Revisiting AOQ Review 1-9: "The Puppet Show"

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Apteryx

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Mar 23, 2007, 6:59:38 AM3/23/07
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> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>
> Date: Jan 19 2006, 3:41 pm
> Subject: AOQ Review 1-9: "The Puppet Show"
> To: alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer
>
>
> A reminder: Please avoid spoilers for later episodes in these review
> threads.
>
> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
> Season One, Episode 9: "The Puppet Show"
> (or "Learn at SHS/SHS is fun/So come to SHS/Don't walk, run!")
> Writers: Dean Batali and Rob Des Hostel
> Director: Ellen S. Pressman
>
> Time to play "scene as a microcosm of an episode" again. The
> opening shot of "The Puppet Show" takes us across a room full of...
> well, strange, random stuff and weirdly dressed people. Initial
> reaction: What the hell is this? An awful song soon takes over the
> sound, and the camera comes to focus on a stage, with Cordelia
> performing. Viewer reaction: Oh. Huh.


Not just any song though; "The Greatest Love of All" - her theme tune.


> Well, that's "The Puppet Show" in a nutshell.
>
> Actually, before we get to the "what the hell?" stage, things start
> promisingly enough, with Giles enduring the questionable talents that
> the school has to offer and chatting with his misfit charges. Banter
> ensues ("I tried to explain that I became a librarian for the purpose
> of _avoiding_ interaction with the students..."), and we're
> introduced to Principal Snyder, played by Armin "Quark" Shimerman
> at his sneering best. While it's hardly unusual to deal with an
> antagonistic principal in a high-school show, the fact that Snyder
> unreservedly hates kids may keep things interesting. (On the other
> hand, it's not a good sign that Snyder keeps popping up to basically
> reenact the same "I'm watching you" scene over and over
> throughout this episode, and it's a little less amusing each time.)

Still scary though. At this point we don't know just how evil Snyder might
be. He could even be the demon Buffy and Sid are after.

> A lot of the laughs here come from one of my favorite comedic devices:
> characters repeating each other's quotes verbatim. (That happens
> twice - Buffy's "In every generation..." riff and Snyder's
> "Watch. And mock. And laugh.") As a bonus, this scene gets extra
> metaphorical mileage out of "The Pack" - as Mrs. Quality pointed
> out, a principal who wants to be your friend is liable to get "eaten
> alive," albeit not quite in the same way Flutie did.
>
> But the opening sequence also sets in motion the "what the hell is
> this crap?" factor that pervades "The Puppet Show." On one
> prong, there's Buffy and friends being volunteered for the talent
> show. Even if we ignore the fact that a principals don't generally
> have that kind of authority, it'd be easier to swallow if it served
> some dramatic purpose. Preparing for/agonizing about the show is such
> a minor part of the episode that the only reason I can see to include
> it is that someone thought it'd be funny to make our heroes
> uncomfortable, even if wasn't paid off to its full potential or
> anything. Never mind whether it makes sense in the greater scheme of
> things, someone thought it'd be fun and wacky, so it goes into the
> script.

That would be good enough for me. But wait, there's more! It puts our heroes
in the middle of event that we know the demon is part of.

> TPS is full of jokes without context like that. It tends to
> forget that just because you can do something weird or funny doesn't
> mean you should.

It was probably somewhere about this point that people started to get the
idea that you might have something against things being funny.

> The rest of the first half of the show concerns Morgan and his wooden
> friend, basically a take on the never-popular "evil ventriloquist's
> dummy" movie. Such movies don't tend, on the whole, to be
> particularly good, and TPS apes that aspect faithfully for awhile.
> The
> dummy acts a little too suspiciously animated, characters start
> worrying that he's stalking them, etc. etc. It's just not a very
> interesting story. At least everyone quickly focuses on the
> obviously-suspicious kid, but I don't buy for a second that Xander et
> al don't share Buffy's suspicions about Sid. These kids have been
> attacked by vampires and giant insects and demon-robots, and they
> can't accept a sentient dummy? Not a fucking chance. Anyone who's
> learned to trust Buffy's intuition about the supernatural would pay
> attention to her here. So why don't they? My guess is that someone
> thought it was more important to give Xander funny quotables than to
> be
> cohesive about things. Like I said, just because you can make a joke,
> even a good one, doesn't mean you should. And some of them indeed
> good ("the dummy Slayer?" and the entire "I am completely
> inanimate!" sequence), but the laughs come at a price.

