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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Body (2001)
Season 5, Episode 16
10/10
Buffy Comes of Age.
6 November 2019
This is the moment Buffy becomes an Adult. Sure, there was Angel. And we know what she went through. But nothing prepares you for the loss of a parent.

Not a song or sound to be heard. There were no paid for emotions powered by a moving soundtrack. Silence throughout. Nothing hidden, nothing pre-heated. This is Buffy at her darkest, most real. She suddenly realises she is the eldest in her family and that there is no-one to care for her.

This is a masterpiece of emotional writing and the camerawork and editing do it justice.

What an episode. This is where so-called teen-tv shows the adults a thing or two about growing up.

-- And sorry to jut in, but 18 years later it's hard to overstate just how groundbreaking the Tara and Willow kiss scene was. This was the first time in TV mainstream drama history where a kiss between two ladies wasn't used as a controversy spiking TV talking point, a ratings boost, male titillation or a main plot device to push an agenda or force drama. Without wanting to sound derogatory, this was an adjunct, an addendum, almost a throwaway scene... It could have been cut and nothing, not a single storyline would have wandered amiss... But no. Here where we see two people, in love and distraught in their shock try to comfort one another in the most natural way possible. The sheer understatedness (that's not a real word) of the whole thing was what made that scene so seminal in the fight for acceptance and recognition.
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Angel: War Zone (2000)
Season 1, Episode 20
9/10
sure, the season finale was last week, but...
22 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Please note I write this as someone who is watching Angel for the first time and I haven't watched any eps after this and I'm writing as a response to the 6/10 reviews.

Sure, the season finale basically ended last episode, but the next season needs some framework and all I can say is if these guys are going to be there next season, they're a HELL of a lot better than the crappy, insipid, beaten-to-death-horse of an Institute in Buffy.. That was just painful. And Adam and... holy sticks, lames Riley....

Aaaanyway, rant aside. I feel this show is really trying to reach back to its roots to show the underbelly of the struggling masses being prayed upon while the upper layer of LA is only concerned about "inconveniences."

This show manages to tug at the heartstrings. And while, yes, there were stereotypes... "we don't need no white dude" white men can't jump style 1990s japes, we need to look back and realise this was actually written last century and just move on with our more refined morality and expectations.

The storyline was solid and the acting was fine, especially the sister who was just awesome from start to finish.

The brother/sister storyline was touching... I had been given the impression that vamps lost the nuance of their lives upon tuning, but that damned sister nearly played him like a harp.

Nice setup for next season.
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Undone (2019– )
9/10
Refreshingly accessable story
26 September 2019
The acting and the animation were both top notch and the storyline was tightly concepted and written. Is she mad or is she a "shamen" as Alma's father put it? The jury is still out.

Nice cliffhanger ending, and a second season would not be in any way, shape or form, remiss!

9/10 for a thoroughly bingeable 8 episodes.
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Undone: The Hospital (2019)
Season 1, Episode 2
8/10
Would you choose the Red Pill or the Blue Pill?
26 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
A second, eminently watchable episode!

Things are escalating quickly. One moment, she is waking up from a coma and the next, well, she's waking up from a coma again! And again!

Things are starting to fragment. Is she going mad? Didn't she split up with Sam? Why wasn't her father there for her when she needed him most? Dis she or did she not graduate from college? Fragmented indeed.

Is something else at work in that damaged mind of hers?

With the tumultuous nature of her mind bucking like a rodeo horse beneath her, she somehow needs to find a placid, tranquil path out of the mayhem to regain some semblance of sanity and normality.

This is an excellent story which continues to unfurl the past while opening new doors into the future. Undeniable hints of Groundhog Day and maybe even the knotted timeline that is Primer abound as Alma finds herself so far beyond Kansas, it's not even funny!

8/10 another solid showing.
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Undone: The Crash (2019)
Season 1, Episode 1
8/10
Solid start with great performances from the sisters.
26 September 2019
Alma appears very dissatisfied with her lot in life, which is presented as a sort of millennial affliction, if you will. However, it becomes clear that this is not entirely without reason: Family relations appear strained and the loss of her father has clearly affected her deeply.

The climactic start and flashback leading up to it feel natural and well paced, without rush or undue lingering.

It only takes a few minutes to become concerned for the mental wellbeing of Alma and immersed in her small world, which is rendered lovingly and in exquisite detail. In fact, I became so immersed and the rotoscoping was so fittingly done that I often forgot I was watching an animation.

Overall, a fairly convincing start with a compelling lead character and a nice mysterious hook at the end that hints at exciting things to come.

