Archive for the 'Buffy' Category


Friday, January 28th, 2005

/. Quote of the Day: When I used to teach a course on MS Office (pauses while PTSD-style flashbacks ease off a bit) I used to explain it like this. “Office is like having a big, friendly, eager-to-please giant with an IQ of 80 standing helpfully between you and your work.”
Don’t worry, I’ll capitalize that for you. When do I get to pat the rabbits, George?Lonesome Squash

Buffyology is a cool Buffy resource, with transcripts.

No Angels

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003

Word count: 1033

I know I’m a few years late for the clue train here, but I just now realized that there were never any angels on Buffy. There were a few good witches, painfully innocent monks, and evil misunderstood gypsies, but the good guys were never fully supernatural. Even the gods were bad guys.

It’s a malevolent view of the universe that identifies all supernatural power with evil and simultaneously restricts all goodness to humanity. (Oz, Angel and Spike are all partly human.) The constant supernatural malevolence makes Buffy a horror show, even though nothing is ever particularly scary.

The difference between horror and fantasy, then, is Elves - the good counterparts to misunderstood evil Orcs. Buffy could have used a few angels on her side; it would have saved her a lot of angst. But then, I get the feeling angst was the point - the only angel was the Angel of Angst.

Buffy as Cookies

Tuesday, May 20th, 2003

Veronica makes a mean blue margarita, so the following should be taken with a rim of salt…

Buffy’s cookie-dough speech happened to touch on a pet peeve of mine. It’s not so much a psychobabble peeve as a characterization peeve - that is, of course I believe that people mature over time, but I don’t believe that people look at their own maturation process from the outside. Buffy can be cookie dough, but she cannot conceive of herself as cookie dough.

I’m going to make a wild guess that most of my readers have been twenty-three (sixteen plus seven) in the past, and that when they were twenty-three they thought of themselves as complete human beings, capable of saying which dead vamp they were in love with without further “baking.” It’s one thing to claim immaturity as a cop-out - the classic “I need time” which really means “go away now” - but it’s inhuman to claim immaturity as a real protest.

The integrity of the individual at any age is an aspect of human dignity that is quite frequently lacking in badfic, but rarely lacking in real, live people. The proper reaction to someone who says they’ll know how they feel ten years from now is disgust, not respect. How you’ll feel in ten years is another issue entirely - everyone does feel something now, and ought to be able to express it in word, if not in deed.

Buffy as Badfic

Monday, May 19th, 2003

Warning: spoilers for seasons one through seven.

First there was the movie, and the movie was bad. It was B-grade bad, but that’s not the same as badfic.

Then there was season one, and Angel couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, but a hulking black hole that sucks the life out of every scene he’s in is not badfic per se. The badfic of Angel was the Mr. X effect inherited from the Deep Throat character on the X-Files - a stalker who just hovers around acting like there’s a deep plot that Our Heroes are missing. Yet there is no real plot, just a lot of bad lighting, mood music, and honeybees.

Badfic is the attempt to conjure up the emotion and excitement of a good plot without actually bothering to write the good plot. The Master was also B-grade bad, but too obviously over-the-top to be badfic. Season two, on the other hand, was a world of badfic. A gypsy curse designed specifically to keep you apart from your inscrutable boyfriend is no more dignified than the worst Mulder/Scully hurt-comfort fic. Then he turns evil, you have to kill him, and you feel bad about it. If it were me, I’d be happy to have an excuse to off the sod. He really needed to be put out of everyone’s misery.

That brings us to the high point of Buffy, season three - was there ever a bad guy like the Mayor, or a bad girl like Faith? There was still some residual Angel badficness going on - hey, he needs a transfusion, and it has to be your blood! - but the Mayor’s wonderful anti-Angel speech made up for all that.

Season four wasn’t too bad, despite the Buffy Does Sunnydale U. badfic elements. Spike was a significant redeeming factor. Glory was a little too punchy in season five, but like the Master, she was B-grade rather than badfic.

Likewise, resurrecting Buffy was a nice B-grade move, but refusing to let her get over her death even after she’d sung through all her issues in the musical was a classic badfic move. Turning the spunky Buffy of season four into depresso-girl of season six was another badfic move. The motto of badfic is, a good wallow is better than a good plot.

The final move of badfic is to break the conventions of the genre. Season six brought us good guys going bad and becoming arms runners and rapists, doing the magic drug, and flaying people, not to mention death by gunfire. Season seven has upped the ante to maiming main characters and voting Buffy off the Hellmouth. If someone noticed how Buffy got to be the Bad Slayer, do tell me.

