Buffy 2×15: Phases

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 01/27/1998]

I described “Innocence” [2×14] as the storytelling “blueprint” for how Buffy the Vampire Slayer wanted to tell its stories going forward. Its influence can immediately be felt when watching “Phases”, an episode that very easily could have ended up on the ‘uninvolving Season 1 entry’ pile if not for ta Continue reading “Buffy 2×15: Phases”

Buffy 2×14: Innocence

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 01/20/1998]

“The show works only if it resonates. That’s the most important thing in the show; people forget this. People like to talk about the monsters and the make-up and the fangs and the horns and the what-not. But the fact of the matter is, the only thing that separates this show from any other, if in fact it is separate, is the kind of emotional resonance that we can get to by playing the entire thing as true life. Just a little bit wonkier.” – Joss Whedon

Continue reading “Buffy 2×14: Innocence”

Buffy 2×13: Surprise

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Marti Noxon | Director: Michael Lange | Aired: 01/19/1998]

It’s generally thought that Buffy the Vampire Slayer reaches its potential for the first time when “Innocence” [2×14] arrives, so it’s only natural to think of the episode that comes before it as inconsequential. It’s true that “Surprise” can’t match the explosive emotion and game changing moments tha Continue reading “Buffy 2×13: Surprise”

Buffy 2×12: Bad Eggs

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Marti Noxon | Director: David Greenwalt | Aired: 01/12/1998]

“Bad Eggs” is often considered one of the worst episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I disagree with this assessment. While far from great, “Bad Eggs” has a razor-sharp thematic focus that doesn’t let up. It’s so focused, in fact, that it ends up hurting itself at times by walking into heav Continue reading “Buffy 2×12: Bad Eggs”

Buffy 2×11: Ted

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Greenwalt and Joss Whedon | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 12/08/1997]

“Ted” is an odd episode. It’s thematically a bit scattered, but is structurally quite rigid; it covers some tough topics, but then abruptly recoils from them. The dreaded Reset Button is utilized here, which saps the life out the story’s big emotional beat. This means that all we’re left with is so Continue reading “Buffy 2×11: Ted”

Buffy 2×10: What’s My Line? Pt. 2

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Marti Noxon | Director: David Semel | Aired: 11/24/1997]

“What’s My Line Pt. 2” shares nearly all of the same strengths and weaknesses of “What’s My Line? Pt. 1” [2×09]. It’s quite literally the second half of the same episode. Although this may imply they cover the same ground, that’s not quite entirely true. Part 1 sets up the adolescent roadblocks Buffy will be facing in Continue reading “Buffy 2×10: What’s My Line? Pt. 2”

Buffy 2×09: What’s My Line? Pt. 1

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Howard Gordon and Marti Noxon | Director: David Solomon | Aired: 11/17/1997]

With Buffy’s world about to be in complete upheaval, “What’s My Line” takes a step back to broadly reflect on Buffy’s journey thus far while also offering hints as to what her future may hold. Despite a focus on Buffy and the presence of Spike and Drusilla — generally positive things — these two Continue reading “Buffy 2×09: What’s My Line? Pt. 1”

Buffy 2×08: The Dark Age

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 11/10/1997]

“The Dark Age” is thematically on point, but poorly directed and edited. It sports far too many scenes that feel very awkwardly stitched together. Thankfully, the writing helps curb what otherwise might have been a complete disaster of an episode. There are some relevant themes vying for attention Continue reading “Buffy 2×08: The Dark Age”

Buffy 2×07: Lie to Me

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 11/03/1997]

“Lie to Me” is a thematically rich and very well-written outing from Joss Whedon. It’s very quotable, has some truly fabulous scenes in it, and is attune to both character and theme. This being the all-important Episode 7 — usually a pivot point in a Buffy season — we can count on it being Continue reading “Buffy 2×07: Lie to Me”

Buffy 2×05: Reptile Boy

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Greenwalt | Director: David Greenwalt | Aired: 10/13/1997]

