Friday, June 25, 2010

Ranking the Ten Worst Buffyverse Characters

It’s something that happens in every fandom, it’s inescapable. There are characters that polarize the fandom so drastically it can start decade spanning internet wars. Joss Whedon’s projects are no exception; the only difference is they are kept so intertwined it’s hard to separate them. Actors migrate from one series to another, playing different characters some times actors come on to the show playing one character and by the time they’re done they’re playing an entirely different character.

And then we get to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or as I like to call it ‘The Little Show That Could’ and its sister show Angel (The Little Show That Should Have Known When To Stop.) Not only are these shows intertwined by being contained within the Whedonverse, having migrating actors, actors playing multiple characters but now we’ve got crossovers and actors playing the same characters on both shows. So it’s only fitting that in a list of Top 10 Worst Buffyverse Characters that the list also contain characters from Buffy’s sister show Angel.


The thing about Dawn isn’t so much the character but what she represents and how much of a game changer she actually was.  Buffy had always been a series that was meant to be metaphorical and larger than life and despite it being a show about demons and vampires it never had too many undertones of religion. Dawn changed everything. In the course of one season we get a magically created girl who can open a portal to hell that will end the world that had been protected by monks because she needed to be kept hidden from a God so evil that she was banished from the very hell she was trying to return to. We get the death of Joyce, Dawn’s reveal as Buffy’s sister but not really Buffy’s sister just as an army of religious knights storm Sunnydale to stop Glory from using Dawn. Buffy died because of Dawn, Buffy suffered the most because of Dawn and then all of a sudden Buffy went from fighting Gods and dragons to the Nerd Herd. And now in season 8 we have Dawn hooking up with Xander (which is still creepy because while her body is 18-20 her soul is only like 5 max), saying she considers Willow to be her mother and has a resentment towards Buffy that rivals the emotional roller coaster that was season 5-7 Dawn COMBINED!
I wanted to like Eve I really did. Actually out of all of the characters on this list I would consider her ‘middle ground’ not really hated, but not really loved. Or more accurately Eve is on this list because of the hate of what she was, but there’s a desire to keep her off of this list for the love of what she could have been. There was a tongue-in-cheek aspect to her character the second she threw an apple at Angel and offered him the keys to Wolfram & Hart. Now part of me wants to believe that she was actually *THE* Eve from The Garden of Eden, not only because of that but also when the Senior Partners send in her replacement and force her to sign away her immortality. That implies that she’s been around for a long time because of how scared she got, but it also makes you think because it’s been proven that the contracts with Wolfram & Hart extend postmortem, so there wouldn’t have necessarily been a need to keep Eve alive and ‘human.’ All that aside the big bone of contention among essentially every single Angel fan is that not only was Eve a poor substitute to Lilah but an extremely poor follow up given the fact that there wasn’t enough time to properly expand on her character or even give fans time to really get used to her. I hate to say it but she had almost been reduced to a throw away character. We don’t know what happens to her at the end of the TV series. We don’t know how she reacts to Lindsey being killed, yet in Angel: After the Fall (aka Angel Season 6) The Senior Partners discuss the idea of resurrecting a zombified version of Lindsey or Eve to serve as their liaison to Angel because they are both currently under their control.

Oh where to start? Is it the bad accent? Is it the fact that it continued the trend that Slayers can’t use crossbows (first Buffy, then Kendra, later Faith finally Kennedy broke that trend)? Could it even be a case of bad casting? I think it’s a case of all of the above and none of the above. Kendra has sort of made her mark as unforgettably forgettable. She will never go down in history as the most hated Slayer in Whedonverse, I think that honor belongs to Kennedy (although I don’t understand that one,) she’ll never be the ‘weakest’ Slayer we have all of season 7 and a good chunk of season 8 for that. She was the first Slayer Drusilla killed, but they never touch on Drusilla’s time in Sunnydale much and her death gave us Faith. My problem with the character is the fact that Kendra was sort of before her time. Buffy didn’t really start her quest for normalcy until season 3-4, that would have been a good time for a character like Kendra to show how much more normal Buffy was than she thought she was. Seasons 5-8 are when we really get to see the full grasp of the Slayer mythology and how deep and profound it is, so we get moments like Kendra being given to her Watcher as a child, but that isn’t touched on again until season 7. At best Kendra was introduced one season too soon.

