Tag Archives: buffy the vampire slayer

What to Watch (and Read): Summer Recommendations 2016

Another season of television has come to a close and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to new possibilities. To say that this season was trying would likely be an understatement.  While I found a few new shows to enjoy, many fell flat with me and even returning favorites tested my patience and love for them. Then of course, there was the spring doldrums, where each week seemed to bring a new show making inexplicable choices to kill (or not re-sign) vital characters who made a tremendous impact and a general state of misery that befell too many shows. Now that the season is largely behind us, it’s time to look forward and hope for a brighter season next fall.

Summers can be a great time to catch up on new shows that you missed or fell behind on or try out an older show that you hear great things about but missed on its first run. My last summer was spent largely with Grey’s Anatomy and LOST but I was also able to try out shows like You’re the Worst, which quickly became a favorite and a highlight of the fall season. This summer, I’m continuing on my multi-year journey with The X-Files, finishing up Avatar the Last Airbender, watching Freaks and Geeks for the first time, starting Happy Endings, hopefully watching Grace and Frankie, and likely becoming obsessed with Shadowhunters, though I’m sure I’ll find time to squeeze a few more things in there. In case you’re looking for some ideas for your own summer watching, I’ve listed a few shows below that I think would be a fantastic way to spend this hiatus.

Sense8 To understand this show is to understand me and that has nothing to do with these characters (who I love dearly) or the plot (which is fine) but everything to do with its central theme of connection and the beauty that results from it. My love for this show is all about the way it makes me feel. I love shows that understand the value in simple moments between two people, allowing them to share themselves with each other, and this show loves those moments. Its strongest moments are often when two sensates are doing nothing more than talking to each other and lending each other emotional support. The fun action sequences and the excellent romances make it even better but its core principles are what move me and what has made it stay with me.

The Americans This show is in its 4th season and it just keeps getting better, which most TV fans know is a truly remarkable accomplishment. Rather than being a fast-paced spy drama, this show is about a family struggling for connection and facing the consequences of their actions. That family just happens to be headed by two Russian spies. It’s a look at identity and loyalty to one’s country and family and how those things can change over time. It is incredibly well-made television that is comfortable in quiet moments and gives them the proper space to truly resonate. It can be nearly unbearably tense at times but only after it’s asked you to care about these people on an emotional level. It’s dangerous being a spy and external threats will always be a part of the show but the most compelling work is done on a smaller more personal level. The emphasis on the people behind the actions and the talent at all levels of this production make it one of the best shows on television at the moment.

Gilmore Girls With the revival nearly wrapped, what better time could there be to travel to Stars Hollow and fall in love with this special show? The lighter tone of the show is perfect for lazy summer days and the fast-paced, witty dialogue will leave you quoting the show long after it ends. No matter with Gilmore girl most resonates with you, there is inspiration to be gained and laughter and tears to be had. For all of the disagreements about boyfriends on the show, the heart of the show exists in Lorelai and Rory’s relationship with each other and it is something that should be cherished all these years later. If you’re not already a fan of this show, check it out and see what makes it special to so many.

Jane the Virgin I am continuously amazed at this show. It juggles so many different tones and stories and while it doesn’t handle them all equally well, it comes together to form an incredible whole. No matter what it is trying to do, it has three reliable strengths to fall back on. The first is Gina Rodriguez’s talent and love for this role. She puts everything she can into whatever this show throws at her and her natural warmth and light shine through it all. The second is the relationship between the Villanueva women. This will always be the best love story on the show. The dynamic between these ladies is always feels beautiful and real. This is the grounding point in the show, amidst all the telenovela styling and crime boss plots.  Finally, it’s the coherency that the Narrator brings to the show. It adds a lightness and awareness to everything the show is doing and gives it that fantastical edge that sets it apart from other shows. This is such a special show and there is truly nothing else on television like it.

Continue reading What to Watch (and Read): Summer Recommendations 2016

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Too Many Feels: The TV Moments That Make Me Cry

Whether it is for a happy or sad reason, I love it when an episode of television can move me to tears. As Katie said a few weeks ago, it gives us the opportunity to examine ourselves and figure out why it affects us so much. It also gives us an outlet for our feelings when they get to be too much. Sometimes we just need to cry but if you’re like me, you don’t always give yourself the space to fully feel, so clips like these are waiting for us and give us the freedom to fall apart on our own terms. These are 10 moments that not only made me cry the first time I watched them but continue to make me feel deeply on re-watches as well.

