Cultural Catchup Project: “The Harsh Light of Day”/”In The Dark” (Buffy and Angel)

“The Harsh Light of Day”/”In the Dark”

June 22nd, 2010

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

I don’t think the crossovers were really a huge part of my decision to watch Buffy and Angel simultaneously at the end of the day, but they certainly helped justify the decision. The idea of doing crossovers is logical for the two series, airing back-to-back as they were, but I’ll admit that watching “The Harsh Light of Day” and “In the Dark” makes me wonder just how crucial watching this particular crossover together really is. In fact, I’d go so far as to call it highly unnecessary, although I’ll admit that there’s some interesting storytelling within the connection.

I want to talk a bit about how the Gem of Amara serves as a crossover element, but I also want to discuss how each show’s respective seasons are shaping up a few episodes in. At this point, Whedon needs to be careful about crossovers, as Angel needs to be establishing its own identity rather than relying on its connections with Buffy. As a result, “In the Dark” is less a continuation of “The Harsh Light of Day” and more a spin-off of its central plot element in order to tell a different story with more weight for Angel and the future of his series. The result is two episodes that are connected, yes, but are primarily continuations and introductions of key themes moving forward into independent, rather than connected seasons.

This doesn’t mean that there’s no value in watching them together, but it does mean that I don’t consider it a necessity.

In “The Harsh Light of Day,” the Gem of Amara is a MacGuffin: it’s an ancient vampire myth of unknown power which Spike wants to use to destroy the world and which Buffy needs to stop him from finding in order to save that same world. It really isn’t that much more complicated than that for most of the episode’s running time, until the point where we find the ring and learn that it grants its wearer (provided they’re a vampire) eternal life. Then, it becomes a convenient reason to shoot Spike and Buffy’s altercation during the day (which has a certain novelty to it), at which point the ring is captured by Buffy. Really, the Gem has nothing to do with the episode’s central function, which is its glimpse of three women (Buffy and the returning Harmony and Anya) dealing with the sting of rejection within the (you guessed it) harsh light of day.

There’s no big surprises in the episode: we know that Spike simply views Harmony as a plaything, we know that Xander isn’t comfortable with Anya’s awkward salvos, and as soon as we met Parker it was pretty easy to tell he was going to end up being a douchebag. But for Buffy the notion of being burned in this fashion plays nicely in terms of tying in with her past with Angel – while I don’t think the show can go quite this dark at all times, college isn’t a shiny happy place so this sort of rejection will help harden the character to the challenges it will bring (even if she remains a bit lovestruck at the end of the episode, with Willow having to explicate the poopface principle). And there’s a lot of inspired dialogue in Harmony’s turn as a vampire and in Anya’s struggles to deal with dratted human emotions: Harmony expected that life as a vampire would be all fun and games but discovers that her vapidity is similarly unwelcome in non-living circles, while Anya naively believes that having sex with Xander will cure her rather than make her more attached. While they’re still secondary characters, they offered a nice glimpse into expectations that played out well in Jane Espenson’s script.

“In the Dark” ostensibly continues the story of this episode, but in reality all it does is take the established MacGuffin and turn it into a more substantial plot device. Now that we know from the beginning what the ring is, and now that the stakes are entirely clear in terms of what Spike could do should it fall into his hands, the ring has greater value to the story, in particular considering the notion that for Angel the ring would forever change his life. It’s a clever bit of storytelling which makes these more or less standalone stories: the function of the ring is clearly explained as soon as Oz arrives with it, and Spike’s desire to hurt Angel isn’t so much an extension of the previous episode as it is a deployment of a great series villain in a logical fashion. The episodes don’t so much represent a two-part story as they represent the same story being told twice, although on Angel the value of the story shifts since the ring means more to Angel and has potentially more dangerous consequences. The story is more personal and tangible, the ring’s power both resonating with Angel and being put in the hands of a vampiric pedophile as opposed to simply threatening the end of the world. It’s an intelligent bit of storytelling, as Buffy has enough of an established base to handle a basic MacGuffin storyline while Angel could use the more tangible structure to help build its world moving forward.

