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Project Buffy: Top 5 Episodes

April 7, 2008 by  

Project Buffy: Top 5 Episodes

The response to PROJECT BUFFY has been overwhelming…in a good way. It seems that long time BUFFY fans are still enjoying talking about their favorite show even years after it ended. As a relative newbie in the BUFFYverse, the number on question I get is “what was your favorite episode?”. It’s a scary question because I know no matter what my response I’m going to be met with the inevitable “Are you kidding me?” or “I can’t believe xxx didn’t make it into your top 5!”

Before I list my Top 5 episodes, let me just say that it’s almost unfair to choose because I can honestly say that almost every episode could be argued to have made this list. But I had to go with my gut. I asked myself, when I think back on my experience watching BUFFY which episodes really stood out to me as the most memorable? This was not easy…I changed my top 5 at least 5 times, just today. Why am I nervous?

But without further ado…my BUFFY top 5.

#5: “The Gift”
Project Buffy: Top 5 Episodes - The GiftBuffy must square off against a true god when Glory prepares to use Dawn to break down the walls between the dimensions and unleash Hell on Earth.

When I think back on this episode I think of two things – Buffy’s selfless leap to her death to save her sister and the world, and the subsequent breakdown by the Scoobies after finding their friend’s lifeless body. The one-two punch of Willow and Spike slayed me (pun not only intended but planned). This episode was the proper end to the Glory storyline – one I didn’t like at first. But in the end, the idea that Buffy was up against something that she couldn’t easily stifle made her plight all the more interesting. I was glad to see her finally kick some ass (yay for troll hammers).

#4: “Storyteller”
Project Buffy: Top 5 Episodes - The StorytellerAndrew films the Scoobies for a documentary on Buffy, while Sunnydale High is rocked by a sudden outbreak of student violence. Xander and Anya reconsider their relationship.

I haven’t spent anytime on message boards or even talking to many BUFFY fans (outside of Dan and Rae) about their favorite episodes, so I really have no sense of where or even “if” ‘Storyteller’ would make anyone else’s Top 5 list. But for me, this episode was fantastic because it was all about Andrew. I loved me some Andrew! This kid cracked me up like no other and provided the comic relief in a very dark, heavy (and at times boring) final season of the show. I remember having to rewind a few scenes in this episode because I was laughing so hard – just awesome! (This is the episode that I’m expecting the most grief over…but I can take it!)

#3: “The Body”
Project Buffy: Top 5 Episodes - The BodyBuffy and the gang are overcome by grief when tragedy strikes and they are robbed of someone they hold dear.

Unlike ‘Storyteller’ I’m sure ‘The Body’ made more than a few Top 5 lists. This brilliantly directed and acted episode was heart wrenching from beginning to end. I was waiting the entire episode for either Joyce to come back from the dead, or to find out it was some sick spell, or a twisted dream – anything so I didn’t have to deal with Joyce being gone for good. The performances by the cast were stellar – not a weak moment to be found. The cast and crew made some really smart choices throughout ‘The Body’, all which made for a stunning hour of television. Obviously Sarah Michelle Geller fantastically held the weight of the episode, but for me it was Anya’s breakdown and her trying to find logic in death that really stayed with me.

#2: “Hush”
Project Buffy: Top 5 Episodes - HushAfter the residents of Sunnydale lose the power of speech, Buffy battles strangely silent assailants alongside an incredulous Riley.

Choosing between ‘Hush’ and the episode I chose as my favorite was just not fair. I’ve seen a lot of TV and I can say that I have never seen a single episode of television more imaginative and compelling than ‘Hush’. Thinking back, when I found out there was going to be an episode of BUFFY where the cast was silent for the majority of the hour I honestly thought it was going to be a bit cheesy and a lame stunt. Oh how I was wrong…so very wrong. What Joss did with the script and the directing, and what the actors did with their silence showed just how special everything about BUFFY was and is. I keep saying brilliant, but it’s appropriate. And The Gentleman – scariest creatures of the underworld in all seven seasons – hands down!

#1: “Once More with Feeling”
Project Buffy: Top 5 Episodes - Once More with FeelingA mysterious force impels the Scooby Gang to burst into song, revealing their true feelings. Buffy admits that she was pulled out of heaven, and she and Spike share a kiss.

