Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 39: Once More With Feeling!!

6.7 Once More With Feeling

Follow along in Bite Me!, pp. 286-289.

And if you’re watching Angel:

3.7 Offspring

Follow along in Once Bitten, pp. 209-211.

I hope you’ve set some time aside for tonight’s Rewatch, because it’s a doozy!! I’ve been planning it since the beginning of the year, and it’s taken more time to put together than any of the other weeks, but it’s been worth it. I think almost every song in the episode “Once More With Feeling” will be covered in some form below, so sit back, turn up your speakers, and enjoy!!


Previously… on the Buffy Rewatch:
Before we discuss this week's episode, maybe it's a good time to recap the story so far. (I apologize that I look like a kindergarten teacher singing to children... I think it's from seven years of singing to children...)

Of course, with each week, I know you’re expecting some analysis, so before we begin to unlock the talents of the other Rewatch guest hosts, let’s have an analysis from the one person who can tackle the musical side of Buffy better than anyone: Janet Halfyard. Take it away, Janet!

Something to Sing About: music and myth in “Once More, with Feeling”

I am prepared to state with considerable confidence that there is not single episode of Buffy that has been written about by more people than “Once More, With Feeling” (OMwF). It is possible, thanks to Matthew Pateman writing an entire book about “Restless”, the season 4 finale, that there are episodes that have more words written about them, but the number of people who have written about the musical episode at some point is significant enough that it got its own session at both of the first two Slayage conferences; and there were another three chapters on it in Music, Sound and Silence, the book I coedited on music in Buffy to add to all the existing ones in Slayage and elsewhere. So no pressure on me then to find something interesting to say.

The idea of a musical TV episode was not original – it had definitely been done before, not least the excruciating episode “The Bitter Suite” in Xena: Warrior Princess where (not unlike in OMwF) magic led to a great deal of singing, including Xena and Gabrielle singing an appalling rock-ballad duet to each other with some of the most cringeworthy lyrics ever written. [Editor’s note from Nikki: I loved that episode… So melodramatic and maudlin and over-the-top crazy. It was everything Xena was about.] OMwF is different: it is one of the best episodes of Buffy, one of the televisual experiments that made Buffy great, the third of the experiments that centre around sound in significant ways – the other two are “Hush” in season four, where music replaces the sound of voices, and '”The Body” in season five which has no music at all, and which 'composes' its sound design instead. Together, they point to Joss Whedon's sensitivity to the sonic as of equal importance to the visual, and I can't underplay how unusual that is in television as a whole, a medium whose name privileges the visual over the sonic. So the first thing that comes out of OMwF is that it reveals Whedon's creative interest in sound and music; and the fact that this episode is all about singing brings in the element of performance too.

There is, actually, quite a lot of performing in the Buffyverse, from the wonderful Greek tragedy and Cordelia's singing in “The Puppet Show” and Willow's failure to sing Madame Butterfly in “Nightmares”, back in season 1; Oz as the boyfriend in the band; Giles singing songs in the coffee shop; Spike doing his impression of Sid Vicious singing “My Way” in “Fool for Love”; and there's even more singing and performing going on in Angel, mostly thanks to Caritas, the demon karaoke bar. Add to that the fact that Mr Whedon wrote the theme song for Firefly, plus the lovely “Ballad of Jane” telling of the heroic deeds of one of the characters who had become a folk legend on an obscure planet he'd actually been trying to rob; and that he wrote a whole other musical show with Dr Horrible's Sing-along Blog, and his interest in music is pretty convincing.

OMwF remains his best known and most written about musical venture, and one of the many reasons it is so interesting is the episode's peculiar relationship with (Jargon alert!) musical diegesis. Quick explanation of that: essentially, there are two types of song possible in film and television: diegetic song (where the characters are perfectly well aware that they are singing) and non-diegetic song, where they aren't. In diegetic song, the song is as real and as normal to us as it is to the characters ie: characters know they are singing or being sung to and the source of musical accompaniment is likely to be visible, be it a karaoke machine, a band or a guitar. Non-diegetic song, on the other hand, relies on the suspension of our disbelief to accept that the characters are essentially unaware that they are singing or being sung to and the musical accompaniment is also usually invisible, coming from the underscore. In these circumstances, we are asked to accept that sometimes in musicals characters will burst into song because their emotions have become so intense that they simply have no other choice if they are to express themselves properly (e.g. Dorothy breaking into “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”). However, these types of song, whilst clearly being sung, are not perceived as being outsides the normal course of communication by the characters; nor is the sudden sound of music from an invisible source perceived as unusual. At some quite profound level, the characters do not know that they are singing or have lost the ability to know that singing and music are not normal in this context.

Another important distinction between diegetic and non-diegetic song is the element of volition. In diegetic song, the character must choose to perform. Sometimes this decision is made under forms of duress, but consent is still given. Rose’s first strip-tease in the musical Gypsy, when she is cajoled by her mother into performing is one example of this, as is Willow’s attempt to sing Madame Butterfly. However bad, half-hearted or unwilling the performance, the character has made a conscious decision to (try to) perform. Non-diegetic song, however, is imposed from outside the narrative: the character makes no decision to sing, but sings nonetheless.

Buffy has played some quite intriguing diegetic games, “Once More, with Feeling” (OMwF being one the most elaborate (“Normal Again”, later in this season, is going to take that to a whole new level), although this was not the first occasion that something of this nature was introduced. In the season four finale, “Restless”, Giles’s dream, like Willow’s, takes the form of a performance event, if a very strange one. We see him performing, as we have done earlier in the season, but now he is on stage at The Bronze, and instead of singing a song, he simply sings his dialogue. This creates a somewhat tangled diegetic web. On one level he is clearly perfectly aware that he is performing: he climbs onto the stage, the audience cheer, there is a visible band accompanying him. He grasps the microphone, and his body language bears all the hallmarks of a straightforward diegetic song, an impression reinforced by the fact that the audience responds to his singing by holding their lighters aloft, flames glowing in the semi-darkness. Yet at another level, what he actually sings, which is his continuing dialogue with Willow and Xander, makes it clear that he and his audience are unaware that this really isn't normally diegetic (Giles singing a song in a club) or non-diegetic (Giles compelled to express himself through song). It's a lovely reversal: in a conventional non-diegetic song, the characters’ actions usually indicate that they believe themselves to be speaking their thoughts, whereas in fact they are singing a song. Here, Giles’s actions indicate that he believes himself to be singing a song, although he is in fact delivering his dialogue. Effectively, this song manages to be both diegetic and non-diegetic simultaneously. Although Giles does clearly know he is singing, he and everyone else fail to perceive what is clear to us, the audience, namely that the song itself is abnormal, the usual rules of musical diegesis having been suspended by the dream-state.

A comparable circumstance underlies OMwF, although here it is a spell rather than a dream that suspends the normal rules, and the web of diegesis is further complicated by the nature of the relationship between a character and the actor who plays it. Normally, if a song is non-diegetic, the actor knows that he or she is singing in a situation where singing would not be considered normal, but the character does not, and this situation remains fixed. It creates a very clear boundary between them, placing the actor in the privileged position of having knowledge the character does not share. There is always going to be an imbalance of knowledge between character and actor, but it is normally hidden by the fact that the actor is rendered largely invisible by the presence of the character being played.

In non-diegetic song, only the character has the abnormality of the singing concealed from them. Both the audience and the actor are aware that singing is occurring in a fictional environment where it would not be occurring in the real world; and the act of singing can itself render the actor slightly more visible than usual. The suspension of disbelief is stretched a little further, with the technical demands of singing potentially making us more aware of the artifice of performance. In fact, the production of OMwF demonstrates an awareness of the heightened level of separation in the actor/ character relationship in a musical, as the episode's trailer combined clips from the forthcoming show with footage of the actors both rehearsing in a dance studio and singing in the recording studio, out of costume, out of the Sunnydale diegetic context and therefore evidently out of character. This would seem to be highlighting the extent to which the actors were occupying a privileged position in the context of non-diegetic song, threatening to undermine the coherence and credibility of the characters they had been playing for just over five seasons by this point.