Early on in a procedural (which, at this point, Angel most certainly is, even if it evolves into something more in the future), these kinds of personal stories are necessary to be able to handle substantial character development within standalone stories. While Angel is starting to develop its own sense of identity, as Doyle and Cordelia’s dynamic with Angel is starting to feel more like a team albeit a fairly makeshift one, it is at that stage where it wants to remind us how complex Angel is as a character beyond his inability to socialize properly, and “In the Dark” is working a mile a minute on such areas. Rachel’s little runner, for example, is simply a reminder of what happened with Buffy: Angel tells her to leave her boyfriend behind, as it will hurt for a while but she’ll be better off in the end. And so the Gem of Amara is a convenient way to force Angel to reflect on whether he wants his life to change, and in this instance he chooses to enjoy a sunset before destroying the ring and remaining in the shadows.

Watching these two episodes together certainly has some value: seeing Buffy’s emotional (and instinctive) decision to send the ring to Angel makes her passive influence on Angel’s struggles more potent, and Spike’s less than pleasant experience with Buffy makes his behaviour in “In the Dark” slightly more logical. However, Spike isn’t transformed by his earlier experience, and it’s not as if Harmony or any other specific plot points were mentioned in the context of his attempts to force the ring out of Angel. And while Buffy’s decision might make that part of the episode resonate more, it’s not something which needs to play out directly, and because of how clearly the Gem’s abilities are laid out there’s nothing to really forget should you come back to it later.

As a result, I’d presume that this is one of the less important crossovers, one which is nice (in that you get double the James Marsters) but which is certainly not a necessity. However, the episodes are engaging and entertaining not only because of the crossover appeal or Spike’s general greatness, but also because they nicely reflect where the series are in their current trajectory. Just as Buffy getting burned by Parker gives her a life experience to use in the future, so too does Angel’s choice of destroying the ring show us his own path moving forward. Neither season has fully come together: Buffy and Willow may be rooming together (which should have happened to begin with, but they got a story out of it) but the season lacks an antagonist, while Doyle has become more engaging but remains stuck pining for Cordelia (I have no expectations that Angel will have a full-on season structure a la Buffy at this early stage). What is perhaps most impressive about the crossover is that it relies in part on the series’ shared history, but it feels like the episodes remained building blocks for separate series at the same time, which makes the crossover an added bonus for fans without damaging each series’ respective momentum.

Cultural Observations

  • Watching with all of your comments has made this experience very interesting, and I’m particularly enjoying your vague non-spoilers: for example, a number of people mentioned that Harmony would pop up later without any real context, so even though I wasn’t shocked to see Harmony show up here I was nonetheless surprised to see her become a vampire, making it both a fun surprise and a nice reinforcement of my experience with the Cultural Catchup Project. Mercedes McNab had a great deal of fun with this one, so I’m looking forward to her return.
  • As discussed on Twitter, when Parker first emerged I felt as if his name just screamed “jerk,” for reasons I can’t entirely explain. As many of my followers pointed out when I asked, there have been plenty of characters named Parker who haven’t been quite so reprehensible, but there’s something about the name that proved bizarrely associative. Either way, no shocker that he turned out to be a complete douchebag.
  • One downside of filming fight sequences during the day: the stunt doubling is much, much more apparent.
  • Really great stuff from Charisma Carpenter in “In the Dark,” as Cordelia reconnects with Sunnydale and puts her foot in her mouth numerous times in the process.
  • Some really effective direction in “In the Dark,” including some great use of shadow (fitting, considering the title), from Bruce Seth Green, who also directed a number of episodes of Buffy.
  • In terms of “Living Conditions,” I thought the episode went a tad bit too far into the comic realm. The show obviously had to get rid of Kathy (as noted, Willow and Buffy rooming together should have been there from the beginning were it not for the desire to make her experience in “The Freshman” that much more disorienting), but the ongoing battle between Buffy and Kathy became slightly too passive aggressive at a certain stage, bordering on slapstick. Thankfully, I thought much of the execution on that slapstick was a lot of fun and I laughed quite a bit, but it seemed like Noxon’s script took things a bit too over the top.
  • One more note on “Living Conditions”: if this were a decade later, there was a great spot for a “There Will Be Blood” reference during the milk-drinking scene.
  • As for “Lonely Hearts,” Angel’s second episode, it was alright; I spent way too much time making silent jokes to myself about Elisabeth Rohm’s character suddenly revealing she was a lesbian and claiming discrimination, which tells me that the episode wasn’t particularly exciting or interesting. That being said, it was a solid little procedural, and the case came together nicely: Fury’s script nicely shifts our focus from male to female before revealing that the Burrower can change hosts, and leaving it with the bartender gives the Police a logical reason to presume he was the killer thanks to his connection with all of those involved (although I would tend to believe he would have an alibi for some of the killings considering his employment, but I’ll let that one slide).
  • Commenters were talking about the Angel/Batman connection in the last episode, and then “Lonely Hearts” opens with a specific mention that Angel doesn’t have some sort of signal to call him into action – I saw it in the pilot (in the shot above the skyline in particular), but they were clearly self-aware of those efforts, especially when discussing vigilantism.


