Sunday, 7 July 2013


Something to Sing About

WRITER: Joss Whedon

DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon


Something weird is going on in Sunnydale…surely this town’s motto. For some unknown reason everyone keeps breaking in to song, usually at times of high emotion, the Scooby gang included. Buffy sings about her feeling disconnected to the world, to life in general, while the rest of the gang sing about their individual fears, frustrations and inner most desires. We soon discover that a sharp suited all singing all dancing demon called Sweet is responsible, enjoying the scene as more and more Sunnydale denizens combust from their over emotional exuberance. And best of all he thinks he’s found his newest Queen of the underworld when he grabs Dawn, thinking she’s the one who summoned him, though Dawnie insists she isn’t. But when Sweet discovers Dawn is in fact the Slayers sister, he orders his minions to go find Buffy and bring her to him as he really, really wants to see the Slayer burn.


Like HUSH this is all about communication (or lack of) plus keeping secrets that shouldn’t be kept and the destructiveness that can result.


Sweet and his minions. But mostly the secrets the Scoobies have been keeping from one another and what the fallout will be now that they have all been aired.


You really have to ask? This is pure TV genius on every conceivable level with Joss on top form. But okay...

Songs: Not only is OMWF a full blown musical where every song is brilliantly written, different and memorable, it is also a huge turning point in the season where characters discover hard truths about each other that turn their lives upside down. The songs also play a major narrative function and help move the season's story along. But being a Joss musical, OMWF also becomes a meta musical in that the characters are aware that they are suddenly living in a musical and it freaks most of them out. Especially the ones who really can't or don't like singing, in real life too (just ask Alyson Hannigan and Michelle Trachtenberg).

Sweet. The musical demon who brings the fun in is a marvellous creation with his red devil face and sharp colourful suits and silky manner. He is played to the charismatic hilt by multiple Tony Award winning actor/singer/dancer Hinton Battle.

The look: Joss shot the show in traditional musical widescreen format, unlike the rest of the series. He also designed the lighting and general look of the show to reflect an old fashioned cinematic musical.

The score: Previous Buffy composer Christophe Beck returned to score this episode and help Joss arrange the songs. He does a grand job.

Choreography: All of the imaginative dancing and movement was choreographed by award winning writer/director/actor/producer/choreographer Adam Shankman who is a close personal friend of Sarah Michelle Gellar and who got the job on her recommendation. Shankman has gone on to direct the motion pictures The Wedding Planner, Hairspray and Rock of Ages amongst others.

The cast and their voices: They all give great performances and give the max to make this work. And work it does. Of course not all are great singers but they all do their own vocals for the show, no singing doubles being used. In fact, part of the reason why Joss chose to do a musical episode was after hearing several of his cast singing and realising there were some great voices amongst them, most notably Tony Head and James Marsters, both of whom were already professional singers and musicians. Perhaps the cast member with the single loveliest voice though is Amber Benson. She’s terrific.

SMG: A special mention to our leading lady who carries a huge burden on her tiny shoulders, especially as she would be the first to admit she is no singer. But she does a fab job and can certainly carry a tune. Plus her performance is as strong and affecting as ever. Her wit and emotional range shines through. One of my favourite moments in the episode is at the Bronze during the start of her song ‘Life’s a Show’ when she sings:
“It’s all right if some things come out wrong. We’ll sing a happy song.” And then, in tight close, up she throws a challenging look right at us, the audience, and sings, “And you can sing along.” It’s a rather chilling little moment, as if Buffy is accusing us, the audience, of being voyeurs to her pain, which I kinda guess we are.

Visual FX: The use of visual FX in this episode is great. From simple things like CGI daggers and stakes to more obvious and eye catching images such as Sweet's suit suddenly changing colour. All great work.

Joss: If you didn't need more convincing that this man is a creative genius, this episode proves it. He spent six months writing the episode and at the end of season five he handed a full script and a CD and book of 16 fully written and arranged songs to producer Gareth Davies, who in his own words found this “Mind boggling!” Especially as the guy has no actual musical training. Joss wrote all the songs with his wife, sat at a piano, singing them (badly apparently) and banging them out the hard way. And the result is a Broadway quality musical. Astonishing.


No suckage here at all. Move along.


The whole thing. But I love Spike's “So, you're not staying then?” at the end of his song.


Xander: Respect the cruller, and tame the doughnut!

Buffy: I'm not exactly quaking in my stylish, yet affordable boots, but there's definitely something unnatural going on here. And that doesn't usually lead to hugs and puppies.

Sweet: That's entertainment.

Willow: The sun is shining, there are songs going on, those guys are checking you out...
Tara: What? What are they looking at?
Willow: The hotness of you, doofus!
Tara: Those boys really thought I was hot?
Willow: Entirely!
Tara: Oh, my god. I'm cured! I want the boys!

Xander: You see the way they were with each other? The get-a-roominess of them? I bet they're... (notices Dawn) singing. They're probably singing right now.

Xander: It's a nightmare. It's a plague. It's like a nightmare about a plague.

Anya: Clearly our number is a retro-pastiche that's never going to be a break-away pop hit.

Spike: You've just come to pump me for information?
Buffy: What else would I want to pump you for? I really just said that, didn't I?

Spike: So, you're not staying then?

Buffy: Yeah, I'm pretty spry for a corpse.

Giles: If I want your opinion, Spike, I'll... I'll never want your opinion.

Xander: Does this mean that I have to... be your Queen?

Sweet: Big smiles, everyone. You beat the bad guy.

Spike: You should go back inside. Finish the big group sing, get your kumba-yayas out.
Buffy: I don't want to.
Spike: The day you suss out what you do want, there'll probably be a parade. Seventy-six bloody trombones.


