most gravitated more towards the action/humour than the horror feel Season 1 had.
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Old February 20 2011, 10:44 PM   #8
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Are you going to read the 60 or so original comics that were published during the course of the show? They cover the time between the movie and the series, the one with Dawn and Hoopy bear is especially good and we see what happened to Pike and much more of Joyce and Hank

Yeah, unfortunately Jesse was that TV/movie cliche, the character who appears one week, means the world to everyone, is killed giving everyone angst and motivation and then never mentioned again. Shame he couldn't have appeared to Xander in Conversations with Dead People.
As for Riff Regan in the Buffy pilot it was a shame but she came across as a realisitic nerd. Unfortunately for her but fortunately for the series she was replaced by a girl once voted 11th sexiest in the world by FHM (much like Glee, the Scoobs are an amazingly attractive bunch of 'outcasts')
I liked Flutie and he did care, he's very similar to the Principal in the movie but Snyder is a necessary protaganist. Giles is the cliche but he has to be for him to loosen up later.
As for James Spader, well in Get It Done we discover why Slayers have a yen for the kinky. As for CC and her Com-shuk-me vibe, I'm just not sure?
One thing, can you see how much the Hemery High characters in the movie resemble those in the series? (and still might if after the end of Chosen Buffy wakes up sane again in the asylum, meaning they're all still alive?)
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Old February 20 2011, 11:02 PM   #9
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

I'm looking forward to watching this thread progress. I watched Buffy/Angel for the first time this last summer, and it was AWESOME. I'm already ready for my first rewatch. It went by so fast that some of the individual plots-of-the-week blend together in my head, but the character stuff started off great and just got greater. I'm also interested to hear your take on the comics, as I haven't read any of them. I'm intrigued by the season 8 stuff though, so I might give them a try eventually.
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Old February 21 2011, 09:46 AM   #10
saturn5
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

D Man wrote: View Post
I'm looking forward to watching this thread progress. I watched Buffy/Angel for the first time this last summer, and it was AWESOME. I'm already ready for my first rewatch. It went by so fast that some of the individual plots-of-the-week blend together in my head, but the character stuff started off great and just got greater. I'm also interested to hear your take on the comics, as I haven't read any of them. I'm intrigued by the season 8 stuff though, so I might give them a try eventually.
I know what you did last summer and it was AWESOME!
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Old February 21 2011, 04:32 PM   #11
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Pemmer Harge wrote: View Post
I think these episodes are a pretty good start to the series. Yeah, some of it's a little cheesy and Jesse's death is swept under the carpet, but I've seen them multiple times and they're still fun to watch.

One thing that irks me slightly: at this point Giles is pretty much a stereotype - the sort of English character who shows up on American TV all the time.
I think they're a good start, and it doesn't mean that I don't like them if I'm giving an episode a below-the-average rating like 2.5. I'm using the standard set by the entire show, and while I really liked season 1 - it certainly was good enough to get me to watch the show - I didn't really love it until halfway through season 2. Things like cheesy moments, Giles being a stereotype etc. hold it back from being on the level of the rest of the show, but as a beginning, it's really good.

My ratings are something like this:
1 - awful episode
1.5 - really bad episode, but has some good moments and redeeming parts
2 - bad episode
2.5 - not exactly bad but below the average
3 - standardly good episode
3.5 - very good episode
4 - excellent episode
4.5 - great episode, but some things hold it back from being perfect
5 - one of the best episodes of the show, my top 20 or top 25

I'm not sure if I hate any of the episodes of BtVS that much to give it a 1, but there is one AtS episode I absolutely despise, so it will either get 1, or even 0.5 if I happen to already give some other episodes a 1. But there are also lots of canon comics I haven't read yet, and I've heard some bad things about some of the Angel and Spike canon comics (and didn't like some things I did read from some of them), so if I happen to hate a comic that much I might actually give some 0 ratings. The comics are already at a disadvantage even when they have great writing, because of the lack of live actors - even the worst Buffy/Angel episodes at least have good actors in it, but the comics don't have that, especially when the art is not great (and I still haven't seen any of the art for Buffy or Angel comics that I was completely satisfied with).


