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December 15, 2003
Dan Erenberg Minion #1
by Daniel Erenberg

I’m going to open the Dan Erenberg mailbag up today. Occasionally I make jokes about having fans and stuff. It’s just for fun. The fact, however, is that I do have my fair share of minions. Oftentimes I get e-mails from some pretty good people. One of them is Ashleigh Caldwell who is good friends with Nicholas Brendon’s twin Kelly Donovan and his wife. Then there is Clayton Sutherland whose complex feelings on all things Buffy eclipse even my own. I’ve also had e-mailed correspondence with published Buffy authors Nikki Stafford and Keith Topping (both incredibly talented writers in their own unique ways).

But yesterday I got this e-mail from this guy Stephen Frug who has now become Daniel Erenberg Minion #1 (am I Dan or Daniel in this column? I can never remember). Check out this e-mail:

Dear Daniel,

In an early column you wondered if your column had any fans. Well, I'm one. I, like you, like Riley and Season Six more than most -- although, I think, I didn't like Season Seven as much as you did. Anyway, as a fan I just did a little bit of figuring -- it can hardly qualify as statistical analysis! -- on your list of Buffy episodes in order of preference (with "Chosen", "End of Days" and "The Witch" integrated as you suggested in your FAQ2 essay). I thought you might be interested in the results.

I thought I'd look at which seasons your favorite and least-favorite episodes fell into. Obviously this is not the same as which is your favorite season -- best and worst episodes are one sort of measure, but there are a lot of others, such as over-all thrust and power -- but I thought it might be fun. I decided, rather arbitrarily, to use the top and bottom 20% as an interesting marker -- it gets used in statistics a lot, so what the hell. Since there were 144 Buffy episodes, that meant that we were looking at the top and bottom 29 episodes, rounding off.

The problem came with the top 29: in some cases you listed two-parters together, in some apart. I decided on an inelegant compromise: I took the top 29 items on the list, which included the opening two-parter of season one and the closing two-parter of season six, but then treated the combined two-parters as separate episodes then counting -- thus, there are 31 items in the top 29, though only 29 in the bottom 29. Whatever.

(I note parenthetically that you divvied up the two-parters slightly differently in your top ten episodes essay than you did in your longer list. I don't know which makes more sense. Personally I'd treat each episode as a separate one. On the other hand, doing them all together, as you did in your top-ten essay, is at least consistent; in your longer list, you lump together some but no others, and not always in a way that made sense to me -- though I think the criteria seemed to be whether or not it played on a single night. (I didn't watch them when they first aired, so this is less intuitive to me, I guess.)

Anyway, here are the seasons into which your top 29 (i.e. 31) episodes fell:

Season 3 6

Season 2 5
Season 7 5

Season 1 4
Season 4 4
Season 6 4

Season 5 3

And here are the seasons into which your bottom 29 episodes fell:

Season 7 0

Season 3 2
Season 6 2

Season 1 4

Season 5 5

Season 2 7

Season 4 9

And, finally, in a final rush of stupidity, I subtracted the latter from the former and got:


A few thoughts about these probably-pretty-meaningless results. First, the favorites are much more evenly distributed than the least-favorites. (Was this deliberate?) Secondly, the lists confirm your preference, as stated in your FAQ essays, for season 7 -- although season 2, your other favorite, is oddly schizophrenic, with high numbers of both favorites and least favorites. Season 4 doesn't do so well -- odd since I think of you as a defender of it (as I would be), what with your defense of Riley, of Cordelia et. al.'s leaving, etc. I personally can't imagine making a list of least favorites in which Season 7 had no entries -- the weakest season of Buffy, I'd say, although obviously you quite disagree.

Season 5 does worse than I would have expected; Season 3 comes out expectedly well, Season 6 perhaps surprisingly well (although, again, you defend it (as I would.)

Obviously, if one took a different percentage -- top 10%, say, or top 20% -- you'd get different results, maybe quite different. Another method would be to give each episode a point for its rank on the list (i.e. "The Body" would get 144 points, "Chosen" 143, etc., down to 1 point for the lowly "Beer Bad"), but that would take too long even for an odd list-making obsessive like myself. You might want to try it, perhaps.

I thought you might be interested in this, as I said. I thought the results might be unexpected -- perhaps you wouldn't have guessed which seasons your favorite and least favorite episodes would bundle into if you hadn't looked at it explicitly. Perhaps it might even inspire a column!

yours in listamania,


How about that, baby? A FAN! Alright, though. There’s a lot to talk about in this e-mail. I’m here to spark some conversation about the statistics.

First the top 29:

It’s very accurate and fairly evenly distributed. The two best years, seasons two and three are deservedly at the top, followed closely behind by season seven. Then there’s seasons four, one, and six on the same plane and five last.

