Sunday, 29 July 2012


London 2012 Opening Ceremony Music – ‘And I Will Kiss’ by Underworld (ft. Dame Evelyn Glennie)

Okay, I’m not a sports fan but I am a big fan of Danny Boyle, just like most people who enjoy great movies are. He has a unique vision of storytelling, often kinda queasy, kinda dark, kinda colourful, kinda weird, kinda subtly moving and subtly amusing at the same time, and always with tons of energy. He tells stories on film unlike anyone else. I mean, could anyone else have made Slumdog Millionaire the fantastic movie that it is? Could anyone else have made Trainspotting like that? Or 127 Hours? I don’t think so. He has a way of getting in to deep dark places and finding the bright light of humanity buried there. But when I heard he was going to be behind the opening ceremony for London 2012 I was conflicted.

On the one hand I thought it was a genius idea. Here’s a guy with a vibrant and unique vision of the world. He could do something truly different, truly mesmerising. Something no one else could ever do. On the other hand, it could easily end up as a jumbled unfocussed, garish mess. The London 2012 opening ceremony was either gonna be one of the coolest things I’ll ever see or one of the most embarrassing messes in entertainment history.

But Danny only went and did it, by gum!

What a truly dazzling, energised, engrossing, and just plain fun spectacle it was. Big and colourful, often chaotic, sometimes dark, sometimes emotional and always all kinds of eccentric, not to mention pleasingly humorous. In short, this particular Olympics opening ceremony was very, very British.

The themes I picked out were perfect. Change, innovation, creativity and caring. The main thread running through it all seemed to be about how, through innovation, we, the British, have irrevocably changed our nation and the rest of the world on at least two occasions. First there was the industrial revolution, and then there was the invention of the worldwide web, with all the good and ill that came with both. But above all the show was about who we are as a people. What it is we hold most precious, what it is we value above all. Danny Boyle seems to think it is our social reforms. And I would agree. All of those many great reforms that were so hard fought for down through the ages in order to try to build that promised mythic Jerusalem, with the most obvious as highlighted in the ceremony being our National Health Service. Now, of course, our NHS is not perfect. We’re not stupid. We know that. It has lots of problems. Things that need fixing. But that doesn’t mean that the idea itself, the belief is wrong. Universal healthcare free at the point of use with the provision of treatment based upon clinical need. No, it is not wrong at all. And as an idea, a belief, it deserves to be celebrated.

“…no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.”

- Nye Bevan, the Government Minister who oversaw the NHS’s creation in 1948

The rest of the world may not have understood why the NHS played such a big part in the Olympics Opening Ceremony. I do. It is the prime example of those social reforms Danny was keen to celebrate. Reforms based upon beliefs which help define how we see ourselves as a people. Yes, the United Kingdom remains a capitalist society – stalwarts of hard headed international trade and business and finance. But the British have always had a strong sense of social justice too - from William Wilberforce and the slavery abolitionists, to Dickens to Emily Pankhurst and the suffragettes, to the foundation of the modern welfare state and the creation of the NHS in 1948. Such a wonderful dichotomy, I know. But I got what Danny was doing. And he did it brilliantly.

Here are some of my favourite bits from the show:

The entirety of the opening ‘Pandemonium’ sequence with Kenneth Branagh as Brunel

JK Rowling reading from Peter Pan

The many Mary Poppins’ flying down to defend the kids in the hospital beds against the monsters

The spelling out of NHS

James Bond and the Queen and the blatant The Spy Who Loved Me homage

Pretty Vacant

Fire Starter

Tim Burners Lee “For Everyone”

The amazing design of the cauldron when finally revealed. A real ‘WOW’ moment.

Sir Paul McCartney leading the crowd with Hey Jude. He wasn’t in his best voice but you can’t go wrong with THAT song.

In the end, Danny Boyle and his army of volunteers created a wonderfully colourful, chaotic and utterly idiosyncratic piece of theatre that no other country could (or would) do in quite the same way. It was a celebration of people, of storytelling, of creativity, of past, present and future. And I for one bloody loved it.

Nice one Danny.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Promo for this episode

WRITER: Steven S. DeKnight

DIRECTOR: Michael Gershman


Uh oh, it’s another Buffy birthday, which means things aren’t gonna go well. Today’s the day our girl turns 20. And as Buff reluctantly holds a party at her house, poor Dawnie’s world goes and crumbles around her when, after sneaking a look at Giles’s diaries, she finds out that she is in fact the Key. Traumatised, she runs away, and ends up running into Ben at the hospital, letting slip to him what she really is. Hearing this news, Ben freaks out and morphs into Glory, who thankfully doesn’t know what her alter ego Ben knows about Dawn. Glory threatens a terrified Dawn, seeking information, and is about to brain suck the niblet when Buffy and co. arrive to save lil sis.


The whole Dawn story line plays now as a metaphor for adoption, for a child discovering that he/she is not actually blood related to their family and the feelings that might then engender: difference, isolation, anger, a feeling of having lived a lie.




Poor Dawnie. The theme as descried above is played out well and proves quite affecting. Who could possibly imagine how poor Dawn is feeling? Her entire life is a lie and she is in fact only six months old. The metaphor for adoption is a smart one which I’m sure lots of people in similar circumstances could relate to. Michelle Trachtenberg does an excellent job here. This is her episode. She is front and centre and really sells the hurt, confusion, disorientation and downright anger at Dawn’s situation.

Spike and Dawn do some B & E. Love the almost childish chemistry between these two. Dawn, sneaking out of the house to go to the Magic Box, runs in to Spike. She tells him she’s gonna break in and steal stuff. He likes that idea. Dawn asks if he’d like to come along. He readily agrees. Together the pair breaks in to the shop but not before Dawn teases Spike about not being scary or bad any more, saying that she’s badder than him, to which he replies indignantly, “Are not.” Heh.

Willow and Tara’s spell. The witches’ last minute solution to getting rid of Glory is inspired and leads to a most amusing reaction from our hell god as she is teleported high up in to the atmosphere over Sunnydale…then plummets to the earth in a fiery streak.


The whole Knights of Byzantium thing still kinda bugs. These blatantly medieval types don’t fit in well to any kind of modern world. Even their pseudo ye olde English way of speaking is just silly.


Glory getting teleported “Oh shi…!”


Xander: We're goin' up against a god. An actual mightier-than-thou god.
Willow: Well, you know what they say. The bigger they are—
Anya: The faster they stomp you into nothing.

Buffy: How was school today?
Dawn: Um, the usual. Big square building filled with boredom and despair.
Buffy: Just how I remember it.

Anya (holding the frilly dress Buffy received): Oh, it's just so lovely! Ooh, I wish it was mine! (The group gives her a funny look.) Oh, like you weren't all thinking the same thing!
Giles: I'm fairly certain I wasn't. (whispers to Xander) I've got one just like it.

Dawn: You wanna come steal some stuff?
Spike: Yeah, all right.

Buffy: Maybe it's time to start a new tradition. Birthdays without boyfriends. It could be just as much fun!
Willow: Preaching to the choir here, baby.

Glory (to Dawn): I've been meaning to send the Slayer a message. And I could use a little pick-me-up. Two birds, one stone, and boom! You have yummy dead birds.

Glory (materialising high up over Sunnydale) Oh shi…!


This is the first episode of Buffy written by Steven S. DeKnight who would go on to write/produce for Angel and Dollhouse and create/write/produce Spartacus: Blood and Sand.


Gotta feel for poor Dawn. 3.5 (out of 5)


Teaser for the ep.

WRITER: Doug Petrie, Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: Nick Marck


The Watchers Council comes to Sunnydale bringing with them information as to who (or what) Glory really is. But Chief Watcher Quentin Travers (Harris Yulin) refuses to turn over the information unless Buffy passes a series of exhaustive tests of her skills, strategies, and methodology. Making things even worse for the Buffster, Glory pays a visit to her at home and threatens her family unless she turns over the Key. As if that’s not bad enough a bunch of guys in chainmail brandishing swords appear from nowhere and attack her, They call themselves the Knights of Byzantium, an ancient order sworn to destroy the Key and all who protect it. Buffy wins the battle but the knights’ promise that legions of them will follow. This is the last straw for Buff and she finally realises something: she is the one with the power. She has power over them all: the Watchers, Glory, the Knights. She shares her revelation with Quentin, informing him that they, the Watchers, are useless without her and that she is now in charge. She orders him to reinstate Giles with full back pay and to give her all the info they have on Glory. His bluff called, Travers agrees and tells Buffy that Glory is no demon. She’s a god.


