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    English, French, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  • 9 Cast/crew biographies
  • 2 Featurette - Buffy Speak, Season Three Overview
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • 4 Original screenplay - Faith, Hope and Trick, Band Candy, Lovers Walk, The Wish

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 3 - Volume 1

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 473 mins . M15+ . PAL


By the time the third series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer hit television screens worldwide, all behind it knew they had quite the successful phenomenon on their hands. Afforded larger budgets the show really got to shine, capitalising on its uncanny knack of providing a perfect mixture of genuine emotion and often uproarious comedy along with a decent weekly dose of biff, bang and pow that inspires a dizzying devotion from fans unlike that for most any other television show you could name.

Arguably the most captivating season of the series thus far, this third instalment delves a lot deeper into the emotions of the Scooby gang, their interpersonal relationships and the general trials of growing older and preparing for the 'real world'. As well as episodes following the season's basic story arc, as the established formula would dictate there are also those one-off episodes that fall outside the continuous story, allowing the creators to have some fun with homages to the likes of Night of the Living Dead, or simply providing set-ups for strings of great dialogue and some more fabulous action - not to mention imaginative, and often extremely icky, gremmies of all kinds. This collection of the first eleven episodes from season three has a good cross section of both; following are some hopefully spoiler-free summations…

The Scooby gang are slaying, school's back and there's still no Buffster. She's doing L.A., is posing as an 'Anne' and working as a waitress in a… diner (sorry Human League fans). When a girl named Lily recognises her, Buffy gets sucked into a demon-filled world that's all too familiar to her, and for once we can be thankful that's there's no place like the 'Family Home'. Oh, and gingham's never a good look hon...

Dead Man's Party
Buffy does the homecoming thang, however things between her and the Scoobs aren’t quite right. Principal Nasty Little Hard Bigoted Rodent Man refuses to let Buffy back in school, so to cheer things up it's hootenanny time! Oz warms up the Dingoes and the hordes descend, but there's this little matter of an ancient Nigerian mask, zombie cats, zombie book club members and, well, zombie zombies to contend with. Ooh, Giles - you manly thing! MMMmmm...

Faith, Hope and Trick
Nyahh nyahh to Snyder - Buffy's back in schoo-ool! As George Michael once said, "you've got to have Faith" - and we get it in the form of a zesty new slayer, with quite the healthy appetite, named - not surprisingly - Faith (that makes TWO slayers!) It seems she's led some creepy old vamp named Caki, Kokist, Cakfist, umm - cloven guy to Sunnydale along with her though. Meanwhile the bad guys are getting techno-savvy, and did I see somebody broody pop up?

Beauty and the Beasts
Hey! Is anybody up for a spot of werewolf sitting? After a rather gruesome killing in the woods (this IS Sunnydale, remember?) suspicious minds turn to Oz, as it's full moon time. Ah, but others may think it's somebody altogether more broody. Then again, perhaps it's the convulsive Jekkyl and Hyde guy, who really should learn to control his jealous tendencies just a little bit better? And has Buffy been singing Real Life songs?

Everybody run, the potential homecoming queen's got a gun! After missing yearbook photos, Buffy's inner prom queen is awakened, and she and Cordy duke it out for royal honours at homecoming - but just why are Willow and Xander so keen to take sides? Meanwhile, one Mr Trick has organised Slayerfest '98, and there's no prizes for guessing who the prey is for the various demonic entrants...

Band Candy
So who's a wacky mayor with a rather unfortunate name then? And just what is he up to? Snyder has all of Sunnydale High selling chocolates to raise money for the band, and they're proving quite the hit. But just why are all the adults acting so weird? Meanwhile, who's been getting some footsie action and who's been getting some Ripper action? And if the dingoes and Fat Bastard aren’t responsible, who's eating babies? Never let it be said that chocky isn’t addictive...

Ooh, synchronised slaying! There's a new watcher in town, the rather toffy Mrs Gwendolyn Post, and her charge, Faith, isn’t exactly breaking out the tea and scones in welcoming glee. A big demon dude named Lagos is on his way, looking for a glove that fits just right - a rather powerful mystical glove - however with some Angelic intervention he may not get a hold of it. Ah, but who REALLY wants it? Meanwhile hormones are a 'ragin' all 'round, and the gang learn a secret...

Lovers Walk
Spike is back and your gonna be in trouble! Rather lovelorn, he has a plan to regain Dru's affections with the help of Willow, after all his demonhood has been called into question. However, there's plenty of time for all that after a spot of tea with Joyce. Relationship woes abound throughout, as many question their loyalties and face some home truths. Meanwhile, Buffy kicks 'ass' - figuratively rather than literally for a change as we're talking S.A.T. scores this time.

The Wish
Cordy's not handling her betrayal at the hands of Xander well, and her torment causes the patron-demon of scorned women everywhere Anyanka to appear. Unfortunately her ire is misplaced, and perhaps she should be careful what she wishes for, as a Sunnydale without Buffy may not be as peachy as first thought. Some familiar (ugly) faces return, as Giles battles to save the town from a rather icky parallel universe. Yay for Bad Willow!

It's Christmas time in Sunnydale, or Hanukkah if you're not a Santa worshipper… Angel is mega-broody, as many ghosts from his past have invaded his dreams, not to mention one Jenny Calendar - now wasn't she dead too? Buffy's sharing these dreams, and as Angel's resolve weakens his thoughts turn to giving up - thank heavens for snow then. Meanwhile some reconciliation is in the air as Willow summons the powers of Barry White to work for her...

