BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Review by Ed Nguyen
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter,
David Boreanaz, Seth Green, Anthony Stewart Head, Eliza Dushku, Alexis Denisof
Audio: English, Spanish, and French Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Video: full-frame, color
Studio: 20th-Century Fox
Features: season three overview, selected episode commentaries, featurettes, interviews, selected scripts, still gallery
Length: 1060 minutes
Release Date: January 7, 2003
it weird how slaying always makes you hungry and horny?" - Faith
the Vampire Slayer
is the bubbly, wisecracking brainchild of creator Jose Whedon.
The roots of this popular television show can be traced back to a 1992
film of the same name, starring Kristy Swanson.
While admittedly not a great film, it still introduced the character of
Buffy Summers, a perky high-school cheerleader who one day discovers that her
destiny is to be a vampire slayer. The
film featured catchy witticisms, plenty of dead vampires, and as a finale, a
high school gym burning down.
few years later, in 1996, the fledgling WB television network decided to air
thirteen episodes of Jose Whedon's television series based on the film.
The series was never meant to be more than filler material for earlier
new series which had flopped, but apparently someone forgot to tell Whedon this!
He infused his show with such wit and charm that it quickly became an
enormously popular hit among the younger demographics.
Teens could laugh with approval at Buffy's often-hilarious malapropisms
while she seriously dusted one vampire after another, yet they could also relate
to her cringingly-embarrassing ordeals as a mediocre high school student.
Even better, they could vicariously experience what it was like to have
superpowers and beat up the forces of evil in one exciting fight after another.
television show picked up where the movie ended. Buffy Summers (now portrayed by Sarah Michelle Gellar), after
having burned down her school's gym, has re-located to Sunnydale, California for
a fresh and anonymous start. Her
resolution to leave all that vampire-slaying fiasco behind her comes to no
avail, for the new school librarian, Giles, is expecting her.
He is a Watcher, and his sacred duty is to serve as her mentor and
teacher, preparing Buffy for her inescapable destiny.
This entails strict training, constant studying, and no social life.
For a teen-ager? It's
new friends eventually join in the fun, too.
They include the school geek Xander (Brendon), the brainy wicca gal
Willow (Hannigan), and the pretty, popular girl Cordelia (Carpenter), a
reluctant on-and-off participant. There's
even a mysterious vampire named Angel who seems more friend than foe.
Later in the series, further additions would include the werewolf Oz
(Green) and a few new slayers, too.
the first season established the show as a sleeper hit, the second season truly
set the foundation for the Buffy mythology.
During the course of the second season, Buffy falls in love with Angel,
whom she eventually is forced to kill after he turns evil.
Also, her mother discovers Buffy's secret life and proves incapable of
handling such shocking news. She
ill-advisedly turns Buffy away. Devastated,
loveless, and now homeless, Buffy runs away from Sunnydale, abandoning her
friends, her Watcher, and her destiny. Thus,
on this rather sad note, did the second season end!
third season commenced at the start of what would have been Buffy Summers'
senior year at Sunnydale High. I
have some quick goodies on the twenty-two episodes of this season below, so read
1: Anne "You've got guts.
I think I'd like to slice you open and play with them."
A young waitress, Anne (it's really Buffy), has settled into a new town.
Alone and friendless, she goes about her meaningless existence.
However, events transpire (involving a wicked demon that enslaves people
for menial labour) which eventually force Buffy to emerge from her cocoon of
guilt over having killed Angel.
2: Dead Man's Party "I have not only
the right but also a nearly physical sensation of pleasure at the thought of
keeping her out of school. I'd
describe myself as tingly." Sunnydale
is still infested by demons and vampires, but Buffy's return is met with a
less-than-enthusiastic response from her school, her friends and even her
mother. Feeling at odds, Buffy
considers running away again. This
episode showcases a powerful performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar.
