Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia
perpetual

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Stuff about "The Puppet Show"


I was hoping to establish a pattern here with writing a drabble or some cute little story - or at least having an old one on hand - for each episode. I haven't done that this time, because when I sat down and scrolled through the script with the episode playing in a miniature window beside it, I realized I had absolutely no inspiration to write. So I decided to skip that part, and then I realized I had absolutely nothing to say about the episode.

Noel Murray can explain it better than me: 'That said, here's the real problem with "Puppet Show:" It has nothing to offer beyond a few laughs and a few shocks. Even the relatively weak monster-of-the-week episodes from earlier in the season sported themes worth exploring. "Puppet Show" really doesn't--it's pretty straightforward.' ('...But you know what? If I'd been watching Buffy back in 1997, these two episodes wouldn't have soured me on the show, because I'd still be buzzing over "Angel." That's the kind of episode that can make a person a fan for life.')

On the other hand, there are a lot of goodies in the shooting script - it's very different from the episode as it ran - so I'm just going to pick them out and reply to them instead of coming up with a review of my own. Good thing I never promised you anything!

They get up and see that PRINCIPAL MILLER is there. In years and schools past, he has ruled with unwavering confidence and was able, despite his size and appearance, to strike fear and respect into his students. But that was then and this is Sunnydale.


Hey, that's not Snyder! More importantly, that's not Snyder. Much like Owen from "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date", revisions have given him a real personality, and it's not what you see here. I love that. Who knows what the story of it was, but I like to think it had something to do with the casting, because Armin Whatshisname owned this role.

Cordelia stands on stage, holding a mic, passionately but quietly selling her song.

CORDELIA
‘Isn't it ironic, don't you think?
A little too ironic. Oh, yeah, I really do think.'

GILES
(cutting her off)
Okay, thank you.

CORDELIA
Wait, I'm about to
scream about the rain.


GET OUT. Okay, was anyone else old enough and geographically situated to remember when this song came out? It wasn't Alanis Morrisette's first hit, but for some reason it saturated the airwaves until it was playing in your head the moment you woke up every morning. Apparently, everyone loved it or something, which makes little sense because it was a terrible song that has become no less annoying with age. (I'm not anti-Alanis, either! She's actually a really great singer! I don't know what happened with this one!)

But I personally never met the people who apparently loved it, because whenever the song played or was mentioned in any way, the only thing anyone could ever talk about was how pissed they were that she was misusing the word "ironic". This was understandable, since she was, and she repeated it over, and over, and over again, which oodles of incorrect examples. Being pissed once or twice wasn't enough, though. You had to prove that you knew the correct definition of the word, and that meant a lot of complaining. It wasn't long before "none of those things are even ironic!" became the new "Ironic"...which is a little...wait for it...hey, does someone else want to say it? I don't think I can.

Years after the radio took mercy on us and decreased the frequency of Morrisette airtime, I reunited with my friends of those days to celebrate a wedding. As we prepared at the bride's house that morning, it was raining. "Some would call this ironic," I said, "but we know better." Nobody had to ask what I meant.

Whoever decided to replace that with "The Greatest Love of All" for Cordy was a total spoilsport.



MR MILLER
By the way, thanks for steering this
talent show ship. I owe you a debt of gratitude.

He flips Giles a quarter.

MR MILLER
Debt paid.
(laughing)
I love that gag.
(then)
But seriously, thanks.


They're both jerks - I think the big difference between Miller and Snyder is a sense of humor.

BUFFY
Who found the body?

GILES
The custodian. She was cleaning the locker room--

BUFFY
They clean this place?


Hehe.

XANDER
How jaded has our school become when
you don't even get the day off after a brutal
murder? I bet most other places, that's an
automatic. But no! We forge on.


I'd like to see someone figure out how many days off that would have been for the three years we watched Sunnydale High. Oh, wait. Did "The Wish" do that?

GILES
Unfortunately, Morgan may have gone
one step further into the harvesting of
human organs under the misguided belief
that this will bring his puppet to life.
The Geppeto Complex, if you will.

XANDER
Do you actually know this stuff,
or do you make it up as you go along?

GILES
It is fun, isn't it?


Every time I think I can't love Giles any more...

A stream of water DRIBBLES onto her arm. She looks up and realizes her weapon is a mop and her victim is a JANITOR.

BUFFY
You're not following me.
You're mopping. And I'm sorry.

He is speechless (and paid as such). Buffy helps him up and cowers away.


