REVIEW: BEOWULF

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Angelina Jolie (The Changeling)
Ray Winstone (Elfie Hopkins)
Crispin Glover (Alice In Wonderland)
Robin Wright (Forrest Gump)
Sebastian Roche (The Originals)
John Malkovich (Red)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Costas Mandylor (Saw V)
Dominic Keating (Heroes)
Alison Lohman (Big Fish)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

Set in 507, Beowulf is a legendary Geatish warrior who travels to Denmark with his band of soldiers, including his best friend, Wiglaf. They meet King Hrothgar, who needs a hero to slay Grendel (Crispin Glover), a hideously disfigured troll-like creature with superhuman strength. Grendel attacks Heorot, Hrothgar’s mead hall, whenever the Danes held a celebration, and Hrothgar has been forced to close the hall. Upon arriving, Beowulf becomes attracted to Hrothgar’s wife, Queen Wealtheow, who reciprocates his interest.Beowulf and his men celebrate in Heorot to lure Grendel out. When the beast attacks, Beowulf engages him unarmed and naked. During the fight, Beowulf discovers that Grendel has hypersensitive hearing, which is why he interrupts Hrothgar’s celebrations – the noise they make is physically painful to him. After his eardrums are ruptured by Beowulf, Grendel attempts to escape. Beowulf restrains Grendel and severs his arm with the door. In thanks for freeing his kingdom from the monster, Hrothgar gives Beowulf his golden drinking horn, which commemorates Hrothgar’s victory over the mighty dragon Fafnir.In his cave, the dying Grendel tells his mother what was done to him, and she swears revenge. She travels to Heorot and slaughters Beowulf’s men while they are sleeping. Hrothgar tells both Beowulf and Wiglaf, who had been sleeping outside the hall during the attack, that it was the work of Grendel’s mother. She is the last of the Water Demons, who were thought to have left the land. Beowulf and Wiglaf travel to the demon’s cave to slay her. Beowulf enters the cave alone and encounters the demon, who takes the form of a beautiful woman. She offers to make him the greatest king who ever lived, in exchange for a son to replace Grendel and Hrothgar’s drinking horn.Beowulf agrees to the deal and returns, claiming to have killed her. Hrothgar, however, realizes the truth. He indirectly tells Beowulf that, much like him, Hrothgar was seduced by her, and Grendel was the result of their tryst. Hrothgar crowns Beowulf king, much to the dismay of his royal advisor, Unferth, who was hoping to take the throne. Hrothgar then commits suicide by jumping from the castle parapet onto the beach below. A wave momentarily engulfs Hrothgar’s body, there is a golden flash underwater, and the body is gone.Years later, the elderly Beowulf is married to Wealtheow. Over the years they had grown apart, husband and wife in name alone. Beowulf takes a mistress, Ursula, but his tryst with Grendel’s mother has left him sterile. One day, Unferth’s slave Cain finds the golden drinking horn in a swamp near Grendel’s cave and brings it back to the kingdom. That night, a nearby village is destroyed by a dragon, which leaves Unferth alive to deliver a message to King Beowulf: the dragon is Beowulf’s son born to Grendel’s mother. Removing the horn has voided the agreement between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, who has now sent their son, the dragon, to destroy his kingdom.Beowulf and Wiglaf go to the cave once again and Beowulf enters the cave alone. When Grendel’s mother appears, Beowulf gives her the golden horn, but she refuses to stop the attacks. The dragon flies straight towards Beowulf’s home, threatening Wealtheow and Ursula. Despite his age, Beowulf goes to great lengths to stop the monster, even severing his own arm. Eventually, he kills the dragon by ripping its heart out. A mortally wounded Beowulf watches the dragon transforming into a humanoid body and being washed out to sea. As Wiglaf approaches him, Beowulf tries to tell the truth about his affair with Grendel’s mother, but Wiglaf insists on keeping his legacy intact. Beowulf then dies.As the new king, Wiglaf gives Beowulf a Norse funeral. Grendel’s mother appears and gives Beowulf a final kiss before his burning ship sinks into the sea. Wiglaf sees the golden horn in the sand while Grendel’s mother floats in the sea, looking at him seductively. The movie ends ambiguously with Wiglaf holding the horn and staring back at her.The plot isn’t much to write home about. The acting is variable – Robin Wright-Penn is fine, Hopkins is his usual reliable self, Ray Winstone is suitably heroic as the heroic, self-aggrandising Beowulf, and Crispin Glover is just brilliant as Grendel. Grendel is a lovely creation, oozing slime and blood, and wracked with pain. It’s entertainment. And I was royally entertained.

