“ Genre: Television - Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Theatrical Release: 1997 / Actors: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anthony Head ... / DVD released 18 October, 2004 at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Box set, PAL, Widescreen „
* Prices may differ from that shown
On the back of season 3 of Buffy, what was arguably the best season yet, Buffy was back for it's 4th season.
For the first series of the show so far, there was no Angel, who was surely going to be a big miss for the show. He was off in Los Angeles with a spin off of his own show ... Angel! Our Scoobies were now all grown up and ready for college. It wasn't all losing favourites though, the hilarious Spike was back, also the pretty much full time addition of Anya, a newly turned human, right on the back of being a Demon for a thousand years.
As a big observer of fans thoughts and opinions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer over the internet, to me, in my eyes season 4 is highly underrated. Some may say I am a little too far saying this but in my eyes, season 4 was better than the 3 previous seasons.
As well as season's 2 and 3, series 4 ran for 22 episode's spanning from October 5th 1999 - May 23rd October 2000, all episode's are listed below ...
1 - The Freshman
2 - Living Conditions
3 - The Harsh Light Of Day
4 - Fear, Itself
5 - Beer Bad
6 - Wild At Hear
7 - The Iniative
8 - Pangs
9 - Something Blue
10 - Hush
11 - Doomed
12 - A New Man
13 - The I in Team
14 - Goodbye, Iowa
15 - This Year's Girl (Part 1)
16 - Who Are You? (Part 2)
17 - Superstar
18 - Where The Wild Things Are
19 - New Moon Rising
20 - The Yoko Factor
21 - Primeval
22 - Restless
The 22 episodes are spread across 6 discs.
Special Features included:
Scripts for the following episodes - Fear Itself, Who are You, Restless.
Audio Commentaries for the following episodes - Hush, This Year's Girl, Superstar, The Initiative, Primeval, Restless.
Biographies on the main cast.
Featurette's - Hush, Sets of Sunnydale, The music of Buffy, Introducing Spike.
Overall Season 4 thoughts:
To finish off, I will give some thoughts on the series Arc, episodes etc.
Overall, I loved season 4! It may not have been my favourite, but I could barely name all my faults with season 4 on just one hand.
It was more than I expected with the whole college storyline, which I originally dreaded.
My only true con, along with many other fans, was the Big Bad of the season. Adam. First of all, I thought he was a poorly written character. Secondly, he was only in half of the season and all in all he was just a poor choice of a villain for the Scoobies first college year.
Now on to what counts, the Pro's.
Although the Arc was none too spectacular, some of the episodes blown my mind.
'Hush', generally gets the most acclaim from season 4. Totally understandable, but I'll get to my thoughts on that one in just a minute.
Episode 8, 'Pangs' - was my favourite episode. Not many people would agree with me here, but I honestly couldn't stop laughing. There was not too much action, but it was typically funny. Spike tied up to the chair, Xander's opinions on his 'Syphilis' made up for one of my personal favourite episodes of Buffy yet.
2 episodes later, we have the already mentioned, 'Hush' - In this fan favourite we see the whole town of Sunnydale lose their voices for 30 minutes (Episode wise!) The Scoobies must defeat the force of the Gentlemen, fairy tale creatures who specialise in coming to town and stealing voices from the town's inhabitance . Hilarious, and an all round episode to remember.
Also, I enjoyed the premise of Episode 17, 'Superstar' - Another fun episode were put simply, old, geeky Jonathan, casts a spell and ends up becoming a hero around the world, even in being a better slayer than Buffy herself!
The last episode I will praise, is the finale, 'Restless' - With the big bad Adam out of the way, Buffy, Willow, Giles and Xander have a video night were they have the strangest dreams. Brilliant drama, and fun all round to end a brilliant season.
There were not to many BAD episodes, some may have been worse than others but honestly, season 4 was great from my perspective.
This series starts off what I'd call the second part of the Buffy story. The first half of the story taking part at school; and the second at college and work. The second half is much more modern and daring; they take some huge risks in the final four series. For example "Hush" the story is told through the music and movement, there is no talking for the majority of the episode. I personally thought this was a stroke of genius and they one a Gammy for it. The overall story about the Initiative (a government group of soldiers hunting demons) is great and adds a new dynamic to the show. Suddenly Buffy has help, or does she?
The show down between the evil hybrid Adam and Buffy is an exciting way to end the series, as well as "Restless" is a artier affair relying on symbolism to explain things in a more academic way.
Series on 6 disks with the usual extras.
I've seen complaints on various message boards that season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is where the show lost its way. I disagree - in my opinion the show only got bigger and better with each season.
In season four, Buffy and Willow head off to the local university, whilst Xander moves into his parents basement and tries to find a direction in life. Giles is feeling a little useless with no job and nothing to do.
I don't want to repeat the general information I put into my review of seasons one, two and three, so I'll just jump straight into reviewing the characters and episodes. Check my profile for my reviews of the first three seasons!
Once again, our favourites are back: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Oz and Giles all return for the fourth season. Also joining the main cast is Spike, played by James Marsters and Riley, played by Marc Blucas. Amber Benson as Tara comes along in the second half of the season for a recurring role, and Emma Caulfield returns as Anya - the ex-demon.
Adding Spike as a main character was a stroke of genius - James Marsters brings so much to the role that every scene with Spike is a pleasure to watch.
