Your Friday Afternoon Chat Transcript

BSG, The Wire, & Buffy

Your weekly, or however often I get around to it, view into some of the weightier conversations between Steve Evans and myself. Today, we talk about an article on the internet that is full of crap. 

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Scott: So yesterday there was that article at Wired or wherever that foolishly claimed to have the “definitive” ranking of every season of every TV show that matters.
And it was BULL CRAP

Steve: Look, it was a noble attempt.

Scott: The collection of shows itself was fine–a few notable misses–but the rankings? BULL CRAP

Steve: Plus who cares what the best season of E.R. was? They’re all the same.

Scott:

Nurse: DOCTOR! HE’S DYING!

Doctor: NOPE, HE’S SAVED NOW!

Nurse: LET’S KISS!

Steve: Gunshot wound! I need a CBC, x-ray, fluids STAT!

Scott: It’s funny and sad but mostly funny that Scrubs remains the best, and probably most accurate, TV depiction of the medical profession.

Steve: Scrubs was a pretty great show. Got a little mediocre in the middle, though.

Scott: Up and down, but pretty consistently watchable, at the least.

Steve: You know, I am a little sad (but not surprised) that the site didn’t bother ranking Angel. I mean, it’s solid Whedon. Was it really that unpopular?

Scott: I believe that the answer–as for all questions–is found in the scriptures, Steve: People are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. It was on a different network, and had a delay, and it just unfairly lives in Buffy’s gargantuan shadow.

Steve: Think of all it brought to us: The Groosalugg. Smile Time. Wesley Wyndham-Price, Rogue Demon Hunter. Lindsey’s Evil Hand.

Scott: What’s a rogue demon?

Steve: lol

Scott: So several of these rankings deserve a re-treatment, but let’s just go straight to Buffy, where the moron claims that the seasons, from best to worst, are:  3, 2, 5, 4, 1, 6, 7

Steve: I agree that 7 was bad. Worse than 1?

Scott: The justification is mostly about Faith, which is REALLY weird, since Faith again is all over S7. And you’re totally, completely wrong about 7.

Steve: I will say that 3 is my favorite, because of The Mayor, who was the best Big Bad of the series.

Scott: With the sole exception of Xander getting his eye gouged out, S7 is phenomenal. It is the perfect ending.

Steve: Caleb was dumb, yo.  I agree that it was a great ending. But it really stuttered in the first few episodes.  Here’s my personal order for Buffy: 3, 5, 2, 4, 7, 6, 1

Scott: Anyway, the point here is that the Ranker there started off wrong, and consequently ended up wrong. The presence of “Faith” or “Dawn” or anyone else isn’t the defining criteria–Buffy (and Angel) should be judged largely based on Big Bads.

Steve: YES. The big bad is what matters, largely.

Scott: My ranking: 3, 2, 7, 5, 4, 6, 1.  I would say that 6 has a better big bad than 4, but A) It’s hard to say exact what the Big Bad is in S6, and B) Despite the superiority of Warren/Dark Willow to Adam, that season is just Buffy-Depresso, and kinds of sucks.
Except for the musical.
And that one part where Tara gets shot and dies and the world rejoiced, yea, worlds without end.

Steve: It’s a very depressing season. It has the musical and dead Tara — don’t get me wrong, that goes a long way — but it’s just not entertaining.

Scott: Yeah, and Spike going all rapey was terrible.

Steve: I can’t let go of Angel as a series.

Scott: For Angel–which again was not included in that Ranker’s list of Shows That Matter (STM)–the Big Bads are a bit harder to analyze, though. S1 is just Wolfram & Hart, right? S2 is the evil priests on Lorne’s planet.

Steve: Wolfram & Hart is a consistent antagonist, which Buffy didn’t have. It also had the Powers That Be as a consistent force. In terms of overall arc and narrative, Angel was far stronger.

Scott: S3 was Connor (I guess?), S4 was The Beast/Jasmine, and S5 was Hell on Earth. Another thing that I think negatively affects Angel’s place in history is the fact that Connor was annoying as poop until the Series Finale when he got his crap together.

