TV Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – part 6

CONTINUED FROM PART 5 ABOVE.

The rest of the series can be found here: [12,34, 5, 6]

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS:

 

Season 7:

So at long last we meander to the final, and worst, season. Not that it’s awful, but it does suffer from a number of serious problems.

1. The big bad is diffuse. This season, in an effort to be even more apocalyptic, they decided on an incorporal season villain called “the first evil.” A vaguely couched badness that takes the form of dead people, often Buffy herself (she did, after all, die twice). Frankly, the first is kinda lame, and not very funny. It certainly doesn’t measure up to Glory or the Mayor (although it occasionally looks like the Mayor). It’s “first” appearance (haha) where it slowly winds back through all the villains in reverse order is however kinda cool.

2. The slayerettes – About 40% into the season Buffy is inundated by a collection of 17 year-old idiots known collectively as the slayerettes. They totally suck, are just anoying, gum up the relationships we really care about, and often get themselves killed (good riddance). Only Kennedy has any redeeming qualities — mostly in the form of implied girl-on-girl action with Willow.

3. Andrew – For some reason, this lamest and most annoying of the “Trio” is held captive in Buffy’s house, where he can serve to annoy us, the viewers. He does have his occasional moments and lines, like “Episode one boring?” But mostly he grates on the nerves of the cast and viewer alike. Oh Andrew, why at least couldn’t you have died in “Chosen?”

4. Mysterious documentary-style shooting – Certain episodes have a more documentary style that is not evidenced anywhere else in the series. Notably “Storyteller” (deliberate there for sure) and bits in “Touched” and “End of Days.” It felt amateurish and out of place.

5. No good creative episodes – Nothing like “The Body” or “Once More with Feeling.” Nothing. They may have tried with “Storyteller,” but it was lame lame lame.

At least the writers knew it would be the last season, and so in a neat and orderly manner arced the story toward a decent conclusion. And the first half of the season starts pretty decently. The new character, Principal Wood is good. “Help” is a great episode and the Anya episode, “Selfless” has some totally priceless 1,000 year flash back scenes between Anya and Olaf the troll — totally priceless, and made all the better for being in some Germanic/Scandinavian tongue and subtitled. “Conversations with Dead People” and “Sleeper” aren’t bad either.

Ug. Then enter the slayerettes. The only compensating bit being the sub-boss bad guy, the “ubervamp” who is pretty cool and kicks some ass, including Buffy’s.

The second half of the season is uneven, including my least favorite episode in a long time “Storyteller,” but the pretty good “Lies My Parents Told Me.” The new sub-boss Caleb is decent too. Then we have “Empty Places.”

I don’t know what they were thinking, but it’s obvious the writers decided they had to separate Buffy from her friends for dramatic effect, and so they stage a show down in which they all turn against her. In no other episode of the entire series is there a moment where so many characters just act completely out of character. I can buy a few of them turning on her like this, but the writers failed completely to give each and every one of them a valid personal reason visa-via their relationship with Buffy to do so. I could barely watch it.

The return of Faith however is good, and the last three episodes are pretty strong, particularly the series finale “Chosen.” Despite the lame cameo from Angel, it does all end up in a pretty good place, and reasonably satisfying — a difficult thing to do after such a long and emotional series. Overall, it’s certainly a must watch, but just not on par with the magnificent pair of seasons that preceded it.

As with the previous two times I’m depressed that it’s over. This time I’m going to make a serious effort at Jos Whedon’s season 8 in comic book form.

9 comments on “TV Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – part 6

  1. […] CONTINUED FROM PART 4 ABOVE. And the whole series [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] […]

  2. […] February 11, 2011 at 9:06 am TV Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – part 6 « All Things Andy Gavin […]

  3. […] CONTINUING FROM PART 1 ABOVE. And the whole series [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] […]

  4. […] February 11, 2011 at 9:06 am TV Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – part 6 « All Things Andy Gavin […]

  5. Alex says:

    Season 8 is awful, seriously awful with the exception of a few issues (one involving Buffy and Andrew in Italy, one created from a script of the canned animated series and the final issue). Comic books obviously have no budget for special effects and the places you can visit in them so Joss Whedon took his opportunity to go totally over the top in every way he could, all the ways he couldn’t on tv.

    Random lesbian relationships, gratitous unneeded half naked bodies and sex, ridiculous globe spanning storylines, a strange relationship between two Scoobies, no Spike for 90% of the season, a weird ass bromance between Dracula and Xander….oh I don’t want to go on about what’s wrong with it.

    The good thing is that Joss recognised the problems and admitted to them. As a result #40 of S8 and he promises S9 (Starting this autumn) are very much ‘back to basics’ aside from in a new city. So S9 might actually give us the Buffy TV show in comic form which most people expected for S8 but instead got some crazy comic book adventure (in the worst kind of way).

    • agavin says:

      That was kinda how I felt (made it about halfway through S8). I couldn’t tell if it was the medium or the story. I don’t actually like comics anymore as a medium (even though I read A LOT of them in my early teens). I much prefer either TV/Film or novels. Comics tend to have very stilted writing.

      I had hoped that with a good writer these would transcend, but they didn’t. Even the dialog just didn’t seem that witty without the snappy delivery. I watched some of the weird comic/animation/voice over DVD hybrid too. That really bugged me because they had these cheesy voice actors that weren’t the cast. I know it would have been too expensive, but it might have worked if they used the real cast. Although the stories were also WAY WAY too combat and crazy big stuff oriented. The show was never really that way, more about the characters and a bit of routine Sarah Michelle throwing roundhouses (which isn’t why we watched anyway).

      • Alex says:

        I wont ruin anymore of it for you, I assumed you would have read the entire season by now – my bad! Everything they’ve said about S9 makes me think they realise the serious serious problems that S8 had and they are returning to a more successful formula. Whether that formula will work as well in comics it remains to be seen, I don’t ever think it’ll be as good as the TV show but there’s still potential for a much better comic series than what S8 was.

        I’d just like to say how great your season reviews were though. I actually first came across your site when linked from IGN about the Crash articles (my first PS1 game ever) and then stumbled across the Buffy articles. I had the same initial thoughts as yourself about it sounding ridiculous but decided to try it out based mainly on your reviews. I somehow managed to get through all 7 seasons and the season 8 comic book in three and a half months. I’m now deep into season 3 of Angel, which isn’t really catching my attention as much but it’s still good TV. So thanks and hopefully you’ll be able to grind your way through the rest of S8, there are some surprisingly plotlines in the remainder if you can get past all that’s wrong with it.

      • agavin says:

        Don’t worry about spoilers. Glad you liked the reviews and stuff. I’ve watched all of Angel too. It’s good, particularly seasons 2,3 & 4, but the characters just aren’t as engaging as in Buffy. Maybe it’s the gender ratio (what can I say, I like girls better), maybe it’s just that Angel himself isn’t that likable. Still, those middle seasons are really good. Firefly is too, shame it’s so short.

        Dollhouse sucks. It has its moments (mostly involving the geeky tech guy), but I don’t understand what happened. Perhaps even the conceit of having a tabula rasa character is flawed, even if I like Eliza Dushku. The rest of the cast is mediocre too.

        While Buffy is the best show ever filmed. There are other great shows. Pretty much all of the HBO dramas are amazing.

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