Directors:  David Greenwalt, Bruce Seth Green, etc.

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, David Boreanaz

Cast your minds back to 1998. Cordelia wasn’t yet fully integrated into the Scooby gang, Spike and Drusilla had yet to cruise into town and Ethan Rayne was just a name in Giles’ address book. Welcome to the second series of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

The season is a very patchy one: the arc stories are robust, taking great care to flesh out the regular characters, but many of the self-contained episodes (Bad Eggs and the Nightmare on Elm Street rip-off Killed by Death, for example), are derivative and fall well below standard. To compensate there are several classic episodes: the playful Halloween, Joss Whedon’s finely balanced Lie To Me, and the sublime ghost story I Only Have Eyes For You.

This six-disc set contains some impressive bonus features, making it a much more essential purchase than the Season One set. Like the episodes themselves, these are accessed through Fox’s very elaborate and atmospheric animated menus. Four episodes come with worthwhile commentary tracks (Reptile Boy, What’s My Line? and Innocence by David Greenwalt, Marti Noxon and Joss Whedon, respectively) and attendant scripts. Some of the commentary tracks are rather perfunctory, but Whedon’s is a riot, and very entertaining. The sixth disc contains three behind-the-scenes featurettes that will have fans drooling: Designing Buffy (13 minutes, on the show’s production design), A Buffy Bestiary (30m, on the show’s villains and monsters) and Beauty and the Beasts (20m, on the monster make-up). All feature interviews with cast and crew members, (and not just the obvious ones: one-off cast members, like What’s My Line?’s Kelly Connell, too).

Despite the indication on the back of the box set wrapper, the transfers here are full-frame, as they were apparently originally shot. Picture quality is about on par with the first set (i.e. dark and rather grainy). The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 audio (at 192kbps). Hardcore fans will be justifiably dismayed to find that the episode recaps (“Previously on Buffy The Vampire Slayer…”) that were on the VHS versions are missing here. Fans are likely to be upset since they are usually especially scored, and act as the perfect appetiser for the episode ahead. Also likely to annoy is the design of the box: it’s not the same depth or height as the first season set. Initial copies of the set had a design flaw that mean that the discs were slotted into tight cardboard pockets, which made them liable to troublesome scratches. The set was later reissued with modified packaging, but either version will probably be sufficient, if carefully handled.


Site content copyright © J.A.Knott - 2002-2005