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Priceless
13-08-18, 01:45 PM
http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/ustv/feature/a863611/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-seasons-ranked/

Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons 1-7 ranked, from worst to best
What sucks, and what slays?

Which was the best Buffy season? We've ranked 'em all

BY MORGAN JEFFERY
13 AUGUST 2018

15 years after Buffy the Vampire Slayer departed our screens – yes, you are that old – Hollywood has set a reboot (or possibly a continuation) into motion, with series creator Joss Whedon on board as an exective producer and writer Monica Owusu-Breen (Lost, Fringe, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD) in charge.

The prospect of a revival got us, and many others, feeling all nostalgic about Whedon's ground-breaking original. So many tears. So many laughs. So many vamps dusted.

Across a seven-year run, the series never stopped daring to be different and while it wasn't always 100% successful in everything it attempted, even a bad season of Buffy stands head and shoulders over most other television drama.

That being said, by the show's own high standards, which seasons slayed, and which kinda sucked? Here's our take – certain to be the most divisive thing in Buffy fandom since Buffy / Angel vs Buffy / Spike.

7. Season 7

This was a tough choice, but something has to come bottom of the list and, for our money, Buffy's final season suffered from the same joylessness as the show's sixth year, but unlike its predecessor, lacked a standout instalment of the quality of 'Once More with Feeling'.

The whole thing's just a bit uninspiring. It's both dull and disheartening to watch Buffy get beaten down again and again, while far too much time is spent on establishing the potential Slayers and on uninspiring sub-plots like Spike's quest to reclaim his soul.

Nathan Fillion's deranged preacher Caleb is a fine final antagonist, but the Turok-Han inexplicably shift from unvanquishable terrors to puny posers as soon as the plot requires it. Oh, and then there's Kennedy.

'Chosen' is a decent-enough finale (bar Anya's ignoble, blink-and-you'll-miss-it demise), but it can't totally eradicate the feeling that this is a somewhat underwhelming final lap for a truly epic show.

6. Season 6

With the exception of the spectacular 'Once More with Feeling' – Buffy's musical episode, a concept which could've badly misfired but ended up producing one of the show's all time-greats – season 6 is again a strangely sombre outing.

It was always a note-perfect blend of humour and heartbreak that made Buffy soar at its best, something that the final two seasons lost sight of (and that 'Once More' briefly recaptures perfectly).

The main thrust of the season, Willow's descent into dark magic, is also a mixed bag. Alyson Hannigan does strong work, while her final face-off with oldest friend Xander (Nicholas Brendon) is wonderful. But the dissolution of her relationship with Tara, and Tara's subequent death, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, as do the increasingly dark and deranged activities of The Trio.

It's far from a complete write-off, though: the musical's not the only standout, with memory-wipe episode 'Tabula Rasa' also a hilarious highlight. ("Randy Giles? Why not just call me 'Horny' Giles, or 'Desperate for a shag' Giles?")

5. Season 1

Opening and closing strong (with, respectively, the two-part premiere 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' / 'The Harvest' and the excellent finale 'Prophecy Girl'), Buffy's first, 12-part season is less sophisticated than what followed, and has dated far worse, but remains a whole heap of fun more than two decades on.

Episodes like 'Witch', 'The Pack' and 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight' all serve up entertaining twists on the "high school is literally hell" gimmick, while the perfectly-cast regulars gel from the off, with a fantastic chemistry that helps carry even the weaker episodes. (Yes, we're looking at you, 'I, Robot... You, Jane'.)

4. Season 4

Yes, yes, season 4 has the dreadful Adam (George Hertzberg) as its Big Bad, and the dull Initiative storyline drags things down, and 'Beer Bad' is a serious misfire, and the character assassination of Oz (Seth Green) is an actual crime. (Werewolf genes or no werewolf genes, the old Oz would never have treated Willow so shabbily!)

But while the larger arc has its problems, there are some terrific standalones here: the Buffy / Faith body-swap two-parter is superb drama, while 'Something Blue' (Buffy and Spike end up engaged after a spell goes wrong), 'A New Man' (Giles is transformed into a demon) and 'Superstar' (Magic transforms nerdy Jonathan into the coolest guy in town) all deliver both big laughs and serious pathos

And then there's 'Hush' – an episode played out with almost zero dialogue after a curse leaves the whole of Sunnydale quite literally speechless. It's an absolute masterpiece, one of the greatest episodes not just of Buffy but of television ever. (The Gentlemen still give us nightmares. Brrr.)

3. Season 5

Though season 5 saw Buffy unleash some of its most heartbreaking material yet – the whole Joyce illness arc, and especially, of course, 'The Body' – it avoided the misery-porn potential of what followed by striking a tonal balance.

Alongside the trauma of 'The Body', we were served tongue-in-cheek romps like 'Buffy vs. Dracula' ("Vun, two, three... three victims, mwahahaha."), and 'The Replacement' (double the Xander, double the fun) and a delightfully offbeat antagonist in Glory (Clare Kramer).

Season closer 'The Gift' also provides maximum emotional pay-off to the Buffy / Dawn sister relationship, more than justifying the latter character's risky late insertion. It would have made for a far better series finale than 'Chosen'.

2. Season 2

It says something about Buffy's overall quality that a run of television as exemplary as season 2 doesn't land the top spot.

Fine-tuning its winning formula, the show's second year brings whole new levels of fun (Xander's brief spell as Sunnydale's most eligible bachelor in 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered'), wild and wonderful fantasy (the gang's personalities are shaped by their fancy-dress costumes in 'Halloween') and emotional intensity (Buffy's betrayed by an old friend in 'Lie to Me').

The second season also saw Buffy give us its best ever version of its most famous trope, using the supernatural as an analogy for teen angst: Buffy sleeps with Angel for the first time and the experience transforms her seemingly perfect boyfriend into a soulless monster.

The entire Angelus arc is practically note-perfect, especially the tragic demise of Giles's love Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte) in 'Passion', with one-offs like 'Killed by Death' and 'I Only Have Eyes for You' expertly weaving the arc into their otherwise standalone storylines.

You'd have to go some way to beat that.

1. Season 3

Buffy's dizzying peak comes with its happy, sad, mad and brilliant third season, as the Scooby gang are pitted against the show's best ever villains: Sunnydale's maniacal Mayor (an outrageously good performance from Harry Groener, chilling and funny in equal measure) and Faith (a fantastic Eliza Dusku), a troubled 'dark' Slayer who serves as the perfect foil to Sarah Michelle Gellar's virutuous hero.

The stakes – no pun intended – were never higher than in this deftly-structured season, which, through a perfect mixture of powerful arc episodes and supreme standalones (alternate reality outing 'The Wish' and its semi-sequel 'Doppelgangland', school shooting episode 'Earshot', Xander getting his moment to shine in the playful 'The Zeppo') builds to a huge emotional pay-off.

As the Mayor is defeated, Faith falls and the gang graduate, the emotional wrench of leaving high school and friends is represented by Sunnydale High's total obliteration in a rousing final battle. (And just try not to sob when all of Buffy's heroic efforts are finally recognised by her friends and peers in 'The Prom'.)

The only downside is David Boreanaz spending most of the season hanging round like a lovesick puppy, waiting for his spin-off to launch. But given how good Angel ended up being, we can forgive that.

Now, how would we rank that show? Hmm...

TimeTravellingBunny
13-08-18, 02:36 PM
Season 3 ranked best again? It's good, but overrated. "Huge emotional pay-off" is a particular stretch - since season 3 is actually the season with the least big emotional pay-off at the end (other than season 4) and weakest character arcs (except for Faith).

My ranking would be:
1. Season 5
2. Season 2
3. Season 6 (I oscillate between seasons 2 and 6 for the 2nd place, they both have incredible highs but also some really bad episodes and bad pacing)
4. Season 3
5. Season 4
6. Season 7
7. Season 1

a thing of evil
13-08-18, 02:37 PM
This list is spot on.

Priceless
13-08-18, 02:49 PM
If I rate the seasons by the feelings it gives me, the ideas it presents, the characterisations, the excitement. . .

1. Season 6
2. Season 7
3. Season 3
4. Season 5
5. Season 2
6. Season 4
7. Season 1

But if I count the individual episodes I truly love within the seasons, the ranking changes to

1. S7
2 Joint - S6, 5, 3
3 Joint - S2, S4
4. S1

Stoney
13-08-18, 03:44 PM
Any list that puts S6 and S7 at the bottom isn't one I'm going to agree with. I really appreciated the change in tone and thought it worked brilliantly and resulted in some incredible episodes and character development. :noidea:

I always struggle with placing S7 because it's very much the second part of S6 to me, I tend to think of them as a set. I adore the continuation of Spike's journey and his relationship with Buffy. Those two aspects are just excellent in S7 and Spike's journey through the series is my favourite thing about it overall. But I don't tend to put S7 above S5 if I'm looking at the seasons totally individually. I then struggle because my love for Spike's arc culmination, that made the series for me, outstrips my love of the Angel/soul arc. But I think S2 is really great.

S6
S5
S7
S2
S3
S4
S1

But it is an incredibly flat structure. I love every single season. I just love the progression in the later seasons and how they build on from the earlier ones more.

vampmogs
13-08-18, 03:55 PM
This list is spot on.

I don't completely agree with their choices but I agree that it's a pretty good list overall. You can tell it was written by a fan and for the most part I think they argued their case well.

My list changes all the time as it depends on my mood but my list would also vary depending on whether I was trying to be objective or not. For example, I think a case can be made that Season 5 is the best season of Buffy as it has the overall consistency of Season 3 but the emotional highs of Season 2. Whereas, my personal favourite is probably Season 2 despite the fact it doesn't have the same consistency of quality throughout.