Filed under Cultural Catchup Project

50 responses to “Cultural Catchup Project: “The Harsh Light of Day”/”In The Dark” (Buffy and Angel)

  1. Gill

    it becomes a convenient reason to shoot Angel and Buffy’s altercation during the day

    You need to get out of that habit now, Myles – I presume you mean Buffy and Spike? (“I wonder if I’ll freckle?”)

    Marsters really brings life into scenes doesn’t he? His voice-over in the Angel teaser, despite a couple of accent issues, is just hilarious, because it’s so accurate. Spike seems to be endowed with the ability to see right through façades.

    Angel, as you say, is still finding its feet at this point, and the appearance of two Buffy regulars was presumably to help boost audiences, but the differences in uses of the same characters and objects is very telling. One theme we will see a lot is of the choices Angel makes, both for himself and for others in his life. In that respect I’ll be interested to see what you make of the next crossovers.

    I’m pleased to see you recognise the greatness that is Spike. His role in the show from this point on caused, and still causes, some controversy amongst fans.

  2. Mel

    RE: Living Conditions: Having just been the victim of such childish passive aggressive behavior in my office (sharing a cubicle was never not so much fun, although I managed not to respond in kind) I’d have the say the only thing wrong with the passive aggressiveness in the episode is that it didn’t escalate over the course of the episode so much as shoot up right before the confrontation between Kathy and Buffy.

    this is definitely one of the less important crossovers. they almost entirely stop after season 5 of Buffy/2 of Angel due to the network change for Buffy, but I think season 5 has one of the most interesting (though it sort of follows this one, not in lack of importance, but in not really being a two parter)

    It must be because I was Buffy’s age when this aired originally (and female), but I was totally into Parker when he first appeared, although not being the one who slept with him, I grasped the poophead principle a lot faster than Buffy did. (One of the eps that many people revile but I find hilarious is coming up and shows just how delusional Buffy is about Parker)

    • Susan

      I also find that much-reviled ep very enjoyable. Frothy? Yes. But a little foamy fun every now can’t be a bad thing.

      • Susan

        *every now and then*, I meant.

        • Aeryl

          That episode is absolutely one of my faves. Part of it is how much I relate to Buffy in that scenario, having been there myself right after I got to college.

          But “Foamy!” is a big part of it too. It’s also that episode where you start to see that Willow isn’t pitching for the same team anymore, heh.

          • Mel

            I’m so glad to find other people who like it! my friend and I will, completely without provocation, sporadically ask each other what Xander asks CaveSlayer at the end of the ep and of course, delight in the answer.

            I think the Willow thing is more a measured reaction to the Oz sitch, I really think her switch had more to do with Tara herself. I’ve always seen Wil as a person who is bi but identifies as gay because of her relationship with Tara and how happy it was for her most of the time. This explains her attraction to Oz and Xander without making her statement of “hello, gay now” so much about a switching off of one to the other as an embrace of what had provided more happiness (if also providing stronger pain)

  3. Myles, I find it curious how often you assume that the villains are trying to “destroy the world” when nothing in the ‘text’ indicates that motive. Most of the time, the stakes are significantly less than that (but more personal) as it is here in “The Harsh Light of Day.” Unless I missed something, Spike doesn’t want to destroy the world with the gem, he’s just a bit obsessed with taking out Buffy and wants to able to run free in the daytime. Plus there’s the whole unkillable part.

