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BtVS & Angel

Here it is. Initially I’d had the goal of posting a detailed review for each of the 254 episodes, and I got as far as the middle of season three before losing the energy and focus, but not the OCD need to catalogue and compare. So even as I gave up the ghost on 254 blog entries, I continued to jot down impressions of episodes and rank them within seasons. My re-watch ended up taking over three years! This summer, I dug everything up, and several hundred index cards and a spread sheet later, I have the complete list.

I waffled on whether to start at the bottom of or the top, eventually settling on the former, mostly because I believe in the old adage of saving the best for last, though I hadn’t realized how negative my takes on the lower end wound up. In my heart, though, I love both series through and through and can find something of worth in every episode.

The spread sheet is embedded at the end of the list with episodes listed in alphabetical order. The 44 episode posts that I did a few years ago are linked at the bottom of each capsule review here.

Thanks to Mr. Lousy and Doris W. for introducing me to the Buffyverse!


#254: The Girl in Question (Angel 5.20)
written by Steven S. DeKnight and Drew Goddard
directed by David Greenwalt

! Angel - The Girl in Question

Egregiously tone-deaf, sorely misplaced comedy episode that derails the building momentum toward the series finale. As everyone reels from the death of Fred and the impending apocalypse, Angel and Spike go on a goofball mission to Italy and match wits with a never-seen, never-before-mentioned nemesis. It’s a trip filled with one thudding joke after another, like a disastrous pilot for a sitcom spin-off. Worse yet, it’s a deflated goodbye to Buffy, shown only briefly by a body double and referenced by the unfunny, unwelcome Andrew. And worst of all, the flashbacks flop miserably, making our series farewell to Darla and Cordelia a footnote begging to be expunged from the show’s lore. All of this stands in jarring contrast to the B-story, a surprise visit from Fred’s parents and Illyria’s impromptu impersonation of the deceased. These potentially powerful, tragic scenes lose most of their impact from the inane Abbott (Angel) & Costello (Spike) bickering that they’re thoughtlessly sandwiched between. A mind-numbing misstep torpedoed into one of the Buffyverse’s greatest arcs. Read the rest of this entry »

todas-sus-guerras-dvdThe title mirrors Mexican film great María Félix’s autobiography, Todas mis guerras, so I thought the documentary would bear semblance to the book, which was really a doozy, packed with sex, scandal, international name-dropping, outlandish diva behavior, and insight into the mind of a star so egotistical she bordered on sociopathic.

Instead, you get a chronological review of her films (almost all of which are presented with dreadful sound quality), littered Read the rest of this entry »

A forerunner to both Murder, She Wrote and The Golden Girls, the 1971 TV-movie Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate stars Helen Hayes, Sylvia Sidney, Mildred Natwick, and Myrna Loy as ladies who not only lunch, but occupy their idle hours by pranking people, in the case of this film, by inventing a fictitious woman to enter into a computer dating service in order to find some voyeuristic fun in exposing and manipulating strange men’s emotions and desire.

Their geriatric, proto-catfishing makes me feel hopeful that my own twilight years may be filled with crafting mayhem and engaging in semi-malicious larks alongside likeminded seniors. I have always cultivated friendships with such promise; only now do I understand the end game.

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-9-56-12-am

True to ladies in their seventies during the decade of the seventies, the group never slacks off in fashion. In fact, there are never slacks at all. All four make a point of putting themselves together; it’s Sylvia Sidney, however, who repeatedly cuts the most stunning figure, here in this smart emerald green dress, accentuated by the brooch, black belt, and matching black hat. She always wears a hat.

