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Buffy Episode Ranking Fun -- triffic, 12:10:45 01/02/04 Fri

One relatively novel way of ranking Buffy episodes is to line the seven seasons up against one another and pick the best episode from each week. Here's my list (the season number appears in brackets after each top choice):

1. Bargaining 1 [6]
Sets up the dark tone of season 6 very effectively - try to ignore the biker demons!

2. Beneath You [7]
For the B/S scene at the end.

3. Faith Hope and Trick [3]
Faith joins the Buffyverse - nuff said!

4. Help [7]
The best of a relatively weak bunch - but I like the (relative) naturalism of this episode

5. Selfless [7]
Only S5's NPLH is close.

6. Wild at Heart [4]
Willow and Oz split is raw and painful (shame about Verruca tho')

7. Once More with Feeling [6]
Beating off stiff competition from Fool for Love and CWDP

8. Tabula Rasa [6]
Good, albeit temporary, light relief after OMWF

9. Something Blue [4]
Willow's spell backfires - wackiness ensues!

10. Hush [4]
Speaks for itself :-)

11. Triangle [5]
Slim pickings in week 11 but Triangle makes me laugh.

12. Prophecy Girl [1]
Season 1's sole entry - too good to leave out.

13. Dead Things [6]
As dark and disturbing as Buffy ever got.

14. Innocence [2]
One of season 2's classics

15. I Was Made to Love You [5]
Seriously underrated episode (especially in the light of season 6).

16. The Body [5]
Hard to pass over Who are You? but The Body is a masterpiece.

17. Passion [2]
Another masterpiece. Jenny Calendar RIP

18. Earshot [3]
For the humour, the double twist and the Buffy/Jonathan scene.

19. New Moon Rising [4]
More Willow/Oz pain. S6's Seeing Red is a very close second along with S2's underrated IOHEFY.

20. The Prom [3]
The series had earned the right to be sentimental by this point

21. Becoming 1 [2]
First part of a great finale

22. The Gift [5]
For it's quiet passages, Buffy's scarifice and Chris Beck's beautiful score.

An analysis of the winning episode by season reveals:

S1: 1
S2: 3
S3: 3
S4: 4
S5: 4
S6: 4
S7: 3

A surprisingly even result. S5 is my favourite so I'm not surprised to see it do well. I've never thought of S6 as one of my favourites but I like it more and more with age. S4 is, in my view, one of the weaker seasons but it has some very strong individual episodes - hence it performs well.

I'd be interested to read other people's lists...


[> Re: Buffy Episode Ranking Fun (Yet Another List) -- Ike, 20:12:39 01/09/04 Fri

1. "When She Was Bad"

People knock this episode frequently, but I loved it. I even like the villain, who is nicely creepy (if very underdeveloped). Buffy's characterization here plumbs real psychological depths. Here's one of the few times I found her more interesting than any of the supporting characters, who otherwise frequently stole the show from her, despite her majority of screen time throughout the series.

There were a lot of shockingly weak season premieres--I guess my runner-up is "Welcome to the Hellmouth."

2. "Beneath You"

This one blasts all the others off the screen, except "The Harvest" and maybe "Real Me" (although I actually liked parts of the much-maligned "Some Assembly Required"). As a Xander fan, I enjoyed all of "Beneath You" and not just the fascinatingly arty, enigmatic final scene. DIgood commented that Marsters' performance was too "artless and over-the-top" and caused him/her to prefer "Bargaining Part II," and ironically that's exactly how I feel about Michelle Trachtenberg in "Bargaining Part II," rather than Marsters. Or maybe it's the writing of Dawn in that ep.; I liked her in "Real Me," but after that she became pretty tiresome pretty fast.

3. It's a tough call between "The Replacement," "School Hard," and "Faith, Hope & Trick."

As a Xander fan, I'll go with the hilarious comic relief of "The Replacement," which was a sort of homage to the classic Star Trek ep. "The Enemy Within."

But "FH&T" is a close runner-up for introducing the great characters of Faith and Trick (I would have liked to see more of him). This is one of the few episodes that made me lose track of time, and seemed to zoom to its finish.

Then there's "School Hard," the second episode I ever saw, which introduced the great (early) Spike and Dru, but somehow its plot and its resolution seem a bit weak to me. I know it's a quibble, but I would have liked to see Joyce do something more clever and realistic to defeat Spike than beating him upside the head with a large object. Still, a brilliant one.

4. Wow, the fourth episodes are almost all terrible! I'm surprised to see so many people pick "Help," which was IMHO very plodding, predictable and pedestrian, with clunky dialogue.

For me, it's down to the very underrated, very funny "Teacher's Pet" (yes that's right!) and the also-underrated but extremely uneven "Flooded."

I like the latter for the wonderfully willies-inducing scene where Willow verges on threatening Giles, foreshadowing the end of the season. And there are many other funny scenes here, but the episode sums up some of the weaknesses of season six by letting too much of the depressing reality of the grind of everyday life into the show, instead of continuing to use the supernatural as a metaphor for adversity.

So I'll go with...

"Teacher's Pet!"

5. An easy win for "Selfless."

It's the best episode of season seven. As others have noted, the final season ultimately could never deliver what this great entry promised. If only Anya had gotten this much character development elsewhere during the season (or had been depicted this sympathetically during season six), instead of the blandly weaselly Andrew.

Runner-up is "No Place Like Home."

6. For me, this is a difficult choice between "The Pack" and "Band Candy." I'll go with "The Pack," which shows people's humanity horrifyingly devolving when they're in mindless cliques or mobs. A good indictment of the high school clique, and very funny, entertaining and thrilling.

7. Wow. What a batch. I'll pick "Lie to Me" over runners-up "Angel" and "Conversations with Dead People." "Lie to Me" has Ford, maybe the most interesting one-shot character of the series, and more development of the fascinating (early) Spike.

8. "Lovers Walk"

An easy choice for me. I'm surprised so many of you chose "Tabula Rasa," because I thought it missed so many great comic opportunities, but humor is a very personal thing. To me "Lovers Walk" (or is it "Lover's Walk"?) was ten times funnier, due to Spike exposing the sad truth about the characters' romantic relationships in a darkly humorous way.

I heard that Juliet Landau was originally supposed to appear in this ep. as Dru, but had a last-minute scheduling conflict and couldn't make it, so it had to be re-written quickly. How different would THAT have been?

9. "The Wish"

The very close runners-up are "Something Blue" and "The Puppet Show," and surprisingly to me, "Smashed," which might have been a classic if its follow-up, "Wrecked," hadn't been such a catastrophically idiotic failure.

10. "Hush"

"Hush" could blow away a much stronger line-up of episodes, but it's against mostly pathetic competition. The runner-up is clearly "Nightmares." The other tenth episodes are some of the very worst episodes of the entire series.

11. "Ted"

An easy choice for me. This was the first episode I ever saw (in its entirety) and it hooked me immediately. John Ritter is superbly chilling as a psychotic, obsessive control freak (metaphorically represented as an evil android). The plot veers off in a bizarre direction towards the end, with Buffy knocking him down the stairs, and it's never really dealt with. But to me, that's a minor quibble.

Ted should've come back for revenge in a sequel episode.

12. "Helpless"

Utterly chilling. "Prophecy Girl" is a close second, quickly followed by the funny "A New Man," one of the few Giles-centric episodes (we needed a lot more of those, and a lot fewer Buffy and Hardhead Lunkbody episodes during that season).

13. "The Zeppo"

An uproariously funny episode, despite its problematic parody sub-plot which uneasily tried to mock the show's all-too-frequent apocalypses. All the Xander bits (and the great Oz-wolf gag at the end... "I'm feeling strangely full") are great, great, great. Not to mention the mocking of "Walker, Texas Ranger" fans: The undead jock, when resurrected, asks his friend if he's been taping "Walker" eps. for him. That alone makes this one great.

Runners-up are "Dead Things" and "Blood Ties" which each cast their respective villains as very very menacing, but also exposed their respective psychological underpinnings.

I also liked "The Killer in Me" simply because it tried to tackle the consequences of Willow's season six behavior, even if it didn't work as well as it could have. Yay for aftermath.

14. "Innocence"

Closely followed by "Bad Girls" and "First Date." But the 14ths are all good, except for "Crush," which needed better dialogue and a stronger plot for Drusilla (I could just never get behind Spike's inexplicable attraction to Buffy).

15. "Consequences"

Two eps. with wonderful characterization of Faith. The season three ep. just barely squeezes past "This Year's Girl," but the latter, as great as it was, was a lengthy set-up for the pay-off of "Who Are You?" I can barely believe that the dreadful Marti Noxon penned the great "Consequences." Is it vicious to think Whedon must have heavily re-written it (and "The Wish" too)?

I also like "Get It Done."

16. "Who Are You?"

Gellar gets a chance to shed the increasingly dull title character and truly shine here (something she couldn't do when she played the First, because that villain was so bland). This episode reveals as much about Faith as it does about the talents of Gellar as an actor.

A difficult choice, because I also love "Doppelgangland," which is atoms from utter perfection, and "The Body," which is beautifully harrowing, revealing more about reactions to death than even the best episodes of the brilliant TV series "Six Feet Under."

17. "Passion"

Another difficult choice. Angelus is awesomely horrifying.

"Normal Again" is my second pick here, because it takes an old sci-fi/fantasy trope (see also the hilarious Red Dwarf episode "Back to Reality" for just one example) and re-works it in a nightmarishly brilliant way, but the Tara Ex Machina ending puts it below "Passion."

I also loved "Enemies" (finally, Angel DOES something -- foreshadowing his own series, he's finally no longer just Buffy's bitch).

18. "Earshot"

A hilarious episode that barely squeezes past "Dirty Girls." (Gosh, couldn't ME just have cloned Drew Goddard enough times to write all of season seven?) "Intervention" is almost as funny as "Earshot," but the other 18th episodes are all uniformly dreadful.

19. "Choices"

Among other things, Willow takes a good, smart verbal shot against Faith here.

I also like "Seeing Red" a lot. And "New Moon Rising," for Oz.

20. "Spiral"

Despite problems, "Spiral" was really thrilling and exciting. Lots of folks disliked this episode, but you either buy the whole Glory premise, or you don't. I do wonder why Ben was so stupid as to visit the shack at Buffy's request, though.

I have no idea which episode I'd pick as a runner-up here. "The Prom" was just too much like fan-fic for me, despite Buffy's well-deserved recognition from the community (which was never really mentioned again beyond the third season). And "The Yoko Factor" would be pretty great if I could believe that the Scoobies would believe Spike for a second.

21. "Graduation Day, Part I"

The Buffy-Faith fight was astonishing.

Runner-up is "Becoming Part I" followed by the underrated "Primeval," with its delightfully creepy melding of the main characters to defeat Adam.

22. "Becoming, Part II"

This episode was so good, it hurt the rest of the series, because none of the other season finales could live up to it.

"Graduation Day Part II" was a bit of a let-down compared to its first part.

As another poster pointed out, "Restless" is actually a mesmerizing, wonderful post-script, not a real season finale.

And although large chunks of "The Gift" were brilliant, and "Chosen" was not bad either, Buffy's "death" in the former, and Spike's "death" in the latter, were both absurd to me--I was already really tired of the sci-fi/fantasy cliché of characters dying and getting resurrected, no matter how pricey the consequences. And it was done better with Aeryn Sun at the end of season two of the brilliant TV series FARSCAPE (check it out, folks). Another major character had to die in order to bring her back -- now there's a dramatically semi-viable price for resurrection.

[> My choices for favourites and best eps -- Scroll, 13:53:13 01/10/04 Sat

Episode 1
FAVE: "Anne"
BEST: "When She Was Bad"

Episode 2
FAVE: "Real Me" or "The Harvest" - Toss-up.
BEST: "Beneath You"

Episode 3
FAVE: "Faith, Hope, and Trick"
BEST: "Faith, Hope, and Trick" or "Afterlife"

Episode 4
FAVE: "Beauty and the Beasts" or "Help"
BEST: "Help" - I can't decide which is best, really. I just picked "Help" for the words of comfort Dawn gives Buffy at the end and Azura Sky's performance.

Episode 5
FAVE: "Selfless" - Am I really the only person to see symbolism in Buffy spinning in her chair and balancing her pencil cup on her forehead?
BEST: "Selfless" - Drew Goddard, where have you been all my life?

Episode 6
FAVE: "Family" - Tara! No other reason.
BEST: "Halloween" - Ethan Rayne. The Ripper. Enough said.

Episode 7
FAVE: "Angel"
BEST: "Once More, With Feeling"

Episode 8
FAVE: "Tabula Rasa"
BEST: "Tabula Rasa"

Episode 9
FAVE: "The Wish"
BEST: "The Wish" or "Smashed" - Both eps reveal new layers to the characters -- but "The Wish" has no immediate effect on the season's plot, whereas "Smashed" leads to serious repercussions.

Episode 10
FAVE: "Hush"
BEST: "Hush"

Episode 11
FAVE: "Doomed" - I don't really care for any of the episodes 11, but this one had some nice Veteran!Buffy vs. Newbie!Riley interaction. Also, hilarious Spike ending.
BEST: "Triangle" or "Doomed"

Episode 12
FAVE: "Potential" - Not so hot on the Spuffy "sexual tension", but I love what this ep gave us of Dawn, and of Xander, and of folks like Gunn and Alonna and Anne Steele -- all the small, ordinary people of the world who make such huge contributions in their own small, ordinary ways.
BEST: "Prophecy Girl"

Episode 13
FAVE: "Surprise"
BEST: "Dead Things"

Episode 14
FAVE: "Innocence" - Ouch. Just. Ouch. (Though "Bad Girls" isn't half bad either. Heh.)
BEST: "Innocence" - Pivotal. Definitive. Plus, y'know, the ouch factor. (Again, "Bad Girls" gets a nod.)

Episode 15
FAVE: "Consequences" - This is Faith. This is Buffy. This is Angel. This is Wesley. This is Giles and Xander and Willow. Over here is the Mayor. Over there is Alan Finch. Watch as it all falls apart. (Nod to "This Year's Girl", of course. And a tiny nod to the Slayer vision quest in "Get It Done", despite my misgivings regarding Joss' interpretation of the Watchers Council.)
BEST: "Consequences"

Episode 16
FAVE: "The Body" - Ties with "Restless" as my personal best episode ever. (But nods to "Who Are You?" and "Storyteller", also favourites of mine.)
BEST: "The Body" - This episode is gut-wrenching, and absolutely brilliant.

Episode 17
FAVE: "Passion" or "Enemies" - Violence. Unresolved sexual tension. Mind games. Betrayal. Buffy. Angelus. Faith.
BEST: "Passion" - Episode slot 17 has many excellent offerings: "Passion", "Enemies", "Forever", "Normal Again", and "Lies My Parents Told Me". Only "Superstar" suffers in comparison, I think. Even though I despise "Lies My Parents Told Me" with a fiery, fiery vengeance.

Episode 18
FAVE: "Earshot" - Hey, I like Othello, okay? Plus, Giles walking into a tree.
BEST: "Intervention" - BuffyBot and Slayer vision quest. And Spike (I said grudgingly).

Episode 19
FAVE: "Choices"
BEST: "Choices"

Episode 20
FAVE: "Villains" or "The Prom"
BEST: "The Prom"

Episode 21
FAVE: "Becoming, Part 1" or "Graduation Day, Part 1" - Hard to choose between these two.
BEST: "Becoming, Part 1" or "Graduation Day, Part 1" - Like I said...

Episode 22
FAVE: "Becoming, Part 2" or "Graduation Day, Part 2" - I can't choose! Love "Becoming" for the angsty ending, but love the shared Slayer dream in "Graduation Day" and the student army.
BEST: "Becoming, Part 2" - Better writing and continuity than "The Gift" or "Chosen", though all three have flashes of absolute brilliance.

Coda (yeah, I'm cheating. sue me)
FAVE: "Restless" - Stunning. Just stunning -- the music, the cinematography, the dreams, the revelations, the metaphors, the symbols, the foreshadowing -- all of it absolutely beautiful. Favourite ME episode ever.
BEST: "Restless" - In a class all its own. Heh.

Grand Total:

Season 1: 2
Season 2: 5
Season 3: 11
Season 4: 3
Season 5: 3
Season 6: 2
Season 7: 3

The Best
Season 1: 1
Season 2: 6
Season 3: 6
Season 4: 2
Season 5: 3
Season 6: 5
Season 7: 3

Strangely, there are more best eps for S6 than S5, despite my belief that S5 was the stronger season overall. One-on-one, though, S6 eps seem to win out. And while I love S2, I always thought it had many weak episodes; I never realise how many S2 eps I considered the best. Of course, S3 remains my favourite season of all time, though it only beats out S6 by one for best eps.

[> [> I'm not quite getting the distinction between 'fave' and 'best' -- Finn Mac Cool, 17:26:07 01/10/04 Sat

Since judging the quality of a story is always subjective, must not a person's favorite episode also be the best one in their opinion?

[> [> [> Re: I'm not quite getting the distinction between 'fave' and 'best' -- Dlgood, 19:42:01 01/10/04 Sat

Not necessarily. I'm willing to allow that "OMWF" is better than many of the other BtVS episodes, but it's certainly not one of my favorites.

[> [> [> [> Still not understanding -- Finn Mac Cool, 21:41:49 01/10/04 Sat

We're talking about a piece of entertainment here, so whenever we say one episode is better than another, we're expressing our opinion about the two episodes. If we favor one ep over the other, than, in our opinion, it is better. Unless there's an objective definition of what makes an episode good, I'm afraid I'm just not getting the distinction.

[> [> [> [> [> Tries to clarify -- Dlgood, 22:19:34 01/10/04 Sat

Think of it as two seperate ranking systems, like they do for figure skating in the olympics, where it's "technical" or "artistic". They're both subjective measuring systems, but different ones.

So, I might go out and make a list of all the elements I think go into making a great episode, and those that make bad episodes. Between a given set, one episode might get a higher score, and I therefore say it's "better".

And then I judge the same set based purely on my emotional response rather than any sort of quantified standards. And I declare one of them "my favorite".

I don't know how "Scrool" goes about defining "favorite" and "best" or what the distinctions are between the two - but that's the metaphor I'd use for the concept.

[> [> [> I see a difference between 'fave' and 'best' -- Scroll, 05:49:36 01/11/04 Sun

In my system, at least, there's a difference between "favourite" and "best". Sometimes there's an overlap of the two categories, but not always. But you're right too -- if "best" is subjective, I'm ranking "best" only based on my personal opinion.

However, "best" does not always equal "favourite".

Take the Episode 2 slot, since that's the one with most disparity in my mind. I chose "The Real Me" or "The Harvest" as my Faves for Ep 2, and "Beneath Me" as the Best Ep 2 overall. Clearly this is a subjective decision. My reasons were thus:

"The Harvest" does many things. It builds the foundation of the series by establishing the Scooby Gang, Buffy's creative fighting skills, the Master as the season's villain, and the angst and humour that would be the show's trademark. Still, "The Harvest" has some weak acting, a few awkward lines, and fairly generic villains.

"The Real Me" is funny, has great Dawn-Buffy, Dawn-Tara, and Dawn-Joyce interaction, hooks the viewer into Dawn's POV, and embarks on the true "love story" of Buffy (Buffy's love for her sister). Plus, Harmony had minions : )

OTOH, I do feel "The Real Me" lacks the emotional punch of "Beneath You". The latter episode deals with all the fall-out of the Buffy/Spike and Xander/Anya relationships of S6, and therefore has much more material to work with. "Beneath You" speaks directly to the season's plot, and to Buffy and Spike's characterisation, extending even to Angel S5. We see into Spike's psychology like never before.

There's humour and high drama, development in many of the characters, and the stunning, layered monologue by Spike in the church puts this episode above both "The Harvest" and "The Real Me". Add in Buffy's Slayer dreams, the foreboding "from beneath you, it devours" (from when the First Evil was actually still, y'know, foreboding), and much, much better acting than S1's "The Harvest", I have to say (as objectively as I can) that "Beneath You" is the superior episode.

This doesn't mean I like "Beneath You" all that much. I wasn't very happy with Spike in S7, so I can't say I cared all that much about his pain. Still, I do think "Beneath You" was the "best" episode 2 of all the seasons.