Xander's “Respect the cruller, and tame the doughnut!” line is a reference to P.T. Anderson's movie Magnolia which Joss loved and made a big splash around the time this episode was being made.

Cameos: The lady trying to get out of her parking ticket is none other than writer and exec producer Marti Noxon. Apparently she's not wearing underwear! Gulp! Oh, and the Mustard guy is writer/producer David Fury. Both Marti and David carried on their musical/acting careers by appearing in Joss' Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog.

Yes: Joss is a big fan of prog rock band Yes. The band's album 'Close To The Edge' features a track called 'And You and I', which refers to a 'Mutant Enemy' in its lyrics - hence the name of Joss' production company.

Grr Argh! The little Mutant Enemy guy at the end of the episode (i.e. Joss) sings his Grr Argh!

Soundtrack and DVD: A full soundtrack and book of this episode was released to buy. Both became bestsellers. Also a separate DVD of just this episode, featuring commentary and extras (and a karaoke version) was released on Region 2 only.

Longer: OMWF in its original broadcast version runs a total of 50 mins, 8 mins longer than a regular hour long US TV episode. UPN only broadcast this full version the once. Subsequent showing were edited, running at the usual 42 mins. The version available on DVD is the full unedited version.

Awards: In the US, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) neglected to include the episode on the 2002 ballots for Emmy nominations. NATAS attempted to remedy this by mailing a postcard informing its voters that it should be included, but the episode did not win. In 2009 TV Guide ranked OMWF #14 on its list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time".

Buffy plays and sing-alongs: After the series ended, fans continued their appreciation with cinema showings of OMWF where attendees were encouraged to dress like the show's characters, sing along to the musical numbers, and otherwise interact in the style of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The sing-alongs became so popular that they soon spread across the US and around the world as far as Asia, Israel and Europe. But In October 2007, after a dispute with the Screen Actors Guild over unpaid residuals, 20th Century Fox pulled the licensing for all public screenings, effectively ending the official Buffy sing-alongs. You can find some of them on YouTube but the big organised shows have all now ceased. Fans won't be put off though. As well as sing-alongs many amateur (often for charity) theatrical productions have been and continue to be put on around the world. Fan love just keeps this show and this episode alive and slaying/singing.


A pitch perfect 5 (out of 5)


Anya doing the dance of capitalist superiority

WRITER: Steven S. DeKnight

DIRECTOR: David Solomon


It's Halloween in Sunnydale, the one night of the year when most vamps and demons take the night off. Pulling a fast one on their parents/guardian Dawn and her friend Janice secretly hook up with a couple of older boys at the park who turn out to not be what they seem. Meanwhile Xander and Anya announce their engagement and Buffy takes off with Spike to go on patrol (despite no big nasties coming out to play on Halloween). With Buff not around it falls to Giles and the rest of the Scoobies to go and look for Dawn when it becomes clear the teen has lied to them all and is probably off somewhere in town getting in to all kinds of trouble.


Flirting with danger, with irresponsibility, and being seduced in to doing things you know deep down are not a good idea. Darkness and temptation are so alluring, be it hooking up with exciting strangers, or being tempted to use great power without due concern for others welfare of feelings.


Justin and Zack. Plus, at first, the old man. And then there's Willow...


Teen rebellion: Okay, its not much of a rebellion by Dawn, just the usual kind of thing we all did as kids e.g. being places we weren't supposed to be after telling a few lies to our parents etc. No? Really? (looks guilty) Um, just me then.

Cautionary tale: This is in part one of those cautionary tales for young girls. You know, beware boys cuz they are only after one thing... And no, not your blood (I hope), the OTHER thing. It should also be noted that it isn't just Dawn being tempted towards a very not right kinda hook up. We can tell that Buffy is edging ever closer to Spike in that way. And while I love Spike as a character, he doesn't provide for the healthiest of relationships. Just wait until 6.19 Seeing Red if you don't believe me.

Multiple levels: Not just a cautionary tale for teens, this works as one for adults too, regarding the use and abuse of power. How it begins. How it can start to seduce you. Yes, Willow, I'm looking at you.

Anya the Angel: Adorable doesn't cover it seeing Anya in 70's roller disco mode with her Farrah hair, zipping around the Magic Box, loving every minute of it. And wait 'til you see her do her dance of capitalist superiority. Sigh. Such a lovely ex-vengeance demon.

Pirate Xander: Very funny with his “GARRR – ing”

Shiver me timbers: Um, apparently some kind of 'game' that Anya and Xander will play later while staying in costume. The mind boggles.

Cute little witch: I'm with Willow. Just how darn cute is that little girl dressed as a witch. Awww...

Giles in the spooky cemetery: Heh. Giles acknowledging to himself that wandering alone on Halloween through a misty cemetery is SO not gonna end well.

Giles kicking vampire ass: Go G-Man! He gets some serious slaying action going.

Willow and Tara: Willow's treatment of Tara in this episode is really not nice. How she speaks to her when Tara voices concerns is actually quite shocking and mirrors her threat to Giles in Flooded. Things are slowly turning bad for the couple. And while that is good for story and drama its bad for two characters we love so much. Hence this will appear in the Why it Sucks bit as well.


Willow and Tara: See above.

Dawn centric: Okay, I'm not a Dawn hater like so many Buffy fans seem to be. Yes, she can be annoying, but then she is still a kid, although as apparent in this season growing up fast. But do I really care about her fooling around with boys and getting her first kiss? No, not really. The A story here is, simply, not very interesting, spending too much time with bland supporting characters like Zack and Justin. Snore. The interesting stuff is Willow and Tara and Spike and Buffy. Sorry Dawnie.

