Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Written by Marc Platt
Directed by Alan Wareing
The Doctor: “Who was it that said Earthmen never invite their ancestors round to dinner?”
To be honest out of all the serials of the original Doctor Who, this might be one of the most confusing but wonderful ones I’ve had the pleasure of buying. There’s the right element of creepiness, further explorations into the successful Seventh Doctor and Ace dynamic and it wisely runs for the length of three episodes.
The Doctor and Ace finds themselves in a creepy mansion back in the latter’s hometown of Perivale but it’s not long before it’s established that the house in questions is under some creepy control of Josiah Samuel Smith who has managed to put everyone else living in that house under his control.
The Doctor is keen to find out what exactly is going on in this mystery house but Ace is a lot less enthusiastic about this particular. One thing that was a constant with Ace is that unlike some of her predecessors, the writers here had a great interest in vocalising her more than ever.
It’s part of Ace’s general appeal. After the largely passive Peri and somewhat annoying Mel, Ace became the kind of companion we’ve seen in the past. Her thoughts, reactions, feelings and more importantly her own past became paramount in her overall characterisation.
The final season of Doctor Who gave us two serials that were often more Ace’s character growth and facing up to her past rather than The Doctor or even the monsters that inhabited these serials. “Ghost Light” is the first one to really hit that home when halfway through the story it’s revealed that Ace has a history with this creepy house.
In 1983 Ace had visited this place and felt an evil presence which obviously scared her enough to openly argue with The Doctor about leaving this mystery well alone. It was also this creepy presence that had Ace burn the place to the ground so visiting it 100 years prior to her little bout of arson seemed anything but therapeutic.
Another plus point for this episode is putting the action into the year 1883 and taking the normally tomboy dressed Ace and shoving her into a more feminine attire. Sophie Aldred happens to be one of those understated beauties and Ace is particularly gorgeous in the dress she spends most of this serial in.
The real villain of the episode however Josiah is a suitably nasty piece of work. Controlling everyone in the house means that both The Doctor and Ace finds themselves in battle a good few times. Ace herself even gets to have a bit of girl fight with both a manipulated Gwendoline and Mrs Pritchard, the latter of whom is a calculating madam to put it mildly.
There are many surprises that this serial tends to offer. One of them being the fact that a spaceship is hidden beneath the cellar with something hidden in that. That is later revealed to be an alien that came to Earth to collect various samples, which even included a Neanderthal but after doing that the alien in question then decided to slumber.
Of course there are also two alien forces in this story and both of them have their own agendas. Control is the one with its desire to become a lady and Sharon Duce gives off the vibe that she had a lot of fun such an unstable but in some ways arguably less destructive alien menace.
With so many twists in this serial, it’s almost hard to keep up with everything really. The mansion has sympathetic characters in Gwendoline, Inspector Mackenzie and a butler with the neat little name of Nimrod as well as the nasty characters in Mrs Pritchard, Josiah and the other alien menace – Light.
Well part of this episode title had to play into things and having the baddie called Light is a nice enough twist for me. Light kills both Mrs Pritchard and Gwendoline (after it’s revealed their mother and daughter) in a failed attempt to stop evolution and Josiah goes on his own rampage.
However the defeat for both of them feels a little easy compared to all the complexity that we’ve had to go through. Smith winds up becoming a prisoner on the alien ship inside the mansion and Light is bested by The Doctor’s emphasis on how futile it would be to try and stop evolution.
With both Fenn Cooper and Nimrod doing a bit of space exploring, the only other was Ace facing up to her past history with the house. She doesn’t exactly thank The Doctor for placing her in this situation but she’s smart enough to realise that he’s got a point and by the end of the story, she does seem to be able to lay her own ghosts to rest so to speak.
Also in “Ghost Light”
As usual there were other titles that this serial could’ve gotten such as “The Bestiary” and “Life-Cycle”.
Reverend Matthews: “I see that all the stories about you are true. You have no shred of decency. Even parading your wantons in front of your guests.”
Ace (to The Doctor): “Does he mean me, professor?”
Reverend Matthews: “I have it. This is some experiment related to your mumbo jumbo theories. Perhaps she’ll evoke into a young lady.”
Ace: “Who are you calling ‘young lady’ bug-brain?”
This episode had a lot of surreal images what with the house, the guests and the plethora of stuffed animals on display also.
The Doctor: “Let me guess. My theories appal you, my heresies outrage you, I never answer letters and you don’t like my tie.”
Ace: “There must be things you hate.”
The Doctor: “I can’t stand burnt toast. I loathe bus stations full of lost baggage … and then there’s unrequited love, and tyranny, and cruelty.”
Although this was the second serial to be screened in Season 26, it’s interesting that this was however the last one that was actually filmed.
Gwendoline: “I think Mr Matthews is confused.”
The Doctor: “Never mind. I’ll have him completely bewildered by the time I’m finished.”
Ace: “Scratch the Victorian veneer and something nasty will come crawling out.”
Josiah: “You and The Doctor thought you could get the better of me but I’ll see him squirming yet.”
I noticed that we got one fun dinner scene in this serial where Ace joked about ordering in a curry to The Doctor’s disdain.
The Doctor: “It’s asleep downstairs and Josiah doesn’t want it awoken.”
Ace: “Maybe that’s a good idea. Maybe it should be left alone. Professor, just this once.”
The Doctor: “It’s very, very old, perhaps even older. Just one quick chat?”
Inspector Mackenzie: “And who are you?”
The Doctor: “I wouldn’t want to confuse you.”
The fight scene between both Ace and Gwendoline did look a little homoerotic. I recently found this site that noted anything on Doctor Who that could be considered “gay” and this was one of those things. Watching that fight again, I have to admit that I agree.
Light: “Earth! Why mention that wretched planet to me?”
Ace: “If you don’t like it then bug off.”
Ace (re the mansion): “I wish I had blown it up instead.”
The Doctor: “Wicked.”
This came out on DVD in 2004, with a decent selection of extras but the commentary with Sophie Aldred, Andrew Cartmel, Marc Platt and Marc Ayres is really good.
Confusion aside, this is an exceptional story. “Ghost Light” boasts the right length, has enough creepiness to surpass the somewhat naff looking monsters and making it both a period setting and incorporating some of Ace’s own personal history with the mansion only heighten the story. One of the series strongest episodes but also rather underrated too.
