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My So Called Life vs. Buffy

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Ted Todorov, Jan 3, 2003.

  1. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    Forgive me: Not having TV I am a little late to the party when it comes to TV shows, but thanks to the magic of DVDs, I am catching up with some of the better ones.
    I'm half way through the second season of Buffy and I'm enjoying it greatly. I'd heard Buffy referred to as "My So Called Life with vampires thrown in", so I was intrigued about this "Buffy without the vampires" show.
    I picked up the recent My So Called Life DVD set from DDD and just watched the pilot and and the following episode. My not so humble opinion: there is absolutely no comparison -- My So Called Life blows Buffy away completely -- it is an infinitely better show and indeed one of the very few pieces of great television I have ever seen.
    My So Called Life recognizes one of the key advantages a weekly TV series can have over film: it need not have a beginning, middle or end -- it can just present as much of a slice of life as comfortably fits within it's ~48 minutes of running time per episode. This freedom, when used with the intelligence, indeed brilliance or writing and execution of My So Called Life can have startling results.
    For all the reality shows and news programs on TV, real life is almost impossible to find there, but within the first minute of My So Called Life you are plunged in it, and it is thoroughly compelling that all the fake entertainment we are used to fades instantly.
    The comparison with Buffy seems almost unfair. Starting with the acting: Claire Danes is a brilliant actress, SM Gellar is mediocre at best. The rest of the cast follows suite.
    Buffy has been praised for exploring teenager - parent non-communication through the metaphor of Buffy not being able to tell her mom about her vampire slayer identity. Well, that's good for about one episode. By contrast My So Called Life does more with this subject in its first few minutes than Buffy does in a season and a half (and probably in all 7 seasons). Angela's line about her mother: "Lately, I can't even look at my mother without wanting to stab her repeatedly" in the context of its delivery is perfect.
    Bottom line: Buffy is just (pretty good) television. My So Called Life is a work of art, and a true slice of life. Look at just one little but truly salient fact: SM Gellar is a 20+ year old trying (and failing) to play a young teenager. Claire Danes is a 15 year old playing a 15 year old. The attitude behind those two casting decisions tells us a lot...
    When it come to DVDs though, the producers of Buffy have done a better job in terms of transfers (My So Called Life looks so washed out that you keep expecting Buffy to appear on the scene to slay the un-deadly pale cast). My So Called Life also just screams for commentary tracks, but no extras are on evidence. At least the sound mix is excellent.
    These technical details aside though: My So Called life is the best TV on DVD by a long shot, with only David Lynch's Twin Peaks being able to compete even slightly.
    Ted
    Edit: fixed the MSCL quote.
     
  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    SMG was only 18 playing a 16 year old Buffy in season 1. It's not that big a stretch. And I'm not really sure why that would be a salient fact behind the casting decision. SMG was the best possible actress to play the part at that time. Katie Holmes had a shot at the role (but she declined and noted that Buffy would not have done as well as it had if she (Katie) had play Buffy - this was from a recent interview in the Insight mag distributed in Atlanta), but SMG nailed it. Also SMG was initially casted as Cordelia, not Buffy, but as the search became fruitless in casting Buffy, SMG went for the role, and the rest is history.

    Then again, I thoroughly enjoyed Buffy, especially season 2 and 3. There are some fantastic character arcs (both metaphorical and literal) within the Buffy saga, and the interaction and relationship between the core group was always fun and engaging to watch.

    I'm glad you enjoyed MSCL. Some people enjoy realistic and literal reflections of everyday emotions and conflict. I would also suggest checking out "Once and Again" if you like MSCL. Different strokes for different folks.
     
  3. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Well-Known Member

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    I do agree. Buffy's not nearly as good, but I think some people compared it to MSCL because they were getting sick of "Beverly Hills 90210 with Vampires!" knowing the show was much better than that.

    Buffy's frankly not in the same category, while Buffy remains my favoritie show on television, of all time, watcihng the old MSCL, it's obvious that the show really could be been such a great show, had it been allowed to grow. thanks ABC.

    This is the first show where I've actually though "That's how it was at 15 for me."

    I related to Claire Danes, because I'd done the same thing with my hair (blond to black however), and the mother and father comments, and the comments from relatives, months after it was over, were real.

    I'm amazed that more shows like this never came out, perhaps the American public isn't ready for shows about real teens, and real problems. I guess if it had teens who were all quoting trendy art movies and climbing into each-others windows we'd have had 6 seasons...
    (just to note, I loved the first 3 seasons of Dawson's Creek, but it's not nearly as true to teen life as MSCL was. It's not even in the same league.)
     