Door slam death: Buffy kills a vamp by presumably slamming its head in a car door but in the long shot you can clearly see its the vamps waist in the door.

Stunt doubles: In the big fight scene at the end you can clearly see the face of SMG's stunt double in several shots.


Anya on wheels. Beyond adorable.


Xander (lying exhausted on the floor): Store go boom. Garrr.

Dawn: You do this every night?
Anya: Every time I close out the cash register. The dance of capitalist superiority.

Buffy: Did you know about this?
Giles: No. Unless I blocked it from my memory, much as I will Xander's vigorous use of his tongue.
(Giles takes off his glasses and starts cleaning them)
Buffy (shocked): Is that why you're always cleaning your glasses? So you don't have to see what we're doing?
Giles: Tell no one.

Buffy: Over my dead body. The kind that doesn't come back.

Giles: Anya's a wonderful former vengeance demon. I'm sure you'll spend many years of non-hell dimensional bliss.

Dawn (after her first kiss): Shiver me timbers!

Giles: Mist. Cemetery. Halloween. Should end well.

Buffy: How's your face?
Giles: Oh, still ruggedly handsome. Grandpa, indeed. (puts ice pack on swelling) Ow.


Amber Tamblyn who plays Janice is the daughter of actor Russ Tamblyn. Amber would go on to be the lead in The Grudge 2 playing Aubrey, the younger sister of the main character Karen in The Grudge, played by... Sarah Michelle Gellar. Amber has also been the star of the TV show Joan of Arcadia and starred in other movies such as 127 Hours and Django Unchained.

Xander is handing out 'Firefly' sweets to customers at the Magic Box. A subtle plug for Joss Whedon's then upcoming space western of the same name?


Not quite all the way. 2.5 (out of 5)



WRITER: David Fury & Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: Nick Marck


Buffy returns home after her meeting with Angel just as the geek Trio of Warren, Jonathan and Andrew launch in to a series of goofy and rather annoying scenarios to secretly test the slayer. Scenarios that include a mummy hand infested time loop, speeded up time, and a conjured demon attack. Thinking someone is messing with her, Buff teams up with Spike to crash the local demon haunts in search of info. This leads to vast quantities of booze being consumed, a few hands of kitten poker and a run-in with a nerdy Star Wars van and a decidedly odd red faced demon.


The continuing search to find where you fit in, what direction your life should be going in. Making some kind of sense out of the senseless.


The Trio and their various tests.


Funny: After what has been a fairly heavy start to the sixth season, Life Serial is just a big bunch of full-on silliness. Much of the comedy is not subtle, be it the innuendo around grabbing Jonathan's magic bone, the Trio's geek fight over who was the best Bond, the reveal of the Death Star and the Star Wars horn, Buffy's Evil Dead/Three Stooges style battle with a living mummy hand, drunk Buffy, kitten poker etc. Yep, not subtle. At all. But funny? You bet.

Who was the best Bond? Warren and Jonathan's vigorous debate over whether Connery, Brosnan or Moore are the best James Bond is hilarious, especially when Andrew, sat between them, says that he preferred Timothy Dalton, thus earning a hard smack around the head from Warren. This is followed up by a discussion on how terrible Moonraker is and then Andrew's later scream of rage that: “Dalton should get an Oscar and beat Sean Connery over the *head* with it!” Heh.

Kitten poker: Pure bloody genius. 'nuff said.

Buffy the boozer: Oh she is not a good boozer. So funny how she does a silly gag with every shot she does. And then later suffers the mother of all hangovers complete with handy bucket. Ugh. We've all been there.

Giles' dark look as a happy Buffy leaves the bedroom, saying she's so happy he'll always be there to help her out with her problems.


Tricks: the tricks/tests the Trio put Buffy through are not exactly scary or too terrible, more annoying. Luckily the mummy hand sequence is very funny thanks to some snappy direction and SMG's game performance.

Silly: The entire episode is very, very silly. While that is not a bad thing per se, it's just that this one tips over in to the absurd rather than keeping itself grounded in some sort of reality, which all the best eps of Buffy are able to do.


Kitten poker. Who's gonna advance me a tiny tabby?


Willow: You're not dumb, just rusty!
Buffy: Maybe I should ease back in with some non-taxing classes, like Introduction to Pies, or maybe Advanced Walking.

Xander: I think it's worth checking out. And I don't mean later. You need to see Giles right away. I'd start by IDing those demons.
Buffy: You're firing me, aren't you?
Xander: Big time.

Andrew: Why is the Slayer here anyway? She's a student, she's a construction worker, and now she's some kind of selling-stuff person?
Warren: It's like she's completely without focus... Should we check the other channels for free cable porn?

Jonathan: Stop touching my magic bone!
(Warren & Andrew giggle)
Jonathan: Shut up!

Andrew: I just hope she solves it faster than Data did on the ep of TNG where the Enterprise kept blowing up.
Warren: Or Mulder in the X-Files one, where the bank kept exploding?
Andrew: Scully wants me so bad!

Warren: This mummy hand has ceased to be!
Andrew: It is an _ex_-mummy hand!

Buffy: You play for *kittens*?!?
Spike: Who's gonna advance me a tiny tabby... get me started? Come on, someone's got to stake me.
Buffy: I'll do it! (he glares) You thought I was just gonna let that lie there?

Andrew: We're really super-villians now! Like Dr. No.
Warren: Back when Bond was Connery and movies were decent.
Jonathan: Who remembers Connery? I mean, Roger Moore was smooth!
Warren: You're insane. You're short and you're insane.
Andrew: I like Timothy Dalton. (warren smacks him) Hey!

Buffy: Scamper! Be free, kittens!

Warren: Connery is the only actor of the bunch!
Andrew: Timothy Dalton should get an Oscar and beat Sean Connery over the *head* with it!!!


