“What I did on my summer vacation” by Sean Gursky
This past summer, Jenna and I spent some quality time watching a TV show. Our television summer hiatus included watching two shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Two shows is a small number, but these two shows comprised of twelve seasons, had 254 episodes between them and it consumed four months of our time.
The Whedon vempire (vampire empire) was cheesy, fun and a good way to make the gap between new television. When Angel became its own series we watched the shows the way they were meant to be watched, meaning we were true to the air dates of the shows and watched them in the order they aired. This made any character or story cross overs a little more enjoyable. Oz would leave Sunnydale and then appear in LA, or when it involved a major reveal like Drusilia or Darla going from one show to the other, or Faith crossing between Los Angeles and Sunnydale it was a great payoff. I wish they would have utilized that more because when it happened it was fun television.
Trying to review these shows is tough, each had such strong high’s and such terrible low’s. We were warned about season one of Buffy, and it’s a good thing because if we didn’t know it would improve our enthusiasm to continue would have been lower than a snake pit that frat boys worship in their basement. One thing I did appreciate was that even if an episode was weak it would be referenced later (usually in jest) or they would go back to a character that was introduced (Ms. Calendar).
I have always read about Firefly, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and Dollhouse being Whedeonesque but I never appreciated that until Buffy. There is a definite character and language style about Whedon shows. It was a common occurrence that a serious episode would end on a one liner from Xander. Or there would be one extra beat too many after a line and credits would roll. It was common that there would be throw away lines that were awkward and didn’t fit, but it was Whedon’s trademark coming through.
Buffy was our favorite series of the two, and some of the best episodes I have ever seen came from Buffy. Episodes like Passion, The Body, Hush or The Gift were amazing. They were what kept us coming back for more, hoping for repeat perfection. The seasons started to blend together but I was a big fan of two through five. When season five started I was against it completely because they blindsided the audience with the introduction of Dawn.
After you grudgingly started to accept her appearance they explain how she is The Key and the season takes a staggering turn for awesome. The finale of season five was amazing. It was the perfect series ender, and even though season six was strong (Buffy struggling with being brought back could have been a nice parallel for how the show felt about being brought back from cancellation), it was too fitting of an end.
My favorite character of the two shows was Wesley. When he appeared in Buffy he was a bumbling, awkward and terrible Watcher. Giles slapped him around and after Faith went rogue he crumbled, packed up his life and went to LA where he became awesome. The transition was slow, and not without character torment. As Angel progressed Wesley came into his own with interesting story arch’s, and had several seasons of him struggling against Angel, Gunn and Fred.
She wasn’t my favorite character, but Cordellia’s transition between Buffy and Angel was amazing. In Buffy she was an annoying cheerleader that toyed with the emotions of others. When she showed up in LA she had a purpose and provided something to the team. She became compassionate and was doing things with the interest of others at heart. Her story became a little too much for us to enjoy around season four but her transition from boring to brave was good while it lasted.
It’s odd, but when we were watching Angel we wanted more Buffy, and when we were watching Buffy we wanted more Angel. We found the best experience was when Angel and Buffy shared an episode or story line (before the Angel spin off). When Angel got his own show the mystique around him was lost and the hiding in corners Angel character from Buffy had gone. I did enjoy that Angel became this caricature and instead of shying away from it they would play it up, especially in episodes like Smile Time.
However, I did enjoy the back story of Angel. There weren’t many episodes that went to his past but there was always enough to give new information on his character. There was always enough Drusilia or Darla but those two became my favorite b-characters. Drusilia never changed, she was always a star gazing, wide eyed doe and I liked her for that. Her occasional growls to Spike or lines like “I’m going to be a mummy” always kept me amused.
After much encouragement from Tracey to watch these shows I am glad we took the time to get through them, and maybe years from now we will go down this road again but for now we will let students transformed into hyena’s lie and concentrate on fresh TV in the 2009-2010 schedule.