I think Xander is perfectly entitled to be sceptical. Even on her own words,
Buffy's claim to know that it was Sid sounds dubious - "Did you see him?"
"Well I saw something .... But when I turned on the lights it was already
gone." Not the ideal witness for the prosecution. Especially when she has a
history that puppets give her the wig. And this is only the 9th episode -
just because our hero is strong, athletic, limber, and nubile, doesn't mean
she's infallible

> So we're maybe 2/3 of the way through the episode, and it's playing
> along with a sub-standard _Buffy_ Fantasy Stock Plot homage. And then
> TPS slams the viewer with a plot twist, signaling the arrival of the
> "oh. Huh," stage.
>
> As plot twists go, it's a great one, probably the most clever of the
> series to date. A perfect twist should be totally unexpected but also
> make total sense in retrospect, and Sid's real goals and reason for
> attacking Buffy definitely make the grade. The whole series of
> revelations from there is all extremely clever. The reason for
> Morgan's headaches. The real meaning of Sid being "set free."
> Xander continuing to suspect Sid, very reasonably. The demon still
> being among them, because of the rejected brain. My only complaint is
> that everyone involved should have pegged Giles as a potential target
> earlier, but otherwise it's a well-crafted story.

Well perhaps, its always best not to jump to just one possible answer (like
Buffy should have considered the possibility that Miss French might be an
owl rather than a bug). But Willow's "What?" moment is priceless. We in the
audience have the advantage that there is an immediate cut to someone
noticing Giles being smart as well, and without that the logic is pretty
compelling - if the brain of the smartest student doesn't work out, try the
brain of the next smartest student.

> But the problem with "The Puppet Show" is that it lives and dies by
> its plotting. The previous thirty minutes were still a bore; they set
> up some interesting stuff, but they forgot to be good in the meantime.
> Even the ending is still more concerned with jumping from plot point
> to
> plot point than in getting maximum value out of the individual segment
> (not much getting to know Sid as a character, bringing up past Slayers
> but not doing anything with it, not much building of suspense
> anywhere,
> etc.). The ideal plot twist has another ingredient that's missing
> here: it should come on top of something that's already interesting.
> Whereas once one looks past the surprises, TPS feels hollow. Oh.
> Huh.
>
> Short takes:
> 1) Does anyone still want to try to argue that Cordelia isn't being
> portrayed as a moron? Sure, the character is basically comic relief,
> but her best scenes (i.e. concern about her hair) don't require for
> her to be stupid, just concerned about stupid things.
>
> 2) The scene that plays over the ending credits? I'm with Snyder. I
> don't get it.

I hope you like it better on reviewing. That scene, and especially Willow
going with her instincts and high-tailing it out of there, is one of my
favourite BtVS moments. And forshadowy as well. True, Xander in the end
loses only one eye, and (as far as we know) doesn't kill his father or marry
his mother, but 0.5 out of 3 is... better than nothing!

> So....
>
> One-sentence summary: Excellent twists and tight story, bland
> execution.
>
> AOQ rating: Decent

A very high Good for me. Hilarious, scary, and a great plot twist. The only
reason I won't bump it up to Excellent is that the tiny difference between
this (the best Good episode) and Earshot (the weakest Excellent episode) is
what I use to define the Excellent/Good boundary. For me its the 18th best
BtVS episode, 4th best in season 1

--
Apteryx


chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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Mar 23, 2007, 5:55:45 PM3/23/07
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Apteryx <apt...@xtra.co.nz> wrote:
>> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>
>> Date: Jan 19 2006, 3:41 pm
>> Subject: AOQ Review 1-9: "The Puppet Show"
>> To: alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer

.


>> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
>> Season One, Episode 9: "The Puppet Show"
>> (or "Learn at SHS/SHS is fun/So come to SHS/Don't walk, run!")
>> Writers: Dean Batali and Rob Des Hostel
>> Director: Ellen S. Pressman

.


>> Actually, before we get to the "what the hell?" stage, things start
>> promisingly enough, with Giles enduring the questionable talents that
>> the school has to offer and chatting with his misfit charges. Banter
>> ensues ("I tried to explain that I became a librarian for the purpose
>> of _avoiding_ interaction with the students..."),

Here, of course, I must humorlessly point out that normally, anyone who
becomes a school librarian hoping to avoid contact with the students is
doomed to disappointment. Sure, Sunnydale students mostly avoid the
library, but that's just one more way SHS differs from a normal high
school.

The whole teaser is pretty amusing. (Well, not the murder.) My favorite
part is probably the looks on Giles's face, first as he listens to
Cordelia and then as he struggles not to laugh as Buffy and co. are
"volunteered" for the talent show. Aside from the laughs, I really enjoy
the sense of growing friendship between Giles and the kids -- expressed in
the form of teasing and raillery of course. Giles's later use of Xander's
Cordy-hair trick also builds on this.

>> unreservedly hates kids may keep things interesting. (On the other
>> hand, it's not a good sign that Snyder keeps popping up to basically
>> reenact the same "I'm watching you" scene over and over
>> throughout this episode, and it's a little less amusing each time.)
>
> Still scary though. At this point we don't know just how evil Snyder might
> be. He could even be the demon Buffy and Sid are after.