Rating: 9 out of 10.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
US Airdate on UPN: 24th September 2002-May 20th 2003
The smash hit comes to a conclusion as Buffy learns the Slayer lineage has been dramatically altered with The First Evil and a horde of other nasty types take advantage of this. Elsewhere Spike and Willow go through the motions in overcoming past misgivings, Dawn proves to be useful as Xander and Anya are tertiary and Andrew just damn annoying. Also we get more of Giles and a mysterious newcomer named Robin Wood.
Last Dance: Ah, seven years of a hit TV series and coming up with an ending to satisfy all those loyal viewers and critics alike can’t be an easy feat and while this season has some flaws, Season Seven puts up more than a good fight to end Buffy as the iconic and influential series it was rather than a shadow of it’s former self.
You may disagree as certain things don’t even please me but a season that opens with an episode as invigorating as “Lessons” is starting things off pretty well. Let’s see – in England we have Giles getting Willow to control her magic and use it positively because unlike drugs, magic is a part of Willow internally and isn’t something she can walk away from. In Sunnydale, we have a mysterious young lady killed by a group of Bringers as Buffy and Dawn muse over the reopening of the newly rebuilt Sunnydale High.
If ever there was a season opener that perfectly sets up events, “Lessons” is that very episode. Seeing the new Sunnydale High is good for sentiment value but having a likeable but shady looking principal there along with three disgruntled ghosts who Buffy once failed to save terrorising Dawn and her friends while a crazed Spike is goaded by The First Evil, who makes it’s reintroduction more significant by morphing into every single Big Bad in the previous six seasons as well as the Slayer (well, Buffy is technically a reanimated corpse) is definitely a stunning moment like no other and contrary to popular opinion, this season doesn’t necessarily lack in mind blowing or stunning moments.
Nope even the second episode “Beneath You” saw the Scoobies deal with a worm like beast as Spike and Anya scrapped in the Bronze and Buffy learned in an interesting way that Spike has a soul. If there is a gripe with this storyline, it’s probably the horrible way in which the writers skim over the fact Spike nearly attempted to rape Buffy and the Slayer’s insistence to all and sundry through out the season that Spike is the most important fighter on her team. Um, Buffy, you’ve won plenty of battles without Spike, just because the writers love James Marsters doesn’t mean, Spike is your strongest fighter. However, I would say Willow was much more needed.
Willow’s return in the third episode “Same Time, Same Place”, one of the few weak episodes in the season is nicely touched upon. I like that she’s repentant for turning on her friends but I wish we had more emphasis on her grief over Tara. Seeing her at Tara’s grave in “Help” is sweet but why not have counselling or even have the Scoobies express more concern over Tara’s death. I guess when all is said and done; I miss Tara and still can’t used to not seeing her with the Scoobies. For some reason it doesn’t feel right her not being there especially when they are less interesting character in the Scooby core this season and you can’t help but not miss Amber Benson’s screen presence either. In fact, barring a few references here and there, Tara is the first dead character on this show who doesn’t pop up whatsoever, making Amber’s departure from the show more effective and painful too.
Luckily the somewhat likeable Anya is given one significant outing before spending the rest of the season in the background with Xander and it comes in the wonderful flashback episode “Selfless” which puts a nice end to the Vengeance Demon arc and also shows that Willow isn’t totally out of the woods as well, regarding her dark side.
Dawn then got a rethread episode with the fairly amusing “Him” (“Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered” anyone?) Before the arc with The First Evil went somewhere with the breathtaking “Conversations With Dead People”. One of favourite episodes of all time, The First moves in on getting Spike to kill and issuing Willow a dire warning while Dawn violently interacts with Joyce and Buffy unleashes her emotional baggage for the past seven years on a random vampire. Not even the terminally detestable Andrew killing Jonathan can deter the brilliance of this powerful tour de force.
The next three episodes after that – “Sleeper”, “Never Leave Me” and “Bring On The Night” were then mandatory viewing. After all – how could The First be controlling Spike into killing people and why does it want him? Spike’s a pretty powerful vampire but he ain’t exactly the kind of guy you want if your goal is Armageddon. Still though, it’s interesting to see Buffy and company try and lose Spike as the Watchers Council is blown to smithereens, a nasty ubervamp reducing Buffy to a pulp, The First mind fucks some more with Spike, the irritant known as Andrew becomes a regular fitting, Principal Wood continues to get darker and hey, Giles turns up with Potential Slayers.
Yes, here is our arc and ultimately The First Evil’s real goal – to balance the scales between evil and good in the former’s favour and because the Scoobies raised Buffy from the dead, the balance is now disjointed and potentials are being called everywhere and when they’re not being killed by The First and it’s many allies, then it’s up to Buffy and the Scoobies to protect them and train them for the biggest battle in everyone’s lives.
The stinker with the Potentials is that most of them are kind of annoying, nearly all of them (bar the most loathed by viewers – Kennedy) aren’t exactly proactive and Buffy wastes too much time giving them speeches than really preparing them, so you do actually wonder how the hell she’s gonna win against The First anyway.
With only two real potentials given a personality – Dawn’s friend Amanda and Kennedy, you don’t become as emotionally invested as possible and with Andrew mostly coming out with lame geek jokes, it’s annoying that Xander, Anya, Dawn and at times, even Giles have to suffer as a result. They are the people I wanted more screen time for, not just the newcomers.
Kennedy is a character who didn’t sit well with viewers and while her and Willow aren’t anyway as interesting as Willow and Tara, their hook up episode “The Killer In Me” is a series best and even removes Spike’s chip during Iyari Limon’s only showcase episode. Kennedy and Willow are more or less the Buffy/Riley to this season. It’s interesting to a degree but if this show had gotten another season, these two ultimately wouldn’t be together.
Moving away from the Slayer angle, it’s nice to see some interpersonal dynamics between people as Giles’s annoyance over Buffy’s attitude with Spike and Robin’s seething hatred for the blond vampire are ripe in execution. Giles is right though – Buffy is being too laissez fair with Spike (who spends most of the season in bondage and bleating about his soul – dude I get it!) and hey, once we learn that Wood’s mother was Nikki, the subway Slayer Spike offered in New York, I was more than sympathise with the man and his and Giles’ half-hearted way of getting Spike out of the way in the excellent “Lies My Parents Told Me” (pity Drusilla’s final Angel episode wasn’t anywhere near as good as this). I wouldn’t exactly have a welcome mat out for the man who would hurt, never mind kill my mother either. Before those episodes though, we were treated to a brilliant Slayer origin tale in “Get It Done” and Andrew proved slightly useful in “Storyteller”, though why they didn’t kill him in that episode, I’ll never know.
