The series still seems to be finding its feet plot-wise in episodes five through eight, but the great writing, well-drawn characters, and nice blend of horror with high-school angst make this series shine. Rating: 8 out of 10.
Note: My only exposure to the Buffy TV series has been this DVD set. I talked about that more in my review of Season One, Disc One.
“Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”
Aired March 31, 1997
Written by Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali
Directed by David Semel
Aired April 7, 1997
Written by Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Aired April 14, 1997
Written by David Greenwalt
Directed by Scott Brazil
“I, Robot, You, Jane”
Aired April 28, 1997
Written by Ashley Gable and Thomas A. Swyden
Directed by Stephen Posey
201-Words-or-Less Film Review
Given that these four episodes have nary a common writer nor director between them, one would expect them to be entirely…well, episodic, not to mention plot-driven and devoid of character development. Although the plots are a bit silly, especially “The Pack” and “I, Robot,” the characterizations and humor win the day. The writing stayed surprisingly strong between four different scriptwriters, due in large part, I suspect, to series creator Joss Whedon’s involvement.
As with Disc One, the best episode is the one that centers around (gasp) vampires, particularly Angel, a vital character in the series, and Darla, a well-drawn villain. But even the sillier ones score on some level; “The Pack” develops Xander and Willow’s relationship, “I, Robot” introduces a possible romantic interest for Giles, and “Never Kill a Boy” introduces the Anointed One, a creepy kid who will be important down the road.
All of the episodes feature sharp dialogue, overachieving actors, and simple but effective visual style. Again, though, “Angel” is the must-see episode here. The chemistry between Boreanaz (Angel) and Gellar (Buffy) actually works, and the conflict between giddy schoolgirl and world-wise slayer within Buffy are what makes the episode (and the series, I guess) work so well.
Word count: 201
By the way, although I estimated Disc One at about a PG-13 level, I'm leaning more towards R as the series goes on. This one could really mess little kids up; the vampires are just plain evil-looking.