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Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Season 2
With a full order of 22 episodes, the characters were allowed more room to grow and develop. The mythology of the series developed and deepened while the plotlines and threat increased and became more personal. That's not to say the show dropped what made it so popular with the public and the critics to begin with. It still dealt with everyday issues in their own unique way and the snappy banter between characters was still spot on.
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. 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), Angel - the vampire with a soul that loves Buffy. There are others that come in and out, but these are the mainstays of this season.
Fox only provided DVDTalk with the 1st and 6th disc and descriptions of the episodes on those discs follow:
When She Was Bad: The Buffy that returns from summer vacation at her father's isn't the Buffy that the rest of the gang remembers. No, it's not the work of another villain; rather Buffy has a hard time dealing with the issue of having to protect her friends, as well as herself. This episode does a great job of reintroducing the main plot points from the last season and adds another chapter to the story of last seasons bad guy, the Master.
Some Assembly Required: This episode brings another classic monster (with more to come) briefly into the mythology of Buffy. Bodies are disappearing in Sunnydale and the gang sets out to investigate. It's an interesting riff on relations and family, but it sticks so closely to the original Frankenstein and Bride of… films that it's not as appealing as other episodes.
School Hard: This turns out to be a momentous episode for future occurrences in the main mythology. The Master is truly dead and someone needs to take his place. In come Spike and Drusilla, English vampires that seem to outclass the others around them. Buffy's place in school is in danger and her life seems to be in the same state with these two in town. The ending establishes the main arc for the season and shows who is really in control.
Inca Mummy Girl: Continuing the classic monster fetish, another one is reinterpreted for the high school generation. Borrowing a cue from the updated Mummy films, the mummy in our story must consume life force to live and stay young. With her latest victim chosen, love comes into play and things reach a different than typical conclusion. It's nice to see that not all episodes have to have a "fight the monster theme" this early in the show's life.
WARNING: BY NATURE, THE FOLLOWING DISCUSS EPISODE SPOILERS. DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW!!
Becoming, Part 1: Having his soul removed, Angel is once again the evil vampire he used to be. A lot of Angel's history is revealed in this episode, along with individual vampire history. Angel wants to destroy the world by invoking a demon by the name of Acathla. He cannot complete the ritual by himself and kidnaps Giles to help him finish the deed. Near the end things do not look good for the gang; one is in a coma, one is dead, and one is framed for murder. Another perfect episode in the main mythology that builds on the events that have been building all season.
Becoming, Part 2: As Buffy flees from the events of the last episode she gains an unlikely ally that wants what she wants, to save the world. There are several events that are occurring at the same time that continuously change the path of events in the episode. Angel succeeds in his wish but betrayal is lurking as he and Buffy engage in an amazingly choreographed fight. Angel has his soul returned to him, but the spell of destruction has been carried out and Buffy must make the hardest decision she's ever faced as a slayer if she wants to save the world this time.
Video: Another season of television and another season of low quality video. At times, it's quite grainy and the some of the brighter scenes have a bit of pixelation. The 4:3 transfer works well enough, but it's not quite as good-looking as a feature film transfer. It's not the transfer, but obviously the source material.
Audio: The stereo mix from the show is as standard as all TV shows and serves well enough. The creepy ambiance of the show would exceed with a little 5.1 magic, but the sound is perfectly audible.
Extras: This set, at least on Disc 6, has a better selection that Season 1 did. There are 3 lengthy features on the disc that detail the set design, monsters and other aspects of production. Designing Buffy is an approximately 15-minute feature that details set design and overall design aspects of the show, interesting, but not the best. Up next would be A Buffy Bestiary that is a great, almost 30 minute documentary, detailing the background of all the monsters developed for season 2. The last feature, Beauty and the Beasts, is another documentary that runs around 20-minutes and details the make-up processes used on the show.
Also included are two short interviews with Joss Whedon on the two-part Becoming episodes. These are short, press style, interviews that reveal no real information. Also included are several trailers and commercials, as well as an extensive photo gallery.
Overall: Built upon the solid foundations of the first season, season 2 expands the mythology in all the right places. More mature and sure of itself, the episodes also cover a wider variety of subject matter. The extras are more plentiful; including a few episodic commentaries on discs 2, 3, and 4 (not included in this review). It's another step in the right direction for this excellent TV series in its transition to home video.