    • Spike has a line akin to “and soon they’ll be dead/destroyed” in there, which is where I drew that from. I would tend to agree that Spike’s behaviour doesn’t match with that, but the line stuck out to me, which is why (in this instance) I drew that from the text.

      • I always took that line at meaning he wants to kill Buffy and her friends. After all, when he gets the gem, what’s the very first thing he does? Goes and attacks Buffy while tossing in personal jabs. He could have just left town with the gem and wrecked havoc elsewhere with it if he wanted, but we’re beginning to see a growing obsession with Buffy in this episode. I concede I have even more evidence to back this up from episodes to come, but even as represented in the episode I think destroying the world is not something Spike even wants (e.g. “happy meals with legs” speech in “Becoming Pt. 2”).

      • Becker

        I took that as Buffy and her friends as well as he specifically helped Buffy stop Angel to save the world. So destroying it is not on his radar. Being able to eat when he wants is.

  4. Eldritch

    “…d presume that this is one of the less important crossovers…”

    Which is why you got so much conflicting advice whether to watch them concurrently or sequentially. They’re nice, but not necessary. And for me, that includes the one major crossover episode coming up soon.

    • Susan

      The next crossover is one of my favorites and considered a major event by many–that said, I would argue that it’s another for which it’s not strictly *necessary* to watch as a cross. Your experience will be notably enhanced by watching both series together, but you wouldn’t be really disoriented had you chosen to watch them consecutively.

      The final crossover of the season–which goes back and forth between the series a couple of times–is one that I’d say is much MUCH better watched with the cross intact.

    • AO

      As someone who argued strongly against how “important” the crossovers are, I think that this actually was one of the more direct and important crossovers.

      While I wouldn’t call it the most important, it was certainly moreso imo than say, the crossover in “The Freshman” (yes, Angel calling Buffy on the phone is considered a crossover by many people).

  5. Eldritch

    One thing that really struck me about “In the Dark” was how different Spike came across. He was much crueler. And a much more serious adversary. On “Buffy,” Spike does nasty things, but there’s a comic edge to him that didn’t seem as obvious until I saw him on “Angel.” On “Angel,” Spike doesn’t have that comic edge. He’s harsh and seems to be a much more serious villain. He’s more hate-able. Obviously, this speaks to the different tone of the two shows.

    On “Buffy,” Spike’s a villain you love to hate. On “Angel,” he’s a villain I could stake (at least in this episode).

    When Angel tortured Giles, it didn’t seem the least bit comic. Yet, when I compare “Angel” to “Buffy,” I find even the serious bits of “Buffy” to feel lighter and more comic. I can’t say I’ve completely resolved that in my mind yet.

    • voluntarymanslaughter

      That’s an interesting thought… I’d never considered the differences in Spike’s portrayal in this particular set of episodes. At the moment I’m not convinced he’s that different. After all, he stakes Harmony in HLoD (dark), and he’s pretty darn funny in ItD (the initial voiceover, “Now, now, no staking the torturer”). For me, the creepy vampire pedophile is what makes ItD really, well, uh, dark.

    • Becker

      Well, in the opening, he was very funny. But he might still be a bit pissed at Angel about his actions as Angelus. So, less humor there.

      • Eldritch

        He is funny at the beginning, but I’m really talking about Marsden’s delivery of lines. He just make Spike on “Angel” a harsher character.

      • mothergunn

        Yeah, I could see how Spike could dig on torturing Angel. They have a pretty messed up relationship, as we’ll see later. On that note, “Destiny” is, hands down, my favorite ep of AtS, and it makes me sad that it’s so very, very far away.

  6. Morda

    Yeah I agree with mikejer, I don’t remember Spike saying anything about destroying the World. As noted in Becoming Part II, that’s never really Spike’s MO. He just wants to kill Buffy because he does have a(n) “something” with her as will be truly noted by a certain other crossover sometime later or something or nothing – Wow…terrible codes are fun! Anyway, with the Gem of Amara he would be unkillable therefore Buffy’s death would (In theory) come hard and fast. Of course, I’m sure all vampires would love to be able to walk in the sun and, you know…Be impervious to all harm.

