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Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Having neglected my nerdly pop culture duty on two major fronts: Buffy and Harry Potter- that is, I've never watched any of it (nor read the Potter books), and having lost all interest in movies, and running out of TV shows to watch (Treme and Breaking Bad ending their seasons soon, Lost finished for good, I couldn't be bothered with V or Flash Forward or whatever), I decided to jump into Buffy.

In our nerd/sci-fi world, it's the biggest most important cultural phenomenon of our generation. As much as I still love B5 I'm not going to delude myself into thinking anyone but like 5 people give a crap, and Trek's glory days really were before our time (Kirk rules, bitches!).

Also, I'm just totally in the mood for trivial nonsense, and whatever else it may have, I was promised hot chicks and monsters.

So I'm almost done with season 1 (only 12 episodes). And my first impression- well this show is pretty damn stupid. 5 minutes into it and I'm like "oh I remember why I never watched this before- it's about a girl named Buffy who slays vampires."

Fortunately I'm in the mood for stupid so this is totally passable cheesy entertainment.

I'm also very aware that one must be charitable with first seasons. If I can swallow N'Grath and Tasha Yar being kidnapped by a tribe of racist stereotypes, then I can handle these ridiculous vampire masks that look like something you'd buy at Spencers.

The most important thing is the main character and she is indeed delightful. I never considered Gellar an unattractive woman, of course, but here in the flush of youth and increasingly shorter skirts, she is just the cutest little thing. I know Cordelia is supposed to be the great beauty and Willow is the geek fantasy, but Gellar is just smokin'.

What the hell is the point of the Cordelia character anyway? She adds nothing, at least not yet.

Xander and Willow are mostly annoying and not very good actors. Their supposed to mostly deliver jokes and serve as the accessibility points for the audience, but they are so clunky and awkward that it's painful. Xander had a more solid presence in the heyena-spirit-abduction episode (which I enjoyed way more than I should have), so I'm hoping they'll find something cool for him to do down the line.

As for Willow, I think later she becomes gay if I remember my internets properly, which I don't care about but whatever (though her crush on Xander is pretty straight, but whatever, we TV shows have to have our socially relevant points...)

Angel is the worst character so far. OMG what an annoying prick. Ok yes he's very good-looking, I can see why the teenage girlies liked him, what with his pecs and hair and brooding (I'm just going to assume he is the primary inspiration/blame for Twilight). I hear he gets a spinoff- I hope this dude acquires a personality before then.

Love the watcher. Hits me right in my anglophile soul.

Love the principals. Sad to see the first dude eaten, but impressed that they went there. Now there's Quark! And he's introduced by slamming the previous principal's "wooly-headed liberal" thinking. Lots of stuff on this show now ends up playing like 90s-nostalgia porn, especially the way the aging boomers try to "nurture" their kids with methods and such, especially Buffy's mother. And how in the otherwise atrocious episode about the internet demon robot, how the 'net was new and scary and mysterious. Though if I can go the rest of my life without hearing the word "techno-pagan" again, it'll be too soon.

Of course like most monster fare I have to not think about plot points too carefully. At the end of the pilot, Xander is surprised that everyone can just go about their day after The Harvest, and the librarian just blows it off. No, Xander, you're right- that's not normal! People just die left and right, and no one seems bothered by it. Yes the show sometimes makes joking self-deprecating references, but as the plots will get more involved (ridiculous), I'm expecting that to get less funny and more lazy.

The Master is just some queen bitch, like the MC at a drag club. I'm going to assume he dies shortly- he can't be a long-term villain.

This show has a reputation for getting all serious and dealing with "characters" and "issues" and whatever, which I'm hoping is good, but I'm really enjoying the superficial stupidity of the whole thing right now and I hope it doesn't completely lose this charm.

Oh, I suppose it goes without saying that this thread is by me for me and should remain spoiler free for episodes I haven't watched yet. Tonight I plan on finishing season 1.
I have season 1 ready to watch. I got through 3 episodes and am having a hard time picking it up again. I have heard that you just have to grin and bear it through season 1 and that it gets better as it goes.
Season 1 is rocky, without question, but the last three are the strongest of that first run, so I'll be interested to see what you newbies have to say by the end of the S1 finale.

The beginning of S2 is also a bit patchy, but there's an episode called "Lie to Me" early on that is one of the greats, and then things really start to pick up. Character development? You better believe it.
So... a girl is ignored, even by her teacher, and that makes her literally invisible. Um.... ok....

A little league coach beats the shit out of one of his players for missing a catch. Um.... ok...

Look, I know it's a show about monsters and shit, but come on, that doesn't mean we have to make EVERYTHING retarded.

Other than the big reveal ending, I like the episode where everyone's nightmares became reality. Xander especially- first they go with the cliche naked in class thing (which, btw, means the dreamer is NAKED, not wearing underwear), but then they redeem that with the clown thing. Interesting that he was the only one who was able to actually defeat his nightmare.