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REVIEW: TREKKIES 2

CAST

Denise Crosby (The Walking Dead)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Robert Meyer Burnett (Superman Returns)
Casey Biggs (Dragonfly)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)
Michael Forest (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Richard Herd (V)
Dominic Keatin (The One Warrior)
Cirroc Lofton (Beethoven)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Nana Vistor (Dark Angel)

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Trekkies 2, like the first movie, is an endearing portrayal of the Star Trek fanbase. This time the producers go on the road and travel around the world to meet Star Trek fans from Australia, Brazil, Italy, France, Germany and even Serbia, documenting their experiences with Star Trek and going into the lives of several fans. In between each segment of the travelogue are pieces that can be described simply as an open forum for fans to discuss issues relating to fandom, such as what makes a Normal Fan, should you wear your uniform in public, etc. This helps give the fans more a of voice, which many found lacking in the first film.
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One thing to note about the DVD is that it in fact features 2 documentaries, as the deleted scenes are cut together in a coherent way to complement the main film, raising issues that may not have fit well with the main film. Of course, the film also features ‘characters’ from the first movie, like Gabe Koerner, Brian Dellis, Barbara Adams and Daryl Frazetti, making the movie feel like one of several other documentaries that have followed its subjects over the years, like 7-up.
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Moments that stood out for me were the interview with Robert Burnett and the Sacramento segment that feature five Star Trek tribute bands. The Serbia segment was also quite effective because it felt more ‘important’, going a bit into the recent war and how some fans looked to Star Trek as a way of coping with the war. In fact, the film documents the first ever convention held in Serbia. The film not only works because of its content, but also because of its style – irregardless of it’s content, the film is just a great documentary. Given this, and the fact that you actually get two films on the DVD, I think everyone should pick this up.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE – SEASON 1-4

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MAIN CAST

Scott Bakula (Chuck)
Jolene Blalock (Starship Troopers 3)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Dominic Keating (Heroes)
Linda Park (Jurassic Park 3)
Anthony Montgomery (Leprechaun In The Hood)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tommy Lister (The Dark Knight)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Jim Beaver (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Thomas Kopache (Catch me If You Can)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Henri Lubatti (Angel)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Jane Carr (Treasure Planet)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Keith Szarabjka (Angel)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Dennis Christopher (Angel)
John Rubinstein (Legends of Tomorrow)
Fionnula Flanagan (Yes Man)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Rudolf Martin (buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Keone Young (Alias)
Brad Greenquist (Heroes)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
J.G. Herztler (Roswell)
Larissa Laskin (Earth: Final Conflict)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Brigid Brannagh (Angel)
Keith Carradine (The Big Bang Theory)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Stephen Culp (Scream Queens)
Tucker Smallwood (Traffic)
Maury Sterling (The A-Team)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Emily Bergl (Carrie 2)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Erin Cummings (Spartacus)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Bruce Thomas (Army of Darkness)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Robert Foxworth (Beneath Loch Ness)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Hill)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)

Out of all the Star Trek series and films, Enterprise is easily the most overlooked, and was the only one since the original to be canceled. This isn’t because it wasn’t as good as the rest, but simply the way it was marketed. The show is in fact a prequel to Kirk’s Enterprise, and does take place before the Federation, but what the show lacks in technology, is more than made up for with realism and some of the best character development in the Star Trek franchise.

