Buffy, season 6

I’ve been watching my way right through Buffy the Vampire Slayer again.  Tonight I made it as far as the first two episodes of season six, Bargaining parts 1 and 2.

All through season five I wanted to blog.  Especially when I reached The Body, which is — and I say this without hyperbole — the most astonishing and perfect forty-five minutes of television I have ever seen, and I am confident in saying the most astonishing and perfect forty-five minutes of television that have ever been made.  (I say this as a huge fan of Veronica Mars, Doctor Who and Firefly.)  But I didn’t blog The Body, because I couldn’t see how to write about it without being totally spoily.  And I really didn’t want to spoil season five for anyone, especially the event that immediately precedes The Body.

So I won’t say anything about the opening to season 6, except for two things.

1. They really, really didn’t make it easy.  The key event in those episodes?  They earn it.  They pay for it.  And they make us pay.

2. Expect the comment thread to be spoily.  Don’t read the comments unless you’ve seen seasons five and six of Buffy.

40 responses to “Buffy, season 6

  1. I’ve seen the entire series, but I am a bit fuzzy on this specific set of episodes, so I’ll have to pull out the dvd’s and watch again! :-) Thanks, and enjoy!

  2. The silence in The Body is what really gets me.

  3. Buffy really is the best TV show I’ve ever watched. It shouldn’t be – it’s a teen drama about vampires, often camp, full of fight-scenes with body doubles, but sometimes it feels like all of that is to trick you into opening up emotionally to it.

    The Body is an amazing episode and a real turning point for the show. The slapstick and humor is still there but it’s replaced with something darker. I didn’t like seasons 6 and 7 as earlier seasons when I first watched them but on re-watching I think I like them more.

  4. I’ve seen all of Buffy and Angel. Needless to say, I think Buffy is awesome.

    I really love the episode The Body. I’m not sure if I feel it’s the best 45 min ever. But it is certainly very intense and gripping and unique. Nothing else like it anywhere ever.

    On Buffy season’s 6 and 7: Some fans don’t like them as much, or else feel that those seasons don’t really “count”.

    (The series was canceled from the network it was on at the end of season 5 which is why that season has such a Final ending.
    (Love the lines that go
    SPIKE: “Well, not exactly the St. Crispin’s Day speech, was it?”
    GILES: (musing) “We few…we happy few…”
    SPIKE: “We band of buggered…”
    and then it got picked up by a different network and sort of “resurrected”. So the things that happened to Buffy at the start of the season kind of paralleled the real world there. :-)

    I think season’s 6 and 7 are fine, but they definitely have a different feel to them. I always think of it as being a slightly different series. I call it “Buffy: the After Years”. They’ve long since graduated high school now and at this point they’re not as focused on college either. They’re growing up and the series grows with them.

    My favorite ep in the whole series is probably 6ABB20 (the episode 3rd from the end of season 6) with the last two of season 6 and Normal Again all tied as a close second.

    Of course season 7 is great too. It just happened to be the case that some of my favorite-est stuff is in season 6.

    Actually, when it comes to Buffy episodes it’s really hard to have a favorite. It’s easy for me to rate some episodes as better than others, but there are so many good ones, it’s darn near impossible to find a most good i.e. favorite.

    On the criticism side: Originaly I didn’t care for the “big bad(s)” of season 6 so much. I feel they give a bad reputation to a certain social group that already has a problem with bad reputation. But I got over it.

    Oh yes, and then there’s the musical. That one’s awesome too.

    And 6ABB05 (the fifth episode of season 6)–the sequence of scenes in the magic shop is awesome.

    And then in season 7 there’s the season opener. That one’s awesome, and I think there’s a lot to be said in the dark theme introduced there. And 7ABB07 “Conversations with Dead People” wins for coolest episode title. And 7ABB13 is awesome. And 7ABB16 is probably my favorite ep of season 7.

    Yeah, I need to get this series up and running on the TV set again. It’s awesome. Whole thing. Awesome.

    Sorry for rambling, it’s just sometimes I forget just how good it is. Also, sorry for the silly nested parentheticals, but that’s how I write when I get too excited and that’s sort of what Buffy is like for me.
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer is like mind candy.

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  5. Is Buffy really that great? People keep telling me to watch it. It seems alright so far, monster of the week fun. (I’ve seen the first 6 or 7 episodes I think.) But I mean, its got nothing on The Wire or The Sopranos or Doctor Who ….

