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September 13 2006

What Were They Thinking? Dawn & Connor come in at #98 in this book's list of "100 Dumbest Events in Television History". Apparently the writer has something against 'brats in the Buffyverse'.

Link goes to Amazon page.

You can use Amazon's "Search Inside" function to see the relevant text about Dawn and Connor.

A small excerpt:

There are many reasons why Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS) and Angel are two of television's brilliant jewels, and most of them have their origins in the contributions of creator Joss Whedon... So it's all the more shocking that a writer so astute, with such an instinctive command of what works and what doesn't, would twice fall into on of TV's original crap traps - the introduction of a snot-nosed brat...


And specifically about Dawn:

Along the way, Dawn's "Key" status takes a back seat to her status as a pain in the butt.


And Connor:

Despite his undead heritage Connor (Vincent Kartheiser) was not a vampire, which was regrettable since someone surely would have staked him soon after his first appearance...


Other "dumb" events in television history: "Spock's Brain" from Classic Trek; American Movie Classics going commercial; Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction; the quiz show scandals of the 1950s; the final episode of "St Elsewhere"; Scrappy-Doo; three networks/three Amy Fisher movies.

And the winner, the dumbest moment in the history of television? The Star Wars Christmas Special!

Totally disagree about Dawn and Connor being "stupid" plot gimmicks or whatever. I think their introduction into each show was brilliant, and their respective development exceedingly well played out.
love Dawn! love Dawn! love Dawn! love Connor's magic-ramblings and pissed-of look!
I loved Dawn. Still do. If you had to go through what she had to go through in the short amount of time we knew her, it'd take you a while to adjust too.

Also, all little sisters are pains in the butt, no matter what. They yell and scream and make things miserable, and get even worse during the teens. I have one, I should know. So, yeah, never took issue with Dawn whatsoever.
When Dawn first just appeared I was surprised and amused and I thought it created great suspense as to how her origin was going to be explained and she developed quite nicely even if I sometimes wanted her to grow up a bit quicker.

Connor, likewise, had a fairly interesting arc and believable back-story. I liked the idea that, try as he might, Angel couldn't 'fix' him. Some things are just too broken to ever work properly again (at least without totally changing the nature of reality, as he did at the end of season 4).

Sure, they were both extremely annoying at times but at those times that was part of the purpose of the characters and it worked superbly to cast the respective lead characters as both more human and more heroic at the same time.
Hate to be a downer, but I din't like Dawn and Connor so much.

Their arrival brought big changes to the dynamics of the Buffy and Angel casts, that to my opinion were the best things about the shows and some of the best dynamics in television, and (their arrivals) also added alot of issues to the show that I thought weren't very interesting and unnecessary.

Dawn and Conner have grown on me, and I like them both now, but I don't like them as much as the other Joss-verse characters, Joss has not spent as much time working with Dawn and Conner as he spent on the other characters, and it are Joss moments that make you really love characters.
I have to agree with Saje. Any annoyance factor was a deliberate part of the character, and EXTREMELY true to life. Buffy and Angel were always about stages of life, and the introduction of both characters moved the life of all those surrounding them to the next level.

There was more that could have been done with both characters, particularly Dawn in the final season of Buffy... but that's TV for you, especially ambitious TV - can't do everything.

And I thought Connor's return on Angel was a huge highpoint of Season 5.
I'm afraid that I thoroughly disliked both Connor and Dawn when they first appeared - it took time for them to grow on me. For both characters I didn't end up liking them until the final seasons (7 for Dawn, 5 for Connor).

Dawn at least was an interesting plot point, but I experienced a terrible sinking sensation when I learned that Angel was going to be a father - a feeling which didn't go away until the end of season 4. I think Connor was a really bad move (and Connor/Cordelia an even worse one), though Vincent did a remarkable job under difficult circumstances.
As far as I can see, it was a smart moment in tv history to include Dawn and Connor, since we are still talking about them. I guess the purpose of these characters was to rub us the wrong way, and they succeded.

That said, I didn't much like Connor either :)
Apparently the writer has something against 'brats in the Buffyverse'.

I have something against brats in general, Dawn and Connor are no exception!