100 years after Zefren Cochrane’s warp flight, the human race has had enough of Vulcans holding them back, and have created the first warp five star ship in human history. Over the Vulcan’s objections, Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the son of the engines designer, has been selected to Captain the ship and explore a galaxy that humans know very little about.
This show is extremely important to the franchise and all Trekkies, as it not only shows humanities first trip out of our solar system and first contact with all the races we’ve come to know over the years, but the show fills in a lot of the gaps from all the other series and films! Enterprise explores the origins of Data’s creator, the Eugenic Wars (which created Khan), the development of many protocols and much of the tech we see on future ships, but most important of all the series shows how the foundation for the Federation and the creation of star fleet all came together.
Enterprise was also unique for it’s character development and realism, in that it takes place in the not to distant future. We get to know the crew intimately, from their fears to their families, and we see them doing and discussing things never before seen in Star Trek. The Enterprise crew has a classic movie night, watches sports on TV, has pets, and they even talk about sex. The cast is lead by Scott Bakula, which was another great move by producers. Casting a veteran science fiction actor, whose been in long running series, automatically gives him that air of experience and authority that Picard had. He’s also a younger man, so with no federation policies in place yet, Archer can be just as much of a risk taker as Kirk was, even more so.
Star Trek Enterprise was extremely enjoyable, and a series people could relate to more than any other in the Star Trek franchise. The show isn’t simply about the future and the Federation, it’s about what it means to be human and how that compares to other species. It shows what we need to do in order to get along with and understand other cultures, but most of all it fills in so many holes from previous films and episodes, that it truly was the missing link.

Unfortunately for Star Trek fans, the show barely made a hundred episodes, because it was on a dying network, that folded shortly after the show was canceled, screwing us Trekkie’s out of three more seasons. As with all the previous series, the story has been continued in books, but in this case, the books were written by the main writers of the series, and do encompass everything that would have happened in seasons five, six, and seven.

REVIEW: THE ONE WARRIOR

 

CAST

Jason David Frank (Power Rangers)
Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise)
James Russo (Django Unchained)
Brent Philip Henry (Drive Angry)
Tara Kleinpeter (The Chair)

As a huge JDF fan I was interested in seeing what was called The One Warrior. So I was really happy to see a blu ray at Walmart! While the movie is really low budget and very cheesy it’s also a lot of fun. The story is really simple, Jason is a noble warrior who must kill the evil lord Shoukata. The little nods to gaming peppered all in the movie, are a wonderful touch. Sure as I said its campy as hell.

But it’s still really fun, the fights are not as hard hitting as in Johnny Yong Bosch’s Broken Path, but there still fun fantasy battles. That featured some good variety. The landscapes and sets were well done, and the dragon was pretty well designed and animated. The fights reminded me of all the cool shows and cheesy movies I saw as a kid. The plot is thin but it’s pretty smart too, the whole gaming aspect of the movie really works. And Jason rocked it as always, he had a few really funny moments. My favorite was when he requested his sidekick carry him. It was pretty funny and showcased Jason’s classic charm that we all love. What really made the movie for me besides Jason, was that this movie really was made with gamers in mind. This is the closet to seeing a movie made into a video game world. By the end of the film you will understand. Granted its incredibly cheesy but that’s also the appeal, it doesn’t try to be anything but silly fun.

If you love JDF, Saturday morning adventures, gaming, and old cheesy fantasy movies this is a fun addition to your collection. I plan on rewatching this plenty of times as it totally fun to watch.

