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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 11 - Ted

7 February 2013

Synopsis: Joyce is dating a new man Ted. He is a software salesman and amazing cook. Buffy is not happy about having a new father figure in her home particularly when he threatens to slap her. No one else sees what she sees and it frustrates her. When he reads her diary and hits her she beats him up and knocks him down the stairs apparently killing him. As the police investigate her her guilt grows. Xander, Willow and Cordelia try to prove that Ted was up to no good while Giles patrols for vampires. Buffy is shocked when Ted returns and Xander finds a strange 50s style apartment underground. Jenny comes to help Giles kill a vampire and they makeup.Ted taking his mini-golf seriously

The Good: The sense of consequence from previous episodes was good. We get it confirmed that the Order of Taraka have no bounty to collect anymore and see Angel getting his hand bandaged. From even further back we also get the Giles and Jenny relationship addressed (see Best Moment). Their scenes together were very good and it feels like enough time has passed for her to get past her possession (208).

Xander and Cordelia keep their secret smooching secret which was fun. The two of them supplied a bit of light relief too. Xander had a great line where he taunted Buffy by saying "You're having parental issues!" and justified the taunt by claiming "Freud would have said the exact same thing." Then later Cordelia tactlessly brings up the man Giles helped to kill to which he responds "Yes do let's bring that up as often as possible."  

The main story was problematic though it touched on several interesting issues. We haven't seen Buffy hurt a human before but it could easily happen. Cordelia raised sensible issues surrounding Buffy's role as a super-hero. Joyce dating other men is also a relatable life issue that it was good to see Buffy face. The loyalty of her friends was touching too. They are so convinced that Buffy would do the right thing that they put aside their own affection for Ted and begin to assume that there must have been something wrong with him.

The Bad: However the story never seemed to click. There were overlapping problems with the structure of the story and the presentation of Ted.

His presentation is what most people will remember so let's start there. He was too instantly judgmental and interfering to remain below our radar of suspicion. When he threatened to slap Buffy it pretty much confirmed that he wouldn't survive the episode and almost certainly wasn't normal. In a show with many "monsters of the week" I think it was too early in the story to give away that fact. It meant that the sombre tone of the divorced daughter suffering and then the manslaughter charge didn't sit right. Throughout the tone felt like it was trying to be grave and serious but Ted wasn't living up to that billing.

Instead when he returned from the "grave" it became obvious that all the guilt and worry were irrelevant. Worse than that though Ted turned out to be a robot. Somehow seeing Ted pretend to malfunction and spit out the wrong sentences seemed more cheesy than any of the bad makeup jobs and costumes we have had to endure. It also presented too many practical problems. How could a man in the 1950s or 60s have built artificial intelligence that is beyond the scope of anyone in 2011 let alone 1997?

The Unknown: So I assume Buffy got rid of the body and told the police that Ted ran away.

Best Moment: The initial conversation between Jenny and Giles was beautifully written. Instead of blaming Giles for putting her in danger or saying that she didn't feel safe around him anymore, Jenny had a more nuanced reason for being annoyed with him. She explained that his look of guilt every time he saw her made her feel guilty that she hadn't snapped back to normal yet. It seemed like a very real reaction. Of course we don't know how someone would feel after demon possession but being annoyed by someone else's reaction to you is something we can all relate to. Their delivery was of course excellent as ever. 

The Bottom Line: A tricky episode. In some ways I applaud the attempt to do something more serious and in-depth with a one-off character but in the end Ted just wasn't the right fit for the show.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Ted
Season 2, Episode 11
Original airing: 12/8/97

My Rating: 58

The Good: This episode suffers upon immediate viewing due to being the next episode after the two-part What's My Line? (S2E9-10). What's My Line? is so strong and pivotal and such a part of the show's overall lore, that going back to a Monster of the Week feels like a huge letdown. But given some space between episodes, it becomes apparent that this is actually a very important episode. For the first time, the writers touch on a very important aspect of being the Slayer: what does it mean if Buffy takes a regular human's life? It turns out in the end of course, that Ted is not just a regular human (see The Bad), but the episode still deals a bit with the issue.

