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March 27 2009

The best (and worst) tv episode titles. 'Apocalypse Nowish' and 'Conversations With Dead People' get praised by SFX. But 'City of' doesn't fare so well, "Just a bad idea".

I don't agree with them on City of but i get their point.

When I went to read it though, i thought that Charmed would make it to the worst list....
'City of' is OK, maybe slightly obvious but not the worst title ever. The biggest disagreement I have is with "Ex Deus Machina" on the worst list cos
7 “Ex Deus Machina” Stargate SG-1
Erm, any reason for swapping round the words?

well, yeah, the reason is it's a pun (and since it's a pun in Latin I reckon it deserves extra points). For those not familiar with Stargate, in the episode an old enemy, Baal, re-appears. Baal is a Goa'uld and the Goa'uld - who're actually just parasitic aliens with advanced technology - pretended to be Gods in order to enslave people. Thanks to SG1 this false godhood was exposed and people rose up against them. So he's no longer a God. So he's an Ex God, d'ya see SFX ?


ETA: spleen now vented at the site ;)

[ edited by Saje on 2009-03-27 14:49 ]
Like this is not worst episodes (Spock's Brain!), I think they didn't get some jokes:

“Nubbins” - To the Tribles ST
"A Priest, a Doctor and a Medium Walk into an Execution Chamber” - To movie "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover"

But was great they didn't mention anyone of The Big Bang Theory

[ edited by Brasilian Chaos Man on 2009-03-27 15:19 ]
"A Priest, a Doctor and a Medium Walk into an Execution Chamber” - Tho movie "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover"

Could be an allusion Brasilian Chaos Man (I don't know anything about the episode in question) but that may also just be a play on the traditional setup to some kinds of joke in English e.g. "An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar ..." or "A priest, a Rabbi and an atheist are in a hot air balloon...".
Yeah, you should be rigth Saje.
Two more things: I believe these jokes are universal (here, usually, our colonizers from Portugal use to be in the worst parts ). And thanks, I edited my spelling mistake :)
Ha! Love that Charmed is #1 in the worst list for any its titles.

[ edited by ceo on 2009-03-27 15:46 ]
Good response to the inclusion of that SG-1 episode, Saje.

Yeah, the Charmed titles are awful. If I could nominate non-SFF, I'd go with the Friends "The One With . . ." mania, which irritates the piss out of me - simultaneously bland and yet self-mythologizing. Not that sit-com episode titling needs to reach the height of creativity, but, damn.
I think Dollhouse's 'Spy in the House of Love' may become the best Whedonverse episode title in years to come.
I always liked the Friends episode titles. Mostly 'cause that's what you say..."you know, it was the one with the giant poking device!" and whatnot.

Charmed titles definitely do take the cake, though, when it comes to baddy bad badness. I mean, "Just Harried"? Really? There's a stretch somewhere of about 5 episodes with "witch" in the title. It's painful.

I always pretty much loved "City Of" as a title.
I like the Scrubs titles: "My..." ("My Lucky Day", "My Lunch", etc.) And then, when the episode is shot from the perspective of someone other than JD, it's "His Story" or "Her Story" or "Their Story".
SoddingNancyTribe, out of curiosity, how do you feel about the "Chuck Versus the ..." titles?
I didn't like the Friends titles because, invariably "Then one with X" never actually refered to the "X" that one would actually use when referring to the show 9for obvious reasons; "The one where Ross & Rachel break up" or whatever, would kind of ruin the surprise)
Well I liked the Friends titles and for me the unlikeliness of actually using their discriptions, the one with the joke :), especially comes to mind, was part of the fun. Guess I'm a sucker for the self-mythologizing.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-03-27 17:47 ]
I really like the Friends titles too, for the same reasons.
And I always loved the Buffy titles ('When she was bad', 'Lie to me', 'Faith, Hope and Trick', 'The Yoko factor', 'Fool for love', 'OMWF'... and many more).


As for bad titles, Desperate Housewives has a lot of them, or maybe not bad but really weird, and have often nothing to do with the episode.

Also, I love the episode titles of 'Wonderfalls' :)
I loved Friends' ones too.
I really like the Friends ones and I love The Big Bang Theory names. Nico-Angel the Desperate Housewives titles are all song names, its the same with Greys Anatomy.
One Tree Hill, which I've never seen, also uses song (and occasionally album) names for its episode titles, and I guess the creator is a huge indie rock fan, because the episodes are named after a lot of my favorite music. I'm almost tempted to watch an episode. Well... almost.
I like 'City of' as a title. Filling in the last word would be a step too far.
Jane Espensson has had some great comments on episode titling, including here and here. Just off the top of my head, some particular favorite Whedonverse ep titles include "Gingerbread," "The Zeppo," "Objects in Space," and, yes, "City of."
I love that episode titles are getting some attention. While I don't agree that "City of" is really all that bad, I do think that Jane Espenson's "Triangle" probably should have been on the list in the worst category. I get what it means, given the episode, but as a title, it's just a geometric shape. I'm not rushing home to see "Triangle."