3: Faith, Hope & Trick
"Check out Slut-O-Rama and her
Disco Dave." Everyone's
favorite "so-bad-she's-good" girl, Faith, has arrived in town!
She's super-sultry, she's ultra-streetwise, and she's a vampire slayer,
too! Eliza Dushku practically
steals the show as the new vampire slayer with a terrible secret.
4: Beauty and the Beasts
"Buffy Summers, reporting for
sanity." While Buffy is
stuck in student counseling (for aggressive tendencies, no less!), someone or
something is apparently mauling Sunnydale students!
What else is new? Could it be Oz, the resident werewolf? Or has an evil vampire from the past returned to cause more
havoc in Sunnydale?
5: Homecoming "Van? The
homecoming queen doesn't go to the dance in a van. Use your head."
Cordelia battles Buffy in a ludicrous, catty campaign to see who will
become the next homecoming queen. Along
the way, they get caught in a most dangerous game, wherein a handful of
assassins has been hired to slay Sunnydale's two slayers.
None of these killers even stop to contemplate Cordelia's insistence that
she isn't a slayer!
6: Band Candy "Mom started
borrowing my clothes. There should
be an age limit on lycra pants." This
is a really cute episode! Magical
candy has turned all the adults in Sunnydale into irresponsible adolescents.
Even Giles and Buffy's mom get it on, and it's up to Buffy and friends to
stop all this evil, evil madness!
7: Revelations "Interesting lady.
Can we kill her?" Every
slayer needs a Watcher. Faith
doesn't have one, so a female taskmaster is appointed to this role.
Unfortunately, her arrival, and a revelation about a dangerous secret
that Buffy has been hiding, threatens to splinter friendships apart.
This episode features Buffy's first fight against Faith!
8: Lover's Walk "Get out of
Sunnydale. That's a good thing.
What kind of moron would ever want to come back here?"
Spike, last season's screwy vampire du jour, has returned!
He has a plan - kidnap Willow and force her create a special magic potion
for him. It's up to Buffy and
friends to save Willow. This is a
fun episode but ends on a very down note for most everyone, except
9: The Wish "Why me?
Why do I get impaled? Why do
I get bitten by snakes?" Cordelia
wishes Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. Oops!
A vengeance demon grants her the wish.
Suddenly, Cordelia is thrust into an evil alternate reality in which the
Master, a first season vampire lord, has conquered Sunnydale and turned Xander
and Willow into vampires. This is a
dark episode where, again, things turn out very
badly for the good guys, though the alternate reality Giles eventually saves the
10: Amends "Nothing like a
roaring fire to keep away the blistering heat."
It's Christmas time in hot Sunnydale, and a ghost from the past has begun
tormenting one of Buffy's friends. The
ghost's goal is soon revealed - she wants Buffy dead!
This episode features another strong dramatic performance by Sarah
11: Gingerbread "Just
remember, lift a finger against me, and you'll have to answer to MOO."
After two young children are apparently killed in a ritual murder in the
local park, Buffy's mother creates Mothers Opposed to the Occult to rid
Sunnydale of witches, slayers, and other unsavory characters.
Unfortunately, her list of bad elements to be eliminated happens to
include Buffy, too! Has her mother
gone mad? Find out!
12: Helpless "If I was at full
slayer power, I'd be punning right about now."
A psychotic vampire is on the prowl and has his sights squarely set on
Buffy. Even worse, a mysterious
malady has robbed Buffy of her powers on the eve of her eighteenth birthday.
When she is trapped in a house with the vampire, Buffy must rely solely
on her wits to stay alive.
13: The Zeppo "It must be really
hard when all your friends have, like, superpowers, and you're like this little
nothing....You're the useless part of the group. You're the Zeppo."
Cordelia is always ready to let loose with a penetrating, tact-free
insult, and this time, Xander is the unfortunate target of her wrath.
