Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Buffy Rewind Review – “The Puppet Show”

Willow (Alyson Hannigan), Xander (Nicolas Brendon), Giles (Anthony Head), and Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) discuss the horror know as the high school talent show.
Review by Paul Steven Brown

‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
Season 1 – Episode 9
“The Puppet Show”

As with the demon robot episode, “The Puppet Show” continues a trend of mixing the absurd with the humorous self-awareness. As the characters become more conscious of the ridiculousness of their lives and continue to comment on these events in very funny ways, the show has gotten better. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ at this point in time is learning to still provide exciting and suspenseful stories without having to take itself too seriously.

Besides the usual one-liners, what I really liked about this episode was the constant level of redirection. All the clues pointed to the dummy being the murderer for half the episode. When he revealed himself to be a demon hunter trapped in a wooden form, viewer suspicion easily fell on the new principal while the gang explored the possibility of a member of the talent show being the culprit. The dummy disappears and suspicion falls back to him. In the end, a talent show cast member, specifically the incompetent magician, is revealed to be the demon. Nicely done.

Armin Shimerman makes his debut as Principal Flutie’s replacement, Mr. Snyder. Snyder is obviously not a touchy-feely kind of guy, like his predecessor. The constant references to Flutie getting eaten were hilarious. Snyder acts as if the former principal’s less disciplinarian approach brought about his downfall. I hope we see more of this character, since this is a more restrained character when compared to the actor’s work as Quark on ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. Also, it’s great to see Shimerman in a role without twenty pounds of makeup strapped to his head.

Cordelia is still nothing more than the anti-Buffy. The character is there for comic relief. Unfortunately, the gags that involve her are really clichéd and not very funny. I’m still waiting to see what the real point of having this character as a series regular will actually have a purpose.

I don’t really have much to say beyond that. “The Puppet Show” is goofy, but with genuine moments of suspense. The scene with Buffy sneaking around the darkened backstage was particularly creepy. Also, the shot of Snyder backlit in a way that his features were obscured, but his ears seemed to glow, was ominous. Throw in a couple of references to past episodes, and ‘Buffy’ seems to be moving in the right direction.

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