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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Joss's Top 3

This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly has an interview with Joss. If you haven't seen it, among other things, he mentions what he considers his top 3 episodes from all of his shows: The Body; Once More With Feeling; and Objects in Space (Firefly).

I think that's right, and I expect that judgment will hold up over time.


  1. I’d also agree with that.

    In terms of the ‘top’ episodes of BtVS, I get the impression that most fans of the show would agree that “Once More With Feeling”, “The Body”, and “Hush” are basically the Holy Trinity in terms of rating the best episodes of the series. I have a strong hunch that a big part of this comes from the fact that these three, in addition to being important parts of the overall continuity of the show, succeed brilliantly as pieces of standalone television. There are a lot of episodes from the series that I personally enjoyed and would rate just or almost as highly (i.e. “Passion”, “Becoming”, “Restless”,” “The Gift”, “Normal Again”, “Chosen”, etc.), but I find that these tend to lose a good deal of their emotional heft when watched in disconnect from the rest of the series – at least, that’s the impression that I got from watching some of these episodes with friends who hadn’t kept up with the rest of the show.

    This ties in to an extent with something else that’s been pointed out concerning the show, namely how difficult it is to find reliable “gateway episodes” that are individually capable of hooking a casual viewer. In reading discussions about the series online, I’ve repeatedly seen people describe the process by which they became devoted fans/viewers as one more or less identical to my own experience: watching through the first season out of casual enjoyment/interest, being gradually drawn in by the first half of the second season, and then fully converted by the brilliant episodes in the latter part of that season. (From what I’ve read, opinions about the experience of watching Season Three are also fairly consistent. It’s with the latter four seasons that I see greater divergences growing in fan opinion about the directions of the series). Obviously this is an aspect of the show’s defining characteristics that make it such a great experience, but it does add difficulty to attempts to sell people on watching the show (even after getting past the skepticism a lot of people seem to have based on the title and underlying concept).


    1. I think that's basically right in terms of the top episodes. I can re-watch any episode in isolation at this point, but only because I've seen them all so many times. But your Trinity certainly includes the 3 episodes which any viewer would recognize as great.

      I completely agree about the difficulty of finding a gateway episode. I watched from the beginning, so your description fits my own experience. But many fans have said that they picked up some random episode later on and decided to watch it from the start after seeing just one or a few in the middle.

      I once asked Noel Murray at the AV Club which episode he'd use and he suggested Lie to Me. It's a good one, no doubt, but it does spoil the first half of S1. Fool For Love might work too, or maybe one of the humor ones like Something Blue or Pangs or Band Candy. It probably depends on the viewer.

  2. I've heard a few people say they've used "Restless" to hook people - it displays how adventurous (and funny!) the show can be, and the risk of spoilers is minimized (somewhat) by it's being "all a dream."

    But I guess my own experience is in line with you two. I've come up with a short(ish) list of eps from S1 and the first half of S2. I tell people, if you find yourself put off by anything early on (anything from cheesy effects to lame MotW), just follow this list. But everybody I know who've watched have developed such good will for the show by the end of The Harvest that they've been willing to ride the whole ride. I always warn them in advance, "there are a couple silly episodes, but then a really good one. Plus, the silly ones always have something to offer in the way of dialogue, character development, or one truly great scene."

    That seems to be enough. I haven't recommended the show to anybody (yet) who hasn't then watched the whole series in order.

    1. I sometimes tell people that they need to watch until the end of S2. Anyone who makes it that far is pretty sure to be hooked.

  3. Speaking from personal experience, my gateway episode to the show was Band Candy. I fell in love with the episode from the first minute, mainly because of Sarah Michelle Gellar's performance and the delightful humor on display (in the wonderfully hilarious portrayals of teenage Giles, Joyce, and Snyder, specifically). It was a great jumping-on point for me, considering I'd never seen an episode before (and this was long after the series had started airing), and that was all due to the cleverness of the writing and dialogue.

    Also, on a sidenote, Mark, could you please send me a private message or email? I'd like to ask you a question regarding possibly using your Buffy articles as a source for a piece on season six I'm writing on my blog. Thanks!

    1. There's probably a different gateway episode for every person who came to the show after WTTH. Any episode could work; Band Candy is a particularly good one (I love it), and it doesn't spoil very much.

      My email is Go ahead and let me know what you have in mind.