label wrote: View Post
General season 1 thought. I know vampires became punching bags and even punchlines in later seasons, but at least in Season 1, there was a real attempt to get the horror aspect of the show in there and I think Season 1 and to a lesser degree season 2 was generally scarier than the later season's portrayal of vamps. Sure, there's the occasional scary episode here in there like hush, but most gravitated more towards the action/humour than the horror feel Season 1 had.
I don't think that the show gravitated more towards action and humour later on, season 1 had lots of humour (and some action too, though the action scenes were not as good back then) and if anything the show gravitated more towards drama later on. Season 1 had some more typical horror elements, mainly the Master, very Nosferatu-like, and the rest of the S1 vampires are more conventional horror villains. But I thought that the show wasn't nearly as dark in season 1 as later on, maybe because things got more complicated and the good and bad guys weren't that easy to distinguish as before (which is underscored in "Lie to Me"), and the stories got more serious and pulled a stronger emotional punch because they cut closer to home. The Master as the Big Bad worked perfectly for season 1, but the show was always moving on and changing and it went on to do some new and different things with its villains. I loved it when they started introducing unconventional villains that were much easier to relate to and that had quite a few similarities to the heroes (Joss said that this was the reason for the introduction of Spike and Dru), not to mention heroes turning into villains. But after they had successfully used vampires as main villains in two completely different ways in seasons 1 and 2, using them again as a Big Bad would get too repetitive, so they had to come up with different Big Bads - one season is was someone in position of political power, and a Slayer, another season it was a god or the ultimate evil, and another one all main villains were human and it was really about life itself and the flaws and issues of the characters. Random vampires were rarely as scary after season 2, but I think the vampire characters, as they became more 'human', became more of a vehicle for exploring the dark side and psychological complexities and moral ambiguities, on AtS and in later seasons of BtVS.

I think that there were lots of straightforward horror elements and episodes in the show after season 2 - "Helpless", "Hush", to an extent "Fear, Itself", Glory sucking people's brains, the ending of "Forever", many of the First scenes in season 7, the Dawn storyline in "Conversations with Dead People", "Dirty Girls"...

saturn5 wrote: View Post
Are you going to read the 60 or so original comics that were published during the course of the show? They cover the time between the movie and the series, the one with Dawn and Hoopy bear is especially good and we see what happened to Pike and much more of Joyce and Hank
No, I'm focusing on the canon, everything that may be relevant to the story, and they're not canon. I might read some of them if I find time, if they're really good. Which ones do you recommend? It would be nice to fill some of the blanks if they don't contradict the canon. For instance I like Peter David's explanation of the Cecily/Halfrek story, which fits well with the info we got in the show.

As for Riff Regan in the Buffy pilot it was a shame but she came across as a realisitic nerd. Unfortunately for her but fortunately for the series she was replaced by a girl once voted 11th sexiest in the world by FHM (much like Glee, the Scoobs are an amazingly attractive bunch of 'outcasts')
I think it's very fortunate that she was replaced but not because Alyson Hannigan is thinner and prettier but because she was so much better in the role. Rif Regan wasn't that good compared to AH, her performance was just bland and didn't get me emotionally involved in any way.

As for the looks, I agree that it would be more realistic to have some less good-looking people in the main cast. But from my high school experience, it's not like being pretty means you can't be an outcast, if you're considered either nerdy or weird, crazy, unapproachable etc. Actually when I look at my best friends, we were all 'pretty outcasts' in high school. Though I don't think I could say that there were such things as "popular people" in my school, since those who considered themselves a popular crowd were hated and despised by many others. Basically you had several different crowds in my class (the Cordelia-type kids; the 'normal' girls; the 'normal' boys) and then some people who didn't quite fit anywhere. So I don't know if it's possible to be 'popular' in high school, there are some kids who are richer or more confident and who hang together and act like they think they're the coolest, but when a lot of other kids hate them, how are they "popular"?

