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This review is from: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The Complete Seventh Season (DVD)
Unlike other seasons of BUFFY, one needs to defend either a low or high rating for this season. One can take either of two tacks with Season Seven. One could give it a low rating based on comparison with other seasons of BUFFY, because there is virtually no debate that this is the weakest season in the show's seven. On this criterion, I would probably give the set a three-star rating. On the other hand, one could base the rating not in comparison to BUFFY's other seasons, but to other shows, and on this basis I don't see how you can give the season anything less than a five. Yes, it is BUFFY's weakest season; yes, there are some serious errors made during the season; yes, the writing isn't as sharp or as consistent. Nonetheless, it was during the 2002-2003 television season, along with ANGEL (which had its own problems in its Season Four), FARSCAPE (which while superb was not as nearly sharp as Season Three), and ALIAS, among the finest shows on TV. It is my least favorite season of BUFFY, but given the option of watching either it or any season of LAW AND ORDER or FRIENDS or CSI, I would choose Season Seven of BUFFY in a nanosecond.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
So why do BUFFY fans find Season Seven to be so disappointing. I think there are a variety of reasons. Here are a few: 1) Although there is some very sharp humor during the season (e.g., a conversation about fast food delicacies between Spike and Andrew on a motorcycle, after which Spike warns that he will kill Andrew if he ever tells anyone about it; Anya's asking Andrew why he doesn't use the bathroom for the same purpose everyone else does [not the purpose one might first imagine]; and a phenomenal first encounter between Faith and Spike, when she doesn't know that he now fights on the side of the good guys, and tries to slay him, with the two of them debating on who has reformed and who did so first), the humor isn't as consistent. But the tone of the series changed. Even in Season Six, the show maintained a humorous tone most of the time. In Season Seven, there is a constant attempt to inject a sense of impending doom, which unfortunately alters the show's mood in unpleasant fashion. Buffy almost completely ceased her quipping. 2) Although Sarah Michelle has gained a number of detractors since the end of the series (I think mainly for her lack of interaction with fans), I always think she did a marvelous job in the only crucial role on the show. Unfortunately, in Season Seven she was asked to do something that her character wasn't well equipped to do: more or less be a great leader. Buffy in the first six seasons was always more of her own person, not quite a loner, but although the central figure in the Scoobies as the Slayer, not a leader either. But in Season Seven after the Potentials arrive, she is asked to be a leader. What is worse, she is asked to lead not merely by example but by giving morale-boosting speeches in every other episode. Unfortunately, the speeches were horribly written and awkwardly inserted into the episodes. I was more put off by her General Patton speeches more than I was by the notorious "cookie dough" speech she gives Angel in the final episode. 3) Worse of all, the Potentials completely altered the structure of the show. I know many people simply didn't like the individual actresses portraying the Potentials, but to me that wasn't what was so bad about them. Because there were so many of them, they gradually started eroding the screen time left to deal with the stories of the main Scoobies. Actually, Season Seven is very good up to the episode when the Potential start arriving. The episode where Anya slaughters as vengeance demon all the members of a fraternity, only to repent after failing to convince both others and herself that this was what she really wanted to be doing, and then walks off by herself at the end of the story is quite as good as what we had seen in the previous two or three seasons. But once the Potentials arrived, there simply wasn't room or time to deals with individual characters any longer. Xander, Anya, Dawn, and Giles more or less get squeezed out of the story. Only Buffy, Willow, and Spike, and later in the year Faith, get to have their stories told at all. In Seasons One through Six, four or five or six or seven was company, but twenty proved to be a crowd. 4) The lameness of The First as the Big Bad. Cementing this was the terrible use of the great use of Nathan Fillion (who was spectacular as Mal Reynolds in FIREFLY) as Caleb.
