Yesterday, we were choosing the strongest episodes for each Buffy writer (only the TV show applied). Today, as a Part II of the same poll, I'm choosing the weakest episodes for those writers:
This one's for Joss. Three worst episodes. Go!
Family: Much as I liked the fact that Buffy makes it clear in the end that Tara is considered family, I just found the episode to be too heavy handed. I also didn't see any real reason why Glory would send the Lei-Achs to do her dirty work for her, which is the problem with introducing a god as a villain. I also found the Maclays to be too clearly 'black hats', which related directly to the heavy handedness - the episode could have used a bit more ambiguity before taking a side against them on behalf of Tara's place in the Scoobies.
Anne: There was nothing seriously wrong with the episode, but it seemed to be draggy to me. I'll swallow the incredible coincidence that Chanterelle cum Lilly would just happen to run across Buffy in Los Angeles - choose to believe it was the PTB directing this, but did she have to just happen to get involved in the crooked blood bank that led to Ken that led to the plot to use runaways in a hellish sweatshop, as well? There were a few moments I genuinely enjoyed - but the flow of the episode just lacked energy.
Ted: What a disappointment. Jack Ritter was wonderful in a surprisingly menacing role and I liked Buffy having to deal with the fact that Joyce had to have a life that didn't revolve around her or her dad. But when Buffy knocked Ted down those stairs, the episode promised more than it was prepared to deliver. This should have been handled as Buffy's "Alan Finch" moment and influence everything about how she approaches Slaying forever after - even after she finds out she dodged a bullet by Ted being a robot - but it doesn't have any sort of lasting impact on Buffy (see the way she handles the Knights in 'Spiral').
Bottom three for Marti! Only three!
Bad Eggs: Pointless filler episode that is extra pointlessly filler-ed. You've got the Gorch brothers who were supposed to be brutally evil (wiped out a Mexican village before turning into vampires!), but who were actually clownishly evil instead with overly broad komedy in place of menace. You've got the whole Bezoar-demon being boring, and how about Buffy being knocked out in one blow by Cordelia?! And then there is the inconsistent egg shells of cracking and uncracking in Buffy's room and ... ugh. Dull plot, dull monster (the vampires get more attention - too bad it's bad attention). The only scene of any consequence was Giles throwing a parasite onto Joyce's back to put her under control - everything else can be written off.
Living Conditions and Doomed share the same problem and the same strengths - the good has some very humorous moments, including some funny pratfalling, but the bad outweighs this because the few humorous bits are trapped in boring acres of boring time that is boring. These episodes are boring.
And the Bottom 3 for Jane Espenson!
The Harsh Light of Day: I don't know why I don't really like this episode because the individual dialog scenes are fun: Harmony and Spike, Anya and Xander and Harmony biting Willow and then complaining her and Oz are being mean when he stops her from killing Wills is all mildly funny. But we also have the awful Gem of Amara plot, the easy way Spike starts beating Buffy until he mentions Angel, at which time she hulks out and defeats him with no trouble and the start of the Parker-moping. Plus, this leads to a crass and unnecessary crossover for Oz into Angel the Series.
Pangs: I don't like this one for one of the same problems as above - the crossover of Angel from his series back to Sunnydale is unnecessary. I also don't like their bringing up the entire Native American/European colonial history because the topic is too large and serious for it to be dismissed by a few snarky lines from Spike. I don't like the overbroad comedy of Buffy's insisting on hosting the perfect Thanksgiving meal at Giles, although I like the idea well enough, it's the execution that I find too much. I also find Willow's POV on the Chumash spirit's attack a bit too simplistic and heavy handed.
Superstar: I can't stand Mary Sue/Marty Stu-ism and I get that this episode is a send up of fanfictioners who make their self inserts the 'stars of the show' over the real characters, but watching it for 45 minutes wasn't fun, just painful and dull. A little bit of winking at the audience goes a long way - this was more like hammering the audience in the head.
Mr. David Fury, it's time to meet your Bottom 3!
Go Fish - I loved seeing Nicky in a speedo, but the rest of it was dull, the sea creatures were a bit ridiculous, the coach being willing to risk his whole team turning into monsters flies in the face of wanting them to win swim meets and the anti-steroid message was way to bluntly 'message-y' to be any fun. Oh, and Angelus' inclusion was pointlessly reminding us that we really want to get back to his story arc, instead of wasting time with this one-off monster of the week.
Gone - I'm not sure what is wrong with Gone as an episode since the point of Buffy's enjoying be free from responsibility is valid in the aftermath of being back from utter peace she had known. I like Willow's place in the story and I even like the baby steps of both girls coming to grip with their respective problems. So, why isn't it better than it is? The invisible fight certainly doesn't help, nor does comic relief villains in a multi-arc - but it is more than that - there is just something missing in the script, bouncing uncomfortably between angst and komedy that just makes it's viewpoint on Buffy's sudden invisibility muddled.
Grave - I wish I liked this more, but script wise - it's far too repetitive with what has come for the last two episodes. Willow continues to throw a bitch-fit, she continues to insult her friends (and she should have had more words with Xander before the finale scene), she continues to throw magic around like confetti, but it's just not as emotionally involving as it could have been because we've already spent an episode doing this same thing. By the time Grave gets fifteen minutes in, I'm over it already. But I do like the discussion between Dawn and Buffy and of course, Xander's 'yellow crayon speech'. It's just that there isn't a big moment left in this saga since we already know that a) Willow isn't going to be killed to stop her, b) they wouldn't allow Willow to have killed Giles and c) she isn't going to go through with destroying the world, either. And I am entirely unmoved by Xander's sudden reversion to the "I'm just a useless Zeppo" moping ... that bus already left the station by this late in the series.
Back to Doug Petrie. Weakest three.
