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18 June 2014
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Episode Guide


Proving that everything in Buffy has a payoff, Tara's spell-botching from last season is neatly explained in this unusually low profile episode from Joss Whedon. Whilst many were hoping for big revelations regarding Tara's dark secret, her unexpected normality is actually quite refreshing. Wicca and demon might have been overkill.

Amber Benson rarely takes centre stage, but handles the increased exposure well. Will somebody please give her a space in the opening credits - she's earned it by now.

Not sure about this week's demons though. Looks like they'd been worked on by one of those children's face painters to get a slightly dodgy Coco the Clown makeover.

One of the things that makes Buffy such a great show is... well, I suppose you could call them 'moments'. There was one last week, when Giles appeared in his wizard suit. This week's is definitely the opening scene with Miss Kitty Fantastico.

If you're only a toe-in-the-water Buffy person, the 'moments' don't mean that much. Sure, they're cute, and make you laugh. But when you've invested time and energy in the programme, the characters are like your friends. The moments really give you a warm and snugly.

It's these little throwaway bits that make me love the show. It's those 'moments' that prove how well crafted the whole thing is.

And - Yay for Tara not being evil. Anyone else get the heavy woman-as-demon metaphor in this one?

Family really isn't the best episode of Buffy ever. It's good, but the fact that it's a Joss Whedon show makes it something of an anticlimax.

Yes, Tara's problems are moving, and yes, we get to see Riley developing a dark side to try and win back Buffy's heart... But, for some reason it's lacking. This show is nowhere near as concentrated or concise as any episode from Buffy's early years.

There are a few too many plot strands for comfort, which is a shame, as the resolution of Tara's background is both intriguing and clever. We know who she is, and we get to see how much she means to Willow. Tara's a marvellous character, and it's just a pity that this episode just doesn't quite do her justice.

At last, a chance for rather peripheral Tara to take centre stage. While it has some great moments, not least a glimpse of intern Ben's very attractively chiselled abs, this episode lays on the schmaltz as if it were on a two-for-one special offer.

Family’s best scenes are those featuring Tara's appalling hick family, where the men rule the roost and the women are seemingly cursed with something a bit more serious than just housework. Their thorough unpleasantness and crippling effect on Tara's self confidence was stunningly put across without the great lumps of explanatory dialogue a lesser script would have needed. From the moment Tara calls her father "Sir", her desperation not to return home was evident, making totally believable her decision to bespell her friends.

Apart from the saccharine overload of the last scene, I had one big beef with this episode: so Tara might be a demon? And your point is? Whether any of the Scoobies would care that much by now has got to be an open question.

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