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18 June 2014
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Episode Guide
The Puppet Show


If Child's Play gave you nightmares, then the star of The Puppet Show is equally short, but perhaps a little sweeter.

The key to making this episode work is that the viewer should never be certain whether Sid is alive or not, and whether or not he is the killer. Ellen Pressman's surefooted direction means that this is handled with considerable deftness.

For example, the shot where Sid shifts position, as Morgan stows him inside the trunk, is subtle and could as easily be dismissed as a minor continuity blunder. Unfortunately Pressman isn't entirely above cheating. The knee-level, point-of-view shots of the killer advancing towards Emily in the locker room are purposefully misleading.

It's about two thirds of the way through the episode when the truth about Sid is revealed, releasing some of the tension, but giving the situation an extra twist that is typical of the series.

The running gag about Buffy, Willow and Xander being forced to participate in the talent show is very funny, and cements the episode's various elements together very nicely. The Puppet Show is a very inventive episode, and one of the best of the first season.

Armin Shimerman is a wonderful addition to the series' semi-regular cast, bringing a cynicism that's all too often lacking in American shows.

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