Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Season Seven Showdown: Episode 1 - "Meet the New Boss" vs. "Lessons"

So we are doing this new blog series comparing and contrasting Buffy's Season 7 with a show that seems to have gone down a very similar path: Supernatural and it's own current Season 7. Today we're starting at the top by comparing and contrasting the season premieres. Let's get to it!

Supernatural Episode #1 - "Meet the New Boss"
Episode Synopsis - Cas is riding the crazy train and by the time he finds his yellow crayon, it's too late. Also, the wall that Death put in Sam's head last season has crashed down and no one will help him put up some drywall. Geez, where's Xander when you need him?

The Deets:
This episode begins precisely where last season ends, with Castiel-God demanding worship from The Hotness + Bobby. I'm a big time sucker for an over-the-summer cliffhanger and pick-up so I'm already swooning. Don't worry about the boys, Cas decides to leave them alone and go on a killing spree of some Tea Party members, then tries to make a deal with Badger. While that's going on, Bobby tries to look for a way to stop him, Sammy's in a coma because of this continuing pesky Hell Wall business and Dean drinks a lot. The Impala's still all bashed up too.

A little later, a random, tied up, home dwelling couple have to witness all their shit being destroyed and a demonic ritual spell, courtesy of Badger. See, he passed them a note so they can bind up Death and they needed the couple's Lightning Crystal to do so. It's a little cooler than it sounds. And speaking of, yay, it's Death!! Love him. Unfortunately Death isn't as happy to see me, but after a pissing match with Castiel, he decides he doesn't like that arrogant kid and will assist The Hotness in their mission. The plan is for Death to create another eclipse to put The Souls that are currently power-upping Cas back in their rightful place in Purgatory. Death leaves, but not before giving a final warning to never bind him again or their pretty asses will be sorry. Oh, and there were pickle chips.

In the end, The Almighty Cas learns that killing is bad! He also discovers the pesky Leviathans living inside his body. Yep, these older than dirt evil guys hitched a ride with the souls when Cas powered up in the first place. So during the magic eclipse he gets rid of the souls, but unfortunately the Leviathans hold on during the process and now Cas is all "Here's Johnny!" I doubt we're up to Big Bad territory so early in the season, but we'll see.

At this same moment, Lucifer gets all up in Sam's head...teasing that the hallucinations he's been experiencing all episode long might actually be the work of a "Normal Again" type-situation - meaning he never left the basement of Sunnydale High, er, I mean mental hospital, er, Hell. It's the CAGE in HELL. Sorry, I'm already getting confused.

Buffy Episode #1 - "Lessons"
We start off with the killing of a potential slayer in Istanbul, quickly followed by Buffy training Dawn in the graveyard, driving home the season's ultimate point: that it's all about Power with these evil jerks. The thing the sisters are most worried about, however, is Dawn's first day at the brand, spanking new Sunnydale high. When they arrive the next day, they meet the new Principal, Robin Wood. Then Buffy gets freaked when she sees some evil in the restroom mirror and begins to doubt what Xander told her at breakfast: that there isn't any shady mystical spots on the new school's property. In other words, there is a SERIOUS shady mystical spot on the property, but we don't actually find that out until much later in the season. What is happening right now is there are some dead ghost zombie thingees. Shortly after, Dawn, new-girl-Kit and new-boy-Carlos end up crashing through the floor to the basement and a new mini Scooby Gang is formed! The Scrappy Gang! Or...not.

Off in England, Willow is being rehabbed by Giles and a fab coven. She is recovering from her post-Warren flaying, apocalyptic breakdown caused by Tara's murder, of course. Willow is there connecting with nature and learning that her deep magical power comes from the earth where everything is connected, but it's not all peachy with a side of keen. Some of it is evil and teethy, like the hell mouth.

Back at new Sunnydale High, Buffy's off to find Dawn but finds instead not only a bunch o' dead ghost zombie thingees but hey! Look it's Crazy-in-the-Basement-Spike! But he's sad. He went and scored himself a soul and now he's paying the high price. Pesky souls...when they're not plentiful inside Castiel or totally evading Sammy, they're just plain torturing Blondie Bear.

In the end, Buffy kicks some evil butt, Xander breaks a talisman and the monsters of the week are dead. It's kinda lame. But then something so awesome happens it turns this episode from a C to a...B+ like that! *snap* Nearly every Big Bad we've ever had morphs into one after another while giving Spike a speech about Power, ultimately landing on Buffy's form. I mean we got Warren and The Mayor and Glory (woo!) and Adam and Dru and even the frickin' Master! Taking it old school only like Joss can. It was a seriously bad-ass moment in Buffy history.

