This Week in Geek (27/09-3/10/10)

Buys

Perhaps most in line with today's geekly roundup is Dusted, Mad Norwegian's guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (by Lawrence Miles, Lars Pearson and Christa Dickson). More I, Who than About Time, it's still a fine volume that even covers some of the comics and books. A quick glace through the contents shows the authors kinda lost patience with the show during Season 5, but still makes a good companion to the series. The rest of my buys have been DVDs, including Human Target Season 1 and 30 Rock Season 4. In both cases, I started watching and liked what I saw, but they were just scheduled on the wrong nights for me and I lost touch. I knew I was going to catch myself up in DVD format. I also got a couple of Asian films, as is my habit, the Shaw Bros. era Challenge of the Masters and the far more recent The Warlords. Oh and the ubiquitous Iron Man 2 - you can stop spamming me with commercials for it, Mr. Television.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: I flipped Buffy Season 6 this week, which is probably the weakest of the show's seven seasons despite featuring that gleaming gem that is the musical episode, Once More With Feeling. As with the uneven Season 4, I completely understand the thematic underpinings of the season - life as the "big bad" and Buffy's necessary depression after returning from the afterlife. However, when we compare it to the first three seasons, it's obvious why these stories don't quite do it for most viewers. The show used to be about people who laughed in the face of terrible horrors. In Season 6, it's about people who feel terrible faced with laughable horrors. The Nerd Trio are awful villains who only manage to kill two people accidentally and Willow turns out to be the season ender instead in what has to be the least interesting season ender of the bunch. Again, I GET IT, as you grow up, the things that used to be the end of the world start becoming mere irritants, etc., but it doesn't help make the season any more entertaining. There are still good moments and we love the characters, but the awkward juxtaposition of miserable characters and silly threats, as well as a few missteps along the way, keep the season from achieving even 4's strength. The DVD has some good features though. The commentaries are lackluster except for Whedon's own, and the outtakes are slim at best, but there's an hour-long panel discussion, a tv special looking at the origins and evolution of the show, and an excellent Making of Once More With Feeling.

I also flipped Season 7 (I watched the two back to back, then this week watched the extras, which explains how they both got flipped on the same week) and well, what can I say about the big finish? The First is an awesome enemy and it leads to an epic ending with nice (and/or harrowing) surprises along the way. The arc could have been tighter for me, sticking the potentials and the First in the last half only so that the anticipation doesn't lose momentum, and the finale really needs more of an epilogue to pay tribute to its losses. However, it's a good payoff to the whole series, with the return of Sunnydale High and of a number of old faces. After Season 6, it was a great return to more life-affirming stories with a dash of oh-my-God-no moments. Featurettes include the usual season in review, a talk with the Slayerettes, an awkwardly-edited Joss' best 10, 5 minutes at the wrap party and some better than average outtakes. The big disappointment is that the original 20-minute pilot with a differently cast Willow isn't anywhere in the set.

Kung Fu Friday's first October sequel was Return of the One-Armed Swordsman. I'd watched the first one very early on, when the tradition wasn't well established, so it was everyone else's first time seeing the classic character. Easy to get into, and director Chan Cheh essentially stages an entertaining stuntman massacre with plenty of interesting weapons and strategies, and One-Arm is as badass as can be considering that he's played by a block of wood. This film and its precursor are just about the least homoerotic things Chan Cheh has done, and even have significant female characters. It's all about evisceration, but it's good evisceration. No extras, perhaps because everything was covered in the previous film's release. Still too bad that Dragon Dynasty's latest have been so bare-bones.

RPGs: Final Savage Worlds/Evernight game! Mixed it up a couple ways for the epic, Return of the King finale. First, waged the huge battle with Savage Worlds' mass battle rules, but intercut with scenes from each "general"'s travails. Each player had chosen his "fate" last week (heroic corruption, sacrifice, redemption and victory, though there were other possibilities) and those encounters were designed to at least realize that fate if they so wished (and succeeded). Big hero moment for each player, I must say. Finally, when all was said and done, we created a montage of short narrated scenes over music pulled in a rush from my iPod, giving each character his send-off and laying the groundwork for a sequel if we ever want to return to the world of Evernight... All except for our valiant dwarf priest who sacrificed himself and I must say, had a great death scene. The campaign is dedicated to everyone who's ever dug upwards.

Meanwhile, there's the DC Adventures prep going on. Three characters have already been built for a Time Masters series. Joining Furn's sentient battlesuit, the Emerald Centurion, is Marty's Tritan, a badass epic metal rock fan who found a mystical trident stuck to the keel of a ship - it controls water in various ways. Julien will, for his part, introduce the historical Tesla and his bag of mad electromagnetic inventions, including a powerful forcefield belt and some awesome electroskates. That's just an invitation for Eddison to show up as a villain. Tell me it isn't. I'm hoping to launch next Sunday, so I've got to get one more starter character stated up this week, with less regular players able to make their at a later date.

Live Game Show: This week, I had to organize and host a sort of game show for work (there are worse jobs, right?), a sort of musical jeopardy-type thing with musical clues. I couldn't help but inject a lot of my geerky into it, including an SF & Fantasy category that featured such songs as Do You Wanna Date my Avatar?, the Buffy musical, and Vic Fontaine. The sudden death winning answer (to a Lemon Jelly-related question) was "William Shatner". My fingerprints were all over this.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
II.i. Reynaldo - BBC '80

10 comments:

snell said...

We'll have to disagree on Once More With Feeling, but I'm apparently a minority of 1 on that episode. Otherwise, pretty accurate assessment of 6 & 7.

Jayunderscorezero said...

I have to say I'm a lot more critical of season seven than you are, but then, I may have to revisit it and see whether my feelings have changed.
Even though it was never included on any official DVDs, I'm sure you can find the pilot (and the pilot for the animated spin-off) online in the usual places.

wv: supes (wish I'd had a supes-related comment now)

Siskoid said...

Why Supes?

Matthew Turnage said...

I agree that Season 6 was one of the weaker seasons, but I still preferred it to Season 4 (the low mark of the show for me). Are you continuing on with Angel?

Siskoid said...

Yes, though I'm giving myself a break and watching other, shorter stuff right now, starting with Max Headroom.

Radagast said...

If you want a Buffy epilogue, there is Season 8, but I can't guarantee you a satisfying ending (though your mileage may vary).

Siskoid said...

Yes I now plan to read Season 8, although I may watch Angel first so as to get spoiled in any way.

Teebore said...

I started watching Buffy with season five, and as a result watched seasons 1-4 in retrospect, which I think explains why I have more patience for season six than a lot of people.

I love Dusted (though I share your assessment that they are clearly tired of the show by season five, and as a result, I think their reviews of the later seasons are unduly harsh) and the Angel volume as well.

I'm excited to hear your (eventual) thoughts on Angel. Many days, I find myself liking it, overall, more than Buffy.

Siskoid said...

Wow, that's certainly encouraging!

You're lucky to have the Angel book. It's out of print (one Amazon seller has it at 180$+)

Teebore said...

@Siskoid: Wow, I had no idea it was so coveted. I just ordered it a few days after it was released.

 

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