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March 01 2003

The top 10 worst Buffy episodes according to the op-ed piece at Let the debates begin.

Overall, a pretty good list, although I'd have included more from Season 1 (how about "Teacher's Pet"?) and put "Me Robot, You Jane" at No. 1. I'd also have included "Older and Far Away" (great idea, horrifically bad execution) and "Him" (a few clever moments, like Buffy outside of Principal Wood's office, but ultimate just an embarrasingly unfunny retread of "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.")

Oh, and why "Gingerbread"? Yeah, it isn't perfect, but I definitely got chills up my spine as the parents went increasingly psycho, and an even bigger chill when we realized how long Hansel and Gretel had been around. And the ending? Beautifully written and directed. ("Did I get it? Did I get it?" CRASH! " ... We're here to save you.")
At least he antipciated my objection to including "Pangs" on the list. The fact that it's below "I, Robot... You, Jane," though, is un-friggen-believable.

And "Fear, Itself"? Great episode.

I've never thought of "Triangle" as all that bad. I love it when Olaf tells Xander he fights well "for such a tiny man." Definitely not worse than loads of other episodes, many of which are above it on this guy's list.

Still, though, doing the Bottom 10 is tougher and more subjective than the Top 10, I think.
Overall, I really tended not to agree with him, but Beer Bad is a good choice. I'd have to add Listening to Fear to the list, though that could be just me. I'm surprised Go Fish wasn't on there, or Bad Eggs, which are a few episodes I usually hear on people's worst episodes lists.
I actually quite liked "Reptile Boy". The whole Machida bit was pretty bad, but a lot of the Scooby dialogue is brilliant.

"Angel, how do you shave?"
I liked the one with the puppet. The talent show was a fun idea, with the Oedipus and Cordelia's first rendition of "The Greatest Love of All."

Snyder: "That's the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten."
'Homecoming' definitely needs to be mentioned on this list. It's an ugly black mark on an otherwise stellar season. Since when does the hero compete with her shallow foil for attention? Gimme a break. Faith's dig at Scott Hope was the only redeeming moment in the episode.
My personal top ten worst episodes: Episodes 2-11 of season 7. Thank you and goodnight.
I was really surprised 'Where the Wild Things Are' wasn't on the list, it's a terrible episode. And the first three on his list were great episodes for me.
Yeah, I can think of two explanations for the varying opinions I'm reading, both probably at least partially true:

1) Every "Buffy" episode has a FEW redeeming qualities: a clever line, a touching moment, a revealing character exchange, or even a cool fight. So a really terrible episode could still contain one of your favorite moments. (Case in point: "The Puppet Show." Lame idea, SO many funny lines.)

2)A lot of us watch "Buffy" for very different reasons, so when an episode has great fantasy and swooning romance but its central metaphor is either illogical or obvious, it'll drive some people crazy, while others won't care or won't notice.

For example, responding to wren and Jack Gladney, I really liked "Homecoming" and the first part of Season 7, because for me one of the best parts of "Buffy" has been the interplay between the mundane and the fantastic, watching Buffy struggle to balance her duty as the Slayer and her very believable, very real needs as a normal teenaged (and now, twentysomething) girl. Some of the more recent episodes (7.11-13, particularly) lose sight of this and focus almost exclusively on Buffy the Slayer, which is pretty yawn-worthy to me.
I think that's a very poor list. Many of those episodes are quite wonderful IMO -- "The Puppet Show" is, in my opinion, one of the ten *best* Buffy episodes. I think the writer has a bias against cheesy Monster-of-the-Week episodes, but for gosh sakes, those can be great, and there's nothing wrong with a little cheese. (And what exactly is wrong with connecting a regular with a MotW problem? It's not like every problem has to continue from week to week.) Oh, and I love "I Robot, You Jane." It's fun. And the closing scene is one of the best ever. I'd take "I Robot, You Jane" over almost anything from season 6.

I would put episodes like "Wrecked," "Villains," "Showtime," "Beauty and the Beasts," "Doomed," "Shadow," far above the ones named on that list. And the worst ever: "Family." What a horrendous piece of preachy, poorly-written, poorly-characterized tripe. (Yes, I know who wrote it.)