    Anyway, great review. Vampire Harmony is sooooooo funny. She will be returning so put any fears of her extended absence to rest. Anya as well – Hilarious + Recurring!! 🙂

    You are right in saying that this crossover is substantially less important than a soon-ish one and a later-ish one that is still relatively soon-ish

    • I think part of the reason for my response is that Giles and the Scoobies often respond to Spike’s threats as if they need to protect something – their concern isn’t so much that the ring could allow Spike to kill Buffy (although that’s obviously an issue), it’s more that he could become all-powerful and eventually move onto bigger things. I think they view Spike as a greater threat than perhaps he himself would become, which is why I think I perhaps exaggerated Spike’s plan.

      Also, generally speaking, MacGuffins are all about wide-ranging consequences, so in this instance in particular I felt as if the ring was presented as a greater threat than Spike’s plan to kill Buffy.

      • Susan

        This makes sense, but it needn’t really involve Spike suddenly developing a lust for utter world destruction to make sense.

        Spike, while hardly stupid, is a pretty short-term thinker. He, you know, follows his blood, which doesn’t, you know, exactly rush in the direction of his brain. The Gem for him means a chance to kill Buffy, to frolic in the sun, and to generally wreak all sorts of low-to-mid-level havoc. So the Gem in Spike’s hands doesn’t necessarily portend global doom.

        But Spike is also an opportunist of the first order. It would be completely in character for him to play with the Gem for a while and then sell it off to the highest bidder–who might well have a taste for the end of the world.

        So, the Gem in Spike’s hands is dangerous on both the micro and macro levels.

        • mothergunn

          “Spike, while hardly stupid, is a pretty short-term thinker. He, you know, follows his blood, which doesn’t, you know, exactly rush in the direction of his brain.”

          I totally lol’d. Also, this is one of Spike’s greatest moments, along with the aforementioned “You made me a monster.”

          I can’t wait for us to get in deeper so we can have long and complicated discussions about Spike. He’s such a complicated screw-up.

  7. greg

    I’m always confounded as to why the big fight scene between Buffy and Spike was shot in such dark shadow. Wouldn’t it be, like, OBVIOUS that it should have been shot in the rightest sunshine they could find? That always bothers me.

    And it’s nice that Spike brings the sarcastic so early to Angel’s series (Spike and Anya kinda take over the necessary lack of tact dialogue on ‘Buffy’ now that Cordy’s no longer available) – having someone point out that “vampire detective” is a pretty silly concept is a nice touch. But, really, does it make any sense at all for Spike to torture Angel? Of COUUSE that’s just gonna make him feel more heroic. Any vampire worth his blood would have kidnapped some random kid off the street and tortured THEM until Angel gave up the gem. Odd how Spike doesn’t seem to have thought of that, hmm? Says something about Spike’s obsessions (for Buffy or Angel) getting in the way of cool, detached logic, don’t it?

    I was always amused at the conceit that you could remove PART OF someone’s soul. Sadly, it’s never developed in either series, but the idea that souls aren’t either “there” or “not there” but that amount is a factor (are souls that get exercised become more robust than souls that are left fallow?) seems like something worth exploring. But I guess the soul-having issue is really just a McGuffin as well.

  8. Austin

    I think you will really enjoy the single main crossover in Season 5/2 if you liked the way they did this one. I personally have never watched those two eps back to back, maybe I should (Thank you Netflix for putting all of wheadon online!)

  9. Morda

    One more thing…

    “One downside of filming fight sequences during the day: the stunt doubling is much, much more apparent.”

    I literally just this minute watched the Harsh Light of Day and honestly I thought the fight between Spike and Buffy was incredibly well doubled. I’m not saying this because I’m a die hard fan and I’m defending the God of all shows but there was only one short moment where I noticed that Spike wasn’t the James Marsters. Apart from that Spike and Buffy looked exactly like Spike and Buffy – Not to be too on the nose but I actually think it’s one of the better none “really important/apoclaypsey” fights in the series.

    I’m just saying.

  10. AO

    Beyond my post above, I don’t have much else to add right now. The shows were interesting at this point, as Angel was still finding itself and Buffy was gearing up for what was to come, but both Seasons still have a long way to go.

