Sunday, September 27, 2009

From the Land Beyond, a Gentleman

Camden Toy

Sacramento recently hosted a horror movie convention. It's part flea market and part mini-Comic-Con, as people get to talk to actors from their favorite movies and TV shows.
In my case, it's another chance to see a real Gentleman...about a year after I met the other one.
As you can see, it's Camden Toy, who attended the three-day event meeting with Buffy fans who known him for that role, but not usually for his two other roles, Gnarl and one of the Turok-Ham Uber-Vampires.
"Some of them come up to me and go 'wait a minute, I know you did that and that, but you did that character, too?'" he says. "It's always fun to be able to surprise people that are fans but still don't even know there were certain characters that you did.
"The dyed-in-wool fans will recognize me," he continued, "but it's interesting how, if you're under this much makeup, which is five hours of makeup, you don't get recognized, It's kind of a funny double-edged sword in a way."
Still, he also noticed that visiting Sacramento gave him a chance to visit his sister.

Last Sunday, he was part of a panel on movie villains with Tony Todd, known for Candyman and most recently on 24, and Bill Moseley, known for Repo! and The Devil's Rejects. Toy said that Gnarl was one of his favorite roles. "That was such a fun character", she said, "because he was incredibly multi-faceted and so well-written." He also praised the make-up work for bringing him to life.
Toy also recounted how he was cast as a Gentleman in "Hush." He said his agent called him about the role, and had to meet Joss later that night. Todd and Moseley helped Toy "recreate" his meeting with Joss Whedon and casting director Lonnie Hamerman. He recalled how they described the role, that his character floats to people's rooms, steals their hearts and smiles a lot. He did his audition and, according to him, this was Joss' reaction...

Camden imitating Joss, sort of

Toy may have been exaggerating, but he admitted "I thought either I got the role, or he thinks I'm a total psycho." Of course, Toy got the role, and he and Doug Jones made TV history as the scariest Gentlemen TV has ever seen. He also revealed the episode was originally named "The Laughing Man."

Toy later came back in season seven as one of the Turok-Han Vampires Buffy had to battle. "It was such a physical role," he said. "I think they were talking about probably having a stunt man do the role." However, then-showrunner Marti Noxon wanted someone who could put more feeling in the role, someone like Camden Toy. Thanks to a little help from makeup and special effects artist Rob Hall. Toy got his third role on the show. He also said it was the first role he didn't audition for, and the first time had to have a physical. He admitted he was surprised about that.

Toy can currently be seen in Mansfield Path, a horror picture that he describes as similar to The Crucible, but with a creature stealing souls. Toy is one of the elders in the village. He also did a short film for Jason Connery that he described as an English farce.

Aside from meeting Toy again, I found this very rare piece of Buffy lore...

Buffy's other yearbook

This is from the press kit of the original 1992 movie, and I'd say I got this at a good price. Many people have the Sunnydale High School Yearbook, but this is harder to get.
There was one other thing...

Made for conservatives?

I don't recall anyone making Halloween masks turning the faces of presidents into monsters, like a werewolf version of Bill Clinton. I guess this may be popular during Halloween. I just hope we don't see this after that time.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Recap of Dollhouse "Vows", or It's More Than Just Echo

When Dollhouse first premiered last February, we saw the picture of a woman surrounded by mannequins, and the slogan, "She can be anyone, except herself."
Season two has arrived, with the slogan, "Anyone can happen." Those words sum up what Echo has become, and what she wants to do.