It’s about realising and using the power you have, not letting others use you, take advantage, walk all over you. Through most of the episode Buffy is being dismissed and talked down to by so-called authority figures. Buffy’s lecturer patronises her because she dares to ask questions and to challenge his view of history. Glory tells her she is nothing to her and that she could kill her in an instant. And the Watchers try to reassert their authority over her by withholding valuable knowledge and threatening to get Giles kicked out of the country. But they have all made a big mistake. It is all just bluff. And realising this, Buffy calls those bluffs.


Glory and the Watchers Council


Girl power actualised. A great theme and Buffy’s realisation of her power and her then putting those damn Watchers in their place is fantastic. Her big scene at the end is perfectly written and performed and we are right their with the Scoobies cheering the Buffster on. You go girl!

SMG and Tony Head. All the performances by the regulars are great, but it is SMG and Tony Head who are at the heart of things here. And they are both firing on all cylinders. The Giles and Buffy father/daughter mentor/student relationship is at the core of this episode. They have quiet heart to hearts with Giles making sure Buffy knows that she has done nothing wrong, that nobody else could ever have done any better than she. His pride in her shines throughout, especially when she finally puts Travers and co. in their place. Once more Giles proves to be the perfect father figure, and as Buffy freely tells him, she can’t lose him when the Watchers threaten to get him kicked out of the country. A portent of things soon to come in the realm of Buffyverse parental figures.

Hanging at Spike’s crib. Buff takes her mom and sister to stay with Spike so he can protect them from Glory. Of course Spike agrees. He’d do anything to get Buffy’s favour. But he already has a nice relationship with Joyce, a weird kind of mother/son thing going on. Plus they also share a common passion for daytime soap Passions. And Spike also kinda gets Dawn too, how she’s troubled and is full of teenage hormones. They will go on to form a kind of charmingly odd big brother/lil sis bond.


The Knights of Byzantium are a goofy looking lot in their middle ages style armour and chain mail. Not very practical for 21st century living. Or for helping keep them a secret.


Buffy takes the power back. Yeah!


Glory: Sunnydale's got too many demons and not enough retail outlets.

Giles (to the Council members): You all stand around and look sombre. (Indeed they do.) Good job.

Giles (to Travers, very angrily): She's not your bloody instrument and you have no right to do any of this!

Giles: Buffy, calm down. The scandal here is not anything you've done wrong, it's the way they're behaving. Holding what they know hostage, with a gun pointed at my bleeding green card no less. It's humiliating.

Phillip: So. You have no special skills, or powers, or knowledge that you bring to the mix? Neither of you?
Anya: Just enthusiasm for killing the demons. Go deadness for the demons!

Buffy: There isn't gonna be a review.
Quentin: Sorry?
Buffy: No review. No interrogation. No questions you know I can't answer. No hoops. No jumps. (Nigel is about to speak.) No interruptions. See, I've had a lot of people talking at me in the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am. And I've finally figured out why. Power. I have it. They don't. This bothers them. Glory came to my home today.
Giles: Buffy are you all—
Buffy: Just to talk. She told me I'm a bug, I'm a flea, that she could squash me in a second. Only she didn't. She came into my home, and we talked. We had what in her warped brain probably passes for a civilized conversation. Why? Because she needs something from me. Because I have power over her. You guys didn't come all the way from England to determine whether I was good enough to be let back in. You came to beg me to let you back in. To give your jobs, your lives, some semblance of meaning.
Nigel: This is beyond insolence— (Buffy hurls the sword at him, which he must jump aside to avoid.)
Buffy: I'm fairly certain I said no interruptions.


Veteran American character actor Harris Yulin reprises his role of stuffy English Watcher Quentin Travers last seen in season three’s Helpless. He’ll appear once more in season seven’s Never Leave Me.


Buff tells it like it is. 4 (out of 5)


Some of Anya’s best bits

WRITER: Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: Christopher Hibler


Giles heads off to England to meet with the Watcher’s Council to discuss Glory leaving Anya in charge of the Magic Box. Tensions between Anya and Willow soon arise over Willow using ingredients for spells without paying. But it is obvious this is just a cover for far more deep seated issues between the pair, mostly revolving around Xander. Much arguing and tomfoolery eventually leads to a giant troll called Olaf (who happens to be an ex boyfriend of Anya’s) being accidentally released from a magic crystal and then going on the rampage around town looking for ale to drink, wenches to have his way with, and fat little babies to eat. Working together Anya and Willow must track down big bad Troll and get him back in the crystal before he can wreak any more havoc.


The ol’ tension between the best friend and the girl friend, each one jealous of the other, afraid they are gonna hurt or ‘take away’ the poor sap stuck in the middle. In this case Xander.


Olaf the troll


It’s a three-way. The idea behind this episode is pretty fun and is something lots of people can relate to (not the troll, the girlfriend/best friend thing). The tension between Willow and Anya has been building for a while now and it blows up nicely in this episode.

Jane Espenson brings the funny. Yep, Triangle is a Jane Espenson script, and as such it brings a lot of funny to the party. It’s pretty over the top in places (Olaf himself is a totally OTT creation) and veers from silly slapstick to witty wordplay to almost French farce in places. But it works.

Comedy direction. Veteran TV director Christopher Hibler brings his long held expertise with comedy to this episode. The direction of the comedy and its timing is impeccable leading to several laugh out loud moments.

Olaf the troll. Olaf is a great creation brought hilariously to life by long time ER actor Abraham Benrubi who’s clearly having a whale of a time shouting every line while smashing stuff up and hunting down ale to drink, wenches to have his way with, and fat tasty babies to eat. Benrubi returned to the role in the season 7 episode ‘Selfless’.

Spike. Once again James Marsters is all kinds of awesome in this ep. The scene where he practices giving a box of chocolates to a fake Buffy (a mannequin with blond wig on) before getting in a one sided argument with said mannequin, then attacking it…then calmly resetting it and starting again is hilarious. His encounter with Olaf at the Bronze is equally good and very funny, especially when Xander suggests to Spike that he could maybe fight the troll and stop his rampage and Spike answers nonchalantly, “Yeah, I could do that. But I’m paralysed with not caring very much.”

Anya. As always Emma Caulfield is very funny and very cute as ex-vengeance demon Anya whose past comes back to haunt her when it is revealed that Olaf was an ex of hers from back in the dark ages who she turned in to a troll after he cheated on her. Turns out it was that act that got her the job of becoming a vengeance demon.


Very silly. This is one of the most out and out silly episodes of the entire run of the show. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as this show does silly very, very well and still always manages to keep a serious theme going. But the goofy tone is kinda unrelenting. Even Buffy’s emotional state post-Riley leaving is played for laughs with her breaking down in to exaggerated comedy tears every time something remotely sad happens.

Where did Riley go? How do Buffy and the rest of the gang know so much about Riley's "secret" mission? He didn't tell her where he was going and never mentioned anything to do with "the jungle".

Anya the driver. Anya tells Willow that she's never driven before, but in Graduation Day Part One, she told Xander she had a car outside, and suggested that they leave Sunnydale, taking turns driving.


Spike’s rant at, and then attacking of his ‘practice’ Buffy mannequin.


Anya: If you ever decide to go, I want a warning. You know? Big flashing red lights, and-and-and one of those clocks that counts down like a bomb in a movie? And there's a whole bunch of, of coloured wires, and I'm not sure which is the right one to cut, but I guess the green one, and then at the last second, "No! The red one!" and then click, it stops with three-tenths of a second left, but then you don't leave. Like that, okay?

Xander: Check. Big bomb clock.

Giles: Dealing with people requires a certain, uh, finesse.
Anya: I have finesse! I have finesse coming out of my bottom!

Buffy: I killed something in a convent last night.
Xander: In any other room, a frightening declaration. Here, a welcome distraction.

Spike (holding a box of chocolates, talking to a mannequin with a blond wig): Um... there's something I got to tell you. About showing you Riley in that place. I didn't mean to... (long pause) Anyway, I know you're feeling all betrayed — by him, not me. I was trying to help, you know. Not like I made him be there, after all. Actually trying to help you. Best intentions. I mean, you know, pretty state you'd be in, thinking things are all right while he's toddling halfway round the bend. (He stares at the mannequin and starts to get increasingly angry.) Oh, I'll insult him if I want to! I'm the one who's on your side! Me! Doing you a favour! And you, being dead petty about it — me, getting nothing but your hatred and your venom and— you ungrateful bitch! Fuc— bitch!
(He loses control and smashes the box of chocolates over the mannequin's head. He then sighs, picks up the mannequin and replaces it. He rearranges the wig, picks up the box of chocolate, and tries to stuff the chocolates back in. He composes himself and faces the mannequin again. )
Spike: Buffy... there's something I want to tell you.

