Once More With Feeling (2001)

Before I start this review I feel like I owe an apology to Martha Brady, who donated to Joanna all the way back in 2015 and requested this review. And the truth is, I think I may have put this one off a little too long. I would have been a happier mouse if I had not lived to see the day when I posted that I was going to be reviewing Once More With Feeling, possibly the most beloved episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a significant number of readers had not responded with:

“Who’s that?”



No no no.

You bloody millenials with your avocado toast and your auto-tune and your trigger warnings GET OFF MY LAWN! HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW WHO BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER IS? WHAT YEAR IS THIS?! HOW OLD AM I?! WHO’S PRESIDENT NOW?!

Alright, sit your asses down while I explain some things to you. You like TV? Well, it used to be crap. And then Buffy the Vampire Slayer came along and now it’s good. That sounds like hyperbole but..it’s kinda…not? Buffy, a never hugely successful (in ratings at least) TV spin-off of a pretty terrible movie on an also-ran network with no name actors was an unlikely avatar of the current television Golden Age ™. But in terms of impact on how TV is made, written and discussed it’s probably one of the all time most influential shows. It inspired a generation of TV writers, begat a slew of imitators, began a slow and steady move towards female-led drama in network series, turned Joss Whedon into a bona fide geek God, birthed the “actually this is a real goddamn thing” academic field of “Buffy studies” and helped move nerd culture firmly into the mainstream. Apart from the Simpsons, it’s hard to think of a show that has had a bigger impact on how dialogue is written for TV, with the show’s snarky, pop-culture laden patois instantly setting it apart from the pack when it premiered. And it is responsible for a website so dear to my heart, with TV Tropes actually beginning its existence as a Buffy fansite. The premise is this: You know the blonde cheerleader who gets killed by the monster in every horror movie ever? Well, what if she was actually the latest in an ancient line of demon hunting warrior women? Buffy Summers, outwardly an ordinary if not particularly popular California high school student, battles the forces of evil in her home town of Sunnydale. She is aided by her mentor and “Watcher”, Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), sweet-natured nerd/witch Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brandon) whom Wikipedia describes as “a classmate of Buffy’s with no particular skills or abilities”. Which, firstly, harsh. Secondly, incorrect.

Because damn, that boy could smoulder.

In its early years, Buffys central gimmick was literalising the expression “high school is hell”, putting a supernatural spin on the trials and tortures of trying to get through your teenage education in one piece. The girl who nobody notices becomes literally invisible, a teacher who preys sexually on her students is actually a giant praying mantis, the foreign exchange student is actually an evil mummy instead of just an evil foreign exchange student. That kinda thing. As the series progressed it started delving deeper into Slayer lore and fleshing out its world to tell an epic tale of good versus evil. It also got increasingly experimental, with episodes with almost no dialogue, or music, or even basic narrative logic.

The Cheese Man was my favourite character. Mostly because of the cheese.

And undoubtedly the most ambitious episode the show ever did was Once More With Feeling, an extra-long episode that was a comedy horror…musical. Now, Buffy was not the first or last show to do a musical episode. Ally McBeal, The Cosby Show, Xena, hell, I Love Lucy did one all the way back in 1956. But they rarely go this “all in”. This is not simply an episode of a TV show where the characters sing a few songs, this is a fully scored musical with over a dozen original songs and fully choreographed dance numbers which the cast had to learn and rehearse while also making every other episode of the TV series. It was, by all accounts, an absolute ordeal. But did Whedon’s ambition overshoot his talent? Was this musical a Hamilton or a Spider-man: Turn off the Dark?

Let’s take a look.

“Oh yeah, Mouse is gonna take a look! At the sets and the costumes! The songs and the book!”

“And if he doesn’t like it then he’ll say “It sucks!”
‘Cos he’s the fuzziest, loviest critic in the whole wide…”

“What are you DOING?!”

“I thought we were doing a musical review? It’s my opening number!”

“No, I’m doing a review OF a musical, not a musical…how would that even work?! No one can hear you on a blog! It’s all text! That’s
a terrible idea!”

“I…I spent six months writing the score. Are you serious?”

“Yes! No singing!”

“Alright, but YOU have to tell Gangsta Asia his big dance number is cancelled.”

“Wow. He is in INCREDIBLE shape.”

