I cover Teacher’s Pet, the fourth episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s first season.
S1x04: “Teacher’s Pet”
Well, after the average, Monster of the Week episode entitled Witch, Teacher’s Pet follows on the trend of standalone episodes, only this one is a lot weaker than the third. The plot is again, fairly standard and attempts to take away the setting from being focused exclusively on Vampires, by adding a She-Mantis, who, disguised as a human, takes over from Buffy’s biology teacher, adopting the form of an attractive female teacher, who Xander promptly develops an interest in. Whilst this had a milidly interesting concept, as a whole – it’s downright forgettable and one of the worst episodes of Season One. This is very firmly a filler episode, so you could probably skip this one if you wanted to and not miss anything.
Another downside is that whilst this episode does feature Angel, he only shows up to warn Buffy about a vampire with forks for hands that’s terrorising the town. I expected this to play a bigger role in the plot than it did, but it was ultimately not as important. It’s dull, and whilst Buffy episodes can sometimes be saved by witty dialogue, this wasn’t really the case here – and the one-liners were quickly forgettable, with some of the more entertaining quotes coming in different episodes. The attempt to get across various messages comes across as heavy-handed, and whilst it may focus on trying to give Xander a role in the spotlight, it fails to establish what we already know from previous episodes.
The set-up created by the Fork-Vampire severed several purposes – create a misdirection about who the villain is, remind the viewer that there’s a character called Angel in the show, and then expose the Biology teacher. It doesn’t really serve as a compelling storyline – and is quickly forgettable, like pretty much the entire episode. As mentioned earlier, the dialogue is weak, and filled with cheese, and to make matters worse – the final confrontation between the She-Mantis and the Scooby Gang demonstrates poor direction at its finest, allowing for a let-down and something you wouldn’t expect sharing the same sort of TV series as the writer who would later write the awesome series finale (reviewed later), and not to mention Firefly and The Avengers, even if there’s a different writer here.
It isn’t helped that the special effects are equally poor – the She-Mantis effects requires a suspension of disbelief for even the most hardcore Sci-Fi fans, even those who have watched the early episodes of the old series of Doctor Who. Plot holes are also common here, with the most obvious being the fact that after the Scoobies have defeated the She-Mantis, what does the Gang do about the teacher’s house? Especially with a huge dead creature in the basement, things like that make you wonder how they’ll keep this from the authorities – and you wonder what will happen to the babies left behind by the She-Mantis. Do they show up again in future episodes? If Teacher’s Pet is anything to go by, I hope not.
In conclusion then, this is an episode to avoid. Rest assured though, Buffy gets a lot better as the series goes on. with some great episode of Season 1 still to come. I’ll have a review up of Never Kill a Boy on the First Date tomorrow, as I aim to plough through Season One’s reviews as quickly as I can.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 1 (1997): S1x01: Welcome to the Hellmouth, S1x02: The Harvest, S1x03: Witch, S1x04: Teacher’s Pet, S1x05: Never Kill A Boy on the First Date, S1x06: The Pack, S1x07: Angel, S1x08: I Robot… You, Jane, S1x09: The Puppet Show, S1x10: Nightmares, S1x011: Out of Mind, Out of Sight, S1x012: Prophecy Girl