The topic of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” been coming up a lot lately (more than usual, anyway). Earlier this month, I attended a “Geek vs. Nerds” show where Buffy took on Blade (and through some unforeseen happenstance, there were somehow more shirtless Ryan Reynolds fans in the audience.) And the month before, a Joss Whedon night was held at a local club where I cosplayed as Seth Green’s Oz character from the season 3 Halloween episode (because this was the quickest costume I could put together on short notice.) And before that, we had “Avengers” and “Cabin in the Woods” – it’s been a good year for Buffy fans.
Personally, I’ve seen the whole series a half dozen times over already. It really is one of my favorite shows because of how often it tries something out-of-left-field or break its own rules (i.e. Buffy switches from stakes to rocket launchers in one episode.) But in recent years, whenever I re-watch it, I tend to get more selective with the episodes, and I find a lot of my favorites are always the stand-alone shows. Stand-alone episodes are usually the short stories that have little to do with the season’s story arc. They’re entertaining enough without requiring a “Previously on Buffy” refresher course. So for the purposes of this list, I won’t be mentioning any season finales, two-parters, or any episode where a key character dies. I’m just going to highlight the fun episodes.
And why twelve? Because it came up to twelve when I was finished.
1. The Pack (Season 1)
When the show first started, it was straight-up high school horror corniness. This episode was no exception, but to a different extreme. Before, the key villains were vampires and witches. This one decided to go off on a tangent by having a group of students get possessed by wild hyena gods, which the writers had too much fun with. They were cruel, sadistic, creepy, and otherwise completely indistinguishable from any other gang of hooligan teenagers.
2. The Puppet Show (Season 1)
Hey, creepy ventriloquist dummy episode! We can all guess where this is going! Or can we? I think this was the first episode to introduce a mind-blowing twist which forced the audience to start second-guessing every episode from there on in. It also features a very awkward post-credit scene where Buffy and her friends massacre a scene from “Oedipus Rex”.
3. School Hard (Season 2)
Prophecies and rituals come to an end in this episode where the character of Spike is introduced. Back in this season, Spike was pretty much The Joker – chaotic and reckless. So the premise here is that he wages a vampire siege against the school on Parent/Teacher night, resulting in Buffy needing to go all “Die Hard” on their asses and doing very little to hide her secret identity. It’s a pretty sweet episode.
4. Ted (Season 2)
Personally, this is one of my top favorites. It’s the Buffy version of “One Froggy Evening”. John Ritter guest stars as Buffy’s new potential step-dad. He bakes cookies, takes everyone out for mini-golf, dispenses fatherly advice, and is overall the nicest guy you’d ever meet. But when he’s alone with Buffy? COMPLETE PSYCHOPATH. None of Buffy’s friends believe her, so the stakes are raised as she gets pushed to the point of murder trying to prove that this guy is evil. It gets quite serious and over-the-top at times, but I love it. A later episode in season four “Living Conditions” mimics the same situation where Buffy is convinced her new roommate is evil and everybody is trying to stop her from killing her roommate.
5. The Zeppo (Season 3)
How about an episode where Buffy and her friends battle the greatest, most horrible evil they will EVER meet on this show? And then how about make it so they exclude one friend (Xander) from joining in the battle because he’s the most likely to get killed? And how about the whole episode follows all the madness that befalls Xander on that fateful night? It’s a wonderfully crazy episode with many jabs at the show’s own formula. I’d almost compare this episode to “South Park” where you can tell the writers are being given free reign to vent their frustrations over the usual cliches.
6. Earshot (Season 3)
I might be biased here, because I love any episode of anything where the main character can suddenly read minds. It’s a great tool for comedy as you suddenly get an insight in everybody’s thought processes (and discover that some characters have no thought processes at all). This one quickly takes some dark turns, though, as Buffy finds herself trying to track down a student whom she “overheard” planning a mass murder. From there, it actually touches down on some real life issues on events that hadn’t yet become a reality on the news, but it’s all handled very well. And the ultimate pay-off for solving the mystery is one of the most fantastically stupid moments in the show.
7. Pangs (Season 4)
Buffy and the gang battling Indian vengeance spirits on Thanksgiving while trying to be politically correct about it. Political correctness fails many times in this episode.