Buffy's love interest for this season is Riley, a teaching assistant at the university. At first, Riley seems to be an ordinary guy, but his true self is soon revealed...
Tara is introduced at first as a fellow witch and friend for Willow, but soon their relationship becomes more complicated.
Finally, Anya - the vengeance demon who had a couple of cameos in season three returns and finds herself infatuated with Xander. The introduction of Anya is fantastic - she's a great character and Emma Caulfield has amazing comedic timing.
Episode One: The Freshman
Buffy, Willow and Oz start college at the local UC Sunnydale, but Buffy soon finds herself in over her head. A vampire gang who kill students and steal their belongings soon appears, and it's up to Buffy to deal with them. This is a great season opener - we the viewer are plunged into the unfamiliar world of college along with Buffy, which works really well.
Episode Two: Living Conditions
Buffy has to deal with her annoying roommate in this episode - and she thinks there's something odd about her. This is a great comedy episode with plenty of laughs.
Episode Three: The Harsh Light of Day
Spike's back in Sunnydale and he's got a new girlfriend - Harmony, who was turned into a vampire at the High School's graduation. He's looking for the Ring of Amara, the 'holy grail' of the vampire world, which will make him next to invincible. Meanwhile, Buffy's stung after a one night stand with Parker. I love this episode because I'm a huge Spike fan, and his re-introduction to the series is great.
Episode Four: Fear, Itself
The Halloween episode of the season, this sees the gang going to a party at a frat house - but soon they find themselves trapped with their fears manifesting themselves. A fun episode that doesn't take itself too seriously - and wait til you see the big reveal of the monster!
Episode Five: Beer Bad
Undoubtedly the worst episode of this season, Buffy falls in with a group of intelligent college boys with a fondness for beer. The beer soon turns them - and Buffy - into Neanderthal cavemen. The only redeeming feature of this episode is seeing Buffy hit Parker on the head! That said, this episode has some very funny moments.
Episode Six: Wild at Heart
This episode isn't a favourite of mine, but I like aspects of it. In werewolf form, Oz escapes from his cage and discovers another werewolf on the campus - the oddly named Veruca. Veruca tries to tempt him to her way of thinking, endangering Willow in the process. This episode ends up with Oz leaving Sunnydale - and there's a heartbreaking conversation with Willow which is acted really well.
Episode Seven: The Initiative
Aha, in this episode we finally find out just what Riley has been hiding and who the commando guys really are. Spike is captured by a government facility hidden under UC Sunnydale called the Initiative, and soon finds that they've put a chip in his head to stop him from biting humans. I love this episode mainly for the one scene between Spike and Willow when he discovers his "impotence".
Episode Eight: Pangs
A very funny episode that sees Buffy trying to organise Thanksgiving dinner for the gang, whilst dealing with the spirits of a Chumash tribe. Angel comes to town, but doesn't want Buffy to see him, and Spike begs for help from the Scoobies. A great, funny episode.
Episode Nine: Something Blue
Another hilarious episode in which Willow unknowingly casts spells on all her friends. She turns Giles blind, makes Spike and Buffy believe they are in love and engaged, and turns Xander into a literal demon magnet. The Spike/Buffy moments are hilariously funny and this ranks as one of my top episodes of the series.
Episode Ten: Hush
This episode is amazingly well done - a group of fairytale monsters called The Gentlemen come to town and steal everyone's voices. Cue an episode where there's no talking. It sounds like it could be very boring, but this is one of the most entertaining episodes of the season. Very well acted, as well. This is also the only episode of BtVS nominated for a televised (as opposed to technical) Emmy award - ironically, for the writing.
Episode Eleven: Doomed
I'd say that this was more of a filler episode than anything else. The Scoobies find out that a group of demons are trying to open the Hellmouth in the old High School, so they have to try and find a way to stop it. There are some great Spike moments in this episode, but apart from that it's not particularly memorable.
Episode Twelve: A New Man
Ethan Rayne returns for the final time to Sunnydale to get revenge on his old friend Giles. He ends up turning Giles into a Fyarl demon. Some hilarious scenes as Giles the demon teams up with Spike - the only one who can understand his speech - to find Ethan and get him to reverse the spell. Another very funny episode.
Episode Thirteen: The I In Team
Riley introduces Buffy to the Initiative and she begins to work for them. But Maggie Walsh - one of the Initiative scientists - thinks she is asking too many questions and tries to kill her. Meanwhile Buffy realises that the Initiative is not all they claim to be... A so-so episode with some good moments.
Episode Fourteen: Goodbye Iowa
Continuing the storyline of the previous episode, Maggie Walsh's hybrid monster has escaped from the Initiative and is now roaming free in Sunnydale. The scoobies try to find him. Meanwhile Riley becomes sick with withdrawel from the drugs the Initiative were secretly giving him. Quite a forgettable episode, in my opinion.
Episode Fifteen: This Year's Girl
Episode Sixteen: Who Are You?
A fantastic two parter, these episodes see Faith waking up from her coma and coming after Buffy. At the end of the first episode, she uses a device sent by the Mayor to swap bodies with Buffy. In the second part, Buffy - trapped in Faith's body - has to try and find a way to fix it. Meanwhile, Faith - in Buffy's body - wreaks havoc with Buffy's friends. Two really great episodes - and Faith's story continues shortly after in season one of Angel.