Does that make sense?

[> [> [> [> Re: I see a difference between 'fave' and 'best' -- Rob, 07:39:13 01/11/04 Sun

Yup...Another way to rank would not be "favorite," even, but "the one I would choose rewatch the most."

"The Body," is the best episode out of its list, and one of my favorite episodes for so many reasons, and yet I can't watch the episode over and over, for obvious reasons. "Storyteller" I can watch an infinite number of times and find it highly enjoyable. "The Body" I experience as an artistic work but don't "enjoy" for fun.


[> [> [> [> Re: I see a difference between 'fave' and 'best' -- Finn Mac Cool, 07:45:07 01/11/04 Sun

I think I'm kinda getting it now. So, you're fave rankings are the ones you think are the best, while your "best" rankings are the ones you think have the most to offer to those without your personal biases (ie a dislike of Spike during Season Seven). Is this correct?

[> [> [> [> [> I think it's more a technical vs. personal thing... -- Rob, 09:44:42 01/11/04 Sun

...I think what Scroll is saying is that she recognizes the technical achievements of "Beneath You"--how well it's written, plotted, acted, directed, etc. but personally may not like it, even though she realizes it's a better episode than the others. (If I'm wrong, please tell me, Scroll! ;o) )

Here's an example. I acknowledge that Waiting for Godot is a great play, even though I myself didn't like it that much, when I studied or saw it. I can note the technical achievements, admire what the writer was doing and understand why it is a great play without myself actually liking it. Here's another example. My mom will say that Shakespeare was a genius even though she herself doesn't have the patience to sit through any of his plays. I understand what makes Moby Dick a great book even though I found it almost impossible to get through.


[> [> [> [> [> [> Expanding... -- Rob, 09:52:14 01/11/04 Sun

I should add for a more clear example that I enjoy reading the Jim Butcher series, The Dresden Files, which is a mystery/sci-fi series about a detective/wizard in Chicago. It is very well-written and fun, with strong Buffy vibes. I would read that over my previous example of Moby Dick any day. At the same time, though, I know that The Dresden Files aren't great literature, and Moby Dick is.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> OK, trying to comprehend this once more . . . -- Finn Mac Cool, 13:27:53 01/11/04 Sun

With your "Moby Dick" and "Waiting for Godot" examples, while you don't enjoy them, you can see the qualities that make others enjoy them. The fave/best distinction is like saying, "This isn't my cup of tea, but I get why you like it." Is that it?

I still gotta disagree, then. If a story bores you, then it is clearly not a great story in your opinion, even if you can see the merits that would make others think it is. The problem with the distinction between favorite and best is that what is the best will always be a subjective opinion. With stories there cannot be an objective way of ranking their quality, which is what this "best" category seems to be trying to do. If you do not like "Moby Dick", than it is not great literature to you, regardless of the fact that, to others, it is. The closest you can get to an objective defintion of quality is going by what the majority of people like/will like, and even that rarely gives a clear consensus.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I see your point, Finn -- Scroll, 15:49:52 01/11/04 Sun

The problem with the distinction between favorite and best is that what is the best will always be a subjective opinion.

You're right, what we say is "best" is still subjective. However, I'd like to assert that in finding a "best", we are doing our best to be as objective as possible. Clearly we're still going to be subjective; we can't help that. But by being as "objective" as I can be, I can say that "Beneath You" is superior to "The Real Me", even though I (kinda) dislike Spike and personally prefer the latter episode to the former.

Basically, it boils down to this:

The closest you can get to an objective defintion of quality is going by what the majority of people like/will like, and even that rarely gives a clear consensus.

With all of us fans doing our level best to be "objective" (inasmuch as that is possible), we are trying to determine The Canon of Buffy -- which episodes are the most important and contribute the most to the universe of Buffy and the show as a whole, based on criteria, as Rob says, "how well it's written, plotted, acted, directed, etc."

For example, I agreed with Sophist that "Beneath You" includes one of the best written scenes of Buffy, ever. Doesn't mean I personally like the episode. And I can "objectively" see that "Prophecy Girl" has greater significance to the series, as well as many other wonderful qualities, and is therefore superior to "Potential", which is charming but not key.

So yeah. Yes, we're still very subjective even in determining, objectively, what is the "best" of Buffy. But the difference is that we are trying to be objective.

Whereas in determining my "favourites", I am not necessarily going to be objective. Or even trying to be at all. "Best" as being technically superior, having greater significance to the show as a whole -- versus "Favourite" as being my own personal gems I'll rewatch, my guilty pleasures.

(Of course, determining Canon, or even if one should have a "Canon" is a tricky subject in itself. Why is Shakespeare and Milton "canon" and Nora Roberts not?)

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Is determining a canon even possible? -- Scroll, 16:11:50 01/11/04 Sun

Just wanted to add, it's not necessarily possible for us to develop a "canon" of Buffy. Or even necessarily necessary. For one thing, there are only 144 eps, not so many that we can't simply include them all in the canon.*

Further up this thread, TCH tried to sum up the ATPo Concensus -- all the eps we had voted for thus far. This looks suspiciously like the beginning of a "canon". However, can we honestly say that our concensus is correct? That our "objective" choices make the eps we've selected more important to Buffy the series, and therefore more worthwhile to watch?

I don't know if having a "canon" is something we can ever really justify, except as a short-cut way of saying, "We think these eps are really important and you should watch them." As opposed to "favourite", which is my way of saying, "I know these episodes aren't perfect, but I really love them and you should watch them."

* Note: I don't mean "canon" the way fanfic writers use canon (ie This story is based on canon up to "The Gift", then veers off into AU since Buffy stays dead). Here I'm referring to canon the way English literature academics use canon -- as a way of determining the "significant works" (Shakespeare) versus the "secondary works" (Nora Roberts, heh).

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Interesting - objectivity, canon, etc -- s'kat, 21:16:18 01/11/04 Sun

Ah, Scroll, I agree oddly enough with you both. While we *are* trying to be objective, it is almost impossible to be so - are our own personal experience and makeup gets in the way. And by experience - I include in that our education, the books we've read and studied, our family, our teachers, our religion, etc. These things come into play regardless of what we try to do.

For example - many posters will choose The Prom as best episode. Why? Buffy got a reward at the end. Does that *critically* and objectively make it a good episode? Maybe, maybe not. Does it matter? No. The episode dealt with themes, universal themes that appealed to people on a gut level. The idea of feeling unrecognized, underappreciated by your peers - even though you saved their sorry hides - is something everyone who goes through high school feels on some gut level. No matter what happened in the Prom, many viewers felt that when Jonathan gave Buffy that umbrella - life was good. Jonathan from the beginning was our "initiation character" - our representative - so the writers oddly enough through Jonathan gave the viewer the opportunity to give Buffy and ourselves that pat on the back. For that reason alone, grown men and women get misty eyed over The Prom. Is any of that objective? Nope.

Same goes with selecting Moby Dick or Pride and Prejudice as a great work of literature - the reason it still lasts is b/c it speaks to something a vast majority of people feel inside, it hits them on that gut level. Moby Dick talks about man's fight against a natural force...and being overwhelmed by it, and destroying himself in the process.
Very few works of literature really address that in the way Moby Dick does. Same with Pride and Prejudice - which made fun of manners and etiquette while at the same time showing its importance - a timeless theme. It also discussed how faulty our first impressions of people often are. Universal and timeless themes that appeal to a large percentage of people. Those who love these books - express through their love of them - something about themselves - who they are.

Canon? Is there really such a thing? I had an interesting discussion years ago about this - in the computer lab late at night writing my undergrad thesis. I was doing it on Caddy Thompson in Faulkner's Sound and The Fury compared to Molly Bloom in Joyce's Ulysess - how male writers dealt with the feminine in their literature or something like that (this was in 1989), the guy next to me was doing his thesis on Frank Miller's graphic novels Dark Night Returns/Batman Year One and Alan Moore's graphic novel the Watchman. Our discussion was about the English Literary Canon. He was a little frustrated - since he had to fight the English dept to let him do his senior thesis on Moore and Miller. I agreed with his view that the English Literary Canon was a laughable concept - and hardly an objective one. What we both wondered was how do you determine what is worthy? What is good as opposed to bad literature, since bad fiction and non-fiction is published?
Well, that's a hard question, isn't it? How do you get a consensus? Just look at this board and the posts? Do we agree that much? Not really. Rob picks Chosen as the best final in his post, while I can't decide if it may be the worst. Is Rob's criteria any less objective than mine or better? No. Which one of us is right? Well...going back to literature - Jacqueline Suzan in the 1960s wrote a potboiler called Valley of The Dolls - it was basically the Nora Roberts/Dan Brown of its time. Bestseller. Got a movie made of it. Then 20 years later? A mini-series. Also a musical written by a movie critic. The original? Got a whole new edition released for its birthday. Good book?
Well, it lasted. Same with Gone with The Wind - huge romance novel, filled with soap opera and passion, written in the 1930s, Movie made, it is considered the most read book worldwide next to the Bible. Good book? Great Literature? Not according to the Literary Canon. But it continues to last. Something about Gone With The Wind appeals to people. Moby Dick. The Works of Shakespeare.
Grapes of Wrath. These books still are being published.
Yet other books that may have been just as wonderful are not, why? Does it depend on who the publishing house and whether they market it? Or it's availability? I don't know.
The same can be said about TV shows and episodes, which last and stand the test of time? We won't know until ten-fifteen years pass and people still mention it.

What appeals to us, appeals...and sometimes we can't explain why. I explained to a friend tonight why the character of Spike appeals to me - he reminds me a great deal of my kid brother - what he did in Yoko Factor is similar to something I've seen my brother do and like Spike, kid bro paid for it. Spike's coming of age story reminds me of his and that hits me somewhere deep inside I can't quite explain. You'd have to have a kid brother, 3 years apart, who you love and hate with equal intensity at times, strive to understand, often envy, and happen to be in your mid 30s and in the middle of a mid-life crisis to even begin to understand half of this. And even then? You'd have to well...have a bunch of other experiences I will not go into here. Each choice we make is colored by our background, whether we wish it to be or not. And for that reason, Finn Macool may be right - none of our choices are objective. They can't be. The distinction between best and fav may actually be more a distinction between what your head says is great in contrast to what your heart adores...or something else.


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Good examples, Rob. Let me add another example. -- Fenugreek, 13:49:48 01/11/04 Sun

Good explanation, Rob. Allow me to add to it by using a specific episode of Buffy as an example.

However, in order to do that I first need to take you back many years to one of my early work experiances. One of the first jobs I had when growing up in Montana was at a pizza parlor that had a cowboy theme to it. The building it was in sort of looked like a ranch house and the decor included cowboy hats and pictures of horses mounted on the walls. The pizzas had names like "Rustler's Roundup" and "The Stampede" which was the combo that had everything on it. And the help had to wear "cowboy shirts" supplied to us with name tags and also a bandana around our necks. Most of us felt really silly wearing those costumes but management was adament that it added to the atmosphere. I mostly worked in the kitchen and that wasn't so bad because I was out of sight from the customers. But occasionally I had to run the cash register and that was a different game altogether. At the cash register one was in danger of being seen wearing that silly costume by someone you knew. Quite embarrassing. And heaven help you if a girl you liked came in to get something to eat while you were manning the register and saw you in your "official" uniform. I always felt that was the kiss of death.

Now, fast forward many years to a Tuesday night in late 2001 (or was it early 2002, I forget) when an episode of Buffy titled Doublemeat Palace aired. As I watched that episode it took me right back to that early job at the pizza parlor. It was what one might refer to as a Proust moment - A Remembrance of Things Past. I identified with so many things in that episode (the giant penis monster was not one of them). It instantly became one of my favorite episodes.

On the other hand, do I consider it one of the "best" Buffy episodes? Not on your life. I probably wouldn't put it in the top 50 percent of Buffy episodes. And that despite the fact that I'm not sure what all goes into the making of the "best episodes" (there must be some sort of independent criteria for judging the "best"). All I know is that Doublemeat Palace most likely isn't one of the best. But that hasn't stopped me from rewatching it several times (I taped the episode so I don't have to suffer through the decimated FX version) and enjoying it every single time. But then, that is based on my own personal life experience and nothing else.

[> [> [> Re: I'm not quite getting the distinction between 'fave' and 'best' -- CW, 07:45:09 01/11/04 Sun

I agree with Scroll. It's possible to judge differently on technical merit than on what you'd want to watch most. For instance I think The Body is probably the best piece of television I ever seen, but I think I'd have to pick Restless as my favorite Buffy episode.

[> [> [> [> Re: I'm not quite getting the distinction between 'fave' and 'best' -- Finn Mac Cool, 07:49:34 01/11/04 Sun

But, if an episode with lower technical merit becomes your favorite over an episode with higher technical merit, than shouldn't you change your defintion of what technically makes an episode good? For example, for a long while I was of the opinion that relationship/soap opera drama were bad qualities in TV shows. As such, at that time, many episodes of Buffy would be considered "bad" by me. However, after watching Buffy for a while, I found myself actually enjoying episodes where the characters' relationships grew or fell apart. So I had to change my definition of what makes a TV show good. Making any sense?

[> [> [> [> [> Re: I'm not quite getting the distinction between 'fave' and 'best' -- CW, 08:06:16 01/11/04 Sun

The point is that techincal merit matters, but it's not the only thing that makes something interesting to watch. I pretty much understood everything that was going on in The Body the first time I saw it. Restless isn't as polished, isn't as hard hitting, but I don't think I'll ever figure out everything that Restless can say to us. That's also important. There are other factors that are just as important for judging favorite as opposed to best.

[> Sneaking in at the bottom with my choices -- s'kat, 15:11:27 01/10/04 Sat

Not as easy as it looks. Here's my choices for best and worst episodes and why I chose them. I personally think this says more about us than the show, which is why I'm hoping this gets archived before anyone notices that a)I did it, and b)I posted it. ;-) For the poor people who are lost - I included all the episodes in each category, assuming of course it's read. ;-)

Episode 1
1: Welcome to the Hellmouth, s2: When She Was Bad
s3: Anne, s4: The Freshman, s5: Buffy vs. Dracula
s6 Bargaining Part I, s7: Lessons

I chose Bargaining Part I, althought WttH came in a close second. Why? Structure and use of the cast. Bargaining examines each character's role, it shows where they've come from over the summer, it sets up future conflicts, and the interrelationships of the characters is explored in more depth than I believe the other seasons did - where the focal point was strongly Buffy. In Bargaining - the absence of Buffy or use of the Buffybot to show how Buffy was more than "just" a slayer to everyone present is fascinating and tells us a great deal about her relationship with her friends. How Xander has moved past her somewhat into his own life, so doesn't really notice, how Willow keeps fixing the Bot and feels responsible for it and feels more powerful, how Tara has taken over the mother role, how Dawn keeps trying to connect to Buffy yet feels distanced somehow, how Giles feels unnecessary b/c Bot doesn't require him - he can't teach it anything, and how Spike can't bear being around the Bot - due to how it reminds him of his failure and how like Dawn - he can't connect to it emotionally as he did in The Gift. All themes that will be explored in greater depth through the season. Buffy the robot - how each character desired her back b/c they desired the connection and how she denies it to them due to her own depression and pain. Brilliant. WttH in contrast - introduces how they need Buffy the hero more than Buffy the normal girl.

The worst? Buffy vs. Dracula. Of the seven episodes listed, B vs. D does the least to further the characters or establish relationships, it hints at things, but it is largely fun and stand alone. The Real Me is actually the true first episode of that season.

Episode 2
s1: The Harvest, s2: Some Assembly Required
s3: Dead Man's Party, s4: Living Conditions
s5: Real Me, s6: Bargaining 2, s7: Beneath You

My choice after a little debate between Real Me and Beneath You is Beneath You - why? Because Beneath You examines the fractured mind and how we handle guilt. How do you deal with a messed up relationship - or a love affair that has exploded? Particularly when you still care deeply for the person you inadvertently hurt? How do you atone? Is it possible? How do you deal with the feeling that you are beneath someone else or the rejection. The church scene at the end is probably the single best scene of any Whedon show - haunting and touching at the same time, with a soft blue light. It alone paints how complex these issues are. That the hero isn't necessarily so evident or so clear. I don't like Buffy in Beneath You and something tells me, I'm not supposed to. Yet at the same time, in retrospect? I feel for her. I understand her dilemma. You have to respect a television show that is willing to put its heroine in that type situation.

Worst? Some Assembly Required The characters seem to be moving in circles in this episode and the theme seems a tad tired. Doesn't hold up to the others in the category. Dead Man's Party - while flawed, does say some interesting things about how each character deals with relationship and communication issues - ie. badly. You're not supposed to like anyone here. The Harvest - also flawed, does have some interesting things to say about vampires which influence the rest of the series, it also establishes the group dynamic. Living Conditions - does do a good job of playing off the bad roomate metaphor and also comments on what having a soul means in a new way.

3. Episode 3
s1: The Witch, s2: School Hard, s3: Faith, Hope and Trick
s4: The Harsh Light of Day, s5: The Replacement
s6: AfterLife, s7: Same Time, Same Place

Another hard choice - but I chose Harsh Light of Day over School Hard, once again because it does a good job of exploring a series of relationships and delicately parallels them - it also does a wonderful job of expressing the college experience of the one night stand from three perspectives. The fight sequence at the end between Spike and Buffy blows the one in School Hard out of the park - both in dialogue and action. Spike in both episodes reflects Buffy's darkest fears and thoughts. But in this one the comments are far more painful and reflect far more about Buffy's state of mind than the first one did. It also establishes the Anya/Xander relationship arc very well.

Worst episode? The Witch - cliché episode about a mother wanting to relive her cheerleading days.

Episode 4
s1: Teacher's Pet, s2: Inca Mummy Girl
s3: Beauty and the Beasts, s4: Fear, Itself, s5: Out of my Mind s6: Flooded, s7: Help

Out of My Mind - why? Because of the wonderful contrasts between Spike and Riley which built on the ones established the previous season. The boy whose heart just isn't up to it - b/c the worries of his brain keeps him back, and the boy whose heart is working overtime because the brain has been compromised. The story of two chips. One in the heart and one in the head. And how both reflect the lead, Buffy's own state of mind. S5 was a season about the duality inside ourselves and this episode was a subtle approach to that metaphor. Runner up is Fear, Itself.

Worst? Hard decision, since I disliked Teacher's Pet, Help, and Beauty and The Beasts equally. Choosing Teacher's Pet for the pray mantis special effect and the vampire with the claw.

Episode 5
s1: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date, s2: Reptile Boy, s3: Homecoming
s4: Beer Bad, s5: No Place Like Home, s6: Life Serial, s7: Selfless

Selfless of course. Of all the episodes here - this one is the most inventive and the best character study. Selfless finally explains who Anya is. But it doesn't stop there, it explores the dynamic between Xander,Willow and Buffy and how these three friends just don't get each other sometimes. I think Selfless is when Xander finally understands Buffy and Willow. Finally understands why Buffy did not kill Spike or Angel. Something Willow has always understood. It also shows how Willow gets the murky nature of evil actions. A complex episode. Probably one of the best in the series as a whole. And 0 competition in this group.

Worst? Much harder to decide, but picking Reptile Boy over Homecoming and Beer Bad, for the monster and the cliché set up.

Episode 6
s1: The Pack, s2: Halloween, s3: Band Candy, s4: Wild at Heart
s5: Family, s6: All the Way, s7: Him

The Pack - why? Because it went so dark and demonstrated what happens when kids play to the mob mentality. Doing whatever to fit in.

Worst? All The Way - somewhat cliché exploration of first date and old territory for ME. Also the plotting and structure was a tad disjointed as if the writers couldn't find the focal point - which should have been Dawn.

Episode 7
s1: Angel, s2: Lie to Me, s3: Revelations s4: The Initiative
s5: Fool For Love, s6: Once More, With Feeling*
s7: Conversations With Dead People

Fool For Love - yes, I'm a Spike fan, but I honestly can't find anything wrong with this episode. Once More With Feeling - as wonderful as it is - has some flaws - one being the reveal that it was Xander who summoned the demon? Also the dance sequences were choppy and off somewhat. CwDP? The best bit was Whedon's Buffy and the Vamp psychologist. The worst? A contest between Andrew/Jonathan and Dawn. Too over the top in places. And confusing. I had to explain this episode to people online and offline after seeing it. Fool For Love? Is flawless. It explores the slayer/vampire relationship through the ages, explores the slayer's role, and it also explores how Buffy's role divides her from others - yet at the same time it's her friends and family that hook her to the world. The contrasts in this episode are fascinating. One of the best episodes of the series and in a tough category - since I'd include OMWF and CwDP in that as well, but both have flaws I can't overlook and become more and more apparent upon rewatchings.

