Episode Reviews (42)
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Ahead of its time
Upon the first few watchings of I Robot, You Jane, I also wasn't impressed and found it corny. However, when I watched it recently, I realized how pertinent the social commentary is to our time. Yes, the technology is dated, but the ideas aren't. The part where Giles talks about the danger of technology making human interaction obsolete is dead-on. People have become mindlessly attached to their technology, whether they'd like to admit it or not. This is coming from a person that loves Facebook and has an i-Phone, so don't take me as a technophobe. I just think this episode is interesting as a cautionary tale about how deeply technology can suck us in. The scenes between Jenny Calendar and Giles were good, and the final scene was very appropriate and funny. Overall, not a great episode, but an overlooked one.moreless
guess it's only Willow's epi I don't like...
since Willow is one of my favorite characters (actually, the most favorite one), I kinda like every moment in the show with her, and especially the episodes where she is like the main character (fine example, the end of S6). but gotta say, that "I Robot, You Jane" is not one of them. it has really nice scenes: for example, I really like Buffy/Willow kinda quarrel or the end of the epi where realization comes to Scoobies; some funny scenes... plus, Jenny Calendar's first appearance in the show (actually, it's the big plus! -- adore Robia LaMorte). but still, all the storylines not about Buffy seem kinda unnecessary and boring in the first season.
FAVE SCENE: Scoobies' realization in the end.
FAVE QUOTE: Buffy (about Malcolm): This guy could be anybody. I mean he could be weird, or crazy, or old, or He could be a circus freak -- he's probably a circus freak!moreless
"I Robot, You Jane"
And then we go from the sublime to the ridiculous. I knew going infrom friends, mainlythat this episode and the one that follows are considered series lows by many, and having expended so much energy contemplating "Angel," I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time on "I Robot, You Jane".
In the episode learn that the world of 1997 is a whole new era where people get "jacked in" and "go on line," while old fuddy-duddies like Giles with their ancient texts and disdain for the modern are in danger of becoming obsolete. And yet, consider this cautionary tale: What if Willow were to inadvertently scan a spell from one of those ancient texts into a networked computer, thereby releasing the demon Moloch into the web, where he would proceed to enslave a couple of vengeful nerds and to flirt with Willow? Well, much silliness would ensue, obviouslyeven before Moloch inevitably downloads himself into a robot body and gets electrocuted.
As I said, I'll get into the fundamental problem with "I Robot, You Jane" in a moment, but for now, let me point out a few things I found odd about the episode: like the sudden appearance of other students and an additional teacher in Sunnydale's library, and the presence of stereotypical computer geeks to further confuse the issue of where Buffy, Xander and Willow rank in the high school pecking order.
What did I like? I enjoyed the brief glimpse of Buffy's transcript, and I loved the episode's capper scene, in which Buffy, Xander and Willow laugh mirthlessly over the s*** luck all three of them have had at romance. Also, I suppose I liked the character of Ms. Calendar the computer science teacher as a potential romantic foil for Giles, though I don't know if I'm basing that on her appearance in this episode, or on my general awareness that she's going to reappear later in the series.
Other than that, "I Robot, You Jane" was a misfire: corny, tonally off and lacking even the illusion of depth that other slack episodes have provided in Season One.moreless
I Robot, You Jane
Antiquated: "Old-fashioned or outdated." This is how I'd professionally describe the travesty that is "I Robot, You Jane," in brief. How would I describe it unprofessionally? Well, it's shit. A story with emotional resonance and lasting value could have overcome the fact that it's dated from a technology standpoint, but it's sadly nowhere close to subtle and emotionally resonant. This is also the only Buffy episode in the entire series that actually leaves me bored for most of its running time. Only Jenny Calendar and the laugh-at-it moments kept me interested from time-to-time. Not even the reliably fun characters had their mojo going for this one. The episode has all the worst qualities of S1, amplified, and only a hint of its more positive qualities. I'd be curious to hear what Whedon thinks about this episode nowadays.
Literally the only positives to talk about revolve around Jenny Calendar's introduction and subsequent arguments with Giles over the advancement of technology, a handful of good quotes, and the final foreshadow-y scene. I genuinely enjoyed Jenny and Giles' spirited debate and can sympathize with both positions as, while I'm definitely into modern technology, I'm also quite a bit old-fashioned in many ways. Jenny flirting with Giles a bit in the background is a nice added layer to their banter.
Beyond simply being incredibly outdated, most of "I Robot, You Jane" has abysmal dialogue, execution, and pacing. The dialogue usually one of the positives of the show is so boring outside of a handful of quotes that I'm actually pretty shocked. Most of it is entirely plot-based and there to help the viewer and the characters from plot point A to plot point B to plot point C. Perfunctory is the word I'm looking for.