How do the eps compare?
Well, these 2 premieres are actually pretty different. Supernatch is wrapping up last season's arc and continuing on from there; Buffy is trying to basically be a new show at this point. It's all about the newness of Sunnydale High, Buffy's fresh outlook on life, the new hot Principal and even the new Scrappy Gang...which as we know goes nowhere and ends up being a totally wasted crew. In fact, the 3 minutes we learn about the tied up couple that got their Lightning Crystal robbed was probably more interesting. On the other hand, Supernatural's episode is sort of ironically called "Meet the New Boss", as it's really kind of the same ole'.

One interesting parallel, however, is Crazy-In-The-Basement Spike's evil-induced hallucinations alongside Sammy's same. Additionally, both shows are taunting us with evil "old ones." Guess it's a Season 7 thing.

Mini Battles!!:
Best Episode Villain:
Zombie Ghost Thingees vs. The Almighty Cas. Winner = Supernatural
(and later The First vs. Cas as a Leviathan. Winner=Too early to call.)

Snappy/Lame Comeback:
“Excuse me, do you have any Grey Poupon?” — Dean vs. Buffy, who uncharacteristically didn't even have one all episode. Winner = Supernatural

Epic Episode Ending:
Cas playing what is probably now his 5th character on this series vs. The First channeling nearly every major awesome villain ever.  (The Master, The Mayor and Glory, oh my!) Winner = Buffy

Final Ruling:
Gotta give this one to Supernatural. Barring a few, season openers were never Buffy's strong suit and "Lessons" is no exception. It definitely IS one of the better episodes of Buffy Season 7, though, so I'd say Supernatch is off to a good start beating out this one.

Season tally so far:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Season Seven Showdown: Buffy vs. Supernatural

Today we're announcing a new blog series that will span the entirety of the 2011-12 TV season! Get ready Supernatural fans, this one's for you! We've been wanting to bring our love for Supernatural to Buffyfest for some time and after a recent internal disagreement, an idea was born. In a nutshell, we were discussing if Supernatural is going the way of Buffy in it's final seasons. The bad way. I say it won't, but Michelle thinks I'm setting myself up for heartbreak. So we plan on putting this all to the test by doing an episode comparison until next May. Yes, this will probably entail a S.7 Buffy re-watch.

That's a whole lotta hotness.
Let me explain: While we're clearly obsessed with Buffy, it's no secret that most of us here at Buffyfest believe it's final 2 TV seasons were it's weakest. Season 6 was what it was (and we don't really need to re-ignite that debate), but I remember like it was yesterday the hope that Buffy's Season 7 brought me. Week after week, I swore to the gods that Joss would turn it all around by the end. Sadly, it didn't really happen. Every week was a let-down (ugh, Buffy couldn't beat that one vampire for 5 episodes?? Really?). Potentials were everywhere and by the time "Chosen" came around, we were phoning it in as much as SMG was.

Fast forward to present-ish day. Supernatural is "Buffy with Boys" (Michelle's words) as there are so many obvious similarities between the shows. From crossover actors, to the demons, to the lore. Both lead characters have apocalyptic prophecies and every single character on both shows have some serious daddy/little sibling issues. Dean's deal with the crossroads demon is strikingly similar to Willow resurrecting Buffy. Not to mention, all both Sam and Buffy ever wanted was just want to be free of it all and have a normal life, dammit!

Nothing drives the comparison point home more than the Season 5 finales of both shows. Ah, the Season 5s. Buffy ended with a banger of an episode, "The Gift", and Supernatural's S.5 finale, "Swan Song", was basically the same exact fabulous episode. They both tell a tale of understanding that being hero often means making a sacrifice - not just to save not just the world, but for family. Both Sam's and Buffy's apocalypse-averting suicides are illustrated as a final, fatal tumble into a mystical hole of energy. Unfortunately, the biggest comparison might be that both "The Gift" and "Swan Song" should've been the series finales of both shows.

But they weren't the end...and that's where this particular idea began. After the series kept going - Buffy on a new network and largely without Joss and Supernatch without series creator Eric Kripke - the similarities kept on going too, both good and awful. From main characters coming back from the afterlife wrong (which got depressing fast) to Castiel's abuse of power mimicking Willow's descent into the "magic is a drug" abyss to some simply lame-ass villains. Point is, being familiar to Buffy S.6 isn't really a good thing around here so basically Supernatural got a little sucky. So now that the pattern's been explained you'll understand that some of the team over here think that trend will continue and that Supernatural is destined for a Buffy Season 7-type crash and burn.