Olaf (upon bashing a dumpster with his hammer): Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha! Puny receptacle!

Olaf: Bar maid! Bring me stronger ale! And some plump, succulent babies to eat!

Xander: I'm gonna run get Buffy. Or maybe you could fight him.
Spike: Yeah, I could do that, but I'm paralyzed with not caring very much.
Olaf (to Spike): You there! Do you know where there are babies?
Spike (to Xander): What do ya think, the hospital?
Xander: What? Shut up!

Willow: I wish Buffy was here!
(Buffy runs in.)
Buffy: I'm here!
Willow: I wish I had a million dollars!


Abraham Benrubi who plays Olaf is probably best known as a regular on ER playing desk clerk Jerry Markovic. He also provides the voice of Darth Vader (and others) on Robot Chicken, co-created by Seth (Oz) Green. He has also starred in an episode of The X-Files and had a supporting role in the film Twister.

This is the only episode of Buffy directed by Christopher Hibler, a veteran television director who worked on shows such as Remington Steele, Moonlighting, and Quantum Leap. He passed away in 2010 aged 68.


It’s troll-tastic! 4 (out of 5)

Monday, 16 July 2012


Some of the score from this episode.

WRITER: Marti Noxon

DIRECTOR: Marti Noxon


Spike discovers Riley’s secret vamp sucking addiction. And seeing an opportunity he gets Buffy to follow him to the grotty vampire brothel where, to her horror, she sees for herself Riley in the midst of a blood suck session with a lady vamp. Disgusted, Buffy takes off. Not long after, the military guys, still in town after the events of the previous ep, come to Riley and ask him to join them. They are about to head of to Belize for a long mission in the jungle to take down some demons that’ve been targeting missionaries. Riley considers the offer. Later, he confronts a still furious Buffy with what he has done and tries to explain himself to her. He tells her he’s gonna leave with the military guys at midnight if they can’t work through this. Buffy sees this as an ultimatum and storms off. Knowing something bad is going down, Xander catches up with Buff and tells her that she needs to get over herself if she really does care for Riley and wants him to stay. Xander’s words get through to her and a desperate Buffy runs off, chasing after Riley to try and stop him from leaving. Will she get to him it in time?


It’s a relationship thing: poor communication, taking each other for granted, secrets, infidelity. You can read the metaphor of what Riley is doing in either of two ways. First, he’s visiting prostitutes and paying for what he (wrongly) perceives as intimacy, for what he thinks he’s not getting from Buffy. Second, that he is getting a high from a drug, having the lady vamps feed on him, making him feel good….somehow.


Vampire pimp I guess…and Riley being a tool.


The metaphor. It’s played out quite well with the breakdown of a relationship given a Buffesque bent.

The vampire brothel idea is a good one…in a creepy, messed up kinda way. Adds interesting flavour to the supernatural underworld.

The big fight. Buffy angrily taking on vampire pimp and his gang is pretty cool. They didn’t stand a chance. Also how Buff at first lets go the female vamp who’d been feeding on Riley…before then throwing a wooden stake through her while she’s running away, dusting her.


So Buffy’s the bad guy? Sorry, but the way this story is played out just doesn’t feel at all right to me. Riley is made out to be a victim here, suffering at the hands of an unthinking, unfeeling Buffy, who apparently takes him for granted. Xander tells her as much and makes her realise she really does love Riley and wants him to stay. But, to me at least, Riley has been major tool for most of this season. He’s been so selfish and self centred, expecting Buff to be putting his needs first while she’s been dealing with everything she’s been dealing with. Of course Buffy ain’t perfect and has some major character flaws of her own but that’s part of why we love her. No, I was totally with the Buffster on this one….at least until she goes and has a Xander inspired epiphany and runs after soldier boy. Truth is Riley was right. She never really, truly loved him. He WAS rebound guy.

Angst heavy. I like me some angst and high emotion (when done well), but that’s pretty much all that this episode is. It is heavy handed and just doesn’t ring true. There’s almost no humour to be had, no laughs, just wrong feeling mawkish angst. Thank the gods then for Anya in an early Magic Box scene as she and the Scoobies debate the holiday reduced sale price of chicken feet.


Buff furiously dusting the vamp pimp and his gang.


Anya: Maybe we could do a... holiday promotion. One free with every purchase!
Giles: Oh, yes. Dear holiday memories. Merry tykes by the fire, enjoying their new Christmas... chicken feet.
Willow: Aw, holding them tight as they fall asleep. Painting their little toenails.
Anya: That's very humorous. Make fun of the ex-demon! I can just hear you in private. 'I dislike that Anya. She's newly human and strangely literal.”

Xander (to Anya): I've gotta say something, 'cause I don't think I've made it clear. I'm in love with you. Powerfully, painfully in love. The things you do, the way you think, the way you move... I get excited every time I'm about to see you. You make me feel like I've never felt before in my life. Like a man. I just thought you might wanna know.


The "In Memory of D.C. Gustafson" at the end of this episode referred to Gustav Gustafson - a good friend of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s who died in November 2000 at age 41 after fighting cancer and AIDS.


So long Riley. 2 (out of 5)

Sunday, 15 July 2012


Episode promo

WRITER: Rebecca Rand Kirshner

DIRECTOR: David Solomon


Good news! Joyce’s brain tumour is operable but the problems it is causing her are getting worse – mood swings, uncontrolled verbal outbursts etc. Unwilling to stay in the hospital for the two days until her op, Joyce and Buffy convince the doctor to let her return home to wait until its time for the surgery. Reluctantly the doc agrees. And so Buff takes her mom home. Unfortunately a Queller Demon summoned from space by intern Ben (who is somehow connected to Glory) in order to suck dry the minds of the insane peeps Glory is leaving in her wake, hitches a ride with the Summers girls, looking to target poor Joyce as its next meal. Elsewhere, seems Riley is hanging out in filthy dives with trashy vampire girls and paying them to suck on his…blood.


Our changing roles in life and having to adopt new roles we never expected to adopt. From this episode on Buffy basically takes on the mother and primary carer role for Dawn, and also, for a while at least, for her mom too. Having missed out on a proper adolescence Buff is now, at such a young age (only 19 still as of this ep), having to become the adult of the house, the primary carer for her family. Being the hero she is, she of course steps up to the task, but the private little breakdown we witness as she does the washing up in the dark is very telling. She may have averted apocalypses and saved the world, but this is possibly the scariest and most traumatic challenge she’s yet had to face.


The Queller Demon – a kind of giant cockroach with a human face that vomits disgusting goo over its victims. Gross!


The main theme of the episode. As explained above, this works well in talking about what so many people in real life have to deal with, often at such young ages – forced through circumstance to become carers for close family members.

The Queller Demon. It sure is a gross little bug thing that slimes and crawls around walls and ceilings, vomiting its ghastly goo on people. It’s actually one of the most effective (in being gross) demons the show ever did and seems more like something from the X-Files rather than the Buffyverse.

Willow aka Tiny Jewish Santa. Early on in the ep Willow visits Joyce and Buffy and Dawn at the hospital and brings gifts for them all - a ‘Tiny Jewish Santa’ as Buffy observes. Gotta love the Willster

Kristine Sutherland. Again, the lady knocks it out of the park, portraying Joyce’s fear and frustration and also her deteriorating mental state. Watching poor Joyce as she acts irrationally and babbles inanely (including insulting her daughter) is very sad, especially for those of us who have known (and do know) people in similar conditions. Excellent work.

SMG. And Sarah knocks it out of the park too. Once again poor Buff is put through the emotional wringer. She is trying desperately to be strong for Dawn and for her mom, but it is all getting to be too much. Her private breakdown in the darkened kitchen is very affecting as is her scene at the end when she is forced to reveal the truth about Dawn to her mom and also promise her that she’ll look after her lil sis if anything happens to Joyce.

Riley and the vamp hoes. Okay, so Riley is seeking his thrills in filthy, seedy ‘crack dens’ paying vamp girls to suck on his blood for thrills. Complicated guy.


The Queller Demon story is ok but as an ‘A’ story it is fairly ho hum. Luckily everything else around it i.e. Joyce’s illness and Buffy’s emotional struggle is great.


Giles: Because it's a killer snot monster from outer space. (pause) I did not say that.


Willow: Oh, I feel just like Santa Claus... except thinner, and younger, and... female. And, well... Jewish.

Buffy: Homework? Unh. I don't believe in tiny Jewish Santa anymore.

Willow: You know what's weird?
Tara: Japanese commercials are weird.

