While Gail Carriger Was Recuperating ~ The Buffy/Angel Watch (Miss Carriger Recommends)

While I as recuperating, Gentle Reader, I watched a lot of Buffy (and then Angel). I had seen bits of both shows before but I wanted to actually watch it all in order ~ as a kind of insight into popular vampire screen action. Why didn’t I watch Buffy at the time? In 1996 I was in the middle of college and I simply missed that it was on. Also, none of my college friends were particularly into genre TV and we kinda did everything as a pack. By 1999 I was jetting off to the UK to pursue a masters of science in archaeological analysis. Quite apart from the fact that is wasn’t airing concurrently in the UK, I also worked as a bartender and had very little time for TV.

What do I think of it now?

I think it wasn’t designed for binge watching: so it fails sort of in the one-after-another arena. I took breaks at various points to compensate. No blame, TV was a different animal in 1996.

One of the things that I found most interesting about Buffy is the way the writers use conversation and dialect. All of the young people in the series talk very staccato and ungrammatically, which makes them sound immature but also gives them their own private language. From the terse Oz to the loquacious Xander, they all use this strange “nouns turned into adjectives” kind of speaking.

One of the results is that when we (the viewing audience) encounter an adult, like Giles or Joyce, the completely normal use of English is restful to the ear. Since the Giles character is usually the writers’ means to info-dump, we viewers pay much closer attention to his explanations than we might normally. It’s a very effective technique and I wonder if it was intentional.

And the Characters?

I like Oz a lot. And Tara. And even Kennedy.

Never really got into any of Buffy’s love interests. Spent half my time with Angel wincing and saying “oh, please don’t make him act.” Riley was a yawn-fest (I’ve never been one for the Paladin archetype). And the thing with Spike was just confusing (although occasionally quite hot). Besides, chew the furniture much?

I guess it’s no surprise I identified with Willow’s love interests instead. I’ve always been a girl who likes the gentle, mild-mannered, souls. So romantic. Also, I did love the dialogue given to Anya. You know me, I like a female character who says exactly what she thinks.

Never learned to like Dawn or Faith—ended up fast-forwarding through most of their scenes.

I wasn’t as into Angel. I don’t think David B can shoulder a show as a lead (I didn’t like Bones either). I’m not wild about any of his side characters (except Lorne). Yes Cordelia is a fun arc, but meh. There were some major missteps around the whole Connor (Flat Critters!) storyline that left me cold on the whole series. That said, I think many of the Angel episodes were better plotted than Buffy. Possibly because the ‘paranormal private investigator in LA’ concept gives broader authorial scope than ‘slayer in Sunnydale.’

This is all just my opinion, Gentle Reader, and you have to realize I am coming at this as a 30-something binge watcher, so I never experienced the romance (or tension) of having seen it at the time. (I won’t hear a word against Firefly, for example. Not one word!)

Lastly, I really did enjoy seeing how many of the actors show up time and time again in Joss’s work/worlds. I spotted people I knew like Christina Hendricks as a barmaid in the background of an Angel flashback, to other actors I thought I knew, and off I would go to wiki and IMDB. Their a lot of cross to Mad Men as well. (Is that all Marti Noxon, I wonder?)

{Gail’s monthly read along for July is: Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .

Petit Courrier des Dames Date-  Monday, June 1, 1840 Item ID-  v. 22, plate 101

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Take a Selfie-lopod During Cephalopod Week

Your Tisane of Smart . . .
Octopuses Given Rubik’s Cube to find out if they have favorite tentacle

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  
Five Fascinating Facts about Rupert Brooke

Book News:
Wishful Endings says of Curtsies & Conspiracies, “If you enjoy reading YA, steampunk, stories with quirky, while also endearing and intelligent characters, fabulous writing, and superb plotting, then I would definitely recommend this series!”

Quote of the Day:
“Well, we listened to aggressively cheerful music sung by people chosen for their ability to dance.”
~ Giles, Buffy season 5

Posted by Gail Carriger


No Responses

  1. bethnoir said:

    I loved Buffy when it was first aired, but when I try to watch it now I find it quite difficult, I agree it isn't designed to watch all at once, it took time to take in episodes and worked better over a longer time period.

    I have to say Buffy and Spike works for me, but David B's Irish accent was so amusing I can't dislike him.

  2. John Conolley said:

    I noticed the fight scenes (having had, as young man, a smidgen of training in fighting). The fight scenes in angel were more realistic, while the ones in Buffy were more fantastical. Uniformly.

  3. TzoJo said:

    I binge watched both Buffy and Angel this summer. I have quite a few friends who loved it, and I decided to give it a try. When it originally aired, I was living in the UK and doing my first three years of teaching. I was exhausted and don't even know if it aired over there then.

    I'm a mom of two teens now, so watched it from both a parent and educator of teens. The subject matter quickly advanced above middle school maturity age (in the part of my brain that my mother controls), but I do think it could be quite beneficial for high school kids, simply for the benefit of watching the friends go through all their personal crises. There's unrequited love, and love triangles, and then the forbidden love. Oh, yeah, lots of that!

    Then the freshman year of college, all the sex and interpersonal issues of dealing with roommates and rejection. "Beer Bad" was very satisfying simply for the clubbing that occurs. 3:-)

    Angel was hard for me to get into. I ended up skipping most of the first season, and really enjoyed it once Lorne joined the group.

    As to the vocabulary, I found it odd that Xander was not supposed to be college material, but had that amazing vocabulary. These kids were using very grown up words, which I appreciated as a grown-up viewer, but question for authenticity, at which point I have to remind myself that 1. It's a TV show with 2. Vampires and Dr. Who style special effect demons.

    I also really enjoyed what they were able to do with the format. "Hush" was predominantly silent, the total lack of background music in the episode dealing with Joyce's death, and then the opposite with the musical theater episode.

    I found the long story arcs, great character development and variety of viewing experiences provided to be very satisfying. I consider myself a big fan.

  4. Dessa said:

    I have to ask, Gail, given your comments, about your opinions on the (IMO) best 2 episodes of Buffy: "Hush", and "Once More with Feeling"?

  5. Gail Carriger said:

    I agree that Hush is wonderful. I wasn't wowed by the musical ep. Although I knwo people adore it. I actually think the Xena musical ep is better. I thought The Body was pretty good, although it highlighted who had the acting chops in a glaring way. I may be alone in this one but I actually really liked the final episode of Buffy. I found it quite satisfying.

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