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Favourite Buffy and Angel seasons

I'm still watching obscene amounts of old Buffy and Angel episodes: this weekend mainly Angel on the Sci-Fi channel. I contest that this is Good and Healthy, since it's about the only thing that allows me to switch off properly in between work for the summer school. So that's OK, then.

In the process, I've developed quite strong views about which are the best seasons of each. And I wanted to know what the rest of you thought. So there's a poll beneath the cut where you can tell me:

Poll #777128 Buffy and Angel favourite seasons poll

Which is your favourite season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Season one (the Master, Buffy, Willow, Xander, Angel, Sunnydale High)
0(0.0%)
Season two (Spike, Drusilla, the Judge, Oz, Ms. Calendar, Angelus)
4(11.1%)
Season three (Faith, the Mayor, Anya, vampire Willow, the Ascension)
18(50.0%)
Season four (Going to college, Riley, The Initiative, Adam, Spike with chip)
3(8.3%)
Season five (Glory, Dawn=key, death of Joyce Summers, death of Buffy)
5(13.9%)
Season six (Buffy's back, Trio, death of Tara, crazy!Willow, Buffy & Spike)
6(16.7%)
Season seven (The First, Sunnydale High reopens, Buffy as counsellor, the potentials, Caleb, destruction of the Hellmouth)
0(0.0%)

And if I'm a little more generous and let you choose a few favourites?

Season one (the Master, Buffy, Willow, Xander, Angel, Sunnydale High)
0(0.0%)
Season two (Spike, Drusilla, the Judge, Oz, Ms. Calendar, Angelus)
2(5.6%)
Season three (Faith, the Mayor, Anya, vampire Willow, the Ascension)
0(0.0%)
Season four (Going to college, Riley, The Initiative, Adam, Spike with chip)
0(0.0%)
Season five (Glory, Dawn=key, death of Joyce Summers, death of Buffy)
2(5.6%)
Season six (Buffy's back, Trio, death of Tara, crazy!Willow, Buffy & Spike)
1(2.8%)
Season seven (The First, Sunnydale High reopens, Buffy as counsellor, the potentials, Caleb, destruction of the Hellmouth)
0(0.0%)

Which is your favourite season of Angel?

Season one (setting up Angel Investigations, Angel, Doyle, Cordelia, Wesley W-P, Wolfram & Hart)
8(25.8%)
Season two (Darla, Drusilla, Gunn, Angel fires the team, Lorne, Pylea, Fred)
11(35.5%)
Season three (Birth of Connor, Holtz, Wesley & Lilah)
5(16.1%)
Season four (Cordelia as higher being, Faith, The Beast, Jasmine)
2(6.5%)
Season five (Angel and co. take over W&H, Spike, Harmony, return of Lindsey)
5(16.1%)

And, again, if I'm more generous?

Season one (setting up Angel Investigations, Angel, Doyle, Cordelia, Wesley W-P, Wolfram & Hart)
3(10.3%)
Season two (Darla, Drusilla, Gunn, Angel fires the team, Lorne, Pylea, Fred)
3(10.3%)
Season three (Birth of Connor, Holtz, Wesley & Lilah)
0(0.0%)
Season four (Cordelia as higher being, Faith, The Beast, Jasmine)
2(6.9%)
Season five (Angel and co. take over W&H, Spike, Harmony, return of Lindsey)
2(6.9%)

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
kiss_me_quick
Jul. 24th, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC)
Buffy 6, no contest. It has loads of fantastic episodes, including Once More With Feeling.
strange_complex
Jul. 24th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, I hear ya! Personally, three ranks slightly higher for me, so I chose that on the radio buttons poll. But six definitely got a tickybox (part of why I included them!).
diffrentcolours
Jul. 24th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC)
The whole Buffy and Spike thing really annoyed me, and I found most of that series unwatchable as a result.
keris
Jul. 24th, 2006 08:37 pm (UTC)
it's about the only thing that allows me to switch off properly in between work

This is why I started reading Buffy books.....
strange_complex
Jul. 24th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
Eep, don't start talking about the books! That will be the next thing, at this rate. ;)
keris
Jul. 24th, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)
They're really trashy, but great! I spent the weekend reading Queen of the Slayers, with is sort of season 8... :)
strange_complex
Jul. 25th, 2006 09:04 am (UTC)
Season eight, eh? I can feel myself getting pulled in as we speak... ;)
xipuloxx
Jul. 25th, 2006 01:03 pm (UTC)
Argh! Me too! Must...resist...Buffy addiction...
keris
Jul. 25th, 2006 03:13 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it ties in with the things happening in the last season of Angel, and reads like a short series (with added episodes not really in the story ark). But it's not as good as a real series (there's not enough space for one thing), and the ending happens suddenly and is quite weak. But I did keep reading it all weekend :). I prefer the other books - things like the Unseen trilogy, which is a crossover between the Buffy and Angel series pre- Wolfram and Hart.
strange_complex
Jul. 25th, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)
Yup, I can see I am definitely going to have to explore these at some point...
mrkgnao
Jul. 24th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
It's been rather a long time since I've watched Buffy (I like to think it's the main reason why I got a 2:1) but I'm way behind 3, mainly for the Faith/Mayor dynamic. 5 is probably one of the most powerful in terms of plot arc but the filler episodes seriously piss me off. I'm lukewarm about 6.
strange_complex
Jul. 25th, 2006 09:10 am (UTC)
Faith and the Mayor are both genius! I was sorry he got killed at the end of the season, as it meant there would be no more comments about cookies and Boy Scouts and him feeling 'chipper'. And I'm not surprised that season is way out ahead in the voting (at least where people had to make a single choice, anyway - I'm quite interested by how popular season two has been as a second / third / fourth choice).