Riley (about the stinky alien goo): That might be toxic, don't touch it.
Xander: Oh yeah, touching it was my first impulse. Luckily I've moved on to my second, which involves dry-heaving, and running like hell.

Xander: I still don't get why we had to come here to get info about a killer snot monster.
Giles: Because it's a killer snot monster from outer space. (pause) I did not say that.

Joyce: …Dawn... she's not mine, is she?
Buffy (after long pause): No.
Joyce (after another pause): She's... she does belong to us though?
Buffy: Yes she does.
Joyce: And she's important. To the world. Precious? As precious as you are to me?
(Buffy nods.)
Joyce: Then we have to take care of her. Buffy, promise me. If anything happens, if I don't get through this—
Buffy: Mom…
Joyce: No, listen to me. No matter what she is, she still feels like my daughter. I have to know that you'll take care of her. That you'll keep her safe. That you'll love her like I love you.
Buffy (crying): I promise.


Nick Chinlund, who plays Major Ellis, is a TV and movie genre favourite having played the nasty death fetishist Donnie Pfaster in two memorable episodes of The X-Files, Billy Bedlam is Con Air, and the gruff merc Toombs in The Chronicles of Riddick amongst many others.


Snot that great. 2.5 (out of 5)

Saturday, 14 July 2012


A nice piece of Thomas Wanker’s score for this ep.

WRITER: David Fury

DIRECTOR: Daniel Attias


Joyce undergoes a CAT scan to discover what is wrong with her, meaning poor Buff is left to try and keep things together at home and with her pesky and inquisitive lil sis. It transpires that Joyce has a brain tumour, which may or may not be operable. At the same time, Glory is looking to create a special type of demon in the form of a giant snake to hunt down her elusive Key and then to report back to her when it has found it. While all of this is going on Riley continues to sink in to his ‘Buffy doesn’t really need me or want me’ misery by almost getting jiggy with a comely vamp, and love struck Spike has taken to sneaking in to Buffy’s bedroom to sniff her clothes.


Doing whatever you can to keep control of your life…and realising that sometimes it is simply impossible, that events, life, will do its own thing no matter what and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.


Glory and her ‘snakey-wakey’, and I guess what’s happening to poor Joyce.


Kristine Sutherland. Kristine delivers a subtle and affecting performance as she goes through the scary tests, gets the scary news, and then, even worse, has to tell her daughters what’s happening to her.

SMG. Sarah also delivers a nicely judged and subtly affecting performance, trying desperately to be strong for her mom and for Dawn, refusing to cry on Riley’s shoulder for fear she wouldn’t stop, while also desperate to do something to help. Unable to find any magical or Slayer related help for her mom she instead focuses her fury and slayer skills on finding Glory and stopping Glory’s new demon before it gets back to its mistress with news of who/where the Key is.

Michelle Trachtenberg. Michelle does great work here too, making Dawn sympathetic and sweetly vulnerable and much, much less annoying. Her scene with Riley at the fairground is a nice one.

Glory. Once again Clare Kramer is great as Glory, bringing the fun. Cute, crazed, violent, snarky. Loved her shoe-based rage at poor scabby minion Dreg.

A predator thing. In a very creepy turn of events Spike sneaks in to Buffy’s house, rifles through her clothes and sniffs of them deeply…before Riley turns up and busts him. Spike makes the excuse that it’s a predator thing, knowing the scent of your enemy. But he soon gets in to an argument with Riley, telling soldier boy a few choice details about what Buffy really likes in a man. A great scene in which James Marsters is both creepy and very funny.


The big ‘snakey-wakey’ puppet is pretty lousy. Basically a man-sized cobra that looks like a solid lump of rubber with a flapping jaw. Oh dear.

Sub standard ‘A’ plot. Basically the ‘A’ story here of Glory and her snake demon is weak and unmemorable. What is far more memorable and important is everything happening to Joyce and how Buffy and Dawn are dealing.

Riley the tool. I used to like this guy. He was always just a nice solid stand up guy who would do anything for the people he cared about. But his deep insecurities and needy nature really make me wanna just smack him silly. I mean, jeez, his girlfriend is dealing with her mom being sick, maybe even terminally so, while also having to cope with a vulnerable lil sis not to mention a crazy mega powerful demon chick out to take lil sis away and kick her slayer ass. But for some reason Riley is upset cuz Buffy isn’t putting him and his needs and his ego front and centre. What a tool.


Spike sniffing Buff’s sweater. Creepy but funny.


Xander: Am I right, Giles?
Giles: I'm almost certain you're not, but to be fair, I wasn't listening.

Anya: I mean, I for one didn't want to start my day with a slaughter. Which, really, just goes to show how much I've grown!

Riley: Were you ... were you just smelling her sweater?
Spike: No. (Riley glares at him) Well, yeah, all right, I did. It's a... predator thing, nothin' wrong with it. Just ... know your enemy's scent, whet the appetite for a hunt. (He sniffs the sweater again.) Ah, that's the stuff! Slayer musk, it's bitter and aggravating!

Anya: Are you stupid or something?
Giles: Allow me to answer that question with a firing.
Xander: She's kidding. An, we talked about the employee-employer vocabulary no-nos. That was number five.

Xander: Just once, I would like to run into a cult of bunny worshipers.
Anya: Great! Thank you very much for those nightmares!


This episode is the BtVS directorial debut of Daniel Attias. Daniel directed many other TV shows prior to Buffy, including Miami Vice, Party of Five, and The Sopranos. He also directed the 1985 Stephen King werewolf movie Silver Bullet.


A shadow of its former self. 2.5 (out of 5)

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Nice little tribute vid for this ep.

WRITER: Doug Petrie

DIRECTOR: Nick Marck


While fighting an 80’s hair metal vamp, Buffy gets stabbed by her own stake and is forced to flee injured. Naturally shaken by her near brush with death our gal seeks out answers as to why previous Slayers got beaten, but no records exist of those Slayers’ final battles. Giles suggests it is likely because their Watchers found the whole thing far too painful to document. So, reluctantly, Buff turns to the one source she knows of with direct experience of a Slayers final battle: Spike, the slayer of Slayers. Meanwhile Joyce is slowly getting worse and is heading in to hospital for tests and observation, which poor Buff is finding hard to cope with.


Fool for Love is about asking uncomfortable questions of yourself and getting the honest answers that you really don’t want to hear. Also it’s about who a person really is beneath the surface, beneath the persona we build for ourselves and show the world; the image we try to project. Who are we really deep down? What is it we really, truly want from life?


Hmm, I guess its 80’s hair metal vampire. And maybe Spike.


The script. Fool for Love is simply a brilliant episode. It is the first easy five star episode of the season. Why? Partly because Doug Petrie’s script is full of such depth and wonderful character work. We find out who Spike was and how he came to be who he is now. We watch the construction of his badass character. We see the twisted dynamic between him and Angel, Dru and Darla. We see him kill two Slayers. And this is all shown while he’s trying to explain (for cash…and Spicy Buffalo Wings) to Buffy how he killed two Slayers. There is so much going on here. The ep is primarily about Spike and how he came to be, but it is also about who Buffy really is and what it truly means to be a Slayer: isolation, pain and certain death.

Flashbacks of a Fool (for Love). Through beautifully realised flashbacks to London in the 1880’s, China in the 1900’s, New York in the 1970’s we see the Spike persona being gradually put together piece by piece starting with the name, the accent, the scar on the eyebrow, the hair, and finally the black leather coat. All of this based around a rebellious attitude and an obsession with killing Slayers. This is Buffy mythology working at its best.

The direction. Nick Marck did a beautiful job with this episode. The direction is smooth, yet tight and tense with some brilliant cuts and scene changes as we seamlessly move between ‘now’ and old London and China and 70’s New York. Stylistically the big fight on the subway train between Spike and 70’s Slayer Nikki is the highlight. It’s all neon and gritty and brutal and has Spike narrating to Buffy from inside the fight itself while cross cutting beautifully to the pair sparring in the alley outside of the Bronze. Stunning.

The art direction. The episode looks great with the flashbacks being as lovingly put together as always. And even though the London Street set is obviously the usual old town set redressed, it still looks good, as does a standing Mexican village set redressed to be China, while the internal Chinese temple set where Spike kills his first Slayer is a beauty. But you can’t beat the cool 70’s subway train where Spike kills Slayer no. 2.

Two Parter. Fool for Love is actually the first part of a two-part tale concluding in Angel with the wonderful episode Darla. The flashbacks to Spike being turned by Dru and the chaos in China were filmed in conjunction with Angel with the ‘Darla’ scenes being the flip side scenes to what we see in Fool for Love i.e. shown from a different perspective – that of Angel or Darla, not Spike.

