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TV, and its visual storytelling, captured me from a young age. I would later find out I was autistic, and visual storytelling was a key part in how I would express myself. Perhaps that was the reason I found it easier to connect to characters in TV and film, as opposed to the scary and confusing real life people!
My favourite shows of the 90s and early 00s were Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Simpsons and The West Wing. This would lead me quite naturally to other amazing shows like Doctor Who, Lost, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and BoJack Horseman.
But if I was to recommend more obscure shows, it would be shows like Changi, The Hollowmen, and the unfortunately short lived Lovecraft Country.
Movie wise, it was Lord of the Rings all the way, and now the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I'm about two-thirds of the way through 1001 Movies you Must See before you die, and am thoroughly enjoying visiting new genres and styles I might otherwise miss.
I can't wait to show my favourites to my kids when they are old enough!
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A rare pleasure
A hard film to find, but worth the search. And judging by the lack of votes on this Oscar nominated short film, I'm guessing others find it hard to find also.
The gentle animation and smooth transitions create a very calm experience, and why I do not think it is ground breaking, I'm glad I watched it.
The story is simple but powerful, and has a timeless quality. There's almost an eerie foreboding sense that envelops you, as you get lost in the narrative.
I wish there was a more central and accessible effort to store films like these, while at the same time compensating the artists for their work.
The Definitive Andrew
Andrew is using film to document the life of Buffy and her friends for future generations. Andrew takes us through his version of events involving him, Jonathan and Warren. Buffy and Principal Wood go to Sunnydale High to find it overrun with supernatural occurrences and enlist Andrew to help. Xander and Anya finally talk about their relationship.
Why It's So Good - Very, very funny. The last solo Jane Espenson Buffy script and it is a beauty. Andrew is character that turned from annoying side villain, to annoying prisoner, to endearing scooby member. He has a lot to make up for, and this is his moment of clarity.
Watch Out For - Any Andrew imaginary scene, but particularly during breakfast.
Quote - " Buffy and Spike have some kind of history - you can feel the heat between them. Although, technically, as a vampire, he's room temperature." - Andrew.
Buffy has a dream that includes The First Slayer telling her that its 'not enough'. Principal Wood gives Buffy a bag of items that belonged to his mother, in this bag is a box that takes Buffy back to the origin of the slayer. Spike tries to get back the edge that made him such a good fighter. D'Hoffryn is still trying to kill Anya.
Why It's So Good - The Slayer mythology can sometimes be accused of being a bit vague, and this episode attempts to clear that up a bit! Some great cinematography, and the first hints that the Slayer power maybe isn't as innocent as we've assumed.
Watch Out For - Its my bone.
Quote - " Well, I've got a system. It's called flunking out. No, just kidding. I'm paying someone to do my work. I'm kidding. I love to see your eyeballs change colour when you think I'm gonna flunk out...." - Dawn.
Wait a minute, was Dorthy r****?
I know it wasn't the point of the episode - an episode which honestly hasn't aged well for several reasons - but I thought I'd focus on just the part where the Golden Girls were talking about how their kids were conceived.
And Dorothy says she wasn't conscious at the time!
And that Stan must have 'slipped her something'.
And nobody seems all that shocked.
Again, I know that times have changed, and Stan has always been a schmuck, but this means he r**** Dorothy. And planned it. And their child was a product of it.
That is entirely messed up. But the heart breaking thing being that, given the reactions of the other characters, a perfectly acceptable thing to do for the time.
A breather before things get serious
Everyone is dating this episode! While Buffy investigates Principal Wood, Principal Wood asks her out to a dinner date, where she finds out about Principal Wood's past. Xander asks a girl named Lissa out and she accepts. The First (in Jonathan form) enlists Andrew's help in trying to kill the Potentials.
Why It's So Good - Again another three pronged storyline, getting back into the Buffy magic. Buffy's continuing storylines helped transform TV back in the 90s and early 00s, but the individual episodes are still fun. A bit more background for Principal Wood is interesting.
Watch Out For - Is Principal Wood being showered upon, or something else?
Quote - "This can't just happen. It can't just keep happening that demon women find me attractive. There's gotta be a reason." - Xander.
Three storylines for this episode, with the major one being Willow physically turning into Warren. Spike's chip is now hurting him all the time and Buffy tries to contact Riley for help. Xander and the others get a call that suggests Giles maybe dead and he is actually The First.
Why It's So Good - The finest Greenberg script to date and a continuity fest with so many previous episodes involved. But the highlight of the episode is Willow's guilt both around her killing Warren, and moving on after Tara. And hats off to Adam Busch for a great effort this week. His character of Warren is rightfully hated, but that is actually a complement to Busch's performance.