I gather that a single line of dialogue will boost an actor's paycheck to an entirely different field of budget. It's interesting to notice the moments when you expect someone to speak and they don't - also to see the reasoning for it stated so openly by the writers. A lot of these scripts have a streak of mischief in the stage directions, occasionally even a little bit of spite. Behold:

EXT. SUNNYDALE HIGH - THE NEXT MORNING

Another day begins at our favorite school.

SHERYL CROW walks by. Buffy kills her.


I'm not kidding. That's what it says.

Of course this is before we had Edward for Buffy to kill in our daydreams...

BUFFY
Hey, Mr. Producer. How goes the talent biz?

GILES
You know, a few days ago,
I would have rather bathed
with a Gila monster than taken
on this task.

BUFFY
Then you should speak up next time.

GILES
But it's become refreshing.
You and I deal with so much
darkness and death. The stage
is an escape. It's like another world.


This looks like a theme that was more or less cut out of the final draft, but I like the idea of Giles gradually warming to his task, and already seeking an escape from the violence of his real job.

Oh, another pop culture tidbit: one of the talent show extras is designated as CARROT-TOP WANNABE. Remember Carrot Top? No? Thank your lucky stars.



GILES
Cordelia, there's no ‘I' in ‘talent show.'

CORDELIA
There's a big one in ‘Cordelia.'


:)

XANDER
Things did seem pretty written on Morgan's shirt.

BUFFY
Or maybe suspecting him
was just the easiest thing to do.

WILLOW
Buffy, we all thought he was psycho.
Everyone in the talent show told us a
different story about how weird he was.

XANDER
Yeah. You see a kid, you see a dummy,
you see the dummy whisper in the kid's
ear, you think crazy kid

BUFFY
Maybe so, but... you know how
people look at the three of us?

WILLOW
Oh, yeah.

BUFFY
That look that says they're seeing
someone who's different, not like
them, and it scares them? I could
live forever without seeing that
again. But I think it's the exact same
look we used to give Morgan. We never
even gave him a chance.


Another abandoned theme. Granted, this doesn't blend into the characterization of the Scoobies that easily. When Buffy feels like an outcast, it's usually fairly subtle, and there isn't a lot of "us" about the three of them yet - they're just three individuals who happen to hang out a lot.

But it's all too real for one misfit to treat another misfit like a misfit. People get comfortable in one aspect of life and lose their ability to see other people struggling with the same aspect. Especially at this age.

GILES
I never thought I'd say these
words, but Xander may be right.

XANDER
I'll expect a formal letter
of apology in the morning.

GILES
The dummy has a mind of its own.

XANDER
Hey!

BUFFY
He means Sid.

XANDER
He means Sid.


If this had stayed in the dialogue, I would make a Xander icon that said "The dummy has a mind of its own."

BUFFY
Yeah, well, I kind of played the
stereotype against you, too.

SID
You thought I was an evil puppet.

BUFFY
No, I thought you were a lifeless piece of wood.


See, the jokes are pretty good. It's a decent piece of writing. It's just got no heart, if you know what I mean.

Xander and Willow are there looking for some props. Willow sees something on a shelf and reaches for it.

WILLOW
Hey, that scarf would be perfect.

The lights go out and the door SLAMS shut. It's PITCH BLACK.

WILLOW
Okay. Ha-ha, Xander. You got me. Turn on the light.

No response.

WILLOW
You know, jokes like this aren't very
funny, what with this school being on
a Hellmouth and all.

Again nothing.

WILLOW
Xander?

Suddenly, A FACE APPEARS an inch from Willow's, illuminated from below by a beam of light. She SCREAMS--

WILLOW
Ahhh!

--then sees it's Xander, holding a flashlight to his face.

XANDER
Actually, being on a Hellmouth and
all makes this kind of thing even funnier.


This totally would have gotten me.


GILES
I must say to all of you, your timing
is impeccable. Xander, I could kiss you.

XANDER
Unnecessary. And kind of icky.


Icky?



A couple other differences - the Scoobies performed "A Streetcar Named Desire" instead of "Oedipus Rex" (and without the awesome timing), and Buffy kept the Sid dummy.

BUFFY
I don't know. It's just, after everything
we've been through, I thought I'd hang
on to him for a while. As sort of a reminder.

XANDER
Of what?

Buffy puts Sid in her locker.

BUFFY
That I'm not the only one.


Dummies freak me out too. Buffy may have shed her bias through this experience; mine remains, and I am sincerely glad that Sid in Buffy's locker is not canon.

I'll make the next review more fun. But at least I gave you really annoying YouTube videos to watch!
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