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November 16 2013

SMG comments on Buzzfeed Buffy rankings. Sarah Michelle Gellar tweets on "The Prom" episode of Buffy.

Well, that's that settled! The Class Protector has spoken.
Comments about how she is using the fanbase to get ratings for her current show in... 1... 2... 3...
Ricardo: How's that supposed to work? Tweeting about Buffy doesn't make the writing on The Crazy Ones any sharper.
Ricardo Leal said:

Comments about how she is using the fanbase to get ratings for her current show in... 1... 2... 3...

Well excuse her for finally voicing out! I'm glad she popped up on Twitter. I'm not crazy about the Crazy Ones, but it's getting better and better each episode. Remember Buffy? That first season was more camp then quality. It needs time.
Ricardo Leal - Well you have to admit she never tweeted about Buffy before she had a Twitter account. ;)
The Crazy Ones is doing really well ratings wise. No tweeting necessary.
Sarah Michelle said *sniffle* the . . . the P word. *sob*

Came to Whedonesque to see if anyone posted the BF article, this is truly great. I've only made it down to the low ranking of End of Days, which bewilders me. Wheelchair fight?
I doubt if there are any two people in fandom that would make the same exact list. Every episode has great moments, even the "bad" ones. And The Body would be nearer the bottom of the list for me. I love Beer Bad.I love Gingerbread. I love The Zeppo and Doppelgangland is one brilliant moment after another. I can't stand Amends, I love the Class Protector award part of The Prom, and Buffy's "if I have to kill everyone" line but hate all the Angel and Buffy parts. Fool for Love is probably my number one. It's so well written, well acted, well directed, everything about it is awesome. But the one-two combo of OMWF and Tabula Rasa can't be beat. Normal Again is also near the bottom for me.
Xane, indeed, everybody's list would be completely different, in a way I think that's something that shows how great the series is: I don't think that there's any episode which would get an overall 'bad' rating in fandom - there's always plenty of people who do like it. Best example is the amount of people posting over the past couple on days on them liking 'Beer Bad' - you and me being two of them!

In any case, as subjective as Buzzfeed's list is, it is really, really cool that it now served as a basis for SMG pitching in with a nice positive comment about one single episode.

A ranking of all episodes is pretty meaningless to me. I couldn't even single out a most favourite episode. I think for me it's maybe more like 10 episodes sharing the number 1 spot followed by 120 sharing the second place, followed by maybe about 10 third-placers followed by only a very few which I don't think particularly high of... then with a huge gap after which I can rate 'Normal Again' as low as possible.
My approach has been to try to rank the best episodes of each season.

It still doesn't work.
It's nice that Sarah can join in the discussion. I agree no two people can rank the episode the same way.

OT: I am surprised that I'm entertained by the Crazy Ones. Usually, I would quit a show after 2 bad first episodes but I stuck longer 'cause of Sarah (same as with HIMYM for Aly). It has actually gotten better. The new addition of Brad Garrett was a great choice IMO.
I love "Normal Again." Sure it suggests that everything in the series was fake, but the whole episode was about exploring mental illness and dissociation. And it turns the mirror on the viewer, forcing us to ask ourselves why WE are watching this show about fantastic, absurd things like vampires (think "Cabin in the Woods"). No way would I rank it at the bottom, or anywhere near it in fact. =D

[ edited by Ronald_SF on 2013-11-17 18:09 ]

No need to get upset. You clearly didn't understand my comment. And I like the first season of Buffy just fine.


I do admit that! ;)
Ronald it is the suggesting everything in the series was fake that I really didn't like. But I'm also one of the few people who thought the Newhart ending was really stupid and insulting to the show, instead of clever. It really pissed me off. Everyone else in the world seemed to love it.
You see, I read "Normal Again" differently...

Buffy made the right choice, no matter which version of the world was real. She chose to be strong and to help her friends. That's the right thing to do, even if it kills you. And we know that the show's not real. So "Normal Again" says, "Here's a lesson on doing the right thing, and even if the show that is teaching you that lesson is pretty weird, the lesson's still valid." I never saw the Newhart thing, but it sounds to me like it just wiped out a season for the heck of it. "Normal Again," I think, says "We could rewrite the show left and right, and jump up and down on our own premise, and we're still right about this: be strong and stand by your friends."

In some ways it's parallel to "The Zeppo," which also hints that the world of Sunnydale isn't quite real, but in the interests of a good story and a good lesson about how even the losers of the world can come through in the clutch, if their hearts are in the right place and they have the right inspiration.

Both eps also allowed them to lampshade the show's more bizarre aspects. And since lampshading is essential to supporting the show's premise, you could almost argue that "The Zeppo" and "Normal Again" reinforce the show's sense of reality.

...Okay, that last bit was probably a step (or five) too far...
ManEnoughToAdmitIt - I have to say that I do like your take on 'Normal Again' a lot. But I unfortunately just can't see it that way. For me, the episode ridicules the very foundations of the show: ideas that the viewer has already accepted to begin with, 116 episodes earlier. The final scene pretty much confirms the alternate reality to be real. Accepting that, the viewer might as well stop watching - or choose to completely ignore it and watch on. And I do not think that making the choice to ignore the 'reality', and again accept the fantasy-based foundations of the series, has any strength or value attached to it. I had already made that choice, many hours of watching & investing before.
It's all made worse for me by Buffy, on her way to kill her friends, saying as much as that the idea of one girl fighting demons and vampires is ridiculous. I find that a major insult to the series as a whole, to Joss & all the other writers, and to the viewers.

