- Actors: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Head, James Marsters
- Directors: Bill Norton, Bruce Seth Green, Charles Martin Smith, Daniel Attias, David Fury
- Format: Box set
- Language: English
- Classification: 15
- Studio: 20th Century Fox
- VHS Release Date: 18 Aug. 2003
- Run Time: 468 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B00004WA68
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 200,813 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 4 (Box Set 1) [VHS] 
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Including the following episodes:
The Harsh Light of Day
Wild at Heart
In Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sunnydale high school is left behind in smoking ruins and Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) becomes a college freshman at the (fictitious) University of California Sunnydale campus. The major arc of the season involves a semi-sinister Man from U.N.C.L.E.-type government agency known as The Initiative which has its Bond-style HQ under the campus. Their nefarious plans involve capturing vampires and demons, including the now-regular character Spike (James Marsters), and hacking them to pieces for assembly into a Frankensteinian supermonster or fitting them with chips that mute their killing urges. Buffy's plank-like new boyfriend Riley (Mark Blucas) is deadweight, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) is shoved into new corners of irrelevance (and turns folkie!), Willow (Alyson Hannigan) breaks up with the werewolf (Seth Green) and comes out, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) whines about not being a student but starts dating a former demon (the amusing Emma Caulfield), Angel (David Boreanaz) has his own series but drops in for crossovers (you'll need to buy the Angel box set to find out how some key plotlines pay off) and previously killed or comatose semi-regulars pop in for dreams or revivals. A run of shaky episodes starts off this season, with the show seemingly uncomfortable with the new setting as it treads water with the same old monsters. This set starts to pick up with a few well-above-average episodes, the stand-out being "hush"!. This is a rare attempt for the show at being truly scary, featuring Nosferatu-like demons who glide around robbing people of their voices and force all the characters who have been evading the truth to open up to each other through non-verbal communication. The big plot, spread over the bulk of the episodes, is less interesting than the major arcs of the last two seasons, perhaps because Buffy's new love interest and new nemesis both fail to make much of an impression. This also tends to leave Sarah Michelle Gellar in the shadows of the show she is supposed to be starring in--her best 42 minutes in this series ("Who Are You", not included in this set) comes when she is possessed by bad girl Faith and can cut loose a bit. Mildly wobbly after the last two years, Buffy is still hanging in there and making its absurd premise pay off. --Kim Newman
Top customer reviews
While I originally didn't like the idea of Riley, I have to admit that it was all done so well - and showed a new aspect of Buffy. Angel is doing much better in his own show - in BTVS he was always overshadowed - he was "Buffy's boyfriend" and didn't get a lot of chance to shine. Having Angel leave also left the door open for some fantastic crossovers, and led to interesting scenes between Buffy and Angel. The re-introduction of Spike was a stroke of genius, although it would've been nice to see a bit of Dru as well.
The whole Willow/Tara arc caused some controversy, and a lot of people have criticised it. Personally, I thought it was a great idea - it dealt with an issue that is very real in today's world, but did so in a tasteful, discreet way. Alyson Hannigan does a superb job as Willow - she's really brought her on from the computer geek with frog fear!
All-in-all, season 4, I feel, keeps the BtVS flag flying high - it's kept the original feel of the first 3 seasons, while adding new flavours that have matured the show - mixed metaphors aside! I just can't wait for season 5!
However, accomplished storyteller Joss Whedon has some great tricks up his sleeve, including Spike (an absolute treasure), Anya, heartbreak for Willow and Oz, magic spells going wrong (again) and mysterious commando guys running around in the shadows. I liked the gentle and clever introduction of Riley. It was rather obvious that he was destined to be Buffy's new love interest when he kept on popping up, but the relationship between Buffy and Riley doesn't quite pull off on screen. I think he's too young for Buffy, who has already lived through years of very tough growing up.
Still, nearly all the episodes are fun viewing, with #3 The Harsh Light of Day, #6 Wild at Heart, #7 The Initiative, #8 Pangs, #9 Something Blue and #10 Hush, being top watches and well worth the money to buy them.
Hush (ep. 10) is one of the best Buffy episodes ever, and Something Blue (ep. 9) and Fear Itself (ep. 4) are hilarious. Willow's heartbreak in Wild At Heart (ep. 6) is nicely done, and Spike's return in The Harsh Light of Day (ep. 3) is excellent. Angel crosses over in Pangs (ep. 8). These 6 episodes are must-sees and provide a great reason to buy this Season 4 box set.
To sum up, do not make the mistake of hating this season just because it dared to make some changes. Some worked, some did not, but Buffy is still the best show on TV.