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October 18 2004

Mediaweek's Marc Berman compares Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars to Sarah Michelle Gellar. "While it may never reach the level of popularity as Buffy, which also started out slowly, one thing that this show has that Buffy never did was a good lead actress. Kristen Bell is a standout."

I couldn't disagree more.

I obviously wasted 7 years of my life watching a show where the lead actress was piss poor. Thank you Mr Berman for making me realise the error of my ways.
Ouch! Dem's fightin' words! Does this guy really think that taking a shot at SMG like that will actually *attract* Buffy fans to the show? Geesh.
Ouch. I also disagree. See SMG's performance in The Body, for example. I often find other members of the cast to be as good as, if not better, than SMG, but I fail to see how Berman can dismiss SMG as just not "good."
I often find other members of the cast to be as good as, if not better, than SMG,
I agree – I've never considered SMG the strongest actor on the show. AH, ASH, JM, among others, were frequently better. Still, I thought she was consistently good, and occasionally pushed her performance toward real excellence: "The Body," certainly, as well as "Innocence" and a few others. She certainly wasn't a *bad* actress, and never brought the quality of the show down, as Berman seems to imply. That said, I have been enjoying Kristen Bell's performance as well (though I don't see that she's necessarily that much better than SMG).
Incidentally, while I've liked Veronica Mars so far, I'm a little surprised that it keeps getting so many Buffy comparisons. Other than the fact that both shows have a smart, sassy high school heroine, they have little in common. VM isn't a genre show, doesn't (at this point) share BtVS's strong use of metaphor, and its heroine has no particular powers. I suppose you could make the case that both leads used to be typical popular kids, until something happened to make them feel more like outsiders, but that feels like a stretch. VM is a detective show, and it has good characters, but are we really at a point (and as i write this, i realize that perhaps we are) where there are SO few shows with a smart, strong female protagonist that any that appear have to be compared to Buffy? It's a sad commentary on the state of television...
That was a dumb remark - We've only seen 4 episodes of Veronica Mars so far - even if kristen Bell is as good an acress as SMG, we certainly haven't had the opportunity to see her range.
I'm really liking VM - last week's episode was very moving and the other characters are beginning to flesh out quite a lot, especially Duncan. Funnily enough though, I think the high-school scene in BtVS seemed more realistic than on VM - the students on VM are much tougher, cynical and 'grown-up' than the ones at Sunnydale High. I'm not sure whether times have changed or whether it's the network (WB/UPN) and time scheduling (8pm/9pm) that makes the difference. Similarly Veronica herself has a much tougher persona than Buffy did at that time in her life.
Sorry about this, Simon - I am a real computerphobe and don't know how to work with Flickr - so had all these VM thoughts and nowhere to write them.
Well said, acp. I agree completely.

Much has been made of the wasteland that tv has become since reality tv took over. And sad as it is, it looks like anything that has a young female lead is going to be compared to Buffy. Veronica Mars doesn't even come close, for all the reasons you stated, acp. Nothing does.
Well, since we're getting into it . . . :)

I happen to believe that SMG *was* often the strongest actor on the show. Not in every episode, certainly, and the cast in general was excellent, making it invidious to single out any individual actor. But she made the central theme believable in a way that Kristy Swanson (playing an altogether different character, granted) did not. She exemplified for me a mixture of, literally, super strength with incredible and natural emotional vulnerability. Her acting in scenes in "Prophecy Girl", or in "Lie to Me", "Innocence", "I Only Have Eyes For You", "Becoming Part II", "Helpless", I could go on (I am going on), just knocked me sideways. As I've said before, her energy and presence (and yeah, OK, I find her somewhat attractive too) were at least 50% of the reason why I watched the show initially. Oh, and her comic timing is also superb. (One of my favorites is actually her rehearsal of speaking with the loan manager at the bank from "Flooded": it's entirely un-Buffy-delivery, and incredibly funny).

We could certainly debate whether she maintained the same level of consistency throughout (although I don't think we could find a single actor who did that through a 7-year run as the lead character of a show that required so much), but the same could be said of almost any of the actors in BtVS. And I don't believe she was ever acted off the screen in one-on-one with *anyone*, and that includes JM.

I'm not an expert on the whys and wherefores of acting and technique, and I'm not sure to what extent our appreciation of acting is colored by our personal like or dislike of the actor; all I do know is that SMG made me *feel* intensely for the character of Buffy in all her ups and downs. Getting back to the linked article: it's a casually-thrown out line, and as such it's hard to say anything in response except "did you even watch the show?" And, as Simon suggests above, how could you possibly have enjoyed it if you thought SMG couldn't act?