REVIEW: BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER – SEASON 1-7

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CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Ringer)
Nicholas Brendon (Children of The Corn III)
Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)
Charisma Carpenter (Scream Queens)
Anthony Stewart Head (The Iron Lady)
Davis Boreanaz (Bones)
Seth Green (Austin Powers)
James Marsters (Caprica)
Marc Blucas (Red State)
Emma Caulfield (Supergirl)
Michelle Tractenberg (17 Again)
Amber Benson (The Killing Jar)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Mark Metcalf (Drive me Crazy)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Kill)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Kristine Sutherland (One Life To Live)
Julie Benz (No Ordinary Family)
Eric Balfour (Skylive)
Persia White (The Vampire Diaries)
Mercedes McNab (The Addams Family)
Elizabeth Anne Allen (Bull)
Robin Riker (The Bold and The Beautiful)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Christopher Wiehl (Cold Hearts)
Geoff Meed (Little Miss Sunshine)
Andrew J. Ferchland (The Last Leprechaun)
Jennifer Sky (Cleopatra 2525)
Chad Lindberg (The Fast and The Furious)
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)
Dean Butler (Little House on The Prairie)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Robia LaMorte (Spawn)
Michael Bacall (Django Unchained)
Juliet Landau (Ed Wood)
Ara Celi (American Beauty)
Clayne Crawford (Roswell)
Danny Strong (The Prophecy II)
Kavan Smith (Stargate SG.1)
Robin Sachs (Jurassic Park 2)
Larry Bagby (Walk The Line)
Jason Behr (Roswell)
Will Rothhaar (Kingpin)
Julia Lee (A Man Apart)
Bianca Lawson (The Vampire Diaries)
Saverio Guerra (Becker)
John Ritter (8 Simple Rules)
Jeremy Ratchford (Cold Case)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Jack Conley (Fast & Furious)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)
Christopher Gorham (Ugly Betty)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Meredith Salenger (Lake Placid)
Charles Cyphers (Halloween)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Shane West (Nikita)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Richard Riehle (Office Space)
Carlos Jacott (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Nancy Lenehan (Two Guys and a Girl)
Jason Hall (American Sniper)
K. todd Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Fab Filippo (Guidestones)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Harry Groener (About Schmidt)
Jack Plotnick (Rubber)
Nicole Bilderback (Dark Angel)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Harris Yulin (Training Day)
Dominic Keating (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Christian Clemenson (Lois & Clark)
Ron Rogge (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Ethan Erickson (Jawbreaker)
Andy Umberger (Deja Vu)
Katharine Towne (Evolution)
Lindsay Crouse (The Insider)
Phina Oruche (The Forsaken)
Adam Kaufman (Taken)
Walter Jones (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Kal Penn (Van Wilder)
Bailey Chase (Longmire)
Leonard Roberts (Heroes)
Andy Hallett (Chance)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
George Hertzberg (Too Much Magic)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Rob Benedict (Birds of Prey)
Erica Luttrell (Lost Girl)
Kathryn Joosten (desperate Housewives)
Connor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Rudolf Martin (Swordfish)
Tom Lenk (The Cabin In The Woods)
Charlie Weber (Gacy)
Clare Kramer (Bring it On)
Ravil Isyanov (Alias)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Brian Tee (Jurassic World)
Kali Rocha (Buried)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Abraham Benrubi (Open Range)
Cynthia LaMontagne (That 70s Show)
Oliver Muirhead (The Social Network)
Shonda Farr (Crossroads)
Adam Busch (Sugar & Spice)
Joel Grey (Cabaret)
Karim Prince (Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers)
Wade Williams (Gangster Squad)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Amber Tamblyn (Two and a Half Men)
Jordan Belfi (Surrogates)
Mageina Tovah (Spider-Man 2 & 3)
Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale)
Lee Garlington (Flashforward)
Jan Hoag (Scream Queens)
Nicole hiltz (Smallville)
Alexandra Breckenridge (The Walking Dead)
D.B. Woodside (24)
Zachery Ty Bryan (The Fast and the Furious 3)
Sarah Hagan (Freaks and Geeks)
Jonathan M. Woodward (Firefly)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Felicia Day (The Guild)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow)
Ashanti (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Indigo (Broken City)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)
Julia Ling (Chuck)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one of the wittiest, most well developed, and consistent cult fantasy shows on television. Unlike other shows in the genre, it has been able to showcase a wide balance between fantastic character development, humor, topical plotlines, heart wrenching drama, science fiction, and horror- a horn a plenty of styles all in one 44 min episode. While entertaining, everyone probably can’t relate to the technobabble machinations of a Star Trek episode, or the convoluted paranoia of and X-Files episode, but we all went through high school and whether you were average, popular, or an outcast, we know, we remember, all too well, the emotional highs and lows of growing up. Its something everyone can relate to, and its the central fire that keeps Buffy grounded.


