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5.16 The Body ("A Detailed Analysis")

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  • 5.16 The Body ("A Detailed Analysis")

    Hi everybody! I am thinking about re-doing and updating the Buffy Wikisite. As you can see, the website is not big on details, not like Lostpedia, so I am planning to change that. But first, here's a test run for the page for the infamous episode, The Body. Read, tell me what you think, and if you'd like to join me in revivifying the Buffy Wiki, please. I'll need all the help I can get.

    Here goes....



    "THE BODY"
    (Season 5, Episode 16 | Episode 94 | 5ABB16)


    "The Body" is the sixteenth episode of Buffy's fifth season, and is the ninety-forth episode altogether. It was directed and written by series creator Joss Whedon. It originally broadcasted on February 27th, 2001, and attracted almost 3.6 million viewers, which is typically high for season five. During its initial airing, it landed in second place out of the 17 WB shows that were on that night. Buffy is shocked to find her mother dead after returning home, and has to learn how to cope with her loved one's death.


    SUMMARY

    The episode opened with a rollback to the end of "I Was Made to Love You". Buffy returned home after a talk with Xander, and found her mother sprawled across the couch, paled-skin, with opened eyes, and not breathing. Buffy calls out for her and flashed back to Christmas 2000, where Buffy, Xander, Willow, Tara, Dawn, Giles and Joyce were having Christmas dinner in the Summers' home. Joyce and Buffy found the pie had burnt, and just as Joyce cursed the oven, we returned to present day time.

    Buffy quickly called for the ambulance. The 911 operator asked her to perform CPR, while awaiting the arrival of the medical team. Buffy tried to do so, to no success, and tearfully claimed, "she's cold". Buffy then hung up and calmly calls Giles, asking him to come to her home. The paramedics soon arrived and attempted to resuscitate Joyce, but failed to do so. Joyce is then officially pronounced dead. Giles then arrived and found the deceased Joyce on the floor. Just as he approaches her, Buffy cried out, "We're not supposed to move the body!", and breaks down in horror after realizing what she had just said.

    As Joyce's body is placed in a body bag, the story moved to Dawn in her high school, where she is sobbing in the toilet because a student named Kevin Berman had called a freak, an outcome of the "misconceptions" spreaded by a "byotch" named Kirstie. Her friend, Lisa, consoled her, rather poorly so, before they leave the toilet, headed for art class. Dawn awkwardly takes a seat next to Kevin. They talked, as her art teacher instructed them to draw the negative space around a statue.

    Just then, Buffy arrived and led Dawn out of her class, to tell her about Joyce's demise. Although the conversation remains muted, as we see the event from her friends' point of views, it is clear that Dawn increduously breaks down crying, in front of Buffy, in front of Kirstie, in front of Kevin.

    The story now relocates to the Sunnydale campus, where Willow and Tara stayed sorrowfully in their dorm room, while awaiting for Xander. Willow couldn't decide which clothes to wear to the hospital, while Tara tried staying calm and steady. Xander and Anya soon arrived, and Willow subsequently asked Tara to look for her blue shirt, which Joyce had really liked. When Tara left, a confused Anya asked the room if they're "going to cut the body open". Willow angrily told her that it is not okay to ask such things, which prompted Anya to go to pieces, telling them that she doesn't understand the whole mortal coil.

    The room went silent, and Xander punched his fist through a hole frustatingly. He is soon freed, and Tara arrives, failing to find the blue shirt (which was found by Anya under the cushions of a chair and placed in the drawers). After tending to Xander's wounds, the group left for the hospital.

    The Scooby gang met up at the hospital, where Joyce's autopsy had just concluded. While waiting for Giles to sign the release forms, Xander, Anya and Willow go on a panicked food shopping spree. Dawn headed off to the lavatories, leaving Buffy and Tara to sit in awkward silence in the waiting room. Tara then revealed that her own mother had died when she was seventeen, and shared some helpful words for Buffy. In the meantime, Dawn finishes with the toilet, and decided to see her mother for the last time.