So the episode begins with the usual “Previously on Buffy” montage and, since this episode took place in the middle of the sixth season of a twenty year old show that apparently none of you little zygotes even remember, I guess I have to do one too. So. *adopts sexy British accent* Previously on Buffy:

Buffy Summers was the Slayer and she died at the end of Season 5 saving her sister Dawn who wasn’t really her sister but actually an interdimensional key who’d been retconned into her life by a group of magic monks (yeah, Season 5 was…yeah) but Buffy’s friends weren’t happy about that and so they used magic to bring her back to life but ever since she’s been back she’s been listless and depressed because what Buffy’s friends don’t know is that she was actually in heaven and the only one she’s told is her former arch-enemy the vampire Spike who’s had a chip put in his brain that means he can only harm other demons and not human beings and while all that’s going on Dawn has been feeling neglected and has been acting out by shop lifting from the magic shop which Giles has been running ever since he lost his job as a librarian when the local high school was destroyed by a giant snake back in season three (Season 3 was the shit, yo) all while Willow and her girlfriend Tara are having domestic troubles  because of her continued overuse of magic and Xander is getting ready to marry Anya, his girlfriend who used to be a demon but now is not. Meanwhile, the Dowager Countess is concerned that the lack of a male heir and the moral laxity of the modern era will lead the Grantham Estate to ruin.

“I am MOST concerned.”

 Got all that? Good, cos we ain’t stoppin’. The episode begins with a brief musical overture of all the characters going about their daily doings before we see Buffy on patrol in a graveyard and we get our first song; Going Through the Motions. Now, if we’re being honest, Joss Whedon is an excellent writer but only an average-to-good song-writer and this is not even his best musical.


There ya go.

But Going Through The Motions is definitely one of the stronger ones and a good choice as an opener. Sarah Michelle Gellar, despite being terrified of singing all through the rehearsal process, acquits herself perfectly well and it never fails to get a chuckle from me when the vampires join in (“She does very well/With fiends from hell/But lately we can tell”). The point is clear, Buffy can still slay vampires and save beautiful blonde himbos in distress but her heart’s just not it in. After she slays the last vampire she belts that she just wants to be “alive”.

The next day Buffy shows up at the magic shop and asks the rest of the Scooby Gang if they happened to just burst into spontaneous song as you do. Oh, the “Scooby Gang” or “The Scoobies” is what Buffy and her fellow monster fighters call themselves and even as a kid I was conflicted about following the adventures of characters with such appallingly bad taste in cartoons.

Everyone starts excitedly recalling the songs they sang and Giles asks Buffy what she sung about and Buffy says she doesn’t remember.  This leads us into I’ve Got A Theory where each member of the gang spitballs what might be behind the genre shift. Giles thinks it’s a demon, Willow thinks that they might be trapped in somebody’s dream, Xander suggests that it’s some evil witches and then immediately retracts that when Willow and Tara glare at him because obviously the idea of a witch being evil is just ridiculous

Fifteen episodes later.

…Anya thinks it’s some evil bunnies because she’s terrified of rabbits and actually switches the song to a hard rock anthem to get her point across. The whole thing about Anya being afraid of rabbits was just a random joke that snow-balled into one of her defining character traits and never explained in the show. But I think it’s obvious why she’s scared of rabbits when you remember that Anya was born in medieval Europe.

Buffy’s theory is that fuck it, who cares, they’ll deal with it whatever it is, or maybe die, who gives a shit anyway? Besides, she’s already died and come back to life.

“Pff, who hasn’t ?”

“She’s done it TWICE.”

“Well, damn.”

When the song’s over, Buffy asks Giles what he thinks is causing it and he says he thought she didn’t care and Buffy replies “Well, I’m not exactly quaking in my stylish yet affordable boots, but there’s definitely something unnatural going on here and that doesn’t usually lead to hugs and puppies.”

“And the award, for most over-written line of dialogue goes to…”
“So exciting!”

Tara and Willow suggest going back to their place and checking on the “volume, the text” and Giles says “What text?” and Willow says “the volumey text” and Giles is all “Fuck this, I’m done, I’m going back to the UK where people don’t torture English to death on an hourly basis”. Anyway,  Willow and Tara actually just want to cut out so they can wander in the park and be disgustingly adorable. This leads us to I’m Under Your Spell, a sappy Disney Princess style ballad where Tara serenades Willow and tells her how much she loves her.  The problem is that love songs are almost always duets. Amber Benson, who played Tara, actually sang in a band and has a very good singing voice. But Alysson Hannigan, who plays Willow, had very little confidence in her singing voice and specifically asked to be given as few lines as possible. The result is that you have a long song where one of the lovers is singing their heart out to the other who’s just looking at her silently as if to say “Oh. That’s nice.” It’s a little off-putting. Anyway, they arrive home and tumble into bed and Tara starts levitating while she sings.

Either that’s magic, or Willow has a tongue like a forklift.

