TV Review – “Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season Five”

We’ve had a request for season six, but I like to
review things in order when I can, so this review is
coming first. There’s also a vague spoiler warning
attached to this.

Cast and Crew


The complete cast and crew listings are available
here
from the
IMDB. The main stars are:

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers

Nicholas Brendan as Xander Harris

Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg

Anthony Stewart Head and Rupert Giles

Amber Benson as Tara

Emma Caulfield as Anya

Marc Blucas as Riley

James Marsters as Spike

Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past TV reviews can be found here.

Original Airdate


This season ran in 2000-2001.

Synopsis

Buffy suddenly has a sister, and must deal with the
coming of a God.

High Point

This is a tough one. There were a lot of great
moments in this
season. “The Body” was an exceptionally well made
episode, that
really departed from the norm of the series. “The
Gift” had a lot of
what made the show great in it. “Checkpoint” was a
pivotal and
entertaining piece, which led into “Blood Ties,” with
the amazing
knife scene. The interrogation of Spike had an even
greater impact
than his late night revelation. “The Real Me” is a
great jumping on
point for people who haven’t watched the show, and
very rewarding for
longtime fans. This was a season with some amazingly
high points.

Low Point

Riley’s descent into darkness didn’t work for me. I
didn’t really get
what they were trying to do the first time I saw this
season, and
wasn’t sure I really understood it this time until I
saw the
explanation in the bonus features. Now I’m sure I
understand the
intent, but the implementation has issues. I’m also
not happy with
the costume swap used in “The Gift;” as Glory hadn’t
seen either
outfit, the sole purpose of the switch is to fool the
viewing
audience. There is no story-driven reason to make
that change. My
final issue with the writing itself is Buffy’s
refusal to kill a human
two episodes after taking out ten of them. (And yes,
they were human;
watch what happens when Spike hits one, and then
remember what
happened in “Family.”)

There are two low points in the DVD production, too.
First of all,
the special features on disk three include spoilers
for the rest of
the season, which would have been irritating had I
not seen the season
before I picked up the DVDs. (If your first exposure
to the season is
on DVD, skip the special features on disk three until
after you’ve
finished the season. You might want to hold off on
the special
features from disk six until you’ve seen the next
season, too.) The
second low point was the omission of the fantastic
“Previously on
Buffy” portion of “The Gift.” I thought that was
damn cool. (That
episode, the season finale, was also episode 100, and
it originally
aired with a “Previously on…” segment that had
clips from every
single episode up to that point. It really should
have been included,
if only as an extra.)

The Review

This was a fairly original season. They
included a new child
without jamming a baby into the story with a cute
factor, came up with
a villain that was beyond anything that Buffy had
faced before, and
explored the characters of Xander, Anya, Spike, Tara,
Giles, and
Willow in ways that hadn’t been done before.
Impressive for a fifth
season. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were as uneven as usual. The
Gora and the snake
demon looked rotten, while the combat looked great.
The make-up
effects following Spike’s interrogation were
extremely well done. The
morphing effects were often unconvincing. I give it
4 out of 6.

The story over the season was nicely done.
It took a while
to really get things going, and had long absences of
the Knights Who
Say “Key!” that weren’t explained, but the ideas were
there. Once we
hit “Checkpoint,” things moved forward rapidly.
There were issues, as
I’ve mentioned above, but it mostly works. I give it
4 out of 6.
(And yes, I stole the ‘Knights Who Say “Key!”‘ bit
from Herc of AICN.)

The acting from Clare Kramer was
unconvincing for the first
15 or so episodes. The rest of the cast,
particularly Amber Benson,
did some very good work. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is strong in the
second half of the
season. Just when the rush from “Checkpoint” and
“Blood Ties” was
starting to fade, we hit “The Body,” and things held
fast for the rest
of the season. The Riley story arc was pretty dry
for me, though. I
give it 4 out of 6.

The production was well done, as usual. The
limitations this
season were primarily side effects of the limitations
of the monsters
they couldn’t afford to build properly. I give it 5
out of 6.

Overall, it’s a good season, which is well
worth it for
fans. It’s also the last of the seasons with the WB,
and marked the
beginning of the depressing Buffy. I give it 4 out
of 6.

In total, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season
Five
receives 31
out of 42.

7 replies on “TV Review – “Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Season Five””

  1. robertgadlen says:

    Other high points
    Although I love the stuff you mentioned, there are two scenes from this season that have to be among my favorites from the buffyverse:

    The scene at the end of ‘Fool For Love’ where Spike is describing and acting out the fight with the slayer in NYC while it cuts back and forth between the subway and the alley outside The Bronze. It was just a perfectly acted and directed scene, and ends so harshly, its hard to imagine Spike in the same way again.

    Possibly the most understated scene in all 12 seasons, theres a 10 second scene in ‘Forever’ that just shows Giles sitting in his living room, listening to the same Cream song that he listened to with Joyce in ‘Band Candy’. I don’t know why, but it wasn’t until that scene that Joyce’s death really hit me and I realized that she really wasn’t coming back.

  2. y42 says:

    lame extras
    So there’s spoilerrific extras, but they left some good stuff out? Great…

  3. nidx says:

    hrm…
    you should try out those uk dvd’s from season4&5 they included the montage from the gift and the widescreen is great imho.

    Until the body I would have NEVER thought a buffy ep would make me cry
    …. perfectly done episode
    …. and painfull

    • fiziko says:

      Re: hrm…

      you should try out those uk dvd’s from season4&5 they
      included the montage from the gift and the
      widescreen is great imho.

      Interesting. I do have a multi-region player, too.
      (Well, I have a PlayStation 2 and a GameShark 2, which has
      a multiregion function that I’ve never tested yet.) With
      the exception of “Once More, With Feeling” (which I’m sure
      will come out as the High Point in season six)
      Buffy wasn’t composed for widescreen, but that
      montage should have been left intact.

      • nidx says:

        Re: hrm…

        you should try out those uk dvd’s from season4&5 they
        included the montage from the gift and the
        widescreen is great imho.

        Interesting. I do have a multi-region player, too.
        (Well, I have a PlayStation 2 and a GameShark 2, which has
        a multiregion function that I’ve never tested yet.) With
        the exception of “Once More, With Feeling” (which I’m sure
        will come out as the High Point in season six)
        Buffy wasn’t composed for widescreen, but that
        montage should have been left intact.

        it may not have been composed for widescreen but it looks DAMN good in widescreen

  4. robertgadlen says:

    ‘Previously on…’ from The Gift
    Turns out this is on the dvds: http://www.dvdreview.com/html/hidden_features.shtml

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