With Buffy forced to dispatch her vampire lover Angel at the end of Season 2,
Season 3 opens with her missing Sunnydale. In her absence Xander, Willow and the
werewolf Oz have attempted to pick up where she left off. Since the series is
called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she of course returns to Sunnydale and vampire
For the uninitiated, Buffy Summers is the next in a long line of vampire slayers.
Just a regular high-school student, she accepts the role reluctantly. Things
are much easier with the help of her gang of friends; Xander - the goofy and
semi-nerdy guy at school, Willow - the meek and bookish brains of the outfit,
Giles - the librarian of the high school is also Buffy's watcher (trainer),
and Oz (Seth Green) - Willow's guitar playing boyfriend who also happens to
be a werewolf.
After defeating one of the oldest vampires in the first season and facing a
impossible personal choice in the second, the third season brought a few new
faces into the mix in the form of the town's Mayor, who's seems to be hiding
something. Someone else hiding something is Faith, a backup Slayer called in
that seems to take too much delight in doing her job.
The show, despite being in its third season, remains friendly to new viewers
and never gets bogged to heavily in its own continuity. The show always seems
to be at its best when it examines the many problems of life by disguising them
in the subtext of the monsters that populate Buffy's world.
Fox only provided DVDTalk with the 1st and 6th disc and reviews of the episodes
on those discs follow:
Episode 1 - Anne: The season opens with Buffy running from what she truly
is after having to kill the one person she loved in order to save the world.
She's working under the name Anne at a diner in L.A. where a girl from Sunnydale
seems to recognize her. When the girl, named Lily, shows up later she needs
Buffy's help in finding her missing boyfriend. When a decrepit and decimated
old body is found matching her boyfriend's description, it's up to Buffy to
discover what's really happening at the Family Home, center for runaways. In
an interesting note, the alternate world that first appears here plays a major
part in the 2nd and 3rd season of the spin-off show Angel.
Episode 2 - Dead Man's Party: Buffy has returned home, but still feels
disassociated and withdrawn from her life and friends. She's not allowed into
school and while she was gone, all of her friends continued on without her and
are happily doing so in her return. To complicate things, Buffy's mom has purchased
a strange looking mask to hang in her bedroom that seems to have an agenda of
its own when it revives a recently deceased cat. The Re-Animator and Night of
the Living Dead references continue as the house eventually becomes overrun
with the living dead during a party the following night. As Buffy deals with
her inner demons, she must also deal with the ones invading her home.
Episode 3 - Faith, Hope & Trick: This is a busy episode. There are
hints, introductions and revelations aplenty and you should watch it twice to
make sure you didn't miss anything. Buffy is well on the path to resuming her
life in Sunnydale as the principal reluctantly readmits her to the high school.
Later that night, a limo carrying a vampire name Mr. Trick and his ancient master
Kakistos arrive. The pair are searching for a slayer and we soon learn that
they are not referring to Buffy, but another slayer named Faith that was called
into action. Faith is carefree and seems to readily enjoy her job and slaying,
but her past is surrounded in mystery when Giles discovers her Watcher is missing.
Buffy and Faith soon start patrolling together and it is agreed that Faith will
stay in Sunnydale until a new Watcher is assigned to her. Just as Buffy makes
amends with her decision to kill Angel, he seemingly reappears at the end.
Episode 4 - Beauty and the Beasts: The four- episode arc on this disc
ends on a powerful note in an episode that deals with abuse and relationships.
It's full-moon time and that means it's time to lock Oz up. When a student is
mauled to death, all suspicion falls upon Oz and Buffy decides to investigate.
She discovers an animalistic Angel the next night and manages to subdue him
back at the mansion where he returned. With Buffy not wanting to believe Angel
is responsible, and no one wanting to think Oz is responsible, the gang keeps
looking for another suspect. One is discovered when Oz realizes that the victim
and the newest victim were last seen around Debbie and her boyfriend, who is
revealed to be a girlfriend beating, Mr. Hyde style monster. Things come to
a sad conclusion when Buffy is saved from the boyfriend by a fully vampiric
Angel and agonizes over his return.
Episode 20 - The Prom: Skipping ahead to the end of the season, it's also
time for the end of the school year and that means it's prom time. Couples have
formed and split up over the season and none have been more prominent than Angel
and Buffy. After being returned to normal, the two resumed their relationship
but after a small incident and a visit from Buffy's Mom, Angel knows that it
just isn't to be. After dispatching the requisite beast of the week, Buffy makes
her way to the prom alone. There she is surprised twice and contemplates her
future amidst a bittersweet moment.
Episode 21 - Graduation Day part 1: Another busy episode marks the penultimate
chapter in Season 3 and the entire gang is bus with their own tasks. Everyone
is aware of the Mayor's plans, but with no idea how to stop them, they continue
searching for more information. It turns our Anya has witnessed an event similar
to what's about to happen and along with clues from a murdered professor, the
gang realizes all may not be lost after all. The episode ends with Angel poisoned,
Faith presumed dead, Buffy separated from the council and everything seemingly
going just as the Mayor wants.
Episode 22 - Graduation Day part 2: Things come to an explosive conclusion,
literally, as the gang enlists the help of the entire graduating class in order
to stop the Mayor and what he has become. The high school is practically destroyed
and numerous students die in this episode that was to originally be aired shortly
after the Columbine incident, but was postponed due to the content. The destruction
and death end with the inspiring words on the cover of the Sunnydale High Class
of '99 yearbook, "The Future is Ours."
With the success that Buffy found on the WB network, that saying was definitely
true and Season 3 was the most ambitious season to date. There were numerous
large threats, the effects were better and the story arcs became more elaborate.
It was also a season for change with numerous cast members leaving (Angel and
Cordy) and others making their first appearance (Anya). Buffy had become a hit
for the network and Angel would be getting his own show and the changes would
continue into season 4.
Video: The video from this season has improved greatly over the previous
editions. The 4:3 full-screen presentation is warm and crisp. The contrast and
colors have transferred nicely as well. The black and dark tones, of which there
are plenty, are some one the nicest I've seen on a set like this.
Audio: The Dolby Surround track works for the show, but could use a
little improvement. The music and audio is bright, but the vocals are audible
but a little muted sounding. The effects are used well in the surround channels
and a 5.1 mix would be great.
Extras: On the discs provided, there are a few extras on disc 6. There
are 5 features and interviews. The three features are interesting and run about
5 minutes. They cover Special Effects, Weapons and Wardrobe. The Special Effects
is the longest and most entertaining of the three and details the challenges
that the crew must face on the short turnaround time that a TV show requires.
The Weapon feature shows how and why the weapons are manufactured and chosen
and the Wardrobe feature is similar. There is a short interview with creator
Joss Whedon on the Graduation episode and the thematic tone he was trying to
achieve. The features are finished off with an interview with monster maker
John Vulick. This could have been a great piece, but it is cut entirely too
short. Just as things get rolling and he's discussed one creature in detail,
Overall: Fox has done it again, as they have done in the past. They
continue to put out some of the best boxed sets of television shows. They have
good transfers, decent extras and a great price. Fans of Buffy will be please
with the treatment the show gets and anyone new to the series will find Season
3 one of the more exciting and adventurous of the series. There are several
great foes introduced, as well as characters that continue to play a part in
the ever-expanding mythos that is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.