Episode Seventeen: Superstar
An odd episode - but it's not bad, just confusing. You're thrown into the deep end immediately when Buffy and her friends can't fight a nest of vampires and head for help from Jonathan - the geek from high school. Jonathan seems to be good at everything - slaying, writing, acting...you name it, he's done it. But all is not as it seems - Jonathan has altered reality for his own gain. Not a favourite episode of mine, but worth watching.
Episode Eighteen: Where the Wild Things Are
The second worst episode in the season, this is just...odd. The gang attend a party held in Riley's frat house, and strange things begin to happen whilst Riley and Buffy are upstairs for some, er, alone time. Not a brilliant episode.
Episode Nineteen: New Moon Rising
Oz returns to Sunnydale with the werewolf side of him firmly under control - or so he thinks. When he finds out about Willow and Tara's burgeoning relationship, he loses control and turns into the wolf - and is captured by the Initiative. A great episode that really sees the beginning of the Willow/Tara storyline.
Episode Twenty: The Yoko Factor
Spike works for Adam to try and split up the Scoobies - with the incentive that Adam will remove his chip. He succeeds - sort of - in making Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles get into a huge fight. Will they resolve their differences so that they can fight Adam?
Episode Twenty-One: Primeval
This is the big finale to the Initiative storyline, despite being the penultimate episode in the season. Buffy and the gang head into the Initiative, intent on finding Adam and destroying him. Meanwhile, Adam has taken control of Riley via a chip near his heart. Willow, Xander and Giles combine their essence (in Xander's words: not as weird as it sounds!) - so that Buffy has the strength and knowledge to fight Adam. I think this is a great finale to the storyline, but it went a little too Matrix in some parts.
Episode Twenty-Two: Restless
It seems odd to end a season with an episode that's not an action-packed finale, but we got that in episode twenty-one. In Restless, the gang veg out in front of the TV, and soon find themselves asleep and dreaming. We see into each of their dreams, but there's something evil lurking in the dreams. This is a very interesting and intriguing episode - more a character study of the four mains than anything else. Spectacularly written and directed by Joss Whedon, this unconventional season finale works really well.
* Script for 'Fear Itself'
* Audio commentary for episode 'The Initiative' by Doug Petrie
* Audio Commentary for episode 'Hush' by Joss Whedon
* 'Hush' episode featurette
* 'The Sets of Sunnydale' featurette
* 'Buffy: Inside The Music' featurette
* 'Introducing Spike' featurette
* Buffy trailers
* Cast biographies
* Audio commentary for episode 'This Year's Girl' by Doug Petrie
* Audio commentary for episode 'Superstar' by Jane Espenson
* Script for episode 'Who Are You'
* Audio commentary for episode 'Primeval' by David Fury and David J. Contner
* Audio commentary for episode 'Restless' by Joss Whedon
* Script for 'Restless' episode
Before watching season four I did have misgivings - how well would the show work outside of the familiar high school setting? Where would the gang go for scooby meetings now that the library's been blown up? Whilst I do think season four was weaker than seasons two and three, it still has some amazing episodes and a great story arc.
I loved the plot of science (the Initiative) vs. magic (the scoobies) - and we got to see that the scoobies aren't the only ones who know about all the weird stuff that goes on in the world.
Another great season of Buffy that's highly addictive viewing!
Buffy returns in this new season having left school and is entering the exciting world of college life.
Central to this new series is the military led initiative. Much criticised by fans this is an organisation created by the government to do experiments on the various supernatural beasts that reside upon the hellmouth in Sunnydale. Introduced along with the initiative is the infamous Riley, Buffy's eventual new man. Riley was not liked much by fans. I think the main problem is that compared to Angel he's a bit boring, military garb notwithstanding.
A lot of changes take place to out main characters this time around:
-Willow becomes a witch, and gay
-Xander goes through a series of crazy jobs and hooks up with Anya, formerly demon Anyanka.
-Cordelia leaves for Angel and is never heard from again
-Oz similarly leaves midway, though pops up for cameo slots.
-Giles is no longer the librarian, as it was blown up and becomes somewhat redundant. We see less of him this time around.
One of the highlights in this series is the award winning Hush, an episode where Sunnydale lose their voices completely and the episode is almost all done via hand gestures.
This season is one that many do not like, due to all the changes. I however quite enjoyed it overall. The main letdown for me was the initiative and the anticlimactic Adam encounter.
The video quality seems to soar with this release however and the extras seem much better this time around.
Few will have not heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a successful series that started in 1997, even after a pretty crap movie of the same name years earlier. The series follows Buffy, a person with superhuman strength whose job it is to rid the world of vampires and demons with fellow friends Xander, Willow and Giles there for help. When it originally aired it did appear to be aimed for the teenagers though it really can be enjoyed by all ages due to the brilliant humour often found in Joss Whedon series. It's not a comedy of course; it's more of a comedy-drama.
Series 4 starts right after where series 3 left off. After completely destroying their old high school come graduation so whilst Buffy and Willow head to college and Xander gets a job. It was quite a pivotal series for the show since the first 3 series were so tightly based around the old school and the library though the new freedom achieved from this has worked overall. Also, because of all of these changes going on, some characters going to college and some not, leaving Giles behind, it has allowed for some decent character development, and has let the characters grow up a fair amount, showing a new side to them. Mostly, this has worked well.
