Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Best of Buffy
June 6, 2002
Buffy fans will appreciate these new DVDs that showcase selected episodes featuring our favourite characters.
Diehard fans will probably already own the full boxsets, but if you haven’t been able to afford a whole season, or are a new devotee to the show, then this is your chance for a piece of the action. 20th Century Fox are releasing a new selection of Buffy with four episodes per DVD. So if your favourite character on the show is, say, Willow, then you can buy the DVD with four of her best storylines. The same goes for Faith, Angel, Spike and of course Buffy, which we’ll look at here.
Watching the four chosen episodes will be a bit disorientating if you don’t already know the history of the show, as here we have moments from seasons two, three, four and five.
Sunnydale is terrorised by fairy-tale monsters known only as The Gentlemen, who steal voices in the night so their victims can’t call for help as they are butchered. Robbed of their usual form of communication, the Scooby gang must resort to clumsy sign-language and slide shows to form a plan to save the town and return things to (almost) normal. This episode won Joss Whedon a Grammy and it’s easy to see why. Nobody speaks for three quarters of the running time, which, in a world of thirty-second commercials that have to grab your attention, means it better be interesting. And it is.
It’s also very funny – witness Buffy miming to Giles how she wants to stake The Gentlemen, only for it to be mis-interpretted in a very explicit way. Or Anya’s way of showing Xander that she wants to be alone with him. But ultimately the theme of the episode is communication, and how people use (or rather miss-use) language to express how they feel.
This cliffhanger was a misdirect to suggest the fifth season would be the last. The start of season six destroyed that myth, but The Gift remains a powerful moment in the history of the show. Glory, the God who has been searching for her ‘key’, has finally figured out that the key is actually Buffy’s sister Dawn, and kidnaps her with the intention of sacrificing her to shatter the barrier between worlds and unleash hell on earth. But Buffy arrives too late and the gateway is already open. Summers blood opened it, and only Summers blood will close it…
The theme of sacrifice is both literal and metaphorical. Since their mother died, Buffy has been under pressure to provide for Dawn as well as be The Slayer 24/7, and feels that in a lot of ways she has let Dawn down, so when she’s told in a vision that death is her gift, she knows what she has to do to make things right.
Becoming, Part One
The penultimate episode of season two sees Angel, turned evil, about to resurrect a powerful demon to set loose on Sunnydale. We also see via flashback how he became a vampire in the first place, then regained his soul, only to loose it when he slept with Buffy (see what I mean about having to know the show?). Meanwhile Buffy and Willow discover the lost disc that holds the key to restoring Angel’s soul. But Angel lays a trap and Kendra (another slayer) is killed.
Is a person who turns this bad really worth saving? Only Buffy seems to think so.
This is an odd choice to include here, as it’s more of teaser to buy the whole series to find out the rest of the story than a strong stand-alone episode. And it’s only the first half of a two-parter.
Graduation Day, Part 2
The climax of season three has The Mayor about to turn into a giant snake during the graduation ceremony at Sunnydale High. Wesley and Cordelia, fearing this may be their only moment together before they’re all killed, take the plunge and kiss. Likewise, Willow and Oz take things to a new level. Meanwhile, Buffy has a few tricks up her sleeve to make sure said giant snake gets a nasty surprise when the time comes.
Needless to say, the school ends up in ruins, but the good guys win to fight another day. “Guys, we survived,” says Oz. “It was a helluva battle,” Buffy agrees. “No, I mean we survived High School.”
Compared to the hours of bonus stuff on the full season boxsets, here we just have trailers and TV spots for other Buffy/Angel DVDs available to buy. But a special mention must go to the trailer for Whedon’s other pet project Firefly, which if you don’t already own, should give you a taste of what you’ve been missing.
Overall this is a somewhat elusive DVD with no particular rhythm to the choice of episodes on display. All Buffy is good Buffy, but if you already have the full seasons you don’t need this, and I can only recommend it to people who only like these particular episodes and don’t want to splash out on a full boxset.