Then there's the problem of the demon of the week, Moloch. This is an ancient demon that is apparently smart enough to understand and control computers and spread itself across the internet. This strikes me as entirely unbelievable and completely ridiculous. Somehow the episode craps on itself even more with the big climax involving Robo Moloch. There is no tension, no real stakes, a poor setup, and absolutely no subtext or subtlety to the entire proceedings. It's all laughable at best and blehhh at worst.
At this point one might ask what the episode was trying to do? Well, I think that's explained early on and is followed by heavy-handed silliness. In the Italy flashback, the demon Moloch asks, "Do you love me? I can give you everything. All I want is your love." Once he has their love he snaps their necks (even though it looks more like polite turning than snapping). "I Robot, You Jane" is pretty transparently about the dangers of the internet, but more specifically the dangers of getting emotionally invested with people who you haven't met in person before. Online dating is heavily implicated here as well even though chat rooms appear to be the episode's focus. The concept behind how love can be used to manipulate others, made particularly easy with modern tools of communication, is one that is actually somewhat interesting. As a fellow geek who is all-too familiar with online dating, this is a theme that had the potential to resonate with me. This theme, however, is woefully under-developed, lacks subtlety, and is just horribly outdated in its presentation.
Back in the day online dating was something to be terrified of. There was a perception that only completely anti-social lunatics participated in it. Times have changed a lot though. Online dating is now much more modern, much more accepted, and much less scary. With that said, the dangers of nave girls (or anyone, really) in chat rooms getting tangled up in a mess of a situation with a molester or abductor is certainly all-too real, although there's generally only a risk for the seriously gullible and weak-willed among our youth. Of all the people to get caught up in something like this, Willow would be the last one I'd think of. I think I'll just blame it on the fact that Moloch was influencing her to act abnormally which then, of course, strips away any hope of lasting character relevance.
Another problem I have is with the portrayal of the computer science guys. I should disclose that I'm a professional software developer and that I know my reaction will be stronger than others, but my God did those guys grate on me. They weren't just displayed as stereotypical geeks; they were displayed as complete lunatics who spoke in a way that's totally foreign to me. I grew up in the thick of that era of technology and nobody talked like that. If anything, there should have been less talk about being "jacked in" and more talk about who would win in a fight between a couple Borg Cubes and the Death Star (easy answer, by the way: one cube left standing due to adaption technology). These S1 techies make the Trio in S6 look like high class geeks.
So to sum all this up, what we have here is a complete mess of an episode. "I Robot, You Jane" is a pain and a bore to sit through in every phase of the episode with only brief reprieves from Jenny and Giles. The underlying concept behind the episode manipulation through love tangled with the dangerous side of the internet -- is worth a careful, lasting, and relevant discussion but, alas, all of those attributes are absent here. Its portrayal of computer geeks (demon's thrall or not, it's painful), general lack of ability to hold my interest for most of its running time, long-term irrelevance, and shoddy production values all add onto the pile in what is my easy pick for the 'honor' of being the worst episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Only a couple other episodes ("Teacher's Pet" [1x04] and "Where the Wild Things Are" [4x18]) come close. To quote Xander, "Shoot me. Stuff me. Mount me."moreless
Willow dates a demon
In this episode, you see that Willow accidentally puts a demon on the web, and he quickly becomes one of the gang's most challenging enemies yet. The demon not only manages to enslave students at the school, he manages to break up the Scooby Gang. This episode was pretty good, it shows the second and final time that Willow falls for a demon, the first time being when Willow fell for the Master's minion in Welcome to the Hellmouth. It was also pretty cool seeing the giant robot being electrocuted at the end of the episode. All in all a pretty good episodemoreless
A demon is trapped in a book by priests in 1400s Italy. In present day, the tome ends up in the school library; Willow scans it – and the demon enters the computer. Soon after, Willow meets a seemingly perfect boy online. Love it or hate it – I love it...
This review contains spoilers.
Well, I knew when first watching "I Robot, You Jane" that this would be a Marmite episode – love it or hate it. And most people seem to hate it! But personally, I love it; it has such an intriguing premise, and really taps into a new fear – people posing as something other than themselves online – that was becoming apparent in the late 1990s.
But looking on TV.com as I write this review, I find that it's actually currently the lowest rated episode of the season, coming in at 7.6. I think it ranks far higher than this, and I enjoyed it more than say, "The Pack".
This is one of the several first season episodes to feature no Angel (Cordelia doesn't appear also), absolutely no vampires, and no Master or mention of the overall season story arc. No doubt this is much of the reason that some don't like this episode to begin with, but – as I've touched upon in several previous reviews – while I love those story arc-heavy later entries, I also love these early episodes, for having so much variety and, to put it simplistically, wondering what the "monster of the week" will be this week.
