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December 12 2010

20 TV Sci-Fi Gamechangers. Find out why SFX included Buffy falling for Angel and Angel Season 5 in their list of show-shaking moments.

These are cool and all, but I don't think I've ever seen a show that changed the game as much as Dollhouse. They were practically playing a different game every episode by the end of each season.
I'm going to disagree with the game-changer on Buffy as being when Buffy fell in love with Angel. The game-changing moment of the series was when Angel killed Jenny. That changed everything.
Buffy falling in love with Angel was set up from the first episode. That didn't change things. Angel becoming Angelus changed things. Spike coming in season 2 changed things for me - up 'til that point, I was like, "ya, good show, ok, whatever. Entertaining... Ann-Ricey vampires, Angel is boring, whatever. Brooding vamp. Whatever..." Spike comes in in School Hard and I was like "mrrr? Who's this? This is interesting. What's happening now?" The show finally found it's shoes around that time and then took off with the Angelus storyline, and, as menomegirl says, when Angelus killed Jenny. But for me, the show started to lift off with School Hard.
Yup, Buffy & Angel was set up in the first episode and already felt like a cliche at that (at least in my experience). The end of "Surprise" was a real game changer though, and certainly "Becomming" changed the game completely.
menomegirl I agree with you. When Angel killed Jenny was the gamechanger for me too. It showed how far Joss would go to keep to the truth of what he was telling and showed evil in its' purest form.
Agreed, the death of Jenny was the show changed for me too. To be honest, the first season was something that I only halfed watched, on in the background as I was on the Internet or waiting for dinner. Season 2 was when I really fell for the show.

Their comments on Angel are spot on though. They constantly mixed things up on that show, for the better and the worse. I really liked the setting for season 5 and I could see Amy Acker's new role being another huge gamer changer if the show had of been allowed to continue.
Not sure you guys understand what they mean by gamechanger. It's not something which makes you look at a show differently, or gives it new power, or alters the emotions, it's something that changes the actual formula of the show. Angel killing Jenny wasn't (although Passion is about my favourite episode), because she was a supporting character, he remained the villain, and Buffy still needed to defeat him. School Hard introduced a new villain, but that's all he was at the time, a new villain, just like the other villains. Both wonderful, but not exactly gamechangers.

Buffy and Angel sleeping together changed the plot and the dynamic between all the characters. The actual story was markedly different, different in ways you couldn't have predicted. Season 2 could have carried on with Buffy and Angel taking on Spike and Dru in the finale, and the show would likely have still been good with the same formula. Instead we got almost a new show, a new game.

The next big game changer would be the shift to uni at the start of s4 (depending on how much you value Faith as a character depends on whether her conversion was a gamechanger, I don't think it had that big an effect on Buffy in the long run), but it's a lot less interesting than the sudden and surprising shift brought about by Angel turning.

Angel's gang shifting scene at the start of s5 was a MASSIVE gamechanger, the very basics of the show were shaken. I loved it, and I wish it could have gone on for a few more years. Man, I miss that show.
Thinking about it, there were lots of "game changers" throughout the run of Buffy. I admit I was pretty surprised when Angel was exposed as a vampire, I assumed she would be killing him and the romance would be over.
But not as shocked as when Angel went out and killed the girl right after he lost his soul. That was the big one for me.
I'd actually cite Joss on this one and say that the real game-changer on BtVS was "The Pack." Because Xander was one of the bad guys. Not only did you have to beat the enemy, you had to save one of them. Opened the door to so many plots: Faith and Willow going evil, even (to an extent) Jonathan and Andrew in the Trio... one of the better one-off villains in Ford... and, of course, the granddaddy of them all, Angel.

"The Pack" really grows on me, actually...
It all depends on how you define "gamechanger."

For me, I never really saw Buffy loving Angel, or even Angel killing Jenny, as a gamechanger. This may be because I started watching Buffy and Angel right when Angel ended, and I got into the whole meta-series through Angel. None of that was gamechanging material for me; instead, it was the combination of "Restless" and "Buffy vs. Dracula," ultimately introducing us to Dawn. Buffy suddenly has a sister? That was what practically defined the later seasons. Gamechanger.