[ edited by wilsonwilson on 2003-03-02 17:38 ]
Where the Wild Things Are is on my list as one of the worst. Also, Doublemeat Palace, Reptile Boy, Homecoming, Bad Eggs, Teacher's Pet, Dracula (although I did love Xander's decrying of being everyone's 'butt monkey' and Giles being seduced by the sisters :D )---
Like the rest of the world, I disagree with Pangs being on there. What's really missing, though, is a chunk of absolute CRAP from Seasons 5 and 6. This list is more a list of mediocrity or halfway-there concepts, as opposed to episodes that were absolutely minimally worth anything. Season 5 had a superb overall arc, but a LOT of purely expository eps almost devoid of wit, complexity, or any sort of fun. I will never again watch Family, Shadow, Listening to Fear, I Was Made To Love You, or Tough Love (oh god was "brain-sucked" Tara awful). As for Season 6, count me especially out of All The Way, Wrecked, or As You Were...except for the killer break-up scene at the end.
I can't really objectively criticize any episode of the first season. It was so fresh and so unlike anything I'd seen, and the way the characters spoke, the constant pelting of quips and puns and pop culture references, was such a brilliant representation of teen culture that I was profoundly entertained by every episode in that first season. Even though the characters on Buffy never talked like real teenagers do, their method of talking wasn't stilted or manufactured. The Buffy lingo seemed to illuminate actual teen language by representing it in a way that was self-consciously false, much like the show illuminates reality by constantly foregrounding its own artificiality. Every episode in that first season was excellent to me because the show was new and different. And now, the WB teen dramas that followed seemed to me like pale imitations of the Buffy paradigm: Dawson's Creek, Popular, Felicity, and the show whose first season was the biggest attempted ripoff of Buffy Season 1 yet -- Smallville. They all tried that quippy, punny, pop-culture-referencing style in imitation of my beloved show, and they all failed (IMO, of course) because the style didn't suit the show, and the writers weren't brilliant enough to pull it off regardless.

So, many of the things for which I would assail later episodes I forgive in the earlier ones because the pure brilliance of innovation is enough of an excuse. Also, the first season was all about the humor, for the most part, whereas they began discovering the dramatic potential of the show in the second season. All that goes to say that I mostly agree with on his list, except for "The Puppet Show," "I Robot, You Jane," and "Reptile Boy" (even though RB was in the second season, I think it still had the flavor of the first; also, generic frat boy types are my nemeses, so I enjoy anything that exposes the evil underbelly of that whole culture).

I'll add "Where the Wild Things Are," and I think "Buffy vs. Dracula" has to be on there purely for the fact of its not living up to its potential. And "As You Were" rubbed me the wrong way.
I think Doublemeat Palace is a masterpiece. And no, no sarcasm intended. The induction video was superb,the mundanity of working in a burger bar was also brilliant, and the whodunnit structure worked well. OK the actual monster was a bit rubbish but its an episode that grows on me each time.

Definitely one that should be in there was the one where Buffy is tested by the Troika(sorry the name escapes me) where the only redeeming features are the customer must be satisfied loop and the discussion of the best Bond but thats about 12 mins in a 43 mins episode.

I liked Beer Bad as well for the direction and the subtleties, the bar mans offhand remark about his brother -in-law being a warlock, Gile's description of the girl he's looking for, the way the one night stand guy tries brandishing a book at Willow as a desperate attempt at looking deep when Willow tears into him.

Why has no one mentioned Some Assembly Required?

And obvious worst arc is the troika from series 6, an obvious point, but I'm still in pain from the damage they did to Season 6.

Oh, man. See, Life Serial--the ep you mentioned--and the Troika were, to me, the real bright spots of Season 6. Since everyone was else on such a downer, that pile of ridiculousness was the only real thing going on the funny meter. Granted, the lack of a real strong adversary for most of the season made for a lot of poor monster/dilemma of the week eps, but it was almost worth it for the shenanigans.

Nerds = ratings.
I absolutely love that we can all disagree like this.
I'm easy on the series - enjoy most episodes. To single out bad ones is hard, but I hated 'Gone' because it was so poorly done with SMG's voice over coming out of nowhere. And 'Beer Bad'. Perhaps it would have made sense as a S1 episode. Lots of people hate 'Family' - but I loved it despite being Tara-centric and the silly floating at the end.
I thought that "Family" was really a beautiful episode, not as flashy but nearly as good as Joss's other Season 5 episodes, "The Body" and "The Gift."
Hey, no-one's defended Gingerbread yet, have they? That is one of my all-time favourite eps!

Actually there are very very few bad ones to me. That Crack Whore Willow theme in season 6, I guess. And I have seen very little of season 7 so far, so there may be more disappointment in store.

[ edited by cajela on 2003-03-04 08:13 ]
Be ready for plenty of disappointment with season seven.
"Help" just screened in Australia, and I think it's going on my list.

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