Buffy Season 7 (part I)

We’ve finally started to watch the Buffy Season 7 DVD’s we got ourselves for Christmas. Good marks so far; here are notes on the individual episodes.

7.1: Lessons – one of two episodes we managed to catch first time round, so this time we watched it with the Joss Whedon/David Solomon voiceover – first time I’ve watched a DVD with a voiceover like that. The episode is the one where the new principal is introduced, Spike is insane in the school basement, and the monsters du jour are zombies summoned by a talisman. As well as the great morphing sequence of villains at the end, which brings us back to the beginning of the whole show, the initial exchange about how terrifying school is between Dawn and Buffy almost seems like a return to the show’s original theme. Query Istanbul sequence? And Westbury has romantic associations for me from long past (OK, so I know it was actually ASH’s house in Bath 20 miles away).

7.2 Beneath You – this is the one with the woman called Nancy whose ex-boyfriend has been turned into a giant worm by Anya. Several great character moments. Lucid Spike is even more scary than Insane Spike. A truly slash-tastic moment when Nancy asks who hasn’t slept with each other, and Xander and Spike exhange a (smouldering?) glance. Cathartic (one hopes) fight between Spike and Buffy. First episode in which Anya is clearly the baddie (though persuaded to undo her spell at the end). Query Frankfurt sequence?

7.3: Same Time, Same Place – the one where Willow and the others can’t see each other, but everyone else can see them. This was the only other episode we’d seen before. Much more horror content than we are used to from Buffy, with not just the invisibility factor but also the Gnarl demon, the flayed corpse, and the sequence where he starts to eat Willow. Poor Dawn – she gets the answer and nobody believes her, and then she ends up paralysed on the couch with the TV remote control uselessly clutched in her hand. Some very good sequences here as we try and work out what is really going on, and as Willow and her friends start the process of re-integrating her.. Another slash-tastic moment when Anya, who was initially worried about her magic with Willow getting “all sexy”, then rather enjoys it when it does get “a little sexy”!

7.4 Help – the one with the girl who knows she is going to die next Friday. TBH this one didn’t really work very well for me, the most interesting bit for me being to try and work out if Cassie Newton/Azura Skye really looks like Drew Barrymore in “Never Been Kissed”. Oh yes, and Willow’s excellent line that “this is normal teen stuff. You join chat rooms, you write poetry, you post Doogie Howser fan-fic. It’s all normal, right?” But the plot as a whole didn’t gel – Buffy will get sacked as a school counsellor if she goes on like this (social worker-style calls on estranged fathers, using Dawn as part of her outreach startegy); Peter, the main demon-raiser, gets off very lightly with only a shoulder bite, which seems a little mild as retribution for an attempted human sacrifice; and Cassie’s death as a result of a condition mysteriously absent from her available medical records but known to her mother made the entire rescue effort and therefore most of the episode seem completely pointless.

7.5 Selfless – the one with Anya getting people’s hearts torn out. Now we’re cooking on gas! The Viking flashback scenes had some great lines: “Your hips are narrow, like a Baltic woman from a slightly more arid region.” “Run! Hide your babies and your beadwork!” – and even starts with Anya holding, of all things, a rabbit. Buffy hunting and killing the spider demon (indeed the spider demon itself) – a great sequence. D’Hoffryn, coming across all urbane and charming, especially in his chat with Willow (“Have you done something with your hair?”) and then at the end utterly casually killing Halfrek rather than Anya, to remind everyone that he’s still a demon lord, however charming and urbane he may appear. The flashback to Once More With Feeling was good too, coming as it did immediately after we’d seen Buffy stab Anya through the chest. Basically a rather sad episode, leavened by shafts of comedy.

7.6 Him – the one with the magic jacket which makes girls fall in love with you. This is Buffy going back to its roots of high-school angst manifesting as dark forces, and doing it well (I always liked Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered). Poor Dawn – her attempts to ingratiate herself with RJ are almost more painful and disturbing than the demon Gnarl eating Willow three episodes back. And Buffy really is going to get sacked as a school counsellor if she goes on like this! The music is from “A Summer Place”, a 1959 film which I’ve never seen but which is apparently one of the great teen romances of all time. Great lines like Willow’s “Right there with ya” (when they realise that the girl with the “painted on” top is in fact Dawn), and then her attempts to turn RJ into a girl – would the jacket have still worked, I wonder? And if so, how? The four way split screen just before the last commercial break was hilarious. And what will Anya do with all the money she has (presumably) stolen? Great to have a funny episode after several that were somewhat less funny.

So, on balance, very much enjoying Season 7, with only one duff episode out of six so far. Next up is Conversations With Dead People, which was the only Buffy episode ever to win a Hugo Award, so I’m really looking fiorward to it.

One thought on “Buffy Season 7 (part I)

  1. I’d been wondering if there were any dates within the year that had *no* Who-related material assigned to them at all…

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