This time round the series is focussed on the Initiative, a secret military organisation that captures and experiments on demons, so naturally, Buffy comes across them. After a military experiment gone wrong the Big Bad, Adam has been created, a Frankenstein-type creature whose body has been comprised of various demons. The enemy doesn't compare to the previous enemies, such as Major Wilkins from series 3, or Spike from series 2 though with more stories going on it doesn't show too much and the series remains good. Speaking of Spike, a large part of the series is dedicated to his return. Due to an experiment by the Initiative he can no longer harm humans, and though this can be quite frustrating, as Spike was once a brilliant villain, James Marsters makes a brilliant return and some excellent acting the character Spike still remains good, and watching the character develop, struggling to cope with his new impotency works well, and Spike is a welcome addition to the cast, replacing Cordelia ass the one who causes friction between the group. Cordelia of course left the cast and went into the spin-off, Angel.
Also new to the cast is Riley Finn, an initiative member who starts dating Buffy, neither aware of the others demon knowledge. Played by Marc Blucas (not known for much other than Buffy) the character starts off really well with a nice mysterious edge, though by the end of the series you may be a bit sick of him because as soon as he becomes a main character he loses a lot of his mystery and becomes a little irritating. With so many other main characters though it doesn't really affect the series because there are enough jokes from other characters to keep the show funny.
As for the rest of the cast, the acting remains pretty strong, though there are definite weaknesses. A story arc involving Willow breaking up with hey boyfriend Oz is quite interesting to watch though over too fast. It was a shame Oz had to leave the series. Played by Seth Green his character was interesting. Alyson Hannigan shows weakness in a lot of her acting during this story arc. Episodes such as "Wild at Heart" and "Something Blue" show that her acting really isn't the best when she is meant to be upset, and seems a little too weepy and annoying. The acting is average at least though and she plays a decent character for the rest of the series, especially during her new relationship with Tara. It has to be the start of one of the most beautiful relationships on TV and although things start to heat up a little more in Series 5, it is still a joy to watch in series 4 as Willow deals with her new (secret) sexuality and the character Tara is created. Actress Amber Benson plays a stuttering shy girl really well, and she fast becomes loveable though again, this is shown further in series 5. Credit goes to the writers of the show as the lesbian relationship was mainly shown through (obvious) hints and small signs of affection rather than a tacky lesbian relationship written only to get ratings.
As for other cast members, Sarah Michelle Gellar remains the same. She can get a little annoying at times though overall she is a decent actress and this is shown in two episodes. "Beer Bad", an episode where spiked beer causes her to return to her primitive roots is quite funny and shows Sarah Michelle Gellar can be quite comedic. This is much the same with "Something Blue", an excellent episode where some magic backfires, causing weird events to happen such as Buffy falling in love with Spike and Giles going blind. This episode stands out purely because it is completely light hearted, making it a change from other episodes in the series. The writing is brilliant for it and the acting between Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) and James Marsters (Spike) due to their newfound love is brilliant. It is more comedic than realistic though it is obvious that is how the episode was intended. It shows once more that Sarah Michelle Gellar can do some comedy, and shows the same with James Marsters. "Something Blue" is a high point for the series in general.
Xander has a bit less of a role in this series though is still a main character, and appears a lot. Not going to college, his story arc involved Anya, an ex-demon from a previous series who seems to have grown fond of Xander. It's quite a humorous relationship that definitely has its high points because of Anya's lack of social skills from being a demon for 1000 years shining through, though lacks the depth of Willows relationship with Tara. His acting hasn't changed too much and remains good enough, and Emma Caulfield (Anya) puts in a great performance. Although her character lacks a lot of depth and she is mainly there for comic relief, the part is played extremely well.
Giles is very much the same as Xander, being in the series less and his acting not changing much. Played by Anthony Stewart Head his acting is as good as ever, and watching the dynamics change as Buffy relies on him less is a big part of series 4. It's nice to see some true character development occur when it should.
Series 4 can't be reviewed without the mention of the special episode "Hush". It's special because all of the characters, due to some demons, have been muted so the episode is largely silent, with only music and gestures. Considering Buffy usually relies on humour so much it's great to see an episode without talking working so well, and it is good that Buffy occasionally has episodes like this, breaking the mould and doing something a little different. The demons in it, called the Gentlemen are effective enemies and the creepy story helps this as they both look and act quite chilling. The special effects do drastically vary in Buffy. The Gentlemen and Adam, and various demons look high-quality, though when werewolves appear you can't help but feel they look more like fluffy dogs.
Overall it is a very good series. I'd say it's not quite up to scratch because of the story of the main enemy being a little cliché and therefore weaker than the enemies in previous seasons, though the writing remains up to scratch and the episodes are as good as they ever were. There are some decent cast members bought into this series as well, and although I'm not the biggest fan of the character Riley Finn, he isn't necessarily a bad character, he just doesn't live up to the quality of other new cast members Spike and Tara.
Not more could be expected of such a series to be honest and it's nice to see that the change of scenery as Buffy moves on from school didn't harm the show, and that this change was used as an opportunity for some character development rather than just keeping the characters the same until they got boring. Plus, episodes like "Something Blue" and "Hush" would be on the list of the best Buffy episodes over all 7 series.
