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March 26 2006

Great second seasons in television history. Buffy is described as one of a number of shows which hit their stride in their second season.

Buffy season 2 was epic. Too many highlights to mention. I remember it being aired on BBC 2 back in whenever it was (2001?) and eagerly waiting for the next episode to air. Course it hadn't occurred to me to go on the Internet to look for spoilers. So when Buffy killed Angel, I was in shock.

Giles/Jenny *sigh*.
Old school Buffy. Highlight of me growing up. Good times... good.times.
Ah, yes, the second season of Buffy. Dutch television aired the episodes up to 'The Dark Age' (this was before it debuted on BBC) and then suddenly stopped. This gave birth to my first real obsession with a television show and the rise of my first internet fandom ('The Buffy Zone' and were my hangouts then). I think this was in '98/'99. 'Saw' the episodes for the first time in transcript form. I remember not being able to sleep after the initial end-of-S2 episodes. Ofcourse, more than a year later, another Dutch tv station picked up the remaining episodes, but I had already seen most of 'em in really tiny realplayer windows at that point. Which did not stop me rewatching in the least, obviously. All this was before downloadable VCD/SVCD/DivX episodes or importable DVDs.

Good times, good times :-p. But, yes, Buffy S2 was great. It still remains my favorite season (though one could argue it wasn't the most consistent) to this day. Gotta love the Angelus storyline and the original, before-all-that-chip-nonsense Spike. And I can't even start to describe how I felt after seeing Passion for the first time. Wow :-)
"all middle class kids would gladly throw their real-life friends under the bus to hang with the Scooby Gang"

Good call ;)

On the subject of watching S2 Buffy first run on BBC2, I remember our VCR had developed a random habit of recording stuff in black and white. Back then I had to record the eps, so I was forced to watch the first 5 or 6 eps of S2 in magnificent greyscale.
It's not even one of the better seasons in my opinion (I like season 3, 5 and 6 more), but it's still great. Though very uneven - there are some truly great episodes (Innocence, Passion, Becoming) but some are among the least good episodes of the series (Inca Mummy Girl, Reptile Boy, Bad Eggs, Killed by Death, Go Fish).

And I have to disagree with GVH, I think Spike became a much more interesting (and funny, and tragic) character after he got the chip.
I didn't start watching Buffy until FX begain airing it in 2001, so I pretty much got a daily hit of two episodes at a time...and boy, being completely un-spoilered, they were massively surprising.

Season 2 remains my most favorite season, though seasons 7 and 5 give it a run for its money.

(Yeah, I said S7. Whatcha gonna do about it, huh?)
Season 2 is what hooked me with Buffy. Before that, I thought it was funny and all that raz, but when it got to Surprise, Passion, Becoming... I was sat watching it with my mouth wide open for those episodes.
Me too UnpluggedCrazy, except I didn't start watching until summer 2002 and I watched season 1-6 in about 3 months. Guess you could say I was obsessed.

The differences between season 1 and 2 are drastic to say the least. Season 2 is absolutely incredible, the rest is history.
It all sounds very familiar: I too was hooked by Season 2, remember beeing amazed by Suprise, Passion, and Becoming, recognise the random like dutch television broadcasts, had my first obsession for tv and first online fandom, was un-spoiled, and loved the Jenny/Giles relation. Good times indeed.
Of course, we all know Joss' killing Jenny was his statement against straight women being happy. Yes. Or driving the plot forward, I get confused.
I just think it was him being the gleefully evil bastard that he so delightfully is, gossi.
What I usually tell potential converts is that Season One is excellent, by prevailing TV standards, at least. Some great exposition, (largely) extremely well-written and acted stories...and then you get Prophesy Girl, which just jacks things up to a completely new level (I'm thinking of the poignancy of "I'm sixteen years old...I don't want to die!")

And then comes Season 2, with When She Was Bad, a (not so) little masterpiece, which really does frame much of what is to come, but not as anyone could be expected to figure.

All I say of Season 2 is, "Just keep'll see what I mean."

I read somewhere that the Buffy/Angel saga is almost Wagnerian, and I tend to agree, and never more so than in the last minutes of Becoming II, with them fighting, Angelus badgering Buffy, her magnificent response to Angelus's "Take all that away... and what's left?"

