The Threeway: Top 3 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Couples (Adam’s Take)

3smallIt’s Valentine’s Day. That means we need to roll out the romance. What’s a geek site to do, that publishes lists every Thursday, when Thursday and Valentine’s Day intersect? We populate with Geeky Couples of course!

First, there are some couple that I think are iconic, but don’t make the list. Lois and Clark being the most notable (I just never, ever, really buy into their relationship). Or Riker and Troi (just because you are Imazadi doesn’t mean you have chemistry). Or…whatever their names are in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (wonderful love story, but if I can’t remember the character names, they can’t make the list).

buffy_angel1#3) Buffy and Angel: I was tempted to put them at #1. But, honestly,the Buffy/Spike fiasco of the later seasons diminishes this couple for me. Like Anthony said, I could make an entire list of Whedon characters: Buffy/Angel, Fred/Gunn, and Wash/Zoe are just a few. Angel/Cordelia, Wes/Lilah, Willow/Oz, Angelus/Darla,  etc., they are all great. I buy into their relationships every time I watch any episode and I’m immediately torn when, inevitably, Joss stabs us with an emotional dagger. The Season 2 finale of “Buffy” (where Angelus turns back to Angel, and now Buffy must send her lover, literally, to hell) was emotionally gut wrenching. Even re-watching it a few years ago it was amazing. TV rarely gets better. Continue reading

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The Threeway: Top 3 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Couples (Anthony’s Take)

3smallWe here at The Threeway understand that the community at large has varying opinions on February 14. Some see it as a schmaltzy Hallmark-manufactured holiday to be reviled, others see it as an opportunity to express their love and (hopefully) not be pepper-sprayed, still others see it as the day before Discount-Candyageddon (that fateful day when wallets and waistlines begin a devious inverse relationship).

But lets put all that aside for now and take a look at what really matters this Valentine’s Day: our favorite sci-fi/fantasy couples.

Zoe&Wash3. Zoe & Wash, “Firefly” – Alright, let’s get this out of the way, if you’re looking for gut-wrenching, kick-you-in-the-teeth relationship dynamics, you need go no farther than Joss Whedon. Honestly I could easily make this list all Whedon couples and be completely satisfied. But I’ll limit myself to one (maybe two). Zoe and Wash sport a wonderful mix of swapped gender roles (Joss loves to toy with those). But where in many hands a “hard woman, sensitive man” dynamic comes off as preachy and sensationalistic, Whedon gives us characters that are deeply comfortable with each other and with their relationship. Indeed, watching them mess with people’s heads when they try to pick at the couple is one of the things that made “Firefly” work so well.  Continue reading

The Threeway: Top 3 ThinkGeek T-Shirts (Anthony’s Take)

3smallNot content to merely flirt around with ThinkGeek’s prodigious t-shirt catalog last week; we decided we needed a little more time to really dive in and pick out the gems. Made of cotton. Cotton gems, then. Like lint balls. Only…geeky…

On with the shirts!

d3e6_interesting#3: I had to include at least one “Firefly” shirt. Since I actually owned the “Curse your sudden, but inevitable betrayal” model at one point, I figured I should include this, more obscure, but equally delicious, Wash reference. Be a leaf on the wind when you wear it. Continue reading

The Threeway: Best TV Halloween Episodes/Specials (Adam’s Take)

I never thought the Halloween themed posts would be hard for me. I struggled with the Candy one last week (although I feel like I came up with a good list). This week…Halloween specials? The problem is that every show has a Halloween episode nowadays (hell, “Modern Family” had one). So there’s really nothing special. I could dig into the usual bag (“Great Pumpkin” for instance) but that’s too easy.

 

3) Treehouse of Horrors – “The Simpsons” Now, maybe Treehouse of Horror II was better (or VII or whatever). I don’t recall any specific segment of any of the episodes. But, even after “The Simpsons” went downhill, I still watched the Treehouse episode. Those times are gone now, sadly, but I still appreciate them.

