Once More with Feeling

Now I finally understand the lyrics. This is no tiny thing (well, maybe it is, but...)

Buffy fans may recognize the subject: The extraordinary episode (Season Six, Episode Seven) in which a "lord of the dance--but not the scary one, just a demon" causes folks to burst into song and full musical numbers--with backing--all over Sunnydale, in the case of the core cast revealing secrets that had been building up for weeks and months.

What's extraordinary is that the show's creator, Joss Whedon, single-handedly wrote all of the songs (and wrote and directed the episode, but then 90% of the dialog is in song lyrics)--and they're pretty good songs. Also extraordinary, I suppose, is that the cast all do their own singing and dancing. One of them (Giles, the former librarian, Anthony Stewart Head) has a musical background and is a fine singer; another turns out to have a superb voice; the rest manage pretty well--and some of the dancing is first rate.

But it was hard to get all the lyrics when the show was broadcast, particularly since some songs overlap to move the plot forward.

And when we first watched the DVD version--also the only widescreen episode of Buffy, and with the whole episode framed as a musical (special opening and closing just for the episode)--it was worse. Turns out that the sound processing used for the musical numbers (echo, etc.) didn't work well with our Sony XBR's "simulated surround" mechanism.

So, last night, we rewatched the episode, doing two things: Turning off the simulated surround--and turning on English captions.

And now it all makes sense. On to episode 8 next week...

(Also the only Buffy episode so far on the DVD sets that has its own special featurettes, a fairly long one discussing how they managed to do a full-scale 50-minute musical on a weekly low-budget show and a couple of shorter ones. The episode was a tour de force, in my opinion.)

By the way, although I was never an Ally McBeal watcher, there's one specific episode I'd pay $5 or $6 for if I could get it (legally) as a DVD, since it features my candidate for America's greatest living songwriter--more than a dozen Randy Newman songs, one written for the episode, most sung by the cast, all managing to move the plot forward.

Well, I hinted this journal would be about truly random subjects, didn't I? Cites & Insights is my serious web-based effort.

And for anyone who's made it this far down, what I expect to be my only political comment of this season (I hope):

As I believe Jon Stewart said, George W's "compassionate conservatism" is like the Olympics: It appears once every four years, then goes away after a week or two.

And this story from Billings, Montana offers further insight into certain nonsense going on. As Bobdole should know, where there's smoke, there's probably someone blowing it.


"They got the mustard out!!!!!"

I thought Joss had help with the musical arrangments from the show's composer though.

Arrangements, yes--but Whedon showed up one day with a CD-R and a set of scores, with words and music complete. (Seems to me it's not unusual for scoring and arrangement to be separate from songwriting. I'm blown away by Whedon managing the tunes; I certainly wouldn't expect him to do the arranging as well.)

If I have a favorite, it's the most musically adventurous, "Heaven" (the song Buffy sings as she's getting ready to catch fire), with its key use of atonal composition. Otherwise, there are several great numbers--certainly including "I'll Never Tell" and Lara's fairly erotic song.

Walt, you're spurring me on to rent "Buffy The Vampire"! I'm sorry to say that I only saw one episode, right about when it was going off the air, and I realized then that I'd probably really have enjoyed the show. And, as for the other television show you mentioned, I never caught that one either, but if I'd known that Randy Newman's songs were featured, I'd have tuned in if only for the music! I've been a Randy Newman fan from way back. :-)

Also wanted to thank you for that link to the article about the swift boat veteran, Bob Anderson's surprise when he learned of his co-opted identity -

"I'm pretty nonpolitical," the 56-year-old Anderson said Tuesday. So, when he found out last week that his name was one of about 300 signed on a letter questioning Kerry's service, he was "flabbergasted."

"It's kind of like stealing my identity," said Anderson, who spent a year on a swift boat as an engine man and gunner.

- I only wish that the Kerry folks had picked up on this and run their own version of the "Identity Theft" advertisement like the ones we've all seen. Thanks so much for that article, Walt.

I probably didn't watch two entire episodes of Ally McBeal; fortunately, there was a blurb about the musical/Randy Newman episode.

We stopped suggesting Buffy after the second season: It was just too difficult to get up to speed on "the Buffyverse"--a problem with any show with a true ensemble cast and an ongoing pattern of change and growth.

If you rent Buffy, you're taking on a project: There are, after all, seven seasons, and it was "a gross series"--there were exactly 144 episodes (12 in the first season, which began mid-year, and 22 in seasons 2 through 7). I don't ever actually encourage anyone to watch it; I just know that we're finding the second time through to be as good as/better than the first, and are satisfied we'll watch the run at least two or three more times over the years, making the purchase sensible. (Whereas, for example, while we always watched Angel, the spinoff, we haven't yet purchased any of the DVD sets that are emerging.)

Walt, you're right - this is way too big a project for me right about now, nevertheless, it's good to have some background info on Buffy.

In this family, we're diehard Alias fans. ;-)

You waited 2 years to get the lyrics to "Once More with Feeling"? Mercy. I have friends (scary, obsessive, passionate friends) who were trading lyrics and reverse-eng'ed arrangements within hours of the original airing.Or, I could have sent you my liner notes from the soundtrack.My fave tunes are from the beginning, middle and end: Buffy's "Going Thru the Motions" and "Give Me Something to Sing About" and the Giles/Tara duet "Stay".