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Xposé #41
Angel review here
 

Reviews page 2 of 2.
Page 1 - The World Is Not Enough and Stargate SG-1

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER Season Four
3: The Harsh Light of Day
Written by Jane Espenson • Directed by James A Contner
WB • October 19 1999

4-star rating

Spike is back. That alone raises ratings and heightens expectations for a four-star Buffy episode. Fortunately, between Jane Espenson’s witty, involving script, James Contner’s smooth, visually arresting style and James Marsters’ supremely cool creation, the expectations are achieved and exceeded.

What draws Spike back to Sunnydale again is The Stone of Amara, “the vampire equivalent of the Holy Grail,” as Giles dubs it, a stone that makes any vampire virtually unkillable. All of that, of course, while providing ample excuse for fight scenes and comic-book skullduggery, is actually merely the backdrop against which three parallel stories of young love are played out by Buffy with Parker Abrams, Xander with Anya and Spike with his bubble-brained nouveau-vamp Harmony.

Much of the time the interplay is a hilarious satire on dating and youthful sexuality, but at its crux are painful lessons beautifully presented about trust, communication and risk-taking.

Action? Oh, yes. Elegant, lightning-fast fight scenes between Buffy and Spike, above-average even for this series. This episode has artfully integrated MTV moments that move the plot along nicely without becoming tiresome, and the bonus of a cross-over to Angel, where Spike makes his second appearance of the night.

John Higley

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ANGEL - Season One
3: In the Dark
Written by Douglas Petrie • Directed by Bruce Seth Green
WB • October 19 1999

3_star rating

Continuing the story from Buffy’s The Harsh Light of Day, In the Dark finds Oz arriving in LA to deliver the Gem of Amara to Angel. Refusing to accept the ring’s gift of invincibility, the vampire chooses to hide it. As Cordelia notes, “Since when did you get all Versace about accessorizing?”

Before long, Spike is back on the scene, abducting and torturing Angel in a bid to ascertain the gem’s whereabouts. But little does Spike realize that his carefully selected torturer Marcus wants invincibility for himself…

The brilliantly-constructed narrative that was established in Buffy becomes somewhat labored in the second hour of this ‘crossover event’. The frothy, Soap-ish antics of The Harsh Light of Day give way to brooding and a day out at the beach for Angel (suddenly vampires can go out in daylight so long as they stand, and indeed fight, in the shade…)

In the Dark gets three stars: one for the superb opening monologue by Spike, one for the touching scenes in which Angel “has a nice day” and one for the guest star turn by the wonderfully uncommunicative Oz.

Meanwhile, Whedon and Greenwalt need to get back to the drawing board and reassess a series that falls uncomfortably between a vampire Baywatch and the graveyard shift of Moonlighting.

Brian Barratt

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Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 1999. Not for reproduction.
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