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June 19 2003

"Adventurous, uneven, and often brilliant". PopMatters review of BtVS Season 4 DVD.

Although Sunnydale is one of the whitest places on the earth, to be fair to the slayer line, it has been pretty balanced. First Slayer (Black), Slayer killed by Spike in Boxer's rebellion (Chinese), Nikki Wood (Black), Buffy (White), and Kendra (Black), Faith (White), most talented performer in Best Episode (Hinton Battle as Sweet - Black).

Nix that last one -- you know what I mean, though.

[ edited by brother_grady on 2003-06-19 21:00 ]
They actually addressed this matter in the Kakistos episode when Mr. Trick arrived, with some of my favorite Buffy dialogue:

Sunnydale. Town's got quaint. And the people? He called me 'sir'. Don't you just miss that? I mean, admittedly, it's not a haven for the brothers, you know, strictly the Caucasian Persuasion here in the Dale. But, you know, you just gotta stand up and salute their death rate.
Makes DC look like Mayberry :-)
Buffy was always one step ahead of its detractors - like Buffy's speechifying in S7 and Riley's dullness in S4, the scripts made fun of Sunnydale's whiteness early on. Thus I absolve it of all crimes against multiculturalism.

Related: Am I the only man on Earth who thinks S4 was just as good as S3? "Beer Bad" was lousy, but I can name four or five worse episodes in seasons that followed - and "Beer Bad" included Willow's awesome takedown of Parker, when he tries to put the moves on her.

I haven't seen a DVD review yet that reflects my POV ...
I tell people that Season 4 was the least superb of the pales in comparison to the others, but is still marvelous. I guess I'm in the minority regarding "Beer Bad"...I thought it was hilarious...Buffy's dreams about Parker were quite funny, and the throwaway line from the bar owner about his brother-in-law beign a warlock was classic...and, around our house, "foamy!" is often heard in the context where one would more likely expect to hear "great!" or "fantastic!"

We just re-watched Season 4. No, it's not Glory or Graduation or Killing Angel...but it is very, very good indeed.
I've been re-watching this season and enjoying it immensely. I kept thinking about how I actually miss Riley Finn - possibly one of the most reviled charcters in the buffyverse, next to Kennedy, that is - I just like the big doof. He had a different POV and upbringing than the rest of the scoobies and I like how the interaction plyed out.

The article at the link highlights some of the feelings that I share with Petrie:

"Petrie's commentary track for "The Initiative" (4-7) is most entertaining. His affection for Riley, "the Jimmy Stewart of the Buffy universe, this big square doof," is especially affecting: "poor Riley is so lost in the world of girlie empowerment." As he loses his corn-fed idealism and sees the evil of his organization, Riley "just got darker and darker and darker," notes Petrie, embodying "the American metaphor," finding corruption and forced to "question his own team." His shift in thinking is marked by his impossible love for Buffy. Petrie observes that when Riley uses the phrase "one girl" for his voice identification in Initiative elevator, he's speaking his heart, which the series just won't be able to accommodate."

I think Petrie really hit it on the head there.
Petrie really has nailed it, Captain...that's one of the marvelous things about go back and are amazed by the layers and nuances and ever-so-careful character development...Riley is indeed at sea when transplanted from The Initiative to the gang...and he flailingly tries to cope and adapt...but it's doomed, and he winds up embracing darkeness, bit by's actually a superb portrayl of how an innocent soul can be tormented into very non-innocent behavior and attitudes.
...a "bad" Buffy season is still the best TV of any season!
Amen, Debra. The "worst" Buffy episodes, for my money, are the ones with a kind of "after-school special" flavor..."Invisible Girl," for example.

They are still excellent TV and miles better than anything else.

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