Challenging, ambitious, courageous, daring and not particularly good, the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a curious paradox, boasting some of the most quotable dialogue (the supergeek supervillains argument over the best Bond, Spike's every other line) and one of the most fondly remembered episodes but never being able to shake the feeling that they really should have left the gal and the show in their grave. There are some intriguingly dark ideas - torn out of Heaven by her friends, Buffy spends much of the season trying to come to terms with being brought back to a life of fear, loss and uncertainty while the leader of the initially comic geek trio displays an ugly undercurrent of misogyny - but too many episodes are just lazy. Always boasting smart writing, the temptation at times veers to settle for smartass, only just dodging the bullet. Not only is the fun gone, but the often unremittingly joyless tone of the season ensures that none of the intended dramatic highs stand out - when everything is one-note miserable, what's another crisis more or less? There's not even much slaying going on as it piles on more soap opera angst, turning it into a veritable Sunnydale 90210. There's little of the real emotional power that enabled some of the supporting players to show their strengths as actors here: they have character arcs, many of them interesting, but it can't shake the feeling that they've been doing this too long to really be enthused by it. And yet it has one of the smartest episodes - Once More With Feeling, where creator Joss Whedon almost seems to turn the show into a mirror on conflicting emotions to its return with songs like Going Through the Motions. Still, it rallies for the finale, though.
Decent but insubstantial extras on the boxed set, but once again the UK set is cropped widescreen rather than (as per the US edition) the original fullframe.