Ozzily Yours

Monday, July 18, 2011

Prophecy Girl

So I've been finding Xander's crush on Buffy distracting and boring. And yet, now I feel bad about that, because it resolves so nicely. The scene at the beginning, after Buffy tells him she doesn't have feelings for him, and he stammers out, "Well, try. I'll wait." REALLY nicely done. Also, Willow totally comes into her own when she tells him she's not going to be his second-choice date, which is also nice to see.

There's not much else to say about this episode that hasn't been said a million times over - Master is awesome, Giles is fatherly, "nice dress," etc. But I do have to ask, is this the only time that the opening theme is used in the show (when Buffy, newly risen from the dead, is heading to the library to take out the Master)? Because it rocks, but it's also a little disconcerting. My instinct is that perhaps they assumed they wouldn't get a second season, so decided to pull out all the stops.

Aaaaaand... that's season 1 done!

Out of Mind, Out of Sight

Adam807 mentioned that he was particularly disappointed by the rewatch of this episode, one of his old favorites. And maybe due to that I went in with low expectations, for which I should thank him, because I found it delightful.

It's true that the pacing was a little goofy and the "big reveal" was pretty obvious early on - but it was an interesting plotline that really served Joss Whedon's central theory that high school = hell. I think Clea DuVall is adorable and generally underused and I actually like her work in the flashback scenes - she really captures the awkwardness of trying (and failing) to insert yourself into a conversation.

I also never registered before the parallel story that we're supposed to be getting w/r/t Buffy - the fact that, even though she's made great friends in Willow and Xander, she still feels left out quite frequently when the three of them are together as evidenced by the "Be my deputy!" story, when they both get the giggles remembering a Cordelia incident from grade school. (Also, Alyson Hannigan and Nicolas Brendon do a lovely job busting out the inside joke and then realizing how rude it is... but not being able to control the giggles anyway.)

This episode also gave us the first portrayal of Cordelia as human - she (briefly) opens up to Buffy about how popularity isn't necessarily always protection against loneliness... and she attempts to genuinely thank them at the end of the episode, but her popular buddies shame her into walking away. I feel like it sets up Cordelia for her later reluctant transformation into a member of the gang.

And, of course, the very end of this episode can't be beat - "We'll rehabilitate her, make her a useful member of society." OF COURSE the CIA would be recruiting invisible, lonely teenagers to be assassins! AWESOME.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Blah, blah, blah, face your fears. Clowns aren't so scary, your parents didn't break up because of you, you're not going to become a vampire. It's not good to abuse children, even (especially?) when the moppet in question appears to be a doppelganger for a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Clearly, I need a break.

But before that, I posit this question: given that this episode took pains to establish that Buffy's father is, in fact, a decent, stand-up kinda guy, why was he later portrayed as a skirt-chasing deadbeat dad? I mean, this wasn't a throwaway thing, we were clearly meant to recognize that their relationship was going to be pretty solid going forward. I'm thinking it was just easier to forget that ever happened... which is what frustrates me even more. Lazy, yo!

Man, am I excited for all that new Degrassi next week.

The Puppet Show

I'm not really a gamer, in that it's pretty rare for me to get addicted to a game and, frankly, most of the time I don't see the point. Every now and then, though, something comes along that really catches my fancy. One of my favorite gaming periods came when we got a copy of the Buffy game, Chaos Bleeds. Not because it's a particularly good game - it's kind of not, though it's fun to explore virtual Sunnydale - but because I really liked being Sid the puppet. SID! He's so silly! And his little arms are like windmills when he runs!

Anyway, it goes back to a longstanding affection for Sid. Not only did he make for a terrific red herring, he was a fun character beyond that. As Buffy says, "Horny dummy, ha ha, it's very funny." And she's right! "You're strong, athletic, limber... nubile.... I'm back." It's a quote that frequently makes the rounds in our house.

