Review By Paul Mount, 4 out of 5 As we wait with bated breath for the upcoming Season Seven DVD boxset, here? a handy selection of four discs – aimed, I imagine, at the casual BUFFY admirer – showcasing the show? supporting players in four of their finest, most important episodes. It? a curious idea for a series of DVD releases but one which might well pay dividends for those not inclined to fork out the sixty or so quid required to buy each of the season boxsets. These discs present little thumbnail sketches of the characters, supported by well put-together mini-featurettes filling in the blanks and providing observations as to why the episodes are so representative of key moments in each of the characters?arcs.
THE WILLOW COLLECTION revolves largely around wicca Willow Rosenberg? relationship with wereboy Oz. In Season Two? ?hases?Willow? friendship with the taciturn guitarist looks like it may be doomed before it can really blossom when Oz? dreadful secret causes chaos in Sunnydale. Season Three? ?oppelgangland?sees the return of the alterantive-Eath vampire Willow, all sneers and leather and dubious sexuality. Hannigan clearly relishes her dual roles and the script cleverly hints at Willow? change in sexuality yet to come. Two years on and Willow and Oz are a successful item – until a fellow werewolf named Veruca turns up on the scene and leads Oz stray. ?ild at Heart?is tearful stuff as Oz leaves Sunnydale on a quest to tame his inner wolf, returning later in the season in ?ew Moon Rising?when he is aghast to find that Willow has moved on and found a new love. It? a warm and touching episode, poignantly ending the saga of Willow and her werewolf boyfriend.
Faith is one of the great enigmas of the so-called Buffyverse. The off-the-rails Slayer turned up in Season Three, drifted over to the Dark Side, fell into a coma, woke up and swapped bodies with Buffy before finally reappearing and making good at the end of season seven. THE FAITH COLLECTION presents four of her finest hours. ?ad Girls?and ?onsequences?sees Faith, superbly played by the sassy Eliza Dushku, tempting Buffy from the straight and narrow. Only when Faith? escapades go badly wrong and she accidentally kills a human does Buffy pull herself back from the brink and they become deadly enemies, a battle which reaches its climax in ?raduation day Part 1? Faith reappeared in Season Five? bodyswap two-parter, the second part of which, ?ho Are You?is presented here.
So to the two great vampire loves of Buffy? life. The exploits of the dark, brooding Angel are legend – his own show goes from strength to strength. THE ANGEL COLLECTION gathers up essential moments from the Buffy/Angel dynamic. Season One? classic ?ngel?contains on of the whole series?memorable moments – Buffy? discovery that her older boyfriend is actually a lot older and deader than she realised. In Season Two? ?nnocence?both Buffy and Angel suffer the appalling consequences of Angel? ?oment of perfect bliss? Season Two? drastically underrated ghost story ? Only Have Eyes For You?is a welcome inclusion and Season Three? Christmas story, ?mends?not only gives Angel a sort of peace but also sets up one or two pointers towards the very end of the series.
Finally to THE SPIKE COLLECTION. Spike, brilliantly played by James Marsters, is the vampire who just won? play dead, no matter how many times he? battered and bruised and vaporised. Here we see his debut appearance alongside the lunatic Drusilla in Season two? action-packed ?chool Hard? Buffy? reunion with an old boyfriend in ?ie to Me? ?over? Walk? surprisingly Spike? only appearance in Season three when he returns to Sunnydale sans Drusilla and with a few old scores still to settle. The incredible Season Five episode ?ool for Love?rounds out the set; it? very much Spike? origin episode as Buffy tries to find out more about the Slayer line by grilling Spike about his experiences in murdering two of her kind. The script here is a thing of wonder and the visuals on the screen – the Boxer Rebellion in particular – bely the episode? TV budget.
Reasonably-priced, these discs deserve to do well. It? difficult to pick off episodes of BUFFY due to the complex nature of the show in itslater years but Joss Whedon, who apparently made the selections on these disc, has done a sturdy job in presenting a batch of yarns which will please casual viewers and delight the hardcore fans who?l probably already have these instalments on both VHS and DVD.
THE DISCS; BUFFY on DVD has often been a bit grainy.Most of these episodes are from the show? early years so the grain remains. But the picture is generally colourful and atmospheric and the brief featurettes are welcome extras.
The Slayer Collection is released on 1st March 2004 in the UK only.