Once More, With Feeling (Buffy episode)

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"Once More, With Feeling" is a musical episode of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was written and directed by Joss Whedon, the creator of the show. The lyrics and music were also written by Whedon, with a score by Christophe Beck and arrangements by Beck and Jesse Tobias.

The episode is almost as famous for not winning an Emmy as other shows are for winning one. To many, the failure of Buffy in general, and this episode in particular, to receive recognition from the Emmy "powers that be" diminished the credibility of the award more than the show. It was actually nominated for an Emmy, but, due to a misprint, was left off the official ballot sent out to voters. This was fixed with an addendum, but it was too late, as many voters had already returned their ballots. Numerous critics placed the episode on their "alternative Emmy" lists and it continues to win plaudits. It was recently voted the 13th greatest musical of all time in a poll conducted by the British TV channel, Channel 4 [1] (http://www.channel4.com/film/newsfeatures/microsites/M/musicals/results_15to11.html). It has always been a firm favorite among fans.

It was first broadcast (as the seventh episode of season six) by the United Paramount Network on November 6, 2001.



Plot summary

After an overture with some wordless scenes of Buffy and her friends taken from a normal day, we see Buffy patrolling in a cemetery at night, but there is something wrong with her and with the demons she meets and kills: they are all singing and dancing.

The morning after Buffy asks her friends if the same thing had happened to them, and it seems it has... suddenly they burst into song again, singing how they can face anything if they're together. It seems that all the people in Sunnydale are forced to sing about their inner feelings.

Later Xander and Anya sing together about things they would have never told themselves or each other otherwise, Tara sings a love song to Willow and Spike sings a love song to Buffy.

Incidentally, Tara finds out about a forgetting spell Willow had cast some days before to make her forget about their fight, and decides to break up with her. In the meantime Giles realizes that he has become useless and that he is keeping Buffy from her responsibilities, and decides to leave again and return to England for good.

It seems that there is a new demon in town, and he is responsible for all the singing. Unfortunately, some people are singing and dancing so much that they start burning from the inside, and end up dying in flames.

The demon has Dawn kidnapped by his minions because he thinks she is the one who summoned him, and wants her to be his queen and take her to the Underworld with him.

So Buffy and the gang go to the Bronze (where the demon is) to fight him. Buffy starts to "sing and dance against" him, and while singing she reveals things to her friends that she did not want to reveal at all: she tells them that when they had resurrected her, they had pulled her out of Heaven and not out of a hell dimension as they thought. Then, just when she is about to start burning Spike arrives and helps her stop from spinning around and recover.

Eventually, it turns out that Dawn is not the one who had summoned the demon, but Xander, so the demon gives up on the queen matter and just vanishes away.

Buffy and her friends have won, but now that things have been said everything has changed for all of them. The curtains close on Buffy kissing Spike outside of the Bronze, apparently because he is the only one who can make her feel alive.


Regular cast

Guest cast

Supporting cast

  • Timothy Anderson as Henchman
  • Hunter Cochrane as College Guy #2
  • Alex Estronei as Henchman
  • David Fury as Mustard Man
  • Marti Noxon as Parking Ticket Woman
  • Matt Sims as College Guy #1
  • Daniel Weaver as Handsome Young Man
  • Zachary Woodlee as Demon/Henchman
  • Scot Zeller as Henchman


All the actors sing their own parts without dubbing. The only member of the regular cast who sings very little (three lines, one of which is "I think this line's mostly filler"), is Alyson Hannigan; it seems that she did not want to sing and Whedon respected her choice (and in fact, this ties in closely with the character of Willow, who early in the first season is seen to have a fear of performing in public).

The opening sequence is completely changed from its usual form, featuring a 26-second main theme whose rock and dark atmosphere was eliminated through its use of percussion in the background and a stereotypical light drum sequence at the end of the theme, similar to the conclusion of heroic classical films.

CD Track List

A music CD has been released, featuring the whole score and some additional tracks including the demo of "Something to Sing About", sung by Joss Whedon and his wife Kai. The art for the CD (also used as cover of other Musical items, like the script book, the DVD and the poster) is by Adam Hughes. In the booklet there are liner notes by Whedon, all the lyrics for the songs, and pictures from the episode.

Track Title Time
1 Overture / Going Through the Motions 02:57
2 I've Got a Theory / Bunnies / If We're Together 02:22
3 The Mustard 00:18
4 Under Your Spell 02:55
5 I'll Never Tell 04:01
6 The Parking Ticket 00:45
7 Rest in Peace 02:46
8 Dawn's Lament 01:19
9 Dawn's Ballet 01:12
10 What You Feel 03:01
11 Standing 02:10
12 Under Your Spell / Standing — reprise 01:35
13 Walk Through the Fire 03:44
14 Something to Sing About 04:40
15 What You Feel — reprise 00:46
16 Where Do We Go From Here? 01:53
17 Coda 00:40
18 End Credits (Broom Dance / Grr Argh) 00:31
19 Main Title 00:26
20 Suite from "Restless" 05:02
21 Suite from "Hush" 06:54
22 Sacrifice (from "The Gift") 02:55
23 Something to Sing About (demo) 04:27

Technical information

Other technical differences between this episode and the normal ones are its running time (50 minutes and 52 seconds instead of the usual average of 43 minutes) and its format: the episode aired in letterbox format.

Also available for sale is the original script book (ISBN 0-689-85918-X); besides the actual screenplay the book features pictures from the episode, articles, sheet music for all the songs and a behind the scenes.

Finally, after pressure from fans, a single (Region 2) DVD has been released in Europe (two editions: in English for the United Kingdom and in German for Germany).

David Fury, producer and writer of the show, had realized that the episode would be something great, so he asked Whedon if he could document it, and shot about 40 hours of behind-the-scenes material; part of this material is available on the Season Six DVD set.

International Titles

  • French title: Que le spectacle commence
  • German title: Noch einmal mit Gefühl
  • Italian title: La vita è un musical

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