The final five episodes however are important. Spending most of the season having potentials offed by Ubervamps, Bringers and The First while the Seal of Danzelthar wrecked all kinds of havoc was fine to a point. It had to get worse before getting better and The First had one more ace up his sleeve with arrival of misogynist preacher named Caleb, played to perfection by Firefly’s Nathan Fillion. Bringing someone this late in the game meant that Caleb had to make a big impression and removing the eye of one of the Scoobies (poor Xander) while battering Buffy and offing a few more potentials definitely made Caleb an effective baddie (I think that definitely means that Adam/The Initiative were by far the least effective in the series).
“Dirty Girls” was an excellent debut for Caleb and a more than welcome return for Eliza Dushku’s rogue slayer Faith but “Empty Places” finally saw the Scoobies reassess Buffy’s actions and put Faith in the role of leader, one that even Faith admitted she was out of her depth. With so much action in the last few weeks, we needed one more quiet episode and the sex heavy “Touched” serviced that need as “End Of Days” saw a return from Angel and Buffy finally get one up on Caleb as she reclaimed her role of leader.
“Chosen” was then the deciding factor. In a season of too many speeches, potentials, Spike overload, annoying Andrew and a lack of communication with the Scoobies in later episodes, could this episode see the show go out in a blaze of glory or nasty smell in the air? Who am I kidding – this episode rocked! Sure “Becoming” and “The Gift” are way better but Joss Whedon ended this series on such a euphoric high that even Anya’s anticlimactic death, the spoiler of Spike joining Angel and Andrew surviving weren’t enough to break away the joy. Plus I loved the battle inside the Hellmouth (though why every single baddie Buffy and the Scoobies have destroyed wasn’t in there I’ll never know) but while she may have stopped The First, with help from her friends and Wolfram and Hart, you do wonder whether or not Buffy actually won. I mean evil still exists out there and while Buffy is now just a Slayer, rather than the Slayer, it’s still a topical question. Either way this episode reinforced everything I loved about the show.
DVD EXTRAS: It’s the last season so the extras really did need to be good and like all the previous releases, they’re quality stuff. Commentaries on hand included Joss Whedon and David Soloman for “Lessons”, though Solomon is more interesting when he assists Drew Goddard for “Selfless”. “Conversations With Dead People” boasts the most comments with Goddard, Jane Espenson, director Nick Marck and actors Danny Strong and Tom Lenk. The best one is for “The Killer In Me” as Drew Greenberg seems to be drawing on personal experience when writing the Willow/Kennedy material. Drew Goddard is a consistent commentator and he’s back to aid the likes of James Marsters and D.B Woodside for “Lies My Parents Told Me” as well as Nicholas Brendon for “Dirty Girls” as Joss Whedon rounds up everything in his anecdotes for “Chosen”. Other delights include the “Season Seven Overview”, “Buffy 101: Studying The Slayer” (one for media students everywhere), “Generation S” (dedicated to the potentials), “The Last Sundown” (Joss’ Top 10 episodes – I have at least 50), a look at the wrap party and some meh outtakes. Disc 1 contains a “Willow Demon Guide”, 12 trailers (mostly for other seasons of Buffy/Angel on DVD) and a neat dedication to the fans called “Buffy: It’s Always Been About The Fans”. A couple of deleted scenes wouldn’t have gone amiss or a commentary from Gellar, Head or Hannigan but hey, with extras this kick ass – who cares?
EPISODE RATING FROM 1 TO 10:
7x01: Lessons = 9/10, 7x02: Beneath You = 8/10,
7x03: Same Time, Same Place = 7/10, 7x04: Help = 8/10,
7x05: Selfless = 9/10, 7x06: Him = 7/10,
7x07: Conversations With Dead People = 10/10, 7x08: Sleeper = 8/10,
7x09: Never Leave Me = 8/10, 7x10: Bring On The Night =9/10,
7x11: Showtime = 7/10, 7x12: Potential =7/10,
7x13: The Killer In Me = 10/10, 7x14: First Date = 8/10,
7x15: Get It Done = 8/10, 7x16: Storyteller = 8/10,
7x17: Lies My Parents Told Me = 9/10, 7x18: Dirty Girls = 10/10,
7x19: Empty Places = 8/10, 7x20: Touched = 9/10,
7x21: End Of Days = 8/10, 7x22: Chosen = 10/10.
Season Seven is currently available on VHS and DVD.
Friday, November 24, 2006
US Airdate on UPN: October 2nd 2001 – May 21st 2002
It’s a year of unrelenting misery as Buffy takes to be resurrected and losing Giles by fornicating with Spike and isolating her friends, Dawn continues to whinge for most of the year as Willow loses Tara and herself in dark magic as the usually joyful Xander and Anya face their own problems. That’s also couple new baddies with three pathetic villains named Jonathan, Warren and Andrew determined to take over Sunnydale. No, I’m not making this up!
Pass The Prozac And Grab A Drink – You Might Need It: Season Six brought a set of new stuff to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. These included the show moving from the WB away from spin-off series Angel to less successful network UPN, it also saw Alyson Hannigan get a special “And” credit and the unfortunate departure of Anthony Stewart Head as Giles, who only appears in eight of the 22 episodes in this rather bleak season. This was also one of the few seasons that was also critically reviled by many of the Buffy viewers.
Whether it was a case of ennui with a series that some speculated was destined to end with its fifth year but didn’t or the simple fact some people prefer their fantasy dramas to be nothing but escapist material (doesn’t Charmed fill that requirement?), either way, the level of hatred for Season Six is quite staggering!
Granted there are serious cons to the pros with this darker than usual year but with the exception of one truly terrible episode, Season Six to me is as good as any other season. It’s certainly better than Seasons One, Three or Four and on a par with Season Seven. I was one of those people who mostly liked the season during its debut on Sky One in 2002 and repeated VHS and DVD viewing hasn’t diminished that feeling.
