Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Buffy turns 10

This week 10 years ago, a little show, based on the premise of a failed movie was among the original line up of the new WB channel in the US. Buffy: The Vampire Slayer went on to be the flagship programme for the station, made a star of Sarah Michelle Gellar and ultimately gained a huge cult, bordering on mass following. Unique and compelling, the show was a revelation with critics naming it one of the shows of the year and never let up on their praise of the show throughout its run.

The show was a mix of humour and drama, touching on wide ranging issues such as morality, death, sex, bullying and parenting all filtered through the hell a high school experience can be, especially when you character is a reversal of the traditional blonde bimbo victim, now turned slayer, destined to protect the world from demons and vampires.

I came late to the show, accidentally watching the finale of the 2nd series, intrigued by this girl in love with a vampire, her simple wish to be a normal girl suffocated by huge obligations, forced into killing her fella to save the world. I don’t know how hammy that premise sounds but the episode was outstanding, a bank of rich characters filled out the story and the ending left my jaw on the floor.

The show was brave, so often Joss Whedon has had his visions stifled by studios, he has just left the Wonderwoman project and his script was butchered to turn Alien Resurrection into the mess it was. It is hardly new now but it was the first show I’d seen that had series long arcs, at times scenes dropped hints of events that would unfold two years later. Every episode, even the poorer episodes of which bettered anything churned out by the pretenders to follow (Charmed, Smallville) were littered with twists and were endlessly funny and equally poignant all in the space of 50 minutes. There were benchmark episodes when you knew you were watching something special, episodes totally devoid of dialogue or with no backing music, with plot developments turning everything on its head, no character was safe, the story telling was real and determined. To watch the development of the show, the themes to each series and see the attention paid to evolving the main players as well as supporters is a testament to the talent at play. I could go on: favourite episodes, scenes, characters, running gags, pop culture references. You get the idea. Buffy is currently being shown weekdays on Channel 6 and Sky 1.

IMDB kindly lists some of the best dialogue of the show here, and there is no end to the fan-sites on offer, everything from philosophical debates to examinations of Sarah Michelle Gellars diminishing waistline throughout the series.

4 comments:

phdbird said...

I love the episode with the 'Gentlemen', fairy tail monsters who float through corridors in silence and steal people's voices. A TV episode rarely stays with you the way a film does but I have such a strong image of these creepy forces even though I only saw it once, years ago.

Niall said...

Buffy was one of the best shows tv has ever known.

It had such a great mix of humour, action, drama and you know, other stuff.

There were other series with a similar mix (e.g. Xena) but no other series had such brilliant scripts.

The good news, Josh is currently developing a new series of Buffy that explains what happens after the Slayers move to Europe, as well as what happened after the end of Angel (and by God that was one of the best finales any show has ever known). The bad news, it is going to be released as a comic.

Tuathal said...

I think your praise is a little O.T.T. To say the poorer episodes were 'littered with twists, endlessly funny and equally poignant' is a bit much. I also felt that seasons 4 and 5 lacked in comparison with the rest of the series.

And Joss Whedons shows had a tendancy to use very convenient plot devices that rival Bobby walking out of the shower. Case in point, the appearance of Dawn and indeed Conor in Angel. Granted we are dealing with a world where a 100 lb ex-cheerleader is humanitys only hope against the 'Big-Bad' every year.

That said, I was a fan of the show and followed it. Something thats very rare for me and TV shows. I agree with PhdBird re: the Gentlemen episode. The musical episode was also special.

CK said...

I meant to get acros that most episodes were above par and the poorer episodes were still better than the output of other more popular shows.

The appearance of Dawn was intended as a tongue in cheek reference to how shows inexplicably have younger characters appear to revitalise a show late in its run, Dawn suddenly appearing is exactly what happened! It was a new spin on an old premise just as the musical episode was.

Remember that the gentlemen episode ('Hush') and the musical episode ('Once More with Feeling') were part of the 4th and 5th series respectively so there was still standout episodes in the series that might have lacked focus.

Also I forgot to mention that Buffy being 10 years old makes me feel mighty old!