Episode Reviews (65)
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ooo, hey, juice! -- ooo, hey, witch!
first episode without any vampire in it. I guess it's the first epi I have memory about since 1998. and it's really good. I mean, till certain moment I had no clue that Amy was actually Catherine -- her mother... full of funny moments again: "Macho Man" song, Xander and Willow saving Buffy... and full of cheerleading that I admire! it's easy watching and completely unforgettable. plus, shows us why people can still afford a house in Sunnydale: first vampires -- now witches :) actually, that is something that doesn't depend on living near the Hellmouth -- it's just about the human nature, at least I think so.
FAVE SCENE: Buffy's morning "Macho Man" song.
FAVE QUOTE: Xander: I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.moreless
The third Buffy lurches a little as the show shifts from master-plot mode to monster-of-the-week mode.
Still, "Witch" is an entertaining hour with a semi-clever twistone that I saw coming before it was officially revealed, but was still surprising to me when I first realized what was going onand an exploration of mother-daughter relations that helps flesh out who Buffy is.
The main point of comparison is between Buffy's mom Joyce, a busy gallery owner who cares about her daughter but can't dedicate the time to keep up with all of Buffy's school activities and personal dramas, and Catherine Madison, the meddling ex-cheerleader mother of another Sunnydale student, Amy. When the main rivals for Amy's position on the cheerleading squad suffer bizarre ailmentsfire-hand, no-mouth, perpetual intoxicationBuffy and the gang suspect witchery on Amy's part. It turns out they're half-right. It's actually Catherine who's the culprit, becauseand here's the twistshe's taken over Amy's body!
As I said, the twist is semi-clever, and capped by a cool ending that has Catherine trapped inside of one of her old cheerleading trophies. And while there's nothing especially revelatory about the message that mothers who try to re-live their youths through their daughters are no damn good, I liked the way "Witch" gives more definition to Joyce Summers, by subtly asking whether too little involvement is as bad as too much.
The introduction of Amy gives Xander and Willow a little less to do in this episode, though Willow puts her web-surfing skills to good use, and Xander declares his crush on Buffy by giving her a bracelet. This pays off later in the episode when a wacked-out Buffy, suffering from a spell cast by Catherine/Amy, reveals that she likes Xander as a friend, and that she appreciates the bracelet because it comes from a friend, and not a suitor. Ouch for Xander.
The only problem with the "like you as a friend" scene is that it gets to an emotional place that the rest of "Witch" doesn't even come close to approaching, though there was ample opportunity to do so via Buffy's sudden whim to join the cheerleading squad. Buffy's still pining for normalcy, and when Giles warns her not to "enslave yourself to this cult," I got psyched for a cogent critique of conformity, and how the popular crowd can be a bad model for Instead, Buffy got spell-hammered and injured some teammates. End of cheerleading storyline. Oh well.moreless
This is actually one of my favorite episodes of season one, just because of the ridiculous scenario of having a mother take over her daughter's body so she can cheerlead. It stays well in tune with the series' humor and allows for the supernatural entities to move beyond vampires, setting that standard viewers can come to expect for the rest of the show. It's not always about vampires, and sometimes the non-vamps are the more interesting.
With the introduction of the show out of the way, "The Witch" is left with the job of giving the viewer a taste of what it will look like on a regular basis. If I was watching this for the first time now I'd be left moderately entertained but not very critically impressed. What we have here is what I'd describe as an 'amiable' yet also fairly forgettable 'monster of the week' episode. It has a single neat twist that utilizes the "high school is hell" theme to tell a decent little story, but sadly also has minimal lasting relevance to both the season and the characters.
"She said I was wasting my youth. So she took it," says an Amy stuck in her mom's body, a chilling statement no doubt; a statement that strikes at the core of what this episode is about. The supernatural is used as a springboard to say something about the human condition, in this case being parents who selfishly live through their children. One of the things that separate S1 from what the show eventually becomes is its focus on plot and ideas in abstract rather than character; rather than telling its story through characters we care about and have them learn alongside the viewers, the show is simply making its statement and then forgetting about it in the next episode. This is sadly true of most S1, and is ultimately one of the problems plaguing "The Witch."
"The Witch" certainly earns some points for how it plays with its premise, but Amy happens to be one of the only recurring characters to get very little solid character development and psychological depth throughout the series, so what begins here doesn't end up being terribly relevant to her future beyond a basic level.
With Amy's involvement being largely insignificant in the grand scheme of things, all that's left to remember the episode by is in its miniscule effect on the main characters. I do give it credit for at least taking a baby step towards a character-based approach. "Amy" tells Buffy that she trains hours with her mother for cheerleading, which causes Buffy to try to wedge open a connection with her own mother. I actually found Buffy's attempt sweet and Joyce's complete black-out of her daughter's desire for connection a little sad despite the eventual apology. Once Buffy finds out what Amy's mom did to her, though, she's not so quick to want her mom all gun-ho in her activities. Per usual, I think balance always wins the day. It'd be great for your parents to show some support in the things you love (provided they're not dangerous activities), but not so much that they put their own successes or failures from their own youth on your shoulders.