As for CC and her Com-shuk-me vibe, I'm just not sure?
What do you mean?
One thing, can you see how much the Hemery High characters in the movie resemble those in the series?
Well, I saw the movie long, lone time ago so I don't remember that many details, except that the overall vibe was very different and a lot more comedic and lightweight than the show or the "Origin" comic, and that while I didn't hate the movie I didn't like it in particular and didn't expect anything from the show. I only remember Kristy Swanson's Buffy, Luke Perry, Rutger Hauer and I only barely remember Donald Sutherland's Merrick, and that's all. I don't remember Merrick being as tough, stern and determined as he is in the comic (but neither was he in the "Becoming" flashback). Could you remind me and compare the characters?

(and still might if after the end of Chosen Buffy wakes up sane again in the asylum, meaning they're all still alive?)
Well, season 8 is canon and we know that she hasn't woken up. But the theory doesn't hold water IMO, it just can't explain all the things that we saw happen that Buffy didn't see and didn't know about (almost all of AtS, for starters; on BtVS, most scenes with the series villains when they aren't interacting with her, any other scenes that don't involve Buffy). It's just impossible to see it all as being in Buffy's head, that could only work if she was in every scene.
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Old February 22 2011, 01:40 PM   #12
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

No I don't believe Buffy's the mad girl in the asylum either for the reasons you outline BUT if she is she still gets her happy ending, she wakes up sane, goes back to her life and Joyce and all her friends from Hemery are still alive, she still has her Scooby gang. And she can always call her children Dawn, Alexander, Faith, Willow etc

As for the comics I'd recommend Slayer Interrupted (Buffy in the asylum/Dawn and Hoopy Bear) and Viva Las Buffy (Pike and Buffy in Las Vegas)

CC's 'com-shuk-me' vibe refers to her propensity for having sex with and being knocked up by demons, she really is the GOT poster girl

As for the Buffy movie;
Pike=Oz (wouldn't an Oz/Buffy romance have been great?)
Andy=Xander
Cassandra=Willow
Jennifer=Cordy
Kimberly=Hamrony
and so on
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Old February 23 2011, 02:57 PM   #13
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

saturn5 wrote: View Post
As for the Buffy movie;
Pike=Oz (wouldn't an Oz/Buffy romance have been great?)
Well... no. I really can't see it. I love both characters, but this sounds as odd as when people ship Spike and Willow.

3.03. Witch

This is the first Monster of the Week episode of the show, and the first episode with no vampires in it at all. At the beginning at the episode when we cut from the scene between Giles and the cheerful Buffy to a dark creepy room, I expected to see Master's lair for a moment until we saw the dolls and the cauldron. It's also the episode that first introduces the idea that there are all sorts of supernatural dangers in Sunnydale due to it being on the Hellmouth. I liked the way "Witch" used a supernatural element to tell stories about the darker sides of adolescence/ high school life, which would become the staple of season 1; in this episode it's about pressures to succeed and popularity contests (which cheer-leading basically is) and parents putting pressures on children to fulfill the dreams of their own youth (or relive their own youth); "Nightmares" gives us a similar story about pressures put on boys to be successful in sports, only that time it's not a parent but another older authority figure, a coach; in "The Pack" it's the pack mentality and bullying, and in "Out of Mind, Out of Sight" about school outsiders.

There was an interesting character moment for Giles when he seemed to speak with glee about the abundance ("cornucopia") of monsters in Sunnydale, and said that he was thinking of the positive side of things.

I guess that by this time nobody planned to give Giles the "Ripper" background in black magicks... but how do we reconcile (i.e. fanwank) his statement that it was his first spell? I suppose he was lying or just trying to forget that part of his past.

I almost forgot how talkative Xander was in the early seasons. Yes, he always is but he dialed down the constant jokes later on, in this episode he's like a motormouth! The abundance of Buffy-Speak, or rather Xander-Speak (since Xander is responsible for most of it, thought not all) was more obvious here than in the first two episodes.