I don’t understand why Scott exists in Buffyverse at all. I get that he was supposed to be this bridge to Buffy trying to get her life back together but at that point in the series it was unnecessary. He would have fit in with Buffy with the way the character was written in the movie or ‘The Origin’ comic but with all of the characters Buffy has been romantically involved with: Pike, Angel, Spike, Parker, Riley, and Satsu; Scott is the one character that just doesn’t fit. Yes Riley was too ‘bland’ ‘milquetoast’ ‘Mary Sue-like’ for many but Scott took all of those qualities and amplified them a thousand times over.

For me Ben is the Eve of Buffy. I wanted to like him, I tried to like him, but it’s hard to look past what they had done with him. But there were so many unanswered questions and that’s why he lands on this list. Why was he chosen to contain Glory? Was it a punishment for something he had done? Was it a last ditch attempt on Glory’s part to make a pact with someone on Earth before she was sent there? How long ago had the two of them actually merged, was Glory sent to Earth long ago and Ben just didn’t age and his life sort of just started over and he was implanted with all these fake memories and a history of himself and those around him like the monks did with Dawn? Was he drawn to Dawn and Buffy because he honestly felt sorry for what they were going through because of Joyce being sick and later dying or was he drawn to them out of a feeling of remorse because he knew that Glory was going after the two of them? When Giles killed Ben to kill Glory did their souls stay merged? Did they go back to Glory’s dimension or Earth’s version of  hell? Do characters like Ben, Dawn and Connor even have souls? I wish Joss found a way to keep Ben around post Glory, to see his struggle with the things that had happened because of someone in his body, to see him and Buffy struggle to regain their sanity together – it would have made for a much better redemption story than Buffy/Spike. The only reason why Ben doesn’t rank higher on the list is because Giles killing him helped to deepen the rift between Buffy and Giles that gets to the point where Giles sides with Faith over Buffy multiple times in season 7 and beyond.

Everything that’s right about this character is actually what makes him so wrong. It is fitting that he jumped in with Buffy and the gang considering the fact that his mother was a Slayer. The problem with that is that Buffy has moved so far past this ‘can a Slayer have a normal life’ plot that the idea of a Slayer having a child is pointless. But it does tie up some loose ends, Robin’s mother turns out to be Nikki, the Slayer from New York that we learn through flashbacks in season 5 that Spike killed. This would work, but it’s a bit out of place too, his character would have been done justice better if he had been introduced in season 6. The idea that he held a grudge and was taught his entire life to hate vampires, more specifically Spike would have worked so much better while Buffy was spiraling out of control in season 6. Instead Robin is used more as a prop, first to keep Buffy at Sunnydale High since he is the principal, and secondly to further hold Spike on this pedestal where Buffy must always stick up for him and forgive him and protect him even though Buffy’s own father figure Giles begs her to stay away from him. Instead of his story being about a man who had his entire life shaped by one event and forever altered in the most tragic of ways it became about Spike’s redemption. As a bone we got thrown an 11th hour Robin/Faith relationship but that seems to have fallen apart between season 7 and 8.

