Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fifth Season

Cult TV's greatest hit launches its greatest season on DVD. Sister Dawn arrives, Xander and Anya find love, Willow gets powerful and sexy and oh yeah, did we mention that Buffy fights a God and dies? Other seasons may contain better individual episodes — or at least more favoured ones — but for consistent genius from its ensemble cast and writing team, season five is it. It balances familiar themes (family, work, fate) with butt-kicking action. Villains come in many guises, none more creepy than Buffy herself: first as a Buffy-bot special ordered by Spike as a love doll, then in the form of a hellgod-as-Buffy peer: blonde, cute and the same dress size, Cordelia with minions instead of a credit card. The dramatic arc will have to suffice for DVD fanatics though; the sparse trend established for this series gets puffed up by a few more featurettes, but not more fleshed out by much in the way of substantial offerings. Joss Whedon shows up for commentary on episodes dearest to his sentimental heart, like Joyce's swansong "The Body," but no one bothers with the season's Buffy-slaying finale. Seven featurettes range from touching (on filming "The Body") to downright embarrassing (the Danny Strong-hosted "Demonology" guide). This set's true value is the hypnotic effect it will have on the yet-to-be infected Buffyverse potentials out there. Plus: Outtakes, season overview, DVD-Rom, still galleries. (Fox)