Agreed with Apteryx here. Snyder's later appearances aren't *meant* to be
funny (except for the "and also smoking" bit), but increasingly creepy.
The scene where he finds Buffy backstage has not just a potential demon
vibe, but a potential molester/rapist vibe as well. And the light shining
through his ears when Giles sees him looks kinda demonic too.

>> show. Even if we ignore the fact that a principals don't generally
>> have that kind of authority,

True, I doubt he has the authority to order anyone to appear in the
talent show. But as Giles points out later, Snyder can make lots of
trouble for them if he wants, so it makes sense for them to understand
that his "suggestion" is in effect an order.

>> TPS is full of jokes without context like that. It tends to
>> forget that just because you can do something weird or funny doesn't
>> mean you should.

Any joke can justify itself as long as 1.) it doesn't actively violate
continuity and characterization, and 2.) it's funny enough. IMO the
talent show scenes meet both criteria. And any funny or tragic or even
boring experience our heroes go through at SHS adds its mite to the
overall story arc of how they survived high school.

>> dummy" movie. Such movies don't tend, on the whole, to be
>> particularly good, and TPS apes that aspect faithfully for awhile.
>> The
>> dummy acts a little too suspiciously animated, characters start
>> worrying that he's stalking them, etc. etc.

This part is all pretty ordinary, but I liked the little touch of Buffy
noticing that the dummy has moved its head to stare at her just before
Morgan closes the carrying case.

That wasn't the same history teacher that we saw in WTTH, was it? I guess
Buffy and Cordelia just love the humanities so much that they both signed
up for an extra history class.

>> Short takes:
>> 1) Does anyone still want to try to argue that Cordelia isn't being
>> portrayed as a moron? Sure, the character is basically comic relief,
>> but her best scenes (i.e. concern about her hair) don't require for
>> her to be stupid, just concerned about stupid things.

If Cordelia acts like a moron, it's not because she *can't* think, it's
because she's too self-involved to think about anything other than
herself. Even "Emma's" death is all about her.

A few weaknesses drag down the final fight scene for me. For example,
there was no reason for Marc to cut the rope instead of untying it, or
just pulling it and then letting go. And the lock Willow chopped away
should have been on one of the straps, if it was supposed to be keeping
Giles trapped under the blade. But I always enjoy Buffy getting her first
glimpse of the demon and stopping for a heartfelt "Eeewww!"

> Even the ending is still more concerned with jumping from plot point
> to
> plot point than in getting maximum value out of the individual segment
> (not much getting to know Sid as a character, bringing up past Slayers
> but not doing anything with it,

I agree that Buffy should have been more intrigued when she heard that Sid
had known another Slayer. This is the very first person, except maybe her
two Watchers, that Buffy has ever met who has known someone else with her
special calling/curse. Surely she should have had questions for him, even
at such an inconvenient moment. But I do think that TPS gives us a
minimalist but effective little character sketch of Sid, enough for me to
feel something when he died.

>> 2) The scene that plays over the ending credits? I'm with Snyder. I
>> don't get it.

Usually scenes involving humiliation in front of a large audience make me
squirm. Most of the time I'll just skip over Buffy getting hounded out of
class in The Freshman or Dawn's cheerleader tryout in Him. But for some
reason this scene doesn't have the same effect on me. I enjoy it
wholeheartedly. I like how each kid fails in his or her own way: Xander
struggling desperately to remember his lines, Buffy hostile and just going
through the motions, Willow freezing up and then fleeing. And I'm amused
by the way Buffy and Xander step together to fill Willow's spot, as if
that will cover it up (and looking just a bit like "American Gothic").

>> AOQ rating: Decent

Definitely a Good for me.


--Chris

______________________________________________________________________
chrisg [at] gwu.edu On the Internet, nobody knows I'm a dog.

mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Mar 23, 2007, 6:50:53 PM3/23/07
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> >> ensues ("I tried to explain that I became a librarian for the purpose
> >> of _avoiding_ interaction with the students..."),
>
> Here, of course, I must humorlessly point out that normally, anyone who
> becomes a school librarian hoping to avoid contact with the students is

theres a difference between contact and interaction
librarians mostly respond to questions and requests
not stand if front of a group of student trying to get them to think

> Agreed with Apteryx here. Snyder's later appearances aren't *meant* to be
> funny (except for the "and also smoking" bit), but increasingly creepy.
> The scene where he finds Buffy backstage has not just a potential demon
> vibe, but a potential molester/rapist vibe as well. And the light shining
> through his ears when Giles sees him looks kinda demonic too.

hes the only person theyve lit that way
it was definitely to make us question his humanity

> If Cordelia acts like a moron, it's not because she *can't* think, it's
> because she's too self-involved to think about anything other than
> herself. Even "Emma's" death is all about her.

she was suggesting decapitating teachers would be a useful way
for her to lose weight

