SD/TV 29/08/2008 – World Without So Called Life, Xander Stroke Willow

Super short reviews, this week. Need bed. I have a date with Apple in the morning.

My So Called Life Season 1: 02-03

This show continues to flesh itself out, after the promising pilot. I’m still finding it easier to believe that Angela’s big pronouncements and bizarre assertions – such as in the first episode when she claims to a teacher that she envied Anne Frank – are deliberately ridiculous, the writers trying to make a point of how clever we think we are when we’re teens. Rather than just badly pompous writing…

0102 – Dancing In The Dark: Angela struggles with her friend Rayanne’s crude efforts to push her into a relationship with her huge teen crush. This is the first time that Angela’s neighbour – my favourite character Brian Krakow – really takes the stage, and he does a commendable job at drawing a pretty complex character. At this point, he could be crushing badly on Angela, or he could just feel some old, vestigial loyalty to the friendship that they had as young children.

There are some interesting observations about getting what you wish for, and about how houses feel, and we see a little more of the difficult relationship between Angela’s parents.

0103 – Guns And Gossip: The first attempt to draw Angela’s gay friend Ricky as anything other than a stereotypical camp chap works well, here – the actor does a great job with the part. But again, the episode is stolen by Krakow. Even Angela’s troubles seem to dwindle next to his story in this episode. Where she is dealing with nasty and untrue rumours, he is dealing with being the only witness to a gun-crime within the school. He gets the drama win, here.

Man Stroke Woman 0205-0206

This is a show that we loved here at Chez Nix, and there’s loads I could say about it, but there’s no time. I’ll have to watch the episodes again some time soon, and write about the show then.

Basically, it’s a sketch show, primarily focussing on relationships, but edging into all sorts of territory involving modern life. The characters are all very middle-class, and there is often repetition from episode to episode, but the recurring gags are often so funny and well acted that we loved them over and over again.

The show clearly wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and I’ve read many more bad reviews than good, but the remit – a post-Spaced/Big Train quickfire sketch show, is well serviced by the end result.

Buffy Season 3: 05-11

Oh, wow, this is SUCH a good season… I think I’d forgotten how pivotal this season was, and how much it affected what came after.

0307 – Revelations: The gang find out that Angel is back, and the conflict between Buffy and Faith fires up for the first time.

0308 – Lover’s Walk: Spike returns, sans Dru, and in a state. His actions bring consequences that affect the whole dynamic of the show for a long time, and probably predict the events that lead to Angel’s own show, and the key elements of it. Actually, just the idea of Spike on his own is a pretty meaningful change all by itself…

0309 – The Wish: Anya! Evil Willow! A version of the Buffyverse that fans were still in love with years later! An episode that, ultimately, no-one in the show remembers when it is finished!
Girl One has already had this one spoilered for her slightly, because Dog One is called Anya.

0310 – Amends: Lots of cute and heartbreaking scenes with Willow trying to deal with the discovery of her betrayal of Oz, and one pointed scene in which I remember how fucking awesome Seth Green was in this show. Other then that, there’s a plot involving Angel, haunted by images of his victims, which at the time I remember being pretty superfluous to the more interesting Oz/Willow/Xander/Cordelia.
Now, I of course remember that Joss Whedon is a genius, and realise that everything in this episode is, in retrospect, part of an incredible build-up, ostensibly to the end of this season, but then again, to the very end of the whole series…
And any more I could say about that is heavily spoiler-city, so I won’t.

0311 – Gingerbread: I’d forgotten entirely about this episode, but it’s the first time – I think also the last – that we see Willow’s mum. The central plot is pretty basic and forgettable, but there are some great lines out of Cordelia towards the end, some great comic timing from Xander and Oz, and this is the one where Amy gets turned into a rat…

Life After People

Okay, now, this is another one of those pop-documentaries, and we only caught it by accident.

The premise is pretty much summed up by that title: the programme goes through – in sumptuously imagined and beautifully filmed set-pieces – what might happen to the world if we as a species were to suddenly dissappear.

It’s a beautiful show to look at, but as it moves on, the creators start to use that technique where they repeat footage over and over, and that really brings to your attention how impressed they were with certain sequences. Which in turn really takes you out of the narrator’s attempts to deliver this not as a potential future, but as something that will definitely – in fact, already has – happened. To the point that you no longer really appreciate the artifice, and are no longer taken in by the trickery.

What this leaves for the viewer, content-wise, is the scientific information being delivered. But once the illusion is broken, you start to notice that, while the voice-over is imploring you to believe that this is all science fact, common-sense takes hold, and you realise that this is basically just a bundle of opinions and info-tainment delivered as fast.

I shouldn’t be surprised by this – in fact, I’m not at all. But it does spoil what was otherwise a visually very beautiful show.