Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 5, Episode 1: Buffy vs. DraculaWritten by Marti Noxon; Directed by David Solomon
Buffy's fifth season begins, and for the first time the season premiere is not written by Joss Whedon (I'm not entirely sure why - he didn't write the Angel premiere either that year). A lot of people tend to be down on the episode for that reason, and also because of the flippant way in which it uses the character of Dracula, but I don't think it's really all that bad. Yes, it's by far the weakest season premiere since Season 1, but it has its merits. Chiefly, it provides a dry run for the issues Buffy will face throughout the season as she connects with the dark nature of being a Slayer, and, while the portrayal of Dracula does have the ripe smell of Stilton about it, I have to give those concerned credit for going for something other than the usual Christopher Lee-inspired portrayal. I also like how Dracula repeats the "You think you know what is to come?" speech spoken by Tara in Buffy's dream in Restless: it connects that episode to this one very nicely. Some nice stunt work too, with a change in style - Sophia Crawford, the original Buffy stunt double, and her stunt coordinator husband Jeff Pruitt, having been fired after Season 4, a feat apparently engineered by Sarah Michelle Gellar, whose diva nature was at this point beginning to grow.
Otherwise, it all feels a little light and silly. It lays the groundwork for what's to come well enough, but it doesn't go very far and feels remarkably insubstantial for a season premiere. Still, the final scene does herald a major surprise, which I'll discuss when I review the next episode.
Overall rating: 7/10.
Next time: Real Me.