This stand-alone episode is outstanding fun and focuses upon the humorous
missteps of Xander, including a romp with Faith, while the rest of the Scooby
Gang are out saving the world or some other nonsense.
14: Bad Girls "When
are ya gonna get this, B? Life for
a slayer is very simple -want...
have." After the fiasco of
Helpless, Giles has been removed from
the post of Watcher. A new and wimpy Watcher, Wesley, has been assigned to
instruct Buffy. However, he
exhibits poor control over Buffy, much less Faith, our resident Bad Girl vampire
slayer. With such a clueless
Watcher, Faith decides to initiate Buffy into some naughty and delinquent fun.
This is a delicious episode, but one whose surprising conclusion slowly
turns Faith to the dark side.
15: Consequences "In fact, I am
here to watch girls. Uh - uh, Buffy
and Faith, to be specific." With
Wesley still bumbling about (and going ga-ga over Cordelia), Faith's rebellious
tendencies begin to turn her towards evil, especially after the stunning
conclusion of Bad Girls.
In the episode's highlight, Buffy and Faith clash once again in a battle
of the slayers.
16: Doppelgangland "Will, gotta say, not lovin' the new you."
The alternate reality succubus Willow, from The
Wish, has been inadvertently summoned into this reality.
No one notices the switch until after she holds a local dance club
hostage. Hannigan absolutely shines
in her best spotlight role to date in the series, playing evil Willow and good
Willow and good Willow pretending to be evil while evil Willow pretends to be
This episode is one of the gems of the third season!
17: Enemies "Demons wanting
money... whatever happened to the still-beating heart of a virgin?
No one has any standards anymore."
Faith has finally abandoned her friends and in fact means to betray them!
Now in cahoots with a new sugar-daddy (the town mayor, who is secretly a
demi-demon with insidious plans of his own), Faith launches a diabolical plot to
take the life of Sunnydale's other vampire slayer, Buffy!
18: Earshot "You had
sex with Giles? On the hood of a
police car? Twice?!"
Buffy develops telepathic powers after slaying a demon.
Suddenly, she can read the thoughts of everyone around her, much to her
amusement. However, the constantly
droning voices in her head soon drive her to the brink of insanity even as she
struggles to discover the identity of a person with thoughts about killing
students. This episode was
originally withheld because it had the misfortune of having been scheduled to
air just after the real-life student shootings incident in Columbine.
Fortunately, it's back now, so many fans will get an opportunity to watch
this often very funny episode.
19: Choices "I'm sorry, Buffy.
This conversation is reserved for those who actually have a future." With graduation approaching, Buffy faces a dilemma.
Either she can go away to college, lead a normal existence, and live to a
ripe old age. Or, she can remain in
dark Sunnydale to battle evil monsters and eventually be killed by something
slimy and nasty. What is a slayer to do?
Meanwhile, Sunnydale's evil mayor schemes about his mysterious Ascension
20: The Prom "Well, if Anya
tries to get you killed, put me down for a big I-told-you-so."
Anya, the vengeance demon formerly responsible for all the chaos in The
Wish, is now trapped in the body of a teenaged girl.
Overcome by her new feelings of adolescence, she even asks Xander out to
the prom! Oh yes, and some monsters
threaten to crash the prom, but you know, there's Buffy and yeah, she saves the
day and all that. There is a
touching scene at the end in which all the students offer Buffy an award of
recognition for always seeming to be around at the right time whenever monsters
21: Graduation Day, Part 1
"You look lovely, perfect for
the ascension. Any boys that manage
to survive will be lining up to ask you out."
The mayor is excited about his upcoming Day of Ascension, and he does not
want any foil-ups. He sends out Faith to tie up loose ends, which includes
preventing Buffy from interfering with the mayor's plans.
To this end, Faith poisons one of Buffy's friends and then engages her in
a final, titanic battle to the death!
22: Graduation Day, Part 2
We'll get him cornered and then you can sneeze on him."