Connor is sort of like Dawn, only worse. He’s a mystical being who was sort of thrown in there for a plot point, yet they were so deeply connected to a main character that they couldn’t retcon him out permanently or kill him off for good. My problem with Connor is actually the same problem I have with Dawn, I like them both and the actors really grew on me over time but they were major game changers. The only problem is that Buffy as a series seem to rebound after the introduction of Dawn but the same can’t be said for Angel after the introduction of Connor. I like the episodes in the Connor era of Angel but the creation and existence of this character destroyed too many others. Darla got her ultimate redemption in killing herself in order for Connor to be born, but she *can’t* come back, only she does when she unsuccessfully tries to keep Connor from going over the edge; so now we can only get ghost/spirit!Darla or flashback!Darla. Connor while not directly involved in the destruction of Cordelia’s character played a major role in it. The birth of Connor set Wesley down a path he never recovered from, and it changed Angel. Angel essentially sold out all of his friends in order to give Connor a normal life, only to have that never work and he still got stuck in the ‘family business’ anyway only to be killed by Gunn in season 6 and then that was all retconned out too. So we have a character that never was supposed to exist, then was a victim of ‘rapid aging syndrome’ (where a character goes a way for a brief period of time and comes back aged to suit the plot), gets thrown into a really odd plot, gets retconned out, gets written back in, then out, then back in and remembers EVERYTHING, then we get season 6 which happens and then suddenly the entire season gets retconned out and we’re right back to three seconds after the end of ‘Not Fade Away’ so they retconned the third retcon, or re-retconned the second one. It gives me a headache.

Numbers 3 and 4 were a tough call and both for different reasons. In the case of Maggie Walsh I think it’s a combination of Buffy suffering growing pains as a series and a poorly constructed plot in general. Buffy wasn’t meant to be a series with political subtext and undertones so the fact that the show suddenly became about Buffy VS. the Government came out of left field. As a whole season 4 is hated by the fans for various reasons but in the end it all comes back to the plot with the Initiative. They neutered Spike, they ‘created’ demons to stop demons; we ended up with the stereotypical ‘evil government’ plot. The whole thing was a failure; there were a few bright spots we got Tara, more Anya, Faith waking up from her coma, vampire Harmony; I liked Riley and Graham but not so much as soldiers. But there was a lot of bad that went with the series too, so for the life of me I can’t figure out why for a large part of season 8 it was Buffy VS: The Army, Government and Twilight. If it didn’t work the first time: don’t revisit it!

Forget about restricting it just to Buffy/Angelverse characters Spike is quite possibly the most polarizing character in all of Whedonverse. I’m not going to talk about the shipper aspects of it because honestly I’ve never been a big supporter of Buffy/Angel or Buffy/Spike her relationship with both of them almost perverted the essence of Buffy’s character; but that’s a story for another blog post. Spike at best was a one note character that honestly didn’t need to exist within the universe beyond the second season of Buffy. It’s going to be impossible to do this without talking about the time Spike tried to rape Buffy so I’ll have to go into that. I get that it had shown how far Buffy had fallen on her own that she had let Spike get as close as he did but from that episode on Buffy the Vampire Slayer almost switched gears into becoming about Spike’s redemption and nothing else. Anya had a wish gone wrong in season 7 and Buffy was ready and willing to kill her that second, it didn’t matter that she had a soul, yet Spike was given chance after chance by Buffy. He was the one that closed the Hellmouth, not Buffy. The grand sacrifice of the series didn’t even come from the main character; it came from a guest star that just wouldn’t go away. And then Buffy ends and he goes over to Angel and we get season 5 of Angel (again my hate of that is a post for another blog.) And now at the eleventh hour Spike is about to swoop in and help save the day in season 8. The ONLY reason why he isn’t ranked number 1 in my most hated list is because his very existence gave us Drusilla. Well that and the episode of Angel where Illyria kept killing Spike over and over.