However, in the episode itself, songs are only non-diegetic whilst they are being sung. Whilst the songs are in progress, the characters generally behave as if singing in this context is perfectly normal behaviour, as one would expect in non-diegetic song: but once the songs are finished, they realize that they have been acting abnormally, that they have been singing despite having made no decision to sing, a sleight of hand that allows a non-diegetic song to become retrospectively diegetic.

This, in effect, renders the actors invisible once more as the characters reassert control over knowledge of their actions. The characters become aware that their universe has been infiltrated by the non-diegetic (even though, by the end, all elements have been accounted for within the series’ diegesis) and so the characters themselves are allowed to share the awareness of the actors who play them that they are singing non-diegetic songs. Rather than destroying the fabric of the Buffyverse, this scenario manages to reinforce the credibility of Buffy’s world, because the characters are able to perceive the abnormality of this externally imposed singing in a situation when normally, fictional characters would remain oblivious, a kind of diegetic double bluff.

There's a second area that is worth mentioning that connects to music but takes the idea in a different direction, and that's the idea of myth. This episode is the culmination of an exploration of the Orpheus myth that goes right back to season 1, although I have neither time nor space to go into all that right now. However, the important elements of the myth are that Eurydice dies and Orpheus, the great musician, is so distraught by her loss that he ventures into the underworld to find her. Hades and his mortal bride Persephone are so enchanted by his music that Hades agrees to release Eurydice, on the sole condition that Orpheus does not look at her until they have crossed back into the world of the living. It all goes wrong, Orpheus looks at her and she is lost once more.

The idea of the hero crossing the threshold into the underworld to undergo trials is at the heart of the idea of the hero's journey that we find again and again throughout Buffy (pretty much every episode) with Buffy as Orpheus the hero; but OMwF alludes to the myth while at the same time reversing essential elements of it, reinventing it. Firstly, we have the fact that Willow, Orpheus-like, has retrieved Buffy from what Willow thinks was hell, casting Buffy as Eurydice, this time rescued (and did Orpheus ever stop to ask Eurydice whether she wanted to be rescued?). Meanwhile, a demon has been summoned to Sunnydale, apparently by Dawn, and the demon asserts his right to take the summoner back to the underworld as his bride. This brings in a new myth: now, Buffy plays maternal Demeter to Dawn’s Persephone, bargaining with Hades to save her daughter; but the Orpheus myth is laid over the top of this. Buffy sings and dances her willingness to take Dawn’s place, so casting herself also as Orpheus singing to Hades to release Dawn as Eurydice – the actual staging of the scene precisely mirrors the staging of this section of the various operas written on this myth, with Hades and Persephone on thrones on a raised platform, looking down at Orpheus as he performs in front of them. Buffy reveals to the rest of her friends for the first time that they tore her out of heaven, so putting Willow back into the role of the selfish Orpheus to Buffy’s own reluctantly returned Eurydice; and finally, as Buffy is about to dance herself to death (a bit of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring thrown into the mix), Spike steps in to save her.

Spike pulls her back from death, an Orphic reversal where his sudden capturing of her gaze pulls her out of hell rather than sending her into it, giving us another suggestion of and variant on an Orpheus/ Eurydice pairing here too. If Willow is the bad Orpheus in Buffy’s resurrection scenario, Spike is the antidote, the anti-Orpheus who truly brings Buffy’s Eurydice back to life, who saves her by seeing her.

So, we have myth, and we have music, and we have a myth about music underpinning this most remarkable episode in the remarkable Buffyverse. The third and perhaps most important point about this episode is that it is a good musical, with fantastic lyrics and music that, while it's not quite up to Sondheim's standards, holds its own and manages to be catchy and witty, exploring song genres at the same time as pointing out just how many genres there are (re: Anya's anxiety that her duet with Xander was not a breakaway hit but merely a book number, whilst Giles muses on witness arias and Marti Noxon laments her parking ticket). And as if that in itself was not enough, it is not an aside in the season arc, but an essential part of it. The songs are not isolated moments where characters sing about their feelings, while all the action and development remains in the dialogue: the songs themselves push the narrative forward, and set up ideas for future episodes (spoilers - highlight to view) – Giles's decision to leave; Tara's discovery of the spell Willow has cast to remove her memory of an argument, leading to Willow's final and disastrous attempt to use magic to fix her relationship with Tara in “Tabula Rasa”, which in turn reveals her spiralling addiction to magic and the terrible events following Tara's death; the collapse of Anya and Xander's relationship on their wedding day in an episode where we revisit the events of the musical for Anya's heartbreaking “Mrs Xander Harris” song; the beginning of Buffy's complex sexual relationship with Spike. For all these reasons, “Once More, with Feeling” is not an experimental digression away from the main business of the show but a pivotal episode in the development of the central characters and their relationships with each other that will have repercussions until the end of season 7.

Thank you, Janet!

And now, onto the pure entertainment portion of the Rewatch!

Going Through the Motions
When my daughter was younger, I would play the soundtrack in the car and she’d listen along. Of course, I’d say something to her, like “So, how was school?!” very loudly every time Anya would sing, “His penis got diseases from a Chumash tribe,” or when Spike sings later, “I’m free if that bitch dies!” So I think to this day she’s a little foggy on a couple of the lines. But she LOVED Going Through the Motions. She’d sing it all the time in the car and around the house, so two years ago, when she was just five, I recorded her singing it, and the result was hilarious. Here’s that recording from two years ago (her then-two-year-old brother is behind the camera with me, singing and humming along; my husband is on the couch beside her, and interjected unexpectedly, hence the surprised look on her face). Watch for the “How can I repay?” bit, which had me in stitches.

I’ve Got a Theory
I’m cheating a bit on this one, because I’ve already posted it here, but in case you missed it, here’s my whole family performing “I’ve Got a Theory.” For those of you who watched it when you hadn’t yet seen the episode, NOW you know what we were doing!

They Got the Mustard Out!
In one of my “last-minute” contributions (read: I realized that I was this close to having every song represented so I recruited people at the last minute to fill in some blanks), I sent a note to Matthew Pateman just yesterday asking if he might sing “They Got the Mustard Out!” on video and send it to me. I didn’t realize he was on his way to the airport when he got my message, but he was a trooper, and went into an airport bar with a friend and they recorded a zany little sketch that they sent to me an hour later. What can I say, the man is brilliant. (And I think the glass of beer in the background may be a clue to what you’re about to see…) For everyone who thinks of Matthew as the scholarly Brit, now you can see the side of him that I’m far more used to. ;)

Under Your Spell
Amber Benson’s beautiful voice, the dancing girls, the bridge. And oh, some pretty euphemistic language. What IS this song about?

When Tara sang that song so
Beautifully we were in awe
Her voice was like an angel’s
You couldn’t pick out one flaw
But read between the lines
And find all the euphemistic signs

This song’s about sex!
How else could it be
Oh my god, why can’t you see?
It’s so darn obvious
Talk of ecstasy
and “spreading”
And being “come”-plete.

Oh sure the sexual metaphors
Are hidden all over the place
With talk of “donuts” and “crullers”
And Anya’s tight… embrace
Network censors are spry
But these just slipped right on by

This song’s about sex
They’re making whoopee
These lyrics were quite gutsy
Oh Joss I’m damn impressed
Bowing before thee
As I have throughout Buffy

You make me

Incidentally, when I went on the Buffy tour back in 2003 that I mentioned a few months back, one of the places we visited was the park where they filmed “Under Your Spell,” and my friend Sue and I sang to each other on the bridge like nerds, and then went down to the water’s edge and danced around like bigger nerds. It was awesome.

I’ll Never Tell
The wonderful Evan Munday, he of the amazing “Ted” and “Hush” videos earlier in our Rewatch, was going to tackle “I’ll Never Tell” with a friend of his, and they were going to do the complete song and dance routine that went with it. But time got away with him, and he very apologetically emailed me this past weekend to say he wouldn’t be able to do it. I knew he would have done something genius with it, but I also thought this one was too good to just skip. So I hit up the only two people I thought could do an equally brilliant job: Dale and Ensley Guffey (you last saw this married academic couple on “The Body” rewatch). So, two days before the Rewatch, I was begging them to try something. They emailed back to say they couldn’t sing, but they’d definitely come up with something. And a few hours later, I got it: their version of an overwrought telenovela, complete with Ensley doing the accent. God, I love these two. And you will, too!