Recurring characters introduced: Amy. It’s so strange to see what a normal and sweet girl she was at the beginning. I had also forgotten that she and Willow used to be friends in junior high, they go way back, and that Amy and Buffy were quite friendly at this point. In the last couple of seasons Amy has become as crazy and evil as her mother was.

Later on when Amy becomes a witch she will serve as Willow's dark mirror and a friend who leads her astray in season 6, but "Witch" focuses on the parallel and contrast between Amy and Buffy. Buffy seems to relate to Amy and her mother issues, but while Joyce has problems understanding her daughter, which she herself admits, she is trying, and she comes off as a really sympathetic mom figure to offset Catherine’s evil witch mother.

I could never understand the point or allure of cheerleading, to me it looks ridiculous, and I was relieved that Buffy decided it wasn't for her anymore at the end of the episode. I guess at first she just wanted to have something 'normal' that belonged to her pre-Slayer life, but after the Amy drama she realized how competitive that world was and it didn't seem like a relief from the pressure of her Slayer life anymore. It's funny that Cordelia with her still narrow view of the world believes that everyone wants to be a cheerleader as much she does and that they must ve devastated that they didn't make the team, when Amy never really even wanted it for herself and was just trying to please her mother.

Buffy again shows how smart she is - Giles and Willow might be the intellectual bookish ones, but Buffy is the one who connects the dots and solves the mystery.

Buffy saves Cordelia’s life again, in back to back episodes. Maybe I should have a regular feature "Cordelia damsel in distress", she does seem to get attacked a lot. The show regularly subverts the gender stereotypes about heroes saving damsels. Later on Xander is trying to be the hero and save Buffy, which of course doesn’t work because Buffy has already saved the day.

Xander’s crush on Buffy, hinted at in the pilot, gets to be more in focus in this episode, but Willow's crush on Xander is still not obvious, though we get some hints of the unrequited love triangle when Xander gives a backhanded compliment to Willow, telling her she is like one of the boys for him, and then later gets served the same by Buffy who tells him he is like one of the girls for her. But unlike Xander, Buffy has the excuse that she was under a spell that made her act manic and drunk-like.

There are a few quite creepy moments in this episode, particularly the scene where a girl has her mouth disappear. We don’t see or hear about her later, but I guess the spell probably got reversed when Catherine got trapped in a figurine of herself? Catherine’s fate was cruel but it was a fitting end both because it's not just poetic justice but literal justice in a way (she is in a very secure 'prison' she can't get out of and she can't hurt people anymore), besides being symbolic of the way she had been trapped in the old image of herself she couldn’t let go. I wonder what happened to her later – did she die when the figurine probably got destroyed with the school in the season 3 finale?

Best lines:

Xander: I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.

Amy: Well, I know that I'll miss the intellectual thrill of spelling out words with my arms.

Giles: Why should someone want to harm Cordelia?
Willow: Maybe because they met her?

Xander: Was she wearing it? The bracelet, she was wearing it, right? Pretty much like we're going out.
Willow: Except without the hugging or kissing or her knowing about it.

Worst lines:

Buffy (about Giles): I'd say he should get a girlfriend if he wasn't so old.

Funniest moment: Every time manic Buffy sings "Macho, macho man, I wanna be a macho man..."

Foreshadowing (?): The episode introduces the following elements: magic and witches; body swaps – we’ll see more of that in the show; (not so) spontaneous human combustion (during a dance!). Considering the events of this episode, Xander’s suggestion in OMWF that evil witches might be behind the events wasn’t unfounded - and he didn't have a reason to apologize for calling witches evil, since Scoobies already knew about at least one witch who was evil, Catherine Madison. Amy is being suspected of being a witch but she’ll later become one. Catherine’s eyes go dark just like Willow's will in season 6. There is a very ironic moment when Willow, at this point still rather clueless about witches, is trying to distract Amy by asking her if she actually rides on a broomstick.