    .. but I’m told you really have to slog through the first 2-3 seasons (with season 1 and 2 being weekest?) where it suddenly gets very good, from being just Whedon-level (ie: pretty good, riding on the dialog and quirky plots.)

    Theres no new Doc for awhile, and with new twins around my brain is a little/lot fried, so I’ve been working on Buffy again .. its about the right level of detail my poor brain can handle I think :)

  6. Anyone read Season 8 (official comic continuation?)

  7. Buffy gets less monster of the week in the middle of season two. You will definitely see, and feel, the difference. As it goes on it is pure Whedon brilliance. Hang in there.

  8. Ah the Body, the episode that made me stop watching Buffy. I was a huge fan up to that point and it’s not the show’s fault but my Mum died a few months before I saw it and I just couldn’t handle it.

    Maybe I should try it again.

  9. “.. but I’m told you really have to slog through the first 2-3 seasons (with season 1 and 2 being weekest?) where it suddenly gets very good, from being just Whedon-level (ie: pretty good, riding on the dialog and quirky plots.)”

    Nope, just season 1, and season 1 has some gems in it, here and there- the concluding episode is mostly a mission statement on what Buffy is and will become. Season 2 is a looot better, from School Hard onwards, and counts as some people’s favourites. The only issue is that you need to buy the romance between Buffy and Angel, which might have been slightly damaged by Twilight etc…

    I was watching through Buffy again when a friend came to visit just as the Body got started. We sat and watched it in silence, not wanting to say anything right until the end…

  10. *SPOILERS*

    I think you’re absolutely right in that they earn the right to put the audience (and the characters) through the early events of Season 6. Even more telling about the quality of the show is that when Buffy dies at the end of season 5, I believed she was well and truly dead for the rest of the series. I still expected her to show up as a ghost or some other supernatural creature, but as the Slayer, her part was over. I think it says a lot about the quality of the writing that they can kill off the main character and still surprise people when she comes back to life.

  11. Ah, Buffy. The most under appreciated of the great shows.

    “I think that may have been the most flawless piece of genre TV I have ever seen… was what I said to myself after watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5 episodes 16 and 17” – Andrew Rilstone

    Sorry, Andrew, I think I misheard you. I believe you got Buffy mixed up with Doctor Who, and “16 and 17” with “12 and 13”.

    OK, cheap joke over.

    I liked The Body. It was a great episode of Buffy. I’d go as far to say it was an outstanding episode of anything. But I certainly didn’t think it was the most flawless piece of genre TV. Sci-Fi (and, in Doctor Who’s case, “fantasy”[*]) works so great as a genre because it finds way to convey human emotions in a way that no other genre can.

    I find The Big Bang a great example. It was what great sci-fi is, conveying emotions in a very unusual ways. Amy’s imaginary friend watching over her while she sleeps after he just finished saving the universe just to say goodbye? The dialogue is believable, and the delivery (especially from Smith, who downright deserved that Spike TV award win[**]) is flawless. When you write dialogue referring to realities that don’t exist, it can present some problems because we don’t truly KNOW how we would react. We can only imagine it. So when we’re watching an episode of GENRE television where we can absolutely go on every word these characters say, you know you’re doing something right.

    The Body, I’m afraid, very definitely is just outstanding drama, rather than genre (I hate separating the two. It pains me.) It was character development based on an Earth experience (brain aneurysm), as opposed to extra-terrestrial (end-of-universe-fairytale in a little girl trapped in a grown woman’s body’s head, a premise I find much more on board with ‘fantasy’).

    Also, I find a story about death is really just a cheap shot to win over the critics and get fans saying that this is the greatest show ever.

    Don’t get me wrong, this particular story on death was done very well. Extraordinarily well in fact. Maybe the best portrayal on the subject I’ve seen in recent memory. But certainly not the most flawless piece of television, Sci-Fi or not. A Christmas Carol (the Doctor Who special) still remains my favourite piece of any visual media, film or TV.

    The Walking Dead is also a masterpiece of dramatic storytelling. Well, there’s moments of masterpiece value. There’s definitely problems when it comes to dialogue and pacing, but the first episode is really good ‘dark’ drama. Or do I mean fantasy? Oh, I don’t care.
    I highly recommend watching it.