[ edited by SoddingNancyTribe on 2004-10-18 18:41 ]
Having listened to DVD commentaries by Joss where he was always extremly positive about SMG's acting, from the first scene he really watched where she meets Principal Flutie, the 'I quit' speech, the meeting with Angelus in Innocence, The Body and so on, and then watch her do comedy like Something Blue or Intervention, I have to agree with Joss. SMG's great.

It's only thanks to the shows image as a 'teen show' that she hasn't got a house full of Emmys. If Calista Flockheart and the women from SATC can win them and get the respect of their peers then SMG, IMHO, is easily as good, as well as playing a far more chalenging role.
Okay, on the writer's SMG comment, the guy is either brain-dead or just being an ass. Then again, most "professional" columnists are.

On the Veronica Mars front, I'm loving the show. It isn't "Buffy," and I hate the comparsions to it, because it makes viewers who tune in and were BtVS fans, think they're going to see something they're not. That's not a dig against VM by any means, though.

It isn't trying to be "Buffy." It is it's own entity. A genre show that falls squarely into detective/noir.

Which brings me to WWBD's comment about Buffy's portrayal of high school seeming more realistic--VM's more cynical characters and events are done quite intentionally. VM's world is not our world. Nor is it Buffy's, where metaphors flew all over the place. It's a detective/noir world with a teen covering, that has nothing to do with network or scheduling. It has to do with the kind of story it's trying to tell.

It's realism is a few notches above what we would consider the norm. The emotions are real if the situations sometimes aren't. I think a lot of people would enjoy the show more (those who don't), if they understood where the show was coming from stylistically and creatively with regards to its influences.

And because I know this is really off-topic now, I would just encourage people to read the very well-written VM essay here:

It may or may not sway opinions, but it explains the show nicely.

I agree with everything you said SNT (accept being attracted to her!). I do feel that SMG was the best actor on the series but the others were close behind. She consistently blew me away with her performance time after time. I think that peoples perspectives of who they think was the "best" actor on the shows would depend on who your favorite character(s) are. Buffy was my favorite above all the others. I think the show had many great actors, and they all did a wonderful, believable job but as the lead character with the most air time, SMGs portrayal of Buffy was exceptional. She even played three distinctively different characters very believably with her portrayal of the BuffyBot and The First and how much her character changed from season one to seven was wonderfully done. She won an Emmy for her stint on All My Children her first year on that soap and there are many actors who have been on soaps for years who've never won one.

I only caught a brief moment of Veronica Mars so I can't judge that actresses abilities but I think it is very unfair to rip apart SMGs seven year performance on a critically acclaimed show to try and bump up ratings for Veronica Mars.

I wonder if this person even ever saw BtVS.
Of course! This is the guy who had it in for Angel every week when he looked at the show's ratings.
Sarah was as good as it gets in terms of lead actresses. I honestly dont know where that came from. No show could ever become as popular and loved as BTVS if the lead wasn't exceptional

Hello by the way, first post and all
I'd have to disagree a bit there, mcb. I think it was more the writing, rather than the actors, that was exceptional. The actors benefitted from the writing, but a good actress can't carry a show alone (see Tru Calling).

In terms of acting abilities, I think it's a bit unfair to compare the two. Buffy relied more heavily on comedy, while Veronica Mars has a lot more straight acting. Kristin Bell is a standout, but only because this show has allowed her to showcase it.

[ edited by Dym on 2004-10-18 19:19 ]
The one thing Veronica Mars does have in common with Buffy is the fact that if you don’t care about the title character, it makes watching the show a little difficult. I like the show and Kristen Bell is good as Veronica, but I wouldn’t call her a “standout”—especially after so few episodes. A “standout” in my opinion is Jonathan Woodward playing Holden for one episode and not being able to get him out of your mind (for example). SMG didn’t always move me as much as she could have because of the nagging feeling she sometimes relied on techniques and formulas she developed over the years to get the job done, instead of just letting go and being messy. That could just be the way I interpret it, but she was never less than good. Most of the time she was really, really good and occasionally she was excellent. I always thought of the show as more of an ensemble anyway, and she always held up her end of the deal and then some, even when her part wasn’t as sympathetic as some of her castmates.
Welcome Mcb and well said!

SMG was wonderful as Buffy, the Buffybot and The First her acting contributed to making Buffy a character we fell in love with and supported. Of course the writing, direction and many other factors effect a show but if she was a lousy actress even the best writting wouldn't save her.

