Monday, April 25, 2011

Buffyverse...Why I love it and how things went wrong...

I am almost done in my massive marathon re-watching of Buffy and Angel. I finished season 7 of Buffy two days ago and am midway through the final season of Angel. I also read volumes 1-7 of the Buffy season 8 comics (the final volume isn't out in the one volume format until the summer, so I don't have the end of that story just yet) but as I sit here watching how Angel completely sold out in his final season, and how volume 7 of the Buffy comics (which is the official continuation of the story, for those who do not know) is a giant WTF on the grounds of 1. not making sense, 2. being really silly and 3. not making sense...I mourn all the things that made me fall in love with these characters in the first place.

Don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE Buffyverse fan. Just seeing it all over again for the first time in at least 5-6 years brings up all the good and all the bad at the same time. And since I don't have many friends who know the shows as well as I do, I feel this is the best outlet to let it out a bit.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The show was a reimaging of the story brought to us in the movie of the same name. Only the show did it better. It used fighting monsters as a theme of getting through life in high school, and it was entertaining as hell. While Angel's spinoff was a more mature setting in the same universe of storytelling, it never quite had the same appeal as Buffy. Perhaps it is because Angel isn't allowed to be perfectly happy, where as Buffy tries to find happiness in a life of feeling alone even when she is surrounded by people. I am not sure exactly, but if I could choose to watch reruns of Buffy or Angel, Buffy will win out nearly every time.

Pros of BtVS
1. The characters. I liked nearly every character. Nearly. We'll talk about the one I didn't care for later. While the feel of the show changes a bit once they blow up the high school, most of my favorite characters are more predominate in the later years of the show: Spike, Anya, Andrew.
2. The emotion. Nearly anytime Willow cries it rips your heart out. Oz leaving was perhaps one of the hardest episodes for me to get though, though Joyce and Tara's deaths follow almost immediately in my mind as the saddest moments. Anya's being left at the alter. Spike's sacrifice. Xander trying to find Anya as they leave the school building in the final scenes of the show and passing by her not knowing. Xander's telling Dawn she's extraordinary because she gets through it all without superpowers to help her. The list goes on and on.
3. Recurring Characters. Everyone loves when characters return to shows. Back when Spike wasn't a series regular, any episode with him in it was so much more fun to watch than the others, IMO. Drusilla always made it interesting as well. Once Harmony became a vampire she became SO much more interesting and entertaining. Obnoxious, very...but the Harmony/Xander chick fight is good stuff. Super nerds as the villains was amusing, and I enjoyed the episodes with them (minus Warren whom I hated from the beginning of his existence on the show). The ending of "Lessons" in season 7 in which the First appears as a major villain from each season still leaves me with a bit of fangirlish awe.

The Cons
1. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far. It may be my editorness into play but seriously. The town of Sunnydale is constantly referred to as small, nothing there, etc. The only fun place to go is apparently The Bronze....however, Sunnydale has its own airport, mall, museum, zoo, college, medieval Dracula castle and I am sure I am leaving something out. Not only that, but in some episodes Buffy can super jump...in others not so much. Angel can break through heavy doors and other things, but can;t break a tiny padlock on a chain link door. Spike is rendered into a wheelchair when an organ falls on him, yet is beaten by a goddess, thrown off a very high tower among other horrible things and is perfectly fine in a day or few after. Um... yeah. I can't help but notice these things.
2. Riley Finn and the Initiative. At first neither were so bad. In fact, I found Riley utterly adorable...at first until after the episode, "Hush." Then that whole storyline became highly irritating with the Frankenstein monster Adam and evil professor and Riley's insecurities in having a girlfriend stronger than he was. I was SO happy when he finally left the show. Angel and Riley's departures only made me like the show more.
3. Downer Buffy. We have Angel to be all sad and moody all the time, while I do enjoy season 6 of Buffy, her attitude in that one (which is understandable) drives me insane. It takes her an entire season to snap out of it. But truth be told, she had been in that funk since her mother died. She finally got more normal Buffy like and then the potentials started arriving in season 7 and we were back to moody Buffy again. Made me really miss seasons 1-3.
4. "Hell's Bells." There are a good handful of singled out episodes I hate for being really dumb (Beer Bad, for example) but I think one of the worst decisions made in this series was to have Xander and Anya break up on their wedding day. It is so upsetting and was it really all that necessary to make Anya a demon again? I don't see it being all too relevant. They found a few things to do with it, but alas....