Of course, I've no doubt Buffy was probably a spoiled brat too, and she turned out mostly okay. I actually have higher hopes for Dawn in that regard, and now that Connor has a normal life, I'm sure he's a decent guy. So...I guess now that I don't see them anymore, I don't mind them at all.
Much like how Star Wars fans like to imagine the film series sans JarJar Binks, I like to imagine Buffy and Angel without Dawn and Connor respectively. IMNSHO, they each added nothing and took much from what were otherwise, largely, top-notch shows.
See, I'm a star wars fan that likes to imagine the prequels were never made. The way I see it, if there was no Dawn, there would be no 'The Gift'. Without Connor, there would be no 'Lullaby'. Those are a few of the finest eps (imho) so I can't really complain. I mean, Dawn was fairly annoying, but that was kind of her job--no? I think I would be too if my sister was a superhero.

As far as Connor goes, it's difficult because his character was just doomed from the start (or at birth). You almost can't blame him for being such an ass because the whole Oedipus-inspired 'sleeping with surrogate mother and trying to kill father' storyline they gave him. Did he mess up everything in the fourth season? Pretty much, yeah. Is it my least favorite season as a result? Pretty much, yeah. I did feel he redeemed himself in his short appearences in season 5 however.
Without Connor, there would be no 'Lullaby'.

Well they didn't *have* to let him escape from the hell dimension... If we'd only ever know Connor as a baby I don't think anyone would have described him as annoying ;)
Despite his undead heritage Connor (Vincent Kartheiser) was not a vampire, which was regrettable since someone surely would have staked him soon after his first appearance...


Oh, right, and then who would have saved Cordelia from Angel in "Spin the Bottle" before they all got their memories back? 'Course, given that she was possessed by the entity later known as Jasmine, Angel killing her then would not necessarily have been a bad thing, but since Angel wouldn't have known about her being possessed and that by killing her he'd saved the world from domination, imagine the guilt he would have felt when he reazlied he'd eaten one of his dearest friends.

No, there are far worse blunders in AtS than Connor. Such as Cordy's hair in all of Season 4. And making Skip a bad guy. What was so wonderful about Skip was the contrast between his appearance as a kick-ass demon, with how mellow he was. By making him a bad guy, he just became an ordinary Buffyverse villain. And then, continuity-wise, just dropping the whole happiness-curse business, so that Angel could get laid. Yeah, I understand that it was becoming a liability to the series in interfering with Angel developing a romantic interest, but it was a key part of his history and there were better ways it could have been handled. Back in Season 1 Angel goes bad just from being high. In Season 4, he goes bad from fantasizing having sex. And then suddenly, it's "oh don't worry about it, you're never going to be that happy again." Uh-uh, don't buy it. Especially then showing up in Buffy and wanting to get back together with her, without any reference to what drove them apart. It just completely negated what was made their story so heart-wrenching. That to me has always seemed the equivalent of the stepping out of the shower, it was all a dream moment.

[ edited by barboo on 2006-09-13 17:00 ]
I love the introduction of Dawn. Connor's story was interesting too, but it got kind of tiring.
I loved the effect that Dawn had upon Buffy as a character, and upon the dynamic of the show. Giving Buffy a sister gave her an entirely new dimension, almost that of a mother wolf. I thought it was the best thing to give Buffy more grounding and more at stake than ever. However, Dawn herself left much to be desired. I never thought Michelle Trachtenberg was up to the level of the rest of the cast, and she was largely annoying.

However, Connor I found pointless all around. I didn't like the effect he had upon the characters or the story, and I really didn't like Vincent Kartheiser's portrayal or the character of Connor in general.
I loved both of the stories around the characters. Without Connor, the characters might have had a chance to be happy, and we all know they can't be doing that on Angel. I was glad when he was written out though, he wouldn't have fit at all into season 5.

In Season 4, he goes bad from fantasizing having sex.


To be fair, there was a little more to it than just fantasizing about sex...
Anyway, Darla proved Angel's curse wasn't just about sex/orgasm. He had great sex with Darla, but didn't turn. For Angel to lose his soul (the Shaman in S4 took it from him....the drug in S1 just weakened it, so the demon was temporarily in control) through the curse, he needed a moment of true happiness.

That means, yes, an orgasm (because during such a, ahem, pleasurably event one tends to forget one's troubles), *with* someone he truly loves. And for him, Buffy was his true love. Can't get a more perfect moment of happiness than that.
And on September 13, 2006 history shows us that the Dawn/Connor wars began. There were casualties on all sides. *snerk*
I didn't like them on the show all that much but I really like what some of the fanfic writers have done with them. And not just the slashy ones. I really think that there were seeds of great potential in both these characters if they had been given more time to develop. The premise for both of them was interesting but time ran before they were allowed to grow up enough to become more rounded.
Without Dawn, I don't think Buffy would have have developed as a character the way she did in seasons 5 and 6. And for me that is the most interesting and moving part of the series. I'm not sure she would have jumped from the tower in The Gift or had the epiphany at the end of Grave in other circumstances. Joss has said Dawn was Buffy's love interest in season 5, and I think that was a good choice.