I'm pleased that it remains a pretty strong episode overall. It's got some good twists, and some good Scooby gang cooperation. Also of note: Cordelia singing "The Greatest Love of All," which comes back years later in an "Angel" episode; the first appearance of Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder; and the Oedipus performance by Xander, Buffy, and Willow that plays over the closing credits, which is comedic genius all on its own.

In other news, I have just realized that my determination to keep plowing through these episodes is keeping me from, while I work, watching Can't Hardly Wait, Harold and Kumar, and/or Bring It On. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I, Robot... You, Jane

I was dreading watching this episode, remembering it as incredibly lame. Imagine my surprise - and, ultimately, disappointment - when I realized it actually could have been kind of cool!

Make no mistake, the opening with the monks and the chanting and the stupid demon is dumb. But the moment when Willow scans the book and then the "Where am I?" slowly appears?... Actually a tiny bit chilling.

And then ruined by, well, everything else. The misrepresentation of how computers work. The bad graphics. The bad sound (that demon voice is so not intimidating). The bad plotting (really, Dave? you couldn't get out of that noose?). The use of the phrase, "I'm jacked in." ARGH!

It is a travesty that this episode marked Jenny Callendar's first appearance.


This episode isn't bad, per se... but it's not really memorable. I'm sure that the first time around, the revelations about Angel, Darla, and the Master were mind-blowing, rewatching it just isn't all that. That may also be because I've been finding Angel annoying since episode 1. I think David Boreanaz was better used on "Angel" (and perhaps in later seasons of "Buffy," we'll see) when he was allowed to have a sense of humor and do something besides brood handsomely. (For the record, I also find Xander's crush on Buffy tiresome... though Willow's crush on Xander is still adorable. Can Alyson Hannigan do no wrong???)

Interesting, though, that Darla tried to kill Buffy with a gun. It's not that often that you see modern weaponry in "Buffy."

The Pack

I have a bunch of work to do from home today, but it's all work that can easily (and justifiably) be done in front of the television. AWESOME. Especially since my Buffy viewing is likely to slow down next week with the season premiere of Degrassi (woo-hoo!).


First, I love that Dodgeball is the go-to method of expressing high school aggression. I enjoy this scene almost as much as the one from "Freaks & Geeks." Again... my experience not being normal, did people really play ultra-violent dodgeball in high school? I dimly remember playing it in grade school - which might be more disturbing.

And clearly, when I lamented the impending death of Principal Flutie, I did not realize just how soon it would come. Bob Flutie, we hardly knew ye. But at least you got one of the best deaths ever.

This episode seems to be the first use of Joss Whedon's "When in doubt, put Willow in danger" rule. The hyena folk just didn't seem like that much of a real threat, though, so it wasn't that effective. More effective than the later "put a random suburban family in danger" maneuver, though - what was up with that?

Anyway, "The Pack" is all kinds of silliness, but I really enjoy it. Maybe because it sort of embraces its silliness, what with the eating of Flutie and Herbert and the glowing eyes and all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Never Kill a Boy on the First Date

For three seasons of "Chuck," I have been laboring under the delusion that Captain Awesome was played by Owen, the titular boy (who, for the record, was not actually killed). The moment he first walked onscreen, I realized I was wrong, that my superpower of identifying "that guy" actors had failed me. I honestly don't know what to do with this revelation. I'm so disappointed in myself.

And now I've gone to imdb and discovered that "Chuck" has, in reality, been on for four seasons. Seriously, what the hell has become of my pop culture savant tendencies??? I blame my spawn. (For that and for the fact that I can now quote extensively from both "Yo Gabba Gabba" and Cars.) Sigh. Of course, "Chuck" premiered before Calvin's birth. Sigh, again.

Despite the fact that this totally tainted my viewing of this episode, I still found it really sweet. This must be why I was willing to stick with the show after the crap that was "Teacher's Pet." It got back to its roots - a teenage girl with tremendous responsibilities who is trying, against all odds, to just be a teenage girl. It allows SMG to do that strong-yet-vulnerable thing that I was waxing rhapsodic about after my viewing of the first two episodes.

