Monday, November 7, 2016

Buffy - "One More Time with Feeling" at 15 Years

It might be one of the best episodes of television ever - it was the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And, yesterday on November 6 was the fifteenth anniversary of a truly original and groundbreaking bit of television history. I recently learned of this milestone when it was posted and retweeted countless times by the Twitter handle Whedonesque. And, immediately upon learning of that, I had to check out YouTube for a few clips from the episode. Not surprisingly, they captivated me as the episode always does, for it is great drama with layers of meaning and some kick-ass music to boot. I simply can't believe Joss wrote it all - the man's talent knows no bounds.

"Once More, with Feeling" explores changes in the relationships of the main characters, using the plot device that a demon—credited as "Sweet" but unnamed in the episode—compels the people of Sunnydale to break into song at random moments to express hidden truths. The title of the episode comes from a line sung by Sweet; once the characters have revealed their truths and face the consequences of hearing each other's secrets, he challenges them to "say you're happy now, once more, with feeling". All of the regular cast performed their own vocals, although two actors were given minimal singing at their request. "Once More, with Feeling" is the most technically complex episode in the series, as extra voice and dance training for the cast was interspersed with the production of four other Buffy episodes. It was Joss Whedon's first attempt at writing music, and different styles—from 1950s sitcom theme music to rock opera—express the characters' secrets in specific ways. The episode was well received critically upon airing, specifically for containing the humor and wit to which fans had become accustomed. The musical format allowed characters to stay true to their natures while they struggled to overcome deceit and miscommunication, fitting with the sixth season's themes of growing up and facing adult responsibilities.[2][3] It is considered one of the most effective and popular episodes of the series, and—prior to a financial dispute in 2007—was shown in theaters with the audience invited to sing along.

I can also still remember the first few moments of the show when I first saw it - I was initially disappointed, thinking it was going to be a let down. I just wasn't in the mood for Joss playing with the standard format of the show - though I was always blown away when he did. I mean the "silent episode"? Wow, that was a piece of work. So, I watched the musical unfold, becoming more amazed with every song and twist in the plot. Who can forget Anya's hard rock rant against "Bunnies!" And that was balanced by the incredible poignance of the workout scene with Giles worried that he's "Standing in Your Way."

It's hard to believe that it's been fifteen years since the heyday of Buffy. I can't wait till this summer when my daughter turns twelve and we start her Buffy education. She hasn't watched the show other than the pilot and One More Time with Feeling. She is a dancer and theater girl, and the show was too amazing to hold back. So, we'll start with season one, but we'll both be looking forward to the musical.

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