Reviewing and Ranking ALL of Buffy

 

 

buffy 2

Spoilers, duh (I mean, it’s stopped airing 15 years ago… which makes me feel so old right now)

monkey at the movies 2

So here’s the lowdown: Buffy was one of the first TV shows I ever really loved. I watched most of it when I was younger- though stopped after season 5 because it annoyed me that she came back from the dead and spoiled that perfect ending. Years later a friend of mine was aghast and told me to finish the damn thing- I mean missed a lot of classic episodes like Once More with Feeling! (I know, the horror 😉 ) Anyway, those are my pre-blog Buffy credentials, and should explain my intense love for this show and why over the last few months I couldn’t resist rewatching the whole thing on Prime 😉 Also it should tell you why I decided to dress up for this post as vampire orangutan:

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And why I got my sister- the slaying monkey baby (who sadly won’t be joining us today)- to dress up too:

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Yes, I know Halloween was in October 😉 Anyhoo, onto the reviews!

Season 1– this first season did a great job of establishing the world and has some classic episodes. I loved the quirky characters and everyone seems really zesty at this stage- including Giles. And while not the most interesting, the Master was still a scary villain. So I guess what I’m trying to say is the original is always a good place to start 😉 The one minor thing that bugged me with season 1 was how little I cared for the romance- sorry to all the Angel fans!

Season 2– this definitely felt like the show reaching its stride. What I particularly love about season 2 is that it’s the start of Willow’s journey into witchcraft. I also thought Angel made a much more compelling baddie than a love interest. That twist made it far more emotional and enjoyable. Plus, Spike’s introduction added to the entertainment value tenfold!

Season 3– so I had more mixed feelings about this series. I liked that it started out with a more beleaguered Buffy and dealt with the consequences of being a slayer really well… That said, Faith sucked. I never liked her as a character or an antagonist or any other role she jumped into as the show progressed. The Mayor didn’t excite me as a villain either. Even so, the individual character episodes in season 3 were GREAT. I especially loved the way it explored the sidekicks- Xander and Willow are developed so well and inject the show with consistent humour. What I did find was that my opinions on certain aspects had changed a lot as an adult. I didn’t realise quite how much of a “nice guy” Xander was. And I also didn’t understand why on earth Willow would ever want to be with him- she’s so accomplished and Oz is amazing (discounting later developments as well). I think one of the best episodes for me in this series though is when Anya enters the fray.

Season 4– what I really appreciated about this season was how effectively it focused on the leap from school to college. The way it dealt with that transition was particularly clever, since it showed how dealing with adulthood can be more of a struggle for some (*coughs* Xander and Buffy *cough cough*). I also felt the romance with Riley was far better developed than the one with Angel. And on a similar note, I squealed when Tara was introduced- best love interest in the show by far. I also especially liked the direction the show took with Spike’s character at this stage. There were a couple of standout episodes for me as well: the Gentlemen was terrifying and Something Blue was hilarious. The overarching storyline worked better for me than season 3 overall- though ultimately it wasn’t as exciting. Where season 3 took a while to build, season 4 kinda peters out when the whole government conspiracy thing just morphs into *generic Frankenstein monster battle*.

Season 5– I found this to be the most beautiful, emotional and addictive series by far. In the opening episodes, we already get Dracula, Dawn’s introduction and Xander’s double. Speaking of Dawn, I reallllly liked how that was handled- it was such a crazy, clever twist. Now, at this stage, I didn’t hate her character, though as an older viewer I definitely admit she is irritating. I do think on balance she has a great deal to cope with and really liked how it adds a new relationship dynamic. Buffy adjusting into the sister role was a lot of fun to watch. It also worked brilliantly when it came to the more heart-wrenching stories this season dealt with. Because, while Glory made a terrifying villain, it’s amazing how this show explored that the hardest thing Buffy would ever have to face was the loss of her mother. Episodes like The Body were so well observed and took the show to another level. The one downside to this series was watching Riley turn into a plank of wood and wishing him gone for most of the season- I always forget that he stayed on the show wayyy longer than I remembered. On the flip side, Spike’s growth is great. As flawed and unstable as he is, I really did love his character. Yes, he’s needy and selfish, but also funny and endearing. His story breaks my heart a little and it’s amazing to see a literally soulless character choose to be better- but I’m getting a little ahead of myself… Either way, Season 5 was where it was at for me. I loved the finale so much and thought it was a fatal mistake when they just couldn’t let dead things lie- which brings me onto…

