Sunday, Bloody Sunday
Almost three academic years
back, a young demon destroyer named Buffy Summers enrolled at a Sunnydale
educational facility. We watched her adjust awkwardly, make tentative friends
and (naturally) battle the local vampires.
Cleverly, Season Fours
opener, The Freshman, recycles this set-up very adroitly as Buffy,
Willow and Oz join Sunnydales University college. Of the three,
Buffys clearly the most unsettled by the new surroundings. But the gang
as freshmen are much increased in confidence, maturity and sexual awareness
ditto Xander, when he reappears.
Surprisingly, after the public
displays and recognition that rounded off Buffys school years, the former
Class Protectors initial obstacles at UC Sunny D are purely
social and educational: a dearth of friends, some harsh, humiliating teaching
staff and, off-campus, Giless flourishing personal life.
Giles, Willow, Joyce Summers:
they all have such confidence in this more adult Buffy that when danger rears
its sharp-toothed head, theyre out of reach. For, yes, there are vampires
on this campus too, and this cells leader, the grungily regal Sunday, is
no pushover. Quite the reverse, actually. It takes an inspiring and hilarious
pep talk from Xander, in the sanctuary of the Bronze, to perk Buffy up. Which
is when this slightly low-key première revs into life.
This openers first half
has some unpromising moments: granted, the College environment, with its
intimidating scale, needed establishing. But theres are unfamiliar
sensations: some Buffy comedy moments that Dont Work, and a storyline
packed with wry observations but short on momentum.
Consequently, when the
disdainful, savvy Sunday emerges, theres not much time for her and some
slacker acolytes to make an impression yet they do, by targeting the
Slayer as their next unwilling drop-out. Thankfully, this transforms the
episode. All told, this college gang deserved a more substantial appearance,
but are a memorable aperitif for the more advanced perils of college.
|First aired (US): 5 October 1999
|Reviewed by Mark Wyman
| selected from TV Zone #121
While lacking a first-class
start, a stormingly confident battle finale here plus a genuinely
surprising coda certainly left me with a happy. Welcome to college,