Back at the magic shop, Dawn has arrived back from school (ugh, Dawn) and when she finds out that they’re trying to stop the musical she’s all “Music and dancing, what’s the harm in that?”. Dawn, it should not surprise you to know, is wrong. We cut to a darkened alley way where an anonymous business man is tap-dancing like a banker in front of a tribunal while a shadowy figure watches. The business man dances faster and faster until finally he bursts into flames and keels over dead. And the shadowy figure simply says “Now that’s entertainment.”

The next day, Xander and Anya wake up and start singing I’ll Never Tell, a comedic little ditty where they sing to each other about all the little secrets that they’ll never…tell…each other. Whoops. This song is honestly pretty great. Comedic songs need witty wordplay but not necessarily big, epic, music which puts this kind of song right in Joss Whedon’s comfort zone. Plus, all the props in the world for rhyming “she eats these skeezy cheeses that I can’t describe” with “his penis got diseases from the Chumash tribe”. That is the rhyming equivalent of bagging womp rats in Beggar’s canyon, back home.

Later, Xander and Anya walk with Giles through Sunnydale. Xander is upset because of the terrifying implications of having your deepest darkest secrets blurted out against your will and Anya is upset because their song was a retro pastiche that’ll never be a breakaway pop hit (hey, priorities).

“Mouse? The diva wishes to speak to you.”

“The WHO?!”




Deep breath, deep breath, kill Latin America later okay I’m good.

Giles tells them that charred bodies have started to show up and that it could be linked to the singing and dancing. He tells them that Buffy’s doing her usual thing of punching demons in the stomach until somebody pukes some exposition but he can tell that her heart’s just not in it anymore and he’s getting increasingly worried about her.  Xander says that it’s not surprising that she’s kinda been spaced out since they pulled her out of an evil hell dimension. Yeah, this always struck me as weird. The Scoobies just assumed that Buffy was in Hell, it was one of the reasons they raised her again. But…why? That’s kinda insulting to Buffy, isn’t it? “Remember Buffy? Wow, such a great friend. Tireless defender of the innocent. Gave her life to save the entire world. Almost certainly burning in the fires of hell.” Who are these guys, the Westboro Baptist Church?

Later that night Buffy visits Spike…

Settle down, settle down.

Seriously, what is wrong with you? You shouldn’t find Spike sexy. He’s a sociopathic, mass-murdering, abusive…I’m just just kidding oh my God he is so dreamy let’s look at pictures of him with his shirt off.

“Hey girl.”

So Buffy, despite being someone who usually stakes vampires with long hard pieces of wood, was not entirely adverse to a bit of role reversal every now and then. Much of the first three seasons was built around her relationship with Angel (David Boreanaz) a brooding, soulful creature of the night struggling to atone for his past sins who’d go evil if you so much as touched his peepee. And honestly, I could write a paper on how much the first few seasons of Buffy read like an incisive deconstruction of Twilight. It really is like someone took Twilight and worked methodically to fix every one of its problems despite the fact that it only came out nearly ten years after Buffy. Sometimes I think Joss Whedon has access to a time machine, read Twilight in 2005 and then sent the scripts for Buffy into the past like a frickin’ Terminator.

Spike, on the other hand, was a Sid Vicious-esque bad boy who was introduced as the main villain of Season 2 and was such a hit with the fans that, instead of killing him off  the writers kept him around, first as a recurring villain before finally integrating him into the main cast as a reluctant ally/hate-bonker for Buffy. Now at around this point Spike has actually fallen in love with Buffy and has confessed this to her but she’s only into guys who’ve murdered hundreds of people but feel really bad about it. Spike curtly tells Buffy that he doesn’t know anything about the…okay, I gotta come up with a word for what’s happening here. The Musicalysm? Meh, it’ll do. Anyway, he tells her to leave and she notices that’s something’s up. Suddenly he launches into Rest in Peace, a growling rock song where Spike tells Buffy to either love him or leave him the hell alone. Marsters really sells this song, his voice isn’t phenomenal or anything but he’s got so much charisma that it really doesn’t matter. He follows Buffy through the graveyard, singing all the time and then attacking a funeral.

You know. One of those night time funerals. That people have.

Back at Buffy’s house Tara tells Dawn that Giles has discovered the cause of the Musicalysm.

“A demon, some kind of evil Lord of the Dance.”


“Not the scary one. Just a demon.”

“Oh thank God.”

Tara says that Willow’s on the case and she’ll find a way to reverse it. Dawn says that she’s glad that Tara and Willow have made up and Tara has no idea what she’s talking about because, oh yeah, Willow has been wiping her memory with magic every time they have a fight. Yeesh that’s creepy.

