Reviews: Buffythe Vampire Slayer
A slayer of monsters and conventions alike!
Like with many people, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was an indelible part of my adolescence. Running extremely late at night—on school days, no less (no doubt a leading cause in the slipping curve of a grade or two)—it felt like my own special, secret little bit of teenage rebellion. It helps that I pretty much had irrefutable proof that my math teacher was a demon from at least the fifth circle of hell... because, hey, aren't all mathematicians? So in its own way, my continued rejection of his unholy teachings was my own way of feeling like a... no, I think I really was a Scoob. Heavy. Ahem—anyways. Probably the best thing about Buffy is its effortless balancing act between hard-hitting hellspawn-slaying action, and (often, no less hard-hitting) relatable slice-of-teenage-life trials and tribulations. It's odd, but for a time, Buffy was probably one of the most true-to-life adolescent dramas on television, while sacrificing nary a single laugh. This was important for a guy grown up on what was, in retrospect, toothless TGIF sitcom fluff. It really brought close to home that adults weren't always right. Another of Buffy's great prime movers is its subversion of typical pop-cultural gender roles. Not only is our plucky vampire-slaying hero one of the great female protagonists of contemporary fiction, but what amounts to pretty much our central group's The Chick archetype is a lovably geeky everyguy. And it does it all without ever coming off as forced or trying to front any sort of PC agenda. It just feels so... natural. Now, I hardly have to educate my fellow tropers about the inevitable Seasonal Rot. I'll admit that by the end, it sort of got stuck in a mire of repetitive wangsting, and a jarringly downbeat tone compared to earlier times... but, y'know, after following the characters for so many years, I just learned to live with it. Just like a "real" friendship, I was with them through the good and the bad. Give and take, y'know. At its best, Buffy is as fresh and enveloping today as was decades ago. It stands as Joss Whedon's Magnum Opus... and not just because he's failed to recreate the same kind of magic in subsequent years, but because it's just that damn good. As an embodiment of adolescent power fantasies, it's peerless and... non-pass-up-able!
One of my favourite shows ever, cliched as it may sound
I got into BTVS around January of 2013. I spaced my viewing out through the year, and by November I had finished the final season. As the credits rolled I- in a darkened room, on my own, with no one around, felt the urge to start clapping. So I did. This is one of THOSE series. You will love all of the characters, their personalities, and their flaws, and their arcs. You will appreciate the massive attention to detail in continuity and the constant reference to previous episodes. You will want to quote the show everywhere you can, if you're me. It also contains the only episode of any piece of fiction that really makes me cry. Properly cry. Even on a rewatch. The show begins as a somewhat camp, but enjoyable show. But after signs of growth in the Season 1 finale, it blossoms in Season 2 into something absolutely fantastic. The characters gain more depth but remain relatable, tragic events begin happening and the series becomes a rollercoaster ride. By Season 3 the show is all but perfect as the writers find a balance. And in my opinion, it never stops being good. Fans often decry Season 6 and 7, but I found that watching the complete, already finished series, they were just as good as the other seasons, advancing the arcs further and raising interesting questions. If you decide to watch the show, don't be put off by some of the very early stuff. At the VERY least, get to Season 2's "Passion". The acting is phenomenal. Relatively unknown actors but for fans of the show, they still put on a hell of a show. Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters stand out here. The characters come off as REAL. The character development they go through feels like what real people go through. I thought about my real life friends, and me, and how we changed over time, and all I could think of was "Wow. Buffy is actually rather accurate." I may sound like I'm gushing, and that's because this is a work that does that to me. So to counter that, I suppose I have to point out a few criticisms. Season 1 does have some very problematic episodes,and a few actors left before they should have. These are minor flaws however in my opinion. I never thought another live action TV show could equal Doctor Who in my mind, but Buffy the Vampire Slayer does. Don't be put off by the silly name. Watch this show. You won't regret it. (Though your vocab-thingy might)
My failed attempt to do this series justice
I must admit, I am not as well-versed in the buffyverse as I should be. In fact, I have only watched the first three seasons (but have been heavily spoilered on the series post-graduation). I digress, what I have had the pleasure to see of Buffy, I have immensely enjoyed. We all know the premise; stereotypically dumb cheerleader archetype turns out to be the biggest badass in the world, and the only person who can defend humanity from vampires. Season 1 was a narmy but somewhat charming introduction to the vast and intricate world Buffy lives in, and yes, most episodes were ridiculous. It makes up for that with it's nostalgic pop culture references, snark and lovable characters who never lack in depth though. (I'd give it a B-) Season 2 was a immeasurable improvement with the introduction of rightful fan favourites Spike and Drusilla, who symbolise when the show became a lot smarter, a lot funnier, a lot deeper, a lot scarier and a lot more exciting. It also saw the plots become more smoothed out and well paced, and character development was running rampant. Even the villains and comic relief got there fair share of depth and sympathetic moments. Sometimes it fell back into the silly and narmy world of season 1 (see "Go Fish" and "Bad Eggs" for the worst offenders), but mostly it was a wonderful season. It had the ability to break your heart and lift your spirits, sometimes simultaneously. (Worthy of a straight A) Season 3 kept it at a steady high with the introduction of badass Faith and the hilarious yet sinister Mayor Wilkins. (A-) Like all masterpieces though, there are one or two flaws. I am quite disillusioned by a improbable all caucasian cast, for example. Especially in such a culturally diverse location. There are also issues with consent and sex surrounding the series, which I won't get into here. The best thing about this show is that despite all the mythology and fantasy, all it really conveys is life. If you can't relate to anything in this both tragic and comedic show, then you're probably a soulless automaton. Behind all it's glitz and dazzle (and by glitz and dazzle I mean blood, gore and puns), Buffy is a show about growing up. Everyone can relate and enjoy that. All in all, it's earnt a A- from my perspective, and I'd like to experience the rest of the series one-day, in spite of what I've heard.
