But next week's musical ''Slayer'' is a tour de force

By Jeff Jensen
Updated October 31, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

  • TV Show

Dawn’s first kiss is with a vampire

First, the good news about ”Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I have seen the musical episode scheduled to air Nov. 6, and I can tell you that it rocks. It hits notes of inspiration and exhilaration that few television shows dare attempt (then again, perhaps it’s because they can’t). Next week’s episode, my friends, is truly something special.

The bad news is that I’m not reviewing next week’s episode. I’m talking about ”Buffy”’s Oct. 30 installment, ”All the Way,” the Halloween-themed outing that had a couple of tricks but was certainly no treat. It was scary, but for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s begin with the red herring plot. We’re led to believe that ”All the Way’s” bad guy is some ”Pop Goes the Weasel”-humming, knife-wielding toy inventor who gets a little batty on Halloween. When Buffy’s teenage sister Dawn and three of her walk-on-the-wild-side friends decide to prankishly trash the old guy’s pumpkin, the sicko senior catches them, convinces them to come inside, creeps them out with his sad life’s story, and then is suddenly killed by one of the two horny jocks — both of whom turn out to be vampires.

Not a bad stab at a bait-and-switch, actually — except that the show then switched to a standard-issue ”We gotta save Dawn from bloodsuckers” plotline, a cheap way to fill an hour. As Buffy herself winkingly quips in next week’s episode (and I’m paraphrasing): ”Dawn’s in danger? Must be Tuesday night.”

Like last week’s ”Life Serial,” ”All The Way” was a formulaic vehicle annoyingly engineered to kill time and move story lines a few inches further along, so as to put the show in position for the big, sweeps-month stories the writers really want to tell.

True, all of these story lines — Dawn’s kleptomania, Xander’s cold feet over marrying Anya, Willow’s reckless use of powerful magics, and Buffy’s growing attraction to Spike — are proving to be compelling, and I think the payoffs are going to be momentous. But I wonder if the snail’s pace in getting there will rob them of their impact; hopefully, the writers have some twists in store that we’re not anticipating.

I can tell you that next week’s episode will push most of these stories to provocative breaking points, though I was left wishing it had taken them even further. It’s one of the few criticisms I have of next week’s show… but that’s next week. Until then, I’ll try to forget last night’s disappointing effort. If only Willow could cast a spell on me!

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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