Reviews selected from TV Zone #126
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Reviews online this month (ratings given are out of 10)
• latest Buffy the Vampire Slayer box set
Star Trek: Voyager – getting seriously off-key?
Randall & Hopkirk – it's funny, but...
• and the updated Red Dwarf guide

Also reviewed in this issue:
more episodes of Voyager, Angel, Buffy and The X-Files: more Doctor Who in audio, video and printed formats, plus Stargate SG-1 on DVD, the latest Trek and Buffy merchandise, and a stunning Earth: Final Conflict soundtrack

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
SEASON TWO BOX SET - PART II Rating: 8
Fox Home Video
484 minutes
Out 24 April 2000
order it from Black Star: 20% off all pre-orders, and free postage worldwide
Reviewed by
Mark Wyman
Second 11’s performance: full of grace

Here’s the completion of the magnificently symphonic season that BBC2 finally polished off in mid-March. Buffy then progressed to BBC1 when consumer magazine Watchdog featured a poor quality batch of this set’s sibling Part 1. Fox, and a host of Buffy fans, must be hoping that those problems don’t reoccur.

Buffy Season Two Collection, part 2For the concluding half, the season’s second 11 reuses the 4-4-3 formation, again spread across three tapes. So what’s in the latest ‘limited-edition’ line-up? Tape One starts uneasily with Bad Eggs, the season’s most rotten ingredient. Mixing an egg-laying monster with cowboy vampires two yolks short of a dozen, it never really gets cooking.

Thankfully it’s an aberration, as the full tragedy of Angel and Buffy’s romance is unfurled during Surprise and Innocence. From the nerve-tingling opening dream to the conclusion’s vicious wet-look fight, it’s a series-shaking two-parter with horrendous fallout. There’s more transformation in Phases, with delightfully humane reactions when laconic Oz finds his werewolf side endangering romance with Willow.

Tape Two opens with Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, a triumph of hysteria-filled comedy as Xander’s love-potion commission makes mayhem amongst nearly every woman around. Passion contains the most devastating drama to date, as Angelus evades an attempt to restore his soul, despatching the curse-laying member of the gang instead. Don’t linger on the simply unpleasant Killed by Death, as a child-killer stalks the hospital where Buffy has been admitted. Relish instead the poignant poltergeist-led incidents of I Only Have Eyes For You, a tale of tortured souls with a superbly realized Buffy-Angel confrontation.

Tape Three has just the three episodes, but holds a finale of immense scale and impact. First, there’s the curiosity of Go Fish, a monstrous water-based satire on ruthless sporting pursuits, looking more accomplished now than on its 1998 début. The finale is the almost-perfect two-parter Becoming, which skilfully illustrates Angel’s (and indeed, Buffy’s) pre-Sunnydale history before synchronized rituals cause both to exit town – for who knows how long? Well, BBC2 viewers should know already…

Despite an absence of extras and merely re-tinted packaging, this essential collection embraces the most daringly dramatic run of episodes yet on Buffy. And no technical faults apparent on our copy!

selected from TV Zone #126
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction
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RED DWARF
PROGRAMME GUIDE Rating: 9
Virgin Books
ISBN: 0 7535 0402 2
Written by Chris Howarth & Steve Lyons
Out: 6 April • Order from amazon.co.uk
Reviewed by
Paul Spragg

The original and best - now revised!Of all the Virgin Programme Guides, the Red Dwarf one was the original and is still the best. Creating a template for those that followed it, the Dwarf guide has been regularly revised and updated with each new series that has emerged.

For Chris Howarth and Steve Lyons, the book always comes across as a labour of love; this is a series that they have enjoyed throughout its years on screen, and without many books being written on the subject, the Programme Guide stands as definitive.

It’s the same as it ever was, with crew/cast profiles, the A-Z guide, a list of other tv appearances and all the merchandise available so far, but it still manages the difficult task of keeping the comedy of the material used intact while rephrasing portions into prose. One is tempted to point out that it’s dialogue from the series with slight additions that makes up most of the book, but it’s still immensely readable, and once you start, it’s difficult to put the book down again.

If there’s anything missing, it’s cast interviews and quotes, which are only scattered sparsely throughout. Useful as a reference, the Programme Guide’s best use is as a reminder of the greatest moments from the best Sci-Fi comedy show this country has produced. Yes, high praise indeed

selected from TV Zone #126
© Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction
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