    [*] – Is Doctor Who Sci-Fi? I’m never comfortable calling it that.
    [**] – I’m surprised he never got the BAFTA. Now that I think of it, the Emmys didn’t accept The Body for a nomination because it automatically rejected anything in Sci-Fi & Fantasy. That’s what I heard, but if it is true… God damn it, America…

    Side note: Didn’t you call A Christmas Carol “the most extraordinary piece of television”? That might have been short for “extraordinary piece of television… on Christmas day” but do clarify. It’s good to know you loved that episode as much as I did.

  12. I think Doctor Who feels sci-fi, but is more fantasy (in the same way Star Wars is fantasy, or even star Trek.) If they’re science based, they’re sci-fi.. but Doc Who is so often ‘big robots not making sense’. (Especially in the old days, and often nowadays.)

    But hard one.. Doc Who is pretty borderline between the two, certainly some episodes woudl be sci-fi and others not? Not so clear cut..

  13. Another question, if I may take over the thread ;)

    Discuss.. Angel.

    Actually good? or the ‘hunkier female friendly version of Buffy’ to attract those viewers?

  14. Lots of interesting stuff here; thanks to all who have commented.

    There can be arguments about whether The Body is the “best” Buffy episode, or indeed the best episode of anything. But I don’t think there can be any argument that it’s the most unexpected, the most astringent and the most memorable. Adam Stegmen is right that the silence is a big part of that, but it goes much deeper. It’s really about how unflinching and unrelenting that episode is. Five minutes of it would be a gimmick. Forty-five minutes is appalling. I can certainly sympathise with scimon finding it impossible to watch under the horrible circumstances.

    Ian and Isaac, I know that Season 6 is widely felt to be the low-point of Buffy, leaving aside the tentative first season. But I really enjoyed it the first time I saw it (perhaps because my expectations had been lowered), and felt that Season 7 was relatively disappointing — rather meandering and paddy. Certainly 6’s denouement was as cathartic as anything in the series.

    Jeff, yes, Buffy really is that great. I certainly wouldn’t classify Seasons 2 or 3 as “slog”, though I can see why people might feel that way about Season 1. If Season 1 is not doing it for you, feel free to skip to the start of Season 2, but I certainly wouldn’t jump ahead further than that or you’ll be missing some very good stuff. Season 3 may be my favourite of them all.

    Kieran makes an interesting point, that Twilight might devalue the Buffy-Angel relationship for people who see that first. How sad. (I’ve not seen or read any of Twilight myself, and I think I will keep it that way.)

    Julian, I wasn’t really meaning to set up a Best Evah!!!1! competition between Buffy and Doctor Who. If you remember my review of The Big Bang, I was very positive, and I strongly agree that that’s the best thing of its kind that I’ve ever seen. But really, we’re talking apples and wombats here. As for whether either both of these are sci-fi, fantasy, drama or something else — really, does anyone care about these boundaries?

  15. Oh, and to answer Jeff’s question, “Discuss.. Angel”.

    I did watch all of Angel, so I obviously enjoyed it. But it didn’t grab me at any point, and I don’t feel it has much re-watch value. (By contrast, I’ve watched Dollhouse twice, Firefly at least three times and I am on the fourth go around, watching with my eldest son; and of course Buffy is on its second go around right now.)

    Why is that? Partly because the acting doesn’t sell it, for sure. David Boreanaz’s flat, affectless style made him a perfect supporting actor over on Buffy, but when he’s asked to carry his own show, he’s no Sarah Michelle Gellar, totally lacking the painful depth of emotion that she had access to. Likewise, in the supporting cast, Charisma Carpenter is very limited compared with Alyson Hannigan, and poor Alexis Denisof can hardly be mentioned in the same breath as Anthony Stewart Head. The upshot of these actors’ less-than-convincing portrayals is that even at its best Angel comes across as a kind of game, with people pretending, where Buffy can be absolutely believable.

    But I think the problem goes deeper than that. Angel was supposed to be a darker, more challenging show, and it simply never engaged with the real issue that should have been at the heart of it — how Angel himself copes with his vampire identity and the constant longing to do appalling things. Instead, all of that is sublimated into his alternative personality Angelus, and the “darkness” in Angel’s character gets boiled down to which of the two people he is at a given moment. Since Buffy already covered that ground extremely powerfully in Seasons 2-3, that makes the core of Angel an inferior re-tread, whereas it could have gone off in a much more complex and interesting direction.