We're all annoying at times during our teenage years, and I think Michelle Trachenberg played it well.
I'd like to have seen Dawn and Connor meet. I always thought it was going to happen but alas it wasn't to be.
I think Dawn being annoying was one thing. It was obnoxious as all hell, but it worked, whatever. Connor was just lame and grossly oedipal (which I think is really what I'll never forgive him for). He should have just stayed a cute little baby and everyone would've been just fine and happy.

[ edited by Emma on 2006-09-13 20:20 ]
Connor baby for 3 seasons, please no. That's the worst thing you can do on a drama series: to have a baby around all the time; I don't know any show, where that worked well.

I really liked having around a pissed-of teenie, who's screwed up all the way. The mother-complex was gross, I admit, but at least they gave a good explanation, and having Angel being pissed off at Saint Cordy was fun too.

Something I'll never forgive is Cordy's S.3. and S.4 hair, and her S.3 Saint-'tude. Maeh, that was boring.
What bothered me about Connor and Dawn wasn't their actual characters but the roles they played in the shows (early on). Initially, it was all about protecting them and keeping them safe and innocent from evil and blah blah blah... tiresome stuff. Once they had characters of their own and rebelled a bit (and especially when Connor got all Oedipal), THEN they were interesting.
At the risk of becoming the BLOG's resident Pollyanna, I enjoyed both Dawn & Connor, including Connor & Cordy's ill-fated tryst. Never experienced any ick-factor about her having diapered him, but then, I like seeing older women with younger men. *grins*
Much younger men...

Simon: "I'd like to have seen Dawn and Connor meet. I always thought it was going to happen but alas it wasn't to be."

Oddly enough, this possibility never occurred to me. It could've been nifty-keen-neato.
I liked Dawn, I thought she added a lot to the storyline. Casting Buffy as a mother-like figure was a way of showing that she had grown up, and when Joyce died, Dawn was a way to keep Buffy grounded. And I loved Season 5, which was a very Dawn-heavy season.

As for Connor, I'm not sure how I felt about him in his teen years. However, I found the Darla-Angel storyline amazing, so I was alright with whatever the product of that was. I also liked the baby Connor plots.

Initially, it was all about protecting them and keeping them safe and innocent from evil and blah blah blah...

I found that to be incredibly true to life. Parents do try to protect their children, and keep them innocent. And if your life was life Buffy or Angel's, wouldn't you want to keep a child as far away from that as possible?
I thought this was rather mean-spirited by the author -- I wish I had 10 minutes of his time. Dawn is my favorite character. Dawn was 14 (actually 6 months). She is supposed to act like a 14-year-old girl hormone bomb like Spike said. She has a slayer for a sister, a mother with a brain tumor and Hell God who wants to stick her in a mystical lock and give her a good twirl as Buffy said. She finds out she's a key, her mother dies, her mother figure Tara has her brain sucked, her sister dies, etc. We haven't even got to Season 6.

The author of the book doesn't like brats -- must have had siblings -- boo f'ing hoo -- don't write a book about it.

I love Dawn and I'm sworn to protect her from this drivel.
I liked Dawn once I got over the shock of her sudden existence. I thought she did a great job and I loved the Dawn/Spike friendship. I thought it humanized both of them.

The Kleptomania phase was a little pointless, the get outs were played once too often and by Season 7 she was pretty much displaced by potentials. But who wasn't?

But the awkward cheerleading in Him?
Priceless. A moment of pure genius.

Threatening to set Spike on fire, just made me really sad for what could have been.

Connor was an interesting idea, played by an interesting actor, but they took it too far in my mind. Sinking Angel in the ocean and then continuing on his downward spiral until the end of the show just made me wish he would go away. And he did. But I wish they would have played it differently. He could have been a great addition to the cast.

And the Cordy/Connor thing? Spit. Let us speak of it no more.
Conner imo was only useful and nice to have around when he was a baby. I didn't like his character at all as a teenager and found it very difficult to feel any sympathy towards him. His "I know everything and dont have to listen to anyone" attitude just annoyed me as did his "Cordy is mine" attitude....that whole thing was just gross.
I always liked the idea of Conner and Dawn meeting too!