How could I forget the soap opera that is Spike? Spike gets a soul, Spike goes batty, Spike goes evil, Giles tries to get Spike killed, and finally, the Spuffy episode to end all Spuffy speculation (in a bout of dry heaving). Yes, Buffy again confesses her undying ambivalence for Spike, and barely one commercial break later, is doing the tongue mambo with Angel. It’s a soap opera love triangle undreamt of in the worst badfic.

All I can say is, Drusilla much?

The Near Occasion of Plot

Tuesday, October 29th, 2002

I’m going to take a big chunk out of my backblog by brain-dumping all my recent thoughts on Buffy. The older backblog item concerns the eternal topic of Why I Hate Volvo Boy. It’s not just his boxy build anymore.

Angel, in his lurky first-season incarnation, represents everything I disliked about the X-Files. XF fans can be divided into two camps - the Government Conspiracy people, and the Fat-Sucking Vampire (a.k.a. Monster Episode) people. I’m a monster episode girl. In Buffy, I don’t mind a charismatic monster that plays for a whole season, like the Mayor or Glory - it’s not arcs qua arcs that I dislike.

The Government Conspiracy style of writing, by no means limited to XF, makes the motions of a plot without actually having any fixed content. Writing is not a process of accretion, and a show does not end well if all it can do for itself is recap the various disconnected bits (pox? bees???). There is no connection, no cause-and-effect. Government Conspiracy writing is the form of plot wihout the substance.

Likewise, when Angel leaves Buffy, or Buffy leaves Riley, or Oz leaves Willow, or Xander leaves Anya, with no better motive than Joss made me do it, you have not a plot but a soap opera in which characters are pushed around for no adequately explained reason. People like Angel and Cigarrette Smoking Man aren’t characters - they’re angst ex machina. This is exactly was Nick Lowe was talking about in his article when he pointed out authors who “smuggle the Plot itself into the story disguised as one of the characters. Naturally, it tends not to look like most of the other characters, chiefly on account of its omnipresence and lack of physical body.” The Government Conspiracy is everywhere.

So bad episodes make much more sense that way, when you consider that the Plot made Oz run off to Tibet to find himself, or that Xander got cold Plot and left Anya at the altar. Angel’s main purpose in lurking around Buffy was to keep her up to date on the Plot. Whenever Chris Carter had a bad week, we got the Plot trying to infect everyone with pox using bees, or Scully getting kidnapped and impregnated by the Plot, or CSM trying to convince Mulder to join the Plot.

I’m still angry at the Plot for making Xander leave Anya. Xander, for all his silliness, never struck me as a cad or a coward. That he had visions of Anya as a hoary old shrew is just not sufficient excuse. It must have been the Plot, which is to say, Joss. However, if you’re still working from a rational basis, you see Anyanka’s troubles of last week and wonder what she did to deserve all this. The implication, with the flashback to her singing on Xander’s recliner, is that Anya’s mistake was wanting to devote her life to Xander. Really, she should have run off to Tibet or LA or South America like everyone else. Obviously a career isn’t the answer here - Anyanka had a very successful career before Xander, and a second one during Xander.

It’s one thing to make Buffy unhappy for legitimate plot reasons - it’s not easy being the Slayer and having to kill your friends. It’s another matter to go gunning for Anya and Xander. That’s plain authorial cruelty and caprice, punishing two characters not for being in the wrong place at the wrong time like Willow and the late Tara but simply for being in love and wanting to get married. Breaking up X/A was more unnatural than any vampires, demons or giant snakes.

Final gripe: Buffy could be a bit nicer to Spike now that he’s insane. Being the Slayer doesn’t give you a pass on common decency. After all, it was the Plot that made him attack her last season - it certainly wasn’t good characterization.

Platinum or Blond?

Thursday, September 26th, 2002

I bet Veronica the real Buffy The Musical CD that Spike is human. How
could anyone be so flesh-toned and curly-haired and not be human? I know the
spoilers are on Veronica’s side, but I prefer to hope for the best.

My filk of The Sound of Music is not progressing, and I was disheartened when
I stumbled across
legendary filk of Do-Re-Mi. How could I ever compete with a classic like Do Re Mi

Messing with the Yellow

Sunday, May 26th, 2002

Did I mention the novel recs are up at zendom? Also, if the blog looks weird, it’s because I played with the stylesheet a bit. I still need to force Verdana, but otherwise, it’s almost fully feng-shuied.

