Category Archives: Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Anya Jenkins

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, especially when a woman takes revenge on her cheating husband or boyfriend.

On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Anya Jenkins (Emma Caulfield) was introduced in third season as a guest character. Though she was once human, the audience meets her as Anyanka, a demon that women call on when they want to take revenge on the men who have cheated on them. When Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) catches her boyfriend, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) kissing Willow (Alyson Hannigan), she wishes that Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) had never moved to Sunnydale. This opens the door to an alternate reality where there is no slayer and the vampires control the town. Thankfully, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), destroys her necklace (where her power comes from), returning the world back to normal and returning Anya back to human form.

Because she has lived for 1000 years as a demon, Anya is unaware of the social cues and social norms. This leads to uncomfortable moments within the Scooby gang and comedy for the audience as Anya says and does things that someone who is aware of social cues and norms would not say or do. She also has a will they or won’t they relationship with Xander, which leads to them nearly saying I do. But Xander is manipulated by someone from his soon be wife’s past and his growing anxieties lead him to break off the engagement just before the ceremony. At the end of the series, Anya becomes a martyr, sacrificing herself to save her former lover.

To sum it up: the woman taking revenge on her cheating significant other is a standard narrative. Anya makes the character more interesting by adding the comedy and the lack of awareness of what not say and do. This comedy not only lightens the dark mood of BVTS, allowing the audience to laugh and wanting to come back for more.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Throwback Thursday-Date My Mom (2004-2006)

When it comes to dating and romantic relationships, our parents play a part in whom we may or may not end up with.

From 2004 to 2006, this was the premise of the MTV show, Date My Mom. The premise of the show is as follows: The subject of this particular episode goes out with three moms. During their “date”, the moms try to persuade the young man or woman to pick their son or daughter for a date. At the end of the episode, one mother is “chosen” and watches as their child goes of on their date.

Of all the reality dating shows that was on MTV back then, this show was the worst. Not only did it feel fake, but it felt like everyone involved signed up just to get on TV, not to genuinely find a date for themselves or their child.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely not.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Recap

The Actor Who May Have Cried Wolf: Thoughts On the Jussie Smollett Case

When we were children, many of us were told the tale of the boy who cried wolf.

For those who were not taught the story, it goes as follows: a boy is charged with watching the sheep that belong to the people in his village. He sees a wolf and alerts the villagers, they are up in arms as a result of the claim. But the wolf does not appear. The boy continues to state that he has seen a wolf. As the days pass and the villagers keep hearing this, they ignore the boy as the wolf has yet to appear. When the wolf actually appears, no one believes the boy.

Last month, Empire actor Jussie Smollett accused two men of verbally and physically attacking him for being African-American and gay. The most recent development in the case is that Mr. Smollett is charged with filing a false police report.

While he continues to state that he was attacked, the evidence that the police have found state the contrary. There are rumors abounding that the reason for claiming the attack was that his role on Empire will be reduced or his character will be written out completely.

If it is true that the attack was a hoax and he paid his attackers, it is akin to a woman claiming she was raped when it was nothing more than a date or a hookup that went wrong. Hate and prejudice are very real in this country, Americans are verbally and physically assaulted everyday just for being who they are. Not only is this a waste of time and resources for the Chicago PD, it may bring up the question if charges of assault based on factors such as race or sexual orientation are real or just a need for attention.

I hope that Mr. Smollett has not cried wolf. But if he has, it sets a dangerous precedent will not end well for Americans of color and members of minority groups.

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Filed under National News, Television, Thoughts On....

Flashback Friday-Say What? Karaoke (1998-2003)

For some karaoke is chance to let loose, relax and pretend to be a rock star. For others, it makes their skin crawl.

So of course, MTV had to make a show based on karaoke. Say What? Karaoke aired from 1998-2003.  The premise of the show was that contestants sung karaoke in front of celebrity judges. As with any reality competition show, the contestants are judged and one is named the winner.

 

Say What? Karaoke is one of those shows that you watch when your a certain age. While I certainly watched it when I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I wouldn’t watch it now.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Music, Television, TV Review

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Dawn Summers

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

To be one’s little sister is not always easy. Especially when one’s older sister is the Slayer. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that little sister is Dawn Summers. Introduced in the beginning of season 5, Dawn appeared to be the average, annoying little sister. She adored her sister’s friends and wanted to be around them. But like any big sister,Buffy did not want to have her sister around.

But up until that point, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), was an only child.  But no one questioned Dawn’s existence. Then Buffy discovered that Dawn is the Key, a mystical object turned into human form so she can be protected from Glory (Clare Kramer). After Buffy defeats Glory, Dawn is accepted as she is. But then her mother dies and Dawn has to deal with the loss of her mother. In her grief, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) helps Dawn with a spell to bring her mother back, but that does not end well.

The sisters finally mend their relationship after Buffy’s bought with with depression and Dawn’s feelings of abandonment. During the final battle at end of the series, Dawn fights with the Scooby gang and earns her stripes as an ally of the Slayer.