2) This one is a cop-out. I was going to go with the Slutty Pumpkin from “How I Met Your Mother” but Janie used it. And, since my #1 is also on Janie’s list…I needed to change.

In my mind’s eye I have a vision. My 8-year old self watching an episode of “Knight Rider.” I don’t know if it was a Halloween episode (officially) or not. But I have an image of KITT at the Psycho house. It’s one of those freeze frames from childhood that stays with you forever. I don’t know what the episode was about (I could google it, but that seems like a waste of 10 seconds of my life) but the thought of it still freaks me out.

1) Halloween – “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – This one takes the cake (er…candy?) for me. What any show should aspire to in a Halloween episode. It is filled with character and plot that isn’t “out of nowhere.” It fits naturally into the environment and theme of the show. Plus, it gives us our first glimpse into the background of Giles (as Ethan appears – is this the episode where “Ripper” comes from? I can’t recall (and am too lazy to check right now)).

The plot is relatively simple – the Scooby Gang buys costumes and they turn into that costume (Xander a military action figure, Willow a ghost and Buffy an 18th-Century damsel in a-dress. Bonus is that it started the tradition of Halloween-themed episodes for the show.

The Threeway: Best TV Halloween Episodes/Specials (Anthony’s Take)

I’m of two minds on “Special Halloween Episodes.” On one hand, I love Halloween and I especially love seeing characters in shows that I like get silly over the holiday. On the other, I’m old and cranky and have seen enough “tee-hee, those guys are in costume!” episodes to last me a lifetime. Also, the episodes where wacky, weird stuff happens that’s totally out of continuity? Sorry, but you’ve just lost a viewer. If you’re going to pull the Halloween tag, you’d better make it stick.

3) Let start things off on a lighter note – “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” is classic Halloween animation at its finest. That thrill of being someone, something else and then getting free candy that you could eat as much as you want? That right there is enough to propel Halloween into the greatest of all holidays in a kid’s mind. What really makes “Great Pumpkin” stick is that Charles Schultz captures that childhood joy; without all the baggage that adults have foisted onto it over the last few decades. And lest things tip over into the sickly-sweet, there’s always Charlie Brown’s frequent lamentation of “I got a rock;” a phrase that has shown up in nearly every Halloween-themed anything in the past 20 years.  And the fact that I dressed my son up in a sheet with a couple of holes in it and considered it a costume…well, let’s just say it wasn’t lazy parenting as much as it was an homage to a beloved Halloween special of my youth.

Please?

Actual Size

2) Not unsurprisingly, “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” is always near and dear to my heart when October rolls around. In the second season, the Scooby Gang found themselves trapped as manifestations of their costumes. Two seasons later, the gang again find themselves trapped, except this time in a frat house possessed by a manifesting fear demon (wonderfully, we start off with Xander dressed up as a secret agent/head waiter “just in case” the costume thing happens again). Season Four was uneven at best, but “Fear, Itself” was one of the bright spots. Anya’s fear of bunnies? Discovered when she deadpans to Xander “Bunnies frighten me.” Giles’ maturation from staid librarian/Watcher to something a bit more independent? I can’t be the only one that cheered a little when, instead of finding a more subtle way to find a way into the frat house, Giles sawed through the wall with a chainsaw. And as each of the Scoobies are faced with their own worst fears, we get juicy insights into what makes all of them tick. The “jokey” ending belied the seriousness of the episode (“They’re all going to leave you, you know.”), but a lot of what was good about Season Four (and beyond) has roots in this episode.

Heeeeere’s, Wesly

1) Simple fact is, no one does Halloween like the Whedon-verse. And the “Angel” Season Three episode, “Billy,” is no exception. Except that it isn’t overly Halloweeny. There are no decorative streamers. There are no gory monsters or clattering skeletons. There’s nary a costume in sight. So why does this ep get my number one spot? Wes and Fred.

