Sydney Bristow vs. Buffy Summers

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My friend Dana and I lend one another TV on DVD series. So far, she's lent me Lost (I devoured the first four seasons literally just in time for the 5th season premiere) and the first 3 seasons of Alias. I lent her Buffy and Gilmore Girls - both of which she's loved.

I was a bit resistant towards Alias and wasn't clamouring quite as badly between episodes to watch it as I was with Lost, but overall I'll admit, I enjoy the show. JJ Abrams seems to have been a fan of Buffy and all the girl power / kick butt messaging it stood for - he even borrowed several of the minor characters to play small roles on Alias.

But overall, I have to concede that Buffy dominates Alias. I think it all comes down to the reality of the two series. In Buffyverse...everything is rooted in the paranormal. The relationships throughout Buffy - which are a big feature on both shows - are firmly related to fantasy...vampires, witches, demons, monsters, soldier slayers, sons of slayers...these are the people Buffy and her cohorts get involved with, and everything in their world - except perhaps, why people choose to live in Sunnydale - can be explained or connected to magic and the hellmouth.

The same is not true with Alias. Aside from a penchant for wiping the slate clean / being free of consequences, JJ Abrams has a problem with motivations. The character motivations are generally pretty clear in terms of how they react to things, but the crux of the show surrounds various characters' involvement with terrorist organizations. Perhaps I'm ignorant as to why you'd ever want to be a part of a terrorist organization, but JJ gives no inclination as to why his characters are involved at all. Thus, the show is asking you to believe in reality and is rooted in reality...yet every organization - evil & good - is interested in this mythology related to a 14th century prophet / inventor named Milo Rambaldi. Not only do we have a lack of motivation for why, we have a lack of explanation of how Milo Rambaldi exists and why at this specific moment in time his works are coming to light (presumably Rambaldi predicted it and we're just tuning in at the right time) conveniently involving Sydney and her family.

While on Buffy you can believe various characters' involvement - from the Mayor to the school principal to various mythological groups - because of their nature of being involved in this whole other fantasy world, on Alias, the fantasy world seems quite far-fetched in a world of somewhat fantastical CIA spy work.

I suppose my other problem would be character history. Buffy is probably best loved for its insane amount of character development and connections. Many shows shy away from referencing moments in their earlier seasons, but Buffy, despite having a blah first season, makes frequent references - in conversation, plot, and character - to defining and not-so-defining moments for every character, big and small. While some of these are ongoing puns - Xander the demon magnet as a good example - other huge character moments feel so realistic and well-developed because of the history infused into each character. See: every storyline and character development related to Buffy, particularly leading up to and after the Season 5 finale.

Alias on the flipside, is like one big continuous loop that quickly forgives and forgets its past action. Aside from a few references to early Rambaldi discoveries (namely the early prophecy related to Sydney) there is almost no back story from the first season that plays a part in the daily actions of the characters - largely because JJ is uninterested in providing you with how the actions of the first few seasons play into the behaviours, motivations, and emotions of the characters as the show progresses. Perhaps that is its greatest downfall, although not to fear as many shows suffer from it. And JJ did make a solid effort - when he was still at the helm anyway - to eradicate this glaring error in Lost by making the show equally about characters (and their back stories) and plot.

That being said, I'm curious enough to finish out Alias. Dana doesn't have seasons 4 & 5 so I'll have to track them down one way or another...I've heard they're not the greatest, and for my complaints during Seasons 1-3, I don't expect things to improve in the character roots front at all.

Ah well!

- Britt's On

Hot Child In The City

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Trying to pick my favourite episodes of Sex and the City is similar to trying to pick my favourite seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Each show has great 'standalone' episodes (and on Buffy, some episodes are characterized by such eps, while others are more about the season-long arc) that are more memorable, yet the episode-spanning story arcs like Carrie's affair with Big or Charlotte's marital troubles with Trey are the heart of the show, and what really captured your attention over the endless parade of bachelors the girls worked their way through. If you haven't watched the show or movie and don't care to be spoiled, don't read on.