Marc Berman is an a** to make that kind of statement, my guess is the man just needed something to write.
And, as Simon suggests above, how could you possibly have enjoyed it if you thought SMG couldn't act?

Well, not to defend the article, because I think SMG was great as Buffy, but I enjoyed Angel and never thought DB was a good actor. He had his moments, but overall I think most of his costars acted him out of the water, so to speak. Particularly AD and AA.

So, ya know, it's possible.
"I'd have to disagree a bit there, mcb. I think it was more the writing, rather than the actors, that was exceptional. The actors benefitted from the writing, but a good actress can't carry a show alone (see Tru Calling)." - Dym

Ahh, but even with exceptional writing, if the acting sucks, the show won't make it. It takes both to make an exceptional show and BtVS had both. As an example, try picturing Hillary Duff in the role of Buffy and trying to perform like SMG did.
I have never seen Veronica Mars, so I cannot comment about Kristen Bell. As for the abilities of SMG, I agree with SNT and blwessels. I think she's a fine actor and on occasions she was truly exceptional in BtVS. I do not mean any disrespect to the rest of the cast, who were also excellent throughout (more or less).

Dym, I understand your basic argument, but good writing can be sabotaged by bad acting. What BtVS was blessed with was exceptional writing and great acting. The two feed off each other. I'm sure the writers were inspired by the capabilities of the cast and this allowed them that bit of extra freedom to push the character further.
I definitely agree the writing was exceptional, for me it was the strongest aspect of the show, but it has to be in combination with the acting. It doesn't matter how good a script is if it's acted by people who dont make you care about it

I'm probably just as biased towards the show as this Berman guy seems to be against it
SMG certainly had episodes that she just seemed to phone in. However, to say that she wasn't a good lead actress is moronic. It's beyond moronic, actually. "The Body" alone showed that she can/could act at the highest level, and as SNT noted above, there are many more episodes which revealed her skill.

Also, while I don't have all the names of the episodes memorized the way some here seem to, the Angel ep where he had the PTB take back a day also featured an incredibly moving performance by Sarah.

PS BLW - Don't forget that SMG also played Faith for a couple episodes in Season 4.
Fair point about DB, RogueS, although I guess I thought DB was at least adequate and often better than that; I construed Berman's remark about SMG to mean that she was less than adequate, or in some way detracted from the show. DB never had that effect on me, although I tend to agree that AD was the stand-out in AtS. David's imperfections, if any, were likely glossed over by the constraints of Angel's character ("Brood. Go it alone. Brood some more. Surprising moment of humor. Back to brooding.") In the same way, I could never really tell if SMG became a little formulaic in S6 in the way bloodflowers describes, or if that was simply her approach to the "I was dead but now I'm not. My emotions are a bit screwy" storyline. I do believe that in S7 she was settling for less than before.

rkayn: I hope you're not suggesting *I* have the episodes memorized?! (BTW: you're thinking of "I Will Remember You" - and I agree with you). What can I say? Obsessive-compulsive much?

[ edited by SoddingNancyTribe on 2004-10-18 20:46 ]
Rkayn - And that was some performance that both actresses gave on those episodes! I thought they both were so believable playing the other! The episode you're referring to on Angel was "I will Remember You" and I remember DB commenting on how hard it was to get through that scene because Sarah was so convincing as being emotionally distraught that he was having a hard time controlling his own emotions. That's saying it all right there.

Rogue Slayer, I respect your opinion that you don't feel that DB was a good actor but a lot of the fans who watch that show will disagree with you. I think if ALL the fans felt he was a sucky actor (no pun intended) and still watched that would prove the author of the articles point. But, although I think he is a good actor, ADs portrayal stole the show for me and when Amy Acker became Illyria, it was another scene stealing performance.
First of all, Marc Berman doesn't know what he's talking about.

From all accounts, SMG was never less than professional, worked her perky blonde ass off for seven years, and made a world-wide cult audience truly care about a ex-cheerleader who has been chosen to slay vampires (say what?). That's good enough for me. SMG was never less than competent, and on more than one occasion, absolutely spectacular (Who Are You, The Body, OMWF, Normal Again). She had great actors backing her up, but was never overshadowed. If we lost the character in S7, it was because of the writing, not the actress. So there.