There's 22 episode overall, all 45 minutes. The extras in it are Episode Commentaries, Episode Scripts, Outtakes and a Picture Gallery. The outtakes are always worth a watch though they are nothing special, and the episode commentaries are at the same standard all episode commentaries are. Personally I am not a fan though I'm sure for people who are, these will be interesting. The age certificate is 15 and it can be bought off Amazon.co.uk for £20. It's obviously not the best place to start the series if you are buying DVD's though episodes are shown on the FX Channel weekly if you are interested.
Currently £16 on Play.com
Buffy series 4 is the series I have just finished and it is great. You may be surprised to hear me say this though, but it is not as good as the other 3 and I will attempt to say why. I do think though it keeps you wanting to watch series 5 and I do think that it needs to be in your DVD collection if you like Buffy.
Ok so series 4 and we are into the year 2000 / 2001 when it first aired on our screens. It followed a very successful 3 year stint for Buffy and introduced some good new characters. The whole series though does not really have the same upbeat atmosphere as the first few had even though there are some pretty funny episodes. Lets go through one aspect at a time.
Ok so storylines. It starts where season 3 left off so if you don't want spoilers look away now.
Buffy and Willow are at college and finding out it is totally different to high school in that they have to live with new people and go to lectures that actually seem like hard work. Xander meanwhile is travelling across America. So Buffy finds that she has a whole host of new demons to deal with including the return of Spike to add to her woes. This series follows the college journey a lot so instead of having the high school background you have the college one.
The series follows a central storyline again which this time involves a secret military group called the initiative which track demons. There are a lot more off the cuff episodes in this series but it is one that again is better to start at the beginning and follow it through. There are some gems of episodes but I find with series 4 you find out little snippets of information each episode so it is best to keep on track with it.
Character wise and it is great as usual while they all try and see how they can keep their relationships up while kind of separated compared to what they were in the first few series. Spike is brilliant as always but a few characters are sorely missed in this series but due to spoilers I will not tell you who. New character Riley though is ok but he is really the only main one.
So with all of my positive comments why I am I not much for this series. Well don't get me wrong I still like most of the episodes because they are Buffy and I do think you can find humour in every single one but there is quite a depressing feel over most of the series and it doesn't help too much that personally I don't think the main baddy in this series is any good. I like the character development but it just seems to feel a bit stale in places and is not as good as other Buffy series as a whole.
You can pick up this series of Buffy for about £20 which is not too bad considering there are 22 episodes. It is a certificate 15 which is about right and there are 5 features on the disc which you have to look out for.
In conclusion I would give this series a go and stick with it. It does have one of my favourite all time ever Buffy episodes Hush on which is just fantastic so that episode is worth watching straight away. It still get's 4 stars from me though.
Thanks for reading.
The basic story of Buffy The Vampire Slayer should be familar to most people by now. Sarah Michelle Gellar portrays Buffy Summers - the current slayer - a young woman chosen by fate to battle the vampires and supernatural forces that plague the fictional town of Sunnydale.
The show's dynamic however shifts quite a lot for this season and at first it didn't really set with me. Buffy goes all 'science' on us in an attempt to sort of make it more 'X Files' or 'Stargate' esque.
Season four sees Buffy and her friends moving on from high school thus leaving behind the familar settings that had made the show work so well for the three years prior. For Buffy and Willow this means heading to college [which is the American form of university I believe though I could be wrong]
and moving away from home whilst Xander begins a long and treacherous trail of trying to figure out his place in the world and what he wants to do with his life. Giles meanwhile finds himself sort of left on the backbench with no job and not a whole lot of purpose and as always the writers have some great new characters up their sleeves to add to the ever expanding Buffyverse such as Amber Benson who portrays the shy and lonely Tara and Marc Blucas who appears as a new love interest for Buffy in Riley Finn.
As usual of course there's some major threat to the world, this time it being a secret military operation known as 'The Initiative' which coincidentally happens to be running underneath the exact same college Buffy is attending and is ran by one of her professors [Lindsay Crouse as the irritatingly, strange and psychotic Maggie Walsh and also includes a number of the local frat boys as its soldiers including wait for it - Buffy's new beau.]
Whilst The Initative is originally perceived as a force of good and Buffy joins forces with them to patrol and take down various demons and vampires, it soon becomes clear that good old Maggie has a much darker plan up her sleeve - cue her frankenstein inspired creation Adam which is like some sort of mashed up demonic robot who goes rogue and attempts to build an army of human hybrids with which he can use to rule the world.
Whilst the villain is hardly one of the best the show has produced and has a much shorter shelf life than say The Mayor or The Master, it's nice to see Buffy have a problem against killing something as she often finds herself beaten up badly everytime she attempts to take down Adam [until the episode 'Primeval' which to be honest has to be the best way of killing a villian the writers ever created].
Marc Blucas as Buffy's new love interest on the other hand is definately no Angel [this was the year that the spinoff of the same name began though Boreanaz did make two guest appearances in 'Pangs' and 'The Yoko Factor' both of which I have to say were incredibly dull episodes and probably the poorest of the season due to the tired formula of the forbidden Buffy and Angel romance]. Riley is the sort of typical, sweet, American pretty boy and gets some big storylines of his own in this season such as 'Goodbye Iowa' but there's just something about the actor that irritated me and the chemistry with Sarah Michelle Gellar isn't something that actually makes you want to keep watching the relationship unfold.
