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November 12 2014

10 TV episodes that everybody pretends never happened. One Buffy and one Angel episode each make the list.

"Science fiction and fantasy television has produced plenty of bizarre or terrible episodes. But sometimes, an episode isn't just bad, it's world-breaking -because it introduces plot holes or character traits that would kill a show. Here are 10 episodes that everybody had to pretend just didn't happen."

Hmm,not sure I would agree with those choices.Actually the Angel episode for me was TGIQ and ironically Joss actually retcone part of that episode in the first issue of season 8
Aww, I liked Normal Again! If any Buffy episode would be on that list, I would have said either Beer Bad or Smashed.
Where the Wild Things Are...that is all.
I like both of these episodes although I had to take a break from watching Buffy for a week or 2 after Normal Again it took me so far out of the Buffyverse.

I Robot, you Jane would have been my choice for the list. Cant think of a terrible Angel episode.
Normal Again is the sort of harrowing reality-questioning episode you can never forget. I did think acquiring Angelus with a pill was dumb but Angelus is always fun as a villain. There are other very different episodes in both series I like to forget about.
Although there are some wonky episodes in the first season of Buffy, there really aren't any I'd pretend like to don't exist. Well, maybe the zoo one... or the one with the swim team...

But there are plot lines on several shows in those awkward epidoes that really does make you wonder how it got past everyone that it made no sense. They just feel like someone was asleep at the wheel. Or got lazy.

[ edited by NYPinTA on 2014-11-12 20:25 ]
I liked Normal Again. Doublemeat Palace and Beer Bad are my least favorites. For Angel, there are a few s4 episodes I skip over. I was never a Connor or pregnant Cordy fan.
Re: Doublemeat Palace: I never understood why Willow and Tara didn't get jobs too. I mean, they were living in Buffy's house. Even something part time to help out? Or did I miss something.
Think they were still in college up until Tara died...the comics are just *now* starting to address the income problems from what I've heard.

[ edited by Dusk on 2014-11-12 20:41 ]
I really wouldn't have picked Eternity as Angel's worst episode. Tim Minear ghost-wrote the re-write on that one and, like all the first season episodes that Tim wrote/co-wrote/ghost-wrote, it was one of the few highlights of that rough year along with Greenwalt's I Will Remember You and To Shanshu in L.A., Jim Kouf's Five by Five and Garry Cambpbell's War Zone. And (although it's not nearly as good as those) I've always had a soft spot for Tracy Stern's Bachelor Party.

I would have picked either She, Expecting, The Ring or Sense & Sensibility (the only bad episode of Angel Minear ever wrote). Or I Fall to Pieces, which caused Lorne to break the fourth wall :

LANDOK: Angel. You must again tell the tale of the sorcerer who could remove his limbs and reassemble at will!

LORNE: Right! Right. Because that's a good one.

[ edited by JesusSavedIn01 on 2014-11-12 21:19 ]
Those are both bad choices for the premise. The "why don't Angel's enemies just give him a pill?" thing is particularly silly. Why don't they just slip him any of the myriad things-it-would-be-bad-for-a-vampire-to-eat? Why don't they just stake him? Why don't they just cut his head off? Why don't they just fill super-soakers with holy-water and douse him? It's not as though "oh, I just give him a pill!" is like some sure-fire, spectacularly easy plan compared to any of the other easy ways to cause a vampire misery.

And if the aim is to control Angelus or enlist him on your side, the pill thing is particularly unhelpful. Who's to say that pill-created Angelus would play along with whatever your plan is?

