Release Date(s)1997-2003 (September 19, 2017)
Studio(s)20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: B-
Buffy the Vampire Slayer premiered on the WB network in 1997 and eventually became an enormous success. Popularizing a particular genre of TV horror, which involved young adults and/or 20-somethings being put into supernatural situations, it was the beginning of a trend that continues to this day. It also made many of its actors into stars, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, and put its creator Joss Whedon on the creative map. Countless pieces of merchandise were spawned and the series is still popular amongst its long-time fans. It also continues to be held high as a well-produced piece of television that managed to sink its fans into pop culture forever.
Capitalizing on the twentieth anniversary of the show’s premiere, 20th Century Fox has released a new boxed set of The Complete Series on DVD. For you fans paying attention, this is basically a reprinting and contains the exact same Region 1 discs as before with nothing much new added. The video and audio quality are the same, the latter of which is featured in English and French 2.0 Dolby Digital for Seasons 1 and 2; English, French, and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital for Seasons 3 through 7; and English and Spanish subtitles for all seasons. Although the quality of the CGI in the show is questionable, the show still looks and sounds good and holds up well in standard definition.
Each season is housed in a separate case with a paper insert in each advertising merchandise for Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 20 Years of Slaying. The extras are also exact duplicates of the previous DVD releases. But, since there are some folks who might not own the series already and are thinking about picking it up, here’s what you’re going to get content-wise. Beginning with the Season One (Discs 1-3), there’s an audio commentary on Welcome to the Hellmouth by Joss Whedon; an interview with Joss Whedon and David Boreanaz; additional interviews with Joss Whedon about Welcome to Hellmouth, The Harvest, Witch, Never Kill a Boy on the First Date, Angel, and The Puppet Show; scripts for Welcome to Hellmouth and The Harvest; a trailer for the show; a photo gallery; cast and crew biographies; and a screen saver via PC Friendly DVD-ROM. For Season Two (Discs 4-9), there’s an audio commentary for Reptile Boy by David Greenwalt; an audio commentary for What’s My Line, Pt. 1 and What’s My Line, Pt. 2 by Marti Noxon; an audio commentary on Innocence by Joss Whedon; interviews with Joss Whedon about Surprise, Innocence, Passion, I Only Have Eyes for You, Becoming Pt. 1, and Becoming Pt. 2; three featurettes (Designing Buffy, A Buffy Bestiary, and Beauty and the Beasts); scripts for Reptile, What’s My Line, Pt. 1, What’s My Line, Pt. 2, and Innocence; a set of art galleries (still gallery, monster sketches, set designs, set design blueprints); and cast and crew biographies. For Season Three (Discs 10-15), there’s an audio commentary on Helpless by David Fury; an audio commentary on Bad Girls by Doug Petrie; an audio commentary on Consequences by Michael Gershman; an audio commentary on Earshot by Jane Espenson; interviews with Joss Whedon about Bad Girls, Consequences, Enemies, Earshot, Graduation Day, Part 1, and Graduation Day, Part 2; an interview with John Vulich; five featurettes (Buffy Speak, Season 3 Overview, Wardrobe, Weapons, Special Effects); scripts for Faith, Hope & Trick, Band Candy, Lover’s Walk, and The Wish; and an art gallery.
For Season Four (Discs 16-21), there’s an audio commentary on Wild at Heart by Joss Whedon, Marti Noxon, and Seth Green; audio commentaries on The Initiative and This Year’s Girl by Doug Petrie; audio commentaries on Hush and Restless by Joss Whedon; an audio commentary on Superstar by Jane Espenson; an audio commentary on Primeval by David Fury and James A. Contner; six featurettes (Hush, The Sets of Sunnydale, Spike Me, Buffy: Inside the Music, Oz Revelations: A Full Moon, Season 4 Overview); scripts for Fear Itself, Hush, and Who Are You?; cast and crew biographies; and a still gallery. For Season Five (Discs 22-27), there’s an audio commentary on Real Me by David Fury and David Grossman; an audio commentary on Fool for Love by Doug Petrie; an audio commentary on I Was Made to Love You by Jane Espenson; an audio commentary on The Body by Joss Whedon; seven featurettes (Buffy Abroad, Casting Buffy, Demonology: A Slayer’s Guide, Action Heroes!: The Stunts of Buffy, The Story of Season 5, Natural Causes, Spotlight on Dawn); scripts for The Replacement, Fool for Love, Into the Woods, Checkpoint; outtakes; the Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds video game trailer; and Willow’s Demon Database accessible via DVD-ROM.