    She headed into the morgue, and locked the door behind her. As she approaches Joyce's covered body, a vampire rises behind her, staring menacingly. Buffy finds something amiss and set out for the morgue, where she meets Dawn struggling with the eager vampire. A fight ensued, and Buffy managed to decapitate him with a surgical saw. Yet, the cloth concealing Joyce's soulless body was pulled down in the violent mix-up, and the two remaining Summers women stared woefully at the body which once houses their mother. Just as Dawn reaches toward the body's cheek, the screen smashed to black, and the episode concludes.


    ACTING

    ● Regular Stars:

    Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Anne Summers
    Nicholas Brendon as Alexander LaVelle Harris
    Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
    Emma Caulfield as Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins
    Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
    James Marsters as Spike
    and Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles

    ● Guest Stars:

    Amber Benson as Tara MacClay
    Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
    Randy Thompson as Doctor Kriegel

    ● Co-Stars:

    J. Evan Bonifant as Kevin Berman
    Rae'ven Larrymore Kelly as Lisa
    Kelli Garner as Kirstie
    Tia Matza as Art Teacher
    Loanne Bishop as 911 Operator
    Kevin Cristaldi as Paramedic #1
    Stefan Umstead as Paramedic #2
    John Michael Herndon as Vampire


    TRIVIA

    ● There was no "Previously on Buffy" recap at the beginning of this episode.
    ● Kristine Sutherland has said in interviews that Joss told her at the end of season three that she will die in season five.
    ● Willow's dorm room is number 213. She shared a dorm with Buffy last year which was number 214, so this is probably next door.
    ● The 911 operator asks Buffy if she is “alone in the house”. Sarah Michelle Gellar appeared in Scream 2 where she was asked the exact same question by the killer on the phone.
    ● This episode is the most vampire/monster-light episode of the series, being completely free of any vampires or supernatural beings until the vampire that appears in the last few minutes.
    ● It is said that if you have a dream of an open grave, while it is raining, someone you know will die within a year. Faith awoke from a dream such as this almost exactly last season in "This Year's Girl".
    ● Alyson Hannigan was allergic to the plaster dust from the scene when Xander punches his hand through the wall. Her right eye and face swelled up during the filming of that scene and she had to be taken to hospital.


    PRODUCTION

    ● There is no incidental music (better known as background score) in this episode.
    ● Although listed in the opening credits, James Marsters does not appear in this episode.
    ● Joss Whedon has said that in this episode, Kristin Sutherland blinked a couple of times when in the body bag. Those blinks were taken out using CGI.
    ● According to Joss's DVD commentarry he wishes that he had included Joyce in the scene at the table, and not have her seperated from the Scoobies in the kitchen.
    ● Willow is portrayed as obsessing over what to wear to meet Buffy in the hospital; according to Whedon, this was based on his friend's funeral, where he was frantically obsessed with finding a proper tie.
    ● According to Joss Whedon's DVD commentary, the episode begins with the flashback of the gang's Christmas dinner because Joss didn't want the cast and crew credits to appear over the main scene of Buffy finding her mom.
    ● Joss wanted Willow and Tara's kiss to be natural, and not to be the main focus of the episode so he included it in this episode. This said kiss also brings an end to the WB's apparent policy about contact between same-sex partners.
    ● Emma Caulfield was asked what emotions she was feeling when she filmed her monologue on why she doesn't understand death in Willow's dorm room, and admitted that they had been filming all day without a break and the only thing she was thinking was that she really had to pee.
    ● This episode is the opposite to the season four episode "Hush" in which there are few spoken words and more music. In this episode, there is the absence of music through out the episode, and most is spoken word. Joss Whedon explained that music comforts the audience, and he wanted this episode to be touching and horrifying at the same time.