Watch Out For - Giles getting in trouble for going to a camp and not touching the girls.
Quote - "There are other stories from kindergarten. Non yellow crayon stories in which you don't come out in such a good light. An incident involving Aquaman underoos, for example. You want me to start talking?" - Willow/Warren to Xander.
With the First temporarily out of commission, Buffy takes the four potential slayers on a training run with Spike helping her. When word comes in that there is another potential in Sunnydale, Willow does a locater spell and it tells them that it is Dawn. Dawn, confused by this, helps her friend Amanda with vampire problems.
Why It's So Good - Dawn had a major role in season 5, but since then, her place in the series has been less clear cut. That's not to say the others haven't had their own existential crises, but there has always been a nagging feeling that Dawn has to justify her existence which this episode plays with very well.
Watch Out For - Xander's speech at the end is arguably one of his best moments in the entire show.
Quote - "Why do we always have to yell?!" - Andrew.
Two enter, one leave.
As more Potentials arrive, Buffy struggles to keep up there morale, especially when one of the Potentials turns out to be The First. Giles and Anya go to a demon realm to seek some answers about why The First is attacking now. Spike still believes Buffy will come for him. The Turok-Han is ready for the final battle.
Why It's So Good - Buffy's leadership has been tested many times, but this time she needs to be a general and lead by example. And that means she has to take risks. Buffy shows again why she is special.
Watch Out For - Welcome to Thunderdome.
Quote - " She's right. Where would the Justice League have been if they hadn't put their differences aside to stop the Imperium and his shape-shifting alien horde?" - Andrew.
There was a way to do this well
And it wasn't this.
It is hard not to be cynical about stuff like this. But there wasn't anything to be positive about it really.
The song was below average, the jokes didn't land, and the story wasn't there.
The Maggie shorts have some cleverness about them, but the soulless Disney crossovers not so much.
And just because Tom Hiddleston makes jokes about contractual obligations, doesn't mean it isn't true.
It is possible to bring The Simpsons A game combined with Disney's impressive back catalogue to come up with something truly unique.
But will Disney put the money into it? Only time will tell. They need to do something with The Simpsons IP.
Old and improved
As The First waits for night so that the Ubervamp can come out and play, Buffy and company contemplate their next move. Giles arrive with three potential slayers. The First, under the guise of Drusilla, is trying to convince Spike to join the evil side.
Why It's So Good - This is a really gritty episode that surprisingly works well. The First/Drusilla appearing to Spike is great, and I especially like when Spike can see the differences between The First and Drusilla. The arrivals of the potential slayers and Giles (with a head? - Sleeper) will no doubt set up the rest of the season. Andrew provides some good one-liners. What's up with Wood?
Watch Out For - And it cost them their lives! Plus this is Marti Noxon's last Buffy script.
Quote - "Hello people of the future. Kids of today like Red Bull and, uh, Jackass." - Dawn.
The First mobilises
Spike is still being haunted by 'The First' and the gang work out that a certain trigger sets Spike off on a killing spree. Warren/Jonathan/The First tries to convince Andrew to kill again, but he refuses. The Watcher's Council prepares for an assault against the First.
Why It's So Good - Things are heating up with a few spinning plates in this episode. The First is a formidable opponent with an interesting power, but it does have its limitations. The Watcher's Council finally trying to be useful, and immediately blowing up, I found humorous.
Watch Out For - Good Cop Xander, Bad Cop Anya.
Quote - " That's the worst attempted pig slaughtering I've ever seen." - Warren/The First.
Rick and Morty: Solaricks (2022)
Brutal and brilliant
Rick often says that everyone is replaceable in an infinite universe. But his actions says otherwise.
We found out that Rick (call him Rick A) took over the family of the Rick (Rick B) that killed his wife Dianne and daughter Beth (Beth A).
And, as we saw in season 1, Rick A and Morty B would later abandon Beth B, Summer B and Jerry B. And to have them be killed after we spent significant amount of time was pretty hardcore!
So now we are in Universe C, where Rick A and Morty B replaced Rick C and Morty C who died in season 1. An event caused everyone to go back to their original universe and we find out Jerry C was actually swapped in season 2, so this Jerry is not the husband of Beth C and Summer C (I'll call him Jerry X).
Multiverse fun happens, where Rick A awaits Rick B, but Rick B proves elusive.
We return to Universe C, where Jerry C returns and accidentally destroys Universe C, and dies himself! Yet another Jerry we spent significant time with.
So Rick A, Morty B, Beth C, Summer C, Clone Beth C and Jerry X move to Universe D, where Rick D, Morty D, Beth D, Summer D, Clone Beth D and Jerry D have all died.
