Monday, November 14, 2011

The BUFFY Top 20! Part 2
10 Conversations with Dead People [Season 7]
Buffy goes art house! Season 7 was a bit hit and miss, but Conversations with Dead People was one of the few major highlights of the season. Each of the main characters are visited by The First who takes the form of a dead person they once knew. Buffy has an honest sit down conversation with an ex-student who is now a vampire, Willow gets a visit from a girl who died a few episodes earlier, and Dawn has the most bizarre visit of all, with The First appearing as her Mother during a group of very creepy hauntings while Dawn is home alone.
09 Fool For Love [Season 5]
Spike had a fascinating history, and we saw glimpse of it in this episode. Not only was this a great insight into his past, but it was also the start of what would eventually be a close but messy relationship between Buffy and Spike. They could have made a whole movie out of this.

08 Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered [Season 2]
Xander casts a love spell on Cordelia which backfires and makes every woman in town fall in love with him instead. They could have played this safe, but they actually went all out in this episode with Willow chasing Xander with an ax, Buffy getting turned into a rat and even Buffy's Mom lusting after Xander when he tries to find sanctuary in her home.

07 Band Candy [Season 3]
What a hilarious concept for an episode! The adults of Sunnydale revert back to acting like teenagers when the town starts eating some new [and suspicious] chocolatete bars that clearly have a secret ingredient not listed on the back of the wrapper. The sight of a rock n' roll bad boy Giles and a vandal happy gum chewing Joyce Summers is something you'll only ever see once in this series, so this episode is a must!.
06 The Body [Season 5]
Joss Whedon goes for a much more realistic style of direction in this episode, when Buffy has to deal with the consequences of finding her Mother dead. The deafening silence of the episode [which features no music whatsoever] is very powerful and makes the entire experience the characters go through that much more effective.
05 When She Was Bad [Season 2]
Buffy comes back from summer vacation and it seems like she has a few unresolved issues after dying [and coming back to life] at the end of season 1. Unfortunately for everyone around her, they have to deal with her rather nasty and unpleasant attitude. Other than her bipolar character turn in season 6, you won't see Buffy as far removed from her usual self as you do in this episode. Buffy's a bitch!

04 Hush [Season 4]
The town of Sunnydale have their ability to speak taken away from them when a group of creepy floating fairytale demons come to town. Buffy and friends have to try and find a way to solve the mystery behind how to stop the creatures, all while awkwardly signing/miming their way throughout the episode. The scene where Buffy motions using a stake, but looks like she's masturbating makes the episode worth it alone.
03 Living Conditions [Season 4]
In my opinion, this was the funniest episode from the whole series, and there were many of those, so that says a lot. Buffy goes to college for the first time in season 4 and finds herself sharing a dorm room with the most annoying roommate on Earth. She borrows Buffy's clothes, eats Buffy's food and is constantly listening to Cher's "Believe", much to Buffy's horror. The Scoobies think Buffy is starting to lose her mind when Buffy announces she wants to kill her roommate to end the torment, but later it's revealed that the roommate is in fact a demon, which Buffy is more than happy to use as an excuse to destroy her.
02 Restless [Season 4]
From a direction point of view, this was the best thing we ever saw in the series. Joss Whedon goes all David Lynch as he weaves in and out of characters dreams as they recieve prophetic messages from a dark figure that stalks them in their sleep. The weird moments and fantastic transitions between worlds are perfectly executed, i also love the confrontation between Buffy and the first Slayer during the last part of the episode. The visuals are hypnotic, but the interesting use of music and sound in the episode also adds to the strong eerie atmosphere of the dream worlds the characters encounter.
01 Becoming, Part 1 & 2 [Season 2]
I know technically i'm cheating with this since i've included both episodes in the #1 spot, but if i had to choose just one side of this epic 2 part finale, it would be part 2. I figured i'd write about both of them since they work best as one long double episode anyway.

It doesn't get any bigger in terms of "wow" moments for me in Buffy than it does with Becoming parts 1 and 2. From the death of Kendra, to Angel's plot to open the gates of hell, through to Buffy being framed for murder and eventually taking Angel head on in a battle to the death, it's like a mini movie!. While part 1 builds up the momentum to part 2 perfectly [especially with Kendra's death], it's part 2 that brings it all full circle.
I'm sure every fan who watched this back in the day remembers how tense the lead up to Buffy and Angel's confrontation felt. It was even more shocking when Angel's soul was finally restored thanks to the Willow's magic, only to have Buffy still need to kill him to close the portal he already opened. It was the most dramatic the series got at the time, and the cinematic feel of the story showcased how capable the series was at telling really great epic stories.