Steve: Connor was great as a baby though! Angel had great individual antagonists, but not Big Bads: Holtz, Lindsey, Darla, etc.

Scott: Also good: Illyria. I loved Fred, but where else could you go with her?

Steve: totally great. And it gave Wesley one of the best death scenes in all Whedondom. I’m going to say it: Angel’s finale was better than Buffy’s. Lorne’s arc, Wesley’s… so great.

Scott: Also great: Schism among the protagonists. My favorite exchange in the entire series is a really dark, yet also comedic one:

Gunn: What happened to you, man?
Wesley Wyndam-Pryce: I had my throat cut and all my friends abandoned me.

Steve: Yes, exactly. Wesley turned out to be one of Whedon’s best characters ever, but you’d never know it from Buffy.

Scott: People who don’t watch Angel will just think of Wesley as the weird English dude who kissed Cordelia in the most awkward fashion ever.

Steve: I’m going to say it: Angel’s finale was better than Buffy’s. Lorne’s arc, Wesley’s… so great.

Scott: NO. Buffy’s was better.

Steve: Nope. Noooooooooooope. First, let’s be clear: both finales were great. I’m not saying one was bad. But it seems to me that Angel’s finale was just a perfect sendoff, in spirit of the theme they built over the five seasons: what it means to be a champion.

Scott: Here’s the analogy:
The Angel Finale is like the end of Empire Strikes Back. It’s sort of happy, in the sense that everyone is wiser and reconciled to what must be done, but it’s also quite sad, and definitely leaves you wondering what will happen next. (Hint: Nothing. Show is canceled.)

But Buffy…it’s like the end of Return of the Jedi, but all of the stupid Ewoks are Slayers who just rule the planet.

Steve: Are you arguing that ROTJ is better than Empire? I hope not.

Scott: No–I’m saying that if you take RotJ, and replace the parts that SUCK–Ewoks–with something totally badbutt–like Wookiees–then it might have been.  And the Finale of Buffy does just that.

Steve: that’s a pretty complicated way of arriving at an analogy

“If you take Godfather Part III, and replace the Corleone daughter with an android from the future, then it might have been like the finale of Buffy”

Scott: Buffy’s plan–to “activate” all of the slayers–was awesome. And no one saw it coming, even though it’s foreshadowed consistently throughout the show.

Steve: Not really foreshadowed. They made it up in S6. But the First Slayer was a consistent element… they just didn’t know what to do with it. The overall slayer mythos was made up towards the end.

Scott: And Spike’s role, also awesome. And Xander’s reaction to Anya’s fate–awesome. And Andrew lying to Xander to comfort him–awesome.  Everything about that finale was just perfect–all the way to the Sunnydale HS school bus as the mode of transportation out of town.

Steve: Yes, the finale was good. But the season as a whole wasn’t very good — whereas S5 of Angel was all about the ending. It was a great last effort.  Buffy had a last good couple of episodes, Angel had an entire good last season.

Scott: I guess, deep down, I’m just mad about what happened with Lorne & Lindsay.

Steve: Oh yeah, that was unexpected. Though I was glad to have Lindsey back

Scott: Classic Whedon–get you to really like a character, and then KILL THEM.

Steve: He’s sort of a cheap writer that way. Serenity, Avengers, Buffy, Angel… same trick every time.

Scott: Who does he kill in Avengers?

Steve: Coulson

Scott: Oh, right. Except he didn’t actually die,  which is BULL CRAP

Scott: Let’s see…other shows that are ranked:

Gilmore Girls–you saw it, I didn’t.
Seinfeld–we mostly agreed.
Friends–Who cares?
Lost? I never saw it–you did, right?

Steve: I like those three shows.

Scott: Last show, then: The Wire. The Ranker has them as 4, 3, 1, 2, 5

Steve: It seems odd that Mormons like The Wire so much. It is really, really amazing television.