    I did find one statement in this installment quite interesting in light of what I know to come later, but don’t want to say anything now, so as not to give too much away.

    Thanks for the reviews so far Myles, and I eagerly await those to come!

  11. Tausif Khan

    Macguffin= flowbotnum (for Buffy writers)

    Buffy writers thought that Mercedes McNab given the chance could have starred in her own series which is why they brought her back. Her run doesn’t end with just being Spike’s girlfriend.

    She shows up somewhere else and gives her more interaction with a character than she ever did when she was in high school. Made me see Harmony differently when I first saw her on Buffy.

  12. Karen

    “…Spike’s general greatness…”

    Hear, hear…..

    I predict you will NOT be among those fans who prefer Seasons 1-3…. 😉

    Again, thanks for sharing your insights. I’ve taken a pledge to forgo watching any Buffy/Angel for a couple years, in order to “freshen” them a bit, so following your comments and sharing your newbieness is very much appreciated.

    I do have a nagging issue with “In The Dark” relating to Angel’s decision to destroy the ring. (imo, it should have been destroyed by accident or because of some LOTR-like necessity.) I get that Angel wants to focus on the fringe, that he fears being able to walk by day would blind him to the needs of the powerless in the dark. BUT….to give up such an advantage is almost negligent. I often wish that this was brought up again, in season five, say, with Angel ruminating that it was a huge mistake – as I’m sure he’d say.

    All it would have taken is to tack on a bit of business about how the ring corrupts as well as provides powerful favors.

    • Becker

      I don’t think it was a mistake to destroy the ring. I thought his reasoning was good enough. Plus, as long as he has it, he’s a target. If he keeps it in a drawer for special occasions, well, that’s a place it can be stolen from and not know it until it is too late.

      It’s hard to say about having issues with Spike or not as the things people had issues with haven’t happened. It was a long while before I started having any issues.

  13. Becker

    I hated Living Conditions and hated Kathy and was so glad they got rid of her. That’s all I’ll say about that.

    The original Ep 2 had Angel relating to Kate because in that one she was an undercover cop acting as a hooker dealing with drug dealers and to fit in had become a cokehead. So, way, way darker. I adore Elisabeth Röhm as a person, but her acting is always so flat, but she is so not in person.

    I always liked Oz’s line, “Sometimes we’re laconic.”

    Random notes: Many of you might recognize the torturer from other shows and commercials. Great actor, but his voice was too high to be taken seriously as being really evil, so they lowered it in post. Also, where I got to learn just how good James is, in all of the scenes of Angel being tortured and you don’t see Angel, it’s because David wasn’t actually there. He had a minor car accident on the way to the set that day and had to take the day off to deal with it. So James was acting against a set of chains hanging from the ceiling.

    • “Living Conditions” is largely pointless and isn’t that great of an episode, but I always have quite a bit of fun with it nonetheless. The milk scene cracks me up every time.

      Wow, I had never heard that before in regard to the accident. Thanks for the info! Although I did already know how good James is.

      *Runs off to weep at the church scene at the end of 7×02 again*

      • Becker

        Just to clarify, it was an extremely minor accident, nothing hurt but the paint job. But he was a bit shaken and needed to deal with the insurance companies and all that stuff. But they felt it might interfere with his ability to get totally into such an intense scene, so he got the day off.

    • Mel

      Oz’ line always makes me think of Wash from Firefly. “Zoe’s terse, I can be terse. Once in flight school, I was laconic!”

  14. More accurately, Myles, the Gem of Amara is phlebotinum.

  15. AO

    I presume the reason nobody alerted me to Burn Notice’s similarity to Angel S1 is due to evolution of the latter into something different?

    Similarities? I hadn’t considered any parallels. Let me see how that would work.

    “My name is Angel. I used to be a brooding boyfriend until…”

    “We got word that you were dumped. You’re out of Sunnydale.”

    When you’re dumped, you’ve got nothing: no girl, no crypt, no easy access to blood. You’re stuck in whatever city except the one you want to be in.

    “Where am I?” – Angel

    “Los Angeles”

    You do whatever it takes to get your mind off the girl. You rely on anyone who isn’t freaked out by Vamps, but especially a girl like Cordy from the old days, or a friend who is informing you on The Powers That Be…

    “You know Vamps. A bunch of blood suckers.”