Not having seen BUFFY, this was probably the episode I knew the most and the least about. I had heard about the famous BUFFY musical and heard rave reviews, but I didn’t really have any idea, going into it, what an important episode it would turn out to be. And I’ll admit that after watching the episode the first time, I enjoyed it but didn’t think it was better than ‘Hush’. But then I found myself watching it again…and again, and well, yeah a few more times. And what I realized was that I was too quick to judge after that first viewing. I think I was too caught up in the songs and the idea of signing actors to really, fully grasp the depth of the episode. What Joss Whedon did in this episode will never be seen again. Some will try to copy, but they will fail. It was a daunting task to not only write a musical episode that made total sense within the context of the show’s universe, but then to take it multiple steps further and introduce new storylines at the same time as offering one of the show’s biggest reveals (“I think I was in heaven”) all through music…there aren’t enough words – sung or spoken. And with that I’m off to listen to the soundtrack (again).

So there you go. My personal Top 5 BUFFY episodes. It wasn’t easy and I’m still not sure if I made the right call on a few of them, but these are my choices and I’m sticking with them. I’ll be back soon revealing my 2 favorite episodes from each season. But until then I turn it over to you.

What’s your take on my BUFFY Top 5? Were some of your favorites included? Share your BUFFY Top 5 with us.

Related Posts:
Project Buffy: Mission Accomplished & Top 5 Tearjerkers

Project Buffy: A Buffy Newbie Takes on the Slayer


24 Responses to “Project Buffy: Top 5 Episodes”

  1. oakling on April 7th, 2008 12:50 pm

    God, you just gave me goosebumps – with the last one, not even with The Body! What the hell is that? I agreed with you on most of these, particularly the middle three, but I wouldn’t have said the musical episode before I read your explanation. I just wasn’t that into some of the music, I guess. But you’re right: major reveal which is giving me goosebumps RIGHT NOW, music that moves the plot along, awesome in general. Anya’s screeching thing about bunnies gets stuck in my head regularly TO THIS DAY.

  2. Project Buffy: Top 5 Episodes — All This Nonsense on April 7th, 2008 12:56 pm

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  3. Amy on April 7th, 2008 12:57 pm

    I love your list, even with Storyteller being on it. While it’s not a fantastic episode, we got to see new sides to the gang, and that I loved. I’m so glad you’re doing this! Right now I’m working on Project Angel for myself. I forgot how much I loved the show, but unfortunately didn’t get to see much of seasons 3-5.

  4. Give Me My Remote on April 7th, 2008 1:04 pm

    #1 Oakling & #3 Amy – What would have been in your Top 5?

    #1 Oakling – I’m kind of surprised that “Once More with Feelings” was the one you originally took issue with. I thought that was a given for all BUFFY fans. Maybe I was wrong?

  5. Jenna on April 7th, 2008 1:18 pm

    I think it is interesting that all of your picks come from later seasons. I think it would take me all day to come up with even a top ten list, but one that would definitely be included is “Normal Again” of Season Six. Here is a reminder: After Buffy is stung by a demon, she begins to have vivid day-dreams about a mental asylum. She gradually begins to believe that she is a crazy girl back in L.A and that Sunnydale and all her friends are just a figment of her imagination.

    It still drives me crazy to think that the entire Buffy universe could indeed be just a figment of Buffy’s imagination. The ending of the episode was brilliant, perplexing, chills-enducing, all of the characteristics of great TV!

  6. Amanda on April 7th, 2008 1:20 pm

    Me being a musical theatre geek, it was definitely a given that “Once More, With Feeling” was to be number one in my heart. Kath, your list was great. I think with every Buffy fan, we have favorite characters (Andrew was hilarious, but definitely not my fave) and that should be on your list! I am a huge Spike fan, so of course I love Wrecked!!! Season 5 was a great one for me.
    I absolutely could not narrow my list down to five, so I commend you. Great choices all around!

  7. Spadada on April 7th, 2008 1:28 pm

    I love “The Gift” too. I think that was the first time I ever cried like a baby while watching TV. (This was before “Brothers & Sisters” and the Desmond arc on “Lost.”) And I think the other reason (besides the writing) that I continue to be so impressed by HUSH and OMWF is the amazing acting that takes place in them. Acting without speaking? Nuts. Acting while singing? Amazing. And I love Willow’s breakdown and Xander’s face when they realize they ripped Buffy out of a Heaven dimension. Hurts just thinking about it.

