Episode Title: Once More With Feeling
Original Air Date: November 6th 2001
“So Dawn’s in trouble. Must be Tuesday” – Buffy
So here we are finally another of the big Buffy episodes and one of the most fondly remembered alongside “Hush” as Joss Wheldon finally got to make the all singing and dancing musical episode that he’d been trying to make since season 1. For Buffy and The Scoobies meanwhile they along with the rest of Sunnydale find themselves compelled to sing and perform big musical numbers about their day to day lives but how long is it until some major secrets are revealed?
For some reason the prospect of an episode full of singing and dancing seems to really tap into the Buffy fanverse for some reason, but rewatching this episode now much like on its initial viewing I still found this to be a highly problematic episode, let alone needless extended for what essentially is a gimmick episode.
Opening to the Buffy fronted “Going through the motions” it certainly starts positively enough and even though Sarah Michelle Gellar cited that this was one of the toughest episodes for her being neither a singer or a dancer she does surprisingly come off the strongest throughout the episode and this opening is a lot of fun, especially when it includes dancing vampires and demons let alone her blanking the handsome guy who tries to hit on her after being rescued by Buffy.
From here though it really decends into a something of a mixed bag with the Giles and Anya Duet “I’ll Never Tell” were they reel off their fears and dislikes about each other being another high point, much like the random asides from the writer / producers Marti Noxon and David Fury singing about parking tickets and joy that the dry cleaner got the mustard out!!
The weaker aspects of the episode suprising come from those cast members openly musical in this case Anthony Stewart Head and James Masters, the latter heading up the equally weak “Ghost of the Robot” and here their contributions while it could be argued provide some important plot points for the season do come off tedious and drawn out as they have their little rock star moment.
Amber Benson also suffers here, but not from lack of talent as she frequently provides many of the best moments, as she showcases a surprising musical side with “Under your Spell” which hits its climax (literally) with a musical oral sex scene between her and Willow which somehow slipped past me during its original airing unless it was edited out. Okay it nothing gratuitous and perhaps unintentionally funny as Tara levitates in the air. Still its a shame she’s lumbered with this Disney style third act song though it does setup nicely her discovery that Willow has been abusing her magic once again by using it to wipe Tara’s memories of their fight.
As the demon of the week, the zoot suit loving Sweet is kind of forgettable though he does get the fantastic henchmen whose heads are giant ventriloquist dummy heads which make for a cool look, even if they don’t exactly go with the rest of the episode. Still if you want to see whose under the masks you can enjoy this trio as the dancing street sweepers who appear earlier in the episode in the background.
The main thing this episode does serve to provide is to finally have Buffy reveal how her friends pulled her out of heaven by resurrecting her while ending on Spike and Buffy kissing a relationship which still doesn’t feel any the less forced on the audience now as it did back then. Needless to say it ends with plenty of major changes ahead of the Scoobies as we continue to head towards the inevitable implosion
Next Episode: Tabula Rasa