Shiny Shelf

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Him

By Jim Smith on 16 November 2002

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

‘Buffy’ continues a remarkably consistent run of episodes with this strongly comedic yet conceptually smart offering from the pen of Drew Z Greenberg. It’s first love – well, first infatuation – for Dawnie this week as a charismatic Jock catches her eye. But what’s his secret, eh? Yeah, like we don’t know before the opening credits.

What follows works extremely well, mingling the series old skool (pun intended) ethos of exploring High School through metaphor with some farce-influenced comedy that’s perhaps more extreme than any the series has yet attempted. It’s rare for a series to find a new aesthetic groove so late in its life, especially when that series has been as spectacularly varied as ‘Buffy’ has over the years.

‘Him’ is actually quite difficult to watch in that peering-through-your-hands way that great farce often is, and all the performers rise to the occasion splendidly. Gellar gets to try yet another variation on Buffy, and her magically bewitched version is halfway between the Buffybot and a pastiche of bad soap acting. It seems all the years Sarah Michelle spent on ‘All My Children’ weren’t wasted after all.

There are a couple of truly outrageous jokes contained herein, including a laugh-out loud comic trauma that befalls both Xander and Willow that I won’t spoil for you here. Needless to say it’ll have those disturbed types who write bad ‘erotic’ stories about characters from their favourite TV shows reaching for their keyboards quick sharp, although we can’t blame it for that. There’s much tremendously good physical comedy too, especially from Nick Brendon and James Marsters, the latter of whom continues to do remarkable work as the newly re-souled Spike. His stumbling vampire, a predator who no longer has any predatory instincts is the kind of skilled performance that you just have to sit back and admire.

‘Him’ seems to be setting up a new groove for the series, a kinda sorta format for the seventh year. Seems to be that is, but just you wait til the next episode. Wow.

Of which, more in a few days time…

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