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Plot (From DVD Case): A demon named Sweet descends upon Sunnydale in
search of Dawn, his arrival causing everyone to burst into song and
dance - and eventually into flame.
Review: Out of all the episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Six", this has to be the must see episode. The episode is very similar to what "Xena Warrior Princess" did back in 1997 with the episode 'The Bitter Suite', taking the main character's hidden problems and having them face them through singing. This is the episode of Season Six where everything seems to come to its peak; Buffy begins to come to reality about being torn from heaven by her friends. Willow's growing addiction to magic is creating a gap between her and Tara. Xander and Anya are having doubts about their marriage. Dawn's habits of stealing are getting her in trouble, and Giles believes he is only standing in his slayer's way by staying in America. Plus, Spike's love/hate obsession with Buffy takes a shocking turn in the end.
Aside from being and awesome episode that digs into the character's psychologies, it also has clever and entertaining music. There is a track on this episode that everyone will like. All the actors have wonderful voices, and Joss Whedon writes magnificent lyrics for them to sing to. "Going Through the Motions", "I'll Never Tell", "Under Your Spell", and "Walk Through the Fire" are among the songs which you will hear. The episode is able to use the lyrics of the songs and make them humorous and heartbreaking.
This is a must-see episode for any "Buffy" fan. It is heartbreaking, emotional, funny, and overall well done. After watching 'Once More, With Feeling' you'll agree that "Buffy" is music to your ears.
Episode Air Date:
OK, I'll admit I was really sceptical about this episode. I first caught the last 10 minutes of this episode and thought "Oh no, a musical episode, this has got to be it, Buffy has jumped the shark" but having since seen the whole episode in the context of the rest of the series, this episode is pure genius. The songs really moves the story on. Through-out the first few episodes of the 6th season a number of tensions are built up between the characters, feelings and events occur which the characters keep to themselves. All the musical numbers are used as ways for the cast to reveal to each other things they didn't, couldn't, or wouldn't say. Joss wrote all the lyrics and music, with his usual depth, intelligence, and character development, plus the tunes are catch. This is not just a filler episode, its a turning point in the season. Pure class!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In my opinion the three greatest BTVS episodes ever are season two's
"Becoming Part Two," season five's "The Gift," and season six's "Once
More With Feeling." I'm never sure which one is the all around "best,"
but in terms of sheer creative force "Once More With Feeling" is
probably the winner. This was an episode that easily could have crashed
and burned. It's a musical, for crying out loud. When I first heard
about it, I was definitely skeptical. I thought it sounded sort of
embarrassing and cheese-y. But, I was dead wrong. In reality, this
episode is an artistic triumph from start to finish. Now, I have all
the songs on my iPod. (Seriously, I've got the whole album.) "Once More
With Feeling" is the show's high water mark and, if you haven't seen it
yet, you really need to give it a shot. Today.
"Once More With Feeling" revolves around a musical demon named Sweet coming to Sunnydale. He casts a spell on the town, so that the Sunnydale-ites are suddenly acting like it's a musical. Dancing in perfect synchronization and singing about their deepest feelings. Buffy wanders through a graveyard, killing demons and lamenting the fact that she's just "going through the motions" of life. She meets up with the Scoobies and they have a nice group number as they try to devise a plan. Really none of them are too worried, though. Willow and Tara sing about their love. Anya and Xander have a duet about their mutual doubts concerning their relationship. Then a someone dies from dancing too hard, burning down to cinders. Taking the situation more seriously, Buffy goes to Spike for help. Spike tries to resist, but he's under the spell too and breaks into song. He complains that Buffy's constant presence in his life is painful, since she won't really be with him. Hurt and confused, Buffy goes back to the Magic Box. Giles internally sings that Buffy will never really grow up if he's always there for her to lean on. His song becomes a duet with Tara, as she realizes that Willow cast a spell on her back in "All the Way." Both of them see that they will have to leave their relationships.
