Friday, December 31, 2010

TV Series Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 3)

I've heard a few people say that the third season of Buffy is when it gets really good but I didn't see much of a difference between this season and the previous two. Sure there's more angst at times and there are some really witty lines at times, but honestly it still felt a lot like the previous two seasons to me.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
 Summary: Much like the first two seasons, Buffy Summers is a high school student with a destiny to kill vampires and there happen to be a lot of them in town. Of course those aren't the only monsters lurking in Sunnydale, we've got demons, evil humans, evil former humans, and some allies who might be more dangerous than the villains themselves.

The Good: I enjoyed Buffy the most, and I think this is true for many people, when it wasn't focused on the saving the world/supernatural stuff but instead on strange high school situations. The library scenes are great for witty banter and whoever is the head writer* has some real talent there, it sounds quite a bit like how my friends and I talk about well, anything and everything. While I thought the episode was a bit pointless, the one that sticks out the most to me was the day that Xander was permanently out of the loop so we can see all the characters preparing for "the end of the world as we know it," again, with Xander dealing with some zombies in the background. I still think it didn't do much for the story as a whole, but it was pretty funny to see just how cliched Buffy is at points, actually, the humor in that episode as a whole pretty much summed up Buffy-style humor as a whole.

The Bad: Still bothered by the fact that most of the episodes are stand alone and then it switches into myth arc mode at the end of each season. I've watched shows that are a slice of arc with an overarching theme (so, no big events at the end but usually a character reflecting briefly on how they've changed) and plot heavy shows but Buffy just doesn't fit into either of those. The only other show like it I can think about is Doctor Who but there they throw in foreshadowing about the myth arc (usually key words) super early which works better than seeing the villains in Buffy cackle and fail at their plans because it's not the season finale yet (the episode count might have something to do with it, DW is only 13 episodes a season and that tightens it up, plus Nu Who at least focuses a ton on character development and Buffy just hasn't done quite as much of that).

The Music: They remixed the theme a little this time around, I was just glad they changed the images up some this time. Still got a forgettable pop song insert in each episode (no really, 22nd different insert songs and NONE of them made me think "Gee, this sounds cool, let's look it up") but this is a 90s TV show on a major news channel, somehow I think the music wasn't too important from the beginning.

The Visuals: Eh, the fight scenes are cool to look at, but honestly I use that time to either write something up, check mail, or just do something else since you see one fight scene and you've got the gist of it. I will say that after seeing so many scenes of two girls fighting each other it felt weird whenever it was Buffy going up against a guy and didn't seem quite right, just not as awesome I guess. Still not impressed by the film quality here and, well, every day in my photo classes I hear about how film is superior to digital imaging and looks so much nicer and, while they might have been talking about photos and not videos, the image quality here looks like the crap my old digital camera did. And for, you know, a TV show that's a bit of a problem, I'd hate to see how this looks in blu-ray.

I think one thing that's bothering me about Buffy is how they aren't using their setting really well. Yes it's on a Hellmouth but they just use that as an excuse for whatever random crap is going on that week. They don't revisit the same places over and over, therefore building a connection with them, and aside from brief moments of humor ("Maybe the football team will do good this year if people stop dieing!") it's other effects aren't explored. Hell, they could've had some fun with how the normal population has gotten really used to all the strange goings on but even that only gets brought up once or twice. Which makes me even more annoyed at how the first episode was DARKER, EDGIER, AND ANGSTIER to start with and then it's back to light-hearted humor in two episodes. Baahhhhh, maybe college will make it more interesting.

*Is it Whedon? I don't know how divvying up the scripts goes for American live action shows. I know they split them up for British live action, anime, and American cartoons but even then I'm puzzled how someone can be the head writer if they technically only write a few of the episodes, off to wikipedia I suppose.