Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the brain child of Joss Whedon. Also well known for the series spin-off Angel with David Boreanaz (currently starring in Bones on Fox) and cult series famed Firefly, Whedon is a master marketer. Whedons need to personally cultivate his manuscripts turned him from a visionary into a writer, director and executive producer. Whedons first writing gig was on the mega-hit television series Roseanne. Later, he became known as an excellent script doctor. Perhaps even more interesting, he is a third generation TV scriptwriter. Whedon fills each DVD of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer with numerous goodies. One can hardly be disappointed with packaging costs or settle for reruns when the DVDs offer a cornucopia of insightful extras. Season Two includes audio commentaries, special interviews with Joss Whedon, featurettes and original scripts. The original scripts are particularly fun to compare with the final episode and as a study for aspiring screen writers. The DVDs come in a fold out package and, unlike Season 1, include pictures of different cast mates on each one. Because the package contains a full season (Season 1 was a midseason replacement with half the episodes), there is even more artwork featuring quotes from the episodes. While Season 1 featured cool blues, Season 2 is straight Gothic burgundy and black. One fun tidbit is that, from the main menu, each time you select an episode the screen spins to land on a different view of the graveyard.
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With the series renewal came an infusion of cash to The Vampire Slayer budget. Season 2 includes much better special effects and a well-dressed cast. Most importantly, the cast is coherent and comfortable with each other and their characters. This camaraderie allowed Whedon greater exploration of deeper themes concerning life, love and growing up while creating monsters that are even more threatening. However, Whedon knows that it is emotional danger is the most menacing of all. With Season 2, the writers explore the consequences of choice and change. These actors all step up nicely to bring substance and depth to the real threats we must face in life.
In Season 2, Buffy returns from summer vacation with her father. Feeling mortal after her encounter with the Master, she is moody and withdrawn. She decides she must break off her relationship with Angel and focus on her vampire slayer training. But despite her best efforts, the two are drawn closer together, which creates a situation that no one was expecting and puts everyone she loves in danger her family, her friends and her Watcher. Buffy is torn between romantic love, duty and her love for the people around her. She must decide what is truly important and do the unthinkable; prioritize different types of love.
The episode descriptions in the season guide are limited. I have further white washed them to avoid spoilers. To really enjoy plot surprises, read this list in lieu of the season guide.
*****BEST BET***** Save the commentaries and special features for after the final episode of the season. Listening sooner will cause spoilers. Also, Joss Whedon is famous for future season spoilers.
Episode 1: When She Was Bad
Buffy returns from vacation with a bad attitude and nightmares about the master, while the Anointed One and his followers plot their revenge.
Themes: Facing fears, feeling violated, alienating friends, feeling powerless, gaining strength in friendships.
Episode 2: Some Assembly Required
A series of grave robbings leads to a science club member. Just what is he doing with pieces of dead girls?
Themes: Dating, jealousy, loss of a sibling, loss of a child, sibling bonds, loneliness.
Episode 3: School Hard
Buffys mother ends up in danger when Sunnydale High is attacked by a new vampire in town.
Themes: Responsibility of school vs. job vs. social life, breaking rules.
Episode 4: Inca Mummy Girl
A beautiful Incan princess falls for Xander.
Themes: Dating, jealousy, lies, importance of fulfilling commitments, choosing romance over friendships.
Episode 5: Reptile Boy
Buffy and Cordelia attend a frat party to find out that sometimes things are more important to boys than girls and beer.
Themes: Rebellion, growing up too fast, wanting respect, too many responsibilities, childhood vs. adulthood.
Episode 6: Halloween
Halloween is traditionally a quiet night in the undead world so, the gang rents costumes from a new shop in town. But as the treats begin the trick is on our heroes and Buffy loses her powers.
Themes: Being ones self, jealousy, rivalry, learning to be a leader, taking charge, empowering women, being comfortable in your own skin.
Episode 7: Lie to Me
Buffy meets a boy and is making friends, only to discover that they are cutting deals with the dark side.
Themes: Dating, jealousy, trust, ulterior motives, facing death, cults, lying, trust your instincts.
Episode 8: The Dark Age
Giles bad boy past comes back to haunt him when a demon from his wild days shows up in Sunnydale.
Themes: One cannot hide from the past, lying, trust, cults, past mistakes creating present problems, facing the past.
* Reptile Boy audio commentary by writer and director, David Greenwalt.
* Reptile Boy original script.
Episode 9: Whats My Line? (Part One)
Buffy is forced to contemplate her future during career week only to be hunted down by three professional bounty hunters who are determined to make certain she has no future at all.