Scott: I think that you’ve got a HUGE small sample problem, Steve. I am pretty sure that almost no Mormons have seen it.

Steve: We’ve talked about why the profanity in The Wire doesn’t offend, which is an interesting phenomenon. Basically, it’s because the profanity isn’t for dramatic effect. It’s simply appropriate from an anthropological perspective. This is the language.

Scott: Well, hold on–I don’t think that’s a fair characterization. I would prefer to say that there are two (at least) categories of profanity in The Wire, but one of the major forms isn’t offensive. There is one form that is simply a vocabulary commonly used to communicate in those communities that is unfamiliar to (white mid-western Mormons). If this is offensive to you, then shame on you. It’s like saying that Aboriginal peoples in Australia are immodest.

Steve: That is what I just said.

Scott: But there is still, even after allowing for different community-norms, a very large amount of profanity–i.e., swears that are used as swears.

Steve: Yeah I guess. As a side note: I’ve never been especially offended by profanity. Lawyers tend to have potty mouths.

Scott: Just my point is that, any way you slice it, that show has more crap than 300 bowls of colon blow.

Steve: I’m down with that.  Ok, on to the seasons. Most people seem to agree that S5 is the weakest.

Scott: So, it’s hard to argue that S4 isn’t “the best” when you consider the societal import of “kids.” But to me, S3 and S1 are better.

Steve: S4 was the hardest to watch. Poor Dukie.

Scott: S1, man–POOR WALLACE!

Steve: Yeah I’m still not over that.

Scott: In all fairness, Wallace recovered from that betrayal and point-blank execution-style gun shot from his best friend, though, and became a state champion quarterback for the East Dillon Lions. So, I’m good. 

Steve: Clear eyes, full heart, DON’T SHOOT!

Scott: ftw

Steve: S3 has Avon versus Stringer, which is just unbelievably awesome, plus Hamsterdam.

Scott: Re Hamsterdam: Bunny Colvin’s paper bag speech is one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen, period.

Steve: S1 of The Wire is the best first season of any show I’ve seen. But S3 is still better, which tells you something about the levels of awesomeness we’re dealing with.

Scott: I think that Bunny’s paper bag speech in S3 is really the entire show in a 2 minute clip, and so clearly explains why everything that happens in all of the seasons, all of the episodes, is so important: All the BS prevents police from doing what they actually are meant to do.
]

Steve: Btw, totally off topic, but the best series premiere I’ve ever seen was the first episode of Lost.

Scott: One day I’ll see it, but I really hate shows that make it up as they go, like Lost did.

Steve: I hear you. But Lost was just so crazy that it was enjoyable all throughout, with the exception of a few (3) bad episodes.

Scott: If I have to rank them, then for The Wire, I go 1/3 (tie), 4, 2, 5. I just really hate ranking them, because it looks like I’m saying “S5 is TEH WORST!” when it totally isn’t. BUT… If you rank them by opening credits/music: 4, 1, 5, 3, 2.

Steve: 3,1,4,2,5 on the shows. 4,1,2,3,5 on the songs.

Scott: You didn’t like the last theme song version?

Steve: It’s ok.

Scott: I liked it quite a bit.

Steve: The important part is that we’re keeping the devil way down in the hole.

Scott: Oh–BSG is on that Ranker’s list, too. And my feeling is that it’s all BULL CRAP: He has “2A, 3, 1, 4B, 2B, 4A”

Steve: Yeah that’s wrong. The first season of BSG has some of my all time favorite TV. And that finale cliffhanger!  Also: season 3 (Exodus, part 2) of BSG is NOT the only in-atmo jump in the series! The second episode of when they’re on Kobol has one.

Scott: My BSG rankings: 1, [Pre-New Caprica], [Post-New Caprica], [New Caprica]

Steve: I saw a “New Caprica Sucked” bumper sticker and I agree. My favorite BSG bumper sticker says “Don’t blame me, I voted for Roslin”.

Scott: alright, i’m posting this.

Steve: Fine. So long as we’re clear that “33” was the bolx.