Second, big fan of Veronica Mars here, and the comparisons with Buffy aren't as forced as you might think. Buffy and the Scoobs lived in their own peculiar universe, an environment that mixed typical teenage melodrama with an elaborately developed supernatural mythos. Veronica Mars mixes a typical teenage melodrama with an elaborately developed, highly-stylized NOIR mythos. Same method, different genre. Both series have spunky blonde heroines with world-weary single parents, both are the brainchild of a brilliant, underappreciated screenwriter (Joss and VM's Rob Thomas), and both have had visitations from the dead as a key plot point. (Got you curious? See VM this Tuesday night, if you want to know what I'm talking about.)
SNT - I see you already supplied the answer to the episode that Rkayn was referring as I was typing. As for having episode names memorized, well I'm pretty much guilty of that as I think most who post here are. I openly admit I am a wee bit obsessive when it comes to the Whedonverse! I remember my sister giving me and my daughters an odd look when we started talking about BtVS and were nailing down specific scenes to specific episodes. I can't tell if she was impressed or appalled.
Gah! What on earth does this guy think he's going to accomplish by promoting a new and struggling show at the expense of another that is beloved and dearly missed? This is one of those times that you wish that someone had counted to ten - no, twenty - before speaking, or in his case, writing. Superfically, Veronica Mars and Buffy are alike in that they are both set in California high schools and have pretty blonde protagonists who have hard lives. If you take the time to watch Veronica Mars I think that you'd also find that they both have strong stories, good writing, and a willingness to head into dark territory. I would hate to think that anyone would be put off from trying this show because of clumsy comparisons like this one.
Totally disagree with the article.
But... we all know SMG is a good actress, no need that periodist say the same.
I think emphatically NOT, and also for public reference i declare AS IF...
That was an amazingly stupid thing for him to say. So this genius thinks that BtVS never had a good lead actress and that SMG was not good. As others have said, he must have never seen the show. Sure, she wasn't amazingly spectacular in every episode but, guess what, no lead in any show is always amazingly spectacular in every episode. I have never seen Veronica Mars, Scrubs is on in its 2nd half hour and i choose Scrubs, but i doubt that she is as good as SMG. Back to the genius man, what he said seems like something that could actually hurt Veronica Mars. He insults SMG, makes a number of BtVS and AtS fans angry, and thinks that this will help Veronica Mars' performance?
Cause this is all making the kind of sense that's not.
Fair point about DB, RogueS, although I guess I thought DB was at least adequate and often better than that

High praise, indeed. ;~) Just kidding, I know what you mean. He had his moments, but I wonder if his character wasn't tailored a bit towards his acting 'abilities'. I remember in the commentary for Spin the Bottle, Joss said that they made it so that regressed Angel didn't have an Irish accent so that David wouldn't have to do it the whole episode. Well, we all know DB can't do an accent to save his life, so I wonder if more things weren't added(or subtracted) to play to his strength.
I just wanted to add that not only did SMG play the Buffybot, The First, and Faith, she also was a totally different Buffy in The Wish. That's a very wide range that she had the talent for. BTVS showcased SMG's exceptional acting talents more than any other acting job she's had.

I like Veronica Mars and I like the NOIR detective feel. It's an intriguing show but I went away from the BTVS comparisons after the first episode. It's different, it's got it's own feel. I recommend it for those who want something substantial to watch on Tuesday nights.
I agree with what everyone here is saying -- as a long-time fan of BtVS, and a new fan of VM. Kristen Bell is a wonderful actor and brings great spunk and life to Veronica, but she's not a "stand-out" actor, at least not yet...I mean, only THREE episodes have aired! Whereas I could definitely say that Caroline Dhavernas was a stand-out actor on 'Wonderfalls'.

SMG wasn't always a stand-out actor on BtVS, rather...her acting was so wonderful at times that it was almost difficult to recognize how layered and solid it was. For example, "Flooded" was an episode I quickly discounted after its first airing, but now I look back to it with appreciation. Buffy's utter frustration and inability to cope with the way her life was failing comes through the TV screen.

And as to the question of DB's acting skill -- I find it hard to believe when people who have received no acting training, ever, make judgements on who is a good actor and who isn't. (And this isn't passing judgement on anyone here on Whedonesque -- everyone here could be LAMDA graduates for all I know.) I don't try to lecture people on how to sautee a fish correctly; I have no idea. But I do have more than some idea about acting and portraying a role. That said, I believe DB's character didn't help him in proving that he was a good actor, but after all, the character was really written based on his portrayal in the first few episodes of BtVS.

I would like the people who believe in DB's acting skills to watch his performance in 'Valentine'. Throughout most of the movie, he plays Goofy Nice Angel, essentially, in all of his mannerisms, ways of speaking, etc. And when his character is thought to be the killer, he speaks in Angelus's taunting voice, he tilts his head down in the same evil way...he's Angelus without the fangs.

