Friday, 2 December 2011
BUFFY 4.10 ‘HUSH’
The Gentlemen are coming...
WRITER: Joss Whedon
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
Buffy has a disturbing dream featuring a glimpse of a very creepy looking ghoul and a little girl singing a strange nursery rhyme. Back in awake land, she and Riley clearly like each other a lot but seem reluctant to communicate that fact to each other. Giles has an old friend to stay (Olivia) so he has Xander take Spike for a few days. Xander though is having problems with Anya. She wants to know where their relationship is going and Xander seems unable to communicate his feelings to her. Meanwhile Willow has joined a disappointing Wicca group but finds a possible new friend in quiet, mousy Tara. Later that night, a group of scary, ghoulishly grinning ‘Gentlemen’ float in to town accompanied by their weird straightjacket-clad henchmen. These ‘Gentlemen’ steal everyone in Sunnydale's voices, before then starting to harvest human hearts from conscious victims who've been rendered unable to scream. Trapped in total silence, Buffy and the gang eventually work out what’s going on. And the next night Buffy sets out on patrol to find and stop the nasty fairytale ‘Gentlemen’ before they can steal any more human hearts. The only problem being, Riley and his soldiers have been sent out too, meaning Buffy and Riley may very soon come face to face while battling the shared demonic threat.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
It’s all about communication. How often what we say gets in the way of what we mean. Actions usually do speak louder than words.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
WHY IT ROCKS
Everything about ‘Hush’ rocks! It’s a Joss episode and my second favourite episode of Buffy ever.
A legend. This episode is legendary. It can be argued that, along with one or two other episodes of Buffy, ‘Hush’ has transcended the series to become a pop culture entity in its own right. You can watch this ep totally separate from the rest of the series, know what’s going on, and absolutely love it. It is scary, creepy, vicious, visually stylish, funny, thematically rich and just all round fab. One of the best hours of television ever.
The Gentlemen. Inspired by fairytale villains mixed in with the influences of Nosferatu, Dark City’s ‘The Strangers’, and a heavy dose of Tim Burton weirdness, these guys are truly the stuff of nightmares. Their ghoulish appearance, eerie gliding, weirdly polite manner and horribly rictus grins only add to their uber creepiness. The best Buffy monsters by far, they have also earned a place in the wider pantheon of great screen monsters. A genius and truly scary creation. Brrr
Doug Jones. The fabulous mime artist/actor Doug Jones plays the lead Gentleman. You’ll know Doug’s work as Abe Sapien in Hellboy and as Pan in Pan’s Labyrinth amongst others. Once you know him he is easy to spot even under loads of make up. And he always manages to be brilliant!
The script. For a 44 min episode of which 27 mins has no dialogue, Hush is brilliantly written. A lot is exchanged between actors in looks, behaviour, body language i.e. using forms of communication other than speech as is the theme of the tale. Joss packs a lot in to the episode and makes it entirely character based (as always) and very, very funny, not to mention action packed and pretty darn creepy.
The direction and look. Joss also directs and does his usual sterling work. The episode looks gorgeous, from the dark and moody photography to the splendid art direction to the gloriously creepy make up and visual FX. This ep could happily be shown on the big screen. I wish it would be. Joss keeps his usual directorial style of long takes and playing scenes in one shots (keeping the actors in frame at the same time, not cutting between them). This helps lend extra chemistry and energy to scenes.
The score. Christophe Beck provides a lot of music in a wonderfully spooky Danny Elfman-esque score. It reminded me a bit of Sleepy Hollow (which came out about the same time as Hush).
The ‘Who are The Gentlemen?’ lecture theatre scene. Giles provides a hand drawn overhead projector presentation to the gang (while playing Danse Macabre on a tape deck) spelling out who The Gentlemen are and what they plan to do. This scene is utterly brilliant and is now iconic in TV land. So damn funny, so damn cool. The gag with Buffy miming staking someone is pure gold. TV doesn’t get any better than this.
WHY IT SUCKS
It doesn’t. And if you think it does then go away and never speak to me again.
Lots of candidates but I love Buffy’s ill-judged staking mime. It always cracks me up.
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Dream Girl's Rhyme: “Can't even shout, can't even cry, The Gentlemen are coming by. Looking in windows, knocking on doors, they need to take seven and they might take yours. Can't call to mom, can't say a word, you're gonna die screaming but you won't be heard.”
Spike: “Sometimes I like to crumble the Weetabix in the blood. Gives it a little texture.”
Giles: “Since the picture you just painted means that I will never touch food of any kind again, you'll just have to pick it up yourself.”
Anya (to Xander): “You don't need me. All you care about is lots of orgasms.”
(Giles and Spike stare at them.)
Xander: “OK, remember how we talked about private conversations? How they're less private when they're in front of my friends?”
Spike: “Oh, we're not your friends; go on.”
Giles: “Please don’t.”
Giles: “I have a friend who's coming to town, and I'd like us to be alone.”
Anya: “Oh, you mean an orgasm friend?”
Giles: “Yes, that's exactly the most appalling thing you could've said.”
AND ANOTHER THING
Joss Whedon received an Emmy nomination for this episode, in the category of Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series. The episode also received a nomination for Outstanding Cinematography. It didn’t win either. Dammit!
The newscaster seen telling the world about the mysterious laryngitis that has swept through Sunnydale is Carlos Amezcua, an actual newscaster on KTLA's morning news, a WB affiliate in Los Angeles.
The music Giles plays during his transparency lecture is Danse Macabre. It was also the theme for the BBC’s Jonathan Creek, which co-starred Tony Head in its first episode.
’Hush’ is the episode where we first meet Tara played by Amber Benson. Tara will go on to become Willow’s girlfriend and a much-loved character in the show.
Several members of the cast are on record as being well and truly creeped out by having The Gentlemen around on set. Apparently they looked and behaved just as creepy off camera as on. Just no heart stealing I hope.
HOW MANY STAKES?
Silence is golden. 5+ (out of 5)