Two to Go - Repetitive. I wanted so badly to really be in fear of Willow's actions and afraid for her, but it's all so ... routine. Her bizarre scream, her bizarre using a semi-rig to try to attack the fleeing Andrew and Jonathon, the entire Magic Shop scene - none of it 'got to me'. I enjoyed Aly's acting and dialog when berating Dawn and Buffy at Rack's, but other than that, I just wasn't involved in this episode and with everything that was done, I should be. I should be on the edge of my seat through the whole thing - I mean, WILLOW HAS JUST FLAYED WARREN ... I should be trembling and instead I'm relatively bored (but that shot of Giles gets an OH YES! from me).
As You Were - But not for the reasons most people site. I liked Riley. I liked Riley in this episode. I liked Buffy stopping seeing Spike as she realizes he's not a worthy suitor (not his fault, he's a vampire and everyone has been conveniently putting that out of their mind). What I didn't like was the entire egg-pocalypse plot (Buffy, the series, needs to stay away from eggs and giant reptiles). I also loathe the way that Spike is allowed to skate by on this - he should have been exiled from the gang with at least the force he was when everyone discovered his crush on Buffy in S5 - but this isn't brought up again. I also find it unbelievable that Riley wouldn't tell Buffy they need the demon alive in a pre-battle briefing in the truck - that was just illogical and out of character not to mention something so critical to his mission. And, Sam's perkiness bugs me.
Flooded - *sigh* Look, I get the central point of the season - Life Is Hell. But, this is a fantasy-horror series and I don't want my time wasted with watching real life horrors like being unable to get a loan or dealing with plumbing problems. I can look at my own house for that. Finally, I loathe the way everyone agrees that Buffy is nearly broke, but not one of the effing witches living in the house bothers to go out and get an effing job - even a part time one - to help. The episode isn't all bad - Willow and Giles' confrontation with one another in the kitchen is some powerful stuff and The Trio aren't obnoxious yet.
Bottom three for David Greenwalt!
Teacher's Pet is awful. The fork-handed vampire who Angel talks up into a major threat, only to be casually offed by Buffy - the cheapskate CGI - the message that being sixteen and a virgin is embarrassing and must be hidden - the completely illogical mating ritual of the She-Mantis and the ridiculous, out of place and unbelievable hatching eggs in the science room closet never referred to again all make this one a real loser - even for a S1 episode.
Ted: See same entry for "Joss" - disappointment, thy name is 'Ted'.
Reptile Boy: Though I don't really think it is that bad of an episode.
And finally, bottom three for Rebecca Rand Kirshner:
I think the only one that I can actually say I don't like is "Touched". I don't like this episode because I find the fact that Buffy was kicked out of her own home by her sister and friends to be so Out of Character for all of them, that I just can't accept I actually saw it which taints this episode already. Spike's "you're a hell of a woman" speech felt more in character when it was coming from Riley and I don't like that Spike is still Spike - despite the fact that William is 'in residence' now. I'm also not crazy about everyone having sex, as it pulls away from the dramatic dialogue we could be having about the situation with Caleb and the Potentials, instead. And, finally, I don't like that Faith's first experience as the new lead Slayer is to rush everyone right into a bomb-laden trap - that really feels like stacking the deck against her in order to make Buffy 'right' so she can take over again.
For the other two, I guess I'll go with Tabula Rasa because it's hint and wink at the audience is a bit heavy handed and the loan shark who is a land shark is too Saturday Night Live and obvious to be clever or funny. Lastly, I'm going to include....
Out of My Mind - but only because of the whole space connection that just wasn't necessary to the story. And that the alien demon is a giant roach-thing that vomits in people's faces....
Wrapping things up, your favorite writer?
To answer this one, I actually put in a bit of mathematical work... I went through the list of episodes and gave a tic to each episode that I found to be GREAT. Joss and Marti are the only writers in which an episode credited to them earned a tic, which put Joss way out ahead with 6 great episodes to Marti's 1.
Joss is my favorite writer.
Now, because I knew that the 'least favorite writer' was going to be a question somewhere along the line, I also gave a tic to each VERY GOOD episode. This way I could go back to through the list and see who had both the least number of GREAT episodes (0) and the least number of VERY GOOD episodes that entertained me. Shockingly two of our writers also received a 0 here.
But what I wanted to point out here is that, mathematically - taking GREAT episodes + VERY GOOD episodes and dividing the total by the number of all episodes credited to the writer, Joss doesn't come out on top!
If I take the total number of entertaining episodes, regardless of whether they were great or very good, Joss' percentage of enjoyable episodes is 52%, but Steven DeKnight: 60% ... I found that interesting.
Which leads me to include my own inserted category: Percentage of Enjoyable Episodes for each Writer:
Joss: 52% Marti: 26% Jane: 9% David: 18% Doug: 18% David G.: 0% (shock!) Rebecca: 13%
Drew: 0% Dean/Rob Combo: 40% Steven: 60%
Okay, your favorite writer besides Joss?
Clearly, Steven DeKnight out strips everyone else - including Joss if we only go by the percentage of very good and great episodes as a portion of the total episodes they have credit on.
Hey! Where is the 'least favorite writer'? I went through all that time-wasting!!
Inserted: Least favorite Buffy writer:
In order to figure out who my least favorite writer is, I had to go back through David Greenwalt's and Drew Greenberg's writing credits and give a tic to each episode I disliked. This I divided, again, by the total number of writing credits given to them. My least favorite Buffy episode writer is: Drew Greenberg - 33% of his episodes were hated (or 2 out of 6), while David Greenwalt's percentage of loathed episodes is only 14% (or 1 out of the 7).
And, now you see that I am crazy - I mean, who spends freaking hours on a poll?!
Yes, me is the answer.