Early in the episode Buffy tells Giles she wants to do something "safe," in regard to cheerleading. A good metaphorical lesson learned from "The Witch" is that sometimes "normal" isn't necessarily safe at all, and that the Hellmouth will make sure Buffy's life is always normal turned upside down.
The only other relevant bits in "The Witch" include Xander's continued pining for Buffy despite her obvious lack of physical interest in him and his continued obliviousness to the fact that Willow totally digs him, which clearly makes him completely blind. How could you not find Willow here absolutely adorable and totally dateable? I mean, really.
"The Witch" is a fairly enjoyable episode even though it's definitely plagued by S1's terrible production values, awful score, and psychological shallowness in relation to the characters. There's nothing specifically wrong with the episode's core; it just has so little lasting importance to the series from both a plot and a character perspective. It does have its moments, though, and sports a decent little self-contained plot. At the end of the day it's not very memorable but it does have just enough stuff to be a decent first stand-alone entry for the series.moreless
No vampires this time, but that doesn't stop our slayer from kicking wicked butt.
Here is our first episode of few in the series that contains absolutely no vampires. Is that a bad thing? No, actually. Buffy may be the Vampire Slayer, but she can still defeat any other evil being that gets in her way.
So Buffy decides to become a cheerleader. She goes to try-outs where she meets Amy (who makes an important recurring role much later in the series). While one of the best of the girls try out, she suddenly sets on fire, luckily it was Buffy to the rescue. Later, many of the other cheerleaders begin getting into danger such as Cordelia's car crash due to sudden blindness, and the girl who, uh... Lost her mouth?
Anyway, we soon find out it's because Amy is actually her evil, youth-stealing, wicked Mother in Amy's body (she's a witch, duh). Amy's mother switched bodies with her because she felt that Amy was wasting her youth, so she took it.
I actually really love this episode, it's one (if not THE) favourite episode of mine from Season 1. Just like in previous episodes, Joss has been able to trick us with these awesome twists that we don't see coming. Actually, now that I think about it, pretty much every episode of Season 1 has some sort of twist to it. It's definitely not a bad thing though, it surely keeps us on our toes.
Another thing that recurred in this episode is Joyce's worry of Buffy getting into trouble again like at her old school. It's good to know that Buffy's past has not totally been forgotten of. And let me just say that I love Joyce. She is my favourite parental figure on a TV show. She genuinely cares about her daughter, and she wants to trust her, even after the trouble Buffy has gotten into. She's not totally harsh on her, and is only when necessary. And although she's busy with her new job, she's still there when Buffy really needs her. She's just the perfect Mom.
Something else to take notice in this episode is Willow's jealousy towards Xander's crush on Buffy. Buffy is clearly not very interested, but Xander is there giving Buffy jewelery and attempting to ask her out. I love how so early in the series we're seeing development in the characters. It makes them seem so much more alive and realistic. I watch other TV shows which aren't that bad at all, but in every episode, it's like the characters haven't changed at all. In "Buffy", the characters are somehow different in a way in every episode. Well, not really different, but they grow. They develop. Even though most of Season 1 are filler episodes, it doesn't stop the characters from growing.
"First vampires, now witches. No wonder you can still afford a house in Sunnydale." - Xander Harrismoreless
Amy for the first time, yay! And even now she's still appearing in season 8. I always thought if Will died she'd have been a good replacement. Buffy looks sensational in her cheerleading gear, a shame we'll never see her in it again (and we won't see the costume again until Dawn digs it out in season 7). Willow gets more hands on with the axe and we have our first case of Wicca although it's a very dark variety. The African fertility statue gag is the first sign of the saucy humour Buffy and Angel will become famous for. Lovely scenes between Buffy and Joyce both at breakfast and in closing. I gotta say, I didn't see the twist at all.
What happens to the poor girl whose mouth sealed up? Presumably all the aspects of Amy's mum's magic stop once she is defeated.
Willow; That girl's on fire!
Cordy; Enough with the hyperbole
Giles; Why would anyone want to hurt Cordelia?
Willow; Maybe they met her?
My favourite though;
Xander; I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away
Observations and questions; Presumably Amy mom dies properly when the school blows up and passes to the afterlife. Willow is already beginning to dress less nerdy. We see Giles' car for the first time, the Citreon whilst a design classic seems a weird choice for him, a classic Jag maybe more his style. Xander's Buffy obsession continues to grow. No Angel, you sometimes forget he's not in all the eps of season 1. At exactly what point do Amy and her mum swap bodies? Cordy hasn't passed her driving test yet but that changes by the end of the season
Buffy tries out Sunnydale High's cheerleading squad. It's a highly competitive try out, but when another competitor spontaneously combusts, and other eerie occurrences follow, Buffy and co. suspect a witch is at work. An excellent first regular episode...
