Tuesday Top Ten … Best of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
by Fairy Cake
*Preliminary gush warning* This article is going to be unabashedly fawning over The Scoobies with no shame and lots of frothing. If you are adverse to vampires, gothic horror or bad-taste leather ensembles, look away now.
Let’s not mince our words. Buffy the Vampire Slayer could quite possibly be the best television show ever created. Yes, it was low budget and the decision to introduce about 6 million new characters in the last season was somewhat of a Whedon-fail. But it was also side-splitting, action-crammed, socially aware, genuinely feminist, painfully well-penned, and spawned a core cast of characters that lasted 7 televisual seasons, 59 comics, 40 glorious graphic novels, and an entire spin-off series about Mr. Tall, Dark and Forehead.
Not only that, but if you were growing up a queer lady, you had Faith to get your initial homo hormones raging, and the Tara and Willow‘s saga to make you feel okay about it. Hense, lezzies love the Buff.
Part torture exercise / part gluttonous nostalgic redux, I decided to list 10 episodes which I and the Cakettes thought to be the bestest. They are not in order and the list isn’t exhaustive, but they did give me an excuse to sit for near two days, in my pants, watching Eliza Dushku jump around in a ill-fitting tank top. (still a feminist still a feminist still a feminist).
5-word Plot : Evil Willow in fetish wear.
For those of us harbouring a Hannigan hard-on, this episode was an S&M-themed wet dream incarnate. It was also the first time we viewers get a hint at Willow’s possible inclination towards the Vag, and a taste of her future dark streak. Episode features K’s Choice’s ’Virgin State of mind’, which was also on the Cruel Intentions soundtrack and brings me out in a big, 90s lesbian rash.
Willow: That, that…that wasn’t just some temporal fold, that was some weird Hell place. I-I don’t think you’re telling me everything.
Anya: I swear, I am just trying to find my necklace.
Willow: Well, did you try looking inside the sofa in Hell?
5-word Plot : Tiny demon ruins frat party.
A lot of the time Buffy’s scare tactics were all papier-mache no actual terror, but occasionally it administered a serious dose of The Willies. Case in point, Fear Itself, which sees the Scoobies get trapped in an ergodic ‘possessed’ house, after hitting a typically doomed Sunnydale Halloween party. Cue manifested nightmares, basement zombies, and a backlit Giles chainsawing through a wall. Also, this episode has to win the sub-category of Best Ending Ever, since the demon controlling the mayhem turns out to be 13cm tall.
Xander: Hey, Red. What you got in the basket, little girl?
Once More With Feeling
5-word Plot : Oh shit me, singing episode.
Idiot sister Dawn starts messing with an ugly necklace she stole and suddenly everyone in Sunnydale is doing a Glee. Highlights include : Anya blaming everything on bunnies and midgets, Willow giving Tara such good head that she actually levitates, and a bunch of laundrette-goers singing “They Got the Mustard Out”. This isn’t Whedon’s only foray into musicals; his online series Dr Horrible Sing Along Blog is wonderful and if you haven’t seen it then you should click here and
sort yourself out.
Anya: Dawn may have had the wrong idea in summoning this creature, but I’ve seen some of these Underworld child-bride deals, and they never end well. Maybe once.
5-Word Plot : No jokes. Buffy’s mom died.
Aside from the frivolity and Broadway pastiches, Whedon took some extraordinary risks with Buffy – like filming an entire episode without music, about the inevitability of death. This episode is brave, sad, and Whedon really uses immortal Anya to express a universal frustration at mortality. Really, genuinely moving; an incredible feat for a pre-watershed show about vampires.
Anya : But I don’t understand! I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s, there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get
back in it and not be dead anymore! It’s stupid! It’s mortal and stupid! And, and Xander’s crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.
5-Word Plot : Apocalypse Now induces collective coma.
