[info]aldiara wrote
on April 21st, 2012 at 02:34 pm

30 Days (or, you know, one) of Buffy

There has been so much Buffy marathoning in the Igloo lately that I'm all choked up with vicarious nostalgia/love. I've been watching random eps here and there when inspired by tweets, and man, I still adore this show to a ridiculous degree. Hence, Buffy memeage! Except I'm not going to bother with doing one a day, that is too organised and commitment-adjacent :p

Day 1: Favourite Season
Season 6, hands down. There are a lot of things later in the season that bug me, and I'm not actually the greatest fan of Dark Willow (for various reasons; primarily because it feels too much like Angel[us] and his sudden AND NOW I AM EVIL/GOOD AGAIN switches), but in general this season had all the things that appeal to me the most. It was involved, it was dark, it was painful and funny and completely fucked up in the most awesome ways. I even completely bought the resurrection, and I'm against resurrections in general. They made it work because they dealt with all the backslash. No easy solutions here. Also? SPIKE/BUFFY. Mrrrrrrrrrooooooooooow.

Day 2: Favourite Episode
Oh man, so many! It's really hard to pick. I'll reduce it to three erm, four:

Restless - deliciously surreal and meta wrapped in meta but never pointlessly weird. So much foreshadowing (Dawn, Randy, Buffy's death) and cleverly packaged character insight (Willow's book report, Buffy-as-Giles'-toddler), all nicely topped with hilarious crack (Spike's photoshoot, the cheeseman). The confrontation with the First Slayer and the "I don't sleep on a bed of bones" speech always give me shivers. Epic. (Side note: This episode also holds the distinction of containing not one, but TWO Riley lines that made me laugh: "I'm cowboy guy" and "We're drawing up a plan for world domination. The key element? Coffee makers that think." DUDE, THAT IS A WORLD DOMINATION PLAN I CAN ENDORSE.)

Fool for Love - in every way masterful. Such a great exploration of character history. So much fun and heartbreak. And it was visually stunning, too - the back and forth between past and present was beautifully shot and the fight choreographies interspersed with narration were exceptional (subway scene, need I say more?). And the end. Gah. This could've easily veered into cheesy and ham-fisted. Instead, it was smart and poignant and exceptional storytelling.

Once More With Feeling - surely I don't need to explain this one. Possibly the most perfect episode of television ever.

Conversations With Dead People - I just love the structure of this ep. Dawn's part is insanely creepy, Spike's makes a nice low-key counterpoint with the perfect arrrrgh-WTF cliffhanger, but most of all I adore the Willow and Buffy segments and their respective side character counterparts - Azura Skye (lol, if ever there was a porn and/or anime fan name...) and especially Whedon regular Jonathan M. Woodward did a terrific job with their parts as Cassie and Holden. In fact, after this ep I've always wished the First had chosen Cassie's face as its default appearance because she was so wonderfully creepy. And the Buffy/Holden fight/therapy session was hilarious and apt. I fangirl the snappy dialogue something wicked.

Day 3: Favourite Song Used In An Episode
Goodbye to You by Michelle Branch, in Tabula Rasa. Still slices my heart into a thousand ribbons, in the best way.

Day 4: Favourite Female Character
After much back and forth and indecisive nailbiting, I'm going to go with Buffy. Which is odd to me because I don't usually like the main character best! But between the wonderful character development arc and SMG's incredible acting range (srsly, why does this woman not get offered ALL the roles!), it's got to be her. She made me feel for her and with her. She made me cry and laugh and get my heart broken and sometimes she annoyed me so much I wanted to smack her, but she always drew me in and there wasn't ever a moment when I didn't feel strongly engaged.

