Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Big Re-Watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Season 7)

AKA- The last one

So, the last season of Buffy. It has been a long enjoyable journey with the scoobs, enjoying their adventures in Vamp slayin', Demon Killin' swooning for each other, Giles cleaning his glasses and the Mutant Enemy logo going 'grrr, argh' Can Buffy save the day one last time before its curtains?

It's AWESOME! The whole reason for the re-watch was to see if the show can stand the test of time. Some yes-(the characters, the comedy) some not so much-(special effects, cheesy dialogue at times). After the frankly disappointing season six, the show atones itself with leaving all the cards on the table. 

'The First' is back, and wants to (wait for it) kill the slayer and reign with terror and evil, but this time it's personal. The mustering of all the slayers, or Chosen ones was a welcome addition to the scoobs, Faith is back in action after some anti-hero action and there are plenty of rousing speeches from Giles and Buffy to make you want to go out and slay a few vamps yourself. The relationship between Spike and the gang is yet again strained but well handled. Also Nathan Fillion is in this season. YUSS!

I don't want to say a lot, because, if you have got this far with the show, of course you will watch the last season of it, but I'll say this- the last episode is a barnstormer of a finale, an excellent farewell to a show that  I have enjoyed the second time around, probably more than the first time it was aired, the principle cast the team of writers, producers and directors have made some of my favourite episodes of Television ever. 

Bored Now...

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Big Re-Watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Season 6)

(aka- the worst one)

Bearing in mind that one should generally look to the positive when reviewing something, its cannot be a good sign when after rewatching an entire series of a television show, only two or three episodes stand out as good. In this series we see Buffy coming back from the dead (again), Giles swans off to England to clean his glasses, Tara becoming THE worst, most annoying character in the shows entire run, and if you thought Glorificus was a crap Big Baddie, the 'Trio' try their luck at quashing the Scoobs. Worst. Bad Guys. Ever. But there is light in the darkness- Willows descent into more powerful witchcraft was better than the whole Buffy swooning over Spike thing. And the Musical episode, which is Boss.

The series starts with the gang bringing Buffy back to life so she can carry on slayin' vamps and demons and looking after Dawn, but to her chargrin. She reveals the scoobs that wherever she was, she was way more happier than she was alive and it kinda sucks being back. Thus starting a rather uneasy relationship between them all for the rest of the season.

After a few patchy episodes at the start, the musical themed ep saves the series from itself. 'Once More With Feeling' is another one of those episodes that go beyond the cult fanbase of the show and was was a huge hit with the general audience, and with reason. We see the musical talents of Anthony Head and James Marsters put to good  use and some awesome songs throughout the episode. A fun, enjoyable episode that anyone can enjoy.

As the series goesn on though, it's tough to say what is a highlight between all of Tara's moaning, the on-off relationship with Spike and Buffy- which I personally find one of the most pointless relationships ofthe whole show- If you look back at Spike in seasons 2 & 3, there is NO WAY that that Spike would find romantic interest in Buffy. As this particular storyline goes on one of the best characters of the show is diluted into a shadow of its former self. Whilst all this is happening, the 'Trio' of nerds- Jonathan, Warren and Andrew try to foil Buffy and the Scoobs. This attempt to have a witty, clumsy gang to reek havoc ultimaley fails and jusr comes off as annoying at best.

The end of the season picks up somewhat with Willow becoming and uber- witch and threatens to basically break the world in half. The last couple of episodes have a good balance of action, plot and genuine concern for the scoobs. A good end to the rather poor series, but with the last season looming, will it finish off on a high?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Big Re-Watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Season 5)

(AKA- the first one with Dawn)

The fifth season. I remember watching it and thinking the show in general took a bit of a dip. Kinda didn't like the Big Bad Glorificus (Gloria), kinda didn't like how much of a whiny moaning toad Dawn was, kinda didn't like Spike being so tame and I outright despised Tara, and how much of a wet blanket she was, but hey, this is Buffy! there is always a saving grace in all of the series! season five can boast that it has Dracula! Giles cleaning his glasses again! And the Best. Episode. EVER.