Themes: Planning for the future, defining ones self, being defined by others, enjoying youth, maturity, growing up.
Episode 10: Whats My Line? (Part Two)
A mysterious young woman, with powers as great as Buffys, shows up in Sunnydale. They join forces to save Angel from a deadly ritual.
Themes: Making friends, value of friendships, working as a team, independence, individuality, conformity, be careful what you wish for, appreciate whats under your nose.
Episode 11: Ted
Buffys mom finds romance with a software salesman, but Buffy doesnt trust him and launches an investigation into his background.
Themes: Trust your instincts, parents dating, controlling men, abusers, consequences of violence.
Episode 12: Bad Eggs
A traditional health class assignment to care for baby eggs takes an odd turn.
Themes: Dating, teenage hormones, teen pregnancy, being a parent, sibling bonds, facing fears, being responsible.
* Whats My Line Parts One & Two audio commentary by writer Marti Noxon.
* Whats My Line Parts One & Two original script.
Episode 13: Surprise
Buffys birthday bash is interrupted by the Judge, a demon who has the power to trust mankind.
Themes: The distraction & passion of being in love for the first time, becoming sexually active, family commitments, prioritizing what is important over romantic relationships.
Episode 14: Innocence
As Buffy battles the Judge, she is surprised to find Angel change sides.
Themes: The dangers of being sexually active, being used for sex, losing virginity, betrayal, how relationships change, accepting change and consequence.
Episode 15: Phases
Buffy and the gang are left to battle a werewolf, its hunter and their own emotions.
Themes: Natural male & female urges, hiding behind a mask, being gay, jealousy, insecurity, what it feels like to have your body change in adolescence (metaphor).
Episode 16: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
Jilted by Cordelia on Valentines day, Xander dabbles in witchcraft to try and win her back.
Themes: Joys of new love, pain of breakups, frustration of not dating when everyone else is, be careful what you wish for, unhealthy relationships, obsession, dealing with a breakup, being a leader instead of a follower.
* Innocence audio commentary by writer and director Joss Whedon.
* Surprise & Innocence special interviews with Joss Whedon.
* Innocence original script.
Episode 17: Passion
Buffy and her friends are tormented by Angel and Jenny calendar searches for a way to bring things back into balance.
Themes: Relationships gone bad, abusive relationships, standing up for ones self.
Episode 18: Killed by Death
Buffy ends up hospitalized by a serious flu and ends up battling a demon that feeds on children.
Themes: Facing fears, having faith in friends, listening to children, trust.
Episode 19: I Only Have Eyes for You
Sunnydale is a haunted by the ghosts of a former student and teacher, who are using the bodies of the schools inhabitants to reenact their tragedy.
Themes: Dependent relationships, unhealthy relationships, resolving past wrongs, forgiveness, forgiving ones self.
Episode 20: Go Fish
Xanders goes undercover on the Sunnydale swim team after the members turn up dead.
Themes: Steroids, how performance enhancing drugs change a person, preferential treatment for athletes, blaming the victims.
* Passion & I Only Have Eyes for You special interviews with Joss Whedon.
Episode 21: Becoming (Part One)
Buffy receives help from Kendra to stop a plot to revive an ancient demon bent on sweeping everything on Earth into Hell.
Themes: Complications of relationships, isolation, learning to find strength when alone.
Episode 22: Becoming (Part Two)
Buffy strikes an unlikely alliance with the dark side to stop the demon bent on destroying the world.
Themes: Romantic triangles, finding common ground, sacrifice.
* Becoming Parts One & Two special interview with Joss Whedon.
* Designing Buffy featurette Discussion by production designer, Carey Meyer, Joss Whedon, producers and cast about how sets were designed. Meyer also gives a comprehensive tour of Buffys house, Giles apartment and the graveyard.
* A Buffy Beastiary featurette John Vulich of Optic Nerve joins producers and cast who discuss the development of the Buffy monsters. Most interesting, the actors discuss their monster characters at length and producers talk about how each monster was chosen to fulfill a storys arc.
* Beauty and the Beast featurette Focuses on talking with Emmy award winning special effects wizard John Vulich and makeup supervisor Todd McIntosh. Also includes comments by cast and crew as well as a walk through of placing vampire makeup on an actor.
* Extensive Art Gallery includes:
- Still gallery with candid and onset photos
- Monster sketches
- Set design photos
- Set design blue prints
* Trailers & TV Spots
- 7 domestic TV spots
- Angel Season 1 trailer
- Buffy Season 2 trailer
- 2 UK TV spots
*****BEST BET***** Save the commentaries and special features for after the final episode of the season. Listening sooner will cause spoilers.
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