"Vows" is written and directed by Joss Whedon, the first time since "Ghost". He made a wise choice to give equal weight to Echo's Mission of the Week, Dr. Saunders dealing with what she really is, and how Paul Ballard changes the mix inside the Dollhouse.
It begins about three months after "Alpha" and 9.75 years before "Epitaph One." Echo is getting ready for her latest mission, with her handler and Topher looking on...and Paul Ballard? Yes, he has joined the Dollhouse under his terms, and Topher considers him a "frenemy." He also sees a scene from "Bride of Frankenstein" suddenly show up on the monitor. For some reason, he thinks Dr. Saunders is to blame.
Then we see Adelle DeWitt (with less hair) debate Echo's latest mission with Boyd Langton, head of security. He wonders if she's ready for this, while Adelle says they have to let Paul in under his terms. It's a lot better than taking an "extreme" solution, and she still has plans for him. She also sees Victor, whose face is healing nicely after being cut by Alpha. She even touches it, although there was a time she would touch more than just his face. Anyway, Adelle also notices Paul is obsessed with Echo, and is probably looking for a darker purpose or weakness within the Dollhouse. Still, Boyd thinks the plan Paul has proposed is a little sick.
The plan: Echo marries a man who could be an arms dealer. It's a mixture of The Bourne Identity and Madame Butterfly.

At the Dollhouse, Topher wakes up from a nap. Ivy says she's been dealing with a serious backup of clients. He calls it the autumn rush. Sierra suddenly shows up, again dressed up in something from Mad Men and talking like Mary Poppins. Ivy goes to give Sierra a treatment, but she prefers Topher because she's not comfortable with Orientals.
Moving on, Topher and Ivy discuss the Jonas Brothers when he suddenly finds the cupboard filled with big white mice. Dr. Saunders, again? Yeah, it's her. She was doing a prank that Topher would find funny, although he claims she is being crazy all by herself. "I know what I know," he explains. Sound familiar?

Boyd comes into her office, and she suddenly gets serious. He asks why Saunders doesn't get her face fixed (which will happen eventually, according to "Epitaph One"). "Without my scars," she says, "I might as well be one of them." The truth is, Saunders is an Active who replaced the original Dr. Saunders. She also doesn't like the fact she was created by a "sociopath in a sweater vest." Boyd suggests she should escape the office or have dinner with him. She says she's too afraid of people, pets, sunlight and everything else. He says he knows a lot of imperfect people who are filled with excuses. She asks him, why is he here? Hopefully, we'll find that out.

Back to Echo's wedding, or rather Roma's wedding, her new husband, Martin Klar, can't wait to start his honeymoon with his bride. They do just that, with Paul watching. You have to wonder if he misses Mellie/November. The next morning, we see Echo/Roma meeting with Paul. What's more she knew he was listening to the wedding night. Still, it's all part of the mission to find out Klar's next deal and bring him down. "I think you might be a demon," Paul says. "I'm justice," Echo/Roma says, "I'm blind when I need to be blind." Then Echo's handler shows up to say she needs a treatment.
Actually, it's Dr. Saunders doing a mid-mission checkup. During this time, Echo has a flash or memory. She's at a party when Saunders shows up, dressed almost identically to Echo. They approach each other, and seem to kiss when Echo calls Saunders "Whisky". She even remembers that Saunders/Whisky used to be the top Active, but Saunders asks if she remembers Alpha cutting her face. As Echo leaves, Saunders says she should go be her best. "No one is their best in here," Echo cryptically says.

3000 miles away, Senator Daniel Perrin, who looks a little like Wesley Wyndham-Price, asks several people, "What is more precious to a human being than their mind?" He talks about how he lost his mom to Alzheimer's Disease. He accuses Rossum of holding back medical advances that he says could help everyone. Of course, Adelle and Boyd are seeing this, and wonder if Perrin could be a threat. Boyd says Perrin has money and connections, and now a cause. He might bump into the Dollhouse if he gets too close to Rossum. They even wonder if Paul may have thrown Perrin a couple of hints. Paul isn't saying much, but he tells Adelle she should watch out for Boyd because Paul knows why he's in the Dollhouse. This leads to a bout of one-upmanship about motives and such. She asks why he's not asking about Mellie/November, and suspects he's more interested in Echo. So, why not be her new handler? He won't get what he wants from her, Adelle adds. She can still send Echo in the Attic, if necessary. Paul is sure that won't happen too soon because he knows Echo is evolving, and "you want to study the rat before you slice it up." Adelle sees his point, but also notes what they learn from Echo adds to Rossum's research and bank account. She even admits she wants someone in Echo's corner that cares about her. Well, that is Paul, no matter why he's there. He still says Adelle's working an angle, but so is he. Why else would he suggest Echo marry an evil arms dealer to arrest him?
At that moment, one of Klar's henchmen has found a very damaging photo of Echo with Ballard. The honeymoon's over.