SMG or Mooki?
^ (It's a litmus test) Like many long runners, Buffy is split down the middle into its intended run - five years or less - and the amount of seasons they could feasibly knock out of their cash piñata. Or, the "Whedon" years and the "Marti" years. One shouldn't be glib about it, and it depends on who you ask; but I've found that one's preference depends on whether you find Michelle Trachenberg appealing or not. To paraphrase Charmed, the first four or five years were about a Vampire Slayer who happened to be a girl. The Marti Noxon years were about a girl/sister/housewife who happened to be a Slayer. The show got sunnier, the clothing got louder (still the Champ in the bad TV wardrobe sweepstakes), and domesticity became the show's core. Spike turned into Sam Elliot in Mask - mom's shifty biker boyfriend all of us wish we had growing up. (I nicknamed him Fonzie.) Dawn was obviously inserted as a surrogate for Buffy's younger days; admirably, however, the writers faked out making her a potential Slayer, then went a different route. All in all, Dawn was less a new addition to the Scoobies than a child for fledgling mother Buffy to raise. Personally, I'm game for the retool, but found Marti's aping of Whedon's allegories to be pretty hard going. Also, her SOP is to turn all the characters against each other, as evidenced in her early episode Dead Man's Party. Hilariously, this was around the time Angel started suffering from the same thing, so you can't lay all the blame on Marti. She was crazy enough to make Marsters walk around naked on-set for twenty episodes, but not crazy enough to do all this. Rather, judging by Joss' work on the comic line, I'd say it's a sign that Buffy can't support an Extended Universe. This was a biting satire and celebration of the horror genre, much like Red Dwarf was to sci-fi. And like Red Dwarf, it wasn't meant to continue indefinitely, or become a brand. Plenty of people have no qualms with shows contorting themselves to last forever, and are loyal fans to the end. I found I was getting diminishing returns.
Buffy the Vampire slayer is, hands down one of the best Urban Fantasy/Horror series in Television. Had excellent characters, good plot (except season 6), ingenious Monsters and memorable Villains. Then it came season 8. I'm not saying Season 8 is bad. It's a nice story, good pacing and while sometimes repetitive, it really capture the attention of the reader, but the problem is that since it deals with the Unmasked world, it really brought down some serious Fridge Horror from the series. This is exemplified in the Fanfic Trick or Treath from the Fanfic Recommendations. Simply put, the Slayers had to be the worst kind of group for Freedom you can dream. I honestly cheered for the SG 1 and the military from the entire Fic and I found from uncomfrotable to downright despicable the way Buffy manage the Slayers and her desire to mantain things "Traditional and Clean". Put in other way, Buffy is suppresing the information about Demons and things that bump the night because only the slayers can do it. This is a Third world trained, 100+ group of girls for the entire world. In fact, one of the new recruits had her entire Family slaughtered in front of her and there was nothing she and here group could have done to protect her. She is literally taking a traumatized 13 ish girl and forcing her to become a Child Soldier. For Buffy, making Child soldiers is the moral, upstanding thing to do. That is evil. The other fact is, for this to work, they had to make the Military and the Society at large a bunch of idiots, incompetent pen-pusher, gun totting psychopats (like in the comic) and since this is the SG 1, it doesn't work. In fact, if you take it from the Real World View, what Buffy is doing is not only criminal and reprehensive, but completely inefficient. Honestly, who would you sheer: for a mental unestable, selfish (she was ready to throw the world away several times for her love ones) barbarian-ish warrior with 100 equal mental fuck up girls with a firm mentality of strength equal right or the Military and your Goverment to protect you? While Buffy is an outstanding heroine, she is the last thing you would wan't to give power or leadership. And it this what broke the series after the ending (imagine again if the slayers had failed...guhh) Great work but easily broken.