Worst? Revelations. Another cheesy villain. Also some of the interactions seemed a tad on the contrived side - Xander was just a little over the top here.

Episode 8
s1: I Robot, You Jane , s2: The Dark Age, s3: Lovers' Walk
s4: Pangs, s5: Shadow, s6: Tabula Rasa, s7: Sleeper

Lover's Walk because of the seven listed it's the most flawless. It moves each character further on it's arc, doesn't play too loosely with characterization to be innovative or get laughs like Tabula Rasa does, and does a good job of jumping between comedy and tragedy. While I love Pangs and Tabula Rasa and Sleeper - all three had discordant notes, all three felt forced in places - as if the characters were being pressed to fulfill a plot-point as opposed to going there naturally. Lover's Walk never felt that way.

Worst? I Robot You Jane - the cheesy monster and the over-done computer dating sub-plot.

Episode 9
s1: The Puppet Show, s2: What's My Line 1, s3: The Wish
s4: Something Blue*, s5: Listening to Fear, s6: Smashed*
s7: Never Leave Me

Struggled with this one - but The Wish wins. Why? Again it's the most flawless and it does a wonderful job of showing an alternative universe, while at the same time telling us something new about each character - showing us the dark sides of their natures, sides that the show revisits in later episodes. Runner-ups are Something Blue, Smashed.

Worst? Listening to Fear - not too bad for its reveals, just a little cheesy in places. I liked Puppet Show and Never Leave Me and WM1 better.

Episode 10
s1: Nightmares ,s2: What's My Line 2*, s3: Amends, s4: Hush
s5: Into The Woods, s6: Wrecked, s7: Bring on the Night

Hush, while I love What's My Line 2, Hush wins for being the most flawless. Another one of the best episodes of the series. Innovative. Pushes Character arcs forward. And has the scariest villains. Also lovely exploration of how we communicate and how talking and noise can get in the way - ie. how we don't listen.

Worst? Wrecked - the Willow on magic crack metaphor was cringe-worthy. The two themes addressed - addiction and bad relationships? Cliché to the max. The show dealt with them better in earlier episodes. Also they leapt from the far more interesting arc - regarding abuses of power and desiring physical attraction sans emotional connection - what that does to people - an arc that is addressed far better in Dead Things.

Episode 11
s1: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, s2: Ted, s3: Gingerbread
s4: Doomed, s5: Triangle, s6: Gone, s7: Showtime

Triangle - not perfect but the least hokey of the choices and the best plotline. Tempted towards Ted, but I just find that episode impossible to watch more than twice.

Worst? Showtime - it made the least amount of sense and seemed the most forced of the choices - lots of deux ex machina at play here. Fury later said he'd been busy on ATS and not really up to speed on BTVS, well, you could tell.

Episode 12
s1: Prophecy Girl, s2: Bad Eggs, s3: Helpless, s4: A New Man
s5: Checkpoint, s6: Doublemeat Palace, s7: Potential

Checkpoint again the most flawless. Nice mix of comedy and drama. Advances every character and establishes the relationships between them. Also does a nice job of furthering the plot.

Worst? Bad Eggs - cheesy sci-fi monster and the silly cowboy vampires that Whedon stole from The Wild Bunch.

Episode 13
s2: Surprise, s3: The Zeppo, s4: The I in Team, s5: Blood Ties
s6: Dead Things, s7: The Killer in Me

Dead Things - one of the darkest episodes of television I've seen and an interesting commentary on S&M and abusive relationships. Not to mention self-hate and using people to pleasure yourself. It took the heroine to a dark place, something very few TV shows dare to do. Amazing episode. Flawless in what it wanted to accomplish. One of the best episodes in the series.

Worst? The Killer in Me - oh the pain! What this episode could have been if the writer had only focused and put the chip business in another episode. Or decided not to go for a cheap joke on Giles. This episode had so much potential.

Episode 14
s2: Innocence, s3: Bad Girls, s4: Goodbye, Iowa
s5: Crush, s6: Older and Farther Away, s7: First Date

Innocence - why? It's flawless. Everything in it works beautifully. It's a wonderful twist on the old fairy tale and it also has lovely echoes of the Stanly Kubrick film classic Lolita, something Whedon continues to echoes throughout the season. A true classic and possibly the best episode of the series. While Bad Girls and Crush are both good episodes, they both have flaws - Bad Girls - the stupid monster plotline, Crush? You have to do cart-wheels to fanwank Buffy's reasons for wandering around a vampire's crypt by herself when he's just told her he has a thing for her and she knows there's a nasty new vamp in town. How dumb is she? Equally forced are Joyce and Willow advising Buffy to go see him.

Worst? Older and Far Away, while I equally disliked Goodbye, Iowa and First Date, this episode is far worse - it sags in the middle, the production quality is completely off, the editing cuts were so bad that people on fanboards fanwanked that they were deliberate and meant to convey telepathy between Buffy and Spike. Yes it had a cool thematic structure and metaphor and it was an interesting attempt to play with a Luis Bunnel film the writer probably saw, but it did not work. Also having Spike look beaten up and not addressing it, was distracting to the viewer.

Episode 15
s2: Phases, s3: Consequences, s4: This Year's Girl, s5: I Was Made to Love You
s6: As You Were, s7: Get It Done

Consequences - this episode far better than any other explains the complexity and ambiguity of Faith and Angel as well as their relationship. Very noir in concept, addressing some dark themes that are seldom shown on TV - including a female attempting to rape and kill a male, the idea of guilt, the idea of remorse, what it means to have a conscience, and what it means to kill someone - what that does to us. One of the best episodes of the series and almost flawless. Far better in my opinion than any of the other Faith episodes in BTVS.

Worst? As You Were - this episode was poorly plotted and destroyed the character of Riley Finn. The only good parts were the Xander/Anya bits which were more or less repetitive of former episodes and the Spike/Buffy scene at the end. The sections with Riley and Sam were truly awful. Ruining the character of Riley for fans of the character. He came across as chauvinistic, smug, egotistical, morally superior, asswipe who hit people who couldn't hit back. The egg plotline came out of nowhere with 0 buildup or explanation. Instead of explaining it, the writer attempted to swipe it under the rug - stating it's unimportant, Buffy has other reasons to break up with him. Bad writing. Bad plotting. Bad characterization. A shame - because this episode could have been the twin to Into The Woods - a far superior one on all counts.

Episode 16
s2: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, s3: Dopplegangland*, s4: Who Are You?
s5: The Body, s6: Hell's Bells, s7: Storyteller

Hard choice. But The Body wins. Because it is flawless. Everything has a reason. Everything supports the writer/director's theme and purpose. It also works as both a stand-alone and part of an arc. The episode is also the best examination of how we deal with death that I've seen done on film. It looks at death unflinchingly, without rose colored glasses or platitudes. And it examines our struggle to come to terms with it - from numerous perspectives - those of the people closest to the loved one and those of the people farthest away. By delving into the physicality of death through the use of certain film techniques - Whedon oddly enough does the opposite of what he believed he was doing, instead of discomforting the viewer, he comforts them. Amazing episode. Possibly the best.

Worst? Storyteller - manwitch on the atpobtvs discussion board sums it up best. A great idea but poorly executed, because instead of using a character the audience had followed and identified with - the "initiation character" - which was Jonathan in the series and how they used Jonathan in many episodes, they use a character that is under-developed. I can't watch this episode more than twice. It makes me cringe. The same idea was done much better in Superstar and The Zeppo.

Episode 17
s2: Passion, s3: Enemies*, s4: Superstar, s5: Forever
s6: Normal Again*, s7: Lies My Parents Told Me

Passion - it feels the most flawless to me. While I love Enemies and Normal Again, Passion did more to push forward the arc and also changed certain characters relationships forever. Passion established why Buffy and Angel should never be together. (The episode creepily echoes some scenes in Lolita, regarding how the prof treats Lolita's mother and a colleague who suspects him after sleeping with Lolita.) Also why Giles would never trust an ensouled vampire again. It delved into the inter-relationships between Giles, Buffy, Xander very well - it also explored Angel, Spike and Dru and the nature of obsessive love. Wonderfully layered episode. Normal Again and Enemies are a little less layered and have less effect on the characters.

The Worst? Lies My Parents Told Me - the worst thing about Lies was the lack of followup. The writers dropped several bombshells on the audience, yet never resolved them. Giles betrayal of Buffy and his use of a stranger to kill a very dangerous vampire.
While it was understandable that Giles would try to kill Spike, using Wood to do it, made no sense. The character of Wood -poorly developed. Want to see DB Woodside give a stellar performance - try 24. The trigger? Cliché and bit too Freudian. If you look at the episode from the pov that it's about sons wanting to save their mothers from demons and resenting themselves and their mothers for being unable to do so without becoming demons themselves metaphorically and literally speaking - it's an interesting episode. Unfortunately, it can also be examined from another perspective - which is that if mom doesn't focus all her attention on her kid, she's a bad parent - offensive to say the least. (I doubt that was the intent). Plus the feeling many people had that Spike showed no remorse for killing slayers. An interesting episode in theory but didn't quite work in practice, I think. The only redeeming characteristic of LMPTM is how ATS is addressing some of these issues a year later.

Episode 18
s2: Killed By Death, s3: Earshot, s4: Where The Wild Things Are, s5: Intervention, s6: Entropy, s7: Dirty Girls

Intervention is the best episode in a weak category. Funny - hilarious at times, it also does the same thing Passion did; it changes two characters relationship forever. In this episode Buffy and SG go from the extreme of wanting Spike staked and dead, to saving his hide. After this episode, Buffy no longer dismisses Spike with contempt and she'll never let anyone stake him again. A complex, layered episode, discussing the ambiguous nature of love, sex and attraction while at the same time exploring how we connect to others and disconnect at the same time. One of the best episodes of the series.

Worste? Where The Wild Things Are - with the exception of a few spooky moments, and the scenes between Xander, Anya, and Spike - a waste of time. Cheesy somewhat cliché problem. The sex between Riley and Buffy - dull and not revealing much about either character.

Episode 19
s2: I Only Have Eyes For You, s3: Choices, s4: New Moon Rising*
s5: Tough Love, s6: Seeing Red, s7: Empty Spaces

Choices - an interesting episode that explores once again why Buffy and Angel are completely wrong for each other, the choices we make and paths we choose and why we choose them. Each character gets some exploration and is expanded upon. Not brilliant but the best in a weak field.

Worst? Empty Places The last few scenes? Did not work. They should have left the house, not the other way around. Clearly contrived due to set issues. Not much in this episode worth watching. While Seeing Red is not a favorite - I do like and appreciate the Clem/Spike sequence.

Episode 20
s2: Go Fish, s3: The Prom, s4: The Yoko Factor, s5: Spiral
s6: Villains, s7: Touched

The Yoko Factor - one of the best descriptions of how high school relationships slowly break apart over time. Also a wonderful examination of the characters foibles which are addressed again in greater detail in the marvelous Restless. Spike as the Iago character - is a fascinating examination of how we blame others for bringing to our attention our own flaws. He really isn't doing anything. All he's doing is pushing their buttons and they are letting him. The episode is so well written, that the writers apparently had to do cartwheels to find a way of getting out of the corner they'd written themselves into and get the SG to work together again. The Prom - while a decent episode, unlike Yoko Factor, is deeply flawed. The hellhounds? Laughable. The plot to take care of them, disjointed. And once again - we're told why B/A is a horribly destructive relationship. This is getting repetitive. The best bits? Are small moments: the bit between Xander and Cordelia and the dress, Giles and Wes, and Buffy and the school who honors her - they aren't enough though to save the episode. I have to fastforward through 80% of it to get to those moments which all happen at the end.

Worst? Go Fish The monsters just do not work. Also a bit cliché on the steroids bit. The good parts? Xander and Cordelia.

Episode 21
s2: Becoming 1, s3: Graduation 1, s4: Primeval, s5: Weight of the World
s6: Two to Go, s7: End of Days

Becoming Part I - I debated Graduation 1 for the great B/F fight sequences, but Becoming does a much better job of exploring character conflict - so much so, that what happens in it echoes through two series. Flawless episode. (How people do accents doesn't bug me - since I'm tone death and can't really distinguish the tonal inflections that well any way.)

Worst? Weight of The World drug in places that the others didn't. Even though I loved the Spike bits, not enough to save the repetitive nature of the episode - which spent too much time exploring Buffy's guilt loop, until the audience began to emphasize with Willow's desire to slap Buffy.

Episode 22
s2: Becoming 2, s3: Graduation 2, s4: Restless, s5: The Gift
s6: Grave, s7: Chosen

Becoming 2 A largely flawless episode - each character utilized, the plot works, no gaps in logic, even if the whole being sucked into hell thing seems a tad silly - it is established well in the previous episode and isn't just plopped in there. Buffy's final dilemma makes perfect sense and follows from all the episodes. Every character makes sense in this finale. Nothing feels overly contrived. Or forced. The actions are also nicely ambiguous - from Xander's lie to Spike's odd bit of heroism. The episode also changes everyone's relationships and how the series is viewed. As great as Restless and The Gift are - they don't come close to the plot structure and emotional beauty of Becoming.

Worst? Hard choice - Grave, although Chosen comes in a close second. Both episodes are horribly plotted and the finale? Seems forced somehow. Xander's speech to Willow seems unconvincing in the final analysis, its difficult to see Willow caving to him as she does. Also the magic as crack and power addiction metaphors get a tad confused, almost as if the writer is struggling to keep from losing both the theme and the character at the same time. Buffy is under-used in the episode. Spike's search for a soul - is a series of misleads that ends up confusing both the viewer and the actor playing the role. An episode that had plenty of potential but somehow went astray. Chosen similarly is poorly plotted with tons of deux ex machina powering it. Buffy's decision to share her power seems wonderful ideally, but not so great in reality - when it does happen, the viewer sees what amounts to 20 teenage girls fighting an unlimited number of uber-vamps. Considering it took just one ubervamp to beat Buffy to a pulp in Bring on The Night - it's a bit hard to believe these 20 teens are going to win, super-powered or not. In the end? It's not the characters that save the day or figure out how to defeat the enemy so much as the two tools that they just happened to find - the amulet brought by Angel and the Scythe that Caleb discovered. What makes Grave worse than Chosen is the pacing. Chosen for all it's flaws - moves along at a nice clip, each character is well-utilized to some degree, and there's a nice mixture of humor and tragedy - Grave on the other moves very slowly and sort of sags in the middle.

Here's the summary:

Best - Season 5 with 6 episodes
2 =S7

Worste -dead heat between 6 and 7, I'm going with 7.

A more interesting post might be one delving into how the writers structure their character arcs and what each episode has in common. This is even more evident in ATS by the way. But I didn't get around to finishing that one in nearly as much detail.


[> [> Ugh bad editing job -- s'kat, 15:16:08 01/10/04 Sat

Here's how the bottom should look:

Best = S5
2 =S7

Worst =S7

And yep it does say more about us than the show, doesn't it? But then I think most criticism does say more about the critic than whatever he or she is criticising.


[> [> Choices -- dmw, 17:52:38 01/11/04 Sun

s'kat, thanks for including all the episodes for each choice and I hope you won't mind if I borrow them for my list.

Episode 1
1: Welcome to the Hellmouth, s2: When She Was Bad
s3: Anne, s4: The Freshman, s5: Buffy vs. Dracula
s6 Bargaining Part I, s7: Lessons

I agree with everything you said about Bargaining. I love the first half hour of that episode, but the demon bikers are a terrible MotW that greatly detract from this episode, so I'm going to choose The Freshman, which with its re-introduction of the characters in a new setting and Sunday, the perfect nemesis for Buffy as she doubts her ability to handle college life. I wish they'd kept her as the little bad of this season.

I agree wholeheartedly that B vs D was the worst.

Episode 2
s1: The Harvest, s2: Some Assembly Required
s3: Dead Man's Party, s4: Living Conditions
s5: Real Me, s6: Bargaining 2, s7: Beneath You

I love the introduction of the characters in the beginning of the series, so I'm going to go with The Harvest, though I love how Dawn's remarks can be taken in such different ways in Real Me. I think they do a great job with the introduction of Dawn, and Harmony is hilarious in small doses. Bargaining 2 is the worst, with the demon bikers and all the unfulfilled potential for drama in Buffy's resurrection.

3. Episode 3
s1: The Witch, s2: School Hard, s3: Faith, Hope and Trick
s4: The Harsh Light of Day, s5: The Replacement
s6: AfterLife, s7: Same Time, Same Place

Hard choice for me between s2 and s3, but I think I'll go with School Hard, which presents Spike at his best. I like all these episodes except for Afterlife with the trivial consequences of Buffy's resurrection--another demon, oh no. It's definitely the worst of the bunch.

Episode 4
s1: Teacher's Pet, s2: Inca Mummy Girl
s3: Beauty and the Beasts, s4: Fear, Itself, s5: Out of my Mind s6: Flooded, s7: Help

I love Fear, Itself. It's a wonderfully creepy Halloween episode, and I just love how all the characters look: Willow in her chainmail, Giles with the chainsaw, Oz as god, and Anya in her scary bunny suit. Help is definitely the worst.

Episode 5
s1: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date, s2: Reptile Boy, s3: Homecoming s4: Beer Bad, s5: No Place Like Home, s6: Life Serial, s7: Selfless

I'll go with Selfless too. Anya was generally too one-dimensional, but she shone in some episodes and this is one of them. Most of the episodes are good, so I'll have to make a hard choice and go with Reptile Boy as the worst, though it's much better than it's season 7 imitator.

Episode 6
s1: The Pack, s2: Halloween, s3: Band Candy, s4: Wild at Heart
s5: Family, s6: All the Way, s7: Him

This one's a hard choice, except for Him, which is a candidate for worst episode ever (especially as a redoing of the well-written BB&C.) I like The Pack for reasons you've noted, the Halloween episodes are all good, Band Candy is delightfully funny, Wild at Heart is so painful, and Family is so uplifting. After some thought, I'm going with The Pack as well.

Episode 8
s1: I Robot, You Jane , s2: The Dark Age, s3: Lovers' Walk
s4: Pangs, s5: Shadow, s6: Tabula Rasa, s7: Sleeper

I'll go with Lover's Walk too, though IRYJ could have been excellent if they'd gotten rid of the robot and The Dark Age was quite a shock at the time even with the hints of a dark Giles in Halloween. Sleeper is the worst, as Spike once again is unbelievably kept alive by the Scoobies.

Episode 9
s1: The Puppet Show, s2: What's My Line 1, s3: The Wish
s4: Something Blue*, s5: Listening to Fear, s6: Smashed*
s7: Never Leave Me

No contest. The Wish is the best as one of the best alternate universe stories ever shown on TV, and Smashed is the worst as the beginning of the terrible s6 magic addiction arc.

Episode 10
s1: Nightmares ,s2: What's My Line 2*, s3: Amends, s4: Hush
s5: Into The Woods, s6: Wrecked, s7: Bring on the Night

I'll have to agree with you again. Hush is my favorite episode, and Wrecked continues the magic addiction nonsense.

Episode 11
s1: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, s2: Ted, s3: Gingerbread
s4: Doomed, s5: Triangle, s6: Gone, s7: Showtime

Weird, I never knew episode 11 was so bad in every season. Season 1's invisibility episode is definitely better than season 6's version, but they're both bad. Showtime had the stupidest plan ever, while Ted, Gingerbread, and Triangle have some of the worst MotWs. Buffy's realization that Riley is right for her in Doomed isn't believable and neither is her sudden depressed mood.

Episode 12
s1: Prophecy Girl, s2: Bad Eggs, s3: Helpless, s4: A New Man
s5: Checkpoint, s6: Doublemeat Palace, s7: Potential

There's an easy choice for worst episode--Bad Eggs, with its cheesy monsters and stupid cowboy vampires, and while there are some good episodes to contest it, Prophecy Girl is the best of the bunch as one of Buffy's most unflawed season enders.