I have no reason to write this entry, other than I was just thinking of the hot and humid weather, which segued into 'Hot Child & The City' (a fave SATC ep...not sure if it ranks top on to find out), which made me think about the movie coming out next summer.

To be totally honest, I'm not sure how I feel about the movie. I loved getting back into the show with some new content, and I loved analyzing the endless parade of fashions...but it really just made me miss the show and all its brilliance. They coulda, shoulda, woulda (?) continued it on methinks. The movie was missing a lot of things the show did - the humour was more slapstick than sassy (think: Charlotte's poo-kipsie incident), the so-called happy ending was hard to cheer for after the shocking level of depression shown by Carrie, and overall the film suffered by its length. While you never wanted a SATC episode to end (ah how I love the bite-size episodes), they were all very tightly wound in terms of themes (at times, laughably so). The movie felt like endless sketches and lacked that cohesiveness.

Still, I will be there opening day.

Back to my entry. I'm doing this off the cuff. I've spent zero hours thinking about this really, so I'm not going to actually rank these episodes from fave to least fave - they'll be ranked by season of appearance. And without further top 10 episodes of a little show that introduced us to Big and Carrie (blah). Oh and for the record...I tend to like the episodes of momentous occasion. You'll see what I mean.

S2 - Series Episode #29 - Twenty-Something Girls vs. Thirty-Something Women: This is one of the eps that sees the women outside of NYC for a rollicking good time. Charlotte's entire faux-twentyhood is awesome and hilarious. This was one of the episodes that really put the whole setting of the show in perspective (as someone who first saw the show as a teen) and clearly demonstrated what stage of life these women were in. As much as I felt like I could relate to them (and still do), seeing twenty-somethings through their eyes was hilarious in this instance (and not quite as malicious / pie-in-the-face as 'Attack of the 5'10 Woman' in S3).

S3 - Series Episode #41 - Running With Scissors
As one of many loyal Aidan devotees, it was hard but amazing to watch Carrie engage in her affair with Big. As if he didn't jerk her around enough in the first two seasons (and again, why it hard to support the ending of the series / film)...anyway! This is the best of the entire affair storyline, although I enjoyed the previous ep or two ago where Big and Aidan actually meet at the furniture show. The show isn't afraid to not only dig into "Why would you ever have an affair?", but also to highlight that things are degenerating between Big and Carrie as shown in the opening montage from swanky 5-star to seedy motel. Plus the confrontation at the end with Natasha and Carrie, and Big at the hospital? Handled so shockingly / grippingly! Who doesn't love the little details like Natasha slamming the cab door shut when Carrie attempts to accompany her to the hospital?

S3 - Series Episode #45 - Hot Child In The City
Apparently I love me some pot-smoking Carrie, despite being anti-drugs. I couldn't *not* include this episode as it's literally the first one I ever saw, and to this day makes me giggle. All four storylines are hilarious / awesome / insightful; Carrie's fried chicken afternoons with Wade? Charlotte's 'Rebecca' and Trey's 'Schooner'? Miranda's gawk-ward braces? Samantha's showdown with a tween a-lister (future emo teen star Kat Dennings of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist)? I love an episode that manages to be hilarious, self-deprecating, and insightful at the same time, all wrapped up in tightly-linked storylines.

S4 - Series Episode #50 - The Real Me
This is a perfect example of Sex and the City catering to its fans; giving you a does of celebrity stardom and showcasing one of the show's stars: fashion. Not only that, but one of the funniest scenes of the entire series - fashion roadkill! - takes place. The rest of the episode is pretty whatever and doesn't impact much future happenings, but Carrie's fashion storyline more than makes up for it.

S4 - Series Episode #63 - Change of a Dress
Possibly my favourite episode of the entire series...for the Aidan and Carrie storyline. They have a much more interesting, deep, defined, and prototypically flawed relationship this season, and everything that happens in this episode has been simmering for the first 2/3rds of Season 4. The horrible wedding dress scene, and the truly beautiful break-up scene outside the's painful. The other girls really aren't important in this episode, but the Carrie/Aidan drama (and actually the next episode, which follows it up SO well) is worth it.