Parking Ticket
When I sent out my note to contributors asking who would be up for it, Rhonda Wilcox wrote me back to say she’d love to, but she was swamped, and wished me the best. I knew she was the lead singer of a band (oh yes, the Mother of Buffy Studies has many, many talents!) so I emailed her and asked if she might be able to record herself singing a song, and suggested “Parking Ticket” as a lark. She totally took me up on it, and delivered in her beautiful voice. Did I mention our guest hosts are immensely talented?!

Rest in Peace
One of the first people to sign up was Cynthea Masson, who has written some brilliant posts for us on the Rewatch so far. I was excited about what she was going to do, and all she said was she was going to give me a parody version of Spike’s “Rest in Peace.” What I didn’t know was that she’d rewrite it, recruit people to do other parts, and film the entire sequence in a hilarious send-up of what goes on behind the scenes when pop culture academics are trying to pitch a television course to the department. So THAT’S how you guys do it!! Watch this one, Slayage peeps: you’ll love it.

Dawn’s Lament

Dawn: Does anybody even notice?
Me: NO.
Dawn: Does anybody even care?
Me: NO!!

Dawn’s Ballet
I just wanted to mention, in case you saw his photo in my book (I have a longer analysis of the episode in Bite Me), that Adam Shankman was the choreographer of this episode. As in, that hyperactive adorable guy on So You Think You Can Dance who was absent for most of last season and who I missed terribly. Come back, Adam!

What You Feel
I wanted to stop with the videos for a second and look at Sweet’s song, which is the perfect number to look at and get a sense of Joss’s writing style. What I loved most about the way Joss wrote the lyrics in this episode is how not only created a/b/c/b rhymes, but a/b/a/b ones, and even rhymes within the lines. Look at the beginning of this song.

Why'd you run away?
Don't you like my style?
Why don't you come and play?
I guarantee a great big smile

I come from the imagination
And I'm here strictly by your invocation
So what do you say?
Why don't we dance awhile?

Check out that rhyming pattern: a/b/a/b/c/c/a/b. All of these lines have perfect end rhymes. It’s remarkable, and never feels forced. He does the exact same pattern in the next bit (and I’ve always been in love with rhyming “a-running” and “fun in”).

I'm the hottest swing
I'm the twist and shout
When you gotta sing,
When you gotta let it out
You call me and I come a-running
I turn the music on; I bring the fun in
Now, we're partying
That's what it's all about

The real fun begins a few stanzas later, when Dawn joins in and her halted and nervous rhymes are carried over a stanza apart, and she follows an a/a/b…a/a/b rhyme, with him interjecting in between.

Cuz I know what you feel, girl

No, you see
You and me
Wouldn't be very regal

I'll make it real, girl

What I mean
I'm fifteen
So, this queen thing's illegal

And once again, it never feels forced.

Not only is “Once More With Feeling” an episode with amazing dancing, catchy tunes, and a devastating ending, but the lyrics themselves are rather extraordinary. It’s one of the reasons people consider it Joss’s masterpiece. (I reserve that term for “The Body,” but “OMWF” is a close second.)

Standing in the Way
I asked my husband if he could try this one. The guy’s been recording an album for months. MONTHS. He’s got all the effects, pedals, four electric guitars, two acoustics, a bass, loop pedals, you name it, all in his office, and I said here are the chord changes, could you do it? No problem, he said. I asked him again a few weeks ago, when the producer was actually here and staying at our house. Sure, we’ll do that and we can do it all fancy in the midst of recording, he said. They didn’t. I asked him a week later, “Of course!” he said. Finally, I nabbed him on the weekend and he did a quick version of this, which frankly I thought was pretty awesome despite him knowing the chord changes for all of 3 minutes before we did it. He's about the furthest thing from a perfectionist that I know, except when it comes to his music, so he needed to do several takes of this. And somehow the kitten just sat there through all of them. So please welcome my husband, Robert!

Walk Through the Fire
Here’s a newcomer to our Rewatch, but he may be one of the best known people in it. If you haven’t heard of Tony Burgess, you should go look him up. He’s a Canadian writer of horror fiction whose most well known novel was turned into a brilliant zombie film by Canadian director extraordinaire, Bruce McDonald, called Pontypool (even if you don’t like horror films, go see this; it’s the thinking person’s horror film, and it’s stunningly brilliant. And I say that NOT liking horror movies very much).

Years ago, when "Once More With Feeling" first aired, I was working with Tony as his editor on a book of short stories called Fiction for Lovers (a book we both won the ReLit Award for!). Tony lives up north in cottage country in Stayner, Ontario, and he’s joined a community theatre group. He loves to sing and act – and he’s really good at both – and after this episode aired, he’d call the office during the day, I’d pick up, and he’d immediately begin belting out a Buffy number. If no one else was in the office, I’d sing back, but since that was rare, I generally just sat there giggling and listening to him sing away. One day we were discussing the lyrics themselves and he said to me how much he loves the moment in “Life’s a Show” where Buffy looks directly into the camera and says, “And you can sing along…” So when I was watching the episode last week to prepare, the episode got to that part and I thought, “Tony! I bet he’d do something!” One email exchange and a couple of hours later, I had this video in my inbox. He went with “Walk Through the Fire” after I gave him the choices, and I could NOT stop laughing when I watched it. This is funny if you don’t know Tony. If you do know him, it’s even funnier.

So watch Tony as he gets ready to save the day, or maybe… get distracted at the end by other things. Love ya, Tones. (Please ignore the weird watermark at the top corner; the file came to me in an odd format and the only conversion program I could find embedded that stupid thing there…)

And go see Pontypool! Now that you’ve seen Tony, he’s in the film three times; can you find all three appearances?

Life’s a Show
One of the hardest things about writing books about TV shows is that you have to explain to people what you mean when you say you write books about TV shows. I can’t get my family to understand it, so it’s hard to explain it to a stranger. “You write books… about… TV? What do you mean? What more is there to say? Do you, like, write scripts or something?” Once I went in for a parent-teacher conference with my daughter’s teacher, and the teacher laughed at one point and said my daughter had said the funniest thing. “She said you wrote books about the TV show Lost, hahahahaha!” I smiled, and said, “I do, actually.” “Haha… ha… ha. Um… really?” For me, it’s become more of a fun challenge to see how I can explain it to the next person. So that’s how I tackled this next song, since many of the guest hosts have also written books about TV shows – and have taught courses on them – so we’re all in the same boat.

“Just a show,” I’m so sick of that phrase
“It must be just a phase”
No, I’m really this crazed.

I love TV, and I’m glued to that screen
From Slayers who are teens
To Flight Eight-Fifteen

Watch the shows
Then blog
Pitch the show
Write book
Go to Slayage
Write ano-
-ther book
And then
Try to

Explain just what I do
Because people will always ask you,
“Books on TV?
What can that be?”

I write books about TV shows!

Why not novels
Or books of poetry?
I mean, they’ve gotta be
More posterity

Mom and Dad
Are mightily confused
When their friends ask for news
They say I’ve hit the booze.

“Oh she’s do-
-ing well
She tells us that
she’s swell.
She’s writing on
some shows
Lost, or… something
Who knows?
We just

That soon she’ll change her mind
Maybe she’ll become more inclined…

To be a lawyer
Or maybe a doctor! [Yes, a doctor!]”

[skip to "there was no pain" part]
In between books
Find your next show,
You never know
When it’s co-ming…

You watch everything
Hoping you’ll look
And find your next book

It’s got to be forthco-ming…
‘Cause everyone is ask-ing…
What your next book will be…
Even though you’re taking a break…

So give me something to write about!
Please… give me something!