The first episode is a pretty good one, Dracula comes into town and decides to take on our trusty slayer but Buffy has none of it and defeats (but not slay) him. Its all good fun, but every time I watch this episode, I wonder why he is only a monster of the week. I mean c'mon surely THE vampire of all vampires would have been a kick-ass Big Baddie of the season? and damn sight better the the stupid initiative we had in season four and better than season fives Big Bad Gloria...

'Glorificus' or 'Gloria' is some sort of uber evil god who is after the 'key', who she believes to be in the form of the Slayer, but is she the key? Clare Kramer gives a great performance which is Hammed up to 11 and is by far the best big baddie since season three's Mayor. Throughout the season there are plenty of entertaining face offs between Gloria and the scoobie gang, including a great head to head with Willow. 
The season also introduces Buffy's sister, Dawn into the fold and she whines and moans and is insecure as any other cookie cutter teenager in any other show is. Now don't get me wrong, there are some great Dawn moments later in the series but all in all, I ain't a fan, and how the show explains her sudden appearance in the Summers family seems more shoe-horned than anything else. I could go on about Dawn but I won't, nor will I mention Tara, I will keep my review for that wet blanket until season six. 

SPOILER ALERT. The Body is one of those episodes of T.V that go beyond the expectations of the show and receive praise across the board. And with reason. In the first half of the season Buffy and Dawn's mother Joyce (as always excellently performed by Kristine Sutherland) suffers a long battle with a brain tumor that has caused her great illness and finally succumbs to it in episode. Joss Whedon is on writing and directing duty for this episode, and he handles the subject with great sensitivity and skill. Great performances across the board and a glaring absence of a score bring an eerie quality to it. for Buffy herself it is obviously a tragic thing to happen and reminds her that, even through she is the Slayer, she cannot defeat everything. 

There are plenty of other stand out episodes (two Xanders!, The First Slayer again! and Riley leaves! hooray!) and the finale is, admittedly, awesome. and leaves us with quite a shock...where will the Scoobs go from here? will Dawn stop whining?  Will the show improve?...

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Big Re-Watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Season 4)

(AKA- The one with Adam)

After the excellence of season 3, it would always be a pretty tough act to follow, no matter what Joss Whedon had up his sleeve. I remember being a little underwhelmed buy the first few episodes when watching it the first time around and during the recent re-watch, and that feeling hasn't ceased. In the fourth season, Buffy and Willow venture into the big bad world of College, Xander tries to find himself a steady job and survive living in his parents basement, Oz exits, Spike re-enters, soon to be chipped by 'The Initiative' and two of the worst characters in the history of the show are introduced...but the season does have some stand out moments, including some very quiet monsters of the week...and you better believe Giles cleans his glasses, and Xander says 'Avengers Assemble' Hi-oh!

It is easy to pan this season for its weaknesses- the undercover-military-demon-hunting-super-secret-club-of- kickass-army-dudes rubbed me the wrong way and in essence diluted the somewhat exclusivity of the Scoobie gangs M.O. and seems purely to be a vehicle to shoe horn in Riley- a rather forgettable beefcake who Buffy swoons for, and a place to keep 'Adam'- a half machine/demon/human Frankenstein rip-off  hybrid under wraps until the last few episode to fight our demon slaying heroine. The 'Initiative' are also responsible for also 'chipping' Spike soon after he swaggers into town again. This action ultimately neuters Spike and drains quite a lot of the fun out of one the shows most loved and entertaining characters in the show. And the less said about Tara, the better (I will get to her in the season five review)

HOWEVER, season four does have its charms, mainly many of the monster of the week episodes. 'Hush' is probably one of the most famous episodes of the show, and one of the best. It always hovers at the top of polls for best episode and rightly so. Written and Directed by Joss himself, it is a truly stunning episode of prime time television. I could go on about how it harks back classic fairy tales and addresses the importance of community, language and how scary the 'Gentlemen' are, but I won't. If I was to sit someone down to try and get them into the show, Hush would be one of the essential episodes I would make them watch.
There is also much charm and entertainment to be found in the Halloween episode, 'Fear, Itself' in which the gang find themselves in a haunted house that comes to life and slowly picks off frat boys, and we also see Anya dressed up as a bunny. 'Beer Bad' has some of the funniest moments in the show when Buffy and some pretentious college boys are reduced to stupid cavemen through the drinking too much beer which has been spiked by the landlord of the Sunnydale college student bar.