Episode 13
s2: Surprise, s3: The Zeppo, s4: The I in Team, s5: Blood Ties s6: Dead Things, s7: The Killer in Me

I'll go with The Zeppo, a great point of view episode which lets us see the Scoobies from a semi-outsider point of view. I think it's also the best Xander episode ever. As for the worst one, I'll go with TKiM, which was just stupid.

Episode 14
s2: Innocence, s3: Bad Girls, s4: Goodbye, Iowa
s5: Crush, s6: Older and Farther Away, s7: First Date

is perfect, I agree. I'll have to go with First Date as the worst of the bunch.

Episode 15
s2: Phases, s3: Consequences, s4: This Year's Girl, s5: I Was Made to Love You s6: As You Were, s7: Get It Done

is my favorite, an excellent episode as the heart of the dark Faith arc. GiD was the worst. I don't like what it did with the Slayer origins and Buffy's leadership is at its nadir in this episode.

Episode 16
s2: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, s3: Dopplegangland*, s4: Who Are You? s5: The Body, s6: Hell's Bells, s7: Storyteller

The Body
is obviously the best episode, though I dislike what it means for Buffy's role and the setting of the series after this point in time and I love the s2-4 episodes too. Andrew annoys me ever more than Anya, so Storyteller is the worst of the episodes for number 16.

Episode 17
s2: Passion, s3: Enemies*, s4: Superstar, s5: Forever
s6: Normal Again*, s7: Lies My Parents Told Me

is superb, a dark masterpiece, while LMPTM is the obvious worst episode.

Episode 18
s2: Killed By Death, s3: Earshot, s4: Where The Wild Things Are, s5: Intervention, s6: Entropy, s7: Dirty Girls

is the obvious choice for worst episode, with a cliched and cheesy MOTW and nothing else to recommend it other than a short W/T moment. I'll go with Intervention for the best episode, both for hilarious scenes with the Buffybot and for how it integrates Spike with the Scoobies for the first time in a believable way.

Episode 19
s2: I Only Have Eyes For You, s3: Choices, s4: New Moon Rising* s5: Tough Love, s6: Seeing Red, s7: Empty Spaces

Now this one is a hard choice, but if you'll pardon the pun, I'll with Choices for its excellent Willow moments and the evilness of Faith and the Mayor. I'll go with Seeing Red for the worst, with its unoriginal and cliched ending. Didn't Willow go bad during this same episode the season before? And didn't that seem a lot like Passion? You know a series is going downhill when it starts repeating itself by doing what it did to wonderful effect in early seasons in a poor fashion in later seasons. There's a lot of that in seasons 6 and 7.

Episode 20
s2: Go Fish, s3: The Prom, s4: The Yoko Factor, s5: Spiral
s6: Villains, s7: Touched

is the best, for what it shows about the Scoobies' relationship from high school breaking apart, and Touched for the worst.

Episode 21
s2: Becoming 1, s3: Graduation 1, s4: Primeval, s5: Weight of the World s6: Two to Go, s7: End of Days

is the best season ender, while WotW is the worst as a filler-episode just before the finale.

Episode 22
s2: Becoming 2, s3: Graduation 2, s4: Restless, s5: The Gift
s6: Grave, s7: Chosen

is still the best, though Graduation was great, Restless is fun to analyze, and The Gift works if you can avoid thinking about it.

While Chosen wasn't good, Grave was clearly the worst season ender. Xander's speech is cringeworthy and unconvincing, Willow's actions make little sense (is it magic or power addiction or something else entirely that's motivating her, because her actions make no sense), Buffy's underused and her new epiphany is as unconvincing as any of the ones she's been having since Gone, and Spike's scenes are irrelevant and distract from main conflict.

[> [> [> Huh. -- Sophist, 18:40:59 01/11/04 Sun

I thought I yielded to no one in my detestation of the magic/drugs arc. Sensitive as I thought I was to that issue, I don't see Smashed as the beginning of that arc. Smashed, to me, still leaves open the abuse of power theme that seemed so promising. I always associate Wrecked with the nonsense. Hence the wide disparity in my own rating of these eps.

[> [> [> [> The Evils of Addiction -- dmw, 06:12:17 01/12/04 Mon

I thought I yielded to no one in my detestation of the magic/drugs arc. Sensitive as I thought I was to that issue, I don't see Smashed as the beginning of that arc. Smashed, to me, still leaves open the abuse of power theme that seemed so promising. I always associate Wrecked with the nonsense. Hence the wide disparity in my own rating of these eps.

We might have to compete for that title. (-;

I agree that Smashed could be taken either way and it's Wrecked that hammers the nail in the coffin, but Smashed is where BtVS's magic became Sabrina-esque and just stupid, so it's where I started to hate what they were doing with Willow and magic in s6.

[> [> [> Re: Choices -- s'kat, 20:30:05 01/11/04 Sun

Don't mind at all, but thanks should be made as well to LittleBit who listed them for me ;-)

Curious, you skipped episode 7 - which did you pick?
(Also interesting how many of our choices are similar...)

[> [> [> [> A Missed Choice -- dmw, 06:10:15 01/12/04 Mon

Oops, you're right, my cut and paste lost episode 7. There is a reason why I tell people only to use cut and paste as a method of last resort, and never to use it if you have to paste the text twice.

I noticed that we agreed on a great number of the episodes, which I appreciated as it saved me from having to write as many explanations for my choices, though you do have the mysterious like for Triangle that so many people have when I find it so annoying. I just got my s5 DVDs and while thinking about watching the season over again, there are some episodes I'm going to skip like B vs D and Triangle.

Episode 7
s1: Angel, s2: Lie to Me, s3: Revelations s4: The Initiative
s5: Fool For Love, s6: Once More, With Feeling*
s7: Conversations With Dead People

is my favorite of these as the best TV show musical. Both Giles and Tara have amazing songs. While it's not flawless, its flaws are carryovers from other episodes, with the exception of the question of who summoned Sweet.

The Initiative, though not a horrible episode, doesn't have much going for it and is the worst of the lot.

[> A little late but here's mine... -- DorianQ, 00:01:10 01/11/04 Sun

Is it too late to add my two cents in? I suck at ranking things but here goes and here's hoping I don't make anyone too mad. It's late so I can't give explainations right now but if it's still here later I'll post them.

1. Best: Welcome to the Hellmouth (S I)
Worst: Anne (S III)

2. Best: Living Conditions (S IV)
Worst: Some Assembly Required (S II)

3. Best: School Hard (S II)
Worst: The Harsh Light Of Day (S IV)

4. Best: Fear, Itself (S IV)
Worst: Beauty and the Beasts (S III)

5. Best: Life Serial (S VI)
Worst: Reptile Boy (S II)

6. Best: The Pack (S I)
Worst: All the Way (S VI)

7. Best: Lie To Me (S II)
Worst: Angel (S I)

8. Best: Tabula Rasa (S VI)
Worst: Sleeper (S VII)

9. Best: The Wish (S III)
Worst: Something Blue (S IV)

10. Best: Into the Woods (S V)
Worst: What's My Line II (S II)

11. Best: Ted (S II)
Worst: Gone (S VI)

12. Best: Prophecy Girl (S I)
Worst: Bad Eggs (S II)

13. Best: Dead Things (S VI)
Worst: The I in Team (S IV)

14. Best: Innocence (S II)
Worst: Older and Far Away (S VI)

15. Best: Get it Done (S VII)
Worst: I Was Made To Love You (S V)

16. Best: The Body (S V)
Worst: Storyteller (S VII)

17. Best: Normal Again (S VI)
Worst: Forever (S V)

18. Best: Killed By Death (S II)
Worst: Where the Wild Things Are (S IV)

19. Best: Tough Love (S V)
Worst: Empty Places (S VII)

20. Best: The Prom (S III)
Worst: Touched (S VII)

21. Best: Primeval (S IV)
Worst: The Weight of the World (S V)

22. Best: Becoming II (S II)
Worst: Grave (S VI)

Not included (because I haven't seen them yet so I couldn't accurately rate them. Take pity on me.):
Real Me (S V)
Out of My Mind (S V)
No Place Like Home (S V)
Selfless (S VII)
Family (S V)
The Initiative (S IV)
Fool For Love (S V)
Lover's Walk (S III)
Shadow (S V)
Amends (S III)
Superstar (S IV)
Enemies (S III)
The Yoko Factor (S IV)
Blood Ties (S V)

Final tally for all the Seasons:

S I: 3 (1)
S II: 6 (4)
S III: 2 (2)
S IV: 3 (4)
S V: 3 (3)
S VI: 4 (4)
S VII: 1 (4)

[> My belated picks -- KdS, 04:02:35 01/11/04 Sun


Best: When She Was Bad. For such a great show, BtVS had some very weak opening episodes. This one keeps the top place for the huge jump in depth over S1, the flawless performances, and the introduction of so many plotlines that would sustain the whole series.

Worst: Buffy Vs. Dracula. Silly in ways that destroy the deeper material that is there.


Best: The Real Me comes out top of a weak bunch. Lovely introduction of Dawn, and some simultaneously hilarious and foreshadowing stuff with Harm.

Worst: Bargaining II. Proof that there wasn't really enough material here for two parts. All the key scenes make their point and then go on and on and on and on.


Best: School Hard's step change in the portrayal of evil on BtVS just shades FH&T and After Life

Worst: Same Time Same Place for a gimmick that just wasn't as interesting in practice as it was in theory.


Best: Help just shades it over Flooded, though in hindsight it's a bit of a mislead for the theme of the season.

Worst: Teacher's Pet for sheer silliness.


Best: Selfless towers over the rest, as probably the finest episode of S7.

Worst: Beer Bad, despite the few contrarians who claim to enjoy it ;-)


Best: Family wins over a solid group of episodes for having one of the last unalloyed feelgood endings.

Worst: All the Way is by no means bad, but falls into self-created cliche.


Best: An incredibly strong set of episodes. Fool for Love just shades it for instilling Spike with a new depth without ever conflicting with what we saw before.

Worst: The Initiative gets unjustly condemned for being functional instead of spectacular.


Best: Lovers' Walk is hilarious, moving, and sets up the emotional core of S5-7, for better or worse, by pure casting accident.

Worst: Shadow for marking time and for cringe-makingly bad CGI and modelwork.


Best: Smashed. Even if the S7 half of Spuffy was badly mishandled, the S6 half was wonderfully thought-provoking, erotic, and tragic in the Greek sense.

Worst: The Puppet Show. Once again the essential triviality of an S1 episode condemns it even against some flawed opposition.


Best: Hush. Sheer stand-alone perfection.

Worst: Wrecked. Willow Cop-Out Number One, as the addiction model rears its ugly head.


Best: Gingerbread wins in a very weak set of episodes, despite its very, very confused and self-contradictory political messages.

Worst: Triangle. A horrible embarassment for all concerned, except for the brief Spike-centred scenes.


Best: Prophecy Girl is hugely underrated and the best S1 episode by a huge margin.

Worst: Bad Eggs. One of the very few BtVS eps that has no justification for existence whatsoever.


Best: Dead Things, for its unflinching portrayal of almost all the ways sexual relationships can go wrong. Warren Meers becomes the most realistic monster in recent TV or film history.

Worst: The Killer In Me, (sorry Rah) although it might have been the winner in a weaker slot. Fails for being the end of Willow's post-S6 recovery instead of the beginning as it should have been.


Best: Innocence. Ditto to everyone else.

Worst: First Date pretty much sums up everything that went wrong with S7 in terms of characterising the regulars.


Best: Consequences. The first of ME's regular and masterful demolitions of the "dark and gritty" superhero model. Also, as others have said, the first time Angel did something interesting that had little to do with Buffy. (Still waiting for Spike to make that leap).

Worst: As You Were, again for consensus reasons.


Best: The hardest choice after (7). The Body eventually wins for its daring and technical perfection.

Worst: Hell's Bells, although again it could have been the best in a weaker set. Went just a little too far in the "demons as minority" line than ME were comfortable with, as seen by the way they tried to wipe it out in Selfless.


Best: Passion, like almost everyone else said.

Worst: Lies My Parents Told Me, for trashing canonical vampire psychology, pissing on basic morality, and destroying two long-term regular characters and one recurring one. All so the shallowest element of Spike fandom could see souled!Spike being "cool" and not "pussywhipped" or "just Angel II". (Unobscene) words cannot define how much I still hate and despise this episode. As Shadowkat said, I might have forgiven it if there had been some consequences for the behaviour shown.


Best: Entropy just shades it over Earshot. Probably the finest example of the S6 trade mark of playing a premise that might have ended in a spectacular ruck for simple human drama.

Worst: Where the Wild Things Are for lack of ambition, although I'd like to stress once more that I value it far more highly than most people here.


Best: I Only Have Eyes for You is the finest example of the big Noxon melodrama, before she got coarse and sloppy. The climax is one of the most moving and layered in the whole series.

Worst: Hard to say, but Empty Spaces started a run of eps whose messages are muddled enough to weaken the whole season.


Best: Villains, a chilling study of vengeance that gained new and disturbing meaning from the tragic real-world political events that coincidentally occurred at the same time. Also Warren Meers stripped bare in far more than the literal manner.

Worst: Touched, for incredibly confused philosophical messages and the same fanon Spike that disrupted Kirshner's Tabula Rasa.


Best: Becoming One, IMO the only penultimate episode that contained interesting material that wasn't just about setting up the finale.

Worst: Two To Go. Willow Cop-Out Number Two, as the possession model rears its ugly head.


Best: The Gift. Still the most moving 45 minutes I've ever seen on TV.

Worst: Grave. An epiphany and 180 degree shift in emotional tone that seems forced and unconvincing after the unrelieved darkness of the season, and a subplot that chose to go for the shock ending over basic comprehensibility (to the point that the actor involved ended up astonished by what the production team thought he was meant to have been portraying.)

Overall season breakdown:


S1: 1
S2: 5
S3: 3
S4: 1
S5: 5
S6: 4
S7: 2


S1: 2
S2: 1
S3: 0
S4: 3
S5: 3
S6: 7
S7: 6

Not many surprises here - as you may have gathered S2 and S5 are still my favourites, S3 gets points as the only season to have no truly weak eps, S1 and S4 lose out in my rankings for their relatively light weight, and while I wholeheartedly approve of some of the intent behind S6-7, some of the execution was very poor at times.

[> [> Re: Csan I watch them yet again -- Brian, 07:36:49 01/11/04 Sun

My only test for a great Buffy episode is will I stay and watch it again as it plays on FX?

So, shows I can watch over and over again:

Season 1 - The Pack, Nightmares, Prophecy Girl

Season 2 - School Hard, Halloween, Surprise, Innocence
Phases, I only have eyes for you, Becoming 1 & 2

Season 3 - Homecoming, Band Candy, Amends, The Prom
Graduation Day 1 & 2

Season 4 - The Harsh light of Day, Something Blue, Hush
This year's girl, Who are you?,Primeval

Season 5 - Fool for Love, The Body,The Gift

Season 6 - OMWF, Tabula Rosa, Smashed

Season 7 - Selfless, Conversations with Dead People
Storyteller,End of Days,Chosen

Therefore, Season ranking is:

Season 2 - 8
Season 3 - 6
Season 4 - 6
Season 7 - 5
Season 1 - 3
Season 5 - 3
Season 6 - 3

[> Re: Buffy Episode Ranking Fun -- Fenugreek, 15:49:20 01/02/04 Fri

>One relatively novel way of ranking Buffy episodes is to line the seven seasons up against one another and pick the best >episode from each week. Here's my list (the season number appears in brackets after each top choice):

>I'd be interested to read other people's lists...

Normally, I don't involve myself in episode ranking exercises. But what the heck, this type of ranking seems intriguing so I'm going to give it a try. Triffic, I've placed your selections below with my selections immediately following each of your selections.

>1. Bargaining 1 [6]
>Sets up the dark tone of season 6 very effectively - try
>to ignore the biker demons!

1. When She Was Bad [2]
Bargaining 1 is excellent (hey, I liked the biker demons) and Lessons is too for that matter, but I felt that WSWB set the tone for the entire remainder of the series.

>2. Beneath You [7]
>For the B/S scene at the end.

2. Bargaining 2 [6]
Obviously continues where Bargaining 1 left off and I for one found the scene between Buffy and Dawn on the derrick rather effective (though I've read where some viewers didn't think MT had what it took to pull the scene off).

>3. Faith Hope and Trick [3]
>Faith joins the Buffyverse - nuff said!

3. School Hard [2]
The introduction of Spike and Dru tipped the scales for me on this one although I was tempted to pick The Replacement because I'm a sucker for some of the comedic episodes.

>4. Help [7]
>The best of a relatively weak bunch - but I like the
>(relative) naturalism of this episode

4. Help [7]
I completely agree with you on this one.

>5. Selfless [7]
>Only S5's NPLH is close.

5. No Place Like Home [5]
I consider this ep to be one of the most underrated. So underrated, in fact, that I consider it to be in the running for the best episode in the entire Buffy oeuvre.

>6. Wild at Heart [4]
>Willow and Oz split is raw and painful (shame about
>Verruca tho')

6. Family [5]
I liked that Tara was finally accepted into the Scooby family.

>7. Once More with Feeling [6]
>Beating off stiff competition from Fool for Love and CWDP

7. Fool for Love [5]
Boy was this a tough slot. It could just as easily been OMWF or CWDP but FFL effected me on a visceral level that I find hard to explain.

>8. Tabula Rasa [6]
>Good, albeit temporary, light relief after OMWF

8. Tabula Rasa [6]
Yes, I would agree with you on this one as well.

>9. Something Blue [4]
>Willow's spell backfires - wackiness ensues!

9. The Wish [3]
The vision of the alternate Sunnydale sans Buffy was horrifying (and heartbreaking).

>10. Hush [4]
>Speaks for itself :-)

10. Hush [4]
Yes, I does speak for itself although I will always have a soft spot for Amends.

>11. Triangle [5]
>Slim pickings in week 11 but Triangle makes me laugh.

11. Triangle [5]
Yep, I agree.

>12. Prophecy Girl [1]
>Season 1's sole entry - too good to leave out.

12. Prophecy Girl [1]
Tough, tough slot with competition from Helpless, A New Man, Checkpoint, and Potential. But Buffy's "I quit" speech in this episode is a seminal event for the character.

>13. Dead Things [6]
>As dark and disturbing as Buffy ever got.

13. Dead Things [6]
Oh yeah! One of my very favorite eps. The I in Team comes in a distant second.

>14. Innocence [2]
>One of season 2's classics

14. Innocence [2]
Hard to disagree with this one but Bad Girls is a close second.

>15. I Was Made to Love You [5]
>Seriously underrated episode (especially in the light of
>season 6).

15. Consequences [3]
Since I wasn't able to select Bad Girls for #14 I'll select this for #15.

>16. The Body [5]
>Hard to pass over Who are You? but The Body is a

16. The Body [5]
This would be a tough slot if not for The Body. However, this ep stands head and shoulders above a number of other strong episodes.

>17. Passion [2]
>Another masterpiece. Jenny Calendar RIP

17. Passion [2]
Yes, this ep is another that I consider one of the best (if not *the* best) Buffy episodes. However, I have to give Normal Again a very special mention (for my money, perhaps SMG's best performance).

>18. Earshot [3]
>For the humour, the double twist and the Buffy/Jonathan

18. Dirty Girls [7]
I'm a sucker for the evangelical preacher as evil personified motif.

>19. New Moon Rising [4]
>More Willow/Oz pain. S6's Seeing Red is a very close
>second along with S2's underrated IOHEFY.

19. Seeing Red [6]
I never could seem to get into the Willow-Oz relationship so I'm going with SR here. The parallel scenes of Zander-Buffy (with Buffy shot and bleeding) and Willow-Tara (with Tara shot and bleeding) really got to me. And, yes, IOHEFY is a close second.

>20. The Prom [3]
>The series had earned the right to be sentimental by this

20. The Prom [3]
Why not? Buffy finally gets some well deserved recognition.

>21. Becoming 1 [2]
>First part of a great finale

21. Graduation Day 1 [3]
Also the first part of a great finale. I found this a very tough slot to pick. Honestly, I felt there wasn't a weak ep in the bunch. Heck, I almost picked Primeval.