Where Do We Go From Here?
If you thought I was a huge nerd already, you’re about to find out I’m even more like the Troika than I’d like you to know. Yes, I have Buffy action figures. Lots of them. I have a Willow shelf that’s just various versions of Willow, through her various incarnations right up to the end of season 7. What I don’t have is Dawn. (Who wants Dawn?!) So for my next trick, I decided to pull them out of their cabinet and use them to act out the big group sing. Unfortunately, Xander, like the Tin Man, had been standing in his position for so long I couldn’t get the hatchet out of his hand, so I apologize that he looks rather menacing. And I went into my daughter’s Barbie drawer and found the most insane-looking doll I could find (confession: it was mine when I was a kid. I think I might have been the one who did that to her hair) and that was going to be Dawn. I used the first and only take of this, and so it’s not the best, but hey, I was getting to the end and running out of ideas! ;) I draped a purple towel over the couch and was reaching under it, but in this clip I appear to be wearing it. I assure you, I do not have a sweater that makes me look like Grimace. ;)

The Big Kiss
And hey, if action figures are good for a group sing, they’re good for a snog, too. Here are Buffy and Spike, bringing us to the big finish!

Cue end credit music! (And if you didn’t watch all the way to the end of the credits, make sure you do… the Mutant Enemy guy is worth it!)

Thanks to everyone who helped me out, many of you very last minute! I really, really couldn’t have done it without you! ;)

Next week: Back to being SERIOUS. Dale Guffey, she of the Telenovela, will be here to walk us through the next three episodes.

6.8 Tabula Rasa
6.9 Smashed
6.10 Wrecked

And on Angel, we’ll be watching:

3.8 Quickening
3.9 Lullaby
3.10 Dad

See you next time!


Marebabe said...

Well, now I understand why Joss Whedon fans were so excited a few years ago in the days and weeks before “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” premiered. “Once More, With Feeling” advanced my Whedon-fandom to a new place. Bravo, Joss!

There were so many things I loved about this episode, I think I’ll just start by listing them:

I loved the singing cameos by David Fury and Marti Noxon. They were both awesome!

I loved Dawn’s dancing. They wisely kept her singing to a minimum. It’s a rare teenage girl who can really belt out a show-stopper. She did fine with her few sung lines, but her dancing was sublime. It was one of the things I most looked forward to when I watched this episode the second time.

I loved the duet by Tara and Giles. It was sad, and both sang about leaving. But musically, they knocked it out of the park!

I loved how organic the musical aspect was. The song-and-dance spell accomplished the very important task of revealing some very important truths for our characters. It moved the story forward in huge leaps, and even though I’ve not seen what happens next, I recognize that this episode was a major turning point.

I loved Amber Benson’s beautiful singing. She was like the heroine in one of Disney’s animated fairy tales. The pretty corset top she was wearing further enhanced this impression. (I like Willow’s and Tara’s outfits lately, with the flowing, long skirts.)

I LOVED how Spike started singing against his will, rolled his eyes in disgust, and just plunged into his song.

Marebabe said...

I loved all the visual treats and eye-candy in this episode, like the whole opening credits sequence; when Buffy stakes a vamp and the dust swirls around her face; the exuberant dancing in “The Mustard Song”; the trio of guys dancing with their push-brooms; the magic sparkles that accompanied Willow and Tara’s stroll through the park; the slow-motion shot of Buffy deflecting a knife that Giles threw at her during the training session; the fire trucks racing by in the background during “Walk Through the Fire”. That one, especially, got a great-big LOL from me!

It was when I Googled the song lyrics that I learned the red-faced demon’s name was Sweet, and that his purpose was not so much to make everyone sing and dance, but to make them be HONEST. It was in reading through the lyrics that I really GOT how the songs were all about expressing hidden truths. And there were some real doozies:

Xander and Anya came clean about their secret annoyances with each other and doubts concerning marriage; Giles realized that it was time for him to leave; and, most devastating of all, Buffy revealed that Willow’s spell yanked her out of Heaven.

Here’s the link to find the song lyrics: http://faculty.fmcc.suny.edu/mcdarby/pages/buffylyrics.htm
The author suggested a fun variation for viewing this musical episode: “If you have the episode on DVD, I strongly advise that you watch it in the other available languages - bring a new joy to an old experience! Then you can discuss the merits of translating for tone versus meaning, and the strengths of the voices of dubbers whose singing abilities (like those of their American counterparts) did not figure into their original auditions.”

I was prepared in advance to LOOOOVE this episode, but my husband wasn’t. He wandered through during Xander and Anya’s big number. He said something like, “Sheesh”, rolled his eyes and left the room. I’ll admit that I think “I’ll Never Tell” was the weakest song, musically, even though the lyrics were important for the secret stuff they revealed. I just wasn’t that impressed with Nicholas Brendon’s and Emma Caulfield’s vocals. Although I enjoyed when Emma totally rocked out on “Bunnies”. That was pretty cool.

Marebabe said...

Ah, Nikki! You reminded me of ONE MORE THING that I loved about this episode: everybody’s favorite monster singing his line at the end. Perfection!

Thanks, Nikki, for singing your series recap for us. You are far too modest. I think you sing beautifully, I mean it! And a BIG round of applause to all the contributors for bravely facing the camera and “selling it to the back row of the house!” You all ROCK! (You do realize that your performances will be on YouTube forever, right? Just checking.)

When you pointed out the excellent rhymes “a-running” and “fun in”, it reminded me of one of the funnest rhymes I ever put down on paper. I’m endlessly proud of myself for rhyming “fun” and “halogen”. (I’m a bit of a scribbler.)

Cynthea said...

Informative and fun! Thanks Nikki and everyone involved in this week's Rewatch on OMWF. And I'd like once again to thank my generous friends and colleagues at Vancouver Island University for participating in the video!

The Question Mark said...

Wow, this was a great post! Thanks to Nikki and everyone who took the time to make those videos!

I just started doing a run of "The Sound of Music" at the lcoal community theatre, but my character doesn't do any singing. If he did, I guarantee you I'd be busting out some OMwF lyrics during vocal rehearsal!

I think "I'll Never Tell" was my favourite song of the episode. It was a lot of fun, catchy, and the choreography and camera work really reminded me of the romance musical-comedies from the fifties and sixties that I used to watch with my aunt when I was little.

The Question Mark said...

Also, "I've Got A Theory" and "Sweet's Song" were fantastic, too. Sweet had a great voice and the rhythm of his song was a ton of fun.

Quick question: I was listening for someone to call Sweet by his name, but I didn't catch it. Did I miss that moment? Or is this a Mr. Friendly deal where the name was only used in the scripts/behind the scenes?

Mockingbird said...

This just makes me happy. And, for the record, Ensley's accent in "I'll Never Tell" seems to be a bizarre blend of Spanish and Scottish. Juan Connery, if you will. Thanks to all! (And Cynthea - I'm *SO* stealing that song to pitch my next TV course!)

Colleen/redeem147 said...

This is the episode that got my brother watching Buffy. I had given him the first season years earlier and he hadn't touched it. It was my birthday, and I said we HAD to watch OMWF (which I happened to have with me for use on his big screen TV.) Heehee. Instant addict.

I knew Adam Shankman's name was familiar. He directed Hairspray!(Which also means he was hanging around Toronto.)

I love the Magnolia reference. Not sure how it got through but I loved it.

Giles mentions something about the room service chap breaking into a number. Sunnydale has a hotel with room service?

Listen to the Marti sing - and now she's working on Glee.

Watch Buffy at the end of Rest in Peace. You know she wants to kiss him and that's why she runs away. BTW, nothing creepier to me than when my BROTHER sings that song. o_O.

When Spike says "Someday he'll be a real boy" many fans interpreted that to mean he'd be becoming human by the end of the season.

We were talking about Tara's weight - watch the making of documentary on the DVDs - Amber is tiny. It's all in the clothes, especially that ugly yellow and brown thing. Though I looooooove her corset.

I know a lot of people who really came to dislike/hate Xander after this because of the cavalier way he caused so many deaths and seemed not particularly concerned. Actually, the whole calling Sweet thing makes not sense to me - Xander isn't magically inclined and he knew they were desperately trying to find out what was causing the spell.

I love the way Buffy and Spike are colour co-ordinated.

There's a spot during 'Give me something' where Tara seems to lose her way - that's because Amber walked into the post and was a bit disoriented.

Nikki Stafford said...