Scott: 33 + H20–as good as it gets on TV.

Steve: But you do need to see the miniseries first for context.

Comments

  1. Steve Evans says:

    Correction: 4,1,3,2,5 on The Wire theme songs.

  2. Few things re: The Wire.

    1. S4 most haunting, S3 most enjoyable. Also, Stringer, not Omar, is most compelling character of the show.

    2. WHERE’S WALLACE?!?!

    3. S2 has the worst music, by far.

    4. The cold opening where Snoop is buying a nail gun is the best 3 minutes of TV history.

    5. The Wire : 2000s America :: Charles Dickens : Victorian Britain

  3. You come at the king, you best not miss.

  4. I still weep for Randy, whose arc may be the most tragic in TV history.

  5. This is my favorite conversation. When I got to the “badbutt” I cackled like a hermaphrodite witch.

  6. Steve is correct about the Angel season finale.

    Also: upon re-watch Glory was a better big bad than my initial reaction when the season was first aired.

  7. Scott B. says:

    Layne,

    I cannot claim ownership of “Bad Butt.” That is an Aaron Brown special:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2010/06/04/balaams-butt/

  8. Good to see an acknowledgment of the greatness of Angel–Whedon’s best TV show to last an entire season.

    And I wasn’t a big fan of the first season of BG–perhaps because I found Roslin extremely annoying, and I had to get used to her before I could really enjoy the show.

  9. Yes, I know! I’m a huge fan of a good callback.

  10. Chad Too says:

    I can add that the incomparable Phoebe Snow sang the Colon Blow jingle. She was also the singer of the “Celebrate the Moments of Your Life” jingle for General Foods International Coffees. The rest of the words you two used meant next to nothing to me in the order given.

  11. Ranking the episodes Buffy, the Wire, and BSG is like ranking your kids. It can’t be done. All are special in their own way.

  12. “I think that Bunny’s paper bag speech in S3 is really the entire show in a 2 minute clip, and so clearly explains why everything that happens in all of the seasons, all of the episodes, is so important: All the BS prevents police from doing what they actually are meant to do.”

    ^^ yes, x 1000.

    Season 4 was the most heartbreaking, devastating piece of television I’ve ever experienced. I still think of Randy and Dookie and my throat closes. I don’t think anyone ever got over Wallace.

    The nail gun. Ben is right.

    “How my hair look?”

  13. Ok, someone in my family put a squirt gun to my head and made me rank Buffy. It turns out I disagree with ya’ll fairly substantially. Mine turned out to be 4=6,5,2,3,7,1. Wire more along your lines 4,3,2,1,5. But BSG all runs together for me and I’ll stick with my kids analogy for those seasons.

  14. How did Psych not make the top ten? I think this list is rigged.

  15. Thanks for reminding me how hilarious that Balaam’s Butt post and thread are.

  16. Maybe next time a brief synopsis of topics or sub-topics covered. I almost quit reading during the Angel/Buffy discussion because boring before I scrolled and got to The Wire which is the true order of TV.

  17. Man, I hated Season 7 of Buffy. I can’t recall a season of television I hated so much and still watched.

  18. True confessions that may get me kicked off the blog: I still haven’t seen The Wire.

  19. Villate says:

    I have held out on The Wire for a long time because I was afraid it would make me hate humanity, but this may have convinced me to go for it.

  20. Scott B. says:

    I don’t get the dislike for S7 of Buffy. I think y’all are crazy.

  21. Scott B. says:

    Villate,

    Don’t watch it unless you really want to. It’s not a show for the faint of heart, and nothing will be the same afterward.

  22. Scott B. says:

    Ben,

    The cold opening with Snoop at the Home Depot or wherever is great, but it’s not even the best cold opening on the show, let alone in TV history. (The best one on the show is the first episode of S5, in which Bunk gets a confession by faking a confession from the accused’s partner via French fries and cheeseburgers, followed by a fake polygraph test where the photocopier, hooked up to the perp, produces a document that says “Lie.”

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