Now comes the best scene in the episode, featuring Fran Kranz and Amy Acker in a drama that riffs on Taming of the Shrew and Pygmalion. Topher is snoozing when Saunders snuggles up to him wearing a very short slip. He's surprised she's "being her best" all over him. She insists this is the endgame: "You design someone to hate you so you can convince them to love you." Topher says he could whip up his own love slave, but that's not how he rolls. "But winning over your enemy," Saunders continues, "the one person guaranteed to reject everything you are, that's real love." Well, actually, it's Taming of the Shrew, and the default ending of nearly every romcom movie in the past 100 years. You're not Katherine, Claire, or Sandra Bullock or Katherine Heigl.

"Because you're better than that," Topher says. He wanted to design a doctor to replace the old Dr. Saunders who was killed by Alpha. This act is important because it also shows Topher has guilt over how Alpha went mad. That's why he wanted Whiskey/Dr. Saunders to be more than "just a Roomba."
This confuses Saunders even more: "How do I go through my day knowing everything I think comes from something I can't abide?" She also admits she doesn't want to change, either: "I'm not even real. I'm in someone else's body, and I'm afraid to give it up...I'm just a series of excuses."
Topher just says, "You're human." "Don't flatter yourself," she responds.
He wasn't.

So how is Echo doing? She's trying to find any clues to what Martin has planned. He catches her trying to break into his desk, and warns her it's an heirloom. Then he slams her head against the desk. This causes her to start losing control over her imprint. Klar accuses her of playing him for a fool. She insists she loves him, and that all she wants is to be Mrs. Eleanor Penn.

She's soon taken to his plane, and Klar tells her of his deal to make some dirty bombs. Paul has to step in, and we see he's met Klar before. While Klar tells Echo/Roma how Paul's never caught anyone while in the FBI, including him, Paul notices Echo's jumping through several imprints. He hits her, trying to wake up the girl he "met" at the Chinese restaurant in "Man on the Street" (and told him the Dollhouse was real). That girl comes back to clobber Paul, and everyone else. She winds up capturing Klar which officially ends the honeymoon.

Back at the Dollhouse, Boyd goes to Dr. Saunders' office. All he finds is a note that says "I am running out of excuses." We see her drive away, and we can hope she can find her own "Happy Town". If not, or the show gets cancelled faster than The Beautiful Life, she'll be back. At least we saw her in "Epitaph One."
We also see Sierra with Victor. She touches his face, and he holds her hand. We have to root for these guys, right?

As for Echo, Paul tries his best to thank her, even if she doesn't remember.
"I remember everything," she says. "Sometimes I'm someone else. And then I come back, but I still feel them, all of them. I've been many people. I can hear them. Sometimes suddenly. I'm all of them, but none of them is me? Do you know what's real?"
"Caroline," he answers. We see now he'll take that handler job now.
"I want to find her," she says. "I want to find all of them...We are lost, but we are not gone."

Has Echo become the heroine we have always wanted to root for? It seems so. She knows what she is, but she also wants her identity back, and know who else she has been. Again, we know from "Epitaph One" she made some progress in that department, even at the cost of her health.

So what happens now? How will the Dollhouse deal with an Active suddenly on the loose, or another Active who is no longer an empty shell until you fill her with someone? Is Topher more redeemable than we think? What is Boyd's backstory? And if Senator Perrin finds the Dollhouse, would he consider it an abomination or a godsend?
This season, the Dollhouse is more than Echo and her search of self. It's how the Dollhouse affects those inside it, and eventually the world. We'll see how what happens today may lead to the nightmare of "Epitaph One"..or maybe how to avoid it.
The original plan was to include another glimpse of Los Angeles 2019 in the season premiere, but that was changed. We may revisit that world in the future.
All I am saying is if we see Ray Wise as a guy named Ambrose, panic!