Special Video Highlight:
8. Hush (Season 4)
A spell falls over the town depriving everyone of their voices. What follows is a scary-as-hell episode where freaky monsters attack the town and no one can scream or call for help. This is one of those “top of every list” episodes because of how damn good it is. Even better is watching all the truths and misunderstandings that come out when people can no longer use their words to lie or defend themselves. A perfect horror-comedy.
9. Restless (Season 4)
Here’s an episode that’s confusing no matter whether you’re a fan or new to the show. Four of the characters experience four separate dreams and what follows is a very nonsensical, “Twins Peaks” style episode with no coherent narrative. They just wander from one pointless scenario to another, acting very out-of-character and doing random stuff. There is a story hidden in the subtext, but it’s otherwise a very accurate depiction of a dream-like state. Plus it has the cheese man. Who doesn’t love the cheese man?
10. Once More, With Feeling (Season 6)
I’m reaching by calling this a stand-alone episode since it relies on past episodes for its main story to work. But the real charm is the whole musical angle where the town becomes cursed and people randomly break out into song. Fans of “Dr. Horrible” can see Joss Whedon’s songwriting roots here as nearly every song is both catchy and clever as hell. Even the lyrics drift from beautifully poetic to absurd non-sequiters (most notably one lyric: “I think this line’s mostly filler” when a random character has nothing to add to the song.) After seeing this one for the first time, I found myself humming a lot of the tunes throughout the next several weeks.
11. Normal Again (Season 6)
This is one of those episodes that asks a very simple question: what if Buffy is a nutcase in an asylum, and this whole show is her delusional fantasy? As the episode cuts between worlds, Buffy is pushed into almost doing unspeakable things as she chooses between realities. Also, without giving too much away, it’s pretty rare to see Buffy as the villain.
12. Conversations with Dead People (Season 7)
I’m also stretching with this as a stand-alone episode because it relies VERY heavily on past episodes for the story to work. But the reason I put it on this list is because it’s the first episode I ever saw – and it hooked me instantly. So it must be doing something right if I can enjoy it without understanding it. Four characters all have different supernatural encounters on one night. In one situation, Buffy’s making small talk with an old friend-turned-vampire whom she has to kill later, meanwhile, her sister is battling a genuinely dangerous poltergeist in the house. And meanwhile from there, two other characters are having very serious conversations with long-dead friends. None of these stories ever intersect. There’s a lot of strong comedy and drama in here, but the overall flow of the episode is tied together very well, along with the accompanying music. I’d almost call this Tarantino-esque if it were a little more off-kilter. While I can’t recommend it to all new-comers, it’s a very experimental episode and a very personal favorite of mine.
Looks like we’re on the air! Nerdcorps’ new show “Slugterra” is hitting the network tomorrow. It’s been three months since I started on the show and it’s been a blast. While none of my work will start appearing until episode 13 (or sooner, considering we’re using episode 9 as the pilot), the show is still fun to watch. It’s basically Pokemon, except they ride mecha-beasts and use the cute little critters as ammunition. WHICH IS AWESOME. AND TOTALLY INCONVENIENT. BUT STILL AWESOME. I can’t wait for the toy line to start coming out. It’s going to be a Slugterra Christmas for my family and friends. Nerf guns and slug plushies all around!
Here’s the trailer for the pilot episode:
And here’s the show’s opening sequence. The words to the theme song are very easy to memorize.
Look at those little dudes fly! I wish I had a gun that punched people.
It’s taken me forever, but I’m finally back in the animation field. And this time, it’s at a real animation company. Not like that other place where I got hired just because I knew which button made a cube.
I started work Monday at Nerd Corps Entertainment here in Vancouver. Nerd Corps is famous for their Saturday morning cartoons, including “Dragon Booster”, “Storm Hawks”, and “League of Super Evil”. I’ve been watching these shows for years, and have been applying to this company for just as long, so I’m stoked to be a part of their new project. It’s been really exciting getting acquainted with the studio environment and I frequently find myself more and more eager to wake up in the morning just so I can go back to work. As for what I’m working on… well, I’ll let you know when we get the trailer online. But I can say this much: it’s going to rock.