I'm a bit surprised not to see The 4400 on this list. Isabelle suddenly growing up at the end of season 2? Or how they introduced Alana Mareva? Come on!
I'm wondering what show the article writer is hinting at in the very last bolded paragraph. Possibly Fringe. What, the two universe thing wasn't enough of a game changer? Unless... oh no, that's awful to contemplate.
I'd definitely argue for "Passion" as a major game changer, as it meant that the season's narrative could not unproblematically end with Angel turning back to normal and rejoining the Scoobies anymore, and because it opened up the possibility that Scoobies (or at least recurring characters) might die, thus significantly "upping the ante" for the rest of the season.

"School Hard" as a game changer I can also understand, as the introducing of a first "New Big Bad" and the dead of the annointed meant that the rest of the series would not necessarily have to be about The Master as the main bad guy anymore.

And I love "The Pack" (the first episode of Buffy I ever saw, and still one of my favorites), but I'm not sure if I'd consider it a game changer.


"The Freshman", "Buffy vs. Dracula", "Bargaining" and "Lessons" can all be called game changers too, though I'd guess you can also understand them as the beginning of a new game.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2010-12-12 19:30 ]
School Hard could also be considered a game changer, as Spike was a very different vamp to those we had previously seen. It showed that they were more then just the slightly hammy gothic figures that the show had relied on before. It also showed the potential for soulless vampires to have emotions, something which certainly became significant later on.
Although it's not mentioned, I think the events on Miranda would be a pretty huge game changer for the "Firefly" universe. I know the game pretty much ended right after that, but were it to continue, the Alliance would no longer have this huge frikkin' secret and probably wouldn't have any reason to hunt down River any longer. River also seemed to be significantly more sane after she vomited up the crazy.

If that story had been allowed to continue, I think that would have really changed the dynamic of the story.
I'm with all the people who said "School Hard," especially Vandelay. When I show people Buffy for the first time, I'm almost tempted to skip S1 and the first two episodes of S2 entirely. The reason is that, as much as we like the characters, the show is still incredibly, well, campy in the first season - not just the villains, though that too, but also the production values, pacing, background music...everything feels entertaining, but ridiculous.

Cue School Hard, and two characters come on the scene who, for their entire run, clearly don't give a shit about all of the rituals that made the previous villains so lame. Hell, they even kill the guy teased as the big bad on the grounds that it'll be "a little more fun" with him gone. That's writerly self-awareness, folks. Also, they toned down the ridiculous music, created villains that looked more plausible given the show's budget, moved away from the relatively predictable Angel-Buffy-Xander-Willow romantic dynamic, and delved much deeper into the character and psychology of the show's main characters. The show's just bloody brilliant after that, to the point where I think it probably never reached those season-long heights again.
I dunno, I watched Buffy as it was aired in the UK and I still clearly remember Passions as being the gamechanger for me while I was watching it. In retrospect I think Surprise/Innocence was the actualy gamechanger but I didn't recognise it as so at the time.

Coleberg, they don't actually argue for the Buffy/Angel sex as the gamechanger, they are saying that Buffy falling in love with Angel in S1 was a gamechanger, which I'd personally disagree with.

I have to say School Hard doesn't really work in this respect, what did it change? Remember Spike wasn't even meant to be a regular at that point and School Hard introduced him as just another bad guy, albeit different to what we had seen before. I don't think Spike's character was involved in any gamechanging till season 4 when he got chipped. That set everything up, his falling in love with Buffy, getting a soul, sacrificing himself.
Pretty cool to see Buffy and Angel top another list!

Goingtowork...I don't think that I could disagree more with your idea's about season 1. I loved it and continue to love it. Campy at times? Oh yeah and didn't you just grow to love the campyness of this tiny girl threatening the bad guys...
" I get it, you're evil, do we have to chat about it all day?"

WTTH, TH, Angel, Prophecy Girl are some of the greatest eps in the series, imho. Classic Buffy.

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