Buffy Season 3Season 3 is probably the best in my opinion. The characters have matured and become more interesting, there are some fun plot arcs, some brilliant stand alone episodes, a brilliant villain in the mayor, and the scarred character of Faith all bring this together.
The only main weakness of this season, is, for me, Angel. I seemed to be alone amoungst many of my friends who also watched the show in cheering him leaving the show. Their relationship produced a lot of angst I found tiresome. I also found their relationship flimsy- the classic teenage first love thing, where they had very little in common (indeed they rarely had any real conversations other than fighting evil). While I have become detached from my irritation at Buffy/Angel angst in season 2, primarily because the arc serves a purpose, in season 3 is seems to be an opportunity to whine a lot, and set Angel up for his (very good) spin off show.
So, that aside, lets have a look at the episodes.
There's some extremely funny episodes here. My personal favourite is "The Zeppo", an episode focusing on the evolution of Xander's character (which does change. Buffy does suffer from the problem that writers forget about character growth, but Xander does noticably improve as time goes on). By following Xander entirely, we get a lovely little story, with the amusing back drop of the others fighting the apocalypse at the same time.
Theres a lot of humour in all the episodes, although the other main standouts are Band Candy and Doppelgangland (which also expands Anya's character, who soon becomes my favourite on the show).
Best episodes is tough, because there are so many. My favourite is definitely the Wish, a look at an alternate reality without Buffy, extremely bleak and giving us a clear message that what she does matter, but the bleak ending of Bad Girls is brilliant, and as always the concluding episode (Graduation Day Part 2) is fantastic (even if it doesn't make a great deal of sense).
Worst episodes here are Dead Man's Party, which really bothers me. Buffy ran away from home at the end of last season, and returns to recriminations. All the characters have legitimate grievances, although they are necessarily harsh to Buffy, but sadly none of this is ever resolved, instead a zombie ex machina bonds them together...
Another weak episode is Amends, which is a set up for the Angel spin off. My main issue with it is that divine intervention is the only thing that saves Angel here: Buffy's heartfelt pleas are completely sidelined.