So if you notice me slacking on Ducktalez or anything else I’ve been promising, this is why. I’ll get back on my other projects eventually. Always do. Until then, I’m off to do what I love.
A while ago, some people made this short video to show off their vision of a darker, grittier “Mortal Kombat” movie reboot. At the time, a lot of people ate it up, and now it’s reality. But instead of a movie, they’re releasing it as a 9-part web-series, and here’s episode 1:
My personal opinion is that I still think of this as a joke. I mean, for a low budget web series, the action is pretty good and I like the actors, but so far, the idea of re-inventing “Mortal Kombat” as a Steven Seagal movie doesn’t stick with me. It seems like a step backwards from “R-rated sci-fi fantasy version of ‘Enter the Dragon'” where at best, it might be an interesting experiment, just to see if it can be pulled off.
I’m totally going to keep watching these, though. I enjoy it on the same level that I enjoy “Dragonball: Evolution” where everything looks and feels wrong but I keep watching out of personal interest. I look forward to seeing where they’re going with this, and how they’re going to work in the tournament and the other characters. I won’t be posting these every week, of course, but you can keep tabs on it by subscribing to the YouTube channel it’s hosted on.
When I was younger, I used to watch “Gilligan’s Island” all the time and love it. So I knew there would come a day when I would just sit down and just watch the whole series. That day has come. I have finally watched all three seasons of “Gilligan’s Island.”
And honestly, maybe I’m reading too deeply into the show, but… this thing has got to be more twisted and evil than “Lost” ever was. If the island on “Lost” was Purgatory (was it?) then Gilligan’s Island has to be Hell itself. And not just any Hell, but a special Hell of Gilligan’s own design of which he uses to torture both his fellow castaways… and himself.
So now I’m calling Gilligan a self-loathing masochist who wants to make others as miserable as he is? Well… yeah! It’s the only way to make sense of this show (other than the more commonly-accepted notion that this is just a badly-written sitcom.) But read on and I’ll try to piece things together for you.
First off, I honestly believe The Skipper is responsible for Gilligan’s condition. I also believe he’s a patient at the old folk’s home where Gilligan works, and that years of yelling at him, hitting him with his hat, and pretending to be his father-figure has driven Gilligan nearly to the brink of insanity. Even on the island, he’s clearly senile. He’s forgetful, prone to fits of rage, constantly chases the girls (yes, this old creeper even tries to marry Mary Ann in one episode,) probably wears a diaper, and is always dependent on Gilligan. He’s fabricated his own reality where Gilligan really is his first mate, and Gilligan is playing along, just waiting for that opportune moment to exact his revenge. Then one day, Skipper decides he wants to go on a boat ride where Gilligan decides it’s time to drown him. But fate intervenes when Skipper invites five other people along for a three-hour tour, and Gilligan soon discovers that these people are also the worst of humanity, and that they must also be disposed of… so he drives the boat right into a storm and their lives are changed forever.
MR. AND MRS. HOWELL
I always found it interesting how two millionaires brought all their belonging with them on a three-hour tour. And on a strange measly tour boat on top of that (Mr. Howell doesn’t own his own yacht?) But here are two other cases who well-deserve their place in Gilligan’s Hell. They can spend years starving on a desert island, and still think money is their top priority. In fact, in countless episodes, Mr. Howell goes out of his way to scheme the other castaways out of their own money. They don’t need money on the island, but he will sabotage any rescue operation if it means protecting a newly-discovered gold mine.
Mr. Howell’s wife isn’t any better. When she decides to throw a party on the island, she’ll sit down and wonder about who to invite – and then, of course, intentionally leave one of the five castaways off the guest list. Not because of an argument, of course, but because the other castaways are “not millionaire material.” The Howells are dependent on the other castaways for food, shelter, and companionship, and yet they’re doing everything in their nature to destroy the only friends they have. Which is why they have a spot on Gilligan’s hit list.
Ginger contributes only one thing to the island: helping people get to first-base. If someone new shows up and they have a boat, Ginger will seduce them with kisses hoping that they’ll rescue her. If she needs a favor from Gilligan or Professor, she’ll seduce them with kisses too. If cannibals appear, she’ll seduce them with kisses as well. Her only survival technique is seducing people with kisses, which of course, PISSES GILLIGAN OFF. After three years of being seduced by the same woman on a desert island and not even getting in a boob-squeeze, Gilligan has to have it out for her. Because clearly either the woman has not heard of sex, or she’s intentionally toying with Gilligan’s emotions for her own sick pleasure. Personally, I think she has a secret thing going on with Professor because those two had at least a few major make-out sessions on the show, which were never again brought up.
