One of the all time best episodes of anything ever turned ten just a week(ish) ago... but I wanted to celebrate on a Tuesday.
Dawn's in trouble? Must be Tuesday."
That means for the past week and for many weeks after circa 2001 I had the songs from Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Once More With Feeling" in heavy rotation in my head and or ipod.
One of my favorite moments of any awards season, obscure though it be, is the moment during the AFI's one and only televised award ceremony in January 2002 (anyone remember that? They combined TV and film like the Globes do) when Buffy the Vampire Slayer was nominated for best drama series. When they announced the category a clip from this very episode played proudly alongside clips from its three fellow nominees, all traditional awards heavyweights: The West Wing, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. This is the sort of company Buffy should have been keeping during its run though Emmy voters just couldn't see it*.
For today's top ten, because I can never find a good excuse to talk about my #1 favorite TV series of all time, here's a top ten of that historic episode, in chronological order because the episode is so beautifully constructed.
TEN BEST MOMENTS IN "ONCE MORE WITH FEELING"
• Intro Once More With Feeling proclaims itself 'a very special episode' immediately, dispatching the usual credits for an overture style opening credits with each cast member smiling inside the (spot)light of the moon. It then surprises by 'going through the motions' of a typical day without dialogue before getting to its first number "Going Through the Motions", instantly recalling the gold standardepisode Hush. It's a ballsy confident move and, as it turns out, telling: Aren't those two episodes essentially fraternal twin classics, each riffing imaginatively on the difficulty of truly communicating with the people we love most?
• "Going Through The Motions" manages to answer all the complaints about Season 6's Sad Sloggy Buffy Summers and respond with a knowing and compelling cry for help. And it performs this dramatic spell with hilarious little sung asides (Demon Just Realizing He's Been Killed: "She's not even half the girl she --owwww!" | Hot Guy Rescued: "How can I repay... " Buffy: "Whatever...")
♫ I don't want to be... going through the motions
Losing all my drive
I can't even see, if this is really me
And I just want to be
The best part is the ending which reworks a now excessively familiar sight, a vampire being dusted, into something newly magical; Buffy emerges from the cloud singing beautifully, like it's fairy dust not ashes.