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September 27 2007

TV Without Pity Talks to James Marsters. Television Without Pity has added interviews to its posting board where people comment on all things TV. Here's an interview with Marsters on his career, including Buffy, and why he decided to be part of Without A Trace this season.

I just finished reading this on another forum. It's really long but very interesting.
That is one surprisingly great interview, considering it came from a traditionally Spike-hating site!
Eugh. They don't deserve him. TWOP can be summed up as "Hay guys, we're critics! ROFL!" Anything that goes longer than a third season is automatically crap to them. Not because it actually has gone down in quality, but because by that time they need to rate things poorly to mine puns.
We try not to bash other fan sites here, it's a politeness thing.
Brilliant interview, I really enjoyed it! He seems like such a smart, interesting guy.
Very good interview. Some stories I hadn't read before and of course, as always, he gives praise to other people. He's a classy guy.
Eugh. They don't deserve him. TWOP can be summed up as "Hay guys, we're critics! ROFL!" Anything that goes longer than a third season is automatically crap to them. Not because it actually has gone down in quality, but because by that time they need to rate things poorly to mine puns.

Never thought I'd defend Television Without Pity, but still. I wouldn't judge the site based on the recaps. While some of the posters are meh, many of the fans on the forums there are much more divided about the quality of Buffy and Angel. From what I've read, most people seem to dig seasons 1-5 of Buffy and, with exceptions, all of Angel. That's not unreasonable, given that many of the criticisms of Seasons 6 and 7 of Buffy are perfectly valid. The Spike hate largely stems from the fact that, what are "perceived" to be the worst seasons of the show (other than season 1) feature the most Spike. I don't think, despite the foisting, that anyone is all that bothered by Spike on Angel because he's an excellent foil. Television Without Pity is wrong about a lot of things, especially Season 5 of Angel, but they're pretty right on about Spike/Buffy.

[ edited by Dirk Lance on 2007-09-28 13:08 ]
"That's not unreasonable, given that many of the criticisms of Seasons 6 and 7 of Buffy are perfectly valid."

There are criticisms of seasons 1-5 that are also perfectly valid. There also should be room for fans who actually don't find the sites views on Spike/Buffy to be in the least bit 'right on'.

[ edited by helcat on 2007-09-28 17:26 ]
Dirk Lance, one fan's "perfectly valid" is another fans WTF??? There are as many people who "perceive" season 6 to be the best season of all, as perceive it to be the worst.
The very fact that it's so controversial equals brave, mind-bending TV. But I'll be polite enough to add an "IMO".
There are criticisms of seasons 1-5 that are also perfectly valid. There also should be room for fans who actually don't find the sites views on Spike/Buffy to be in the least bit 'right on'.

I'd agree. Really, I love Buffy, but I think it was at its best from mid season two on through season three. Everything else, even that period, has big flaws. "Gingerbread"? Meh. Season 1 has the whole low budget/finding its feet thing going on. Still, it starts strong and finishes strong. Season 4 is ruined by a weak "main" arc, a boring "new" character that was foisted upon us, terrible villains and a marginalization of Xander/Giles. At least Giles got an episode dealing with that. Season 5, Dawn, Knights arc was not given enough time to develop, Glory being too passive to the point of contrivance and such.

Season 6 and 7 just suffer from the most flaws. Spike was like the Logan of Buffy. Or, Dick on Veronica Mars might be a better example. Someone who, while compelling in doses/as a foil and well acted, was totally shoehorned into the later seasons to appease fangirls and because he was "fun". I guess he really popped for some of the writers. But, his whole reason for being in Sunnydale is contrived. He's just sort of there, again, for fangirls who squealed at his incessant shirtlessness and "snark" (you see what I did there?). His soul arc blatantly ignores the whole thing about the demon inside of him being in control. Remember when Angel's demon, even when he had a soul to keep it at bay, killed the demon inside Miss Calendar? For Spike to be able to hold it at bay because he "felt really bad" about his attempted rape of Buffy... That's just awful writing. Like I said, I don't dislike Spike. He's a great foil for both Buffy and Angel, but he's a supporting character. He'd be a great seventh man on a basketball team. You make that dude a starter, though. It's not going to end well. Better example might be those marginal players on bad teams that put up 20 PPG. They seem great in the company of garbage, but put them beside real players and... You know, suddenly...

Season 6 and 7 also suffer from inconsistent characterization. I just can't buy Jonathon as a villain after how we saw him develop, in brief doses, in Seasons 3 and 4. TWoP had another good example, actually. Giles raising his voice when speaking to the Chinese potential, because, you know that would help her understand. It's comedy, sure, but real Giles would never do that. He'd speak Mandarin, Cantonese and obscure, regional dialects. Hyperbole, sure. It's not my place to tell people who actually wrote the show who the characters are, but meh. They're not any more objective than I am. Giles, in parts of Season 7 is just not the same dude. And, not in a good, Wesley like way. I could go on, but, you know... I'd probably get my ass banned. The later seasons of the show are objectively bad when compared against previous highs. Let alone compared against more consistently realized and written shows.