Eroticism. There’s a lot of suggestive and not so suggestive sex stuff in this ep. Doug Petrie admitted in his commentary that this was the filthiest ep of Buffy he’d worked on up ‘til then. He takes much pleasure in Darla and Dru getting turned on as Angel and Spike fight and Angel goes to stake Spike. Or as Petrie puts it, “The guys trying to thrust their poles in to each other.” And Dru slowly, sensually sucking Slayer blood off of Spike’s finger has to be one of the weirdest/grossest/hottest images ever in Buffydom.

SMG. Sarah is great in this episode. Though it's primarily a Spike episode it is also about Buffy trying to understand herself better while also dealing with her fears for her mom. The chemistry between Sarah and James Marsters is riveting. It’s a kind of fascinated repulsion she conveys. The end scene where Buffy goes outside on the porch and breaks down under the strain of worry for her mom is very touching as is Spike’s reaction to her when he turns up with darker intentions.

James Marsters. I know I always bang on about how bloody great James Marsters is as Spike. So guess what? I’m going to again. Cuz he is. With this episode we get a whole other layer to the character. We get more dimension, more history, more complexity, more subtlety, more wonderful contradiction. Seeing James as a sensitive foppish young poet is as far from the smart-ass, brutal vampire Spike as you can imagine…and yet James sells it so you can see perfectly the same man in both. Spike is a persona William has built over years to protect himself from hurt and against his still rampant insecurities. He may be evil. He may be soulless, yet somehow the emotional damage done to him as a man still remains, as does that deeply sensitive side to his nature, which James Marsters shows us so brilliantly. James’ performance has to cover so much ground here while always remaining emotionally truthful, which it does. All the way through we feel for Spike despite the awful things he does. And Buffy’s putdown to him at the end of their lesson which echoes the putdown from his first love who rejected him is deeply wounding for Spike and affecting for the audience too.


In 1880’s London there are some very dodgy English accents going on, though not from Mr Marsters whose accent, as always, remains impeccable.

Also in 1880’s London, and later on in China, we see some typically dodgy wigs. Poor Boreanaz suffers the worst as per usual with a long messy mane that really doesn’t suit him. James’ wavy auburn wig isn’t much better either. Luckily the girls, Darla and Dru, both look great.


70’s slayer Vs 70’s vampire


Buffy: Don't worry. Accelerated healing powers come with the Slayer package. And the boyfriend who comes complete with combat medical training — that's just a Buffy Summers bonus.

Dawn: C'mon, who's the man?
Buffy: You are. A very short, annoying man.

Dawn: When do I get to patrol?
Buffy: Not until you are never!

Buffy: Look, I realise that every Slayer comes with an expiration mark on the package. But, I want mine to be a long time from now. Like a Cheeto.

Cecily: I do see you — that's the problem! You're nothing to me, William. (She stands and looks down at him.) You're beneath me.

Spike: What can I tell you, baby? I've always been bad.

Spike: The first lesson: A Slayer must always reach for her weapon. (He puts his vamp face on.) I've already got mine.

Spike: Death is your art. You make it with your hands day after day. That final gasp, that look of peace. And part of you is desperate to know: What's it like? Where does it lead you? And now you see, that's the secret. Not the punch you didn't throw or the kicks you didn't land. She really wanted it. Every Slayer has a death wish. Even you.

Spike: Come on. I can feel it, Slayer. You know you wanna dance.
Buffy: Say it's true. Say I do want to. (She pushes him to the ground.) It wouldn't be you, Spike. It would never be you. (She throws the cash at him.) You're beneath me.


The original title for this episode was Love’s Bitch. An awesome title they should have stuck with.

Fool for Love was one of the fastest ever written episodes of Buffy. Doug Petrie pulled several all-nighters to get it done by drinking endless Red Bulls and grabbing short naps on set. He says he tried out all the beds on set, finding Buffy’s bed to be weird, making him feel like some kind of perverted stalker, so he settled on Buffy’s mom’s bed instead, which apparently was the most comfortable of all. Apparently he learned this habit from Joss who would regularly get some sleep on the beds on the set.


You’re no fool if you love this. 5 (out of 5)

Monday, 9 July 2012


The final confrontation with Tara’s family

WRITER: Joss Whedon

DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon


Tara is preparing to celebrate her 20th birthday when out of the blue her family turns up – Dad, Brother Donny and Cousin Beth. It seems Tara may have been harbouring a dark secret for her family has come to take her home before some great evil inside of her emerges and wreaks havoc. At the same time, Glory discovers that in the previous episode she was fighting a Vampire Slayer. And so she recruits a bunch of nasty demons to go find Buffy and kill her as Glory considers fighting a Vampire Slayer herself to be beneath her. Meanwhile, Buffy has told Giles the truth about Dawn and that she is going to protect her ‘sister’ no matter what. They agree to keep the truth to themselves for the time being. Back to Tara, and afraid that Willow and the gang will see her for what she truly is she casts a spell to hide her inner evil from them. But when Glory’s demons attack the Magic Box the spell backfires with potentially lethal consequences.


What is family? What is it that makes a family? That’s the main theme here. Is it just blood or is it something more? Joss definitely comes down on the latter. Family is more than just blood. And sometimes blood family can be no family at all, as is shown with Tara’s odious kin. Other themes are the subjugation of women through the excuse of tradition and the use of fear and the suppression of homosexuality as something wrong and evil.


Glory, a bunch of pasty faced demons and the Maclay family.


It’s a Joss ‘Written and Directed by…’ episode, so of course it rocks.

Tara. We finally get to know a bit more about Tara who’s been with the show for an entire season but has remained mostly a kinda vague character, as both Buffy and Xander admit to each other here. They like her. They know she’s a witch and that she and Willow are in love…but that’s it.

Amber Benson. As Tara, Amber is sweetness personified. She plays Tara as a quiet, insecure, loving girl who wouldn’t (knowingly) harm a fly…which makes what happens in this episode all the more hard to take. Her mousy demeanour and cute nervous stutter just wanna make you give her a hug. The Willow/Tara love story is arguably the best, sweetest and most meaningful love story the show ever did. And a big part of that is down to Amber.

Buffy and the gang closing ranks around Tara and facing down Tara’s dad. A great moment that gets to the heart of what this show is about and what Joss does best – writing about flawed but good hearted people coming together to create their own close knit family unit.

Willow and Tara’s cute floaty dance at the end.


Not so much with the funny. For a Joss episode Family is pretty low on the laughs. And that’s ok because of what it is looking to do. But we do miss quality Joss-isms.

It’s a good, solid episode with a nice strong theme and nice performances. But that’s all it is, which is kinda shocking for a Joss two hander.

Riley continues his self indulgent feeling sorry for himself decline. C’mon, dude, get a grip.


The Scoobies closing ranks around Tara (see clip at top) and the look on Tara's face as she realises. A truly heart warming moment.


Buffy: Nothing like getting your ass kicked to make your ass hurt.

Buffy: So any breakthrough on the identity of Miss Congeniality?
Giles: Well, I've narrowed it down some.
Buffy (seeing the stacks of books on the table): Your definition of narrow is impressively wide.

Giles (to Buffy and Xander): You're in a magic shop, and you can't think what Tara would like. I think you're both profoundly stupid.
Xander: Well we don't really know what kinds of things witches like. I mean, what are we going to get her, some cheesy crystal ball?
Giles: You bloody well better not; I've got mine already wrapped.

Glory: A Slayer? Oh God, please don't tell me I was fighting a Vampire Slayer! How unbelievably common. If I had friends, and they heard about this...

Mr. Maclay: You are going to do what's right, Tara. Now I am taking you out of here before somebody DOES get killed. The girl belongs with her family; I hope that's clear to the rest of you.
Buffy: It is. You want her, Mr. Maclay, you can go ahead and take her. You just gotta go through me.

Mr. Maclay: This is insane! You people have no right to interfere in Tara's affairs. We are her blood kin. Who the hell are you?
Buffy: We're family


In this episode we discover that Tara's last name is Maclay.

By the time of this episode Buffy’s dad has descended in to a true scummy father who’s run off with his secretary to Spain and doesn’t even bother to speak to his children when their mother gets sick. Biological fathers in the Buffyverse do get a raw deal.

Amy Adams. Yep, bitchy Cousin Beth is played by none other than the lovely and talented multiple Oscar nominee Amy Adams.


Family Ties aren’t binding. 3 (out of 5)

Friday, 6 July 2012


“Out. For. A. Walk…Bitch!”

