Latest in Horror Entertainment
Season Two, Episode 21
Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me
Original US Transmission: 1/5/98; Sky One UK première: 27/5/98
Writer: Darin Morgan
Director: Darin Morgan
FOUR devils meet at a donut shop, and exchange stories about their recent activities. Blurk tells a story about a young man he encouraged to become a prolific serial killer. Abum recounts how everyday irritants were enough to push another human, Brock, to his death. A television network censor is driven insane by Greb's manifestation as a dancing devilish baby. Toby's sad tale is about his relationship with an ageing exotic dancer named Sally. Slowly, all of them realize that they've all encountered one man who is able to see their true inner selves: Frank Black. Darin Morgan once again re-writes the rules, and delivers an exquisite episode that could be watched and enjoyed by people who had never seen the show before. After José Chung's Doomsday Defense, it was clear that his off-kilter scripts for Millennium would be even more outrageous than his work on The X-Files, and this one certainly lives up to all expectations. It's also an episode which, despite its deliriously light tone, still functions perfectly as an episode of Millennium.
Once you've revelled in the surface layer of Morgan's story, a darkly cynical continuation of his Doomsday Defense message (that the only thing we can expect from the millennium is a 'thousand years of the same old crap') you can only marvel at the episode's clever construction, both in its narrative format, and in the thrifty re-use of a small number of common locations (the strip club, the launderette, the parking bay, and the Donut Hole itself.)
Fox once again began the original US screening with the same message that preceded Anamnesis, this time relating to a man who had committed suicide live on TV, in Los Angeles, a couple of days before the episode aired (an uncanny echo of the scene where Waylon Figgleif asks if the camera is still running, before shooting himself in the chest). (4½/5)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season Two, Episode 13
Surprise [Part 1 of 2]
Original US Transmission: 19/1/98; Sky One UK première: 20/6/98
Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: Michael Lange
The gang prepare for Buffys seventeenth birthday party. Willow plucks up the courage to invite Oz. Spike and Drusilla are making plans of their own: they plan to reassemble a powerful demon known as The Judge, whose touch can sear the humanity from his victims. A mysterious stranger visits Jenny as Angel and Buffy take their relationship to the next level.
Theres been a gradual move to soften the show in its second season, with the emphasis being shifted to the relationship between Buffy and Angel, perhaps in an effort to win more female viewers. Well, thats all about to change. This aptly-named episode effectively re-writes the Buffy rulebook, and there are even more twists to come in the second part!(Next month folks...) Marti Noxons first solo script is a textbook example of good writing, with well-measured pacing, great character development and sharp dialogue. Michael Lange, (who has episodes of The X-Files and American Gothic to his credit), handles the whole thing perfectly, getting animated performances from his cast, and creating moments of genuine tension and intimacy. Its nice to see Oz becoming more involved; hopefully it will ensure that Willow doesnt get edged out.
A couple of scenes are likely targets for the censors scissors: the death of the Judges first victim (one of the shows most gruesome special effects scenes); and Spikes description of Dalton, He may be a wanker, but hes the only one weve got with half a brain. (3½/5)