    That all sounds very negative, which wasn’t really my intention. As I said, I did enjoy Angel — enough to watch all 110 episodes, and it’s a bit weird to think that in total I’ve spent three and a half solid days of my life watching it. But those are the reasons why it was nowhere near as compelling as the parent series.

  16. I plowed through a few more Buffy (season 1) last night, being inspired by the dialogue here. The Pack is a little goofy but cute; Angel follows is pretty good, establishing whats going on with him. (Keeping hospital blood in the fridge .. *chortle*) The episode with the early era Internet-isms was really very hard to watch, but what the heck.. baby sleeping in the arms makes your eyes watch what they’re pointed towards.

    Really, its certainly not a bad show, its a fun rompy show; but with other shows I’m trying to catch up on, theres fierce competition on my time :) Back when I first took a stab at it (pun intended), I was watching The Wire and Burn Notice :)

    I’m seeing it — I was a big Xena/Hercules fan in their day and like a good cheesy romp as well as the next fellow — and this sort of slides into that niche; I forget the production dates of Buffy, maybe its right after those shows concluded, but it does feel a certain progression. (I’m looking at Babylon 5 and Farscape as well, also from around the same time period.)

    Season 1 is 3/4 done, and has some fun episodes, and some not so good ones; The Master arch is weak so far .. it sort of reminds me of the classic video game trope of — if I’m saving the world, why does the shop keeper charge me so much for the gear?> Can’t he just give it to me? Here we’ve got the Big Baddy tossing one vamp after the Scoobies and failing; then into his pocket comes the next best vamp, and then the Three, and then Darla, and then .. you know, if thats The Slayer, why didnm’t you throw the whole army at her, or at least your best first?

    Perhaps Joss hadn’t gotten on his feet yet, not thinking ahead too far.

    So Angel is okay if nothing else in the way, but not critical; perhaps cherry picking a few key episodes as they intersect with the main Buffy timeline, for completeness.

    Any opninion on ..

    o Farscape
    o Babylon 5

    Os does that trigger more blog posts?

    Like I said, you need a message board ;)


  17. The Pack gave me my first chilling Buffy moment — seeing the transformation in Xander’s character made it feel serious for the first time; you’re right that up till then it’s pretty much “cheesy romp”. If you’ve watched 3/4 I guess that’s 9/12, which means that you have Nightmares up next — an uneven episode but with some devastating moments. Then Out of Sight, which is very different from the other episodes, and finally Prophecy Girl, which is really where it clicks into gear.

    I did love the ending of The Puppet Show, though!

    Oh, and I’ve not seen Farscape of Babylon 5 at all, so no opinions.

  18. Your enthusiasm is ruining my productivity ;) Working on a space turn based wargame in my spare time, but its tough going .. to work on mobiles these days, you basicly have to write native code for each platform; HTML5 and WebGL arent’ supported on mobiles at all right now (but work pretty well on the desktop), so its very annoying.. any game you write now basicly will need a rewrite to HTML5/WebGL in a year or two :/ So its easy to waffle… write a native client (for Windows, OSX, Linux, iOS and Android .. ugh!), or work on a web clienbt edition that has limited audience for now.. blast!

    … and here you all come along and give me a perfectly good excuse ;)

    I’m tempted to just skip ahead to Prophecy Girl and go from there, but its pretty close now so I’ll see about getting there tonight. (Up till 3am with the babies before my wifes shift takes over ;)


  19. Jeff,

    Stick with it. Nightmares and Out of Sight are worth seeing.

    Let me know how it goes!

  20. Going over the above, it is interesting to observe..

    Season 1 — hit or miss, watch but no biggy
    Season 2 — not commented on? But the ramp upon which the pyramids are built, so watch :)
    Season 3 — the high point?
    Season 4/5 — no comments above per se
    Season 6/7 poor

    So the show is so highly rated by so many.. which must be based on seasons 2 through 5.