8/10
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Living Conditions (1999)
Season 4, Episode 2
6/10
So annoying that it annoyed me.
9 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I managed to get through this forgettable episode in about 20 minutes.

I am allergic to corny dialogue and 2D characters and this episode was full of predictability.

Oz wanders past a group of obvious werewolves and the goon squad taser gang follow.

And did I mention how annoyingly rancid Kathy was.

Not a fan of detached MOTW episodes.

And besides the introduction of walking Men Bad Women Good cliche that is Parker, nothing new was introduced.

Thus I have given it a totally mediocre, forgettable score of 6.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Anne (1998)
Season 3, Episode 1
9/10
Good Lord. Only a showman with supreme confidence would dare.
28 August 2019
As an episode of Buffy, I'm only rating this a seven, but by golly the cojones on the team for coming up with such a depressing downer of a first episode. Hence the upgrade to a "9."

This is pretty much as dark as Buffy gets. Sparse humour interspersed with black humour completely enshrouded in sorrow and portents.

Even the Scoobies visiting the Bronze almost break fourth wall with their "depressing night" gag.

The fact that Wheedon feels confident enough about his series to start out with such a suicide-in-waiting of an ep just shows how much confidence he has in the rest of the season..

And holy moly, this season delivers.
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7/10
That last line, tho....
7 August 2019
Is it possible that a single dialogue can define an episode? While I've never been a fan of the Scooby Doo Monster Of The Week style episodes, this rather non-cannon ep was vindicated by the final dialogue, IMO.

Not a keeper, episode wise, but a doozy of a final signs and portents type dialogue.....
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Angel (1997)
Season 1, Episode 7
9/10
Appropriately Titled.
7 August 2019
I honestly don't get it. The first time round, as a sprightly 20 something, I never got the depth of feeling of the whole Angel Buffy relationship thing. Actually, I stopped watching Buffy after the first season due to major life events. Also, nothing about this show twigged enough to pick it up, despite pretty much everyone I know being a major fan.

And as a fan of the whole genre of Vampires, gothic and the undead, that was pretty odd.

In 2010 or thereabouts, I watched the whole show, all 7 seasons, and while I loved the show and Joss's vision, still the relationship between Buffy and Angel didn't resonate.

Here, at the age of 50 I decide to watch the show again, once more with feeling, and ... Waterworks...

Perhaps it's the foreknowledge of what's to come, perhaps it's personal experience of loss and pain... Who knows. But finally, I see what all the Bangel Slash Fiction was about.

These two had serious chemistry on screen.

And conversely, I wonder why I was so immune to it ...
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8/10
22 Years on, how does the pilot hold together.
7 August 2019
It's very interesting to see the march of technology and the difference in production values of shows from the 20th century.

This is a Pre Jack Bauer 24 series and as such it could never compete on a sheer production value basis with modern shows that command budgets greater than many A rank movies.

However, apart from the clunky computer monitors, colour cathode ray TVs and the tail end of post-Farrah Fawcett hairstyles, the show holds together remarkably well.

Sure, the music is a touch trite but the show's basic charm and character stands the test of time.

It's perhaps Anthony Head's Giles' apparent timelessness and the library's musty air at the centre of the nascent Scoobies that helps the show remain aloof from the fads and trends that often make shows painful to watch in retrospect.

The paced dialogue and funky slang were never really grounded in reality and hold up as a stage performance rather than a snapshot of any time.

All in all an interesting start to the show.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Unaired Pilot (2003)
Season 1, Episode 0
8/10
An interesting titbit for the hard core fans.
7 August 2019
A very interesting "alternative" to the version which aired, with a few members of cast that were replaced before the show aired.

It was clear that JW already had a fairly clear vision for the show and I think this was an excellent pitch to the networks to show them what he was aiming for.

As a sales piece to the broadcasters of the day, I think it was as good as could be expected and did its job well to sell the rather odd sassy yet gritty plus vampires concept the execs.

As an actual episode, the pacing and dialogue were improved upon for the actual pilot that aired and IMO this show would have been a lesser affair without Hannigan's Willow.

All in all, a rather interesting slice of history for Buffy aficionados if not for the casual viewer.
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6/10
Worthwhile Prequel
16 July 2019
A worthwhile prequel made all the better by Bautista's mature acting chops. Very impressive. He is turning into a far more flexible performer than any of his peers from the ring well outside of the goofy action-comedy genre.
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7/10
Rather disappointing
11 July 2019
TBH, I expected more, while at the same time, I knew what to expect... If you catch my drift.

