Buffy re-watch: 1.08-1.11 Robots, Puppets and Other (Invisible) Nightmares

So this is my first multi-ep re-watch review, and as you can see my titles aren’t getting any snappier. I’ll try to work on that. I deliberately left myself the final episode as a ‘oner’ because it’s my favourite season 1 ep and because it deserves a longer review than the few lines these four will get.

1.08 I Robot, You Jane – IRYJ or “Robot” is definitely a guilty pleasure. It shouldn’t work because it’s so cheesey and silly. Even for 1997 the computer stuff in this episode is just so off-beam. But you forgive it all that because it’s fun. And it’s fun because you’ve got all this lovely relationship stuff – Giles and Ms Calendar, Willow and Malcolm/Moloch with Xander getting jealous. And of course the last line and reaction which is pretty much the mission statement as far as BtVS romances go

Buffy: Let’s face it: none of us are ever gonna have a happy, normal
relationship.

Xander: We’re doomed!

Willow: Yeah!

So even with the element of cheese it deserves a good healthy 8/10

1.09 The Puppet Show – this is another episode that shouldn’t work as well as it does. There’s a long and glorious history of “devil doll” horror movies, and none of them quite get over the inherent silliness of a toy attacking a human. The fact that The Puppet Show almost does is testament to how good it is. I think that’s partly the way it’s shot, partly the voice acting for Sid the dummy and partly the plot. This ep introduces Snyder and he’s one of about 4 characters who you could genuinely believe is the killer. So it keeps you guessing. And laughing. This is a very funny episode, especially with Giles’ reaction to having to produce the talent show.

When I was deciding what to score this ep I dithered between a 7 and 8. I’ve decided there’s no point having a 10-point scale if you award say 7.5 but whilst The Puppet Show is definitely better than Never Kill A Boy… is it really on the same level as The Pack (my favourite so far)? Then I remembered the credit sequence. After that, no problem. 8/10

1.10 Nightmares – The best moments in this episode are just that – moments. But not in the way that I described for The Pack, these are moments that stand alone, they’re simple jokes really, based on what we think individual characters might find scary. I guess I find the ending a little too simplistically moral. But we have some fun along the way. 7/10

1.11 Out of Sight, Out of Mind – this is the Buffy take on the Invisible Man story. Here though the invisibility comes from being ignored and once again, making an everyday issue into a mystical reality works really well. This is one of the few Buffy episodes that genuinely creepy or even scary. I think slashing Cordy’s cheek with a scalpel whilst she’s tied to the chair has impact because it has resonances of serial killer movies and so on. It’s good that we get to see a little more complexity to Cordy in this ep. I love that she can make us sympathise with her, because she’s lonely in the centre of attention, and still be the queen bitch. 8/10

So a good strong run up to the end of the season.

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