Sawyer and Juliet remember (LOST) Yes, I know this finale is one of the more divisive in television history. But if it’s one that works for you, it is almost guaranteed to make you cry. While all of the reunions are emotional, the one between Sawyer and Juliet makes me cry the hardest. This love story snuck up on me and got one of the most perfect episodes imaginable in “La Fleur” before being tragically separated. Their typical banter is so beautifully reflected in this scene but it’s the montage of their relationship that starts the sobbing for me even before the looks of wonder that cross each of their face as they remember their history. It was a gift they could never have imagined and the way they cling to each other and that glorious smile on Juliet’s face as she tells Sawyer to kiss her will stay with me forever.

Tommy and Eric reunite (Girl Meets World) There was no better story arc for Eric on Boy Meets World than his brief relationship with Tommy. Eric loved Tommy enough to give him up so he could have his best chance. Eric wasn’t in a position to be a full-time parent, no matter how much he wanted to be. So he let Tommy go and find the family he deserved. It was a story that made me cry every time I watched it and just hearing that it had been revisited on Girl Meets World had me crying before I watched the clip. Hearing Tommy talk about Eric is such glowing terms and knowing that as he grew up, he recognized exactly what it was that Eric gave him and never forgot him was simply beautiful, as was the look on Eric’s face when he realized who he was. It was a moment that probably played better for fans of the original series than fans of the new one, but I’m so grateful they made the decision to revisit such a successful story line.

Seasons of Love (Glee) I think Glee handled “The Quarterback” in the best way they could but this song is most successful as the cast’s tribute to Cory Monteith. The grief wasn’t what their characters were feeling for Finn, it was what these actors felt at the loss of their friend. The staging was simple and it was a remarkably understated moment for the show, which just felt right.

Rory’s going away party (Gilmore Girls) As soon as Jackson and Zach show up with umbrellas to escort Rory and Lorelai to the party, I am a mess. I love seeing everyone we love in Stars Hollow there to celebrate Rory and that it’s also a way for the audience to say goodbye to them. Kirk’s ridiculous sash is perfectly fitting as is Taylor’s awkward preamble to Rory’s speech. In recent watches, however, it’s been Lorelai’s conversation with her parents that gets to me the most. Richard is right, the party wasn’t only for Rory. Yes, Stars Hollow has fallen in love with her and many of the adults at that party had a hand in shaping her as she grew up. But it’s also a testament to the life Lorelai made for herself and a tribute to the love this town has for her. It does take a remarkable woman to inspire that love and there is not a more fitting word to describe Lorelai Gilmore.

Continue reading Too Many Feels: The TV Moments That Make Me Cry

Just One Episode: A Different Type of Recommendation

I am a big advocate of taking show recommendations from friends, largely because they are recommendations made out of love. But sometimes the shows they recommend are long and daunting. Or they start out terribly and you wonder why your friend likes them so much. Sometimes the beginning just isn’t the best place to start because the show basically reinvents itself at this point. But if you’re going to judge a show by one episode, it would be better if it was a pretty great episode. Not necessarily the best in the series, but one that exemplifies the best the show has to offer. So that’s what I’ve compiled for a selection of shows I love. If you’re interested, give them a shot. Then head to the comments to tell me what you think and recommend a show based on an episode for me to try. If you’re particularly sensitive to spoilers before you watch an episode, then skip my explanations and just make note of the episodes.

Battlestar Galactica – 33 (1×01)

I love the miniseries but honestly, what amounts to a 3 hour movie to kick off a series can be a hard sell for someone looking to start the show. The first twenty seconds of this video are all you really need to know going into the first official episode.

“33” is a rare example of a fantastic (pseudo) pilot. The entire episode is viscerally tense. The writing and acting and great but Bear McCreary’s incredible talent as a composer and the makeup artist’s work to make the entire cast look 100% exhausted made this an episode that makes you tired in the best possible way as a viewer. It transports you into the show for 45 minutes.

It gives you the best of what this show has to offer. It is upfront about the fact that this show will push its characters into uncomfortable places. It asks “how far it is acceptable to go when the fate of the human race is on the line?”. But it is not all bleak. Hope is not lost. We see compassion and affection in moments like Colonel Tigh prolonging his watch in order to give Captain Adama a chance to rest. We feel the history between Kara and Lee as he tries to be in charge and they dissolve into sleep-deprived giggles. We watch the possibility of a future flash across Roslin’s face as she is able to add a number to her count of humanity. It is a brilliant episode and one I think everyone should watch, regardless of their interest in continuing with the show (though I think you should do that too and come talk to me about it).

The 100 – Day Trip (1×08)

I haven’t made it a secret that I love this show but really don’t like the pilot. The tone is off and the music cue when the delinquents land feels all kinds of wrong to me. It finds it’s footing relatively quickly in my opinion and while they are good episodes before this one, “Day Trip” is a big episode in the series. It redefines key characters and relationships as well as sets things in motion for the future.