Yes, it was a sequel, but it was far too derivative for its own good.

And random...

And pointless...

And directionless...

All in all a waste of a premise.

The characters were not at all relatable. There was no chemistry and no depth. There was no need to invest in any of the characters or fear for their demise, not because we knew they would survive, but because we just can't bring ourselves to care.

None of them were developed in any way whatsoever. Hell, the most consistent and likeable character wasn't even a replicant, it was a hologram...

And the second most empathetic, enjoyable character dies within minutes.

This in itself speaks volumes about the other characters in this movie.

There was no message except some tacky sea level rising inferences, countless PC references and nods to demographics, that never played out...

And a storyline drawn to within an inch of its life by its sheer length.

Much like the plot of this movie, some things, like a case of genital warts, or chlamydia are frankly embarrassing and should be dealt with in private, severely and promptly.

This plot was like Disney purchased it and dictated the plot.
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Dark: Double Lives (2017)
Season 1, Episode 4
8/10
Patience
5 July 2019
While I have no issue with the series being a slow, involving watch that apparently requires something called "patience" -a commodity in short supply it would appear- I do find the shallow, "this show is slow and boring" reviews far more trying on my nerves.

The characters' buildup and the parallels between the past and present are starting to remind me of Twin Peaks, the mysteries are mounting more quickly than they are being solved, suggesting concentration will be required to keep track of all the relationships and characters..

While not a very self contained tale this week, this episode sets the scene for Truths very nicely,
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Good Omens: In the Beginning (2019)
Season 1, Episode 1
10/10
A tribute to the book I never read.
25 June 2019
What can I say? As someone who was surrounded by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett readers as a teen, I didn't see what all the fuss was about.

I had been a staunch supporter of "hard" sci-fi: Asimov, Heinlein, Crichton, Lem et al ... I didn't see what all the fuss was about and found the surreal mix of humour with the "serious business" of humanity's future rather demeaning...

But then I watched Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective agency on Netflix and I suddenly realised what I had been missing all these years..

Why had I ridden my high horse? Why had I been elitist instead of inclusive? WHy had I denied myself the pleasures of Ringworld and Rincewind all these years????!

Here I was a fan of The Blackadder and Red Dwarf on TV but when it came to contemporary books I remained aloof and somehow thought that humour was discrete from intellect...

Oh fool is me...!!

Do I still have time to make up for lost.... er.... time?

I do indeed hope so..

My Kindle is now loaded with the bits of the 80s and 90s I missed when I was actually there!
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The Order: Homecoming, Part Two (2019)
Season 1, Episode 6
9/10
Coming together
14 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
This episode finally has the main protagonists coming together in an uneasy alliance and sheds a few seeds of knowledge regarding some of the members of the werewolves' sect.

I'm very much enjoying the pragmatic relationships playing out without the super dramatic teen angst that seems to dog far too many supernatural shows of late.

Well played for keeping the relationships adult and the characters completely honest to their roles without sexing things up!

Loving it.
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Sherlock: A Study in Pink (2010)
Season 1, Episode 1
10/10
Television perfection
4 June 2019
Anyone still here in 2019 at the end of the first decade of the 21st century?

On a whim, I just came back to this show nearly ten years after it aired. I was concerned that the brilliance I saw back then would have aged or that I had somehow upgraded the show' status in my mind's eye to something more than it was, with a pair or retrospective, rose tinted glasses.

But I needn't have feared.
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The OA: Mirror Mirror (2019)
Season 2, Episode 6
10/10
Best episode so far
31 May 2019
I enjoyed the first season more than the second, so far and this episode harks back to those vibes.

The disparate characters coming to terms with their situations is what attracted me to Season 1 and I feel that this episode harks back to that first foray into the OA world.

The second dimension (for want of a better name) was just a bit too David Lynch for me and a little bit too far from our own dimension and reality to trigger the same emotional responses the first season did.
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Shadowhunters: All Good Things... (2019)
Season 3, Episode 22
9/10
tears were shed...
30 May 2019
...I will be the first to admit.

A bittersweet conclusion to a groundbreaking tv series brought to a conclusion too soon IMO...

The latter half of the third series really saw this show grow, those original youngsters get comfortable in their roles and season into fine actors and the stories mature into something more than teen heartache-fodder.

I can't help but feel that stories were left untold and plots left unfollowed. The milieu was in place, the lore, solid and the characters, first class... It just seems a shame to have left such potential untapped.

Thank you for three seasons of laughs, gasps, nods and tears.

