After seven seasons of vampire slaying, “Buffy” came to a bittersweet ending in 2003. Though the series still maintained its creative edge, signs of decay were beginning to show. The critically lauded and fanatically beloved cult series’ last season arrives on DVD, enabling fans to relive the slayer’s final apocalypse-averting battle.
Those not in the cult often have difficulty understanding how a seemingly inane concept could correlate to such brilliant television. “Season 7” demonstrates the series’ unique abilities of combining genres, creating suspense and most of all, providing compelling, three-dimensional characters. Fans of the series are provided with a season-long story arc that wraps up lingering plot threads, reunites old favorites — including Angel (David Boreanaz) — and provides plenty of action and drama. Season six was heralded by many as disturbingly dark for Buffy and her friends. From murder and rape to fear and loneliness, season six tackled the more morose topics of life. In response, the last season attempts to bring back a lot of the levity that was lost, yet it still maintains plenty of melancholy throughout.
The big bad, the archnemesis for season seven, also appears to be a response to the poorly received nerd trio of season six. The First Evil looms over Sunnydale, threatening the end of the world. To best preserve the continued existence of humanity, Buffy enlists the help of the potential slayers, young girls who may or may not be the next chosen one when Buffy dies. While the arrival of a number of new characters helps breathe some life into the status quo, they more often than not are mundane and whiny, detracting from the core group of characters that the audience holds dear. Not all of the new editions to the cast are drab holdovers from season six. Andrew (Tom Lenk), one of the villainous nerds, adds some much-needed comic relief to the mix, especially since Xander (Nicholas Brendan) and Anya (Emma Caulfield) take secondary roles in the final episodes.
Season seven is not “Buffy’s” best, but it’s far from its worst. Continuing its strong cinematic aesthetic and keeping abreast with the pop culture laden dialogue, the series shows little signs of decline. The final battle is appropriately epic and there are even a few unexpected casualties along the way.
As far as the DVD goes, the picture and sound remain as solid as the previous releases. Though filmed in widescreen, creator Joss Whedon prefers to air the fullscreen versions of the episodes. The picture doesn’t suffer and receives a beautiful transfer. The sound is similarly clear and sharp.
The “Buffy” discs feel like a well- oiled machine. Fans will already be well aware that there is one commentary track per disc as well as assorted featurettes on the season and actors. It would have been nice for 20th Century Fox to add something extra for the final set, but it is still a sufficient amount for a TV on DVD release.
“Buffy: Season 7” is a fitting conclusion to a seminal series. While the final stake may have been plunged into the heart of the series, there is still the hope that the Buffyverse will go on. Few series dared to create a world as vivid and deep as “Buffy,” and the final season ties together most of the loose ends.
Show: 4/5 stars
Picture/Sound: 4/5 stars
Features: 3.5/5 stars