‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Season 4 reviews

John’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Season 4 flashback review, johnvhansen.com, Oct. 21, 2012

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Season 4 (1999-2000, WB), episodes 1-10 – “Buffy’s” fourth season finds Slayer Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), wicca Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and werewolf Oz (Seth Green) attending UC-Sunnydale and discovering that blowing up the high school didn’t vanquish all of their demons. Meanwhile, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) lives in his parents’ basement and Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) watches game shows, not Slayers.

Each season of “Buffy” has had its own unique identity largely because the main character’s experience changes, just like real people. Also, new characters are continuously added to the mix and old favorites take on different roles.

This season, Anya (Emma Caulfield), the vengeance demon learning how to be human, has provided lots of laughs as Xander’s girlfriend. Riley (Marc Blucas), a teaching assistant at the college, is a classic dichotomous character: He’s Buffy’s love interest and he works for The Initiative, a mysterious group conducting experiments on creatures of the night.

Vampire Spike (James Marsters), having received an implant that renders him harmless, has established a bizarre alliance with Slayer and friends, spending most of his time tied to a chair.

Another unique element of the new season is the shift in tone: While the spinoff, “Angel,” has stayed close to the somber tone of “Buffy’s” third season, “Buffy” itself seems like a brand-new show.

With the second episode, “Living Conditions,” the dark cloud that hung over the series since the second season’s “Surprise” was lifted. This literal take on the roommate from hell is among the season’s funniest episodes.

The year’s most innovative episode is “Hush,” which features 29 straight dialogue-free minutes as Sunnydale’s residents lose the ability to speak. This funny and scary commentary on the power of words is a great showcase for the musical score.

Among the most Kleenex-worthy episodes is “Wild at Heart,” where Oz’s indefinite leave of absence results in no less than three Willow crying scenes. A+

– John Hansen, “Midseason report,” NDSU Spectrum, January 2000

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“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Season 4 (1999-2000, WB) – In “Buffy’s” first post-high school year, it seemed as if creator Joss Whedon was trying to avoid comparisons to the brilliant Season 3 by taking some experimental risks. The Scooby Gang broke apart as Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) met soldier boy Riley (Marc Blucas), Willow (Alison Hannigan) met fellow witch Tara, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) hung out with Anya, Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) took up singing and Oz (Seth Green) left the show.

When it took a break from the disappointing Initiative arc, Season 4 delivered comedic gems early in the year and dark masterpieces later on–notably “Who Are You?,” in which Faith switches bodies with Buffy only to discover how it feels to be loved instead of hated. A

– John Hansen, NDSU Spectrum, Sept. 22, 2000