One of the neat things about Buffy is that it means so many things to so many different people. By conventional standards, the series has episodes that run the gamut of genre, from comedic to romantic to action to horror to drama.........and often managing to combine all of these elements in specific episodes.
One of my personal favorites is the mystery genre. While it is often overlooked, this one was also heavily explored by Buffy(particularly in the first 3 seasons.)They didn't start referring to them as 'The Scoobies' for nothing. I can think of several great examples of this:
1.The Witch-Heavy nostalgia for me, since this is the episode that completely hooked me on the show. But it's the first time we see the gang work together to get to the bottom of odd goings on at Sunnydale High.
2.Out of Mind, Out of Sight-When people picture the plight of high school misfits, they usually envision all-out cruelty, like what was depicted in the film,'Carrie'. From my observation, this episode captures the reality a little bit better. Outsiders are not always tormented. Usually, it is more like they don't exist at all. I think this episode, in some ways, captures the high school experience as well as anything I've ever seen.
3.I Robot, U Jane-Idiotic title, to be sure, but I loved this one. Great mystery with Willow being pursued by an unknown admirer over the internet, much to the concern of Buffy and Xander.
For those of you who find Willow's later transformation(in later seasons, I mean) to be of interest, this episode is kind of important for one specific moment. When Buffy is riding Willow, in the locker room, about her irresponsible behavior, a look crosses Willow's face-a look of defiance, as if she is wondering who Buffy is to be lecturing her in such a fashion. Defiance-but something else, as well. I believe this is the first tangible hint we get that there are other things going on beneath the surface with this adorable and ostensibly harmless girl.
4.Killed by Death-Not the show's greatest hour, but I still love watching the group work together. Willow and Giles go back to the library,for research, while Xander and Cordy try to guard Buffy's hospital room. I love episodes that make interesting use of each character, and this is a good example.
5.Earshot-Great mystery, great social commentary-and hysterically funny, as well.
6.Gingerbread-Fascinating investigation, spearheaded by Buffy, of course. But Giles plays the dominant role in actually piecing it together. Even Oz clocks time at the keyboard in this one. And Willow makes a long-distance contribution, via internet, after having been grounded and banished to her room. The climax features the most hilarious 'rescue' in tv history, courtesy of Oz and Xander.
Of course, one of the strengths of Buffy is that it transcends any one genre. But I have described one particular angle by which I like to experience the show, and would be curious to hear from anyone else who has other thoughts on the matter.
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