> A few weaknesses drag down the final fight scene for me. For example,
> there was no reason for Marc to cut the rope instead of untying it, or
> just pulling it and then letting go. And the lock Willow chopped away
> should have been on one of the straps, if it was supposed to be keeping

actually they had to was place the hatchet (or anything else) under the blade
and lower it slowly to the head lock
that would protect giles head while they dally with straps or locks

the guillotine blade was not the danger
the guillotine blade falling at speed was the danger

> I agree that Buffy should have been more intrigued when she heard that Sid
> had known another Slayer. This is the very first person, except maybe her

i dont think she wanted a long conversation with a dirty old mannikin
drolling over her

> Usually scenes involving humiliation in front of a large audience make me
> squirm. Most of the time I'll just skip over Buffy getting hounded out of
> class in The Freshman or Dawn's cheerleader tryout in Him. But for some
> reason this scene doesn't have the same effect on me. I enjoy it
> wholeheartedly. I like how each kid fails in his or her own way: Xander
> struggling desperately to remember his lines, Buffy hostile and just going
> through the motions, Willow freezing up and then fleeing. And I'm amused
> by the way Buffy and Xander step together to fill Willow's spot, as if
> that will cover it up (and looking just a bit like "American Gothic").

youre not watching high school students acting poorly
youre watching actors acting like they act poorly

meow arf meow - they are performing horrible experiments in space
major grubert is watching you - beware the bakalite
impeach the bastard - the airtight garage has you neo

Don Sample

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Mar 23, 2007, 7:41:54 PM3/23/07
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In article
<mair_fheal-EEB29...@sn-ip.vsrv-sjc.supernews.net>,
mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges
<mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote:


> > If Cordelia acts like a moron, it's not because she *can't* think, it's
> > because she's too self-involved to think about anything other than
> > herself. Even "Emma's" death is all about her.
>
> she was suggesting decapitating teachers would be a useful way
> for her to lose weight

No she wasn't:

I'm not saying that we should kill a teacher every day just so
I can lose weight. I'm just saying when tragedy strikes, we
have to look on the bright side. You know, like, how even used
Mercedes still have leather seats!

--
Quando omni flunkus moritati
Visit the Buffy Body Count at <http://homepage.mac.com/dsample/>

Apteryx

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Mar 24, 2007, 7:34:34 AM3/24/07
to
"mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges"
<mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:mair_fheal-EEB29...@sn-ip.vsrv-sjc.supernews.net...

>
> actually they had to was place the hatchet (or anything else) under the
> blade
> and lower it slowly to the head lock
> that would protect giles head while they dally with straps or locks
>
> the guillotine blade was not the danger
> the guillotine blade falling at speed was the danger

My Cricket World Cup watching duties are not allowing me as much time in
these threads as I would like, but that is one thing that always bugged me a
little each time I see this episode. The one possible explanation, and not a
great one, is that Xander is panicking and not thinking straight when he
lifts the blade up rather than lowering it.

--
Apteryx


Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 24, 2007, 11:57:02 AM3/24/07
to
On Mar 24, 6:34 am, "Apteryx" <apte...@xtra.co.nz> wrote:
> "mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges"<mair_fh...@yahoo.com> wrote in message

>
> news:mair_fheal-EEB29...@sn-ip.vsrv-sjc.supernews.net...
>
>
>
> > actually they had to was place the hatchet (or anything else) under the
> > blade
> > and lower it slowly to the head lock
> > that would protect giles head while they dally with straps or locks
>
> > the guillotine blade was not the danger
> > the guillotine blade falling at speed was the danger
>
> My Cricket World Cup watching duties are not allowing me as much time in
> these threads as I would like

Then why're you posting them so quickly?

-AOQ
~was between jobs during the season or so when I was posting a review
every day, if anyone was wondering~


Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 24, 2007, 11:58:33 AM3/24/07
to
On Mar 23, 5:50 pm, mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des
anges <mair_fh...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> > Usually scenes involving humiliation in front of a large audience make me
> > squirm. Most of the time I'll just skip over Buffy getting hounded out of
> > class in The Freshman or Dawn's cheerleader tryout in Him. But for some
> > reason this scene doesn't have the same effect on me. I enjoy it
> > wholeheartedly. I like how each kid fails in his or her own way: Xander
> > struggling desperately to remember his lines, Buffy hostile and just going
> > through the motions, Willow freezing up and then fleeing. And I'm amused
> > by the way Buffy and Xander step together to fill Willow's spot, as if
> > that will cover it up (and looking just a bit like "American Gothic").
>
> youre not watching high school students acting poorly
> youre watching actors acting like they act poorly

That's what I'd like to think, because otherwise, I can't get into
humiliation scenarios, including that one.