“Pff. Just get ’em drunk. That’s what I do. Or I would. If we ever fought. Which of course we never do.”

“Of course not. Wait…”

Tara remembers a flower that she found under her pillow that morning and rushes off the magic shop. Alone in the house, Dawn takes a pendant that she stole from the magic shop and wears it while singing Dawn’s Lament, a sad…lament about how no one notices her that gets abruptly cut short when she’s kidnapped by a trio of weird ventriloquist looking guys. They take her to one of the abandoned warehouses that make up around ninety percent of all property in Sunnydale (recession hit this place hard). And Dawn finds herself face to face with Sweet, (Hinton Battle, best name ever). Sweet performs What You Feel, a smoky jazz number complete with tap-dancing. Unlike the rest of the cast, Hinton Battle is an actual, bone-fide Broadway star and God damn it shows. Like, you watch the other actors singing and dancing and you might think “Huh, they’re pretty good.” and then Battle shows up and is all “Nah, sit down son.” The guy moves like a puma who spent five years at Julliard. He is effortlessly cool.

That wasn’t even a special effect. He can just DO that.

Sweet explains that he was summoned by the amulet that Dawn stole so now she has to come back with with him to his kingdom to be his queen. Dawn is all “um, I’m fifteen, and this ain’t Texas” and tells him that her sister is the Slayer. Now, Sweet has always wanted to see a Slayer dance until she bursts into flames (ah, the old bucket list classic) so he tells his henchmen to tell Buffy what’s the haps.

Back at the magic shop Buffy trains while Giles sings Wish I Could Stay, where Anthony Stewart Head soulfully croons that he’s taught Buffy everything he can and now he has to leave because he’s holding her back from achieving her full potential. Oh, and he takes his glasses off.

Settle down, settle down.

While that’s going on, Tara researches the flower in the magic shop and finally knows for certain that Willow has been manipulating her memory. She launches into a sad reprise of I’m Under Your Spell (ohhhhhhhhhh I geddit) which dovetails beautifully into Wish I could Stay, where Giles comes out and he and Tara watch Buffy and Willow from a distance, the two that they love but must leave. Of the regular cast, Head and Shoulders are head and benson… 


Of the regular cast, Head and Benson are head and shoulders above the rest in terms of singing ability and this is the one moment in the whole episode that actually hits with the emotional punch that all great musicals need. The rest of the songs can be witty and funny and clever or even catchy but here Whedon actually hits something epic and moving.

Spike pops in with a captured puppet minion who tells Buffy that Sweet has Dawn. Buffy doesn’t even seem that upset and Giles has finally had enough. He tells Buffy that she has to save Dawn alone and that this time, her friends can’t help her. Spike says that’s stupid and tells Buffy he’ll come with her but his constant bitching about being nemesis-zoned is starting to grate on her so she tells him to screw off. Buffy heads into the night alone to save Dawn, and this takes us to Walk Through the Fire, our big ensemble show stopper.

While Buffy sings about feeling numb and dead inside ever since her resurrection, Giles worries that he’s putting Dawn in danger just on the slim hope that Buffy will snap out her funk. And then he realises that, holy shit, that’s exactly what he’s doing and he and the Scoobies head out after her, along with Spike who just can’t stay away.

Buffy arrives at the warehouse and confronts Sweet, telling him that if she can’t kill him, she’ll go to hell with him in Dawn’s place. Sweet asks “What if I kill you?” and Buffy replies “Trust me, won’t help.”

She then sings Give Me Something To Sing About, a deceptively poppy little number concealing a core of pure, black misery. And I feel like Sarah Michelle Gellar does not get enough props as an actor because the sheer, breaking-point, thousand-yard stare despair she unleashes here is kind of terrifying.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer started out as a metaphor for high school life, and then college life before finally becoming about the horrors of young adulthood. Losing your parents. Drifting away from your friends. Financial instability. Low paying service jobs. And of course, this: Once More With Feeling is that most unintuitive of things, a musical about depression. Buffy is alive but feels dead and apathetic, like there’s something wrong with her. She struggles to muster enthusiasm for her old routine, for friends, for family. And all the while, everyone is telling her to be happy. To smile. To dance. To sing. Depression is like being trapped in a musical against your will. And all Buffy can say is “Then give me something to sing about.”

As her friends arrive to help Buffy reveals the truth that she’s been concealing this whole time. They pulled her out of heaven. She was happier, and more at peace than she ever believed possible, and they took that away from her. And she is broken.