I can see why people love Season 3 so much, though. I've just finished a rewatch of Season 3 and it's reminded me of how entertaining it was. Whilst it may not hit the same emotional peaks of Season 2 or Season 5 the overall quality of the episodes is pretty astounding and you can tell that the writer's had truly hit their stride. I also think that it does the best job of utilising all of it's characters (Xander in The Zeppo, Willow in Dopplegangland, Angel in Amends, Cordelia in Homecoming or The Wish, Giles in Helpless, even Spike in Lovers Walk etc) in a way no other season really does, at least not as successfully. And all of the episodes are so distinct from one another and there's so much variety in tone that it made it a highly enjoyable season. I do think that the overall quality of the season sharply rises around the midway point (around The Wish for me). The Mayor doesn't become a truly interesting villain until he gets paired off with Faith and I think the season really begins firing on all cylinders once the main arc kicks in. The first half of the season is still good but it contains all of the season's weakest episodes (Dead Man's Party & Band Candy) and it also features all of those bizarre harlequin romance-esque Buffy/Angel scenes at the mansion which, thankfully, stop post-Amends.

I think Season 5 is a very good season but there's certain aspects to it which just niggle away at me. Some of them are purely aesthetic issues I have with the lighting/cinematography that season (it's very brightly lit which loses the gothic horror atmosphere of the show and there's this very orange tint over the whole thing) and others have to do with the Knights of Byzantium, Glory's 'hobbits with leprosy', and the monks, which all seem an odd fit with the tone of the show. I also find Clare Kramer to be very hit and miss and that sometimes Glory didn't come across anywhere near as menacing as she should have. I still love Season 5 but these little things always let it down for me ever so slightly. Nevertheless, I think it has a very powerful and emotional arc (probably not quite as iconic as the Angelus arc - but certainly up there) and the overall consistency of the episodes is extremely good.

I think the writer more or less nailed the overall problems with Season 6 (except I wouldn't say OMWF is the only standout episode of that season and I hate Tabula Rasa) but for the most part I still really like it. I get what they were trying to do and overall I appreciate their ambition. But I think he's right that the show's success was largely built around the fact that it was a blend of different genres (humour and heartbreak being two of the main ones) and that Season 6 (deliberately) lost this balance, which made the series feel a little less unique. In many ways it's like the season intentionally played against the show's strengths. It was an interesting experiment but it didn't always feel like Buffy which is why despite enjoying it, I could never really consider it my favourite. I actually feel the same way about episodes like Hush, The Body or OMWF. They're all brilliant episodes and I count them amongst my favourites but none of them could ever be my favourite episode because they were such a departure from the usual tone and style of the show.

I think they missed the mark with Season 7. I agree with them wholeheartedly that it should be ranked last but not really for the reasons they mentioned. I wouldn't have lumped it in with Season 6 as being "joyless" because overall I think it had a much more light-hearted tone than Season 6. I think it was joyless because the writers were clearly burnt out and creatively exhausted and there's a very noticeable dip in quality in pretty much all aspects of production (acting, scripts, cinematography, lighting, even makeup) which became very apparent by midway through the season which, non-coincidentally, is when Drew Goddard claimed all the original writers and crew began to jump ship to other jobs. IMO you can tell their heart wasn't in it as much anymore and unfortunately the series limped to the finish line. There was also some really reckless, poorly conceived and unnecessary choices that made a lot of the characters really unlikable to longtime fans, which is really sad. That said, I can understand why people would still rank Season 7 before Season 1 as I think objectively it was still better written than Season 1 overall. But I think Season 1 has much more heart which makes it a more enjoyable season for me to rewatch these days. The characters are all far more likeable and their relationships with one another are far more loveable and endearing and by Prophecy Girl you could feel that the series was simply brimming with potential.

I don't know how I could rank the seasons;

Objectively?

1) Season 5
2) Season 2
3) Season 3
4) Season 4
5) Season 6
6) Season 7
7) Season 1

Subjectively?

1) Season 2
2) Season 3
3) Season 5
4)/5) Season 6 or 4 - I honestly can't decide. I love Buffy's arc in Season 6 so, so much but I love everything else about Season 4 more than I do everything else in Season 6.
6) Season 1
7) Season 7


Ask me next week and the order of those lists would have probably changed, though.

Silver1
13-08-18, 07:17 PM
IMO you can tell their heart wasn't in it as much anymore and unfortunately the series limped to the finish line.

And imo It looks like history is repeating themselves when it comes to the comics ending too. :(

TriBel
13-08-18, 07:32 PM
I interrupted my rewatch of Angel (just got to 4) to begin a rewatch of BtVS and, if I'm honest, I much prefer Angel. I've got to the end of What's My Line and I'm bored with Buffy. It's only 12 months since I last watched it and I can't remember a damned thing of S1/2/3. It could be my age but I think it's more likely the characters ages because I can remember the later seasons. I'd throw 6/7 in together then go backwards through 5 and 4.

1. 6/7
2. 5
3. 4
4. 3
5. 2
6. 1

Mylie
14-08-18, 03:39 AM
I enjoy every season of the show but my personal ranking would be :

Season 3
Season 5
Season 2
Season 4
Season 1
Season 7
Season 6

So I guess my ranking is close to the article's.

GoSpuffy
14-08-18, 06:46 AM
I'm far from the article. My ranking is

6
7
5
4
2
3
1

I also have a hard time separating season 6 & 7 as they feel like two parts of the same story. I love all the seasons but I can never understand ranking the early seasons higher than those that have the strength of all the years of character and story building bolstering them higher.

Sosa lola
14-08-18, 12:21 PM
My ranking is close to the article's:

1) Season 2 :heart:
2) Season 4 (I adore S4. It's my go to Spander season)
3) Season 3
4) Season 5
5) Season 6 ( I have more feelings for this season than S5, but lately I've become so disappointed with its glaring mistakes)
6) Season 1
7) Season 7

vampmogs
14-08-18, 01:02 PM
I love all the seasons but I can never understand ranking the early seasons higher than those that have the strength of all the years of character and story building bolstering them higher.

That isn't always the case though. For instance, in Season 7 Xander is pretty much just decorative wallpaper whereas in Season 2 he's far more integral to the plot. Whilst we may have known Xander longer by Season 7 he's definitely a character who had more prominence in the earlier seasons and who's role in the series diminished as the series progressed.

I agree with you that the later seasons had the benefit of years worth of character-building *but* I also think that the earlier seasons do a far better job of juggling the entire cast. Seasons 6 & 7 in particular seem to really struggle with this and characters like Xander, Anya and Dawn often fell by the wayside in favour of Buffy, Willow and Spike. I think some characters have always featured more prominently than others which is inevitable (Cordelia in Season 1-3 was a perfect example of this) but in the later seasons the writer's developed an increasing habit of having much of the main cast be fairly ineffectual and unnecessary to the main plot. They're often missing from the major moments of the episodes and seemingly only appear for brief periods to remind us that they still exist. The episodes became extremely myopic and the writers neither had the attention span or the patience to juggle multiple plots/characters at once.

For example, had Lovers Walk taken place in Season 6 or 7 I think it's pretty much a given that the Willow/Xander/Oz/Cordelia storyline wouldn't have featured as prominently or even at all throughout the episode. Instead, the characters would have likely appeared for a couple of scenes at the beginning of the episode just to remind us that they still exist until Buffy/Spike/Angel took centre stage and the rest of the episode inevitably revolved around them. Whereas in Season 3, whilst the Buffy/Spike/Angel scenes were still arguably the 'main' part of the story, the writer's still developed the other characters and they still all had integral roles to play throughout the entire episode. I've just rewatched Season 3 after rewatching Season 6 and this really stood out to me. I had gotten so used to characters disappearing for most of the episode that I had forgotten how the entire gang used to be such a consistent presence throughout the story.

buffylover
14-08-18, 01:27 PM
Mine would be...

1. - Season 6 = DARKNESS... Buffy flow of character development is so profound and vivid. In my opinion, the only season that witnesses true life based on all the characters. Life is the big bad! I love that notion so much.
2. - Season 5 = Amazing season to me so strong and very deep within an emotional state. The villain is fantastic the only villain that made Buffy going through a breakdown and the last two disc is so adrenaline driven. A family orientated season. Fantastic mythology, not just vampires. And it didn't just effect Buffy it affected everyone. Glory just wants to go home and not caring of the destruction she will cause on the universe. Wow!
3. - Season 7 = Great start messy end. I like the apocalyptic feel and the Spike and Buffy relationship.
4. - Season 3 = Overrated. But I did enjoy it more in my last rewatch.
5. - Season 2 = Nostalgia is making this high but it's not even that high. I truly find Angelus overrated as a villain.
6. - Season 4 = Again I do enjoy this season but for me, it's too bubblegum to... light-hearted.
7. - Season 1 = I do enjoy this season but as a whole, it's just decent.

Ahm Shere
14-08-18, 03:07 PM
1. Season 5 - This has been my constant favourite season since I first watched it. Glory is my favourite Big Bad, and I love it from start to finish.
2. Season 6 - Again, I love this season. I love that it's darker, and there are a lot of standout episodes that I absolutely love.
3. Season 2 - As much as I dislike Angel, I honestly love Angelus. He's so sadistic and the perfect Big Bad, there are so many episodes I love in Season 2, (although I still have not forgiven Joss for Jenny Calendar. :down::mad::cussing: :nono: But still, Passion is just an amazing episode.
4. Season 1 - I enjoyed Season 1, I've seen the episodes so many times I know them by heart. Sure, there are some episodes that need to just go away, (Teacher's Pet, I Robot, You Jane - I'm looking at you!) but for the most part I still really enjoy it. My main gripe with S1 is The Anointed One. Bleh.
5. Season 3 - I did enjoy S3, I really enjoyed The Mayor and Faith. I think my issue with it is it's all Bangel and no Bangelus. :lol:
6. Season 7 - You know, I still enjoy S7, but I feel like The First could have been executed a lot better. Although there is a lot of Spuffy, and my favourite Spuffy moment is in S7, "You're the one, Buffy" there's also a lot I don't like about S7 and I find it annoying.
7. Season 4 - I know it's unfair to put S4 right at the bottom, considering there are actually a lot of episodes that I really enjoyed. (Pangs, Hush, Something Blue and Restless among the top few). However I feel like it was the worst storyline of the series, I really disliked The Initiative storyline, I hated Adam, and Riley is so meh.