The season as a whole is a time of experimentation for the writers - it seems they've stripped Buffy back to its core and started from scratch without the themes and settings that made the first three seasons such a hit. Whilst this season definately lacks in a strong and solid story arc overall it has some of the best stand alone episodes of Buffy's history such as the Emmy nominated 'Hush' which is basically shot as silent movie for 35 minutes of the 45 minute show. It's a credit to just how far the actors can be pushed and what they can produce as the creepiest villains such the Kindestad in series 2 steal everybody's voices away so nobody can scream as they go about their misison of collecting seven hearts. It's creepy and frightening and made even more so by the fact nobody can say anything and is definately for me one of the best television episodes I've ever seen. It also sees the early formation of the Willow and Tara relationship which I think is brilliant as it covers the idea of a lesbian romance in depth and I enjoy how the writers constantly toy with the idea of whether or not they are actually lovers until finally just coming out and admiting it and creating possibly the most beautiful relationship of the show's history. Of course Willow's new endeavour marks the end of Oz [Seth Green] though episodes 'Wild At Heart' and 'New Moon Rising' are both terrific at delving into the character in a way that had previously been ignored.
The absence of Cordelia [she went onto Angel instead] leaves a void in the resident airhead slot and this is filled magnificently by Emma Caulfield who reprises her role as the ex vengence demon Anya. A relationship soon brews between her and Xander and she bcomes more and more involved wit hthe group as the season progresses delivering some brilliant lines and bringing a great chemistry to the show. James Marsters also returns as Spike and though I've never been a fan of the character he does get some great comedic moments here especially with Giles in 'A New Man' before he goes all love infested in the next season, especially him trying to come to terms with his 'chip'. Planted by The Inatiative it renders him unable to harm humans and is a great new spin on a previously evil character.
Other standout episodes for me include 'Fear Itself' in when the gang find themselves trapped in a real life house of horrors on Halloween, 'Something Blue' in which one of Willow's spells goes awry and causes a hell of a lot of fun damage including Buffy and Spike becoming engaged, the two part 'This Year's Girl' and 'Who Are You' which brings Eliza Dushku's demented slayer character Faith back out of her coma and switches bodies with Buffy. I love this two parter due to how the actors get each other down to a tee both in the way they act and speak and it's always great to have Dushku on screen as she has an amazing talent. 'Superstar' sees resident nerd Johnathan cast a spell to make everybody think he's some sort of God and whilst I never really saw the appeal of the episode or the character it's definately a stand out here.
The season ends on a different note in usual with 'Restless', a look into each of the core four's dreams following their defeat of Adam. It's yet another credit to the amazing talent of both the writers and cast as the level of characterisation shown here is perhaps the deepest it has been on Buffy so far and of course sets up some crucial themes for the upcoming year.
As with all seasons of the show on DVD the packaging is the same - this time decked out in a nice purple-ish colour and all 22 episodes of the season are spread across the 6 discs as well as the usual commentaries for specific episodes and various featurettes including an overview of the season.
All in all Buffy season four may be the weakest season of the lot when you add them altogether but it still has that classic wit and charm that makes the show so perfect and its great to see the show stick to its roots but also branch out and try different things, most of which work really well.
Whether you like it or not, it's a must have to complete the collection and become further enchanted by the world of Buffy.
Buffy - Sarah Michelle Gellar
Willow - Alyson Hannigan
Xander - Nicholas Brendan
Giles - Anthony Stewart Head
Spike - James Marsters
Riley - Marc Blucas
Oz - Seth Green
Anya - Emma Caulfield
Tara - Amber Benson
Maggie Walsh - Lindsay Crouse
Adam - George Hertzberg
Angel - David Boreanaz
Faith - Eliza Dushku
WHATS THE DEAL?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the story of a young woman who is normal by day but has a double life as the slayer, a chosen one whose job it is to fight demons and vampires.
It was always going to be hard to make season 4 of Buffy. The whole show revolved around Buffy and her scooby gang, the hilarious high school misfits who worry about their teenage issues by day and fight demons at night. But season 3 ended with the gang graduating from (and blowing up) sunnydale high, the centre of evil activity in their home town. So Buffy, Willow and Xander are no longer in high school. Cordy's no longer around. Giles isnt the librarian anymore and the school isnt there to cause trouble anymore. Where can they go from there?
This season tried so hard to do something different. This time the villain wasnt an ancient supernatural power but a military experiment gone wrong. Buffy gets involved with a secret government initiative as well as their star soldier. Evil Spike gets 'neutered' and Willow finds herself attracted to a fellow wiccan after Oz's sad departure. Giles and Xander find themselves a bit pushed out this year, with Giles going through his empty nest syndrome and Xander not really knowing where he wants to go in his life, plus he has his irritating girlfriend Anya to teach in the ways of being human.
MAIN CHARACTER CAST LIST
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers)
Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris)
Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg)
Anthony Stewart Head (Giles)
James Marsters (Spike)
Emma Caulfield (Anya)
Amber Benson (Tara Maclay)
Marc Blucas (Riley Finn)
EPISODE GUIDE (with some of the funnier lines!)