Star Wars: There are lots of pop culture gags and references in this episode. Perhaps the most obvious (other than Bond) are the numerous Star Wars ones. This is not by accident. George Lucas' daughter was a massive Buffy fan and during the filming of season six both her and her dad visited the set to meet the stars and production team. George was so impressed with what he saw he actually invited Joss and the gang to come out to Australia and do some shooting while he was there making Episode 2: Attack of the Clones at the new FOX studio. It was seriously considered for a while but in the end time and money prevented it from happening.

Gidget & Britney: Buffy is referred to as both Gidget and Britney by the construction guys. Gidget was a trouble-prone teenager in a popular 1960's American TV show played by a young Sally Field. Britney is, I think, fairly obvious to all.

Clem: Spike's pal Clem, the good natured loose skinned demon, makes his first appearance in this episode.

In jokes: If you could read the labels on all the jars on the Magic Box set, you’d see in-jokes like Boreanaz Beads, Charisma Charms and Tony's Heads.

The Mummy's Hand: Actress and puppeteer Alice Dinnean Vernon, who also worked on Sesame Street, provided the mischievous mummy hand.


The Force is (fairly) strong with this one. 3 (out of 5)

Saturday, 6 July 2013



WRITER: Douglas Petrie & Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: Douglas Petrie


While trying to fix a leaky pipe Buffy accidentally floods her basement. Xander’s plumber bud who comes to fix the leak gives Buff the bad news: an expensive full copper re-pipe is needed. This news forces the Buffster to confront her dire financial situation. A loan application at the bank goes badly when the loan is denied and a demon then attacks and robs said bank. Turns out the demon was working for the geek Trio of Warren, Jonathan and Andrew, the new wannabe Big Bads of Sunnydale. In return for his services, the demon, called M'Fashnik, really wants to kill the slayer. So the ever helpful Warren points M'Fashnik in the direction of Buffy's home…


No metaphors needed. It is all out there in plain view. Life in the real world. Maintaining a house. Paying bills. Managing money. All the deathly dull stuff of real life. Poor Buff. She can slay demons ‘til the cows come home…and then slay the cows too. But running a household, paying day to day bills? That's what gives her the real wiggins.


See above. Life, money, bills. Oh and some demon guy. And the Trio as well I guess.


Real life: Buffy is facing the same reality we all face as adults – paying our way in the world. And it is scarier than any icky demon or fangy vamp. The scene with Buffy trying to get “her loan” is funny but also kinda tragic. We know she won't qualify. No income. A house with hardly any equity. It is a hard lesson for her to learn. Being a kick ass vampire slayer won’t pay the bills and keep a roof over your head…unless you take Anya’s advice of course and start charging per slay. Heh.

Stupid skirt! Buffy trying to fight M'Fashnik at the bank but being scuppered by her long, tight skirt is funny. Plus it’s very nice when she borrows a letter opener to slit said skirt open down the side exposing a nice length of bare slayer leg. Hey! (looks sheepish) She's cute. I’m a man.

Giles and Buffy: Giles’ reaction to seeing Buffy back from the dead is lovely. Tony Head and SMG play the moment to perfection. Never does it get over sentimental. It is just genuinely warm and full of reserved joy.

Giles vs. Willow: another portent of things to come. Filmed in a darkened kitchen, the scene moves quickly from easygoing fun to tense, uncomfortable anger, ending with a dark threat from Willow. What’s more, this will all pay of spectacularly come the end of the season. Both Tony Head and Alyson Hannigan are excellent.

“NO. MORE. FULL. COPPER. RE-PIPE!”: Buffy’s final furious beating to death of M'Fashnik after he breaks one of her brand new (and expensive) copper pipes is brutal but very funny, especially as she times each blow to the repeatedly yelled, “NO. MORE. FULL. COPPER. RE-PIPE!”


M'Fashnik: He is nothing but a plot device. He exists for no other reason than as something for Buffy to pummel and to introduce us to the Trio as this season’s Big Bad…or are they? His motivation seems to be he just wants to kill the Slayer, being furious with her for no apparent reason.

The Trio: Never the best wannabe Big Bads for Buff to face. Individually I like Andrew and Jonathan (Tom Lenk and Danny Strong are both wonderful performers) though Warren works best as the true villain of the three. But not here. It takes until late in the season for him to move from being a goofy geek genius to becoming a truly vile, murdering misogynist monster. Here though, together, they are all just silly and totally non-threatening.

Mope: Blimey! I know Marti Noxon and Joss said they would make Buffy earn her resurrection and not just set the reset switch so everything is back to normal but the Buffy depressed/mope factor does come on strong. Luckily it is often broken up with moments of lightness where we get a glimpse of the old Buffster e.g. the bank fight.

Buffy is broke. And yet Willow and Tara seem to be living there rent free and not contributing to the household budget. However they seem to have money to continue their studies and keeping in witchy things and stylish clothes. Freeloaders!




Buffy (finds the leaky pipe): So, we meet at last, Mr. Drippy!

Willow: Buffy, I know you're still getting back on your feet after...
Buffy: Lying flat on my back?

Buffy: But, I haven't spent any money. I was all dead and frugal.

Buffy: It's not like it's the end of the world. ...Which is too bad, because *that* I'm really good at.

Anya: It's not *so* crazy.
Dawn: Yes it is! You can't charge innocent people for saving their lives!
Anya: Spider-Man does!
Dawn: He does not.
Anya: Does too!
Dawn: Does no... Xander?
Xander: Action is his reward.

Loan Officer: The problem is you have no income. No job.
(demon comes crashing through the window)
Buffy: No job? I wish!