Angel

The spinnoff follows Angel after he leaves Sunnydale because he can't be with Buffy because it risks him being evil again and it is holding her back. He reunites with Cordelia, the shallow popular girl from Sunnydale High, and later Wesley, formerly the replacement watcher for both Buffy and Faith. Eventually their little gang gets more members and after 2 seasons of several random storylines and few actual arcs, they get a very strong third season followed by a terrible fourth season, which, in my opinion, ruined the whole show, and concluded with a fifth season that was cancelled after it opened up several storylines without enough time to tie them up.


The Pros
1. Angel himself was usually more enjoyable than when he was on Buffy. There are the die hard Buffy/Angel fans...but they bored me to tears together.
2. Cordelia became such a strong character. Those who hated her on Buffy came to love her on Angel. She found a purpose and, like with every character on the show, sought redemption in her own way. I think Cordelia was one of the few who actually found it. Before they ruined the character...I'll get back to that shortly.
3. Illyria. Was such an interesting character. It brought more of the mythology of that world to light with the demons that walked the earth prior to the evolution of man. It also was incredibly sad to see Fred die, but at the same time the possibilities that character introduced were endless. This is one of the few reasons I was sad to see the show go...that and the fact that there were no other shows to carry on the legacy of the Buffyverse in Angel's absence.

Cons
1. The ruination of Cordelia Chase. season 1-3 built the character up, made her a wonderful woman and a beloved character. Then season 4 arrived. What. The. F***. I get that Charisma Carpenter got pregnant and they needed to work the babeh belly into the script but I can't figure out what the hell happened! It's not so much the fact that she went evil because she wasn't actually herself the entire season. (The exception being "Spin the Bottle" which was very nostalgic to see former Cordelia and Wesley characters again) but her whole presence on the show changed. Almost any scene she was in felt like it was a really bad soap opera. She was either standing or sitting in the foreground or background spouting drama drama drama. One minute "oh, Connor, I want you even though I am practically your mother." The next, "I can't be with you, Connor. It's wrong." blah blah. It was horribly painfully boring, overly dramatic, and exhausting bad. We get her back for one episode in season 5 and then she dies.
2. The ruination of Connor. Even before Angel came out I had a bit of a teenaged crush on Vincent Karthesier. Imagine my happiness of him being on a show I watched. It was really hard to like the character when Cordelia but-not-really-Cordelia the soap opera fake was constantly changing his mind about how to act. The character could have been great. However, he was never given the chance to become a likable character. Which is a real shame. Season 5's few appearances was starting to finally make it to where we could like him, but it was too late because the show was at its end.
3. Selling out. Wolfram and Hart was the villain. Angel's nemesis. So....they all go and work for them? Yeah, I get the inside the belly of the beast scenario and all...but it never felt like the same show once they transferred over. Adding Spike and Harmony helped make the show more fun where as Season 4 was the fun killing monster season of death, but even that couldn't quite same. Partly because the lead female, Cordelia, was gone. They kill off the supporting female, Fred and we are left with a superficial vampire chick, a demon who is a complete mystery, and a backstabbing liaison biotch who was never likable in the first place to fill the female character roles. And I am just going to pretend Angel didn't attempt a relationship with Nina the werewolf because that was just trying too hard to give him normalcy despite the fact that the show had jumped ship at the end of season 3 and hanging on into season five was merely a desperate attempt to keep the Buffyverse alive and well.

Buffy Season 8 Comics.