Day 5: Least Favourite Female Character
LOL, I have a long string of potential slayers who could share this spot. But Rona and Kennedy are definitely up there at the top. Between the two of them, they must've used up the entitlement and snide bitchery allotment of about two dozen others! *stabbity stab stab STAB*

Day 6: Favourite Male Character
Spike Spike Spike Spike Spiiiiiiiike. In all his incarnations. Evil Spike, Wimpy William, Randy Giles, ensouled Spike, it all works. (I was worried about the latter, to be honest, because Angel thoroughly put me off the whole soul-having deal - but they so made it work.) I would not have loved this show half so fiercely if it wasn't for him.

Day 7: Least Favourite Male Character
Well, the obvious answer is Riley, I suppose. But honestly, except for the part where he was being a passive-aggressive pansy in season 5 who spent all his time pouting because his girlfriend was trying to pull it together and be there for her sick mother and her needy sister (while also trying to save the world) instead of crying and collapsing into his arms like the wilting damsel in distress he so desperately wanted her to be so he could feel manly.... oof, ran out of steam, where did that sentence start? Ah yes, apart from that ;) he mostly bored me and did not even inspire any strong feelings of dislike, which I did often have for other male characters like Angel and Xander. Still, on a show that usually always made me feel something, be it good or bad, it's a special sort of fail to make me feel bored, so I think he still deserves the spot.

Nevertheless, (dis)honourable mentions go to:

Angel - I did genuinely like him and root for the OTP in seasons 1 and 2, but I strongly felt he'd worn out his welcome after that. (He definitely didn't need his own show, lol). There was way too much focus on DESTINY! and CHAMPION! and SOUL! (srsly, how many times did he lose that thing? It felt like a poorly stored and highly breakable toy by the end of it all) later on, and I hated it whenever he acted like Buffy was his by default or like it was his duty to suffer as much and as obnoxiously as possible. Blergh.

Xander - I honestly don't get the love. He had his moments, sometimes as funny relief, sometimes as genuinely caring friend, and I'll concede there were some REALLY good moments. But on the whole? He treated his girlfriends horribly. His jokes were often out of place and/or offensive. He was insufferably judgemental, especially when it came to Buffy's and Willow's relationships, which were NONE of his business. He got nasty when he felt threatened, had a vicious tendency to take his own insecurities out on other people, and he was notably lacking in empathy. For someone who got lauded so much as the "heart" of the Scoobies and the insightful supportive friend, to me he completely fell short in demonstrating those traits.

Day 8: Favourite Friendship
That's a tough one! Probably a tie between Willow/Buffy and Buffy/Giles if we're looking at main characters, with a big side of love for the issues-ridden relationship between Faith and Buffy. But I did also always appreciate all the little moments that demonstrated friendship even between characters who didn't necessarily get a lot of screentime together, many of them involving Cordelia, Giles, Oz, Tara and/or Anya, and especially Joyce/Spike. (I also feel like the Spike/Faith scene in the basement in season 7 deserves special mention <33333333). And I do love the enduring theme of the core Scoobies' friendship in all its messiness and with all its ups and downs.

I basically love most of the friendships. It's just so lovely to have that be as strong a theme (or stronger, even) than romance throughout a show. So many productions mostly ignore that aspect of relationships and just seem to assume that all that people really want to see is friendship as a stepping stone towards the smoochies. (Hint: It's not.)

Day 9: Favourite Romance
Buffy/Spike - steamy, messed up, wrong in all the right ways, painful yet often funny/endearing and with a gorgeous overall development. Also, HELLO CHEMISTRY.
Willow/Oz - Everybody needs an Oz. EVERYBODY.

Day 10: Least Favourite Season
There's season 1, but I think season 1 is kinda in its own league ;) All the cheese, all the lame-ass one-ep monsters, all the issues entailed in a show trying to find its footing in a genre that didn't really exist at the time. Apart from that, though, I have issues with season 3. Mainly I don't like Angel's return, I find the pacing off in Faith's turn to the dark side/sudden loyalty to the mayor, and there's a mid-season slump of lameness (homecoming queen duels and such). But even a season I had issues with is still miles better than so many things I've seen on telly since, lol. And my reactions did soften on multiple rewatches.