Buffy (to demon): Hey! Are you in the wrong line? That's for deposits, that's for withdrawals, and this one is for getting kicked in the face. (tries to kick, can't raise her leg) Stupid skirt!

Xander: Score one for Captain Logic!
Anya: No, no. Captain Logic is not steering this tugboat. I smell Captain Fear at the wheel.

Giles (seeing Buffy alive again for 1st time): You're...
Buffy: ...a miracle.
Giles (smiles): Yes. ...But then I always thought so.

Jonathan: How'd you make him do that?
Andrew: What, are you some kind of ...Jedi?
Warren: The Force can sometimes have great power over a weak mind.

Giles: Well I know I'm back in America now, I've been knocked unconscious.
Buffy: Mmmm... Poor lumpy Giles!

Buffy: Who's calling me? Everybody I know lives here.



It is established in this episode that Giles keeps a home in Bath (a small city in the south west of England for those who don't know.) Tony Head actually does live in the Bath area, not that far away from me as it happens. I've seen him around town and shopping in the local supermarket, which was kinda surreal. Anyway, this geographical trivia will come in to play at the start of season seven.

We know two of the three geeks (Warren and Jonathan) but not Andrew. We have met his brother, Tucker, though. He was the one who sent hell hounds to the Sunnydale High Prom in season three's The Prom.

After the Spider-Man argument between Anya, Dawn and Xander it is fun to note that Jeph Loeb, Executive Producer of the abandoned Buffy: Animated series, has written several Spider-Man comics.


A not so soggy 3.5 (out of 5)

Wednesday, 3 July 2013



WRITER: Jane Espenson

DIRECTOR: David Solomon


Dawn brings the confused, newly returned Buffy back home and cleans her up, explaining to her how things now are at the house with Giles back in England and Dawn and Tara living there with them. Soon the rest of the Scoobies return to the Summers home and are overjoyed to see Buffy back and in one piece (at least physically). But a furious Spike, left out of the whole resurrection loop, warns them that their will be mystical consequences for what Willow has done. He is right. A ghostly demon has come in to being thanks to the dark and powerful forces used to bring Buffy back. Said demon is haunting and also possessing the gang, freaking them all out. They soon learn that the creature is seeking to stay alive in this new world it has suddenly found itself in. And that the only way for it to do so is by killing the newly returned from the grave slayer…


As always in this show, everything has consequences. There is no fresh start, no reset button to push. Everything affects everything else, just as it does in real life. And no one gets away clean. There is always a price to be paid. At first, we think that price has been paid in this episode. But as the season goes on we quickly discover that the ramifications of everything that has happened will only grow and grow until reaching horrifically tragic and apocalyptic proportions.


The home-made demon who wants to keep on living


Creepy: Buffy does a straight forward demonic possession horror story. And while the story itself may be very simple and easily resolved, the execution is at least reasonably creepy.

Evil Dead: There is a definite Sam Raimi Evil Dead vibe to the demonic possessions, especially the Anya one. The way it is shot and the way she walks towards us, giggling evilly, white eyed, cutting her face with a big knife… Brrr.

Revelations: Buffy’s end confession to Spike about the truth of her afterlife was a genuine shock at the time of first airing and remains a powerful moment in the series’ history. SMG plays the scene wonderfully. She gives the impression of a person beyond traumatised, beyond miserable or angry, as if she exists in a permanent state of nothingness; a hollow shell of a human being.


The story itself is fairly run of the mill and is mostly a coda to the big two part opener. That’s fine and all but it just doesn’t really work as an episode in its own right.

For a Jane Espenson script the laughs are fairly few and far between. In fact it is almost continually mawkish and grim.

Once corporeal the demon is dealt with pretty darn quickly.

Early on in the episode Willow says she’s spoken to Giles in London. As he only left earlier that same day there’s no way he could have made it all the way to England in that amount of time.


Possessed Anya, white eyed, giggling insanely while cutting her face with a big knife. Yikes!


Spike: You scared me half to death. Or more to death.

Anya: Yeah, I mean, jet lag from hell has got to be, you know, jet lag from hell.

Anya: I found one of those 24-hour places for coffee. Remember that bookstore? Well, they became one of those books and coffee places, and now they're just coffee. It's like evolution, only without the "getting better" part.

Spike: I do remember what I said. The promise. To protect her. If I'd have done that, even if I didn't make it, you wouldn't have had to jump. But I want you to know I did save you. Not when it counted, of course, but after that. Every night after that. I'd see it all again, and do something different. Faster, or more clever, you know? Dozens of times, lots of different ways. Every night, I save you.

Xander: We made a demon? Bad us.

Anya: She's right. You're like a snail. A snail who's driving a car very slowly.

Spike: I was going to go inside, but I overheard you and the super-friends exchanging a special moment, and I came over a bit queasy. Say, aren't you leaving a hole in the middle of some soggy group hug?

Buffy: I was happy. Wherever I was, I was happy. At peace. I knew that everyone I cared about was all right. I knew it. Time didn't mean anything. Nothing had form, but I was still me, you know? And I was warm, and I was loved. And I was finished. Complete. I don't understand theology and dimensions... or any of it, really. But I think I was in heaven. And now I'm not. I was torn out of there, pulled out by my friends. Everything here is hard, and bright, and violent. Everything I feel, everything I touch... this is hell. Just getting through the next moment and the one after that. Knowing what I've lost... They can never know. Never.


This is the first time we get a really good look at Buffy's back garden.

Willow must be getting plenty of cash from somewhere as a (then) brand spanking new iBook can be seen on Buffy's dining table.

The demon’s wraith-like non-corporeal form might look familiar to movie fans. It was created by one of the same FX guys who worked on the ghosts that come out of the Ark at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Linda Hoyle, who played the role of the demon in this episode, also had a part in season three. She did the voice-over for Emma Caulfield as Anyanka in the season three episode "The Wish".