-AOQ

Arbitrar Of Quality

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Mar 24, 2007, 12:10:20 PM3/24/07
to
I liked "The Puppet Show" better the second time around, but only a
little better. So basically it goes from a decent Decent to a high-
ish Decent. I don't have much to say about it. The biggest problem
is that it spends too much time being an evil dummy story and not
enough time sifting through the other things that unravel. And it's
not all that much funnier for me than any other episode of S1

On Mar 23, 5:59 am, "Apteryx" <apte...@xtra.co.nz> wrote:
> > From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>

(On the other


> > hand, it's not a good sign that Snyder keeps popping up to basically
> > reenact the same "I'm watching you" scene over and over
> > throughout this episode, and it's a little less amusing each time.)
>
> Still scary though. At this point we don't know just how evil Snyder might
> be. He could even be the demon Buffy and Sid are after.

That's one thing I didn't properly appreciate the first time around.
In a rare (I hope) lapse, the fact that I knew Snyder was a recurring
character kept me from appreciating how it'd look to people seeing him
for the first time. He's a good comedic villain with teeth in
episodes like this one, and I like Shimerman's performance, but my
overall feeling about Snyder is that he's too much of a caricature
given his importance in the series. He's got the depth of, well, the
adults from any high-school movie you care to think of, but the series
keeps tying him in to the bigger stories when he's best just trying to
make people miserable with the pettiest of motivations.

The light shining through his ears was reportedly a nod to his
character on _Deep Space Nine_, which was his most prominent ongoing
role in '97.

> > These kids have been
> > attacked by vampires and giant insects and demon-robots, and they
> > can't accept a sentient dummy? Not a fucking chance. Anyone who's
> > learned to trust Buffy's intuition about the supernatural would pay
> > attention to her here. So why don't they? My guess is that someone
> > thought it was more important to give Xander funny quotables than to
> > be
> > cohesive about things. Like I said, just because you can make a joke,
> > even a good one, doesn't mean you should. And some of them indeed
> > good ("the dummy Slayer?" and the entire "I am completely
> > inanimate!" sequence), but the laughs come at a price.
>
> I think Xander is perfectly entitled to be sceptical. Even on her own words,
> Buffy's claim to know that it was Sid sounds dubious - "Did you see him?"
> "Well I saw something .... But when I turned on the lights it was already
> gone." Not the ideal witness for the prosecution. Especially when she has a
> history that puppets give her the wig. And this is only the 9th episode -
> just because our hero is strong, athletic, limber, and nubile, doesn't mean
> she's infallible

So be skeptical, don't be completely dismissive. There's a
difference. Those sequences still don't feel right to me, even when
they get funny.

-AOQ

One Bit Shy

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Mar 24, 2007, 7:41:12 PM3/24/07
to
"Apteryx" <apt...@xtra.co.nz> wrote in message
news:eu0buu$hq7$1...@aioe.org...

>> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>

>> BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER


>> Season One, Episode 9: "The Puppet Show"

>> But the opening sequence also sets in motion the "what the hell is


>> this crap?" factor that pervades "The Puppet Show." On one
>> prong, there's Buffy and friends being volunteered for the talent
>> show. Even if we ignore the fact that a principals don't generally
>> have that kind of authority, it'd be easier to swallow if it served
>> some dramatic purpose. Preparing for/agonizing about the show is such
>> a minor part of the episode that the only reason I can see to include
>> it is that someone thought it'd be funny to make our heroes
>> uncomfortable, even if wasn't paid off to its full potential or
>> anything. Never mind whether it makes sense in the greater scheme of
>> things, someone thought it'd be fun and wacky, so it goes into the
>> script.
>
> That would be good enough for me. But wait, there's more! It puts our
> heroes in the middle of event that we know the demon is part of.

There's a thematic purpose too. This episode is highlighting Buffy and
friends as a group - being together. The climax is Buffy, Xander and Willow
saving Giles's life as a team. Group effort is kinda why the episode
exists. Even the idea of a talent show supports it - disparate and amateur
abilities drawn together to make a full production.


>> TPS is full of jokes without context like that. It tends to
>> forget that just because you can do something weird or funny doesn't
>> mean you should.
>
> It was probably somewhere about this point that people started to get the
> idea that you might have something against things being funny.

LOL Apteryx said it. Not me.


>> The rest of the first half of the show concerns Morgan and his wooden
>> friend, basically a take on the never-popular "evil ventriloquist's
>> dummy" movie. Such movies don't tend, on the whole, to be
>> particularly good, and TPS apes that aspect faithfully for awhile.

I don't recall now where I've seen the creepy dummy idea before, but it sure
works for me. Animated puppets of all types (this side of Smile Time) I
find to be very scary. One of the great classic horror images.

Of course I'm usually partial to BtVS playing up the creep. (I seem to like
OOMOOS more than most too.) I really like the early scenes of the monster
stalking his prey as shown through his eyes. And theater back stages are
traditional suspense locations. All the hanging curtains to hide things.
Stuff to fall down from above. Odd props and people lurking everywhere. I
like the feel of the episode a lot.


>> The
>> dummy acts a little too suspiciously animated, characters start
>> worrying that he's stalking them, etc. etc. It's just not a very
>> interesting story.