WRITER: Doug Petrie

DIRECTOR: David Solomon


Buffy has become convinced that her mom’s as yet undiagnosed illness is the result of a supernatural attack. After a suggestion by Willow, she casts a spell at home to see if there are any traces of dark magic around her mom and the rest of the house, which would indicate some sort of supernatural attack. And whilst in her supernatural induced state, Buffy sees things which make her believe that Dawn is not in fact her sister but is really something evil looking to do her and her mom harm. After leaving the house to go investigate further, Buffy soon has a confrontation at an old factory with a very pretty, very powerful, and also seemingly unhinged young woman in a striking red dress who appears to be torturing a captured monk. After the crazy young woman in red gives a shocked Buffy a good ass kicking, Buff just about manages to escape with the monk as the factory collapses down on top of the crazy lady with the red dress on. Outside now, the monk, about to breathe his last, just about manages to tell Buffy the shocking truth about Dawn before he croaks.


My annoying kid sister really is evil! And so the sibling rivalry Buff feels against her lil sis boils over in this episode as she thinks she has uncovered Dawn’s secret – that she is in fact some evil interloper in to their family looking to do harm. Buffy is far too eager to accept this. You can tell she kinda hopes it’s true. Could she slay her own ‘sister’? She even goes as far as to rough the poor kid up some, hurting her arm. Oddly Dawn becomes rather cold and coolly detached after this assault. I know it adds to the mystery (ooh, is she really evil?) but somehow I think she’d be well and truly freaked out based upon what we’ve seen of her so far. However the turn of events at episode’s end will put Buffy in to a new dynamic with Dawnie which will ultimately see big sis do absolutely anything to protect troublesome lil sis.


Glory aka The Beast: A devil with a red dress on.


Glory. Clare Kramer plays Glory, a petite young blond girl in heels and striking red dress who’s clearly unhinged and immensely powerful with it. Oh, and enjoys sucking out people’s minds too. She’s cute. She’s wicked. She looks great in that dress. And she well and truly kicks Buffy’s ass. What is she? A demon? Something else? Time will tell. Love Glory. She’s one of my all time fave Buffy Big Bads. Just so much fun to watch not to mention very easy on the eye.

The spell Buffy casts to look for traces of dark magic around her house is very cool and shot in a weird and dreamy way. Love the fade in/outs of Dawn’s room with/without all her stuff in it. Reminds me of the Pang Brothers The Eye.

Giles in his darkish wizard outfit. And the long silent reaction from Buffy…leading to him taking it off. Funny.

Anya the sales assistant. Her wonderfully offhand rudeness to the customers is so funny. “Please go” she says after taking their money, leading to Xander having to explain to her some of the finer points of polite insincerity.

Love struck Spike. Okay, so this is the start of the truly Buffy-whipped Spike, but his adolescent behaviour is very funny and leads to one of the greatest Spike moments ever in this ep. “Out. For. A. Walk.” Pause. “Bitch.”

The Buffy/Glory fight. Buff seems to have truly met her physical match in another young blond girl not that unlike herself. In fact, Glory seems far more physically powerful, tossing poor Buff around like a rag doll. The fight is fairly brief but is quite brutal and high impact. Not exactly a graceful martial arts style fight of old, more just punch and bludgeon and throw.

The Dawn reveal. Ah, so this is how Buffy managed to have a sister we’d never heard of before. It all makes sense now. Joss, you ol’ devil, you.


The opening fight with the vamp at the factory is pretty lame. The direction is flat, the blocking is uninspired and kinda slow. And Buffy spends far too much time quipping when she should of just staked the guy already.

Okay, I admit it. Dawn is intensely annoying in this episode. Still, didn’t like seeing her pushed around by Buff. Plus she does behave pretty immaturely for a 14-year-old.


Spike’s “Out. For. A. Walk…Bitch!”


Buffy (pulling a loitering Spike out from behind a tree): What are you doing here, Spike? Five words or less.
Spike (counting the words off on his fingers): Out. For. A. Walk. (pauses, then uses his thumb) Bitch!

Anya (to a customer who just finished her purchase): Please go.
Xander: Anya, the Shopkeepers of America called. They wanted me to tell you that "Please go" just got replaced with "Have a nice day."
Anya: But I have their money. Who cares what kind of day they have?
Xander: No one. It's just a long cultural tradition of raging insincerity. Embrace.

Dawn: What are you doing?
Buffy: My boyfriend. Go away.

Dawn (entering Giles’s new magic shop): Check out all the magic junk.
Giles: Our new slogan.

Willow: I can't help it. I just have all this involuntary empathy for Dawn. Cuz she's, you know... a big spaz.

Willow (displaying an item she's just wrapped): Does this look right to you?
Anya: Sure. If you wrapped it with your feet.


Clare Kramer who plays Glory appeared in Bring It On with Eliza Dushku who plays Faith in Buffy and Angel.


A Glory-ous 3.5 (out of 5)

Thursday, 5 July 2012


WRITER: Rebecca Rand Kirshner

DIRECTOR: David Grossman


Joyce has a strange and disturbing fainting fit and ends up in hospital. While at the hospital, Buffy discovers Riley has an abnormally fast heartbeat. After examining him the doctor strongly advises he checks in for tests and close observation but Riley is having none of it and he leaves. A worried Buffy meets up with Riley’s old Initiative buddy Graham who tells her that Riley has a potentially fatal condition brought about by all the experiments Maggie Walsh did on him and that if he doesn’t undergo an emergency procedure he will die. Buffy heads off to find a now AWOL Riley. She even enlists Spike to go looking in the old Initiative caves (for cash of course). However Spike double crosses Buffy and, hearing there’s an Initiative surgeon in town, heads to the hospital himself, Harmony in tow, looking to force the removal of his ‘sodding chip’ once and for all. Can Buffy find Riley in time and convince him to trust the government types and go have the life saving op? And can she stop Spike getting to the surgeon first and getting his chip removed?


There’s a whole load of male machismo stuff going on here. Men feeling inferior to strong women and not being able to handle it. Riley would rather die than lose his extra power, which means he is just about able to keep up with Buffy. He loves her, sure, but she also intimidates him, makes him feel emasculated, less of a man, that he is the weaker one who needs looking after and keeping safe. And big tough soldier boy Riley can’t handle it. And then there’s Spike who is in a similar position. He’s powerless due to his chip. He’s reduced to being an occasional punch bag for Buffy, a figure of annoyance and ridicule, to the Slayer and her pals. And he’ll do anything to get back what he once had.


Whatever is happening to poor Joyce. And, for the first time in ages, Spike. Yay!


The theme. It works nicely and makes a good point about fragile male egos.

The old Spike. Finally, we get to see some of the old Spike again. Full of anger and bloodlust, excited to almost be back in the Slayer killing game. And James Marsters, as always, is fab.

Joyce. Poor Joyce has her first bad turn, which will lead on to bigger and far worse things.

Marc Blucas. He does a great job playing up Riley’s insecurities and paranoid state of mind. He really doesn’t look well in some scenes. A strong performance.

Witchy Willow. Willow is starting to use much more witchcraft on a casual basis. You can see it has Tara worried and is a nice foreshadowing of events in season 6.

Spike and Harm. They do make for a funny double act. A frustrated Spike playing twenty questions with Harm is an amusing highlight


Sorry Riley, but this is not the most interesting story going. I like you but I’m really not that bothered about your macho insecurities. If I had a gal like Buff I wouldn’t be whinging about how much tougher she was than me. Oh woe is Riley.

After Buffy makes it clear she’d have to pay Spike to find Riley in the Initiative caves cuz she doesn’t know them at all, she manages to find him pretty easily after Spike double crosses her.


That final scene where Spike discovers his true feelings for the Slayer. Like we didn’t see that coming.


Spike: I will know your blood, Slayer. I will make your neck my chalice... and drink deep. (turns around and pratfalls into an open grave) Ow!

Buffy (seeing the training room Giles, Riley and Xander have made her): You're like my fairy godmother, and Santa Claus, and Q all wrapped up into one. (they look at her) Q from Bond, not Star Trek.

Spike (watching Dawson’s Creek) Oh, Pacey! You blind idiot. Can't you see she doesn't love you?

Spike: OK. Is it bigger than a breadbox?
Harmony: No. Four left.
Spike: So it's smaller than a breadbox.
Harmony: Heh heh! No, only three.
Spike: Harmony... is it a sodding breadbox?
Harmony: Yes! Oh, my God. Someone's blondie bear is a Twenty Questions genius!


This is the debut Buffy script by Rebecca Rand Kirshner who went on to write for the rest of Buffy's remaining seasons and for Angel too. A decent first script.


Stop whinging, Riley. 2.5 (out of 5)


“Kill us both, Spock!”