Buffy finds it hard to fit into college life, and thia affects her slaying when sarcastic Sunday and her vampire gang set out to wreck her life before they kill her. It takes a pep talk from Xander to make Buffy realise she can do both college and slaying and she kicks some ass as usual.
Buffy gets the roomate from hell and noone believes her when she says that she is evil, thinking that Buffy is just being a spoilt only child. Obviously Buffy turns out ot be right when Kathy turns out to be a very nasty orange demon.
The harsh light of day
Nasty Parker Abrahms tricks Buffy into bed with him and then ignores her. Spike returns with Harmony (!!) after a gem that will make him invincible. He gets it and him and Buffy fight in daylight for the first time, but she takes the ring from him and decides that Angel should have it.
At a house party a weird symbol causes all of their worst fears to come true, and they have to face some issues including Oz being unable to control the wolf in him, and Xander becomes invisible to his friends. This one is absolutely hilarious!
'Wish Id thought of that, I could have been God.'
'Dont taunt the fear demon'
'Why can he hurt me?'
'No, its just tacky.'
WORST EPISODE EVER. Supernatural beer turns Buffy and some college guys into cave people. Absolutely AWFUL!!!!!!
Wild at heart
This is just a gorgeous episode. Oz finds himself attracted to Veruca and finds out that she is also a werewolf. Willow finds them together and the episode ends with Oz leaving Sunnydale, telling Willow that he cant control the wolf in him anymore.
We find out about the government initiative that fights demons and preforms experiments on them, one of which was to put a chip in Spikes head meaning he can no longer bite anyone anymore, as he finds out when he tries to bite willow and is 'impotent'. Buffy's crush Riley turns out to be one of their main soldiers.
'Maybe you were nervous. Doesnt this happen to every vampire?'
Angel returns just as Buffy and friends are attacked by ancient indian spirits on thanksgiving, and they take spike as hostage. This one is a great one with loads of jokes about political correctness. Its practically impossible to pick the 'funniest line' because the whole script is a comedy bonanza, but I like this one:
'You mean... Angel? I saw him, too. '
'That's not terribly stealthy of him. '
'I think he's lost his edge.'
A grieving Willow accidently casts a spell so that everything she says comes true. Xander becomes a literal demon magnet, Giles loses his sight, and Buffy and Spike fall in love and get engaged!
One of the best, scariest, funniest Buffy episodes ever. Fairytale characters called the gentlemen come to sunnydale and steal all of the towns voices so noone can scream, then start to steal hearts. This is full of brilliant scenes, is original in that barely a word is spoken for the entire episode, and has the most creepy amazing score. The gentlemen are really scary especially the way they 'float' instead of walk. Buffy and Riley discover each others secret identies.
Its the end of the world again! Buffy and co have to return to the blown up site of Sunnydale high to stop some demons from destroying the world. Buffy is confused as to whether she should keep seeing Riley.
A New Man
Giles is turned into a demon by Ethan Rayne and hunted down by Buffy who thinks he is a demon who killed Giles. The only person he can turn to for help is Spike.
'Do I have any special powers? Like setting things on fire with my sizzling eye beams?''You got parylysing mucous. Shoots out through the nose.'
The I in team
Buffy starts to get more and more involved in the initiative, neglecting her friends. Maggie Walsh is concerned that Buffy is too close to Riley and asks too many questions, so she sets a trap and tells Riley she is dead, just as Buffy appears telling Walsh her plan failed. Walsh is speared to death by her frankenstein like creation Adam.
After the death of Professor Walsh Riley suffers withrawal from the drugs he was fed by the initiative and starts to question everything and nearly cracks up. Adam starts to kill and examine children, and appears in the initiative telling them what he is and that he was created by Walsh to be the ultimate warrior from parts of demons.
This Years Girl
One of the best things about Buffy, Eliza Dushku, returns as Faith wakes up from her coma set on revenge against Buffy. She attacks Joyce who is saved from Buffy, but Faith uses a gift from the dead mayor to switch bodies with Buffy.
Who are you?
Faith wreaks havoc in Buffys body and Buffy is taken captive by the watchers council in Faiths body. Adam rallys local vampires to take over a church but Faith faces up to the responsibilities of being a slayer and kills them before Buffy escapes to switch their bodies back.
One of the funniest episodes ever, the entire Buffy history is rewritten so that geek Jonathan is an international legend and hero singer, vampire hunter and general lust object. Buffy is suspicous that he is too good to be true, and discovers that he has cast a spell to make himself great and loved, and made a demon in the process. The demon is killed and the world returns to normal.
Where the wild things are
Buffy and Rileys passion unleashes the spirits of abused children at a house party, and the scoobies must save the day as Buffy and Riley are blissfully unaware.
New Moon Rising
Oz returns and shows Willow he has found a way to stop the werewolf coming out. He finds out that Willow has been seeing wiccan Tara and turns back into the wolf. He is captures by the initative but freed by Riley who is then considered a traitor. He realises that Willow is the only thing that brings the wolf out and leaves again.
The Yoko Factor
Angel returns to make things right with Buffy and ends up getting into a fight with a jealous Riley. Spike, working for Adam, causes the scoobies to argue and fall out to make them more vunerable, and Forrest is killed by Adam.