If it were by number of episodes I enjoyed, the list would probably be: (as a guesstimate)

1. S6
2. S2
3. S5
4. S4
5. S1
6. S7
7. S3

TriBel
14-08-18, 03:53 PM
Vampmogs


That isn't always the case though. For instance, in Season 7 Xander is pretty much just decorative wallpaper whereas in Season 2 he's far more integral to the plot. Whilst we may have known Xander longer by Season 7 he's definitely a character who had more prominence in the earlier seasons and who's role in the series diminished as the series progressed.

I disagree entirely. I think Xander is pivotal to S7. He's less vocal but S7 has a very ambivalent relationship to speech. It's equally concerned with vision - with the ocular in all its manifestations and it's Xander more than anyone who's associated with vision. It's Xander who removes his "safety googles"and it's Xander who loses an eye. This season is also preoccupied with frames, edges and corners - things we see through or can't see beyond or behind and it's Xander who replaces/boards up windows. Personally, I think one of the most tragic moments is when his vision is literally blocked and he can't see Anya's dead body.

In Potential, there's this line: I] what you did last night. Dawn _Maybe that's your power...Seeing. Knowing__
Just some examples:

Lessons: "Xander puts up new and old plans to the window so they can see through them".
Same Time, Same Place. "Guys, I just noticed something. Everyone's off the plane, so where's Willow?"
In Beneath You Spike says "What you need is help. Fortunately, you've got me." and he's nothing but a hindrance. It's Xander who first mentions Anya making wishes, who finds Nancy, who sees the connection between Anya and Nancy's situation.
Show Time: Buffy "Willow, take everyone and find a safe location". Xander: "I know a place." Not only does he "know" the place, he makes it possible for the show to take place - for the show to be seen. He literally puts Buffy in the spotlight.
Never Leave Me: It's Xander who identifies the trigger: "No, this is left over from every Army movie I've ever seen. But it makes sense".


So what if he's "wallpaper"? It's also a season where figure and ground are examined. There's a reason in ST, SP he holds up a sign where figure/ground are almost inseparable (a very similar thing happens with Spike in Touched). It's not coincidence Buffy awards him custody of Dawn (and Spike - arguably the two most important people to her in 7). It's not coincidence both he and Spike are both crucified on the same wheel. Spuffy might be in the foreground but they're in the foreground because people like Xander are in the background.

I'm sure, in the closet (apt word) in Xander's apartment there's a picture on the wall. I think it's "New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam". New York literally wouldn't exist if not for the workers - the anonymous men and women who built the City. I really don't understand the argument that Xander's underused in S7. I think he's the most well-developed, best developed of all the characters. it's a stunning season for Xander.

That he becomes a replacement for Giles, a potential replacement for Spike and his own man in S8 is all built on what happens in S7.

Stoney
14-08-18, 04:10 PM
Wow TriBel I never thought of S7 for Xander in those terms that is really interesting. Looking forward to rewatching S7 together even more now. :biggrin1:

flow
14-08-18, 08:08 PM
I have to agree with vampmogs that my ranking depends on whether it is about the quality of the season or about how much I love a season.

Objectively?

1) Season 5
2) Season 2
3) Season 6
4) Season 3
5) Season 7
6) Season 4
7) Season 1

Subjectively?

1) Season 6
2) Season 7
3) Season 5
4) Season 2
5) Season 4
6) Season 1
7) Season 3

flow

Skippcomet
14-08-18, 08:37 PM
In December of 2002, as Season 7 was airing for the first time, there was an online sci-fi con report about Nicholas Brendon being the featured "Buffyverse" guest at a convention (I'm assuming there were other fandoms and guests also being represented/in attendance, it's been almost 16 years so sue me). In addition to the usual sorts of questions fans of the Buffyverse asked then and ask now, there were quite a few questions being asked of Brendon about, essentially, "what can you tell us about Xander's storyline this year?" This was based upon the rather strong presence and prominence of Xander in Season 7's first six episodes followed by his complete and total absence in the seventh episode ("Conversations with Dead People") AKA the first MAJOR turning point in the season's overarching storyline, followed by the rather unwelcome return of Xander-as-wallpaper afterwards. Brendon hemmed and hawed, trying to deflect as much as possible in the name of not spoiling anything, until his demeanor changed and he got rather somber...and he full on admitted to the audience at the convention that Xander did not have, and wasn't going to have, a storyline that season.

It's been almost sixteen years, but I'll take the then-word of the actual actor then playing the actual character on the actual show when it was actually in production and airing for the first time, over the many-years-later pseudo-intellectual-wannabe hogwash of countless people trying to defend the show's definitively weakest seasons while trying to make themselves look smarter and more insightful than they actually are.

"So what if he's wallpaper?" on a show in which character development and relevancy were directly correlated to the amount of screentime and authorial attention/championship given to any given character, no less? Smh right now, I can't even.

Silver1
14-08-18, 09:07 PM
Sadly he didn't play as big a role because the poor bugger was pissed half the time. At the convention I attended years back he said so. Said during season 7 he was sometimes so drunk he didn't remember how he got home each night let alone his lines.

I'm sure thats why we got so much Andrew doing Xander's kind of shtick instead.

TriBel
14-08-18, 09:42 PM
In December of 2002, as Season 7 was airing for the first time, there was an online sci-fi con report about Nicholas Brendon being the featured "Buffyverse" guest at a convention (I'm assuming there were other fandoms and guests also being represented/in attendance, it's been almost 16 years so sue me). In addition to the usual sorts of questions fans of the Buffyverse asked then and ask now, there were quite a few questions being asked of Brendon about, essentially, "what can you tell us about Xander's storyline this year?" This was based upon the rather strong presence and prominence of Xander in Season 7's first six episodes followed by his complete and total absence in the seventh episode ("Conversations with Dead People") AKA the first MAJOR turning point in the season's overarching storyline, followed by the rather unwelcome return of Xander-as-wallpaper afterwards. Brendon hemmed and hawed, trying to deflect as much as possible in the name of not spoiling anything, until his demeanor changed and he got rather somber...and he full on admitted to the audience at the convention that Xander did not have, and wasn't going to have, a storyline that season.

It's been almost sixteen years, but I'll take the then-word of the actual actor then playing the actual character on the actual show when it was actually in production and airing for the first time, over the many-years-later pseudo-intellectual-wannabe hogwash of countless people trying to defend the show's definitively weakest seasons while trying to make themselves look smarter and more insightful than they actually are.

"So what if he's wallpaper?" on a show in which character development and relevancy were directly correlated to the amount of screentime and authorial attention/championship given to any given character, no less? Smh right now, I can't even.

Okay - if you say so. :D

Priceless
14-08-18, 10:04 PM
TriBel, I just love your take on Xander in Season 7. Thank you for sharing

vampmogs
14-08-18, 11:07 PM
Vampmogs



I disagree entirely. I think Xander is pivotal to S7. He's less vocal but S7 has a very ambivalent relationship to speech. It's equally concerned with vision - with the ocular in all its manifestations and it's Xander more than anyone who's associated with vision. It's Xander who removes his "safety googles"and it's Xander who loses an eye. This season is also preoccupied with frames, edges and corners - things we see through or can't see beyond or behind and it's Xander who replaces/boards up windows. Personally, I think one of the most tragic moments is when his vision is literally blocked and he can't see Anya's dead body.

In Potential, there's this line: I] what you did last night. Dawn _Maybe that's your power...Seeing. Knowing__
Just some examples:

Lessons: "Xander puts up new and old plans to the window so they can see through them".
Same Time, Same Place. "Guys, I just noticed something. Everyone's off the plane, so where's Willow?"
In Beneath You Spike says "What you need is help. Fortunately, you've got me." and he's nothing but a hindrance. It's Xander who first mentions Anya making wishes, who finds Nancy, who sees the connection between Anya and Nancy's situation.
Show Time: Buffy "Willow, take everyone and find a safe location". Xander: "I know a place." Not only does he "know" the place, he makes it possible for the show to take place - for the show to be seen. He literally puts Buffy in the spotlight.
Never Leave Me: It's Xander who identifies the trigger: "No, this is left over from every Army movie I've ever seen. But it makes sense".


So what if he's "wallpaper"? It's also a season where figure and ground are examined. There's a reason in ST, SP he holds up a sign where figure/ground are almost inseparable (a very similar thing happens with Spike in Touched). It's not coincidence Buffy awards him custody of Dawn (and Spike - arguably the two most important people to her in 7). It's not coincidence both he and Spike are both crucified on the same wheel. Spuffy might be in the foreground but they're in the foreground because people like Xander are in the background.

I'm sure, in the closet (apt word) in Xander's apartment there's a picture on the wall. I think it's "New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam". New York literally wouldn't exist if not for the workers - the anonymous men and women who built the City. I really don't understand the argument that Xander's underused in S7. I think he's the most well-developed, best developed of all the characters. it's a stunning season for Xander.

That he becomes a replacement for Giles, a potential replacement for Spike and his own man in S8 is all built on what happens in S7.

Tribel, all the power to you if you can find something worthwhile out of Xander’s story (or lack thereof) in Season 7 but I just don’t see it. It contradicts not only the actor’s account of what actually occurred that season but also the writer’s as well. When questioned about this, Jane Espenson admitted that the writers had just “lost interest” in several of the characters, Xander being one of them, and that their lack of story was a reflection of that. Couple that with Nicholas Brendan’s drinking problems and most of the seasoned writers jumping ship midway through the season, as Drew Goddard attests to, and I think the reality of the situation is that Xander simply didn’t have a story. It wasn’t mean to represent or mean anything other than that. Sometimes a spade is really just a spade.

Mylie
14-08-18, 11:48 PM
It's the first time I see season 3 at the bottom of someone's list so I'm really intrigued. Flow, would you mind explaining why you don't care for that season?

And now I kind of wish I had put an explanation for my own ranking :lol:

I did like Ahm Shere and counted the number of episodes I love for every season :

Season 3 : 15
Season 2 : 11
Season 4 : 10
Season 5 : 9
Season 6 : 7
Season 7 : 6
Season 1 : 5

The ranking is a bit different. I think my love for season 5's arc puts it higher in my usual ranking. But other seasons have a lot more episodes I enjoy (and they're usually more memorable to me). Of course season 1 has less episodes so it probably brings it between season 5 and season 6.