S4 - Series Episode #66 - I Heart NY
This is a prime example of a very 'big moment' (not Big moment...) the show purposefully orchestrated. This is my friend Robyn's fave episode, and for good reason. I actually love the final four episodes of S4 with almost equal ardor - Carrie's post-breakup lament here is probably her most genuine (save for the movie), the stint at Vogue is a nice fashion-y diversion, and this episode is just pure magic. It's interesting they launched us towards Big again so soon, but they were smart to do so - giving Carrie a kind of bittersweet clean slate, and finally showing some grown-up romance and interaction between these two. Did I mention I love Moon River? There are just so many great scenes here...and clothes for that matter, I want almost everything Carrie wears this episode. Miranda's season-long arc also comes to a fitting end, and Charlotte has her last interaction with Trey (he did film a guest appearance in the s5 finale, but they cut it out to preserve love for Harry). Not only is the message of this episode sweet and memorable...we finally have a change of season!

S5 - Series Episode #72 - Critical Condition
I quite like the episodes where the characters kind of dwell on past break-ups. It makes for more cohesiveness when they're all going through a sort of single gal phase. This particular episode does things in a humorous but harsh way when Carrie gets "the face" from the next chick to date Aidan after her, which altogether makes for a funny takeaway. Who hasn't talked about this episode and made 'the face' with their friends? On top of that, we have the *awesome* Samantha / vibrator storyline, and the introduction of Harry. Joy!

S5 - Series Episode #74 - I Love A Charade
There are definitely elements of this episode that harken back to the S4 finale...but I somehow find this one more genuinely sentimental, romantic, and most importantly realistic. While S4 was all about wrapping things up with a pretty bow, this episode was really about transitioning these women into the final wrap-up of the show. Carrie is finally open to new possibilities (and believing in love again after the sham-marriage she's invited to). Miranda realizes it's not as easy as she thought to live happily ever after. Samantha finally moves past Richard. And Charlotte finally (albeit a tad reluctantly) accepts Harry as a full-fledged part of her life. I have a strange affinity for this episode, despite not liking S5 as a whole.

S6 - Series Episode #81- The Post-It Always Sticks Twice
Words cannot describe my love for (parts of) this episode. I actually wrote a paper on the Carrie-blows-up-in-Bed scene on communication theories. This is one of the funniest / best break-up stories the show puts out there, and possibly my fave comedic episode of the series. Aside from that, I like that Miranda finally gets a non-frumpy moment with her 'skinny jeans', and copious amounts of sexy Smith and happy Charlotte are always nice as well.

S6 - Series Episode #86 - One
This episode mostly ranks high because of the Steve & Miranda resolution. Don't get me wrong, I loved Dr. Robert Leeds, but these two are truly meant to be (at least in TV fantasy world). I know most people hated the Russian, but I liked this quirky introduction to his character that really set the stage for their relationship (him running the show and over-the-top bizarre romance) - plus Carrie's dress on their date was amazing. I also like Charlotte's story here, a nice return to form from an intermittently pandering character during the latter half of the show.

Honorable Mentions:
- S1: Secret Sex
- S2: The Chicken Dance, Evolution, La Douleur Exquise!, Games People Play, The Fuck Buddy
- S3: Politically Erect, Boy, Girl, Boy, Girl..., Easy Come Easy Go, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Escape From New York / Sex & Another City, What Goes Around Comes Around
- S4: Baby Talk Is Cheap (hot Aidan), My Motherboard My Self, Sex & The Country, Belles of the Balls, Just Say Yes, Ring A Ding Ding, A Vogue Idea
- S5: Luck Be An Old Lady, Plus One Is The Loneliest Number (Grey's Papaya!), The Big Journey
- S6: Pick-A-Little Talk-A-Little, Hop Skip & A Week, The Domino Effect, The Ick Factor, Splat, American Girl In Paris Parts Une & Deux

Fave Season: Four! Each of the ladies had an interesting - and at times, heart-wrenching - relationship this season, and 3 of the guys had a real good chance of developing their characters and stories this season (before being chucked anyway).

