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Season 4 Ages Well

telperion66

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….but it took a long time for me to appreciate it.

I was always one of those guys that loved BTVS season 2, and had season 3 down as my second favourite. Then I came to adore season 1.

But, I always hated the transition between the scoobies leaving high school and season 4, I never appreciated the 'brighter' look, feel and tone of the season as much as the 'darker' high school years.

Well, after re-watching the first few seasons of BTVS to death (possibly even too much one could say) I have come to appreciate the brighter tone of season 4 in all its glory.

If you're ever having a bad day, season 4 (especially the first half of it) can really brighten your mood with its tonality, brightness and inherent innocence.

However, it took me almost 20 years to fully appreciate it, so as a result, I'm curious, what do you guys think of the season in terms of how it is on re-watch, and how it has aged overall compared to the other seasons?
 

Kratos

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I always liked it, though I’ve only watched it a few times and didn’t see all the episodes such as Living Conditions and Superstar until my last watch so it was a great surprise to find how hilarious they are. Oddly enough, I watched all the other seasons on tv before I watched season 4, so maybe that’s why the change in tone, setting and characters never bothered me.

S4 is underrated imo, even though I got tired of Adam and the Initiative towards the end. Gets better with each watch. It’s aged quite well but it’s not as great as S2 and S3.
 
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telperion66
telperion66
I like your banner btw :)

telperion66

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It’s aged quite well but it’s not as great as S2 and S3.
I agree its not as good, but I'm at a point where I know all of the dialogue of those seasons (and the first season) so well I just know what is going to be said before anyone says it, so right now they're not being as fun as they used to.

I literally watched them to death.
 

DeadlyDuo

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I think Season 4 gets an unnecessarily hard time from fans. It's better than Season 7 and has a nice balance of humour that Season 6 lacks (I don't buy that life turns to crap once you become an adult). It's overarching storyline, whilst certainly no Season 2, is better than Season 5 IMO because it's still very scooby focussed and the characters are their own individuals with their own separate storylines. However, I do think the season overreached by involving the government and them being aware of demons because it raises a lot of questions which are then never answered.

I like the transition from High School to college and thought it good that the scoobies were starting to develop lives outside of each other whilst also remaining friends. If Seasons 1-3 were about "high school is hell" then I think they could've made Seasons 4-7 about college as Buffy transitioned into adulthood and show her maturing into a functioning adult. College is a more adult setting so I think they could've explored darker topics without making it depressing.
 

Kratos

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I agree its not as good, but I'm at a point where I know all of the dialogue of those seasons (and the first season) so well I just know what is going to be said before anyone says it, so right now they're not being as fun as they used to.

I literally watched them to death.
Understandable. I’m kinda the opposite. I’m more familiar with the later seasons than the early ones.

Thanks for your comment about my banner.
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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Agree, it's not that it's a bad season, it's just not season 3. In fact, as far as consistent quality goes, it may be a better season than 3. Which I think is fine, Freshman Year of College, after all, is a better year than any year of high school, but it's not Senior Year.
 

Cohen

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I find this season much more balanced than past seasons. There seems to be a buildup from the beginning to the end, much more consistent than before. I view seasons 2 and 3 as containing two “halves”— pre/post angelus, and pre/post evil slayer. But season 4 is consistently driven as one storyline with multiple monsters of the week thrown in. Which feels different than 5, which felt almost TOO serialized. Not going to comment on UPN years (6 & 7).
 

WillowFromBuffy

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The start of S4 is clearly a watershed moment for the show. I personally like S4-6 a little bit better than S1-3. The improvement in picture quality, production values and cinematography is really marked. And the whole show becomes even more idiosyncratic than it used to be. The comedy is zanier. The whole thing is more ambitious.
 