BAF
14-08-18, 11:49 PM
My ranking

Season 3
Season 2(they are pretty tied and flip back and forth for me at different times)
Season 5
Season 7
Season 1
Season 6
Season 4

I'll include my ranking of Angel as well

Season 2
Season 4
Season 5
Season 1(My top favorite episodes are in this season but as a whole this season is marked lower due to the more anthology nature)
Season 3

HowiMetdaSlayer
14-08-18, 11:55 PM
http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/ustv/feature/a863611/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-seasons-ranked/

Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons 1-7 ranked, from worst to best
What sucks, and what slays?

Which was the best Buffy season? We've ranked 'em all

BY MORGAN JEFFERY
13 AUGUST 2018

15 years after Buffy the Vampire Slayer departed our screens – yes, you are that old – Hollywood has set a reboot (or possibly a continuation) into motion, with series creator Joss Whedon on board as an exective producer and writer Monica Owusu-Breen (Lost, Fringe, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD) in charge.

The prospect of a revival got us, and many others, feeling all nostalgic about Whedon's ground-breaking original. So many tears. So many laughs. So many vamps dusted.

Across a seven-year run, the series never stopped daring to be different and while it wasn't always 100% successful in everything it attempted, even a bad season of Buffy stands head and shoulders over most other television drama.

That being said, by the show's own high standards, which seasons slayed, and which kinda sucked? Here's our take – certain to be the most divisive thing in Buffy fandom since Buffy / Angel vs Buffy / Spike.

7. Season 7

This was a tough choice, but something has to come bottom of the list and, for our money, Buffy's final season suffered from the same joylessness as the show's sixth year, but unlike its predecessor, lacked a standout instalment of the quality of 'Once More with Feeling'.

The whole thing's just a bit uninspiring. It's both dull and disheartening to watch Buffy get beaten down again and again, while far too much time is spent on establishing the potential Slayers and on uninspiring sub-plots like Spike's quest to reclaim his soul.

Nathan Fillion's deranged preacher Caleb is a fine final antagonist, but the Turok-Han inexplicably shift from unvanquishable terrors to puny posers as soon as the plot requires it. Oh, and then there's Kennedy.

'Chosen' is a decent-enough finale (bar Anya's ignoble, blink-and-you'll-miss-it demise), but it can't totally eradicate the feeling that this is a somewhat underwhelming final lap for a truly epic show.

6. Season 6

With the exception of the spectacular 'Once More with Feeling' – Buffy's musical episode, a concept which could've badly misfired but ended up producing one of the show's all time-greats – season 6 is again a strangely sombre outing.

It was always a note-perfect blend of humour and heartbreak that made Buffy soar at its best, something that the final two seasons lost sight of (and that 'Once More' briefly recaptures perfectly).

The main thrust of the season, Willow's descent into dark magic, is also a mixed bag. Alyson Hannigan does strong work, while her final face-off with oldest friend Xander (Nicholas Brendon) is wonderful. But the dissolution of her relationship with Tara, and Tara's subequent death, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, as do the increasingly dark and deranged activities of The Trio.

It's far from a complete write-off, though: the musical's not the only standout, with memory-wipe episode 'Tabula Rasa' also a hilarious highlight. ("Randy Giles? Why not just call me 'Horny' Giles, or 'Desperate for a shag' Giles?")

5. Season 1

Opening and closing strong (with, respectively, the two-part premiere 'Welcome to the Hellmouth' / 'The Harvest' and the excellent finale 'Prophecy Girl'), Buffy's first, 12-part season is less sophisticated than what followed, and has dated far worse, but remains a whole heap of fun more than two decades on.

Episodes like 'Witch', 'The Pack' and 'Out of Mind, Out of Sight' all serve up entertaining twists on the "high school is literally hell" gimmick, while the perfectly-cast regulars gel from the off, with a fantastic chemistry that helps carry even the weaker episodes. (Yes, we're looking at you, 'I, Robot... You, Jane'.)

4. Season 4

Yes, yes, season 4 has the dreadful Adam (George Hertzberg) as its Big Bad, and the dull Initiative storyline drags things down, and 'Beer Bad' is a serious misfire, and the character assassination of Oz (Seth Green) is an actual crime. (Werewolf genes or no werewolf genes, the old Oz would never have treated Willow so shabbily!)

But while the larger arc has its problems, there are some terrific standalones here: the Buffy / Faith body-swap two-parter is superb drama, while 'Something Blue' (Buffy and Spike end up engaged after a spell goes wrong), 'A New Man' (Giles is transformed into a demon) and 'Superstar' (Magic transforms nerdy Jonathan into the coolest guy in town) all deliver both big laughs and serious pathos

And then there's 'Hush' – an episode played out with almost zero dialogue after a curse leaves the whole of Sunnydale quite literally speechless. It's an absolute masterpiece, one of the greatest episodes not just of Buffy but of television ever. (The Gentlemen still give us nightmares. Brrr.)

3. Season 5

Though season 5 saw Buffy unleash some of its most heartbreaking material yet – the whole Joyce illness arc, and especially, of course, 'The Body' – it avoided the misery-porn potential of what followed by striking a tonal balance.

Alongside the trauma of 'The Body', we were served tongue-in-cheek romps like 'Buffy vs. Dracula' ("Vun, two, three... three victims, mwahahaha."), and 'The Replacement' (double the Xander, double the fun) and a delightfully offbeat antagonist in Glory (Clare Kramer).

Season closer 'The Gift' also provides maximum emotional pay-off to the Buffy / Dawn sister relationship, more than justifying the latter character's risky late insertion. It would have made for a far better series finale than 'Chosen'.

2. Season 2

It says something about Buffy's overall quality that a run of television as exemplary as season 2 doesn't land the top spot.

Fine-tuning its winning formula, the show's second year brings whole new levels of fun (Xander's brief spell as Sunnydale's most eligible bachelor in 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered'), wild and wonderful fantasy (the gang's personalities are shaped by their fancy-dress costumes in 'Halloween') and emotional intensity (Buffy's betrayed by an old friend in 'Lie to Me').

The second season also saw Buffy give us its best ever version of its most famous trope, using the supernatural as an analogy for teen angst: Buffy sleeps with Angel for the first time and the experience transforms her seemingly perfect boyfriend into a soulless monster.

The entire Angelus arc is practically note-perfect, especially the tragic demise of Giles's love Jenny Calendar (Robia LaMorte) in 'Passion', with one-offs like 'Killed by Death' and 'I Only Have Eyes for You' expertly weaving the arc into their otherwise standalone storylines.

You'd have to go some way to beat that.

1. Season 3

Buffy's dizzying peak comes with its happy, sad, mad and brilliant third season, as the Scooby gang are pitted against the show's best ever villains: Sunnydale's maniacal Mayor (an outrageously good performance from Harry Groener, chilling and funny in equal measure) and Faith (a fantastic Eliza Dusku), a troubled 'dark' Slayer who serves as the perfect foil to Sarah Michelle Gellar's virutuous hero.

The stakes – no pun intended – were never higher than in this deftly-structured season, which, through a perfect mixture of powerful arc episodes and supreme standalones (alternate reality outing 'The Wish' and its semi-sequel 'Doppelgangland', school shooting episode 'Earshot', Xander getting his moment to shine in the playful 'The Zeppo') builds to a huge emotional pay-off.

As the Mayor is defeated, Faith falls and the gang graduate, the emotional wrench of leaving high school and friends is represented by Sunnydale High's total obliteration in a rousing final battle. (And just try not to sob when all of Buffy's heroic efforts are finally recognised by her friends and peers in 'The Prom'.)

The only downside is David Boreanaz spending most of the season hanging round like a lovesick puppy, waiting for his spin-off to launch. But given how good Angel ended up being, we can forgive that.

Now, how would we rank that show? Hmm...
Pretty close to perfect list. Mine would be...
7










6


1
4
5

2 & 3 (tie)

betta
15-08-18, 12:12 AM
Mine is:

5
6
7
4
3
2
1

TimeTravellingBunny
15-08-18, 12:44 AM
Mine is:

5
6
7
3
2
1

Did you forget season 4, or do you dislike it so much that it doesn't exist for you?

HardlyThere
15-08-18, 01:07 AM
Sadly he didn't play as big a role because the poor bugger was pissed half the time. At the convention I attended years back he said so. Said during season 7 he was sometimes so drunk he didn't remember how he got home each night let alone his lines.

I'm sure thats why we got so much Andrew doing Xander's kind of shtick instead.

Moreover, you have the whole Xander dies and becomes the face of the enemy plotline that was dropped. It's not that they didn't want to do anything with him, they simply couldn't. There isn't a great deal you can do with a character whose actor is a stiff breeze away from taking a faceplant at any given time.

Xander is sidelined in S7, sure. As he was in S5 aside from swinging a wrecking ball, which no one complains about.

betta
15-08-18, 01:08 AM
Did you forget season 4, or do you dislike it so much that it doesn't exist for you?

I forgot! I like it very much!

Stoney
15-08-18, 01:48 AM
It's been almost sixteen years, but I'll take the then-word of the actual actor then playing the actual character on the actual show when it was actually in production and airing for the first time, over the many-years-later pseudo-intellectual-wannabe hogwash of countless people trying to defend the show's definitively weakest seasons while trying to make themselves look smarter and more insightful than they actually are.

"So what if he's wallpaper?" on a show in which character development and relevancy were directly correlated to the amount of screentime and authorial attention/championship given to any given character, no less? Smh right now, I can't even.

I think this is needlessly rude. I also think the actors' understanding of the characters varies and NB was certainly, by my understanding, both struggling a great deal at that point and partly responsible for Xander's lack of literal presence. So his opinion being perhaps even a little affected by the situation itself wouldn't be a shock. Even if the writers themselves were saying they had less ideas or structure for him, they will still have been writing him 'in character' for the times when he did appear and within the role that he did play when he was written in. So being able to pull together ties across the season that are based on character understanding, and which is scaffolded by what has come before and what is literally explored and said in the season, isn't either pointless or impossible to have genuine worth. Even if it wasn't intended and planned out imo.