The muse, having been given an entire weekend to work on The Wrong Novel, decided it was well past time to write some Spuffy fic. (Spoilers warning: Look away! Look away!) Now that Spike’s all cuddly and human (not a poofter ensouled vamp, human), the muse is dying to play with him. There is a downside to the redemption of Spike, though - what are we going to do with another loser weakling dude in the crew? That’s Xander’s role, and he’s not going to want to share it with William the Wussy. So I’m stuck in the middle of my all human, all the time Spuffy episode addition. Back to the novel…


Tuesday, May 7th, 2002

I’m glad I was prepared for the travesty that was this evening’s Buffy episode by Mustang Sally’s rant (temporary link) on The Death of Spuffy. I’m not quite that upset - I knew BtVS was headed downhill at warp speed back when it jumped the shark. That the show is still flailing around, doing more and more damage with less and less emotional impact, is no surprise. I almost miss the Evil Twins, though, of course, not enough to sit through an hour of whiny ENT posturing.

At least the fic was good. For a hilarious TOS/BtVS crossover, see Unless You’re Us by Kathleen Dailey.

Jumping the Shark

Tuesday, March 12th, 2002

An explanation by Lori:

A reference to the Happy Days episode in which Fonzie water-skied up a ramp over a tank of sharks. That point at which a tv show stops being Fun and Original and becomes a series of sensationalistic attempts to regain falling ratings. It’s different things for different people. In Cornwell’s books, it’s often the point at which she killed off the love interest for the main character.

I believe Buffy jumped the shark when Riley parachuted in with wife in tow and Spike’s career as an arms smuggler was Suddenly and Dramatically Revealed. Armageddon may be a minor plot twist for BtVS, but some things…some things are still over the top.

Or is that “over the shark”?

Buffy’s Law

Wednesday, March 6th, 2002

Buffy’s Law

Half a season from newbie to bitter old fic queen - it must be a new fandom record…

I think it’s time to rename Murphy’s Law, and while I’m at it, I’ll rewrite it, too: If anything can happen to make Buffy more miserable, it will. (If you don’t sense spoilers coming with this one, you don’t deserve to be warned.) For a season in which Buffy started out dead, things sure have been going downhill fast for her. Silly me, I thought six feet under was the lowest you could go. I respect Joss Whedon for the dialogue, but his characterization, now that I look at it more carefully, reminds me of the unremitting character-torture of which certain teen fanfic writers are all too fond.

The Mayor was right - that entire Buffy/Angel thing was doomed from the start, and while Buffy had the excuse of being a minor, Angel and Joss had no such excuse. Pardon me for harking back to Midnight Buffy reruns, but I was an unhappy witness to the graduation arc recently - Angel breaks up with Buffy, Buffy can’t really enjoy her prom, Buffy can’t really enjoy her graduation, Buffy had, I was surprised to see, an even worse time when she started college than when she went back for Warren’s time-warped version this season. Buffy can’t really enjoy anything, and it’s not just a lingering aftereffect of death. It is the show. I haven’t seen five minutes of Buffy happiness yet, and I’ve watched this entire season and large chunks of the others. The gypsy curse wasn’t on Angel, after all.

Maybe I just sound newbie, saying I didn’t know the show was even more depressing than real life. I thought the whole kill Buffy thing was a heroic exit and the subsequent resurrection an ironic last-minute fanfix. I thought Giles leaving Buffy in the half-dead lurch was some sort of obscure character development; we had none of that in Trek so I didn’t feel I could criticize. Tara was no great loss for me when she left Willow - the show was ship-heavy then, anyway. Little did I know that the character massacre would extend from Semi-Evil Willow to Random Spike and Neanderthal Xander. Those of you keeping up know that BtVS is down to no ships, unless you count Spike and his out-of-the-blue tart. He must have picked her up along with the out-of-the-blue career as a weapons dealer. Right. And thank you Joss for a half a season of wedding buildup, only to destroy Xander at the altar. I’m rooting for Anya to go back to the demon realm. I would, in her place.

“What this show needs is a big fat reset button,” I told Dr. Deb, fellow refugee from Trek. Two minutes later, I saw the preview. That’s one mother of a reset button, and the worst part is, I think Buffy would be better off institutionalized. I’m half-hoping that it doesn’t turn out to be another one of Warren’s tricks - more than half-hoping. At least the bloody field of corpses that once were Scoobies leaves plenty of room for fanfic first aid.

Where did I put my reset button?