A home-made demon scares up 3 (out of 5)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Bring Me To Life

WRITER: David Fury

DIRECTOR: David Grossman


Unbeknownst to Willow and the other Scoobies the ritual to bring Buffy back to life has worked. Our girl has regenerated and is alive and trapped in her coffin under the earth. Screaming in terror she begins to claw and fight her way free.

Meanwhile, up above, the evil demon bikers continue their rampage through Sunnydale.

Back at casa Summers, Spike tells Dawn they can’t stay there and have to leave as the neighbourhood burns. Hijacking a motorcycle Spike and Dawn take off, looking for safety.

In the woods, the Scoobies split up with Xander carrying an exhausted Willow while Tara and Anya head separately back in to town. The two girls soon arrive at the Magic Box and wait there for their loved ones to get there too.

Back to Buffy who has now escaped from her grave and is wandering dazed and confused through the burning, ransacked streets of Sunnydale. Soon she stumbles across the gathered throng of demon bikers and their leader who have the captured Buffybot chained by each limb to four different motorcycles. Real Buffy then watches horrified as the motorbikes proceed to speed away, ripping the poor Buffybot to pieces. Seeing real Buffy, the demons, thinking she is another robot, try to grab her too. But real Buffy runs off with the demons in hot pursuit.

Back in the woods, Xander and Willow are lost. But then a magic light appears to guide them home, a light Willow knows has been sent by Tara. Soon, Xan and Will arrive back at the Magic Box, reunited with Anya and Tara. Thinking the resurrection of Buffy failed, the gang determine that it is up to them to stop the demon horde, and tooling up, they head out to do battle.

Spike and Dawn, still on the bike, find the abandoned wreckage of the Buffybot. Spike knows she is done for but Dawn goes to her just in time to catch her final words. Buffybot saw the real Buffy and asks Dawn where “other Buffy” went? And with that the poor broken bot ‘dies’. Dawn, making a leap of faith, runs off, looking now for “other Buffy” with Spike not even noticing she has gone until it is too late. Furious he sets out to find the runaway niblet.

Eventually Willow, Xander, Tara and Anya run in to real Buffy in an alleyway. After initially thinking she is the Buffybot, Willow realises she is in fact the real thing. The gang are amazed and happy yet also worried by Buffy’s dazed and confused behavior. Right then, the demons arrive and a fight ensues. Thankfully some of the old Buff returns and she engages the horde in battle, beating them down. But then, battle done, she runs off, clearly traumatised by the whole affair, leaving Tara to finish off the nasty demon leader with a well placed axe to the back. Her first, she proudly announces.

Dawn arrives at Glory’s tower, which is still standing, but only barely. She looks up and sees someone up on top. She runs to the tower and ascends it as fast as she can.

Up on top of the tower, it is Buffy standing at it's edge. She is staring down at the ground far below as fragments of memories of her fatal sacrifice fill her mind.

Suddenly Dawn appears behind her.

Dawn, scared that the somehow newly returned Buffy is going to take another swan dive, begs her sister to come away from the edge, to come back home with her.

For a time Buffy seems unsure and appears more inclined to jump once more.

But as the rickety tower begins to shake and crumble, and as Dawn screams out in terror, Buffy snaps out of it. At the last moment she turns, grabs her little sister, and grabbing a cable, swings them both off of the tower and down to the ground and safety…just as the whole thing comes tumbling down behind them.

The episode ends with Dawn hugging tightly her returned and thoroughly confused looking big sister.


Nothing specific as this carries on directly from part 1. I guess there is something in there about putting those you love before your self.


Still the nasty demon biker gang


Seamless: It’s a direct continuation of part 1 and the join is seamless even though it has a different writer.

Payoff: Part 1 was the set up and this is the resolution. As such there is a lot of action and running around and fights. And they are all great as per usual. The emotional beats hit home too, especially the loss of poor Buffybot and the real Buffy looking and acting so lost and traumatised throughout.

On your bike: Spike's flying kick, taking the demon rider off of his motorbike and Spike then nicking it. Very, very cool.

SMG: whether playing the demise of poor Buffybot or the newly returned Buffy she is tremendous. As Buffy she has virtually no dialogue relying almost entirely on body language and on a pretty face that tells a traumatic tale with nothing more than a simple look.

Go Tara! Great to see Tara getting in on the demon slaying action. Nice axe to the back, girl!


Bye, bye Buffybot: She’s gone to electro heaven. Rest easy, sweet, funny robo babe. We miss you. :(

The Scoobies must have realised that they’d need to dig Buffy out of her grave. So why didn’t they bring tools to dig her out? And why didn’t they dig up the grave before doing the spell so Buffy wouldn’t suffocate?

SMG’s post-death shock wig is kinda…shocking.

Still no cops

And no fire-fighters either


Spike’s flying kick to take out a motorcycle demon…and then nicking his ride. Cool.


Spike: A couple of stakes, holy water, one cross. (picks up cross) Ow! (drops it) Brilliant.

Willow: Xander, that's not the North star. It's an airplane.
Xander: No, that's not an airplane. That's definitely... a blimp. But I can see how one would make that airplane mistake.

Xander: Demons. Ah, there's something you don't see every day. Unless you're us.

Willow (following the tiny glowing light sent by Tara): Xander, it's not a bug. It's Tara.
Xander: And how long have you known that your girlfriend's Tinkerbell?

Xander: This place is NORAD when we're at DefCon 1. (The girls look at him blankly) Okay, I *so* need male friends.

Xander: I happen to be a very powerful man-witch myself. A male... (turns to Willow) is it a warlock? (turns back to the demon biker) Warlock.