Question Mark: Yes, Sweet's name was in the script, but not mentioned in the episode. It's like Mrs. Hawking in "Flashes Before Your Eyes," or as you say, "Mr. Friendly." ;)

Colleen/redeem147 said...

He is, however "a dancing demon" so kudos to Giles.

Nikki Stafford said...

Haha! Agreed. I've always found it hilarious that Giles pretty much nailed it in the first song, first line, and then dismisses it. "Nah, something isn't right there..."

Page48 said...

A great episode, and a stroke of genius to have the musical spell act as gut-spilling truth serum. That accomplished 5 episodes worth of work in just one hour.

My rhyme of choice was from Sweet:
"I can bring whole cities to ruin
And still have time to get a soft-shoe in." I admire anyone who is crafty enough to use two words to rhyme with one.

That reminds me of a Bob Dylan rhyme that I love:
"Stripped of all virtue as you crawl through the dirt
can give but you cannot receive".

Spike disrupts a funeral outside...at night...in the dark.

So, Mr. A.S. Head, you want to be part-time, you don't get your name is cool musical episode font.

Why are they still singing after Sweet takes a powder?

Interesting, in an episode of musical confessions, that Dawn tips off Tara (about her fight with Willow) without benefit of singing.

Willow's come a long way from the girl who could barely manage to levetate a pencil. Now she's drunk on magic. Floating pencils is like gateway magic.

While I was watching "Terra Nova" on CityTV last night, 'Willow' was busy flogging Head 'n' Shoulders during the commercial breaks. I don't know if that's new or not, but I've never seen that ad before.

Sue K. said...

Nikki, I shall always cherish our time at the bridge - xoxoxo

Sue K. said...

Kudos to all the contributors on the rewatch tonight - you are all very talented and entertaining and have made my love of this episode even greater!!

Rebecca T. said...

I don't have time to really get into anything, but I knew I had to stop by this week no matter what.

I loved every single bit of that!

I love how significant this episode it is and all of the events that hinge on things that happen here. Oh this show is just brilliant! And it obviously brings out the brilliant in all of these wonderful people who contributed :)

Christina B said...

Oh, I have so much to say. Once More, With Feeling is my favourite Buffy episode. Joss is just a brilliant, brilliant man. I just can't believe he wrote every single song himself. The man has talent coming out of his ears!

I'd only seen it ONCE before this rewatch and as I type this, I'm watching it for the third time in a row tonight.
I also just purchased the soundtrack 5 minutes ago and I plan to learn all the words to all the songs. ;)

The first time I saw it was on television, so it was the shorter, edited version. This time it's on DVD, so I get to see it in all its glory.

Before I get ahead of myself, I'll start with what I just read.

BRILLIANT. I knew Nikki had something special planned for this week, but I had NO idea how wonderful it would be!

Nikki--Your voice is beautiful and you have a fun, adorable family. I remember when you posted the I've Got a Theory video awhile back, and it was before I'd seen OMWF. I thought it was so cute then, but now I GET it!
Your husband chose the perfect song for his voice. That man can sing!
Also, I must find some Buffy dolls...The best part was Spike-doll walking out and Buffy-doll following! Hee!
And I loved your lyrics to Life's a Show. While I don't write books about TV, I do LOVE TV, blog about TV and BUY books about TV.

Matthew--You had me howling here. I loved cuppy! I wish I'd been in the seat next to you at the bar while you were recording that! ;)

Dale and Ensley--OMG, I had to pause your video and rewind so many times because I was laughing to hard to hear it! LOVED the Snoopy song and the kiss at the end! ;)

Rhonda--You have a gorgeous voice!

Cynthea (and company)-- What a presentation! Now I want to take a Buffy class! Great use of props and I just loved that so many people got involved. The lyrics were wonderful!

Tony--My favourite video of the rewatch. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard! Tears running-streaming-down-my-cheeks-can't-breathe laughing! You, sir, are a genuis!

Now, onto the episode itself.

I have a soft spot for musicals. I grew up watching musicals...The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man...My parents introduced my brother and I to all the movies they loved, and many of those were musicals.

When two of my favourite worlds collide...Musicals and television...The joy I feel is undescribable.

I'm a very emotional person (which I'm sure I've mentioned here often. I'm the cryer in this rewatch. LOL), and I find that hearing someone sing what they feel affects me in ways that just hearing dialogue doesn't.
So I spent this whole episode either with a huge grin on my face, with my heart in my throat or in actual tears.

SMG's voice surprised me. She had the most difficult songs...as she should--she's the slayer....and I loved listening to her.

Amber's voice was just amazing. The range she has is stunning.

James...As a big Spike fan, I had goosebumps every time he opened his mouth.

And Nicholas's singing was just endearing. I really enjoyed listening to him.

Anya's rock-bunny song was HILARIOUS.

Christina B said...

My thoughts on some of the songs--

Under Your Spell:
Um...sexiest song EVAR!

I'll Never Tell:
The most fun song (for me).
It's just so....Anya and Xander. LOL
Xander is just adorable in this song.
He's worried about money and success, she's worried about her looks.

Rest in Peace:
Yep, this one made me teary.
I LOVE that Spike tries so hard to get rid of Buffy because he KNOWS he's going to start singing something he'll regret!
For someone without a soul, he sure does feel a lot.
I adore this song. I love everything about it. Lyrics, the way James sings it, the acting, the music.
*SIGH!* Spike....

What You Feel
Sweet--Possibly the best demon ever. (Well...he's neck in neck with Lorne, anyway) ;)
Another song I just love. They got the perfect person to play Sweet! The dancing, the singing...LOVE.
I HATE that it kind of ruins it when Dawn says 'Yu-huh' after Sweet asks, "The slayer?" ARGH. She couldn't just say, "Yes."?

Standing in the Way
Another one that makes me cry. The lyrics are just so sad and so beautiful.
Giles wants to protect his slayer so badly...but he knows he just can't. He has to let her go and grow up.
Buffy doing the exercises while he's singing...She's so strong, so powerful...And he's making her weak.
I love the directing in this song particularly.
The duet with Tara was just heartbreaking.

Walk Through The Fire
I love SMG's voice in this song especially.
Spike's line, "I'm free if that bitch dies...I'd better help her out." I just LOVE that part!
It's such a powerful song.

Life's a Show
Another song that makes me cry. SMG's voice is just brilliant. I don't think he voice falters once and she stays in sync perfectly.
Giles, "She needs backup. Anya, Tara." Hee!
The look of horror on Willow's face when she realizes slays me.
Dear, dear Spike. The only one who understands snaps her out of it.
I wish they'd left Dawn's line off.

Give Me Something to Sing About

Believe it or not, I haven't even watched Angel yet! OMWF took all my time tonight! (It's 1am here, and I think I'm going to watch it one last time before bed! LOL)

Efthymia said...

Oh, how I love this episode!
I 've always been quite fond of musicals anyway, so...

Having all these revelations emerge through singing and dancing is genius, although sometimes I wish it wasn't so, because I'm always brimming with excitement and enthusiasm when I'm about to watch OMWF and I forget that this is the episode where Giles is hurt and decides to leave, Tara is deeply hurt and feels abused by the woman she loves, Willow is devastated that not only did she not help her friend, but she's actually the cause of her great suffering, and Dawn witnesses her sister's eagerness to go to hell and leave her alone once again. There's a lot of pain...

Every time I read anything on this episode it's usually about every song but "Going Through The Motions", which I don't understand because that song is AWESOME!!! The sound of it is quite Disney-y (as Joss Whedon himself says), but it has lyrics like "She's not even half the girl she -Ow!" and "How can I repay -Whatever.", and demons doing dancing numbers in the background! I believe it deserves more credit than it gets.

When we get a stain off of our clothes, my sister and I will often burst into the Mustard song. When people get excited over something completely idiotic, my sister and I will often burst into the Mustard song. The Mustard song is a big hit in our house...

Regarding the Rewatch numbers, all the people involved in them are incredibly admirable for exposing themselves this way, and for being so inventive, so thanks and a standing ovation to all!
Nikki, your daughter is quite the performer! I wish Kitten wasn't so camera shy, though... :)

Efthymia said...