I can understand feeling frustrated with a favourite character not getting focus and development that you'd prefer/wish for, but I don't see the need to pull down and criticise someone finding value and presence in what we were given which focusses on an explored and acknowledged aspect of that character. We are often looking for ties and logical progression in a way that comes from distance and hindsight. Sure it may not always be what the writers intended but if it works then why dismiss it? They apparently never intended any sexual vibe between Faith/Buffy and I don't see it personally but I know a heap load of people do and when it was commented on to Whedon he said it wasn't deliberate but he could see it too (I think that's right, I don't have a source though to be sure). I don't agree S7 is the weakest season. There's a few people who have also shown they don't either on this thread and perhaps they just get more out of it than you do. I appreciate there are viewing figures from the time these things aired but I also see that it often seems the case that people who come to the show later tend to prefer the later seasons. Perhaps that impression is wrong, but it is how it seems to me and could be an affect of binge watching the show and focussing on the progression. I don't know. One thing we can be certain of is varying mileage and all that. You don't have to agree with it or even like the idea the slightest bit. We all understand feeling strongly about the show and the characters though. It's even possible I might be being hypocritical, but looking to insult someone engaging with it, drawing coherent ties and putting their ideas forward seems intended to shut them down and/or have their suggestion dismissed just because you don't like it and that just feels unnecessarily negative.

flow
15-08-18, 03:04 PM
Mylie:
It's the first time I see season 3 at the bottom of someone's list so I'm really intrigued. Flow, would you mind explaining why you don't care for that season?

Oh, I really want to emphasize that I can see the quality of season 3. That was why I ranked it much higher in my objective list. It is a good season and it has some brilliant episodes like The Wish, Lovers Walk and Anne.

I just don`t get drawn into it. It`s a personal thing. I can`t really explain. I think Amends - which many regard as an important epsiode - is silly. I hate it that Buffy gets betrayed by Joyce in Gingerbread and by Giles in Helpless and those episodes follow each other immediately! I fell so angry on Buffy behalf but it`s never even mentioned again. I also don`t really like Earshot, which is probably another important pisode.

Season 3 feels like a season made of 22 stand-alone episodes. I don`t really see an overall arc. And last but not least I really like the Mayor. I thinks he is entertaining. But the Big Bad shouldn`t be entertaining. He should be scary, terrifying or at least threatening.

Again - this is probably just my fault.

flow

betta
15-08-18, 03:46 PM
I just don`t get drawn into it. It`s a personal thing. I can`t really explain.

I never did, either; years on air, and it didn't do anything to me – till Season 5.


I think Amends - which many regard as an important epsiode - is silly. I hate it that Buffy gets betrayed by Joyce in Gingerbread and by Giles in Helpless and those episodes follow each other immediately! I fell so angry on Buffy behalf but it`s never even mentioned again.

In the first seasons, Buffy is not the strong woman I came to love in the later seasons – not to mention Bangel, a relationship that made her weak. She was a teenager, so it showed her youth and naivety of course, but it is not my cup of tea. Innocence is beyond silly, it's cringe-worthy the way Buffy is crushed in that post-sex scene with Angelus, just to give an example.


I also don`t really like Earshot, which is probably another important pisode.

I like it, as I like other episodes, but... the other day, I was reading posts about hyena-possessed Xander, and I decided to rewatch the episode; the discussions were way more deep than the episode itself – that's my feeling about the earlier seasons.


Again - this is probably just my fault.

Please, do not apologize for or belittle your opinion; I'm really tired of people who like the earlier seasons crapping all over the later ones, and never apologizing.

HardlyThere
15-08-18, 04:11 PM
Again - this is probably just my fault.

flow

No, it isn't. One positive about S3 is that it feels like everyone is just in a holding pattern before moving on to other things, which is really all senior year is in high school, though I doubt that little allegory was intentional.

Mylie
15-08-18, 05:23 PM
Thank you flow for your explanation. Please don’t feel like I was questionning your ranking. I was just very intrigued about that season being ranked last. I understand what you mean about season 3 feeling like 22 standalone episodes. I think it’s partly why I find them more memorable than say season 5 which I also adore.

betta
15-08-18, 09:20 PM
Vampmogs

I disagree entirely. I think Xander is pivotal to S7. He's less vocal but S7 has a very ambivalent relationship to speech. It's equally concerned with vision - with the ocular in all its manifestations and it's Xander more than anyone who's associated with vision. It's Xander who removes his "safety googles"and it's Xander who loses an eye. This season is also preoccupied with frames, edges and corners - things we see through or can't see beyond or behind and it's Xander who replaces/boards up windows. Personally, I think one of the most tragic moments is when his vision is literally blocked and he can't see Anya's dead body.

In Potential, there's this line: I] what you did last night. Dawn _Maybe that's your power...Seeing. Knowing__
Just some examples:

Lessons: "Xander puts up new and old plans to the window so they can see through them".
Same Time, Same Place. "Guys, I just noticed something. Everyone's off the plane, so where's Willow?"
In Beneath You Spike says "What you need is help. Fortunately, you've got me." and he's nothing but a hindrance. It's Xander who first mentions Anya making wishes, who finds Nancy, who sees the connection between Anya and Nancy's situation.
Show Time: Buffy "Willow, take everyone and find a safe location". Xander: "I know a place." Not only does he "know" the place, he makes it possible for the show to take place - for the show to be seen. He literally puts Buffy in the spotlight.
Never Leave Me: It's Xander who identifies the trigger: "No, this is left over from every Army movie I've ever seen. But it makes sense".


So what if he's "wallpaper"? It's also a season where figure and ground are examined. There's a reason in ST, SP he holds up a sign where figure/ground are almost inseparable (a very similar thing happens with Spike in Touched). It's not coincidence Buffy awards him custody of Dawn (and Spike - arguably the two most important people to her in 7). It's not coincidence both he and Spike are both crucified on the same wheel. Spuffy might be in the foreground but they're in the foreground because people like Xander are in the background.

I'm sure, in the closet (apt word) in Xander's apartment there's a picture on the wall. I think it's "New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam". New York literally wouldn't exist if not for the workers - the anonymous men and women who built the City. I really don't understand the argument that Xander's underused in S7. I think he's the most well-developed, best developed of all the characters. it's a stunning season for Xander.

That he becomes a replacement for Giles, a potential replacement for Spike and his own man in S8 is all built on what happens in S7.

Exactly. It was Sosa lola who wrote once about Xander's quiet, but steady, development, wasn't it? He has his moments, like in Selfless, when some people call him a hypocrite: he is not being hypocrite at all, he is showing how he has grown up and changed his views.

If real life sometimes interferes with fiction, the writers still have an understanding of the characters; it's something that comes to them naturally, like if the characters have come to life. The writers didn't have Angel's personality and story all figured out from the first season, for instance, but what happened in Season 8 (and in between) fits his character very well; we always are able to go back and find bit of pieces here and there concerning the character and make a whole of it. That's not coincidence, that's talent.

Sosa lola
16-08-18, 04:27 AM
Exactly. It was Sosa lola who wrote once about Xander's quiet, but steady, development, isn't it?

Yes, he had a very subtle storyline, but it's there.

Have you guys listened to the DVD commentary of Dirty Girls with Drew Goddard and Nicholas Brendon? Drew talks about Xander's arc in S7 (and it was a surprise to NB which probably explains why he thought Xander didn't have an arc). Everytime the house falls down, Xander repairs it literally and also metaphorically. Until Xander gets injured, and then the house falls down and Buffy gets kicked out because Xander wasn't well enough to keep the peace in the house.

Literally:

XANDER
(exasperated) It's a loop...like the Mummy Hand. I'm doomed to replace these windows for all eternity. You know, maybe we should just board these up until things are less hellmouthy. (Bring On The Night)

Metaphorically:

ANYA
Well, Xander, you know what we're all talking about. I mean, you've always been part of the "Spike is evil" faction.

XANDER
I've got a house to put back together.

Anya is egging Xander to complain about the pass Spike is given after killing so many people, but Xander doesn't fall for it and reminds her that right now he's the one who puts the house back together, not tear it apart. It will happen again when the potentials complain about Buffy in Dirty Girls and Xander gives them a speech to believe in Buffy.

Xander is sort of the father of the season (with Buffy being the mother). He's the one who makes sure that everyone and everything is alright (talking to Dawn about RJ and taking Buffy home before she ravishes RJ, taking Willow to Tara's grave, being there for Anya in Selfless, taking Spike in in Him and so on. It's obviously shown the most with Dawn, and you can see plenty of scenes where Buffy and Xander are paired up when it's something to do with Dawn like when she was upset about the cheerleading tryouts and when she was upset in the end of Potential. Not to mention how Buffy trusts no one but Xander to take care of Dawn as seen in End of Days and also Chosen when she pairs them together in the final fight even though Wood and Giles are more experienced fighters.)

With gaining this new parental maturity, Xander also gained the power of sight. He was the one who noticed Buffy sleeping on research and helped her wake up (while Willow was sitting right next to Buffy) and later will notice how tired she is:

XANDER
Why don't you go get some rest. You haven't slept for like two days. We'll call you if we find anything.

And in the same episode, he will be the one to bring Willow back from darkness again. And later in Get It Done, he will be the one to carry Willow out of the circle and holds her to his chest 'til the end of the scene.

I'd say there are lots of little Xander moments here and there to show how much he had grown, but you need to pay attention, because as the poor guy says: "I see more than anybody realizes because nobody's watching me." Except Sosa Lola. :D

MikeB
17-08-18, 06:57 PM
All said regarding writers, producers, actors, directors, viewers, readers, etc. are what I remember, my opinions, etc.




http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/ustv/feature/a863611/buffy-the-vampire-slayer-seasons-ranked/


I cannot take seriously any BtVS Seasons Rankings list that lists BtVS S1 above BtVS S6.


Here's our take – certain to be the most divisive thing in Buffy fandom since Buffy / Angel vs Buffy / Spike. Such F-ING arrogance. Almost all BtVS viewers won't care about this list more than they care about any other BtVS Seasons Rankings list.