But, Buffy began as a humble mid season replacement on a non entity network, and its early days when it was gaining its footing, starting its mythology, seeing how far they could tweek the drama and the horror with a minuscule budget… well, its not nearly the powerhouse it would quickly become in its second season. There are of course, subtle signs of the drama and humor to come, little hints that it was more than a teen show with vampires. And, honestly, if you were going to try and impress someone who had never seen The X-Flies, you certainly wouldn’t show them the first season without saying, “It gets much better.”

KEY EPISODES ARE –


Episode 1: Welcome to the Hellmouth- Buffy Summers, a high school sophomore, transfers to Sunnydale High. There she meets her “Watcher” and learns she cannot escape her true destiny.— Like most pilots, its all about introductions- Buffy the reluctant Slayer, her pals and soon to be Scoobies, spazz with a heart of gold Xander, shy brain Willow, her stuffy Watcher Giles, the mysterious Angel, and the snobbish beauty queen Cordelia. Also, of course, establishes the first main villain, The Master, and the Hellmouth, the demonic portal that would provide the show with its main mythological device keeping the town of Sunnydale infested with all manner of creatures for Buffy to slay

Episode 2: The Harvest:- A Stranger named Angel tells Buffy that if she does not stop the Harvest, the Hellmouth will open and the Master roam free.— Whereas the first episode was focused on introducing the characters and didn’t have much room for tension or action, The Harvest provides a look at Buffy having to accept her role as Slayer as she realizes the deadly consequences if she abandons her destiny.

Episode 5 : Never Kill a Boy on the First Date:

While awaiting the arrival of a warrior vampire called the Anointed One, Buffy’s big date at the Bronze ends with an assault on a funeral home. — Once again, showing Buffy’s attempts to balance a normal life with her secret life as the Slayer. While a little weak and cornball, it also manages to show the villain thread well, how most main Buffy villains will have some sort of evolution, twists and turns to keep the viewer guessing.

Episode 7: Angel: A moment of passion turns to terror as Buffy discovers Angel’s true identity and learns about the Gypsy curse that has haunted him for almost 100 years.— Probably the most weak, ill-defined character early on, this episode finally showcased more about Angel and gave his character some considerable fleshing out. Taking into account the large part his character would play in the Buffyverse, and the leaps and bounds of change he would undergo, his affect on all the characters, particularly Buffy, in one way or another, it makes this one of the seasons better episodes.

Episode 11: Out of Mind, Out of Sight: As Cordelia prepares for Sunnydale High’s May Queen competition, an invisible force starts attacking her closest friends.— Another of the seasons better episodes, and a clever look an always pertinent issue, showing yet another sympathetic foe, those fringe kids who are always ignored, sometimes until it is too late.

Episode 12: Prophecy Girl:

As the Spring Fling dance approaches, Giles discovers an ancient book foretelling the Slayers death at the hands of The Master.— While a tad abrupt, this finale serves up everything one wants, tension, conflict, and turns you don’t quite see coming. Pivotal in the series for all players, but mainly Buffy, showing that she isn’t just an invulnerable buttkicker able to save the day alone, but through banding together her and the Scoobies will take on many a Big Bad to come.

Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is quite possibly the best season of the bunch. Season 2 is by definition, where things get darker and more complex, this was the season that really made Buffy an unpredictably smart series.

The season opens with ‘When She Was Bad’ which deals with the fallout of Buffy’s momentary death in the previous year one finale; this episode is appropriately handled and sees Buffy acting rather out of character after returning from her summer away from Sunnydale. The preceding episodes are a fun affair and help the viewer to settle back into the rhythm of the series with various episodes focusing upon certain characters.

The ‘Big Bads’ of the season appear early on and come in the form of Drusilla and Spike, the former being a rather off-her-rocker vampire and the latter a bleached, leather wearing, cocky undead Englishman! As villains they are a lot of fun and help to shape season 2 as something unique and well constructed. However, come the end of the year things are considerably shaken up in terms of ‘the Big Bads’, with the appearance of Angelus.