I don’t know what he’s a Professor of, but it’s not science. Let’s ignore the fact that he can’t build a boat, yet he can build a radio out of coconuts – I want to focus on the duck.
In one episode, he finds a duck and comes up with the brilliant plan of tying a message to it’s leg and sending it off to Hawaii because “someone’s sure to find it.” Someone is sure to find a duck. …Who finds ducks? Professor, what is your basis for hinging all your rescue hopes on someone searching a duck for messages? Why are you sacrificing all of the castaways’ food to build up this duck’s strength? And then why are you making the castaways take the duck out on walks? You really should just build a boat, Professor. Any boat will do if you’re desperate enough to use a duck.
Mary-Ann is probably the second smartest person on the island. In the few episodes where it’s up to her to solve a problem, her ideas usually work with no repercussions. The biggest discredit to her intelligence however, is that she often looks up to Ginger.
But Mary-Ann remains to be a curious case. In an early episode, she and Gilligan start dating, and by the next episode, they’re not together anymore. We later find out she has a boyfriend back home, but that isn’t the weird part. The weird part starts when we find out that she was lying about her boyfriend, and yet in the “Return to Gilligan’s Island” movie, we discover that she’s actually engaged to someone completely different. I can understand her making up a fake boyfriend to avoid dating Gilligan, but keeping her real fiancee a secret all those years? With no intention of cheating on him? What’s your game, Mary Ann? Seriously, what’s your game?! You do not make sense!
Now for Gilligan.
Gilligan is the ultimate master of sarcasm. Just look in his eyes whenever something stupid pops up on the island. He knows what’s going on. He knows how ridiculous these story-lines are every week. And as soon the opportunity arrives to make someone else’s life miserable, he slips into character and starts improvising. If he walks in on Ginger pretending to shoot Professor (obviously rehearsing a play that no one will ever watch,) he’ll run around telling everyone that Ginger just killed the Professor – just so he can see the chaos unfold.
See, Gilligan actually likes it on this island. Here, he can be himself and play these horrible people like pawns. And he hates himself too, so it doesn’t matter to him if he gets caught in the crossfire of his own schemes. He welcomes death at the hands of cannibals and giant spiders – but if he survives, hey, just another day to torment his fellow castaways, right? This is why he’ll foil every rescue attempt he can and always make it look like an accident. To support my theory, one episode even compares Gilligan to the Greek philosopher Diogenes. I looked this up and found out that Diogenes is a man who crapped in the streets just to piss people off. Coincidence? I think not.
So yes, Gilligan is the probably one of the worst people in existence, but at least there’s six other people worse than him whom he’s fortunately keeping away from the rest of us. Hats off to you, Gilligan!
What’s been bugging me about the show is the commitment these students show for this extracurricular activity of theirs. This isn’t some ordinary Glee club where students come in, practice some tunes, put on shows and earn a few extra credits. No, this is the Glee club from Hell where everything is life or death and they’re humiliated time and time again from their peers. No matter how much these kids love music, there’s no reason they have to submit themselves to this pain and misery every week and here’s why.
1. Mr. Schuester is insane.
I know the teacher’s quirks have been satirized to death here in season 2, but his problems are still worth repeating. The guy has terrible taste in music, he makes his students do horrible things, and he somehow favors inspiring his pupils with bad assignments over saving his own marriage. Seriously – the guy hears about Lady Gaga and decides all his students should spend the week rehearsing and singing Lady Gaga songs while in full costume. Even the guys. And this isn’t for an audience – he’s making them put on elaborate shows that only they themselves watch – either in the classroom or in an empty gym. To add to his insanity, his students later suggest they all sing Britney Spears and he suddenly becomes offended at the idea in spite of how hyped he was over Lady Gaga. Oh, right – and what about that time he blackmailed one of his students by planting marijuana in his locker? Did they ever follow up on that?
