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December 12 2012

10 episodes that show how Buffy the Vampire Slayer blew up genre TV. List from the AV Club, recommending the ten episodes that best represent the series. Not necessarily the best episodes, though...

Why is OAFA on that 10 more you'll like list? One of these things is not like the other!
Feh. Do not agree with many of these choices.
Really? It was a near-perfect list for me. The first three episodes listed were indeed the very ones that hooked me on the show when my then-boyfriend (now husband, because of course I married the man who introduced me to Buffy) was showing me a handful of S1 and S2 eps.
(Agree about OAFA though... odd choice on an otherwise great list).
I, too, find this a great list: I love the off-formats, and so a list focusing on the show's range is bound to delight me. I always love lists that pick "Restless" before they pick "Hush."

Some good insights in the commentary, and in the comments as well. I'd never heard that the S6 hatred may have stemmed from scheduling issues. Makes sense, though. I think S7 also benefits from a fast run-through, maybe more than any of them, as it gets you through the lackluster ones to where Faith comes back and things get interesting.

OAFA is hardly terrible, but there are a few others a bit more deserving, I agree. "The Initiative" is my under-appreciated fave; and I think "Lie to Me" is the show's first truly great ep. I would also accept "I Only Have Eyes For You."
Maybe it's a good time for another rewatch. Of course, any time is a good time for another rewatch. :-)
I maintain that, if you want one episode to sum up what makes Buffy so great, I Only Have Eyes For You is one of the best choices.

I would never have included restless on this list, because it's so freaky and dense... I'm not sure a new viewer could appreciate an episode like that. I mean, I was a little freaked when I first saw that episode in the middle of the night during the hottest night of a flaming heat-wave. I was unsure if I was dreaming the episode or if it was just such a strange episode. One of the coolest viewing experiences ever, though!
Keep in mind that this is not a "The 10 best episodes" list. It's supposed to show the breadth of the storytelling found in the show, so just rattling off the usual suspects again would be of little use for that purpose.
Hush should be on the main list. On a list of one, that would be the one to show people.
Great write-up on the show and a pretty strong list of 10 episodes to skim the series (although of course not watching the show in its entirety would be a shame).

I really liked the first half of the list. Especially loved that it includes "Earshot", which I've always considered the quintessential Buffy episode.

I also like that he included "Older And Far Away". Some unexpected personal favorites IMO never hurt a list like this, and "Older And Far Away" is a fun episode that represents what season 6 is about pretty well (though I'd personally would have went with "Life Serial" instead).

Although I love "Restless" I'd probably replace it with "Hush" (which after "Earshot" would actually be my first pick for a list like this, as an accessible stand alone-ish episode of astounding quality).

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2012-12-13 15:28 ]
I actually think it's a pretty good list as a broad overview of the series.

If you were trying to hook someone into watching the whole series from start to finish though, rather than just giving them a general overview, I agree that ''Earshot'' and ''Hush'' are the best choices. I also don't think I'd show them anything later than Season 4, which is really the last obvious jumping-on point.

And is ''Older and Far Away'' really unpopular then, or do people just not feel it's of the same quality as the other episodes listed? If it's the latter, then I guess I can kind of see their point, though I still feel it's a perfectly solid episode. But then, I've always quite liked ''Inca Mummy Girl'' and ''Doublemeat Palace'' too...
That's a clever distinction allthingsaverage.

I had the same thought about not including anything from the later season to avoid completely spoiling the show, but then figured it would be nice to have some episodes from later seasons too if you'd want to give a good impression of the show as a whole (as its capacity to transform itself and cover new creative ground was, IMO, one of its mayor strengths).

I also thought "Older and Far Away" was a solid episode (but then, like you I also quite liked "Inca Mummy Girl" and "Doublemeat Palace" too) but from previous discussions on this site I've gotten the impression that it's generally regarded as very weak, rather than just nothing spectacular.
I don't think jumping around through "10 best" or "10 representative" episodes is a good way to start. The flow is important, even taking in some relative clunkers. I'd suggest starting at the beginning of Season 2 with a commitment to stick it out through midseason, following maybe two or three teasers like "The Wish" and "Earshot".
I just came over here to boggle at "Older and Far Away." I submit "Selfless" in its spot.
I think Season 1 can actually serve as a starting point: "Nightmares" is surprisingly strong. And remarkably important for in-jokes later on; I'm convinced Joss had re-watched "Nightmares" shortly before he wrote OMWF. And "the Pack" is actually growing on me. It's a good metaphor, if handled a bit clumsily.

But in general I'd agree that early S2 is a good place to begin: School Hard, Halloween, Lie to Me, the Dark Age, What's My Line... it's a (minor) hit parade for a while there, actually.
@ManEnoughToAdmitIt "The Pack" was the first Buffy episode I ever watched, and I quickly became a regular watcher and then a fan afterwards, so it can certainly work as an introductory episode :). I've always remained very fond of it. "Nightmares" is another great early episode.

I also agree with swanjun that "Selfless" is a wonderful episode and a strong candidate for a list like this.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2012-12-13 20:23 ]

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