Monday, 2 July 2012
BUFFY 5.1: BUFFY VS DRACULA
Teaser for the episode
WRITER: Marti Noxon
DIRECTOR: David Solomon
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
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?
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
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.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
The Count of course. MWAHAHAHAHA!
WHY IT ROCKS
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.
WHY IT SUCKS
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!
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
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.
AND ANOTHER THING
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.
HOW MANY STAKES?
I Count 4 lovely stakes (out of 5) MWAHAHAHA!