This was the episode where Wes finally admitted that he had romantic stylings on our poor Winifred; which, for any Whedonite, is a flashing warning sign that horrible things are about to happen. And horrible things do happen. The titular character (who Angel had busted out of Hell in a previous ep, natch) is able to “infect” the males around him with the worst kind of misogyny; the kind where they feel justified in belittling and physical harming the women around them. Watching Wes come under Billy’s thrall, watching that formerly sweet passion turn rancid, is one of the most genuinely horrifying things I’ve seen done to Wes (who is no stranger to having horrible things done to him). The scene at the end between Wes and Fred, when we’re realizing just what has been lost, is heartbreaking, haunting, and genuinely gives me chills. It might not be the most in-your-face Halloween episode; but I find that to be part of its charm. It proves that you don’t need a gallon of blood to make something terrifying; just have a man betray his deepest intentions and watch him turn into the person he swore he’d never become.

The Threeway: Best Post-Buffy/Angel Roles (Janie’s Take)

This Threeway was an interesting choice given that roughly 90% of the Buffy/Angel cast have gone on to do relatively little. I loved ‘em all in B & A, but most never seemed to find their footing after the show (Bones’ David Boreanez and How I Met Your Mother’s Alyson Hannigan Denisof, the 10% exception). Even Seth Green, who I all but bowed and worshipped in Buffy, hasn’t done anything to excite me lately.

(Sorry A1, Robot Chicken? Not really exciting me)

So, as much as the initial thought of this Threeway (something to do with Joss? Okay, I’m in! I’m in!!) excited me, when I really thought about it, the pool was pretty small.

#3: Emma Caulfield in TiMER.  Like everyone else, I found Anya annoying as crap on Buffy. But I loved her in TiMER, a little Indy gem that came out in 2009. Or maybe it wasn’t her that I really liked, just the movie overall. Regardless – a great concept for a film. What would your life be like if a timer on your wrist counted down to the moment you would meet your true love?  It’s available on Neflix Instant. Check it out.

You don’t recognize Wes? Seriously?

#2 Alexis Denisof as The Other in The Avengers. Yeah, he’s that alien thing who’s behind Loki’s attack. And no, I wouldn’t have known if A1 hadn’t pointed it out earlier. And yeah, this is pretty much cheating. But, oh well.

“Humans… They are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They stand. They are unruly, and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court death.”

#1 Amy Acker in… pretty much everything she’s ever in. I loved sweet little Fred in Angel. I loved that everyone was in love with her, because how could you not be? But

Sweet Fred.

towards the end of the series when she became Illyria –

Sweet Mother of God… Fred??

that’s when I truly began to appreciate Amy Acker, the actress. She can go from girl-next-door to ass-kicking powerhouse in 1.1 seconds and it’s a beautiful thing to behold. She hasn’t had any real breakout roles yet, but I believe she will and she’ll be around for a long, long time.

The Threeway: Best Post-Buffy/Angel Roles

This might, might, come as a surprise, but we here at Sweep The Leg enjoy the works of Joss Whedon. Now while you cinch your jaw back up and pick yourself up off the floor, I would like to point out that we understand that carrying a torch for a pair of shows that have been off the air for nearly a decade is unhealthy, maybe even foolhardy. So we are not going to obsess about “Buffy” and “Angel,” no.

We’re going to obsess about what the alum of those shows have been up to since!

3. Can we talk for a second how unrepentant of a nerd Seth Green is? That wall of action figures in Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” video?  His. The Twitter feed that’s littered with gushing send ups of NASA and various video games? Also his. That stop-action animation show where you’re just as likely to see Voltron break dancing as you are Clifford being castrated by a bucket crane? You bet your ass that’s his. Green’s greatest hat trick was getting cast as the “cool” kid on Buffy; because he could then use his spotlight to illuminate hardcore geekdom and somehow convince everyone else that it was just as “cool” as playing in a band and occasionally wolfing out and trying to eat your friends. “Robot Chicken” was his first big production credit after “Buffy” ended and it seemed incredibly niche: 80s nostalgia-bait, as depicted by their action figures, acting out the horribly inappropriate scenarios that all nerds have entertained themselves with since time immemorial. But it worked, because he knew what all nerds know, pop-culture characters acting in ways that go deeply off-script is damn funny. Just queue up the…OK, you know what, I just spent a good 15 minutes lost in “Robot Chicken” clips and can’t even remember which one I went looking for. It’s funny, it’s nerdy, and it’s the best thing Green’s done since “Buffy.” M’kay?