Willow, Xander and Giles all find themselves venturing into new territory: dating! Cordelia continues to redeem herself and becomes a fully fledged scoobygang member, whilst Buffy and Angel undergo many changes to their relationship which is mostly the driving force of the season. By the middle of the season the episodes gradually become darker and a more coherent storyarc begins to emerge, starting with the events of ‘Surprise (Part 1)’ which culminate in the emotional and incredibly shocking ‘Innocence’ (Part 2). Said episodes are some of the best in the history of the series and set in motion events that help to lead to the end of the season. The circumstances surrounding this two parter does literally change everything once established between Buffy and Angel; and brings into question their future. The continuity, witty one liners, oblique use of language does continue into this season and helps to boost the chemistry between the actors as they discuss, for example the oddness of some TV movies and sore thumbs. These subtle touches give the season a vibrancy and kooky edge; what makes Buffy such an enjoyable show is the warmth and heart it retains, mostly provided by the actors but also by the wonderfully consistent writing.

The two part finale ‘Becoming’ is well set up as a consequence of the episode ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, which happens to be beautifully moving and tragic respectively. The complexity of the Angelus arc presented here really sets up and supports the actions that lead to the occurrences of the finale. ‘Becoming’ part 1 & 2 with all it’s flashback goodness brings about tumultuous change and throws one through the emotional wringer all the while its still surprising, sad and gut wrenching upon each rewatch. The issues dealt with this season are far more adult and dark than is the usual, and in turn it delivers a wonderfully realized arc which never fails to amaze.


This third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer contains some of my favourite episodes from the entire run of the show and also has the fewest offbeat episodes. This year Buffy and the gang are in their final year of high school but living on the Hellmouth is never easy and in addition to the usual demons and vampires they must deal with the schemes of the Watchers Council, a new slayer and a politician after even more power.

Buffy has really found its feet with this season and I would say that it is this year that the show reaches its peak. All the regular cast members give their usual brilliant performances but the season is really stolen by the new cast members, specifically Eliza Dushku as Faith the new Slayer and Harry Groener as the eccentrically evil Mayor Wilkins, who is probably my favourite of all the Buffy villains.

It is difficult to choose favorite episodes from this season as it includes so many great ones. `Bad Candy’, `Amends’, `Earshot’ and the two part season finally `Graduation’ are all excellent episodes being both funny and enthralling but my favorite episode has to be `Lover’s Walk’ where a lovesick Spike returns to Sunnydale after breaking up with Drusilla in order to find a way to get her back. James Marsters is truly excellent in this episode and livens up the series brilliantly. Another couple of episodes of note are `The Wish’ and `Doppelgangland’ both of which involve a parallel universe where vampires have taken over and feature a vamped up Willow, brilliantly portrayed by Alyson Hannigan who seems to enjoy the role immensely. Although none of the episodes could truly be considered awful, `Gingerbread’ and `The Zeppo’ are the weakest episodes of this season and are slightly painful to watch in places.

Overall this season is truly great, with brilliant writing and a plot that never ceases to be in turns exciting, funny and touching.

With the loss of David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter to the spin-off show, “Angel”, there were voids to be filled in this, the first season out of high school, and Marc Blucas and Emma Caulfield suitably obliged. The fragmentation of the Scooby Gang was for many the core reason why Season Four didn’t match the heights of the previous three: nobody seemed to care enough about each other any more. With Giles out of work, Xander flitting from one deadbeat job to another, and Buffy and Willow settling in to life on campus, there was concern that the old gang would never get back together.


A big risk was taken in introducing a more sci-fi element with the arrival of a secret government demon-hunting operation. But there’s a big difference from other genre shows: the Initiative was never in control of its actions. And that’s the gist of the season: that Buffy and her traditional methods will always be superior, and that it’s through her skills and her friends that evil is defeated, not bureaucracy. Which is why there’s no big finish in episode 22 (the grand climax happens in episode 21), because the most important storyline is about the reaffirmation of friendships, demonstrated in the most bizarre way imaginable in an episode composed almost entirely of dream sequences.