Joss does best when he is allowed to tell the story he wants within the timeframe he wants to. Jasmine is proof of how big of a train wreck it can turn into if he looses control, and here he lost it not once but twice. The series was still rebounding from Darla’s mystical pregnancy in season 3. Season 4 was deeply intertwined with Buffy season 7, Buffy was ending, Angel had taken a massively dark turn, The WB had an axe hovering over Angel’s head telling Joss the series had grown too deep and complex and needed to be simplified and more stand alone and self contained, Joss and crew had just finished killing off a massive amount of the recurring and regular cast and then Charisma Carpenter became pregnant. I get that if Joss would have been left alone Jasmine would have been the endgame for Angel, I could easily see him tying Jasmine, Illyria and Glory all together and connecting them somehow, but sadly that never came to be. Jasmine wasn’t introduced until the fourth quarter of season 4, there was the mandate of ‘stand alone only’ episodes from the WB so she needed to be wrapped up quickly. But it left a sour taste in my mouth, magic!Dawn one year, magic!Connor the next and then magic!Jasmine. There were too many magic babies that rapidly aged way too close together.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ranking the Top Ten Babes of Video Games

Here at Geek Culture we take pride in not only our comic book babes, but also those who got their start in a slightly different format. Though some have crossed genres, these deadly, yet beautiful women are our top ten babes to come from video games. Enjoy!

1) Kitana (Mortal Kombat) - Edenia's favorite princess is also the chick who kicked your ass in Mortal Kombat II. Once labeled the 'unbeatable character,' Kitana goes down in my book as the number one video game babe. 
Choice Actress: Morena Baccarin

2) Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) - This British beauty ranks number two on our list. Probably the biggest solo series featuring a female lead, Tomb Raider has stood the test of time as one of the most challenging and fun action/adventure games for more than a decade.
Choice Actress: Ali Larter

3) Chun-Li (Street Fighter) - Serving as an undercover Interpol agent, Chun-Li has proven not only to be a beautiful asset to the Street Fighter saga, but also a fierce opponent with her killer legs and signature spinning bird kick. 
Choice Actress: Kristin Kreuk

4) Sonya Blade (Mortal Kombat) - The list is bound to be filled with Mortal Kombat babes as the game has spanned such a large time frame and created many memorable characters. Sonya Blade, the original female kombatant, is an obvious choice for our number four. 
Choice Actress: Hudson Leick

5) Princess Peach (Mario) - That's right guys, clocking in at number five is our very own Princess Peach Toadstool from the Mario series. Every young boy who grew up playing the numerous releases from Nintendo no doubt had a crush on this princess. Don't deny it, if you weren't in love, why did you log all those hours trying to save her? Don't blame it on Mario. 
Choice Actress: Alicia Silverstone

6) Rubi Malone (Wet) - A relatively new character to the video game world, this Bethesda Softworks game debuted in 2009 and tried to set a new form of game play. Playing off the grindhouse styled hits from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, this hit featured the deadly assassin Rubi Malone. A Jack Daniel's drinking, foul-mouthed woman seeking revenge 'Kill Bill' style. Ultimately the character proved to be hotter than the actual game play. 
Choice Actress: Eliza Dushku

7) Mileena (Mortal Kombat) - Twin sister or more appropriately evil clone to our number one video game babe Kitana, Mileena is a deadly force to be reckoned with. Her mask may hide a hideous secret but that doesn't stop my personal favorite character of the series to rank number seven on our list. 
Choice Actress: Rose McGowan

8) Ada Wong (Resident Evil) - Though she seemed to have been lost in the battle against Raccoon City in Resident Evil 2, this deadly ally made a shocking, yet much welcomed re-appearance in Resident Evil 4. That should teach us to not underestimate Ms. Wong again.
Choice Actress: Dichen Lachman / Grace Park

9) Cammy (Street Fighter) - Though not the hottest female of the Street Fighter series, Cammy definitely proved to hold her own. In a 2009 poll asking thousands of fans which character they would like to see most in Street Fighter IV Cammy won by a land slide. Apparently someone agrees with me.
Choice Actress: Maggie Grace

10) Eve (Parasite Eve) - Hopefully some of you remember this gem for the Playstation 1 system. Parasite Eve featured horror game play similar to Resident Evil with a rich back story and not to mention a hot female lead. Though Melissa, the villain of the story, was more my taste, we give the number ten spot to the lead character, Eve. 
Choice Actress: Sarah Michelle Gellar