Buffy/Spike isn't even mentioned in the BtVS S6 and BtVS S7 parts.


Moreover, most BtVS Seasons Rankings lists are highly dependent on what the writer thinks about Buffy/Spike vs. Buffy/Angel. This writer clearly prefers Angel to Spike and Buffy/Angel to Buffy/Spike.


In terms of objective quality, BtVS S6 is the most solid Season given things that happen within it remain important for the rest of the Buffyverse. The only weak points are Willow's display of magic in "Smashed" (B 6.09) that isn't explored again until perhaps Season 8 and that Xander saves the day in "Grave" (B 6.22).

BtVS S5 is the next best Season. Its only weak point is Buffy/Spike doesn't happen. Buffy is confronted by Spike's love for her and she literally locks him out of her house. Unless she feared that Spike might try to sire her, that didn't make much sense.

BtVS S3 is the next best Season. Its relatively low ranking is because much of it is nullified in later Seasons. It focuses on Buffy/Angel and the Father-daughter dynamics of Giles-Buffy and The Mayor-Faith. Spike becomes the love of Buffy's life. Buffy in BtVS S4 essentially abandons the Scoobies in favor of Riley and The Initiative. Buffy replaces Giles with Professor Walsh. Giles's betrayals in BtVS S6, BtVS S7, and BtVS S8 forever taint the Buffy-Giles relationship until the nonsense of Season 10 (which I maintain cannot be canon). Faith eventually becomes less evil than Buffy.

BtVS S2 only has 10-11 (if including "Phases" (B 2.15)) great episodes. Those 10 include Spike and Drusilla. The other episodes are a huge downgrade in quality comparatively.

I'm not sure if BtVS S1 or BtVS S4 is better than the other. BtVS S1 had bad acting from David Boreanaz and Charisma Carpenter. But the O4 is established. Buffy/Angel is established. Buffy-Willow is established. Buffy-Giles is established. The only highlights of BtVS S4 is Spike, Buffy/Spike, and Willow/Tara. I probably lean toward BtVS S1 being better even though BtVS S4 may have more individual episodes that are better.

EDIT: BtVS S7's rank depends on whether you consider its "TV airing" ranking or its "DVD and/or binging" ranking. It's the most boring Season when watching on TV, but when watching on "DVD and/or binging", it's better than BtVS S1 and BtVS S4 and arguably better than BtVS S2. The problems with BtVS S7 are (a) no on-screen Buffy/Spike kissing and no on-screen Buffy/Spike sex scenes, (b) the Potentials Slayer are all annoying or merely tolerable, (c) Giles betrays Buffy, and (d) Buffy's kissing Angel doesn't make much sense even given she considers it likely she may die in the upcoming battle.

But there are only a few good episodes of BtVS S1 and BtVS S4 has more problems than BtVS S7. BtVS S2 only has 10 or 11 great episodes while BtVS S7 is consistent throughout (not as high highs but not as low lows).

a thing of evil
17-08-18, 11:15 PM
I cannot take seriously any BtVS Seasons Rankings list that lists BtVS S1 above BtVS S6.

How come? Season 6 is more ambitious than season 1 but that doesn't make it better. Execution matters. Season 1 does what it sets out to do very well, season 6 on the other hand, not so much.

Priceless
18-08-18, 09:39 AM
How come? Season 6 is more ambitious than season 1 but that doesn't make it better. Execution matters. Season 1 does what it sets out to do very well, season 6 on the other hand, not so much.

There is nothing in Season 6 that is not focused on the through lines of the themes. It's the most coherent season in that sense. Season 1 meanders through, with many stand-alone episodes that have little to say about the major themes of the season, but that's also understandable because it's a set-up season. I love both seasons, but S6 does it's job, tells it's story, far better than most other seasons imo.

TriBel
18-08-18, 10:15 AM
There is nothing in Season 6 that is not focused on the through lines of the themes. It's the most coherent season in that sense. Season 1 meanders through, with many stand-alone episodes that have little to say about the major themes of the season, but that's also understandable because it's a set-up season. I love both seasons, but S6 does it's job, tells it's story, far better than most other seasons imo.

I agree. a thing of evil, I can understand people not liking the content of S6 but what's wrong with "the execution" (genuine question)?

TimeTravellingBunny
18-08-18, 10:30 AM
There is nothing in Season 6 that is not focused on the through lines of the themes. It's the most coherent season in that sense. Season 1 meanders through, with many stand-alone episodes that have little to say about the major themes of the season, but that's also understandable because it's a set-up season. I love both seasons, but S6 does it's job, tells it's story, far better than most other seasons imo.
Moreover, what exactly was "the job" that season 1 "set out to do"? Introducing the characters and the universe? It does do that well, but I'm not sure what it would have to be like to "fail" in that regard. Give an idea of what the show will be like? If that's its job, it fails, because it makes the show look a lot more lighthearted, campy and episodic (and likely to immediately forget any trauma the characters have experienced) than the following seasons.

Priceless
18-08-18, 10:47 AM
Moreover, what exactly was "the job" that season 1 "set out to do"? Introducing the characters and the universe? It does do that well, but I'm not sure what it would have to be like to "fail" in that regard. Give an idea of what the show will be like? If that's its job, it fails, because it makes the show look a lot more lighthearted, campy and episodic (and likely to immediately forget any trauma the characters have experienced) than the following seasons.

I would agree that what follows season 1 has a different feel and style, which we see a little of in Prophecy Girl, but we see little evidence of in the first season. Following seasons are 'darker' thematically, and show a depth of thought/ideas that season 1 is only scratching the surface of. I imagine the studio had a lot more say in the structure of the first season, and the staff of writers were obviously different, and perhaps Whedon hadn't considered his long term goals for the show at the start of the first season, or they hadn't formed into a workable structure at that point.

TriBel
18-08-18, 12:52 PM
Moreover, what exactly was "the job" that season 1 "set out to do"? Introducing the characters and the universe? It does do that well, but I'm not sure what it would have to be like to "fail" in that regard. Give an idea of what the show will be like? If that's its job, it fails, because it makes the show look a lot more lighthearted, campy and episodic (and likely to immediately forget any trauma the characters have experienced) than the following seasons.

Thanks TTB, not least for the term "episodic". I think that's my problem with the first few seasons. While they have some really great single episodes, I forget what the season is about. The later seasons have a continuum which (for me) makes them (literally) more memorable and more coherent. I know some people have issues with 6 and a different set of issues with 7 but structurally I think they're better. I know 7 is much maligned (and I appreciate why) but, in conjunction with 6 and in terms of form, it's as good as some of the best post-modern literature. For me, what it lacks in story is more than made up for by the plot discourse.

TimeTravellingBunny
18-08-18, 05:57 PM
I would agree that what follows season 1 has a different feel and style, which we see a little of in Prophecy Girl, but we see little evidence of in the first season. Following seasons are 'darker' thematically, and show a depth of thought/ideas that season 1 is only scratching the surface of. I imagine the studio had a lot more say in the structure of the first season, and the staff of writers were obviously different, and perhaps Whedon hadn't considered his long term goals for the show at the start of the first season, or they hadn't formed into a workable structure at that point.
The writing staff did notably change between season 1 and season 3. But overall, the one person who was the writer for the show in all 7 seasons - Joss Whedon himself - was, of course, influencing everything to the extent that there's always a pretty strong 'Buffyesque' Whedonian feel to the show. We know that he rewrote or wrote big chunks of many episodes he wasn't credited to, or that he gave notes and guidelines for what was to happen and how even if he didn't have time to write directly. And no doubt, other writers were trying to fit into the mold he set - the Buffyspeak, the mix of comedy and drama.
And that was peak Joss Whedon. Not the Joss Whedon who started regressing in his writing of Buffy towards the end of the both shows' run, and that we got to see in the comics.

But that's not to diminish the influence of other writers, particularly Marti Noxon, who came into the show in early-mid season 2 and immediately became the 2nd most important writer. Season 1 had Joss Whedon, David Greenwalt (who also had an important influence early on, with his ideas about Angel and Bangel in particular), and several other writers who would either leave after season 1, or after season 2 (like Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali, or Matt Kiene & Joe Reinkemeyer, whose episodes in season 2 felt like season 1 throwbacks). Noxon was first brought in to (uncredited) fix the script to Halloween. (On one of the Buffy podcasts I listen to, the hosts were wondering why the nominal writer of Halloween was not brought back, since it's a good episode. That's why. His original script was considered unsatisfactory, so Noxon was responsible for the final version that we know.) Though her first credited episodes were What's My Line parts 1 and 2, and she was credited writer or co-writer of 6 episodes in season 2.
David Fury, meanwhile, got a script he wrote with his wife to offer to BtVS for season 1, Go Fish, accepted (and you can feel that this episode was written for season 1), and later got to become a part of the writing staff in season 3. Jane Espenson and Doug Petrie also joined in season 3 - by that time, the core writing staff was formed. Around the same time, David Greenwalt left to do AtS (which I personally don't consider a loss to BtVS - I'm not a big fan of his writing in general).
I don't know how much difference the later additions to the staff made - Steven S. DeKnight (until he left after season 6) and Rebecca Rand Kirshner in season 5, Drew Greenberg in season 6, and the young writer/Buffy fan Drew Goddard in season 7. It's generally hard to figure out how much influence some of the individual writers had.



Thanks TTB, not least for the term "episodic". I think that's my problem with the first few seasons. While they have some really great single episodes, I forget what the season is about. The later seasons have a continuum which (for me) makes them (literally) more memorable and more coherent. I know some people have issues with 6 and a different set of issues with 7 but structurally I think they're better. I know 7 is much maligned (and I appreciate why) but, in conjunction with 6 and in terms of form, it's as good as some of the best post-modern literature. For me, what it lacks in story is more than made up for by the plot discourse.
I don't think that's fair to the early seasons. Every Buffy season had a strong theme, and the Big Bads were usually tailored to that theme. I think season 2, in particular, is one of the most thematically strong and coherent, with a lot of set-up and foreshadowing in the early parts of the season, though it suffers from filler episodes the most.