Like Clary, you will be sorely missed.
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Shadowhunters: Aku Cinta Kamu (2019)
Season 3, Episode 19
10/10
All heartstrings pulled in every direction
30 May 2019
Up until now, I had thought of Shadowhunters as excellent, in terms of action but somewhat... stunted... emotionally.

This season has proven me wrong. The characters have grown and evolved and the emotional quotient of season 3(B) has elevated this show from mere beer-time teen drama to serious contender for teary eyed self reflection.

These last few episodes have made it clear that threads are pulling together and the story is drawing to a close. But for all the frustrating inconsistencies earlier on, this show has found itself and managed to grow into something rather magnificent.

Bravo.
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The OA: SYZYGY (2019)
Season 2, Episode 4
10/10
Existential Crisis in the form of a TV show
29 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Just when you though you had it sussed, The OA throws another complete curveball.

This is like the old VR weird-out standard Existenz had a threesome love-child with The Fringe and Stranger Things...

This dimension continues on its trajectory, becoming less and less "convincing" as a "real" dimension as the inconsistencies mount... The oddball metaphysics/psychology hybrid subect matter: Quantum Psychoses... The mental/phsyical technology (dreams being the source of blockchain/bitcoin.) Apps linked to surreal cults. The outrageous methods a "hospital" uses to rehabilitate its patients...

And of course, the out of your f'kken mind night club with a sentient octopus strangling a restrained nightclub customer before somehow being killed with a single knife stroke to a single tentacle....

This dimension is becoming more and more unlikely (i.e. fringelike edge dimension) as time goes by.

Magnificent, outrageous, surreal... I have no idea how this is going to pan out, here on in!

But OH BOY, What a journey!
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The OA: Paradise (2016)
Season 1, Episode 5
10/10
This whole episode is magic
27 May 2019
No spoilers.

They say that all the best things are worth fighting for and this episode epitomises that sentiment. The whole episode pulls you into their world and culminates in hard-fought-for climax.

Finally after five episodes, we catch a glimpse of what the five might be capable of together... A coincidence? perhaps...

Once more confirming that The OA isn't a show for those with short attention spans in a TV world of self-conscious expositions, obvious plot devices and outlandish deus ex machina where waving a longer wand or heavier gun gets what you want, The OA takes a far more measured approach as it rewards those who've followed so far with a rather epic reveal!

Surreal, Subtle, Sublime... Satisfying.
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The OA: Away (2016)
Season 1, Episode 4
10/10
Glorious
27 May 2019
This is a triumphant outing by the OA. An ode to courage and perseverance. Sublime acting from the protagonists and the major antagonist and a slow unwinding of the plot is proving that this is not your typical ADHD focussed teen drama, but an adult affair that requires patience and maturity to unravel, much like the characteristics promoted by the the characters in this epic tale.

Oh, and the staple OA under-the-skin, creep-factor abounds.

Superb episode.
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The OA: Homecoming (2016)
Season 1, Episode 1
9/10
I am embarking...
25 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After nearly three years of putting this show on a backburner, I decided to watch the first episode on a whim after being at a loose end, finishing Legion. And for some reason I can't remember, I was under the misapprehension that it was a two-part mini-series, But after having watched the first episode, I am thrilled to find out that there are currently two whole seasons.

I have never seen a TV series listed on IMDB where EVERY episode of the second season is more highly rated than EVERY episode of the first season. This in itself suggests this show is definitely worth the investment.

So with the first episode under my belt, what can I say?

Brit is charismatic and enigmatic in her role as The mysterious OA... Her acting is first rate as she brings, simultaneously, pain and loneliness together in a believable way with some hidden agenda which as of yet, we know nothing about.

There are obvious, initial similarities to "mystery" SF shows like the 4400, The Returned or even Stranger Things, but how far these similarities go, I have yet to ascertain.

One thing I do love is a show where they take ample time to set up the premise, and this first episode hass sure taken it's languorous time.
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Shadowhunters: What Lies Beneath (2018)
Season 3, Episode 3
8/10
Heartbreaking
22 May 2019
What has set this show apart from its peers since the beginning has been the relatable characters. Despite the teen angst and despite the supernatural storyline, it's the excellent, sympathetic characters that truly keep this show solidly grounded.

The scene between Raphael and his younger sister is just one such perfect moment that other shows would either gloss over or ham up. Yet here, it is handled with such deft mastery of emotion that truly demonstrates Shadowhunters has grown up to be a show emotionally suitable for mature audiences and even managing to tug the calcified heart strings of this crusty old curmudgeon!

More please!
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