Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Rm w/a Vu"

Plot: Disgusted with her roach-infested apartment, Cordy goes to stay with Angel, where she immediately starts to drive him crazy, so he begs Doyle to find her a place of her own. Doyle finds her a gorgeous place she loves, but the low rent comes with a high price: there's a ghost.

Doyle is also having problems. The bookies have sent a demon to kill him. He no longer even has the option to come up with the money, they just want to make an example of him. Doyle hides out at Angel's place, too.

At first, Cordelia tries to pretend the ghost in her apartment isn't there. She doesn't tell Angel or Doyle, but as the ghost begins a more vicious campaign, she can no longer hide it from them. Angel pays Kate a visit at the station to get the story behind the apartment. It turns out, a lady died there in the forties, suspected to have been murdered by her son. Since then, there have been four suicides in the apartment.

Angel and Doyle rush over to Cordy's just in time to see her hang herself, having been talked into it by the ghost. They start an exorcism, but are interrupted when the bookie's muscle show up for Doyle. As the boys battle, Cordy has it out with the ghost. We find out the ghost wasn't murdered, but in fact, tied her son up and bricked him up in the wall. (She suffered a heart attack from the exertion.) The gang frees his skeleton from it's prison and it hauls the ghost off to hell.

Cordy gets to keep her place, although she now has to share it with the ghost of Dennis, a much friendlier poltergeist. (Who wouldn't want to hang around unseen to watch Cordelia shower?)

As Cordy, Charisma Carpenter shows in this episode she really has grown as an actress. Watching her go from crying and sniveling to standing up to the ghost and showing it her bitchiest side is fun to watch.

Casting: Beth Grant, the lipless actress who has appeared in such films as "Speed" and "Donnie Darko" has fun chewing up her scenes as Maude, the ghost.

Quote: Cordelia: This is easy. Little Old Lady ghost, probably hanging around because she thinks she left the iron on.

"I Fall to Pieces"

Plot: The agency is visited by Melissa, who is being stalked by Ronald, a man she went on a date with only once. He's a very successful surgeon who can't accept the fact that she wouldn't want to be his girlfriend. She tells the gang he knows everything she does, even when she's alone, and she wants Angel to find out how he's spying on her.

Turns out, he has the ability to remove parts of his body, such as his eyeball, and send them off on their own. We see a floating eye watching over her as she sleeps. Angel gets Detective Lockley to put a cop outside her door.

Later on, he detaches his hands and sends them to feel her up as she sleeps. She wakes up and starts screaming. The hands strangle the cop when he comes in to save her. Angel hides Melissa at his apartment, where he leaves her in Doyle and Cordy's hands. Ronald shows up and sends his parts in through the vents to kill Melissa, but the gang manages to keep his parts separated long enough for his whole body to come apart. They bury him in boxes, and Cordy happily collects money for their first paid job.

This was the first weak episode. The story is silly and the special effects are kind of lame. A neatly detached hand threatening someone is about as scary as Thing on "The Addams Family." You just don't care enough to worry about what is going to happen.

Quote: Cordelia: We need more of these.
Doyle: We'll have more soon enough.
Cordelia: Well, we need them now. Have a vision.
: I just can't perform on demand.
Cordelia: We need the clients. Have a vision.
Doyle: That money's corrupted you.
Cordelia: If I hit you in the head, will you have a vision?
Doyle: Get away from me - you're insane.

"In the Dark"

Plot: As Angel is helping a woman who is being attacked by her stalker boyfriend, we see an old friend is in town watching from above: Spike (who is riotous acting out the conversation he's watching below.)

When Angel gets home, he's paid a visit by another Sunnydale friend. Oz has arrived, sent by Buffy to give him the Ring of Amara. Spike had unearthed the ring in Sunnydale (in a crossover episode of "Buffy" called "The Harsh Light of Day) but Buffy kicked his ass as usual and sent the ring out of town where she thinks it will be safe with Angel.

The Ring of Amara has magic powers. It renders the wearer invincible, meaning vampires can't be staked and are unaffected by daylight. Which is why Spike wants it.

Angel hides the ring, and is later kidnapped by Spike and tortured by Spike's sadistic lackey, Marcus. They make Cordy and Doyle bring them the ring in return for Angel. Marcus double-crosses Spike and takes off in the ring, headed to the beach in the daylight to feed. Angel catches up and kills him. He puts the ring on and spends the remaining hours of daylight standing in the sun. When night falls, he decides to destroy the ring so it never falls into the wrong hands again.

