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- Created By: Joss Whedon
- Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar
The Buffy Files: Chapter 1
By Stephen Lackey
October 13, 2006
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Even the most dedicated fan boy can never catch every genre series when it airs on TV. You'd think it wouldn't be difficult because until recently there weren't that many sc-fi/fantasy/horror TV series out there. Somehow though back in the old days I missed the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
series during its original run. I was hooked on FIREFLY
when it aired, I love the original BUFFY
and hell I even like ALIEN RESURRECTION
so I'm an unabashed Joss Whedon fan. I think I never made an attempt to see the series when it originally aired because I felt like it was something for young people. All of my friends were, and still are, into it though. Finally I decided that I'd check it out. Not being someone who just dips his toe in, I belly flopped into the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER COLLECTOR'S SET
. So I went from never seeing the series before to owning a 40 disc set of every episode of all seven seasons. I decided to do a series of articles here as I experience each season for the first time.
All of my friends told me that I'd just have to drudge through the first season; that it isn't as good as future releases. So, I sat down in front of season one episode one with some trepidation. Right away as the series started I was irritated with how everyone, especially Xander (Nicolas Brendon) looked, and are in real life, older than the characters they played. Brendon was 26 when he was trying to play a sophomore in high school! This is a common problem with my favorite example being Tom Welling in SMALLVILLE
. He turns 30 this year and he looks it, but he's playing a 19 year old. Beyond that season one of Buffy, I'm happy to report, isn't as bad as I had been led to believe it would be.
The series seems to pick up after the end of the original movie with Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) moving to a new town and a new high school. After meeting her new Watcher/Trainer (Anthony Stewart Head) she makes friends with the school's outcasts Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and the previously mentioned Xander. The set up is quickly and cleverly delivered; this town is the gateway to Hell, called "The Hellmouth" and because of that this town is the center of paranormal activity that can include vampires, demons, werewolves, and virtually anything else you could conceive of. Xander and Willow quickly discover Buffy's secret, that she's the chosen one and has to fight the constant onslaught of evil and they volunteer to become a part of the team. They do battle with vampires, reptile monsters, demons, and other types of nasty evil thingies. The formula is pretty well set, a new monster each week, some research, some fights, and a resolution.
Now, I can't discuss this season without mentioning the worst episode of the season. This episode is embarrassingly bad and really stands out among all of the other solid episodes of the season. The episode of which I speak is I Robot You Jane
. In that episode an ancient demon is captured in a book. In modern day Sunnydale High school many of Giles' books are being scanned into a computer database. Of course, the scan transfers the demon into the computer. Once inside the computer the demon begins chatting it up with students and using his abilities to cause them to fall in love with him. At the same time he's having a robot built at a factory to transfer his essence into. Everything is just plain bad about this episode from the dialogue to the special effects, to the pacing and assembly. I have to ask what the hell happened here? I'm hoping for some clarification on this episode when I go back and check out the bonus features.
This season features a serialized story of the Master vampire trying to escape his dungeon cage into the real world. Each seemingly "one off" episode nearly always finds a way to tie into the greater story arc, sometimes in pretty minor ways but it almost always works. Along with The Master and all the vampire killing there are the high school romance plots and typical losers versus the cool kids stories but they aren't so CAWSON'S CREEK
that I'm turned off to the series. I think these high school stories work for me because they all have a twinge of darkness to them. Buffy's stories are obviously dark as she can't maintain a real relationship because of being a Slayer. There seems to be potential for a relationship between her and the mysterious Angel and that's even darker because he's a vampire. Even Willow and Xander's love lives are a bit on the dark side as Willow wishes for a relationship with Xander who looks past her for the unattainable Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter). The season culminates in a battle with The Master and a cliffhanger ending. Even though it's not as strong as other Whedon series and films it's still stronger than most other series that aired on television at the time and I do see potential for the series to grow and just get better. BUFFY
is well written for a low budget high concept genre series but the best of this season doesn't compare to the worst episode of FIREFLY
. The same friends who warned me that season one wasn't great also tell me that the series really gets interesting midway of season two. So, Buffy fans, what are your thoughts from way back to season one? Watch for future installments as I dig through seasons 2 through 7.