This show is insane.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Sleeper (2002)
Does a soul make you good?
Buffy is worried that Spike is killing again and has Xander and Anya keep an eye on him. Willow, Dawn and Buffy decide they can't trust anyone anymore, with the 'Beneath You' spirit making itself known. The spirit is controlling Spike without him knowing about it and is making him kill innocents. In England, a girl is killed and a man mortally wounded, Giles arrives there for help.
Why It's So Good - Is Spike evil? Is he being controlled? Does he even deserve to be saved? A soul doesn't make you a good person necessary, and now Spike has a body count even with a soul.
Watch Out For - Don't you hate one bite stands?
Quote - " I used to tell the truth all the time when I was evil." - Anya.
I see dead people
All is not well in Sunnydale, while Buffy is fighting a vampire and having a conversations with him, Dawn is being attacked by some weird spirit that sounds like her mother. Willow is visited by Cassie Newton (first in 'Help') who is back from the dead, and she has a message from Tara. Jonathan and Andrew are back and they are working on the Hellmouth, while Andrew is being guided by Warren.
Why It's So Good - A wonderful use of structure, with the usual TV structure redone for 5 interwoven stories, each with a theme of someone talking to a dead person. A great episode on its own, while setting up the rest of the season.
Watch Out For - Dawn's fishes, plus this is the first episode without the acting talents of Nicholas Brendon.
Quote - "It eats you starting with your bottom" - Andrew's version of 'Beneath You, It devours'
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Him (2002)
Has some moments
Dawn falls head over heals for a Sunnydale jock named RJ, in fact all the girls are. Buffy is worried about Dawn's obsession with him. To make matters worse, Buffy falls for him. Then Anya falls him. Then Willow (yes, the lesbian) falls for him. Sound suspicious?
Why It's So Good - Similar to 'Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered', and there are some great moments, particularly towards the end with some cool comedic bits. But ultimately not a huge fan.
Watch Out For - Buffy going after Principal Wood with a rocket launcher.
Quote - "He was walking away, so unless his soul was in his a** . ." - Willow about Anya seeing RJ's soul.
The definitive Anya
For the first time since Anya has her powers back, she kills, and in an incredibly blood thirsty way. Anya tries to cover up what she did and Willow finds out. Buffy realises that she has to kill Anya and Xander tries to stop her.
Why It's So Good - The writer of this episode - Drew Goddard - would go on to be an Oscar nominated (The Martian) and Emmy nominated (Lost, The Good Place) writer, as well as the director of Cabin in the Woods and creator of Daredevil. This was his debut, and you can see the guy was legit from the start. Stunning examination of Anya as a character, and was full of connections with past Buffy moments.
Watch Out For - A return to Once More, With Feeling.
Quote - " The flaying of Warren Meers? Oh, truly inspired. That was water cooler vengeance. Lloyd has a sketch of it on his wall.." - D'Hoffryn.
Cold Feet: Episode #7.6 (2017)
Found it a bit too soapy and repetitive
I've enjoyed Cold Feet! A fun, quickly relatable dreamed with good characters.
But this episode, while not a disaster at all, felt like it was going over old ground again. Adam tempted to cheat AGAIN, Jen and Pete marital problems AGAIN, I found it a little boring and melodramatic.
Sounds harsher than I mean to be, because it was still enjoyable, and the dinner setting was good.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Help (2002)
Accept the things you can not change
Buffy's first week as a school counsellor is an eventful one, with a student named Cassie calmly tells Buffy that she is going to die Friday night and that she doesn't know how. Buffy asks for help from Principal Wood and gets Dawn to go under cover, but they still can't find any leads. Willow visits Tara's grave for the first time.
Why It's So Good - An underrated episode for me, an episode filled with drama, humour and tears. I was invested in Cassie's fate, and how the characters tried to save her. Azura Skye one of the more memorable guest appearances of the series.
Watch Out For - The kids that go to Buffy for help.
Quote - " And I'd love to see my cousins grow up and see how they turn out 'cause they're really mean and I think they're gonna be fat.." - Cassie.
Asking for forgiveness
Willow's return to Sunnydale proves problematic, despite being in the same time and place, Willow can't see her friends and her friends can't see her. A flesh eating demon has killed and skinned a demon and Buffy, knowing that Willow has returned, suspects that Willow may have done the killing. Willow goes to Anya and then Spike for help, thinking Buffy had abandoned her.
Why It's So Good - The usual Jane Espenson humour and a great way to bring back Willow into the series. Willow's fear of not being accepted back by her friends is a strong theme, and this is a great concept to play with. The villain, Gnarl, is genuinely horrifying.