The very fact that it's so controversial equals brave, mind-bending TV. But I'll be polite enough to add an "IMO".

Not really. I come off like a bastard when I talk about this stuff, so, I apologize for that. Still Season 6 and 7 aren't brave, mind bending, or bleak, or "real". They aren't nearly as bad as some of the "haters" make them out to be, but they aren't particularly good, either. The musical, Tabula Rasa, Conversations With Dead People and such are outstanding episodes. As a whole, though, it's just not consistent. I have no problem with mundane, bleak Buffy, either. I watch The Wire, which depresses the shit out of me because it hits on reality. In a sociological sense, but also because character development is earned. Characters serve the story. On that show, when a character or arc reaches its logical conclusion... It is written out. Characters don't stick around, even a male character that even straight men loved, once they have no purpose.

Might seem like I hate Buffy. I don't. I love it, Angel was better, but Buffy was special. Easily one of the twenty five or thirty best dramas in the history of TV. Which, really, isn't saying much. She was a little rough around the edges, though. Anyone who denies that is being blinded by love, which I can understand, because she was awesome.

[ edited by Dirk Lance on 2007-09-30 02:34 ]
Oh joy, Spike fans dismissed as squeeing fangirls again. It's amazing that fans who enjoyed Spike's story arc are so easily put aside because it's all about the abs.
I could write a long post about how objectively season 6 and parts of season 7 were the best in that they explored the most complex issues of human fallibility, changing relationships, how our own and society's expectations effect our emotional well-being etc. though I would state it all as being my opinion because you can throw a word like "objective" around all you want, but it is still only an opinion. The thing is, I don't have the time, it has been done to death and my opinion has already been dismissed since I am obviously a squeeing fangirl who is only interested in abs (Just for the record, I think I am more of an arms woman, though.) so I'll just move on with my life.
I would state it all as being my opinion because you can throw a word like "objective" around all you want, but it is still only an opinion.

I just don't think that's true. All writing can be objectively analyzed. The effect it, or any art, has on people can't be quantified or analyzed. Still, it can be objectively analyzed, against itself or against other things in the same medium. I have no investment in Buffy, I love it because it was (at times) unique and excellent written/acted. When it wasn't, I like to point that out and try to understand why. Not because I have some inherent distaste for any of the people involved or the tone or what have you.

I could write a long post about how objectively season 6 and parts of season 7 were the best in that they explored the most complex issues of human fallibility, changing relationships, how our own and society's expectations effect our emotional well-being etc.

I'd love to see that post, actually. Take your time, post it, email it, whatever. I'm not trying to dismiss your viewpoint. The fangirls thing was a dickish thing to say, but I really mean no offense. I've had my opinion of Season 6 brushed off by many people as "just not getting it". Which is much more offensive. I do get it, it just isn't very good. People can ascribe a lot of depth to the text and subtext, but I really don't think its there. I want to hear other opinions, though, so that I can consider them upon rewatch. I would love to hear some insight to unlock awesomeness in Season 6 and 7. I've heard interesting (and, yes, objective) arguments made in favor of both seasons. Again, though, even people making those arguments admit to larger faults within those seasons.

I love the idea of Season 6, but it just doesn't consistently execute. Tara's death, that and the surrounding scenes were incredibly visceral and powerful. On par with anything the show had ever done. But that, along with several other moments of awesomness, are outliers. I think it just speaks to a larger problem in the series. Joss has pretty much said he never wanted to nail down any definitive rules about anything in the series. Which is fine, but it's just an excuse to contrive certain things... Like the "magic is addictive" and "Spike gets a soul because he feels bad" arc, ignoring previously established stuff in that regard. What's made worse is that "vampire with a soul" was already done, and done better, by Angel.

I rewatched Buffy recently and gave the arc of Spike a harder look. It doesn't bother me, it gave us "Fool For Love", which was excellent. I love Spike, as a character, up through Season 5. There's just nothing about it that's particularly interesting about Spike's arc post-season 5. Marsters does a great job with it, which makes it watchable, but still. The lack of rules just makes the series feel aimless, that anything can be sacrificed in favor of melodrama and relationship angst. Which sucks. The best storytelling, even on TV or anywhere, has at least the most vague rules. Tries, at least, to earn character development and character setbacks. Watch McNulty on The Wire, I've seen arguments made that he's the least interesting character on the show, and his arc is phenomenal. He grows, he changes, but its not for the sake of melodrama or relationship against. It's because the story calls for it. For bleak, depressing tragedy, watch Wallace in Season 1. Or the kids in Season 4. Those arcs are what Season 6 of Buffy are going for, but it just doesn't come close to that level of depth. Buffy did, sometimes, earn some awesome moments but in the later seasons it just didn't get there as often. I wouldn't have had as much of a problem with all the contrivance and retcon if the drama was particularly compelling. It was just like Season 3 of Veronica Mars with Logan foisted upon us. Just seemed like wasted air, it certainly wasn't as good as the previously established awesomness.

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