To sum it up: The stereotype of the annoying little sister can be fun to play with as a writer. The character of Dawn is interesting because she is much more than the basic character trope. Beyond her magical conception and abilities, she is a fully formed character whom we love to hate because she is so annoying. When a character is memorable because they are annoying, the writer(s) have done something right.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television, Uncategorized

Throwback Thursday-America’s Best Dance Crew (2008-2015)

One of the surprising results of the meteoric growth of reality television is the opportunity for those in the arts to prove that they have what it takes to succeed in their chosen field.

America’s Best Dance Crew aired on MTV from 2008 to 2015. Produced by Randy Jackson, the premise of the show was for dance crews from the around the country to introduce themselves to audiences and to compete for the title of America’s Best Dance Crew. The show was hosted Mario Lopez and the contestants were judged by three well-known performers within the music and dance industries. Each episode had a theme and each crew had to come up with their own dance based on that theme. As with any reality competition show, at the end of the season, one dance crew was named the winner.

Looking back, I feel like this show was both very cliched and very niche. Though the dancers who were competing were obviously talented and working their tails off, it was a little too predictable for my taste.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Music, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Flashback Friday-Pop-Up Video (1996-2002)

Compared the course of the history of music, the music video comparatively speaking, is still a new format. But like anything in life, one can only watch so many music videos before it becomes overkill.

This is where Pop-Up Video comes in. Airing on VH1 from 1996 to 2002, the program added to the music videos by including brief tidbits of information that had something to do with the song or the artist(s).

What I liked about Pop-Up Video is that the information that popped up was not just bland facts. Some of the pop ups contained trivia and some contained details that could be construed as naughty by some viewers. Looking back, I remember enjoying Pop-Up Video because you never knew which videos would be chosen and what information was going to be shared during the video.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Music, Television, TV Review

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Spike

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Change is a hallmark of the human experience. No matter who we are or where we come from, we all change somehow. When building characters, the key to a character’s success is to see them change somehow. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, Spike (James Marsters) transformed from a villain with a capital V to a good guy over the course of both series.

Spike was originally introduced to the Buffyverse as the villain of the week in the first season. Like any villain, he wanted to be the one who would finally do away with the slayer. But Spike is not your grandparent’s vampire, he is all rock and roll. Cockney accent, bleached blonde hair, leather jacket and bad ass in every shape and form. But he didn’t start out that way.In the late 19th century, he was a young man who just wanted to be a poet. Then was transformed into a vampire by Drusilla (Juliet Landau) and joined Drusilla’s gang of vampires. During this time, he and Drusilla become and item and stay together for many, many years.

After Drusilla dumps Spike, he starts to realize that his feelings for Buffy go deeper than the typical villain. Buffy also starts to contend with those same feelings and they play the will they/wont they game for quite a while. This game continues until the series finale of Buffy, when Spike sacrifices his himself to save the rest of the Scooby gang. The next thing he knows, he is in LA working with Angel (David Boreanaz). Despite their shared past and ex-girlfriend, Spike works with Angel to save the world once more.

To sum it up: Change is the spice of life and the backbone of any writer’s toolbox. Characters, especially major characters must change, in one form or another.  The transformation that Spike experiences over the course of both series represents the ideal change that a writer puts a character through. That transformation is why over twenty years later, fans of the Buffyverse still adore Spike.

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Throwback Thursday-Making the Video (1999-2011)

Going behind the scenes in Hollywood has fascinated audiences for generations.

Making the Video was a staple of MTV’s schedule from 1999 until 2011. At the start of the episode, the director explains the concept of the video. Then the viewer watches as the artist(s) film the video. At the end of the episode, the completed music video makes its debut.

Making the Video was part behind the scenes look and part publicity for the band or the artist who was featured in the particular episode. But it worked because it showed how much work it took to put together a three or four-minute music video. It was a fun program to watch.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Music, Television, Throwback Thursday

The Holocaust and the Attack on Jussie Smollett Happened For The Same Reason

This past Sunday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Earlier this week, actor Jussie Smollett was verbally and physically attacked on the streets of Chicago for being a member of the African-American and LGBTQ communities.

Though both events may appear to be different, they are related by one very disturbing fact: someone decided that because another human being is different, they have the right to verbally abuse and physically attack them. In an ideal world, we would judge our fellow human being by who they are as an individual, not by how the identify themselves. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where we someone walking down the street and we judge them based on factors such as skin color, religion, etc.

Last night, actor Ellen Page was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and accused Vice President Mike Pence of contributing to the attack on Mr. Smollett.

I agree with her. Whether we realize it or not, those in power can influence the average man or woman on the street. If we see our political leaders working towards diversity and respect, we try to emulate them. On the flip side, if we see our political leaders endorsing hate/prejudice and using their position to legislate either, we see it as a go ahead to attack another human being because they are not like us.

It’s 2019. We have a choice at this point. We can choose love, diversity and respect for our fellow beings. Or, we can continue on this path of hate and prejudice. I hope that we (when I say we, I mean a collective cultural “we”), choose love, diversity and respect. But these days, hope often springs eternal.

 

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Filed under History, Movies, Politics, Television