After two Xander-centric episodes previously in the season ("Teacher's Pet" and aforementioned "The Pack"), finally Willow gets one focused around her. And that alone makes for a good episode in my opinion, as Willow is such an interesting character (especially in these early episodes before all of the characters "became cool"), and Alyson Hannigan plays her perfectly.
Some have questioned Willow's sudden change in personality, but I have never had any problem with this, as I took it that Moloch was so convincing and manipulative that he won her over as he did his over minions.
But probably the most notable thing about the episode is the introduction of Robia LaMorte as brash IT teacher Jenny Calendar. Her interaction with Giles is great, and thankfully they brought her back for a number of return appearances instead of making this just a one-off guest character. Strangely, I'd actually forgotten about Ms. Calendar until coming to watch this episode on DVD tonight to review.
The plot itself... again, some totally hate it, but I think it is so intriguing. Even beyond the whole dirty old men element, as the internet and chat rooms became an issue in the late 1990s, concerns grew that anyone could make out to be anything on-line (does that make sense?). And this episode puts a unique spin on that. A couple of fellow reviews seem to take it to literally – no it does not mean anyone you meet on-line will turn out to me a giant demon, just, if you sleep with someone, does not mean they will turn into a murderous vampire... get where I'm coming from? It's more of a metaphor, a spin on a particular fear.
It is dated in some respects (check out the ancient hand scanner, use of modems, and such), but I don't see how that can be considered a minus – the episode uses what was around at the time.
Although some knock just about everything about the episode, I personally found it to play out very well, and if nothing else, had great helpings of the show's trademark humour (for some reason, I love Xander's comment about his Uncle working at the factor "in a floor sweeping capacity"). The thing that has always most stuck in my mind about this episode, ever since first watching it on BBC Two way back when, was when Dave dared defy Moloch, who then opens up a blank computer document and writes Dave's suicide letter to his parents; Dave is found dead soon after. For some reason, this always creped me out.
Of course, after such a build up, especially over they mystery over who / what "Malcolm" is, the final act can come as nothing but an anti-climax. And it certainly is that; but worse still is the terrible robot costume of Moloch, that looks like something straight out of a kid's Saturday morning show. I suppose the limited first season budget prevented them from doing anything more lavish, but the whole element – from the realisation of Moloch now being a robot, down to the dodgy costume itself – really lets the final act down, and this is the only thing that stops this episode getting a 10 from me.
Some rank this episode as the weakest of the entire show's run. While I can appreciate that some might not like it, I can definitely think of worse. I think many compare it to the later, sharper episodes, but I feel if watched as a "stand alone" story, this episode is really good. As I say, it is only the disappointing final act, complete with terrible robot costume, that knocks this otherwise intriguing episode down from a 10 from me. But I personally really like this one enough to give it a 9.5. It's not that bad folks! The worse thing is the TERRIBLE episode title – it does the episode no favours, is somewhat of a spoiler, and is enough to put some people off from the start!moreless
There's a demon in the internet!
This episode was so odd, though not bad, when a demon of the very very old world gets lose on the internet. I really liked the concept of a demon being lost on the internet, the old world of demons meeting the modern world of technology. The oddest part has got to be near the end though when the demon, Moloch, forges this huge metal robotic stuit. The first season was full of these odd and unique yet good episodes and concepts.moreless
Great...Willow gets a love interest and he is a computer demon.
I really didnt like much about this episode. It was so cute to see Willow all happy about someone she met online ("on line for what?") Unfortunately, he is a demon who has been trapped in cyberspace thanks to some books Willow was scanning for Giles. One of the redeeming things in this ep was that we meet Ms Calendar for the first time and see how she interracts with Giles. (Lots of mutual attraction there!) As far as demons go, Moloch was one of the lamest I have seen in Jossverse ever. Nothing redeeming or mildly interesting about him.moreless
My Mini review...
Ther is not things that I like about this episode. it really has to be one of the only episodes out of all of Buffy that I actually dislike.
Its not a scene that I dislike about this episode it is more the whole basic storyline that I dislike. Just the idea that scannign words into the computer releases a monster onto the internet. its not plausable to me. There are already enough monsters on the net without there being any supernatural ones.
Again this would be the general interaction between Giles and Jenny.
I like the interaction that we first see between Janny and Giles in this episode. This is one of the many time throughout her stint on Buffy that Jenny Calender and Giles bicker about the difference between books and computers. Jenny: I know your ways are strange to you, but soon you will join us in the twentieth century - with three whole years to spare!
Ummm... which one to pick.
12th out of Twelve.moreless