    For similar fun acting challenges I love the ep where they become their Halloween costumes and the one where they all forget who they are.

  8. Amy on April 7th, 2008 1:39 pm

    This list seems pretty typical to me. (except for maybe Storyteller) I don’t know if I could choose five favorite, but The Gift and OMWF would probably be on it if I did.

  9. Amanda on April 7th, 2008 1:39 pm

    Oops, sorry for posting twice…and I meant season 6.
    I would say my faves, in no order are: “Once More, With Feeling”, “Hush”, “Smashed/Wrecked”(both), “Dopplegangland”(I love Vampire Willow!!!), “Restless”(that dream is priceless…the cheeseman?), “Tabula Rasa”, “Grave”(Willow/Xander love!), “Conversations with Dead People”, and “Storyteller” (Andrew is endearing and hilarious…kinda like Chuck!)

  10. Amanda on April 7th, 2008 1:41 pm

    Oops, I meant season 6.
    I would say my faves, in no order are: “Once More, With Feeling”, “Hush”, “Smashed/Wrecked”(both), “Dopplegangland”(I love Vampire Willow!!!), “Restless”(that dream is priceless…the cheeseman?), “Tabula Rasa”, “Grave”(Willow/Xander love!), “Conversations with Dead People”, and “Storyteller” (Andrew is endearing and hilarious…kinda like Chuck!)

  11. Give Me My Remote on April 7th, 2008 1:44 pm

    I love everyone’s choices, and I’ll soon be posting my favorite episodes from each season and most of these that you all are mentioning have made that cut.

    Keep your Top 5 coming!!

  12. distracted on April 7th, 2008 1:51 pm

    I’m with everyone else–narrowing it down to just five is crazy hard. I guess my top five would be:

    1. OMWF
    2. Something Blue (Willow casts a spell causing Giles to go blind and Buffy and Spike to fall in love and get engaged). I loved this episode
    3. Tabula Rasa
    4. Doplegangland (I’m on the vamp willow bandwagon too)
    5. A New Man (Giles becomes a demon)

  13. Denny on April 7th, 2008 2:02 pm

    If you want to give yourself more of a challenge, name your top 5 Buffy episodes that WEREN’T written and/or directed by Joss Whedon. Pretty much every episode he helmed in the series (which include all but one, Storyteller, in your top 5) were fantastic, probably because of a uniformity of vision as producer, writer, and director. So it’s almost like an unfair advantage. Almost.

    That said, here’s my top 5 non-Joss eps:

    Fool For Love — Spike’s “origin” episode, including wimpy bad-19th-century-poet Spike and very cool late-70’s punk Spike.
    The Pack — great season one episode about high school conformity
    Lover’s Walk — A heartbroken Spike kidnaps Willow and Xander to force Willow to make a love spell for him. But by the end of the episode he pulls himself back together (through fighting) and simply tells Buffy, “Oh, they’re act the factory.”
    The Zeppo — The Xander-centered episode, he deals with his own crazy night as the Scoobies fight their worst foe yet (but the story only glancingly shows this “epic” fight, firmly placing tongue in cheek at the usual Buffy monster-of-the-week). Also, Xander punches his V-card with Faith.
    Wild at Heart — the Oz/Willow breakup, amazingly heartbreaking and well-executed

    I don’t really have any faves in the later seasons, but if I had to pick one I’d go with Villains in season 6.

  14. Laura (Fancy New Beesly) on April 7th, 2008 2:09 pm

    OMG. I’m going to go watch all of my Buffy seasons. Your list is perfect. I agree with every one of them. In fact, I’d totally forgotten about “The Body” & it really was SO brilliant. It’s a shame that the show is over even though it definitely needed to end. Oh, the 90s. How I miss you. I think “Hush” is my number 1.

  15. Vlada on April 7th, 2008 2:13 pm

    I agree with all your choices. Some other memorable episodes that come to mind:

    Restless — it felt so much like what dreams are like.

