The Mind Robbers VS Buffy Ep. 5

Versus -- Buffy144Scott and Matt take on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes “Angel” and “I Robot… You Jane”.

(WARNING: Please beware of full spoilers for all of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and all things Joss Whedon.)

NEXT: “The Puppet Show” and “Nightmares”

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4 thoughts on “The Mind Robbers VS Buffy Ep. 5

  1. Excellent take on these episodes! I am really loving the journey through this wonderful series and cannot wait until we get to the REALLY good stuff.

    Throughout the episode “Angel”, I kept getting flashbacks to Angel season 2 with the Darla and Angel interactions. It totally makes sense thart David Greenwalt wrote this episode. I really loved it. It was a definitely a standout season 1 episode.

    I’m kind of on the fence about “I Robot, You Jane.” It’s not overly terrible but it is extrememly dated. I do love the final coda of the episode with Buffy, Xander and Willow. It’s definitely telling of not only those particular characters, but of “Whedonesque” characters in general. They are misfits. That is one thing that is stuck out to me over all of Joss Whedon’s work. Most of his characters are misfits. Lovable misfits, but misfits nonetheless.

    Great work, guys. Keep it up!

  2. I never understood the critique of “dated-ness.” Apparently I was unaware that a text being anything other than utterly contemporary was a negative category. So, for example, I was an English major, so apparently whenever I walked into, say, a Victorian literature class, or a Romantic poetry class, or the 18th century novel course, the first thing out of everyone’s mouths should have been: “Well, Dickens/Wordsworth/Sterne text was pretty good, but it is REALLY is dated.”

    For me, watching first season Buffy gives me a hardcore 90s-gasm. Why? Because the sensibility of the show is Gen-X, as most of the writers would have been Gen-X, and the characters would have all been tail-end Gen-Xers. I love that about it. It has that Slacker era, vaguely counterculture/critical ethos. I feel like Buffy could not have been made in another era. So instead of being “dated,” the 90s is heart and soul what makes Buffy what it is.

    Now that is all different than dated references, which are admittedly annoying. Veronica Mars does this a lot: referencing specific movies, artists, events., that were timely at that moment, but instantly because stale. Buffy isn’t terribly guilty of this all too often.

    I also love the slightly anarcho-primitivist/luddite nature of the Scooby gang. Gen-Xers were digital immigrants; meaning, we didn’t necessarily grow up with VCRs/cellphones/internet/game systems from day one. We remember a world without them, hard as that is to imagine. Although technology has more or less been fully integrated (some might say colonized) into our lives, at one point there was a real question about what this was going to do to our lives, whether it was negative, etc. The Scoobies aren’t technology early adopters. Most of them don’t even drive, don’t like gizmos, etc. Although Willow is a computer expert, technology isn’t fetishized in the show. The Scoobies don’t social network online; they social network in the meat-space. I appreciate that about the show; it’s ambivalences about technology.

    • I think part of the issue is critical distance. Buffy’s within-living-memory (the first season is less than twenty years old) is far different from 19th Century Dickens. We don’t expect Dickens to have technology we don’t understand because we’re 150 years removed from that time period. We recognize it as a contemporary work.

      Buffy dealing with technology happens to come about at a time when technology was in incredible flux. Buffy was ahead of the iPod by only five years, the iPhone by less than ten. The late 90s was a very nascent time for the internet. AOL was still prominent, Google, not even around yet. And yet because the internet is growing at such an incredible, astounding rate, references to dial-up etc feel outdated to our ears that are used to wireless. Wireless was in beta ten years ago.

      That leads to Buffy, which worked very hard to be a timeless piece of work. Joss has spoken several times about the way that the pilot has characters saying “neg” and “pos” and quickly pulled away from such vernacular because in just a few years it would be gone. Instead he opted to develop his own language system and use words as he intended, not as the culture dictated. It makes Buffy feel timeless (especially once you get out of the 1st Season) for people who come to the show years after its initial airing. I hear a lot about how the first season is a turnoff because it’s so dated (see also Beverly Hills 90210; in fifty years the conversations about it will be incredibly different), when really the only thing dated about it is that we are incredibly well-versed in the change in culture since the late 90s.

      It’s to Buffy’s detriment and success, therefore. The rest of the show has aged remarkably well because it focuses so much more on being a good show than “the hip thing” (see Glee for the opposite effect). But it makes the stuff that is very of-its-time (I Robot… You Jane, specifically) stick out like a sore thumb. And I think that’s the issue.

      I say this all, of course, mostly unbothered by it being dated (especially in my viewing of this episode this time).

      • tl;dr version.

        Buffy is dated because it is still current, popular culture. Not history. Once Buffy becomes a historical time capsule, such issues will (most likely) drop away as they did with Dickens etc.

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