Towards the end of the season, the impending face-off between Adam and Buffy kicks off in the penultimate episode and boy, its a good one. This is the Scoobie gang joining forces like never before to help the Slayer take down Adam. With the help of Giles, Xander and Willow combining forces with a spell, Buffy takes on Adam with all her might and I must say, in pretty impressive style.

The last episode 'Restless' is a little talked about but excellent episode of the show and a great conclusion to a rather average (but not totally awful) season. Each of the gang take a trip into their own psyche in dreams that showcase and reveal their doubts and feelings for the future, and the Slayer. An achievement both technically and in story telling, it bodes well for the fifth season... 

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Big Re-Watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Season 3)

(AKA- the best one)

By the time Buffy The Vampire Slayer was going  into its third season, it had garnered a massive cult audience, and a fair share of  critical praise for its blend of action, humour and well thought out and original storytelling. If there was any pressure on Joss Whedon and the other writers to live up to expectations, they certainly didn't let it show in this season. For me, it is this season that progresses the show from being very good watch to an immensely enjoyable watch. So the question again, as with seasons 1 & 2, is it still good? is it still my favourite season? Short answer- Yes, long answer...

This is the season that made me a big fan of Buffy. All the ingredients of what made the show great were amped up and were delivered episode after excellent episode. The main arc of the season is the strongest of them all, and the monster of the week episodes continue to deliver enjoyable bad guy fodder for the Slayer  and her scoobie gang to overcome. Angel returns for some more handsome brooding and caressing Buffy's face, Oz is a fully fledged member of the gang now, Giles cleans his glasses some more and the show finds some Faith...


In the first episode of the season we find our heroine living in a dingy L.A apartment , trying to forget the earth shattering events of season two, but after killing a few baddies and realising that Sunnydale is her real home, she returns, but its a bumpy ride settling back into the scoobie gang and all things that were so familiar to her, and with Faith turning up, it's not going to get easier for her.

With Giles being stripped of his watcher duties and replaced buy Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, an even more stereotypical English upper class buffon takes charge of watcher duties for both Buffy and Faith. however Giles still manages to hang around for the season and help out with the gang when it comes to beating the bad guys. Throughout the shows entire run, it is often Giles that steals the show in many episodes and this season is no exception to this, especially in one of the funniest episodes, 'Bad Candy' In which the adults of Sunnydale are reduced to the behaviour of  rebellious teenagers, thanks to the meddling of everyone's favourite sly bastard, Ethan Rayne. It's Giles and his shenanigans with Buffy's mother Joyce (excellently played by Kristine Sutherland) who have the most memorable moments of this episode and a real highlight of the season.

The Buffy/Angel relationship once again takes centre stage in a few episodes and proves that Joss Whedon can also write and direct emotional, heart felt scenes. With the return of Angel from a dimension of  unspeakable torture and subsequent guilt trips that he gets from the 'First Evil' emotions run high for both he and Buffy and by the end of the season a tough but rather inevitable decision had to be made to let them both move on with there lives.
Relationships between all of the main characters are put under strain, Xander and Angel as usual are at loggerheads with each other, Faith and Buffy inevitably lock stakes and results in one of the best fight scenes of the entire show.

The big bad of the season in the form of the mayor of Sunnydale (played by Harry Groener) who, with the help of a certain slayer in town has grand plans for bringing down not just Buffy and the scoobies but all of Sunnydale. After about twenty episodes of the Mayor talking about and planning, he finally attacks on the Sunnydale high graduation ceremony. This leads to Buffy revealing her secret of Slayerness to everyone (kinda...just to the students on campus) and rallies them to help her fight the mayor and his cohort in a massive battle in the last episode. Needless to say, like the rest of the season it is a solid entertaining action packed finale worthy of being called one of the best episodes in the shows history. 

Where now for our merry band of scoobs? after graduation, it is the big bad world the have to face now, how will they cope without the safety net of the library? will Buffy find another love? can the show continue to be as impressive and enjoyable to watch? only season 4 can tell us...

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Big Re-Watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer (season 2)

(Aka- the first one with Spike and Drusilla)

I remember watching the second series of Buffy The Vampire Slayer when it was first aired in 1998, watching it with my two friends week in, week out. It was this season that got me hooked on the show. Would I still love it as much? Or am I remembering it with rose tinted lenses? loads more Angel action, loads more of Giles cleaning his glasses, Oz makes his way into the Scoobie gang (who just happens to be a werewolf!) and a vampire called Spike rolls into town...