Ooh, I forgot! I absolutely love the lyrics "Life's not a song, life isn't bliss, life is just this, it's living"; it seems pessimistic, but it's not really, it means that you can't expect your life to be amazing all the time just because, but that you make your life.

And Joss Whedon goes and says in the commentary "[...] you have to be a genius, which I forgot to do." -No, I think he remembered to perfectly well.

karoliina said...

I think it's impossible to oversell 'OMwF' - even if you've heard hundred times that it's the bestest of the best and are eagerly ready to love it, it will still be better than anything you hoped for: it's not only funny experiment, but has seriously fantastic songs and storytelling as well - it's possible that I've seen this episode more than 20 times (thrice this week).
And Nikki, with your introductory song you became one of my favourite persons in the world - I was teared up by 'Eliza Dushku's 'dad', the mayor', but "then we got Riley" and I laughed so hard, I had trouble understanding rest of your song (thoughtfully you had left a pause for laughing)(probably I'll go now listen to it again); the other time that made me laugh so hard was when the Angel puppet came out in the university meeting - would that all meetings go like this!
And I've seen 'Pontypool' twice - it's electrifying (I took time to find the right adjective:))!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I did mean to mention how great Pontypool is. I now have the DVD so I can rewatch it (though sadly without Stephen McHattie who was at the screening.) I very much want to read Pontypool Changes Everything.

Nikki, if I'd known I would have lent you my Dawn figure.

Mandi said...

@Christina B -

"I wish they'd left Dawn's line off."

They had to include it... it's what Buffy said to Dawn in "The Gift" before she jumps off the tower.

Nikki Stafford said...

ChristinaB: Aw, thank you for taking the time to talk about each of the contributions individually! That was so awesome, and I know the contributors are probably checking this page sporadically to see if anyone has said something about their contribution, so that was a lovely thing to do. I'm so glad you loved the musical!!

And Mandi's right: Dawn was quoting the voiceover we hear from Buffy just as she's about to jump, and she tells Dawnie the hardest thing in this life is to live in it. That said, I still want to smack Dawn when she says it in that moment. ;)

Quarks said...

Much like with 'The Body', I knew a little about this episode before watching it, and I was a bit sceptical about whether it would live up to the hype. And, much like 'The Body' I had no reason to worry. My biggest worry with this episode was that it would just be a stand-alone episode that felt forced in, so I was very relieved when it turned out that this episode does actually further the plot, with the various revelations the characters have.

My favourite song in the whole episode has to be 'Standing'. And not only because Anthony Head is an amazing singer, and it is the type of song that I like. For me, this song is the most emotional, with Giles realising that as long as he's around Buffy will always depend on him and become independent. And then Tara joins in, realising what Willow has done, and my heart breaks once more.

I also love 'I'll Never Tell' and it's perfect for Xander and Anya. It's the most comic of the songs in this episode, and it suits their personalities so well. But it also succeeds in bringing to light some of their issues about their relationship.

'Under Your Spell' is another great song, and is sung beautifully by Amber Benson. We see just how in love with Willow Tara is, which makes her discovery even more painful.

I also really like 'Where Do We Go From Here?', which is a great ending song for the episode. I especially like the part of the song which goes 'Understand we'll go hand in hand, but we'll walk alone in fear' and the visual at that point.

All the songs in the episode are great, but those are the ones which really stand out for me. I also particularly like 'Rest in Peace', 'I've Got A Theory' and 'Walk Through the Fire'. One of my favourite moments in the episode is the look on Willow's face when she sings 'I think this line's mostly filler' in the latter song.

Overall, this is one of the best episodes of 'Buffy', and probably the one I've watched (or at least listened to) the most.

AEC said...

Note to Grey's Anatomy- THIS is how you do a musical episode :)

I was really impressed with how well all the people in the show were able to sing! I especially loved Spike's song, he has a great voice.

I wasn't able to watch the videos in the post this morning (I'm in a library on campus) but I'm looking forward to watching them tonight. Thanks to everyone who put in so much work!

Anonymous said...

@Mockingbird: Juan Connery! Hahaha, brilliant!

Lisa(until further notice) said...

Topic: Nik at Nite's Great Buffy Rewatch of said episode.
Answer, in the form of a question: "What's better than the great Jos Whedon Buffy episode *Once More with Feeling?* OMG. You and your fellow contributors should be very delighted with this post. It was certainly as much fun to watch as the episode. And I got to stand up and cheer yet one more time when action figures Buffy and Spike smooch. Just like in the show!! And to that I proclaim, finally, damnit!!! I, much like the girls over on Angel who put the protection spell on Caritas and say, "Mmm, Angel." I say, "Mmm, Spike." Nikki, my favorite part about the action figure reenactment was how, even when all the figures were held together in a jumble, Anya and Xander were together, face to face. Ahhh, love. On the same note, action figure Tara seems to be awfully close to Buffy. Perhaps she's feeling the need to look elsewhere as she's feeling a bit disappointed in Willow for now. And @Nikki...that barbie filling in for Dawn. Scary. LOL.

Such imagination, talent, creativity and openness from all involved. Bravo!

Nikki Stafford said...

Lisa: I'm glad you liked it!

If you listen closely, you'll hear me stifling a laugh when I was trying to get the figures to all face forward and they kept looking to the sides no matter what I did. I should have planned that one a little better, haha! ;)

elrambo said...

So happy to see this! Skimmed through everything, but I have to run home now so I can watch and listen in peace. NSFW! Thanks everyone!

Suzanne said...

Nikki and all of the contributors, thank you so much for bringing such great entertainment to us! I loved all of the clips. Nikki, you and your family are all so talented. You are too humble, as is your husband. You are both gifted, and your daughter seems to take after you. Your son is adorable.

I loved every clip from your contributors. They were all so humorous, and I can always use a good laugh to brighten my day. Being a community college professor, I got a real kick out of seeing an alternate version of the department committee meeting presented by Cynthea Masson and her colleagues. I couldn’t stop giggling thinking about how my colleagues would react if I tried their technique.

I also enjoyed reading some of what you and your contributors wrote about OMWF, Nikki, and I found the analysis and creative writing about it to be a lot of fun. In response to the lyrics you wrote concerning your career as a television writer, I wanted to give you a good answer that you can use next time someone questions you. Tell them about all of the hours of joy you bring to people like me who want to spend as much time as I possibly can reacting to, analyzing, and reading other people's reactions to the shows I love. You have brought me more hours of enjoyment than I can count between your wonderful blog writing on Lost and Buffy and your incredible books on the topics. I know that I am only one of many people across the world who feels this way. How many people can explain their job in this way -- not many. Also, you can count on the fact that many of us "get it" when it comes to seeing great value in what you have chosen to do with your life.

As for OMWF, what can I say except that I adore it and for all of the same reasons that others have mentioned here. I loved every song and even every small moment of dance that could be seen in the background, such as when the chimney sweeps are in the background of the sidewalk scene. However, I have to say that both times I have seen this episode, my favorite scene has been the "Let Me Rest in Peace" scene. I am not sure why, but I find that scene and the song to be so intense. Spike's feelings are so raw, and the tension between him and Buffy is palpable. James Marsters is a phenomenal actor, and this episode really lets him shine in so many ways. Of course, I love every other song and most of the other great actors on this show got their moments in the sun, too. They really amazed me. I adore Season 6, and it always surprises me to read comments from individuals who don’t like it. I can’t wait for more.

Joan Crawford said...

"How can I repay!?"
*dramatic bending of arms*

How lucky you were to catch that on video :D

Christina B said...

Okay, finally had a chance to watch Offspring.

Great episode! Poor Cordy, having to find out about Angel and Darla like that.
I still HATE the idea of Angel and Cordy together and I'm hoping his lying to her nips that in the bud right now. ;)

Starting to like Wes and Fred together, though. I'm hoping that happens.

Can't wait to see exactly WHAT is in Darla's belly!
Great cliffhanger ending....Looking forward to next week!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Why do you dislike Angel and Cordy so, Christina? I like the idea of them as a couple very much, and they've had chemistry since season one of Buffy. "Hello, Salty Goodness!"

