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September 01 2011

Best TV show, worst episode. AV Club writers take on picking (as it says) the worst episodes of the best TV shows. So which Mutant Enemy episodes make the cut? Hint: I've spoiled it in the tags.

Firefly's in there too.
That's a weird thing for me to miss.
I would go with She for Angel and the Best Little Whorehouse in Space one for Firefly (can't remember the name & too tired to look it up) and for Buffy...probably that one with the child killer in the hospital. (see previous parenthesis)
Oh, Beer Bad for sure.
"Bushwacked" for Firefly, for me. I actually loved that moment in "Safe" when Simon stepped up onto the pyre and then Mal and Zoe (and Serenity!) appear out of the blue like big damn heroes to save them. Plus: any episode in which River dances cannot be all bad. (Can you guys tell that I just re-watched the whole series recently?)

For BtVS, I kinda like "Doublemeat" bc I kinda enjoy any offbeat episode of the show; "Beer Bad" makes me laugh. But even thinking about "As You Were" (where Riley returning to Sunnydale with a wife in tow makes Buffy feel even more pathetic about her life) is giving me rage flashbacks.

AtS, sadly, the episodes blur together for me a little, so I can't pick out a distinct episode that I disliked more than any other.
I'd say "I, Robot... You, Jane" for Buffy and the episode with the maths demons for Angel... Think that was "Provider"

Also: "Fly" is the best episode of Breaking Bad. Just sayin'.
For Buffy I have to go with 'Wrecked.' When stand-alone episodes are bad, at least they're disposable. But this was one of the most important episodes of the season. I cringe just thinking of Buffy smelling Amy's oregano, or whatever it was.
I love Beer Bad- Willow is worth the price of admission. Wrecked, on the other hand, was a very different Willow.
I quite liked "I Fall To Pieces" and "Doublemeat Palace". "Safe" I'm no too fond off and I agree that it is the least strong episode of Firefly but there's also plenty of good things in that ep (such as the cows, books secret and the Simon/Kaylee and Simon/River interactions) and I certainly do not agree about Simon (I love his character and found him very relatable).

For "Buffy" I'm quite fond of many episodes that often show up as worst episode contenders such as "Beer Bad", "Doublemeat Palace" and most of the early episodes (though I have to admit "Bad Eggs" is pretty awful.) I strongly disliked the Willow/Amy storyline in "Smashed" and "Wrecked" so those are strong contenders, though "Goodbye Iowa" and "Same Time, Same Place" also have very little going for them.

For "Angel" my least favorite episode would certainly be one from the first half of season 4, but picking one is quite difficult. I dislike them all really and haven't watched in years (or more than once) and they are all arc heavy which makes it harder to keep them apart, but I think I remember particularly disliking "Calvary."
I would go with She for Angel as well.. and for Buffy, I'm okay with Doublemeat Palace but I really hated Where the Wild Things Are, minus some great Spike and Anya scenes. Beer Bad wasn't a favorite but I like that Buffy was at least able to get some closure for the whole Parker situation.
Yeah I feel the same about "Where the Wild Things Are" I don't like most of the episode, but the Spike and Spike & Anya (and ok, Giles) scenes are so spectular that they more than redeem the whole episode (IMO).
Buffy: Most of Season Six. It seemed to reverse most of the good stuff that happened in the previous season, and not to good effect.

Angel: The Girl in Question. As funny as some of the scenes were, it's a pretty glaring oversight to have an episode that has Angel obsessing over Buffy, when Cordelia's just died.
This is the thing, even the worst episode of any Joss Whedon show is still packed with entertainment goodness (better than 98% of anything else you can find on TV). Any time you find an episode to say is the worst, you'll find plenty of fans who will point out all the fun to be had in that 'worst' episode.
I agree with embers; there's so much awesome to be had. Safe is one of my favorites in Firefly (and would be if only for one of my favorite pieces of music in the series), but I'm having a hard time picking a "worst" episode. I Fall To Pieces I quite liked, more so than Expecting (or any episode where we're supposed to care about Cordelia). For Buffy, I love season six, though I understand why others don't. I have a hard time with the first season though, but even the episodes that bore the tears out of me have some good lines/character moments.