Funny how you relate the episode to 'the Zeppo' - that's actually one of my favourites!
Okay, good points, and I don't want to disrespect your interpretation. You have your view, for good reasons, and mine's different; I'm not out to persuade you. That said, I still think there's a little more going on.

I think the last shot is supposed to make us all think "Oh, maybe it's real!" But I don't think it holds up. The main reason I've heard people say that the other reality is real is because the doctor talks with Joyce and Hank when Buffy's not around. But this proves nothing, as Buffy's hardly around for every single other conversation we've seen on the show. If we postulate that she hallucinated everything else we've seen on the show up to and including things which she didn't find out about until years later, things that she emphatically would have used, we can also postulate that she could have hallucinated the doctor and her parents talking. In fact, it's much the easier solution. Since we know she'd been in a mental ward before, her mind and the demon's venom could have generated such a hallucination quite easily. (Also remember that the other world is practically paradise to the small child in Buffy--not only is her mother alive, her parents are together--and at least a part of her has been trying to get back to paradise all season long.) And we've seen lingering but assuredly temporary effects of an episode trail into the credits before, most hilariously in "Jonathan."

As to saying "a girl fighting vampires is ridiculous..." -- well, I thought the idea was pretty ridiculous myself, when I first heard the title of the show. Learning how wrong I was is probably one of the most pleasant discoveries of my life. But on the surface it seems pretty weird. Then we can go down another level. The central idea, as Joss so often has said, is "Showing a blond girl go into the alley and beating up the monster, as a way of empowering women." If we find the idea that a girl could fight back ridiculous, then that says something about us, doesn't it? So the whole ep is meant to make us think.

Or so I interpret it. The writing definitely took a hit in Season 6. Maybe I'm building cloud-castles to try and dance around a poorly-written episode...

I won't deny that "Normal Again" is a tough ep in a tough season. But I think it fits the season arc so well. Buffy has been faced with enormous trauma and confusion, and is feeling like a fraud in general. It's perfectly natural that she'd start to feel like she wasn't the slayer just because of how poorly she's been doing... and so with a slight demonic assist, she starts to think that she actually isn't.
While you're not out to persuade me - I certainly appreciate your positive approach to the episode and should I ever watch it again, I'll try to see it with some of your comments in mind!

Obviously, I'm very much bothered by the suggestion that the 'other world' would be the real one. You are coming up with logical approaches as to why Buffy would envision that other world, thereby clearly dismissing the suggestion. That actually IS what I want to do with the episode, but I find that it tries to be a little too clever. My thoughts on why the other world is, with the final scene, presented as likely to be the real one, is that it is suggested beforehand that Buffy snapped out of the spell - giving no basis for any alternative reality view to occur anymore.

I would find it hard to appreciate the comments on the series' premise being ridiculous, even if they're supposed to make the viewer think, simply because I feel those thoughts should have already been dealt with.

But as we're going a bit off-topic in regards to the original post, let me say again that, for me, the one redeeming factor of the episode is SMG's outstanding acting.
On that we can definitely agree.
The final scene pretty much confirms the alternate reality to be real

It really doesn't. Buffy still hasn't been given the antidote by the end of the ep. There's absolutely no reason--at all--for that final scene not to be read as either A) the way the delusions Buffy is going through wink out when she is finally given the antidote or B) a particularly nasty twist the delusions take her through while she is waiting to be given the antidote.

Given, in fact, that there are multiple scenes in the episode (and in every single episode of BtVS) which occur between characters who are not Buffy and about which Buffy does not know anything, it is, in fact, extremely difficult to sustain a logical argument at the story level for the proposition that the mental hospital scenes are supposed to be "reality." It can be done, but it involves an awful lot of special pleading.

I'm not going to get into the endless and pointless "which episodes are best" argument--that's one you can't be wrong or right about. But it is definitely, 100% wrong to assert that the final scene of "Normal Again" decides the issue of which version of "reality" is the "really real" one.
You're right in that I defined too strict a meaning to the last scene in my earlier post. I also dismiss the final scene by giving a 'lingering poison' explanation to it, but I do think that the episode itself tries too hard to be clever by blurring the lines between the two realities. The mere suggestion that the other reality might be the real one - that is the thing that I have major issue with.
Yes, to me it seems logical that the last scene of "Normal Again" was simply another scene in the hallucination before Buffy takes the antidote.
I think she has been given the antidote by the end, but it's also implicit in her behavior that she's still "coming down" -- the ending works as aftereffects of the toxin just as well as the whole other reality. I think that ending was a great choice; I don't think they intended for us to seriously indulge the notion that the entire theretofore 5.5 seasons had been a hallucination, but just to purple our mental nurples.
The mere suggestion that the other reality might be the real one - that is the thing that I have major issue with.

But if the episode didn't make that feel like a real possibility, what point would there be to the demon's venom? Simply within the story logic of the episode, the venom has to make Buffy seriously question whether or not her life is merely an illusion brought on by mental illness. That is now the venom works. In other words, the more we "believe" in the rules and reality of the Sunnydale world, the more we have to believe and accept that the alternate "reality" created by the venom would be powerfully convincing.

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