Sunday, March 04, 2007

10 Years of Slayage!!!

Wow, according to the booklet in my Buffy Season 1 DVD, it was 10 years ago today (well, yesterday...I'm a little slow on this) that Buffy the Vampire Slayer premeired on The WB. It's not so weird that it was 10 years ago--that seems about right--but that means that less than three years ago, it was still on the air (and less than two years ago, the spin-off, Angel, was still on)!

I guess the real anniversary should be counted from the movie (which is confusing in itself. What was that, 1992? It looks so 80's). But the movie was a big disapointment. I was sure that, with a title like that, it couldn't miss, and with Paul Ruebens making his first signifigant screen appearance since The Incident, it would have to be great. About the only thing really memorable about the movie turned out to be Ruebens' death scene. But then, half a decade later, the character re-emerged.

I vaguely recall Bobbie watching the pilot shortly before we moved out here. I had no interest in it. There were already cheesy cable shows based on Highlander, RoboCop, La Femme Nikita and other cheesy movies, and they all seemed to be pretty bad (although I know at least one person who swears by Nikita). This was a movie that wasn't even any good in the first place. But Bobbie ended up watching the reruns that summer, and I slowly got sucked in. And then it won me over with the episode Out of Mind, Out of Sight, probably the most teen angst-y episode of the whole angsty teen series, and a really clever story. So when the second season started, I was already thinking of it as at least a guilty pleasure.

The second season starts off OK, but really gets going in the third episode, when Spike and Drusilla, the punk rebel vampires, show up in town, and it just goes uphill from there. After the big event halfway through the season, there was nothing guilty about it. And season three was even better.

I actually like the fourth season a lot. The central story arc isn't as interesting as the previous seasons, but there are so many minor storylines that I love, that I find it infinitely rewatchable. The fifth season, perhaps the most emotionally satisfying of all, starts with Buffy suddenly having a kid sister, and actually manages to make this ridiculous idea work. Season six takes the characters into some dark, dark places, and divided the fans, but I mostly liked it, except that they really made Spike into an annoying character. It started out as a great idea--exploring the whole "bad boy" complex, and why a woman would get into an unhealthy relationship with a shady character, but they couldn't resist giving Spike a heart of gold, which negated the whole premise, as far as I was concerned.

Excepting my continuing problems with Spike, and a few obvious but unavoidable problems caused by Amber Benson not returning to the show, I like the first two-thirds of season seven, but it really goes off the rails near the end. You can tell that Joss had a bunch of ideas that he wanted to include, and didn't have the sense to get rid of the ones that didn't work, most notably the secondary villain Caleb, who really serves no purpose at all, and breaks the great tension that was going with the series' scariest villain, The First. Whedon had a great thing going, with no ass to kick, moving the whole story out of the comfort zone, and up to that point it was definitely the scariest season, but he seemed to lose his nerve, which is all the more frustrating when you look at the risks that had paid off in seasons 4-6. And that whole business with the old wiccan lady in the temple...what the fuck was that about? But in the end, the final episode is so good that I can let it go (and rewatching it, I realize that they really should have run the last two episodes on one night. Seriously).

Anyway, here's a toast to my favorite TV show, a show that I probably love more than it deserves. I love the mash-up of kung fu, horror, mythological fantasy and teen angst (all my favorite things!), but I love it even more served up with a self-reflexive sense of humor that constantly deflates the genre archetypes. I love the rapid fire, too-witty dialogue, the kick ass women, the geekily consistent continuity, the comic book structure (which has since become a staple of genre TV), the characters that become so familiar that you start having dreams about them. And it's the source for at least two or three of my biggest celebrity crushes (Gellar isn't one of them, but she does look pretty fly in the early episodes, wearing that irresistable boots-and-miniskirt combo, and apparantly a Wonderbra). And yo, yo, yo, "Season 8" hits comic stores in 10 days!


Blogger Ben MirĂ³ said...

I think you just talked me into buying that big set.

3/05/2007 8:44 AM  

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