We’ve all seen horror movies. We all know which actress is going to die in an especially brutal fashion. She never wears much white, sometimes she smokes, and she always talks about boys in an indecorous manner that the heroine finds uncouth. Fortunately, there is one man who always felt bad for that blonde girl. His name is Joss Whedon and he created a television show based on breaking the myth that the blonde girl inevitably dies in the end. For imperiled blonde girls everywhere, he created Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For seven seasons now, Buffy has been the very pinnacle in television and is considered by many to be not only the best hour of television around today, but to also the most underrated. Well, now true believers and possibly a few hopeful followers can rejoice. The best show since 1997 is being released on DVD a season at a time and season three is the latest.
In many ways, season three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the most important season the show has had thus far. It doesn’t have as many of the emotionally charged moments of season two, but it’s the final year of high school for Buffy and the Scoobies, which means a lot of changes. Throughout the season, Buffy has to deal with many issues that start to herald her maturity, not only as the Slayer, but also as Buffy, outcast high school student. In the season opener “Anne,” Buffy is living the life of a runaway in Los Angeles after having to kill her first love, Angel and things don’t get much easier for her as the season progresses. Buffy has to fight off zombies in “Dead Man’s Party”, fight to become Homecoming queen in “Homecoming,” and oh yeah, kill a demon the size of a double wide in the season finale, “Graduation Day Part 2”.
As if this isn’t enough for an eighteen- year old to handle, Whedon and Co. created one of the shows most interesting story arcs in introducing Faith, another Slayer. As time goes by Faith plays a pivotal part in showing Buffy how easily her power can be corrupted and show the dark side of where her power can turn. She also becomes Buffy’s first human foe that tests the bounds of where Buffy stands morally. Can she kill someone who is a killer, but is also a once trusted friend and the only other person who can understand her power? The episodes where Faith is highlighted are some of the best episodes the show has had to date and they shouldn’t be missed by even the casual television fan.
The only way in which this six disk set falls short is in the special features. Three of the writers (David Fury, Doug Petrie, and Jane Espenson) are given commentary tracks on episodes that they wrote, but they give little insight into their own construction of episodes. The one commentary track that does deliver on some behind the scenes goodies is by Michael Gershman, who gives commentary on the episode “Consequences”, which he directed.
Other special features include five featurettes, which are also lacking in several ways. The most intriguing featurette is “Buffy Speak.” This gives the writers the chance to discuss how they go about creating the unique dialogue that makes the show so distinguishable. It’s always amazing to hear someone discuss their art, but Buffy’s writers are especially interesting since they not only write dialogue, but they also tear it apart and piece it back together to add the inimitable touch that only they seem to have. The featurettes that concentrate on wardrobe, weapons, and special effects all leave something to be desired. You’re left with the feeling that the people filming for the DVD wanted to get everything in before lunch.
One has to wonder about a show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer and whoever would come up with that title, but that fact is, Joss Whedon is no hack and the show certainly isn’t either. In interviews Whedon has been quoted as saying that everything you need to know about his show is in the title. The thing is; he’s right. The vast majority of people won’t give this show a chance because the title sounds juvenile or absurd in one way or another. The title is absurd, but it shows you the elements of drama, horror, comedy, and the supernatural all within those four words. If you want to give one of the best shows on television a shot then season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a good place to start.