2. The Glee Club has Sue Sylvester as an enemy.
Sue is the school’s coach, and she has a notorious reputation for being the most evil woman on the planet (making her the best thing about the show, of course.) She’s attempted to fire children out of cannons and has already stolen Christmas – but she’s always at odds with the Glee club, sometimes over financial reasons, but mostly over personal issues. And when Sue starts storming the hallways attacking students and threatening legal action against any adult who tries to stop her, no amount of Broadway tunes is worth staying in that class for. Heck, I’d change schools if she even existed. She’s like Eric Cartman from “South Park,” and I don’t want to be around when she finally pulls a Scott Tenorman.
3. For that matter, the entire school hates Glee club.
What universe is this where an entire student body hates the idea of people singing songs? Sure, you can expect the football team to be bullies, but these Glee kids are terrorized and abused by every single person in this school. And the only way to get anyone to stop is to assimilate the bullies into Glee club somehow. It’s not worth it, people.
4. Everybody brings baggage to class.
And everybody’s baggage is controversial. Teen pregnancy, handicapped people, racism, religion – and of course, every other episode is centered around the victimized gay kid. The Glee club in this school is like the therapy group from Hell.
I’m surprised there isn’t a running gag in this show where Mr. Schuester walks into class and has to stop another student from strangling her to death.
6. Expenses. Lots of them.
The show often suggest that there’s virtually no budget for Glee club. Whatever budget there is most likely goes towards paying Mr. Schuester’s bills since the class often has to work harder just to afford bus trips to regionals. So where are they getting all the money for their costumes, instruments and dirt-bikes that they use to perform? All out of the students’ pockets. And like I mentioned before, these kids put on elaborate shows for no one in general. When one group of students dress up like Kiss for one number, that’s over a $1000 worth of costumes for about three minutes of singing in front of your friends.
7. Everyone in Glee Club likes Justin Bieber
That’s right. There’s already been a Justin Bieber episode. And it didn’t involve Bieber getting dragged behind a truck over a dirt road. No – it involved all the guys in class dressing up like Justin Bieber because “nobody rocks harder than him.” Then all the girls in class swoon at the guys like over-sexed twelve year-olds and my Facebook lights up with dozens of hate-filled status updates. Millions boycott the show in protest, and the kids in Glee club are left looking like little asses with their stupid Bieber hair, wondering where everything went wrong.
Don’t ask me why I’m still tuning in next week, though.
I’m render-wrangling again, so I’ll just review something in the meantime.
For the last year or so, they’ve been replaying all these old classic cartoons from my childhood on Teletoon Retro (a Canadian channel.) I don’t do much TV watching these days since I’ve got people lending me box sets of Dexter, Entourage, and Gilligan’s Island to catch up on. But whenever I do catch one of these old shows, it’s interesting to see which ones have aged better – now that the rose-colored glasses are off – and which ones have gotten on my nerves.
The following lists are entirely my opinions, so no offense is intended if I happen to rag on one of your favorites. After all, at one point, these were all my favorites too.
Five Cartoons That Aren’t Holding Up Well For Me
Sylvester and Tweety
Out of all match-ups between Looney Tune characters trying to eat each other, this is the only one where I can’t bring myself to care as to whether Tweety gets caught or Sylvester gets clobbered by the dog. I just don’t like Tweety and… Sylvester keeps reminding me of Rob Schneider. In fact, there’s the whole problem right there. Much like Rob Schneider, Sylvester doesn’t have any original material and has to rely on his co-stars to keep the show interesting. This is why they’ll often swap out Tweety for someone else – because watching Rob Schneider get clobbered by a kangaroo is far more entertaining than watching him not eat a bird.
I tried watching this show again shortly after the movie came out and couldn’t get past eight episodes. They just recycle the same two-part story over and over again. Even Scooby-Doo had more depth than this one. Oh-no! A cliff! How will Speed get out of this? Stay tuned to find out! (Spoiler: He pushes the car’s jump button.)
