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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth Season

So you've blown your high school to smithereens because the town mayor turned into a giant serpent at your graduation ceremony... what's a girl to do? Why, go to college, of course! The fourth season of the highly entertaining series Buffy the Vampire Slayer finds the Buffster (Sarah Michelle Gellar) less than perky as she tries to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of university life, while the rest of the Scooby gang deals with the pains and pleasures of moving into young adulthood. The most admirable thing about this season's episodes — which run the gamut from the hilarious to the frustrating to the breathtakingly brilliant — is the way that creator Joss Whedon and crew remade the show using the same characters and the same formula, transplanting the Scoobies into an almost entirely new environment. In "Living Conditions" Buffy deals with the classic problem of having a mind-numbingly annoying college roommate as only the Slayer can — she insists that her roomie is evil and sets about proving it. The relationship between high-school sweethearts Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and werewolf Oz (Seth Green) suffers damage because of his uncontrollable attraction to a hot female lycanthrope in "Wild at Heart." And Buffy finds out why the popular boys are such jerks in "Beer Bad," in which magical beer regresses drinkers into Neanderthals. Then there's the ongoing problems in Buffy's love life — sure, she's found an adorable slab o' beef named Riley (Marc Blucas), but it turns out he's part of a super-secret military operation called the Initiative that just happens to use UC Sunnydale as a cover. And despite their mission to seek out, study, and destroy demonkind, when Buffy finally comes clean about her calling, Riley's never heard of her. ("I'm the Slayer. Slay-er. Chosen One. She who hangs out a lot in cemeteries ... You're kidding me! Ask around. Look it up. Slayer, comma, The." ) Meanwhile, in the season's most controversial plotline, novice witch Willow becomes more than friends with fellow Wiccan Tara (Amber Benson), even sharing kisses so chaste that one can't help but wonder what all the hoopla was about. Other notable episodes include "Something Blue," in which Willow inadvertently casts a spell that causes Giles to go blind, Xander to become a "demon magnet" and Buffy to fall head-over-heels for Spike, and the simply amazing "Hush" — the only episode for which Buffy ever received Emmy nominations, for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series and Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Show — which has the citizens of Sunnydale losing their voices and, literally, their hearts when a group of "fairy tale monsters" called the Gentlemen float into town. Fox tricks out their Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth Season with a feast of treats for fans: Scripts for "Fear Itself," "Hush," and "Who Are You"; commentary for "The Initiative" by writer Doug Petrie, for "Wild at Heart" by Joss Whedon, Marti Noxon and Seth Green, for "Hush" by Joss Whedon, for "This Year's Girl" by Doug Petrie, for "Superstar" by Jane Espenson, for "Primeval" by writers David Fury and James A. Cotner, and for "Restless" by Joss Whedon; featurettes on the sets, music, "Hush," the characters of Oz and Spike (James Marsters) and a season overview; and an extensive still gallery. Folding DVD digipak in paperboard slip-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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