There are some classics (the Emmy-nominated “Hush” was possibly the boldest piece of television attempted before “The Body” the following year). And in the final scene of the season, we get a great setting-up of what’s to come, without knowing any specific details. All in all, a season that left a few minor gripes, but which in the overall scheme of things, has continued the journey of life into adulthood. Now they’re all supposed to be grown up, but the future still holds a great deal of uncertainty, and that can only be good for the show.

Although Season 5  still has comedic moments, it also has many more serious moments. Not to spoil it for those who have not seen the series yet, two major deaths rock the Sunnydale Slayage Crew. These are excellently handled, and in no way seem like they are tying off loose ends.

The episodes are excellent. From fighting Dracula, to multiple Xanders. From a new sister, to an old foe swapping sides. This season is excellent. the first disc houses such gems as the introduction of Dawn, without any back story or any clues into why she is there. These facts are revealed slowly through the next disc, with amusing storylines for Spike, clearly an excellent addition to the principal cast. Anya also comes into her own, and becomes revels in the joys of capitalism.

Through the next disc a departure of a relatively new character, Riley, hurts Buffy tremendously, whilst the appearance of a troll lightens the mood considerably. The fourth disc includes the fun episode where the Watcher’s Council return to Sunnydale, and reveal a shocking secret about the main enemy of this series. Spike also has a choice to make, whether to fall back into the arms of his old flame, Drusilla, or to move on and persue his newest conquest, a source of exasperation for Buffy.

The fifth disc is a solemn affair, with the death of a principal cast member, who had been with Buffy from the beginning. As Buffy and her ‘Scoobies’ attempt to cope, the attacks on them by the villain of the series grow more violent and frequent, leaving a dissuaded Buffy sure that she cannot beat the villain. When his new enemy learns of an importance in the Scooby gang, and this member of the gang get captured, Buffy goes into meltdown. With the help of Willow, Buffy recovers and faces the most terrifying villain ever in the history of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, with a conclusion that is heart wrenching.


“The Gift”, the season five finale, ended with Buffy dead and buried after battling deranged fallen goddess Glory. Dying is kind of old hat for Buffy, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away by revealing that the show’s title character quickly gets over the whole death thing. Although the ensuing gang of biker demons is corny, I thought her return from the grave in the feature-length “Bargaining” hit all the right notes. Her reappearance is heartbreaking and almost horrifying, and it avoids undermining the events that concluded the previous season.

Rather than just toss her back in this mortal coil as if she’d never left, Buffy is distant and depressed, not quite the elated response her friends were expecting to see. The opening of the season offers an evenhanded blend of humor and drama, particularly the early escapades of the Troika. The all-nerd supersquad — robotics whiz Warren (Adam Busch), clumsy sorceror-lite Jonathan (Danny Strong), and summoner Andrew (Tom Lenk). They added a well-needed dose of geeky comedy to the season, which made the bitter pill of the agony Buffy and friends endure later on easier to swallow.

The darker spin the three of them eventually take also resonates more having seen several episodes worth of their giddiness at being supervillains. I also thought the aftermath of Buffy’s return, seen in “After Life”, “Flooded”, and “Life Serial”, worked well as she tried to find her place in the world (and her friend’s worlds) after being plucked from the afterlife. These episodes also manage to strike that perfect balance between humor and drama.

Another early highlight is “Tabula Rasa”, where a spell gone awry robs the Scoobies of their memories.  Of special mention from this chunk of the season, of course, is the musical episode “Once More with Feeling”. The version presented here is the original broadcast, a few minutes lengthier than your average Buffy installment. Although the concept of characters in an established drama singing and dancing for an hour screams ‘gimmick’, it’s not a standalone episode, tying in heavily to the previous episodes of the season and setting up some of what would soon follow. The songs are surprisingly good, particularly impressive considering that they were written by someone without much of a musical background.Image result for buffy once more with feeling

The season closes out with a series of strong episodes. “Hell’s Bells” features the chaos of a wedding between a human raised in a dysfunctional family and his millennia-old former vengeance demon fiancee, the aftermath of which is explored in “Entropy”.