Adam is about to implement his plan to shut down the initiative and unleash demons to fight the soldiers so he will have parts to build his hybrid army. Scoobies put their differences aside and join their powers to make a super buffy who defeats Adam.
The first slayer haunts them all in their dreams, murdering them one by one in their sleep. Buffy puts a stop to this in her dreams and is left with the cryptic line 'You think you know what you are whats the come, you havent even begun.'
With hindsight this episode prophecises many of the events of the next year, including Dawns arrival, Xanders maturing, And Buffy and Joyce's deaths.
This is one of the weaker seasons of Buffy. The initiative didnt really work on the shows budget, it required more money to look flashy and credible and they dont pull it off. Adam is a pretty dull villain, even if he does look brilliant with some superb makeup and costume. More than anything the general themes of the season were just disliked as Xander and Giles play a much reduced role, fan favourite Oz left and it just didnt seem right without the gang being in high school anymore. Newcomer Riley was HATED by all Angel fans (most of Buffy's audience) and their romance just never seemed as good as Buffy and Angel's.
For someone who is new to Buffy, I would reccommend starting with another season over this one, although this is still full of witty clever lines, cool metaphors, drama, comedy, and the best action scenes on tv. The actors are fantastic as well.
For anyone who is already a fan of Buffy it is essential viewing as it sets up a whole new era in terms of the characters as they begin to mature and some of next season is set up in this one. It is vital to complete any collection!
This is worth it simply for 'Hush' my personal favourite Buffy ever, emmy nominated for a good reason.
Season Four presented a real challenge to the Buffy team. Ratings for Season Three were at an all time high and with two and a half excellent seasons under your belt and some of the best screen heroes and villains ever created, where do you go next?
Season three of Buffy had presented us with some closure. Buffy and the skoobie gang have finally left high school and are about to enter a new phase of their life. What I love about Season Four is that we get the first hint that this show is never going to rest on its laurels, stand still and just be content to present the same old material in a new form. The sense that season three and high school is behind us is very present on screen and Buffy, struggling to fit in and find her new life at university is the perfect way to show on screen this new ethos.
All well and good, but how does Season 4 really measure up in terms of pure quality. In short - excellently. its a controversial season amongst fans because the overarching plotline is weak. There's a running background story that involves the Slayer power clashing with the authorities and technological but for some reason this is dropped mid season and a particularly bland villain, Adam, a naive Frankenstein's monster is introduced.
Yet there's adequate compensation as the scriptwriting/direction for individual episodes is characteristically high and the series produced some real classics such as the seconf halloween episode, Fear Itself and the Emmy nominated Hush, another fine play on horror convention that sees the scream queen unable to actually scream...brilliant. On top of that this season sees both the return of Spike, a character whose arc just gets stronger and stronger as the seasons progress (and ho is also just flat out hilarious) and the revelation that Willow is a lesbian, which may not seem so big a deal now, but the lack of decent non male-fantasy lesbian characters on mainstream TV is all too clear.
To sum up, this season isn't a fan favourite season but in my opinion gets a little too much of a bad reputation for its uninvolving story arc. There are actually only a couple of episodes where this a particular problem as the show still balances weekly threats and overarching plotlines very well indeed. If I were to express any major upset regarding this season it'd have to be the introduction of bland love interest Riley as a poor replacement for Angel and the promotion of Anya to fulltime cast member who, try as she might, can't match the cold brutal sarcasm of Cordelia.
In its fourth season, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had to change its formula radically. Two major characters--the vampire-with-a-soul Angel and Cordelia, the queen bitch of Sunnydale High--had gone off to be in their own show, Angel, and soon after the start of the season Willow's werewolf boyfriend Oz left when Seth Green needed to concentrate on his film career. Buffy and Willow started college, where they met new characters like Riley, the All-American Boy with a double life, and Tara, the sweet stuttering witch; but Xander and Giles found themselves at something of a loose end. Several characters were subjected to the radical re-envisioning possible in a show that deals with the supernatural: the blond vampire Spike came back and soon found himself with an inhibitor chip in his head, forced into reluctant alliance with Buffy; the former vengeance demon Anya became passionately smitten with Xander. Not all fans were happy with the central story arc about the sinister Dr Walsh (Lindsay Crouse) and her Frankensteinian creation Adam, though Crouse's performance was memorable. The strength of Season Four was perhaps most in impressive stand-alone episodes like the silent "Hush", the multiple dream sequence "Restless" and the passionate, moving "New Moon Rising", in which Oz returns, apparently cured, only to find that Willow is no longer waiting for him. This was one of the high points of the show as a vehicle for intense acting, perhaps only equalled by "Who Are You?", in which the evil slayer Faith takes over Buffy's body and Sarah Michelle Gellar gets to play bad girl for once. --Roz KaveneyOn the DVD: Buffy Season 4 was a hit and so is this sublime box set. The commentaries for "The Initiative", "This Year'sGirl", "Superstar" and "Primaveral" are all well above average, but are nothing compared to "Hush" and "Restless" where Joss Whedon gives out all the information and insights any fan would dream of. The four featurettes included are a pleasure to watch, especially the evolution of the sets for the show. The scripts, trailers and cast biographies complete the set and make for a decent addition to your Buffy archive. The soundtrack is in 2.0 Dolby surround, but the image is as grainy and dark as the previous seasons on DVD. --Celine Martig