At the end of Season of the Relatively Uninspiring Episodes (aka, four) came this absolute stunner, where the Scoobies pass out watching a movie and wake up in a dream where they’re being chased by The First Evil and some guy with a tray of cheese slices. Features a bizarre rendition of Death Of A Salesman, with Riley as ‘Cowboy Guy’. Very Lynchian, and very fucking weird.
Xander: (to Willow) So whatcha been doin’? Doing spells? (to Oz) She does spells with Tara.
Oz: Yeah, I’ve heard about that.
Xander: Sometimes I think about two women doing a spell… and then I do a spell by myself.
5-Word Plot : Finally, Buffy actually shuts up.
This show was voted One Of TVs Most Scary Moments on one of those awful Channel 4 countdowns that I definitely did not watch twice. Tall, skeletal ‘Gentlemen’ come to Sunnydale and steal everybody’s voices. It was nominated for an Emmy, and made all the more pant-shittingly terrifying by a soundtrack comprised entirely of little girls singing nursery rhymes.
Giles: I have a friend who’s coming to town, and I’d like us to be alone.
Anya: Oh, you mean an orgasm friend?
Giles: Yes, that’s exactly the most appalling thing you could’ve said.
Fool for Love
5-Word Plot : Spike is dangerous slayer…slayer.
This is a bit of a man-drool episode, but damnit, I’m the one compiling this thing at half 12 on a Monday evening, so you will just have to deal with it. Spike recounts to Buffy all the slayers he killed, interjecting big fight scenes which are just totally awesome. If you’re not a fan of hot manly vampires in 18th century formal wear, there’s always the hilarious spectacle of David Boreanaz trying to do an Irish accent.
Buffy: Look, I realize that every Slayer comes with an expiration mark on the package. But, I want mine to be a long time from now. Like a Cheeto.
5-Word Plot : Xander attempts cool. Is hilarious.
Xander gets sick of being reliably pathetic and tries to shake things up by hanging out Sunnydale’s bad boys. Unfortunately said boys end up being less weed-and-skipping-class bad and more dead-guys-that-like-building-bombs bad. However, Xander overcomes nerdiness, defeats dead guys, and returns back to school to stare Cordelia smugly in the face. Geeks everywhere left with warm assurance than popularity is balls.
Xander: Yeah, great knife. Although I think it may technically be a sword.
Jack O’Toole: She’s called Katie.
Xander: You gave it a girl’s name. How very serial killer of you.
5-Word Plot : The Mayor unleashes devolving confectionery.
Candy that renders all of Sunnydale’s adults romping, window-smashing teenagers makes way for baby-eating demon Lurconis to hoover up the town’s maternity wards (seriously…where else would you find a synopsis like that?). Gawp at the transformation of Giles into a biker-garbed adolescent hornivore. Get slightly aroused at the sight of Joyce participating in vandalism. Revert to being disturbed when the pair get off with each other on the bonnet of a car. This episode has everything.
Oz: Candy curses?
Willow: Disturbing second childhood. Got it.
5-Word Plot : Last episode. All guns blazing.
In season 7 things got rather epic, sometimes with little point, but Whedon pulled up his socks for a mind-blowing finale. The banter is sharp, the action well-executed, and we still manage to keep the focus on the main Scoobies as they battle with the big bad First Evil…and win. Willow fans get teary-eyed as the witch turns into a shiny, white Goddess. Anya dies saving Andrew. Spike’s soul blows up. It’s just superwicked to see all of the characters you love, going hand to hand with the Turok-Han, and coming out in a big yellow school bus.
Faith: Looks like the hellmouth is officially closed for business.
Giles: There is another one in Cleveland. Not to spoil the moment.
Honourable mentions :
Storyteller – Non-evil Andrew tries to document Buffy’s life on camera, spends a lot of time talking to himself in the bathroom.
Graduation Part 1 – Epic girl-fight between Faith and Buffy to save Angel. Amazing!
Villians – Tara gets shot (#tear), scary Willow rips Warren’s skin off and vows to destroy the Trio. Ult tradge.
The Gift – Buffy actually dies to save the world. CGI is terrible but I still cry.
Now feel free to squabble below…