It was awesome to see Spike as his punk-ass old self. He turns into such a whipped puppy by the end of "Buffy," season seven, that I had forgotten he used to be bad. And funny, funny, funny.

Quote: Spike: [as Rachel] How can I thank you, you mysterious black-clad hunk of a night thing?
Spike: [as Angel] No need, little lady, your tears of gratitude are enough for me. You see, I was once a badass vampire, but love and a pesky curse defanged me. Now I'm just a big, fluffy puppy with bad teeth. No, not the hair. Never the hair.
Spike: [as Rachel] But there must be some way I can show my appreciation?
Spike: [as Angel] No, helping those in need's my job, and working up a load of sexual tension and prancing away like a magnificent poof is truly thanks enough.
Spike: [as Rachel] I understand. I have a nephew who is gay, so...
Spike: [as Angel] Say no more. Evil's still afoot. And I'm almost out of that nancy-boy hair-gel I like so much. Quickly, to the Angel-mobile, away.

"Lonely Hearts"

Plot: Doyle gets a vision that bad things are going to happen in a nightclub. The gang heads there to keep an eye out for trouble. Angel meets Kate, a pretty blonde who frequents the bar. Doyle manages to get in a bar fight, but there's no other sign of trouble. That they see.

What we see is a lonely woman go home with another customer. They wind up in bed together. The next night, the gang goes back to the bar, where one of the patrons is looking for his friend who never came home. The bartender tells him his friend had left the night before with a woman. Angel gets the woman's address and dashes off. In the meantime, the woman has picked up another guy, and we see a disgusting creature crawl out of her body and inhabit his. She's left a husk on the bed. Angel gets there just in time to see the alien run off in the guy's body, and Kate shows up just in time to think Angel murdered the woman.

Turns out Kate is Detective Kate Lockley, and she has been tracking the killer for weeks. Angel escapes from the apartment, and calls her a few days later to tell her he can bring the real killer to her. They agree to meet at the bar.

When Kate shows up, she's attacked by the bartender, who slept with the last person the alien was in. (The creature jumps from body to body, never able to stay for more than a day before the body begins to deteriorate.) Angel saves Kate and kills the alien. Now they're fast friends. And the show has just established his contact to the police.

Ewww: This alien is so gross. It has to be the most horrible of all sexually-transmitted diseases.

Quote: Cordelia: What's with those vision things of yours?
Doyle: Well, they're messages I get, from the higher powers, whoever they are. You know, it's my gift.
Cordelia: If that was my gift, I'd return it.

"City Of"

Plot: In the first episode, we find Angel in a bar. He's pretending to be drunk to keep an eye on some vampires he's planning on killing. (One of whom is played by Sawyer, from "Lost.") When he confronts them in the alley, he has the coolest stakes that shoot out from the cuffs of his jacket. I want some of those!

So, Angel is living in Los Angeles, hiding out in an abandoned building during the day, fighting demons to try and make amends for his past wicked ways by night. Enter Doyle.

Doyle is a half-vampire, half-demon who tells Angel he's been sent to him by the Powers That Be. The P.T.B. speak to Doyle through visions he has, which occur as mind-splitting flashes. After telling Angel he knows all about him, which really serves to catch people up on the story of Angel in case they never saw "Buffy," Doyle has one of his visions and sends Angel out to protect a woman.

Turns out the woman is being harassed by a former boyfriend who is himself a vampire. Angel rescues her once from his clutches, but when she finds out Angel is a vampire, she runs away from him, and ends up getting killed. The vampire now turns his attention towards Cordelia.

Cordelia has come to Los Angeles to be a movie star. Things aren't going exactly according to plan. She's living in a dump and stealing food from parties to get by. She's lured to the vampire's home, but Angel rescues her at the last moment. The next day, Angel goes to take care of the vampire for good. He confronts him at his lawyer's office, where Angel pushes him out the window into the daylight.

At first, I thought the vampire was going to be the big bad that Angel would have to fight, his possible nemesis for the season. Actually, it's even better. It's the vampire's lawyers, Wolfram & Hart. We're introduced to Lindsay in this episode, one of the big stars at the firm. Bad lawyers, what a fantastic idea! What could be worse?

Casting of Note: Cutie Glenn Quinn, known best for his role as Mark on "Roseanne," plays Doyle. And the Irish accent is his own.

Quote: Cordelia: I finally get invited to a nice place with no mirrors and lots of curtains. Hey, you're a vampire.
Russell Winters: [caught off guard] What? Uh... no, I'm not.
Cordelia: Are too!
Russell Winters: I don't know what you're talking about.
Cordelia: I'm from Sunnydale. We had our own Hellmouth. I think I know a vampire when... I'm... alone with him... in his fortress-like home.

