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How much attention did you give to the episode titles?

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  • How much attention did you give to the episode titles?

    I heard a reactor recently saying that they had been contacted by someone about the episode titles being potential spoilers and so she stopped commenting on them at the start of her reactions.

    I never paid attention really or put much critical thought into the episode titles when I first watched the show. It was only really with the rewatch reviews on here and discussing the episodes in so much more depth that I started to pay attention to the episode titles and what they indicate about the episode. Whether always fully intentional or not (I believe the writers more than capable of such deliberate word play), they often come with possible multiple readings that adds in interesting points of reference and comparison to themes and events in an episode. So looking at an episode title has become very much part of my tick list in episode discussions.

    How much notice did you pay the titles when you first watched? Do you think there is any particular difference in the way episode titles are given in the two shows? Did you find any of them in either show spoiled the events of the episode for you? Would you ever recommend to someone they watch the episode before looking at the title? Are there any that you think of as especially great or poor episode titles?

  • #2
    In the UK when the show was first aired, I didn't know the episode titles. They may have been showing in the Radio Times or other tv magazines, but in the local paper, where I got my tv listings, it was just the time and the show title, no other details, or not that I remember. The titles never came up on the show, except maybe in a couple of episodes, so I paid no attention to the titles because I didn't know them.

    When I learnt that every episode had a title I am sure I poured over them like any mad fan

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    • #3
      My first time watching both shows all the way through I didn't really pay much attention to the episode titles since with the exception of Once More With Feeling, and Conversations With Dead People the titles don't actually appear on screen.
      My deviantart: http://vampfox.deviantart.com/

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      • #4
        That's a fair point. The experience of watching as the show aired is going to inherently be different to DVD bingeing it or streaming episodes.

        Although, having said that, even though I did watch it on DVD, I still wasn't paying proper attention to the titles until I became more obsessive and wanted to discuss the show to the nth degree. Perhaps others that are more automatically inclined to analyse the narrative when watching something would have looked at those details from the get-go. As for the reactors, they are watching and commenting on the episodes as they go along. They're primed to be thinking about it critically, where it is going and analysing what they are watching, in a way that I certainly didn't the first time I viewed the show.

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        • #5
          I wasn't that interested when it first aired ('cos I watched it uncritically) but if you asked me now I'd say they were really significant. I love the title Selfless.

          Things that bug me:

          Lies My Parents Told Me. What are the lies and who are the parents (plural)? Woods? Spike/William's? Buffy's? They only have one parent each.

          Touched and Once More With Feeling - what's the relationship between touching and feeling?
          sigpic

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          • #6
            According to some interviews with the writers, the titles tend to have some significance and they did put some level of thought into them. I think Whedon tended to see them as akin to song titles. Some being more glib than others, like Go Fish vs Weight of the World. They are interesting to me because it's the author usually attempting to sum up the theme of the work with a word or phrase.

            Originally posted by TriBel View Post
            I wasn't that interested when it first aired ('cos I watched it uncritically) but if you asked me now I'd say they were really significant. I love the title Selfless.

            Things that bug me:

            Lies My Parents Told Me. What are the lies and who are the parents (plural)? Woods? Spike/William's? Buffy's? They only have one parent each.

            Touched and Once More With Feeling - what's the relationship between touching and feeling?
            Lies, I think, is a riff on Lies My Teacher Told Me. It's not about any specific lie, but that the ways of seeing the world passed down isn't always reflective of how it is and that our parents/teachers aren't infallible in their viewpoints. The original title of the episode was 'Mothers and Sons'.

            Touched is about making connections, physical (W/K, X/A, F/D) and more emotional with Buffy and Spike.

            Once More, With Feeling is a direction in a musical or production. Buffy's going through the motions and her parts are flat. Lying, basically, feigning happiness. Hence Sweet's comment, 'say you're happy now; once more, with feeling'.

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            • #7
              HardlyThere Did you pay attention to the titles in those terms when you were first watching the show then?

              I also agree that Lies My Parents Told Me is a general reference to the fact that parents will sometimes unwittingly mislead their children and other times will intentionally hide things. For a multitude of reasons. So we see specific lies, but the title itself is referencing the general premise that every child as an adult can look back and see things with a changed perspective that reveals some things told to them as lies.

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              • #8
                Yup. Title leaks on SpoilerSlayer were my thing. I've always found it interesting when titles changed. The Better Half became The Replacement. Personally, I think Better Half is a better title. The New Slayer became What's My Line, which I think is an improvement.