Also, back to vampires instead of mid-life crisis Wiccans and mantis puppets. Vampires are way better.

Teacher's Pet

There is just too much ridiculousness going on here. Seriously, when your biggest problem is NOT the incredible cheesiness of your human-sized praying mantis puppet, you have a problem. Among the questions that came to mind:
  1. Why would Ms. French be so dumb as to do the 180-degree head rotation in school where anyone can see her?
  2. Why does she keep her food (crickets, for the record) in a Tupperware labeled "FOOD"?
  3. Why did she strike fear in the hearts of vampires?
  4. Why, exactly, did she need virgins for her fertilization?
And speaking of which... I don't know if this is one of those things I don't get because I went to a strange tiny high school... but do high school students really waste that much brain power and energy analyzing who may or may not be a virgin? And was it really necessary to devote that much of the episode to that question?

Yeah, so, clearly, this was not high on my list of must-see episodes (truth be told, my disc is a little scratched and I wasn't able to watch the first five minutes... and I was more than okay with that). Though I have to say, I appreciated the one appearance of Principal Flutie. I don't think I appreciated him all that much in the past, but he's funny stuff. All the sadder to know that he won't be around all that long.

Saturday, July 09, 2011


Really? A cauldron of bubbling green witch's brew? Really? I'm glad Sunnydale's witches got a little less obvious in later years. Still, though, props for the very first use of black eyes=evil witch.

I remain surprised that, given Charisma Carpenter's cheerleading past, she doesn't get more to do in this episode (or, well, ever in the realm of cheerleading). But maybe that's just because I have a weird obsession with competitive cheerleading (seriously, just this morning I was trying to teach my son spirit fingers... "THESE are spirit fingers, and THESE are GOLD!").

While the obvious parallel to the main storyline (Amy/Mom witchery, cheerleading) is that of Joyce trying to relate to Buffy, I was also struck by the fact that Giles' paternal instincts towards Buffy began to take shape so early - I really liked the moment when, getting Buffy prepared for the moment when the spell which was weakening her would be broken, he didn't just lie her down; instead, he put his tweed jacket under her head as a pillow and told her everything would be okay. Clearly indicative of where things would go over the next seven years.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Things That Make Me Happy

Last week, famously cranky Adam807 was compelled to clarify that he does, in fact, like some things. Today, significantly less cranky Vixen was also inspired to share the things that she loves. I'm ripping off the two of them because it seems like a nice idea, detailing the things that make me happy:
  • Rereading old books - it's like talking to an old friend, but still discovering something new
  • A good pedicure
  • The color red
  • Live theater
  • CSA-fresh produce
  • Calvin's quirks of speech: "upside-down" is "upside-over," the plural of "man" is "mans," and feeling a little stuffy leads to "I need a blow nose!"
  • That first cup of coffee in the morning, when the house is still quiet
  • Beer... any time
That's just off the top of my head... I should revisit the list now and then!

Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest

And so it begins!

I have to say, I remember loving this show from the beginning - but in retrospect, I think its early success should be credited more to Sarah Michelle Gellar than to Joss Whedon. He hadn't quite found his groove - there are a lot of hokey horror movie tropes, the pacing's a little wonky, and the writing's not quite as crisp as I would expect. But SMG is quite endearing, simultaneously strong and vulnerable, both yearning to be popular and feeling the pain of the geeks. She really carried these episodes for me.

That said, there were definitely glimpses of what would make "Buffy" great. For me, the most powerful is probably the use of Eric Balfour as Jesse. It's heartbreaking watching his friends try to save him to no avail. It was really an indicator that the show was going to be willing to go there... deal with actual loss, pain, and darkness. (I read at one point that Whedon really wanted to include Eric Balfour in the opening credits to really drive that point home - lead people to assume that there's no way this character would actually be killed - a trick he would use in later years.)

Random thoughts: Kristine Sutherland had a really bad haircut; Willow's "it's okay, I can solve the problem through hacking!" solution was amusingly dated; David Boreanaz was super-cheesy and kinda useless; and Anthony Stewart Head was TOTALLY unsexy, disappointingly.