"And what have we learned about beer?"
has become a bit of a catchphrase around the house
Is it wrong that reading the write-ups of these makes me actually want to watch the episodes in question? I mean, a Roger Corman story disguised as an Angel episode...
Aww, how can anyone hate Safe? It's got River dancing AND a young Zac Efron! For Angel, I think Expecting was one of my least favorites. And Reptile Boy from BtVS. Firefly's just so tightly written I don't have a least favorite episode.
What embers said. I enjoyed "Safe". Picking a worst Firefly episode is about picking an episode that I didn't love quite as much as the others, not about picking one I hated.

narse: Don't forget the Xander classic:
"Bad beer, bad bad beer... What the hell am I saying?"

[ edited by OneTeV on 2011-09-02 14:55 ]
I LOVE Beer Bad. It's hilarious and the clubbing is satisfying.
I agree with others who hate Where the Wild Things Are. It's horrible, but I love the Spike and Anya of it. I have carefully watched that scene of few times while trying not to get the rest of the episode on me. I also love Xander's "she who dealt it..." line. Those things save it.
Amends is the worst for me, but I know others like it.

I don't re-watch Angel enough to be sure, but I vaguely recall a terrible episode where there is a random pregnant woman, and Angel kills her protector, and has to duel for her. Then we never see her again. What?

[ edited by Xane on 2011-09-02 15:26 ]
Safe is my favorite Firefly episode, and Doublemeat Palace always has a special place in my heart because it's hilarious and creepy at the same time.
As always, YMMV.

Sticking the most powerful female character on modern television behind a counter was the point, to me. But then, S6 was about depression, and so yeah, it's not fun to watch.

Frankly "Doublemeat" is no fun mostly because fast food isn't too appetizing in general...
I have to agree with the choice of Doublemeat Palace as the worst episode. I honestly don't think there is a single redeeming line or moment in the entire episode. And I LOVE Beer Bad, so I always argue with that popular choice of worst. episode. ever.

I also argue with Heart of Gold as the worst ep of Firefly. I loves me some whores! :) I've never really liked Objects in Space... but come on, only 14 episodes to choose from!

For Angel - I'd probably choose The Girl in Question. I hated the falseness of the entire chase. The attempts to hide the fact that SMG wasn't guest starring... Plus the stereotyped Italian Mob Demons? Yeah. Bad.
@Xane That would be the first episode of season 2: Judgment. I rather like it, but I think it does introduce the terrible "champion talk" that plagued the series from then on.
Worst Firefly...definitely "Heart of Gold." It does have the nice Zoe/Wash moment discussing children and of course the Inara crying thing that just rips my heart out every time. But the "Best Little Whorehouse" thing was bad - way too cliched and the bad guy was just annoying and 2D. So agreeing with newcj AND embers - bad episode, but still with the goodness. :)

Worst Buffy...I think I'll go with "Where the Wild Things Are." I just cannot get past the cheesy vines for one thing. Then of course there's the whole premise, which felt really awkward to me plus the execution of the premise which was really shallow. I always thought it was a missed opportunity to to "discuss" sex in an interesting way. I tend to skip this one during a rewatch.

ETF: my mis-spelling of Inara

[ edited by BreathesStory on 2011-09-02 16:12 ]
Worst Firefly? Shindig always seemed pretty contrived to me, despite all the rest of its awesomeness.

Worst Angel? "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been", hands down. A very pedestrian episode that tries to tackle social issues that have no relevance to the show. Runner up, "Why we fight". From the GET GO, Joss & Co should have had a sketch of where every old vampire has been in life and stuck to it. The combination of retcon and anachronism in WWF and the abyssmal "Blood & Trenches" comics were inexcusable. If someone did something notable in the past, it should be a part of their character, not a later season reveal when writers are grasping for plotlines.

Worst Buffy? I'll go with Restless, again to be contrarian. There's plenty of other bad episodes, but never has a season finale done so little while having both interesting visuals and dialogue. It feels out of place for its positioning; it would have been a perfectly fine mid-season ep.
I will never understand why Doublemeat Palace is so hated. I thought Buffy working a degrading fast food job was the point. A superhero has to work fast food.