This review contains spoilers.
When 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' first aired on BBC Two here in the U.K. in 1999, I really enjoyed the Pilot ('Welcome to the Hellmouth' / 'The Harvest'), but was slightly weary that it would be one of those cases of a great Pilot that soon gets watered down and nosedives for the subsequent series. I needn't have worried – as 'Witch' perfectly demonstrates, 'Buffy' would always have plenty of engaging stories and lots of creative concepts to engross us.
I know some don't like this one, and it was most definitely superseded as the series progressed, but for me, as a first regular hour-long instalment after the Pilot, it does superbly.
As with the Pilot, Buffy herself here is likeable and funny (something that, I'll dare to say, I didn't find to be the case in some later episodes). Willow and Xander too are again very funny, adding just the right amount of humour to the proceedings.
The script is sharp, with just the right balance of drama, comedy, mystery and mild horror, and is littered with the show's trademark pop culture references (I love "She's our Sabrina"), coming over as very amusing, not trying too hard to be cute or "cool" as was the case in late seasons.
This episode also serves to show that – particularly in this first season – it's not just vampires that Buffy will be battling, but a much wider array of supernatural beings. There are no vampires at all in this one – which I don't mind, as it gives more variety – and that includes no Angel (which, as my reviews for the Pilot reflect, I can live with personally!). There is no reference to the Master or any of his minions; the overall season "big bad" story arc is much less prominent than it would be pretty much from the second season onwards.
I disagree with a couple of other reviewers who class 'Witch' as a "filler episode" – the non-vampire, non-"big bad" thing was a common trait in season one, and far from being thrown in to bump up the episode count (as is the case with most fillers), I felt this one built on the premise set-up in the Pilot perfectly. And while I enjoy the on-going unfolding plots of later seasons, I also really like the many "stand alone" stories we get here in the first season or so.
I found this to be a really engaging and well-executed story, and, on first viewing all those years ago, really didn't see the revelation of the Amy-and-her-mother body swap coming (though, on subsequent viewings, all the hints are there). Elizabeth Anne Allen puts in a great performance as young Amy – or rather, her mother in Amy's body; Amy will feature in a number of later stories (Allen, by the way, auditioned for the role of Buffy).
I also personally enjoyed seeing Robin Riker; I'm a huge 1980s action-adventure TV fan, and Riker did many guest parts in those various shows, so it was good to see her again here, playing Amy-in-her-mother's-body (y'all following this?!).
As I go through the DVDs, watching the episodes in original broadcast order, I am reviewing them "as I find them", and not rating them down simply because even better episodes came later (as I feel some other reviewers might subconsciously do sometimes). When I first watched this episode back in 1999, I really enjoyed it, and it really pulled me into the series; Viewing it tonight on DVD, I still seriously like it. Yes it would certainly be superseded by later episodes, but on its own merits, I like 'Witch' enough to give it a solid 10.moreless
This episode is very exciting and interesting, one that is very fun to watch, and despite being a filler episode, is very good.
This is the first episode to show us Buffy doesn't just battle vampires, but mystical forces of darkness as well. This week, Buffy and her friends are trying to stop a witch from messing with the cheerleading squad.
This episode sees Buffy trying to fit in at Sunnydale High, as well as her attempting to be a cheerleader. We are introduced to Amy, who is suspected of being a witch, and who will play a role in future episodes. Highlights include Xander giving Buffy a braclet, suggesting that he likes Buffy as more than just a friend. Also, I love the scenes when Buffy goes and visit Amy's "mother", because that was just such brillantly done. Episode lowlights included them testing Amy to see if she was the witch, and most of the bits in the library - I do love the library, but not in this episode.
A great episode which shows us Buffy not only saves the world from vampires, but from various forms of evil. An enjoyable episode to watch, very light and fun, and if you're not in a serious mood, the perfect episode to watch.moreless
What is it with fully grown witches wanting the same things that teenage girls want, A pair of shoes, and to be a cheerleader.
This episode shows that they won't only be dusting vamps but also facing witches, and also shows how evil humans can be, and how being on a Hellmouth can really bring that out in a person. The only thing about this episode is that it makes you think that all witches are bad, even though Willow will become one in about two years, though *SPOILER ALERT* If you watch season Seven and read season Eight, you will find that Amy will grow to be an evil witch herself. This is also the first episode not to include vampires, which is a rarity of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.All-In-All a pretty good episode!moreless
Not a very good episode
This episode wasn't really a good episode.. i believe it was just thrown in to fill the series... lol.
Even though we got to see that Buffy would be fighting more than just vampires... i just think that it was a poor episode... and could have had alot done to it to make it a better one.