I know I’ve been kind of dismissive of the music so let me give Whedon some credit here, he does something very effective here. The words “heaven” and “living” are deliberately sung out of tune, conveying the queasy wrongness of Buffy’s situation. She’s out of tune with the world around her, unable to harmonise. Buffy starts dancing furiously, trying to burn herself up but Spike catches her and tells her that she has to keep on living. And Buffy stops.

Sweet announces that it’s time for him to head off with his new bride but Dawn insists she never summoned him. Giles says that since the amulet was from the magic shop one of them had to have summoned Sweet.

Oh Xander, you loveable goof. Many, many people are dead.

Xander says that he just thought the spell would just be a bit of harmless fun (WHEN HAS THAT EVER, EVER, EVER HAPPENED) and nervously asks Sweet if that means he has to be his bride.

Sweet’s a hard pass.

Meh. More for the rest of us.

Sweet vanishes in a puff of awesome and the gang sings Where do We Go From Here?, a bitter sweet number where they ask where they go from…you’re all smart, I’m sure you can figure it out. After botching the choreography Spike leaves in disgust and Buffy runs after him. He tells her to go back to her friends and she says she don’t wanna. Then she sings Walk Through the Fire at him, he sings  Let Me Rest In Peace at her and then they just start eating each other’s faces.

Nom nom nom nom nom…


Once More With Feeling presents a diffcult challenge to the reviewer. Do I judge it as a musical, in which case it’s just fine? Or do I judge it as a musical written by a first-time writer starring mostly untrained singers and dancers done on a TV show budget in between four other episodes of that TV show in which case it’s a goddamn masterpiece? In the end, I have to say…


“Latin America? What’s wrong?”

“Well, its just…since you started doing the Marvel reviews you haven’t really used me and the other maps that much.”

“I wrote all these songs because I…I dunno, I just thought it would be a fun thing for us all to do together.”


“Get the others.”

“You mean?!”

“Hit it! One! Two! Three!”

NEXT UPDATE: 20th July 2017

NEXT TIME: I respect a man who drives a hard bargain.

(Huge thanks to my awesomely talented brother Dónal Sharpson for help with the song and for voicing Sarcastic Map of Europe. Check out the rest of his music here.)



  1. Thanks for the review! But, while I acknowledge all the good things that resulted from the existence of Buffy (especially tvtropes 😉) I still have no interest in the show itself. Sorry. 😛

  2. I actually loved this episode. Got the soundtrack and listen to it all the time.

    For the record, Xander got STD’s from a demon summoned by the Chumash tribe and was spreading around what the Chumash tribe was forced to go through by their White oppressors.

    Also, Joss Whedon and this episode are historically underrated IMO. There’s nothing that doesn’t pop out at you when you see the full episode and not the one that was cut for time and shown on TV. Also, somewhere, I still have Anthony Stewart Head singing Behind Blue Eyes, and his little dream sequence song where he got up on stage at the Bronze and sang a little pop number.

    And no love for the reprise of Once more with Feeling? That was Sweet’s best number!

  3. Hey, I’m a millenial who loves Buffy. I discovered it about ten years after it aired on TV but I was obsessed with it when I was 16. I did love Charmed more though hehe

    I totally agree about Sarah Michelle Gellar. For some reason she has always been lumped in with the ‘bad’ actors in blockbusters and the like. But she is so good on Buffy and she is one of the strongest members of the cast.

  4. I really need to watch Buffy at some point. Been on my list of “to watch” shows for ages.\

    Nice work on the song by you and your brother.

  5. I love Buffy! Not a millenial but hearing that millenials are like “Wha what’s this” is so depressing.

    I actually have a theory about why the Scoobies think Buffy was in a hell dimension. I never thought they actually thought that, but it was their denial talking. They probably knew she was in Heaven, but just missed her so much and wanted her back (plus fighting demons without her was a pain) they told themselves she was in a hell dimension so they could justify bringing her back. Just my fan theory, though XD

    Love the songs in this. Didn’t appreciate Under your spell until I was older, but my favorite line from this entire thing, and one I use in life to get me through it is at the end of Give me something to sing about:
    “Life’s not a song. Life isn’t bliss, life is just this, it’s living. You’ve got to keep on living”

    Punches me in the feels, every time.

  6. Millenial here who loves the show but hasn’t been able to make it to this episode (I’m about three out) because this season is just so emotionally draining. Must find strength to push through especially after reading this.
    Also damn, nice closing number. A real pleasant surprise.

  7. I…think I’m a millennial? Pew Research Center says born after 1980, and I was born in 84, so I guess I’m just an older millennial. Certainly not Gen X.

    Buffy came to prominence when I was in high school, so I watched it all the time. I had kind of stopped by the time this episode came out, but when I heard about it I needed to see it. It did not disappoint, one of my favorite television experiences ever.

