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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"I'd like to test that theory."
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March 07 2003

Round-table discussion of Season 7 (thru January) by four of the leading Buffy scholars-- David Lavery, Rhonda Wilcox, James B. South, and Stephanie Zacharek.

I love reading articles by these people. It feels like a breath of fresh air after witnessing (and participating in) too many discussions about an actor's weight or 'ships or the endless spin-off rumors. Not that I don't enjoy those, but it's nice to be reminded that if we try harder and take in the show with a more committed and inquisitive mind, the show will reward us.

"One reason it's too early to make a real assessment is because it's clear the writers have just given up making episodic television."

During most of its first run, I only caught the Oz episodes cuz that was the only time I found it entertaining. I thought Oz was cool. When he left the show, I ignored Buffy on the tv guide for almost two years. Then I caught the season six premiere, and felt compelled to catch what I missed. A friend let me borrow her videotapes and I sat through several episodes a day for about a two week period. I uh, ..had a lot of free time a year or so ago. My point is, the show's NEVER really been episodic.

Someday I'd like to sit down and write out a flow chart for all the plot arcs throughout the series. However, nowadays I just don't have the time I did a year ago. Though in the earlier seasons there was more of an attempt to do episodic television, that's NEVER been Whedon's goal with the series. There were scenes where a plot arc was integral in most of the Monster Of The Week episodes. It's what ties the whole season together. Since it's moved to UPN, there have still been attempts but they're much less often, and when that happens the fans usually call those episodes "filler."

The real way to watch this show is several episodes back to back. It makes a lot more sense that way. The series is really a movie that lasts over a hundred hours. It's intended as a show that on the surface attempts to tell a story in one hour, but that story's just a part of an overall season arc, and each of the seven seasons meld together to weave a story that is truly epic in proportion. Then there's other plot arcs that completely disregard episode or season conventions. They start a few episodes near the end of a season and wind up somewhere halfway through another season maybe one or two seasons in the future.

Then there's Amy and Jonathan. There'd be no way to properly plot their arcs. They just pop in and pop out in completely erratic ways. Amy's a rat for three years and then voila! She's suddenly back in the picture. Then she's gone again only to return as an episodic baddie a year later. Jonathan's been with the show since the pilot but it wasn't until season six that he became a regular, and then they just kill him off rather anticlimactically in season seven. There's been some great moments though, like in Superstar and Earshot. The spinoff should be All About Jonathan.

So if one takes this into perspective, over 6/7ths of the story has been told, so it IS possible to make an assessment. Still, it'd probably be best to wait till we get to the last page before we pass judgment on the whole book.
Another first for whedonesque, as this site links to an article that links to us.
I think what they mean about the change from episodic television is that the show has built up so much context and plotlines that there is no room for a once and done monster of the week type episode anymore. I think the most recent episodes of the season really show that, they all blend together, while if one goes back to previous seasons (not so much S6) there were always numerous stand alone episodes (albeit they did contain elements of the overarching plots it was not the focus).

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