For "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike - Love Is Hell" there were only four choice episodes from "BtVS" focusing on everybody's favorite vampire with a bloody chip in his head. But Joss Whedon and the folks at Mutant Enemy have doubled down for this eclectic collection of episodes. You might expect these episodes to focus on the Slayer, but despite her face on the box that is not the case. Consequently, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Curse of the Hellmouth" consists of two DVDs offering up eight select episodes of the late lamented cult television series and a special featurette, "Buffy, the Fear Inside," which offers Whedon, David Greenwalt, Nicholas Brendon and Anthony Stewart Head as the talking heads providing insights and lesser revelations. As for the eight episodes, here is what you get:
Episode 6 of Season 1, "The Pack" (Written by Matt Kiene & Joe Reinkemeyer) is really a Xander episode, except that Xander is possessed by the predatory sprit of a hyena along with some other Sunnydale High troublemakers. You would think from the title of this set that you would have the pilot episode "Welcome to the Hellmouth," but you would be wrong. Besides, it is already available separately if you want to have it and this collection without the entire run of "BtVS" on DVD (4 Stakes).
Episode 6 of Season 2, "Halloween" (Written by Carl Ellsworth) is a fun episode where Buffy spends most of it as an 18th-century maiden, Willow becomes a ghost, and this time Xander is a army soldier (4.5 Stakes).
Episode 17 of Season 2, "Passion" (Written by Ty King) is the classic episode where Angelus kills Jenny. This is one of the best Giles episodes especially in the final act where he goes after Angelus (5 Stakes).
Episode 9 of Season 3, "The Wish" (Written by Marti Noxon) takes us to a Sunnydale where Buffy Summers never showed up. This is Cordelia's wish and it is granted by the vengeance demon Anyanka. However it is the vampire version of Willow that steals this one. The only bad news is that "Dopplegangland" is not included in the set as well (4.5 Stakes).
Episode 12 of Season 3, "Helpless" (Written by David Fury) finds Buffy turning 18 and facing a stupid Watches Council test where she has to face a vampire striped of her powers. Also known as the episode where Giles gets fired (4.5 Stakes).
Episode 4 of Season 4, "Fear Itself" (Written by David Fury) is the second classic Halloween episode from "BtVS" where a party at a fraternity turns into a real house of horrors where Gachnar the Fear Demon feeds on their fears. Also known as the episode where we learn of Anya's fear of bunnies (4.5 Stakes).
Episode 10 of season 4, "Hush" (Written by Joss Whedon for his one Emmy nomination for writing on the show) is the classic episode where the Gentlemen come to Sunnydale and steal everybody's voices. Consequently, most of the episode is done without dialogue. Also known as the one where Riley finds out about Buffy (and Buffy finds out about Riley) and where Willow meets Tara (5 Stakes-plus).
Episode 3 of Season 7 (Written by Jane Espenson) suddenly skips ahead to the final season of the show as Willow returns from England and Buffy, Xander, and Dawn go to the airport to pick her up. But they miss each other because of a spell that works in favor a flesh-eating demon (4 Stakes).
On balance most of these episodes are well worth having (the first and last ones are the weakest of the eight) and I guess they all show what life is like on the Hellmouth. But then what episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" do not? Of course most fans of the show already have its seven seasons on DVD, even if they were waiting for "The Slayer Collection" to have it all in one box rather than seven. So I suspect this is the sort of gift fans will give to get others hooked. Having both Halloween episodes and "Hush" are strong points, but much of what is here plays on your knowledge of the characters, so you might have to spend a lot of time explaining why things are so funny.