Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Buffy Report - Season 3, Disc 2

While the entire blogosphere seems to be documenting the new fall season, I am stuck squarely back in 1998. You see, I have never watched (or really cared to watch) Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

These are words of blasphemy to many of my close friends and relations, so I am quietly trying to work my way through the show just so I can at least understand what they are talking about when they resort to a pidgin of pop culture references and show quotes.

On a high level, I really did not like Season 1, but really enjoyed portions of Season 2. Two discs and eight episodes into Season 3, I am back to feeling lukewarm towards the entire endeavor.

From a technical side, Season 3 seems to be both a step forward and a step backwards. I don’t know if they upgraded camera or cinematographers (probably both), but the show looks better than it ever has. The lighting is very moody and fun.

However, it seems like the very sharp editors from Season 2 decided to move on to bigger and better things, leaving the show runners with the lowly interns and high school students who have been sitting around, not paying and not learning anything since the last time they fiddled with the editing dials, which I assume was either never or merely Season 1.

What I am really saying is this - We all know Sarah Michelle Gellar uses a stunt double, but at least make an effort to preserve the illusion of reality. Season 2 did a good job of hiding this with editing, but in Season 3, they don’t even try. That (combined with the obviously paper mache monsters) was one of the most annoying aspects of Season 1. There is nothing less terrifying than an obvious sock puppet, except maybe an obvious sock puppet in poor lighting.

The greatest strength of the show it also the greatest weakness – it captures the feeling of high school. No, it is nothing like real high school, but it captures the exaggerated “everything is a life or death moment and all my problems are the center of the universe” feeling that is prevalent in most high school students. And while this overwrought attitude might resonate with the teenage demographic, to the cranky old guy it comes across as excessive underlining and exclamation points.

Here is my brief summary of the first two DVDs of Season 3.

Buffy loves a man who is no good for her.





So now that I’ve dished out some negativity, I will share some positives. Not surprisingly, they all focus on the character development. .The strength of the show lies in the characters and their interactions.

Two characters, one minor, one major really stand out so far.

The Principal
He is hilarious and menacing all at once, conveying a debilitating Little Man Syndrome with a mere stoop of the shoulders accompanied by a scowl.

Here is a stereotype fleshed out and made real. Is she smart? Is she stupid? Is she secretly nice underneath all that mean? Or is she really mean with flashes of niceness? I have no idea. Just like I have no idea what is going to come out of her mouth next. But yet, she is an amazingly consistent character. That kind of unpredictable fun is what makes her character such a deep fried pile of awesome.

So that is my report on what I’ve experienced so far. Now that I have put my thoughts in writing, I am sure the people who have seen the show and know what happens next will point out how silly my analysis is.

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