It's not only a good premise but was necessary by that point in the show. She's a superhero. She's saved the world 27 times. It's a challenge to find new places to take her. What would you rather have seen Buffy do that episode-- save the world again?

And it's exactly in line with the premise of the show: monsters as an allegory for real problems growing up. Is there any more universal experience growing up than that first crappy job (often fast food)?
Buffy - I Robot, You Jane
Angel - She
Firefly - Bushwhacked
Firefly- Train Job
Angel- AYNOHYEB is right up there for me
Buffy- Wrecked, maybe Seeing Red but not because it was bad in the sense other eps were bad.
I can agree that 'Safe' is Firefly's weakest episode, but don't think it could really be classified as bad. At worst mediocre, more accurately okay.

For Buffy, I do like the episodes people of hate. 'Doublemeat Palace' is one of them (and Where the Wild Things Are.) The episodes I don't particularly like are the early ones, notably 'Bad Eggs', 'Reptile Boy' and 'Teacher's Pet', but the one I really find annoying is 'I Robot, You Jane'. It is so crass and ridiculous of its depiction of computers and the Internet. Also, just so you know, I'm not talking these words as I write them!

Angel I struggle to pick a single episode, as I don't know the individual episodes as well as Buffy. I would probably pick a Season 1 episode or maybe anything focusing on Cordelia after she rushes to meet Angel at the end of season 3. Season 5 did have a few ropey ones, but I loved the banter between Spike and Angel, which normally made up for any plot in the episode.
Buffy - Where the Wild Things Are
Angel - The Girl in Question
Firefly - Train Job
Buffy - Bad Eggs or Wrecked
Angel - She
Firefly - House of Gold
Dollhouse - Stage Fright/Instinct/The Hollow Men...

Love 'Beer Bad' and 'Doublemeat Palace'.
What I like is that even the episodes that I don't like ("She" and "Heart of Gold") have moments that are worth coming back to. Like the first and last five minutes of "She" (hint: dancing). Or in HoG, when Jayne spends several minutes complaining that he doesn't want to help a bunch of strangers. Mal: "They're whores." Jayne (quickly): "I'm in."

[ edited by OneTeV on 2011-09-02 21:56 ]
'Why We Fight' and 'The Girl in Question' are both very good choices for worst episode of Angel. I have difficulty choosing between the two.

I'll go with 'Heart of Gold' for Firefly, though I agree that Firefly never got the chance to make any truly execrable episodes.
I'd have gone with "Bad Eggs" for Buffy but I can't argue with "I Fall To Pieces" for Angel. Yeesh, but it's bad ("She" gets a bad rap. That relationship had promise; I wish they'd swung back around to it again at some point).

Dollhouse didn't get a mention but I'd swap in "Stage Fright" for any Firefly episodes because it has no worst episode. I cherish them all.
Interesting. I never considered "Why We Fight" from a retconning POV. Of the AtS episodes I've seen, it remains one of my favorites.
As much as I love Angel on whole, it has the largest number of episodes I hate of the Whedon series. "She," "The Girl in Question," and "Why We Fight" would top my list of hates. "Doublemeat Palace" is the one Buffy episode I cannot bring myself to watch in my DVD marathons. I understand its point, etc., but that does not make me like it any better. And I agree with all that Firefly didn't have an episode I absolutely hated, but I think "Heart of Gold" would be my least liked. "Stage Fright" is hands down my least favorite Dollhouse episode, although there are several I dislike.
"She" gets a pass from me for the dancing, and for Wesley at the party in general. (The sweater exchange is hilarious.) But yes, I rather strongly dislike "The Girl in Question," "Why We Fight" and "Are You Now ..." All good picks for worst episode, IMO.
And I realize I'm going to be very very alone in this opinion ... but I kinda hate "Smile Time."

For Buffy? It's a toss-up between "Doublemeat Palace" and "Him." Most of the others have bits I want to revisit, even if the overall plot is awful ("Where the Wild Things Are"); but these two I have absolutely no desire to rewatch.