  4. KimK

    KimK Well-Known Member

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    Season 1 aired in 1997 and SMG turns 26 in april, so I don't see how she could have been 18 in season 1 [​IMG]
     
  5. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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  6. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Well-Known Member

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    Buffy very much has a beginning, middle and end, it's just spread out over 7 seasons

    Since you've only seen 2 seasons, and the macrostory has barely started for you I think it's a tad early for you to judge. MSCL lacks the true emotional involvement that Buffy generates in its later seasons(especially 5), perhaps it would have had it lasted longer.
     
  7. Adam_ME

    Adam_ME Well-Known Member

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    First of all, Ted, get through the rest of Buffy Season 2 before passing judgment on the series. After you watch Becoming Parts I & II, I seriously doubt you'll be knocking SMG's acting.

    And with regards to SMG being too petite for the role of Buffy, I believe that's the whole point. Joss Whedon always said his intent with the show(at least when it first started) was to take the pretty young blond girl who always gets killed in horror movies and make her the ass-kicking heroine.

    And as for you finding Kristy Swanson a more compelling Buffy than SMG...I won't even go there.
     
  8. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Well-Known Member

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    Exactly, I missed the halfway part

    If you haven't hit "Suprise" and "Innocence" yet, you cannot judge the show whatsoever

    Joss did not feel safe to start his macrostory until he was picked up fora full season, and that's where the entire saga of the show starts right there.
     
  9. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    Quote:



    Buffy very much has a beginning, middle and end, it's just spread out over 7 seasons






    I'm saying that it's My So Called Life that doesn't have a beginning middle and end, and that is a GOOD thing. One part Buffy episodes most certainly do, and in that they are much more conventional.

    Of course if I were writing a book or something, I should see all of Buffy before passing judgment -- this is just my visceral first impression. But considering I've seen all of two episodes of My So Called Life, I have devoted way more attention to Buffy so far. And I can't imagine Buffy ever approaching the level of My So Called Life.

    Take the question of parental dating, as covered in Buffy episode "Ted" and Angela's father's almost affair in ep. 2 of My So Called Life. "Ted" is just plain dumb (though watching J. Ritter do the android thing is pretty funny). The subject is covered with great realism, subtlety and intelligence in MSCL and is just one of the many subjects of that episode.

    So far as SMG's acting, guys, give it a rest. I don't need to see all seven seasons of Buffy to have an opinion: I just need to compare SMG and Claire Danes based on their achievements on the silver screen, and face it, there is no comparison. Danes is first rate doing everything from Juliet to Sookie Sapperstein. SMG... yeah, Daphne in Scoobie Doo is about her speed. The idea of SMG doing Shakespeare is plain funny. I'm sure her Lady Macbeth would be right up there with Keanu Reeves' Hamlet (I'd pay good money for a video of that one -- too bad one doesn't exist)... (Trivia: best Juliet by a currently active TV actress: Cynthia Nixon at the Public Theater circa 1988).

    Ted
     
  10. Michael St. Clair

    Michael St. Clair Well-Known Member

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    I really, really like both shows.

    But I'll take 'Freaks and Geeks' over either!
     
  11. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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  12. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Ack! SMG was 19 when she started on Buffy. Buffy (the show) was a mid-season replacement in the beginning of 1997, so she was working on it in 1996, so that would put her at 19. Mea culpa. Doh!
    FYI: Charisma Carpenter was around 25 when she was playing the 16 year old Cordelia on the show. [​IMG]
    Also consider that SMG works "full-time" on a show that only gives her a small window for work on films outside of the show for the past 6 season. Danes was working full time on films (as much as given to her) because she wasn't on a weekly TV show.
    Hey, Claire is going to be in T3? Whodthunkit?
     
  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I have to wonder, are we just discussing the quality of the shows, or the acting abilities of the leading ladies in this thread?
     
  14. Michael St. Clair

    Michael St. Clair Well-Known Member

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  15. Michael St. Clair

    Michael St. Clair Well-Known Member

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    dupe
     
  16. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Well-Known Member

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    Angela Chase, MSCL
    Ted
     
  17. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Well-Known Member

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    You also have to take into account the type of role SMG has on Buffy. I'm sure she could have pulled off a teen angst role as good as claire danes, but Buffy's not completely like that.
     
  18. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Well-Known Member

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  19. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Well-Known Member

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    I don't know why we are comparing these two shows, as there is little to compare about them.

    Buffy does nothing for me. If it requires watching 3 seasons to get to the point, I'm not interested.

    MSCL kicks ass in every episode. It is tightly written, and has an extremely realistic complexity to its characters. It may not be for everyone though.

    These are two entirely different shows.
     
  20. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Well-Known Member

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