Building the suspense. Relying on classic techniques. I love the scene in
Buffy's bedroom with the sound of Sid skittering about. That's creepy. I
also really liked the camera work around Buffy leaning over to look under
the bed.


>> At least everyone quickly focuses on the
>> obviously-suspicious kid, but I don't buy for a second that Xander et
>> al don't share Buffy's suspicions about Sid. These kids have been
>> attacked by vampires and giant insects and demon-robots, and they
>> can't accept a sentient dummy? Not a fucking chance. Anyone who's
>> learned to trust Buffy's intuition about the supernatural would pay
>> attention to her here.

I'm not sure that their trust level has quite reached that level yet. Not
with the object of her suspicion sitting right in front of them acting very
much like a piece of wood.


>> So why don't they? My guess is that someone
>> thought it was more important to give Xander funny quotables than to
>> be
>> cohesive about things. Like I said, just because you can make a joke,
>> even a good one, doesn't mean you should. And some of them indeed
>> good ("the dummy Slayer?" and the entire "I am completely
>> inanimate!" sequence), but the laughs come at a price.

The price being Xander jumping on top of a table in fear when he sees Sid
gone. Then Willow and Giles jumping in fear and franticly looking about
their feet for a skittering dummy. That scene just kills me.

On the other hand it's really a shame for Xander to have his studies
interrupted like that. It's so seldom that we see him so engaged in his
homework. Perhaps his difficulty with school is born of trauma.


>> So we're maybe 2/3 of the way through the episode, and it's playing
>> along with a sub-standard _Buffy_ Fantasy Stock Plot homage. And then
>> TPS slams the viewer with a plot twist, signaling the arrival of the
>> "oh. Huh," stage.
>>
>> As plot twists go, it's a great one, probably the most clever of the
>> series to date. A perfect twist should be totally unexpected but also
>> make total sense in retrospect, and Sid's real goals and reason for
>> attacking Buffy definitely make the grade. The whole series of
>> revelations from there is all extremely clever. The reason for
>> Morgan's headaches. The real meaning of Sid being "set free."
>> Xander continuing to suspect Sid, very reasonably. The demon still
>> being among them, because of the rejected brain. My only complaint is
>> that everyone involved should have pegged Giles as a potential target
>> earlier, but otherwise it's a well-crafted story.

I was surprised.


>> But the problem with "The Puppet Show" is that it lives and dies by
>> its plotting. The previous thirty minutes were still a bore; they set
>> up some interesting stuff, but they forgot to be good in the meantime.
>> Even the ending is still more concerned with jumping from plot point
>> to
>> plot point than in getting maximum value out of the individual segment
>> (not much getting to know Sid as a character, bringing up past Slayers
>> but not doing anything with it, not much building of suspense
>> anywhere,
>> etc.). The ideal plot twist has another ingredient that's missing
>> here: it should come on top of something that's already interesting.
>> Whereas once one looks past the surprises, TPS feels hollow. Oh.
>> Huh.

I wasn't bored before - or after. I think I got to know Sid as well as I
needed to or wanted to. I liked his conversation with Buffy. Buffy doesn't
want to ask about the other Slayer because she's still a little wigged out
by an animated dummy and definitely doesn't wamt to think about him
snuggling up to somebody like her. The suspense part temporarily goes away
when they think they missed their chance at the demon. But then it returns
as panic as they realize they are a step behind and that Giles is in
trouble. It's not full out horror suspense - BtVS is way too much of a
comedy for that at this point - but I like the dramatic flow. The climax
building suddenly from a lull is nice technique.


>> Short takes:
>> 1) Does anyone still want to try to argue that Cordelia isn't being
>> portrayed as a moron? Sure, the character is basically comic relief,
>> but her best scenes (i.e. concern about her hair) don't require for
>> her to be stupid, just concerned about stupid things.

Self centered. (I do enjoy the trick Giles plays.)


>> 2) The scene that plays over the ending credits? I'm with Snyder. I
>> don't get it.
>
> I hope you like it better on reviewing. That scene, and especially Willow
> going with her instincts and high-tailing it out of there, is one of my
> favourite BtVS moments. And forshadowy as well. True, Xander in the end
> loses only one eye, and (as far as we know) doesn't kill his father or
> marry his mother, but 0.5 out of 3 is... better than nothing!

It's a moment that seems to defy explanation. Mostly it just feels right
and funny. Nibbling around a few edges, I'm amused at the explanation for
their talent choice - that drama doesn't actually require talent. It feels
very right to me that in the end they still have to take Snyder's
punishment. The humiliation angle is much diminished for me because I do
find it amusing that our fearless action heroes are brought down by a silly
talent show bit. Kind of like the proverbial elephant afraid of the mouse.
It's not so bad because we, the viewers, know their real strength. And know
this is not a lasting trauma. Besides, everybody's talent we saw was not.
They were hardly unique in exhibiting the not talent. And so on.

Perhaps most, I just liked that it was Oedipus.


