Monday, June 14, 2010

Buffy 1x09 - "The Puppet Show"

This episode has a cringeworthy premise, straight out of Goosebumps, but the cheese factor is not always a problem. Buffy often rises above the ridiculousness of the premise to produce something pretty entertaining, and that's the case here. More after the jump.

"Giles, unto every generation is born one who must run the annual talentless show. You cannot escape your destiny."

- Buffy

From the outset, the episode seems focused more on comedy than on drama. The show acknowledges that Giles running the talent show doesn't really make much sense except as a recipe for humor. His utter lack of qualification for the job leads to some funny moments, as does the variety of lame acts, culminating in one of the funniest scenes in Buffy history which plays over the credits: Buffy, Xander, and Willow acting out a scene from Oedipus Rex.

The main plot of the episode involving the dummy is uneven in places, because the dummy isn't nearly as funny or creepy as he's meant to be. Also, the fact that it takes Buffy so long to figure out that the dummy is alive (and it takes the others so long to believe her) makes little sense. Their suspect is consistently talking to it as though it were alive. It's not that difficult. But like "Witch," this episode does a great job of tricking the viewer into thinking he or she has it figured out and then revealing the surprising truth. The dummy actually ends up being quite the tragic hero, and his death is quite sad.

This episode is also notable for introducing Principal Snyder. Snyder is as much an over-the-top caricature as Flutie, but in a very different way, and he provides a different sort of nemesis for Buffy and friends to contend with. I happen to like Snyder as a character. It was originally Joss's idea that Snyder wouldn't last much longer than Flutie did, but I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say that Snyder sticks around for a while. I think they made the right choice. Continually replacing the principal every couple of episodes sounds funny, but it would get old quite fast, and Armin Shimmerman is too good a fit for the role to let go.

So in the end, it's a pretty decent episode, even if it does rely on a bit of an idiot plot.

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