Live Fast. Die Never.

After the mostly love relationship I had with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," I was a little apprehensive about "Angel." After all, they had taken Angel and Cordelia, my two least favorite characters from "Buffy," (at least, until that whiny brat Dawn showed up) and given them their own show. Turns out, as always, Joss Whedon is a genius.

On "Buffy," Angel was Buffy's boy. He was cryptic and dark, hanging around in the background, occasionally passing on information, sometimes helping in battles, mostly giving Buffy someone to whine at when she needed to. He was never really developed, even though he was unique in that he is a vampire with a soul. He was more like an attractive backdrop with fangs. David Boreanaz's acting was pretty wooden, except for in the second season when he loses his soul again. Angel is at his best when he's bad. Certainly more fun.

Cordelia, too, was underdeveloped. (Well, in some places.) The stereotypical snooty bitch, she whined and sniped and screamed and never really proved herself as a person worth having around, other than to give Xander someone pretty to make out with. And, c'mon, we were all really happy when she still wasn't able to keep him out of the clutches of uber-nerd Willow. (I'm contemplating a new blog, I'dGoGayForWillow.com)

Everything has changed in "Angel." The first season aired alongside the fourth season of "Buffy." Angel has moved to Los Angeles so that he will be less of a temptation to Buffy. (He loses his soul if he experiences a moment of true happiness. It happened once before. Angel and Buffy rutted like weasels on her 17th birthday and he ended up going bad and eating a bunch of people.) He now operates a detective agency, specializing in cases that are a little out of the ordinary. Cordelia works for him, as does half-demon Doyle, whose occasional visions send them in the direction of people in need of help.

I was told the first season was a bit slow, but to stick with it, it would get better. So far, aside from a couple kinda lame episodes, I think it's buckets of fun. I chewed through the first season and am now half way through the second. I'll be posting little run-downs of each episode soon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Gunpowder, guillotine...dynamite with a laser beam...

My science fiction self has been crying out since I was a itty, bitty kitten.

"I saw 'Star Wars.'" That was the first complete sentence I ever spoke. (I'm told that that right there qualifies me as marriage material for some). I had some of the action figures when I got a little older. (One of my cats put teeth marks in Darth Vader's plastic cape and my little brother lost Yoda's snake. Grrr.) Back when HBO played the same five movies every day, we would sit and watch sci fi movies over and over. "The Last Starfighter." "The Empire Strikes Back." "Solar Babies." "The Dark Crystal." We watched "Star Trek," "Masters of the Universe," and "She-Ra" everyday after school.

But somehow, I never fully realized my inner geek. My friend was much more into than I was. She would watch "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and she would understand and remember it better than I did. I was too busy reading books and listening to music to pay attention.

I never got into comics, either, even though one of my friend's had the largest comic book collection in the tri-state area. None of this seemed to stick.

Years have gone by. I've spent most of it reading books and listening to music. (Big surprise, right?) And then one day, I was introduced to Joss Whedon's "Firefly"...and and the little sleeping sci fi kitten awoke. Here was a fantastic show! It got lousy treatment and was canceled way too early. But it was so original and funny. I needed more of this! So I was directed to Whedon's original baby, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

It was perfect. I had spent the end of my teens being obsessed with vampires. Watched all the movies, read all the books, couldn't get enough of them. And then, as with everything else, I grew out of it. And the original airing of the "Buffy" television series slipped by me unnoticed. Thank God for t.v. on DVD.

I watched all seven seasons of "Buffy" at the beginning of this year and I loved it. It made me laugh, cry, pull my hair, roll my eyes. And it also made me realize another thing: I am really a geek at heart.

It isn't that surprising. I've always been attracted to geeks, my friends were all geeks in school. I very well could already be a geek, I've just always thought I was too weird to be labeled anything concrete. But I don't just want to be a geek. I want to be a science fiction goddess.

So, stick my killer queen rack in a vinyl cat suit and toss me a phaser, I'm ready to take over the world. I have many hours of learning ahead of me, many universes to traverse. I'm not limiting it to strictly science fiction, I'm including fantasy, too. It's just that "Science Fiction and Fantasy Vixen" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

I'm planning on documenting my trip. You know, Captain's blog, star date...I'll post little entries about how I'm furthering my efforts to know and see all that is unworldly. I'm starting with the "Buffy" spin-off, "Angel." (I heart Joss Wheadon.)