But I'm a fan of all the Buffy (TV) seasons - they are all good, even if I like some more and some less. Local Maximum (I wish he'd be back to the forum) wrote a great analysis a few years ago of the way that every BtVS season builds on and enhances the previous one.

In terms of episodic vs serialized nature of the show, BtVS was, for the most part, in the mold of semi-serialized TV shows, as many other cult TV shows of the 1990s (The X-Files come to mind, or, for instance, Deep Space Nine, the most serialized of Trek shows up to that point). In the days before streaming and downloading became popular ways to watch TV, networks were afraid to give chance to fully serialized shows (in fact, that even happened in mid-2000s, when SciFi channel was forcing the showrunners of Battlestar Galactica to include standalone episodes). You'd have an overall storyline (as the 'Mythology' on The X-Files) with some arc episodes, in combination with standalone episodes, though crumbs of the overall story or character development would still be in the standalone episodes. BtVS started that way and, technically, always remained in that mold, but got more serialized over time.

Season 1 has two overall themes: one is the overall theme of the first 3 seasons, "High school is hell". Season 1 in particular has a lot of Monster-of-the-Week episodes that metaphorically deal with issues that teenagers face: bullying, high school bully cliques (The Pack), overbearing parents who are trying to live vicariously through their children (Witch), loneliness and kids getting ignored by everyone to the point they are 'invisible' (Out of Mind, Out of Sight)...

The other theme is Buffy struggling with and accepting her destiny as the Slayer, which she is still reluctant to fully commit to because of her desire to have a normal life. This ties in with the overall storyline and the Big Bad (which is, of course, a term popularized by BtVS) - the Master, as the embodiment of the evil father/patriarch figure, who stands for tradition and destiny. He is the evil counterpart to Giles, Buffy's mentor and father figure, who also stands for Buffy's calling, destiny and tradition. He is even a mentor/father figure to the Anointed One and Darla, the way Giles is to Buffy. (It also fits thematically that we get to see Buffy's daddy issues, with her father's double appearance in Nightmares.) But, at this point, the majority of episodes are MOW, and only 3 or at most 4 episodes out of 12 can be considered arc episodes (WTTH/The Harvest, Prophecy Girl, and to an extent Never Kill a Boy on the First Date - and even that episode also has the episodic theme of Buffy trying to date a normal boy while slaying - a very episodic story, since Owen gets promptly forgotten afterwards).

Season 1, however, has flaws other - and more serious - than too many MOW episodes. IMO, the biggest flaw is that it hits a reset button and doesn't follow up on emotional consequences of traumatic events, like Jesse's death, or Xander's and other 3 kids' hyena possession and everything they did while possessed. (Season 2 immediately shows a big change in that respect - with Buffy's PTSD as the main theme of the season 1 opener, or Jenny's reaction to having been possessed by Eyghon in The Dark Age.) You can also see the lack of continuity in the more minor things (like when Buffy calls Angel 'the only boy I've liked since I got here' in I Robot, You Jane - so did she forget about Owen?). Then there are also some MOW episodes that are just bad - like Teacher's Pet or I Robot, You Jane, and it's the problem of execution: yes, the premises (giant bug trying to mate with human boys, demon in a robot body) may sound ridiculous, but so do many other of the BtVS monsters throughout the show, but, for instance, something better could have been done with the premise of the praying mantis: they could have done more with the metaphor of a predatory older woman in a position of authority pursuing her teenage students, and with the fact that Xander was her victim; instead, the episode is about how... teenage boys are horny? And we get virgin-shaming of boys in the end? I have less problems with the overall ideas of Robot, You Jane - catfishing, online sexual predators targeting kids, and online websites targeting youth and spreading harmful ideas, are all still current topics, but that episode suffers from failing to make a lot of the plot points make sense (among other things, how the hell was there a ready demon-shaped robot body there?!) and some atrocious acting (the actor who played Fritz gave without a doubt the worst performance in the entire show, even with his few scenes, he really stood out in his awfulness).

Other early problems were poor production values and generic synth music score (understandable - BtVS was a low-budget mid-season replacement that no one expected much from), and, very early on, some of the acting, which got better over the course of the show. The actors needed a few episodes to get a handle on their characters - SMG was really overacting in WTTH, it's her worst performance in the show, but by the season 1 finale, she's fantastic. Of course, David Boreanaz was pretty unimpressive throughout season 1 - he had barely any acting experience and was cast because the casting director convinced Joss he was incredibly hot and had the 'it' factor - and it took him a bit longer to get good.

On the other hand, the witty, sharp dialogue was always one of the strongest points of the show, and that's obvious right from the start. The subversion of tropes and clever twists were there as well. I've been watching a lot of BtVS YouTube reactions lately, by people watching it now for the first time, and the opening scene of the first episode, with Darla and the random guy in the school, still surprises everyone. Even 21 years later, everyone expects either the girl and the guy to be killed by monsters, or the cocky, bad-boy vibe guy to be a vampire, and everyone is surprised when the innocent, scared looking girl turns out to be the vampire. The Master is an underrated villain - yes, everyone prefers Spike and Drusilla, but that doesn't mean that the Master wasn't awesome: he was an old-school, traditional monster with a Nosferatu-look, who commanded his disciples through his age and pseudo-religious status, but he was the Whedonian take on it, and could also go from grand pronouncements to snarky, funny lines (I still love his "oh, the feeble banter portion of the fight" one-liner, or the way he switches from yelling "Yes, yes, glory" to calmly asking "what do you think, 5.1?" during the apocalyptic earthquake), and Mark Metcalf was fantastic, with a presence that convinced you that he could exert such power over all those big, strong vampires. (Also, BtVS showed early one that it's not interested in stupid, dull, unfunny vampires whose only strength is their physical strength - Luke got killed early, as would Kakistos in season 3). Season 1 also had some great character development or insight, in episodes like Nightmares (for Buffy and Giles in particular), or The Pack for Xander, or OOMOOS for Cordelia, and Prophecy Girl (though it falls short of perfection, because of the cheesiness of the last 10 minutes or so, when Buffy defeats the Master a bit too easily, after that power walk that feels super campy) has one of the most dramatic and heartbreaking moments and a great performance from SMG, in the library breakdown scene ("Giles, I'm 16 year old, I don't want to die"), and other really good drama and horror, from Willow's great scenes, to the genuine Gothic horror of the Buffy/Master showdown underground. (Though I must say that When She Was Bad, which feels like an epilogue to season 1 retroactively makes Prophecy Girl even better.)

So, while I rank it the last, season 1 still has a lot of strengths.

Season 2 has two overall themes - romance/desire/sex (everyone gets a relationship, and there is a lot of focus on love life: Buffy/Angel, Giles/Jenny, Willow/Oz, Xander/Cordelia, even Joyce/Ted, and on the antagonist side, Spike/Drusilla and their love triangle with Angel) and duality within a person (this particularly plays with Angel, Giles and Oz, as well as with flashbacks that show a pre-calling Buffy and human Drusilla, is touched on in Halloween, and is foreshadowed with the statue of Janus that Ethan plays to in that episode), and both of these themes converge in the season 2 Big Bad - who is, of course, Buffy's boyfriend. This is the season that gut punches the viewers and reveals just how dramatic and dark and heartbreaking BtVS can get, which season 1 offered only small hints of. But even before the main twist happens and things get really intense and dark as never before in Surprise/Innocence, there is a lot of foreshadowing and set-up in the early episodes (the theme of duality, the way that appearances can be deceiving - which plays in a different way with Tom from Reptile Boy and with Ted, the theme of lies and secrets and moral ambiguity/duality and not knowing who to trust in Lie to Me, or even the same kind of trap that's played on Buffy so her friends could be kidnapped - in the season premiere and in Becoming part 1 - "and you fall for it, every single time!"). Also, Lie to Me is IMO the show's first perfect episode (which sadly gets often overlooked because it comes before Surprise/Innocence).

This season has most single episodes that I always feel like putting in my top 10/top 20 (6 of them, if we count Becoming parts 1 and 2 as separate) and Becoming part 2 is one of the show's two perfect season finales (the other being The Gift) and a top 5 BtVS episode with no doubt. It's still one of the best arcs the show has done. This season also has tremendous character development for everyone.

Unfortunately, it also has several MOW episodes that feel like season 1 throwbacks, and some of them are not that good, and, more importantly, some of them really hurt the pacing. That's especially the fact with those that happen in the midst of the Angel arc, Killed by Death, and, especially, Go Fish. The placement of these episodes was really unfortunate - a consequence of the fact that the season had 22 episodes. It's the best example of how too many episodes of network shows' seasons result in filler and poor pacing. Season 2, more than any other BtVS season, would have benefited from being a shorter season, like cable or even some network shows today: I can imagine a much tighter 16-episode season 2 - without Some Assembly Required, Inca Mummy Girl, Reptile Boy, Bad Eggs, Killed by Death and Go Fish (where the important developments from these episodes, like the introduction of Oz or the development of some of the relationships would be moved to other episodes).

Season 3 has, in many ways, opposite weaknesses and strengths than season 2. Its biggest strength is that it's very consistent in quality. It is solid throughout, with no bad episodes (the only season other than season 5 that this could be said of). It has a lot of standalone/MOW episodes, but they are all really good. The main villains are also very strong: I disagree with what was said in one of the post above, about Mayor being too funny to be scary. Why can't he be both? The best BtVS villains are usually both. (Those that aren't funny - Adam, the First - are the weakest Big Bads of the show.) In fact, the Mayor is a perfect example of Affably Evil (his picture is even used as illustration on that page on Television Tropes) and I love the way he switches from old-fashioned charming and dad-like to threatening, as well as what he represents - the political evil. But he wouldn't be so great without Faith - it's her complex character and her Face Heel Turn to the dark side, and their messed up father-daughter relationship (the villain counterpart to Giles/Buffy) that makes the villain combo so compelling.