Meanwhile, Dawn gets kidnapped by Sweet and is taken to the Bronze. He tells her that she summoned him and now she has to be his queen. He and Dawn have a duet as she argues that she "so did not" call on him. When Buffy realizes that her sister is gone, she decides to rescue her. Giles refuses to help, wanting Buffy to stand on her own. As Buffy heads to the Bronze, she sings about her longing to feel again and her determination to save Dawn. Spike adds a chorus grumbling about how he wishes she would just die and set him free, then deciding that he has to help her. The Scoobies change their minds and also go after Buffy. They all meet up and the Bronze. Buffy offers Sweet a trade, her for Dawn. She sings about her dissatisfaction with life, finally admitting to the Scoobies that she was in heaven. Then she begins to dance faster and faster, burning up. Spike grabs her and forces her to stop. Then Xander admits that he's the one who called on Sweet, thinking it would be fun to have a happy ending for a change. Sweet doesn't really want Xander for his underworld queen and leaves. The Scoobies have on last song as they debate where they will go from here. The episode ends with Spike and Buffy sharing their first (real) kiss.
There are so many great parts to this episode. You really need to see it to appreciate that artistry of it all. It's so important that the cast really sings the songs and they all do a great job. I think the group numbers "Walk Through the Fire" and "Where Do We Go From Here?" are especially good. And I love Xander and Anya's song. ("His penis got diseases from a Chumush tribe," is one of the funniest lyrics I've ever heard.) Tara and Giles' duet is heartbreaking and really beautiful. The two of them are just spectacular. I also like Spike pulling himself out of the "big group sing" at the end, swearing in annoyance and stalking away. Another cool part is how the song lyrics all have hidden meanings that tell you where the season is going. Anya predicts disaster at the weeding. "Where Do We Go From Here?" promises at kiss at the end of the episode. And Sweet sings that the characters are all hurdling towards the "distant redness," which is an allusion to the episode "Seeing Red" that kicks off the season finale.
On the down side, I think Giles' is completely wrong about leaving Sunnydale. Buffy needs him. Sure, she'll have to eventually stand on her own, but she's too emotionally fragile right now. Most of the people that Buffy has loved have left her in one way or another. Angel, her father, Riley, her mother... Giles' should have foreseen how this would effect her. Personally, I think that Giles' leaving sends all the Scoobies into a tail spin and contributes to their self destructive behavior. His exit in "Tabula Rasa" also leaves a hole in the show that will never really be filled, even with his later return. Also, I wish Sweet had come back, maybe over on "Angel." I really liked him and I know he and Lorne would have had some good times. Plus, I just can't get enough of Angel singing "Mandy."
My favorite part of the episode: Spike jumping over that fence during the "Walk Through the Fire" number. Just once in my life, I want to look that cool.
I'll be honest, I don't watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer regularly- not
now or even really much when it was on more in syndication and in its
original run- but I did watch it casually sometimes with friends, and
did enjoy the occasionally corny fights and angsty teen drama thrown in
(plus, Anthony Stewart Head is quite the cool mentor). I had never seen
this episode either, but had heard a lot about it from my girlfriend
who is a much greater fan of the series than I. An incentive finally
came to watch the episode here, where it's all practically singing and
dancing with all of the usual characters coming into the swing of
things (by way of a spell of course), as the episode is now presented
under the 'Buffy Sing-along' in certain theaters across the country (if
it's not near your city or town, it might be soon, it just left NYC). I
was expecting a jovial enough time with the audience participation, but
nothing great. Needless to say I'm writing this comment mostly to covey
how immensely entertained I was by the whole shebang.
Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed the episode, alongside his musical collaborators, really 'get' how to make the wonderful contrivances of musicals fitting for their own types in their show, and it's a feast for fans and still provides many great, up-beat, catchy, and funny songs all the way through. It also helps that the cast in this case is a knockout more often than not, even with Sarah Michelle Gellar not as the greatest singer out there (she had to take singing lessons to prepare for the episode apparently). It would be hard for me to explain to much to such casual watchers of the show like myself, but if you know all the continuity of season five and six then it's no problem. Basically, a spell is cast somehow, and everyone breaks into songs and sometimes dances too, and moreover it brings out the emotions that the characters have been hiding (i.e. Spike's love for Buffy, Giles reluctance with certain matters, Willow's own love- which is rather graphic when you put the lyrics into total context), and also conjures up some demons who have a leader who will make the spell-caster a Queen. The revelation of this, of course, is just another of the jokes.
While I'm sure I would've still had a good time watching the episode at home, it's recommended to try and catch the live show just as much. The episode gives so much for an audience to chew up and have fun with, especially late at night ala Rocky Horror, and it makes for grand silliness even when things seem darkest in the storyline and psychologies. The music, meanwhile, is keen and tight and rhythmic without being corny (I loved the Spike song, and even the power ballad from Giles was fun, plus the demon song & dance), and the lyrics strike up enough wit for three episodes. The dialog from Whedon is also top notch (i.e. "So, Dawn's in trouble... must be Tuesday"). And the whole time, when I wasn't laughing from the totally unexpected bits and complete adherence to cheerful whimsy, I had a big stupid smile on my face (if you see it live, by the way, feel more than free to sing-along with everyone else). While I wouldn't discredit that it has merit alongside the rest of the season, as a stand-alone episode it takes the cake, and even could compare with the likes of Singin in the Rain as a truly happiest musical time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of the best that I ever watched. The concept for it was very good. The singing from everyone was brilliant, and I especially liked Sarah Michelle Gellar's singing in this episode. The comedy in the songs, for example in the song I've Got a Theory when the group sing 'It's do or die!' and then Buffy adds 'Hey I've died twice!'. That was just hilarious. There was a lot of seriousness as well, and that was one point that balanced the episode out. The acting in this episode was very good. The actors and actresses had to spend around 10 weeks in vocal coaching for this episode, and the episode shows that the vocal coaching lessons payed off for all members of the cast. The ending to this episode was excellent. It was just wonderful to see Buffy and Spike finally get together.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What is the perfect companion to an episode where everyone loses their
voice and can't express themselves? Once More, With Feeling. Joss
Whedon adds songwriter to his ever growing label, next to writer and
director with this episode where everyone can't stop expressing
themselves. The story is typical Buffy, but the addition of catchy pop
songs brings new life to a show that by this time was becoming a real
downer. And the cast (mostly) rises to the occasion, with only Sarah
Michelle Gellar's weak range making "Going Through The Motions" the to
skip song and her piercing screams in "Walk Through The Fire" are
annoying. The addition of Hinton Battle as the sweet baddie is inspired
as he brings the house down with "What You Feel." The whole group gets
in on "I've Got A Theory" and "Where Do We Go From Here." Spike fully
confesses his love and hate to Buffy in "Rest In Peace" while Anya and
Xander sing happily together about unhappiness being together in "I'll
Never Tell." Tara's fluffy yet naughty ode to her willow tree and the
silly song snippets "The Mustard" and "The Parking Ticket" are a hoot
as well, but it the stuffy librarian that gets me every time. The solo
"Standing" and duet with Tara in the reprise of "Under Your
Spell/Standing" use the soft rocking Giles perfectly(tell me!). I have
to mention nearly every song, because I like them all. Along with the
songs comes the most glossily filmed episode full of group shots and a
huge park with tiny bridge to give the full big musical effect. One of
the most inspired episodes, fully displaying the goofy humor and
*Xander: "You're the cutest of the scoobies with your lips as red as rubies and your firm, yet supple...tight embrace!"*
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really loved this episode because it's not often we see many of Spike's or Buffy's feelings and you got to know what it's like to be Giles, about how unappreciated he feels because if you ask him to do something he'll do it and you don't often hear a thank-you. It was also good to see the real things that go through a soon-to-be-married couple's heads, the worries, the frustration, the confusion and it wasn't all about slaying a vampire that's trying to kill everyone, i think although he knew what he was doing the demon loved the entertainment of everyone's feelings coming out and ruining their lives rather then the deaths themselves, although he did seem to like that as well.
