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Babylon 5.1
by Rick Norwood

Buffy the Musical (***) by Joss Whedon
Other Babylon 5.1 Columns
For more information, you can try the following sites:
Rick Norwood's Website
Worldwide TV Schedule
The Official Babylon 5 Website
The X-Files
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Ratings are based on a four star system.
One star means that the commercials are more entertaining than the program.
Two stars watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars is good solid entertainment.
Four stars means you never dreamed television could be this good.

Buffy  the Vampire Slayer Musicals often use the songs as a romantic or idealistic counterpoint to a worldly and cynical script. The amazing Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy, does just the opposite. He deconstructs the happy, romantic, vampire-slaying team by having them sing cynical and often surprising songs, frequently in a minor key. This is a brave, if not entirely successful, twist.

Joss Whedon created the character of Buffy in the 1992 film, is the author of the classic line "That's so ten minutes ago," helped write the smash hit film Toy Story, is the head writer for the Buffy TV series, and he can also write songs! That's amazing!

The all-singing, all-dancing Buffy episode has Happy Valley cursed by a Dancin' Devil from Hollywood Hell, and not only do the major characters burst into song, all the people in the background are glimpsed in the middle of a big dance number. It's a clever concept, and it is amazing (have I said that before?) that they could actually bring it off.

The only drawback is that the tunes are not exactly hum-able. They are not as memorable as the songs from such classics as The Rocky Horror Picture Show or South Park the Musical, for example.

But the choreography is first rate, and there are several major character revelations, especially one about where Buffy was while she was dead, that will knock your socks off.

The X-Files, "Nothing Important Happened Today" (***) by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz

X-Files Mulder is gone. All the evidence of the violent events that ended the previous season is gone. Scully knows something, but isn't talking. Skinner is afraid to do anything that might endanger Scully's baby. But Dogget, armed with evidence that someone is trying to pollute our precious bodily fluids, won't give up.

There are some nice paranoid moments here, but it all seems so hopeless. Clearly, Scully's baby is the messiah who will grow up to lead earth against the alien doubles -- alien doubles who can only be recognized because they lift their pinky when the drink coffee no, that's another series. But why don't the bad guys just slit the baby's throat? We need some answers to that question if the new story arc is to sustain our interest. At the very least, we need some hint that there are answers -- that the truth really is out there.

Copyright © 2001 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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