>22. The Gift [5]
>For it's quiet passages, Buffy's sacrifice and Chris
>Beck's beautiful score.

22. The Gift [5]
You state this case very well. But again, a tough slot as I again feel there are no weak eps here.

No ranking escapes without my pointing out the special places that both Wellcome to the Hellmouth and Chosen hold for me. And, if the truth be told, I don't view the series as a succession of seasons. WTTH kicked the whole thing off and Chosen was a very worthy series finale. Everything in between was all one big long glorious series (a seven year roller coaster with all it's ups and downs, if you will) to me.

[> Taking up the cudgels -- Tchaikovsky, 07:55:43 01/04/04 Sun

Somebody needs to stick up for 'The Freshman'

1) 'The Freshman'. One of Xander's finest moments of the series, Giles as Hugh Hefner, and a witheringly fantastic exploration of the paralysis of the beginning of college life.

2)'Real Me'. You didn't expect a Fury episode, did you? In any case, the best introduction to a character which doesn't exist since[TCH spoils people's favourite films]. Tough competition form the extraordinarily under-rated trauman of 'Dead Man's Party'

3) I like lots of these and love none of them. School Hard, Faith, Hope and Trick, The Harsh Light of Day, The Replacement, Afterlife and Same Time, Same Place are all six much of a muchness, but 'Faith, Hope and Trick' just clinches it for the extraordinary way that Giles deals with Buffy's difficulty with telling the truth about Angel, and the way that her resolution to move on is effected by means of helping Faith.

4)'Fear, Itself' takes a weak-ish bunch. And so far I have more Fury than Whedon...

5) I shall put in a word for 'Never Kill A Boy on the First Date', the first use of poetry in the series (Emily Dickinson), but 'Selfless' is near-perfect television and it must not be forgotten that early Season Seven was full of such potential, squandered by an insipid middle third and a problematic ending.

6)Now you're making me choose between 'Wild at Heart' and 'Family' here. 'Family' just makes me so very happy. And yet I go for the agony of 'Wild At Heart'.

7)We all know how great seventh episodes are. All seven are highly watchable, the final three absolutely fundamental in shaping their seasons. I apologise to CWDP devotees and go for 'Once More, With Feeling'

8)I have to utterly buck the triffic/Fenugreek trend here and dismiss 'Tabula Rasa' out of hand as being fine but not in the same league as 'Lover's Walk' or 'Pangs'. 'Pangs' is, in my opinion, the funniest episode of Buffy ever committed to film. Go figure.

9) 'The Wish', despite my hate of alternate realities, in breathtakingly well-executed.

10) Don't you love a universe where 'Amends' can take on 'Hush' and win? No, I know you don't. But that's for your own list. 'Amends' takes it.

11) Yes, week 11 is worth giving a miss. As it is 'Gingerbread' falls just by the wayside of 'Triangle'.

12) 'Prophecy Girl' collects the benefit of being part of the truncated Season One- otherwise it would have no chance against ensuing Season finales. Looking at it from a mid-season point of view however, Season Three has the right to feel robbed at not being rewarded for the sublime 'Helpless'.

13) Now you're asking. 'The Zeppo' takes on 'Blood Ties' and 'Dead Things' smiling them into submission, only to be confronted by 'Surprise'. 'Surprise' confuses Xander into defeat, so that 'Dead Things' sneaking round the edge of the fight with utter depressive sneaking, wins the contest.

14) The teaser of 'Innocence' is better than the whole of the other five contenders. By the end, you just want to sleep forever.

15)'Consequences' beats out the over-worthy 'Phases' and the Mayor's return in 'This Year's Girl'.

16) A good number, with 'Storyteller', 'Who Are You?' and the still funny 'Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered' in there fighting, but anyone who doesn't select 'The Body' doesn't know how to watch television properly.

17) Passion, probably the second greatest episode ever, beats out the trick episodes 'Enemies' and 'Superstar'. Sometimes the straight truth is more moving than elaborate legerdemain.

18) Not the strongest week, with Espenson beating Espenson to it as 'Intervention' edges 'Earshot'.

19)'New Moon Rising' is excellent, but I think having both it and 'Wild At Heart' in would be over-representation/ I just about approve of 'Seeing Red', but 'I Only Have Eyes for You' is sheer genius.

20) 'The Prom'. I'm just trying to keep from dying. Cordelia's dress. Wild Horses. TCH drowns in his own tears.

21) Even if you weren't sold on 'Chosen', odds on you liked 'End of Days'. Here it's edged out by my guilt-for-not-having-part-two-in: 'Becoming 1'

22) 'Close your eyes.' Yes, I realise it makes me perverse and heartless, but of course 'Restless' is the best episode ever, and Sarah MacLachlan will have to sing her heart out on someone else's list.

And so the best Season ever is...
Season One: 1
Season Two: 4
Season Three: 5
Season Four: 5
Season Five: 4
Season Six: 2
Season Seven: 1

Well, it's between Three and Four, somewhat oddly, largely because Season Four had some lovely standalones uncomplemented by a compelling Season Arc. But Season Three had both and clinches the tie-break. Laters.



[> [> Re: Taking up the cudgels -- Rob, 22:48:36 01/04/04 Sun

1) 'The Freshman'. One of Xander's finest moments of the series, Giles as Hugh Hefner, and a witheringly fantastic exploration of the paralysis of the beginning of college life.

Thank you, finally!! I found particular significance in this episode, because it aired my second week in my first semester of college, and it was the start of my true obsession with the show. I identified with it so much, because my situation was so similar in almost every way to Buffy's, and for some reason, it was the first time I realized the Scoobies were the same age as me. Besides the personal feelings at the time, rewatching now, I think it's a brilliantly written episode. I loved how each character was one at a time reintroduced to the audience after the summer break, particularly the wonderful Xander scene, and I just love how true to the first weeks of the college experience the episode is (same goes for "Living Conditions"; I had a hellish Kathie of my own to deal with, um, only he was a he and named Chris and didn't blast Cher or Celine Dion by Blink-182). For me, this ties with "Bargaining" and "Lessons" as the best season premiere of the series.


[> [> my small amount of coinage -- matching mole, 13:25:08 01/06/04 Tue

OK Here's my list - I like this idea (although I don't normally really care about these lists) because it can tell you lot about the storylines of the different seasons.

1. The Freshman (4) - I can't really expand on what Tch said. The best portrayal of college life that I've every seen. In general the first episodes have not been all that compelling. Anne would be my second place vote here - I've always thought it under-rated.

2. Living Conditions (4) - Like Rob I think this is a fantastic ep, one of the funniest ever - and I never even lived in a dorm as an undergrad. Beneath You and Real Me get honorable mentions.

3. A tough choice here with no obvious winner. I think I'll have to go with Same Time Same Place (7) with strong competition from School Hard and The Witch (I can't really explain why I love The Witch but I do).

4. Fear Itself (4) - Not a great episode but a good one and the best of a weak bunch. Season 4 is cleaning up so far.

5. Selfless (7) - This one almost breaks your heart for what might have been. A marriage of the great virtues of the early and late BtVS. Homecoming is second, mostly because it is one of the great Cordelia episodes.

6.Here is where I deviate from TCH. Halloween (2) is first with Him (7) in a virtual dead heat. Him is the funniest BtVS episode ever and Halloween is almost as funny and more 3D. The Pack deserves an honorable mention. Probably the best idea in the first half of season 1 but not as well executed as it might have been.

7. I'm going to have to go with CWDP (7) over OMWF (6) mostly on stylistic grounds. Angel from S1 again deserves an honorable mention especially with Darla and her firearms (such a good idea it almosts ruins the plausibility of the whole series from then on).

8. A tough call again. I'll go with Pangs (4) - not quite the funniest episode ever but certainly in the top 5. Tabula Rasa and Lover's Walk are honorable mentions.

9. The Wish (3) - one of the greatest episodes ever, no real competition. The Puppet Show comes closest with the wonderful character of the dummy and the hilarious ending (probably the funniest minute of BtVS). Something Blue also deserves a mention.

10. Hush (4) - I didn't see anything else that came close. A stellar episode in a weak slot.

11. I'm going for Gingerbread (3) which I have always thought was one of the great S3 standalones although no one else seems to agree. Two other potentially strong contenders. Ted which I remember thinking was fantastic but I haven't seen it since it first aired so my memory is weak. Also Invisible Girl which I thought was another great high school episode if a bit obvious.

12. Prophecy Girl (1) wins if we count it. It is a bit unfair to pit a season finale against regular episodes. However if we don't count it I have four episodes that I (to quote TCH) like but don't love here: Helpless, A New Man, Doublemeat Palace, and Potential. I'm going to have to go with DMP (6) here as it strikes me that the institution that Buffy faces here is a lot more dangerous than the Council. And its's funnier.

13. The Zeppo (3). My other vote for funniest episode ever but also with some real heart in it. Surprise (2) is an honorable mention.

14. Innocence (2) - No competition at all. Humour, horror and heartbreak in one exquisite package.

15. A tough choice between Faith centric episodes Consequences and This Year's Girl(4). I'm going with the latter because I found s4 Faith more compelling than s3 Faith.

16. An impossible choice as every season except 6 (sorry Hell's Bells) had an outstanding episode. The Body (5) has to get my vote reluctantly as all the others are great.

17. I'm going to give this one to Normal Again (6) which was an excellent individual episode trapped in the mismatch between seasonal structure and theme that was season 6. Both Passion and Superstar deserve honorable mentions.

18. Earshot (3) wins in a weak field. Intervention gets honorable mention.

19. New Moon Rising (4) wins here for the most effective use of the Initiative in the whole season and for general excellence in dealing with Willow, Tara, and Oz. Seeing Red is runner up for (finally) kicking the latter half of s6 into motion.

20. The Prom (3) has my vote - lots of wonderful Scoobiness. It stands alone in leading up to the finale in a satisfactory manner but also standing on its own. Hard to pick real runners up here. Go Fish qualifies for greatness merely on the basis of Cordelia's speech to the fish monster in the pool. Spiral is a pretty gripping installment.

21. Now we get to the finales. Becoming I (2) blows everything else out of the aether. A masterpiece of simplicity and inevitability - so much happens in such a short space of time without seeming forced or artificial. Nothing else comes close although several of the others (Graduation Day I, Primeval, and Two to Go) are pretty darn good.

22. Don't make me choose! Becoming II vs. Restless. Both so excellent and so different. I think I'll go with Becoming (2) simply because I think that Restless is too hard to compare with almost anything and really belongs outside of all the seasons.

So here's my tally. I'm excluding s1 from consideration (thus giving the 12th spot to Double Meat Palace) because my primary interest is looking at the season storyline as a whole and s1 is just too different being only 12 episodes long.

S2 - 4
S3 - 5
S4 - 7
S5 - 1
S6 - 2
S7 - 3

This is very revealing (at least to me).

Season 2 - Three of the four wins are for 'arc' stories. The season story is what really makes this season. Otherwise it doesn't really mark much of an improvement over S1. Lots of solid stand alone episodes but very few stand out (Halloween and BBB are the two best).

Season 3 - The best middle part of a season (always the most problematic time, especially in the later seeasons) sliding nicely into a very nice end season. I would have to agree that this season has the best overall combination of seasonal arc and quality stand alones.

Season 4 - Amazing that a season which a lot of people (including myself) have tended to not rate very highly scores 7 best episodes (almost one in three) - and I haven't even included Restless! Five of them are in the first ten episodes (3 in the first four episodes). What a season this might have been if ME hadn't had to change the storyline in midseason.

Season 5 - Only one episode - the abnormal (although not in any negative sense of the word) 'the Body'. This is the year that the seasonal plot consumed the rest of the show and it stands or falls based on that alone.

Season 6 - A number of good episodes ar bogged down by having to fit the themes of the season into an unsuitable plot structure. Many an episode promises us forward movement and then cruelly snatches it away (this was called 'Buffy's endless circling' by an astute poster at the time). Great ideas were not well served by trying to make the internal workings of the characters into the front story and then trying to structure it like all the previous seasons. My choices here are episodes that were individual and striking enough to break free.

Season 7 - like season 4 a very strong beginning. Like season 4 the problem was in the main story.

[> THE definitive list -- Sophist, 15:41:18 01/06/04 Tue

Consider this list ex cathedra. As Ethan Rayne once said, "trust me".

1. Season openers occupy a middle ground. Never a great episode, there was never a poor one either. While I agree with the praise of The Freshman, only two eps raise themes universal to the show: WttH (I just want to be a normal girl) and WSWB (once the slayer dies, she really is different). While WttH hooked me to the show, I have to give the nod to WSWB. The theme strikes me as a little deeper, and I can't ignore Buffy's dance with Xander.

2. A mixed lot here. One truly dreadful misjudgment by ME (DMP), a couple of disappointments (Living Conditions and Bargaining II), and three very good possible choices (The Harvest, Real Me, and Beneath You). While I had some issues with the Bronze scene in BY, the extraordinary ending scene -- IMHO the best single scene in the history of the show -- takes it to the top.

3. A strong list except for the silly The Replacement. HLOD and STSP come in just a bit short, but a good argument could be made for any of the others. The definitive award (TM) goes to FH&T. The introduction of Faith and Giles's psychology are just enough to overcome the introduction of Spike/Dru in School Hard and the B/S scenes in Afterlife.

4. The weakest week of all. Fear Itself receives the left-handed compliment of best of the available choices.

5. Selfless stands out over much stronger competition than FI faced. An easy choice.

6. Six very good episodes to choose from, with only AtW entirely out of the running. The drama of Wild at Heart wins out over the almost as good drama of The Pack, the heartwarming Family, and the hilarious Band Candy and Him.

7. The toughest week of all. There are no bad choices here; all but Revelations probably make most viewers' top 25 list and certainly the top 50. I have to go with OMWF, but consider this choice less definitive than any other.

8. A mix of the lousy (IRYJ) and the mediocre (Dark Age, Shadow, and Sleeper) with 3 very funny and well-executed choices: TR, Lover's Walk, and Pangs (my vote for the funniest episode ever). TR wins out for Michelle Branch.

9. Three very good episodes (WML #1, The Wish, and Something Blue) lose out to an all-time great, Smashed.

10. Hush gets the nod over surprisingly strong competition from WML#2 and Nightmares.

11. Another set of weak choices. Triangle wins out for humor and for setting up the outstanding Selfless.

12. Prophecy Girl is an easy choice. It probably isn't fair to compare a season-ender to mid-season eps, but this is the only S1 ep to win, so that's that.

13. Three of each kind here: the extraordinary (DT and Surprise), the solid (TKIM, and Blood Ties), and the mediocre (The I in Team and The Zeppo). DT takes the prize.

14. JW described Innocence as the definitive episode for BtVS. Who am I to argue with that? Definitive it is.

15. No one yet has mentioned Phases, but any episode with People for the Ethical Treatment of Werewolves has to be a contender. Anyone preferring Consequences or TYG will not have to spend extra time in Purgatory.

16. Good as Storyteller was, The Body is the only choice here.

17. Another difficult choice. Passion barely edges Normal Again. LMPTM gets a respectable third.

18. A generally weak field trailed by the dreadful WTWTA. Intervention wins by a nose over Entropy.

19. IOHEFY was brilliant but limited in focus to S2. SR should have been brilliant but failed in execution (and probably in concept). Choices wins out over NMR because the choices in the former were much more important.

20. I thought The Prom was sappy when I first saw it. Now it seems wonderful. Almost as affecting is Touched. But The Yoko Factor sets up not only the ending of S4 but a persistent theme of the next 3 seasons. Let it be.

21. Only 2 good candidates here, Becoming I and GD I. Buffy's desperate run to the library with Whistler's voiceover wins out over the best fight scene in the show's history (Buffy/Faith).

22. The Gift and Chosen tried hard, but nothing can top the all-time best episode, Becoming II.

The following list:

S2: 6
S3: 2
S4: 4
S5: 3
S6: 5
S7: 1

demonstrates that even the seasons which suffered the most difficulty and received considerable criticism (4 and 6) still produced exceptional episodes. No other TV show can claim as much.

[> [> Swinging by and have to ask.... -- dream, 12:42:25 01/07/04 Wed

I agree with so many of your choices (would pick Band Candy for 6 and Consequences for 16, but otherwise pretty much on board). Which leaves me wondering - how can you call Dead Man's Party a dreadful misjudgment? I've always thought that was a particularly well-handled episode, difficult to watch, but honest and strong. What do you dislike about it?

[> [> [> Good to see you here -- Sophist, 14:01:57 01/07/04 Wed

I've become an infrequent poster, so I'm glad to catch you.

The problem I have with DMP is this: ME seems to have expected the viewers to see Buffy as in the wrong and Xander, Willow and Joyce as in the right. I don't agree. I saw X/W/J as wrong in 2 different but related ways.

First, assuming they had a grievance in Buffy's departure, they raised it in an unconscionable way (X/J especially). They not only made harsh and indefensible criticisms of Buffy (note especially X's comments about Angel and Willow's self-centered whining about "going through things"), they did so in a public forum. And they did it without making any effort to understand why Buffy had left (which I think they owed her).

Second, I don't think Buffy was wrong to leave. Different people have different ways of dealing with problems. Personally, I sympathize with Buffy -- I need to work things out by myself. I don't want to talk to others and I find it makes things worse. I fully understand that other people have different systems for such things, but I expect them to understand my way (and Buffy's) and to respect it. Therefore, the "Buffy did wrong" tone of the episode bugged me.

As a minor point, while I appreciate the metaphor of things you bury coming back to get you, I just don't see how it applied in this episode. What was it that Buffy tried to bury that came back?

I had to post this as I was running out. Hope it makes sense.

[> [> [> [> Re: Good to see you here -- Fenugreek, 21:04:47 01/07/04 Wed

I too am an infrequent poster and it is not often that I feel compelled to contribute two posts to the same thread. However, Sophist has put me in the odd position of agreeing with the arguments of his/her (sorry Sophist but I am uncertain of your gender) post concerning Dead Man's Party while simultaneously disagreeing with the premise. I truly feel that ME was not picking sides nor did they expect viewers to but, rather, were simply setting up a conflict for the sake of the story. Introversion versus extroversion? I dunno, maybe it was that basic. Is conflict one of the basic devices of drama? I say yes, and that conflict doesn't always have to be good vs. bad, right versus wrong. A big ol' misunderstanding among friends and family can work just as well in that regard. I feel that was the device used in DMP and that it worked fairly well. Hence, I place DMP in the good to very good category, albeit not among the very best episodes.

I admit that I also don't think Buffy was wrong to leave, but I don't think she was necesarily right either. I think it was a neutral action. She reacted in the only manner in which she was able. As Sophist rightly points out, some prefer to deal with problems on their own terms (myself included), too work things out by themselves. The criticisms from X/W/J were definitely harsh but I don't think they were necesarily indefensible. I found the X/W/J attack on Buffy to be the result of bewilderment, frustration, and hurt feelings. An emotional reaction, if you will, to Buffy's reluctance (they probably viewed it as a refusal) to talk things out with them (Joyce's reaction to the revelation that Buffy is a slayer probably didn't do much to reverse Buffy's tendency to keep things to herself). Obviously some feel a real need to "talk things out" and anything less is taken as a rejection. I don't think it much of a stretch to contend that Xander (aka NightHawk), Willow, and Joyce are of the "talk it out" camp.

I also agree that a public forum is not the best place to air dirty laundry. But then it was Joyce's idea that a party would be good for her quiet and sensitive daughter. It might have worked if the party had remained a lowkeyed affair comprised of only family and friends and hadn't become so big, loud, noisy, and rife with zombies (you know, those buried things that come back to bite you). As a result, it was doomed to failure. Contrast that with Giles' methods. He eventually gets Buffy to open up and reveal what happened with Angel by coolly taking his time with her and using a gentle ruse. A much more rational and measured course of action.

Sorry, but I'm digressing. Getting back to your premise that ME was trying to show that Buffy was wrong in her actions, well, I couldn't disagree more. They may have tried to impress the fact that there are choices and choices have consequences ("Buffy, you made some bad choices, you may just have to live with some consequences."). However, I don't take that as an indication that one side is right in their actions and the other wrong. It's simpy a statement of fact, a fact we all must live with. A fact pressed even more emphatically in the not too distant future (Bad Girls and Consequences).