Xander: Tara, nice axing.
Tara: My first!


The location where Dawn finds Buffybot was the same place used for Glory and the monks' original hideout in 5.5 'No Place Like Home'.

This is the second time we’ve seen Buffy six feet under. There’s a scene in 1.10 'Nightmares' where Buffy is buried alive by the Master - it’s one of her fears.


Still a bargain at 4 (out of 5)



WRITER: Marti Noxon

DIRECTOR: David Grossman


And we’re back!

It’s been several months since Buffy died, sacrificing herself at Glory’s Tower to save her little sister as well as the rest of the world. Things in Sunnydale seem to have settled in to some sort of slaying routine, even without our deceased heroine being around. The gang, led by a mystic all seeing (and telepathic) Willow, are a well oiled slaying machine…kind of. They are all present and correct – Tara, Giles, Anya, Xander and Spike, all following Willow’s instructions to hunt down and slay a big fat vamp in the cemetery. Oh, and they have an ace up their sleeve. The Buffybot. The gang are using our reprogrammed electro girl to make the supernatural world think that the Slayer is still alive and kicking…their arses. And RoboBuffy has been doing a mighty fine job of it too, even cracking wise in a fight just like the real Buffster.

But no matter how good a copy she is, Buffybot is not the real Buffster.

The truth is Buffy’s demise has left a gaping hole in the lives of all the Scooby gang. They miss her terribly. Guilt is rife, especially from Giles and Spike. And poor Dawn, while putting a brave face on her loss, at night sneaks in to the room where the Buffybot recharges and secretly cuddles up to the robotic copy of her lost sister.

But unbeknownst to Dawn, Spike and Giles, Willow has a plan.

She’s refused to give up on the lost Slayer and has vowed to use whatever magic she can to bring Buffy back! Working secretly with Tara, Xander and Anya, she is preparing a dark and very dangerous spell to rescue Buffy from the eternal torment of the hell dimension in which she thinks Buffy is trapped. Willow declares that because Buffy died an unnatural death through mystic energy, they have a very good chance of bringing her back to life. Xander though is unsure, worried about the morality of what they plan to do. But Willow convinces him, mostly with the simple words: “It’s Buffy!” Xander can’t argue with that and agrees to help. The plan of resurrection is on for that very night.

Meanwhile, a weaselly little vampire has managed to cause a slight injury to Buffybot, exposing her electrical circuitry and damaging her navigational system, thus allowing the little monster to get away. He escapes with the knowledge that the Slayer is in fact nothing more than a machine and he ends up at an out of town bar where he tells his story to an ugly and vicious gang of motorcycle demons who all now know that with the real Slayer gone the Hellmouth is ripe for the taking. The vile gang heads off at top speed, violence on their minds, destination: Sunnydale.

Also meanwhile, Giles has decided to leave. He’s realised that with Buffy gone he has no real reason to stay. And so he secretly heads to the airport to catch a plane back to England. But the Scoobies discover what he is doing and they just about manage to get to the airport for a heartfelt goodbye before the G man’s flight is called. And so Giles leaves, not knowing that Willow and co. are planning on Bringing Buffy back that very same night; a plan he is not informed of as Willow knows that he would try to stop her.

And so later that night, gathered around Buffy’s grave, Willow begins the ritual with Tara, Xander and Anya looking on concerned.

Said ritual is dark, and it is extremely painful on Willow. Her flesh is slashed, bugs crawl under her skin, and she vomits up a snake! Xander tries to stop it but Tara stops him, saying Willow told her this would happen, that it is a test. But just as the ritual is building to its climax the demon biker gang shows up pursuing the Buffybot who is damaged and has automatically sought out Willow for repair. Then, right at the crucial moment of the ritual, a demon’s motorcycle goes and breaks the Urn of Osiris, abruptly ending Willow’s resurrection spell. Heartbroken by the perceived failure and terrified by the rampaging demons, the Scoobies flee in to the woods leaving behind the damaged Buffybot to be taunted and tortured by the evil horde.

Meanwhile, underground, inside her coffin, the withered corpse of Buffy Anne Summers is enveloped by mystical energy and begins to regenerate. After a few shimmering seconds, the now newly regenerated slayer opens her eyes and gasps for air. She’s alive! ALIVE!


Not too much in the way of underlying theme or subtext here. I guess the only obvious one is about how we each deal with loss - the refusal to believe it, to accept it, the guilt, the anger, the simple terrible absence in your life. All are shown here, though they are not explored in any great depth.


Demonic motorcycle gang The Hellions. Ugly bunch of suckers.


Life goes on: the gang are all stepping up and dealing with life after Buffy. The world still thinks the Slayer is active. With Willow and Tara now living at 1630 Revello a new family unit has been created to look after Dawn and to keep things afloat. It all seems plausible and workable. And with Buffybot around, life, though different, appears not to be so bad. At least on the surface.

How we deal: There are some nice character beats throughout the ep. showing how the Scoobies are (and are not) dealing with the loss of the Buffster. Willow refuses to believe she is gone, being determined to put things right via magic at any cost (a portent of her fall from grace this season). Giles is feeling guilty and is full of self loathing, thinking he has finally achieved a Watchers role in life – to watch his Slayer die. Spike is angry with himself for having failed to save Buffy, for having failed to keep his promise to her to protect Dawn, and as a result has now turned in to Dawn’s constant babysitter, refusing to leave her on her own and unprotected. And Dawn, she is quietly accepting, though in secret she pines desperately for her sister. Only Xander seems to be the voice of reason and true acceptance. Of course that doesn’t last after Willow convinces him otherwise.