WRITER: Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: James A. Contner


A glowy faced demon called Toth is gunning for the Buffster and attacks her at the city dump. But Xander gets in the way and the demon’s energy blast knocks him flying. Toth flees and a dazed Xander is retrieved by his friends and taken home. However, later on, a second Xander awakens in the same spot at the dump where first Xander fell. Second Xander is all nervous and afraid and accident prone. He rushes off, only to find the other Xander appears to be living his life better than him. Other Xander seems more confident, more sure of himself, able to get what he wants. After a brief confrontation between the Xanders they each rush off to seek help, shocked by the encounter and convinced that the other is a demonic imposter. Confident Xander beats nervous Xander to Buffy so nervous Xander goes to see Willow. Both Buffy and Willow believe their Xanders are the ‘real’ Xander. In the meantime, nervous Xander, afraid for Anya, rushes off to stop his ‘imposter’ from meeting Anya at the new apartment he is renting. Meanwhile Buffy and Willow meet up with Giles who figures out what has happened. It seems Toth wanted to split the Slayer in to two separate physical personas: the first would be entirely human, while the second would be entirely slayer. Kill the human and the slayer part could not survive alone. Worried for Xander(s) the gang rushes off to stop him…them from doing something drastic and potentially fatal.


Ah, the old doppelganger/split personality tale. Trek did it brilliantly with the classic The Enemy Within (which this ep amusingly references in a roundabout way). Buffy even did it already…sort of…with Vampire Willow. Its one of those great genre staples that most shows will get around to doing at some point. And why not? It can make for great dramatic possibilities, a great chance to break down the human psyche, to see what makes us tick. Or, if you’re Buffy the Vampire Slayer, just an excuse to get Nick Brendon to act goofy and make the audience laugh. It’s a nice way to look at Xander in his many aspects – goofy nerd, witty charmer, loving boyfriend, loyal friend, confident young man, frightened child. But let’s not get too deep here. Mostly The Replacement is just an excuse for a Xander comedy episode. And that is perfectly fine. Two Xander’s for the price of one. Cool.




It’s a Xander comedy episode written by the great Jane Espenson. What more do you need? Okay, specifics…

The Snoopy Dance. To prove to Willow he’s the real Xander, Xander tells her how every Christmas they get together and Watch A Snoopy Christmas and Xander always does the Snoopy Dance for her…which he goes on to demonstrate.

Nicholas Brendon. He does a great job portraying both Xanders (as does his real life Twin brother Kelly) and once more proves what a gifted comedy actor he is.

Anya wanting to keep the two Xanders for a while to engage in some unspecified sexual exploits. Needless to say the gang says no.

Xander owns a set of Babylon 5 commemorative plates.

Riley’s confession to Xander at episode’s end is kinda sad and ends what was a fun frothy episode on an unexpected but effective downer.


This is essentially the last proper Xander comedy episode the show ever did. And that sucks.


The Snoopy Dance


Xander: I wish I had something food-like to offer you guys, but the hot plate's out of commission.
Anya: We think the cat peed on it.

Xander: Yeah, maybe it's definitely time to start looking for a new place. Something a little nicer. Buffy, you've been to Hell, they have one-bedrooms, right?

Riley: (at the City Dump): What are you doing here, Spike?
Spike: Oh, there's a nice lady vampire who's set up a tea room over by the next pile of crap. What do you think I'm doing?

Lame Xander: But I never help. I get in trouble and Buffy saves me.
Willow: That's not true! Sometimes we all help to save you.

Buffy (about the two Xanders acting quite alike): They're kinda the same now.
Giles: Yes, he's clearly a bad influence on himself.

Giles: We just need to arrange the candles. Also, we should pretend we heard none of the disturbing sex talk.
Willow: Check. Candles and pretence.

Anya (about the spell to rejoin the Xanders): Well, what do we do if it doesn't work?
Both Xanders (shouting together geekily) KILL US BOTH, SPOCK!


The Babylon 5 plates Xander says he owns do not exist. They were planned but never produced. Shame.

Nicholas Brendon has an identical twin brother called Kelly Donovan who doubles him in several of the scenes in this ep thus not needing split screen. The brothers’ last name is actually Shultz; Donovan and Brendon are their middle names.


Two Xanders for the price of one. 3.5 stakes (out of 5)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


WRITER: David Fury

DIRECTOR: David Grossman


About to go off on a days training session with Giles, Buffy gets burdened by her mom with taking her little sister, Dawn, with her. To say that Dawn is an annoyance to the Buffster would be a wild understatement. Young Dawnie hates having to tag along with Buffy too, finding her older sister equally as annoying and frustrating; hating that Buffy is seen as being so special. Ironically Buffy sees Dawn the same way, for being ‘the baby’ and getting special treatment from everyone, especially their mother. Anyway, the gang stumble upon the murdered owner of the Magic Box shop and Dawn has a run in with a freaky man who tells her she doesn’t belong. It soon transpires that good old Harmony, vamped at the end of season 3, is back in the ‘dale and putting her own vampire gang together with one single aim: kill the Slayer. Problem is Harmony is kinda rubbish at being evil. But a trip to Buffy’s house sees her accidentally invited in by Dawn, which goes and unleashes Buffy’s fury on her lil sis. Later on, Dawn, upset at being belittled by her sister runs off…only to be kidnapped by Harm and her gang. It’s left to Buffy to track down Harm’s lair and save her lil sis before she becomes an undead all you can buffet.


The title ‘Real Me’ refers to both Dawn and Harmony and how they think the world doesn’t see who they really are. Dawn is frustrated at being ‘the baby’ and always being in the shadow of her big sister. A large part of this episode is told from Dawn’s pov using her voiceover delivered diary entries where she vents her frustrations. Harm, meanwhile, is back to prove a point. She is still angry about how Spike treated her last season and is looking to unleash the badass within, to show him “the real me”. Dawn’s excuse is she is going through the usual teenage angst thing where the whole world is against her and everything is so unfair. The irony being we will soon find out that she is actually more than she seems. Unfortunately for poor Harmony she really is what she seems, no matter how hard she tries not to be. She’s trying to be a big bad. But she’s not. She’s still the same shallow, ditsy girl who’s not exactly blessed with a great deal upstairs. And of course the Buffster kicks her ass, though (thankfully) she does live to bite another day.


Well, I guess its Harm. And possibly her ‘minions’, though they never pose any real threat. Some (unkindly) would say Dawnie was the real horror here. But not me. I always liked Dawn, even when she was being whiney and angsty. Like Willow, I kinda identified with her because, as the red head Wiccan says, “She’s a bit of a spaz.”


Michelle Trachtenberg. Michelle plays young Dawn and I think she does a great job. Yes, she can be whiney and brattish, but that’s what the character demands. That’s what kids can be like. And some adults too. But Michelle always made Dawn sympathetic and turned in strong performances.

Harmony. Mercedes McNab plays the shallow, ditsy, rather vacuous vampire almost too well. Harm is hilarious, especially when she’s trying to be a badass. She’s not scary, just kinda pathetically cute. No matter what she does, how bad she tries to be, you always feel sorry for her. She engenders so much empathy for an ‘evil’ character. It’s a testament to Joss and to the casting people that they found these excellent supporting players who could capture the characters essences as well as the show’s odd and offbeat tone with so much apparent ease.

Giles and his new car. Yep, Giles has gone and got himself a red convertible sports car, though he doesn’t seem to be getting along with it too well. The scene with Giles, Buffy and Dawn in Giles’ car on their way to the Magic Box is very good and very funny. The easy chemistry between Tony Head and SMG is charming as she teases him about his new sporty acquisition.

Xander, Anya and Dawn playing The Game of Life…and Anya realising she is winning…and then gleefully offering to swap her children for more money. Heh. Once more Emma Caulfield proves how damn funny she is.


Buffy hates Dawnie. I know this is all about setting up the relationship and raising the stakes for what Buffy will have to do and what she’ll eventually have to give up later in the season, but her continual ragging on poor Dawnie borders on outright bullying. She seems to almost take gleeful pleasure in putting the kid down every chance she gets. It’s an aspect of Buff’s character you can easily not like. Yes, Dawnie can be annoying. But she IS just a kid. She IS gonna mess up. But when she’s treated with respect and affection she comes across as perfectly sweet. It’s great to see here the obviously close relationship she has with Willow, seeing Willow as more of a big sister than her actual big sister. This is a relationship which will carry on right through the series and in to the comics.

Though pretty funny and providing a decent introduction to young Dawn as well as introducing a couple of tiny clues to the bigger season plot, ‘Real Me’ is a rather limp story. I like Harmony but she provides no real threat or menace. And neither do her minions. And the episode doesn’t really amount to much in the end.