    GOOFS

    ● At Willow's dorm when Xander is pacing, a shadow moves against the back wall across the hallway, but no one is walking in front of it.
    ● Dawn goes into the classroom and takes off her bag. The camera cuts away for a second and when it returns, Dawn still has her bag on.
    ● The image we see on Dawn's canvas when she leaves the room is completely different than the image we see when the camera does the close up of it at the end of the scene.
    ● When Buffy grabs the paper-towel, she holds it close to her chest. We also see that it's wrinkled. Later, when she puts it onto her vomit, the paper-towel is neatly folded into a square.
    ● When Buffy first enters the kitchen to dial 911, the roll of paper towels are visible across the room near the sink. After Buffy vomits and leaves the back door to re-enter the kitchen, the paper towels are now in the middle of the room on the counter.
    ● Paramedics in the state of California are not allowed to pronounce death. Joyce would have been taken to the hospital where it is likely she would have been pronounced DOA. Also, once paramedics begin CPR, it is usually not allowed to be stopped until someone with a higher degree of medical training takes over.
    ● When Dawn enters the morgue to look at Joyce's body, she is wearing canvas tennis shoes, yet the sound effect of footsteps is dubbed in, making it sound like she's wearing hard-soled shoes. Her tennis shoes wouldn't make any noise except maybe a squeak. It is possible that Joss included the sound of footsteps to further emphasize the episode's silence.
    ● There seems to be a slight flaw in timing. When Buffy returns home, she calls for Joyce asking if she wants her to pick Dawn up from school, which would set this in late afternoon (after fighting the Aprilbot from the previous episode) but after the tragic opening scene is played out, Dawn is preparing to go to class, as well as the entire lighting of the house scene seems to be in the morning time at some point.
    ● When the doctor comes to speak with the family, the camera follows Buffy, Dawn and Giles as they go to meet him, and there is a moment at 32:13 as they pass out of frame when you can see a pair of "marks" on the carpet at the bottom left of the picture, one made of white tape and the other of red. Later, when the doctor and Giles leave and the rest of the Scoobies come over to join Buffy and Dawn, Xander hits the white mark and Willow the red one.


    CULTURAL REFERENCES & ALLUSIONS

    The Avengers: Xander says "The Avengers gotta get with the assembling". The Avengers are a Marvel Comics group of superheroes, whose catch-phrase is "Avengers Assemble!"
    Burnt Bunboy: The name of the odd-looking toy that Anya holds as she sits down at Willow's dorm room is Kogepan, a Japanese character of whom Joss Whedon and his wife, Kai Cole, are big fans.
    Purple: "Purple means royatly", says Tara. The color purple has been a royal symbol since ancient Rome, when the color was reserved exclusively by emperors. This is probably due to the fact that purple dye was very expensive.
    Band-Aids: Band-aid is a particular brand of adhesive bandage with a gauze pad in the center, used to protect minor cuts and wounds. The term Band-Aid has become the common way of referring to any of these types of bandages, even those that aren't actually Band-Aid brand (much like "Kleenex" is simply used to mean "tissue").
    CPR: CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation which can be used to restart the circulation and breathing of people who are critically injured or technically dead, usually by pushing repeatedly on the chest to mimic the heart beating and blowing into the lungs to mimic breathing. When CPR is performed by the inexperienced breaking the breastbone or a rib is fairly common; no Slayer strength required.
    Phranc: Willow's line "Strong like an Amazon?" refers to the song "Amazons" by Phranc, the "all-American Jewish lesbian folksinger" and record-holding Tupperware Lady. Willow is quoting the line of the chorus. Whedon reveals this in the DVD commentary, but insists he didn't choose this song because of Willow's, Tara's and Phranc's sexual orientation. This is odd, since Phranc's success has mostly been with her gay audience. It makes sense that Willow and Tara would know this song, but it would make sense mostly because they're lesbians.