[> [> [> [> [> Re: Good to see you here -- manwitch, 05:24:10 01/08/04 Thu

I tend to agree.

First, I fully agree with Sophist about Xander, Joyce and Willow. Xander has always been particularly offensive to me. At least Joyce can be excused for having been ignorant mom and having been thrown for a loop when Buffy "came out." But Xander knows as much as any of them could know about what Buffy went through, and he cares not a damn.

I don't think ME wants us to think that they're right. For example, ME makes clear that they, out of their own feelings of hurt and rejection, which is THEIR flaw, choose to have the wrong kind of party. Giles, it turns out, was right on. Just the gang and Buffy. Quiet. Talk to each other. But the gang was afraid of that due to their own weakness, which came out in the party as hostility.

But while I am pretty confident ME thinks that X/J/W were partly in the wrong, its not clear to me that ME thinks Buffy was in the right. I again agree with Sophist that she was. I am very aware that there are viewers who actually buy into the stuff that's said in the series about Buffy being selfish, or not that smart, or blundering. I have never seen it. The idea that Buffy is selfish after When She Was Bad is pretty much preposterous to me. And even before that an argument can be made that she was pretty far from selfish.

In DMP it just plain and simple became Buffy's responsibility, again, to care for those weaker than she is, without complaining, without letting them know, without hurting them further or diminishing them as she was certainly able. She had to once again set her own hurt aside as best she could and comfort her friends who were feeling frightened and rejected. And, as always, she does just that. She makes peace on their terms, without forcing on them any recognition of her own suffering, something that Willow realizes with great impact at the end of the next episode. Contrast Willows superiority, which Buffy permits and supports, in the banter at the end of DMP with Willow's stunned silence at the end of FHT, when she realizes what, as a true friend, she might have done for her suffering companion, had she only bothered, like Giles, to notice.

But then, I dig Buffy. She can do pretty much anything in my book.

I disagree with sophist about, um, ok, I Robot You Jane. There. I said it. I like that one. Sorry.

[> [> [> [> [> [> Well, here's the thing... -- dream, 08:02:47 01/08/04 Thu

I definitely think that no one comes out of DMP looking good except Giles. Xander is particularly outrageous, though Joyce and Willow both have their moments of undue self-righteousness. But I don't believe that Buffy was all in the right, just because she needed to work things out her way. You can't disappear and expect everything to be the same when you come back. For one thing, she left Willow and Xander, who aren't, well, the Slayer, in charge of vampire-control at the Hellmouth, which is irresponsible and must have been terrifying for them. But more to the point, she didn't let them know she was okay. It's fine not to be a talk-it-outer. But there are limits - if Buffy had sent a postcard saying that she was okay, she just needed some time to work things out, I would feel that X, W and J were being much more unreasonable. But she didn't; she didn't even let them know that she had survived. And, though I love Buffy and don't agree with those who see her as selfish, I do think that this was one time where she failed to consider to a reasonable degree the feelings of those around her. Giles could accept that, because he is older and more mature than X and W, and has a different relationship to Buffy than Joyce, not to mention a greater understanding of Buffy's complex relationship to her calling as a result of his own experience. But I can have sympathy with W, X and J for reacting as they did, as inappropriate as it may have been. And that muddle of emotions, in which no one is fully in the right, seems to me very true to life.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Didn't Buffy leave a note right before leaving? -- Finn Mac Cool, 08:59:36 01/08/04 Thu

We never got to see the contents, but I always presumed it was just what you suggested: letting them know that she survived and that she was leaving.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> I agree -- Tchaikovsky, 09:16:33 01/08/04 Thu

I'm not big on culpability of characters: I'm not entirely sure that that was the modus operandi on ME in this episode at all- they just wanted to put well-rounded characters with big differences in opinions together. But if I'm made to blame people, then Buffy does not escape entirely. This is not to exonerate Joyce, Xander and Willow from their bad handling of the situation, nor to claim I lack empathy with either side. I claim I feel all of their pain.

But it's not the bickering that rules the episode- what rules the episode is Giles, ever so understatedly, and without anybody ever knowing it, losing it while making tea in the kitchen. That's powerful acting, writing and magnificent stength of character from the well, character. And it reminds me why I'm writing his character essay. Is anyone else getting those together, incidentally?


[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> I am -- Masq, 14:59:15 01/08/04 Thu

But I'm waiting until there's a bit more canonical word on Cordelia before writing it.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> [> Me too.. but it's a major project, and so will surely be at least a few weeks yet. -- OnM, 20:53:03 01/08/04 Thu

BTW, have already stated this in the past, but I also count myself among those who thought Buffy really got unfairly blasted for leaving the way she did. I also particularly detested the way Xander behaved in DMP-- Joyce I can forgive, because there's a lot of reaction against the guilt she was feeling for telling Buffy "if you leave, then don't come back". And as others have already stated, Giles is the one who really shows how it should have been handled.

Finally, as to the question of the 'buried' metaphor-- I have what I think is an interesting take on the (dead/resurrected) cat. You'll have to wait a bit to read about it in more detail, but I will mention that I think the cat was actually a foreshadow for the future, not a metaphor for the past.

[> [> [> [> [> [> [> Excellent points by everyone -- Sophist, 09:51:10 01/08/04 Thu

I pretty much agree with most of what was said above. Let me elaborate on two points.

The biggest problem I had was my general sense that we were supposed to see Buffy in the wrong, that we were being beat over the head to see it that way. Here, in a nutshell, are the reasons why I had that impression:

1. The ending dialogue between Buffy and Willow expressly says so.

2. Buffy also said so in the confrontation with Xander.

3. Dialogue in later episodes (Band Candy, The Prom) implies that also.

4. There is no contrary evidence, i.e., no scene in which anyone apologizes or shows recognition of wrong. The closest we get is in FH&T with Willow realizing the consequences of her spell.

If I didn't feel the episode was so strongly biased against Buffy, I wouldn't dislike it so.

Fenugeek raised a point about Xander. Here are the specific statements of Xander's which I felt were over the line:

Xander: Mad? Just because you ran away and abandoned your post and your friends and your mom and made him lay awake every night worrying about you? (to Oz and Willow) Maybe we should wait out here.

Xander: (interrupts) And what'll we talk about at a gathering anyway? 'So, Buffy, did you meet any nice pimps on your travels? And oh, by the by, thanks for ruining our lives for the past three months.'

Xander: Well, you did. You should've seen what you put her through.

Xander: You know, maybe you don't want to hear it, Buffy, but taking off like you did was incredibly selfish and stupid.

And the really unforgiveable one:

Xander: Look. I'm sorry that your honey was a demon, but most girls don't hop a Greyhound over boy troubles.

Xander was wrong in the tone he used, wrong in the timing of his comments, wrong in butting in about the effect of Buffy's departure on Joyce, and most of all wrong in failing to recognize his own role in Buffy's trauma: "Willow told me to tell you... Kick his ass."

As for IRYJ, I'd love to read manwitch's analysis. I still don't care much for the episode as a whole, but Jenny's parting shot at Giles -- "That's not where they dangle" -- is one of my favorite lines in the whole show.

[> Okay, my turn! -- Rob, 12:29:01 01/08/04 Thu

1) WttH is an excellent introduction, and one of the best first episodes I've seen for any series. It still, though, is only the first episode. WSWB is good but flawed, as is Anne. I've always liked Buffy vs. Dracula, no matter what anyone says, but it isn't among the best episodes of the series, let alone this list of 7. For me, Bargaining wins, for how well it set up the themes of the season and handled a world without Buffy, although "Freshman" and "Lessons" are very strong contenders.

2) First, let's get SAR out of the way, because it sucks, at least compared to the other 6 in this category. "Harvest" is a great episode, but again suffers from being only the beginning of a great story. I love all the other episodes in this list, including DMP, but Beneath You wins as one of the high points not only of this list, but the entire series.

3) Witch is fun but too lightweight, as is The Replacement" but the rest are all viable candidates. "After Life" and STSP are both slightly flawed, so that brings them down a notch. I love SH for being one of the best introduction-of-a-villain episodes ever, but I choose Faith, Hope & Trick, for how deftly it balanced so many storylines and for the introduction of the coolest character ever, Faith.

4) Fear, Itself wins, just because as others said, there aren't any other classics in this list. I do want to give honorable mention to Help, though, for a well-sustained standalone story with an interesting one-shot character and for how it played into the themes of the season.

5) Selfless wins, with honorable mention to every other episode on this list since season three. I love Life Serial, for its strict four act structure and the comedy that ensued, and it very well might have won had Drew Goddard's Anya masterpiece not been on the list.

6) Others have chosen Wild at Heart, which I adore as well, but I'm going to pick Family, because no episode warms the cockles of my heart like the closing scenes of this one, and the floating dance at the end was the perfect touch to finish this beautiful hour off.

7) This one is pretty impossible, with OMWF, FFL, LtM, and CWDP competing. I choose OMWF, because it is my all-time favorite ep, but damn, those others are great!

8)Lovers Walk and TR duke it out...and Tabula Rasa wins, because of the great writing, acting and comedy that all resolves itself in a bittersweet ending.

9) The Wish wins as the most unusual and best crafted episode out of the bunch, although it is not the only good one of the bunch, fortunately for us.

10) Hush wins, because it is "Hush." But I also have to say I adore Bring on the Night, no matter what anyone else might say (and despite the water snafu), as well as Amends, WML #2, and Nightmares, one of the first season's strongest eps, despite a rather weak resolution.

11) I'm going to give this honor to the underrated Ted along with its fantastic performance by the late John Ritter, and a great metaphor to boot.

12) Dude, Glory's a god?!? Checkpoint wins.

13) Another hard decision...I'm going to give the award to The Zeppo, because it doesn't get enough love.

14) Bad Girls, baby! Hot Buffy + Hot Faith + the murder of Allan Finch = a great hour of Buffy.

15) I love TYG as much as anyone, but my favorite of this bunch is Get It Done, thanks to its strong writing (slow build-up to a great climax), revelations about the Slayer mythology, and the overall coolness of the final shot, which might be the best final shot of the series' run.

16) Oh, no! Every one in the list's a winner. Obviously, The Body wins. But if it weren't in this list, Storyteller would get it.

17) Out of this also very difficult list, I'm choosing Normal Again, because it has made my brain hurt like no episode of the show before or since. A great hour of metanarration and philosophical fun!

18) The controversial and rewarding Earshot takes the crown. If the "peek" inside Cordelia's thoughts were the only thing this episode had going for it, it would be enough!

19) This one is very hard for me, because I adore IOHEFY, but at the same time, Tough Love was one of the best near-the-end-of-the-season eps in how it so majorly upped up the ante for the climax of the season. The forward motion that began with Tara's brainsucking didn't slow down once until the final moments of The Gift. But I'm still going to choose I Only Have Eyes for You, not only because I haven't represented B/A too well on this list, but also because it is one of the finest examples for a standalone episode that perfectly reflects and furthers the themes and storylines of the season.

20) Spiral wins, because, no matter what anyone might say, this is one of the most exciting episodes of the series. The stakes are incredibly high, and I'm biting my fingers the whole way through!

21) Again all strong contenders, incredibly strong, in fact, but I choose End of Days, for how beautifully it spent time on each character as the final battle approached and for how it began to mend the rift between Buffy and...everybody else on the show.

22) This one is darn near impossible, but I have chosen...Chosen, for being not only the best last episode of this show, but of any show I have ever seen. I have never been so satisfied by the conclusion of a series, due to theme, writing, plotting, acting, everything. The Gift, Restless, and Becoming II are so good it hurts, but that's my decision, and it is final. Um, until I start waffling later and change my mind.

Final ranks per season (if I tabulated this right!):

Season 3/7: 5
Season 5/6: 4
Season 2/4: 2
Season 1: 0


[> My Turn -- Dlgood, 23:41:07 01/08/04 Thu


1 - WSWB - The villain is lame, but it sets up almost every important theme for the rest of the series. You can't have Becoming or S6 without it.

2 - Bargaining, Part 2 - It's a hard choice. I'd like to join so many others with BY, but I found JM's acting and the final scene in general to be artless and over-the-top, even with JW's re-write.

3 - FH&T - it's a touch choice between this and "School Hard" but in the end, I think FH&T has greater depth and resonance. Faith works as a character in her own right, but the parallels say quite a lot more about Buffy's journey as a character than anything in SH does.

4 - Fear, Itself - This is a weak crop, but still a very good episode. Good characterization, and funny. I might have liked "Help" better if it remembered "Prophecy Girl".

5 - Selfless - A near perfect episode. Everything that S7 was supposed to be about.

6 - Band Candy - it comes down to this and "Wild at Heart" but I like BC more for the use of the supporting cast and humor. If the first three acts of "Him" were as good as the final act, I would have picked it instead.

7 - Lie to Me - FFL and CWDP are excellent episodes, but suffer because they neglect too much of the cast, or feature to little character interaction. "Lie to Me" introduces a level of moral complexity that will be a hallmark of the series. OMWF may be a lovely musical, but to me it's all exposition disguised with clever songs, and too little happens in the preceding episodes to pad the season until it arrives. I can't re-watch it. If I were to only watch one scene from the series, in order to explain what it was all about, I would select the closing scene of "Lie to Me".

8 - Lover's Walk - Great use of Spike to move the storylines for each of the other characters. The culmination of Buffy and Angel's not dealing with realities of their relationship, and of Willow and Xander not dealing with their relationships.

9 - The Wish - A novel take on "It's a Wonderful Life" - to show why Buffy, the scoobies, and Sunnydale all need each other.

10 - Hush - not just because there's so little dialogue. The monsters are creepy. Good use of all the characters. A great horror story episode that fits nicely into the story-arc.

11 - Gingerbread - this is a weak crop. "Triangle" features humor at the cost of good characterization, "Ted" fails to follow through on Buffy's violence against Ted, particularly given Faith in S3.

12 - Prophecy Girl - Love "Helpless" but I can't pick over PG.

13 - Surprise - there are a lot of good #13's but I take it on the coattails of

14 - Innocence - the definitive episode of the series. Surprise/Innocence is really one two hour episode to me, and Surpise does all the direty work to set it up. The only flaw is Vincent Schiavelli as Uncle Enyos. "Dead Things" was #2 for Week 13 and "Bad Girls" for week 14.

15 - Consequences - the moral examination of the Slayer and violence, on why Buffy is the hero and not Faith, the first real display of Angel as something far beyond Love Interest for the heroine. The daring F/X rape/murder scene. It's excellent all around.

16 - Doppelgangland - "The Body" is one of the best episodes of any show I've ever seen. But it isn't Buffy, and as intentional as that may be, it's still truth. "Doppelgangland" is just about the perfect episode. Deeper exploration of Willow's character and the Vampire by further examing Willow's Vampire Alter-ego. Funny, scary, uses many characters, and I give it even greater love for making full use for the school and students as setting.

17 - Passion - IMHO, the best episode of the series. Beautiful and cruelly artistic, just like the villain. "Passion" and how we either use them, or rein them in, is a continuing theme of the series. Giles dropping his wineglass, and Buffy holding him in the alley are two of the most moving scenes in the series history for me.

18 - Earshot this is a hard week for me to choose. "Earshot" and "Intervention" are both funny, but the latter derives much of it's humor from Espenson dumbing down the characters too much. (They can't tell that the Buffy-bot isn't Buffy?) That, IMHO, is the writer cheating.

19 - Choices - I flip a coin between this episode and IOHEFY, but "Choices" is relevant to more characters. Buffy's argument with Wesley about her desire to go to college, the differing reasons Willow and Buffy commit to UC-Sunnydale, the dilemma over trading for Willow, and Willow calling Faith out on her decision to choose "evil". I place SR third, in part because of the commercial break placed in the middle of the rape scene.

20 - The Prom - A definite down week. "Spiral", "Villains", and "Touched" are just awful and sloppy episodes. "Go Fish" is in the wrong part of it's arc. "The Yoko Factor" is quite good. But "The Prom", and particularly the prom scenes are just lovely.

21 - Becoming, Part I. It's really this or GDI. Something of a tossup, but I break the tie-breaker by going with the strongest double episode overall.
22 - Becoming, Part II. Over "Restless". "The Gift" is almost excellent, but it too cheats. Buffy is faced with one of her most difficult choices as the Hero (Thing you love most or the world) but as the moment of truth nears, is exempted from the dilemma. With an option that is rather dubious to explain. I go with "Becoming" because the story doesn't take pity on the heroine in her moment of truth.

[> Trickier than one might think -- OnM, 07:50:57 01/09/04 Fri

Want to give some thoughts and reasons later on, but mainly want to preserve this interesting 'poll' thread for a while. (I had to spend a fair amount of time first to get all the eps lined up in a table so I could ponder them in this fashion.)

So, the short form first:

1. Anne (S3)
2. Bargaining Pt II (S6)
3. Afterlife (S6)
4. Flooded (S6)
5. Selfless (S7)
6. Band Candy (S3)
7. Conversations w/ Dead People (S7)
8. Lover's Walk (S3)
9. The Wish (S3)
10. Hush (S4)
11. Showtime (S7)
12. Helpless (S3)
13. Dead Things (S6)
14. Innocence (S2)
15. Get It Done (S7)
16. Who Are You (S4)
17. Normal Again (S6)
18. Earshot (S3)
19. Empty Places (S7)
20. The Prom (S3)
21. Primeval (S4)
22. Becoming Part II (S2)

S1 - 0
S2 - 2
S3 - 7
S4 - 3
S5 - 0
S6 - 5
S7 - 5

Hummm, interesting, but sorta follows my initial instincts. Also, especially rewarding considering how tired I'm getting of seeing many people in the popular press and even several other Buffy-centric places write off Seasons 6 and/or 7 as 'mostly worthless' or proof of 'jumping the shark' etc. etc.

As mentioned before, some more specifics later on.

[> [> Details, Part I -- OnM, 21:25:41 01/09/04 Fri

1. Anne (S3) - All of the Buffy season premieres were excellent in their own way, but one of the ways that I rate a
truly superior ep is to gauge the degree that it grows on me and affects me emotionally over time with repeated
viewings. It is very hard to describe why, but there is something that happens in that moment when Buffy stares up at
the demon guard in the hell place and proudly and effulgently states "I'm Buffy, the vampire slayer, and you are?" that
just makes me love her so very, very much. Plus the stunning, outrageous and hilarious 'Gandhi' joke, and finally the
glorious, wordless moments leading up to and beyond where Joyce opens the door and sees her daughter in front of
her again, and then they embrace. And I always cry. A strong runner up would be When She was Bad (S2),
and very honorable mention goes to Lessons (S7). There's always a talisman, you know, plus Buffy's most
excellent newly-non-whiny-and-increasingly-sometimes-scary little sister.

2. Bargaining Pt II (S6) - What can I say, I love the eps that really take chances, and this one was just
so damn dark that you know ME had to seriously wonder if they finally were going too far. I never thought that
the pain of Becoming Pt II could be exceeded, but this chapter of Buffy's life makes that scene look like a pleasant
day at Shell Beach. And yet, she eventually gets the fire back. Do I love this woman? Oh, yes I do. Runner up status
goes to Beneath You (S7), honorable mention to Real Me (S5).

3. Afterlife (S6) - Tough call here, with a number of excellent and worthy competitors. But Afterlife is the
necessary followup to Bargaining, and finally gives us the reason why Buffy would ever consider committing
suicide. I remember when some spoiler info about the last scene in Bargaining leaked out, no one could
believe that ME could ever write a convincing argument for our heroine to wish to kill herself, that it just couldn't be
done, it wouldn't be Buffy. Oh, really? And the last scene, where Buffy walks into the sunlight and Sarah somehow
perfectly conveys the feeling that it no longer warms either body or soul--- brrrr. Faith, Hope & Trick (S3) and
School Hard (S2) are darn near as good.

4. Flooded (S6) - Again with the ultra-angsty 6th season. Probably stems from my appliance repair days, (actually 16
years) which were a kind of afterlife of some kind, I think, or maybe just my current cycle of karma. Whatever, the
scene where Buffy tries to tighten the leaky pipe and gets 'all of the water in the city' pouring into her basement is a
layered metaphor that Shakespeare himself would most dutifully bow down before. "There. All fixed." Plus
many other wonderful moments of brilliant writing. Runners up would be Fear, Itself (S4) and Help (S7).
Yes, I really liked Help.