    That song was amazing, Mouse. You and your brother did a fantastic job.

  8. I am an odd duck in that I kind of did watch Buffy, but I never really was a big fan of it…it was more something fun to see once in a while and I always was delighted when I stumbled over one of those experimental episodes. But I adore Once more with Feeling! I even have if on DVD. Thus said, I also kind of hate it, because since that episode everyone and their dog seems to decide that they really, really want a musical episode, and most of them are pretty bad (at least in the live action shows, animated shows have more options to cheat) and not just because most of them are unable to work around the limitations of the cast when it comes to singing and dancing. The real problem is that most of those episodes are specials, with next to no actual impact. Once more with feeling wasn’t just an interesting idea, it was also a pivotal episode, which put all the characters in it at a different place than they were beforehand (well, except Dawn). Also they managed to find a good reason why there is singing in the show. I think the only other musical episode I like just as much is “fanfiction” in Supernatural, which is a nice love-letter to the fandom (and also solves the whole “cast can’t sing and dance….though in this case at least one of the leads is actually able to do both pretty well…problem” by letting people who were actually cast for the job doing the singing parts).

  9. (to the tune of Hunters and Collectors’ ‘Holy Grail’)

    (Do-do-do-do-do-do, do, do, do-do-do!
    Do-do-do-do-do-do, do, do, do!)

    Opened my inbox to see what was new.
    A talented mammal had just posted a review:
    a supernatural musical as critiqued
    by the Unshaved Mouse.

    (Dun dun! Dududun! Dun dun! Dududun!)

    Browsed for jokes from the rodent so fluffy
    because I was, like, eight when they finished making ‘Buffy’
    and television was pretty much banned
    for kids in our house.

    (Dun dun! Dududun! Dun dun! Dududun!)

    (belting off-key)
    I often get the feeling! I should watch more TV!
    When he called his readers embryos! It sure applied to me!
    But the Sharpsons have nice pipes!
    And the review! Was totally grouse*!

    Oh I…
    I’ll be waiting for the next blog
    with the Mouse or a guest or the Frog
    wanna see weird racist cartoons
    from when people called each other – er, baboons

    (That other word’s taboo-ns)

    (Do-do-do-do-do-do, do, do, do-do-do!
    Do-do-do-do-do-do, do, do, do!)

    *dated slang for ‘great’

  10. Great review and cool song at the end. I never knew you could sing!

    First time commenter. Had Buffy resorted to meaningless loathe-bonking with Spike by this episode? I’m fairly sure their kiss at the end was the precursor to the bonking.

    One of my favourite episodes by far.

  11. First I must defend my honor by pointing out that I have watched every episode of Buffy. I annoyed the hell out of my friends by constantly talking about Sarah Michelle Geller’s acting in one scene in season 2.

    Now that my honor has been satisfied, I know it’s a nice joke about looking out for powercords but I would have loved a Joe Espositoesque training montage in this episode. This is really the only high point to a pretty bad season.

    Also, nice job with the scoring song.

      1. If it’s not obvious spoilers.

        When she confronts Angel after they have sex and she doesn’t know he’s Angelous.

  12. “You bloody millenials with your avocado toast and your auto-tune and your trigger warnings GET OFF MY LAWN! HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW WHO BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER IS?”

    . . . but . . . but Mouse . . . aren’t YOU a Millennial too? *lightening flash, dramatic music*

    On a serious note, reviewing the musical episode in the form of a musical — even if it was just the scores (heh, scores. Musical joke!) and some comedic interjections — was a stroke of genius. Also, was that you singing? Well done!

    Fun fact: my university did a student-run stage production of this episode because it was the director was a grad student and he decided he wanted his thesis project to be about BtVS. I missed auditions but I got to be part of the crew and the “Grr,Argh!” monster during the curtain call. (We even had a “commercial break” intermission and a “previously on” intro.)

    1. My wife and I bicker about this endlessly. I contend that I’m a very, very young Gen X-er. I do sing! Sometimes I even sing songs that are in my range! My drama society also did a production (complete with “previously on Buffy”). I auditioned for Sweet. Didn’t get it. Guy who did is now a big TV star. It’s fine.

  13. “and Xander Harris (Nicholas Brandon) whom Wikipedia describes as “a classmate of Buffy’s with no particular skills or abilities”. Which, firstly, harsh. Secondly, incorrect.

    Because damn, that boy could smoulder.”

    I guess I’m in the minority but I always found Xander super slimy. He was like a proto Nice Guy before they became a thing. Always oozing all over Buffy and other girls that clearly weren’t interested. Euurghsfggh.