The season opens darkly as it should have with the brilliant Marti Noxon and David Fury penned two parter “Bargaining Parts 1 and 2” which sees the Scoobies coping with Buffy’s death the only way they can – which includes Willow and Tara moving into the Summers household, relying on Spike, lying to the authorities and using the Buffybot to allay suspicion. Everyone more or less deduces that the charade can only be maintained for so long and when Giles leaves Sunnydale, Willow and company decide to raise Buffy from the dead without involving Dawn or Spike.
The shit storm for them though involves a Biker Gang of demons who learn the Buffybot is a machine and decide to terrorise and take over Sunnydale with no actual slayer. They scare the locals senseless, destroy the chirpy robot and botch up the Scoobies resurrection attempts but luckily for the Scoobies, Buffy (in the most disgusting black dress and cavewoman hair) is raised from the dead, kills the Biker Gang and tries to top herself until Dawn manages to stop her, which is one point to a girl who spends most of the year whining incessantly.
Following episode “After Life” throws the notion that bringing Buffy back was wrong (a recurring theme for the year) when a demon from another dimension hitched a lift with the Slayer, while “Flooded” puts Willow and Giles on opposing sides with the former furious that her magical authority is being challenged. The episode is also noteworthy for the introduction of our villains of the season – Jonathan, Warren and Andrew (Tucker’s brother). Gods they aren’t, morons they behave like and an actual threat to the Scoobies they don’t become until the latter half of the year.
For the time being though the three geeks take pleasure in robbing a bank, messing with Buffy’s attempts of normalcy (“Life Serial”) and acquiring diamonds (“Smashed”).
Nerds aside some of the inter-personal stuff with the Scoobies is interesting. Buffy telling Spike about feeling disconnected from her friends and the world sets up the inevitable coupling with the two while the lacklustre “All The Way” gets points for Xander and Anya finally announcing their engagement and the usually in tune with each other Willow and Tara fighting over the former’s abuse of magic.
Getting the highlight and overly discussed “Once More, With Feeling” out of the way (an episode I adored), there’s also Willow’s abuse of magic and the mishandled (in parts) metaphor of drug addiction for it. It gives Alyson Hannigan something gritty to play with but you’re easily siding more with her concerned girlfriend and old friend and by the time you see the amnesiac episode “Tabula Rasa” (one of the funniest too), as sad as Tara dumping Willow is to watch, deep down you hope it’s the kick in the arse that Willow needs to realise that’s she out of control.
Sadly “Smashed” and “Wrecked” with the return of Amy as human only fuels Willow’s magic lust and she’s sooner visiting magic crack houses, getting fused by an ass named Rack and when she endangers Dawn, it’s the wake up call she pays attention to because as concerned as Buffy, Xander and Anya, neither of the three really confront her in the way that Tara and Giles tried and failed to do. Still though these are two cracking episodes and while short on proper character stuff for others, the people focused on are richly rewarded.
For instance, “Smashed” revealed that Spike was physically able to hurt Buffy without pain to his head and a wonderful scrap resulted in a building collapsing and one of the hottest sex scenes in any TV series past or present as Buffy and Spike let their love, hate and lust consume them.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Buffy/Spike shipper but you can’t deny the chemistry Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters as it literally leaps off the screen. It also helps a bunch if you don’t own a rose tinted pair of glasses and quickly realise that this pairing was more the great sex/toxic relationship than true love. We know Buffy doesn’t love Spike and for most of the season, she still doesn’t actually respect him.
It doesn’t help that Spike constantly pressures her for sex, stops by unannounced at times and generally acts like a dick to her, even if Buffy behaves like a total bitch with him at times too. Then again, you never saw Buffy engaging in dogging and bondage with safe as houses Riley or even Angel, so you basically get what you see with her and Spike.
The second half of the season doesn’t exactly lift the bleakness we’ve experienced so far either. Willow struggles not to use magic and Xander and Anya are only funny to an extent, especially when Buffy gets invisible in “Gone”. “Doublemeat Palace” is one of the season’s lighter episode but it’s also the worst with only a Willow/Amy face off as any source of interest because Buffy working in the thankless fast food industry doesn’t raise much excitement. With her strength, she could’ve easily gotten a security job but hey, Joss wanted to lay on the mundanity of life in Season Six.
The previous useless trio of Jonathan, Warren and Andrew thankfully improve in the superb “Dead Things” when a botched rape attempt on Warren’s ex-girlfriend exposes Warren for the evil bastard he truly is, a task which Adam Busch does well with as the more disappointing instalments of “Older And Far Away” and “As You Were” manage to deal with Dawn’s abandonment issues, Riley’s return and the Buffy/Spike break up in a ham fisted way.
“Hells Bells” gives the previous underused Xander and Anya a chance to shine but again the misery kicks in when Xander realises that he isn’t keen on becoming his father and Anya becomes a Vengeance Demon again. “Normal Again” and “Entropy” are no picnics either with everyone learning about Spike and Buffy, the nerds’ surveillances camera being discovered and Buffy hit hard with a hallucination of her life as a Slayer being a set of lies. The only happiness in these episodes are the gentle and much encouraged reunion between Willow and Tara.
In fact Amber Benson and Tara are probably the best things about Season Six. She was the best vocalist in the musical episode, Tara actually confronted Willow about her magic addiction and gave her a consequence for two mind wipes on her and even offered level headed advice to Buffy. Plus she was only Scooby to bother with Dawn all season so when “Seeing Red” opens with Willow and Tara in a post sex embrace, a million cheers can be heard. Despite the episode being my second favourite in the series’ run, it’s also misery filled with a shock attempted rape scene involving Spike and Buffy and that evil son of a bitch Warren does the ultimate nasty by trying to kill Buffy and ends up shooting poor Tara dead.
It isn’t just Willow who feels incandescent fury as not only can you not hate Joss for this particular character death (the hell?) but given how misery induced this season has been, Willow and Tara back together and the former in a more stable mind frame. Instead the season ends explosively with the final three instalments “Villains”, “Two To Go” and “Grave” with Willow going gothic, flaying Warren (don’t expect me to bitch about that – he deserved it), beating the living daylights out of the Scoobies, in particular Buffy, Anya and a returned Giles when she wasn’t trying to end Jonathan and Andrew and then the world. With Buffy rendered useless, it’s Xander and a slightly cringey/touching yellow crayon speech that gets the old Willow back. The only disappointments are Spike’s getting his soul back/ “I thought it was to remove his chip storyline” (I didn’t care) and the writers’ lack of regard for Tara by not having a funeral for the girl. Overall, a character driven season meant a good one in my books.