One of the season’s best is “Normal Again”, which questions the reality of what we’ve seen for the past six seasons, and Buffy’s assault on her possibly-delusional friends and family is as chilling as anything seen up to that point on the series. The darkness pervasive throughout much of the season culminates in “Seeing Red”, which has two monstrous turning points. Its fatal closing events lead into the three-episode arc that rounds out the season. Similar to Angelus’ appearances on both Buffy and Angel, the immeasurably powerful antagonist in these final episodes tear down the main characters.

In its final season, Buffy the Vampire Slayer issued a mission statement you might not expect from a series that’s been on the air for seven years: go back to the beginning. After a foray at college and a year spent toiling away in the working world, Buffy’s going back to high school. Several years after its destruction at the hands…or giant coiled tail, whatever…of the ascended Mayor Wilkins, Sunnydale High has been rebuilt from the ground up. The Hellmouth beneath the school happens to lurk directly below the office of Principal Robin Wood (D.B. Woodside), who’s harboring some sort of dark secret that may or may not work to Buffy’s favor. Anyway, Wood continually stumbles upon Buffy as she spirits Dawn off to her first day of school as a freshman and ensuring both Summers girls make the most of the lovingly-crafted Sunnydale High set, Wood offers Buffy a job as a part-time counselor. Holed up in the bowels of Sunnydale High is Spike, who’s been driven mad by a combination of his newly-acquired soul and an entity that’s been haunting him, one that’s soon going to expand its grasp to the rest of the Scooby Gang and the world at large.

These early episodes really do capture the feel of the first few seasons of the series, a very welcome change after the grim year that came before it. This is one of the stronger opening salvos of Buffy. “Him” is played pretty much for laughs, revolving around a football player whose letter jacket makes him irresistible to the fairer sex, compelling Dawn, Buffy, Willow, and Anya to take drastic and wholly over-the-top measures to win his complete adoration.

 

Three of the season’s best episodes run back-to-back. “Same Time, Same Place” follows Willow’s return to the group, still reeling from the near-apocalyptic events of the previous year and further disheartened when she’s apparently abandoned by her friends. Buffy and company really are there for Willow, but the problem is that there are kind of two separate and distinct “there”s. The cannibalistic Gnarl is one of the most effectively creepy creatures of the show’s entire run, and his confrontation with Willow is unsettling and horrifying…and I mean that in the best possible way. “Help” quickly follows, chronicling Buffy’s quest to save the life of an awkward, introverted poet who foretells her own death.

Although I really like all of the first batch of episodes, this season has two particularly strong stand-outs. Following the excellent “Same Time, Same Place” and “Help” is “Selfless”, which features Anya returning to form as a mass-murdering vengeance demon, a decision that awes her demonic coworkers and conflicts her former friends as Buffy must make a difficult decision. The episode makes use of flashbacks from several vastly different time periods and juggles drastically different tones. We see what led young Aud to become the vengeful Anyanka in a hysterical glimpse back at her life with her wench-drenched, troll-hating brute of a husband, Olaf. There’s also a flashback to “Once More, With Feeling”, complete with a new musical number, followed by a brutal, brilliant cut to the present.

The other standout is “Conversations with Dead People”, an inventively structured episode penned by four different writers. The title is a decent enough synopsis, as a number of characters communicate in varying forms with the dearly departed. Buffy allows herself to be psychoanalyzed by a recently-risen Psych major, Dawn is haunted by a poltergeist that takes on a shockingly familiar image, Willow is delivered a message from a lost love one, Spike goes out on the town, and the remnants of last year’s nerdy Troika return to Sunnydale.

In general, season seven feels like Joss Whedon and company had a clear beginning and a clear ending. The Finale does give the show a nice ending, but is left open should the show ever return in any format.