The character's reactions to Ted's apparent death are very telling. Buffy immediately owns up and blames herself, even though Ted instigated the situation. As she says, she's the Slayer and she had no right to use her full strength against him. Giles also points out that Buffy is punishing herself so much that it doesn't really matter if the police decide to convict her or not.

Willow and Xander immediately assume that Ted must have actually been some kind of creature or demon. Their faith in Buffy also drives them to find some kind of dirt on Ted to justify his violent death. They turn out to be right, of course, but it's still a blind devotion to Buffy's innocence and goodness.

Giles' also takes it upon himself to help Buffy by patrolling for her. He's a bit out of his element when Jenny distracts him with a crossbow bolt to the back, but he still pulls through a dusts the vampire he was after. All of these moments are perfectly in line with our characters and very well done.

The episode also deals with a very common theme for a child of divorced parents: how does one deal when a new parent figure is introduced. Buffy's side of this was very well handled. Buffy is hostile and distrustful from the start and she has good reason to be. Even though Ted seems like a nice guy, he's not her dad and she had no idea Joyce was dating him. She's surprised and shocked and Sarah Michelle Gellar plays it perfectly. Angel helps Buffy find her maturity when she realizes her mom is probably lonely. But, the relationship only worsens as Ted attempts to worm his way into Joyce's life quickly by tranquilizing her with food and pretending an exaggerated concern for Buffy. It's no surprise that Ted and Buffy come to blows, not once but twice. The fights are short, but brutal. The whole arc of the story happens quickly in just one episode, but it's extremely well done and very believable.

The episode also brings Jenny back into the group. It's hinted at that Giles has been hovering around her and trying to make sure she's okay. This feels like it would be proper Giles' behavior and is a good way to reintroduce Jenny to the show. Bringing Giles and Jenny back together is nice, especially with how painful their pseudo-breakup was at the end of The Dark Age (S2E8). It's nice that Jenny finally opens herself up to Giles after putting him in danger and shooting him in the back, literally. Their kiss at the end was a really nice way to wrap up the episode.

Finally, we had a bit of continuing development between Cordelia and Xander. Cordelia doesn't want anyone, her friends or Xander's, to know they kissed. She acts repulsed, but then agrees to go make out in the utility closet. So the setup is there for them to have a secret relationship, which Xander also seems fine with. It's nice that the show is continuing with this story line and not just sweeping it under the rug as a temporary freak out.

The Bad: The show falls back to a Monster of the Week, again. It appears to be a habit to do this after an amazing mythology-based episode, aka Angel (S1E7) being followed by I, Robot... You, Jane (S1E8). It begs the question of who's responsible for this, Joss Whedon and the show writers, or the network the show was on. It was rare for show's to have large over-arcing story lines in the late 90's. So this isn't unprecedented. But it is still disappointing.

Especially when the show dares to touch on such topics as divorced parents dating and Buffy killing a human. In the end, it's all wiped away by the fact that Ted was a robot and a serial-killing robot at that. It felt like a cop-out in much the same way as Drusilla and Angel both surviving at the end of What's My Line? - Part 2 (S2E10). The show setup something amazing, but was unable to follow through on it in the end.

Favorite Moment: Giles again reminds us that he can be quite the badass when he pulls a crossbow bolt out of his back and uses it to kill a vampire. Well done.

The Bottom Line: This episode touched on some very powerful issues. It explored them to a certain degree, but abandoned it all in the end by having Ted be a robot. The Monster of the Week mentality roared it's ugly head and brought the episode down from what it could have been. But the characterization was, as always, very strong and well done.

('DiggThis)

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  • This was a very good review. I do want to say another positive. Sometimes bad acting can take me out of a TV show. In this episode though I thought the acting was very good all around. Personally I believe John Ritter portrayed Ted very nicely.

    Posted by Jarrid, 10/05/2011 12:38am (8 years ago)

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