And as for Normal Again, of course they never refer to it again. To refer to it again would be to tell the viewers that the "alternative reality" of Buffy-in-the-insane-asylum was real. Buffy suffered from a demon-venom induced delusion and was cured--why on earth would anyone need to mention it again? (I've never understood why people think Normal Again flirts seriously with the possibility that the mental hospital is "reality"--obviously it plays at giving us a little "what if" frisson, but the episode, like all episodes of BtVS, in fact, contains multiple events and conversations in which Buffy does not participate and of which she is unaware. There's actually no way to sustain the idea that the Buffyverse is something that happens "inside Buffy's head" without running into insuperable logistical problems.)
Also I am really, really not a fan of Buffy's UPN years, but Normal Again was actually a pretty solid episode. Not to mention daring, especially coming from a freelance writer. There are far too many episodes of seasons 6-7 and season 1 that could have been chosen instead. Not to mention half the episodes of season 2 and Tracey Forbes' season 4 episodes that weren't Something Blue.

[ edited by JesusSavedIn01 on 2014-11-12 21:29 ]
"Normal again" really divides fans on its "meaning". You can bring your own interpretation. This is what Joss said: this episode was the "ultimate postmodern look at the concept of a writer writing a show", as it questioned fantastical or inconsistent elements of the show "the way any normal person would". Whedon added that the episode is intentionally left open to interpretation; the actual cause of the delusions, either the poison or Buffy's return to "reality", is not made explicitly clear. "If the viewer wants," Whedon says, "the entire series takes place in the mind of a lunatic locked up somewhere in Los Angeles... and that crazy person is me." Although, "Personally, I think it really happened." ( "10 Questions for Joss Whedon". New York Times. May 16, 2003.)
@Dusk, As bad as it was. I just can't diss an episode with Mrs. Landingham. It just wouldn't be right.
@RobynH-Giles singing is also a good point in it's favor. I'd say it's bad because of it's stupid premise. The Killer In Me is almost as bad if not worse for utterly failing to provide any sense of closure for Willow and failing to explain why Willow would hold Kennedy in any higher esteem then Harmony. The comics also make it even more of a failure.
I don't think they're saying that they're bad episodes. They're saying that there's something in the episode that either breaks established continuity, or presents a continuity that is later ignored. So people forget that part of the episode.
"Mirror Image" from Quantum Leap should've been top of this list. UGH! Talk about "breaking established" everything. Did I mention ugh? Because ugh.

"Normal Again" bugged me mostly because of the Nerds. I've only watched Angel (the series) once, so I don't remember the one they listed. Darn. Looks like I'll have to go to LA after I survive Middle Earth.
. . . I actually liked Eternity. Its one of my favorite episodes to go and rewatch on occasion. Partially its fun seeing Angelus being Angelus without a whole convoluted arc that sort of neutered him in the end.
I absolutely love Normal Again. Its one of my favorite Buffy episodes. Well, top twenty anyway. And I think it was maybe the second best episode of season 6, after OMWF.

It was also one of the scarier episodes of the show precisely because the hallucination of being "normal" was so credible. How ironic and brilliant is it that the show scared us by making us think that maybe, just maybe, all the monsters and demons are NOT real? That maybe being normal and unexceptional is the thing we fear most? And the most powerful part was forcing Buffy to choose which world to inhabit. Was it courageous that she chose to live with the monsters? Or was that really the "safer" choice?

The horror of the "normal" is a recurring theme. Remember The Body? When you normalize death (is there anything more normal or exceptionless than death?), when you show it in all its clinical, fleshy, awkwardness, it's about a million times scarier than romanticized death. I see Normal Again and the Body as cut from the same cloth.

These kinds of episodes are part of what made this show exceptional and unforgettable. Not something we should "pretend never happened."

[ edited by Squishy on 2014-11-13 07:05 ]
"Normal Again" is one Buffy episode I'd like to forget. Second runner up is "Smashed." Yeah, there were other lesser Buffy eps, especially from Season 1, but I don't want to pretend they don't exist.