orangutan zombie enhanced

Season 6– So much of season 6 for me is taken up with the Spike/Buffy angle- which ended up being a pity for many reasons. Firstly, because the Dark Willow story, foreshadowed from the first episode, is ultimately overshadowed by this development. Secondly, cos it allows Buffy to deflect a lot of her hurt at being back in the world to her dysfunctional relationship. And boy is it dysfunctional. Now, I love Spike- I know he’s the bad guy, I know he’s largely unapologetic for six seasons, but I also I love a well done redemption arc. And the crucial thing about Spike is he isn’t magically redeemed by love- he has to work at it. At first because he desires Buffy and then because it’s the right thing. So there was definitely a part of me rooting for him to win Buffy’s heart… and yet, not to be an ungrateful fangirl or anything, I genuinely wish it hadn’t gone there. As much as THAT kiss at the end of Once More With Feeling (possibly the best Buffy episode ever) gets me every time and as much as it’s WOW when they are together, it’s never very fulfilling as a viewer cos Buffy is just. not. into. it. That means it’s not just the bathroom scene that sucks- it’s all of it. I’ll admit when I first watched this season I was excited to be handed scraps by the writers- however rewatching it ruins it for me. It’s horrible to see two awesome characters- on their own heroic journeys- destroying each other with their relationship. No, this doesn’t do the whole “love will save you” thing and yes, it makes a certain amount of sense that it went down like this- but the alternative didn’t have to be so depressing. I get the concept- nonetheless the execution for me was off and perhaps there were lines the showrunners shouldn’t have crossed. I did like some of the transgressive elements the series explored though- especially how the big bad was one of their own. It was a bit unfortunate that Willow had to be a little annoying in this season though. But I liked how the show upped the ante and defied expectations by both making the villains useless jokes… and then turning the tables on us. I did like how it was resolved as well. And it’s one of the few times in TV history that a resurrection storyline has worked for me- so I was glad I did cave on my principles and watched this all those years ago 😉

Season 7: now, where season 6 managed to defy my expectations and delivered some cool TV (especially for a show I thought was dead and buried), season 7 ended up making me think it was a shame they’d resurrected it. Let’s talk about some of the things I did like first. I liked how much characters had grown. I thought Willow’s ups and downs this season were more in character. I did also like how the “big bad” and Spike’s redemptive arc were woven together. HOWEVER I was never that fussed about the First Evil. The whole “we’ve got to fight a concept” thing is a bit naff. I’ve since seen this done a few times in shows and I don’t think it works for me. Nor did I take to how it was done here. Especially when it came to later in-fighting, which felt contrived and didn’t utilise this theme as well as it could have. Pointing out that there are flaws- Andrew saying “what kind of name is the First”- is a lazy way of addressing issues and does nothing to diminish them. I also HATED the potential slayer aspect. Most of the new characters are annoying, there were too many of them and they overshadowed some of the actually interesting people in the show. Plus, the British potentials have *the worst* fake British accents ever!!! It’s also a shame that so many characters were sidelined for them and many old favourites were gone- and no, bringing back Faith was not a solution. Nor was including Andrew- I spent most of the series wondering why he was there. While Willow’s relationship with Kennedy started out strong- it ended up feeling like the disappointing whoosh of all the air being let out of a balloon. The whole mutiny thing didn’t work- especially spearheaded by Dawn- because so many characters have done a lot worse and their alternative plan was much the same as the original. Of course, she turns out to be right- even though she was acting *super* out of character by putting a bunch of teenage girls in danger. It all felt contrived for needless drama. James Marsters did a fantastic job as Spike this series- however his relationship with Buffy is so weird and highlights some of the flaws from the previous season. His sacrifice in the end was a perfect end for his character though. Ultimately, I found this season lacklustre, lacking the excitement of earlier series and failed to grab me. I hate to end on a sour note- I guess that’s just the way the vampire crumbles into dust.

So with all that said, here are my rankings for Buffy:

#1 Season 5

#2 Season 2

#3 Season 1

#4 Season 6

#5 Season 4

#6 Season 3

#7 Season 7

So have you seen this classic show? What do you think of it? Do you agree or disagree with any of my thoughts? And how would you rank the seasons? Let me know in the comments!

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66 thoughts on “Reviewing and Ranking ALL of Buffy

  1. bookbeachbunny says:

    Now you’re making me want to do a rewatch! I loved the series. Not an Angel/Buffy fan though. I liked them both better apart. Spike was great and I know she wasn’t on a lot but I loved Drusilla. With the exception of The Body and The Gentleman I’m an early seasons fan. The Mayor at least brought some laughs 🙂 And I’ll always have a soft spot for teenage Giles during the Halloween candy episode!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. howlsmovinglibrary says:

    Season 5 is also my favourite series!!! Partly because I’m Spike trash, but also for me it’s the one that has the best balance between high stakes and angst. Yeah, The Body is a hard episode – and completely accurate to grieving a parent, I can say from experience – but it only dips into the bleakness that hits you full in the face in Season 6. And although the season end is sad it does feel completely right.

