Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Sixth Season
20th Century Fox Home Video
Warning: Spoiler’s Ahead! This review was written for people who know the series and have seen season 6.
I have to say, this review is a bittersweet experience for me. Round about season three of this series I became a convert. I don’t remember when I started watching it, but it was early enough that I got it. I mean, I became an addict. The fact that the show, and it’s spin-off Angel aren’t around in first-run anymore is a sad state of affairs, and writing this just reminds me that season 7 is the end. Well things end, I guess.
This season, the series first on UPN after five seasons on rival fledgling network The WB, raises the bar once again for network series television. Not only is there a full-length musical episode (“Once More, With Feeling,” a natural counterpart to season four’s largely silent “Hush”) it is also jam-packed with series turning points. Among them, this season’s mortality is ratcheted up several notches, with the death of a main character (this time permanent, as opposed to Buffy’s season five demise) and Willow’s wanton murder of Warren and near slaughter of Anya and Giles. In addition, Willow and Tara’s relationship reaches a level of intimacy that is rarely, if ever, seen between two women in film, much less on network television. The courage shown by Whedon, the cast and crew, and UPN should be commended.
Season 6 is also significantly darker in overall tone, with quite a bit less overall humor than some of the previous seasons but a wealth of pivotal moments. Buffy and Spike’s relationship, the death of Tara, Willow’s transformation into an evil, magic-addicted murderess, Giles’ return to England, the journey of the Nerds from comic relief to killers and the end of Xander and Anya’s relationship pack an absurd level of pivotal character development into this 22 episode season.
And then there’s the sex. Season six is more sexually charged than any that went before, which of course makes sense given the fact that the characters were all in their 20’s (except, of course, for Dawn who is 15 and Spike who is well over 150). Willow and Tara’s relationship gets more serious and the heat between Spike and Buffy is, well, scorching. I was stunned that UPN had no qualms with some of these acts occurring at 8pm on a show with an audience split between adults and 14 year-old girls. I mean, there’s implied oral, missionary, and well, doggy style, but it’s also between the titular slayer and an actual vampire! That’s a dynamic that usually fails or seems absurd. I mean, can you imagine Dr. Weaver and Dr. Romano getting together on “E.R.” (despite the fact that she’s gay)? We know there’s sexual tension between Batman and Catwoman but they don’t actually get seriously involved. At least not in the films.
Dawn also graduates into a major role, with her burgeoning adolescence having a serious effect on the Scooby Gang. Additionally, her complete non-reaction regarding Tara and Willow’s relationship was important, letting viewers, especially the show’s younger fans, know that two women together is a perfectly natural, acceptable occurrence.
Extras on the disc are excellent but some are halfway done, while the commentary from series creator (and episode writer/director) Joss Whedon on the musical episode is insightful and funny, the inclusion of a cast member or two would have been a welcome addition. On any of the commentaries, for that matter. The behind the scenes look at that same episode by exec producer David Fury is your standard behind-the-scenes mini-doc, but with this cast and show, well, you really want to be there and this is as close as we’re gonna get, folks. Also included is a set of outtakes that appears to be a small collection of Xander goofs. You’d think that over a whole season of a show like this there would be some genuinely funny outtakes, but these left me cold. Rounding out the extras is the excellent featurette doc, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Television With a Bite” that originally aired on A&E and sums up the series through season 6. Best quote of the extras? Adam Busch (Warren) asking, “Do they have fluffers for women?” in the “Buffy Goes to Work” featurette.
When all is done and said, this collection is a must for any fan and I stand by my statement that if you start with season 1, you’ll be a fan!
Show: Can I give is a 10 out of 5?
Extras 3/5: Commentaries are good, but some additional input from series stars in a show like this is imperative.
DVD quality: 4/5. Everything looks great, but re-mastering the sound to 5.1 would be fantastic. Of course, re-mastering 990 minutes is probably prohibitively expensive, but�.
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Photo �20th Century Fox