  14. I recall watching the odd episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER on BBC2 in the early evenings of my youth – the season or seasons when Ms. Summers was working for The Initiative, I think – although one must admit that I preferred STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE then and probably still do, if truth be told.

    While I actually took a bit of an interest in the Universe (read through a few licensed novels and RPG sourcebooks) one suspects that at the time I was just too young to take a devoted interest in all those Scooby Gang shenanigans and later, when I’d entered the right age bracket for the show, one had already decided that I freaking HATED Supernatural Romance (especially when “Sexy Vampires” were involved) so that rather killed any prospect of enduring affection for the programme.

    One might as well blame an early exposure to the work of Mr Ray Harryhausen, as well as DRAGONHEART and WALKING WITH DINOSAURS: when it comes to Monsters I like mine bestial, prehistoric and preferably wrapped up in some sort of Classical/Mythological Epic! (not to mention utterly bereft of angst; one much prefers pathos).

    I also freely confess to being one of those rare nerds who remain quite indifferent to FIREFLY, mostly because Captain Reynolds struck me right off as being one Battle Flag away from screaming “The South will rise again!” and I have no discernible Confederate sympathies: SERENITY did a lot to counter that unfavourable first impression, but in all honesty I prefer STAR TREK ENTERPRISE to the ‘Verse.

    No, don’t laugh, I’m being quite serious – now look, please don’t fret yourself and please do stop pointing that Warhead at me, I’m not saying the series is objectively superior to Mr Whedon’s cult classic only that one likes it rather better for reasons which remain somewhat mysterious even to myself (oh wait, it might be that episode with Time Travelling Alien Nazis … or the one with the Wild West planet … “A night in sickbay” … or just possibly T’Pol, I’m not a shambling mass of tea leaves moulded into the form of a man you know).

    That being said AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (I am so very British that one must yield precedence to the various partners in crime-fighting of Mr Steed and the man himself) is the gift that keeps on giving: it continues to delight me quite as much now as it did when first released and long may that giddy thrill continue to fire my enthusiasm!

    By the way Mouse, one really is looking forward to your review of “How Doctor House became Doctor Who” (especially as this offers a chance to see how your impression of my favourite recent Marvel flick compares with that of the lost, lamented Finbar the Frog): please imagine me drawing up a tie-dyed bean bag and brewing up a pot of green tea while I await further developments! (By the way, Best Wishes to the Lady of the Mouse, to the Daughter of the Mouse and to your own hairy self).

  15. I’ve always pondered the idea of watching this show, but then I would find something else and forget about it. But I think this review has finally convinced me to give it a shot. Thank you Mouse.

  16. Being the devoted Marvel Fan that you are, Master Mouse, I suspect you will either have seen SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING already or readying yourself to take a trip to a certain Friendly Neighbourhood – even so I would like to add my voice to the chorus crying “GOOD THINGS! Very Good Things!” (and would also like to add that, yes, the kid is almost certainly the Best Spider-Man already and fit to hold up more than one movie all on his own).

    Honestly, I just hope that Wonder Woman and the Wall-Crawler haven’t hoovered up all the annual Awesome-sauce allowance between them: even if RAGNAROK and JUSTICE LEAGUE are almost as goods their predecessors then 2017 might just be the Annus Mirabilis of the Superhero Genre.

    1. “even if RAGNAROK and JUSTICE LEAGUE are merely almost as good as…” that should have read, please pardon my poor editing.

  17. If it makes you feel any better, Mouse, I recognized Buffy from the image at the end of your last review, though I was only about 51% sure which episode it was until you confirmed my guess. I didn’t know about the show when it was on (I think I was too young for most of it’s run anyway) but my Mom watched both this show and “Angel” when they were on and then introduced me to “Buffy” when I was just about to enter high school. (She was much older than the target Dem when she watched. This isn’t an attempt to make you feel old, I swear!).

    Funny story, I’m pretty sure I saw a video of Whedon talking about “Twilight” and he actually seemed to like it. He did insist that Angel could beat up Edward, though. Did you see the YouTube video that combined footage from the “Twilight” films with footage from “Buffy” to create a story about Edward stalking Buffy until she kills him? It’s pretty funny in my opinion!

      1. By the way, when did SMOWE die? I don’t remember that. Also, that song at the end was fun! If you ever were to do a review with a bunch of musical numbers, I’d totally support that!

      2. Oh, there’s two more questions I meant to ask you. First, in one of your previous Marvel reviews (I want to say “Civil War”? I think it was “Civil War”) you indicated that Howard Start took the super soldier serum with him during the road trip where he died, but I’m not clear on why we should think that’s the case. Is there something I’m missing that suggests he had to have it with him on the trip?