2. Ah, Wes. Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndham Price was by far my favorite character in “Angel.” So much so, that I wrote up a long treatise wherein I proposed that the underlying story of that series was more of a character development arc for him than for the main character. So maybe I’m biased. Scratch that, I’m biased. Still, his character on “How I Met Your Mother,” Sandy Rivers, is goofy fun personified. It’s not quite an “Anchorman” quality send-up of network news anchors; but the barely-believable American accent and over-exaggerated mannerisms come together in a way that’s wonderfully watchable and makes me wish that they’d get rid of Ted and replace him with Sandy.

Continue reading

The Splash Page: Billy the Vampire Slayer?

I started out my life on the internet as a reviewer for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel.” So I came here ready to rant and rave. Y’see – they’ve continued Buffy in a increasingly less interesting and more “Buh-WHA?” series of comics. Currently we’re on Season 9 and the upcoming issue is going to feature…well…

Everyone, say hello to Billy the Vampire Slayer. Billy, say hello to the five or ten people that are still reading Season 9.

So a male vampire slayer already has me firing up my rant engines. But then Espenson (who’s penning this arc) let it drop to CBR that Billy is gay and that’s why he’s the first male slayer.

We want YOU! …to suffer horribly, lose your family, and probably have to kill your boyfriend, m’kay?

Cue the “Buh-WHA?”

However, once you get past the headline-grabbing demographic bits, it turns out there’s a method to this madness. See, Billy isn’t an honest-to-Joss “Slayer” but someone who is inspired by their mythos, sees a need in his community, and takes it upon himself to become like his heroines. Even though he can’t tap into their power. Even though he’s completely alone in his battle. Which, in my mind, makes Billy one of the most badass Slayers out there.

And, really – who can resist the pull of a group who puts out such lovely recruitment posters?

Counterpoint: Joss and “Mehvengers 2”

AssembleOK…this is like throwing chum in the water. We’ll see who’s faster, Anthony or Janie to respond to this and tear me apart. But, honestly, my reaction to Joss directing “Avengers 2” was “meh.”

Let me put this into some perspective. I loved “The Avengers” (it was on my Top 3 Superhero movie list the other week). “Angel,” “Buffy,” and “Firefly” are three of my favorite shows of all time. I’m a Whedonite.

Which is why I’m “meh” about this. He’s already done “The Avengers” (and did it well) I want him to move on. I don’t want to wait another three years before I get my next fix (not counting “Much Ado About Nothing” later this year which…I’m skeptical about – given the fact it was shot over a weekend in his backyard).

I want Whedon NOW. As such, I found it much more exciting that he’ll be involved in the show that Marvel is pitching ABC. That excites me. He’ll be anchored by “Avengers 2” though. It’ll weigh him down. He won’t get lost in the TV side because he’ll be prepping the Next Big Thing. Remember the last time he wasn’t completely invested in TV? We got “Dollhouse” (which was OK, but it didn’t live up to its pedigree).

Get him back on TV. Give me 22 hours of Whedon to digest a year. Not 2.5 hours in three years.

Secondly…and this may be unfair, but too bad. When “Iron Man” came out geeks went nutz and said “YES! Favreau for the Win! He’s GOT to do “Iron Man 2!” And, he did. How’d that work for you? You weren’t clamoring for him for Part 3, were you? No, you were happier that he spread his wings to “Cowboys & Aliens” (even if the result was awful). I’m much more excited about Shane Black doing “Iron Man 3” than I am about Joss doing “Avengers 2.”

I like new blood to spice things up. I like people that are hungry. Joss had the Eye of the Tiger with “Avengers.” He had a need to show Hollywood that he could play their game. Will he have it again? Essentially, “Avengers” is Rocky in “Rocky I and II.” Is “Avengers 2” Joss’ Clubber Lang?