One other thing to lament about Season Seven was recently revealed by Joss Whedon, when he explained that they hoped to bring Tara back in Season Seven before contract negotiations broke down. In an early episode, Buffy would somehow manage to gain the ability to make a single reality-altering wish. Several alternatives are instantly imaginable: wishing her mother back, lifting Angel's curse, perhaps not even being the Slayer. Whedon imagined Buffy going to Willow and showing her new shoes, as if they were what she had used her wish for, Willow's incredulous reaction, and then Buffy telling her to look behind her, where Tara would have been standing. Now that is an episode I would have liked to see.
But sometimes the negatives seem to mask the large number of extremely good things in Season Seven. For instance: 1) Except for "Him" (where Buffy and Dawn fight over the attentions of the same high school student) there were no out and out from beginning to end bad episodes. The bad stuff largely took place within a show that features some good things. 2) A few absolutely stunning individual episodes, especially "Conversations with Dead People," the hysterical "The Storyteller" (centering on Andrew, who provided many of the funniest moments of Season Seven, and who is one of the odds on favorites to be in any BUFFY/ANGEL spin off), and the great episode where Spike deals with unresolved conflicts concerning his mother. 3) The struggles of both Willow and Spike in dealing with their respective inner demons, Willow with having killed in Season Six and Spike with his having a soul. 4) The return of Faith, which while BUFFY did not provide her with as many great moments as ANGEL did for three episodes preceding her return to Sunnydale, were great. The tremendous chemistry (more as kindred spirits than sexual) between Spike and Faith, especially in a long conversation they have in Buffy's basement, one of the highpoints of the season, has many people hoping for the demise of TRU CALLING (Eliza Dushku's current and lightly regarded show) so that Faith and Spike can head a spin off.
Then there is the ending. Many hate it. Many love it. Personally, I think it was a perfect end to the series. BUFFY was always a fictional representation about the empowerment of women. In the climax of the season-and indeed, the climax of the entire series-Buffy with Willow's help discovers a way to empower not merely the Chosen One, the lone Slayer, but all potential slayers, all over the world. Best of all, the show managed to resolve Buffy's central dilemma that was established in Season One and continued through to the end: How could she, whom fate had selected to be The Chosen One, ever manage to live the kind of life she dreamed of having? By empowering all potentials, and in effect creating dozens and perhaps hundreds of Slayers, Buffy ceased to be The Chose One. In the final seconds of the show, Faith says to Buffy "Yeah, you're not the one and only chosen anymore. Just gotta live like a person. How's that feel?" It seems to take a second before the question hits her, but when it does, you can almost feel Buffy's relief, and her face lights up with an extraordinarily happy smile. You can feel her relief at having triumphed over her fate.
I can't imagine a more perfect ending to what I honestly feel is the finest television series in the history of television.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 23, 2009 12:52:27 PM PST
Vera da Vinci says:
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2010 7:49:48 AM PDT
Hmm did not have the slightest problem with it.. nor did over 330 people, it seems.
Kudos for everyone taking the time to write such a long, comprehensive amazon review!
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2011 12:44:17 AM PST
David Kahoun says:
I know this is way late to the game, but you need to relax a little. You're not perfect. I read your review of Smallville Season 9 and you obviously didn't proofread it. Alotogether? I think you meant Altogether. So just calm down. People on here are not paid to give their reviews or opinions, they are just offering their views. A few sentence/grammar mistakes are nothing to get all upset about. There are certainly more things in this world to worry about. I enjoy reading other people's views about shows and movies that I like, even negative ones. Season 9 of Smallville was the season that got me to start watching on a regular basis, but I still appreciate that you took the time to write a review of it even though I enjoyed it way more than you did. Also, I don't care if there is anything wrong with the way I wrote this reply. It's not a big deal! Have a great day Vera.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 8, 2011 12:45:22 AM PST
David Kahoun says:
Or Alltogether? Who cares?
Posted on Jan 24, 2012 2:50:26 PM PST
Heather R. Hicks says:
I can't agree that the last season is the weakest. To me, the season they got all caught up with the military angle was the worst. I actually stopped watching the show that season, and I consider Buffy the best show of all time on television. I don't think anything ever has or ever will top it. Still, that season was a bust.
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