Call me naive, but I still have hope just as I did way back then. So what we're going to do for the entire season is an episode-by-episode comparative study of Season 7. After a new Supernatural episode airs, we are going to recap it alongside the same numbered episode of Buffy Season 7. What will be similar? What will be different? And most importantly, will Supernatural survive the series ending curse that Buffy had on it? Or will it prove that "Swan Song" should've been it's...well...swan song. Sera Gamble, you better not let me down. Check in tomorrow for the Season Premieres and comparison #1!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

(SPOILERS) Angel and Faith #2 - REVIEWED!

What it is: Angel and Faith #2
Who done it: Christos Gage (w), Rebekah Isaacs (a)
When it comes out: September 28, 2011

The review:

We ended Angel and Faith #1 with the bombshell that Angel intends to bring Giles back from the dead. How he plans to do it and how Faith figures into that plan are the topic du jour in issue 2. What you are about to read is a tease. We do our best to favor textual analysis over spoilers but, be warned, that some aspects of the issue will be discussed. With that, brave reader, soldier forward if you dare.

Gage continues to take a more direct approach with the storytelling of A&F than Whedon and Chambliss do with Buffy. While Buffy’s narration is almost entirely focused on Buffy herself, Faith’s is focused less on internal matters and more on Angel and the new world order.

That brave new world factors into the narrative pretty heavily. Another difference between A&F and Buffy is that, here, we’re already seeing how different things are post seed-destruction, especially for the demon crowd. Also unlike Buffy, Angel and Faith are very much in the thick of things. We spend a fair amount of time with them in the seedy underbelly of demon society and the landscape has definitely changed. Whereas at the end of Angel Season 5 there seemed to be a kind of demon pecking order, now it feels as though it’s every monster for themselves.

While much of our time is spent following around our protagonists, that doesn’t mean Gage skimps on developing the supporting cast. One of the more likable aspects of A&F so far is how visceral and real its world feels. Characters like Nadira, a demon named Kurth, and our villains, Nash and Pearl, help make the reader feel like the rest of existence doesn’t fall away whenever Angel and Faith aren’t on the scene. This is a London teeming with excitement where things are happening whether Angel and Faith are there or not.

The title of this book feels more and more aptly named with each page. This really is a shared book and the relationship between Angel and Faith is what makes it worth reading. It’s fascinating watching the reversal of fortune between the pair. Whereas once Angel was the one trying to save Faith from herself, now it’s Faith who has to have Angel’s back, even when she thinks he’s got it wrong. It’s a complicated dynamic, one that continues to exceed expectation.

In the end, though, A&F #2 is Faith’s story and she absolutely shines in it. Gage’s characterization is spot on. Faith’s behavior is believable and her dialogue is natural. That doesn’t mean this is the same old Faith, though. She’s really evolved here in a way that fans of her character always hoped she would.

Add to all of that a delicious noir feel, another solid Giles flashback, continued spectacular artwork from Rebekah Isaacs, and what you get is a story that’s the perfect mix of classic Angel and something brand spanking new.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It Just Got Serious- Update to the #MyBuffyLife Video Contest!

Dark Horse is "upping the stakes" (HA!) in our joint video contest that is currently underway with some fantastic new prizes added to the lot! The INCREDIBLE full prize pack now includes:

1. Full Set of the Buffy Season 8 trade-paperbacks
2. Hardcover of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Tales
3. A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lunch box. Cute!
4. *newly added* A Signed copy of Buffy Season 9 #1 25th Anniversary cover from Georges Jeanty
5. *newly added* And a signed Buffy/Angel & Faith Trifold - signed by Joss Whedon, Andrew Chambliss, and Jo Chen

Whaat? I want that last one but I don't think we have the power to rig this whole thing. Now you only have another 10 days! So if you want to win those great prizes and the glory of creating the best Season 9 FanVid, all you have to do is follow the instructions in our original post like Buffy Artist Mr. Fab Georges Jeanty did below:

If you have any questions at all, feel free to email us at Buffyfest@aim.com

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sarah Michelle Gellar's Final Bow in 'All My Children"

As previously reported, Sarah Michelle Gellar is returning to the show that won her an Emmy, Soap Opera All My Children, before it's ultimate demise. She will be appearing on the Wed., Sept. 21 episode.

Smidge played the role of Kendall Hart, Erica Kane's daughter, from 1993-1995. Kendall is now played by Alicia Minshew, so in true Soap form, SMG will play a mental hospital patient who thinks she's Erica Kane's daughter! Makes so much sense! Check out the teaser for the upcoming ep below and for a real blast from the past, see an early Buffyfest post of SMG's previous last scene on the Soap back in 1995:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Neil Patrick Harris Receives Star on Walk of Fame with Joss Whedon at His Side!