Day 11: Least Favourite Romance
Willow/Kennedy - was there any point to these two other than to show the series was still hip and trendy and on board with the girl-on-girl action? :p More importantly, was a relationship with a snotty, loud-mouthed, charmless, attention-grabbing, power-hungry entitlement brat with a major superiority complex really what Willow needed at this point in her life? I hated the way Kennedy treated her - not taking no for an answer, essentially steamrollering her into a relationship, ridiculing and belittling a part of her life she didn't understand (magic) and then freaking out and blaming her when it turned out not to be as ridiculous as she'd thought. What. A. Cow. She never bothered to truly try and understand who Willow was at all, and I hate that precious screen-time was wasted on this farce of a romance.

Willow/Xander - blergh. Don't get me wrong, I loved how they handled the aftermath of the illicit snog, especially Cordi and Oz's reactions. That was beautifully done. But I never could buy the actual pairing or that they were supposedly suddenly into each other. Part of it is probably lack of romantic chemistry. I just didn't feel it at all and was never able to see it as more than a plot point to get to the subsequent developments of Willow/Oz and Cordelia/Xander.

Day 12: Least Favourite Episode
This is really hard. There are plenty of eps I enjoy less than others (much of season 1, The Zeppo, The Pack, egg-raising ep, homecoming queens, anything strongly featuring Riley, Triangle, Double Meat Palace, potentials-heavy eps in season 7), but even those usually have bits that I do like, since most episodes are usually not just about one plot or character. And then there are eps that are objectively well done but that I don't enjoy as much because some character or plot development pisses me off so much that I froth at the mouth, lol. Entropy and Seeing Red come to mind - judgemental Xander at his worst and contrived rape plot, urgh.

Day 13: Favourite Potential Slayer
Oh god, I hated most of them and if they'd behaved like that in MY house, I'd have locked them up in the basement and thrown away the key :p And the ones that seemed promising were killed off! Whyyyyy could we not get the cool pink-haired German punk slayerette instead of all the whining American brats? Hmph. If I *have* to pick one, Annabelle, Vi and Shannon annoyed me the least, I guess.

Day 14: Favourite Female Villain
Glory. Mimosas, bubble baths, a mansion, red dresses and all the shoes? Yeah, count me in for the dark side. (There's also Faith but I don't really count her as a villain [I bet she'd hate that].) Also got a soft spot for Drusilla, because I love me some crazy!

Day 15: Favourite Male Villain
Spike and the Mayor (who was an excellent mixture of uniquely hilarious and genuinely freaky, and big bonus points for the Faith angle). Angelus also had some good moments. (I so wish he'd stayed evil for good.)

Day 16: Episode You Like That Everyone Else Hates
I don't know what everyone else hates - this show is loved by so many people for completely different reasons! As far as I know, a lot of people hate Dawn and I like her, so anything Dawn-centric, I suppose. Real Me or Forever, maybe? Or Older and Far Away? (<33333333333333 Halfrek)

Day 17: Character You Relate To The Most
Overall, probably Tara and/or Faith. (No, those two are not in the least contradictory ;)). I do also sometimes wonder if my periods of resentment and discomfort towards Willow are triggered by behavioural patterns that I relate to too well, lol.

Day 18: Character Who Didn’t Get Enough Screen Time
OZ OZ OZ. There's nothing so good that a little Oz couldn't have made it better.

Day 19: Character You Like That Everyone Else Hates
Dawn. I've heard a lot of complaints about how whiny and annoying she is but I don't see her that way at all. I think considering what she had to deal with (finding out she's a mystical energy thing that's only been alive for half a year and the life she remembers is fake; dealing with her mum's death; being ignored or treated like a fragile 5-year-old by everyone she loves; losing her sister, etc. etc.), she was handling it remarkably well, actually. It would have been way more annoying and unrealistic if she'd been calm and mature about everything. I also thought she balanced the edge between genuine sweetness and prickly teenager really well. And, well, I like prickly teenagers, heh.

