Thursday, March 1, 2012

TELEVISION TIME CAPSULE: A look back at 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'

I can’t believe it’s been nine years since ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ went off the air.

I remember being crushed (and yet somehow ready) when it happened. Maybe it was just time.

Recently, I pulled out all of my DVDs and watched the series over from beginning to end. I didn't skip any episodes and I didn't fast forward even for one second.

It was an interesting experiment.

I learned a few things as I went:

* The first season really isn’t very good. After a great star with ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ and ‘The Harvest’ things took a quick turn for the bad. The finale rescued the season – but there was actually more bad than good. We’re lucky we got a chance for a second season.

* Season two was when the show hit its stride. There were still some weak episodes (‘Bad Eggs’, 'Go Fish') – but the end arc is probably the best the show ever put forth. In addition, we got introduced to the extraordinary characters of Spike and Drusilla – all the while expanding the show’s universe and legacy.

* Season three started weak and then got strong. The mayor was a riot and Faith was a compelling villain because you found yourself rooting for her (even though you know she is broken) at times.

* Season four is still a mixed bag. Since it’s a transitional season, I guess I shouldn’t expect more (yet I still do). I think the show was actually hurt most by not having a central place for the gang to hang out (like the library in previous years). It didn’t help that Riley was such a cardboard hero, either, or that Buffy seemed to lose herself in college hijinks that were way beneath her for a good third of the season.

* Season five is a lot stronger than I remember. The first time I watched it, I remember getting a little irritated with the slow burn of the season and the fact that a lot of the episodes seemed to melt into each other. That still is somewhat of an issue for me, but the overall arc is so powerful I find myself forgiving and forgetting any little pacing errors.

* Season six still has some massive issues. I know some fans like this season because of Spike – but he’s a profound problem for me in this season. There’s absolutely no reason he should be hanging around – or that they should be forcing a relationship between him and Buffy. It’s not that they don’t have chemistry, it’s just that they don’t belong together and trying to pretend that they do proves to be something of a distraction. When you add in the fact that the writers wimped out in the bad Willow arc, there's just really not a lot to like about this season. The best thing I can say about it is that it's better than season seven.

* Season seven is even worse than I remember – and I remember it being pretty bad. I think there’s a reason I haven’t watched this season since it went off the air. It’s not good. In fact, it’s really almost bad. I used to liken it to the worst of Buffy, but still better than just about anything else on television. I don’t feel that way anymore. Not only are the performances stilted and the special effects bad, but the overall story arc is just plain weak. I love Nathan Fillion as much as the next girl, but holy ham Batman!

I think for people that aren’t fans of Buffy, this show is considered to be campy and corny. Those of us that loved it, though, know it’s a whole heck of a lot more.

Buffy was about friendship, loyalty and love. It was just set in a world of monsters.

Click here for the best Buffy episodes.

Click here for the worst Buffy episodes.


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