Taake

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It took me a while to appreciate s4 too, I never hated it with a vengeance, but I never rated it very high either. But on re-watches it has really grown on me, it's a light-hearted and fun season in my ways, and I like the tonal shift better than I used to. For a transition from high school to college it does better than most shows.
 
telperion66
telperion66
We seem to have the same view on this then.. cool :)

spikenbuffy

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S4 is OK and calm, it would have been great with better Big bads, Adam is just a let down compared to Angelus & Faith/The Mayor, also Forrest is awful. But S4 has great & some fun episodes.

Also Spike can be so funny in his interactions with each scoobie.
 
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Dora

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Always liked S4 , and thought Sarah looked her best ' certainly more than in S6 and S7 when she was way to thin `I find it hard to split 4 and 5 as I do 2 and 3
I suppose 3,2,1,5,4,7,6
 

Hunga Munga

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In the UK and other export territories , Buffy went widescreen in season 4 . For me Buffy season 4 was an assault in lurid colour to my eyeballs .. I loved the look of season 4, I could have developed similar attachments to the campus setting as I had to the High school , though this is never really developed by the writing beyond a handful of episodes .

I've said it before , season 4 is the best and the worst of the Buffyverse in close proximity . It has 4 strong candidates for my top 20 list ....and 5 for the bottom 20 list :D . I felt the rhythm of late season 4 was all out of whack . You've got two turds like 'The I in Team' and 'Goodbye Iowa ' right next to each other with 'Where the Wild Things Are' just round the corner . In my opinion these lacklustre outings suck some of the life out of the backend of the season ...and make me less receptive to 'Restless' as a genuine closer .
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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Yeah, Restless is one of those weird experimental episodes that needs to be taken on its own merits, not as a part of the season proper. It's not as bad as the Big Three, but it's not really part of the series arc.
 

thrasherpix

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I just finished it again. This is one season I like a bit more each time (so far) on rewatching. I can certainly nitpick it but I can all the seasons, and for the most part I forget to nitpick while watching and that's what counts.

This time I got to wondering what Xander's potential as a warlock was. He has that prophetic dream that will manifest in season 6. He starts fire by speaking Latin. And he hasn't worked at it like Willow. Maybe there's a reason he's a demon magnet.

And there are some great stand alone episodes here.

Still, I'm not going to continue to the next season for a long while (and there's a good chance I'll return to season 1 before continuing to season 5).
 

burrunjor

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I liked it. Personally I always preferred it to season 5 as it was hilarious, Spike was at his best, it managed to overcome the loss of the high school rather well, Sarah gets a chance to show off her comedic side brilliantly this year (which must have been easier on her emotionally LOL) and the crossovers with Angel were brilliant.

I think season 4 was essential, as you could not have gone from seasons 3 and 2, both of which were very dark to the absolute misery of season 5. I also feel Adam was a great villain for season 4, as you couldn't have had an enemy like Glory who was too powerful, or one like Angelus who was too personal. At the same time you couldn't have had a joke villain like the Trio.

Adam fitted the bill perfectly, of being a legit threat, being someone that Buffy felt she had actually accomplished something by foiling, but who was also a fairly straight forward threat, that didn't tear her whole life apart. Some fans are definitely too hard on him. Not every villain can be Angelus.

I remember the singer Kate Nash (any fans of her, LOVE her) saying that she loved season 5 because everything seemed so perfect at the start, which just makes it all the more shocking when everything falls apart by the end. I agree, but you couldn't have had that without season 4. They go together as well as seasons 1, 2 and 3.
 