    But that describes you too.

    “Hey, is that someone who needs your help again?”

    If you’re desperate

    “Someone needs your help, Angel.”

    Bottom Line? Until you figure out something else, why not help the oppressed, you’re not going anywhere.

    • Becker

      They are both client based shows (at this point at least) but any detective style show is. So pointing out Burn Notice is a bit of a stretch. The only real link was that S1 of Burn Notice featured a former Angel writer named Mere Smith.

    • Becker

      I forgot to add that that dialog was amusing. 🙂

  16. phlebotnum

    This looks like a fun project but I’ve watched both series from beginning to end way too soon to join in. Did want to note after the post on the previous two episodes that in the Angel season 1 dvd commentary, Whedon makes it pretty explicit that the intention was to make Angel ‘stand alone’ which explains some if not all of the exposition in the first ep. The crossovers, references, etc, might just be considered ‘easter eggs’ for devoted viewers of both series

  17. greg

    As I understand the situation, when Joss talked Charisma into agreeing to move her contract over to the new spinoff, it was with the understanding that, should the show get prematurely cancelled (which it eventually did, but years later), he would reintegrate her back into ‘Buffy.’ Of course, that didn’t happen. But, if it had, HOW would she have been brought back in? Has that ever been answered (at, like, a comicon convention or online Q&A or whatnot)? I can’t help but wonder if the writers had some kind of backup plan pencilled in for the character.

    In an alternate universe where ‘Angel’ didn’t make it more than a few episodes, how would Cordy have fared through seasons 4-7? Seems like they wojuld have had to rejigger a lot of the storylines to make her fit.

    • Becker

      I had never heard that. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t true, but I had never heard that.

    • That would have been fascinating (as an imaginary comparison with how things actually turned out — I’m very happy with AtS succeeding and Cordy getting her own unbelievable character arc over there).

      I’m filled with speculation about how things might have turned out differently, but it would all be spoilery 🙂

  18. Jack_Kay

    Oh Myles…
    Absolutely ashamed LOL at the Cordy quote (from Rm w/a Vw I’m guessing) “how come Patrick Swayze’s never dead when you need him”.
    I’d completely forgotten that and haven’t re-seen it since Mr Swayze died (RIP).
    That is hilariously macabre isn’t it just??!

  19. Maggie

    I’m enjoying your reactions. On the surface, this crossover is less important. In terms of the overall arc of BtVS? Pretty important. A lot of the images for HLoD will crop up again at an important moment, inviting the thought that retrospectively the twin episodes tell us something about the two leading vampires.

  20. KokoBuffs

    What I love about BTVS is that even the most comedic or standalone or seemingly throwaway episodes serve a purpose (or at least add to the building blocks of understanding their world).

    re: Living Conditions –
    From the beginning, I’ve always taken note of the fact that this show plays with the notions of how we usually would determine who is “right.” In another tv show, Giles would be looked at as the oracle of truth and the fact that all of her friends are saying the same thing, would indicate that indeed, it is Buffy who is wrong.

    But take note of the pattern: characters are rarely all right or all wrong. Sure Buffy was being-soul sucked, so they were right she WAS overreacting to certain things and being petty…but the show also doesn’t let that negate the fact that didn’t make her assessment on Kathy any less correct.

    And it’s also yet another moment where the show notes Buffy’s gut instinct or Slayer instinct or whatever–I didn’t know what or if it would amount to anything at that point, but just saying I was duly noting…

    The series uses layers subtly and IMHO it is essential to have been exposed to, and hold on to, some of those layers to get some of the deeper, and more complicated levels it eventually goes.

    re: beer bad – the essential buffy.
    >IMMEDIATE desires: “Parker bad” clunk.
    >INSTINCTS: rescues the people. even the “bad” one.
    >CORE issues: isolation/loneliness :”want people. where people go?” buffy bangs on tv screen but its off.
    she can’t connect.
    gotta love it.

    ok, lol, you don’t got to. but i love those little details. One of the many reasons why by the end of Season 4, my first full-length season of Buffy, I saw BTVS as an awesome character study.