The best parts of this show involve the theme songs and watching Chief Quimby explode. Otherwise, this show gets really annoying once the M.A.D. agents show up and try kill Gadget. They have only one job, but they always follow the same stupid three-step plan on how to do it. 1) Disguise themselves, 2) sneak up behind Gadget, and 3) ??? (the show never gets that far because they end up tripping over Gadget while he’s smelling a flower or something.) Also, listening to the sound effects on this show is like hearing someone button-mash an iPhone soundboard. They only have about five sound effects, but you’ll hear them all a hundred times before the credits run.
Rocky and Bullwinkle
I think R&B was a well-written show for it’s time, but what kills it is the bad production design. The jokes are rushed, the timing is off, the voice acting is horrible, and they’ll sometimes screw up the animation cels on a character, causing their eyes and mouth to fall off their face. I know animators were pressed for time back then, but even the Flintstones knew how to keep limbs attached to torsos.
Transformers, G.I. Joe, and He-man
These are great shows to riff on with friends because of how ridiculous they are, but to sit and watch any of them alone can be very brain-damaging. The plots are stupid, the dialogue is stupid, the animation is stupid, and the characters always resolve their problems by shooting at each other until somebody runs away. They’re guilty pleasures at best, but ultimately, they’re just 30-minute toy commercials. Grimlock still rules, though.
Five Shows I’ve Grown To Appreciate More
Coyote and Roadrunner
If you’re like me and have forgotten how every single trap backfires on the coyote, then this is a brilliant show to watch. Will the boulder hit him or miss him this time? Sometimes it misses, but rolls over onto him. Or maybe he’ll walk away from it and accidentally step off a cliff. Or maybe all will be well until the roadrunner hits him with a truck. It’s the show that keeps you guessing!
I forgot how dark this show is. Some cartoons like to teach children to share and play nice; Astro Boy likes to teach children that they will someday die. I’m not joking – every other episode ends in Astro Boy failing to save the day, and mourning a friend’s death as a result. So why do I think it’s a good show? I think I just like the contrast between the parts of the show that seem targeted at preschoolers, and the other parts of the show that would scar them for life.
This show is just bad-ass.
I’m still going to argue that this is one of Disney’s best. Yes, even better than Ducktales or Rescue Rangers. The animation is great, the characters are likeable, the stories are awesome, and they did a really good job building an entire culture and mythology around these bears. Not bad, considering all they had for subject matter was candy.
Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Freakazoid
Steven Spielberg rocks at making cartoons. End of story.
I don’t think people are getting offended enough these days. I woke up to hear two radio hosts complaining about a Katy Perry video on Sesame Street as if the show were finally teaching sex ed. So naturally, the first thing I did was hop out of bed and turn on Youtube before even grabbing breakfast. The end result: all she does is show some skin and keep asking Elmo to play dress-up with her. I’m sorry, but I saw twelve more offensive things than that on billboards just driving home from work. Not to mention that five year-olds would be paying more attention to Elmo than Katy Perry’s cleavage.
Frankly, I’m more shocked at the amount of green-screen going on in this video. And where are the sticks that hold up Elmo’s arms? When I was a kid, we didn’t get no fancy digital compositin’ on our Sesame Street sketches. If they filmed their puppets against a blue screen, they left that screen right in the video!
Anyway, here’s the video if you want to see what the controversy’s about. Unless you’ve been living in a bunker since the 50’s, you may be disappointed. Frankly, after all these years, I’m surprised Sesame Street isn’t more scandalous. If you’re a parent, and this video is the worst thing that can happen to your kids all day, consider yourself lucky.
**WARNING** Contains very, very real spoilers
**DOUBLE WARNING** Comments might contain actual spoilers
So as it turns out, the island is really a crashed roller disco from a planet in the Horsehead Nebula inhabited by dinosaurs. They came to Earth to feast on our molten goo and bring us the gift of song when they were intercepted by Lord Smoke Monster and his polar bear army who wanted to steal their power crystals. Both spaceships collided and landed in our ocean somewhere.
The show basically ends with Captain Vincent The Dog giving all the castaways special rings that allow them to control the elements. Then they rise up against Lord Smoke Monster and use his magical Numbers of Power to seal him inside the Phantom Zone. Then Hurley turns into a cake and the screen says “THE END…?”
All in all, I rate it a solid B+. Plenty of full-frontal nudity, twenty minutes of nunchuk fighting, and a lovely scene where Sawyer lets out the biggest fart ever. “Lost” did not disappoint.