Best Buffy Seasons

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As a companion to my list of the Best Buffy Episodes Ever? I present to you my breakdown of the best Buffy seasons, in order this time. Partially inspired by the fact I just read Julie & Julia, and to J Powell's credit, she has good taste in TV shows.

Order goes from the BEST to the WORST:

SEASON 5 - Hands down, this is easily my favourite season. I was truly mystified how Buffy was going to overcome Glory, the twist and turns of the entire season were insane (albeit towards the end it got a bit jam-packed, I'm looking at you Knights of Whatever), and the finale ranks among the best finales - and Buffy has great finales. Some people argue that the story here was a little too steeped in mythology, but I always enjoyed the episodes and parts of the show that delved into what it means to be a slayer. The season opened up with this very premise in what I think may be the best season premiere - Buffy vs. Dracula - and followed it throughout the season, including the spellbinding episode 'Fool for Love' and the death of Joyce bringing home the weight of humanity in 'The Body'. There were a handful of snoozy episodes this season, but in general, it boasted the strongest overall story arc while still providing plenty of laughs and twists.

SEASON 6 - I thought about this long and hard, and it actually surprises me to put Season 6 in the second spot, but at the end of the day I was amazed at how deftly the show slowly unwound the consequences of Buffy's death and resurrection across the entire season. I might call this one a tie with Season 2, but unlike S2, I feel like Season 6 had very strong character / story arc episodes throughout, while the so-called filler episodes were for the most part, actually quite *good*. I always enjoy a good bait & switch, which the show throws at you in Seasons 2 & 6 most dramatically (and arguably a bit in 3 & 4 regarding Faith and Maggie Walsh respectively), and the four-part finale - although not made up of any of my individual favourite episodes - let to a pretty explosive ending. There's something special about this season and I think it boils down to the fact they overcame the impossible - Buffy's death - and did it well.

SEASON 2 - Most people will put S2 at the number one or two spot, and I don't disagree. It's when the show found its legs and cemented itself as a force to be reckoned with. The introduction of Spike and Drusilla, the bait & switch between them, and the second switcheroo with Angel at the helm was inspired, especially for all the fangirls out there that were in love with TV's most star-cross couple. The finale is possibly the best of all season finales, and the 'arc' episodes are among the strongest in the entire series. However, the reason why this drops to third on my list is there is still a ton of crappy monster of the week type episodes that not only detract from the main plot (Hello 'Go Fish', thrown in at the end of the season), but actually don't really do anything at all for the characters or the show. The difference between the filler episodes here and in season 6 are like night and day - I actually think I like S6 more *because* of the filler / fun episodes, versus S2 probably has stronger arc plots, making them more or less tied for second.

SEASON 4 - Again, a relatively unpopular choice, but I generally liked the post-high school years of Buffy better than the high school ones. S4 suffers the same counter-balance issues with S3 - I think I like S4 because the filler episodes, the overall change of pace and vigour with which Buffy says "Okay, we're doing the college thing, at least for this year" make this season stand out in terms its overall tone and messaging. Some of the funniest episodes of the entire series happen here, and I actually thought The Initiative and Riley were awesome the first time around. It also boasts some of the most memorable episodes, including 'Hush' and 'Restless'. Although the season's story arc probably sputtered out the most, the overall zesty rebrand of the series here puts it right in the middle of my list.

SEASON 3 - A lot of people tend to put S3 at number one or number two, and if you're partial to the high school years, that totally makes sense. It has the strongest continual development of the major story arc - The Mayor and Faith - with only a handful of filler episodes, and for the most part, even those tie into the major storyline with cameos from the aforementioned main players. I always want to like this season more, but I think because it lacks a ton of standout episodes for me - and I got irritated by this point at how old those high school seniors were looking - it has never resonated quite as much. It's still a great season, but I just don't get that excited about it.

SEASON 7 - Oh Buffy, what could have been. After a very strong start, the show kind of lost itself mid-season and never fully recovered. Like Season 5's weakness, it tried to do too much in too little time, throwing new villains and unnecessary twists at us, while also feeling like it was dragging on as the slayerites huddled down in Buffy's house. The lack of interaction with the outside world, other than glimpses at the high school, made this season feel strained and drawn out at times. That being said, there are a large number of episodes I quite liked this season, and the overall series finale left me feeling satisfied, so I can't totally bash this one.

SEASON 1 - Everyone and their dog drops Season 1 at the bottom and I'm no different. It's hard to convince people to watch the show when they have to sit through the cheese that is S1, particularly in the SFX department. That being said, the creators make the best of it, frequently referencing moments in S1 in later years for funny running jokes and half-decent payoffs. The show is definitely quite campy and funny this time around, but it shows glimmers of the razor sharp humour and kick-ass fearlessness that defines the show.

- Britt's On


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