The most significant moment is the emergence of Bellamy and Clarke as true co-leaders of the remaining kids. Full disclosure, I do ship them and hope to see them together romantically at some point in the future, but romance aside this is one of the core relationships of the show. It’s amusing to watch them bicker and develop a tentative working relationship in earlier episodes but the scene at the tree reveals that they are scared and don’t know what they are doing on their own but they might be able to lead together. They have messed up and there is so much pressure but there is comfort in not being alone. And to me, that is what this show is about at its core, at least in the first two seasons. It is about finding connection and the hope that comes from believing in other people and how that is what makes the toughest situations survivable.

This episode also manages to be slightly lighter in tone than some of the other episodes, despite a lot of darkness and murderous plots, and it is largely due to Monty Green. Monty is already a lovable character but he is adorable when he is high on hallucinogenic nuts. With such a dark show, you need someone to provide some lightness. While it isn’t always as a comedic relief (though in this episode it is), Monty is here to provide some balance. He is a sweet and kind and good individual and the series wouldn’t be the same without him.

Continue reading Just One Episode: A Different Type of Recommendation

Episode Spotlight: Hush (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

It’s been too long since I last visited the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so I took the first of what will be many trips back there for this week’s Episode Spotlight.

Plot: The Gentleman come to Sunnydale and steal everyone’s voice.

Significance: This episode largely works as a stand-alone episode, but a few things happen in relation to the season arc and a few relationships.

As far as the arc goes, this is the episode Riley and Buffy find out that the other is keeping some fairly significant information from them. They don’t reveal what the secret is until the next episode, but they see that the other isn’t who they thought they were.

This episode also moves things along with all three of the romantic relationships going on. Buffy and Riley share their first kiss, Anya begins to trust in Xander’s feelings for her, and Willow and Tara perform magic together for the first time.

Lasting Impressions: This really is a fantastic episode. I really could just end this post here and you’d have all the information you needed to know. It’s just a really good episode of television that stands up to both time and rewatches.

First, this episode is extremely enjoyable to watch strictly for pleasure. Anya being Anya and horrifying Giles with her bluntness will always make me smile. Willow writing “hi Giles” on her dry erase board and the hug that follows it is heartwarming. Xander and Spike have a wonderfully antagonistic relationship and their bickering is often welcome.

Second, it’s brilliantly constructed. Nearly ⅔ of the episode takes place without any spoken communication but it doesn’t feel like an obtrusive gimmick. Whedon is so known for his dialogue and use of language in this show but even without it, everything about the episode works for me.

In many ways, it reminds me a lot of Once More With Feeling. Both deal with difficulties with communication, whether it is the physically inability to communicate or keeping things bottled up because speaking them aloud would be too difficult. Both are unusually structured episodes without sacrificing plot movement or character development. And both are fan favorites for those reasons, I suspect.

Continue reading Episode Spotlight: Hush (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Badass Women and the Shows that Celebrate Them

I finally got a chance to watch the Badass Women panel from the weekend and like many others, I absolutely loved it. The women on the panel are all fabulous, both on screen and off. I love that a panel like that exists because it means that more people are taking an interest in the way women are portrayed on TV and in the movies. I love that sexism and racism in the entertainment industry can be discussed in two very popular panels during Comic Con. What I loved most of all is that it celebrates so many different ways to be strong. Sansa Stark is very different from Sarah Walker and Donna Meagle but all three are equally badass. I was so inspired after finishing the panel that I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate shows that focus on all types of female strength. Many of these I have already discussed this month (I may have a slightly obvious preference in my TV) and I would love to hear your thoughts on strong female characters and the shows that portray them.

Sex and the City This show is fantastic about showcasing different types of women and the relationships between them. The show never demonized any of the women for their beliefs or actions or tried to elevate one above the rest. Charlotte wasn’t the uptight prude that everyone hated, Samantha wasn’t the slut that everyone secretly talked about behind her back, Miranda wasn’t the cynical, career-driven bitch, and Carrie wasn’t the slightly naive one who made bad choices. They were all fully formed women and appreciated the differences in each other and that made it truly special. 

Gilmore Girls This is my go-to show for their depiction of a strong women whose strength had nothing to do with physical abilities and everything to do with dedication and drive. Lorelai was emotional, occasionally irrational, independent and determined. She got to be sensitive and competent and while that might not seem like as big of a deal now, it was a big deal in 2000 to my teenage self and it’s still a portrayal I deeply love. The show also featured a myriad of other fantastic women, from Miss Patty to Emily Gilmore, who all had different approaches to life but who each had something we could learn from them. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel/Firefly/Dollhouse I’m just going to lump all of Joss’s shows together because he is known for the strength of his female characters. Unlike Gilmore Girls and Sex and the City, many of the characters on his shows are also physically strong. Buffy is a vampire slayer and therefore good in a fight. Faith, Zoe, and Echo are also characters who aren’t to be messed with because they are capable of kicking your ass in a fight. But there are also characters like Willow, Kaylee and Fred, whose strength comes from other areas. What is most remarkable is that all of the characters, regardless of their variety of strength, aren’t only defined by it. Buffy is still a regular teenage girl. She has crushes, she makes bad romantic choices, and she just wants to go to college with her best friend. Kaylee is a sweetheart and emotionally vulnerable but is also a highly gifted mechanic. They are all well-rounded and full characters, not stereotypes that can easily be placed into a box. 

