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February 01 2003

Buffy Mid-Season Seven Review. Courtesy of the Council of Watchers.

"Let's take a look at the major themes, trends and developments of the season thus far, and, standing as we do midway through the year, think about the directions we're heading toward, and evaluate what has worked and why, as well as what has been perhaps less than successful, even in a season as bountiful as this one seems to be."

"So far, season seven has been one of the strongest yet."

Wow, I can't disagree more. There have been a few stand-out episodes, such as "Lessons" and "Selfless," but the writing has been incredibly weak for the most part. "Lessons" gave me high hopes for the season, but I'm still waiting for the episodes I know ME is capable of.
Have to agree. I've loved and hated Buffy episodes in the past, but I've never been as *bored* with them as this season.
Yeah, you wait in anticipation for an hour of greatness, but you yawn your way through the crap they throw out there.
I'm not that bored - I was a little bored last season. I do think they're making it too difficult to like. At this point only those watching while discussing the finer points of the various complicated references M.E. are putting into their writing (Shakespeare, Lovecraft, comics and what have you) and the completely obsessed are going to get instant joy from the episodes. They seem to be forgetting it has to work on all levels.
Well I sense a need for a more positive perspective in this thread. It's been a great season. I'm not sure if it beats seasons two or five, but there's some great stuff going on here. Great dialogue. A complex and daring plot. Fun character detail and growth. And the occasional slayage. What more can a fan ask for? I don't honestly understand how anyone can be disappointed so far.

Lessons was without question, stupendous. A phenomenal opening to the seventh season of a tv series that has withstood massive criticism both pro and con, as well as more than enough pressure from many angles that would have ended the run of a lesser series. Having to move from the WB to UPN alone should have been enough to kill the show, but yet it lives on.

Beneath You suffered from a main plot that operated more like a subplot, with a girl named Nancy, a worm named Ronnie, and a pet dog named worm meat. However, it had some great lines in it. In fact Dawn got some of the best ones. "See, this is why I don't want you talking to my friends" and "...you do sleep. If you hurt my sister at all, touch her, you're gonna wake up on fire" are two of my favorite Dawn lines. Then there's the moment at The Bronze when outsider Nancy tries to understand the dynamics of the Scooby crew: "Is there anyone here that hasn't slept together?" Then there's the end scene between Buffy & Spike that was deliciously melodramatic and bitterly gothic.

Same Time Same Place could have been better, but it was certainly daring, revealing similar scenes twice with Dawn, Buffy & Xander separated from Willow due to her inadvertent magic spell. The baddie was particularly neato-nasty, and a fun near-parody of Lord of the Rings' Golem. Had the director been more careful with some of the scenes, particularly the one where Spike worked as a medium for Willow and the others. It doesn't hold up to close scrutiny. It is fun though, and the old Willow was kinda back which was endearing. And the scene between Willow and Anya with the magic spell was hilarious.

Help showed us a grown up Buffy uncomfortable in her new shoes. A lot of character growth paying off. Personally I enjoyed Cassie, a character written specifically to be killed off, we're told this on the outset, yet I found it difficult not to wish they'd keep her around awhile. The actress was talented, and the idea of a defeatist psychic could have led to a lot of engaging writing. The Tool Time demon raiser was someone we could have lived without, but there was character growth, and Cassie did turn up again later.

Selfless gave us great insight into Anya, leading to another OMWF-esque musical number, a couple fun scenes with D'Hoffryn, a kickass long-time-comin fight between Buffy & Anya, and an opportunity to see Willow tie up a frayed plot element from season four. We also got the scene between Buffy & Xander where the truth almost came out about his lack of passing Willow's message to Buffy back in season two, which led to Buffy stabbing Angel & sending him to hell. Selfless kicked more ass than Lessons did.

Him was a retread of some stuff from seasons one & two, but with more of a feminist edge to it, and therefore was perhaps poorly designed, but they did some great things with it. There was the take off on the tv series "24" when the director broke the screen into four pieces to show us what the girls were all doing simultaneously. Seeing Willow struggle with the powerful magic spell coupled with her "gay now" philosophy was hilarious. Watching Xander & Spike working together was price, and who can forget Principal Wood's double-take as we saw Spike & Buffy fight over the missile launcher in the background. And again Dawn got some screen time which, as a major Dawn fan I sincerely enjoyed immensely. Most fans give Dawn a bad rap. I think she's great.

