Enough with the grim reality, how about a little vampire action? In recent weeks, the wife and I finally wrapped up our silly goal of watching every single episode of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." Now, the final report on the final season!
We actually felt a little choked up, having come to the grand end run of 144 hours (egad!) of Buffy goodness, even since my idle plan nearly 3 years ago to start watching the entire series from beginning to end. It wasn't some enormous goal, but rather a mild dare -- I'd always been curious to check out "Buffy," most of the TV shows on the air are crap anyway, so why not?
Many times we wondered, how did we not watch this while it was on the air? Some of the time I was moving around country scraping by into new jobs, and TV watching wasn't really a priority; and for several years, we lived up in the mountains and didn't get UPN or WB where "Buffy" was aired. And finally at some point the "Buffy" mythology just seemed so daunting and elaborate to the uninitiated that it didn't seem worth trying to dive in mid-stream. But y'know, I'm glad we consumed the show on DVD season by season -- I can't imagine having to wait a whole week between episodes!
So, Season 7. This felt like a final season, in ways both good and bad. There was a constant sense of momentum, a sense of tying up loose ends; but there was also a bit of creative bankruptcy, a sense that the show was used up. Show creator Joss Whedon's absence after Season 5 is still felt; the dialogue lacks a bit of punch and the humour is played down in favour of more angst. While the army of new young slayer potentials is a pretty cool idea, it ends up with a huge slew of new characters added to the show and a bit of overcrowding. The battle against The First ends up being a big circle back to the series' very first year, and the struggle against the demon-creating Hellmouth. There were a couple points where I felt like, OK, enough with the build-up to a battle against impossible odds, we've seen this before. The season was very focused, but sometimes a bit predictable, too.
Still, I quite enjoyed the battle with the "Big Bad" this season, the incorporeal sum of all evil "The First." It's unusual for a Buffy villain as it has no physical form, instead appearing in a variety of guises as dead former cast members or as Buffy herself (who's died a few times of course herself). It all feels like quite a war, and there's casualties galore (many red-shirt 'potential' slayers, the wounding of Xander, the shocking death of a cast member in the finale, even poor Sunnydale itself). While Season 7 isn't the show's finest overall (I think I might go with Season 4), it's still got plenty to recommend it.
I'm glad to have finally seen "Buffy" and enjoyed the heck out of it. What next? At some point I might check in on the "Buffy Season 8" comic book followup which is quite groovy, but as for TV? The spin-off "Angel"? The highly acclaimed "Battlestar: Galactica" reboot maybe, which I still haven't seen? (I'm an absurd fan of the kitschy original I have to admit). "Veronica Mars" as Rob keeps telling me? Perhaps it's time to finally check out "Dancing With The Stars." Or not.
Best episode: "Dirty Girls," the first of the series of episodes winding up the series. Why? Because Nathan Fillion is thirty kinds of awesome, and his introduction as the southern-fried preacher/serial killer/super-demon Caleb juiced up the entire season. The First was a nifty psychological villain, but Caleb provided the slinky physical menace Buffy needs. Fillion is best known as a good guy in "Firefly" or "Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog," but here he's an out-and-out monster, and great at it. There's a real sense anything can happen when Caleb's on screen, and the episode that introduces him is a classic.