At least 2 years after Buffy ends as things with characters that were on Angel clash with the season 5 storyline otherwise. For one, Harmony is now a reality tv star which makes the world hate slayers. And, major spoilers ahead for the other reasons I will get to if you continue reading. Please remember, I have not read volume 8 yet so I don't know what happens after volume 7: Twilight

Pros:
1. The storyline continues and they are given the ability to do a little more than a TV budget would allow (Willow, and at one point Buffy, can fly).
2. We find out that Buffy never was in Rome dating the Immortal. That was a decoy disguised as Buffy (another one went underground as Buffy) in a ruse thought up by Andrew, who was stationed there. Because they knew attempts would be made on her life. I like this because I hated the idea that she had moved on from Spike that quickly to another vampire. (notice how I don't care if she moved on from Angel)
3. Warren and Amy are back, together, as villains. Firstly, eww. Second Amy had followed Dark Willow into the woods and saved Warren from dying from shock and was able to use her power as a kinda skin to keep him from dying and being in pain. However, she is dating him and he has no skin. eew. eew. eww. Also, it explained when Amy cursed Willow to become Warren in season 7, Willow was really becoming Warren. A mystical version of the Buffy/Faith body switch except Willow was never going into another body. It was a nice detailed touch.
4. Seeing old characters like Oz, Ethan Rayne, and in the one shot dream sequence...Joyce and Cordelia (in a way to see the Buffy Animated Series artwork and story since the cartoon never was picked up by a network)
5. Xander and Dracula guy-bonding. LOL! Also Xander's wishing to be called Nick Fury amused me.

Cons
1. The errors. Warren makes a reference to something that was The First pretending to be Warren, not Warren himself....however, they later corrected that with Amy pointing it out and Warren saying something like he was just messing with Andrew when he said it. Among other small things. Like WTF happened to Riley's wife. He's in it but she is never mentioned (and he is no longer scarred)
2. Dark Willow will apparently come back, stay alive for 2 centuries without aging, but be out of magic when buffy visits the future and has to kill her. It seemed to me like a silly story conjured up in a reason to bring the Fray storyline back into play. The cover of that volume had dark willow on the cover, so the surprise villain was given away (as it was on the Twilight volume) and they way willow was using magic and flying around was WAY worse than how she was using it prior to becoming evil the first time yet it was all la la la until Buffy went to the future and saw that.
3. Buffy's girl on girl experimentation. Okay, yeah. I get it. In comic form you can do whatever you want with the characters. It just seemed out of character for Buffy, and it was just awkward. However, the dream sequence with Angel and Spike making out was freaking hilarious...esp. with Caleb marrying Buffy to skinless Warren.
4. The Twilight storyline in general. So....this masked guy named Twilight has Amy, Warren and the US military working for him. He has people carving his symbol in their skin and attacking slayers. But....it is Angel. Not Angelus, but Angel. Because the universe wants to reward Buffy for sharing her power and it allows them to have sex (which shoots them into their own dimension to create however they want and be together without consequence). Um..... Look at that shark pit they just jumped over there...
5. Dawn. WTF. They are doing all these erotic covers with Dawn and now her and Xander are in love, but wait for it...when Buffy figures it out she tries to confess her love for Xander which he doesn't buy at all.

Now I hear there is a line of Angel comics that follow the majorly cliffhangery ending of Angel but I am not sure I want to read them or not.... Haven't heard anything about them opinionwise. However, I did find a clip of the Buffy animated series which, humorously, follows the storyline in the comic dream sequence in which Buffy wakes up in the cartoon (the highschool years of Buffy with Dawn included).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNHqkadJ_5Y&feature=player_embedded

Thank you for letting me rant a bit. I feel like my inner geek has been released. LOL

3 comments:

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

I need to go back and re-watch some of these episodes before commenting, LOL!!!

Carla Krae said...

I was so sad Angel didn't get a season 6, especially when hearing what Joss had planned to do. They would've ended up in a hell dimension due to that last battle, Wes wouldn't have died, either, and the whole group would have to mend the rifts and come together to get back home...and Fred would end up separated from Illyria. Amy Acker had said she was really looking forward to playing both roles.

I ignore the comics. Joss created crack!fic and trashed his 'verse with those. As far as I'm concerned, canon ends with TV. I know SO many fic writers that have done way more brilliant post-series stories for both shows.

And Spike's my favorite (even to the point of meeting JM). :D

Victoria said...

I am jealous, I haven't met any of the cast. Spike and Anya were my fave characters. Needless to say the last ep of Buffy killed me because of that, luckily I already knew Spike would be turning up on Angel the following year so the blow wasn't as heavy.

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