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May 27 2014

12 of the most game-changing TV episodes ever. Not one, not two, not three, but four Whedonverse episodes feature on this io9 list.

Nope, I still consider the big game-change in Buffy to be Passion, when Angel killed Jenny Calendar. That was when viewers knew that, without warning, without hype, something irrevocably bad could happen in the show. It was a game-changer not just for BtVS, but for the way television worked in general up to that point. That was a gamechanger that changed the medium.
I would think it'd be the very first episode - cute, perky blonde cheerleader, totally Miss Popular...is anything but. She's lonely, she's unsure of herself, and, oh yeah - she's the only one in her entire generation who has the power & knowledge to fight "the forces of darkness." Turns that whole "hot chick gets killed by the monster" trope on its ear.

Not to mention "the popular girl" befriending "the nerds" and "standing up for the little guy." All in the first half-hour of the episode.

Heck, even the first scene throws you for a loop - cute couple breaking into the school, the boy a bit dangerous, the girl sweet and innocent...until she chomps on his neck & stuffs his body in a locker.
Well ... This AoS episode one of the most game-changing episodes ever ? I don't wanna bash the series again but come on it has just started !
Shadow, I don't think the first episode was really a "surprise" on that level, the basic "show concept" level to anyone that had... seen the movie. There is much about the movie that is different in tone and quality and all kinds of things, but the mechanics of the thing -- the pretty girl isn't the victim, she's the dangerous one, she's the superhero -- was present. So I think a show of the same title that was pretty expected and obligatory. Game-changing for whoever just happened to flip it on with no background or expectations, sure. I take their point about "Buffy vs. Dracula", it's not, though, in Dawn showing up, it's in the episode ending on Buffy embracing the concept, that was the New Normal right there.

All that said, "Rains of Castamere" (as above, though, for the unitiated/miraculously unspoiled) and I'd say "Through the Looking Glass" kinda lap the field on their list. Of course, my "Game of Thrones" gamechanger -- as an unitiated -- was the end of the first episode, prior to which I was like "this is okay, but what's the big... dafuq just happened?!" If I get that from "Welcome to the Hellmouth", and try to imagine no prior knowledge, it's probably the teaser.
The author is obviously a whedonite. Also, I think Ned Stark losing his head was more game changing than the Red Wedding.
@KingofCretins not that interesting ... But I watched the whole seasons of GoT last week, I have tons of friends who've been watching the show long before me and I was unspoiled ... !

Do I deserve a prize ? haha
Hm, Dawn's arrival did shake things up and provide a crucial plot device for Season 5 of Buffy. However, her presence on the show became kind of pointless after that season. As for the 'caregiver' angle that this link notes, Buffy more-or-less took on that role with the potentials in Season 7 anyway. Aside from some fake memories and Dawn's importance in the Season 5 plot, I don't think her arrival really did that much to impact the show as a whole.
It looks like this list is restricted to genre shows, but the most game-changing episode *ever* would probably be "Abyssinia, Henry," the episode of M*A*S*H where they killed off Henry Blake. Setting a world record for most simultaneous jaw-drops among the American viewing public.

It was that episode that broke down the previously strict barrier between drama and comedy on television.
The Alias episode Phase One deserves a mention, that was a game changer for sure.
Yea not sure I feel Dawn's appearance as that big of a game changer. I agree with the suggestion that Passion had a way bigger impact in that regard. That's when you knew stuff was gonna get REAL dark on this show.
Game changer in Buffy? The Body. Nothing else comes close.
Funny -I think the game changer for Angel was when the gang was offered Wolfram & Hart. For Buffy I always thought Passion was a game changer (for the reasons other in this thread have already mentioned).

For Game of Thrones I thought the last episode of the first season was a game changer when Dyneras walks out of the funeral pyre with three baby dragons. Up until that point the show talked about wizards, dragons, men who can change their faces, but the show had been very "normal" with no supernatural/fantasy elements.

Agreed with the Supernatural choice - bringing in the Angels totally changed Supernatural (in a good way).
AndrewCrossett, I would agree that the death of Henry Blake on Marsh was perhaps the most jaw-dropping event on a television series up to it's time. I'm not sure it was a game-changer in the sense that the show itself changed after that, that it became darker, or more real, or that other shows followed in it's wake in dropping that barrier.

But if we're talking about game-changers that had an effect on the medium of television itself I think there's one that we may be missing due to our generation. I recently read an article about the episode of the Dick van Dyke show where his and Mary's son is born and he becomes convinced that the hospital has switched his baby with another couple's. When the other couple agree to come to his house it turns out that they are black, and hadn't told him over the phone because they wanted to see the look on his face when he met them.

I'd heard about this episode but not known that it was hugely controversial at the time, to show a black, middle-class couple as equals to whites, and only was made with great effort against the opposition from the network (we know something about that). As small a step as it seems, it helped break down barriers in portraying African-Americans on television in dignified roles. The reaction to that episode was so positive, it led directly to the signing of Bill Cosby for "I Spy". The actor who played the father in the Dick van Dyke episode, Greg Morris, went on to play Barney Collier on the original "Mission Impossible" series.
It appears that the term "game changer" is being used here to mean some plot twist that altered the direction of the major character/plot arcs that had been fundamental to earlier episodes of the same series. So it's not about episodes that changed the way TV was done (breaking racial barriers, e.g. above). So many of the "innovative" episodes of Whedon shows ("Hush", "The Body" e.g.) don't seem to qualify as "game changers" according to that definition IMO since they didn't really change the basics of the series ("The Body" is arguable here since the loss of a mother obviously alters a character's arc).

I can agree that "Epitaph One" was a game-changer for me personally... that ep really raised the stakes for the entire series, and made the previous episodes (even the stinkers) much more important in retrospect. Had I known that that was where they were going with the subject matter, I would have been much less blasť about the possibility of cancellation after that first season.

I don't believe "Angel" had a truly game-changing ep according to that definition, and I agree that it's way to early to ascribe game-changing status to any episode of MAOS.

Rejecting the article author's definition of game-changing for one of my own... of all the Whedonverse eps, it was "Once More With Feeling" that changed the game for that series, taking threads from all the previous seasons and tying them all up together, only to then explode them all apart again in completely new directions. And what makes this a game-changer in my estimation is the craft of writing that was involved: not just the screenplay, but also the lyrics and music. This episode had to be worked out waaay in advance of normal practices for episodic TV, to allow for orchestration, choreography, rehearsals, and track recording, before the ep could finally be filmed and edited. They all pulled together and made it work. Lots of other shows have done musical episodes, but none have done so with an episode that was so central to the arc of the season as a whole as well as the characters individually.

It didn't change the face of TV, but it did prove what a fantastically talented writer and showrunner could do. No one else has come close since, IMO.
Surprise and Innocence.
Hmmm. The thing about a show like Buffy, is that it's constantly changing and evolving. It doesn't remain the same show for long. And it's a show that does not pull it's punches. For those reasons, I think you literally could choose any one of hundreds of episodes and make a good case that it's a 'game changer.'

That said, if you're going to pick one episode, just one, it has to be Surprise/Innocence. (Well, technically that's two, but really it's one two-parter.) That's when the show became a different show.

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