    Although I agree with you about the final season having too many characters, a lot of them annoying, there are some things I like about it. For one thing, the reversal it does on Buffy’s character, from making her one of the less interesting and relatable cast members to LITERALLY THE ONLY SANE MAN IN THE ROOM is really impressive for me. I root for her so hard by the final few epsiodes, considering I’m kind of ambivalent to her as a protagonist overall. Plus, souled!Spike is great. I think the fact that his redemption comes with acknowledging how utterly awful and problematic it is, but also from his own agency (rather than say, a gypsy curse that isn’t a choice in the first place) means that he’ll always be better than Angel for me!!

    Great post! Buffy is on my syllabus for a Fantasy Across Media module next term and I’m so excited to talk about it again.

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ahh I’m so glad you agree!! hehee glad I’m not the only Spike trash around- that would have been embarassing 😉 And yes I so agree with you!!

      I think that’s fair- I did expect some of my opinions on 7 not to be too popular 😉 I did like the idea of the reversal in Buffy’s character and being the only sane one in the room- my only problem there was the execution, which made it seem unbelievable and contrived. I did love souled Spike though! Yeah I really agree with you again! Definitely!

      Thak you! That’s so so cool! Hope you have a lot of fun studying it!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. daleydowning says:

    My favorite season is probably 2 – after season 4, I lost track of the series (mostly because I moved abroad, and had a major time zone change, as well as channel lineups and original broadcast dates), and while I caught up a little here and there (Once More, With Feeling is the *only* non-cheesy musical episode of a series, in my view), I also was beyond let down that Buffy and Spike *did* become a thing – as it totally ruined what those characters needed to be to each other to grow individually. I did approve of Angel leaving – but I hated Riley. And when I found out that Xander ended up with Anya, I gagged (I could not *stand* her – after Faith, Anya was the character I disliked the most), and Willow turning evil just BROKE MY HEART. Honestly, I don’t care that I never saw the final season; I could’ve definitely done with them ending it after season 5 as well!

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ah fair enough! And yes I really agree with you about once more with feeling- I’ve seen other tv shows attempt it, but none ever come close. Yeah I do agree with you- it was the kind of ship that should never have sailed (as much as I liked both characters). And yeah Riley got to be really annoying by the end. Oh no, they didn’t actually end up together- they nearly did- but he left her at the altar and a bunch of other stuff happened (including two apocalypses). Totally fair enough! I can understand leaving it at 5!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Crystal says:

    I haven’t watch this show in many years so I can’t remember a lot of it. But I do remember Once More, With Feeling like I watched it yesterday! My favorite episode by far. And that kiss with Spike. I mean rip my heart out!?! I love Spike and always will. He was my favorite when I first watched this series in middle school. But when I got older I did tend to lean towards Buffy and Angels relationship. Giles and Xander was always my favorite sidekicks. Actually I don’t even know if I watched the series finale of this to be honest. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️
    Great reviews of the seasons!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Bookstooge says:

    I’ve only watched Angel, so everything “Buffy” is second hand knowledge to me and through that particular lense.
    If it’s still on Prime, I might go check it out and make my background tv show. I’m currently working through Pushing Daisies and only have an episode or two left. Twilight zone is always a good fill in for background, but I’ve already gone through it twice in the last several years…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. elissa says:

    I always thought season 4 was the weakest season, with only Hush as the standout episode. (It’s sooo good.) I basically hated everything about it, from college to Riley to the Big Bad. I always liked seasons 2, 3, and 5. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. thesarahdoughty says:

    Yes I agree with you. Some things they failed to make the characters likeable, but there were certainly some that were more enjoyable than others. Xander was always a caring guy, but the fact that he never really could contribute in a significant fashion was pretty upsetting. Spike was definitely a favorite. Even though season 7 had a crazy “potentials” storyline, I really liked how it went out with a bang. The big battle where some of the characters we loved were killed/sacrificed themselves to save the world. But I do agree that the show was extended a little too long.

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      I totally get that. And yeah I really agree with you about Xander. Ah so happy you feel the same way about Spike! I can understand that- I did like that aspect of it. It was just one of those things where I wish the execution had been slightly different (though I liked a lot of the ideas)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Carrie says:

    I can’t help but chuckle at your timing when I just finished up reading Slayer a few days ago after holding off for quite a while. I actually think she did a good job with it and continuing the Buffy universe after so many years. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. MetalPhantasmReads says:

    This post is everything! I found this series about the end of junior high/early high school is when I really watched the whole series. I echo a lot of your thoughts as well. While it’s been a while, I think my season rankings are: season 5, season 2, season 6, season 1, season 3, season 7 and season 4 ( the whole military thing really didn’t work for me lol). Love the graphics so much as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Vera says:

    I watched this show many, many years ago. 🙂 And I completely agree with you with Spike / Buffy in season 6 – I really loved how Spike’s character was seeking redemption and felt the execution of their ‘relationship’ was just…. not for me. 😦 A real pity as something really could have been done there.
    My favourite was also season 5… that ending tore my heart. And was the perfect ending that honestly could have finished the series splendidly…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. littlepandareader says:

    Great post! I love vampire Orangutan XD. I watched Buffy throughout my childhood and I feel I will never be objective towards this series. It was my life, I wanted to be like Buffy when I grew up xD I do agree with you Buffy/Spike=weird I never understood that ship… I really liked Spike as a character and he was even better in the Angel series (Have you watched it?).I think my favorite season was season 2. I have really mixed feelings about the return of the Buffy franchise on TV, like I had with Sabrina…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. hobbleit says:

    I’ve been rewatching Buffy and I’ve just finished season four. Seasons two and five are my favourites, they are amazing. After rewatching season four, I find I like it more now than I did the first time round.

    Seasons six and seven I found very disappointing, on the whole, mostly because I hate the Spike/Buffy storyline and I think it actually ruined Spike as a character for me until he went over to Angel. I did like the dark Willow storyline and the musical episode is just fantastic. I have the soundtrack on my iPod and I can sing just about every song from heart.

    Like

  13. waytoofantasy says:

    Oh man, I was such a huge Buffy fan back in the day. We were just talking about it at work last week, in particular the season where Dawn was introduced. My coworker didn’t like it at all but I had always thought it was brilliant. Totally introduce a new character and make us start questioning ourselves because who is this and why is everyone acting like they’ve always been here, did I miss something? And then episodes later when we have finally gotten comfortable BAM. So beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Oh I used to love Buffy when I was in high school. I literally watched all the episodes so many times! I think they have all seven seasons available on Amazon Prime so I may have to convince myself to re-watch them one day. 😀
    I can’t remember what my favourite season was, I just have some favourite episodes; I really loved Hush (although the villains scared me worse than any other Buffy villains), although besides that episode the whole fourth season was kind of sub par for me (I guess that would be last place on my list).
    Great post. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The Cozy Pages says:

    Wow. That’s a major undertaking for this post. Lol. Pity baby monkey wasn’t around… although vampire monkey is pretty debonair!
    I loved Buffy… it was so cool to see this girl fighting like that. It was one of the first shows to do that. I honestly can’t remember enough to be able to rank them though. May have to check out the Prime shows…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Thinking Moon says:

    Ok, Season 5 is literally my favourite season. It’s the most coherent, and Glory as the villain was, well… Glorious!

    I’m sad you didn’t like Faith. I loved her. She represented what a Slayer would be if she didn’t have a good family, and people were betraying her.

    Her redemption arc is interesting as well. She doesn’t become good. She just gets better.

    However, with that being said I agree with most of the rest, except I might put season 3 over season 4.

    Like

  17. artyplantsman says:

    I recently watched them all again too and have to broadly agree with all your points.

    The ‘big bad’ story arcs in each season got on my nerves to be honest (as it did in Dr Who when they tried to copy the idea). I much preferred the stand-alone stories.

    Spike was a great character( and James Marsters was outstanding) His sacrifice at the end of season 7 was a perfect end – so why did the Angel team have to shoehorn in his resurrection? It made a mockery of the sacrifice.

    The stand out arc for me (and I say this as a straight male) was the relationship between Willow and Tara. This was so beautifully handled that it still moves me.

    Like

  18. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

    This post brings SO MUCH JOY to my heart! Buffy was the first show I ever fell in love with and religiously followed. I was 13 when it premiered and honestly kind of feel like I grew up alongside the Scoobies. I remember when the season 5 finale aired and I was like OMG THIS IS INCREDIBLE. Honestly the show died after it moved to UPN in season 6; while I really really love Spike’s arc and Once More With Feeling, the last two seasons weren’t great. And this is coming from someone that loves Spike and Buffy together despite how toxic their relationship’s start was.

    I rewatch the series now at least once a year, and as I get older it is so interesting how my perspectives on some things change. I’ve grown to not hate Dawn and Anya, the latter of whom I think I love more with each rewatch. Xander’s series arc of being the nice guy in the shadows really hits home to me. I think I really like the narratives of the people around the extraordinary superheros that don’t have a destiny or superpowers, but do the right thing anyway. That speech Xander gave Dawn in “Potential” after she found out she wasn’t a potential is one of my favorite moments of the show.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Lashaan Balasingam @ Bookidote says:

    I’ve never watched anything Buffy related and I don’t think I ever crossed paths with it during my childhood too, which is super odd since I’ve seen soooo much TV as a kid. I loved your insights on each season, even more for season 5 which is no surprise that it turned out to be the best of the bunch too! Thank you for sharing this! I feel like I know a bit more about the show now hahah I believe I’ve seen comics based on the show or maybe it’s the other way around, I can’t tell hahah 😛

    Liked by 1 person

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