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Varying Opinions on the 'Best of...', Though Still A Satisfying Glance into the Expanse of the Buffyverse!,
This review is from: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Very Best Of... [DVD] (DVD)
'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' first aired on March 10, 1997, and has since become a cult classic television programme that has been adapted into comic-form, novels, video-games and (undeveloped) animation, along with gaining a wide scholarly audience exploring the psychology and impact that the character of slayer Buffy Summers has had on the mass media and on the portrayal of the female action heroine in general.
The television series was preceded by the film version starring Kristy Swanson as the titular slayer and, unfortunately, was not received very well as a serious horror film, being made in tone with the genre of comedy-horror/B-movie. Upon this initial failing, Joss Whedon, writer/creator of both the film and television series, approached television networks in order to re-work his creation into a wide-reaching television programme that targeted mainly the teenage generation with its witty dialogue and thematic episodes. Now with Sarah Michelle Gellar cast as the re-vamped (pun intended!) Buffy, this first airing led to seven TV seasons which ended in 2003, and continued in comic format by Whedom himself, now going into its tenth official season.
'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' was one of my favourite TV addictions during my teenage years, as well as other similar heroine-themed shows like 'Charmed', 'Xena: Warrior Princess' and 'Relic Hunter', amongst others like its spin-off series 'Angel'. It was certainly sad to see the series end, but great to see its continuation on the printed page, and to revisit its legacy via the season box-sets and certain thematic releases, such as this one.
Distributed in 2004 by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment throughout the UK in Region 2 format, 'The Best of Buffy the Vampire Slayer' promises just that. After an audience of Buffy fans (presumably British) voted for their favourite episodes throughout September and October of 2003, the four most popular were chosen to be distributed on this single-disk release, in order of popularity, as follows:
*'Hush' - Originally aired on 14/12/1999 as Episode 10 of Season Four, this episode was voted the most popular; not surprisingly, having won Whedon an Emmy-award for his writing. It features the spine-chilling Gentlemen, fairy-tale creatures who come to Sunnydale and steal the residents' voices so they can recover seven human hearts for some unrevealed purpose. This is also where Buffy and Riley discover each other's secrets, along with the introduction of Amber Benson as Tara Maclay guest-casting.
*'The Gift' - The last episode of Season Five (aired on 22/05/2001), which includes the saddening death of our titular hero after the climactic battle with Glorificus the Hell-God, in order to stop the key (Dawn) from opening the portal between dimensions, thereby bringing about hell on earth. This episode certainly fits into one of Buffy's finest on-screen moments as she sacrifices herself to save the world.
*'Becoming - Part One' (aired 12/05/1998) - This second-to-last episode of Season Two's two-part finale involves the wake of Angelus's plan to awaken the demon Acathla in order to suck the world into a never-ending hell dimension of torment; as well as the death of Kendra, the first slayer to take up the mantle after Buffy technically drowned at the end of Season One, by the vampiress Drusilla.
*'Graduation Day - Part Two' (aired 13/07/1999) - Marking the finale to Season Three which introduced rogue slayer Faith to the series, this episode involves the Scooby-Gang's and the Sunnydale High students' military stand against the Mayor, who plans to 'ascend' into the pure demon Olvikan during their graduation ceremony, thereby bringing about an apocalyptic massacre.
Regarding special features, there isn't anything major to rival the season box-sets, simply containing a plethora of 20-30 second clip trailers/TV spots for the show, as well as for 'Angel' and 'Firefly' (also created and written by Whedon). The total running time is approximately 170 minutes (just under three hours) with each episode lasting about 47-48 minutes, along with audio language options and subtitles in English (for the hard-of-hearing) and French.
It would have been nice to see both parts of 'Becoming' and 'Graduation Day' included within the selection, but their omissions don't seem to hinder the feature in any major way. I'm sure each Buffy fan has their own personal favourite episode(s) and not everyone will agree with the choices made here. However, as a single-disc best-of compilation of the series, I believe that these four episodes are appropriately chosen for a passing glance into the ever-expanding Buffyverse.