Being a good actor requires range. Did DB give a convincing performance as Angel? Mostly. But is he a good actor? No. Or at least, he hasn't proved himself so yet.

(I hope that wasn't too off topic -- I don't mind if the DB part is edited out.)
I find it hard to believe when people who have received no acting training, ever, make judgements on who is a good actor and who isn't

That's kind of like saying, if you haven't had any political training or experience, you shouldn't vote for a president. Or if you haven't had any experience creating a tv show, you aren't qualified to judge if a show is good or not. Not sure I agree with you.
Just a quick note - did anyone notice that the "letter" that provoked Mr. Berman's response was signed with the initials JW?

Believing whether or not someone is a good actor is an opinion and everyone is entitled to their own. Just as people are also entitled to disagree with other people's opinions. I don't need to take acting classes to determine whether I like someone's acting skills or not.
"'I find it hard to believe when people who have received no acting training, ever, make judgements on who is a good actor and who isn't'. evemac

'That's kind of like saying, if you haven't had any political training or experience, you shouldn't vote for a president. Or if you haven't had any experience creating a tv show, you aren't qualified to judge if a show is good or not. Not sure I agree with you.'" Rogue Slayer

I must agree with Rogue Slayer here. And consider evemac's first analogy: while it would be silly to criticize someone's method for sauteeing fish if I had no idea how to do it, I could still criticize how the fish tasted. Likewise with acting. I might not know the technical intricacies of method and blocking and intonation, but I can see and criticize the result.

Some actors convince: they inhabit a character and what they say and do is believable. I'm moved by them and experience happiness/sadness as they do. Other actors are visibly *acting*, or are sloppy, or just plain embarrassing. Instead of feeling what they are feeling, I find myself thinking about how they got the job, or what they're wearing, or making a list of things I need from the store. SMG (and ASH and AD and JM and AA etc.) clearly falls into my first group; DB mostly does, but occasionally straddles the line between them.
Agreed with all above on who can judge acting – it would be ridiculous to say that only actors can judge performances. So, the rest of the world – critics, audience, the people who the actors are playing *for* - just accept all performances, good or bad? It doesn't take intricate knowledge of the craft to judge the quality of a performance.
Also, it is certainly possible to like both a show and certain characters while recognizing that the acting isn't always top-notch. I loved both Angel the show and Angel the character, and yet I would never go so far as to call DB a good actor. I will say he improved a *lot* since the days of S1 Buffy. But he has very little range (although i did occasionally like his Angelus portrayals), little ability to display subtle emotional shifts, and, as we all know, can't do an accent to save his life. Still, i loved his character. it helped, in part, that it seemed to be written around what he *can* do, so that his shortcomings were rarely obvious.
Regarding SMG, I always felt like she was a consistent, capable lead for the show. She just rarely blew me away. I did love her performance in the Body, and her body switch with Faith, and a handful of other performances (though I was much less enchanted with her portrayal in the last couple seasons – granted she sometimes didn't have as good material to work with, but she also just seemed to be phoning it in a bit more). It was often the supporting cast, though - Alyson Hannigan and James Marsters in Buffy, AA and AD in Angel (Amy in the last season, in particular) – that really impressed me. Still, i give SMG a lot of credit for consistently carrying the show – a much tougher job than the supporting cast have to deal wtih.
OK - DB's acting skills are something that I feel my personal jury is still out on. Angel as a show was wonderful, the supporting cast was wonderful, David was fine, very handsome (I know that has nothing to do with acting skills).

I feel DB improved allot since he first started - I believe the first season of Buffy was his first acting job (?) and there is a hugh difference in his acting from season 1 of Buffy to season 2, which IMO feel is his strongest acting season ever, but then it seems to me he leveled off, maybe it's the part.

I hope he proves me wrong and delivers some wonderful performances in the future - but I worry more about him than the rest of the Angel cast who have all amazed me with their talents.
Woooooow. I, by far, am not a SMG fan, (at all ever) but she's a good actress. Not the best on Buffy, (AH, ASH, AB and ED come to my mind), but that Kristen Bell chick is in no way better. She's bee on TV, what, a total of like 10 hours? Wow. Way to get rid of the biggest fan-base since Star Trek.
I agree with Rogue Slayer, acp, and SoddingNancyTribe on this one. I'm no actor, but I sure like to think I know good acting when I experience it.