“Reptile Boy” can be summed up quite nicely by Xander: “Okay, so tonight: Channel 59, Indian TV, sex, lies, incomprehensible story lines.” Or how about Buffy’s “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea”? No? Well, there’s always Giles’ “Yes, and you were very nearly devoured by a giant demon snake. The w Continue reading “Buffy 2×05: Reptile Boy”

Buffy 2×04: Inca Mummy Girl

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer | Director: Ellen S. Pressmen | Aired: 10/06/1997]

“Inca Mummy Girl” is generally considered one of the weaker episodes in the entire series, a description that is fair but maybe a tad harsh. It’s a generally lightweight stand-alone episode that does have thematic relevance, but tosses most of it away by being redundant and heavy-handed. Sacrifice Continue reading “Buffy 2×04: Inca Mummy Girl”

Buffy 2×03: School Hard

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Greenwalt and Joss Whedon | Director: John T. Kretchmer | Aired: 09/29/1997]

After the thematically interesting but somewhat boring “Some Assembly Required” [2×02], it’s a joy to see the show rebound with a strong outing in “School Hard.” This is an energetic episode with the show’s new big villain, Spike, as the centerpiece. The other characters take a back seat for this one, but there are still Continue reading “Buffy 2×03: School Hard”

Buffy 2×02: Some Assembly Required

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Ty King | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 09/22/1997]

After the scorcher of an opener that was “When She Was Bad” [2×01], it is disappointing to see the show settle back into what feels like a normal routine. “Some Assembly Required” represents an interesting place in the show’s evolution. In many ways this feels like a Season 1 episode: it’s got the silly plot, the g Continue reading “Buffy 2×02: Some Assembly Required”

Buffy 2×01: When She Was Bad

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 09/15/1997]

When forced to boil down what Buffy the Vampire Slayer is about into one phrase, I’d have to go with ‘growing up.’ As I alluded to throughout the Season 1 reviews, the show is constructed in a way that details the childhood (S1), adolescence (S2-S5), and young adulthood (S6-S7) of Buffy Summ Continue reading “Buffy 2×01: When She Was Bad”

Buffy Season 1 Review

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Introduction]

Welcome to the Hellmouth, everyone! Analyzing Season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an interesting endeavor. It’s obvious that the show Buffy becomes later on very much evolves out of the trial and error that is persistent throughout this inaugural season. What sticks out the most i Continue reading “Buffy Season 1 Review”

Buffy 1×12: Prophecy Girl

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 06/02/1997]

This is a really good – yet not quite great – conclusion in what amounts to a pretty uneven season. “Prophecy Girl” is smart in the way that it hones in on the core themes of the series so far, and then amplifies the drama surrounding them. Several really powerful scenes build to the episode’s Continue reading “Buffy 1×12: Prophecy Girl”

Buffy 1×11: Out of Mind, Out of Sight

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon, Ashley Gable, and Thomas A. Swyden | Director: Reza Badiyi | Aired: 05/19/1997]

Unlike “Nightmares” [1×10], “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” tells a coherent story. It’s not the deepest story you’ll ever see on Buffy, and it has a metaphor that is a little too transparent (pun intended) in places, but it largely succeeds at what it sets out to do and develops a character in the process Continue reading “Buffy 1×11: Out of Mind, Out of Sight”

Buffy 1×10: Nightmares

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 05/12/1997]

“Nightmares” is one of those episodes that has a mix of the fantastic and the horrible, which, when melded together, leaves behind a whole lot of mediocre. On one hand we get some great character insight, emotion, and foreshadowing out of Buffy. On the other, we have a premise that fails to live up Continue reading “Buffy 1×10: Nightmares”

Buffy 1×09: The Puppet Show

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali | Director: Ellen S. Pressman | Aired: 05/05/1997]

Well that was kind of… pointless. All the episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so far have been about something. Whether they were good episodes or poor episodes, they all had something they were trying to say about, if not the characters, life in high school through the lens of the Continue reading “Buffy 1×09: The Puppet Show”