DVD EXTRAS: Season Six may not be on a par to Season Five but it demolished my favourite season in terms of extras. Okay, there ain’t a commentary for “Seeing Red”, which annoyed me but both Marti Noxon and David Fury are on fine form for their yak track for “Bargaining” and Joss clearly loved writing/directing/practically composing the brilliant “Once More With Feeling”. Both Drew Z. Greenberg and Rebecca Rand Kirshner fail to disappoint with their thoughts on season turning episodes “Smashed” and “Hells Bells”, then again neither did Rick Rosenthal and Diego Gutierrez for “Normal Again”. The commentaries are then rounded with David Fury and James A. Contner for “Grave”. Other goodies in this season included a fantastic overview, the cast interviewed at “The Academy of Television Arts and Science Panel”, which is quite lengthy. Disc 4 also has cast and crew muse over previous employment in “Buffy Goes To Work”, while “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Television With A Bite” delves into the series cultural impact before the final disc rounds things off with pretty standard “Outtakes”.
EPISODE RATING FROM 1 TO 10:
6x01: Bargaining Part 1= 9/10, 6x02: Bargaining Part 2 = 9/10,
6x03: After Life = 8/10, 6x04: Flooded = 7/10,
6x05: Life Serial = 7/10, 6x06: All The Way = 6/10,
6x07: Once More With Feeling = 10/10, 6x08: Tabula Rasa = 9/10,
6x09: Smashed = 10/10, 6x10: Wrecked = 8/10,
6x11: Gone = 7/10, 6x12: Doublemeat Palace = 5/10,
6x13: Dead Things = 9/10, 6x14: Older And Far Away = 7/10,
6x15: As You Were = 7/10, 6x16: Hells Bells = 9/10,
6x17: Normal Again = 8/10, 6x18: Entropy = 8/10,
6x19: Seeing Red = 10/10, 6x20: Villains = 8/10,
6x21: Two To Go = 9/10, 6x22: Grave = 9/10.
Season Six is currently both available on VHS and DVD.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Written by Ben Aaronovitch
Directed by Andrew Morgan
The Doctor: “This is the Doctor. President elect of the high council of the Time Lords. Keeper of the Legacy of Rassilon. Defender of the Laws of Time. Protector of Gallifrey. I call upon you to surrender the hand of Omega and return to your customary time and place.”
Davros: “Ah…Doctor. You have changed again. Your appearance is as inconstant as your intelligence. You have confounded me for the last time.”
When it comes to this era of Doctor Who, my feelings are perfectly clear. Some stories work brilliantly and other stories don’t. This however falls into the former category as we take a trip down memory lane. After all this was the last story to ever feature the Daleks or Davros in the old series.
The Doctor and Ace, who are practically getting to know one another arrive back on Earth in 1963 and in terms of the fact that this episode marks the show’s 25th anniversary, there’s something rather apt to them landing in this particular time period for the serial.
Soon enough they learn that a death has occurred at a junkyard and the military are all over it. The nice guy Mike who Ace is somewhat flirty with happens to be a sergeant and Rachel, the over eager scientist is determined to learn as much from The Doctor as she can, despite his evasive nature.
At the junkyard itself there is a Dalek who wastes no time in attacking as many soldiers as it can. Knowing that Ace has some Nitro-9 handy, The Doctor uses it to destroy the wretched thing. When there’s one Dalek you can always guarantee that there are more but Rachel is keen to learn more about the creature.
The Daleks usually visit Earth to either enslave or go on a mad killing spree. Here they seem to be a bit more ambition. The Renegade Daleks are after the Hand Of Omega and have no problem using as many things to obtain this. On one had they’ve got Mike Smith following The Doctor as well as the nasty Ratcliffe.
With Mike as a spy, Ratcliffe is able to deploy a few men into actually digging up the Hand Of Omega halfway through the serial. Before then The Doctor collects it and has a blind priest give it a ceremony. The method in which the Hand Of Omega is used to be transported raises a few eyebrows.
As for the Daleks, it’s nice that this serial doesn’t waste too much time in having The Doctor meet them. A transmat sees a few Imperial Daleks showing with The Doctor almost about to be exterminated at one point. It seems the Headmaster is working with this lot and there’s no surprise in them being also after the Hand Of Omega.
However there is one particularly fantastic moment in this serial. In the past and the future we’ve seen companions try to hold their own with the Daleks. Of course we’ve never seen one of them actually physically assault a Dalek and having Ace beat the crap out of one of them with a baseball is an utter joy.
This might be Sophie Aldred’s second serial but she’s quickly made Ace into a loveable character. On one hand, she’s a typical stroppy teenage girl who reacts to things instantly rather than rationally thinking things through. That being said, the dynamic between her and The Doctor is one of the strongest going.
It is however something of a shame that Mike turned out to be a traitor. Ace’s hurt over this was palpable. Of course after his betrayal was revealed, Mike really was on borrowed time. He tried to use information to stop Daleks from killing him and then he stole the Renegade faction’s Time Controller.
Mike also made a cardinal error in pointing a gun at Ace. Of course he probably realised that his chances of redemption with her were already non-existent and to be fair, Ace had to worry more about that creepy little girl being a killer rather than Mike. The girl certainly didn’t have much problems in killing him.
That’s the interesting thing. When it came to both factions of the Daleks, they had certain leaders. With the Renegade Daleks, there was that little girl and her battle computer and then later in the story, a black Dalek. The Imperial Daleks on the other hand only had Davros as their leader.
In “Destiny Of The Daleks”, Davros wasn’t introduced into the fray until halfway through. Personally I found that a little annoying but nothing compared to his treatment. He only appears for about five minutes in the last part of this whole serial and his defeat has never felt so easy.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent scenes between Sylvester McCoy and Terry Molloy as The Doctor and Davros allow their mutual animosity to come out. Davros rants about destruction and wanted the Hand Of Omega to allow his Daleks to really know the concept of time travel.
However threatening Gallifrey’s destruction lead The Doctor to do something pretty underhanded. Davros manages to escape but with his Daleks and even Skaro destroyed, I can see why we would have to wait until “The Stolen Earth” and “Journey’s End” to see the megalomaniac again. This serial really could’ve ended him once and for all.