The main criteria for me is that I don't want to be 'aware' that they're acting. And the actor needs to evoke feelings in me. Not the swelling music, or the beautiful lighting. That all contributes of course, but if I don't care about the actor(s) (meaning the character), I'm flippin the channel.
ElizaFan81, she was on Deadwood on HBO for two episodes and was fantastic. She went from "li'l miss innocent" to "scheming li'l hell bitch" in the wink of an eye. And was absolutely believable in both personalities.

I like Veronica Mars. Empasis on the 'like'. I do have faith in the young actress though, so we'll see what she does with the role.
Well that was a surprise. SMG a bad actress?? Really surprises me. I'm not someone who blindly worships Sarah's every breath (as people here probably know) and I often disagree with her views on the show and the characters. (Buffy and Xander together? brrr!) But I always felt that she was indeed very good at the acting thing. Especially when it comes to heartache and being upset she's exceptional (Obvious examples: Innocence, The Body, I Will Remember You, etc etc) If anything, her only weakness was uncontrollable laughter. The DVD commentary about the scene where she laughs at 'Harmony having minions' mentioned that scene taking some time and effort and that Sarah herself wasn't happy with how she did it. Later in S6 when she and Giles laugh, we see Buffy's backside for a reason, hehe.

Other than that, she's done everything this pretty varied show asked of her. Her performance in OMWF was excellent too. She didn't have the vocal chords of Tony Head or Amber Benson, but her performance of acting/dancing/singing was superb, especially considering how much she had to do (more than any of the others) and that she had no real experience in doing it.

As for writing vs acting, it's relative. Good writing is still the basis of any story, regardless of the medium. A good actor can't make a bad script work. But a bad actor (or the wrong approach) can certainly mess up a brilliant script. (Ask Joss about some movies he wrote). BtVS and AtS certainly always benefitted from both sides of the equation being high quality.

(The only truly bad acting I can remember on the show would be Kendra. No offense, but that sucked)

And even thought she didn't always like what the show was doing (S6 of course) Sarah did it all like a trooper. I haven't seen Veronica Mars yet so I can't comment. I always get annoyed when anything is announced as 'the new (fill in blank)', because it's a stupid remark to make. If it's very similar to Buffy it CAN'T be the 'new Buffy'. Because at the time it started, Buffy wasn't copying a show that shortly preceded it, was it? It had influences (ranging from horror movies to X-Men comics) but it was an original.

And the notion that you can tell someone's performance after 2 episodes as opposed to 7 years is laughable and kind of places this fellow outside of any serious discussion. And given he seemed to have it in for AtS too, I'd say he's hardly anyone to pay attention to.
Agree with just about everything you said Ed, including Kendra - pretty bad acting there. But, I think Joss Whedon himself on one of the season six commentaries mentions he had planned on putting Buffy and Xander together in the end. Now, SMG may have said that too but maybe she got that idea from him and liked it. I can't say it would've surprised me either because there was a bit of a triangle in the early seasons with Angel, Buffy and Xander and it always seemed to me that Xander never got over Buffy (he seemed more upset over Buffy sleeping with Spike than he did Anya sleeping with him). But, if that had happened, to me, it would've been another Riley situation where eventually Xander feels he really isn't what Buffy wants and that she just settled. Regardless of who wanted it, I'm glad things happened the way they did.

More on DB and his acting ability. I think he's a good actor, not a great one but just good. He definitely improved from season one of Buffy and maybe we haven't seen him really tested yet. Time will tell. It's hard to tell if it was the character that molded his acting or his limited acting abilities that molded the character. If he's given more roles that have him being more like Angel then it's most likely that's the best he can do. But, that said, there was one thing that they always did with Angel that bugged the Hell out of me and always came across as staged. There were too many scenes where Angel would appear from the shadows and he always seemed to do it exactly the same, where someone was plotting or talking about something and then Angel kind of spins around into the room or light with a witty remark. Like he's just standing there in the shadows listening to what's being said and waiting for his cue. That always felt forced to me and I always kind of cringe when it happens. I really notice the acting at times like that and it takes me out of the moment.
First, wonderful discourse everyone.

Only sliver of contribution I could add is this: SMG played all those many Buffy character shadings -- sometimes at the end of a shoulder roll, scissor kick, heel fling, twirl, leap, fall, jump, elbow rub, knockout blow, axing, knifing, staking. How many other actors could have taken that punishing a role for seven years ? Probably one or two others. Eliza, being one of them. In summaryy: SMG kicked butt!
"But, I think Joss Whedon himself on one of the season six commentaries mentions he had planned on putting Buffy and Xander together in the end."

