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18 January 2008 @ 09:15 am
WaTchers Review #3  
In my continual quest to seduce people into enjoying WaTchers: The Virtual Series, I present this mini-review of the third episode, first season: Foreign Presence


Story by: David Zahir, CN Winters and Susan Carr
Written by: Steff with additional material from David Zahir

Directed by: CN Winters and Susan Carr

Produced by: CN Winters and Susan Carr

Edited by: Kate

Sound Department: Steff

Art Director: Chris Cook

Artists: Chris Cook,
David Zahir, Coen, Tori, Cynthia Taz, CN Winters
Special Guest Stars: James Spader as Mr. DeVeer and Edward Woodward as James Tyrell



Our teaser this episode opens with another busy morning at the New Council's HQ with some amusement to be had by Andrew. This is just a throw-away bit, however, to introduce us to a carpenter/handyman(Alien-era Tom Skerritt) that will play a role later in the story. He's there for renovations.

The meat of this teaser though, is the flashback to London in 2002... and the death of the Old Council. As you'll recall, they blew up real good. We also see that Rowena Allister was on her way to the Council and barely escaped, in her hands... a mysterious book which she obviously feels important.

In the present, Ro (Michelle Williams) is still in London meeting with Mr. James Tyrell (Edward Woodward); a real piece of work who has taken control of the remnants of the 'Old Council'.



Act One
sees us back at the New Council with strange children showing up and repeating the same phrase over and over: 'Must hide it. Can't let him find it.'

As if this isn't creepy enough, all of the tykes run off and soon after let out blood-curdling screams.

It isn't until the next morning that everyone realizes they've shared the same sort of dream (which we knew because we get cameo appearances by the 'Cheese-Guy' from BTVS: Restless). Looks like its time to research! As our gang go about their day however, they don't realize that they're being watched themselves by a high-tech surveillance van. Hmm... the old council, perhaps?

  Watchers Council is under a watchful eye.


That same night, while Willow is uncovering strange things about their building and the handyman they've just hired, the Slayers are out on patrol with a new recruit. They're soon meeting Ro, who introduces herself as a Watcher to Vi and Kennedy's non-plussed reaction.



Act Two
opens with the Old Council making their move. Mr. DeVeer (James Spader) arrives regarding a little matter involving 200 million pounds... the money that Willow was able to computer hack from the previous council's bank accounts after their seeming demise a year ago. As Mr. DeVeer reveals however, the 'real' Council's demise was over-exaggerated. And they plan on re-establishing control over the demon-hunting activities. Things become even more strained when Ro shows up at the Council and immediately starts judging the way things are being handled with the Slayer patrols as well as Willow (Kenn's Watcher now... sort of, she doesn't much need one) and Kennedy (Willow's Slayer... sort of) having an obvious relationship, which is mucho taboo. The two teams decide to separate for the evening, but this isn't going to go well, we can tell.

  Mr. Giles in the new Councils' lobby.


Act Three: We're back to the central story... the mysterious brats and the handyman who seems to have a convenient connection to what is going on. As we'll find out, it's no coincidence that he applied for some carpentry work at the Council. What exactly does Mr. Malloy want? And was Richard (his dead twin) a serial child-killer?

  A young and sexy Tom Skerritt as Hank Malloy.


Giles tries to find out more about Richard and Hank Malloy, but Andrew's attempts to play 'bad-cop' to Giles' reasonableness doesn't help matters (though it is amusing).

Later the building erupts with poltergeist activity leading to the location of a mysterious dagger which has also appeared in dreams. DeVeer and Ro also return just to get in the way.



Act Four:
Rowena decides she needs to stay and help the Council with this spirit-threat and again comes to loggerheads with Kenn, who does not trust her one whit. Willow performs a 'psychic reading' on the found dagger, revealing a not-very-shocking twist in the tale of Richard, Hank and the child murders. As the gang solves the mystery and deals with the spirits of the dead children, DeVeer assigns Ro to act as liaison between London and Cleveland Councils until they can arrive at an agreement about how to proceed.

  James Tyrell (Edward Woodward) is going to be trouble.


What neither councils know, is that DeVeer is meeting Bonnie and we find out the mysterious 'Presidium' has important equipment arriving. DeVeer is a traitor in their midst!



The Good:
The b-plot is really good with interesting and infuriating characters. It also starts an obvious ongoing subplot which reveals that the series will be complex and thoughtful. The Rowena character is interesting in that despite working for the London Council and believing themselves to be the 'legitimate' council branch, she quickly throws this aside when there's work to be done. The main characters are used well and are given both good and bad qualities (especially Kennedy's hot temper) which makes them more 'real' as people. Faith, Willow, and Giles are especially strong and Andrew is amusing in the interrogation scene.


The Bad:
There's nothing seriously bad here, but the plot twist with Richard and Hank's roles in the prior murders was not much of a twist. Hank was too suspicious to be completely innocent throughout the story. It may have worked better if he'd been working with the Council since episode one, instead of just showing up for this story. Vi and Rona really get short-shifted again and the new recruit Slayer is barely introduced, but this isn't a serious impediment to the story at all. Andrew can be grating in his whiny-nerdiness.


Verdict:
An average a-plot story is elevated by the arrival of the London Council on the scene to make things difficult for our heroes. Dialog remains strong and the main players are well defined. Side characters could use a bit more personality, however, especially Vi and Rona. We'll give this one a 3.25 out of 5 stars with a bonus mention for introducing subplots and adding complexity to the WaTchers-verse.


Rob
 
 
 
Current Location: too-cold Michigan
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(Anonymous) on January 20th, 2008 08:11 am (UTC)
Great stuff! I look forward to reading this as you keep going... even if you won't get to any episodes with my name on them for a while. ;)

-Dan Joslyn
harsens_robharsens_rob on January 20th, 2008 05:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you Dan!

Now I feel all self-conscious about any of the weak stuff I might point out :-)

For everyone else... Dan is a part of the WaTchers staff. His addition was (and this isn't just 'cause he might read this comment) a mighty boost to the storytelling. Seriously.

Rob