Today NPH received the 2,448th star on the Walk of Fame, which was the 587th Hollywood star in the Television category. With him at the ceremony was his partner David Burtka, your master Joss Whedon and How I Met Your Mother co-star Jason "thiiiss close to being in the Whedonverse" Segel.

Jason was quoted as saying "Quite simply, he's the mostly wildly talented person I've ever been around. There's no jokes coming up in this part, this part's sincere: He can act and he can sing and he can dance, and he's a magician, and he can host and he can direct. Like Joss said, he has the kind of talent that people had in the old days when you had to actually be talented to be famous."

NPH's star can be found at 6245 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA. See more pics here and here and video from the event here. Joss is in the background of that video and for the record he is NOT wearing the shirt.

POLL - Are you buying Season 9? We wanna know!

With Season 9 officially underway, it's time to start crunching the numbers.  It's also time to hear what you thought.  Answer the poll questions below and you'll get a shiny nickel!  Okay, I'm lying.  Fresh out of nickels.  Answer the poll anyway and, in exchange, there will be... science! Delicious, poll-flavored science!  Alright, let's do this thing.

Happy polling! We'll have some results back for you at the beginning of next week. And don't forget to tell us in painful detail what you think of Season 9 so far in the comments!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coupon for 20% off Buffy S.9 #1 - Courtesy of Buffyfest & Forbidden Planet NYC!

If you're in the NYC area, then print this puppy out and get tomorrow's anticipated Buffy season premiere issue "Freefall #1" for 20% off the usual price! Only on Buffyfest - Only at Forbidden Planet. You're welcome!

Smidge on our TV Screens...Must be Tuesday!

OK let's support our girl, people. Don't forget to watch Sarah Michelle Gellar's new series Ringer on the CW tonight 9/8c!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Buffy Season 9 starts this week, but is it the Buffy we know?

At the close of Buffy’s eighth season, Dark Horse had a surly and vocal fanbase on their hands. After four years of experimenting with the Buffy formula, Joss Whedon himself made a solemn vow to get back to basics. Well, we’ve read our review copy and we’re ready to spill the beans. Do we think Joss made good on his promise?


Review over.


Kidding! I’m kidding!  Jeez, put the stake down, lady!

Okay, without spoiling the issue more than it already has been elsewhere, here’s the skinny. The majority of the first issue takes place during a party at Buffy’s new digs and the hung-over day that follows. Other things happen, too, but why spoil the surprise?

While Christos Gage takes more of a third-person omniscient approach with Angel and Faith, Buffy’s first issue, while not a straight up first-person narrative, is very much filtered through Buffy’s perspective. As a result, the issue either lives or dies by how well the reader relates to Buffy and by how well she relates to everyone else.

But who is Buffy now? Gone are the days of stoic, general Buffy and, while she continues to work through her own guilt over the consequences of Season 8, primarily this Buffy is all about putting her best foot forward. She’s reconnecting with old friends, she’s making new friends, and she’s taking furtive steps to rekindle things with all her serious ex-boyfriends who aren’t named Angel. Also, she’s very, very drunk. Shucks howdy, is she drunk.

If anything, Buffy seems most like her season four premiere self here – mostly upbeat, but easily dragged down by her own confusion about where she’s supposed to go next. Drawing that comparison segues us nicely into a big question this issue raises.

Is Buffy ever going to grow up? The issue shows us that the rest of the ensemble has matured. Not Buffy, though. After everything she’s been through, she’s still repeating her classic behavior of retreating back into her child-like self where it’s all jokes and deflection. It’s not time to pass judgment yet since this is only issue one but, at the moment, we’re hoping we see some real growth and maturity from Buffy in the months to come.

On the whole, the comic raises more questions than it answers. Instead of questions like “Who is Twilight”, however, we’re dealing more with stuff like “Can Buffy and Willow still be friends” and “Who’s the mystery guy that lives next door”. Indeed, there are hints and mysteries revolving around many of our character’s interrelationships. There are larger things happening, too, but those take a backseat to the personal fare.

The Twilight arc, boiled down, involved Buffy letting herself get out of control and then having to backtrack to figure out what she did and how to fix it. The story in this issue is very similar, just on a much smaller scale. That’s what Joss promised at the end of Season 8 and, with issue one, he’s kept to that promise. We’ve traded macrocosm for microcosm and it feels good.

