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The Best Of Buffy
cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brenden, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Stewart Head, and David Boreanaz

creator: Josh Whedon

180 minutes (15) 1998-2003
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
20th Century Fox DVD Region 2 + 4 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by John Percival
This disc brings together four episodes as voted the 'best' by over one million online fans of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
   The four episodes include Hush (season four) where the residents of Sunnydale lose the power of speech to a horde of creepy fairytale nasties. These monsters are intent on removing seven hearts from their silent victims. This episode, quite frankly, is one of the most memorable for me due to the camp creepiness of the skinny demons floating around in their black suits and their permanent toothy grins. Also I like the demands this episode puts on the actors by making them act visually only, and it is also quite nice not having to put up with each characters stock responses to a given situation. Another important element I guess the fans liked about this episode was that the 'almost, maybe' romance between Buffy and Riley is blown open when they discover each others 'secret identities'. There is also a hilarious mistake in the episode, as the evil 'Gentlemen' float through the air with mannerisms seemingly borrowed from the Earth: Final Conflict's Taleons, there is one scene where the wheeled box the actor is standing for the gliding effect can clearly been seen in shot.
   The next episode The Gift (season fice) is the culmination of a story arc that results in Buffy's death (again). A god called Glory is attempting to break down the walls between dimensions and unleash hell on Earth using the blood of Dawn, who was created as Buffy's sister so she would be protected by the slayer. There are a lot of relationships to be saved during the course of the episode and a lot of incredibly camp fighting involving two seemingly invulnerable girls and a large 'Troll Hammer'. All this is focused around what is, essentially, Dawn being a damsel princess in distress trapped atop a high tower. Ultimately the conclusion of this season finale episode is Buffy's self sacrifice to save her sister and the world (again).
   Becoming, Part One (season two) is the darkest of the batch. Angel, the vampire with a soul, after spending a night of passion with high school girl Buffy, instead of ending up on the sex offenders register, he loses his soul and returns to his evil ways. His current evil plan is to awaken a demon from its stone coma so it can swallow the world into a hell dimension. This episode is punctuated with flashbacks detailing how Angel first became a vampire at the hands of Darla, his tormenting of Drusilla and regaining his soul as part of a curse from gypsies to punish him for killing one of their daughters. Also we see how he was put onto the path of protecting Buffy.
   A problem with only having one episode of a two-parter, is that it really needs the second half to make sense and complete the story. However as this was a 'voted for' episode I guess the diehard fans wanted it for the insight into Angel's past.
   The last episode Graduation Day, Part Two (season three) finds Angel near death, the Mayor about to 'ascend' into a big demon form and all the kids getting to graduate from high school. Most obviously a major element is the love affair between Angel and Buffy as seen in her sacrifice (again) by allowing Angel to drink her blood. A high point of the episode is the politically correct but ever so sadistic Mayor, he has some brilliantly touchy-feely dialogue about his plans to destroy Sunnydale and everyone in it. However having an episode that is camper than a Christmas tree is also a negative issue, any tension is sacrificed for pure wackiness. Granted, odd things happen in Sunnydale but how the whole student body is suddenly onboard with the whole mayor monster and army of the undead thing, and then mobilise into an army is a stretch way too far.
   The whole Buffy series brought the occult into the mainstream and does benefit from some interesting characters, however it does raise more questions than just about monsters and demons. How come nobody is worried about grown men 'Watchers' hanging around with school kids or even falling in love with them in the case of Wesley and Cordelia? Then again most of the actors look way too old to be at school anyway.
   This DVD collection is an ample representation of the quality of the series. To me the order of episodes feels like a sliding scale with Hush being by far the best. However with a release such as this being aimed at the fans and voted for by the fans, I am sure they would probably have each series, including these episodes, in their collection already.
   The extras on this disc include trailers and TV spots from Buffy seasons, Angel seasons and Joss Whedon's space series Firefly.

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