Buffy has quit her Watcher. Faith
is missing. The mayor is about to
ascend into some horrible, big serpent thing that's going to destroy Sunnydale!
Will anyone find a weakness in time to defeat this invulnerable demonic
behemoth? Watch the finale and find
to say, Buffy does somehow manage to save the day. The TV series, of course, would continue for many more
seasons afterwards. In later
seasons, Buffy would enter college, gain a mysterious sister, return as a school
counselor for Sunnydale High, and even die!
For real! Faith would also
return in later seasons, and Xander and Anya would even become engaged.
But throughout these seasons, the show maintained its solid reputation
for consistently witty screenplays and energetic, winsome performances.
Most fans of the show agree, though, that the high school years offered
the best episodes of the series. Of
those, the third season of Buffy the
Vampire Slayer is arguably the best of the bunch.
22 episodes of this third season are spread over 6 DVDs, or about 3-4 episodes
per DVD. Fans who have purchased
the previous two seasons on DVD will notice a marked improvement in the quality
of the image. The main reason for
this is a step up from 16mm to 35mm film stock used for photography.
As a result, the graininess and relatively poor mastering of the first
two seasons on DVD has been rectified. The
new image quality is not perfect and is still a little grainy in the dark
scenes, most noticeably on the DVDs containing 4 episodes.
However, even considering how much information is stored on these DVDS,
the image is definitely superior to
that within the previous Buffy sets.
episodes have been outfitted with a Dolby Surround audio.
Considering the numerous slam-bang fight scenes, roaring monsters, and
general chaos that permeate the entire season, this was a wise decision on the
producers' part. The surround sound audio does a fantastic job of drawing
listeners in Buffy's world. It's
loud, it's booming, it's everywhere, and it adds that extra oomph to the
one word - the menus are very loud.
You might want to consider keeping the volume low until you actually
start watching an episode!
are a number of interesting extras spread over the 6 DVDs.
Unfortunately, the packaging does not indicate where they are!
Unless you feel like searching the DVDs yourself, just look below for
some quick answers!
1 - The
original script for Faith, Hope, and Trick
is provided with this episode.
2 - The
original scripts for Band Candy and Lovers Walk are provided with their respective episodes.
3 - The original script for The
Wish is provided with this episode. A
separate Special Features section contains a stills gallery of 30 large
photographs and 2 featurettes. One
featurette is a wry look at how the writers and creators come up with the show's
hilarious Buffyspeak. The second
featurette discusses the overall story arc of the third season; I would suggest not
watching this until you've seen all the episodes, but it's up to you.
Commentary tracks for Helpless by
writer David Fury, for Bad Girls by
writer Doug Petrie, and for Consequences
by director Michael Gershman can be accessed from their respective episodes.
Also included is an interview with Jose Whedon about the character of
Faith; this can be accessed from Bad Girls
or Consequences. These are
all pivotal episodes, as they concern Giles losing his post as Watcher and Faith
turning against her friends.
5 - Earshot has a commentary track by Jane Espensen.
An interview with Jose Whedon, discussing the controversy over this
episode, can be accessed from either Enemies
6 - An
interview with Jose Whedon can be accessed from either part of Graduation
Day and offers a wrap-up perspective on the season finale.
A Special Features section also contains
separate featurettes about the wardrobe, weapons, monsters, and special
effects of the Buffy show.
total, that's 4 scripts, 4 commentaries, 3 interviews with Whedon, 5
featurettes, 1 interview with the monster designer, and 1 stills gallery!
Not too shabby. The original scripts are fairly close to the final product
but do have some minor differences. Unfortunately,
they are a little hard to navigate, and there's no easy way to skip quickly to
certain portions. While the
featurettes are fairly short in length, they do offer a good deal of
information. Ditto for the
interviews. All in all, Warner
Brothers practically squeezed features into every last inch of space on these
DVDs, so Buffy fans should be quite