Buffy 1×08: I Robot, You Jane

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Ashley Gable and Thomas A. Swyden | Director: Stephen Posey | Aired: 04/28/1997]

Oh my. Here we have an episode that tries to be about something substantive, but fails oh so miserably at it. It’s an episode that was outdated before it was outdated (I’ll elaborate on this later)! I’ll concede that this can be one of those episodes that is fun to laugh at, but that’ Continue reading “Buffy 1×08: I Robot, You Jane”

Buffy 1×07: Angel

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Greenwalt | Director: Scott Brazil | Aired: 04/14/1997]

Now this is refreshing! What we have here is a rare Season 1 episode that reaches beyond the now. This actually feels like an early Season 2 episode that is saddled with Season 1’s spotty production values. “Angel” is simply bursting with romantic excitement and nascent sexuality, so much so Continue reading “Buffy 1×07: Angel”

Buffy 1×06: The Pack

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 04/07/1997]

“The Pack” is an odd little piece that is all over the place in terms of quality. There are some moments of gutsiness, moments of cowardice, moments baked in pure cliché, and it’s all coated in the episodic amnesia that is Season 1. In some ways the episode reminds me of “Witch” [1×03] in that it tells Continue reading “Buffy 1×06: The Pack”

Buffy 1×05: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali | Director: David Semel | Aired: 03/31/1997]

“You remember when you said I was like two different people? Well, one of them has to go. But the other one is having a really, really good time, and will come back. I promise,” a regretful Buffy tells her date, Owen.

Continue reading “Buffy 1×05: Never Kill a Boy on the First Date”

Buffy 1×04: Teacher’s Pet

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Greenwalt | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 03/25/1997]

Clunk! Where “Witch” [1×03] came together as a coherent, albeit relatively unimportant, stand-alone story, “Teacher’s Pet” simply can’t work out what it wants to be, and is further bogged down by stale exposition, heavy-handed messages, and a ridiculous plot. While the episode gives Xander his first mome Continue reading “Buffy 1×04: Teacher’s Pet”

Buffy 1×03: Witch

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Dana Reston | Director: Stephen Cragg | Aired: 03/17/1997]

With the introduction of the show out of the way, “Witch” has the daunting task of showing us what Buffy should look like on an episode-to-episode basis. If I was watching this for the first time – let alone when it originally aired — I’d be left with a strong whiff of ‘not interested.’ W Continue reading “Buffy 1×03: Witch”

Buffy 1×02: The Harvest

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: John T. Kretchmer | Aired: 03/10/1997]

“Welcome to the Hellmouth” [1×01] succeeded because of its overwhelming focus on establishing the characters and setting up some of the core themes that will fuel the show at large. “The Harvest,” on the other hand, flips the script and spends most of its time going through the motions of wrapping up the opening plot, whic Continue reading “Buffy 1×02: The Harvest”

Buffy 1×01: Welcome to the Hellmouth

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Charles Martin Smith | Aired: 03/10/1997]

[Introduction]

Welcome to my analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Without reservation I will say that this is easily my favorite television show, and I hope that you’ll feel my love for it even when I put it under the microscope. For this critic, the elements that are the most exciting in television are g Continue reading “Buffy 1×01: Welcome to the Hellmouth”

Top 25 Episodes: MikeJer’s Favorites

[Article by Mike Marinaro]

[#11-25]

#25. “Pangs” [4×08] – An episode with a notably hokey plot, but also stuffed (pun intended) with hilarious dialogue! This is the funniest episode in the entire series for me. You’ve got Anya’s usual frankness, Buffy’s cute cooking obsession, Willow’s crazy over-reaction, X Continue reading “Top 25 Episodes: MikeJer’s Favorites”

Discovering Buffy

[Article by Mike Marinaro]

It all began during a LAN party at a friend’s house in 2004 when SuperJer of all people insisted we watch this great show called Firefly. With a bit of prying he convinced the 6 (or so) of us to head down to the “movie room” and watch the pilot (he had downloaded copies of the episodes on hi

Continue reading “Discovering Buffy”