Conversations With Dead People was another definite base hit, if not a grand slam. Granted, the Willow scene would have been better had The First been able to appear as Tara instead of Cassie, but in hindsight I prefer it this way, because the evil presence posing as Tara would have tainted a fond memory. Buffy's ShrinkVamp was a great chance for some revealing character detail, and had a bunch of great laughs in it. Dawn going up against her own equivalent of a demon, and then seeing a vision of her mother was some great shock chills. "Mothers Milk is red today" written in blood on the wall gave me a shiver. It was good to see Joyce again, whether or not it was actually her. Three stories told in one. Again the writers were being daring, and I think they pulled it off without a hitch. And underlining it all was the start of the Spike Manchurian Candidate plot thread which was pretty intense.

Sleeper was another opportunity for Marsters to shine as we saw the Manchurian Candidate plot thread hit the ground running. His fight with one of the vamps he turned while under the influence of the First. The bit with Annie Mann saying she hated working vamp towns. I thought this was a great episode. The bit with Andrew & The First trying to kill a pig was treat.

Never Leave Me furthered the Manchurian Candidate thing and also turned up the heat with the destruction of The Watcher Council and The First using Spike to raise the Vamp. Andrew had some funny lines, and Spike took a bite out of his crime. How can one not love the delicious craziness of this season? Okay so the actual explosion of the Council building could have been better done had they upped the budget, but still it was daring storytelling making us wonder what happened to Giles.

Bring On The Night started spotlighting the new arrivals and put our Scoobies in a near parental position. I agree that the potentials have not been very well defined. It's rather easy to see which ones will be around longer than others, because the characters not fleshed out very well have "redshirt" written all over them. That's a weakness of the season, I agree, but with everything Whedon & Mutant Enemy have been juggling this year it's a wonder they came up with names for all the new girls, much less detailed character breakdowns. The battle scenes this season have been some of the best work of the series. And the salute to Terminator with Buffy & the UberVamp was well received.

Showtime gave us a glimpse of Ripper, when Giles intimidated the demon into opening a portal for him and Anya. Although I wish they'd minimize Buffy's speechmaking, the writers did finally give Buffy an opportunity to show to all the potentials why she's THE Slayer. It minimizes the suspension of disbelief when one thinks that these strangers are supposed to just blindly follow Buffy when she spends most of her time goofing up. And though I wish they'd killed Andrew and kept Jonathan around longer, I really kinda find myself liking all the jokes they're giving Andrew. The comic book reference between him and Xander was perfect comic timing.

Potential... Okay that one kinda sucked, but there's gonna be occasional duds. They can't hit it out of the park every time they're at the plate.
... but I liked Potential!

Seriously. I put S7 before S6, 5 and perhaps 4, if 7 had had more Giles in it. I really like Andrew, or at least enjoy the actor's work. Anya's a joy to behold. Kennedy's a lot more interesting character than the very very boring Tara (sorry Zachsmind, I know you like her, but I'm allergic to that type of woman.). And they managed to make Dawn a likable, interesting character. All that deserves applause. Now if they just give Nick and Tony some more meat on their plate...

I wonder if Nick gets very little to do because he doesn't care whether he has a storyline or not. He keeps saying he'll do anything in anything ME puts out, play the janitor if they want him to. And Tony, well he cares more about his daughters than about us. Pah!

Anyway, applause for S7!

[ edited by prolific on 2003-02-02 11:25 ]
What I find kind of ironic about the whole Xander-issue, is while he hasn't really had an episode centered around him (the closest would probably be "Beneath You," or "Him") he has hung around in the background, doing pretty important things in short scenes, i.e. (SPOILERS for Already Aired S7 episodes) his speech to Dawn at the end of "Potential," taking Willow to Tara's grave in "Help" (along with the entire hammer-magic analogy), helping Buffy with her plan in "Showtime," trying to help Anya in "Selfless" (along with his final dialogue with her in that episode), allowing Spike to live with him in "Him."

[ edited by Shroomy on 2003-02-02 17:16 ]
I have to agree with fiveironalex. Just my opinion, but I haven't really loved this season so far. There have been stand-out scenes/episodes, but most of the writing has been lacking. Again, my opinion, I read many conflicting views about this season. Kind of like last year, a very love/hate relationship.

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