For Season Six (Discs 28-33), there’s an audio commentary on Bargaining Parts 1 & 2 by Marti Noxon and David Fury; an audio commentary on Once More with Feeling by Joss Whedon; an audio commentary on Smashed by Drew Z. Greenberg; an audio commentary on Hell’s Bells by David Solomon and Rebecca Rand Kirshner; an audio commentary on Normal Again by Rick Rosenthal and Diego Gutierrez; an audio commentary on Grave by James A. Contner and David Fury; David Fury’s Behind the Scenes of Once More with Feeling; Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Panel Discussion; three featurettes (Buffy Goes to Work, Life is the Big Bad: Season 6 Overview, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Television with a Bite); “This is My Verse, Hello!” Buffy Karaoke; outtakes; a downloadable call sheet for the episode Normal Again and Willow’s Demon Database accessible via DVD-ROM; and an Easter egg of the soundtrack advertisement. And finally, for Season Seven (Discs 34-39), there’s an audio commentary on Lessons by Joss Whedon and David Solomon; an audio commentary on Selfless by David Solomon and Drew Goddard; an audio commentary on Conversations with Dead People by Nick Mark, Jane Espenson, Drew Goddard, Danny Strong, and Tom Lenk; an audio commentary on The Killer in Me by David Solomon and Drew Z. Greenberg; an audio commentary on Lies My Parents Told Me by David Fury, Drew Goddard, James Marsters, and D.B. Woodside; an audio commentary on Dirty Girls by Drew Goddard and Nicholas Brendon; an audio commentary on Chosen by Joss Whedon; six featurettes (Buffy: It’s Always Been About the Fans, Season 7 Overview – Buffy: Full Circle, Buffy 101: Studying the Slayer, Generation S, The Last Sundown, Buffy Wraps); outtakes; Willow’s Demon Database accessible via DVD-ROM; and an Easter egg of a brief complete series montage.
The only new content in this set is swag-related. You get a comic book of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is issue #1 of a continuation of the series entitled “Season 8” (first released in 2007), as well as a black and white illustration piece by Georges Jeanty. It’s worth noting that Season 3 is still missing the Previously On openings (although some overseas releases managed to incorporate them on a few episodes). Missing from The Chosen Collection DVD boxed set is all of the material from that set’s bonus disc, which includes an introduction by Joss Whedon, Back to the Hellmouth: A Conversation with Creators and Cast, Breaking Barriers: It’s Not a Chick Fight Thing, Love Bites: Relationships in the Buffyverse, Evil Fiends, Buffy: An Unlikely Role Model, and Buffy Cast and Crew: Favorite Episodes. Also missing from the overseas release of the first season are various trailers, the music video for “I Quit” by Hepburn, and a 28-page episode guide. Missing from the Region 2 DVD release of the episode Once More with Feeling is the Buffy: Inside the Music featurette. For die-hard fans of the show who already own The Chosen Collection, there really isn’t much here worth upgrading for, unless you must absolutely have every release or if you just want the swag (I doubt many folks would). The only two possible reasons to buy this set would be if you own all seven original season releases and want to conserve shelf space, or if you’re new to the series and don’t already own it. It’s a handsome package, for sure, but I have a feeling that most folks would rather have Blu-ray releases of each season with new extras plus the old ones, not to mention episodes in HD. Either way, this is a decent compendium of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Series on DVD, but it’s need of a major home video update.
- Tim Salmons