I find this very interesting considering I have an extreme love of season five. I contemplated this for some time and I think I’ve come to a conclusion. Season five, of all the seasons (and I think this could be said of seasons four and six as well) were very much a consistent story with very consistent themes. Season five probably has the least in this top 29 list because there were fewer outright great episodes because they were all part of the same story. Stuff like “Checkpoint” or “Intervention” or “No Place Like Home” or “Real Me” or “Shadow” that I really like don’t really stand on their own, and that is part of the criteria of that list. Speaking of the list, I should probably print that at this point:


1. The Body
2. Chosen
3. Restless
4. Hush
5. Becoming Part Two
6. Becoming Part One
7. The Gift
8. Once More With Feeling
9. Graduation Day Part Two
10. Innocence
11. The Wish
12. Earshot
13. Welcome To The Hellmouth/The Harvest
14. Prophecy Girl
15. Graduation Day Part One
16. Passion
17. Primeval
18. Lessons
19. The Prom
20. Lover’s Walk
21. Two To Go/Grave
22. Angel
23. Fool For Love
24. Conversations With Dead People
25. Halloween
26. The Freshman
27. Lies My Parents Told Me
28. Dirty Girls
29. Seeing Red
30. Lie To Me
31. Storyteller
32. Wild At Heart
33. End Of Days
34. Never Leave Me
35. Showtime
36. Villains
37. Normal Again
38. What’s My Line Part Two
39. When She Was Bad
40. Help
41. Amends
42. Bad Girls
43. Choices
44. The Pack
45. Beneath You
46. Bargaining
47. Blood Ties
48. Who Are You?
49. Selfless
50. School Hard
51. First Date
52. Dead Things
53. Living Conditions
54. Crush
55. Into The Woods
56. Dopplegangland
57. Touched
58. Him
59. The Killer In Me
60. Bring On The Night
61. Entropy
62. Consequences
63. Ted
64. I Only Have Eyes For You
65. Surprise
66. The Yoko Factor
67. New Moon Rising
68. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
69. Sleeper
70. Life Serial
71. Teacher’s Pet
72. Helpless
73. Empty Places
74. Same Time, Same Place
75. Listening To Fear
76. Homecoming
77. No Place Like Home
78. Potential
79. Smashed
80. Enemies
81. Dead Man’s Party
82. The Weight Of The World
83. Faith, Hope, and Trick
84. Older and Far Away
85. Revelations
86. Forever
87. The Dark Age
88. Spiral
89. After Life
90. The Zeppo
91. Anne
92. Get It Done
93. Bad Eggs
94. Nightmares
95. Intervention
96. Wrecked
97. This Year’s Girl
98. Shadow
99. Superstar
100. Goodbye, Iowa
101. I Was Made To Love You
102. Gone
103. As You Were
104. Out Of My Mind
105. The Harsh Light Of Day
106. Tabula Rasa
107. Band Candy
108. All The Way
109. Real Me
110. Family
111. Hell’s Bells
112. Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight
113. The Initiative
114. Buffy Vs. Dracula
115. Never Kill A Boy On The First Date
116. Phases
117. Checkpoint
118. Something Blue
119. Witch
120. Where The Wild Things Are
121. Tough Love
122. Beauty and the Beasts
123. Go Fish
124. Inca Mummy Girl
125. Flooded
126. Doomed
127. A New Man
128. What’s My Line Part One
129. The Replacement
130. The I In Team
131. Some Assembly Required
132. The Puppet Show
133. Gingerbread
134. Fear, Itself
135. Reptile Boy
136. DoubleMeat Palace
137. I Robot, You Jane
138. Pangs
139. Killed By Death
140. Triangle
141. Beer Bad

Okay. Now let’s move on to the bottom 29. It’s interesting that season seven had zero. There are a lot of season episode episodes smack dab in the middle of the list. There’s no episode in season seven where I sat up and said, “That sucked”. There always was before season seven. In season six, I hated “Doublemeat Palace”, in season five it was “Triangle”, in season four it was “Beer Bad”, season three didn’t really have one either, in season two it was “Killed By Death” and in season one it was “I Robot, You Jane”. Season seven didn’t have a “Beer Bad”.

Interesting, however, how many (9) appeared in season four considering that I’m a huge supporter of the season. I’m pretty sure that this is because there were so many episodes around the middle of the season that were just not stand-up-and-take-notice episodes. While advancing the story and keeping my interest, they felt kind of blah. I’m speaking of stuff like “Pangs”, “Fear Itself”, “The I In Team”, and “Doomed”, the ultimate in blah.

Finally, there are the final results according to Dan Erenberg Minion #1:
Season 7 5

Season 3 4

Season 6 2

Season 1 0

Season 2 -2
Season 5 -2

Season 4 -5

It would appear that season seven is the best and season four is the worst. This isn’t true. The best seasons are probably seasons two and three and the worst is probably season one because of its lack of knowing how to really stage a good demon. Interesting results anyway, though. Weird that season two is so low.

If you want to be a minion, just e-mail me. I’ll add you to the list. Hey, if (Ultimate) Drew Goddard can have them, so can I.

And to close, there’s a joke that appears in my site bio which should appear in a beige-ish box below this article. It says that if you’ve fallen in love with me, e-mail me. Just for fun, check this out.