Kratos
Kratos
I prefer season 5, but agree about everything else.
telperion66
telperion66
Love your post here! :)

fauxindigo

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Season 4 was the first season I ever watched when the series originally aired so it holds a special place in my heart. I've always loved it and probably always will. I honestly think it continues Season 3's across the board excellence. Think about it, the "bad" episodes of season 4 (Beer Bad, Superstar, Where the Wild Things Are) are nowhere near as bad or as many as season 2 (Some Assembly Required, Inca Mummy Girl, Reptile Boy, Bad Eggs, Go Fish, Killed by Death) or even seasons 1 & 7. Season 4 is way more consistent, intriguing and enjoyable than Season 7 and arguably more fulfilling and strong overall than season 1. Don't get me wrong, I love Season 1-Prophecy Girl is one of the series best, most emotional episodes- but the season is only 12 episodes and personally, I think the WTWTA, Beer Bad & Superstar are extremely more entertaining than any of those S2 episodes mentioned (although Go Fish is my guilty pleasure monster of the week filler episode...) or even the worst of Season 7 (Sleeper, Showtime, Storyteller, Lies my Parents Told Me, Touched, Empty Places & Bring on the Night all bother and/or bore me). Season 4 is wonderful, lighthearted (yet extremely dark in places), relatable, exciting and deep; a great bridge between the first 3 and last 3 seasons and its "bad" episodes aren't even bad in my opinion. Beer Bad is hilarious and Parker finally gets what he deserves, plus I love a strong (even if obvious) metaphor and seeing Xander on campus. Where the Wild Things Are is an effective ghost story, also hilarious and GILES SINGING. Superstar is the perfect character centric episode for Jonathan who deserved it by Season 4 and the episode is done very well in and of itself. I think people see Season 4 (especially the aforementioned episodes) as trivial and unaffecting but they're actually really deep (as is the entire season), even Beer Bad 🍻
 
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Fuffy Baith

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I like season 4, it's not my favorite but there's a lot of fun episodes, plus a great Faith two parter. The college life was never as integrated as the high school years, but I like the scoobies all dealing with life post high school.

Spike was at his best
Yes! This is my favorite season for Spike, because I think he's so funny.
Season 4 was the first season I ever watched when the series originally aired so it holds a special place in my heart.
Season 2,3,4 were the seasons I started with when they aired the reruns on FX. So, that might also be why I have a soft spot for season four and Riley as well.
 

telperion66

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The comedy is zanier. The whole thing is more ambitious.
That's interesting. I actually find the high school years a lot more uplifting in terms of their dialogue and character interaction, despite the brighter tone of season four. Also, I find the first three seasons to be more ambitious in terms of their respective arcs because the epicness of the stories that are being told; they truly are timeless, particularly seasons two and three with the Angelus and Faith arcs combined with everything else that is being told.

Still, I'm not going to continue to the next season for a long while (and there's a good chance I'll return to season 1 before continuing to season 5).
Man, I always start again re-watching S1 after getting done with S3.. its very rare these days that I watch S4 and I seem to never watch S5-7...
 

Oromous

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I could understand this perspective, having something light to watch while having a bad day. Heck, I will even go further than that and say that I miss watching the more cheesy Disney shows from my childhood like Lizzie Mcguire where the most drama was competing with the mean girl to get the jock hunk. Middle school stuff.

But I think with Buffy, it's a little different than that. I first picked up Buffy not because of season 1's reputation as a campy Goosebumps spin-off but because of Buffy's reputation as a compelling gothic drama. The entire tone right up 'till season 4 was dark, and not just aesthetically. It was tackling tough issues teenagers (and particularly young women) face growing up and rarely shied away from controversial subjects to really tackle the subject on its head (Remember that one school shooting episode? Boy, that aged well).

So when it came to season 4, I guess there's a whiplash, as if I'm watching a different show. I could understand why there's this shift in tone, speaking from a writer's perspective, but it's a tad annoying, frankly speaking. I came to Buffy for the feel-bad moments, not the feel-good ones (though occasional feel-good ones like the "Class Protector" scene in S3 was appreciated, they only came after all the struggles Buffy had to overcome). This is doubly true when it's a Joss Whedon show, the writer being notorious for how much struggle and torment he puts his characters through, which is something both painful and intriguing to observe for the audience in me. Thankfully, it's not such a massive change in tone that I could no longer enjoy myself, but it's probably not going to be one of my most memorable seasons.
 
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