Saturday, 20 November 2010
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1, Episode 9 'The Puppet Show'
Writer: Dean Batali & Rob Des Hotel
Director: Ellen S Pressman
What's the sitch?
It's time for Sunnydale High's annual talent(less) show; a chance to showcase truly terrible magicians, terrible singers (step forward Cordelia Chase) and the weird ventriloquist act of student Morgan and his creepy dummy Sid. But when students start turning up dead and with organs missing, Buffy suspects that creepy dummy Sid might somehow be behind the gruesome killings. However, things are not necessarily what they seem. They seldom are in Sunnydale.
What's the sitch beneath the sitch?
Nothing obvious, just more High School is hell stuff. However it is amusing in this age of X Factor/Britain's Got Talent seeing talentless teens desperately trying to get on stage and be liked. That is except for Buffy, Xander and Willow who try to avoid it like the plague but end up being forced to 'volunteer' by heinous Principle Snyder.
Who's giving us the wiggins this week?
As this is a whodunnit then that would be telling. But Sid the dummy does give good wiggins throughout. As does new Principle Snyder.
Why it rocks
1. It's a mystery. This episode is a lot of fun and a pretty good whodunnit with a some nice twists and reveals.
2. Sid the dummy. He's creepy but also very funny and very well realised. His lecherous looks and comments - especially regarding Buffy - are great. Tom Wyner who provided Sid's voice did top notch work.
3. The horror. There's some genuine nastiness going on here with brutal murder and organ theft. Plus, any time you use ventriloquist dummies you are guaranteed to generate some oogly feelings in people.
4. The funny. The Puppet Show is one of the first season's funniest episodes thanks mostly to Sid and his wise cracking and rather lecherous behaviour. Principle Snyder and Xander also help bring some major funny too.
5. Snyder. Nasty Principle Snyder (Armin Shimerman) – or, as Giles calls him, “our new Fuhrer” - débuts in this episode and makes an instant impact on the gang and the audience.
6. Greek tragedy. Buffy, Willow and Xander's attempt at a scene of Greek tragedy for the talent show is hilariously terrible. You have to be good actors to pretend to be this bad.
Why it sucks
1. It's a monster of the week show with nothing to add to the overall season.
2. As far as I can tell there's no underlying metaphor at work, though I'm probably missing it.
Buffy wakes up in her room in the middle of the night thinking something is in there with her. Well and truly freaked out, she screams in terror as something comes at her from the bed covers. Brrr
Dialogue to die for
Snyder: "I know Principal Flutie would have said, 'Kids need understanding. Kids are human beings.' That's the kind of woolly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."
Xander: (messing around with Sid the Dummy) "REDRUM, REDRUM, REDRUM!!"
And another thing
This is the only episode of Buffy that carries on in to the end credits with Buffy, Willow and Xander performing their awful Greek tragedy scene for the talent show.
Cordelia sang in the talent show because Joss knew Charisma Carpenter really couldn't sing. Prior to filming when he asked her, “Can you sing?” and she said “No,” Joss allegedly smiled and replied “Good.” So the voice you hear is more or less Carpenter's real singing voice. Jeez! Good job she wasn't around for 'Once More With Feeling.'
SMG admitted to having nightmares about dummies after filming this episode. The scene in Buffy's bedroom in the middle of the night might have had something to do with that.
How many stakes?
Buffy's no dummy. 3 (out of 5)