Also, Buffy asks her mother: “Do you wish you could be 16 again?” (Hello, “Band Candy”!)

On hearing the story about Amy’s parents – high school sweethearts, the homecoming kind and queen who got married after the graduation – Buffy first thinks it is very romantic, until Amy tells the much uglier rest of the story, about her dad's lack of success, financial troubles and finally leaving them for another woman. This may be seen as the first hint that Buffy’s dream of the perfect high school romance will not end well.

This is also the first episode where we see people acting under a magical influence – while Amber combusts, Cordelia goes temporarily blind and another girl loses her mouth, Buffy gets to act in a manic way, like she is drunk.
(Magical influences - 1)

Pop culture references: The Invisible Man, Human Torch, Mommie Dearest, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Gidget, Farah Fawcett

I've recently participated in a discussion on Buffyforums about how many times Buffy says “I love you” – whether romantically or in a friendly/familial way – during the course of the show. Someone said that it would be interesting to count it, since Buffy doesn't throw those words easily around, especially later on when she doesn't show her feelings that openly. Including this episode, I've managed to count about 11 or 12 times by memory during the 8 seasons, most of those in a non-romantic, and 7 people she tells it to, including her mother, Giles, Willow, Xander (a friendly way), and Dawn. But I thought it would be interesting to keep count, so I'm starting it:
Buffy's ILYs: 2: Joyce (Buffy tells her ”I love you, mom” after a heart-to-heart talk, happy that her mom, unlike Catherine, doesn't want to steal her daughter's youth); earlier while she’s acting manic, she hugs Willow and Xander and says “I love my buds” and starts happily telling Xander she loves him as a friend – only as a friend, to his disappointment. At this point Buffy is still very bubbly and open, even when not under a spell, and these are very Buffy's most later ILYs, which usually come in big dramatic moments and life and death situations.

This is one of the standarly good season 1 MOW episodes, which gets it:

Rating: 3
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Last edited by DevilEyes; February 23 2011 at 05:38 PM.
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Old February 23 2011, 08:28 PM   #14
saturn5
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

Actually I'd rate the funniest moment as Giles' lecture to Buffy on the cheerleading 'cult'. Her pouting casts him in the father figure role for the first time. Her superpowered cheerleading routine is also great and she mentions slaying to Joyce. Not to mention the virility statue (jeepers!)

Favourite bit though is the girl who spontaneously combusts during her tryout

Willow; "That girls on fire!"
CC (not looking) "Enough with the hyperbole!"

One question, exactly when do mother and daughter switch bodies?
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Old February 23 2011, 10:17 PM   #15
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Re: Once More, With Feeling: my big Buffy/Angel canon rewatch/reread/r

saturn5 wrote: View Post
Actually I'd rate the funniest moment as Giles' lecture to Buffy on the cheerleading 'cult'. Her pouting casts him in the father figure role for the first time. Her superpowered cheerleading routine is also great and she mentions slaying to Joyce. Not to mention the virility statue (jeepers!)

Favourite bit though is the girl who spontaneously combusts during her tryout

Willow; "That girls on fire!"
CC (not looking) "Enough with the hyperbole!"

One question, exactly when do mother and daughter switch bodies?
I forgot that she mentions Slaying at one point. Joyce's reaction should have been stronger if Buffy used to be in a mental institution because of these kind of 'fantasies', as we later learn?

Giles does come off fatherly in that scene, but I suppose I saw it as an extension of their dynamic in the previous episodes where he was also trying to convince her to do her Slayer duty and despairing over kids today, while Buffy was all "but I want to be a regular girl!"

We don't see enough of the fertility statue to know if it was a virility statue specifically, but I like that idea...

I'm not sure at which point exactly they switched bodies, but early on Amy didn't seem that into cheerleading and wasn't that good at it, so it must have been the real Amy. How long did the cheerleading tryouts last? Weeks? Months? I haven't got a slightest clue about cheerleading so I don't know.
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