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August 01 2015

What works do you love more than the critical darlings? Buffy seasons 4 and 7 get some love from critic Alex McCown.

I can understand finding Season 4 and 7 underrated, but saying they're the best seasons of the show seems like a joke.
I really liked Season 4, except for Adam. While Riley was bland, I do understand why he was important for telling the overall story. Adam was just stupid. Too bad the Evil Bitch Monster ended up not being the Big Bad.

As for Season 7, when you marathon it without commercials, it's really not that bad, and it flows well with the previous season.
I don't understand any of the season 7 dislike. I loved it I think it's my second favorite season. It was sooo epic it's tough for me to go back and just watch the simpler early seasons. I mean Buffy became a general of an army!! That's so cool. It was funny scary touching. Had a great premiere, great finale. I loved Conversations with Dead People, Selfless, Get it Done, Lies My Parents Told Me, and the 5 episode arc that ended the series. Caleb was funny and scary and I thought that monster that ate Willows skin was the scariest one episode villain. It's still probably my favorite series finale of all time.

No it wasn't perfect - the whole weird multi episode tease with Giles possibly being the First was a non starter (but so was Tara's misdirection arc in season 4-5 so it wasn't the first time). My big complaint is there was a lot of inconsistencies with the first that annoyed me and they never really explained exactly what t wanted to do. Did it want to possess everyone or become solid? And sometimes it could hear everything and see everything, and other times not. And the uber camps were inconsistent in powers too.

[ edited by mark214 on 2015-08-02 00:36 ]

[ edited by mark214 on 2015-08-02 01:33 ]
I love Season 4. I think it's the funniest season. Not the best necessarily, but definitely the funniest.
For me, seasons 4 and 7 share something in common with one another: when I look at the actual list of episodes, there are a ton of episodes I really like or love, but the seasons never really come together as a whole for me in the way seasons 2, 3 and 5 do.

For season 7, I think that's because it seems to lose steam in the middle. The first seven episodes and the last seven episodes are all great. In the middle, there's maybe one episode I quite like and the rest all feel like filler. At this point, I couldn't tell you what happened in "Get It Done" or "First Date" or "The Killer in Me." I think that really hobbled the season. If those episodes had been stronger, I think the season would be held in much higher regard - even if the plot didn't make a *ton* of sense.

I think season 4 suffers from the same problem, but to a much lesser degree. The only episodes that I consider particularly forgettable are again some of the mid-season ones - "The I in Team" and "Goodbye Iowa," in particular. I think "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Beer Bad" are weak episodes, but they're at least not forgettable.

Ultimately, I think I'd place them both above seasons 6 and 1, but I can understand why some people don't love them.
Season 4 and 7 have a lot in common for sure. They both have mediocre story arcs and Big Bads (most fans don't care much for Adam or The First), and they both have several great episodes mixed in amongst a bunch of mediocre ones.

That said, Season 4 holds up much better with rewatches than Season 7 does for me. S7 is riddled with plot holes and character development issues. The threat of The First Evil consumes the story, and a lot of other important elements like character development and relationship building go out the window (not completely, but much more than previous seasons). Instead we get weird, unexplained messages (i.e. the Beljoxa's Eye), random last minute mythology additions ('The Guardians'), an army of Ubervamps that appear much less intimidating than their counterpart Buffy faced earlier in the season, and several other bizarre elements.
The older i get, the more i enjoy season 4 and it is now the season i like the second most (6 is my favorite)

I lost my season 3 discs before my latest view through. And when you are not comming down frome the big angel-buffy epic love story, i tend to like Riley more and more.

season4 is Spikes best season by far, and the oz-willow-tera story is amazing in it.

Finaly this quote "I might be loves bitch, but atleast im man enough to admit it" from spike is my favorite from the entire show :)
There's definitely things to appreciate in S7 but I will say that I agree with libradude that character development, relationship building and interpersonal relationships between the characters are really neglected that season. At least in comparison to all other seasons.

I mean, what does Willow think of Buffy's relationship with Spike? For that matter, was Willow even aware of the AR? What is Xander's opinion of Kennedy? How did Dawn feel about Willow getting a new girlfriend so soon after Tara who she was incredibly fond of? Do we ever see Dawn mourn Tara? Does Buffy? Fans have to gleam from a subtle pat of the shoulder in LMPTM that Xander must have grown more friendly towards Spike because from Sleeper onwards they didn't share a scene together. How does Willow or Xander feel about how hostile Anya was towards Buffy? etc.

