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'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' nostalgia react: Welcome home, Buffy

Full disclosure: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is, was, and probably always will be (sorry, all future TV lineups) my favorite show of all time. When Entertainment Weekly‘s Community gave me the chance to return to Sunnydale and recap season 3 of the series, there was much rejoicing. Please relive this wonderful, witty show with me, and forgive any excessive use of exclamation marks (there’s still much rejoicing).

Season 3 | Episode 2 | “Dead Man’s Party” | Aired Oct 16, 1998

Coming home is hard to do. When Buffy returns to Sunnydale after her summer-long stint in Los Angeles as “Anne,” she isn’t met with the open arms she’s expecting. Her mom, Joyce, is on pins and needles, not quite ready to believe she’s really home for good. Her friends have spent their summer vacation fighting evil alone and the group dynamic has evolved into a Buffy-less one, with Willow and Oz doing some serious dating and Cordelia and Xander making out about as much as they fight (a fabulous ratio for them).

Even though Buffy pretty much deserves to have to work for her re-acceptance into the group and life in Sunnydale in general, it’s hard not to feel incredibly bad for her. This is why Buffy the Vampire Slayer is such a good (nay, great) show: You are on Buffy’s side, even when she’s wrong. Too many protagonists range from totally blah (I’m looking at you, Harry Potter) to actually annoying (think Bella Swan), but Buffy managed to be both deeply flawed and consistently likable. That’s why, when she’s timidly asking Joyce’s permission to leave the house or getting stood up by Willow, your stomach turns in knots for her.

So when Buffy’s friends throw her a big welcome-home bash to cover up their total lack of desire to attend an intimate welcome-home dinner with her, it’s kind of depressing. Willow is busy very purposely focusing on Oz. Xander is busy making out with Cordelia, who is busy openly not caring about Buffy. Giles is busy too, but in a more acceptable way: He’s at the library, researching what reanimated the dead cat Buffy and her mom buried the day before. Trouble has always had a way of finding Buffy (she lives on a Hellmouth and attracts supernatural baddies of all kinds thanks to her slayerdom), and I guess she was due with interest after a (by her standards) quiet summer away. So of course the tribal art Joyce brings home from the gallery carries with it the spirit of a zombie god. Them’s the breaks.

zombie_cheerleader-1

Of course, Buffy saves the day with her usual wit (upon driving a shovel into the eyes of the creature: “Made you look”), but this is really one of the episodes where you have to feel bad for/be utterly impressed with Joyce. The house is DESTROYED. A high school house party is crashed by zombies. Short of explosions and fire, I can think of no better way to wreck a home. Joyce is a saint for not stopping the house party, and she’s a pre-Pinterest home-improvement wizard for fixing it back up on a small-town art gallery owner’s salary.

This episode reminded me that: Oz had some of the best lines of the show, and Seth Green some of the best delivery.

Best moment of the episode: Giles going Ripper badass on Principal Snyder to persuade him to let Buffy back into school.

What did you think of “Dead Man’s Party”? Discuss in the comments!

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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