I think I’ll go for The Game of Life scene. Anya is so damn funny when she realises she’s winning and Dawnie is sweet as she gazes dreamily at Xander, hoping he’ll see her as a woman, while in fact Xander sees her as she truly is: a cute little kid with ice cream all over her mouth.


Giles (angrily, gears crunching): Just not used to automatic transmission. I loathe this just sitting here, not contributing. No, no, no, it's just not working out.
Buffy: Giles, are you breaking up with your car?
Giles: Well, it did seduce me. All red and sporty.
Buffy: Little two-door tramp.

Anya: Crap! Look at this. Now I'm burdened with a husband, and several tiny pink children, more cash than I can reasonably manage.
Xander: That means you're winning.
Anya: Really?
Xander: Yes, cash equals good.
Anya: Ooh, I'm so pleased! (claps happily) Can I trade in the children for more cash?

Buffy: No, but, see, Mom, that doesn't really work for me. We're just going to the magic shop, no school supplies there.
Dawn: Yeah, Mom. I'm not going to Hogwarts. (chuckles) Hog— (looks at Buffy, who's not amused) Jeez, crack a book sometime.

Dawn (voice-over): I don't think Buffy's Watcher likes me too much. I think its 'cause he's just so... old. I'm not sure how old he is, but I've heard him use the word "newfangled" one time, so he's got to be pretty far gone.

Dawn (voice-over): Like Tara. She and Willow are both witches. They do spells and stuff, which is so much cooler than slaying. I told Mom one time I wish they'd teach me some of the things they do together. And then she got really quiet and made me go upstairs. Huh, I guess her generation isn't cool with witchcraft.

Buffy: How bored were you last year?
Giles: I watched Passions with Spike. Let us never speak of it.


Michelle Trachtenberg and Sarah Michelle Gellar were friends before Michelle joined Buffy. It was SMG who suggested Michelle for the role of Dawn as they’d worked together before on the daytime soap All My Children and had become quite close. So there was already a big sister/little sister thing going on. They’ve remained friends since.

Michelle Trachtenberg was a massive fan of the show before being cast as Dawn. She’d said joining Buffy was like a dream come true.

Harmony’s minion Cyrus is played by Tom Lenk Tom went on to play uber nerd Andrew in Buffy seasons six and seven and a couple of episodes of Angel season five. He also has a role in Joss and Drew Goddard’s 2012 movie The Cabin in the Woods.


Lay off the kid, Buff. 3 (out of 5)

Monday, 2 July 2012


Teaser for the episode

WRITER: Marti Noxon

DIRECTOR: David Solomon


The start of season five sees the Buffster hanging out with her best buds, enjoying the beach and taking in the sun…only for their fun day to be rudely interrupted by the arrival of worrisome black clouds and a sudden storm. What can this strange dark storm coming in from the sea mean? Well, pretty soon Buff finds out as she comes face to face with the most legendary vampire of them all: Count Dracula himself. Seems Drac has come to Sunnydale in search of Buffy as he feels she is someone who is worthy of being one of his disciples, of learning all of his dark secrets. You see, unlike other vamps the Count has special powers. He can mesmerise, he can transform to mist and in to a wolf and a bat. He also doesn’t seem to go all bumpy fore headed either. Spike puts it all down to old gypsy magic and that Drac’s really just a big ponce who still owes him money. But the Count does seem to have genuine power and he does manage to get Buffy under his thrall, as well as poor Xander, turning the poor guy in to a gibbering, bug eating Renfield figure. Can Buffy resist the Counts charms and his promise to reveal her true potential and the true source of her power? Can Xander stop eating bugs? Can Giles escape the lethally erotic embrace of the three brides of Dracula? And where the hell did that castle come from? And who is that young girl right at the end that Buffy’s mom says is Buffy’s sister? Whu?


Though Buffy vs. Dracula is mostly just a fun, action packed, entertaining opening to season five, it does contain introductory elements to what will be two of the main themes of this season. First, finding the true person within, who you really are, where your power comes from and how best to use it. Second, taking individual responsibility for yourself and others, breaking free of parental ties to stand on your own two feet in life.


The Count of course. MWAHAHAHAHA!


Subverting a legend. Buffy vs. Dracula covers a lot of the beats of the original story with Dracula as the strange outsider coming to town to prey on cute young women while his prime target's boyfriend and older authority figure (Jonathan Harker and Van Helsing in the book, Riley and Giles in the ep) set out to save her and kill Drac. But BtVS is a feminist empowerment show and although Drac does get to tempt her Riley and Giles don't get anywhere near saving her. It is Buffy herself who is tough enough to break the Count's spell and then kick some Dark Prince ass.

The Count. Rudolph Martin plays Dracula and he does a great job. It is a low key and enigmatic performance. Martin plays the Count as a quiet seducer, all eyes and silky words and subtle gestures. The same year the normally excellent Gerard Butler was miscast as Dracula in the god-awful Dracula 2000. Rudolph Martin gives the far superior performance.

Xander goes Renfield. Pure genius turning Xander in to the crazed bug eating manservant of the “unholy prince…bator.” Nick Brendon is clearly having tons of fun acting nuts and swallowing bugs anywhere he can. His manic giggles are most amusing. As is his reaction at episodes end when he returns to normal and is justifiably furious about what happened to him.

The mythology of Dracula. The episode plays with many of the classic elements of Dracula myth – his arrival in a storm, residing in a castle, coffins full of earth, changing in to a bat and a wolf and mist, his three seductive brides, the fact he kept coming back to life in sequels. And the ep has fun with all these things. I especially enjoyed Giles ‘struggling’ against the attentions of the three comely vampire brides. “Oh, my shoe…” Heh. The ep manages to seamlessly weave Dracula in to the crazy world of the Slayer and makes his presence here feel…right.

The Funny. Marti Noxon wrote a really good and funny script that’s part spoof, part homage, part satire and part meaningful character development for our girl. There are lots of great lines too. Most of ‘em Xander’s.


A bit throwaway. To employ such a huge and mythic character as Dracula and then dispose of him 44 mins later feels kinda wrong. Drac deserves better. But at least we know from the official continuation in the comics (season 8) that Drac is still around and is still kinda friendly with Xander. Like Buff says, he always comes back.


Well, I loved seeing a real, genuine, and honest to god wolf on the prowl in Sunnydale as opposed to those hairy monkey werewolf things. But in the end, I gotta go with Xander and his “Dark Master…bator” line and its follow up line. Classic!


Xander: (unable to light a fire on the beach) It's comforting to know that I lack the culinary finesse of a caveman.

Buffy: Who are you?
Dracula: I apologize. I assumed you knew. I am Dracula.
Buffy: (wide eyed) Get out!

Buffy (to Dracula): And you're sure this isn't just some fanboy thing? 'Cause I've fought more than a couple pimply, overweight vamps that called themselves Lestat.
Xander: No, we're not going to (imitates Dracula's accent) leave you. And where'd you get that accent Sesame Street? One, two, three — three victims. Mwah, ha, ha, ha!

Willow: A good Sunnydale rule of thumb — avoid white-skinned men in capes.

Xander: Like any of that's enough to fight the Dark Master. (They look at him) Bator.
Xander: See?! Buffy didn't feel it. I think you're drawing a lot of crazy conclusions about the Unholy Prince! (They look at him) Bator.

Riley: I've lived in Sunnydale a couple of years now. Know what I've never noticed before?
Giles: Uh, a castle?
Riley: A big, honking castle.

Buffy: You think I don't watch your movies? You always come back. (Dracula begins to materialize again.) I'm standing right here!

Xander: Where is he? Where's the creep that turned me into a spider eating man bitch?
Buffy: He's gone.
Xander: Damn it! You know what? I'm sick of this crap. I'm sick of being the guy who eats insects and gets the funny syphilis. As of this moment, it's over. I'm finished being everybody's butt monkey!
Buffy: Check. No more butt monkey.


Buffy vs. Dracula is the first Buffy season opener not written by Joss Whedon.

Change of stunts and music. Long time Buff composer Christophe Beck left the show and was replaced by the gigglesomely named Thomas Wanker. Long time stunt co-coordinator Jeff Pruitt also left (along with long time SMG stunt double Sophia Crawford – Pruitt’s wife) and was replaced by John Medlen.

Emma Caulfield gets added to the opening credits.
In the mid-nineties Rudolph Martin played Sarah Michelle Gellar's lover in daytime soap All My Children.


I Count 4 lovely stakes (out of 5) MWAHAHAHA!