A nerd's growth

7.16. Storyteller, Airdate: 02/25/03 (UPN, 8 pm PT/ET).

If you ever thought, the quality of BtVS was dwindling: "Storyteller" (ST) is for you. The series is back at its narrative heights. This week's ST was a classical BtVS tale. Right from the beginning, the series focussed on a bunch of teenagers and their struggle to become adults. ST - and that's why I call it classical - again focussed on the emotional growth of a character. Of course, it's Andrew, and if you didn't love Tom Lenk's acting yet, you surely will after this week's ep.

Andrew, though a recent member of the Scooby gang, had nearly had as many lines as Anya, Xander and Dawn in the last few eps. Somehow the supporting cast isn't very supportive anymore. Most of the time, they seem to be in it just for cute lines and some jokes. Character arcs were reduced, the plot took over and from beneath devoured the most basical element of the show. Not whole, of course, as lots of the early season 7 story-telling focussed on Willow, and later Anya, and for the remarkable ep "Potential" on Xander and Dawn.

But I daresay, all eps of season 5, 6 and 7.1-15 lack the emotional depth of ST.It simply was great television and I LOVED it! It was funny, cute and touching. Buffy's known for its marvellous actors (well, I don't talk about Ashanti here), and Tom Lenk is no exception. His acting makes Andrew one of the most real and interesting and funniest characters on the show.

Ok, I admit it. Andrew sucked for a while, especially in season 6 and the beginning of season 7. He was weak, nerdy - not somebody you'd love to hang around with. True, he was very unsecure about his actions, constantly looking for confirmation. The last eps he sucked less, but didn't quite step out of a comedy role similar to those of Xander or Anya. It was about time, that he did - and by stepping out of his past's shadow, by confronting the truth about himself, he not only grew in an emotional sense, but at the same time he became real, touching and somebody you care deeply about.

A lot of people were wondering why few tears are enough to close the seal, while more blood than Jonathan had to offer was needed to open it. I don't think, that's the right approach. It's logical that the "magical power" of an item should determine its weight in a magical sense, not the sheer quantity of it. After all, tears of remorse are hard to get, especially from the one who first opened the seal. From a symbolic point of view, I loved the idea of a man through tears finding his own inner strength. Andrew was weak, but by sobbing he became strong, getting a clear picture of himself. I think, the FE underestimated Andrew here, and wouldn't have thought he'd be that strong.

There's one thing that depressed me in the this latest ep of BtVS. It's the role of Xander and Willow. Do you remember all their character development in seasons 1 to 3? Do you remember how we laughed, how we cried side-by-side with them? Where did they go to? They're merely standing around in the living room, waiting for their turn to drop a pun. That really made me feel old, like a father suddenly realizing his kids aren't kids anymore and are out of school for a loooong time. It's sad that we lost this strong character arcs for the inner core of the Scooby Gang, that their struggle to become adults isn't the heart of the show anymore.

Anyway, I loved this week's ep. BtVS offers so much more than any other TV show I know. As far as story-telling, emotional depth and the technical side of ST (video scenes mixed in) is concerned, it pushes the boundaries of the term "TV show", it feels like a great cineamtic movie. ST is simply Joss, Jane, Tom and the rest of the team at their best.

Tom Ahrendt


Thanks to: Brachnu for offering free web space, and for listing my review.

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