The Good, The Bad, and the Doomed

Happy Twentieth, Buffy!

The first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired twenty years ago yesterday and the series is still in the Top 10 of my all-time favorite television shows. In honor of this milestone, I thought I’d resurrect some blog posts I wrote during the end of the series in 2003 (for a different site) with a few minor edits added. First up, my Big List o’ Buffy.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Good, The Bad, and The Doomed

One fan’s musings on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the series.

Note, the first: These are just some random thoughts that I had over the run of the series. This isn’t intended to be a critical review of Buffy. Better people than I have nattered on at length (ad nauseam?) in praise and/or in condemnation. I’m merely a fan and these are merely fannish thoughts and impressions. I don’t expect you, the fan-next-door, to either agree or disagree. You’ll have your own opinions, I’m sure.

Note, the second: I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning of the series and my love for it remains undimmed. The things that I may find to complain about or to criticize should in no way be misconstrued as my not liking the show. On the contrary, even at its worst, Buffy is witty, entertaining, and clever. I still miss it.

My Big List o’ Buffy

  1. Best Season?
    Season 3, hands down
    The writing was crisp and so were the characterizations.Season 3 had the best and most cohesive season arc and, IMHO, the best uber-villain in the Mayor. It also had the fewest number of “blah” episodes. And last, but not least, it had Faith.
    Honorable Mention: Season 2
  2. Worst Season?
    Season 7
    How much did I loathe Season 7? Words fail me. Disjointed, poorly executed (for Buffy), and far too little time spent with the principal characters. The saving grace of the season? The series finale — Chosen.
    Dishonorable Mention: Season 6
  3. Best decision made by the production team?
    Spinning Angel off into his own series.
    I loved Angel (the Series) (though it had its share of problems and WTF moments). Angel really came into his own by going out on his own, if you get my drift. I was never into the whole Angel/Buffy relationship; I never believed in it as the “love for all time” for Buffy. Maybe that’s because I’m older and have adult experience. Whatever — I saw it as her first experience with love and, while tragic, just a bit overblown and dramatic, as teen love and angst is wont to be. It worked in Season 2, because it was a tragedy. But it was the single aspect of Season 3 that I found tiring (or just tired) and could have done without (or at least with less of).
    Best decision honorable mentions:
    Not killing off Oz. How wonderful that Joss didn’t feel the need to kill the character and he let Oz just leave Sunnydale. I so love the idea of Oz wandering the globe, trying to find whatever it is he needs to find in himself and in others.
    Not killing off Faith. Kinda says it all.
  4. Worst decision made by the production team?
    Firefly.
    Don’t get me wrong — I love Firefly. But for what it did to Buffy’s production, it was a horrible decision. I believe Joss’s abandoning (mostly) of Buffy to others in order to create and work on a new series contributed directly to making the last two seasons the weakest of the show.
    Season 7… Season 7 is disjointed and slow moving and has a decided lack of direction. Pivotal and well-loved characters are poorly and ineffectively used or are barely present at all. The only thing that makes up for the mess of Season 7 is the two-part finale, End of Days/Chosen. It’s no coincidence that End of Days and Chosen both work — End of Days was penned by veteran Buffy writers, Douglas Petrie and Jane Espenson, and Chosen was written and directed by Joss himself.
    Dishonorable mentions:

    Season 6
    I was able to watch Season 6 — just — and it does have the redeeming feature of having the single best episode of Buffy: Once More, With Feeling.
    Dawn
    Look, I understand the purpose(s) behind adding Dawn to the series. Simply put, I found her character obnoxious and annoying for the entire time she was on screen. I wish Joss would have found a different way to accomplish his Season 5 arc (without Dawn).
  5. Favorite to Least-Favorite Seasons?
    Season 3, no surprise there
    Season 2
    Season 1
    Season 4
    Season 5
    Season 6
    Season 7
  6. Best single episode?
    Once More, With Feeling (Season 6)
    This one was tough, but this is my current personal favorite. When Joss is good, he’s very, very good.
    Other Favorites:
    Hush (Season 4)
    School Hard (Season 2)
    Lover’s Walk (Season 3)
    Band Candy (Season 3)
    Becoming, Parts 1 & 2 (Season 2)
    Bad Girls/Consequences (Season 3)
    The Body (Season 5)
  7. Worst single episode?
    Amends (Season 3)
    The good news is that even the worst episodes of Buffy generally have some redeeming qualities. There are several that left an eh, what was that about? feeling after watching them and a few that seem as if they’re from a different show entirely. Amends felt like an “explanation and set up” episode when I watched it the first time, and it felt even more like that after the debacle of Season 7. Frankly, you can erase Amends from the series and you lose nothing.
    Dishonorable Mentions:
    Bad Eggs (Season 2)
    Where the Wild Things Are (Season 4)
    Real Me (Season 5)
    Doublemeat Palace (Season 6)
    I would have to make myself re-watch the majority of season 7 before I could figure out which eps to choose from it (aside from the whole damn season, save the last two episodes) and, yeah, that’s not happening soon.
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