                I think Lies as a title is interesting because it's not so much about lies, but how the parents are seen. There's a contrast between Giles-Buffy and Spike-Anne and also Spike-Wood. We don't really know what the lies are and who's doing it. I think it's been discussed on here before. Was Anne lying to Spike or Spike lying to himself? I tend to think the latter since it goes against the things we know. But it's irrelevant to the title, which I think is all about questioning what you were told by the people that teach us things, not any specific thing.

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                • #9
                  I always paid attention to the titles because I would madly search online for spoilers before the episode would air. Australia was a good 6 months behind the US at least so I would become familiar with the episode titles when reading information about them on Buffyworld.com. I then became familiar with them when rewatching the show repeatedly through the video boxsets as the episode titles were of course listed.

                  ~ Banner by Nina ~

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
                    I always paid attention to the titles because I would madly search online for spoilers before the episode would air. Australia was a good 6 months behind the US at least so I would become familiar with the episode titles when reading information about them on Buffyworld.com. I then became familiar with them when rewatching the show repeatedly through the video boxsets as the episode titles were of course listed.
                    As someone who searched for spoilers, did you ever think that the episode title itself doled them out in such a way that you would recommend to someone wanting to avoid spoilers to not overly think about the episode title before watching for the first time? I do really enjoy now thinking about the episode titles in relation to the episode content, but I'm not sure that even if I had been doing that from the get go and been thinking more analytically as I first watched and saw the titles that I would count them as spoiling things. I'm struggling to think of an episode in either show where I think the content of the episode is problematically flagged from the title alone and where it isn't with hindsight that the intended connections are understood.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Stoney View Post

                      As someone who searched for spoilers, did you ever think that the episode title itself doled them out in such a way that you would recommend to someone wanting to avoid spoilers to not overly think about the episode title before watching for the first time? I do really enjoy now thinking about the episode titles in relation to the episode content, but I'm not sure that even if I had been doing that from the get go and been thinking more analytically as I first watched and saw the titles that I would count them as spoiling things. I'm struggling to think of an episode in either show where I think the content of the episode is problematically flagged from the title alone and where it isn't with hindsight that the intended connections are understood.
                      A few come to mind. The biggest is AtS' Five by Five which is a dead giveaway that Faith is going to appear. I'm always glad when reactors are unaware of the title for that episode as I'd much rather them be surprised by Faith's appearance as she steps off the bus.

                      But then it was never meant to be a secret that Faith was going to appear. The WB advertised her appearance in the episode's promo so some things are intended to be spoiled to drum up viewership and anticipation;

                      Five by Five promo

                      Other than that, some titles do blatantly giveaway the plot such as Inca Mummy Girl or Halloween as they spell it out to you very clearly what the episode will be about. But unless you're so against spoilers that you don't want to know what the episode is going to be about AT ALL then I think they're ok. For instance, it really doesn't harm you to know it's going to be a Halloween-centric episode or an episode about a mummy. The episode synopsises that you'd find in TV guides or on the boxsets spoiled more than that and were intended to be read beforehand too. Their promos also marketed them as such as well;

                      Halloween promo

                      And then in episodes where the title doesn't necessarily give away the content of the episode, they heavily market things that do. Amends is a classic example where the episode takes on greater meaning after watching the episode but there were numerous promos selling it as the big "holiday event" episode;

                      1800 Collect Amends Promo
                      Amends promo

                      So I think there's always going to be a degree of intentional 'spoiling' whether it's by the promos, the episode synopsises or the episode title itself. If they don't give anything away then how are they meant to market the episode to get people to watch? There has to be a hook.

                      ~ Banner by Nina ~

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                      • #12
                        Of course, I see your point with Five by Five, I hadn't thought of that. But, as you say, if it wasn't supposed to be a surprise but in fact a hook, then it makes sense that they'd use that. And of course there is more meaning to it when you've seen it as it's her, "All's fine" phrase and the episode shows that's far from the case for her, so it does gain more with context. But yes, her appearance is clearly flagged by that title. I agree that titles such as Halloween aren't really spoiling anything significant just by advertising themselves as a holiday themed episode.

                        I get your point about hooking people into the episodes. I didn't need hooking as I was committed to watching the whole show when the boxset was bought for me. But when you've got the DVDs or are streaming and can watch them as quickly as you want it isn't the same as trying to keep people tuning in each week. So I see the titles and episode synopses were needed to draw in viewers too. You'd still hope it would be a tease and hint rather than give too much away.

                        It was fun seeing the promos, thanks for sharing them.

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                        • vampmogs
                          vampmogs commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I also forgot Buffy VS Dracula which is, well, obvious lol

                        • Stoney
                          Stoney commented
                          Editing a comment
                          True.
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