Then again, I can't stand Angel and Buffy together. :)

Dusk said...

Ok thank you everyone for showing your talent. This is a decent episode for me, I've never been overly-fond of musicals, maayybe because I have no musical talent. :)

Faves: Walk Through the Fire, I've Got a Theroy, Giles/Tara merger.

Oh, and on the tap dancing guy, they just blamed Sweet who can choose how his spell works, he chose not to take Xander as his bride. And now that I think about it, if you did blame Xander for this, then wouldn't Buffy be responsible for any of Dru & Harmony's kills after she let them go in Crush?

Also, we are now approaching an Angel episode that goes in my Top 10.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Wouldn't there be a difference between letting someone go and actively calling them? And even if Xander didn't understand the ramifications of calling Sweet, wouldn't he long before he admitted it had been him?

I'm surprised there aren't more comments in the spoiler section, given the foreshadowing.

Dusk said...

I don't believe Xander knew Sweet had a lethal side. Even if he had told them it was him after they found out about the deaths, they still couldn't have stopped Sweet. Sweet leaves and still makes them sing for one final time.

If you want to blame Buffy, in Crush it would be because she clearly chose to just go home rather then her job, and even if she has no respect for Harmony as a enemy, she saw the freshly killed body of another Slayer Dru knocked off, and Kendra was Buffy's friend even.

Buffy and Xander both know vamps in magic are dangerous, Xander's actions were unintentional, Buffy just ignored two killers.

That being said, I can see why Buffy did then, it's just if your going to call out Xander, then I feel the same applies to Crush.

Christina B said...

See, I liked Buffy and Angel together. (But I like Buffy and Spike together too) ;)
I just don't see the chemistry between Angel and Cordy. It feels forced to me.
Honestly, I still like Cordy and Wesley together...but I'm willing to accept Wes with Fred. ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Christina B: For the record, it took me a LONG time to get used to that episode, and the idea of Cordelia and Angel together. A long time. I think those who liked Buffy and Angel together a lot were a little thrown by that. I couldn't help but think of the three years Angel and Cordy worked together with zero chemistry in the library.

But they're different now, they've grown up and been through a lot, and after I'd thought about it, I really came around to it. I think you see them develop throughout the first three seasons. Cordy's no longer the Cordy we knew in Sunnydale, and Angel's matured, too.

But I agree with you that it's tough to wrap your head around it at first. ;)

Witness Aria said...

I have a theory: That was awesome! So very awesome. Yeah, something's surely right there.

Thanks to all the contributors for being so creative and courageous and fun! A tour de force!

Now I have to go rewatch the department meeting.

Missy said...

I read this when it first went up but totally forgot to post.

I think Joss' genius is evident in OMWF.

And YAY for the Spike&Buffy kiss in the closing minute

And Poor Xander he just thought Sweet would "Bring alittle fun in"
he didn't know he'd help spill everyone's beans.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

I don't have a problem with Xander summoning Sweet (except that by now he should know summoning demons is a bad idea.) But I do have a problem with him helping everyone try to figure out what's going on when he already knows it.

It's easier getting your brain around Angel/Cordy when you watched Angel before you watched Buffy.

JavaChick said...

First chance I've had to check in on the rewatch for this but didn't want to miss the OMWF fun!

I remember my husband and I seeing the promos leading up to the air date, looking at each other saying "What?". But it was love at first watch and I bought the soundtrack as soon as I could get my hands on it. I think this may be the only episode I've ever actually watched the commentary for and I always love watching the Making Of on the DVD.

Yes, basically I am just here to gush.

I can't pick a favorite song - I was/still am impressed by all of the songs an performances. But I will say that this part in "Where do we go from here" - the line "Understand we'll go hand in hand, but we'll walk alone in fear" always gives me chills when I see it.

All of it is so well done. Kudos to Joss & crew, and to all the contributors for this weeks rewatch post!

Suzanne said...

The first time I watched Angel, I, too, had a serious problem with the Angel and Cordy development. My first reason was that for the prior two years of the show, they seemed to have an older brother, younger sister dynamic to me. I just didn't see any chemistry. I had seen chemistry between Gunn and Cordy in the earlier days after he joined the team, and I wanted to see something happen with it.

My other big reason for having a problem with it is that the reason Angel gave for leaving Buffy is that he didn’t want to keep her from living a normal life. His curse prevents him from ever having true happiness with a woman. If that is so, why would he consider starting something with Cordy when he has given up a chance with Buffy. It never made sense to me since I always imagined that he was still deeply in love with Buffy, and that he was suffering in order to give her a chance at happiness. Why would he then bring another woman into the same dynamic? I have since gotten a bit more used to the idea on rewatch, and I see the chemistry a little bit more clearly, but I have to say that I am still not crazy about it.

The reason I can accept Buffy with other men (vampire in the case of Spike) is that she didn’t choose to leave Angel. She doesn’t have a choice since he wasn’t willing to subject her to the life she would have to live being with him. She has to move on, so I am all for her moving on to something that makes her happy. Since Angel will never be able to be truly “happy,” it is hard for me to see him with another woman besides Buffy. Why not just be miserable with Buffy, I say to Angel, if you want to try romantic misery again. :)

Blam said...

I'm late again. And I'd actually gotten ahead in my viewing, too — but thanks to the Jewish holidays, family stuff, the new TV season, etc. I haven't been able to find the time to read or post comments.

Buffy 6.7 "Once More with Feeling"

My favorite line —
Giles: "She needs backup."

I just think about that and laugh (although if I'm watching the serious hip action distracts me pretty quickly).

Honorable mention, lyric —
Buffy: "It's do or die / Hey, I've died twice."

Honorable mention, unexpectedly racy lyric —
Tara: "Spread beneath my Willow Tree …"

Yowza! Xander's mention of Anya's "tight... embrace" has nothing on this. And then there's the cheekiness of the way Tara holds the first syllable of "complete"...

Honorable mention, spoken line —
Tara: "Oh my God! I'm cured! I want the boys!"

Honorable mention, interjection —
All: "There's nothing we can't face…"
Anya: "Except for bunnies."

Rock on with your bad self, Anya.

Honorable mention, muttering —
Giles: "That would explain the huge backing orchestra I couldn't see and the synchronized dancing from the room-service chaps."

Honorable mention, offhand humor that explains a frequent commenter's handle —
Giles:"I was able to examine the body while police were taking witness arias."

Not owning the soundtrack nor having watched this episode as often as some, I was ignorant of the source of Witness Aria's screen name and totally unprepared for the actual line, which is one of many instances of hilarious dialogue all the funnier for how underplayed it is in delivery.

Honorable mention, prop, non-episode-specific —
Newspaper: "Mayhem Caused // Monsters Certainly Not Involved, Officials Say"

Honorable mention, lyric that made me think —
Spike: "First he'll kill her / Then I'll save her."

Does Spike want to turn Buffy so she'll be his? I don't remember noticing that tint to the line before, but it suggests that Spike can sort-of have it both ways by being rid of the Slayer and also becoming the dying Buffy's ultimate savior by feeding her his blood so that she'll become a vampire too, not die, and, oh, incidentally, have Big Bad Spike as a sire to whom she's forever indebted.

Blam said...

Nikki — Wow! Your daughter's as adorable as you are. Her video reminded me of my nieces, especially the older one who sings a very dramatic rendition of "(The Sun Will Come Out) Tomorrow".

More general, unpolished thoughts o' mine...

The most amazing thing about Joss Whedon's formalist experiments is that they're not just stand-alone things that are cool but ultimately apart from the main thrust of the series; there's integral plot and character development here. And the next most amazing thing is that they're good. Ms. Cheeseman brought this up more thoughtfully than I did, but it bears repeating, and I'd already typed it anyway.

Even if you know it's going to be a musical episode, you're not prepared for the swelling music at the top of the show. Whedon & Co. really went all-out here in both style and substance — the whole cast just committed, which is the #1 thing that sells a performance (especially an amateur/semi-professional performance) — yet the very fact that the musical nature of the episode had an in-universe explanation gave permission, for lack of a better word, to the episode's eccentricities; if "Superstar" had Jonathan in the opening credits, then of course "OMWF" is allowed to tweak things.