5. Selfless (S7) - Like any of the unquestioned greatest BtVS eps, this one speaks for itself. Runners up would be
No Place Like Home (S5) and Beer Bad. No, I'm not kidding, Beer Bad is a real thigh-slapper, I
tell ya. And there's no Thomas Aquinas at the table, either!

6. Band Candy (S3) - Teenaged Giles, Joyce, Snyder, etc etc., plus always wacky Ethan Rayne! What's not to love?
Next best by a small margin would be Family (S5), and the always delightful Halloween (S2).

7. Conversations w/ Dead People (S7) - To quote Giles, "Oh, dear lord...". Not a single loser in this bunch, even
The Initiative. If I could cheat, I would declare OMwF (S6), Fool for Love (S5) and Lie to
(S2) of absolutely equal artistic worth with Conversations, but since I am one of the Dauntless
Defenders of The Seventh, I'll go with it. And that opening scene in the beautiful/terrifying/lonely/familiar graveyard,
oh, dear lord. Jumped the shark my ass.

8. Lover's Walk (S3) - Don't think I have to explain this choice either, although again, a fully equal ep IMHO would
have to be Tabula Rasa (S6). Hello, I'm Joan, the vampire slayer, and you are? Honorable runner up would be
the marvelous Pangs (S4).

9. The Wish (S3) - Again, several very worthy eps to consider, but I must say that The Wish stands alone this
time around. Next choice would probably be Smashed (S6).

10. Hush (S4) - Oh, yeah, the silent horror classic lives again, and Buffy gets mad at Giles for implying she's got fat
hips! Plus, Willow 'n' Tara! And Buffy and Riley simultaneously lose their secret identities! And the all-time coolest
BtVS monsters! (I'm sorry, but they just are, OK?) But if this one didn't have all that and more, it would surely be
Amends (S2) instead, where Buffy tells the First Evil to piss off and then goes and makes it snow. I love this
woman, did I mention that yet?

11. Showtime (S7) - Now, I suppose I'm just bein' contrary here, but in a weak field, Showtime was pretty
darn good, sez moi. Again, I always enjoy seeing Buffy rise above impossible odds and kick some extremely evil
tuchis. Some peeps didn't care for the S7 Generalissima sub-arc which started in this ep, but I think it was a
necessary plot element, so I don't diss it. Runners-up would be Gone (S6), Gingerbread (S3)
(MOOOOOO!) and Ted (S2), which I happen to think more highly of than many folk do. But, contrary, ja?

12. Helpless (S3) - Another pretty good bunch overall, but-- "You have a father's love for the child." Yes he does, and
she forgives him, as she has had the grace to forgive so many who have wronged her terribly, but were still basically
good people (or demons) underneath it all. A strong 2nd choice would be Checkpoint (S5) and nearly as good
would be Potential (S7). But then, after Buffy, my next-favorite character in the 'verse is Buffy's now not-so-little
sister. Future Watcher? Love child of Buffy and Faith? Glowy green godlike thing? Needs a little more practice with
the crossbow? Oh, yeah, we love you too.

All for now, 'tis late. The rest tomorrow!


[> [> [> Details, Part II -- OnM, 14:23:09 01/11/04 Sun

Not tomorrow, I know, but... busy been I. Anyways:


13. Dead Things (S6) - Egotistically quoting from my own ep review: "The jury may still be out on whether or not
there is any genuine love for Spike in Buffy's heart, but only a highly moral person would feel ashamed to 'use' even
an evil creature for her own selfish pleasure. It is a mark of an advanced being that they show compassion even for
their enemies, that deserving or no, one does not lower oneself by countering evil with evil." And as I've already
mentioned, it's all about Buffy for me. This is another cluster of really good eps, though, and I have serious fondness
for Blood Ties (S5), The Killer in Me (S7), Surprise (S2) and The Zeppo (S3).

14. Innocence (S2) - Why should I even try to argue about any other choice than this one? Bad Girls (S3) is a
really decent runner up, however, since it really laid out the start of the years-long dilemma of Buffy having to learn to
deal with her own dark side.

15. Get It Done (S7) - Yet another really tough, tough call. All of the competition except As You Were (S6) is
quite excellent here, but I loved both the big pile of new info on the Slayer heritage, Dawn's increasing competence in
so many ways, the typically perverse ME technique of making us wonder just what the hell the dynamic between
Buffy and Spike was/is/will be, and best of all the 'real' Buffy at the ep's very end, wondering whether she was right to
turn down the offer of more power from the Shadowmen. Not to mention the elegant wordplay between 'shaman' and
'shadowmen'. Not to mention the really cool special effects. If forced to choose a runner-up, would probably go with
This Year's Girl (S3) or Consequences (S2). Note: I have deliberately avoided choosing any eps as the
'worst' of the series, because I personally do not feel there are any eps that are totally bad, but I do
admit that As You Were (S6) was far from Doug Petrie's finest moment, and I'm a big fan of the man. I will
charitably assume that he or someone else on the production just had some momentary lapse of reason or maybe too
much Nyquil & tonic.

16. Who Are You (S4) - Oh, my, do I love this episode. It gets better and gains more emotional impact every time I
see it again. It ranks in my personal top five all-time BtVS episodes, along with (of which what I suspect almost
everyone else's choice will be) The Body (S5). I agree that The Body is a flawless piece of work (top 5
also), but so is Who Are You, and it all comes down to what resonates the most with one's individual psyche.
There is just something so tragic on a fundamental level to finally be given a glimpse into one's true nature, and realize
that it isn't truly evil, and then realize that despite wanting to embrace that nature and renounce your past sins, there
is just simply no way back. No matter what, period. The very best you can hope for is to 'go and sin no more', like the
man said. (She gets there eventually, but this ep marked the pivotal moment). And who is it who puts Faith on the
eventual path to redemption? Why, Riley Finn, of all people.

BTW, every other ep in this cluster is a very, very good'n, but runner-up for me after the obvious Body would be
Doppelgangland (S3).

17. Normal Again (S6) - This is getting ridiculous - still more great stuff to choose among! Superstar (S4) is
the weakest of the bunch, but still solidly excellent. The remaining eps pretty much constitute a four-way tie, with
Passion (S2) being just a teeny smidge less involving for me than Normal Again. The audacity of
starting out to do the pathetically overdone "it's all a dream" riff and then turning around and making it compelling and
relevant-- it's just-- Wow. I do want to make a special note of how superb Forever (S5) is, a necessary and
brilliantly crafted bookend to The Body that I feel is very unfairly overlooked by many fans. I personally found
the sequence where the camera moves slowly down the Summers' upstairs hallway, past the family pictures on the
wall, showing Buffy and Dawn sitting alone in their respective rooms, lost and alone in their grief, even more powerful
than the many similar moments captured in The Body.

18. Earshot (S3) - A slightly weak week here, making Earshot an easy pick. All of the other eps are decent,
no real complaints, except for WTWTA (S4), which at least should make Doug Petrie feel better about As
You Were

19. Empty Places (S7) - OK, another 'odd' choice that will probably surprise many folks, but I really liked this one,
because yet again, ME took a big risk in doing some things that asked the viewers to question what they knew-- or
thought they knew-- about many of the characters. I know many fans actively disliked this ep, but I feel what I feel,
and I feel I can defend it if need be. The ending is just killer, and not simply because we get to see poor Buffy suffering
yet again. It's because of what Buffy does in the midst of her pain, which is to give Faith both forgiveness
and a chance to make a real difference
. No, don't tell me no, she did, or at least made the first serious
move in an eventual path. Brilliantly, in terms of the writing skill, ME has Faith herself foreshadow this just 15 minutes

Wood: Why didn't you fight back?
Faith: Other things matter more.

Many other very worthy eps here as runners-up, but Choices (S3) would be the first pick for a close

20. The Prom (S3) - Some viewers have commented that they saw this episode as kind of 'sappy' the first time
around, but eventually came around to it. I loved it from the very first, and love it just as much and more now. One of
the very few eps that always manages to make me cry. Subversively, undoes the hoary old comic book
tradition that the hero never gets to leave their secret identity behind and get some genuine, heartfelt public
recognition for a job well (and often selflessly) done. Plus, "Wild Horses'. Runners up would be Spiral
(S5), The Yoko Factor (S4) and Touched (S7).

21. Primeval (S4) - Bein' perverse again, yeah, I know. How uber-wacky of Joss to put the big action finale ep in the
next-to last show! You need to remember that I am a Riley fan, and enjoyed the gender reversal where Buffy
had to go and save him from being tied down on the railroad tracks (so to speak). Plus, the very cool foreshadowing
as to "You will never understand our power" followed up upon in Restless, and also cool special effects in the
last act. Actually, other than the extremely weak Two To Go (S6), an excellent next-to-last bunch, with very
fine work being done in Graduation Day Pt. 1 (S3) and Becoming Pt 1 (S2), my second and/or third
picks. Also liked End of Days (S7) and Weight of the World better than many did.

22. Becoming Part II (S2) - Another close-contest vote here, because all the BtVS finales were excellent and
innovative in their own individual ways. (I do agree with many viewers that Grave was the weakest one, but it was
still decent as far as I'm concerned, if for no other reason than Buffy finally 'getting' her sister, and understanding her
potential as an adult and not just looking backward at her as a child. That scene where Buffy hands Dawn the sword
still give me a wonderful little thrill, as does the scene shortly thereafter where she quickly learns that Dawn actually
has been paying real attention. ) Beyond Becoming, it's really a five-way tie for me, and I don't intend that as
a cop-out, it's simply the truth as I see it. It's like asking Cookie Monster which cookies he likes the best-- a
guarenteed therapy inducer.

[> OK, here's another go -- manwitch, 09:45:08 01/09/04 Fri

Faves of the Week, with runners up in brackets.

1. When She Was Bad (S2) [Anne (S3)]
A really tight episode, both for itself and to set up the whole season. The entire season is layed out before us in the teaser during Xander and Willow's "Guess the Film" game. Great characters throughout, a nice new haircut, and the first realization, foreshadowing the end of the season, that even victory can be emotionally devastating.

2. Real Me (S5) [Living Conditions (S4)]
Talk about bold. To introduce a new character that everyone knows can't exist, and to do it with such charm and humor, maintaining the authenticity of every character, so that we willingly accept it, makes this to me a more impressive piece of work than the others in this slot.

3. Afterlife (S6) [Faith, Hope and Trick (S3)]
Afterlife is powerful. Creepy. Ghosty things always creep me out more than monsters. Great performances from Buffy and Spike. And even though it couldbe seen coming, the realization of what has happened to Buffy, that no matter what, it always gets harder to bear. Faith, Hope and Trick introduces a great character and has that wonderful closing scene. But overall for me, it just doesn't have the weight of Afterlife.

4. Fear Itself (S4) [Help (S7)]
Anya in the Bunny costume. Giles with the chainsaw. Buffy's spectacular behind as she leaves Xander's basement. This is what makes great television. Plus, the anticlimactic ending is kinda funny. But I really liked Help. Like when they go through the doors to the row houses and on the inside its all the same room.

5. No Place Like Home (S5) [Reptile Boy (S2)]
I'm a little surprised that no one has mentioned No Place Like Home. To me it wins this week by lengths and lengths. Stuff suddenly starts to make sense. And I think the "Buffy gets stoned" part is just really well filmed and well performed. And even Dawn gets a little scary.

6. Halloween (S2) [Him (S7)]
Again this week, for me Halloween has no serious rival. Spike is fantastic. We get the wonderful villain, Ethan Rayne. We get the first inklings that there is more to Giles than meets the eye. We get Willow's (first) coming out episode, and the delightful Oz. And another nomination for best line in the series, "The Ghost of what, exactly?"

7. Conversations With Dead People (S7) [Once More, With Feeling (S6)]
Conversations is a fantastic episode. The date and time stamp give it a sense of immediacy. I personally found the song haunting. A funny, scary, powerful, disturbing episode. With not one, but four powerful endings all at once. The musical is great and all, and very ambitious. I love it, really. But think it could have been better. I don't see how Conversations could have been.

8. Tabula Rasa (S6) [Lover's Walk (S3)]
This is an extremely funny episode that leaves you in both tears of disbelief and of hope. It covers an emotional range that is rarely matched, even in this series. Buffy is expelled from Heaven for a second time. The scooby gang breaks up. And we finally see Buffy looking for solace, albeit from an unlikely place.

9. The Wish (S3) [Something Blue (S4)]
Just an awesome exploration of the power our choices have on our lives and the lives of others. What we think we want isn't always what's best for us or those around us. Not to mention this episode introduces Anya. And Giles performs one of the most heroic acts in the history of the Buffyverse as he destroys Anyanka's pendant, ending his existence as he knows it, with nothing to go on but faith in a better world.

10. Hush (S4) [Nightmares (S1)]
Ambitious, scary, very funny, perfectly executed, and musically brilliant.

11. Triangle (S5) [Gone (S6)]
Two episodes that make me laugh. But Triangle doesn't make me cringe whenever the goofballs come on.

12. Prophecy Girl (S1) [Checkpoint (S5)]
I think Prophecy Girl is the most underrated episode in the whole opus. Its near perfect storytelling and a display of prodigious acting talent.

13. Blood Ties (S5) [Dead Things (S6)]
I like Michelle Trachtenberg and I think she's fantastic in this one. And I give it the nod over Dead Things because in order to see the good parts of Dead Things you have to make it through the ponderous pacing of the doofusses. It's a sad truth that for too much of Season Six, which has some of the most brilliant moments of the series, you have to rewatch with the remote in your hands. (My problem with the doofusses is my own. I have a real objection to them that seems to go beyond reason. Maybe I was molested by doofusses when I was a kid. I recognize that other people like them and find them interesting. I just can't get there.)

14. Innocence (S2) [Crush (S5)]
I love Crush and the return of Drusilla. But Innocence is special. Probably the only unanimous choice in this exercise.

15. This Year's Girl (S4) [Phases (S2)]
The drama of Faith's return is just too good. And the musical build up to it is perfect. The way the camera cuts Riley out when they discuss her. Joyce's defiant "Are you planning on cutting my throat any time soon?" Great drama.

16. The Body (S5) [Dopplegangland (S3), Who Are You (S4)]
Not just the story, but the execution of it. Every frame is off center, not quite right. The subjects are facing the wrong way, or cropped wrong. A relentless feeling that something is wrong, that something is missing. And let's give Sarah some kudos for being willing to look bad. Well, as bad as she's gonna, anyways. I had to include Who Are You as a runner up because Sarah's performance as Faith in Buffy's body is mindbogglingly good. I can totally get why Riley slept with her.

17. Passion (S2) [Normal Again (S6)]
This one was tough for me, but the deciding factor was the three doofusses. Boreanaz as Angelus is easy to watc h over and over. The killing of Jenny Calendar and the reactions to it are heart breaking. The voice overs are so haunting and disturbing. Normal Again, for all its brilliance, especially that last shot, has those periods where you have to suffer through watching some totally unappealing and uninteresting characters hog screen time.

18. Intervention (S5) [Entropy (S6)]
This episode has as strong a change and development in our protagonist as any. After Spike's atrocious and obscene behaviour, his total lack of judgement with the Buffybot and the, I thought, hilarity that resulted, Buffy recognizes a worth in him that changes her, I think, forever. For all the future problems in her relationship with Spike, she never treats him with dismissive contempt again. Dusting him is never again an option.

19. New Moon Rising (S4) [Seeing Red (S6)]
This is just a nice episode. Sure I feel bad for Oz, but its really nice. A really strong conflict that is resolved just the way you want it. Even Riley comes through in the end.

20. The Prom (S3) [Yoko Factor (S4)]
As said by others, its nice to see Buffy get some recognition.

21. Graduation Day part 1 (S3) [Weight of the World (S6)]
The battle between the slayers. What can top that?

22. The Gift (S5) Restless (S4)
I just can't pick. Restless is like the perfect work of art on television. And it goes down and down forever. Watch it a hundred times and you still find more. And it is the final resolution to the whole season, in many ways the midpoint of Buffy's seven year journey. And again, the music is superb. It is hard for me to say that anything from any week is better than this one. But I can't forget the emotional impact that The Gift had on me and on all the Buffy watchers I know. Its hard to dismiss that, too. For the circles that I travel in, no hour of television has affected people like The Gift. So, even if its flawed, boy did it do what it set out to do.

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

I include the runner ups just to show that its more even than the first choices might make it appear.

[> [> And for a more difficult exercise, try picking the worst -- manwitch, 13:19:46 01/09/04 Fri

For a still more difficult exercise, try picking the worst of each group. That's even tougher in a lot of cases to pick the one that's inferior.

I love all Buffy episodes. But, for the sake of nothing, here goes. The worst of each week:

1. Buffy vs. Dracula (5)
The Dractor playing Dracula just wasn't it. Nice story and all, but too campy. It needed a real star for that role. And its up against some stellar week one competition.

2. Harvest (S1)
A campy follow up to WttH. I personally find it one of the weaker episodes ever.

3. Harsh Light of Day (S4)
This was tough to choose. But when it comes down to it, I like Witch more. Season one has some problems, but the pacing was always right on. The stories play out right on schedule. And the others were all pretty good. So, by default, its this one.

4. Teacher's Pet (S1)
Has some nice moments, and it's a great moment for Nicolas Brendan to show his comedic skills. But its not really all that great otherwise. And the X-files ending now seems a little out of place.

5. Beer Bad (S4)
This was easy.

6. Wild at Heart (S4)
This wasn't. A lot of good episodes. I believe the consensus even considers this the best of the week. But I like all the week 6 episodes a lot. The weakness of Veruca as an actress is the what tips the scales for me. A great piece of writing with one poor piece of casting. But don't get me wrong. I love the episode.

7. Lie to Me (S2)
What a week. This isn't a comment on Lie to Me.

8. Dark Age (S2)
Yes, less interesting than I, Robot, You Jane. A lot of stuff in this episode seemed to come out of nowhere. Interesting, and later part of the canon, but as it was happening it were like, "Whaa?"

9. Never Leave Me (S7)
I chose this basically because I can hardly remember it, something I can say of no other episode.

10. Wrecked (S6)
Here's an episode where the pacing seemed all wrong. Nice moments, but something just wasn't fitting. And the competition is pretty good this week. Small flaws are enough.

11. Out of Sight, Out of Mind (S1)
The week seemed so weak when trying to pick the best, but it seems strong when trying to pick the worst. I liked this episode, too, but its another X-files episode, and ultimately is just a place holder waiting for the Season One Finale.

12. Bad Eggs (S2)
Heh heh! An easy one.

13. The Killer in Me (S7)
A super strong week except for this one. Not that it isn't good in its way. It raised more questions than it answered.

14. First Date (S7)
This episode is enjoyable to watch, but it felt wrong to me when it first aired and I've never gotten quite past that. This was an episode where I really felt characterizations were being lost and Deus was ex machining.

15. As You Were (S6)
Another pretty tough week if this ranks last. But ultimately it was a little heavy-handed. And for some of us, the Spike thing was not quite believable. And the end, well, it was not immediately clear what it meant.

16. Storyteller (S7)
A great idea marred by two seasons of substituting caricature for character development. So someone we could've really cared about was instead a cartoon trying to carry a very thoughtful idea. Andrew just couldn't pull it off, as far as I'm concerned.

17. Forever (S5)
This is another placeholder episode. It has some nice touches. But its ultimately just killing time waiting for Intervention.

18. Where the Wild Things Are (S4)
Another extremely tough week. This episode is really spooky in a lot of ways, and Buffy sex is always great. But it can't quite measure up to the others. I even prefer Killed By Death because Xander is likable and Buffy is at her sexiest.

19. Tough Love (S5)
How do you choose? All great episodes. Ultimately I chose this as the worst because of Willow's outfit.

20. Go Fish (S2)
Another easy one.

21. Two to Go (S6)
And again, surprisingly easy. This ep started strong, but for me it was just too obvious where this was going. And I didn't really care about the troika in any way. So this was just a long wait to get Buffy to confront Willow.