As far as the ratings are concerned, it's not a good start. Friday night hasn't been the new "appointment TV" as some had hoped. The show pulled in 2.57 million viewers, a little less than the lead-in, the sitcom Brothers. DVR numbers have kept the show alive. Let's hope that still matters now.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dr. Horrible Stops the World With Emmy Win

When it was announced last July that Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog was up for an Emmy Award last July, I said this was history in the making. It would be the first time that internet-only content would compete with webisodes made for established shows, and a Super Bowl halftime show.
On September 12th, 2009, Dr. Horrible stopped the world, not with his freeze-ray but with a song. The musical won the Emmy for Special Class, Short-Form, Live-Action Entertainment Program. This also marks the day Joss Whedon won his first Emmy Award.

So what happens now?

Will the Emmys add more categories for internet shows, including Felicia Day's The Guild? Her show started season three with a bang thanks to a popular video that became an instant hit on YouTube and iTunes. From there, thousands of fans are embedding episodes into their blogs, as they worry about how the Knights of Good will defeat their latest enemy, the Axis of Anarchy.

However, it doesn't stop there. Lisa Kudrow, who won an Emmy for Friends, is making her mark on the net thanks to a sitcom called Web Therapy. Jon Heder, best known for Napoleon Dynamite, will be part of a zombie comedy called Woke Up Dead for in October. Along with classic shows, has a number of original shows for the net including Children's Hospital, Rockville, CA and The Lake (directed by 90210's Jason Priestley).

There's a growing number of people who are weary of reality shows, too many spinoffs, and shows that all look the same. They are turning to the internet for original programming that may be edgier or quirkier than what HBO, Showtime or basic cable may provide. Once the internet gets a loyal audience, the Emmys will have to recognize that form of entertainment. It took years to allow cable TV shows to compete for Emmys, and it may not be long before internet programs will be welcome, too. While it may be years away before an internet drama may compete against Mad Men or 24, giving web-only shows their own categories is a start, and something the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences should consider in the near future.

As Dr. Horrible would say, "it's a brand new day," and he's the one who brought it to the Emmys.
Or to recycle an old show biz quote, we can all relax, because Joss has got his Emmy. There better be more where that came from, Emmy!
Too bad the songs from the musical weren't nominated. They were a lot better than what has won in the past two years, and he and Jed could have picked one up, too.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Guild 3.0: Anarchy in the RPG

A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.

That's the motto of Kilt Guy or Folks or whatever Wil Wheaton's character's name is. Anywho, he's the leader of the Axis of Anarchy, the group that has taken down the Knights of Good through lack of manners but plenty of attitude. That's basically what happened in the second episode of season three, "Anarchy". It's the first episode this season that will be available at XBox Live and MSN Video.
Not only that, you can now embed it anywhere...

<br/><a href="" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 2: Anarchy!">Video: Season 3 - Episode 2: Anarchy!</a>

Allowing this is a good idea because it's going to increase the number of hits into the hundreds of thousands. It did wonders for the "Date My Avatar" video. I'm only doing this for this episode to show how easy it can be.
It also goes back to Kilt Guy's motto. It's only only his credo for an obnoxious lifestyle, it's also the explanation of why The Guild has become a big hit in and out of the internet. Felicia Day and the Guild gang has created something most media and enteratinment "experts" have said couldn't possibly succeed, but it a BIG way. The Guild is a rebellion in itself because it's a successful web comedy that's funnier than anything you'd see in the bigger screen in your living room. As Felicia told CNN while she was at DragonCon last weekend, this show has become "The Office for the geek set".

Besides, the way things are going, this show could be 23,779 time more compelling than the new Melrose Place can ever be. Take that, CW!

Oh, and good luck, Dr. Horrible on the Creative Arts Emmys Saturday. If that ballot stuffing plot by Fake Thomas Jefferson worked as well as he planned, you'll have one triumphant evening...aside from the one you'll have eight days later hosting the Primetime Emmys, of course.