    Unlike in Battlestar Galactica revisted, where it was pretty good, but the last season or so was so utterly bad that it unmade the rtest of it, and the entire show is soured :)

  21. Wiki suggests Buffy season 1 was entirely filmed before broadcast (due to being a midseason replacement.. I wonder what for, out of morbid curiousity.) — that puts an interesting light on the writing and production. Building 12-odd episodes without knowing how the first is received…

  22. My season by season review

    1-mostly a mess, show finding its feet
    2-characters come into their own, high drama begins, and the season arc is absolutely tremendous
    3-The best season arc (well, maybe 5 is better?), some terrific episodes, and kind of concludes the three season of arc as Buffy as she is
    4-Some of the best episodes of Buffy are in this season. Unfortunately, the main arc is messy and doesn’t really work
    5-This is the most adult of the series to me. I know 6 is considered dark, but damn 5 is dark. The villain in this polarises people: I like her. Theres some bold choices made by the writers throughout.
    6-This was where the series moved to a different network, and Whedon paid it less attention. Theres some interesting ideas here, and some great episodes, but it often feels like the writers conceptions of the characters and mine are different. Basically the themes of the show, which were pretty consistent up to this point, dramatically shift at about this point
    7-A mess. Lessons Buffy has learnt in the past are forgotten, and theres too much filler. Still, a powerful ending and some good one offs make it fun, and you’ve got this far….

  23. I would broadly concur with Kieran’s season-by-season review. I can’t say which is my favourite season — it fluctuates between 3, 5, and sometimes 2 and 6. But unquestionably the flawed season 4 has some superb episodes in it, too. I guess the quality though time follows an “M” profile.

  24. I concur as well. Really, though, it’s unfair to damn them for season 4 being weak: they lost two major actors, including the primary villain, halfway through the arc, and it’s hard to recover from *that* unless you’ve gone to insane lengths and built trapdoors to allow any character to drop out and be replaced with a similar one at any time (as JMS did in Babylon 5, and even there it didn’t *quite* work out).

    Season 1 being weak is explained by it finding its feet, the invisibly tiny budget, the worse than awful music, the absence of Cordelia in the group dynamic, and the absence of the rocket fuel that is Spike (henceforward there was either a Spike-like character or a Cordelia-like character continuously, and they were *needed*).

    Season 7 being weak is explained by the writers spending most of their time doing other stuff, and just being tired, I suspect. Even there, ‘uneven’ is the most I can call it: the high points don’t get as high as they used to, and everything feels a bit ground down, as if reaching for the easy, cliche answers. Nathan Fillion does an awesome dangerously insane person though. (Watching _Firefly_ after Buffy leads to some serious actor-induced whiplash.)

    The latter part of S2 (after the recycled S1 plots are gone), S3, and S5 are just stunning, sometimes literally stare-at-the-TV-unwilling-to-move-once-the-ep-is-over levels of stunning. S6 is very good but I find almost too painful to watch (probably because its problems are largely social in nature, and I have real trouble with that: and that’s a personal problem on my part rather than a problem with the season).

  25. No question, Spike’s arrival in School Hard is when Buffy really kicks into gear. The most astonishing thing about the series thereafter is that season 3, in which he is all but absent, is so good. I suppose that, in a very different way, Faith takes his place.

  26. Yes, Faith is clearly the replacement Spike in the same way that Anya is the replacement Cordelia. They serve similar-but-inverted roles: Spike transitioning from major enemy to reluctant cooperation, Faith transitioning from reluctant cooperation to major enemy, both serving as #2 to a greater villain. They appear and disappear in a similar intermittent fashion (which makes sense for Spike but less sense for Faith, since she appears to have nothing to do with herself outside the slaying). They even enter in the same-numbered episode in seasons 2 and 3 (and then Spike comes back again in the same-numbered episode in season 4! Three arrivals in episode three in three consecutive seasons…)

    (Why yes I have spent much too much time looking for large-scale patterns in the Buffyverse. It’s a disease, I tell you.)

  27. Wait — what greater villain does Spike serve as #2 to?

  28. Angel. (There is an inversion here: when Angel ascends to villainhood, Spike becomes a reluctant cooperator: when the Mayor becomes more obvious as a villain, Faith moves towards enemy. This is an unavoidable result of putting the Big Bad at the end of the season.)

    This is all s2/s3 stuff, of course: this is a two-season pattern only.

  29. Jeff: Good to see you’re making an attempt at Buffy.
    I’m a major Buffy fan. Actually, I’m a major Joss Wheddon fan.