Firefly, on the other hand ... it has weaker episodes, but none of them were truly *bad* IMHO. I love "Safe," and Simon, and the whole bit where he's trying to save River (then willing to die with her) is amazing--Sean Maher breaks my heart every time (and *not* because he's making it all about him, but because he loves her so much).
Simon absolutely isn't making it all about him. He doesn't want his sister to die alone.
I am deffo of the only-watched-Angel-once-didn't-think-it-was-so-hot camp. If I had to pick a worst episode, maybe that one where...actually nah, I can't think of a specific one, I just don't like Cordelia, or Connor, Or Angel. Sozzers.

Also concure that Firefly doesn't really have a duff episode per se, just less amazing ones.

And Buffy, well I can't bring myself to hate any of the early ones despite the first part of s2 being low on my rewatch list, so I reckon I'd have to pick an s6 one, probably Wrecked. The Willow storyline is just embarrassingly badly done.
Question: Has anyone ever tried to get a friend/family member invested in these shows, only to come to one of the stinkers, and:
a) showed it anyway because there's just an amazing scene or two in it. (really, "Hear of Gold" haters--how can you skip the Inara crying scene?)
b) skipped it, then realized it was too important so you had to pause and explain throughout. (I'll just say I don't think too many episodes were 100% disposable--except maybe "Why We Fight"--inconsequential.)

Although the article doesn't include Dollhouse, it's funny no one has listing their least favorite since it IS the 4th ME show. I'll do the same, and here are my least faves (note: not "worst") of the others:
Buffy-"Wrecked," probably. I hated a lot of mid-way season 6 and 7 episodes, but for it's importance, Wrecked should have been handled better--all the way through until "Normal Again."
Edit: I thought about it, and I really HATE "Gone".
Angel-again, hated much of the arc of season 4 and early season 1. But because I just really wanted so much more before the end, I have to go with "TGIQ" for being a big stinker.
Firefly-Seriously? Okay, so maybe I don't want to watch Heart of Gold or Safe all the time, but they're great. I suppose "Safe" has more redemptive scenes.

[ edited by CaptainB on 2011-09-03 00:44 ]
I find "Dead Things" unwatchable because of the gratuitous violence. I also dislike the whole Wrecked/Smashed/Gone trilogy and just skip right over them.

"Why We Fight" is one of my favorite episodes of Angel.

"Safe" had the weakest lines and most stilted deliveries from the guest actors, but the most amazing editing between the gunfight and River's dance. "Heart of Gold" also suffered from weak dialog. I wouldn't call either one of these episodes "bad", though.
Worst episode of Buffy was easily Reptile Boy. Most bad episodes had some redeeming moments, including Doublemeat Palace, but Reptile Boy was almost entirely dull.

I liked Safe, and personally I don't think there's a single bad episode of Firefly.
ETA: Though my least favorite is probably The Message. Bits of it never made sense to me.

Worst episode of Angel...well, it's something in season 1, I know that much. I was about to say She, but Angel and Wes dancing redeems that episode. Instead I might say Expecting.

Worst ep of Dollhouse is easily Stage Fright. A couple of decent scenes, maybe one or two good Topher lines, but largely a pretty groanable episode in my opinion. It just didn't feel justified. Felt like a poorly thought through excuse to get Eliza to sing. She sang fine, but the story felt forced and unnecessary.

[ edited by GreatMuppetyOdin on 2011-09-03 02:29 ]
I know I'm mostly alone in this opinion, but I actually really like Stage Fright. It's probably my favorite of the early episodes.
Am I alone in sort of hating The Message in Firefly? I mean yes it's emotional as the cast/crew's send off of the show so a lot of them brought more to its finale than they might have otherwise, but of all of the rote plot standards we could expect to see, there was the least twist on would-be crew/friend we've never seen before. Even compared to the sad but otherwise independent hooker story.

As for the others, there were some utterly forgettable Buffy or Angel episodes but few I outright dislike so far as I can tell. And Dollhouse had a fair numer of disappointing episodes but I'm not sure I particularly disliked any of them more. Like I'm a sucker for pop music so I thought there were some actually fun elements to that. Maybe the weird psychotic mommy episode.
Really, I don't think there's a bad episode in all these choices, just a differience of opinion.

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