Buffy Season Six: Once More With Feeling

by Alan Rapp on September 29, 2005

in Uncategorized

Though much of the Buffy “fan-dom” views Season Six as mis-step, I couldn’t disagree more.  This is the season where I became a Buffy fan and supporter and I think it ranks as the best of the series.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season 6
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Josh Whedon took some hits as Buffy fans, in general are not that fond of Season Six.  Let me just say that not only do I think this is the best season of the series but also that without it I would not be such a huge supporter of Whedon’s work.  Yes the season is dark and depressing but at the same time it includes some of the funniest episodes of the series entire run, and let us not forget a little musical episode as well.

 

The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.

As the season opens the Scooby gang has decided to resurrect Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) the consequences of which will effect the entire year.  Buffy is successfully brought back to life, but seems lost in a morose fog as she tries to readjust to the world unable to make connections and finds more comfort in the company of Spike (James Marsters) than with her friends.  Willow (Alyson Hannigan) starts to become addicted to the magic, which leads to her separation from Tara (Amber Benson) and a dark journey of her own.  Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) feeling abandoned and ignored by Buffy looks for and finds her own trouble.  Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and Anya (Emma Caulfield) bicker about their appending wedding.  And Sunnydale will be terrorized by the new villains, the evil trio – Warren (Adam Busch), Andrew (Tom Lenk), and Jonathan (Danny Strong).  One of them will commit one of the worst crimes on Buffy and will cause Willow to become the “Big Bad” for the final arc of the season.

The theme of the season of being lost and disconnected works very well and plays on many aspects of the characters.  I enjoyed the Buffy / Spike relationship as well as Willow’s dark turn.  I mourned the loss of Tara, but her death led to some great storytelling well into Season Seven.  For me the seasons of Buffy that hold the most meaning are when people close to the group die and the characters are forced to deal with the consequences of those deaths.  Yet with the darkness there are great comedic moments, mostly from the evil trio which Joss Whedon himself admits as his favorite villains of the series.  Some of the funniest episodes of the series like Life Serial, Gone, and Tabula Rasa all take place in this season.

Something to sing about!

Once More With Feeling
This is simply one of the best hours of television ever.  What makes the episode so great is it is not a stand alone episode; it actually moves the storyline along and provides the situation (as Hush did in Season Four) for the characters to say and do the things that they could not have done in another episode.  Xander and Anya admit to their concerns over marriage, Giles finally comes to terms that Buffy might be better off if he left Sunnydale, and Buffy herself can finally admit that her friends didn’t save her from some awful hell dimension, but instead yanked her out of an idyllic heaven where she was happy and finally at peace.  Whedon provides some wonderful songs and the cast all perform their own numbers.  Great, great television!

Tabula Rasa

The very next episode in the run and just maybe the funniest episode of Buffy ever!  Willow’s attempt to make Buffy forget her time in heaven backfires and actually causes the entire scooby gang to lose their memories.  Hilarity ensues as Spike believes he is Giles son Randy, Giles and Anya think they are engaged, and the group is attacked by real life vampires!

Normal Again

Normal Again

Is Buffy Summers really the Vampire Slayer or just a confused girl in a mental institution in L.A. that has drempt all this?  The question is explored fully as Buffy is infected by a demon and starts to be concious of two realities, one where her parents are alive and together and she no longer has to worry about vampires and demons.  As Buffy must ask herself, which reality is more probable?  Truly cool, and the closing shot is perfect.

Of all the DVD sets this one is my favorite for features as it is stocked full of fun goodies.  We are given commentaries for six episodes including a wonderful commentary by Josh Whedon himself for the musical episode Once More With Feeling.  The musical also gives us a documentary that explores the creating and shooting of the episode and a short little sing-along for a couple of the songs.  Included is a season overview, outtakes, and a short entitled Buffy Goes to Work which talks about Buffy’s need to find employment and eventually work at the Doublemeat Palace.  The writing staff and producers each talk a little about their first real jobs.

Aside from these extras, Season Six also contains two more terrific extras.  The first is the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Panel Discussion that took place the summer after Season Six aired.  It includes Whedon, Marsters, Hannigan, Trachtenberg, Brendon, and Marti Noxon and set designer Carey Meyer.  Realy, really, really cool.

The second extra-cool extra is the documentary Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Television With Bite which takes a look at the creation of the Buffy character from Whedon’s original conception to the movie, and the creation and change of the show over time.  It’s a great documentary that may have been more appropriate to throw in on the Season Seven DVD set, but hey you get it here along with all the other extras for this season.

I freakin’ love this set.  An awesome collection of great episodes and packed full of wonderful extras.  My only real complaint is the two-part opening episode Bargaining 1 & 2 which ressurects Buffy and brings her back to Sunnydale.  It is probably the weakest opening episode to any season and it’s two hours.  Thankfully they have provided commentary for this one so you don’t have to pay attention to the demon bikers quite so much.  That said, from the very next episode on we get greatness throughout.  The passionate but doomed relationship between Buffy and Spike explodes, sometimes literally, on the screen.  Our season villains, the evil trio, give us some wonderfully funny moments as they try to take over the world and become Buffy’s “arch-nemisises.”  The season also ends on a poignant note as Tara’s death makes Willow go over the edge on a huge bender of bad magic and provides the unsung hero of the show the opportunity to save the day (and the world).  A wonderful set here for any collection.

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