On the other hand, I would like to pretend that much of Season 4 Angel didn't happen, especially the episodes with pod-Cordy.
Normal Again is really the one single episode I intensely dislike. For me, the way you could interpret the mental institution reality to be real was always an insult to the rest of the show, and to me as a viewer for watching it. After 5 1/2 seasons, more than 100 episodes, they're suddenly telling me that, hey, it's really all inside an insane girl's head - so what then? If I take that interpretation, why should I bother watching on? 'Lucid' Buffy even says that the whole concept of the series is ridiculous. Well, up until then, that concept is something I accepted and invested in - it felt like the writer of the episode tried to slap me in the face for going along with the series' premise.

There was another discussion about best & worst episodes a while ago where someone, I forgot who, gave me a nice way of looking at the episode though: that it doesn't matter which reality is real, what matters is saving your friends. I like that thought.
Another positive thing to say about the episode is that SMG's acting is fantastic in it.
But overall, it's indeed the episode I wouldn't mind erasing from existence.

Never had ANY problems at all with Beer Bad or Doublemeat Palace though, which are often mentioned as the worst of Buffy. With those, I don't even see what would be so bad about them.

As for Angel, I don't think there's a bad episode there - although, maybe 'She', which felt somewhat boring and disconnected. I certainly would not pick Eternity, I didn't even know people were so divided on that one.
BTVS was often arch and self-aware so Normal Again just continued that in a charming way, for me.
I am surprised to see people are so divided about Normal Again. I always felt it was very well executed because it was left open to interpetation. IMO very clever writing, and all of the performances were excellent (as always the actors were wonderful).

There are Buffy episodes I don't watch often, but there aren't any that I wish never existed because even the "bad" ones have some good things in them.
I never really disliked any episode of Buffy or Angel. Some were better than others, but there aren't any I'm tempted to skip when I re-watch the series.

...But that Star Trek: Voyager episode on the list is quite possibly the worst thing ever shown on television in the history of the world.
I acutely remember that my immediate response to "Normal Again" when it was broadcast was that Joss was deliberately taking on a particular TV trope but doing it so much better than previous writers had done (cf. the dream season of Dallas and the entire multi-season run of St. Elsewhere). My second response, a moment later, was to quote the movie Patton: "Joss, you magnificent bastard..." because that episode could be construed as a giant middle-finger to the loyal fans of the show if none of it was "real." But of course it's a TV show, a work of fiction, so none of it was real anyway, yet so many people were emotionally invested in it (which is the wonderful, awful power of drama in the first place). All in all, I thought then and still think that it was great episode of TV, not just of BtVS, because of how well it raised those questions, rather than simply using the trope as a writers' cop-out.

The fact that it was never referenced again within the series is easily understood (IMO)... it was Buffy's choice to fully embrace the delusion , just as we in the audience had done all along (willing suspension of disbelief and all that). And that's why I think this episode has no business being on this list -- it does not fit the premise.
"Never had ANY problems at all with Beer Bad or Doublemeat Palace though, which are often mentioned as the worst of Buffy. With those, I don't even see what would be so bad about them."

Not so much Beer Bad, but I really like Doublemeat too. I also really enjoy Where the Wild Things Are and find it one of the funniest episodes, so maybe my judgement shouldn't be trusted. The only episode I really dislike is I Robot, You Jane, which is just a real technophobic episode, as well as having some really cringy dialogue ("I'm jacked in.")

As for the ecstasy moment in Angel, I don't have a problem with the pill turning him. I actually really enjoy the moment in the episode. It also makes sense; if the pill makes him feel happy, why wouldn't it turn him? What I don't like is the fact that him being evil lasts as long as the effects of the ecstasy. Previously when we have seen him turn, he didn't revert back to Angel when he got in a bit of grump. His soul was gone and not coming back until someone shoved it back in him. I don't see why it would be different here.

Love Normal Again, but don't think I need to add anything that hasn't already been said by tomg.
I Robot, You Jane feels like a Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers episode.
Just a note - "Normal Again" wasn't written by a freelancer. The writer was working on "Buffy" staff as an assistant at the time.

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