The overall theme of the season can be considered the community - the ties between people, especially the way Buffy affects her community and the way it affects her. This is especially strong in the season opener, Anne, in the best episode of the season - The Wish, and in the finale, Graduation Day, where the entire school participates in defeating the Mayor, and is also touched on in episodes like Gingerbread, Earshot, and the Prom (with the Class Protector award). The Mayor as the villain fits with that theme - and I think that Faith, in a way, also does: she's like the female, superpowered version of the Angry Young Man (usually plural) who's troubled and aimless until he gets under the influence of an evil extremist (usually far right) politician, who manipulates him to be his enforcer and do violence on his behalf. The other theme that starts getting developed in S3 (but isn't yet nearly as well developed) is the Slayer nature (with the Buffy/Faith relationship), together with the first mention and introduction of the Council of Watchers. The theme of duality is also still present (now with Willow meeting her doppelganger, everyone's other selves in the Wishverse, Buffy/Faith, Giles/Ripper and the other 'teenage' versions of characters - Joyce, Snyder - in Band Candy, Angel/Angelus, Buffy/Faith etc.), but that theme plays out throughout the show.

However, season 3 has some huge weaknesses that make me rank it 4th, in spite of its reputation as supposedly the best BtVS season. The main storyline again takes up a very small part of the season - it's more like season 1 than season 2 in that respect. Most of the season indeed feels like a collection of standalone episodes.

This season also has surprisingly few episodes that I would definitely rank among the best 10 or 20 of the show. (For instance, I used to think Earshot was one, but on rewatch, the Bangel parts are so bad that they really bring down the episode for me.)

And the main weakness is... other than Faith (who pretty much steals the season and overshadows all the main characters), I don't think that anyone really has an arc. Almost no one gets real character development - or their "development" consists of the characters getting regressed to where they were in early season 2, and then progressed to more or less the same place they were near or at the end of season 2. Or they are just in a holding pattern. Upthread, people were complaining that Xander had no story in season 3. Did anyone really have a story that season? I don't mean, a bunch of things that happened to them (everyone had that every season), but a real arc.


I guess you can say that Giles in an exception - he gets an arc in one episode, Helpless, reluctantly betraying Buffy by going through the test, as per his Watcher duty, then sides with Buffy over the Council, and gets fired. On the other hand, Giles had already shown plenty of times before season 3 that Buffy was more important to him that just his charge, that he loves her as a daughter (that was even obvious as early as late season 1) - and it's not like he was prioritizing the Council over her in seasons 1 and 2... since we never even knew back then that the Council even existed.

The relationship between Willow and Oz and the Oz/Willow/Xander triangle, or Oz/Willow/Xander/Cordy quadrangle, gets derailed and regressed in one of the least necessary and most pointless and forced developments in the entire show, with a pretty forced (and to me, never quite believable) Willow/Xander 'clothes fluke' cheating storyline. Those romantic developments were already resolved in season 2. Now Xander and Willow get regressed to the beginning of season 2, when Willow was still pining for Xander and Xander almost kissed her in the season 2 opener, even though Willow is now in love with Oz and n a real relationship with him, and Xander is dating Cordelia and having a love/hate relationship with her that's increasingly progressing into a real romance. Then Willow chooses Oz anyway and they get back together and end up in the same place they were at in the season 2 finale, where it was clearly shown that, even if Xander may be rethinking his feelings for Willow, it's Oz that Willow wants now.

Meanwhile, Xander's instant irresistible sexual attraction to Willow, which never felt convincing, dies down as quickly as it had appeared, after Cordy dumps him. Then Xander and Cordelia get regressed to where they were in the mid-season 2, snapping at each other and insulting each other to cover their real feelings. Cordelia was, by the end of season 2, already a part of the group, in a serious relationship with Xander, and even felt bad in the season 2 finale that she hadn't been able to be more heroic. Season 3 Cordelia is compelling and heartbreaking in Lovers Walk/The Wish as she's reeling from her broken heart, but since she doesn't remember the events of The Wish, she then remains in the season 1/early season 2 mode, outside of the group, snarking at them, mostly at Xander - before they get to make-up in The Prom, and pursuing a handsome older guy who seems like the catch (as she did, say, in Reptile Boy, though it has a much more benign and funnier ending this time).

To be fair, Xander does get some development in Amends - apologizing to Buffy for his behavior re: Angel. Then again, if Xander's change of attitude to Buffy's personal life after Selfless (and that one remains consistent - Xander never again starts being a jerk to Buffy over her personal life for the rest of th show) isn't worthy enough development in the eyes of the fans, why would Amends be? (Especially since that's not the finale end of Xander criticizing Buffy's dating choices.)

Of course, Amends is not an episode focused on him. The one focused on him is The Zeppo. Where he gets to overcome and be at peace with the fact that he's not an integral part of the Scoobies and that, because he has no superpowers, everyone thinks he can't contribute to the fight... Oh, wait. That has never been the case. He's always been integral to the group, and always had participated in every fight, and had proven himself many times. So, basically, Xander gets a one-episode character arc where he gets to resolve an issue that never actually existed, apart from that episode.

Angel gets an episode focused on him (Amends) that genuinely fleshes him out and reveals a lot about him. But - and this is a pattern in season 3 - characters get individual episodes that focus on them, but no long-term development. What is Angel's arc in season 3? He gets brought back from hell. He feels guilty. He still feels guilty at the end of the season. He hangs around Buffy. (Just as he did in the first half of season 2.) He wants to kill himself in Amends, but Buffy convinces him not to... Oh, wait. She does not. The magic snow does. Their argument pretty much remains unresolved after they were interrupted by the magic show. Buffy breaks up with him, then she does not, they go back and forth, one step back, one step forward, and the one decision he makes is to break up with her and leave for LA.

And Buffy has a good character arc... in Anne. Again, it's only within the space of one episode that characters get development. But in the season as a whole? the weakest character arc, if that can even be called an arc, in any season of the show. One of her main 'stories' this season is that tries to get over Angel. Then she realizes she can't. She tries again, then she gets back with him, and so on, over and over. The Bangel parts of season 3 are sometimes compelling and emotional (Beauty and the Beasts, Amends apart from the magic snow ending, The Prom, Graduation Day with the Gothic bite scene), but often just incredibly cheesy (this gets to be especially bad in episodes where it's not the main focus - the Tai Chi scene in Band Candy, the corny speech in Helpless - though at least that's undercut by the joke at the end, all the Bangel stuff in Earshot). You can feel that the writers don't know what to do and are just spinning the wheels until Angel leaves for the spinoff. They even start to intentionally parody their own corny and overwrought writing for Bangel romance scenes in The Zeppo. Buffy's jealousy in Earshot especially grates on me, as it feels like she's regressed back to early season 2, when her jealousy and fear that Angel may be interested in other women (which we saw in Halloween or Lie to Me) was what she saw as the big problem. I'd think that, post-Innocence, Buffy would have realized that there were bigger relationship problems, especially when it comes to Angel! (Heck, she should have realized that as soon as Angel told her the truth about Drusilla in Lie to Me.) It's like she hasn't grown at all. And then their relationship gets ended by Angel. Buffy doesn't get to resolve her dilemmas over Angel on her own, at all. And in the finale, she is ready to kill Faith, among other things to cure Angel (not the only reason, but the big part of the reason) and risk her own life for him... Which shows that, that she is really in love with him? We knew that. The big development happened in season 2, when she was ready to send him to hell to save the world, nevertheless. Or even Anne, where she was ready to move on with her life and be a Slayer again, in spite of it. Again, it's character regression at best, if not staying in the same place for almost all of the season.

Her other 'story'/ big relationship in season 3 is her complicated frenemy relationship Faith, her shadow character. And that relationship doesn't really get resolved in season 3. It does, however, push Buffy to a more morally compromised territory than ever before - deciding, planning and trying to murder Faith. Yes, yes, Faith is bad and working for the Mayor to destroy the whole town and she's a danger, but Buffy is not a murderer, she finds killing humans a Moral Event Horizon. Yet, after going so far, does this ever really get followed up on with some soul searching on Buffy's part? Does she feel guilty? Does she change her views on killing humans? Neither. She doesn't seem to entirely hate Faith, based on their shared dream, but that's not a resolution either, and season 4 proves that. What exactly is the thing that Buffy takes from that relationship in season 3? What is the message that she learns? Faith was bad? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Buffy also got betrayed by Joyce in Gingerbread and Giles in Helpless... and that seemed forgotten by the next episode.

I guess you could be generous and say that Buffy's progress is that she tells the Council to shove it... but again, it's not like she was listening to them in seasons 1 and 2. She didn't even seem to know they existed.

That was really long, so I'll stop here and write my analyses of the strengths and weaknesses of other seasons later.

KingofCretins
19-08-18, 02:47 AM
Firstly, over the years I've realized that any ranking of the Buffy TV seasons should be actually called the Season Five Awards. Because that's it. It's that one and the field. About half of everything that came before it was about setting up its emotional key notes, and everything that came after came from dealing with its ramifications. It is in almost every meaningful sense the axis around which the extant Buffy canon turns.

That said

Season 5
Season 2
Season 3
Season 6
Season 4
Season 7
Season 1

If I were going to include the "full length" comic seasons, not the current mini-series, I'd put Season 8 right amongst Seasons 4 and 7, and then the rest below Season 1 in whatever order you care for.

HardlyThere
19-08-18, 03:09 AM
To me, S3 is too much set'em up and knock'em down in terms of the episodes and the overall story. It's very contemporary high school drama that way, which I guess is why some like it.

Pretty much I agree with most everything TTB said. Except I found the Mayor to be an interesting character but actually a terrible villain. He encompasses the worst aspects of all the Big Bads. Outside of his final form, he has no tangible, non-political power. For all the talk about the First, the Mayor is the same. For the complaints about Adam, what exactly is his plan... Spend 100 years to become a big-ass snake? What was he doing in S1 and S2? Like the Council stuff, he more or less comes out of nowhere. As far as BB goes, I think he's actually the weakest. Plus he reminded me too much of Max from Lost Boys.

Nothing in S3 seems to be about the mains at all. Maybe an ep here or there, but whatever is gleaned is quickly forgotten. I think this is why Faith is such a standout because she has an arc and no one else really does. Buffy is sort of the side-character. She's not!Faith and is kinda changed to suit rather than the other way around. This nowhere more obvious than in wardrobe. Also I think whatever it was they were trying was ineffectually written.