Buffy's mom decides to tag along for a bit of slayage, needless to say her daughter is somewhat nonplussed. When two children are found dead, and it appears a cult is involved, Joyce freaks and goes about turning Sunnydale into Salem, organising parents into an anti-witch mob. What a bunch of silly MOOs! Buffy, Willow and Amy are set to burn at the stake, however at least Amy finds a way to elude a fiery death, the slippery little rat...


Bye bye fuzzy old 16mm, hello lavish 35mm - and my what an improvement! With the bigger budget afforded the now hit series, gone is the incredible graininess of the first two series in place of vision that is almost perfect. Artefacts are virtually non-existent, with the only gremmies being the occasional - and I *MEAN* occasional - tiny white specks popping up - however most probably won’t even notice them. With the absence of grain everything else gets to shine - shadow detail for a show that relies so much on dark locations is sensational, colour appears more natural and whilst not detailed to the point of being able to count individual infinitesimal hairs, this is easily superior to watching Buffy on television in every way imaginable.

The third season was still made full frame, so naturally that's what we get. We can only pray that as of the fourth season, when research indicates that the show was shot in a wider ratio, that the DVD releases reflect this - as done with The Sopranos and most any recent televisual output from Britain. Otherwise there are going to be a lot of people at Fox who'll need to be very wary of getting a damned good staking from rabid Buffy fans.


Once again we're in for another Dolby Stereo soundtrack, and once again it does its job quite admirably, with no synching issues, perfectly clear speech at all times and some nice use of the front sound stage. Those with one of those fabulously clever little amp thingies that can split it all up into six channels though should be delighted with the results, as the rear speakers are used to pad out the music and some of the effects, and the subwoofwoof goes nuts on the deeper bassy stuff, most notably during the brilliant theme by Nerf Herder.

Another eclectic soundtrack is included throughout this first half of the third series, ranging from the rather forgettable, but you'd miss it if it weren't there orchestral-type stuff to some often truly memorable 'gothical' musings. As is pretty much expected by now contemporary pop and rock songs infiltrate the world of Sunnydale at certain junctures too, and the Bronze provides a chance for a few unknown bands to strut their stuff - in this case Bellylove and Darling Violetta, along, of course, with Oz's band Dingoes Ate My Baby (whose music is supplied by a band called Four Star Mary).


Some tinkering has been done with the format for the Buffy sets since the release of the second series. Whilst the last set had some glorious rendered menus and between-selection screens, they did tend to go on a bit. This time they're still fabulous, however they're succinct and to the point - and all accompanied by suitably Buffyesque music. The extra bits and pieces have been spread across both sets this time, and the first part gives us the following…

Scripts: Full scripts, including cast, locations etc for four episodes - Faith, Hope and Trick, Band Candy, Lovers Walk and The Wish. They're all presented in faithful old Courier font, and are viewable by using the chapter forward/back buttons. The only real issue is that the white text on a swirly blue background can be a little difficult to make out at times.

Featurette - Buffy Speak: A brief, 6:10 look at the lingo used in the series, featuring interview snippets with co-producer Marti Noxon, writer David Fury, executive story editor Jane Espenson and story editor Douglas Petrie. Some fun insights are included, such as how most of the 'Buffyesque' lines are generated by essentially "channelling Joss", and a look at some of the in-jokes the writers have used. If you haven’t watched the entire third season yet, you may be advised to wait 'til afterwards to view this, as it features snippets from the latter half of the series.

Featurette - Season Three Overview: More of a meatier addition, this runs for just over twenty minutes, and features interviews with all and sundry - the four folk mentioned above, plus creator Joss Whedon, actors Eliza Dushku, Alexis Denisof, Charisma Carpenter, Nicholas Brendon, Kristine Sutherland, James Marsters (dreamy grin) and Danny Strong. Topics covered include the whole Buffy and Angel relationship, Faith, the Mayor and Wesley, plus closer looks at a number of episodes in the series. Once again, you may wish to watch this after viewing the rest of the season, as otherwise you're in for spoiler city.

Biographies: Much the same as those included with the previous series', although a few updates have been made here and there.

Art gallery: 30 stills from the series, with a concentration on some of the ickier and more transient characters to have appeared.


And so to the news many will be waiting for. Whilst the UK censors saw fit to extricate from this third season such trivial things as Giles' hotwiring his clunky old Citroen (whilst leaving in all manner of gruesome slayings - go figure), the region 4 release is taken from a European master, and as such all reported English severings have not been foisted upon us.

Now that this third release is upon us things are definitely looking up - as mentioned the visual quality has improved markedly, and possibly more importantly a depth of characterisation of those we have grown to love has been reached which makes this series more compelling and emotionally involving than ever. And if you just like the biffo then there's plenty of that to satisfy - and from two slayers no less!

This definitely isn’t the easiest of series' to pick up on partway through, so to be honest if you've somehow missed the Buffy bandwagon until now you would be better served by starting at the very beginning (for it's a very good place to start). Meanwhile, legions of established fans will be drawing the curtains and settling down for a long awaited ad-free season three Slayerfest, safe in the knowledge that things in the whole Buffyverse are improving all the time - although a bit more Spike would certainly not have gone astray.

Oh, be advised - if you have a heart you may wish to keep a box of tissues handy for this collection...

(If you'd like to find out more about the second half of the third season, you can check out the review here - Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 3 - Volume 2)

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1032
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      And I quote...
    "Draw the curtains and settle down for a long awaited ad-free season three Slayerfest, safe in the knowledge that things in the whole Buffyverse are improving all the time..."
    - Amy Flower
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