I’m one of those people who never watched an episode of Buffy while it was on. I knew it was supposed to be good, and I had many friends who were fervent fans, but I just didn’t have more time to set aside for TV. Then I saw Serenity, loved it, bought the Firefly DVDs, loved them, read Astonishing X-Men, liked it a lot, and long after all his shows have been cancelled, I am now a disciple in the cult of Whedon. Let’s hear it for the advent of full-season DVD collections, which allow me to systematically catch up on what I’ve missed. I finished watching season one of Buffy, and here are a few offhand observations:

  1. The plotting etc. got much better as the season went on. However, there are some things I still wish they’d explain. Like, how can a school have all these murders and stuff and not attract the attention of the media? If even one of those deaths happened at a real school it would be big news. I can easily accept the vampires and witches and so forth, but I’d like at least a handwavy explanation for some of the surrounding logic problems. Also, if you have this were-mantis that only kills virgins, but she kills a fortyish science teacher in the beginning of the episode, does that mean the teacher was a virgin? He didn’t seem that nerdy.
  2. That Alyson Hannigan is super-duper-cute, and it sure makes me feel anxious when she is placed in jeopardy.
  3. It’s weird to me that Charisma Carpenter shows up in the opening credits. Cordelia seems like such a minor character, really hardly showing up at all except in the pilot and “Out of Mind Out Of Sight.” Yeah, according to Joss in the commentary she gets a bigger role later, but she hardly seemed like a regular this season. Which reminds me…
  4. I wish the commentaries and biographies would be a bit more spoiler-conscious. Joss tends to say stuff like “…when we blew up the school in Season 3,” which is kind of a letdown for those of us who weren’t along for the initial ride. I started watching the extras on disc 1 and in like the first 10 seconds of the first extra somebody says “Angel is a vampire”, which isn’t revealed until a disc 2 episode. Okay, granted, I pretty much knew this already from the summaries given to me by Buffyphile friends, but still. One of those Buffyphiles, my friend Jenny, refuses to watch any extras on a TV DVD until she’s watched all the season’s episodes, and I totally adopted her method, but this doesn’t help when people are spoiling later seasons. Stop it, people!
  5. I always read that X-Files (another show I never got around to watching) had its “mythos/continuity” episodes and its “monster-of-the-week” episodes, and it seems like Buffy is structured similarly. According to Jenny, these are known in the Buffyverse as the “Big Bads” and the “Little Bads”, which is a taxonomy I can get behind. I really liked some of the Little Bads that drew the metaphors between adolescent stuff and horror movie stuff, like “The Witch”, “The Pack”, and “Out of Mind Out of Sight”.

On the whole, I enjoyed it a lot. On to season 2!

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8 responses »

  1. storme says:

    1) is a bit of a slow burner, and is sort-of-explained-away over the next few seasons. You might want to chalk it up to ‘dramatic license’ for now.

    As for point #3, I think the important thing about Cordelia in season 1 is that she is who Buffy could have been if it weren’t for the whole slaying deal. Certainly she is pretty much who Buffy was before she became the slayer, so she’s a great mirror for Buffy’s actions and reactions to things. Besides, what would a high school show be without the bitchy popular cheerleader character for the other characters to resent? Of *course* she’s in the credits.

    And please keep posting your thoughts! Season 2 has a *great* opener for you to look forward to…

    • paulobrian says:

      As for point #3, I think the important thing about Cordelia in season 1 is that she is who Buffy could have been if it weren’t for the whole slaying deal.

      You know, I should probably go back and watch the movie. I didn’t start with it since I actually did see it, but that was many years ago now. I think part of what bugged me about Cordelia is that she frequently comes off way too cartoonish for my tastes. Actually, not “for my tastes” — I don’t mind cartoonish, but it didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the characters, who are at least two-dimensional, if not more. The whole “bitchy popular cheerleader” thing felt like a cliche in the first season, and not worthy of the other, more interesting stuff that was going on in the episodes.

      Maybe they just hadn’t really gotten a handle on how to use her in an interesting way. She certainly had some great moments in the first ep of season two. Speaking of which…

      Season 2 has a *great* opener for you to look forward to…

      See my just-posted gobsmackery. 🙂

      • storme says:

        Nah, it’s probably not worth going back and watching the movie – there are flashbacks to Buffy-at-Hemery-High within the series, and it’s a lot more coherent than the movie was.

        And, well, Cordelia gains dimensions upon dimensions. Give her time.

      • Anonymous says:

        Seconded.

        In S1 Cordelia serves more as Buffy’s shadow. It is worth noticing her role in any given show because it will comment on the themes/events to come–she is almost literally incapable of telling the truth. Pay close attention to her dialogue/interactions; it means more metatextually than it might seem.–YHL

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad you’re getting into it. It’s quite a fun ride.

  3. jrw says:

    Hmm. It might be time for me to finally rent and watch these. At least then I could feel more free to read posts like this.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Like, how can a school have all these murders and stuff and not attract the attention of the media? If even one of those deaths happened at a real school it would be big news. I can easily accept the vampires and witches and so forth, but I’d like at least a handwavy explanation for some of the surrounding logic problems.
    This gets addressed to some dubious extent, but I screamed bloody murder through most of the series that people in Sunnydale were deeply stupid. Possibly all the smart people moved away.

    Fair warning: Whedon sucks at worldbuilding, so you’re going to see more of this kind of thing. Stuff like: only one girl to save the entire world from demons conveniently concentrated on a Hellmouth in SoCal, okay. Series premise. I can deal. But logic beyond that? Not so much.

    And on the commentaries: word. I still haven’t watched all of them, even if I’ve finished the show, because the first time I delved into one it spoiled me for an entire important plot development. I was very annoyed.–YHL

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