        Also, even though I enjoyed the song, I couldn’t quite make out what that first category was that you gave an 11. What were the words right before you sang the title of the episode (I heard something, something, something, “Once More With Feeling, as visuals go it’s quite appealing”). Was it a rating for the camera work or something?

  18. One thing about the final Buffy/Spike Duet (called “Coda”) that always struck me is how badly the two songs mesh together – or, more accurately, don’t mesh together. And I’m 100% sure that’s deliberate, to mirror how bad Buffy and Spike are for each other.

    This was actually the first-ever episode of Buffy I’d ever seen, so I didn’t get a lot of the references at the time. My friends were big fans, so they tried to get me into it, and … yeah, it worked, though I still haven’t seen most of Season 1 or 2. While I didn’t get the references, I did immediately get the soundtrack. (And “What You Feel” was one of the first entries in my ever-growing Villain Song playlist) So this episode remains a nostalgic favorite of mine.

    So, any plans to review the musical episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, “Mayhem of the Music Meister!”? (Kidding, kidding! … unless you want to do it. The music isn’t that great but it has Neil Patrick Harris as the title villain)

  19. Yeah, count me in the too-young-to-really-know-Buffy camp. Like, I know of her, and know Buffy was a beloved Whedon show, but apart from that? Dunno. I definitely respect it more, knowing that it’s responsible for TV Tropes’s creation. Also, wow, a guy with smoulder powers way before Dr. Bravestone. Yeah, I think I’m starting to realize just how long I’ve been gone here…

    Hmmm, I guess I was wrong – I remember that bedroom scene with Willow and Tara from an article talking about the history of workings around TV censorship. That’s a bit of a hard scene to forget, really. Speaking of sex, that bit about Buffy and Spike was just priceless. Don’t ever change, Mouse. Also, great job explaining what makes this episode work.

  20. Wait, a sister who was actually retconned into someone’s family by some overlords? I’m getting deja-vu here. I wonder if you’ve been watching this when you were writing that one scene of The Hangman’s Daughter. Actually, scratch that, there’s no way Coraline wasn’t the last thing you saw when you wrote that. And because my main exposure to Sarah Michelle Gellar was the Scooby Doo live action movies, I can’t find it anything but appropriate that her character named herself and her friends after the cast of that series. Yeah, clearly, I’m an uncultured child-swine, I am so sorry. In any case, gotta love how Europe remembers dying. That must really be harsh. And hey! Don’t you kill South America! My mother’s homeland is on her, you wicked glire, you! And of course it’s a ‘her’, wasn’t she Dark Knight Africa’s ex-damsel?

    The very first musical episode of a series I recall is when Even Stevens did it. I’m not sure if it was as ambitious as this one, but I remember it being pretty funny, with some kind of catchy songs. Too bad the musical review was cancelled, that’d have been hilarious. Love all the maps preparing to burst into dance and song.

    ….Wait, you actually did it? Wow, this blog’s cooler than I thought! Again, don’t ever change.

  21. When you first posted this I wasn’t in the right mindset to talk about Buffy, If I had commented then I’d have probably said “I used to call it the greatest TV show of all time but now I realize it wasn’t that special”. But not in early 2019 I’ve been on a Buffy kick.

    It still has been dethroned as my favorite show by PLL, and I still say it’s not as innovative as people make it out to be when you remember Xena and all the Anime with female heroes the 90s had. But the show is still important to making my who I am, and Dawn is still one of my favorite characters.

    This show was never meant to be in a Christina cosmology, frankly I always took it as them assuming this was like the ancient Greek view where there only was Hells and no Heaven.

    It annoys me a bit that we can’t about anything Vampire related without generic Twilight hate coming up, I was hoping Lindsay Ellis’s video would have killed all that. Nothing would be more uninteresting to me then an “incisive deconstruction of Twilight”. And really intentionally or not this show almost always punished Buffy for having Sex, so the Mormon writers winds up looking less puritanical the Atheist wanna be Feminist.

  22. Having watched ONCE MORE WITH FEELING last night – and been lucky enough to enjoy a BtVS retrospective courtesy of E4 – I can only count myself lucky that there’s enough of language left to me after eating my words to allow me to say how much I’ve enjoyed the show as a whole and this episode.

    I still freaking HATE Vampires (sexy or otherwise) but thankfully so does this show … most of the time.

    1. Some of you may be moved to ask “What about Angel? What about Spike?” to which I can only reply “Well if the show doesn’t hate those two then why do they suffer so?” (oh wait, Whedon).

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