    Normal Again — I loved the concept of this episode. It would have been too much of a “gotcha ya!” ending for the show, but I can’t help wondering.

    Becoming Part 2 — the ending was heartbreaking. Killing Angel, leaving her friends, family and Sunnydale behind.

    Tabula Rasa — one of the funniest episodes, imo.

  16. Give Me My Remote on April 7th, 2008 2:17 pm

    I have a feeling “Restless” will come up in one of my Project Buffy lists. I think that one deserves a rewatch from me. It was the only one I really didn’t enjoy on first viewing.

  17. Rachel on April 7th, 2008 2:35 pm

    6. Graduation Day – Indeed, it was.
    5. Conversations with Dead People – Jonathan M. Woodward and Azura Skye were GREAT guest stars… and then there was that song at the end written by Joss.
    4. Selfless – The origin story of my favorite character… and a scene from “Once More With Feeling?” Awesome.
    3. Hush – Funny how it took silence for Buffy and Riley to start communicating.
    2. The Body – That moment with Anya always brings tears to my eyes. Always.
    1. Once More With Feeling – Is it weird that Giles is so sexy when he sings?

  18. Maggie on April 7th, 2008 2:49 pm

    “I Only Have Eyes for You” is my all-time favorite.

  19. Liz on April 7th, 2008 3:34 pm

    I love this because I went through the same top 5 phase when I finally watched the show in 2006. My top 5 overall:

    5. The Gift (I bawl at the end. It is ridiculous)
    4. Becoming, Pts 1&2 (Just brilliant end to the season)
    3. School Hard (Spike is my very favorite character)
    2. Hush
    1. Once More with Feeling

  20. Kristi on April 7th, 2008 3:34 pm

    I agree with most of your choices – I too loved Andrew to death in the final season

  21. Kristi on April 7th, 2008 3:51 pm

    (grr, my comment got cut off – sorry about that)

    I agree with most of your choices – I too loved Andrew to death in the final season. “Once More with Feeling” is definitely my number one episode. I would have included “Tabula Rasa” like someone said above – I absolutely loved that episode and Spike thinking he was a good guy kind of my broke my heart. I loved the concept though and the little things they did to make it believable.

    It would probably go like this for me:
    1. Once More with Feeling
    2. The Body
    3. Tabula Rasa
    4. Touched (Spike speech!)
    5. Life Serial (Buffy gets drunk and goes to play Kittie poker with Spike, hilarity ensues!)

    It was incredibly hard to choose though!

  22. Mike on April 8th, 2008 6:20 am

    Tough call…

    5. Hush
    4. Graduation Day
    3. The Body
    2. The Gift
    1. OMWF

    The last three would have been fine in any order … too close to call!

  23. Kimber on April 8th, 2008 2:25 pm

    So hard to choose only 5 … especially considering it’s been a while since I’ve seen most of it. But you captured three of my faves, so I’ll go from what I remember:

    5. Halloween (first episode I saw, and also a really good one!)
    4. Becoming (Pt 1 and 2) (Just wonderful)
    3. Tabula Rasa (so hilarious watching everyone discover who they are, being afraid of vamps and loan sharks, Anya making more and more bunnies, and of course Willow’s spiel ending with “…and I think I’m kinda gay” slays me every time!)
    2. Hush (amazingly wonderful, even without sound!)
    1. Once More, With Feeling

    Runners up include … The Body (incredibly sad, plus first Willow/Tara kiss – so points for that!), Family (I love seeing the Sccobies stand up for Tara), Seeing Red (though it makes me weepy), and Tough Love (again, makes me weepy, but Anya’s telling Willow she’ll sleep with her in Tara’s place makes me giggle).

  24. sam on April 15th, 2009 10:37 pm

    I personally believe that the 3rd season episodes bad girls and consequences were close to, if not, the best. faith has always been my favorite buffy character, and there was just something so sad about the way she just collapsed into evil. another pair pf episodes i liked was the 4th season this years girl and who are you. in thse episodes faith wakes up from a coma and switches bodies with buffy. in the end of who are you there is a fight scene between her and buffy before they switch back. faith beats the crap out of buffys face (HER face) and you finally get to see how much faith hates herself, how much she wishes that she really could be buffy. faith as a character was an amazing study of the human psyche and every episode she was in was amazing.