Thursday, August 19, 2010

Buffy Rewind Review - "I, Robot... You Jane"

Moloch just wants to be loved. Is that so wrong?
Review by Paul Steven Brown

'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'
Season 1 - Episode 8
"I, Robot... You Jane"

"I, Robot... You Jane" is a pretty silly episode conceptually, but for some odd reason, and the show runners almost pulls out a win. Let's face it, this is a story about an ancient demon that gets scanned into a computer, becomes Willow's online boyfriend, and then gets put inside a robot body. Thankfully, there's a lot of fun character interplay to elevate this story above its own ridiculousness.

We also get to meet Ms. Calendar, the computer science teacher, and as a result, she and librarian Giles tend to butt heads. The verbal sparring is so repetitive, I felt like screaming, "Just do IT, already!" Also, Giles' apprehension about computers and the internet is so quaint and cute, but understandable given the timeframe of the episode. 1997 was on the front edge of the huge tech-boom. It is pretty convenient that Ms. Calendar is a "techno pagan". Good thing she decided to get a job at Sunnydale High. (At work, I'm sometimes referred to as the "techno shaman" due to my uncanny ability to fix a computer problem without really knowing how I did it.)

The one computer student called Fritz comes off as waaaaaaaaay too intense during his intial scene. He's all "Information is God" and this is before Moloch comes into play. Meanwhile, the other computer kid, Dave, is a bit nicer and his good nature and guilt helps save Buffy from death by electrocution in the girl's shower. However, the creepy computer voice talking to a guy named Dave was hitting the homage a bit too hard on the head. Still, Moloch typing out Dave's suicide note in front of him was pretty eerie.

There was one hell of a continuity glich in this episode. When Moloch accesses Buffy's school records, the first shot has her listed as a sophomore and born in October of 1980. The second shot the screen lists her as a senior and born in May of 1979. How much you want a bet this gets revised again down the line?

It would be easy to say that Willow is naive and falls for her internet boyfriend "Malcolm" too easily. However, as she explains to Buffy, it's easier for the attractive slayer girl to question the situation since boys are always falling at her feet. Willow doesn't consider herself anywhere close to that level. Also, she's been constantly rebuffed by Xander and "Malcolm" appears to sincerely like her for who she is as a person. This is even more appealing since "Malcolm" has never seen her, so his attraction to Willow as a person. Alyson Hannigan does a great job here and there's a certain amount of irony considering her transformation into a geek sex symbol during the show's run.

The final scene of "I, Robot... You Jane" is the best of the episode. Buffy and Xander attempt to comfort Willow's poor romantic decision by comparing it to their own. Buffy is attracted to the vampire Angel while Xander had a crush on a teacher that was really a giant insect. Right before the screen goes black, the trio realize that they may never have regular love lives. It's a funny moment and that's punctuated by their silence and the splash of the fountain behind them. Well played.

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