>> So....
>>
>> One-sentence summary: Excellent twists and tight story, bland
>> execution.
>>
>> AOQ rating: Decent
>
> A very high Good for me. Hilarious, scary, and a great plot twist. The
> only reason I won't bump it up to Excellent is that the tiny difference
> between this (the best Good episode) and Earshot (the weakest Excellent
> episode) is what I use to define the Excellent/Good boundary. For me its
> the 18th best BtVS episode, 4th best in season 1

I'm not quite as enthused as Apteryx, but it's a solid good for me. For all
his reasons, plus the way the episode showcases our heroes as a group. I
think this is a seasonal climax for their developing bond. We see their
friendship. We see them contribute to each other. (Giles successfully uses
an idea he got from Xander!) We see them work effectively together - and
independently for the group. And most of all we see them come together as a
unit to save Giles when he's in need.

Right now life is very good for the Slayer and friends. Buffy has the
balance between calling and regular life that she craves. Or so it seems.

OBS


drifter

unread,
Mar 25, 2007, 9:35:01 AM3/25/07
to
Apteryx wrote:
>> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>
>> Date: Jan 19 2006, 3:41 pm
>> Subject: AOQ Review 1-9: "The Puppet Show"
>> To: alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer

/some snippage occurs/

>> The demon still
>> being among them, because of the rejected brain. My only complaint
>> is that everyone involved should have pegged Giles as a potential
>> target earlier, but otherwise it's a well-crafted story.
>
> Well perhaps, its always best not to jump to just one possible answer
> (like Buffy should have considered the possibility that Miss French
> might be an owl rather than a bug). But Willow's "What?" moment is
> priceless.

Am I the only one that was bothered when "dumb old" Xander, to
demonstrate how smart Willow is, just *happens* to pluck a 3-digit
number out of the air whose square-root is a whole number? I recall
shouting, "Oh, come on!" at the TV when that happened the first time
I watched it.

Oh, I AM the only one? Never mind, then.

--

Kel
"Oh, Buffy. You really need to have every square inch of your
ass licked." - Darth Willow, kinda gay.


Arnold Kim

unread,
Mar 25, 2007, 12:21:26 PM3/25/07
to

"drifter" <ne...@home.net> wrote in message
news:STuNh.12$iF...@newsfe04.lga...

> Apteryx wrote:
>>> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>
>>> Date: Jan 19 2006, 3:41 pm
>>> Subject: AOQ Review 1-9: "The Puppet Show"
>>> To: alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer
>
> /some snippage occurs/
>
>>> The demon still
>>> being among them, because of the rejected brain. My only complaint
>>> is that everyone involved should have pegged Giles as a potential
>>> target earlier, but otherwise it's a well-crafted story.
>>
>> Well perhaps, its always best not to jump to just one possible answer
>> (like Buffy should have considered the possibility that Miss French
>> might be an owl rather than a bug). But Willow's "What?" moment is
>> priceless.
>
> Am I the only one that was bothered when "dumb old" Xander, to
> demonstrate how smart Willow is, just *happens* to pluck a 3-digit
> number out of the air whose square-root is a whole number? I recall
> shouting, "Oh, come on!" at the TV when that happened the first time
> I watched it.
>
> Oh, I AM the only one? Never mind, then.

You're not. "What's 29 squared?" would have made more sense.

Arnold Kim


mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

unread,
Mar 25, 2007, 2:40:39 PM3/25/07
to
In article <ZjxNh.13$EM...@newsfe12.lga>,
"Arnold Kim" <arno...@optonline.net> wrote:

for various reasons i know some three digit perfect squares
that others might not immediately recognize

xander couldve already known that particular square for some other reason

chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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Mar 25, 2007, 3:20:34 PM3/25/07
to
mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges <mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote:

>> >> ensues ("I tried to explain that I became a librarian for the purpose
>> >> of _avoiding_ interaction with the students..."),
>>
>> Here, of course, I must humorlessly point out that normally, anyone who
>> becomes a school librarian hoping to avoid contact with the students is
>
> theres a difference between contact and interaction
> librarians mostly respond to questions and requests
> not stand if front of a group of student trying to get them to think

If I may continue being humorless for a moment here: being a librarian
isn't teaching, but it still frequently rises from mere contact to the
exalted level of interaction. It's not all just "That'll be due in three
weeks. Have a nice day." Among other things, most will guide and advise
students on how to do research for their classes. Many also work with
student assistants on a daily basis. (Buffy and friends probably claim to
be library volunteers, to justify the amount of time they spend there.)

>> I agree that Buffy should have been more intrigued when she heard that Sid
>> had known another Slayer. This is the very first person, except maybe her
>
> i dont think she wanted a long conversation with a dirty old mannikin
> drolling over her

Ah, but since she knew Sid was all talk (he wasn't an anatomically correct
dummy), I think she could have toughed it out. Even if she didn't pursue
it, she should have at least looked intrigued. Dealing with Slayerhood is
kind of a big thing to her, and this is one of the first chances she's had
to learn more about other Slayers as people.