Season nine comic - it's JUMPED THE SHAAARRR...oh wait, that's interesting.
The Buffy series, like the character itself, has had it's ups and downs. Using a rocket launcher then killing Angel, introducing Faith then turning her into one of the biggest monsters in the series, five years of kicking ass then her death and resurrection, a brilliant first 3 seasons then mediocre ones after that. The season 8 comics were actually pretty cool, so what has this one given us? =MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD= Giles was killed by Angel, Buffy destroyed the Seed of Wonder to save the world but that has put an end to magic, Slayers and the vampire and demon problem is worse than ever, Vampires are adored and seen as the victims of who fights them. And Buffy is once again trying to fit into life. Meanwhile Faith is looking after Angel and a group of Slayers in England. For his part Angel can't stop feeling guilty for his actions and seeks a way to bring Giles back from the dead. As far as the story goes it's much the same as the two TV series, with each taking part in their own world and occasionally overlapping. With the Buffy series I found that in the first part of the story I find myself shaking my head at the direction they're going (this has improved by Guarded,) but gets better as I read on. Angel & Faith however does not suffer this problem, and aside from a serious What The Hell Hero moment later comes across as more credible. Buffy shows us what many of the characters have up to. It's nice to see the likes of Andrew and Wood again, and they have been refined to the point where even Kennedy is likeable now. In contrast for the most part we get mostly new characters in Angel's story, but we do get to see some old faves. The styles of the two series closely reflect the way they were on TV. Buffy is not as dark as Angel, but the latter gets one shot Lighter And Softer stories after each arc, bringing in Harmony and Giles' aunts. As you may expect we get lots of callbacks through the series, some really unexpected and incredibly funny. How I laughed when Faith was sprung for using stakes as sex toys. Biggest problem would have to be it can stretch what you can believe. No, actually, that's the second biggest problem. The biggest is like on TV your heart bleeds for the characters, but by the same token it's doing it's job then and that's one of the reasons why it's so great.
An Ode to the Slayer
It seems only right that someone review 'Buffy: The Vampire Slayer' because without this TV show the very site we are one would't exist. Don't believe me? Look it up on the other wiki. Mutant Enemy's most famous creation is one of the easiest ways to overdose on Trope. Why? What makes Buffy Slayer of the Vampire so special? Why does this little blonde chick with a mini-skirt and a pointy stick still have such a lasting effect twelve years after she first graced TV? Is it the characters? I have known many people who have hated Buffy as an individual but loved the show because of the people around her. With a re-occurring cast of over forty five members 'Buffy' has a massive pool of interesting characters to draw on, with ensemble darkhorses abounding. Willow and Xander extend beyond your typical TV-land best friends role and Giles isn't just some lofty Obi-Wan. They are characters in their own right with depth and shade. Is it the writing? The term Buffy Speak is often used nowadays in a belittling way but Buffy was always known for its cutting and witty writing. Many have tried to imitate this natural and realistic style but have fallen flat. However as shown through episodes with no dialogue to full-blown musical scores the Mutant Enemy team showcased some of the best writing talent TV had to offer. Is it the metaphors? A mother can take over her daughter's life. A strict stepfather-to-be really is a heartless machine. A young lesbian fears that her nature is demonic. A girl who has sex with a nice guy discovers that he afterwards becomes a monster. Frat Boys sacrifice young women to a giant snake that live in their basement. Never overly preachy, and never one to beat a point home, 'Buffy' still always managed to get itâ€™s central premise across; High-school, and indeed life, can be hell. Is it the range? 'Buffy' could encompass multiple genres at once. Romance to Drama. Comedy to Action. Horror to Tragedy. 'Buffy' could flip on a dime making you laugh 'til you cried, cry 'til you laughed and back again. Or is it because the cast is just so damn attractive? Who says it has to be one or the other? Can't it be all of these things wrapped up in a fantastic package and smothered in chocolate and awesome? I say so. Long Live The Slayer.
Fantastic, Amazing, And More Brilliant Words
So, I'm not exactly great at reviewing things. However, if you haven't watched Buffy, just go and do it. The show is, well, it's just amazing. The writing is well done, making the characters all have distinct personalities. The plots are pretty well written. The show is the first show to ever make me cry, and a full 43 minutes of tears no less. It can get a bit angsty, but there's always humor. Like I said, I'm not that good at this, but you really should go watch it. It's on Netfilx Instant Stream. So why aren't you watching it? Here. Go, it's free (well, Netflix isn't, but you know what I mean).