    EPISODE REFERENCES & CONTINUITY

    ● "As long as you two stay away from the band candy." Buffy is obviously referring to events in the episode "Band Candy", in which enchanted candies cause Sunnydale adults to act like teenagers.
    ● Tara mentions her mother's death. We first found out that her mother was dead in "Family".
    ● The side-effects of the brain surgery which removed Joyce's tumor in "Shadow", "Listening to Fear" and "Into the Woods" are seen here.
    ● When Xander blindly accuses Glory for Joyce's death, he mentions the threat Glory had made about kiling Buffy's family and friends in "Checkpoint".
    ● Dawn has a hard time at school, after her supposedly attempted suicide in "Blood Ties" has ignited a fuel of rumors that spread across the school.
    ● This episode picks up a few moments before "I Was Made to Love You" left off.
    ● When Buffy finds her mother dead, she says, "Mom? Mom? Mommy?" Dawn repeats this phrase in "Conversations with Dead People" when she thinks Joyce is trying to communicate with her. In the same episode, when Cassie's ghost appears to Willow at the library, she mentions that Willow is strong like an Amazon, referring to Tara and Willow's exchange in this episode.


    THE TITLE

    French: "Orphelines" ("Orphans")
    Italian: "Un Corpo Freddo" ("A Cold Body")
    German: "Tod einer Mutter" ("Death of a Mother")
    Spanish: "El cuerpo" ("The Body")


    BODY COUNT

    Joyce Summers. Joyce dies of complications from the brain surgery which was supposed to remove her tumor. Joyce's death, along with Cassie Newton's in "Help" are the only two deaths in the series' high body-count which are caused naturally.
    Vampire. Buffy decapitates a fresh vampire in the morgue in the final act.

    The series has shown that Buffy has killed 101 vampires and 44 demons. She uses a surgical saw to decapitate a vampire in the final act - the only action sequence in the episode.


    CRITICAL RECEPTION

    "The Body" is received extremely well with fans of the series. It gains a 9.6 rating on TV.com, based on 617 votes, and is also selected as the 5th top episode of the series.

    TelevisionWithoutPity.com lists this episode as an A. The user community decides to award it A+ based on 16 users. "The Body" stands with a 9.4 rating on IMDb, which is one of the best ratings a Buffy episode has ever gotten, tallied over 588 votes. Furthermore, actors Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan and Tom Lenk quotes this episode as their favourite, or at least one of their favourites. Series creator Joss Whedon claims that "The Body" is his fourth favourite Buffy episode ever. The three reviewers of BuffyGuide.com awards the episode a perfect score - 10 out of 10. "Perfection, thy name is Joss," quotes staff member Jamie Marie. Renowned Buffy reviewer, Billie Doux grants this episode 4 out of 4 stakes.

    Performances by all of the cast member, guest stars and even co-stars are persistently praised. The Buffy guide book, Dusted, lists "The Body" "as edgy, as raw and as far from melodrama the series could possibly get". The review concludes with the statement, "...an excellent piece of television in itself".



    -------------------

    P.S.: I do not know how to align the image above so that it is parallel with the text (but on its right side). If you know how to do this, please teach!
    Last edited by fitri; 06-07-08, 11:02 AM.

  • #2
    Please do! The current pages are so disorganized, I just stick to buffyworld.com.

    A few suggestions:
    • Maybe scrap the "Acting" section? Considering it's already noted in the little box thing.
    • I've seen a few Trivia articles on other pages, where it's been flagged that trivial info is unacceptable under Wikilaw. Looking at the trivia for "The Body," I noticed that most of it could be sneaked into other sections. Tom Lenk's, Sarah Gellar's, and Joss Whedon's thoughts on the episode could fall under the "reception" section.
    • The episode's ratings could probably go at the very top of the article with the basic info: "The Body" is the sixteenth episode of Buffy's fifth season, and is the ninety-forth episode altogether. It was directed and written by series creator Joss Whedon. It originally broadcasted on February 27th, 2001, attracting 6.0 million viewers, which was typically high for season 5. Buffy is shocked to find her mother dead after returning home, and has to learn how to cope with her loved one's death."
    • Info about the behind-the-scenes could probably go under a new section: Production. This could pretty much expand on the pre-production, production, and post-production of the episode, ie. anecdotes regarding the writing, the filming, the editing, the score etc. Basically anything that DVD commentaries provide.