Season six I do quite like, actually, because I think it does a good job of making the Buffy franchise work outside the school context, and addressing some of the issues that come with that transition. Plus, Buffy=hot! and Spike=hot!, so putting the two of them together is just bound to be a winner. :)
mrkgnao
Jul. 25th, 2006 11:33 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was sorry to say goodbye The Mayor, he was one of my favourite characters. I thought it was somewhat of a breach of good taste to turn into a giant snake though - hadn't he read the evil overlord list? :)

I think four is interesting because they *really* tried to do something different, and stretch/break the formula a bit ... and I like it for that but I have a great affection for 2. I think it's because it is *very* dark in concept (boyfriend turns evil and starts killing your mates) but not dark in execution. By the later series I think the awareness that "this is a dark show" actually undermines a lot of its effectiveness. Also I didn't find the symbolic/metaphorical aspect of it shoved down my throat quite as forcefully as it is in the later series - I mean, although it's through the lens of vampires and monsters, "I slept with a guy and he turned into someone I don't recognise" is one of those universal female growing-up experienes I think.

I think six has some good stuff in it (but I'm wary of praising formula-breaking expisodes like Once More With Feeling - although it is brilliant the strength of a series shouldn't be something it did differently, if that makes sense) and I liked what they *tried* to do ... having fought a God, they have to fight their themselves etc. Unfortunately I bucked against the execution a bit - it was quite self-conscious in it's "ooh, aren't we dark" and the magic-is-crack plotline was so trite I wanted to hit something. I was well into Evil Willow though :)

I got kind of burned off Buffy through 6-7 and I made the mistake of reading some interviews with Joss W - I used to like him because he seemed quite down to earth and possessed of a sense of self-irony. I remember when asked about the impact of Buffy somewhere around the Season 3 mark he said something like "I think people will look back on Buffy and say 'yes that was a show that was on TV' " which I liked. And by the time you hit 6-7 he's been told he's a genius one too many times and is burbling about about Buffy changing the way people think about women and they way women think about themselves.

Say what?

Anyway, I'm ranting.
mrkgnao
Jul. 25th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC)
Oh my God! I didn't realise that was that long!

*applies gag*
strange_complex
Jul. 25th, 2006 01:19 pm (UTC)
Some excellent points there! (And length is good).

I've never read any interviews with Joss Whedon - and sounds like I should aim to keep it that way now. And I also agree that successful one-off episodes aren't enough to make a good season overall.

On darkness, I agree that it comes more and more to the fore through successive seasons of Buffy. But I think it would have been impossible not to go that way, given the situations the main characters have faced by the time we get to season five and after. It just wouldn't ring very true if they, and their lives, had remained all sunshine and roses.

In a way, I suppose that is the tragically inevitable flaw in the format. The fundamental paradox of a bright'n'breezy California high-school kid who also fights the forces of darkness just can't last, because no-one could remain bright'n'breezy for long in Buffy's (and her friends') situation. So what can you do after that but explore the darkness?
xipuloxx
Jul. 25th, 2006 01:02 pm (UTC)
Season 3 is my favourite, largely for Faith & the Mayor (sounds like a band, doesn't it?), but I'm amazed you think Buffy looks hot in s6. Sarah Michelle Gellar is an atractive woman, no doubt, but in s5 & 6 she's so skinny I keep expecting her to go "Heh heh heh, now you are in my power, He-Man!"
kkjxx
Jul. 25th, 2006 08:30 am (UTC)
Best individual episodes...?

Buffy... Once More With Feeling is OK, but I still prefer Hush from season IV... and Doppelgangland from III

Angel... an honourable mention goes to There's no place like Pltz-Grb (particularly for the dancing!), but the best of them all has to be Are you now or have you ever been...

Outside season 2 I never got into the character of Connor, Cordelia's role changed too much, at the detriment of the character (aside from her solo appearance in season V which was very well played) while Harmony got on my nerves from her first appearance in Buffy, even before she was the "vapid vampire" in Angel.