    IMHO, Buffy season 1 is the weakest. Season 2 is a little hit and miss with good ones here and less good, but still good ones there. Season 3 is where the show truly hits its stride, and more importantly that is the season that’s truly emblematic of the whole series. If you watch all of fire-bad-tree-pretty season 3 and you’re not truly hooked on the series by the end, then you’re probably not going to be. That’s how you can tell. :-)

    And, yeah, the Pack was good. I love the scene where Giles puts it all together, and the very dark moment that’s shared between he and the animal keeper guy. I also love the bit at the end between Xander and Giles.

    On the topic of the show Angel: I have also seen all of Angel. I like it a lot. I like Buffy more. My reason isn’t based on acting quality though, but rather overall tone. Angel was intentionally set as a darker show. I have come to realize that when it comes to my entertainment, and the shows that I like to re-watch, I actually prefer shows with a bit more humor or mirth laced through them. The Buffy crew goes to some very dark places, and it is not the case that every episode ends happily. But most of the time it is the case that there’s a lot of hope at the end of the day. Angel’s world doesn’t really seem to work that way.

    Although I find I can relate to late season 4 and late season 5 Wesley when he’s all dark and stuff. In particular the last scenes between he and Illyria are deeply poignant for me. I’d love to share them with people, but in order to really feel the weight of those scenes you’d have to watch most or all of the preceding season. And that’s kind of a lot to ask just get deep meaning out of a few scenes.


    You also mentioned Farscape and B5: I can’t comment much on Farscape as I never got into it. I think it’s good, I just never took it up.

    Babylon 5 I’ve watched all of. Do you need to watch it? I dunno. I mean, I think it’s awesome, but it was made even earlier than Buffy, so there’s the potential for even more date-ed-ness. Also, IMHO, spoilers could really hurt you in B5 so I’d try to avoid those. Although, having said that, the Series’s Main Story Arc is at the truly Epic level–like with Lord of the Rings. And that means that it’s possible to watch some supporting works without really spoiling the series as a whole. Before I saw the series proper, I watched a pre-quel movie with Sheridan at the Battle of the Line. In the ordering of the series, we don’t learn anything about that until somewhere in season 2, but seeing it the way I did didn’t spoil a thing.

    About the series’s quality: Season 1 definitely has some flaws. It gets better (as with Buffy).

    I think the best thing about B5 is that so many different classic sci-fi ideas and concepts get referenced in it that if you wanted/needed to get an outsider (i.e. someone who managed to live to adulthood completely unaware of the manifold sci-fi tropes) up to speed on all things sci-fi in the shortest amount of time possible, B5 would be a good way to go. it’s a fairly large time commitment. But once they’re done, they’ll have all that geeky, sci-fi stuff in their head. And, of course, that also includes traveling in time. ;-D

    My favorite B5 ep is the last episode of season 4. (of course) “Rest easy, friends. Rest easy.

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  30. The last 3 seasons are actually my favorite seasons. Yes, the show is starting to fray at the edges in season’s 6 & 7, and the main plot of 7 really is a mess, but I still think it’s really underrated by the average fan.

  31. As for the previous seasons, I think Season 1 feels like almost a completely different show, though if you’re already most the way through it, you should finish it, as the rest of the show is built upon that foundation and later seasons will be that much richer for it.

    Season 2 actually has quite a lot of episodes that aren’t a whole lot better than Season 1, but Season 2 is when the show changes and becomes something else. Many fans consider it the best season.

    Season 3 is when the show is firing on all pistons. If you were judging by average episode quality, then you would probably consider Season 3 the high point. I agree with Isaac that it’s probably the most emblematic season.

    Season 4 has a lot of solid episodes but a disappointing arc. I see it as a transition season, in more ways than one, between the earlier and later seasons.

    Season 5 is also generally considered one of the show’s high points. It’s one of my personal favorites.

    Season 6 is extremely divisive. It is hated and loved with equal passion in my experience.

    Season 7 is often dismissed as poor, but as I said above, I think it is actually quite underrated. I want to quote MikeJer’s Buffy Reviews (http://www.criticallytouched.com/buffy/season_7_review.php), who sums up how I feel about the season better than I could (no spoilers here, just generalities – though if you go to the site there are plenty of spoilers):

    “Season 7 of Buffy has its flaws, but as a whole it is in no way ‘bad’ and does not deserve the vitriol that I constantly see thrown at it…There are countless moments and several entire episodes within this season that effectively and evocatively utilize six seasons of character development and backstory with such grace, emotion, intelligence, and wit that I am beside myself for words. Such a thing, in my mind, could not be said about a truly terrible (or even poor) season of television. Let’s not forget to give S7 its due props while we dissect its flaws.”