Season two kicks off with Buffy returning to the Hellmouth that is Sunnydale and gets back into the swing of things with the familiar quick wit and vamp slayin' action that we saw so much of in season one. This season roughly follows the same episode pattern as season one with a myth-arc episode followed by a monster of the week style episode, the difference being, the main arc of this particular season is probably one of, if not thee best one. With Buffy deeply in love with Angel, she unleashes the dark side of him - Angelus (making Angel the badass that he was before his souls was retained) who teams up with Spike, aka William the Bloody who is pretty determined to make his slayer kill count to 3. Along with the help of Spikes girlfriend Drusilla (who is somewhere between Gary Busey and Nicholas Cage level crazy)  mastermind a plan to kill Buffy and control the Hellmouth. Let the emotionally charged ass-kicking commence!

Away from the main story, the monster of the week episode provide the usual tongue in cheek side of the show with some lessons to be learnt along the way for Buffy, Xander Willow, Oz and Cordelia, bringing some character development foe Sunnydale's Scoobie gang. Highlights include 'Ted' in which Buffy's mother's love interest turns out to be a killer android (played by the late great John Ritter) and 'Halloween' in which the costumes end up possessing the minds of those dressed up. All fun stuff which makes the series a cut above the rest.

All in all, I can say that this was still an entertaining and well crafted series, and the seasons closing episode showcase Whedon's talents of crafting a fine show. With Spike, he made a fan favourite (me being one of them) and the Buffy/Angel relationship does nothing but make the show a richer and more enjoyable watch.
It would take a lot to make a better series of the show, but with Buffy being better than ever and the audience wanting more, could season 3 surpass expectations?...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Big Re-Watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer (season 1)

A look back at the all slaying all dancing show...does its still pack a punch?

A favourite show of mine in my early teen years when it was originally broadcast, I wanted to see if Joss Whedons massively successful show stands the test of time. Would it be too dated? Would it still resonate with someone in their twenties as much as it did when he was a teenage boy? Was it still, well, good? with these questions in mind, I decided to watch all 7 seasons,that's 144 episodes of vamp killing, witty wordplay, romance, teen angst, witching spells, sports bras, the hell mouth and a great title sequence...

Season 1 (aka the first one)

Immeditate thoughts-class.A bit dated going by the fashion statements,but class. The pilot is a prime example of the show- great fight sequences,witty dialogue, crude but forgiveable special effects and a dash of  adolescent empathy. Joss Whedon was on both writing and directing duties in the first episode and in many of the episodes throughout the shows seven year run, and you can see his input in all of the episodes that followed- whether it is the sarcastic humour, the well orchestrated  dramatic scenes or the kinetic action sequences. The only criticism would be that most of the characters have a 'THIS IS MY CHARACTER, HEAR ME ROAR' moment, but hey, almost every pilot of every show is guilty of this.

A s the season continues the characters get a little fleshed out, the long running romance between Buffy and the Vamp with a soul Angel begins to heat up and Giles (excellently played by Anthony Stewart Head) teaches the cast how to clean spectacles and act properly (zing!). The show takes a familiar page from The X-Files with episodes alternating between a monster-of-the-week (Xander as a hyena! robo-cyber-demon!) and the main season arc, speaking of which...
As with most of the seasons, there is a threat of Apocalypse, and the first seasons 'Big Bad' is a demon called The Master rises and tries to open the Hell mouth (directly under the school library floor/the scoobie gangs main hang-out) which they have to team and face in an excellent season finale.

All in all it is a great season. Sarah Michelle Gellar stars in what would become her signature role, and a supporting cast including Nicholas Brendon as the witty Xander, Alyson Hannigan as the awkwardly shy but brainy Willow and  Anthony Stewart Head as Buffys 'watcher' and school librarian accompany her through the highs and lows of being a Slayer and teenage girl battling through high school. By the end of its 12 episode run, it garnered a large and faithful audience (myself included) who loved its balance of horror, action, comedy and teen angst which made its such an enjoyable and entertaining watch.Soon season 2 followed which was bigger and much, much better...