Basically season 2 was the sweet spot.
strange_complex
Jul. 25th, 2006 09:23 am (UTC)
Do you know, 'Hush' was the first episode of Buffy that really made me decide that I wasn't just going to watch it sporadically when I happened to be in any more, but would start making a point of watching it regularly? That episode showed me that this wasn't just a fun supernatural action series, but a really well-crafted piece of work, capable of exploring a genuinely interesting theme from various angles, and using the supernatural side of the stories to bring out more 'realistic' issues in its characters. Fantastic stuff.

I agree about Connor - I think much better things could have been done with the 'son of two vampires' concept, there. As it is, it just felt like a heavily strained plot-line which didn't really go anywhere meaningful in the end. The stories with Justine are better, but they didn't need to come out of the whole Connor thing as far as I can tell (although maybe there are episodes I've yet to see which will make a better case for linking them).

I've only seen the first few episodes of season five of Angel so far, but I'm really liking it at the moment. The Spike / Angel dynamic is much welcomed, and personally I love vampire!Harmony - I think she's really funny. Obviously there's a lot of stuff still to be resolved about how come the Angel team have been put in charge of Wolfram & Hart, but from what I can gather from online episode summaries, I have reasonable hopes of that being handled in an interesting way.
h0pal0ng
Jul. 25th, 2006 10:53 am (UTC)
Interesting question you ask
It inspired me to write my thoughts on each season. As this ended up over 1 1/2 pages long, I've entered it on my lj. have a look and let me know if you agree/disagree with any of the points I mention. THERE ARE SPOILERS.
strange_complex
Jul. 25th, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Interesting question you ask
Wow, yes - that's pretty long, and an interesting read!

I'm mainly commenting here so that I can put in a link to your post from this page, really, just so that I can find it easily and re-read it if I come back to this entry in future.

So nothing much else to add here, really - but thanks!
xipuloxx
Jul. 25th, 2006 12:57 pm (UTC)
Personally, when given the option to vote for more than one, I found myuself voting for all but the ones I really thought were poor, for one reason or another. That means Buffy seasons one, four and six didn't get my vote (all of them were good, no, brilliant in places, but s1 was too patchy, s4 was just rather dull and s6 really shoved that "magic is a drug" thing down our throats, plus after the depression of s5 I seriously didn't need more Buffy moping) and nor did seasons one and four of Angel (s1 being again very patchy and s4 making no sense of any kind).

But what I actually wanted to say is that as Helen and I are watching them all again (in broadcast order), we found that Buffy generally wasn't standing up to rewatching anything like as well as Angel, and Buffy s5 was really quite depressing, so about mid-s5 (mid s2 Angel) we just gave up on Buffy and watched Angel from then on. We're now up to early/mid-s3 and enjoying it enormously. I'm surprised Angel s3 didn't score more highly on the poll, since I think it's particularly good for group dynamics. Even Connor makes some sense once you've watched it! (Although I agree he didn't make as much sense thereafter; I think basically they had come up with a plot involving him in s3, then found themselves stuck with him the following year and had to find something to do with him! A similar problem happened in s6 Buffy with Dawn, I thought.

I would definitely recommend trying to watch the eps in order if you can, even alternating between Buffy and Angel during the seasons when they ran concurrently, as the episodes were sometimes designed to complement each other (e.g. "This week's Buffy was a real downer, let's have a happy Angel episode!") and occasionally crossed over (e.g. "What will we do with this powerful vampire artifact that Spike wants?" Oz: "I'm heading to LA for a gig, I'll drop it off with Angel." Cue Angel ep featuring Oz (briefly) and Spike!)

And, of course, it goes without saying that if you watch episodes out of order, surprises and twists will be spoiled for you. And some of those are really worth being unspoiled...
strange_complex
Jul. 25th, 2006 01:40 pm (UTC)
Yes, I am sorry that I'm missing out on the cross-overs. In fact, the very first time I saw any episode of Angel was when Oxford's Doctor Who Society showed together in one evening the episode of Buffy where Spike relates the history of how he has killed previous slayers ('Fool for Love'), and the related episode of Angel which includes some of the same flash-backs but focussing on Angel's point of view instead of Spike's ('Darla'). I thought that was ace! Actually, I love any episodes where you get to see some of the history of the vampire characters, and I'm pleased that that seems to happen quite a lot in Angel.

Sadly, watching in broadcast order isn't an option unless I start buying them all on video / DVD - which I'm reluctant to do, mainly for reasons of space. I know it's the best way if you can manage it, but as it is I just have to take what the cable channels are giving me. And since at least four different channels are showing one or other of the two series, and even an individual channel doesn't always stick to broadcast order, it's all a bit random! Still, it's OK - I really don't mind at all about spoilers, and have printed out episode guides for both so that I can make sense of where any individual episode fits in the overall story arcs.

Proper broadcast order can be enjoyed some time in the future - maybe when I've seen if my flat in Leeds has enough space to allow me to buy up both series!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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