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Princess Anti-Santa
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Damn! First I'm UMF'ed by a coffeemaker yesterday over in the Happy Hour. Now, I'm getting Buffy UMF'ed in Now Playing! I never got into Buffy while it was on - I was in law school during the early seasons and really didn't have TV time available. But I'm feeling myself getting sucked in. I've got a friend who's been collecting the DVD's since they started rolling out. I think I'm going to have to start borrowing.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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I finally gave in and figured I should start giving Buffy a try (I was out of the country when it started airing, and never got into it when I got back). Over the weekend, I Bittorrented the entire first season. Now to start watching . . .
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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Well, I watched the entire first season in two days - and loved it. Then I started BitTorrenting Season 2, but I gave up after a week of failing to get the download done. So I relented and bought the Seasons 1-4 boxed set from Amazon. I've watched the first 4 episodes of Season 2 now (my pace has slowed - my wife was out of town for the first season marathon but she's back now and so far she's refused to watch with me).

So far, I think my favorite ep is Inca Mummy Girl, but posts here suggest that the best is yet to come. I'm totally hooked.

Next step will be to rip these DVD's down to DiVX files to view through my Connected DVD Player - it'll be nice to have every ep at my fingertips without having to switch disks. I just wish it didn't take so darn long to encode them (using AutoGK). It tempts me mightily to upgrade my computer too. I did a couple already, but left the quality settings up too high and the Connected DVD Player couldn't handle the bandwidth.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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I think what I liked so much about Inca Mummy Girl was the parts that developed Xander's character and his relationship with Willow (I'm a big Alysson Hanningan fan).
Willow walking into the Library behind Xander as Xander explains to Buffy how Willow is undatable.
Xander asking the IMG, "You're not a praying mantis are you?" "Uh, never mind."
Xander being established as the bad date magnet.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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Excellent - and I've got plenty of room for new season passes after the hatchet fell on so many of this past seasons shows.

I watched eps 5-8 of Season 2 last night. You all were right - it just keeps getting better and better.

I loved that in Lie To Me when Buffy and Ford are talking about what she's up to she specifically mentions practicing "ambush tactics" - precisely the practice that helps her escape the trap he helped set for her.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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Home on a "snow day" yesterday - I finished Season 2. WOW! The more I watch, the more I'm disappointed that I missed it the first time around. Though there's a definite benefit to watching episodes back-to-back-to-back. I would've gone crazy waiting seven days between Surprise and Innocence or between Becoming Parts 1 & 2. I've just gotten the first couple episodes of Season 3 in. The Scooby group dynamics are shifting big time. This is going to be an interesting season. A few spoiler-worthy comments:
I really like Xander's character up to this point, but he's starting to piss me off. The attitude toward Angel is one thing, but he's way too comfortable with lying to his friends on a regular basis. And the love-hate thing between he and Cordy is getting annoying. Get over it already. Either put aside the beauty and the beast pretension and get on with it or break up. I like that Buffy didn't get a free pass upon her return from the lost summer in LA. She had to account for herself to her friends and family and do the work to repair those relationships. In "Anne" it was established early on that time in the Demon dimension moves much more slowly than time in the Earthly dimension. But when Buffy and the others returned to the Earthly dimension, they hadn't aged appreciably and the timline on Earth hadn't really moved ahead. I know they only spent a few hours there, but shouldn't that have been at least a few months later on Earth?
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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I know what you mean about Xander Doug, but in Season 1 and the first part of Season 2, it was pretty much normal high school boy stuff. Leaving the specifics somewhat eliptical to avoid needing spoiler tags: Not being able to see his childhood friend as a "girl", maintaining a low-simmer crush on the hot new girl -- those things were pretty normal. Even having some jealousy toward Buffy's "boyfriend" made sense. But by the end of Season 2 Xander is doing things that he KNOWS are incredibly hurtful to Buffy. At the same time, he's in this bizarre relationship of his own with what amounts to the anti-Buffy. And he seems to have become downright mean to Willow at times. I keep waiting for someone to just slap him upside the head and point out, in great detail, what an ass he's become.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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Well, I was sick with the flu from Saturday through Monday. It royally sucked, except that I did get to watch all of Season 3 and start Season 4 of Buffy. I decided to just steam ahead without worrying about the Angel crossovers - I couldn't wait. First, let me say WOW. The only thing that keeps me from being mad that I didn't watch this when it was on in the first place is that I'm not sure I could have tolerated waiting 7 days between episodes. The last episode that I've seen is "Beer Bad" - cracked me up!
Cave-girl Buffy was oddly hot! And Willow was great in the confrontation with Parker - playing along and then, "How gullible do you think I am?" Go Willow! I'm glad that Xander is becoming a bit less annoying. Apparently his abortive trek across America did him some good.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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I like "Beer Bad" precisely because it was a nothing but fun episode. No major plot or character development (other than a very minor confirmation of Buffy's continued struggles to adjust to college life and finding an excuse for the non-collegian Xander to hang around), no real "bad guy". Forget "theme" - this one wasn't about theme. It was just fun.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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Okay, I'm just over 1/3 of the way through Season 4 now, and a couple of things about Pangs really bug me:

1. Why would Spike turn to Buffy, of all people, when he was unable to feed and essentially defenseless? He's supposed to be some big bad tough guy who's offed two slayers in his "deathtime". Why wouldn't he just keep talking tough back with his own gang, suck up to Harmony, and let her bring him relatively fresh but already dead victims to stay fat and happy on?
2. Once Spike does show up, why don't they stake him? Sure, he has some info for them. But so far he's tried to kill Buffy at least three times, kidnapped Willow once (and would have killed her this time, if he had been capable), bitten Joyce, the list goes on and on. Get what info you can out of him and then get on with it.

I have to admit though, even as obvious as it was now in retrospect, Xander's closing line in Pangs almost made me do a spit take last night.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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I had to bump this thread back up, as I finished watching Season 4 last week, and I'm now waiting impatiently for Amazon to deliver Season 5 (damned free SuperSaver shipping - I knew I should have bit the bullet and paid for overnight delivery :).

All I can say is that this is a remarkably well-constructed series, both in terms of individual episodes building a cohesive and integrated season and then each season building on the one before. Just wonderful television. The way I see it:

Season One - Introduces the concept of the slayer. The focus is mostly on vampires, including the "Big Bad" of the season being a vampire. Buffy is already recognized as a bit of a different kind of slayer, in that she has a group of friends who are involved in her "work", instead of being a lone warrior. The battle here is almost purely physical.

Season Two - A little more metaphysical. The "Big Bad" may technically be Angelus/Acathla, but it really is Buffy herself. The Slayer needs to be able to batter more than just vampires - demons can be even nastier. Can she overcome her need for the group and her feelings for Angel to do what a Slayer must do? The group has also developed. They're not so much hangers-on now - they've developed roles in the process (especially Willow). The key to the battle is emotional instead of physical.

Season Three - Buffy is no longer bringing the pain - instead it is being brought to her. Even those whom Buffy thinks are there to help her often hurt her - Cordelia wishes she had never come to town, Faith becomes an enemy instead of an ally, in order to save Angel (who she already knows she's losing in the long term) Buffy has to give up herself. Finally, Buffy has to bring everyone back together in order to defeat an ever-bigger Big Bad - this team a full-fledged Demon. And this time "everyone" is even bigger than just the Scooby gang. The key to the battle now is not just emotional and physical, but also philosophical (note the difference between Faith's and Buffy's idea of what the Slayer's role is, and the Council's refusal to assist in the "healing" of a vampire, regardless of the vampire's willingness to work toward the same goals as the Council).

Season Four - Disorientation in new surroundings. The biggest "Big Bad" yet. The Big Bad is more than just Adam and an army of human/demon hybrids, but also the U.S. government. The Scooby Gang finally bounces pretty much all of the way back to where they were before the emotional turmoil caused by Buffy having to skewer Angel and send him to Hell back at the end of Season Two. The magical melding of the Scooby Gang made them a truly unified force again. It's now all of the above - a physical battle with Adam, an emotional battle with lonliness and isolation when on your own for the first time, a philosophical battle (with Riley initially taking the Council's position viz vampires), and a metaphysical battle as, for the first time, magic plays a critical role in the outcome of the final battle.
Yep, those Season 5 DVD's can't get here soon enough!

QuickEdited to add even more of my ramblings about the development of BtVS from season to season.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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Skittles-
You're not helping with my impatience here . . .
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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According to the UPS tracking, my package left Salina, KS at 1:30 this afternoon. Unfortunately, I'm not set for delivery until February 19. That means it'll probably arrive at the Lenexa sort facility tonight and then they'll sit on it for a day and it'll go out for delivery on Thursday. Luckily, I have to teach on Wednesday night, so I wouldn't have time to watch any episodes anyway -- otherwise the extra 24 hour wait would drive me crazy!