Really? Interesting. I'll try and look that up because I don't remember that. Season 6?

"Now, SMG may have said that too but maybe she got that idea from him and liked it."

Well I remember SMG saying in an interview that she and Nick went to Joss with the idea to have S7 with Buffy and Xander together but that he didn't go for it.

"But, if that had happened, to me, it would've been another Riley situation where eventually Xander feels he really isn't what Buffy wants and that she just settled. Regardless of who wanted it, I'm glad things happened the way they did."

Me too. Also, to me a relationship with Xander would just have felt incetuous at this point since he was pretty much the brother figure. And it would have felt very weird to me that Buffy suddenly, after years of awareness of Xander's feelings for her and never once returning them, would suddenly go "hey, I love you after all!". No glad it went as it went too.

"More on DB and his acting ability. I think he's a good actor, not a great one but just good. He definitely improved from season one of Buffy and maybe we haven't seen him really tested yet. "

Yeah he was absolutely fine as Angel and as SNT pointed out, the character of Angel in itself was introvert, brooding and consciously restrained. Some say David was wooden but he was as he should be. I think David did fine within that role and has a talent for comedy as well.

But I should add I don't think his range as an actor is as big as SMG's, James' or Alexis' to name a few.
Have to agree with the majority that SMG is a great actress, have been rewatching s5 lately so I'm glad there was mention of her portrail of the Buffybot, thought that was a wonderfull change of pace. Also wanted to add that so far I think Veronica Mars has been excellent and it's actually my favourite new show so far this season (though I have also really been enjoying Lost)
Not 100% sure which season Joss mentions it in, it could've been five. I wish they gave more details on the dvd cases which episodes have commentaries. Maybe Joss got the idea from them, but again, glad it didn't happen regardless of who thought it up. I know he also toyed with the idea of Willow and Spike (before Tara was introduced) and that could've been interesting back then but I'm glad that didn't happen as well. Probably lots of ideas they toyed with and tossed out - it would be interesting to hear about some of those though!

Oh, definitely, DB is not in the same class as the actors you mentioned. It probably helped him improve though to be surrounded by such talent.
I'm glad there was mention of her portrail of the Buffybot, thought that was a wonderfull change of pace
See, that was one of the few places where I *didn't* like SMG's acting. Again, don't get me wrong – I think she's a talented actress, and very competent. I just didn't always feel she was a superb actress. And comedy, for me, is where she often didn't quite come up to snuff. The buffybot portrayals always felt really over-the-top and cartoonish (i realize it was supposed to be a bit over-the-top, but i feel like she could have done it in a more subtle way and it would have been better - at least slightly believable). Same for comedy episodes like Something Blue and Triangle. And, as someone mentioned earlier, the long sustained laugh scenes. She was much less believable for me in all those than in the scenes where she had to portray deep grief or heartache.
None of which is to say I agree with Berman's words in this article. And - i think someone up to mentioned Kristy Swanson? not even a comparison. I shudder to think what BtVS would have been like had it had a lead like that.... I couldn't even make it through the movie when i finally tried to watch it a year ago.
I just thought here portrayal of the Buffybot was mimicking Shonda Farr's April and as such was spot on (just as her playing of Faith/Buffy in Who Are I? mimicked Eliza to a tee) so any blame for Buffybot being over the top goes back to the original "lovebot" as far as I'm concerned. As for Something Blue and Triangle I can't say I noticed any deficiency in SMG's performance, but I consider her to be more a bit part player in both those episodes with AH and AH/EC almost being the leads. That may just be because they do comedy better than SMG [shrug]
I found her quite enjoyable in the comedic episodes and especially as the Buffybot. Loved her in Something Blue. Is Triangle the one where Willow and Anya conjur up Anya's ex Troll? In that episode, and this is the only one where I can say that I feel she didn't quite pull it off, in the scene where she's crying in the Bronze thinking that Anya and Xander broke up, that seemed force to me. But there were moments with just about every actor on both shows where I can find a moment like that. I don't feel that Allyson quite pulled off evil Willow and if she hadn't had the darkened hair and darkened eyes it would've been more obvious. Amy, on the other hand with make-up and all beautifully pulled off Illyria and seemlesslky switched between the two.