Day 20: Best Spike-centric Episode
School Hard, Becoming, Fool for Love, Once More With Feeling, Tabula Rasa, Beneath You, Lies My Parents Told Me, Touched. (Ok, so some of those are not Spike-centric as such but contain what I consider his best moments. "Can we rest now, Buffy? Can we rest?").

Day 21: Best Willow-centric Episode
Choices, The Body, Lessons, Same Time Same Place (the latter contains one of my favourite Buffy/Willow moments ever: when Willow struggles to grow her flayed skin back and Buffy comes in and ends up giving her some of her own energy for the spell. So much love.)

Day 22: Best Xander-centric Episode
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, one of the few moments when I truly enjoyed Xander/Cordelia as a pairing (otherwise she was way too good for him and he didn't deserve her). The Replacement for the funnies. Grave. And the moment in Potential where he told Dawn why she was awesome even though she wasn't a Slayer, which was probably my favourite Xander moment of all times.

Day 23: Two Characters You Wanted To Get Together That Never Did
Giles and Willow. I was shipping them hard in season 7. In your face, Kennedy.

I also feel like Angel could have been a lot more interesting if he'd genuinely fallen for Faith and abandoned his One True Love obsession with Buffy.

Day 24: Favourite Example of 90s Special Effects
All the bad snakes, lol. And the Seal of Danzalthar was distractingly bad! They'd have been far better off with something mechanical instead of the dorky CGI.

Day 25: Favourite Buffyverse Saying
"I wear the cheese. The cheese does not wear me."

"Your logic does not resemble our earth logic."

"No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what's left?"

"Is there anything you don't know everything about?"
-"Synchronised swimming. Complete mystery to me."

"I don't wanna be The One."
-"I don't want to be this good-looking and athletic. We all have our crosses to bear."

(Also, this doesn't really belong here but I will give an honourable mention to the only line of the season 8 comics that I truly loved - fittingly enough, it's the very first line: "The thing about changing the world... once you do it, the world's all different.")

That's a totally random selection, though, because ultimately pretty much all of Buffy is entirely quotable, all the time.

Day 26: Favourite Scooby Moment
The quiet standing-together-in-the-school-hallway moment in the series finale and then talking about going to the mall after they'd saved the world. IDC if that's an obvious choice, it was a beautiful final point to a set of relationships we'd followed for seven seasons and it was perfect. Also the spell-triggered reassignment of roles in Halloween, The Wish and Tabula Rasa was AWESOME.

Day 27: Cutest Moment

Day 28: Character You Love To Hate
Warren? Kennedy? Dunno if I exactly *love* hating them, though. I just loathe them.

Day 29: Episode You Hate That Everyone Else Loves
Hm, again with the difficulty of knowing what everyone else loves! But I'll go with Band Candy. It gets a lot of love but I was seriously underwhelmed. Also Joyce/Ripper - I'm with Buffy *shuddertwitch*

Day 30: What You Think Made Buffy So Great
Let's see... the fact that the writing is both smart and funny? That it's great entertainment AND fodder for thinky-thoughts? That the cast is both talented and insanely chemistry-ridden? Or that it's a long, satisfying, complete journey with something to relate to for everyone - something that will never let you off the hook easily but will enrich your life and break and mend your heart by turns, if you let it? There are a host of factors, but I think at the core of them is this: The people involved gave a damn, and they made sure to get it right, even in the face of adversity. They didn't let themselves be deterred by budget problems or network censorship or current trends or easy ways out or things they must surely have been told were impossible. There was a true vision here, and people's heartblood went into this story. That kind of commitment shows, and makes the viewing experience that much more rewarding.

On a more meta level, I mentioned before that lots of people love Buffy for lots of different reasons, and I love that. I have had conversations with friends who adored this show as much as I did, yet whenever we actually tried to talk about it, we couldn't agree on a single thing. I think that's fantastic. Not only does it provide loads of discussion material, but it's one of those rarest of shows that truly has something for everyone. There are no two people in the world who love Buffy the same way. This show ain't for sheep.

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