Dear Daniel,

I am a beautiful woman who has fallen in love with you... and am also, of course, a Buffy geek. And an Angel geek too. And my lovely fingers are getting numb and raw, checking back again and again for your review of Angel 5.8, "Destiny."

Of course I saw it myself and have my own opinion, and have read all the other reviews... but none of the other reviewers holds a candle to you, my love.

You have until Jan 7 before a new one airs, but it would excite me so... not to have to wait any longer, to hear from you, on this account.

You are so learned, so clever, so creative, so intelligent, so witty... though, alas, I have not agreed with you on every point, but you have made your points so well... that you have helped to open up my mind, to consider new possibilities... And you see so clearly your own point of view. An very admirable trait in a man who writes...

I know you are busy, gothic novels and all, but if you could find the time to share your brilliant views on "Destiny" soon, I would be forever grateful. Thank

Your humble lady-in-waiting,

Oh, yeah. And I dug “Destiny”.

Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of websites for free). Currently, he's writing his first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence. He lives a fairly happy life alone except for the mind-numbing loneliness he feels on occasion. If you’re a beautiful woman that’s fallen in love with Daniel, or you just want to talk Buffy with him, you can contact Daniel at
Latest Comments

The more I think about it why the hell didn't Giles do a background check on Angel in season one? Instead they found out by accident that Angel is a vampire?? Not just any vampire, Angelus. My god, this killer was obsessed with his slayer. As Daryll pointed out never around during the daytime. It is the hellmouth. What could possibly be up with that? Buffy was playing with fire with those liasons with Angelus/Angel and as the saying goes you play with fire you get burned. In her case not only her, but everybody in her inner circle. For some of us, that tends to make one wonder about Buffy's lust driven judgement and Giles's competency as a Watcher.

Posted by: jp on January 14, 2004 07:33 PM

Hey Daryll. One would think so. She was able to pick out a vampire in a room full of people at the Bronze but she was clueless with Angelus and yes, so was Giles when I think about it. Buffy was 15 when Angel started is creepy obsession with her. Nobody thought there was anything wrong with that. When you consider what happened at the end of season 2 and the fact she knew WHAT he was, makes it even worse. It took a tragedy for them to open their eyes to Angel's true self, Angelus. Thanks for the input. Cheers!

Posted by: jp on January 14, 2004 09:53 AM

On the Angel/Buffy relationship in B:tVS season 1 and first half of season 2. One element not done in this discussion is how this relationship points to Giles considerable lack of competency as a watcher. Seems to me, the first rule of survival as a watcher, especially a watcher in Sunnydale, is: trust nothing and nobody until you check them out and even then, trust very cautiously and warily. As a watcher, Giles was hopeless in detecting that Angel was a vampire. And so was Buffy. In B:tVS season 1 episode 1, Giles tells Buffy that she should be able to “sense” vampires. And Buffy demonstrates she can. Then it takes, what, nearly 8 episodes, 8 weeks of Sunnydale life, for her to accidentally find out that Angel is a vampire? And this is a surprise to Giles and the crew? Did nobody wonder why Angel was never seen in the day-time? Another Sunnydale rule for survival: you meet someone you like, if you only see them at night, then arrange a date out in the middle of the football field, noon, no cover from the blazing sun.

Considering Giles attitude to the Jesse vampire – that’s not your friend, but the thing that killed him – and considering his own training and mentor duty for the slayer warrior, then Giles should have dusted Angel the moment the vampire identify was uncovered. Of course, ditto for Spike and Harmony.

Posted by: daryll on January 13, 2004 11:31 PM

Hey Vick. No, we're not. A few final things about the duster and why I don't agree it was meant to be uncaring towards Wood. Spike didn't wear it the first FIVE MONTHS of the season. Only wore it the last two months. It was a seven month season, so for most of it the duster was never seen. Why would he? NOT wearing the jacket was part of changing for Buffy, trying to be a man instead of a monster. Give it some thought. I don't think he would have started wearing it if SHE hadn't bitched at him. He has tried and nothing he does for HER is good enough, not even getting his soul back. The duster is tied to the old Spike and that's what SHE wanted and SHE got it. I'm not going to blame Spike for being uncaring when BUFFY is the reason he went and got the duster. I'm not asking you to agree. I'm asking if you're capable of at least seeing the possibility instead of having such a narrow view on the subject. Same thing B/A. All I was saying is he's been out of her life for going on FIVE YEARS and she isn't a CHILD anymore. Things aren't what they used to be. And Angleus? Still exists, therefore I will not do the double standard bull for one and not the other. Anyway, there you have it. Cheers!

Posted by: jp on January 13, 2004 06:26 PM

i know jp and i will never agree on our little argument on angel and spike. but that's ok. this message board isn't about agreeing with each other. it's about discussing one of our favorite shows and saying whatever about it. so i don't mind if we can't agree on some stuff about the show. i like this message board more because of it. :)

Posted by: vick on January 13, 2004 12:38 PM
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