I initially didn't like Dawn, but looking back on it I can see that, that was the point. I agree she was very useful as a plot and character development tool as the show progressed and far from a "dumb idea".

Conner, on the other hand, while I had no problem with the character himself (people complaining about his treatment of Angel and his personality etc) and found that the most tragic and appealing part about him. I'm not so sure how much he added to the story line in a good and intersting way (really didn't like the Cordy thingo, but I guess the writer's had to give a reason for her to be pregnant), but my heart always went out to him.
Just to through in my 2 cents to this free-for-all...I think both Dawn and Connor were important plot points-cum-characters that represented big issues in quite a few peoples' lives.

With Dawn, you have the step-sister-from-Hell/siblings split between parents issue coming from patchwork families affected by divorce. Quite plausibly, Joss & co. could have had Dawn show up and been what she seemd on the surface: a 14-year old teenage girl with hormones and authority issues and a lack of adult maturity. All they would have to have done is explored why she was never seen and/or mentioned by Joyce or Buffy before, which could have allowed for looks at children siding with one parent in a divorce or being split up for some reason or another during custody hearings. Some good shit could have come from Dawn being a new character without the mystical background. Though the whole "Key" thing was excellent too;)

Connor - I like to think - is Joss & Dave Greenwalt's twisted look at the TV show cliche of kids being aged years suddenly to make for new plotlines and theme exploration opportunities. With Connor, things are even more wacky cuz he has a mystical orign to mess with normal teen angst and confusion. So instead of the usual "kid goes from infant to pre-schooler or elementary school student," we get "infant to moody, rebellious, horny teenager with authority issues." That, or Connor represents the issue of youthful indiscretion coming back to bite ya on the tuchus (ain't Jewish, so I apologize for mangling any Yiddish) and having to deal with those humdingers of problems.

So...to summise: Dawn & Connor are brilliant bits of work by Joss and his gang of scribes. Were they whiny and rebellious and downright MDK-urge inducing? Hell yeah...but that's the beauty of it. You get characters with seemingly big ol' flaws and pathos that get to evolve into different figures through seeing how their behaviour affects others. Plus, it throws the conventions out the window to have the characters who you want to push off a cliff outlast the ones you would want to protect:D
For some reason, the most moving part of The Body (even more than Anya's speech and Tara's words of comfort) for me is the long eighth grade scene before Dawn finds out. And in that scene, Michelle Trachtenberg is perfect.
I loved Dawn. I liked the character herself, but I also liked the way her existence helped to give Buffy focus and grow and learn. Sometimes she was very reluctant, but Buffy grew up, and got herself back to the land of the living partly because she had to, because she had Dawn to worry about and take care of. Dawn was a important and great addition, and Michelle T was wonderful in the role.

Connor - I didn't dislike him, but I didn't really like him either. I just didn't get him, though like Buffy with Dawn, Connor's existence was helping Angel learn and grow.
Dawn annoyed me in seasons six and seven because she didn't seem to have a point. There was no character arc or real personality there to add something to the group.

Never had a problem with Connor.
Ah yes, the generalizations about what "most fans" thought about BtVS S6. At least the generalizations about the fan's dislike of things on Angel was attributed to the internet fan boards. The article lost me when he resorted to repeating old unsubstantiated opinion as fact without adding anything new.

As for Dawn and Connor, I thought they both had a place and served a purpose. I don't think MT was the right actress for the part and I don't think the Connor/Cordelia storyline worked, but I do not think that either character was in and of itself a mistake.
There's no season 5 Angel without Connor. That story turn was all about parenthood and the obligations and emotions and compromises it creates. Why did Angel sell out to Wolfram & Hart, again?
Good call there, dreamlogic.

The scene where Connor tells Angel "You gotta do what you can to protect your family. I learned that from my father" is just heartrending.
Yeah, that's a lovely line Chris. The only problem is now when I watch it I know they're shortly going to (or already have ? Memory fuzzy) over-egg the pudding with the whole "I know you're my father" bit. Sure, he knows, and more to the point we know he knows. Don't need beating over the head with it. A very rare clumsy moment from the creators, IMO.

But yeah, season 5 Connor was cool. I liked that Angel got to enjoy being a father again a little bit before the end.

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