22. Grave (S6)
As we get to the final episodes and things heat up, only Season Six fails to grab me into the conflict. Giles comes out of nowhere, and the Buffy and Willow fight left me cold. Not just in principle, but I thought the choreography of it was weak as well. I mean compare it to Becoming II or Graduation Day II. Those just rock. And for me the resolution didn't really work visually. I mean, it works symbolically and all, and the stories kinda get tied up. But visually it felt like what was happening to Buffy was secondary. The only finale where that is the case, and I think it suffers for it. I like these episodes and all, and I love the ending of Grave, but these just lack the consistent, beginning to end impact of the other finales. My opinion, anyway.

S1 3
S2 4
S3 0
S4 4
S5 3
S6 4
S7 4

I have often wondered why I recall Season three as one of my favorite seasons. Here is surely part of the answer.

[> [> [> ...it was the worst of times.... -- Sophist, channeling Simon, 20:35:20 01/09/04 Fri

Who doesn't love a good smackdown?

1. As I said above, there are no really bad episodes here. With some reluctance, Bargaining I gets the nod despite Spike's great line ("cuppa tea, cuppa tea...").

2. Anyone reading my posts above can have no doubt that DMP "wins" in a landslide.

3. The Replacement is as pointless and silly as an episode gets. Easy choice.

4. Inca Mummy Girl tried to give us a twist on the theme of S2 using Ampata as Buffy and Xander as Angel. Bad idea, bad execution; not even humor to ease the pain. Beating out Teacher's Pet and Flooded is no small feat.

5. A 2 team race between 2 classics, Beer Bad and Reptile Boy. The real competition is with watching Paint Dry. Reptile Boy wriggles to the bottom.

6. Only one real clinker in the bunch, so AtW is an easy choice.

7. There is no bad here, only the hard task of deciding that one excellent episode falls short of greatness. Revelations towers over the other "winners" in this competition.

8. manwitch has yet to detail the glories of IRYJ, so I'll stick with it over Shadow and The Dark Age.

9. Listening to Fear "wins" by a nose over NLM.

10. The ending of Into the Woods is truly awful, despite my joy at Riley's departure. That makes the "victory" of Wrecked here all the more impressive.

11. Doomed has no real competition here, though Gone looked like it might make a run.

12. Lots of "good" choices here: Bad Eggs, A New Man, Potential, Doublemeat Palace. It took a lot for DP to take home this prize.

13. Xander Harris' Day Off, aka The Zeppo, finishes comfortably "ahead" of The I in Team (the only B/R sex scene worth watching gained it some much needed points).

14. First Date seems commonly despised. Why should I be different?

15. The only episode with no redeeming feature whatsoever: AYW. What more need be said?

16. It would be no shame to finish last in this group. Hell's Bells managed to add some shame while doing so.

17. Superstar isn't a bad ep, exactly, but it isn't a good one either. It gets the nod here.

18. This is likely to be unanimous. Who could fail to vote for WTWTA?

19. Alas for what might have been. SR should have been great, instead it gets lumped in with this crowd.

20. Go Fish has some funny lines (Cordy by the swimming pool), but it's an easy choice.

21. TTG.

22. Grave.

Here are the totals:

S1: 1
S2: 3
S3: 3, with the asterisk that Revelations really doesn't belong here.
S4: 3
S5: 2
S6: 9
S7: 1

Talk about your bi-polar seasons. S6 came in second on the best list and sticks out like a sore thumb on this one. "Sore thumbs. Do they stick out? I mean, have you ever seen a thumb and gone, 'Wow! That baby is sore!" I guess we now know -- they do.

[> [> [> Bring on the scorn -- Tchaikovsky, 05:41:46 01/10/04 Sat

I don't really agree with this idea since it has the property of making me dislike Buffy rather than like it, but, hey, I'm too loud-mouthed to not actually play along, so here goes.

1) While I have no quarrel with it, I don't really like the paired storylines of 'Anne'. This is a very strong week, and I can't bring myself to cite 'Welcome to the Hellmouth', as the first episode ever. And I thought 'Buffy vs Dracula' was bouncy happy fun, if not over-taxing on the mental faculties.

2) 'Some Assembly Required' has got off surprisingly lightly so far, but no more. Although I do like the Giles/Jenny scenes. Despite Rob's enthusiasm, I'm not the biggest fan of the over-obvious 'Living Conditions', which pushes a nadir of Season Two close.

3)As I said before, six are much of a muchness, the interesting but comparatively weak 'The Witch' being the exception.

4) I really don't like 'Out of My Mind' at all, and I think 'Inca Mummy Girl' and 'Teacher's Pet' have enough redeeming features to escape Week Four's doghouse.

5) In a good week, I think 'Beer Bad' is marginally too funny to condemn, and so 'Reptile Boy' takes it.

6) The boring as a poor pre-Rapaelite 'Him' edges the unnecessary 'All the Way'.

7) Seven very good episodes, and the slightly plodding though charming Riley/Willow scenes condemns the very good 'The Initiative'.

8)There were some real shockers of episodes around this time in the nonetheless excellent Season Five, and 'Shadow' is one of them.

9)'Listening to Fear' is another, although I must put in a word for the perpetually over rated, stupid and pointless 'Something Blue'.

10) A good week in the early seasons, the question here is whether to condemn Season Seven's major failing (insipidity) or Season Six's (illogical character development). I still find 'Wrecked' compelling despite how illogically it fits, and so 'Bring on the Night' suffers.

11) In a really good week for bad episodes, the hangover-from-Hush 'Doomed' edges the archetypal Fury miscalculation episode 'Gone'.

12) It's between the equally culinarily undesirable 'Doublemeat Palace' and 'Bad Eggs'. 'Doublemeat' ain't doublesweet enough to 'scape whipping.

13) 'The I in Team' is the only weak episode in the pool, and is disturbingly Initiative-arc heavy.

14) I really don't like 'Goodbye Iowa' or 'Older and Far Away', but ultimately I could look at Michelle Trachtenberg all day, whereas Marc Blucas makes me feel like a contestant in 'Shattered' at times. 'GI' wins out.

15) I really don't like 'Get It Done' at all, since it muddles the mythology. 'As You Were' is very marginally under-rated, and 'Get It Done' gets it.

16) In an extremely good week, 'Hell's Bells' is the only sub-excellent offering.

17) Goodness. Well, I like and defend 'Lies My Parents Told Me'. As much as I think 'Normal Again' is over-rated, I don't feel minded to condemn it. 'Superstar' really amuses me, and 'Forever', 'Passion' and 'Enemies' aren't options. So I'm going to be a tad controversial here and go for 'Normal Again', although I'm not happy about it.

18) As Sophist says, will anyone spare 'Where the Wild Things Are' from universal defamation?

19) 'Tough Love' is a good example of bad Rand Kirshner, with the exception of the lovely 'lightning rod' section.

20) 'Go Fish' may be a misjudgement, but it's mostly under-rated because it appears between two absolute peaches. 'Touched' has no such excuse.

21) I'm torn here between three not-all-they-could-have-been episodes; 'Primeval', 'The Weight of the World' and 'Two To Go'. Despite the fireworks, I honestly dislike 'Primeval' more than the others.

22) 'Grave'. No question although I don't really hate it. The other five are all uncondemnable.

This is a really interesting count up, to me at least:

Season One: 1
Season Two: 2
Season Three: 1
Season Four: 6
Season Five: 4
Season Six: 4
Season Seven: 4

Very interesting. Season One's a bit of an anomaly. Season Three wouldn't be in there at all I hadn't copped 'Anne' first up, which confirms what a good Season 3 is. I'm surprised more of the up and down Season Two didn't go in, and although the flatness of the last three Seasons is more stable excellence than uniform tedium, what really leaps out is how Season Four has more bad episodes, despite the fact that it also had the most good episodes in my other list. It's a Season of two halves, and not chronological ones.


[> [> [> Re: I like this game! -- triffic, 16:39:33 01/09/04 Fri

Not sure that I found it more difficult - I agonised a lot more when choosing the best episode each week. Anyway, here's my list with brief explanations...

1. The Freshman [4]
With apologies to TCH but it just didn't work for me - Buffy's insecurity seems a little overdone and I never liked Willow's "spurty knowledge" speech. I must say to Manwitch that I really like Buffy vs Dracula - it has an odd diorientating quality that sets the tone for the whole of season 5.

2. Dead Man's Party [3]
I wasn't convinced by the dramatic confrontation at the end of the party.

3. The Witch [1]
Nothing much wrong with this episode but everything else seems stronger.

4. Inca Mummy Girl [2]
Some funny Xander/Ampata(?) scenes can't save a daft idea. Teacher's Pet is OK by me.

5. Beer Bad [4]
I considered Reptile Boy before remembering that it didn't make me cringe te first time I saw it.

6. The Pack [1]
Nope, mean Xander just doesn't do it for me. I love his "shoot me stuff me mount me" speech at the end though.

7. Revelations [3]
A toss up between this and The Initiative in a very strong week. The Gwendoline Post irritation factor tips the scales (though even that is justifiable as a foreshadowing of Wesley).

8. The Dark Age [2]
Very unmemorable. Contrast I Robot You Jane which is generally quite weak but has a brilliant final scene ("We're doomed!")

9. What's My Line 1 [2]
This may be controversial but I've never found this two parter very involving. At least Puppet Show has some very funny lines (and introduces Snyder).

10. Nightmares [1]
Tempted to go for WML 2 but decided to show clemency.

11. OOMOOS [1]
As Mnwitch observed, too X-Filesy

12. Bad Eggs [2]
I don't dislike this as much as some people but it's clearly the weakest of the week 12 bunch.

13. The I in Team [4]
Tough choice. Killer in Me wasn't especially well executed but it was such a great idea I can't make it my bottom choice.

14. Once and Far Away [6]
The season 6 mid season slump starts here!

15. As You Were [6]
Continuing season 6's slump... (which isn't to sy it's a terrible episode)

16. Hells Bells [6]
Should have been one of the series' greatest episodes - instead it was merely OK/good. Some of the human demon interaction is just plain silly and stretches credibility to breaking point. Great acting from EC at the end however.

17. Forever [5]
A great Buffy/Dawn scene at the end but the rest of the episode treads waster.

18. WTWTA [4]
Hard to find any redeeming features here (the only episode of Buffy I can say that of). I guess the Spike/Anya interaction is nice and sets up Entropy in season 6...

19. Empty Places [7]
Another hard decision (Tough Love was the other contender). Dodgy characterisation/motivation in the confrontation with Buffy settles the matter.

20. Touched [7]
Go Fish is cheesy but some of the humour is very funny. Touched doesn't do enough given that it one of the last Buffy episodes ever.

21. Weight of the World [5]
A nice idea which could have worked very well but ended up feeling too padded out.

22. Grave [6]

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

Seasons 5 and 3 are indeed my favourites. Season 7 isn't but that's down to my dissatisfaction with the arc - it's consistently good taken episode by episode IMHO but it's hard not to be disappointed with it as a whole given the huge promise of the first 9 episodes.

[> A new paradigm: the Angel version -- Tchaikovsky, 09:55:16 01/09/04 Fri

Not least because I want to see OnM's choices explained, but also because I think this is a genuinely interesting mode of comparison that hasn't been tried before, comparing episodes that usually are compared within their season's environs. As a result, it tends to really highlight people's reasons for liking Seasons by explaining which bits they liked within them. And I love that people I respect so much can say things that really shock me, and make me go back and re-examine my assumptions. Like dlgood calling 'Doppelgangland' "near-perfect", or Rob inexplicably (well, explicably, just surprisingly to me) choosing a 'Tough Love'/'Spiral' double-header and omitting 'Innocence', or OnM having 'Primeval' in there at place 21.

Here's the Angel variant:

1) Angel does brilliant, brilliant season openers, and I don't want to give the impression I don't deeply value the work of Greenwalt in 'Judgement' and 'Heartthrob', but 'Deep Down' is extraordinary.

2) 'Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?', an elegant episode well-told, edges the very competent introduction of Gwen in 'That Vision Thing'.

3) In a weakish week, I'm tempted to give the prize to 'In the Dark', but I think that was a backward step for the series at the time. So Minear takes it again, even with the sub-par 'That Old Gang of Mine'

4)'Untouched', both one of the scariest monsters ever (Bethany's father), and a beautiful piece of direction from Joss.

5)'Supersymmetry', a lovely tangly and ambiguous episode, just about edges the series-shaping 'Dear Boy', and I do like 'Fredless', the 'Family' of Angel.

6) All five episodes are marvellous: 'Guise Will Be Guise' does a mesmeric job of setting up Wesley as a leader in Season Two; 'Sense and Sensitivity' invests Kate's character with a lot more impetus than we could have hoped for; 'Billy' and 'Spin the Bottle' are both episodes nestling before the start of something massive, and the really beautiful 'The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco' takes it for its all round perfect direction and music.

7) Significantly weaker than their Buffy counterparts, the seventh episode decision really hangs on whether you prefer the plot-line of Season Two, Three or Four. For me, 'Darla' edges 'Offspring'.

8)A lot of episodes that I have less fondness for than others here: including the still-hideous (I re-watched it to see if I was angry that day) 'I Will Remember You', and the snoreathon of 'Habeas Corpses'. There, that sentence was incendiary. 'Destiny', my current hope for a wonderful Season Five, sweeps out the competition.

9) 'Lullaby' is captivating, but I think 'The Trial' may be my favourite episode ever, for the challenges that Angel faces for Darla, and for the spine-tingling Greek tragic ending.

10) 'Reunion' is lovely and creepy; but 'Awakening' peeks inside Angel's soul, and deserves the gong.

11) 'Soulless', bless Seasn Astin and his little hobbit feet, is the best hour of entertainment ever to come from one character sitting in a cage talking to other characters.
The strengths of 'Somnambulist', 'Redefinition' and 'Birthday' are all noted.

12) Not a good week, at all. 'Provider' is a miscalculation, while 'Expecting' and 'Blood Money' are not-that-entertaining fillers. 'Calvary' takes it.

13) It pains me not to put in all three episodes of the Season Four Faith arc, but it would be overkill, and 'Waiting in the Wings', despite cjl's reservations, is classic Whedon.

14) 'I've Got You Under My Skin', a genuinely excellent Season One episode, takes on 'Release'! And wins! What's happening to the Faith episodes?

15) Good God. This choice is the hardest decision over both shows with four absolute Titans in contention. I bet 'Calvary' is sniggering that it won its contest, considering that here we have a battle between: 'The Prodigal', which gave Angel real forward momentum, and consolidated Minear's genius; 'Reprise', which did the same in the most nihilistic way in Whedon's canon; 'Loyalty', the best episode of Season Three, and Wesley's turning point; and 'Orpheus' where the Angel/Angelus/Faith conversations are magnificent, and Willow just such fun. 'Reprise' currently the best episode of Angel ever, just takes it. Which means that there's no Faith Season 4 whatsoever. Sometimes I surprise myself.

16) And its partner 'Epiphany', can't quite make it a double, losing out to the chaotic, insolent anarchy, and the final heartache, of 'Sleep Tight'.

17) 'Forgiving' beats out two of my betes noir in 'Eternity' and 'Disharmony' and the flawed yet interesting 'Inside Out'

18) 'Five by Five' quite easily dismisses some weak opposition, thereby marking Faith's return after her triple defeat in the Season Four episodes.

19) Although I have a soft spot for the under-rated 'Belonging', Shawn Ryan's best episode by far, no-one takes on 'Sanctuary' and wins. Tight, marvellous plotting, good character resolutions.

20) In not the greatest week, I choose the dense and unwieldy but fascinating 'Sacrifice'.

21)'Benediction', Holtz' final act of treachery, is delicious, and sets up a Season Finale that I, possibly alone, am very fond of.

22) But not fond enough to beat out the magnificent Tim Minear, with playful Lilah his mouthpiece, redefining the entire show with 'Home'.

It's count-up time:

Season One: 3
Season Two: 5
Season Three: 5
Season Four: 7
Season Five: 2

Well, I am really very fond of Season Two, but the figures speak for themselves, and Season Four, a brilliant Season, takes it.


[> [> Not alone! -- Rob, 10:31:45 01/09/04 Fri

'Benediction', Holtz' final act of treachery, is delicious, and sets up a Season Finale that I, possibly alone, am very fond of.

Haven't you learned that any time anyone says "I may be the only one who likes [insert episode here]," that I already like the episode, too, making you not alone? Odds are good, seeing that the only episode I truly dislike in the entire run of both series is Him, and even that one I enjoy parts of immensely now? ;o)

And now you got me needing to do the Angel list, too! But not now, too busy. I'll try to do it later tonight.


[> [> [> Are you kidding? -- Masq, 08:51:56 01/11/04 Sun

The end of season 3 of Angel was Art, and my favorite Season Finale as well!

[> [> [> Oops. That second ? should be a period, as you probably have guessed. -- Rob, 10:44:13 01/09/04 Fri

[> The AtPoBtVS consensus... -- Tchaikovsky, 10:55:02 01/09/04 Fri

These are the choices of the nine responses so far:

1) When She Was Bad: 3/9 votes
2) Bargaining Part II/ Beneath You 3/9 each
3) Faith, Hope and Trick 5/9
4) Fear, Itself 6/9
5) Selfless 7/9
6) Wild At Heart 3/9 (no consensus here)
7) Once More, With Feeling 4/9
8) Tabula Rasa 5/9
9) The Wish 7/9
10) Hush 8/9 [and who spoiled the consensus? Why, little old me!]
11) Triangle 5/9
12) Prophecy Girl 7/9
13) Dead Things 5/9
14) Innocence 8/9 (and I'm still not forgiving Rob for spoiling with 'Bad Girls')
15) Consequences 3/9
16) The Body 7/9 (for which, fascinatingly, neither dlgood nor OnM voted).
17) Passion 6/9.
18) Earshot 5/9
19) New Moon Rising 3/9
20)The Prom 8/9. (Rob spoils the consensus again. He's strange like that)
21) Becoming, Part One (5/9)
22) Becoming, Part Two (3.5/9)

I'd watch them.


[> [> Another Consensus -- triffic, 11:29:15 01/09/04 Fri

Thanks to everyone for their fascinating posts. Many choices have surprised me but that's part of the fun of this kind of exercise. One pleasant surprise has been the near-unanimous vote for The Prom, an episode that I too felt was too sappy on first viewing but now feels just perfect in its context.
Just for fun (and to add to the effort to keep the thread alive) I checked out the top choices of the voters at The Council of Watchers which, I think, is the longest running poll of its kind. The results are as follows:

1. WttH
2. Beneath You
3. School Hard
4. Fear Itself
5. Selfless
6. Band Candy
8. Lovers Walk
9. The Wish
10. Hush
11. Showtime
12. Prophecy Girl
13. Surprise
14. Innocence
15. This Year's Girl
16. The Body
17. Passion
18. Earshot
20. The Prom
21. Becoming 1
22. Becoming 2

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

So, a heavy bias towards seasons 2 and 3 - perhaps inevitable given that votes were cast as the episodes aired. Given people's tendency to compare episodes when scoring them, good earlier episodes will tend to perform better as there's simply less competition at that point in the series.

Incidentally, the ATPoBtVS board concensus breaks down by season thus:

1: 1
2: 6
3: 4
4: 4
5: 2
6: 3.5
7: 1.5

So, again, Season 2 has it (and my favoutite season 5 is second to last!).

[> [> [> Re: Another Consensus -- Dlgood, 12:05:48 01/09/04 Fri

So, a heavy bias towards seasons 2 and 3 - perhaps inevitable given that votes were cast as the episodes aired. Given people's tendency to compare episodes when scoring them, good earlier episodes will tend to perform better as there's simply less competition at that point in the series.

It's a rough thing, and variable because some weeks are just weeker than others (2, 4, 11) while others (7, 14, 16) can be almost impossible to choose from.

I think a part of it is also that some of those early episodes go a long way in establishing themes. It's hard for a latter season episode to look as innovative or groundbreaking as WSWB, "Surprise/Innocence", "Becoming" or "Bad Girls/Consequences" for example. In order to seem truly revolutionary, the latter season episodes have to resort more to gimmickry - "The Body" and OMWF - and which have to try hard to not be like any other episode. Though in fairness, "Passion" with its voiceover motifs is really the first episode to deliberately strike for such a different feel.

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