And everything that follows...just magnficent...magnificent...
I love all my children, I mean Joss' children (not his actual kids... you know what I mean), but I do love season 2 the most. Becoming II is my favorite season finale ever, of any show. And others have mentioned some of the other great eps. Let's not forget "Lie to Me" and "What's My Line".

Also, SMG looked really hot in S2. =)
I think the best seasons are six, five and three, but I loved two... and four, and seven and one.
Season 2 has never been up there as my favorite season. I actually think the first half is fairly weak relatively speaking... excluding my favorite season opener of them all. The second half of the season though is undoubtedly fantastic. It was certainly a huge step up from season 1 and hooked huge numbers of people.
Season two is still my favourite.
I saw it here in Spain (I don't remember what year they aired it), without Internet and OMG, I almost died with that season finale! Like I said, without Internet, I didn't know anything about the series. I even didn't know what season it was, or if there will be another season. Every Buffy season finale serves as a series finale (except Season Six).
Definetively, It was a big shock for me.
What a weird coincidence! Best bud and I just watched both Becomings last night! How often do we get to talk about Buffy any more? And specifically season 2?

Maybe I should play the lottery. :P
So, I'm probably the newbiest one in the Buffyverse here--Still working my way through AtS4/BtVS7--but I think the article is right: S2 rocked. S3 and S5 both had a little too much deus ex machina for my tastes (Angel's return and Dawn's appearance)--even though the evolution was explained, and they were overall good seasons, it costs them a little in my estimation. S4 just felt weird, S1 was a good foundational exposition, and S6 was just one bad decision after another. Jury's still out on S7, (at least until I finish watching it) but of what I've seen so far, I'd say S2 is the best overall season.
Yeah, Buffy S2 was good, but for me, the best second season of a television series was Firefly season 2. Oh, wait -- oh, crap! ;-)

OTOH, since Serenity was technically Firefly S2, then maybe my statement stands!
I was in the 'good but not great' camp after season 1 then season 2 hooked me completely. Sure it was patchy but there were gems from the start with the character insight of 'When She Was Bad' to the poignancy of 'Lie to Me' to the fantastic 'Passion' (not sure when voiceover's been better used in recent TV) to the shocking, haunting brilliance of the season finale.

And it's not even my favourite season by a fairly wide margin (maybe 3,5,7,2,6,4,1 but it's like picking favourite kids). Ah, Buffy, when will we see yer like again ?

(re: other shows, I thought Babylon 5 really hit its stride in Season 2 as did Farscape and Stargate SG-1)
Season 2's still my favorite of the bunch. S3 is more consistent, but nothing really compares to the Angelus arc in my mind.
Ah Season two. Yes, still my favourite although Six ranks right up there. I love Surprise with Willow and Oz getting together - "I said 'date' " although I am right with you, Chris in Virginia, of the poignancy of "I'm 16. I don't want to die" I expect the delivery of that line to stay with me forever. Still, Season 2 had so many great moments that it even beats that line.
The moment that hooked me onto Buffy for good was the episode "Angel" in season one of Buffy, but season two is what kept me hooked on to the show forever, yes.

It's possibly, imho, BtVS's most epic season.
I agree, Emma Frost (my inner comicbook nerd just squeeled at the fact I got to type that :-p): 'Angel' was the ep that hooked me in the first place, and then 'Nightmares' further paved the road, with 'Prophecy Girl' to finish the deal with both that 'I'm 16 years old, I don't want to die' bit (I too, think the delivery of that one'll always stay with me) and, obviously, Willow's reaction to the horrors around her. Wow.

So, yes, I was hooked in S1, but then S2 just blew me away completely. It has my favorite opener, my favorite finale, quite a few of my top 10 episodes and it has my favorite arc. It's just greatness all around. I even love the lesser S2 eps (yep, even the likes of 'Bad Eggs', for instance), although 'Go Fish' has always been among my least favorite episodes ever (possibly only beaten by 'Beer Bad' ;-)).
I agree that S2 had a couple of poor episodes, but the good ones (Passion, Becoming, Innocence/Surprise, What's my line.) are the best of the entire series, and more than makes up for the less great ones.

When I think back to Season 2, there are 3 scenes that stick out, as the top 3 scenes of the whole series.

