Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
It's a sliding scale, you know. No matter how cool your week is, no matter how much fun stuff you get to do, there's always something you didn't get to do, someone you didn't get to meet, something you didn't get to see. Well, HERC's got me trumped this weekend with his hot little copy of the BUFFY season premiere, and I'm about thirty two shades of green with envy. I'm planning a commando raid on his homestead later this evening. If you don't hear from him again, it's because he made the mistake of not coughing it up. Anyway... here's the lucky bastid now.
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER 5.1 FAQ
THE BUFFY SEASON PREMIERE IS HERE ALREADY?
Already. “Buffy Vs. Dracula,” teleplay credited to Marti Noxon (her last was “New Moon Rising,” depicting the ill-timed return of Oz), airs Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. on the WB.
ANY SURPRISES IN THOSE SEASON PREMIERE CREDITS?
Nothing too unexpected. Emma Caulfield (Anya) has finally and deservedly been elevated to the title sequence. Marc Blucas (Riley) and James Marsters (Spike) have both retained the spots they garnered last year. Disappointingly, Amber Benson (Tara) is still relegated to the ranks of recurring player, as is Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers) and Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers).
DAWN SUMMERS? SO BUFFY’S KID SISTER, PLAYED BY TRACHTENBERG, MAKES HER DEBUT IN THIS EPISODE?
She does. This constitutes really big spoiler material, so look for details toward the end of this FAQ.
IS 5.1 GOOD?
Brilliant, actually. It is spectacularly funny, advances all kinds of plot threads, and gets season five off to roaring start. The episode teems with the three elements that make “Buffy” perhaps the most beguiling television show in production: left-field storytelling, incisive character development and, above all, inspired, intelligently-rendered comedy.
ANY MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS IN THE LIFE TRAJECTORIES OF THE REGULARS?
Yes. Near the start of the episode, Giles confides to Willow that he believes himself of no further use to Buffy, and that he has decided to return to England. But at episode’s end, Buffy – a bit rattled by her encounter with Dracula – realizes she still has severe limits, and asks Giles to resume his role as her watcher. (Willow’s anxiety at maintaining this secret is good for at least one big laugh.)
Oh yeah! Dracula keeps dropping hints about the Slayer’s “darkness,” and tellingly repeats First Slayer’s now-famous line from last season’s conclusion: “You think you know… what you are… what’s to come. You haven’t even begun.” And it sounds even better with a Romanian accent! Then Drac actually convinces Buffy to drink his blood after he’s sucked hers! (Drac insists, however, that it’s not ENOUGH blood to turn her into a vampire. In fact, she does remain rule-bendingly fang-free at episode’s end.) In any event, it continues to look like Buffy might herself somehow be part-demon. Could Tara know? Is this why Tara sabotaged Willow’s demon-finding spell last seaon?
WAIT A SECOND. IS IT REALLY DRACULA? OR SOMEBODY PRETENDING TO BE DRACULA? OR BUFFY HAVING A DREAM ABOUT DRACULA?
We know it’s Dracula because series elders Spike and Anya both know the guy -- but the plot twists get so crazy, you’ll begin to suspect it’s a dream. Why? For one thing, the new crime-fighting duo of Giles and Riley makes these observations as it stumbles upon Drac’s home-away-from-home):
RILEY: I’ve lived in Sunnydale a couple of years now. Know what I’ve never noticed before?
GILES (staring at the castle): The castle?
RILEY: The big honkin’ castle.
IS DRACULA NOW LIKE THE OTHER VAMPIRES IN THE BUFFYVERSE?
Decidedly not. Drac doesn’t have that handsome face/scary face thing that Spike, Angel and the others employ – he just always maintains a pretty-boy-with-fangs look Buffy’s not seen before. He can also turn into vapor, a bat and a wolf – but his best trick is his ability to hold people in his thrall – including Xander, who is quickly transformed into a Renfield-like double agent.
I HEARD ABOUT THE XANDER-AS-RENFIELD THING. DOES IT WORK?
Xander’s transformation – especially his newly-acquired fondness for insects – ranks as one of the funniest things depicted in the series. Funniest of all is Xander’s reaction once Dracula is “vanquished” and Xander finally snaps out of it. His lines at this point are so funny I dare not repeat them here.
WHAT’S DRAC DOING IN SUNNYDALE?
He’s hot for slayer.
WILL DRAC BE A REGULAR OR RECURRING MENACE NOW? OR DOES BUFFY ACTUALLY DESTROY THE MOST FAMOUS VAMPIRE EVER?
It’s fairly clear that, despite his crumbling to dust twice under Buffy’s stake, the door is open for Drac’s return. The main reason I suspect he won’t be this season’s main villain is the episode’s very on-the-nail title.
ANY OTHER REALLY FUNNY BITS YOU’D LIKE TO MENTION?
When Giles is captured by Drac’s super-sexy “three sisters,” he and Riley get to more-or-less re-enact the Castle Anthrax sequence from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” (Let’s go back and face the peril!) Also, the running gag about how completely helpless Buffy is in Drac’s thrall actually grows funnier the more she tries to steel herself against it.
OKAY, HOW IS DAWN INTRODUCED?
Following her vanquishment of Dracula, Buffy is back at Casa Summers. She calls to Joyce:
BUFFY: I’m outta here! Riley and I are going to the movies!
JOYCE: Okay, have a good time!
Buffy moves to her bedroom and finds a heretofore unseen teen going through some clothing.
BUFFY (angry): What are you doing here?
JOYCE (in another room) Buffy? If you’re going out, why don’t you take your sister?
BUFFY AND STRANGER (both apparently horrified at the suggestion): Mom!
Executive Producer Joss Whedon.
ANY INDICATION THAT DAWN EXISTS IN THE BUFFYVERSE PRIOR TO THIS SCENE?
None. A dinner scene early in the episode has place settings only for Buffy and Joyce. Commenting on Buffy’s return to UC Sunnydale for the fall semester, Joyce notes, “You know, I’m going to have to get used to this place without you again. It gets so quiet!”
YOUR RATING, HERC?
THE HERC RATING SYSTEM:
**** better than most motion pictures
*** actually worth your valuable time
** as horrible as most stuff on TV
* makes you quietly pray for bulletins
Defiance: not a good idea for you!