What are your top 10? Choose carefully. Looking at my list again, I would probably scrap my S2 choice and subsitute it for something like the S3 LA episodes, Ring A Ding Ding or a Vogue Idea, or the series finales...I just can't pick one I like the best out of those, so it stays.

But yeah, that's my top 10! Now all I want to do is rewatch the series for the millionth time. Love.

- Britt's On

Up With Pixar!

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Okay I've been an absentee poster, and with all the wonderful things happening in the entertainment world as things wrap up! I'm sure I'll try to find time to post on wtf to the One Tree Hill finale?

Regardless, it's time I move away from TV a bit for prime movie season - that's right, it's summer!

I was browsing trivia on like I do after most movies when I came across this article written by a fellow blogspotter. In it, he lists his favourite Pixar films - since we've rounded out a full ten now - in order from 'worst' to best.

Truthfully this is super hard for me to do - I have emotional attachments to certain aspects and parts of all Pixar movies, and unlike most people, I don't despise Cars (although admittedly, it would rank lower in my ratings). I asked my boyfriend what he'd pick - and as an avid Cars fan (and 5 year old at heart) even he was torn. Still, I'm going to do my best to try and rank my top 10 for you now.

10. A Bug's Life - This is by default, since I haven't seen it, but there's probably a reason for that. For some reason, this movie seems to get lost in the Pixar filmography, which I can only assume is because it's just not that awesome. I mean...we still have Toy Story merchandise filling up the shelves at your local Disney store, but when's the last time you saw a Bug's Life toy?

9. Up - I didn't *not* like this movie and I feel bad for throwing it in the last spot...but to me, this movie is inextricably tied to its 3D animation. Had this film been released a couple of years ago, I don't think its story would have held the test of time quite as much as some of the other Pixar films. The characters weren't quite as dynamic, the story was a bit too bizarre, and I felt like the hallmarks of an absolutely amazing Pixar film gave way a bit to the extra effort put into making it 3D. That being said, I still found this movie to be quite heartfelt and quite funny at some points - and Pixar at 90% is still better than most animation studios out there.

8. Cars - Okay, my attachment to this film is mostly emotional. I too am weirded out by the Cars upon Cars upon Cars world this movie is set in. But my boyfriend adores it, and that makes me enjoy watching it - just to see him happy and think back to a really nice date night we had seeing this. Plus, the scene with the neon lights? Beautiful and heartwarming. That being said, Cars generally isn't my...subject...of choice, and I'm a bit ticked with Pixar for making a Cars 2 if only for the marketability of the whole thing (speaking as someone with a house full of Cars merch). I did love the little pit stop vehicle, and Jordan's love for Mater is sweet.

7. The Incredibles - I'm not sure why I'm not a bigger fan of this one. I think I prefer animated films not about people, even ones as incredible as the Parr family. Overall I didn't really relate to / like the Craig T. Nelson dad character, and the whole thing just felt very long and drawn out and frustrating at some points. I also felt like there was a lack of diversity in the usually colourful cast of characters Pixar creates in their films (see Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Cars). It was the family and the villains basically, plus Samuel L. Jackson's underused character. There were some cool elements and really nice animation though, and I'm glad people featured in at least Pixar film so I wouldn't be sitting her bitching about the lack of Pixar films about people, but overall I've just never LOVED this one.

6. Toy Story 2 - I actually really really liked both Toy Story 1 and 2. In some ways they are interchangeable on this list, despite having another movie between them. Toy Story 2 upped the animation quality, introduced a bounty of hella annoying new characters (I'm SO not a fan of Jessie, sorry), and featured all of our favourites for another round of relatively plausible / hilarious toy fun. It also took on an element of realism with the theme of abandoned toys that I quite appreciated...Sarah McLachlan's song? Beauty! The airport chase sequence? An awesome precursor to the door sequence in Monsters Inc. But yeah, I hated Stinky Pete and Jessie, so by default this movie ends up here.