Also in “Remembrance Of The Daleks”
Out of all the speeches, the Martin Luther King one is the most effective and a stark contrast to Dalek beliefs.
The Doctor: “You must be in the military.”
Gilmore: “How did you know?”
The Doctor: “I’m very perceptive.”
Apart from the Black Dalek, we also had Special Weapon Dalek who could wipe out several Daleks with one shot – cool!
The Doctor: “Oi, Dalek, it’s me, The Doctor. What’s the matter, don’t you recognise your mortal enemy?”
Imperial Dalek: “You are The Doctor. You are the enemy of the Daleks. You will be exterminated. Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!”
There’s no real continuity between this serial and “Revelation Of The Daleks”, nor do we get anything extensive on Susan, Ian or Barbara.
The Doctor (re Dalek): “You destroyed it.”
Ace: “I aimed for the eye piece.”
Ace: “Don’t anyone give me a hand.”
Alison: “Ace, are you alright?”
Ace: “I had an argument with the window.”
At one point in this serial, Ace actually jumped behind the sofa. As a Doctor Who, I have never done this.
Imperial Dalek: “Renegade Daleks are in the area.”
Davros: “They will surrender the Hand Of Omega.”
Mike: “Where have you been?”
The Doctor: “Dalek hunting and now it’s reversed.”
This serial made tonnes of references to race and xenophobia throughout. Ace was disgusted when she realised that black people weren’t allowed in Mike’s mother’s B&B.
Ace (to Mike): “I said shut up. You betrayed me. You betrayed The Doctor. I trusted you. I even liked you.”
Gilmore: “The shuttle seems to be leaving.”
Rachel: “Good riddance to bad rubbish.”
Anyone else think that Mike Smith felt a little similar to Mike Yates from the Jon Pertwee era of the series?
Davros: “The Daleks shall become Lords of Time! We shall become all - ”
The Doctor: “Powerful! Crush the lesser races! Conquer the galaxy! Unimaginable power! Unlimited rice pudding! Et cetera! Et cetera!”
Why is Davros all hooked up on wires and in a white casing? Only his hand suffered major damage in “Revelation Of The Daleks”.
Davros: “Are you threatening me? If so it would be most unwise.”
The Doctor: “Everytime our paths have crossed, I’ve defeated you.”
Davros: “Have pity on me.”
The Doctor: “I have pity for you. Goodbye Davros, it hasn’t been pleasant.”
This was released on DVD in 2001. There’s a good commentary with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred.
“Remembrance Of The Daleks” is a nice look at nostalgia as well as noting the changes in both the Daleks and Davros are since their debut serials. Davros isn’t quite as well served in this serial as his creations but at least 20 years later, his reign of terror takes a twisted route.
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
US Airdate on the WB: September 26th 2000 – May 22nd 2001
The series gets a rewrite when Buffy and the gang discover she’s got a sister all along, who is also key to a big battle and a hell God named Glory. Elsewhere Giles and Anya team up to open the Magic Shop, Willow and Tara get closer, Riley leaves, Xander is useful and Spike’s in love – with Buffy! Yes, hell seems to have frozen over!
Gods Vs The Slayer – Who Actually Survives? Can I just start this review by saying that this was my favourite season of Buffy in it’s seven year run? Fifth seasons to most series (e.g. The X-Files, The Sopranos, Angel and Six Feet Under) are usually classics and this was pretty no exception. Those who loathed the fourth season found it a relief and everyone else who didn’t hate Season Four were also inclined to agree. If the previous season had seen a detachment from the Core Four and an underwhelming threat in Adam and The Initiative, then Season Five not only gave the Scoobies at their most closest and open with one another but we also got a mythical baddie and a long awaited exploration in what Buffy’s calling as a slayer really means.
The season even opens on a fun, campy note with an episode called “Buffy Vs Dracula”. The title said it all and Sarah Michelle Gellar got to reunite with Rudolf Martin as the legendary vampire/glory hound arrives in Sunnydale, uses poor Xander as a minion and makes a pretty good effort in seducing Buffy. Okay, so we’ve had better openers but the fight between the slayer and the count, the first signs of imminent trouble between Buffy and Riley as the former begs Giles to retrained as a slayer along with the oh so casual way of debuting Buffy’s little sister Dawn (played by Michelle Trachtenberg) shows that this season knows where it’s going and as an audience, it’s either hop on the train or get off the track quick smart. Like many, I chose to hop on and boy, am I seriously glad I did.
Less bullshitting and more genuine stuff, with the great question – since when does Buffy have a sister? We’ve hardly seen Joyce in the previous season (especially in Season Four), never mind the fact our Slayer has a younger sibling. From the off, Dawn is like any other younger sibling – irritating to no less as she manages to get kidnapped by Harmony, speaks out of turn and even interrupts alone time with your lover, so I was pretty siding with Buffy. Then Dawn arouses all the right kinds of suspicion when creepy homeless people keep telling her that she’s not real, that even Buffy’s spidey sense begins to tingle and this is during the times when Giles gets a new career, Xander is split into two parts of himself and Riley has super strength that could kill, all while Spike who spends the first few episodes acting like a spare part and failing to get his chip removed, then decides that he’s in love with Buffy.
Thankfully the set up in the first four episodes makes “No Place Like Home” a season highlight. Okay, so you may want to gag both Spike and Riley for their stalking/feeling inferior to Buffy angles but at least we get to see Buffy square off with super bitch Goddess Glory, with a delightful piece of casting in Clare Kramer and yet another effective female character and Big Bad in Joss Whedon’s creative universe. We also learn that Glory is looking for a key which the monks made into human and put into Buffy’s protection, hence Dawn’s actual purpose for the season. In any show this would be a lousy way of introducing a long lost sibling, in this show it works pretty well.
The next two episodes didn’t really further the Dawn/Glory storyline too much but when the arc is put on hold, the character drama is notched up a couple of more notches as we learn that Tara comes from a very sexist heritage in the wonderful “Family”, an episode that gives the brilliant Amber Benson a chance to shine and as Tara’s role in Willow’s life and the Scooby gang is further cemented, Riley feels more than let out and seeks solace in a stranger named Sandy. Similarly “Fool For Love” also deals with family in a different way as Joyce’s illness gets on top of Buffy as does her own mortality so when Giles’ research isn’t helpful, Spike’s blow by blow account of how he managed to kill two slayers (with some of the most glorious flashbacks in the series’ history). This episode delivers a deadly warning, one that Buffy takes account of and subsequently ignores. All her predecessors were solitary women with one thing in their lives and as Spike points all any vampire needs to beat a slayer is “one good day”.