Joss Whedon was very daring with Buffy, and this episode is no
exception. I watched the episode on DVD as opposed to during its
original run, and prior to watching it all I knew was that season 6 had
a musical episode. I didn't know why, and I was happy to see how they
explained everyone's lives in Sunnydale turning into a musical - Sweet
was one of the best demons of the series.
If I could give the episode a 9.5, I would. The only reason a point was taken off was because of the singing during the episode; at times it got hard to listen to. Tony Head, Amber Benson, and James Marsters were all excellent for their respective musical styles that they sung during the episode. I've seen a lot of people criticize Marsters' singing, but his solo was rock and he did a great job with it. Sarah Michelle Gellar was decent; I've seen her criticized a lot, too, but I have no problem listening to her on the soundtrack, and I've been trained in music. Emma Caulfield was also decent, but the biggest problem I had with her vocals was that they wobbled sometimes. Nicholas Brendon and Alyson Hannigan were the ones I had the most trouble listening to, and I wish Michelle T. had taken a few lessons, because she has a good voice but the singing wasn't great.
As for the songs themselves, I love them, especially when you watch them in the episode (as opposed to simply listening to the soundtrack). The musical styles and lyrics all fit their characters perfectly. "I'll Never Tell" is a great duet, regardless of the singing exhibited in it. Other personal favorites of mine are "Rest in Peace" and "Walk Through the Fire," as well as "Under Your Spell." From the overture to the final scene (I won't spoil it for you), the episode parodies musical films in general, at the same time paying homage to them.
I also love various lines like "this is my verse, hello" when Anya interrupts Xander during "I'll Never Tell," or "first I'll kill her, then I'll save her - no, I'll save her, then I'll kill her" during Spike's portion of "Walk Through the Fire."
Everything is all very clever, and if I were given the chance to change anything I disliked about the episode, the only thing I'd change would be some of the vocals.
But I did. Out of the all the Buffy episodes, this was the one that surprised me most, and in a good way too. At first, despite my love for the show, I was sceptical at how a musical episode of Buffy can work. You see I did see clips of it, and I can't remember the last time my whole family were laughing with extreme shock on their faces at the same time. But when I watched it, expecting to hate it, I was really surprised. The plot line, centring around Sweet, quite an interesting villain this time around, and Sunnydale being put under a "all dancing and singing" spell, is one of the more original plot lines from the whole show. And the songs are surprisingly good, not cheesy like I feared, the group song "Where do we go from here", the duet "Under Your Spell", the heart breaking "Dawn's lament" and "Walk Through the Fire" being standouts. The vocals are also great, Sarah Michelle Gellar can really sing, and Anthony Head?... wow is what I have to say about his voice. And Hinton Battle does a fine job as Sweet. Overall, a surprisingly brilliant Buffy episode, I am so glad I did decide to prove myself wrong. 10/10 Bethany Cox
Wow, this episode was amazing. I'd love to see Joss write a Broadway
musical one of these days.
I love the music. The songs are just amazing. Just like I loved the music from Dr. Horrible.
I loved James Marsters (what a great voice, what a surprise) and Anthony Head's songs... and Amber Benson's voice was lovely. I also loved the one called "the Parking Ticket"... hardly noticeable in the show, it is truly hilarious and I loved how they sneaked it in... "it isn't fair, that fire hydrant wasn't there..." etc.
People who don't like musicals aren't gonna like this much. They don't like people bursting into song in the middle of a story. To these people it's not logical. My husband hates musicals, but I continue to drag him to them much to his dismay (after all, I have to watch his football).
However, the one thing about a musical, is it allows the character to express emotions and feelings that one normally can't do in speech. Plus the songs are beautiful.
I'm glad I got to see this. I'm at the party several years too late, but I do think this is one of the best Buffy episodes... it's different, but quite brilliant.
I loved the kiss at the end.
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