Battlestar Galactica I love that this show can contain all of the awesomeness that is Kara Thrace, Laura Roslin, and Six. All equally strong yet all diverse. Kara’s approach to her femininity isn’t the same as Six’s approach. Roslin’s strength of conviction and leadership skills aren’t the same as Kara’s physical abilities or her confidence. Then there are the rest of the women who fall somewhere in between these divergent characters to occupy a space that is all their own. 

Once Upon a Time Like Jennifer Morrison said, this show is a great one for female characters. All are allowed their own identity and a space to call their own. They don’t need to be alike and they don’t all need to occupy traditionally female narratives at all times while not needing to occupy a more masculine narrative in order to be strong. There is strength in their vulnerability. There is strength in Snow’s continued hope. There is strength in the protectiveness that come’s from Red’s wolf side. There is strength in Regina’s growth as she opens herself up to others. There is strength in the forgiveness that has had to come as characters have hurt each other, whether intentional or not.

I want diverse examples of women on TV. I want young girls to be able to watch a show full of female characters and be able to find a character or even a combination of characters who have traits they can identify with. I want all women to feel like there isn’t a wrong way to be a strong woman. Physical strength isn’t a necessity, but it’s ok if you do have that. Women don’t have to express their emotional strength by being kind and nurturing, but it’s ok if that’s how you choose to be. We don’t have to be one extreme of the gender role spectrum, we’re allowed to occupy multiple roles at different times and even at the same time. Our identity is what we make it and our strength comes from being honest about who we are and being brave enough to share that with the world. That’s what I want when I say I want strong female characters on TV and that’s what was represented by this fantastic panel.

What shows do you love for their portrayal of female characters? 

A Must-See Musical Episode

I am of the opinion that more shows would benefit from including singing and/or dancing in the occasional episode. It’s just something I love to see because it always makes me happy. The “Time After Time” sing-a-long on Parks and Rec was a beautiful moment, the adult cast dancing to “The Sign” was the best moment in Trophy Wife, the random songs on Bob’s Burgers make it approximately 50% more charming to me than it would otherwise be, and I honestly like some of the performances on Glee. So, naturally, I’m a big fan of musical episodes. The Scrubs musical has some classic songs but in my mind, it doesn’t come close to my favorite musical episode (which is probably one of my top 10 favorite episodes ever) – “Once More With Feeling” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

This is one of those episodes of TV I think everyone should see sometime in their life. Ideally after watching all the Buffy episodes that came before it, but that’s the Buffy fan in me speaking. In all seriousness, you will get the most out of the episode if you are familiar with the characters and plot. This isn’t an isolated episode that ignores the plot and just opts to have fun. The events that happen in this episode are heavily influenced by the episodes preceding it and have serious effects on future events.

For all of its musical trappings, this is a sad episode of television. As far as the plot is concerned, Tara and Willow continue to fight over Willow’s magic abuse, Giles decides to leave, and Buffy reveals to everyone that they didn’t save her from hell but rather ripped her out of heaven and away from the peace she had found. Then there’s the fact that the musical demon causing all the singing also makes people dance until they catch on fire and die and wanting to take Dawn back to his world to be his bride.

Continue reading A Must-See Musical Episode

My Most Remembered Relationship Moments on Television

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I wanted to celebrate the day here at TVexamined by sharing a few of my most memorable love or relationship related moments from television. Some of these moments represent new beginnings in relationships, some show the foundation of what will eventually become a relationship, and some are wistful and represent those relationships we can’t have. Whatever it represents, these are the moments that stuck with me long after the episode was over.

Dr. Cox’s views on love (Scrubs) This really doesn’t fit into any of the above mentioned categories, but it’s always been a quote that has stuck with me.

Topanga is in love with Cory Matthews (Boy Meets World) I am nearly certain that this was the first television quote I ever memorized and it still brings tears to my eyes to this day.

Continue reading My Most Remembered Relationship Moments on Television

These Are Few Of My Favorite Shows (part 1)

The more new television shows I watch, the more I think about what makes me really love a show. With every new show I watch, I also want to turn everyone around me into a fan, because I really enjoy sharing the shows I love with the people I love. This list isn’t quite in order, but here is a look at the things that make me love a TV show and reasons that you should watch them too. 

Continue reading These Are Few Of My Favorite Shows (part 1)