5. Wall-e - Again, I feel weird putting some of these movies in the mid-range when I truly loved every single one of them. For me, Wall-e is possibly Pixar's most interesting technical achievement in their bleak portrayal of Earth. It's sort of their auteur stab at animation - breaking all of the rules for a children's film by incorporating vintage musical numbers, a desolate unfamiliar environment, removing most dialogue, and making the everyday person a villain. Well, that and technology - the very same technology we're actually supposed to love in Wall-e and Eve. I think Wall-e succeeds at all of these things, although much like Ratatouille, perhaps doesn't succeed so much at being a memorable, dynamic, marketable (ahem) children's film. Oh plus I absolutely LOVE the sequence of Wall-e traveling through space. As an astronomy nerd, I greatly appreciated Pixar's venture into our galaxy.

4. Toy Story - I think the Toy Story films probably have the best characters overall, hence the long-term marketability of the franchise. Buzz and Woody are two sides of the same coin for loveableness, and aside from that, the entire cast is interesting - both archetypal and hilariously layered at the same time. The first Toy Story film wins for an amazing story and introduction to what animated film can do - if not for the dazzling animation its current day peers have (although remember how amazing it seemed back then)? Am I a bit worn out with the story? Sure, but I still enjoy watching it time & again, and I still remember seeing this movie with my family and being blown away. A Pixar classic that stands the test of time.

3. Ratatouille - Despite the ick factor here, and the lack of distinguishable characters (I still refer to most of them with vague names like 'the chick chef' or the 'fat brother rat', or mix up the actual character names), I feel like this movie wins mega points - perhaps over any other Pixar film - for its ending. The Ego voiceover sequence seriously tugs every one of my heart strings every time I listen to it and generally just makes me feel great about life. It's definitely a daring movie, and definitely not a children's animated classic per se, but the visual richness, ability to make the implausible lovable, and the charming francais unity of the whole thing gives it bonus marks in my book.

2. Monsters Inc. - I think this is the first time Pixar really stretched it legs to show the world what it could do. Before that they were known for two successes - the Toy Story's - and kind of overshadowed with Antz in regards to A Bug's Life, meaning their name had yet to be set in glittering gold. To me, the animation, story, and widespread popularity of MI sealed the deal for them to be the darlings of animated Hollywood. As a result, I have a soft spot in my heart for this movie as being the first Pixar film that really screamed the Pixar that we know and love today - breaking major ground in animation and story development in the animated category. I'm still baffled as to why this didn't win the Oscar.

1. Finding Nemo - A safe bet, to be sure, but this is genuinely one of my fave Pixar films, and there's a good reason why it's so damn popular. For one, it's one of Pixar's most cohesively stunning movies - from the subject matter to the amazing Thomas Newman score (particularly in the belly of the whale) to the hugely diverse but memorable cast. I've actually wasted many hours of my time watching all of the Finding Nemo special features because I was so taken with this film. One thing I didn't appreciate until I did that was the interpretation of marine life through so many different settings - they didn't just settle in one coral reef and call it a day, you saw everything from the deepest bowels of the ocean to human-polluted shorelines to a freakishly sterilized tank. Aside from everything else, you've got to appreciate this was the most far-flung of Pixar films, refusing to settle with just being 'under the sea', you got to see everything there is with ocean / marine life. Awesome.

I'd tell you my fave Pixar shorts but I honestly don't remember them all. I know my faves include One Man Band, Presto, and Partly Cloudy - all more recent, I know, but I also love Knick Knack - and that I didn't love Lifted and Boundin'. For the Birds is good, but I don't get the extreme love for it. What can I say about my other choices, I'm a sucker for cuteness.

Till later,

Britt's On

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