With episodes as brilliant the other two while dealing with Joyce’s illness, more Glory versus Buffy antics, Joyce learning of Dawn’s origins and gentle man nurse Ben being more important than anyone could’ve guessed aren’t quite as good. Probably “Shadow” and “Listening To Fear” problems are that they aren’t as tightly written as the previous or even the much awaited departure of Riley in the Marti Noxon directed “Into The Woods” (maybe Marc Cherry got the idea here to use Sondheim titles for Desperate Housewives). Whether you like Riley or not is up to you but this episode evoked all the right emotions and gave Xander one hell of a proactive role for his smackdown of Buffy and declaration of love to Anya, seriously how could you not appreciate moments like that?
Moving into the 2001 era of the series, the much underused Anya got her past explored in the disjointed but funny enough “Triangle” while the bombshell of Glory being a God and her and Ben being related came to a head in “Checkpoint”, an episode which also saw the return of the genuinely irritating Quentin Travers and the Watchers Council’s pointless testing of Buffy.
“Blood Ties” then is a treasure of an episode when Dawn finally learns the truth about herself and goes crazy while meeting with Glory as “Crush” saw the reappearance of Drusilla, had Spike declare his love for Buffy (gag him) but also overstepping the mark. Put it this way, Spike fawning around like a love sick puppy isn’t the best thing for the usually reliable James Marsters so his friendship with Dawn turns out to be more rewarding to watch as watching him contact the slimy Warren Meers in “I Was Made To Love You” to get his own robot Buffy is pretty pathetic. Thankfully the end scene of that episode set up the brilliance of the critically adored instalment “The Body”, a moving hour where Buffy, Dawn and the Scoobies all struggled to cope and grasp with Joyce’s sudden death in a manner true to anyone who’s ever lost someone so close to them.
The final six episodes in between the Summers’ grief for Joyce and a botched resurrection attempt in “Forever” are fantastic. We get Spike kidnapped and mistaken as the key in “Intervention” when Glory gets wind of her way home being a person (what I can say, her minions are thick) but Spike’s torture (light bondage and some punching) are nothing compared to the mess Tara is made into when Glory thinks the key is her in “Tough Love”. Not only does Tara get brain sucked but Willow shows a pretty scary side to her magical nature and a frazzled Tara reveals that Dawn is the key forcing the Scoobies to try and flee Sunnydale in the slow paced “Spiral”. When Dawn is finally snared, Buffy breaks down and Willow has to use magic to reach her emotionally during “The Weight Of The World”. Still a low key affair, we see how Glory’s reign of terror has psychologically affected the Slayer before everything comes to a head in the season finale/would be series finale and 100th episode “The Gift”. One of my all time favourite episodes for many reasons including an epic battle between Buffy and Glory, a touching speech by Spike, Willow and Tara’s reunion, Xander proposing to Anya and the dark measures that Giles took to keep Glory away from Buffy. And all of these were before the Sky One spoiled the sacrifice Buffy made as she threw herself of a scaffolding, into a portal and all to keep her sister alive. I don’t know about anyone else but I wept during that scene, I defy anyone who didn’t. This entire season was near perfection from start to finish and if the show had ended with this episode, it would’ve been one hell of an ending. That being said I’m thrilled we got two more years and as much as I enjoyed them, I will admit that hand on my heart, Season Five is ultimately my favourite season.
DVD EXTRAS: If I haven’t made it clear, Season Five was my favourite season so my expectations for this box set and its extras was at an all time high and to be honest, some extras are terrific, other not as great. The scripts I couldn’t care less about and I hate that the bloopers on offer were from Season Three (the hell?). Also while I love the commentaries on “Real Me” (David Fury/David Grossman), “Fool For Love” (Doug Petrie), “I Was Made To Love You” (Jane Espenson) and “The Body” (Joss Whedon), where the hell were the commentaries for “Family”, “Intervention” and “The Gift”? Still though the other features rock with ones on “Stunts”, “Demons” by Danny Strong, “Casting”, “Introducing Dawn”, “Natural Causes” (a highlight of “The Body”) and the Season Five overview itself. Extras like that won’t make you forget certain disappointments but they keep you satisfied no less.
EPISODE RATING FROM 1 TO 10:
5x01: Buffy Vs Dracula = 8/10, 5x02: Real Me = 7/10,
5x03: The Replacement = 5/10, 5x04: Out Of My Mind = 6/10,
5x05: No Place Like Home = 9/10, 5x06: Family = 10/10,
5x07: Fool For Love = 10/10, 5x08: Shadow = 7/10,
5x09: Listening To Fear = 8/10, 5x10: Into The Woods = 9/10,
5x11: Triangle = 6/10, 5x12: Checkpoint = 8/10,
5x13: Blood Ties = 8/10, 5x14: Crush = 7/10,
5x15: I Was Made To Love You = 9/10, 5x16: The Body = 10/10,
5x17: Forever = 9/10, 5x18: Intervention = 9/10,
5x19: Tough Love = 8/10, 5x20: Spiral = 7/10,
5x21: The Weight Of The World = 8/10, 5x22: The Gift = 10/10.
Season Five is currently available on VHS and DVD.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Slice, dice and all that stuff, plastic surgery has been something of a limited viewpoint for me. I may never look like a Hollywood star but getting under the knife even to alter some of my blemishes would never be a major desire of mine. I can’t even stand going to the dentist, never mind the notion of ever willingly altering a part of my body for no real reason.
That should also mean that when it came to watching a TV show, one about plastic surgeons wouldn’t exactly be up my street. I needed little to no persuading when it came to watching a programme about undertakers in Six Feet Under but something about Nip/Tuck I needed convincing.
I guess pairing it alongside with Angel’s fifth season upon its debut on Sky One in January 2004 was a good way of getting to stay with that station for an extra hour but even then the pilot episode had me mixed. I absolutely hated the first sex scene between Christian and Kimber and it’s partly because of their first time, I have been able to ship them as a couple. That and the fact that with Kimber, Christian really is at his worst.