Skittles - The friend who finally pushed me to watch Buffy was in town over the weekend. We were talking about the fact that my impressions the show are probably different from those of someone who was watching the episodes as they aired. I didn't have to suffer through the anticipation of the next show in a week (or in three months) and I didn't have to put up with promotional spots that tend to spoil surprises. I think it allowed me to enjoy the "filler" episodes more than someone who watched as they aired, because I could appreciate them for what they were without being disappointed that I'd have to wait another week for an episode with more "meat" to it - i.e. my appreciation for Beer Bad, an episode that many people hated.

brahamt - You're right, you're not helping. I have to agree that my favorite season so far is Season 3 and that, with the exception of the final battle with Adam, Season 4 was somewhat disappointing in comparison.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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WooHoo! UPS tracking reports that my Season 5 DVD's went "out for delivery" at 8:00 a.m. today! I won't get home from teaching until about 9:30 p.m. - at which time my wife will want to watch West Wing. Maybe I CAN actually get a couple of eps of Buffy Season 5 before I have to drag myself to bed :)

Skittles-
I agree that Season 4 was sort of odd - there were some remarkable individual episodes (Hush was one of the most outstanding hours of television I've ever watched), but the season as a whole seemed somehow less than the sum of its parts.

As for Season 6 - I've got Bittorrent working on it now. I don't feel bad about downloading, since I'm sure to buy the DVDs anyway. I'm just "time-shifting" the release schedule ;-) Unfortunately the Season 6 files on Bittorrent appear to be copied directly from the DVDs (which have been released elsewhere), instead of the DiVx versions that I was able to get for Season 1. That means a long and arduous process of converting the DVD images to DiVx myself using AutoGK. Unless I get a new, more powerful computer for my birthday next month, I may not be done converting before the U.S. DVDs get released :-(
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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I was in the process of downloading using Overnet, but several episodes from Season 6 were missing - part two of the season-opening two-parter in particular comes to mind. I decided that transcoding the DVD files would be less of a pain than being stupdendously annoyed at having "holes in the schedule" when I went to watch Season 6.

I haven't actually tried just streaming the DVD files through my Gateway Connected player, and it is theoretically possible - especially now that I've taken care of the choke point problem with my failing router. I'll try that before I start transcoding. Anyone know a quick and dirty way to transform a .vob file into a .mpg file? (I know, I know, check dvdrhelp.com - I will, I just thought I'd ask).

The good news is that I now have the Season 5 DVDs in my hot little hands, a day earlier than expected :)
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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Yep, I'm an addict. "Not enough time to watch an episode after teaching anyway" last night became, "Well, maybe I can watch 1 or 2" to watching the entire first disk of Season 5 last night - I was up until 2 a.m.

Oh - and I think I've found the answer to my own question about .vob to .mpg conversion. I found a program called ImToo DVD Ripper that converts from .vob to .mpg and has gotten decent reviews. I'm not thrilled about paying $35 for another A/V program, but if it works then it's money well-spent because it saves me the time of transcoding.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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I'm plowing ahead through Season 5 and just watched "Checkpoint" last night. WOW. Great episode. Loved watching Buffy pull things back together and take charge again. My favorite S5 eps so far are The Replacement (I'm starting to like Xander again) and Checkpoint. I didn't find "Fool For Love" to be as wonderful as most seem to - way to slow and exposition-y.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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Season 5 is definitely my favorite season so far. I'm down to 2 episodes left, and the Joyce sub-arc from The Body through Tough Love leaves me speechless. I found myself literally in tears several times at various points throughout those four episodes. Just incredibly powerful, moving television.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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Originally posted by JYoung
I think that it works better if you see it back to back with Angel's episode "Darla"...
Maybe, though I think part of it is that I'd pretty much already worked out the vamp lineage stuff myself before we got to this point. The whole Master begat Darla begat Angelus begat Drusilla begat Spike, and their interrelationships already made sense to me. The bit with Spike and Slayer/Victim #2 on the subway was interesting cinematography, but the story of the episode didn't really grab me.
 

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Princess Anti-Santa
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I just finished re-watching Buffy S5/Angel S2. A couple of comments:

1. The end of Buffy S5 makes MUCH more sense when watched alongside Angel S2. I remember the first time through thinking that someone should've called LA and gotten Angel and the gang involved for the showdown with Glory. But they were off in Pylea.

2. One thing still bugs me about the end of Buffy S5. When Spike and Xander go to pay a visit to the demon warlock, he tries to prevent them from getting to a particular chest - even throwing the small chest into the fire, from which Spike retrieves it. But they never show us what was in that chest (unless I missed it several times through). And again, unless I missed it, they never use what was in the chest against Glory. They already had the Dagon's sphere, Willow's spell didn't seem like it would have come from the chest, they already had the Troll hammer, they already had robo-Buffy. What's left?
 
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