Saturday, April 05, 2008

Dark Willow Saga

After watching the fourth season premiere of Doctor Who this evening, I finished off the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD with the episodes comprising the "Dark Willow Saga".

I think the sixth season as a whole was cleverly constructed to hide the identity of the Big Bad. Oh, sure, there was the Trio, but their role was to usher in Willow as the real Big Bad. In retrospect, it worked well. At the time, watching the episodes as they were broadcast, it didn't seem to work because the Trio seemed to be nothing but inept geeks, but it paid off by the end of the season.

I have to admit, I liked the Trio. Geeky wannabe villains driving around in a van that honked the Star Wars theme and arguing about who the best James Bond was? Good comic relief at a time when Buffy became a much darker show, and Warren's turn to real evil was nicely set up during the season. It seemed inevitable rather than tacked on for narrative convenience.

The season also brought some more of creator Joss Whedon's famously cruel treatment of fans. Willow and Tara got back together in episode 6.18, Amber Benson (Tara) was added to the main credits for the first time in episode 6.19 and then Tara was murdered at the end of that same episode. Damn you, Joss, for getting our hopes up!

Dark Willow. Awesome character development. It's easy to see her emergence as a result of Tara's murder, but it's clear from some of the things she said that sweet, shy Willow had been holding in a lot of anger and resentment, which as any geek knows leads only to the Dark Side.

Favorite line of dialog from the "Dark Willow Saga": Andrew describing Willow as "like Dark Phoenix up there!" I so love that reference.

Now isn't it too bad that Joss didn't make the third X-Men film with its Dark Phoenix storyline? This story arc from Buffy handled the concept so much better than the mess that X-Men: The Last Stand was.


Review: Doctor Who, Episode 4.1 (or 30.1, continuing the original show's season numbering), "Partners in Crime"

The Doctor is back. Donna from the 2006 Christmas special is back, this time as a full-time companion. I have to say, I like Catherine Tate as Donna. Not as much as some previous companions, but I do like her. She reminds me of a more obnoxious Sarah Jane.

The new season starts out on a light note, thanks to a script by showrunner Russell T Davies. The story is really inconsequential other than re-introducing Donna, but it's the kind of fun nonsense that Davies does so well. As much as I love the deeper stories by Steven Moffat or Paul Cornell, I'm also fond of the sheer absurdity of some of Davies' stories.

And, wow, that thing at the end...totally unexpected in this episode but majorly squee inducing!

Warning: spoilers below, please highlight the white space with your mouse to read them.


I don't know how many will agree, but I thought the daft little Adipose creatures were adorable. They're like something an anime creator would dream up. Their creation represented the first use of the Massive visual effects system in a television production, previously being used only in mega-budget films like The Lord of the Rings, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and 300. It's a far cry from the days when Doctor Who's effects were a joke.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Review: Battlestar Galactica, Episode 4.1, "He That Believeth in Me"

After a year's absence, the best genre show on television (possibly even the best show on television period) returns for its fourth and final season, picking up moments after the events of the jaw-dropping third season finale. Good episode, but I'm really looking forward to the next one. With all the possible outcomes for the show, I still can't get a read on where it's going. Well, only nineteen episodes more until we find out.

Warning: spoilers below, please highlight the white space with your mouse to read them.

Baltar is taken in by a religious group...and is apparently still irresistible to women. I've had suspicions of Starbuck being the last Cylon model for awhile, but my second choice has been Roslin.


Review: Torchwood, Episode 2.13, "Exit Wounds"

With a script by showrunner Chris Chibnall, who impressively outwrote Cath Tregenna and Peter J. Hammond this season, and the well-publicized return of James Marsters as rogue Time Agent Captain John Hart, it promised to be an explosive second season finale, and, oh, it was, both literally and emotionally.

I think it's the best episode of the second season, and also worthy of being ranked with the first season episodes by Tregenna and Hammond.

It's so good that I'm glad there are such shows on television. Let me put it this way: if it wasn't for a show called Battlestar Galactica, Torchwood would be the best genre show currently on television.

Warning: spoilers below, please highlight the white space with your mouse to read them.

Chibnall lead us to expect Captain John to be the Big Bad of the finale, only to cleverly reveal that Captain Jack's long lost brother Gray was the real Big Bad. Well played, sir!

I already knew Toshiko and Owen would die, but their death scenes were very well written and acted. They were two of my favorite characters, and I miss them already.

Their deaths clear the way for Martha to return as a full-time member of Team Torchwood next season. Some rumors have suggested Mickey from Doctor Who as the second new member, but what about PC Andy or even Rhys? Marsters recently hinted that his character will also return next season.

I loved the references to two Doctor Who episodes, "Aliens of London" and "Love and Monsters".