And in other news, Adam807 has officially declared his intention to join me in this endeavor, though he hasn't posted any official episode observations yet.

Buffython... the prequel

I am an angry feminist. Anyone who's known me for at least 15 years is not surprised by this, given that I wore the "angry" on my sleeve in that way that gives feminists a bad (and humorless) name. Anyone who's only known me for, say, 5 years may be surprised to learn this, as I've gotten much better at keeping the peace and choosing my battles (though I still have the occasional battle). Anyone who knows me well, though, knows it to be true, and knows that I can actually make persuasive arguments about why feminism is still important.

You also know that I don't have issues reconciling my pop culture obsession with my feminism (there is a running joke in our house, dating back to the viewing of the holiday classic Jack Frost, about how "NORMALLY, rape is not very funny, but if Michaela's laughing, it must be okay"). Still, though, it's nice when the two successfully coincide.

The summer after my senior year in high school, I heard about a new movie about a girl. A kick-ass girl who discovers she is chosen, tough, buff, truly extraordinary. I was PSYCHED to see it and dragged my then-boyfriend on opening weekend. (I still feel a little bad about the fact that, after the movie, I broke up with him so I could go to college a single woman. One can be an angry feminist and still be terrible about interpersonal relationships. It's okay, though, he ended up marrying the girl he dated after me, so I guess I just set him up for that.)

To this day, Joss Whedon apparently blames Donald Sutherland for ruining Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And while I feel his pain, I was still really taken with the story of the vapid 16-year-old girl who is called upon to fight evil (and super-excited when I met Kristy Swanson in a Wisconsin bar years later... but that's another story altogether).

Anyway, clearly I was thrilled five years later when I saw the news that television would now host Whedon's vision of a hot blonde girl in an alley who, instead of running away screaming like a, well, little girl, smokes the bad guy without a second thought. I watched the new and (vastly) improved Buffy from episode 1. I've rewatched the entire series once and single episodes countless times. We played the Buffy theme at our wedding, along with Willow and Tara's love song from the Buffical. I wrote a paper about the show's move from the WB to UPN for my Negotiations class. I defended my love of Buffy to family members (and still do).

So when Adam807 challenged me to join him in rewatching and blogging about the ENTIRE SERIES... who was I to say no? I'm hoping to watch "Welcome to the Hellmouth" tonight and post a blurb about my reaction, rewatching it all 14 years later.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I went away from the blog for a while.

I didn't do it on purpose.

After the last post I wrote, I guess I didn't have much to say. Or I knew I would have a hard time saying it.

We are fast coming up on the one-year anniversary. I am dreading the day. (Coincidentally, also my brother's birthday... sorry, Ian, your 40th will be somewhat tainted for me. Perhaps also your 41st, 42nd, 43rd....)

So much has changed. We have moved from San Francisco to Mountain View. Calvin is talking up a storm. I am back for a second summer working at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival.

So much has not. I am still trying to find a full-time, permanent job, and feeling like a failure for my inability to do so. I am still missing Chicago. I am still missing Todd, so much.

When does the hurt go away? Not ever, I know that. I've been through this enough times now that I know that. I feel too young to have lost so many friends, so many of them in such a tragic way. I know I'm not so young anymore, and yet it's still too young for this. Friends lost to accidents, violent crimes, disease. Suicide. Todd's not the first person I've lost that way, but he's definitely the closest.

But the hurt numbs, in time. Or it should. Some days it's still sharp as a knife, though most days it's just there below the surface, throbbing gently.

I need to help myself get over the hurt. I need to help myself get over Chicago. I need to help myself realize that my lack of employment is a function of the economy, not of any personal failing on my part.

I need to focus on the good, and I hope that forcing myself to start writing again will help me to do that. Feel free to join me... or not. When I first started this blog several years ago, it was under similar, miserable-making circumstances. I seem to remember it helped. Perhaps it will help again.