Honorable mentions:

Prophecy Girl [Season 1]
The Gift [Season 5]
Witch [Season 1]
Tabula-Rasa [Season 6]
Wrecked [Season 6]

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The BUFFY Top 20! Part 1
After 15 years of watching Buffy episodes over and over again, i had a fair idea as to what would make my top 10. My top 20 however took a bit more thought. I could swap a few episodes here and there with others that didn't make the list, but overall i'd say this is pretty much the definitive top 20 for me.
Naturally, fans will agree and disagree with a few of my choices. I could ha
ve easily made my list based on the biggest and most popular fan favourites that are always picked, however, my selection process was a little broader. Here's part 1, episodes 20-11...

20 Passion [Season 2]
As Jenny Calendar tries to find a solution to restoring Angels soul, Angel begins sending cryptic messages to Buffy and the gang via dead fish [Willow] and drawings during sleep time [Buffy]. Eventually Angel comes head to head with Jenny, and kills her. Well......he snaps her neck to be more precise, and i'll always remember it as the first genuine shock of the series, completely unexpected and proof for the first time that no one was safe, even if you're part of the Scooby Gang.

19 Chosen [Season 7]
I still think it should have been a feature length finale, but as a final episode it still delivers the goods. After living for 7 years with these characters, there's nothing more satisfying than seeing them finally close the Sunnydale Hellmouth for good in the last ever episode of the series.

18 Grave [Season 6]
Season 6 comes to a massive finish when an evil and heartbroken Willow tries to take down the entire planet after her girlfriend [Tara] is killed. The episodes final scene between Willow and Xander is one of the most touching moments from the series.

17 Storyteller [Season 7]
Ex-villain and geek supreme, Andrew, is held captive in the Buffy house. To pass his time, he records a day in the life of the Scooby Gang with a hand held camera. The slow motion kitchen scene is a highlight.

16 Who Are You? [Season 4]
The return of Faith in season 4 was a big one! Just when you thought she may redeem herself after the events of season 3, she comes rampaging back into Buffy's life, swaps bodies with her and causes yet another mess. It only gets worse once she makes her way to Angel in L.A for another double episode in his series where she really loses it.

15 Double Meat Palace [Season 6]
This gets hated on by a lot by fans, i'm not sure why. I've always found Buffy's attempt at an everyday dead end fast food job kinda hilarious. The weird staff, Spike ordering a meal, the constant state of depression Buffy is in ect. Sure the monster at the end is a bit silly, but it all adds to the weird vibe of the whole episode.

14 Lie To Me [Season 2]
Ever notice how the Joss directed episodes were the best ones? this was a great change of pace for the series at the time, showcasing a different perspective of why someone would actually choose to become a vampire.

13 Once More With Feeling... [Season 6]
A demon turns the entire town of Sunnydale into a singing and dancing cast from a musical. The Scooby Gang try to restore the town back to normal all while breaking out into random outbursts of song and dance.
Joss Whedon's dream to write a musical comes true with original songs and real singing from each of the cast members. There's actually some really great tracks in the e
pisode and it's the weirdest you'll ever see the characters in the series.

12 Dopplegangland [Season 3]
Anya tries to regain her powers while accidentally bringing in a vampire version of Willow from an alternate reality into the "real" world. Willow as an evil vampire is a lot of fun to watch, especially when she's so out of place with the rest of the confused cast.
Willow's comment about her vampire alter-ego being "gay" was also a funny hint at what was to come of Willow in season 4.

11 Ted [Season 2]
Forget the awkward robot episode from season 1 [I, Robot...You, Jane], in season 2 of Buffy, the writers created a much more entertaining way for Buffy to come head to head with a robot in the evil form of Buffy's Mom's new boyfriends, Ted [played by John Ritter].
Sarah and John play opposite each other perfectly, it's very tense between their characters. John's guest appearance was the best one the series ever had.

Part 2 next week!...