[ edited by blwessels on 2004-10-19 15:43 ]
Is Triangle the one where Willow and Anya conjur up Anya's ex Troll?
Yep that's the one. Have to say it's been a few years since I've seen that episode, lax of me I know but I am on a s5 rewatching mission at the moment so I shall be there soon. As you say blwessels everyone has an off day, from personal experience (not of acting but from anything that requires practice) some days you just can't do it, no matter how hard you try and then the next day it'll come really easily with no discernable reason. Of course it could just be that SMG's not as comfortable at the comedic moments, but I always thought she had good comedic timing.
Buffy and Xander? Oh, no! They`re like brothers. I`m happy with the way things go.

And Willow & Spike? I say the same (except for the brothers part :p)
I think SMG had a very good to pretty great range on Buffy; going from the cute, cossetted and perky SoCal moppet to the darker, death-scarred adult Slayer and surrogate parent was a long and complex emotional journey -- one I felt she navigated admirably even though she clearly disliked some of what she was being asked to do in the latter two seasons.

She's capable (as Sam Raimi mentions in the 'Grudge' article I posted last night) of inciting audience empathy to great effect, and I've never been so consistently touched by an actress's efforts as I have watching SMG as Buffy. Years later, after having seen certain episodes countless times and feeling certain that now I'm innoculated against tears by knowing what's coming, her expression or line reading can still blow me away and bring on the waterworks. Her eyes are so expressive, and especially in moments of anguish her heart is all there in them, open and brokenly appealing.

The UPN seasons did demonstrate a drop in her commitment level to me, if not in actual performance professionalism, then in that magickal chemical spark that somehow conveys a core belief in the material. I actually saw her acting a few times, working hard (and not with the invisible effortlessness I'd come to expect) to make it believable, whereas from S1-5 I was almost always totally submerged in Buffy, living the story along with her in completely suspended awareness that the character and person were really two distinct entities.

I'm crossing my fingers that 'The Grudge' does gangbusters B.O., if only because Japanese cinema is generally so cool, and we could use an injection of that energy and style to inspire some changes in the horror/thriller genre here at home. Sarah was clearly excited by the opportunity to work with a respected foreign director in his own country, but I sincerely hope she will keep pushing herself to experiment with even more diverse and expansive projects.

My worry is that she sometimes lets herself play things too safe -- maybe out of reluctance to allow too many variables she can't control to enter the playing field? I get the underlying sense 'The Grudge' is important for her at least partly for the reason that it challenged her on some personal levels she maybe hasn't been so comfortable tackling in the past. That's a great thing for an artist, to feel themselves pushing forward past fear into new growth, and I'm optimistic that it's going to pay off for her.

Re: DB -- I have high hopes for him. He's got good, instinctual acting skills and a warmth that could be very powerful in the right role; the fact that he could convincingly portray a broody, dour vampire for 8 years when he's so totally opposite that in natural personality is an indicator to me that he's not as untalented as some people like to suppose.

Harrison Ford is aging out of the roles DB would be perfect for, and David himself has mentioned his interest in filling that niche. I'd follow him into the brighter light of Hollywood heroic-adventure flicks without a second's hesitation, but if he ever decides he wants to visit the darkness again, whether as Angel or another villain, I'll gladly welcome him back into the shadows with open arms. Small indy films would be the avenue I'd advise him to explore for the next few years, where he could hone his craft and work toward showcasing himself in a major breakout role. He did show definite ability behind the camera in 'Soul Purpose', still one of my favorite episodes of S5 (and high overall in the series). If he never steps in front of the camera again, as long as he keeps his hand in the business by directing I'll not consider it a net loss.

[ edited by Wiseblood on 2004-10-20 07:09 ]
I was able to catch a little bit of Veronica Mars today and for the life of me I can't understand why that guy would make a comparison like that. Although I didn't think she was a bad actress I didn't see anything spectacular that would cause him to make the comparison he did. Why not just say he liked the show a lot and thought she was great in the role? Personally, she reminded me an awful lot of the girl who plays Chloe on smallville. They have similar looks, voice and mannerisms.

And I agree Wiseblood that DB would fit nicely into the type of roles that Harrison Ford has had. I love Harrison Ford and have enjoyed his movies but I also don't think he's an oscar worthy actor either. I think the Buffyverse has had some exceptional actors and that most actors usually range in the good or lower range. I'd say DB has a very similar acting style as Harrison Ford and that was a great comparison. There are a lot of lesser actors getting good movies on the big screen. I also think that DB did a great job behind the camera on Soul Purpose and that could be a very fulfilling career. Liked Ron Howard when he was acting but love the movies he's done behind the scenes even better.

[ edited by blwessels on 2004-10-20 04:13 ]

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