Good Joss

I’ve been rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and am nearing the end of Season 5. You know, the one where Buffy dies? (Spoiler)

I didn’t actually start at the beginning. For some reason, I only own seasons 3 and 6 on DVD. When we got stationary bikes in our backyard martial arts studio, I thought it would be fun to watch Buffy on my iPod while riding the bike. I painstakingly transferred all of Season 3 (the one with Faith) to my mobile device. I thought when I finished Season 3 that I would just jump to Season 6,  but then I discovered that Netflix streams the entire Buffy series. And I was hooked. All we needed was wi-fi in the studio.

Let me digress to tell you that it took no fewer than four different routers and about 10 visits from two different computer specialists (who also are friends) to get the wi-fi rolling in the studio, while also working in the house and not screwing up the TiVo connections. Rob’s network connections between wired computers in the house are still screwed up. None of that matters, though, because I can watch Buffy on my iPod while riding the bike. (And also write emails and check Facebook.)

Then a wonderful thing happened. All the good shows ended for the summer and, having nothing else to do because the weather has been totally crappy, I started watching Buffy on the HDTV in the house. And I can’t stop. I’ve been watching two or three episodes a day. Let me tell you, it holds up! I can’t speak for seasons 1 and 2, although I will revisit them after I get through Season 7. I’ve heard a rumor that Season 1 — the one where Buffy dies the first time (spoiler) — is dated.

I’m especially enjoying Spike character arc, knowing what will happen in Season 6. And boy, did I have a new appreciation for Riley in Season 4 (the one with the Initiative). At the time, like all sensible young women, I pined for Angel and thought he’d be better off with Buffy than in Los Angeles with his own show. But upon this viewing, I liked Riley an awful lot. He was a good character and a good boyfriend. I’m really looking forward to his return in Season 6 when Buffy’s working at the fast food joint and greets him with, “My hat has a cow.”

The original airing of Season 5 coincided with my last months in graduate school and my first months in Prague, so I don’t remember each episode that well. An exception is, of course, “The Body” (the one where Buffy’s mom dies. Spoiler). Here’s what’s funny. I remember that episode so well, and yet I had completely forgotten that she’d had a brain tumor. My memory was just that Buffy came home and found her dead. Not that she’d been hospitalized and operated on for a brain tumor but was presumably healed.

I won’t lie. “The Body” was kinda tough for me to watch, because of its parallels to the discovery of Isis’ body last winter. I considered turning it off; why torture myself?

I’m glad I watched it all, though, if only to hear Anya’s tearful speech. The thousand-year-old ex-demon asks Willow and Xander how she was supposed to act:

“Am I supposed to be changing my clothes a lot? Is that the helpful thing to do?” (Because that’s what Willow’s doing.)

Then she says:

“I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s, there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore! It’s stupid! It’s mortal and stupid! And, and Xander’s crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

Later, while waiting in the morgue with the gang, she tells Buffy:

“I wish that Joyce didn’t die … because she was nice. And now we all hurt.”

It’s just a really good show. Rob and I have rewatched old The X-Fileses too, and I gotta say, they don’t grab me the way they first did. They’re kinda slow-paced.

One criticism I have of Buffy is the blatant use of stunt doubles. I totally bought the fight scenes when Buffy originally aired, but it seems so obvious to me now when the person doing the fighting is not actually Sarah Michelle Gellar. They cut to her face, I can hear her voice oofing and grunting (as dubbed in post-production), but some other martial artist is doing the fighting. It was more offensive in Season 3. Maybe she got more training and did more of her own stunts in the later seasons. After all, she did her own singing.