Following what may be one of the best season finales ever (i.e. Buffy sacrifices herself for her sister Dawn) Buffy is raised from the dead by the ever increasing powers of Willow. She returns disoriented just in time to battle a horde of motorcycle riding demons hell-bent on turning Sunnyvale into their own personal property. It is during the opening two episodes that it becomes clear that secrets are going to play a major role in the sixth season.
Buffy’s friends believe that as a result of the events of…the climax of the fifth season that Buffy’s essence has been in a hell dimension and they are ‘saving her’ by bringing her back to life. Buffy doesn’t ‘thank’ them until midway through the second episode. Shortly thereafter in a touching moment with Spike she reveals that she was not in a hell dimension at all…in fact just the opposite. It sure sounded like she was in heaven – finally at peace with a sense of contentment.
Part of her disorientation upon resurrection was that she felt “this (Sunnyvale) is hell.” She did not want to be resurrected. Which leads to the second major secret that has major ramifications on the rest of the season. Part of the spell required to resurrect Buffy included the blood of an innocent. In preparation for the spell, Willow is shown attracting a fawn and then slitting its throat to collect the blood. Willow’s powers grow as does her reckless abandon in using them, which Giles points out to her shortly after he learns of Buffy’s return. As the season progresses, Willow’s dark magic starts to take it’s toll on her and we start to see Willow turning to the dark side (can you say Anakin Skywalker anyone?). By the end Willow becomes the “Big Bad” who will threaten all of humanity. The climax is once again excellent (but still not as emotional as the 5th season), with plenty of action, humor and drama.
If there is a weakness to this season, it is the inclusion of the 3 geeks who get involved in mischief making and make things even more difficult for the Scoobies. These guys were minor characters in the previous 3 seasons and really didn’t carry much weight.
Fox continues its streak of great DVD box sets with Buffy Season Six. The video is presented in the original 1.33:1 ratio. The colors are solid with no identifiable artifacts. The skin tones and black levels are well set. There’s nothing exceptional about the video as it was a television show but it is solid.
Buffy is presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital. The dialogue that comes through the speakers is clear and audible. The musical score changes from live rock to orchestral pieces flawlessly and will put your system through a decent workout. The bass is given a fair amount to do and the dynamic range is fair.
This set has the most extras that a Buffy set has ever offered with a number of episode commentaries and documentaries and specials. The first disc offers a commentary for “Bargaining” with writers David Fury and Marti Noxon. “Once More with Feeling” is lavished with the special edition treatment on disc two.
First up is a half-hour peek behind the scenes courtesy of David Fury. It compiles footage snapped both during and between takes, compares that raw material to the polished product, and takes viewers into production meetings. We get a glimpse of the choreography, the actors belting it out in the recording studio, and the application of some of the make-up effects. It’s a candid look at what goes into making an episode. In addition, Joss Whedon offers his thoughts in a commentary.
The third disc includes another of the most entertaining and informative extras on this set, an hour-long panel discussion at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It was taped on June 18th, 2002 with creator Joss Whedon, director of photography Raymond Stella, production designer Carey Meyer, show runner Marti Noxon, and cast members Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, James Marsters, and Michelle Trachtenberg in attendance. The discussion revolves almost entirely around season six and its aftermath, focusing heavily on the musical, set design, taking characters to such a dark place, and the challenges of shooting a show like Buffy.
The last disc offers “Life Is the Big Bad” is a half-hour overview that takes a different approach to the material than those on previous Buffy boxes. Rather than just go episode by episode with their recaps, the featurette examines individual characters and what happens to them throughout the course of the season. The participants include most of the writing staff and a handful of actors — Joss Whedon, David Fury, Jane Espenson, Doug Petrie, David Solomon, Steven S. DeKnight, Drew Z. Greenberg, Rebecca Rand Kirshner, Michelle Trachtenberg, Alyson Hannigan, and Adam Busch. Another lengthy collection of interviews is the 43 minute “Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Television with a Bite”, a TVography that aired on A&E. The overview covers Buffy’s origins as a movie, its incarnation as a TV show that the major networks resisted, its rise to popularity and critical reception, crafting a spinoff, and the business of network leaping. A fantastic addition that Buffy fans have been waiting for.
This penultimate season split the fans – some hated it, other loved it. I tend to fall into the latter – while not as intense as seasons 2, 3 and 5, this season takes the characters that we all know and love into darker corners. Given the level of talent in the Buffy-verse, this task was pulled off well. Also combined with the best behind the scenes features that a Buffy boxed set has ever offered, season six is a must own.
Special Features List
- Commentary by Marti Nixon and David Fury on ‘Bargaining’
- Commentary by writer/director Joss Whedon on ‘Once More, with Feeling’
- Commentary by Drew Z. Greenberg on ‘Smashed’
- Commentary by David Soloman and Rebecca Rand Kirshner on ‘Hell’s Bells’
- Commentary by Rick Rosenthal and Diego Gutierrez on ‘Normal Again’
- Commentary by James Contner and David Fury on ‘Grave’
- Behind-the-scenes featurettes
- Music videos: “I’ve got a Theory/Bunnies/We’re Together,” “I’ll Never Tell,” “Walk Through the Fire”
- Academy of Television Arts and Sciences panel discussion
- Interactive game trailer
- Easter eggs