(From bottom to top)

1. Angel lurking in the shadows, watching Willow's and Buffy's reaction to hearing about Jenny. It's not enough that he has to violently kill her, he has to watch his lover's reaction to it. (Also, Buffy punching Giles and hugging him in the end is equally heart-breaking. Oh, and Giles seeing Jenny dead in his bed... I suppose I could just go on and on about this episode.

2. After her not-so-nice encounter with what she thinks is still Angel, she returns to her room, takes off the ring he gave him, and cries her heart out on the bed. I must have watched this episode 10+ times and there has not been a single one where I don't cry as much as Sarah. I have yet to see an actress do grief as well as her. (Although last week's Edie Falco on The Sopranos sure gave Sarah a run for her money.)

3. At the end of Becoming, after having killed her lover, she turns away crying to the first bars of Sarah Maclachlan's "Full of Grace". That conversation between Buffy and Angel, as well as the montage ending that season, is the finest moment in television history.
For me it was the weakest season of all. I started watching from season 1 and lost interest around midway season 2. I didn't like the whole angelus-arc. I again started to watch Buffy begin season4 when Angel had his own show.
[wcip]Angel, great choices! These are some of the real Buffy highlights for me too. Not sure I'd put these 3 scenes as my alltime top3 though, since that'd mean missing out on some - for instance - incredible moments in 'The Body', but yes, these scenes really hit home and are definately part of the reason why I love season 2 to bits.
Season 2 is an amazing piece of work. I don't know if it's fair to call it the best - there was some stunningly great writing over the years. But what Season 2 had something that could never again be recaptured completely, the element of total surprise. To have a major character suddenly and abruptly change and become evil, to have another important character actually die, to bring Buffy to the level of emotional devastation she is reaches, it all violated expectations based on every television series that had come before. Those events changed "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and they changed television history.

But after that nothing could ever come as quite a shock again. Not that Joss and co didn't pack in a lot of surprising elements, but you knew that they weren't playing by the old rules anymore and so the ground didn't disappear under your feet the same way. You expected the unexpected.

I also think some of the earlier season 2 stories are unfairly disregarded. They didn't have the Shakespearian-level drama of the Buffy/Angel arc, but stories like "Lie to Me", "Some Assembly Required" and "Inca Mummy Girl" showed a real poignancy and empathy for people caught in the unfairness of life, along with humor. "Inca Mummy Girl" nicely highlighted the cost of being "the Chosen One" and we got to see Xander at his most disarmingly charming ever. I, for one, have always been disappointed that he so rarely was given the opportunity to play the charm, and never again as completely as in that episode.
What? Alias season 2? I LOVED season 1. I could only watch about 5-6 episodes from season 2 and then I just stopped watching.
I'm with those above who think of Season 2 as inconsistent, but still one of (or perhaps the) greatest.
I usually tell people I'm trying to win over to hang in there through Season 1, and to perhaps skip a few less-than-necessary episodes. Early season 2 is pretty rocky, but by the end of the first third I felt like the show hit the great heights that Prophecy Girl promised. Season 3 might be better for overall consistency, and I like individual episodes in Seasons 4, 5, and 6 (The Body, OMWF, Restless, Hush, etc) more, but Season 2 was the first to really hit those great tragic lows and comic highs and really give the show an operatic quality. And I'm not even a big Buffy/Angel plotline fan.

Good call by the author on the other good second seasons as well. fadalow, I liked Alias season 1, but loved it in season 2. After that? Not so much... And while i was disapointed in the US Office originally, this season has had some hysterical eps. Others I might add would be Deadwood and the Wire. They both had outstanding first seasons as well, but I felt like they really reached new heights in their second seasons.

But what Season 2 had something that could never again be recaptured completely, the element of total surprise.

Just saw this, that I must have missed during my first read over the comments. I agree completely, and I think that's perhaps why Season 2 gets so frequently lauded even if some other seasons hit higher levels of quality. To realize that the characters weren't safe, to see what could happen to beloved people like Jenny and Angel for the first time was to be shocked out of a comfortable place and really shown where this show could go, and the risks it was willing to take. I still think Angel breaking Jenny's neck even more sadistic and wasteful because he doesn't even feed on her is one of the more striking images of BtVS's whole run.

[ edited by acp on 2006-03-27 19:51 ]

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