>> Usually scenes involving humiliation in front of a large audience make me
>> squirm. Most of the time I'll just skip over Buffy getting hounded out of
>> class in The Freshman or Dawn's cheerleader tryout in Him. But for some
>> reason this scene doesn't have the same effect on me. I enjoy it
>> wholeheartedly. I like how each kid fails in his or her own way: Xander
>> struggling desperately to remember his lines, Buffy hostile and just going
>> through the motions, Willow freezing up and then fleeing. And I'm amused
>> by the way Buffy and Xander step together to fill Willow's spot, as if
>> that will cover it up (and looking just a bit like "American Gothic").
>
> youre not watching high school students acting poorly
> youre watching actors acting like they act poorly

True. But I just thought of another factor that I think makes this scene
less squirmy for me. Buffy, Willow and Xander aren't facing humiliation
as individuals, they're up there *together*. That makes a big difference,
emotionally. No matter how bad things get, they still have each other.
What can't they face when they're together?

chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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Mar 25, 2007, 3:36:38 PM3/25/07
to
drifter <ne...@home.net> wrote:

> Am I the only one that was bothered when "dumb old" Xander, to
> demonstrate how smart Willow is, just *happens* to pluck a 3-digit
> number out of the air whose square-root is a whole number? I recall
> shouting, "Oh, come on!" at the TV when that happened the first time
> I watched it.
>
> Oh, I AM the only one? Never mind, then.

No, it bothered me too. Fanwank: Xander started with the 29 and quickly
squared it before asking Willow for the root. (Squaring a number is a lot
easier than finding a square root, and we have no idea how good Xander is
at basic multiplication outside of the special circumstances of Earshot.)

chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu

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Mar 25, 2007, 3:37:39 PM3/25/07
to
mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges <mair_...@yahoo.com> wrote:

> for various reasons i know some three digit perfect squares
> that others might not immediately recognize

That's between you and your god.

Stephen Tempest

unread,
Mar 25, 2007, 4:14:12 PM3/25/07
to
chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu writes:

>True. But I just thought of another factor that I think makes this scene
>less squirmy for me. Buffy, Willow and Xander aren't facing humiliation
>as individuals, they're up there *together*. That makes a big difference,
>emotionally. No matter how bad things get, they still have each other.
>What can't they face when they're together?

Bunnies?

One Bit Shy

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Mar 25, 2007, 4:27:21 PM3/25/07
to
<chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu> wrote in message
news:130dis2...@corp.supernews.com...

Well, evidently they'll have to face it without Willow.

But, yeah, I think that's a good thematic fit. They go through the good,
bad & ugly together. This would fall on the ugly side.

OBS


One Bit Shy

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Mar 25, 2007, 4:32:41 PM3/25/07
to
"drifter" <ne...@home.net> wrote in message
news:STuNh.12$iF...@newsfe04.lga...
> Apteryx wrote:
>>> From: "Arbitrar Of Quality" <tsm...@wildmail.com>
>>> Date: Jan 19 2006, 3:41 pm
>>> Subject: AOQ Review 1-9: "The Puppet Show"
>>> To: alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer
>
> /some snippage occurs/
>
>>> The demon still
>>> being among them, because of the rejected brain. My only complaint
>>> is that everyone involved should have pegged Giles as a potential
>>> target earlier, but otherwise it's a well-crafted story.
>>
>> Well perhaps, its always best not to jump to just one possible answer
>> (like Buffy should have considered the possibility that Miss French
>> might be an owl rather than a bug). But Willow's "What?" moment is
>> priceless.
>
> Am I the only one that was bothered when "dumb old" Xander, to
> demonstrate how smart Willow is, just *happens* to pluck a 3-digit
> number out of the air whose square-root is a whole number? I recall
> shouting, "Oh, come on!" at the TV when that happened the first time
> I watched it.
>
> Oh, I AM the only one? Never mind, then.

A couple years back he got that question wrong in class, quiz and test. So
he forced himself to memorize it for the final. The funny thing is that it
was Willow who tutored him, which is the reason she knew the answer so
quickly.

OBS


mariposas rand mair fheal greykitten tomys des anges

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Mar 25, 2007, 6:57:01 PM3/25/07
to
In article <30md03hligtbi9gbu...@4ax.com>,
Stephen Tempest <ste...@stempest.demon.co.uk> wrote:

clearly that is the wrong episode

George W Harris

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Apr 11, 2007, 12:10:14 AM4/11/07
to
On Fri, 23 Mar 2007 21:55:45 -0000, chr...@removethistoreply.gwu.edu
wrote:

:And the light shining
:through his ears...

That's just weird enough to want to see again.

--
Real men don't need macho posturing to bolster their egos.

George W. Harris For actual email address, replace each 'u' with an 'i'.

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