The list is endless and it's a real shame because in S1-S6 I could tell you exactly how all of the characters feel about each other, what they think of each other's relationships, and what they all mean to one another. You knew exactly how Xander felt about Spike in S4, S5 & S6. I knew exactly what Willow's opinion was of Angel, Riley and Spike in S6. Buffy and Tara and Buffy and Oz had developed a rapport/relationship outside of just being Willow's love interest. I knew how Willow felt about Anya and the Xander/Anya relationship. And there's no way in hell I'd have to guess whether or not Buffy's own best friend even knew she went through something so traumatic as an attempted rape. All that character development and group dynamics were the real strength of BtVS and made these characters so loveable and feel so real. S7 really neglects it all and chooses to focus on plot much more than previous seasons and unfortunately that plot is still riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies.

I've always thought S4 was really underrated. There's so many fantastic episodes that season. And I love the complex Scooby dynamics.
Season 4 is a bit of an odd duck. It has an amazing concentration of really strong episodes to the point that it seems almost nonsensical to say that the season was a failure. But somehow it manages to be a lackluster season overall. A lot of things just didn't connect. As a season it just looks like a really big stretch of filler episodes. Really good filler episodes, but filler none the less.

Season 7 is the only season I haven't watched countless times. I think at least half of the episodes I haven't even watched more than once. It really lacked the thing that draws me into Whedon works, the whole patchwork family. The overwhelming, tangible love and connection these characters had before was really put on the back burner and ignored. Instead we got a dozen new characters I just never got to a place of liking, much less care about and storylines that I think should have gone in different directions.
Although that is hardly the fault of season 7 itself, as I felt that season 6 was really the beginning of the lack of connection and where the show began to lose it's center, but I do fault season 7 for not even trying. It just took that center and buried it deep in the woods and just never bothered to remember where it was.
I would be interested to see if S4 would be help up as a stronger season if Walsh had been able to stick around to be the Big Bad.

That said, I like S4 more than S5. I think Adam's a more interesting villain than Glory, and while the season doesn't hit the emotional highs of The Body and The Gift, I think the episode-level writing is generally stronger. But I might be the only semi-detractor of S5 in the world (and only semi!!).
Glad to see Season 4 getting some love. It's maybe not the "greatest" season but it's my favorite for repeat viewing. It's the funniest season of them all, with some brilliant eps like "The Harsh Light of Day" and "This Year's Girl."

Season 7 becomes largely unwatchable for me after "Sleeper." The writers made the cardinal mistake for a Jossian show of using characters to serve plot instead of the other way around, and the plot was poorly done to boot. The relationships between the scoobies was always the core of the show, but they were wasted and relegated to the background in favor of a lot of filler with annoying Potentials and whining Andrew. I know, everyone loves Andrew, but he bugs the heck out of me. I wish they had used Jonathan instead.
I didn't care for Andrew either Amrita. I thought he was perfectly fine part of the Trio but as a full fledged part of the team he was just strikingly terrible.
I don't even wish they used Jonathan. I just wish that aspect of the season was removed, or just wrapped up. Use him for a few episodes and then cut him loose. One less character to shoehorn in in an already crowded season.

I'd also like to throw in that after I've thought about it, I'd probably be more forgiving of season 7 if the basic plot of the season wasn't our final chapter (for the mass audience. I know there are comic books that continue the story that, to my understanding are more or less canon, but I've never read a comic book in my life. I've tried, believe me but it's just not a medium I get into).
If there were an on screen season 8, or with some obvious tweaking to shuffle the plot to an earlier season, the bones of season 7 might not look so bad in the long run. Assuming whatever came after it didn't follow suit.
I think Season 4 is more forgivable in retrospect because it leads to some great things in Season 5 and onwards. It doesn't hurt that it also has a lot of legitimately great episodes, plus plenty of humor and interesting character dynamics, and that the admittedly lacklustre Big Bad isn't really the focus of many episodes. Season 7 is very heavily focused on the battle against the First, so when that aspect doesn't work the whole season is dragged down by it.
I actually love the Primevil fight scenes. From the Buffy/Adam scenes to the whole epic Initiative battles I loved them. More than the Chosen fight scenes. Probably because there was a lot of focus on characters I didn't care about in Chosen. Wood, Faith, Kennedy, etc.

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