All in all, not too shabby. You’ve got our interest, Dark Horse. What’s next?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dark Horse & Buffyfest are Hosting a Contest! #MyBuffyLife

We're very excited! The fine people at Dark Horse have teamed up with yours truly to give away some truly fab prizes in honor of Buffy Season 9. The general gist is, you make videos, we get to hoot, holler or cry about them and then choose the top 10 finalists! Super Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn get final say in who wins the top spot, however, so don't bother trying to bribe us with that signed stake from Season 3 or Boreano's gum that you bought on eBay or whatever...

Here's how it works: You'll jump over to the Dark Horse YouTube page and check out the Buffy Season 9 Trailer. Then you'll record a video response and post it as a video response to the Trailer there on YouTube. You can talk about Season 9, Season 8, Buffy in General; make a commercial for Buffy Season 9, a Music Video, a Buffy comedy sketch...or any other idea that takes your fancy. Buffyfest will choose 10 finalists from all entries and Editors Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn will choose One (1) winner with the most engaging video. Dark horse will then give that winner the following:

1. Full Set of the Buffy Season 8 trade-paperbacks
2. Hardcover of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Tales
3. A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lunch box. Cute!
4. *newly added* A Signed copy of Buffy Season 9 #1 25th Anniversary cover from Georges Jeanty
5. *newly added* And a signed Buffy/Angel & Faith Trifold - signed by Joss Whedon, Andrew Chambliss, and Jo Chen
6. 7 foot tall amazing Buffy Banner.

This contest runs until 10/16/11, so if you want the prize, better get vidding!

1. Each entry must be a video response posted to the YouTube page for the Buffy Season 9 Trailer.
2. Each entry must show the cover of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #1, at least briefly. - Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3
3. Each entry must contain a YouTube annotation with a link to the #MyBuffyLife Twitter search.
4. Entries must be posted by midnight (PDT) Oct. 16th, 2011

The fine print: No purchase necessary. One online entry per person (one e-mail address per person/address). You must be eighteen years of age or older to enter. Contest entries only accepted from people living in North America (United States and Canada) and submitted by midnight (PDT), Oct. 16th, 2011, to be eligible. Winner will be selected based upon the quality of submitted video (as determined at Dark Horse's sole discretion) from all applicable entries and will be notified by October 26th, 2011. Entry constitutes agreement by winners to be publicized and permission to use each winner's name for the purposes of promotion of the Contest without further compensation. Contest void where prohibited. Odds of winning dependent on number of entrants.

Want Joss Whedon's Now Infamous Two-Tone Henley Shirt?

Well now you can have it and look like the man in charge every single day! Well, that is if you wear the same shirt every day. Anyway, buy Joss's SDCC shirt here and here. Get 'em while they're hot and don't said I never did anything for ya...

**Awesome Update!: Use Coupon Code jacks15 for a 15% off discount at that second link!

Another Update: now available at Urban Outfitters.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Time Joss Whedon Photo Bombed Our Interview.

This little story I'm about to tell, is perhaps the craziest and most ridiculous thing that has ever happened to us in our time as Buffyfest.

Last month we interviewed Buffy Season 9 Writer Andrew Chambliss and Artist Georges Jeanty at SDCC. After we published the post, a commenter on the YouTube pointed out that at the 3:58 mark of the video Joss Whedon actually walks behind us (video on right). At first this seemed totally implausible, how could 6 people all involved with this man not notice such a ridiculous thing? But after viewing the video on our phones at that very moment on the Hall H line, we realized how true and silly it all was. Joss totally passed through the Dark Horse booth at the time of our recording and probably didn't even notice that his worshipers and employees were right there talking about him.

But there is so much more to this story. We recently realized we still have footage of the other angle from our 2nd camera! What would it reveal? Did Joss actually know we were there or just passing through? Upon further inspection and analysis, we found the unimaginable. Not only did Joss Whedon pass through the booth, but he stopped, stared at us, pointed at us, adjusted his hat, spoke to the person he was with about Andrew, Georges, Scott Allie and what was going on at that moment (i.e. OUR INTERVIEW) for over a full minute...all while about 2 feet behind Michelle's shoulder. And again, not one of the 6 of us behind or in front of the camera has the slightest clue. Andrew Chambliss is actually using the words "Joss is kind of busy right now with The Avengers." HE'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU GUYS!

Oh  man, you have to see it to believe it. We are the biggest idiots ever. See for yourself below (complete with UFO spotlight) and please laugh at our expense. I'm fairly sure this wouldn't have happened if Bitsy was there.

Sheesh and Fail. Joss Whedon is so our White Whale. Maybe we'll get him next time!