I'm cracking up at wild_sasparilla's Buffy impressions. I actually liked her over on Angel at least, and she did make for a really good episode on season 4 of Buffy.
Medussa, salt and acid. If you don't have enough of those two things, they'll have that overly earthy taste. Once you get that balance, beets get much sweeter. You might also go for golden beets, which have a milder flavor. Beets are earthy, so legends has a point, but when they're seasoned well it's not an unpleasant earthiness.
I'm reminded of Suzanne Goin's intro to her beet salad with fried chickpeas, Nyons olives, and ricotta salata:
Cookstr - Roasted Beet Salad with Fried Chickpeas, Nyons Olives, and Ricotta Salata
But they're also great in a simpler salad with just basil, orange segments, and pine nuts. Lemon and olive oil to dress.
Or rubbed with a spice mix and charred on the grill, served over Greek yogurt with walnut and basil pesto.