By focusing so much on Willow being ignored and shy, she will get her star turn at some point and become some kind of bad-ass warrior or monster or super-hero or something like that. By turning down Xander asking her to the dance after being rejected by Buffy, we see that she may be a nerd but she ain't a sucker.

The big showdown between Buffy and the Master was a letdown, though I suppose I expected too much. The whole execution felt awkward, with the kid and whatnot. And they set it up with that prophecy about how she's gonna die, and get around it by having Xander give her CPR. Lame.

Ok sure she says she feels better and maybe she's stronger, so we'll see in season 2 if she's actually a vampire, which means she'll be un-vampired at some point. But I can't see how this can be resolved without making the whole prophecy business pretty pointless. I hope to be proven wrong. And I also hope at some point we get some background mythology on where these prophecies come from.

The internets tell me seasons 2 and 3 are like the greatest thing on TV ever ever, so I look forward to that.
I've seen a few episodes here and there and I can definitely see the Joss sense of humor. They definitely don't take themselves seriously with the monster fighting but they do take the relationships seriously. Never tried to watch it season by season though. Maybe one day :)

Hulu does have Angel's first season and I've been enjoying that. He's still brooding and wears way too many layers for LA weather.
Angel got some character by the time he got his own show, but not too much. It's mostly the supporting characters - two in particluar - that carried the spin-off for me. I can't really say too much here without spoiling anything, but .. while Angel remains pretty bland an uninteresting most of the time, he has his moments - moments of pure awesomeness.

It's been a long time since I watched Buffy, so I don't actually remember too many of the individual plot points you're talking about (like the little league thingy - no memory of that. I do remember the hyena episode, though, which I loved to bits) .. but I do remember feeling much the same about the show in the beginning. It was great brainless fun, but pretty stupid. At the beginning, I enjoyed the stand-alone episodes, but got bored everytime they tried to move the arc along .. but my feeling about this changed radically at some point in season 2.

Seasons 2, 3 and 5 are the strongest ones IMHO, but all seasons have their individual fantastic episodes.

Regarding character development .. KoshFan is going to come down hard on me for this, but I did not actually think it was that good, if you look at the big picture. There were some spectacular individual character-driven episodes, but it's really not like B5 (or even Harry Potter ;) ) where everything feels completely coherent in retrospective. Frankly, some of the major character developments are pretty gimmicky.

Also, don't expect any payoffs across season boundaries. I'm sure there are some exceptions I'm forgetting about, but if in general .. if something you're expecting or hoping for doesn't happen by the end of the season, it's not going to happen. That being said, some of the individual seasons are planned out quite well.
I think my biggest issue with the show is that it was too "trendy" and "look at me, I'm going to throw whiz-bang insults and come-backs all . . . the . . . time . . ." Just felt too cheeky for me. Maybe my tastes have changed now. No idea. I'll get into it as soon as I get caught up on Dexter.
I'm also very aware that one must be charitable with first seasons. If I can swallow N'Grath and Tasha Yar being kidnapped by a tribe of racist stereotypes, then I can handle these ridiculous vampire masks that look like something you'd buy at Spencers.

Speaking of N'Grath, did you enjoy his cameo as a bug woman that wanted to eat Xander? Same puppet.

Buffy remains one of my all-time favourite series, though I admit the first season was rocky. Season 6 was horrible with only a few bright spots.
I actually preferred season 6 to season 7 - season 6 was mostly brain-numbingly stupid, but enjoyable in the same way season 1 was for me - brainless stupid fun. Season 7 was just tedious - with even fewer exceptions than there were to season 6's sucking.

Regarding the hipness/trendiness of the show .. I've got the same problem with Buffy that I've got with Firefly, in that the dialogue for me is actually almost too good. I've been in the company of some pretty witty people (this is me, once again, sucking up to my master GKE - among other people), but the way characters on Joss shows often have once-in-a-lifetime comebacks ready for the most unpredictable insults and the such is .. awesome, but not quite lifelike.

(Which is maybe a bit of a shit complaint about a show that's about a girl called Buffy killing vampires)
Remember the Gillmore Girls? Every chick I know was into that, and when I saw it, they were talking super-fast and everything was amazingly clever, with no stuttering or pauses, even if the character was in high school. Same thing like some of your observations about Buffy- people don't/can't talk like that in real life.

I'm gonna chalk that up to a theatrical style choice. It's like an Oscar Wilde play- you know it's not realistic, but you're enjoying the cleverness of the script.

Funny thing about the first few episodes is that the jokes aren't even good, so it really comes off as awful. But it gets better as it moves along and finds its rhythm, as one would expect.

I think the fact that this show is about high school kids is going to make it hard for me to accept this show as some amazing thing. I think I'm too old for it to have any serious emotional impact. I mean, yeah, the scene where Xander got the "let's be friends" business from Buffy when he asked her to the dance brought back some nightmares, but that teen drama shit just isn't gonna have major impact on me.

Was the teacher mantis literally the same puppet as N'Grath? Oh man, that's just so cool/stupid.