Thankfully that was the only thing about the first ever episode that bugged me because the reasons for actually getting suckered into the show came with the great rapport between lead surgeons Sean McNamara and Christian Troy. Excellently played by both Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon, creator Ryan Murphy hasn’t been shy in mentioning that the show has a love story between two straight men. In the show’s fourth season, the writers teased the notion of perhaps Christian having sexual feelings for Sean, even going as far as having a dream sequence where the two nearly kissed.
Of course the double standard of Nip/Tuck is that plenty of straight women can make out with each other (Julia/Ava, Kimber/Kit, and Michelle/James) but the same thing can’t necessarily happen with two straight guys. Nip/Tuck is one of those shows where just about anything can happen and in the course of the four seasons that have aired so far (as well as the upcoming fifth and possibly final season), this show has had more outlandish cases that would give the likes of ER, Scrubs, House and Grey’s Anatomy an aneurism.
The first episode had a paedophile change his entire face but the second one dealt with twins who didn’t want to look like each other while an episode had a character called Kurt Dempsey asking the doctors to make his eyes look Oriental in an attempt to appeal to his bride’s parents while a vicious drug lord named Escobar Gallardo had women using their breasts as a safety place for drugs and Sean and Christian unwillingly complying with this.
The show’s second and third seasons almost upped the wackiness with surgery addict Mrs Grubman causing the boys some hell and even Kimber getting her own surgery in aid of her sex doll while a patient named Ben White wanted Christian to remove his foot. Heck in the fourth season episode “Blu Mondae” we had a pole dancer getting her breasts reduced for business and a woman who had a nipple bitten off when she tried to seduce her own dog in “Shari Noble”. Other shows might balk at this kind of a thing but Nip/Tuck seems to embrace these plots without a bother.
They might be ridiculous but both writers and actors have admitted some of their more ludicrous plots are based in reality. After all it was heavily published two years ago about a woman getting a face transplant before Nip/Tuck tackled the thorny issue in the episode “Hannah Tedesco”. The outcome in both real life and fiction were inevitably different but the show’s attempts of making viewers along with shocking and grossing audiences out is to be credited.
Under any other writer, this would be strictly a series where both violence, underlying layers of sexism and homophobia would be its default but there’s something about Ryan Murphy’s prose that shows there is some substance behind.
In terms of the gay stuff, this show does lack that.
Unlike the fantastic (and realistic) depiction of gay characters in programmes such as Six Feet Under or Brothers And Sisters, the only gay character on this show is Roma Maffia’s cute anaesthesiologist Liz Cruz who despite being one of the series’ most sympathetic and level headed character, she hasn’t been one of the show’s most fortunate in love.
In the first season she had a brief fling with transsexual Sophia but this was something out of mutual loneliness as opposed to love, something which Liz was only too happy to tell Sophia while in the fourth season, a chance encounter with a mysterious beauty in a gay bar with Christian lead to Liz losing a kidney and then there was Poppy, the kind of insecure control freak girlfriend who’ll put you through rigorous surgery due to their own hang ups rather than yours.
Whatever misfortunate Liz has experienced in love, at least she’s been aware enough to back out (dumping Poppy for instance) and she is far from the only character that’s suffered in love. In fact aside from the kidney debacle, it could be argued that she got off lightly.
Sean’s been married to Julia for nearly twenty years but cracks were there since the first episode and as soon as a paternity test revealed that oldest son Matt was in fact Christian’s, Sean and Julia’s marriage was over in the second season. Then a one night stand in Season Three had Julia pregnant and Sean only too happy to reunite with her until the opening episode of Season Four revealed that their unborn son had Ectrodactily and as soon as Connor was born both of them were at loggerheads over how to deal with their son’s disability.
Sean wanted to do surgery but Julia didn’t and a set of mutual flings with other people, both of them conceded their marriage was over for a second time. Watching Sean and Julia can be exhausting. There’s great chemistry between both Dylan Walsh and Joely Richardson that make them incredibly believable as a pair who love each other but the reality is that Sean and Julia are certainly better off with each other. This got proved in the third season when Julia had to depend on herself and went into business with Gina and Liz and had the De La Mer spa. It’s a pity that Season Four destroyed that story when you think about it.
Christian hasn’t had much fun either. For a guy who’ll bang anything (female) with a pulse, there are some relationships only a total masochist would enter into and Christian must be one of those. There’s Gina, the one night stand from hell who has him thinking that he’s gotten her pregnant until the baby is a different race and then there’s Kimber. My God, never have I been against a relationship as the one between these two. Their first sex scene was one of the least sexy scenes on TV and Christian’s assessment of Kimber’s physique so he could bag a patient was pretty sleazy. Plus Kimber is too needy.
She knows that Christian doesn’t love her and yet she always seems to allow him to treat her like dirt. Even during period where she tries to assert her own independence (and with Kimber, that’s either in the porn industry or embarking on Scientology).
A failed marriage attempt and a few feeble attempts to sabotage her relationship with Matt (which in of itself is another disaster area); you’d think the writers would throw Christian a bone and give him a reasonably happy relationship with Michelle. Getting rid of her older husband Burt should’ve helped but despite some actually amazing chemistry between McMahon and Sanaa Lathan, the writers made Michelle’s character too involved in the fourth season’s organ ring to really work out. Then again, their doom was written when their sexual encounter came from Christian blackmailing Michelle into sleeping with him. That should kill any affection Michelle may have had for Christian.
In terms of baddies, Seasons Two and Three concentrated on The Carver/Quentin Costa, a psycho with a birth defect who went around raping and mutilating models and even attacked Sean and Christian before getting his twisted sister Kit to help him fake his death. The Carver became something of a cult icon, though the reveal itself could’ve been handled much better.
Seasons One and Four on the other hand dealt with drug lord Escobar Gallardo. A nasty piece who when he wasn’t using girls for drug smuggling he was employing James and an unwilling Michelle to snatch people’s kidneys. As baddies go, Escobar was both nasty, effective and charismatic and his death at the hands of his crafty wife Galla ended the fourth season on a pretty awesome note.
With the series rejuvenating it’s format for Season Five with Sean and Christian taking their surgical skills from Miami to LA, it’ll be interesting to see how this series continues to deliver. This show may overindulge in the sex and violence but it’s undeniably addictive with characters that genuinely come as real as you and me. Beauty might be skin deep but don’t for a second think there isn’t something else going on underneath either.