My original plan for the review portion of this BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER extravaganza involved short, not-really-reviews of each season; the sorts of things I could post in sets of three and four.
Turns out, I've got so much to say about each season of BtVS that they really needed their own space to shine.
Well, except for S1. I've paired it with S2 below. Without further ado:Season OneIn Brief:
I began rewatching S1 last September. I figured I’d take it slow; an episode per day, or maybe even an episode every two days, so I could ease back into the Sunnydale experience without ODing on teen issues.
Instead, I became pretty durned interested in such tasks as bathing the dog or dusting the living room.
Yep. It was like that.
I forced myself through the first six or seven episodes (minus the hyena one, which I’ve never liked because I’m a weirdo), then drifted away from the show for a good long while. I always intended
to go back in, sure, but I never quite managed to put the DVD in and press “play.”
Eventually, I admitted it wasn’t working. I like individual moments from S1, but I’m still not thrilled with the season as a whole. As I’ve mentioned before, I find it far too focused on the sorts of teen issues that mean little to me--popularity and young adult dating and strict parents and suchlike. Not my scene.
So I gave up. I skipped the second half of S1 and dove straight into S2.
And I found the momentum I needed to stop bathing Murchie and start watching BUFFY.A Few Favourite Bits:
uh.... I’m drawing a blank. I’m sure there are at least a couple of places where I awwwwed or giggled or teared up (or maybe all three), but I can’t recall them.Pet Peeve:
this one is more for the entire series, but it bugs me that every single DVD cover features at least one photograph where the eyes follow you wherever you go. I hate those. I always have to put them face down so they don’t stare at me. I’m the same way with character-centric book covers.Season TwoIn Brief:
And so I began S2. Again, I intended to watch an episode a day until I reached that magical place where I was so immersed in the story that I needed more, more, more.
That moment was longer in coming than I expected. Turns out, the first half of S2 is fantastic
in comparison to S1, but it’s a wee bit of a let-down if you’ve skipped straight to it.
The teen issues are somewhat less in evidence, but they’re still present and accounted for in such episodes as “Inca Mummy Girl,” where Xander crushes on an exchange student who’s actually a resurrected mummy out to devour his life force, or “Reptile Boy,” where Cordelia and Buffy sneak out to a frat party and are offered up as sacrifices to their hosts’ demonic god. There’s also a lot of cheesy piano music (something I actually quite enjoy under certain conditions; ex, if the entire show is corny as all hell, so not so much here but very much on CSI) and quite a few directorial choices that feel a tad too expected.
Slowly, though, everything clicks into place. The show builds momentum as the characters become involved in deeper, more complicated relationships, romantic and otherwise. I love so, so much of what goes down with Giles, with Xander and Cordelia, and between Buffy and her mother--not to mention the masterful, ever-shifting Buffy/Angel storyline that forms the backbone of S2.
The viewer gets a clear sense that what happens to these characters matters
. The writers aren’t going to discard character notes at will (though they’re willing to retcon a few things here and there so it all fits). If something happens, it’s happened. It has a lasting effect on whoever it happened to. It shapes who they are, and it dictates how they relate to everyone else. Forgiveness is possible, as Buffy is slow to discover, but one can’t ever forget. Not entirely.
The season also holds some awesome (and heart wrenching) surprises, most notably the Big Bad’s true identity. I remained largely spoiler-free during my first viewing, so the shift was one hell of a kick in the arse, in the most ZOMG-MUST-WATCH-MORE way possible.
S2 doesn’t quite rank among my favourite seasons anymore, but it’s still powerful, affecting television.A Few Favourite Bits:
Every time Xander and Cordelia do anything together, but especially the moment when we realize how much she loves the necklace he gave her, and the part where he tells her they can fight extra-often in public, if she wants. Oz’s phone conversation with his aunt. Willow's response when Oz first asks her out. Joyce and Spike in the living room, when she asks where she knows him from.Pet Peeves:
Xander does an awful, awful, awful
thing right at the very end, and--semi-spoiler coming up--there are never any repercussions. Nobody even seems to realize he's done it. There’s this one point, in S7, where it looks like it’ll finally come out into the open, but it’s just a blip. Buffy, who saw it from one side, mentions it in passing; Willow, whose as-it-happened POV was quite different, makes a few noises like she might correct Buffy’s misconception. Then we never hear about it again.
Xander was my favourite character through to the middle of S4, and my second-favourite character until this most recent viewing. I love him to bits. And yet, I wish he’d been forced to atone for that awful, awful thing, because it had huge consequences and he shouldn’t have gotten away with it. One could argue that he does it to help Buffy, not hinder her, but I can never manage to believe that he acts with anything more than malice in his heart. I want him to pay for it.
I guess I’ll just have to hope it rears up again in S9.Back in the Day:
- One Year Ago: nada
- Two Years Ago: nada
- Three Years Ago: The Long List