A great writer doesn't necessarily translate into a great director, especially one who's thought of as a master of dialogue rather than cinematic technique (say Kevin Smith, by his own admission). But Joss has been great with the camera from the start. I love the scene here of Dawn at her jewelry box, going from the mirror to her actual face, as her hair is in almost complete shadow, absorbed by the black that surrounds the letterboxed picture; as she turns, it's as if we get a scene transition that isn't really a scene transition, with her face moving towards the camera into darkness and around to encounter Sweet's creepy masked underling and her song is cut off.

The ballet of Dawn's that follows is also nice, and drives home the episode's variation in music. I can't help but think that Joss's inexperience composing songs helped him write such a wide variety of styles, each fitting the character(s) to whom they were assigned, without some internal editor objecting that it was unorthodox. Joss applies all of the tropes of musicals that we expect, from extras gathering around the soloist to dance to the way emotions are (sometimes unexpectedly and even undesirably) expressed in song to by contrast the way characters not only can sing things that they can't speak but also can't hear things even when sung right at one another if the characters aren't ready to hear them yet — think about how Buffy reveals to everyone that she was not in Hell but Heaven, or how things come out between Xander and Anya, while Buffy can't hear Giles' lament because the pair are literally traveling at different speeds even though they're sharing the same space. And yet because he's playing with such tropes in the context of a reality that has manifested them he can also circumvent them, as he does by having the song of Dawn's mentioned above rudely interrupted or by showing us music busting out all over in brief snatches on the street.

The commentary confirmed my suspicions that Sweet's three minions are played by the same backing dancers cast as the two vamps and one demon encountered by Buffy at the start of the ep, as well as the three street-sweepers who dance in the background after that. It's a very "musical" thing to do, reusing the chorus/dance extras.

Blam said...

I never saw that Xena episode folks are referencing. Does anyone remember the "Big Man on Mulberry Street" episode of Moonlighting?

Witness Aria (and who better): Thanks to all the contributors for being so creative and courageous and fun!


JanetSteve: ["Hush", "The Body", and "OMWF"] point to Joss Whedon's sensitivity to the sonic as of equal importance to the visual, and I can't underplay how unusual that is in television as a whole, a medium whose name privileges the visual over the sonic.

I'm totally with you on the rarity of Whedon's approach, as well as his facility with it, but I don't know if you can really call out the name "television" as denigrating the audio aspect so much as subsuming it into the video aspect; then again, I agree with the larger point that you're making about the medium not usually playing with the auditory aspect as much as it does the visual.

I love your insights as always, Ms. (Dr.?) Cheeseman. Great stuff on musical diegesis!

JanetSteve: There is always going to be an imbalance of knowledge between character and actor, but it is normally hidden by the fact that the actor is rendered largely invisible by the presence of the character being played.

That's an interesting point. We don't tend to see some powerful acting and very consciously say to ourselves, "Alyson Hannigan can really act!" — not that it never happens, just that we're usually so taken in by the moment and by the general artifice of watching to which we're accustomed to surrendering ourselves. But when actors whom we're not normally used to seeing outside of a particular dramatic, non-musical role engage in song and dance, we're more apt to step back and remark, "Michelle Trachtenberg is really graceful. She must've had some training," or, "Amber Benson's got some pipes!"

Nikki: "Adam Shankman was the choreographer of this episode. As in, that hyperactive adorable guy on So You Think You Can Dance"

Does this reference point really do Adam Shankman justice? I've never seen SYTYCD — and I didn't know that he was part of it — but I've certainly heard of Shankman. He's choreographed a bunch of great stuff, including the musical film version of Hairspray — which he also directed, as he did the Rocky Horror episode of Glee. And checking his credits online I also see that he officiated Sarah Michelle Gellar's wedding to Freddie Prinze Jr....!

Nikki: Check out that rhyming pattern: a/b/a/b/c/c/a/b.

That's not unusual in musicals (as opposed to pop songs), which tend to have such patter and syncopation, but, yeah, no question that Joss is aces at writing like this — especially for someone with no real previous experience doing so.

Blam said...

Nikki: And I went into my daughter’s Barbie drawer and found the most insane-looking doll I could find

Oh my gosh... Chucky's a cross-dresser!

Darn Near Everyone — What do all you people have against Dawn? I'm a first-born child with a little sister and I don't find her as annoying as you folks do.

Marebabe: the fire trucks racing by in the background during “Walk Through the Fire”

Whedon mentions on the commentary track how cool (and hard, and lucky) it was to get the trucks to break into frame at just the right cue.

Mockingbird: And, for the record, Ensley's accent in "I'll Never Tell" seems to be a bizarre blend of Spanish and Scottish. Juan Connery, if you will.

Juan Connery — Ha! Many years ago, I suspect around when Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade came out, I'd noticed that Connery's was not quite your typical Scottish accent when lo and behold I read or saw something about him spending much of his time at a vacation home in Spain. I figured perhaps a bit of a Spanish accent had crept into his voice and that it, along with his dentures, accounted for his distinctive brogue.

Blam said...

Colleen: the whole calling Sweet thing makes not sense to me - Xander isn't magically inclined and he knew they were desperately trying to find out what was causing the spell

I'm totally with you here.

Page48: Spike disrupts a funeral outside...at night...in the dark.

They schedule 'em 'round the clock in Sunnydale just to fit 'em all in.

Page48: While I was watching "Terra Nova" on CityTV last night, 'Willow' was busy flogging Head 'n' Shoulders during the commercial breaks. I don't know if that's new or not, but I've never seen that ad before.

I've never seen that ad. But also at the same time over on CBS (here in the States, anyway) she was mesmerizing folks with her boobs on How I Met Your Mother, the only sitcom with a laugh track I watch.

Christina B: I'm the cryer in this rewatch.

Duckie!!! (Oh, come on; you were all thinking it.)

That's all for tonight.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Does anyone remember the "Big Man on Mulberry Street" episode of Moonlighting?

Me! Me! Though that's a dance episode rather than full musical. Moonlighting was another show that experimented with different genres. Including Shakespeare!

Witness Aria said...

@Blam :)

Marebabe said...

Hey, Blam-O! I enjoyed your list of award winners and honorable mentions. Good stuff, as always. (I work at a manufacturing company that makes trophies and awards out of acrylic and resin. Just sayin’.) And I think YOU should receive honorable mention for the longest, most spectacular and complex SENTENCE in this week’s Buffy rewatch. I am referring, of course, to the one that takes up 14 lines in the comments, beginning with “Joss applies all of the tropes” and ending with “sharing the same space”. Well said!

VW: aless - completely out of A's.

Blam said...

Marebabe: And I think YOU should receive honorable mention for the longest, most spectacular and complex SENTENCE in this week’s Buffy rewatch.

Thanks. I'm capable of sentences at least that long that parse much, much better — I'd hardly call this one "spectacular" 8^) — but I didn't really have time to polish most of these notes.

Page48: My rhyme of choice was from Sweet:
"I can bring whole cities to ruin
And still have time to get a soft-shoe in."
I admire anyone who is crafty enough to use two words to rhyme with one.

Same here... And the "wraparound rhyme" that you quote in your Bob Dylan lyric is a particularly crafty case. The "tch" sound that many English speakers form when a word ending in "t" is followed by "you" ("want you" and "get you" become "wantchoo" and "getchoo") is key to that lyric. Cee-Loo does a variation — but only sometimes, I've noticed, which is weird — in "F--- You" with the line "If I was richer / I'd still be with ya," which works beautifully when he says "richa" and "wit'cha".

karoliina: it's electrifying

I've never seen Pontypool, so I'm sorry to appropriate your quote entirely out of context, but I am incapable of hearing that phrase without flashing back to a formative film from my own childhood, the 1978 classic Grease. My sister and I saw it countless times and, often with our cousins, put the soundtrack on to perform it live for our family. Of course, mild-mannered little Blam that I was, I didn't like it when sweet little Sandy went all leather, but that innocence was probably exactly why our mother didn't mind us watching it.

VW: foniq — Of or relating to idiosyncratically spelled rapper's handles.