The set up: part 1 is of course all about showing where everyone is, physically, emotionally and mentally, and about getting them to the point of bringing Buffy back. The emotional beats provided by Marti Noxon’s functional yet emotionally engaging script are all honest and affecting. We feel the Scoobies sense of loss, of pain. We feel awful for poor Dawnie as she cuddles up at night to the Buffybot. We feel Giles’ stoic anguish, Willow’s stubborn refusal, and perhaps most of all, Spike’s barely restrained fury and pain. Soulless? No way.

Buffybot: Aw, I love her so much. The innocent, smiley, chirpy, ever helpful Buffybot. So cute. And SMG is fabulous at playing her. It’s such a great device to keep your star in the episode and the character around when she really isn’t. Plus she’s just so darn adorable. I especially like how Spike can’t look at her properly anymore and is devastated when a bit of her old ‘I adore Spike’ programming rears its head. It’s all about character.

The funny: for what could be a very depressing and mawkish episode Bargaining Part 1 defies those expectations to actually be very funny and charming. Much of this is thanks to Buffybot and to some great lines of dialogue from a cast so in tune with their characters and with each other.

Stylish: Willow et al sure do have stylish wardrobes this year. World of leather must have signed them up for a discount. They all look great. All the girls look gorgeous, dressed and made up to the nines. The lads all look great too, cool and handsome. The photography is glossy and lush and the FX top notch. The move to UPN seems to have done them all the world of good.


Um, demon bikers? Okay, the demon biker gang The Hellions are a goofy idea much like the Knights who say Nee from season 5 (or whatever they were called). They are just a bunch of dumb violent lugs and nothing more. And how do they exist and operate in a world that is still largely unaware of the supernatural? They seem to ride around and hang out in bars without giving their appearance to humans a second thought.

Where are all the cops? So the demon gang discover that the Slayer is no more and decide it is open season on Sunnydale. They show up in town and promptly run riot, looting, destroying, burning… And where exactly are Sunnydale’s finest while all this is going down? Have they all gone out for doughnuts? Are they all on summer leave? C’mon! Buff wasn’t the only protection Sunnydale had from bad guys.

The headstone: So, if the gang are trying to make the world think Buffy is alive and well and still slaying, why then do they plant a great big headstone with her name on it in the cemetery where all can see, effectively telling the world she is dead? Duh!


Lots of great moments but for pure shock value it has to be Willow, the cute baby deer, and the BIG knife! Oh my god, she killed Bambi!


Spike: Oh, poor Watcher. Did your life pass before your eyes? Cup of tea, cup of tea, almost got shagged, cup of tea?

Buffybot: That'll put marzipan in your pie plate, Bingo!

Willow: And I got her off those knock-knock jokes.
Buffybot: Ooh, who's there?
Xander: You know, if we want her to be exactly...
Spike: She'll never be exactly.
Xander: I know.
Tara: The only really real Buffy is really Buffy.
Giles: And she's gone.
Buffybot: "You know, if we want her to be exactly, she'll never be exactly, the only really real Buffy is really Buffy, and she's gone" who?

Xander: House of chicks, relax. I'm a man, and I have a tool. (pause) Tools. Lots of plural tools, in my, uh, toolbox.

Spike (to Dawn): She responded to Buffy-Bot because a robot is predictable. Boring. A perfect teacher's pet. That's all school's are, you know. Just factories, spewing out mindless little automatons. (Guilty pause) Who go on to be very valuable and productive members of society, and you should go.

Tara: You found the last known Urn of Osiris on eBay?
Anya: Yeah, from this desert gnome in Cairo. He drove a really hard bargain, but I finally got him to throw in a limited-edition Backstreet Boys lunchbox for...
Xander: (coughs)
Anya: A friend.

Buffybot: Sorry I questioned you, Spike. You know I admire your brain almost as much as your washboard abs.

Anya (to Giles): I'll take really good care of your money.


In the US part 1 was originally shown with part 2 as a feature-length special to celebrate Buffy's re-launch on the UPN network. On the UK DVD set it also plays as one long double episode.

Responding to the Buffybot's comment about "That'll put marzipan in your pie-plate bingo", Spike asks "Why the Dada-ism?" referring to the German absurdist art movement of the 1920s. Not many prime time US shows would casually refer to such things. Love it.

Tara gives Giles a little rubber monster as a leaving present and says "Grrr, argh" - clearly a reference to the monster in the Mutant Enemy logo at the end of every episode.

This episode is the first time that Anthony Stewart Head is listed as a guest star in the credits. Alyson Hannigan now appears in the opening sequence in the spot he used to occupy. Tony had decided to leave the show full time in order to spend more time with his family back in England and to pursue other roles. But he remained a big part of the show for its remaining two seasons.

Season six sees the writer of this episode Marti Noxon promoted to co-executive producer alongside Joss, taking on the day to day running of the show as Joss moved on to do other things. Thus her name now appears alongside Joss' in the end credits.

The scene where Willow kills the deer is nasty enough but originally it was a lot gorier and had to be cut back in order to be suitable for transmission. Interestingly, the music playing during this scene is listed in the production notes as "Willow Stabs Bambi". Alyson Hannigan found it extremely difficult to film this scene. She was very upset at the thought of Willow doing such a thing and Marti Noxon says that Alyson cried the whole day it was being filmed.

In this episode we discover that Anya and Xander are engaged, but Xander doesn’t want to tell the others yet, causing tension between him and Anya.

Franc Ross, who played the lead hellion demon Razor, played ‘Monty Reynolds’ in Joss Whedon’s Firefly episode ‘Trash’.

The vampire who discovers that Buffy is a robot is wearing a Hanson t-shirt. Vampire or not, he is clearly evil.


It’s a bargain at 4 (out of 5)