Their dating scam draws the initial interest and eventual ire of a psychopath, whose internal monologues we are treated to at astounding length via urgent voiceover whispers as the actor fumbles about his apartment, marches angrily down city streets, broods inside phone booths, and takes languorous bubble baths. Read the rest of this entry »

Do Not Disturb posterA lesser entry in the swath of Doris Day sex comedies from the sixties, Do Not Disturb never escapes the disjointed, episodic confines of the script by Richard L. Breen and Milt Rosen. The film tries out several angles for Day – the Read the rest of this entry »

mr allison lobby cardThis 1957 WWII film sounds like sexploitation in synopsis:

A rugged marine and a prim nun find themselves stranded on an island and confront sexual temptation amidst mortal danger and unrelenting tropical heat.

Yet as realized by director/co-writer John Huston, however, the sexual tension never ventures into tawdriness, though the two leads, Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr, Read the rest of this entry »

malenka posterSometimes I watch a film that is so terribly written and sloppily realized that my mind drifts from what I am actually witnessing on the screen to what I imagine the creators – the writer, the director, the set designers, the costumers, the performers – discussed and observed while they prepared for and wheeled into reality their cinematic travesty.

What inkling of the disaster might be revealed in the words and minds of the very people who brought it forth?

I was besotted by such musings during Fangs of the Living Dead, otherwise known as Malenka, a supremely schlocky European horror film from the twilight of the sixties directed by Spanish director Amando de Ossorio and starring Swedish sex siren Anita Ekberg. It’s a wreck from beginning to end, especially the end, though I confess abandoning it never truly Read the rest of this entry »

advise consent posterExtremely talky political melodrama at its most middling. I rather enjoyed some of the machinations exposed in this story (based on a Pulitzer prize-winning novel by Allan Drury, who was inspired by the suicide of Lester Hunt during the McCarthy era) of the Senate approval of a Secretary of State nominee during the Cold War, but Machiavellian power-dealing only took the movie so far before it slid into a gay blackmail story rather typical for the era, at least in terms of gay stories that explicitly appeared in mainstream film in the early sixties.

This one ends, quite predictably, in a suicide, a rather grisly one at that, signaling a finish to a movie that had already run its course. The gay twist did Read the rest of this entry »

along came polly poster“I thought Polly was the ferret!” cried out my friend in disappointment as this extremely slight romantic comedy unfolded. Ben Stiller is a funny physical comedian, but at this point in his career, he needed to vary his routine – the string of highly mannered neurotics had grown tired. Jennifer Aniston is characteristically bland in just a supporting role. In a classic romantic comedy, her character would have matched or balanced Stiller. Writer/director John Hamburg makes a halfhearted attempt at that here, but doesn’t give her the screen time or development needed; as a result, her flightiness, a weak counter to Stiller’s neuroticism, is Read the rest of this entry »

Ugh. This cutesy account of the fantastic, fame-mad Jacqueline Susann is a squandered opportunity for mixing tragedy, blind ambition, sex, and celebrity into an overheated yet still moving masterpiece about a polarizing figure from American literary pop culture.

How do I know the potential of this story? Because Michele Lee (the grounded and long-suffering Karen from Knots Landing) brought it to fruition with her 1998 TV-movie version about Susann, which delved far deeper into Read the rest of this entry »

strange love of martha ivers posterNoir prescient of Dynasty – complete with a repeatedly hazardous grand staircase.

Lewis Milestone’s 1946 film boasts a slightly puffy class-based soap opera middle bookended by some terrific noir set pieces at the outset and the finale.

The script by Robert Rossen suggests an innate corruption in inherited wealth and capitalistic ambition by contrasting its adolescent characters to their adult counterparts, primarily the titular Martha Ivers, who first appears as a willful runaway (a perfectly cast Janis Wilson, who matches Barbara Stanwyck in not only in appearance, but also captures her unyielding countenance and anxious interior). Stanwyck closes out the same character as a duplicitous, treacherous industrial magnate and adulteress with just a sad whisper (literally, in her dying breath) of the fresh, headstrong teenager we’d met in the opening. She has rotted, not quite to the core, and her corruption, which bleeds into Read the rest of this entry »