This year I've finally started watching the series on DVD, and today I caught up to what I'd seen, the Season 4 finale "Restless." I saw it as a rerun right before Season 5 started. I'd been aware of the show, but stuck in Hermiston which had no WB station for the show's first four years, but by September 2000 I was back at my parents' place in Dundee, preparing to move to Portland, and I had access.
And I got my first taste with a moody, dream-logicked mood piece of mood. (For those who haven't seen it, the four major characters fall asleep at a video-watching party, and the pissed-off ancient spirit of the first Slayer -- who they'd accidentally summoned in the season's big finale one episode before -- starts stalking them in their dreams.) Seeing it now, I notice some directing and editing tricks Joss Whedon used later for Serenity's more mind-of-River moments, when we're seeing things as River Tam sees them. It's dream-logic done well, and that is so hard to achieve. Some of the imagery and lines stayed with me, dream-logic-appreciating me, for the next eight years: Buffy suddenly in the desert instead of the sandbox, or Xander's line about casting spells. (Whedon in the commentary says he kept the line, even though it's in Willow's dream and not Xander's, because it made him laugh. But I can imagine Willow imagining Xander saying it, because she knew Xander would react that way to her having a girlfriend, so I
I'm now 40th in line to borrow Buffy Season 5 from the library, so I won't watch that season for a while. I saw a good chunk of that season when it was first broadcast -- yes, I've seen "The Body" -- but when I finally get the DVDs, I'll see it in the context of the preceding four seasons. I expect I'll go "Oh, now I get it" many times. And in the meantime, I'll also watch Angel; I'm getting Season 1 of it soon, and I think it'll be even more up my alley.