  32. Isaac, good point on Angel: I stand by my earlier criticisms as the most fundamental, but you’re also right that the tone deliberately adopted was just less fun than Buffy. Part of Buffy’s charm is precisely that people in the most appalling situations still find ways to enjoy the good bits, whereas Angel deliberately doesn’t, most of the time. I think that’s a misunderstanding of what makes something “deep” or “dark” (which goes back to the second of my points in the earlier Angel comment): it’s about truly exploring the complexities of your issues, not about a particular deadened tone.

    Jess, it’s nice to read that very positive take on Buffy S7 — it makes me more optimistic about how I’ll enjoy watching it again after I finish S6.

  33. Thats the rub with Buffy; a few friends kept pushign for me to watch it, since its right down my alley as it were. But they kept saying to slog through season 1 and some of season 2, so my natural response was (a a busy person with limited television time :) —

    Really, so I have to go about 20-30 hours in, _then_ it starts being good. Thats a pretty high uptake cost; a cop show, The Wire, was so good it had me in about 10 minutes :) But, like wine, some thing take time..

    I mean, if I started Doc Who on the first doc now, I probably wouldn’t be able to stand it .. limited time means padding is harder to take, slow pacing harder to take etc. But having watced the Doc for my entire life, makes it entirely different.

    Mike put it best though .. my argument was a false dichotomy really — its not that the first 20-30 hours are _pure bad_ so you have to do ‘the grind’; itds that they’re not typical of the best of the show which is to come .. they’re ‘okay to good’ anyway. So, its watchable, and you know the dessert is coming.

    Thats how it needs to get explained by fans .. its good, then gets better; not “its great mid-way, the first part sucks” ;)


  34. “Really, so I have to go about 20-30 hours in, _then_ it starts being good.”

    By saying that Season 2 has a lot of weak episodes, I don’t want to scare you off watching. It’s not so much that you have to wade through most of Season 2 before it gets good, it’s more off-and-on. You should notice a jump in quality within the first few episodes, it’s just that there are still quite a few silly monster-of-the-week episodes scattered throughout the season (and even those episodes usually have enjoyable bits in them).

  35. I mean, if I started Doc Who on the first doc now, I probably wouldn’t be able to stand it .. limited time means padding is harder to take, slow pacing harder to take etc. But having watced the Doc for my entire life, makes it entirely different.

    True enough. But then we’re talking about twelve episodes of pre-Season 2 Buffy, not 687 episodes of pre-Eccleston Who. I doubt anyone has been seriously advised to catch up on all of Old Who before starting in on New Who.

    As for Buffy: Season 1 is good enough that, having watched it “cold” knowing nothing about the show, I wanted to go on to Season 2; but I do agree that it’s inessential and that anyone who wants to plough straight into Season 2 will do just fine.

  36. I wouldn’t say that The Body is the best episode of Buffy. It’s certainly quite remarkable. My favorite season is certainly season 6. While I can find nothing but negative reviews of it on the internet and elsewhere, it seemed to show very human things. Everything was falling apart. I really enjoyed watching it and now I enjoy rewatching it.

  37. Well. It’s hard to say that The Body is the best episode of Buffy because it’s so very different from all the others. It’s like saying that your favourite fruit is lobster. On the other hand, I can say that the The Body is best anything I’ve seen anywhere, in any show, so I guess that must make it best Buffy episode. Still, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as anyone’s starting point.

  38. Pingback: Things that Americans find incomprehensible about the UK | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  39. Joss Whedon

    Do you agree that “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” should have ended after its first five seasons?

    What show do you think is better? The first five seasons of Buffy or the first five seasons of New Who?

  40. Two really difficult questions!

    On the first, I agree that the average quality of Buffy was higher across the first five seasons than in the last two, so in that sense it would have been better to quit on a high. But there is so much I love about season six, I really wouldn’t want to have missed it Season seven on the other hand left much less of an impression for me.

    I think the first five seasons of New Who just edges out those of Buffy for me, but it’s a close thing. New Who season five I think is the best of any of the ten seasons, and New Who 1 is definitely better than Buffy 1. But then the Buffy season are twice as long. I am glad I don’t have to choose just one or the other!

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