Watch Out For - Paralysing scratches.
Quote - " Wow. That's magic, right? I mean, when most people when they meditate don't get extra skin, right. 'Cause Clem should, like, cut back." - Buffy.
Redemption is sometimes not deserved
Buffy is having visions of young girls being chased and killed. A woman named Nancy is walking her dog when it is eaten by a giant worm monster. Buffy, Xander, Dawn and a revamped Spike help this woman solve what happened, especially when she is attacked again.
Why It's So Good - This is an episode where James Marsters perhaps shines more than he ever has (Though Fool For Love, Lies My Parents Told Me, Just Rewards are also great). This is a nice individual episode while keeping the story moving forward and personal issues (Xander/Anya, Willow/Giles) alive. Spike's stuggling to cope with his soul is incredible acting and Anya's guilt is something she never had before when she first became a demon.
Watch Out For - The dog disappearing.
Quote - "Sunnydale -- come for the food, stay for the dismemberment." - Xander.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Lessons (2002)
The more things stay the same
A fresh new season has us all around the world, some girl is being chased in Istanbul while Giles is rehabilitating Willow in England. The reopening of Sunnydale high begins but spirits who blame Buffy for their death try to hurt Buffy, Dawn and Dawn's two new friends. Spike is hiding in the basement with his new soul. Anya is told by Halfrek that she is not performing well. Xander has been promoted.
Why It's So Good - A soft reboot, welcoming us back to Sunnydale high. The major players are in new places, and this episode sets this season up well, with a few new mysteries along the way.
Watch Out For - The Buffy Bad Guy Hall Of Fame.
Quote - "If at first you don't succeed . . . . Cheat." - Buffy.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Grave (2002)
End of the world
Giles and Willow magically fight and Giles temporarily binds Willow. Giles explains that he was informed that a powerful force in Sunnydale was rising and he borrowed powers to stop them. When Willow steals Giles power she feels the pain in the world and now wants to end it. Spike's trials continue. Jonathan and Andrew are still desperately trying to escape. Buffy and Dawn are trapped in a grave.
Why It's So Good - Usual apocalypse stakes are a bit more personal, but this time, Buffy is on the side-lines. Willow and Xander are the heart of this episode, and it works.
Watch Out For - Giles reaction to everything that's happened this year.
Quote - "Oh, no. You're not the only one with powers, you know. You may be a hopped-up über-witch but this carpenter can drywall you into the next century." - Xander talking to Willow.
Deeply personal threat
Buffy, Xander and Anya desperately try and stop Willow from killing Jonathan and Andrew. Buffy breaks Jonathan and Andrew out of jail. Willow's power is getting weaker and to get a power boost she goes to Rack. Anya also tells Jonathan and Andrew that Warren is dead. Spike's trials begins.
Why It's So Good - A very exciting episode, as Willow falls off the rails completely. Can she survive this? Can Buffy and her friends? Can the world? A whole lot of threats, and not a lot of answers. And Giles!
Watch Out For - Clem's cheeso talk.
Quote - "Oh, for crying out loud. Signals? Who from, your probe-happy alien friends? Say, maybe we can trade a pack of cigarettes in for tin foil. Make you a nice antenna hat." - Jonathan.
The real big bad
Following the shock ending of 'Seeing Red' Willow calls the God Osiris to try and bring Tara back to life. Xander and the paramedics try desperately to stabilise Buffy and it seems to be working. Jonathan and Andrew sulk in jail. Warren thinks he has killed Buffy but is informed otherwise. Willow uses magic to go after Warren and to try and kill him.
Why It's So Good - Willow explodes with grief. Her addiction takes over, and she becomes a true and genuine threat to Buffy and the world. It was somewhat darkly satisfying seeing her track down and ultimately kill Warren.
Watch Out For - The well known trio.
Quote - "Or, we could rent videos. I've been dying to see 'The Wedding Planner.'" - Clem.
Warren shows he is a threat
Warren finds a magical orb that causes him to have super strength and he is not sharing. Anya tries to get back into vengeance, Xander and Buffy try to sort out the Spike differences. Spike tries to take his and Buffy's relationship into his own hands, while Willow and Tara have made up. Warren is coming after Buffy and will stop at nothing to he gets his own way.
Why It's So Good - The episode where this season really starts to heat up. Spike has done something unforgivable, as a reminder that he is, in fact, evil. Warren starting to live up to his super villain hopes, but not in the way he intended. The last scene is horrifying.
Watch Out For - Amber Benson's first ever creditation as a regular.
Quote - "'She done' who? Oh! Slayer, huh? Gosh, did she break up with you again?" - Clem.