TV round-up time: first, a brief comment about the premiere of The Tick. For once, Tim and I are of one mind on an entertainment subject, so I'll simply second his summation and add this observation: every time I look at David Burke, the actor playing The Tick's loyal sidekick Arthur, I feel like I'm looking at Mark Hamill's younger brother.
Now, onto "Once More, With Feeling", the musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which also aired this week. I've been a big fan of Buffy and the gang since my friend Jennie hooked me on the show back in '99. I've been doing musical theater for going onto fourteen years. So when I heard showrunner Joss Whedon wanted to send his Slayer on a little stroll down Tin Pan Alley, I knew this would be an episode to remember.
I hoped Joss could pull it off. He's always been successful at bucking convention and winning on long shot bets in the past. In fact, he's provided more real twists and satisfying turns than all the "surprises" ER has ever tried to deliver. Still, we're talking musical theater on prime-time TV here. The potential for a disaster of Cop Rock proportions loomed large.
So what do I have to say after finally watching the TiVo-ed episode tonight?
Just this: when am I going to learn that Joss always, but always pulls off the big gambles.
The entire production, from the good-as-any-Disney-heroine's plaintive beginning number to the devastating ambiguity of the finale, "Where Do We Go From Here?", was superlative. I was especially enamored of Spike's unrequited love song to Buffy, "Rest In Peace" and Giles' self-revelatory power ballad, "Standing In The Way."
It's pretty clear why the ep worked. Joss understands the vital thing that makes for a great musical: the songs must reveal the characters' inner feelings and advance the story at the same time. Too many actual Broadway shows of late can't seem to grasp that simple truth.
Here's a measure of how wonderful "Once More, With Feeling" was for me. If I can get my hands on a recording of the soundtrack, I might be able to fend off my powerful urge to start listening to Christmas music for a couple more weeks, at which time it'll be more acceptable to those around me.
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