Mad props to Gellar's performance in the finale. She is really bringin' it. I know people love the other characters, but at this early stage in the game, I'm watching this show for Buffy/Gellar and am mostly bored when she's not on screen.
Another problem with the witty dialgoe, especially on Buffy .. no-one ever laughs. Xander has some insult thrown at him, and comes up with the perfect comeback within the blink of an eye .. and his friends don't even react. What kind of robotesque friends are those? Why do people even bother saying witty things in the Buffyverse if no-one seems to notice it? If I was in the presence of my friends say something I considered witty, and they didn't react in the slightest, I'd be thinking .. "wow, that was a stupid thing to say, I shouldn't do that again".

But yeah, it's a stylistic choice. This kind of dialogue wouldn't work if people reacted the way they do IRL. And as it's often really great fun, I'm not going to complain .. but I do raise an eyebrow every time I see people praise the realism of Joss Whedon's dialoge. Really, no.

I was not expecting to like Gellar/Buffy at all when I started watching the show, as Markas - who was actually the person that forced me to start watching Buffy by giving me the S1 box set - will be able to confirm, but she did end up being one of my absolute favourite characters, along with Giles and some folk you've not met yet.

Ugh. The Gilmore Girls. A girl I briefly dated some years ago made me sit through an episode of that. In German. I should have known right then that it was not going to work.
When I got my best friend in to Buffy, she was really of a "yeah right, it seems so stupid" opinion at first. She loved making fun of the music in season one; I agree with her, season one's music is rather stupid. Thankfully, they got much better composers for the rest of the show. I made a promise to her, if she watched the show to the end of season two and didn't love it, I would forever shut up about Buffy. She ended up calling me the evening she finished season two to ask, "Can I borrow season 3?" Hee hee.

Yeah, the show does start silly and slow. Every season has episodes that aren't all that great. But the show as a whole is a good viewing experience even if some things make you go, "Oh come on!"

I'm a big Buffy fan, but there are definitely things that I really don't like. Like the little kid -- "The Annointed". What a totally poor casting choice that was. I enjoy the idea of a scary ass kid; he did not do it... at all.

Keep with the show; it definitely gets better than season one.

As for the dialogue style, I love it. I love fast, strangely worded, quirky dialogue. I don't look for the characters to react to the language the same way that I do because the style is purposed for me, the viewer, not for internal character reactions (in most cases, at least).

Some of the earlier stories, particularly in season one, are more monster-of-the-week variety. It was done as part of the initial premise of the show, which was to make manifest the metaphor of "high school is Hell." They took various high school scenarios and made them demonic as a means by which to examine the real world idea on which the scenario was based. So, you get the mother wanting to relive her glory days through her daughter turn demonic by having the mother literally take over the daughter's body as her own. You have the predator on the internet be a literal demon. Et cetera. While that formula was used a lot earlier on in the show, its use decreases significantly as the show progresses and gets into its bigger story arc grooves.

As for Buffy's somewhat insignificant, temporary death at the end of the first season; all I'll say, you haven't yet seen all of its ramifications... by far.
The monsters of the week faded into the background, but they continued for a long time, and the central metaphor of demon-as-XYZ continued all the way through to the end.

By the way, I didn't mean to sound excluding when I said that if you don't get the metaphor, this isn't the show for you -- mostly what meant is that since the metaphor is so important, if you dislike it you may not want to waste your time on BtVS.

And I thought it was totally silly too. I well remember hearing ads for Buffy and laughing at the idea that a premise so stupid could have made it to multiple seasons. Then my friends showed me an episode from early in season 6...
While I can agree that the "high school (or life) is Hell" metaphor does technically continue throughout the show, it's becomes far less in the face after a while. Perhaps less formulaic is a better way to put it.

Oh, and GKE, you comment about the high school aspect of the show. Well, I'll say, people don't stay in high school forever. :D I'm still surprised about the weird sort of division that created within the fandom when it happened.
Well, you watching through BtVS for the first time got me to watch it again. I started with the beginning of season two since that's where your last post left you. I've rewatched through "Reptile Boy," skipping "Some Assembly Required." SAR has a particular scene and a particular line that I enjoy, but I still skipped it. Ending with "Reptile Boy," there was a chick in it that I thought looked a good deal like Miracle Laurie, who was in Dollhouse, so I looked up the cast list. It wasn't Miracle, but there was someone in "Reptile Boy" that we know. Robin Atkin Downes was in the episode; he played Byron on Babylon 5. (He also did some voiced work in Avatar The Last Airbender.)

Which reminds me, although it's almost totally unrelated, that the guy who played the Ranger with the messages in "Coming of Shadows" is also the guy who played Firefly villain Rance Burgess (and the cop after Kate early on in Lost).
Does it constitute a spoiler to say that Ethan is one of the best things about BtVS?

In a moment of massive immaturity, I laughed out loud when I noticed that Byron was reptile boy. Back in 2003 when I watched the episode.

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