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'Buffy' nostalgia react: Dracula is unlike any other vampire

Season 5 | Episode 1 | “Buffy vs. Dracula” | Aired Sept 26, 2000

When it comes to vampires, Buffy the Vampire Slayer pretty much made its own mythology. It’s standard practice in the world of fantasy and supernatural writing, really, to pick and choose the elements of different mythologies to make your own and BtVS was no exception. In fact, it was a shining example. So when season five decided to pull one of the most iconic vampires of all time — okay, make that the most iconic vampire of all time — into the Buffyverse, it threw a wrench in things. I remember the excitement of the cheesy WB promos like it was yesterday. Buffy Summers was going to face off against the king of all vampires and it was going to be intense. Let’s start with the ways in which Dracula is different from regular (by which I mean BtVS standard) vampires.

1. He travels by coffin. While the BtVS vamps were definitely hurt by sunlight (we saw a few incinerate from too much exposure), they aren’t, for the most part, that traditional about their preferred forms of sunscreen. Spike, for example, drives around in a car with blacked out windows. Angel smartly just travels by night for short distances or finds a boat to stow away on and hide below deck for longer trips. And if you have the Ring of Amara, all bets are off and you get to rock out in the sun, Vampire Diaries style. Dracula, however, is the classic type and ships himself in a coffin for long voyages.

2. He has mind control powers. Dracula isn’t the only vampire with mind reading or controlling abilities. The Vampire Diaries vamps use compulsion all the time and Edward from Twilight (yes, insert the “ughs” and snarky comments here) could read minds. But in the Buffyverse, Dracula is pretty unique in this ability. Yes, the Master was able to hypnotize and transfix his victims to a degree, but nothing on the level of what Dracula was able to accomplish (mystifying the Slayer, turning Xander into a butt monkey, putting Giles under the spell of his siren-y vampettes).

3. He has amazing self-control. He really seems to just want to toy with Buffy and feast on her blood a few times before he makes a big move, like killing or vamping her. Even Angel, the white knight of vampires, was almost unable to stop when feeding on her delicious Slayer blood. Dracula, however, had no such problems. He stopped, gingerly laid Buffy down to sleep and went on his merry way.

4. He doesn’t die from a staking. The kind of great and amazing thing about Dracula (in his BtVS iteration anyway) is that he doesn’t permanently dust from a stake through the heart. Buffy stakes him, he poofs into a cloud and then starts to reform. The only thing that stops him is a quip from Buffy that she’s right there and it would be a waste of time. Dracula never comes back. He’s never really mentioned again by the gang and even Giles and Willow don’t seem to have a clear grasp on why he’s such a special snowflake among vampires. It’s brilliant and mind-boggling and hilarious as a one-off.

Of course, Dracula is just a red herring to distract us from the real point of the season five opener: The appearance of Dawn.

dawn

If I were writing this recap in 2000, when the show originally aired, I don’t know if I would even be able to mention Dracula, beyond a cursory “yeah, yeah he’s in the episode, he bites Buffy, he goes away” kind of thing. Dawn, a strange teenager, hanging out in Buffy’s room and then Joyce’s announcement that she’s Buffy’s sister…it’s a game-changer. On first run, it was baffling. Had we all missed something? Did they mention a sister before? Maybe she was a half-sister, from an affair Hank had. Or maybe Joyce had gotten married during the hiatus and she was a stepsister. Of course, it would have been impossible to guess the truth, that Dawn was the Key and had been implanted in everyone’s memories and…thinking about it is enough to make your head spin. Oh, Dawn…

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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