Also, am I the only one who really enjoys a pun, good or bad? Sure, some are groan-inducing, but even those ones are a bit clever, no? I mean, I'm far from a fan of Charmed, but I found myself smiling at some of those. I'm taking a sketch writing class, and my favorite titles of my sketches are punny. A guy and his trenchcoat is "In the Trenches." A weird customer service incident is "You Got Served." And, I kid you not, I went back and forth for at least a day on this one: should my sketch about a girl who wants to see the Grand Canyon but her two idiot roomates find the idea boring be called "Grand Expectations," or "Grand Can-Yawn?"

I like puns, is what I'm saying.
I am loving the title "Spy in the House of Love" as well, and incidentally Anais Nin is one of my favourite authors.
During DVD marathons, my college roommates and I would check the title first, then see who could catch the double (and sometimes triple) reference it had within the episodes on Buffy and Angel.
Favorites-This Year's Girl, Out of Mind, Out of Sight, The Harsh Light of Day, Something Blue, Who Are You, Listening to Fear, I Was Made to Love You, Life Serial, As You Were, Lies My Parents Told me.
Angel? To Shanshu in LA, Guise will be Guise, There's No Place Like PLrtz Glrb, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Habeas Corpses, A Hole in the World.

Agreed, Wonderfalls had some great ones.
XanMan, I hope you went with Grand Can-Yawn. I love that.

And To Shanshu in LA is an amazingly clever title. I dunno. Maybe not. But I love it.
CaptainB, can you explain Listening to Fear to me, because I still don't get it.
Unfortunately, Jobo, we had to go with "Grand Expectations." It was a co-write, and my co-writer didn't instantly get "Grand Can-Yawn," and so no go. However, another co-write of mine, about two geeky friends throwing away their friendship over a disagreement about Die Hard was originally titled, by me, "Breaking Up is Die Hard to Do." My co-writer wanted to call it "From the Balcony," or some such, which... what?! Suffice it to say, I won that one. Little victories.
Yeah I love To Shanshu in LA and There's No Place Like PLrtz Glrb too. Not Fade Away is another one of Angel I quite like. Also agree Triangle was quite a teribble a name.

Qua Friends style formula's, I also kinda like Earl's list items: Faked My Own Death, Stole Beer from a Golfer, etc. though I don't believe they always use those.
I think the Angel titles were sometimes even better than the Buffy ones. I especially liked There's No Place Like PLrtz Glrb, Not Fade Away and Are you now or have you ever been?
There were some funny choices in there. I love how Farscape made both lists, and they managed to rightly gig BOTH BSG's.

Problem with "To Shanshu in LA" or "Plrtz Glrb" is thaty they're in-jokes. I mean, you might get that "Shanshu" means "live and die" from context... but most people won't.
Not Fade Away is from a Buddy Holly & the Crickets song from 1957, FYI.

"Out of sight, out of mind" is a famous saying about forgetting something when it is out of sight (often used for relationships) that got reversed for the episode because it happened backwards in the episode. The saying also became a song by Ivory Joe Hunter and Clyde Otis and sung here by the Five Keys. There's also a song by Ginger Rogers with the same title.

Speaking of '50s songs, there's the 1959 classic I Only Have Eyes For You by the Flamingos, which is also an episode title and heard all through the 1955 flashbacks (whoops).

You can always count on me to know my oldies.

No Place Like Home, There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb and Over The Rainbow all refer to the 1939 Wizard of Oz film.

Through The Looking Glass is the sequel to Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.

City Of... is actually one of my favorite titles. Not Fade Away is pretty close, though. Titles like Innocence and Passion are also great. Simple and so indicative of the episodes in question.

To Shanshu In L.A. is a title that fits perfectly once you find out that shanshu means to both live and die or be human. L.A. is a place where you go to try to find immortality and Angel has gone there instead to become human (and not just literally--also to become humanized).

Faith, Hope & Trick is one of the most clever, IMO. Faith, the character, Hope as in Scott Hope and Trick as in Mr. Trick. It's a biblical reference to the three theological virtues.

[ edited by NileQT87 on 2009-03-28 22:47 ]
Interesting how what you know affects what you see. "Not Fade Away" is a song by The Crickets and the title's an exact match so I guess that must be where it came from but the gist of the episode itself is much closer to the Neil Young song "Hey, Hey, My, My" featuring (among others that seem to mesh with the episode) the lyric

It's better to burn out
Than to fade away

and that's where I always assumed it came from. Maybe it's a convergence ?
I generally think BtS had the best titles ever. But my favorite is a crossover .... The Harsh Light of Day on BtS, followed by In the Dark, on AtS. That was just brilliant.

Also loved The I in Team, Sleeper (for the perfect fit with the story), The Gift for the same reason, plus the payoff of the first slayer's "death is your gift". Tabula Rasa for the "no dumbing down" factor.

And for the most amazing number of puns related to the ep, contained in a one word title, Pangs deserves some very special recognition. ;)
I always just connected "Not Fade Away" to the old barracksroom ballad line "Old soldiers never die, They only fade away."

And even if people don't know what the word "shanshu" is supposed to mean, it would still be a reference to the movie.

As for episode titles with multiple meanings, I think that in the whole hsitory of both shows, there's less than half-a-dozen episode titles that don't have at least 2 meanings. "the Harvest," "Angel," "Ted," "Inca Mummy Girl," and that's about it.

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2009-03-28 18:27 ]

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