    Best of luck! I can't wait to see them!
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    • #3
      Okay, I'll take your suggestions in mind and edit it! Thanks for the feedback!

      EDIT: Edited! By the way, do you think I should put in a seperate section for the Nielsen Ratings for each episode? I could also input the episode's ranking on that night, how many the first and the second halves raked in, etc.?
      Last edited by fitri; 06-07-08, 07:43 AM.

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      • #4
        Did you say you edited the page already? 'Cause this is what I see: right here.

        And regarding the Neilsen ratings, I think it's best if you stick 'em where I suggested to before, because a whole section for a sentence or two doesn't seem quite right. I'm fairly certain I've seen other non-Buffy articles mention the episode's ratings at the top. That's where I got the idea from....
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        • #5
          Yeah! I'm done! Well, at least for that one page! It didn't turn out exactly as I hoped it does, but it'll do! What do you guys think?

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          • #6
            I love it, there's pretty much nothing missed out that I can see! One thing I would have mentioned is having it in present tense rather than past tense but it's like that on the page now so it's all good

            However, being a bit of a spelling/grammar freak I corrected a few typos!

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            • #7
              Thanks for the corrections! I never could have a perfect English lol..

              I think I'll do the BBB page next.

              EDIT: Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered DONE!
              Last edited by fitri; 06-07-08, 04:42 PM.

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              • #8
                Very well done! It looks great!
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                • #9
                  Really impressive how you detailed everything. Bravo!
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                  • #10
                    I like the page a lot, really well done!

                    The only thing I'd say is for this in the "Trivia" section:
                    Buffy receives a long box full of roses with a card that says "soon". In the movie I Know What You Did Last Summer, Sarah's character awakens to find the same message written on her mirror in lipstick.
                    I think it might look more professional if you use her full name or even simply, "Parker's character."

                    I look forward to any other episodes that you flush out like this, really well done indeed!

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                    • #11
                      Thanks guys!!

                      Originally posted by Rexx Raul View Post
                      I think it might look more professional if you use her full name or even simply, "Parker's character."
                      Lol, sure you don't mean "Gellar's.."? Are we in Sarah Jessica Parker territory now?

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                      • #12
                        Imagine SJP in Buffy! 'People only come to Sunnydale for two things: love and... well... monsters.'

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                        • #13
                          Oh, this is fantastic! I can't think of anything to add, except to have the "critical reception" section always there, cause that's quite interesting. This is wonderful, thank you very much!

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                          • #14
                            Ha ha! I remembered the "3 name" bit and the "Sarah" bit, and I still managed to make a fool of myself! Nice.

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                            • #15
                              HIM!!!!!!!

                              I think I'll be doing either Homecoming, The Wish, Restless or Conversations with Dead People next.

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                              • #16
                                Something to change.

                                In Him's continuity, it says Snyder's last appearance was "Graduation Day II". His last appearance was actually "Restless", in Xander's dream.

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by BlasterBoy View Post
                                  Something to change.

                                  In Him's continuity, it says Snyder's last appearance was "Graduation Day II". His last appearance was actually "Restless", in Xander's dream.
                                  Lol... read again.

                                  "Principal Snyder was always on me," Buffy says. She's of course referring to the Sunnydale High School's former-principal (who makes his first appearance in season one's "The Puppet Show" and his last (as a human at least) in season three's finale, "Graduation Day, Part Two".

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                                  • #18
                                    Oh, okay. I totally skipped over that part; silly me

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                                    • #19
                                      I haven't read the others but I think a nice bit of trivia for The Body, would be that Kristine Sutherland only blinked once and it was taken out in post-production.
                                      sigpic

                                      Peter Capaldi is the 12th Doctor

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by fitri
                                        Hey guys, which page should I do next?
                                        Totally forgot to respond.

                                        Do "Selfless" next, and don't forget to mention in "Critical Response", David Solomon, in the commentary, says that it might be his favorite episode of the series, and is definitely his favorite episode of Season 7

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