Sunday, April 10, 2011

Buffy: I, Robot... You, Jane (1.8)

Watching season one again, it's surprising that Willow is so under-developed. Maybe it was simply accidental that Xander had so much to do in the first seven episodes, but Willow definitely pales in comparison to him, at least in terms of character development. It's interesting that as the series progresses, however, Willow becomes so integral while Xander fades away into the background a little. I guess the writers realized which character was more exciting to develop. What's disappointing is that the first Willow-centric episode is so goddamn awful, making her look like a desperate, naive moron. I, Robot... You, Jane has the unfortunate distinction of being the only Buffy episode which really does look and feel like it aired nearly fifteen years ago. But even without the dated quality, it's still pretty appalling everywhere else.

The show only has itself to blame for the entire Moloch story. Just look at Sandra Bullock in The Net, a movie that I'm sure was cutting edge and 'wow'-worthy in 1995, but rendered unintentionally hilarious in 2011. Buffy asking what a chatroom is, Giles being told about scanning, the scenery-chewing minion screeching about being 'jacked in'... it's all pretty funny. The story also marks one of the few times that Buffy as a series truly bathed in TV clich├ęs, with that embarrassing thing of characters speaking out loud whatever they're typing on screen. Ugh. Of all the unintentional comedy, however, my favorite part is that random scene of the nameless Sunnydale High student screaming wildly about his computer files to nobody in particular. Wow, this script is awful.

The script issues continue with the Moloch story, riddled with a doozy of plot holes. Why is Moloch contacting Willow in the first place? What exactly were CRD doing? What happened to all of Moloch's brainwashed minions? How did he become a giant robot? In the end none of this really matters, I guess, but it's still pretty lazy.

Jenny Calendar is introduced here, clearly a romantic foil for Giles. She's smart, sassy, and the polar opposite of Giles, but some of her statements (especially the one about elitist white guys) come off a little ill-informed. I did like her prophetic conversation with Giles about communication on the internet, especially as we're living in a time right now where we all communicate via social networking, but if anything it's only reduced our actual intimacy as humans.

It's disappointing that my own knowledge of Robia LaMorte (preachy Evangelical wingnut) has kind of turned me off Miss Calendar a little, but her presence isn't completely horrible. Except for that weird line about dangling her jewelry somewhere. Uh... what?

I, Robot... You, Jane is pretty hilarious as an episode, full of ridiculous dialogue and contrived plot twists. It's probably the worst episode ever. But, being Buffy, there are moments that are great, especially that sweet ending with Buffy, Xander and Willow realizing that they're all doomed. Aww. D

Credits
Guest stars Robia LaMorte (Jenny Calendar); Chad Lindberg (Dave); Jamison Ryan (Fritz)
Writers Ashley Gable, Thomas A. Swyden Director Stephen Posey

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