    Part of why, when I got to go back and see how this gets built, I was looking out for those type of details when watching something like Season 1. In some ways I got to have the re-watch experience of noticing things that may have otherwise gone unnoticed if you didn’t know how the writing and directing worked on first full viewing of Seasons 1, 2, and 3.

    I never apologize for Season 1(stunts, special effects, and make-up nowithstanding, lol) in that, oh-don’t pay-too-much-attention-to-it-it-was-(pat-pat)-just-the-show-getting-off-the-ground way. “High school as hell” is a great tag line and a way to sell it, but there’s more to understanding the episodes when you actual view them as we know later on, but EVEN in seaon 1 than finding THE monster metaphor.

    It’s a story about identity, finding identity, changing and challenging the roles you take on and the ones that are ascribed to you. It’s a story bout relationships and group dynamics, and dynamics that shape those identities. It’s about growing, not just ‘growing up.’

    And of course about the human condition, often elucidated in word or in action by those who are not so much human.

    Basically, arguments about entertainment quality or balance aside… Narratively and with regard to character, season 1 and season 4 are essential viewing.

    standard disclaimer: I’m a rambler from way back.

  21. KokoBuffs

    oops, i didn’t realize the post would be that long. i need a preview button.

  22. Bob Kat

    With Angel and Cordy gone, it left two specific gaps in character *types*: “conflicted love interest for Buffy” & “sarcastic person on the fringe of the group.” Spike, Riley, Parker, Harmony and Anya were basically thrown at those 2 positions to see who stuck, a very clever solution.
    Personally, I had no trouble hating Spike, not warming up to him until later on.
    I think your comparison of how different the 2 episodes were in terms of their differing arc significance is quite a good point.

    Some words about Harmony. Given how prominently she featured throughout “Graduation Day Part 2, when she was bitten by the vampire during the fight scenes I knew her character would be back and almost certainly in a more important role. I recall, as soon as I heard her voice off-screen in “Harsh Light of Day” I said “uh-oh,” but my daughter didn’t catch it.
    On the one hand, as we’ve already seen, she’s showing more depth. Partly, this is because in high school we only saw her acting as a social adversary; here we’re seeing her in a greater variety of situations, and she soon becomes mys econd favorite character in the Buffyverse, ahead of Jonathan at 3 and Anya at 4 and behind someone you haven’t met yet. But there might be more to it; that’s never
    made completeley clear, even now in canonical Season 8.
    Mercedes is also my 2nd favorite performer and I’d love to see her in more things but I think she’d be much better in an ensemble than playing a lead, and while she can do comedy, action, and horor, I don’t know if she can handle heavy drama.

    • Bob Kat

      With Angel and Cordy gone, it left two specific gaps in character *types*: “conflicted love interest for Buffy” & “sarcastic person on the fringe of the group.” Spike, Riley, Parker, Harmony and Anya were basically thrown at those 2 positions to see who stuck, a very clever solution.
      Personally, I had no trouble hating Spike, not warming up to him until later on.
      I think your comparison of how different the 2 episodes were in terms of their differing arc significance is quite a good point.

      Some words about Harmony. Given how prominently she featured throughout “Graduation Day Part 2, when she was bitten by the vampire during the fight scenes I knew her character would be back and almost certainly in a more important role. I recall, as soon as I heard her voice off-screen in “Harsh Light of Day” I said “uh-oh,” but my daughter didn’t catch it.
      On the one hand, as we’ve already seen, she’s showing more depth. Partly, this is because in high school we only saw her acting as a social adversary; here we’re seeing her in a greater variety of situations, and she soon becomes mys econd favorite character in the Buffyverse, ahead of Jonathan at 3 and Anya at 4 and behind someone you haven’t met yet. But there might be more to it; that’s never
      made completeley clear, even now in canonical Season 8.
      Mercedes is also my 2nd favorite performer and I’d love to see her in more things but I think she’d be much better in an ensemble than playing a lead, and while she can do comedy, action, and horror, I don’t know if she can handle heavy drama.

      PS, folks; Let’s watch posting too many spoilers for Myles.

  23. Pingback: Cultural Catchup Project: One Faith, Three Narratives (Buffy and Angel) « Cultural Learnings

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